Friday, June 16, 2017

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry (Spoiler Alert)

My Husband's Wife is a book that kind of jumped out at me. I was in the bookstore one day waiting for my husband, saw it on the shelf and was so intrigued that I began reading it. I only read the first seven pages or so, but it was a book that stayed in my mind. Last week I was at Target and was pleasantly surprised to find it in their book section. I was in need of a new book so I picked it up and proceeded to read it in just two days.

Image from
Jane Corry does an excellent job of writing a thriller that isn't too terrifying. What I mean is that the novel keeps you on the edge of your seat but does not keep you up at night afraid that what is happening in the book will happen to you. In a word, it is my kind of thriller. The novel is told by two characters, Lily and Carla. From a writing perspective I thought it was interesting because Lily's sections are written in first person, but Carla's are written in third person limited (if I am remembering my terms correctly). So as a reader I always felt more connected to Lily and her well-being. This was an interesting clue in hindsight because at the end of the novel I was definitely left hating Carla and seeing her as the villain.

My Husband's Wife is a novel that does not have one main villain though. There is Carla of course, but also the character of Joe Thomas who is in fact a murderer. Lily is the lawyer that helps him make his appeal that ultimately sets him free, only to learn later that Joe was indeed guilty. Joe becomes involved in Lily's life, much against her will, and is a part of the entire novel. There is also the character of Ed, Lily's husband. Ed is someone who starts the novel out telling lies. He is an artist with an alcohol problem and eventually he leaves Lily for Carla. There are so many things that, while they don't make him the biggest villain, do make him guilty. His eventual murder is not a surprise because the book begins by letting the reader know this happens, but the murder(ers) themselves are surprising. And then there is Lily. She, like her husband, is not the biggest villain, however she is a key part of so many events. Not only that, but she does not fulfill her moral obligation to tell the police about Joe and in some ways encourages his behavior. Throughout the novel she does many questionable things and even though she is not necessarily punished in the end, I was left feeling like she was so much more a villain than a victim.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this novel. My Husband's Wife really spoke to the philosopher in me with all of its questions of morality and what it means to be marriedthe best thriller I have read, Gone Girl still has that spot, but it was definitely up there. For those that enjoy mysteries or thrillers, especially ones that make you think, this is a book for you.
. It was also immensely interesting and kept me turning the pages until it was finished. It was not

Friday, June 9, 2017

Update and Review of Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

 Hi! I'm back! I apologize for the long, unexplained hiatus. It was unplanned but came about because I had not really been reading recently. I know, shocking, but my mind has been so wrapped up in other things that I could hardly focus on anything, let alone reading. I found out back in April that I was pregnant again. While this news was welcome and joyful it was also frightening given my history. I am finally getting past the scary points and have been delving into books again. Until December when my little one arrives, I should be posting regularly once more. The first book I picked back up was Throne of the Crescent Moon.

Image from Amazon
I had heard of Throne of the Crescent Moon quite a few years ago. It was always a book I was interested in but never picked up when I ran to the bookstore. Then my husband and I attended Phoenix Comic Con a couple of weeks ago and the author Scott Lynch mentioned the novel. I felt like fantasy would be a good genre to pull me back into reading and so I went to the bookstore a few days later and finally bought Throne of the Crescent Moon.

This novel moved very quickly, which I enjoyed. There was a lot of action but it was not overly descriptive. The magic systems in the book were not explained in full and I think that helped lend the book it's pace. Sometimes I feel if magic is laid out rule by rule I lose interest. Saladin Ahmed did a perfect job of explaining just enough for me to want to know more but not enough to bore me. His magic systems were unique. There were religious aspects and elemental aspects that gave the magic a very ancient vibe. The book in and of itself had religious undertones but they were not "in your face" so to speak.  Throne of the Crescent Moon is very aware of itself.

I did feel as though the book ended a bit too easily and am curious to see what the sequel will bring. But I loved that there was a happy ending for the main character of Dr. Adoulla. Aside from him, my favorite characters were probably Zamia and Litaz. They are female characters that are strong and also kick some serious butt. I am hoping there is more about them in the upcoming novels, as this is meant to be the beginning of a trilogy.

Overall, this was a book I devoured and enjoyed. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy of any kind. If the other books were out I would already be diving into them. I am sorry again for the hiatus. And also sorry for the brevity of this post, pregnancy brain is a real thing. Happy reading!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sandman: Volume One Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

When I first discovered Neil Gaiman I devoured everything I could find, even if it was out of my comfort zone. So one day I found myself reading his Sandman comic series. That was four or five years ago. This week I sat down to reread the first volume Preludes and Nocturnes and was just as in love the second time around.

There are eight stories in this volume that make up the first complete story arc of Sandman. The art done by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III is fantastically horrifying. In fact, Sandman overall is fantastically horrifying. There are images and moments and stories from it that have stayed with me and struck me again as I reread. Dave McKean's covers for each story are striking and beautiful.  

Preludes and Nocturnes drew me in. The story "24 Hours" is one of my favorites as the grotesque poetry of it is haunting and thought provoking. It deals with the dark stuff of humanity and storytelling. Morpheus himself is an intriguing character, not just because he is Dream, The Sandman, but because he has existential crises just like humans. He has his own sense of what is just and unjust. And at his heart, Morpheus is the ultimate storyteller.

Overall, the reason why I love this series so much is because it scares me but also makes me think. It is not the most terrifying thing but not the most comfortable. It does what good art and writing is supposed to do, according to me anyway. This first volume really speaks to that and is a wonderful introduction to the series of Sandman. Comics are where Neil Gaiman really began and so as a fan of the author I always love to recommend this graphic novel. Even if you know nothing of Neil Gaiman and you just enjoy comics or horror or good storytelling, then you will enjoy Preludes and Nocturnes.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I found The Girl Who Drank the Moon by happy accident. I was in my local bookstore one evening and just perusing the shelves when I saw the beautiful cover. I read the title and was intrigued and after reading the summary on the inside of the jacket, I was sold. It was surprising that I had never heard of the book before since it has won the John Newbery Medal. In any case, the book found its way to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This is a special book. It has magic and a small dragon and other beautiful elements. The focus is on a town that sacrifices a baby every year to the evil witch who lives in the woods. It begins with a woman whose baby is the chosen one that year. She goes mad with loss and grief. The witch, whose name is Xan, actually has no idea about this sacrifice. All that she knows is that every year a village leaves a child out to die. So she rescues each child and gives it to a family in other towns who will care and love for it. On her journeys she feeds the children starlight, but this particular baby she accidentally feeds moonlight to. The result is that this baby, who is then named Luna, is enmagicked. Xan decides then and there that she must keep the child and love and care for her and teach her magic. But Luna's magic is very strong and she cannot control it, so Xan has to put her in a coma of sorts and block magic from her until Luna is thirteen. Once Luna turns thirteen and her magic is unleashed, Xan will die. So the book follows Luna as she grows up, while also following her mother "the madwoman" who has been locked up. There is a third character named Antain who lives in the village and his life is followed as well. I don't want to give away anymore as I enjoyed the twists and turns, but that is the gist of the story.

This was a delightful novel. It did not have quite the feel that I expected but I enjoyed the journey anyway. It felt like there were a lot of allegories in it for my own life and that personal aspect is what made me really feel connected to the story, more so than I probably would have. Luna was my favorite character by far but I also liked Glerk, the swamp monster. I especially loved the descriptions of magic in this novel.

Overall, The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a novel I would recommend only for those who enjoy young adult novels. I feel that if you are a reader who does not often delve into YA, then you would not get much from this book. But for me, it was filled with love and magic and wonder. I don't know if I will reread it alone, but when I have kids I will definitely read it to them. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

1984 by George Orwell **spoiler warning**

Painting found on Pinterest. Artist unknown.
1984 was always one of those novels that I heard a lot about, but somehow never read. Its not that it did not interest me, I think it is more that I was just waiting for when the time felt right. Granted, when I did decide to read it, I did not have that moment of saying: "Oh, now is definitely the time to read this book". But I think that somewhere in my subconscious I knew it would be prudent. It is a novel many today are referencing,  and in the current political climate I try to be informed and knowledgeable. Thus, when our March Audible came around, I decided to listen to 1984.

Listening to this book gave it even more of a horrific air, I felt. Although I do wish to someday reread this book and actually hold the novel and take notes and so on. But I am glad that I decided to listen to it because the narrator did an amazing job. The inflections and tones were all perfect and I think George Orwell would have been proud. It gave me the chance to work through the book more quickly, as well. I happened to have a lot of driving to do in the past couple of weeks so I would just connect my phone and listen to the book.

This novel is profound. It is part philosophy, part political theory, and part essay on the human condition and what it can handle. There is so much packed into it that I know I missed things. The general basis of the story is that all of Britain, which is now Oceania, is ruled by INGSOC or English Socialism. INGSOC is headed by Big Brother, who has a religious and cult like reverence about him, and has four main ministries. The Ministry of Love, which ironically focuses on hate and keeping up with "the two-minutes hate" and "hate week", moments where everyone is required to watch films of the "enemy" Goldstein and scream at the tele-screens and just get into a general state of mania. The Ministry of Truth, which focuses on changing the past via rewriting news articles and stories. The main character of Winston Smith works at this ministry. The Ministry of Peace, which deals with war and the military. And the Ministry of Plenty, which deals with economics, or rather, creating scarcity. There are also three main parties: Inner Party, those who are at the top of the top economically and politically, the Outer Party which contains those who work in the ministries, and the Proles who are the bottom 85% of the population. This is just a brief summary of the main political themes within the story. There is also the detail that everyone is always watched via the tele-screens that litter the streets and are in every office and every home. There is the fear of being arrested by the "thought-police" for something as small as a wrong facial expression. There is a language called "new-speak" the main goal of which is to do away eventually with all language and thought. Overall, it is a terrifying climate.

Winston begins the novel beginning a diary. He knows that just by buying the journal he could be arrested and by further writing in it he is sure to die, but something in him propels him to write down his thoughts. His thoughts are even worse for he hates Big Brother and wants to have sex and wants to think. However, he is able to get away with his secret diary for quite some time. The novel mainly follows him in his day to day life and through his thoughts about any and every thing. Eventually he begins an affair with someone he works with, Julia, and they are even able to keep this a secret. But of course, they are caught. There are moments where I thought they would not be, that maybe they would get away and they would be able to change the world, but it was not to be. The entire third part of the novel deals with Winston being arrested and tortured and essentially brainwashed. By the end, he loves Big Brother and his whole thought process has changed, and then he is shot.

I loved the end of the book. Well, not because Winston died, but because Orwell did not give the book a cheap finale. He stuck to his guns about the philosophy and the power of Oceania and Big Brother and so it was more believable of an end. The finality of it was perfection. There is no escaping or changing Big Brother.

I have a thousand thoughts about the philosophy and politics in the book, but this is a book blog and not a political blog so I don't want to take this post there. Just know that 1984 will make you think but it will also terrify you. I did not love any of the main characters but I don't think that as the point anyway. I think the characters served as vessels for the philosophy to be written out. The point of the novel was not Winston Smith, it was INGSOC. And that is why it remains such a poignant and relevant novel sixty-eight years later.

In conclusion, 1984 is quite the novel. My husband and I joked that it should be required reading before people are allowed to vote. (Of course we don't mean this.) But the meaning behind the joke is that there is a lot to process from the novel. It talks so much about the consequences of not thinking for oneself and what that can do. Or even the consequences of putting total trust in the government. Even if you don't care about all of the politics, it is still interesting because it keeps you on the edge of your seat. The whole book is filled with the threat of Big Brother and the thought-police. So if you just want a good thriller of sorts, 1984 would fill that criteria. Whatever the reason for you deciding to read this book, do so soon. It is a novel that speaks a lot about current times and serves as a warning to us all. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy 1 Year Anniversary!

The actual 1 year anniversary was actually March 11, but since I try to post every Friday I decided to wait until today to write a small piece.

First of all, I want to say thank you so much to all of you who have stuck with me through this past year. Thank you for caring what I think about what I read. Thank you for sharing my posts with your friends. Thank you for being here!

Second, this is a huge achievement for me. I have tried in the past to keep blogs and write consistently but it always fails. Some of these include random personal blogs, music blogs, and more. I guess it makes sense that a book review blog would be the one I stick with, but it just astounds me since this past year was the hardest of my life. Yet I still was able to keep up with reading and reviewing.

Lastly, I wanted to share a few fun statistics! The most viewed review was Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds at 256 views. The least viewed review was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling at 21 views. (This made me a bit sad as my favorite reviews were all of my Harry Potter reviews). My facebook page has 63 likes, which makes sense since I get an average of 50-60 views per review. Overall, I have reviewed 31 books on this blog.

I intend to keep reading and reviewing as much as possible! This year I want to involve my readers more and hopefully see more engagement and sharing. If you have suggestions or requests for things you would like to see, please comment below! And if you have ever enjoyed any of my reviews, please share my blog with others, I would appreciate it so much.

 Look for my review of 1984 by George Orwell next Friday and have a lovely evening!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams **Spoiler Alert**

Snapshot of one of my afternoons this week.
This book was one of two gifted to me for my twenty-third birthday this year. I had not heard of it before but was eager to dive in since A Certain Age is set in the 1920s, one of my favorite time periods. I had also not heard of Beatriz Williams, although after reading this book I am looking forward to reading her other novels. Thus, I went into this book knowing very little about it which is what made it such a delight to read. And I did read it very quickly.

A Certain Age begins as a story about love and adultery but turns into a story about secrets and murder. The easy way with which it picks up the pace was admirable. I loved that one minute I was engrossed in the love affair between Theresa and Octavian, and the next minute I was dying to know all of the details of the murder of Mrs. Faninal. The novel reminded me very much of The Great Gatsby for this reason, although TGG starts out with a touch of mystery.

There were other similarities as well between A Certain Age and The Great Gatsby such as the tension between old and new money and the struggles of love in that type of society. Both of these novels ended with gunshots as well. Although the end of A Certain Age was less of a relief because I was left heartbroken for Theresa and her baby, which Octavian never finds out about. At least at the end of TGG I know that Gatsby is out of his misery.

I deeply appreciated that the author did not tie up the ending and left much to be thought about and considered. It proved to me just how much I cared about Theresa and what happened to her in the end. I never cared much about Sophie and I think part of it had to do with the fact that Sophie's sections are told in third person, whereas Theresa's sections are told in first person. The book just felt more about Theresa overall.

In conclusion, I enjoyed A Certain Age. I am not sure if it is a book I will reread, but it is one I know I will think about often. It was a nice book to have with me through this past week and I was constantly waiting to get back to the story when I was away from it. I would recommend this book, especially if you love mystery or the 1920s or love affairs or all of the above.