75 Books...More or Less! discussion

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Archive (2015 Challenge) > Meghan Will Read 75 Books This Year

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message 1: by Meghanly (last edited May 01, 2015 10:53AM) (new)


message 2: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
I really want to read the Throne of Glass series soon! I've heard nothing but gushing good things about it!

Welcome back and good luck on 75 this year! Love your enthusiasm!


message 3: by Meghanly (last edited Feb 13, 2015 10:35AM) (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 1. The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas (1/19/15)

I promise, I am not a fangirl. I have never - NEVER bought any of the novellas published by authors of popular series because I always assumed they were money-making ploys designed to take advantage of throngs of screaming teenagers OBSESSED with the love triangle of the month. That is... until I met Celaena Sardothein and the Throne of Glass series.

This set of five short stories adds so much to the innovating world Maas created in her three novels of Adarlan. Plus, the back story of Sam, Celaena, and the King of Assasins, only hinted at in the original series, is fleshed out here in glorious detail. The character growth of Celaena throughout the five stories makes it feel like you are reading an additional novel - not five novellas published at different times.

Now, (view spoiler) did make the entire reading that much more bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter) for me. I imagine that reading this before starting the Throne of Glass series would be a completely different experience. But - if you are looking to start the series - I don't think it matters if you read this or the three series books first. Either will introduce you to an intense world, a set of inventive characters, and an action-driven plot laced with just enough romance to keep it interesting.

FIVE STARS.

2. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (1/19/15)

This is my very first ever graphic novel and... I don't get it. I gave it a try, but I just don't get it.

I picked this book because it won the Printz Award and generally, if it's good enough for the Printz, it's good enough for me. And I completely understand the message they kept banging into our heads - you are good enough as you are. Stop trying to be like other people. Don't be a bully.

But the whole comic book format is just not my thing. I think my love affair with words is just too strong to be won over by a strip of cartoons - even those with a message based in ancient Chinese tales of monkeys.

THREE STARS. Mainly because of the Printz Award. I just can't diss the Printz.


message 4: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 3. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (1/22/15)

A 15-year-old boy is seduced/abused by an older woman; after a long relationship, the woman mysteriously disappears. Much later, our protagonist finds her on trial for (view spoiler) - one of the many secrets she kept hidden from him.

I read this because it was a New Year's Resolution to read more "litt'ry fiction" and "classics". I'm not sure why I thought this would be a good idea for me. These kind of books I... well, I just don't enjoy them. I understand that the author was approaching a very well-worn topic - Holocaust fiction - from a very different point of view. I identified the themes of shame, abuse and loneliness, and how those things manifest themselves differently in different people. But it was just not an enjoyable read for me. The narrative was flat and numbing, which I know was partly the author's intent (another major theme throughout the book was the numbing power that horrifying events can have on people) but also was partly because the book was translated from German.

Reading is my escape - and this was just a big ole downer for me.

TWO STARS.


message 5: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "2. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (1/19/15)

This is my very first ever graphic novel and... I don't get it. I gave it a try, but I just don't get it.

I pick..."


I agree with you on the graphic novels. They're not for everyone. I love A Song of Ice and Fire and the prequels are in graphic novel form only so I bought The Hedge Knight when it was pretty cheap. It took me longer to read that than a 400-page book! Just not my thing! But I tried it. I also bought the second one, The Sworn Sword, when I bought the first so I'll have to get around to reading that but I'm in noooo rush. lol.


message 6: by Andrea, Moderator (new)

Andrea | 4071 comments Mod
Megan,

I read the Reader a long time ago (2001) so I can't remember what my thoughts were on it but I only gave it 3 stars. I really wish I was doing reviews way back then.

I have yet to read a graphic novel, I just don't think they are for me!


message 7: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (1/21/15)

If I could be a reveur (the Night Circus version of the Deadheads), I TOTALLY would be. Follow a magic circus around the globe? Yes please.

No, but seriously. I fell in love with this magical world from page one and could barely put it down. It is definitely NOT plot-driven - the magic here is in the mood, the description, the atmosphere, the dream-like world of the circus and the characters who play major and minor roles in its creation and possible demise. Lengthy chapters are devoted to the smells, tastes and sights of the circus - and I bathed in these, lounged in these, REVELED in these until I felt that I, too, was a visitor to Le Cirque des Reves.

Highly recommend - FIVE STARS.


message 8: by Tiffani (new)

Tiffani (gocartgrl) | 60 comments I agree. I really enjoyed this one. It's on my "lending" shelf - any friend who hasn't read it just HAS TO borrow it!


message 9: by Karol (new)

Karol Meghanly wrote: "4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (1/21/15)

the magic here is in the mood, the description, the atmosphere, the dream-like world of the circus and the characters who play major and minor roles in its creation and possible demise. Lengthy chapters are devoted to the smells, tastes and sights of the circus - and I bathed in these, lounged in these, REVELED in these until I felt that I, too, was a visitor to Le Cirque des Reves"


LOVE your review. I haven't read this yet - tried once, but didn't get very far. Sounds like I should give it another try.


message 10: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 5. Cemetery Girl by David J. Bell (1/29/15)

Wholly uninteresting, with a misogynistic main character who left a bad taste in my mouth from the prologue on. To be truthful, I got about 75% of the way through this one and then abandoned it. Life's too short to read horrible books.

ONE STAR, only because zero is not an option.


message 11: by Andrea, Moderator (new)

Andrea | 4071 comments Mod
Megan, I really enjoyed "the whimsical feeling" of reading the Night Circus.


message 12: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (1/31/15)

I never recommend books to people (especially people I know). I think it's because, deep down, I don't trust my gut on what is "good"... ie, why I don't like most classics but will tear up some YA Fantasy series like it's nobody's business.

But Station Eleven is an exception. I actually posted to my IG feed for everyone to read this - immediately (interesting side note: this led me to find out that some of my real-life people read my GR reviews - shout out, FSU_MISS_C!). I described the plot over the phone to my mother. I offered to fed-ex a copy directly to my cousin. Because guys - it's that good.

The novel starts with a death - a famous actor, Arthur, portraying King Lear, dies on stage in front of an audience. A man from the audience rushes to give him CPR, but is too late. A child actress watches, devastated from the wings. Hours later, the Georgia flu sweeps through the world, killing 99% of the population. His son, a world away with his mother, knows nothing of his passing.

The rest of the novel sweeps back in forth in time, through various character's viewpoints - the young actress's journey through a ravaged world, eventually joining with a traveling symphony whose goal is to bring art and music to the small settlements of people struggling to survive ("Because survival is insufficient"). The CPR man's paranoid holing up with his paraplegic brother, barricading themselves in an apartment and watching the world collapse from their high-rise window. We are offered glimpses into Arthur's life through the eyes of his first wife, Miranda, and his best friend, Clark, as they navigate through the collapse as well as reflect on their lifetimes.

Most post-apocalyptic books focus on the survival - the stockpiling of food, the search for clean water, the fear of violent people thrust into anarchy. The joy I found in this novel was in the relationships of the characters. I found myself examining memory and legacy - what we leave behind to those we know well and those we barely know. Don't get me wrong - the survival stuff is there, too - but it is just a backdrop for the characters to examine themselves and the lives they are leading.

I was also swept away by Mandel's gorgeous, sometimes sparse, language.

"But these thoughts broke apart in his head and were replaced by strange fragments: This is my soul and the world unwinding, this is my heart in the still winter air."

"No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars."

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”


I picked up this book because a friend recommended it - it was the first book that came to his head when I asked if he had read anything great lately, and he lent me his copy. I will be forever grateful, Lee!

Read this - and I hardly ever say that. Five stars.


message 13: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 7. Bossypants by Tina Fey (2/1/15)

Tina Fey is a bright, funny, accomplished woman, and she makes me laugh. The chapter on breastfeeding in particular? Hilarious and oh, so true - I laughed out loud through the whole chapter, to the point where my husband asked if I often "read books like this".

However, overall, the book was nothing special; in fact, there were a few parts that I was actually uncomfortable (the scene where she glorifies her father as a badass because he walked by a few black guys in a parking lot by himself? That's not funny - that's offensive).

In reading other people's reviews, I must confess that I now wish I had listened to the audiobook instead of reading it.

Three stars. Because Tina Fey as Sarah Palin will never be duplicated.


message 14: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (1/31/15)

I never recommend books to people (especially people I know). I think it's because, deep down, I don't trust m..."


This sounds really good! I've never heard of it. On my TBR now!


message 15: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "7. Bossypants by Tina Fey (2/1/15)

Tina Fey is a bright, funny, accomplished woman, and she makes me laugh. The chapter on breastfeeding in particular? Hilarious an..."


I loved this audiobook. I think if you're going to read a book by a comedian, you should go for the audiobook, read by the author. Makes everything so much more interesting and hilarious!


message 16: by Meghanly (last edited Feb 03, 2015 11:41AM) (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 8. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (2/3/15)

I had a blast reading this book. I found the main character simultaneously idiotic and completely entertaining. The premise of vampires being "outed" and how society deals with it is pretty well-worn since True Blood - but the establishment of "Coldtowns" is a new and interesting plot twist, and Holly Black's writing is poetic and superb, as per usual. A supremely fun romp through the vampire genre.

Four stars.


message 17: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "8. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (2/3/15)

I had a blast reading this book. I found the main character simultaneously idiotic and completely entertainin..."


I enjoy Black's writing. I read the short story of Coldest Girl when it came out and I want to read this full-length!


message 18: by Meghanly (last edited Feb 09, 2015 11:43AM) (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 9. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2/6/15)

I'm sorry, but the second I read the words "convent of assassin nuns", I was in. And I have to tell you, the first 50 pages were stellar. Ismae escapes from an arranged marriage to an abusive brute and is smuggled to a convent in the service of St. Mortain - death. She learns that she has been marked by death and is immune to poisons, thus marking her as death's daughter. And she is to be trained - in poisons! In swords and daggers! In a million different ways to kill a man!

But then... she's not. Well, actually, she is, but we don't get to see any of it. NUN OF IT (See what I did there?). The author actually thought that I wouldn't want to see her being trained by KILLER NUNS. What the what??

The author skips over her three years of training with killer nuns and inserts her into the royal court of Brittany. The rest of the book is just a tangled mess of court intrigue, with more descriptions of her fancy dresses and the love interests swooping hair than there are actual assassinations. I probably would have given up, except that I kept thinking we would be getting back to KILLER NUNS. We didn't.

Such a MAJOR LETDOWN! An awesome premise that took a bad turn and never recovered. I will not be reading the second one.

Two stars.


message 19: by Meghanly (last edited Feb 09, 2015 11:43AM) (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 10. Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner (2/8/15)

I understand why a lot of reviewers did NOT enjoy this one. It was hard to swallow that two nine-year-olds who had been in the US for as long as they had were still speaking such broken English - reading it was difficult, as the dialect wasn't restricted to just dialogue, but also narration and inner monologue.

However - I enjoyed these two characters. The story of two young children, pushed together in ordinary yet extraordinary circumstances, who form a lasting friendship is one that resonated with me. And the writing kept turning up gems of phrases that kept me looking at Vaclav and Lena's world through fresh eyes...

“This is what men do, they die, long before women. This is how it is meant to be, so that women can finally rest.”

"To Lena, who had grown up in a tiny brownish-gray apartment, and walked along cement streets to a big brick school, it looked as if the world had been colored in."

"This is a marriage, this picking up a little, putting away a little, forgiving a lot, and this is good enough."


I would not have marketed this as YA though. Sorry, but anything with the word p***y in it as many times as this has would NOT make an appearance on my middle/high school classroom library shelves. Just sayin'.

Four stars.


message 20: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 11. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2/10/15)

Cinderella as a Chinese cyborg mechanic is a rock star idea. I am all about a good fairy tale retelling anyway, but add a little sci-fi? Yep, I'll take it, wrap it up to go please!

I also really enjoyed the setup to the novel - so I flew through the first half of this novel. You learn about the society gradually, there is a lot of action, and you form emotional bonds with the characters fairly quickly (The android sidekick Iko? Loved her). Even though I figured out the "twist" pretty quickly (I'm talking about in the first 30 pages or so), I was still interested.

And then there was a gigantic infodump about politics (Prince Kai and your multi-screen phone conference? I'm looking at you) and it started to draaaag. When I find myself skimming because I want to get to the end - that's when I know the story (and the writing) is in trouble.

I will continue to read the series because I think there is so much promise - and because I've been told that each subsequent book focuses on a different fairy tale character. Hope it gets better!

Three stars.


message 21: by Meghanly (last edited Feb 12, 2015 12:46PM) (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 12. Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski (2/12/15)

Do short stories count?

I only read this because it was free on tor.com and I had heard how amazing the Winner's Trilogy is and wanted to see if I would be interested. This story DEFINITELY interested me! I have no idea who his sister is, or why the two mentioned kingdoms would soon be at war - but my interest is peaked!

A sick son begs his mother not to leave to take his sister to a ball. Bargaining with him, she agrees to tell him one story and one secret. The story is a tale of the old gods, and a mortal who fell in love with one of them - the goddess of snow.

The writing was gorgeous and oh so intriguing -

She had meant to tell him that the cook’s cat had had kittens. But something in his tentative smile caught at her heart, and she leaned to whisper in his ear. She said what no mother should say, yet it was the truth. Months later, when a Valorian dagger pressed into her throat, and there was a moment before the final push, she thought of it, and was glad she had spoken. “I love you best,” she said.

Winner's Trilogy, here I come! Four stars.


message 22: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2/13/15)

There are HUGE Plot holes in this story, but overall I am completely enjoying it! Fairy tale retellings are fun for me anyway - I love to see how a good author can take elements of the traditional and put a modern spin on things. For example, (view spoiler) Such an interesting twist on a familiar tale!

I also liked this novel much better than Cinder. Scarlet is a kick-ass heroine, who does what she knows is right even when she is scared. The insta-love between her and Wolf was a little off-putting, but overall I am enjoying getting lost in the action.

I am greedily gobbling up this series. Four stars. Onto Cress!


message 23: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2/13/15)

There are HUGE Plot holes in this story, but overall I am completely enjoying it! Fairy tale retellings are fun for me anywa..."


I love fairy tale retellings! I own Cinder and I just got Scarlet and Cress for $2.99 each for Kindle! Excited to read them but they won't help my A-Z Challenge. lol


message 24: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments Elyse wrote: "Meghanly wrote: "13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2/13/15)

There are HUGE Plot holes in this story, but overall I am completely enjoying it! Fairy tale retellings are..."


That is the same reason I got them - CHEAP on Kindle!! LOL, I thought the same thing about not helping with the ABC Challenge, but they are a FUN read!


message 25: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 14. Cress by Marissa Meyer (2/17/15)

As we add more characters to Cinder's merry band of rebels (we are up to 5 now I think: Scarlet, Wolf, Iko, Cress, and Thorne), I like the book more and more. I still am baffled by some of the plot holes (How did people get on to the moon, anyway?) but it is a FUN story, full of likable rogues. I like my characters rogue-ish.

In this installation, we meet Cress, the hacker we first saw when she communicated with Cinder through a hidden COMM chip in the first book. She is also a spin-off of Rapunzel - and completely different than both Cinder and Scarlet. Because she has been trapped orbiting the moon in a satellite for seven years, she is socially awkward, naive, and most comfortable in her own daydreams and imagination. But she is also kind, and brave, and BRILLIANT with computers - which makes her a great addition to our troupe of space misfits AND the perfect balance to her love interest - the cavalier but lovable Thorne.

The scene in which (view spoiler) is action-packed, funny and kept me engaged as much as one of those Oceans Some-Number movies.

My only complaint... I THOUGHT THIS WAS A TRILOGY! The cliffhanger ending TICKED ME OFF, and I became even more annoyed when I realized that Winter which is (supposedly) the last in the series won't be released until later this year. Argh. I'm too impatient for all of that.

Four enjoyable stars.


message 26: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 15. The Secret Place by Tana French (2/23/15)

Really this was a 3.5 star read, but I rounded up because it's Tana.Fricking.French people. And she is fabulous. To say she writes crime fiction and nothing more is a travesty - because her books go so much deeper than your typical detective novel.

This one for instance - delves deep into the secret lives of girls, teen girls, and all the mystery and anxiety and deepdeepdeep abiding love you have for your friends at that age. Tangled with that is the story of Detective Stephen Moran (remember, the snitch from Faithful Place? Yeah, him.), who is desperately trying to find his way out of Cold Cases and onto the elite Murder Squad. He finds his chance when little Holly Mackey (yep, also from Faithful Place), now oh-so-grown and in her sophomore year of high school, brings him a clue to a murder case involving a dead rich boy, drugs, and a creme de la creme boarding school for girls. The story is told in alternating viewpoints with alternate timelines: the first is from the detective, a year after the murder takes place. The other is from the girls of St. Kilda's, in the year leading up to the murder. They come together at the end, winding pieces of the puzzle together until you not only figure out whodunnit, but whytheydunnit.

Sounds great right? Right. And it should have been, especially in the capable hands of Ms. French. And a lot of it was intriguing and well-written- particularly the chapters about the detectives investigation.

So what threw me off of my usual Tana French is the best thing since sliced bread bandwagon? I've boiled it down to three things. First, the excessive and not quite accurate "teenspeak" so prevalent in the chapters about the girls. I have never heard actual people - even the middle schoolers I work with on a daily basis - use "totes adorbs" and "hello?hello?ohmygod!" as much and as often as these ladies did. It felt forced and awkward and was, for me, super-distracting. It pulled me out of the story instead of immersing me in it.

Second, the magical realism the girls experience - (view spoiler) - was never fully explained to me, and felt like an unnecessary part of the story. I think it was connected to their burgeoning sexuality, and maybe it was being used as some sort of symbol? - but again, it was a distraction. Usually, French handles the magical realism so well - see Broken Harbour and the mysterious creatures in the walls for a superb example - but this one just didn't work for me.

Lastly - and this is a minor grumble, really - I felt like the ending was tacked on. While it was interesting to see Frank Mackey and his wife (again, of Faithful place fame), it felt like an unnecessary part of the story, disconnected from the whole. Maybe we were being led into the Dublin Murder Squad Book #6 (though it didn't feel like a cliffhanger) - but I couldn't understand why we were reading it and why it was included.

So from this you may think I hated the book - but I really did enjoy it! The suspense was palpable, almost a separate character, and the setting of St. Kilda's, an all-girls school with a shiny veneer but an evil underbelly, was compelling. But - I've just read better by Tana French.

3.5 stars - but 4 for GR.


message 27: by JanB (new)

JanB  | 980 comments Meghanly, I'm a big Tana French fan and have this one on my bookshelf. You just mentioned two of my pet peeves: magical realism and teen speak. Any teen speak but especially when it's unrealistic. This is not good news!


message 28: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 16. The Young Elites by Marie Lu (2/24/15)

Every time I turn around, young adult literature gets darker. The Young Elites may be some of the darkest I've read, only because it takes you by surprise with it. This is not your run-of-the-mill YA dystopian lit with a big, bad government to defeat, a plucky young heroine who bucks the system, and a love triangle. Actually, this is none of those things, despite its cartoonish cover and the same author who brought you the Legend series. Oh no. This is so much darker. It's a gothic historic fiction book, with a splash of X-Men and the Black Plague to boot. In the first 50 pages, we encounter physical and mental child abuse, a child being sold into sex slavery by her father, a brothel who sells seventeen-year-olds for their virginity, patricide, and self-flagellation. And this is marketed to our 15-year-olds.

In this world, the Black Fever has wiped out a large percentage of the population. The survivors are left marked in various ways - a streak of blue in their hair, a purple mark on their cheek, two different colored eyes - and are known as malfettos. A small number of these malfettos were also left with unique powers - to control the wind, to communicate with animals, to bring people back from the dead. These are the Young Elites.

Our heroine - or, anti-heroine, to be more exact - is Adelina. She escapes being sold into sexual slavery by her father and is taken in by The Young Elites when they discover her hidden power - to create powerful illusions. But Adelina is different - because she has been abused and stifled by her family for so many years, she is fueled by anger, fear and passion. The more furious she becomes - the stronger her power grows. Not sounding like your typical dystopian girl, huh? When she is blackmailed by The Inquisition, a Gestapo of sorts whose sole purpose is to eliminate the kingdom of malfettos and destroy the Young Elites - she has to choose sides.

I REALLY liked Adelina. She is flawed, and angry, and she ends up making her own path instead of choosing one that has been laid out for her. Just my kinda girl. I also really enjoyed the ending - (view spoiler) This book is dark - and I enjoyed it - but there is no way I would give this to one of my middle school kids. High school? Maybe.

Four stars.


message 29: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments JanB wrote: "Meghanly, I'm a big Tana French fan and have this one on my bookshelf. You just mentioned two of my pet peeves: magical realism and teen speak. Any teen speak but especially when it's unrealistic..."

Jan - I definitely don't think it was her best, but it was still suspenseful. Not a waste of time, just not up to the high standard I have set for the author!


message 30: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 17. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline 2/27/15

The narrative is told from two different viewpoints and timeframes that switch back and forth between chapters. Molly, a Native American girl whose father died and whose mother is in jail, is in the Foster Care system in 2011, shuttling between homes and cities. Vivian Daly (AKA Naeth and Dorothy, depending on the home), an orphan in 1920s America, is put on a westbound "Orphan Train" in the hopes that a family will adopt her.

Molly meets Vivian when she is in her 90s and helps her clean out her attic to earn community service hours. The two, obviously, find lots in common as they sift through memories of Vivian's life.

I wasn't overly impressed with this one. I found myself wanting to get back to Vivan's story when we were in the Molly chapters, as Molly's character seemed too contrived. The very fact that Orphan Trains did in fact exist ASTOUNDS me (can you imagine just giving a child away to anyone, without any clue as to their living conditions, or their character? There are problems with our foster system, true, but this is just RIDICULOUS to me!).

Overall, a quick read, and one that opens an interesting door to a little-known part of our country's history - but nothing that special.

Three stars.


message 31: by Meghanly (last edited Mar 02, 2015 05:54AM) (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 18. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I'm a big Zevin fan - I put Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac on our school summer reading list and I read Elsewhere twice, just for its novelty. When I saw that she was writing a book about my favorite subject - BOOKS - and my second favorite subject - BOOKSTORES - it landed on my TBR list within seconds. Thanks to Kristina for lending it to me - it did NOT disappoint!

Storied Life celebrates readers and their love of books with the type of self-deprecating, dry humor infused with concise observation that made me want to mark up the pages with my favorite passages (don't worry, Kristina, I didn't).

Check it out:
“Do you like Moby Dick?" he asks.
"I hate it," she says. "And I don't say that about many things. Teachers assign it, and parents are happy because their kids are reading something of 'quality.' But it's forcing kids to read books like that that make them think they hate reading.”

“I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires.”

“Who are these people who think a book comes with a guarantee that they will like it?”

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”


AJ, our misunderstood hero, is grieving for his lost wife when two seemingly unrelated events upend his entire life: a rare book that he was depending upon for retirement is stolen, and a baby is abandoned in the bookstore he owns. Slowly, his life begins to change and we are introduced for a delightful cast of characters that are both flawed and lovable.

There are small plot twists and moments of heartbreak, but overall read this book because of its unapologetic love of literature. You won't be disappointed.

Five stars.


message 32: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "18. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I'm a big Zevin fan - I put Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac on our school summer reading list and I..."


I enjoyed this one. You need to read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore if you haven't already. I LOVED it.


message 33: by JanB (new)

JanB  | 980 comments Meghanly, I agree with your thoughts on Orphan Train - meh. And thought AJ Fikry was a quirky read but loved the literature references and the plug for indie bookstores!


message 34: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 19. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (3/1/15)

A fun read for those who like a little PSA with their chick lit. The story weaves between three characters Points of View: Madeline, a 40-something outspoken supermom who is always up for some drama; Celeste, a breathtakingly beautiful, billionaire stay-at-home mom with a nasty secret; and Jane, a subdued working mom who is new to town. These chapters are interspersed with police interviews from the other uppity parents at their privileged public elementary school because of the murder that took place at the school fundraiser, Audreys and Elvises Trivia Night.

The bits of humor mainly come from Madeline, who is mouthy and dramatic and over-the-top while still being lovable and flawed. Careful readers will quickly figure out the twists (Who is Ziggy's father? What is Celeste hiding? Who was killed at an innocuous elementary school trivia night?) but the wit and familiarity with the public school parent scene will keep you entertained throughout.

I really couldn't put it better than Ann's one sentence review: Probably the funniest book about murder and domestic abuse I'll ever read.

Four stars.


message 35: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "19. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (3/1/15)

A fun read for those who like a little PSA with their chick lit. The story weaves between three characters Points of ..."


This is in my TBR.


message 36: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 20. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (3/5/15)

In my efforts to branch out into genres I rarely explore, I picked up this new science fiction from Michael Faber. I've heard nothing but praise for his gorgeous prose that explores humanity in a soul-baring, hold-no-punches kind of way, and many reviewers agreed that this novel was more about the relationships of people and the quest for faith than aliens. I shy away from adult science fiction BECAUSE of aliens and the like, so I thought this book would fit with me well.

So imagine my surprise when the only thing I enjoyed about this book was the aliens.

The narrator/astronaut/pastor, Peter, separates from his wife Beatrice in order to embark upon one of the strangest missions of all time - bringing Christianity to the new species who lives on Oasis, a newly discovered planet "colonized" by big business, a corporation known only as USIC. I've already lost you, haven't I.

Peter is a moron. He rarely writes to his wife (though she transmits 10,12,15 messages a day to him). When she tells him (view spoiler), he doesn't mention it to anyone and doesn't speak about it to his wife - not a congratulations, not an "I'm scared", nothing. In the rare messages he does send Beatrice, he describes in detail his growing relationship with other women in the colony. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Through Beatrice's communication, we find that the earth is descending into chaos - natural disasters kill millions of people globally, food and clean water becomes scarce, governments begin to fall. Now, I would like to think that (view spoiler). But what does Peter do? You guessed it. Ignore her.

Now, maybe this was the author's way of showing the communication barrier between men and women. Or it's his commentary on how religion often ministers to those far from home but forgets those in their own home. I don't know. But to me, I just kept getting super-annoyed because Peter was such a selfish asshole.

The redeeming point in this novel - which raised it up a star - was the fascinating descriptions of the new planet and the new species (is that the right word? inhabitants?) who live there. Their way of life - so foreign to us but so natural to the environment the author creates - kept my attention. But then Peter would travel back to the USIC base and I would just get bored again. Ugh.

A supremely annoyed and bored two stars.


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Meghanly | 253 comments 21. The End of Everything by Megan Abbott (3/7/15)

This book got three stars from me - not because of the writing (which is gorgeous) or the plot (which is suspenseful), but because of how completely unprepared I was for the nauseating subject matter. This is not your average "girl goes missing, hunt her sicko kidnapper down" kind of reads. This is a story of a missing girl with undercurrents of sexual longing and incestuous relationships and sex as gratitude, all told through the naive but blossoming eyes of a thirteen-year-old girl who literally has NO IDEA what is going on under her very nose... and you want to scream at her through the pages, warn her, help her, but obviously, as we all do, she must take this journey alone.

Megan Abbott's writing feels hurried, with an undercurrent of anxiety and tension... I think the run-on sentences, the lack of conjunctions, makes you always feel that you should be pushing ahead into waters that are murky and uncomfortable.

Running so hard, her breath stippled with pain to go faster, hit the grass harder, move forward faster, like she could break through something in front of her, something no one else saw.

See what I mean?

I strongly believe that books are different for people depending on what time of their life they read them in. If I had read this book four, five, six years ago, I think the haunting plot and gorgeous prose would have moved it to the top of my favorites list. But now I'm a mom - a mom of a little girl who will have to navigate this world, full of pain, and sickness, and sex. And I will give her all the guidance and love I can, but she will eventually be thirteen, and she will eventually have to confront all the horribleness that is out there, and it makes me sick to my stomach.

So I gave it a very conflicted three stars.


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Meghanly | 253 comments 22. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (3/9/15)

Such a powerful read - a story told from the perspective of a fifty-something Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. The deterioration of the brain is a disease that is frightening not only physically and emotionally but socially. There is such a stigma attached to those with mental disorders. And to lose all of your memories - not only those associated with those you love, but with yourself - what you like to do, what you are about to do next, how to read, how to write, how to eat, how to get dressed. The deterioration of Alice's cognitive functions in this book is heart-breakingly real - she will repeat bits of narrative and, as a character, have no idea that it is being repeated. But you, as the reader, witness the reactions to her repetition and feel such sorrow for the loss of a bright, driven woman... even when she is still alive.

Four stars.


message 39: by Elyse, Moderator (last edited Mar 10, 2015 07:04AM) (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "22. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (3/9/15)

Such a powerful read - a story told from the perspective of a fifty-something Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-o..."


I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I want to see the movie. I think Julianne Moore will be a fantastic Alice. Still haven't read any others by Genova but I own 2 more; Love Anthony and her newest Inside the O'Brien's!


message 40: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (1/31/15)

I never recommend books to people (especially people I know). I think it's because, deep down, I don't trust m..."


I was excited to buy this for $5.99 over the weekend on Amazon. The library has a ginormous waiting list and only 3 copies.


message 41: by Rachel Joy (new)

Rachel Joy Meghanly wrote: "9. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2/6/15)

I'm sorry, but the second I read the words "convent of assassin nuns", I was in. And I have to tell you, the first 50 page..."


I hear you about being disappointed with this book! You may want to rethink reading the second one, Dark Triumph, because I found it to be much, much better. The heroine is so different, so in charge of herself, and the action felt more real, more fun.
Just a thought ;).


message 42: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments Elyse wrote: "Meghanly wrote: "6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (1/31/15)

I never recommend books to people (especially people I know). I think it's because, deep down..."


I am so happy you will get to experience it! It really struck a chord with me.


message 43: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments Rachel wrote: "Meghanly wrote: "9. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2/6/15)

I'm sorry, but the second I read the words "convent of assassin nuns", I was in. And I have to tell you, ..."


It seems like the majority of reviewers liked the second book better than the first. Maybe I will give it a go?


message 44: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 23. Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth (3/10/15)

Here I am claiming not to be a Fangirl - and I read two series novella collections in a year. But what can I say, I'm a completist. I had to finish out the series!

This collection, unfortunately, did not stand up to the high standards that the Throne of Glass novella collection, The Assassin's Blade, set. These four stories, plus three additional scenes from Divergent from Four's point of view, outline his time when he chose his faction, his initiate period, and how he meets Tris. I was hoping that we would get to see some flat characters from Divergent really fleshed out, but it didn't happen. Max and Eric stayed very, very bad... and that was about it. There was no additional world building, and very few surprises to the plotline.

And - forgive me here for fangirling all over the place - but Four was such an intriguing character BECAUSE of his mystery, his brooding. This shed light on a lot of his character and ... well... the mystery is gone, people.

THREE STARS, because it's Divergent and I loved Divergent. But not a stellar addition to Veronica Roth's dystopian world.


message 45: by Rachel Joy (last edited Mar 11, 2015 07:05AM) (new)

Rachel Joy Meghanly wrote: "Rachel wrote: "Meghanly wrote: "9. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2/6/15)

I'm sorry, but the second I read the words "convent of assassin nuns", I was in. And I hav..."


If you do decide to give it a try, I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did ;). I'm going to read the third one soon, Mortal Heart, and see if it gets even better. I was just like you when I first heard what this series was about, (assassin nuns, awesome!), so I'm keeping hope alive for the third book.


message 46: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 24. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (3/11/15)

My first big flop of the year.

I picked this up for $1 at the used book store because the title sounded so familiar... so I thought it must have been something I flagged to read and just hadn't yet. That's what I get for not checking my Goodreads TBR list before I purchase. Bad Meghan.

This was a bunch of sexist drivel, written by an author who couldn't decide if she wanted to write a book about witches, or vampires, or zombies, or Norse mythology.

Two sisters - Freya and Ingrid - live with their mother in a sleepy little New England town. The three have been banned from practicing magic by someone - why and by whom are still a little hazy to me, and I read the whole damn thing. But then they start practicing magic anyway - not because anything catastrophic happens, just because they want to. The mother burns a pie and wants to fix it so--- she breaks the magic ban! Freya sees a couple at the bar who she really DOES think should be together so --- she mixes them a love potion! And wham, bam, eff you magic ban. And then --- nothing really happens. There aren't any real consequences for them using magic, like, at all. No head warlock sweeps down from the heavens, no magical coven rains fire and locusts upon them, they are not thrown screaming into the pits of hell. In fact, they start thriving businesses and save their friends. Um. So what was the point of not using it, exactly??

They do come across a resurrected person who they think may be a zombie, and then think may be demon, and then turns out to be neither. They do cross paths with a vampire, who... well... I'm not really sure why she was in the plot.

And then, suddenly you find out that these are not just witches, oh no, these three are actually goddesses. Immortal goddeses who are reborn century after century. And then the love interests are - SURPRISE - actually half-god/half-giant brothers... and one of them is named Loki, and then I got really confused because isn't that Thor's nemesis from The Avengers? And then I remember I'm supposed to be reading a book about witches, because, you know, the word witch is in the title and all. And by that time, I was just skimming so I could put the book down and go to sleep.

Blech.

As for the writing, I learned (after I read this book) that the author writes a YA series (that I have never read and - now - never plan to) and this was supposed to be her first novel for adults. However, her tone and cadence still indicated to me a YA novel, so when she got to some extremely, EXTREMELY graphic sex scenes, I was like.... ew.

All in all, this book was crap. Please don't waste your time.

One star (because you can't give no stars).


message 47: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 25. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson(3/13/15)

From the same author who gave us The Lottery (you remember, that creepy short story you read in middle school about the town that (view spoiler), comes this creepy, claustrophobic little gem of a horror novel.

Fair point: this was published in the 60s, so you're not going to get Saw-like horror: limbs being amputated, creepy clowns, rape, etc. This is horror from a different time - the horrors that small-minded people and a mob mentality can wreak upon those who are different. The horror that a twisted mind can bring to an unaware family. The horrors that lurk behind the closed doors of our neighbors and friends.

Merricat, our narrator, lives with her sister and her feeble-minded uncle in the rich house upon the hill. The rest of her family was killed in an epic mass-poisoning years ago, for which her sister Constance was acquitted. The townsfolk - long kept from the stately manor and its grounds as much by large fences and locked gates as prejudices and suspicion - taunt and bully the girl when she comes to town. But Merricat has her own web of voodoo to keep evil from her house and her precious Constance - burying talismans, nailing mementos to trees, and uttering sacred words. When their long-lost cousin Charles comes to visit, the fragile we of denial they have woven around themselves falls apart, and sinister forces converge upon the house.

Forget Gone Girl. Forget The Girl on the Train. Shirley Jackson was writing the unreliable narrator before unreliable narrators were cool. The tightly woven story keeps you on the edge of suspense, with a building sense of anxiety that grows with Merricat as slips of their family's story is revealed, gradually revealing the whole picture.

My only complaint - the ending was a bit anticlimactic for the story as a whole. But that's probably my 21st century sensibilities coming through - I wanted some explosions, or a car chase, or something. But if you keep your mind in the time frame - you won't be disappointed.

Four stars.


message 48: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 253 comments 26. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (3/14/15)

DON'T BE FOOLED by the bubbly lettering on the cover and the "romance" genre listed on this book's main page. This is not a romance novel. I repeat: this is not a romance novel.

Does it have two people falling in love? Well, yes. But there is no bodice ripping, or insta-love, or any of the other tropes the romance genre usually get tangled up in. This is a book about two people lost in life, and the choices they make, and how important the simple act of just making the choice is.

Will Traynor is a wealthy CEO adrenaline-junkie who becomes a quadriplegic through a motorway accident. Louise Clark is an eccentric twenty-something who has always lived in the same town, in the same bedroom, is in a deadend relationship with a man she doesn't love, and is forced to search for a job to support her financially struggling family when the café in which she waitresses closes. She is hired as a caretaker for Will - and neither of them really like the other.

I'm sure you can tell where this book ends up - but this is truly a story where it's the journey that matters, not the destination. It explores the choices we all must make when it comes to our health and wellbeing, how our history can define us or refine us, and the dangers in letting other people make choices for us - whether we are bound to a wheelchair or not. The fault lines and quicksand of family relationships play major roles, and yes - love is found in unlikely places, but it feels natural, not forced.

Oh - and it's funny! Louise is one of those people who fight their way out of awkward situations with inappropriate humor - and it made me giggle more than once. The banter between her and Will was priceless.

I sobbed through the last 20% of this book, my husband checking on me halfway through to make sure I was ok, rolling his eyes when he saw it was just about a book (he's not a reader--- love in unexpected places, ok?). My biggest fault with this one is the change in narrators for brief episodes throughout. With the exception of the small segment narrated by Will's mother, in which we get to see behind her stoic and cold façade to the struggles she is facing - they broke the flow of the novel and provided no real character insight or additional information to the story. But this is a small complaint - I still enjoyed this one.

Four stars.


message 49: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "24. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (3/11/15)

My first big flop of the year.

I picked this up for $1 at the used book store because the title sounded so fa..."


Your review had me laughing! I didn't realize what a hodge-podge this book is. I hve read her teen vampire Blue Bloods series when I was younger and I don't remember much about them but I don't think they were as mixed up as this one sounds. Lol.


message 50: by Elyse, Moderator (new)

Elyse (winesaboutbooks) | 7510 comments Mod
Meghanly wrote: "25. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson(3/13/15)

From the same author who gave us The Lottery (you remember, that creepy short story you read in middl..."


I listened to the audiobook of this and it was perfectly eerie. Never read any of Shirley Jackson before this and I intend to read more!


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