book reviews · books · reading

Book Review: The Girl with All the Gifts

“Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

17899945

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. “ (from Goodreads)

What a surprise this novel turned out to be. I originally got ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ as an audiobook download from Audible, and after listening to the first chapter, I decided I needed to actually read the book! (I tend to fall asleep during audiobooks, and podcasts, even those I like very much!) This story by M.R. Carey is a bit out of my wheelhouse, I admit. I don’t normally read what I’d categorize as “post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is definitely in that category. No spoilers–just read it.

book reviews · books · reading

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

22916576by  Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .

So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

ebook, 304 pages
Published June 26th 2014 by Penguin 
(from Goodreads.com)
I read this in December 2016, and just now realized I had never posted a review for it. It’s a heartbreaking tale, beautifully told, that I read in one day. First time I’ve read a novel in that short a time in a while. This is a debut novel. I cannot wait to read her next.
2016 Reading Challenge · book reviews · reviews

Book Review: A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858

A Little Life was the first book I chose from my 2016 Reading Challenge, a book recommended by a librarian or bookseller, and what a way to start! I am normally able to get through a novel of this length in a couple of days, depending on what else is going on in my life; I began this on January 11, and didn’t finish until March 22. It isn’t a difficult novel to read in the sense that the prose is complicated or confusing; it was hard for me to get through simply because of the challenging plot. The main character, Jude, is a heartrendingly broken man, and the story of his brokenness was, at times, too much for me.

A Little Life is the story of four college classmates, who move to New York to make their way: JB, an occasionally cruel painter who is trying desperately to make it in the art world; Malcolm, the genius architect; Willem, kind, handsome aspiring actor; and Jude, a brilliant litigator with a tortured past and a disabled body he refuses to acknowledge. As the years go by, each of these men achieves huge success in their fields: Willem becomes a world-famous movie star, JB’s paintings of his friends are shown in galleries all over, and Malcolm is designing buildings on every continent, while Jude is the head of his law firm. Their relationships through the years have deepened and grown, and the men themselves go through addictions, sickness, love and death. Through it all, we see Jude become continue to crack along the lines formed by a horribly traumatic childhood. He is haunted by his past, sure that if he tells the people he loves about what happened to him, they will not only judge him, but turn away or worse. His scars define him, and just when he is healing for real, the universe kicks Jude in the teeth once again.  After years of friendship, Jude and Willem have fallen in love, and are happy together. Jude’s myriad health problems are finally on the mend, after some major surgery, and their life is good. For the first time in his life, Jude is happy. And then BOOM!  Jude’s life is blown to smithereens once again.

“This, he thinks, is his punishment for depending on others: one by one, they will leave him, and he will be alone again, and this time it will be worse because he will remember it had once been better. He has the sense, once again, that his life is moving backward, that it is becoming smaller and smaller, the cement box shrinking around him until he is left with a space so cramped that he must fold himself into a crouch, because if he lies down, the ceiling will lower itself upon him and he will be smothered.” (p 804)

While this novel truly broke my heart, it’s easy to see why it was recommended by so many, and nominated for so many awards. I’d recommend it gladly, as long as you aren’t looking for something to cheer you up.

2016 Reading Challenge · book reviews · books · lists · New Year · reading

Eat. Sleep. READ. That’s all.

It’s a new year (well, duh!), and I’m posting, finally. No apologies or excuses for my absence this time, just a fresh start. And a challenge.

I love a good book challenge, and this year, I’m taking Anne’s from The Modern Mrs. Darcy.  The 2016 Reading Challenge is relatively simple, without a huge number of books, which I need right now. And the variety is great!

mmd

 

Here are my choices, so far. Nearly all of these are books already on my e-reader or bookshelf, which was a conscious choice on my part. I have an overflowing e-reader, and it would be ridiculous to add more when I can satisfy the requirements! There are three choices that are new-to-my reader books; these are starred! (And my list is in the opposite order than the one above.)

 

A book I’ve already read at least once:

Cold Comfort Farm  by Stella Gibbons

A book that intimidates me:

Othello by William Shakespeare

A book I own, but have never read:

Van Gogh’s Room at Arles by Stanley Elkin

A book I previously abandoned: 

A book that was banned at some point:

(I’m choosing the same book for these two categories)

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

A book published before I was born:

A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

A book chosen for me:

I honestly cannot decide on which of the books my wonderful friends Karen & Rob selected for me, so I’m adding both of them to the list!

A Madness of Angels by Kate Swift (Rob’s choice)

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (Karen’s choice)

A book I should’ve read in school:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A book recommended by a bookseller:  

*  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara    I took this recommendation from the employees at Powell’s, where this novel was on several folks top-five books of 2015.

A book I’ve been meaning to read:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A book that can be read in a day: 

My Story by Marilyn Monroe

A book published this year:

This category is last, because I don’t have anything for it yet. Once 2016 gets going a bit more, I’ll fill this one in!

 

 

 

As I read these (and everything else!) I’ll post thoughts, reviews, etc. I’ll begin reading these as soon as I finish what I’m currently involved in! Join me, won’t you? Let’s make 2016 a year full of books!

And if anyone has suggestions for books published this year, let me know!

 

 

 

addiction · apps · audio books · books · ebooks · fanfiction · hoarders · Internet · reading

It’s Not Hoarding if They’re eBooks, Right?

hoardingbooks

If Hoarders ever decides to do a show on people who have too many books, they’d over look me, because, really, my library of “real” books isn’t that big. Comparatively speaking, that is. Not nearly big enough to land me a spot on a show like that. My ebook library, on the other hand, is getting out of control.

I’m fairly sure that I have at least 150 unread books on my Kindle app. Then there are the ones on Aldiko, Google Books, Moon+Reader, and  OverDrive. We won’t even mention the dozens of fanfiction books/stories lurking about my tablet, or the audiobook waiting to be listened to. And I’m not counting the things I HAVE read. 
Except for those things I’ve read before in a paper version, all of these are new to me. I’m addicted to free book sites, and some days, spend more time searching out free things to download than I do reading. It’s distressing. unable

 

Now, this is not to say I don’t read at all, because we all know that isn’t true. I’m halfway through an odd book called Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher.

11088150

 

It’s a YA novel about a teen girl writing to a man on death row, and confessing all her dark secrets to him. Twisted. Just my style.

 

 

 

angels · blood · Dexter · Elvis · poetry · reading · writing

Blood and Poetry

I went to college. Actually, I went to several colleges, and changed my major several times before I finally finished, but that’s totally not the point. The BA I finally ended up with is in English:Creative Writing:Poetry, with a minor in Theater. Yes, that’s a degree that will get you a job in any field!

I always enjoyed poetry, although I’m still not sure why I chose to major in it. I’m more of a reader than a writer, in spite of the many aspirations my mother has for me. I did put together a collection (a “thesis” if you will) for my final project, and gave many readings for classes. That part I was good at; I’d never had a problem being in front of others. But over the years I’ve written less and less, and I miss it. In an effort to get back in the groove, so to speak, I dug up as many of my old poems as I could find. Aren’t you lucky–I’m going to post some of them! (Be afraid, be very afraid!)

Before we get to today’s poem, can someone explain to me why, when I am feeling low, watching a show like Dexter, or reading a Jonathan Kellerman novel, full of blood and mayhem, monsters and murder, makes me feel so much better? It can’t just be me, or these things wouldn’t be as popular as they are, right? I’ve spent the last two days watching Dexter on Netflix, while doing all the other things I need to do. And yes, I suddenly feel so much more normal. Really, compared to most of the characters on this show, I’m a paragon of mental health. Good to know.

And now for the literary portion of today’s post! One of my favorites. Enjoy.

 

Wilhelmina

In a hypothetical world,

I am a bimbo goddess of poetry,

Enshrined in my coffeehouse castle,

my words the songs of a generation.

Attended by sugary seraphim upon my beachside throne,

my name resonates on the tongues of cappuccino demigods.

He, bespectacled, brilliant, falls at my feet,

quoting darkly my childlines.

As gilded graces join us in our dance,

we whirl through a city of stars into

our moonpalace home.

Fall through velvet loveclouds into beds of miracles.

Strongly carefree of wings or wheels,

tasting of copper and chocolate,

a literary, bad-­tempered love of scarlet phrases in my head.

He whispers, solemn:

“God has spoken, and he sounds like Elvis.”

Elvis-Angel-mural