Tag Archives: adult

Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice ForgotPages: 487
Format: Kindle Edition

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital when she discovers the honeymoon is truly over – she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how it is that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

Alice wakes up on the floor of a gym believing she’s twenty-nine years old, newly married, and pregnant with her first child… and completely confused that she would step foot in a gym in the first place. Then she learns she’s actually thirty-nine years old, has three children, and is in the process of divorcing her husband.

This book really made me think about where I am now in life. If I were twenty, and thinking forward to now, there are some things I would have expected to stay the same that have changed, and others that I thought would have changed that have stayed the same. I’m definitely in a different place in life than I expected at that age, and while I had met my husband, we weren’t dating yet. I suspect it would be a SLIGHT shock to learn that I ended up marrying the guy I met online six months ago, and that he had moved across the Atlantic Ocean to be with me. XD

I suspect some of this book’s impact was lost on me, since I’m in a very different stage of life than 39-year-old Alice – my situation is a bit closer to that of 29-year-old Alice. That said, it was still a really interesting and intriguing read from that point of view – I found myself able to relate to 29-year-old Alice fairly well, and it made me wonder what my life will be like in ten years.

I loved the way Alice’s memories inserted themselves into her life as she progresses throughout the book – the way her “old” self pops in with a completely different voice and attitude from that of the younger Alice. I loved the way Moriarty did that.

The only thing that didn’t really work for me (at least, initially) were the way that Elisabeth’s journal entries and Frannie’s letters are inserted. I’m not sure if it was partially due to reading an eBook edition or not, but the ending of those sections was very abrupt and didn’t look to be properly separated from the others, so that was jarring at first until I figured out that the indentation changing back indicated the end of the letter/entry. Their storylines also seem completely “off-topic” for the most part, considering the blurb on the back of the book, but they do eventually come together and help form part of the larger story. But until I figured that out and became interested in their storylines, those parts had a tendency to feel somewhat like they were tacked onto the story. In the end, though, I think they worked – just thought the implementation was not as good as it could have been.

I’m really glad my book club selected this book to read because I don’t think it’s something I would have picked up on my own, though I thought the blurb was really interesting. Overall, I really enjoyed this read and highly recommend it. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Liane Moriarty’s work in the future!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird BoxPublished: May 13, 2014 by Ecco
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 293

Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news.  But they became too frequent, they became too real.  And soon, they began happening down the street.  Then the Internet died.  The television and radio went silent.  The phones stopped ringing.  And we couldn’t look outside anymore.

Malorie raises children the only way she can; indoors.  The house is quiet.  The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows.  They are out there.  She might let them in.

The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall.  Soon she will have to wake them.  Soon she will have to blindfold them.  Today they must leave the house.  Today they will risk everything.

Imagining a world where opening your eyes could make you go mad really made me think about walking around outside after I finished this book. AHHHHH. I loved Bird Box. I hated putting it down and every time I had to, I looked forward to picking it back up. While I did have some issues with the book, I still loved the book and my issues didn’t affect my rating.

I went into this book having no idea what it was about, knowing only that Malorie and her children could not look outside, and anything they did outside had to be done blindfolded. The book alternates between the present, the day Malorie and her children are preparing to leave the house they’ve lived in for four years, and the day in the past that Malorie learned she was pregnant. Not knowing anything about this book was so awesome. I loved learning more about what was going on bit by bit.

I did have a couple of issues (I didn’t like that the children weren’t named… that made no sense to me, and I was also confused about something that the news reports fairly early on because I couldn’t understand how they would possibly know that), but overall, those issues didn’t affect my rating. I still loved the book and highly recommend it. That said, there are some pretty gruesome scenes, so I would go into the book keeping that in mind.

I really hate how hard it is to write about books that you love, because I just want to throw this book at everyone and make them read it. XD Very happy that my book club picked this one out, and super excited for the discussion about it in a couple of weeks. :)

AHHH JUST READ IT. XD

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Stories, #1)Published: May 6, 2014 by DAW
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross – a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality.  Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner.  The Phantom Prom Date.  The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.  Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his.  She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom.  After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

I found Sparrow Hill Road at the bookstore when I was picking out books for my birthday present from my parents. I’ve read and loved several of Seanan McGuire’s other books, and I definitely don’t regret one of her books being a birthday buy.

For those familiar with the InCryptid books (Discount ArmageddonMidnight Blue-Light Special, etc.), Rose’s story takes place in the same universe, and while some of the characters from that story are mentioned very rarely (the Healy family), I have only read Discount Armageddon so far and didn’t feel that I was necessarily missing anything. I do think that someone who is more familiar with the universe will definitely appreciate the mentions, though!

Going into Sparrow Hill Road, it is necessary to mention that it was originally serialized. Due to the original format, there is a lot of repetition across the stories, so if that’s something that you as a reader wouldn’t be able to look past and would get horribly annoyed by, Sparrow Hill Road may not be for you. That said, there is a really awesome story here, so it would be a shame.

The collection opens up with “The Dead Girl in the Diner,” and the story completely blew me away and even made me cry. It was creepy, sad, and awesome all at once. While some of the following stories didn’t grab me quite as much as that one did, they all showed us another piece of Rose’s world, and I really liked what I was seeing. I will warn potential readers that the stories don’t seem to have a connection between them until about halfway through. At that point, the skips through time between stories becomes much smaller and each story is more closely linked to the one before it.

While I liked the short story-esque aspect of the collection, it also has the downfall that, for the most part, once a story concludes, the reader doesn’t feel a huge need to continue on to the next one until they want to know what Rose is going to get herself into next time. I think this is basically just because of the original way the story was told, so be prepared for the beginnings of most of the stories to slow down a bit, but I will say that once each story gets going, it’s hard to put down again.

My only complaint in terms of the writing (which I’m not factoring into my rating) is that a lot of the terms of this world are mentioned and then not really explained. While it can be gleaned from the text what and who these terms refer to, I personally found it a bit overwhelming at first. I was happy to discover that there is a field guide at the back of the book which explains some of them in more depth (however, there are some minor spoilers in the explanations, as a warning). My confusion with the terms may be related to not having read other stories from this universe, though, and the field guide at the back of the book cleared up the grand majority of my questions. I also admit that it would probably be a little strange for Rose to need to explain them, since they are and always have been a part of her world.

I LOVED the idea of the different layers of America, and the ghostroads, and the twilight and midnight and daylight and all of it. I just… I can barely express how much I loved it. Such an awesome idea and McGuire does awesome things with it. I was completely entranced by the imagery of the several layers of America, and I just… AHHH, I just loved it. So awesome. Overall, I found this to be a really enjoyable collection, and I’m really looking forward to (hopefully) seeing where Rose’s story goes next!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the GiftsPublished: June 10, 2014 by Orbit
Pages: 407
Format: Hardcover

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks 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.

Melanie is a very special girl.

It was so awesome going into this book not really knowing what it was about or anything else about it. It made the beginning especially so much more awesome.

I saw The Girl With All the Gifts advertised in GoodReads’ ads on my phone and filed the title away in my brain for another day, and then a little while after it came out, it became one of my birthday book picks. I was very excited when it was chosen for my online book club, and while my expectations were fairly high, I was not disappointed.

I fell in love with the first few chapters of this book as I learned about the world and the people bit by bit through Melanie’s eyes, and while I was a bit jarred and disappointed by the changes of POV that take place after the first few chapters, I eventually grew accustomed to it and didn’t mind quite as much later on. I loved Melanie’s POVs and she was definitely a part of what made this book so awesome for me.

There’s also a lot of science in this book, and though I will admit that in parts, it went over my head, I enjoyed what I understood. It was really interesting in parts, and I liked that it felt plausible, or at least was explained in such a way that it did. I loved that the mystery here was unveiled bit by bit through science and through the characters’ experiences and observations.

As I mentioned before, I was originally disappointed by the multiple POVs. I was also a bit tripped up by the present tense, at least initially. Instead of flowing in my mind, it really stood out to me and I had a hard time getting past it at first, but eventually the story seemed to flow with it a bit better, and I didn’t mind so much after I’d read a bit more of the book.

It’s really hard to talk about books that blew you away, but I loved how everything came together. Even though it’s been a week since I finished this book, Melanie is still in my head. I can’t stop thinking about her.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant

The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell: A Newsflesh NovellaPublished: July 15, 2014 by Orbit Books
Pages: 84
Format: Kindle Edition

Portions of this short story take place after the events of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy.  No spoilers for the trilogy are in my review, but I would not recommended reading this story without having read the trilogy first.

Outside the classroom walls the Rising was spreading, but inside was a carefully protected sanctuary against the growing threat.

Or so the teachers and students thought.

As a warning, some blurbs contain spoilers for the story, so be careful!  That said, on with the review.

This short story was incredibly hard to read for me. Knowing it takes place at an elementary school made me almost not want to finish, in a way. I read it over the course of the day because I kept having to put it down because I was sad or horrified or both. I just knew horrible things were going to happen and that was hard sometimes. But I loved the story and I found it very hard to stop reading even while being horrified and sometimes needing to give myself a break.

An interesting, if heartbreaking, look into another angle of the Newsflesh world.

(As a note to the curious, the story takes up the majority of the pages.  There is a short excerpt from Mira Grant’s Parasite at the end.)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely BonesPublished: August 7, 2002 by Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 324
Format: Kindle Edition

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.  I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her – her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

The Lovely Bones, at its start, was horrifying and made me feel sick to my stomach, but I really wanted to know how things were going to be resolved, so I powered on. I felt like the book made me pretty invested in this family and their healing after what had happened to them, and then threw that all out in the window at the last minute.

I think part of my issue with the book was knowing Susie’s killer from the beginning. Seeing him evade police and others over and over again was extremely frustrating and didn’t keep the book interesting for me. I just wanted him to get caught and for it to all be over, but he kept narrowly avoiding being caught, or characters would come close to some bit of evidence and pass it by for whatever reason, and I found it absolutely infuriating.

Another complaint, though minor in comparison, is that we are introduced to a bunch of characters up in Heaven who seem to have little role in the story. There seemed to be a fair number of them and they would be dropped for 50-100 pages and then namedropped and I’d be like, wait, who? That pulled me out of the story a lot, especially towards the end, or any time there had been a big gap between the Earth and Heaven scenes.

I also was just not interested in Susie’s version of Heaven at all. It didn’t resonate with me for several reasons and I didn’t care for those aspects of the story. I wanted to know how Susie’s family was doing on Earth, and how things were going in the investigation, and I wanted things to be resolved, and the scenes in Heaven didn’t move any of those things forward. The handful of things I did like about this part of the story won’t be mentioned here due to spoiler reasons.

I liked the writing, for the most part (there were a few lines and phrases that I definitely side-eyed, though), but the story just went in a different direction from what I was expecting. Especially toward the end, I was just beyond enraged with the direction it went, and it really soured my opinion on a book I was already kind of teetering with in terms of my opinion.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Review: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)Published: February 2, 1999 by Bantam
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 760

This review is for the second book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire.

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky.  And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns.  Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.  It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.  Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.  Against a backdrop of incest and fratercide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel… and the coldest hearts.  For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

lolol I originally started this in January 2012, restarted it in March 2013, and finally finished it tonight.

I haven’t watched the TV show at all (not planning on watching any of it until I have read the books), so I’m not coming from that point of view with this review.

So after the unstoppable rollercoaster that was the second half of A Game of Thrones (I read the last 50% over the course of a couple of days), A Clash of Kings was a bit of a disappointment in the beginning. It was back to a very slow buildup, and it continued with some of the issues I had with the first book, namely that I found the constant changes in POV to be extremely frustrating. Over the course of this book, though, I kind of came to terms with it, because typically by the end of each section, I was like, NO, I WANT TO GO BACK TO THAT PERSON, STOP, DON’T CHANGE POVS :( so while there were a few times where I was basically crying NO, WHY A JON CHAPTER, I was usually able to make myself get over it pretty quickly and read on through, and was usually excited to get back to that character ASAP (and it didn’t happen with just Jon’s, that was just one particular example, haha), so it definitely kept me reading. The book definitely picked up pace around halfway through and I had a really hard time putting it down, even if I did stray to other books often earlier on in my reading.

While I was originally frustrated with the new characters because I wanted to go back to the old ones that I already knew and whose stories I was already invested in, I ended up really liking at least one of the new additions (Davos!), and those that I couldn’t really find exactly likable were still interesting for their own reasons. I’m both looking forward to and dreading new additions in the next book, haha.

I was kind of torn on how to rate the book, since the beginning was frustrating and slow for me, but later on it was SO HARD to stop and it was all I could think about if I had to put the book down for work or anything else.

I didn’t see a lot of the twists and turns coming in this book, though I was able to go back and see some of the foreshadowing, and I loved that. I’m so excited to continue on with A Storm of Swordsonce I can get my hands on a copy. I’m on the waitlist for it at the library right now and I have another library book to finish in the meantime, but the wait is going to be torture!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesPublished: May 5, 2009 by Broadway Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 350

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.  She survived – and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer.  Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club – a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes – locates Libby and pumps her for details.  They hope to discover proof that may free Ben.  Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club – for a fee.  As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started – on the run from a killer.

This is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year, and I’ve been trying to write this review over the past several days, and I’m finding that it’s hard to review books that you love.

So… Dark Places. I don’t know if I can say it’s my favorite of Gillian Flynn’s books, having not read Sharp Objects yet, but I definitely loved it and preferred it over Gone Girl. I read both for my book club, but I will probably be picking up Sharp Objects on my own soon because I’m antsy to check it out now.

Flynn had me with the book’s opening line – “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.” The opening paragraph pulled me in and I had an extremely hard time putting it down. I read a lot of the book before shifts at work, and starting my work day was awful. I couldn’t wait to get back to this book and uncover more of the mystery.

The story of the Days is told in alternating perspectives – Libby tells us about her life in present day, while her mother and brother shed light on what happened in the past, starting with the morning before the murders. The way it was presented definitely helped glue me to the pages. It drove me crazy at times, but not in a bad way. The three different perspectives were unique and interesting, and I wanted to get back to each one ASAP.

I love Flynn’s writing. She describes things in such a blunt, unflinching way, and I’ve come to love it. Her characters are both realistic and completely unlikable in a lot of ways, but I found myself really liking Libby in the end, though I spend a lot of the book having this weird love-hate relationship with her.

Dark Places was full of twists that kept me reading.  I loved seeing how the little bits of the story came together.  If you need to love the characters you’re reading about, Gillian Flynn might not be the author for you, but I thought this was definitely still worth reading despite usually needing to love the characters in a story.  I’m very excited to read Sharp Objects now and I’m happy that I rejoined my book club with this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: Etched on Me by Jenn Crowell

Etched on MePublished: February 4, 2014 by Atria Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336

I received a paperback of Etched on Me through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.

As a heads up, this is not a book I would recommend to everyone, as I think a lot of the content could be pretty triggering. That said, I thought the book was an interesting look at mental illness through one young woman’s eyes. I was both surprised and sad to learn that parts of the story was inspired by actual events.

Etched on Me was incredibly difficult to read at times (enough so that I originally picked it up toward the end of February and put it back down for a while), but I really loved Crowell’s writing. Lesley felt very real to me, which is part of what made the book so heartbreaking to read. I ended up crying several times while reading it. Crowell really made me want Lesley to succeed. I loved the phoenix metaphor that was used several times throughout the story. I also was not familiar with Crowell as an author and was surprised to learn at the end of the book that she is from Portland – the book takes place in England and Lesley’s voice feels very realistic.

The only thing I didn’t like was how a few things turned out toward the end of the story, and I wasn’t sure how realistic that was, but after learning it was based off true events, I reconsidered that stance a bit.

I originally thought it was a YA novel because I learned about it on SimonTeen’s Facebook page, but after reading it, I wouldn’t describe it that way. But it is a coming of age story, and I enjoyed seeing Lesley’s transformation over the course of the story. Despite this one being a difficult read for me in a lot of ways, it was definitely worthwhile for me and I’m looking forward to reading more of Crowell’s books in the future.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars