Sunday, October 23, 2016

NutShell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell by Ian McEwan    There was a lot of buzz before this book came out.   I have enjoyed other books of Ian McEwan's books, so I wanted to give this one a try.   This is the most original book that I have read in a very long time!

It's a murder mystery/ suspense novel.   The story is told entirely from the perspective of the unborn child inside the mother's womb as she and her lover plot to kill the child's father.   I loved all the twists and turns.   I enjoyed the child's philosophical musings about his life, his parents and society at large.  I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this one.

On originality alone it gets 5 stars but it is also well written and a very quick and enjoyable read.  I highly recommend it!  

Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Product DetailsAnyone who reads this blog knows that I am a big Sarah J Maas fan!  In fact, her book A Court of Mist and Fury was the second favorite book that I have read this year.         ( Second only to Morning Star by Pierce Brown, which is saying something). 

I have been following the story of Celaena Sardothien  since Throne of Glass came out.   I love that our heroine is strong, determined, smart and independent.   I have been waiting for this book for over a year, so I was pretty excited when it was released. ( Automatic download onto my Kindle!) 

The battle scenes are awesome and the twists and turns  in the plot - enjoyable.  My favorite characters remain Manon Blackbeack and her beloved wyvern, Abraxsos.   All that said, here are my thoughts on this book.  Stop reading now if you do not want spoilers.

Ok, the thing that I love about Throne of Glass series  and a Court of Thorns and Roses series is that they are both original.  Different.   That is, up to this point.....

I don't know if it happened because the series are being written somewhat simultaneously but I feel like I just read a Court of Mist and Fury again just with different characters.   It cheapened both stories for me and that just makes me angry.   Let's see:  there is a soul mate type of bond between the two main characters, there is an aspect of immortality with at least one of them,  there is a villain who is attempting to break the bond between them, there is a secret marriage that occurs and there is a twist at the end that leaves our brave heroine in the hands of the enemy while her love is left to save her.   Ugh.

Please, Ms. Maas..... keep the stories separate.  Throne of Glass was so unique up to this point, it was disappointing to feel it devolve in this way.   So much so that if I have to pick just one of the series to read ( because they are so similar in plot) I will read  A Court of Thorns and Roses and call it good.   Really sad and disappointed.

The Couple Next Door

Product DetailsI love mystery and suspense and this one really kept me guessing.   It all started with a dinner party.....

Anne and Marco seem to have it all - a great relationship, a thriving business, a beautiful baby girl.   But, on the night of their neighbors birthday party, the babysitter cancels.   Marco comes up with the bright idea that they can leave their baby sleeping and take the baby monitor next door to the party and just check on the baby every half hour, which the couple agrees to do.   Both Anne and Marco have more to drink than they should but everything seems to be going fine until..... they get home at 1:30 am and find their baby missing.

Things are revealed through the course of their story that all is not as it appears.   The author does a great job of casting doubt in many different directions.  Who could have taken the baby and why?   There were many unexpected twists and turns throughout the plot which I enjoyed.  I really hate it when I can guess what is going to happen.   I would recommend this one to a friend who also enjoys mystery and suspense.  I gave it four stars.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Product DetailsSo this is a dystopian novel where once a person reaches the age of 50 and has no children or no significant other, they are viewed as unnecessary by the surrounding society.  Just after their 50th birthday, the government comes to take them to live in the Unit - a type of communal living where they can stay and be useful.

How are they useful you ask?  Well, the government uses them for experimentation and finally for donations - that's right, they provide organs and such for others that society deems "necessary".

This is the story of Dorrit,  a woman who is happy living quietly on her own with her beloved dog.   Of course, she can not take the dog into the Unit with her, so she has to give him up.  When in the Unit, Dorrit makes friends and finds a certain kind of dignity in being deemed useful.

She also finds love and other unexpected complications.  

This book is really about the things we value as a society and what we deem as necessary.   I found the whole idea of it to be offensive - the fact that a person should have to give up their life and that it's just expected.   That goes against the grain of everything it means to be free.   

I was so disappointed in Dorrit and her choices.   I just couldn't understand how she would just give it all away.   It isn't in me to quit like she did.   I thought this book had some really wonderful insights and a very unique and compelling story but I could only give it 3 stars because I expected more from Dorrit.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston

Product DetailsAfter the last book I read, I needed something light and fluffy.   This one fit the bill nicely.  This is the story of a pop star whose fame came too quickly and at a horrible price.   This book finds him hiding who he is from everyone, in Myrtle Beach - of all places!!!  ( God I love Myrtle Beach!)  At any rate, while hiding he meets radio aficionado, Junie Baltimore.  What a name, right?

Junie is not into pop stars or pop music.  She's a classic rock kind of girl.  ( A girl after my own heart....)   She is recovering from the loss of her father and desperately trying to save his bar, The Silver Lining.  Boy meets Girl, they fall in love... problems ensue. 

It's a feel good YA romance that has a little bit of mystery and suspense.   Not great but entertaining.  I gave it three stars.   If YA romance is your thing, give it a try.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

Product Details  One of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time.  I don't usually choose to bring this kind of evil into my life, but once I started reading, it was like a train wreck that I couldn't look away from.  I had to know how the main character, Grace, was going to survive the situation that she is in.

Jack and Grace are the perfect couple:  beautiful house, beautiful friends, beautiful dinner parties.  The thing is, there is something wrong with Grace.  She makes plans that she never keeps.  She never uses the phone.   She rarely  leaves the house except to see her disabled sister.    Things are not as perfect as they seem.


I recognized right away what Jack was, but the breadth and depth of his depravity were hard to read and impossible to understand.   I absolutely loved Millie's character.  She was the smartest one of all, she had it all figured out and even helped her sister find her way out.    I literally felt sick reading parts of this book.   It is something that will stay with me for a very long time because as a person who worked with victims of domestic violence,  I know that there are many Jack's out there.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Product DetailsI read this book in celebration of Banned Book Week.  Of course I had heard about this book and it had been on my radar, but I hadn't picked it up and read it until now.   I'm so glad that I was finally inspired to move it to the top of my list.

Like most banned books, this book was wonderful.  I loved every single minute.  Alexie is a moving and masterful story teller.  He had me in tears in the second chapter.  Seriously - tears.   This book is funny, sad, insightful, and compassionate.   It gives real insight not just into the lives of Indians on reservations but into the lives of those who are indigent, those who are hopeless.  

It never ceases to amaze me what works of literature that the closed minded seek to keep from others, but this is a wonderful book for middle and high schoolers in particular to read.  I highly recommend it.  It's always a good idea to broaden your horizons - it's by far the best cure for ignorance and intolerance.  I gave this moving book 5 stars.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Product DetailsSo if you read my blog or my book reviews, you already know I'm a fan of Danielle Paige.  She also writes the Dorothy Must Die series.   This is her new work - the first in a series.  

This is the story of Snow, a young girl who has spent most of her life in an insane asylum for trying to go through the looking glass.  In the asylum, she has one friend, Bale, who is also her love.    One night, Snow has a strange visitor, someone who speaks to her about her dreams and her nightmares.  Not long after, something happens to Bale that forces Snow to go on an unexpected journey.   I don't want to give too much of the story away, but that is the beginning gist of the plot.

Snow is a strange mixture of Snow White and the Snow Queen.   Once again, Danielle Paige creates worlds that are familiar and yet, at the same time, completely unique.  Her world building sklls are really very impressive.   With the Dorothy Must Die series, I thought the first book was the best and the subsequent books have yet to live up to the first.  In this series, I see the potential for the series to get better with each passing book.  I am looking forward to hearing what happens to Snow and her friends.

I gave it four stars.