12.03.2017

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout {Book Review}

The style of Anything is Possible is consistent with Strout's signature sparse prose and the characters seem painfully real. There are many stories that are dark, touching on taboo topics: incest, infidelity, molestation. Families are tested and raw emotions are often on display.  #books #reading
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Anything is Possible free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Book

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Publication Date

April 25, 2017

Rating

 

Review

Elizabeth Strout has an amazing ability to make even a simple conversation about something mundane seem incredibly poignant and meaningful. Anything is Possible is a collection of short stories, set mostly in small town, rural America that does just that.

If you've read the much-discussed My Name is Lucy Barton (see my review here), then you will recognize some of the names mentioned in Anything is Possible. Strout didn't feel done with the story of the people who populated Lucy's childhood, so wrote this stories about them. (I love a spin off.)

The style of Anything is Possible is consistent with Strout's signature sparse prose and the characters seem painfully real. There are many stories that are dark, touching on taboo topics: incest, infidelity, molestation. Families are tested and raw emotions are often on display.

Lucy Barton herself appears in one of the stories, but there is definitely no need to read My Name is Lucy Barton in order to fully appreciate Anything is Possible. However, reading these details about the lives of people from Lucy Barton adds a layer to the story - we never really know whether people are who they present to the world.

11.27.2017

Void Star by Zachary Mason {Book Review}

Void Star follows several characters, all of whom are living completely different lives in a post-apocalyptic sort of world. The reason for the chaos is shrouded in mystery, though we hear references to burning cities, entire swaths of land completely deserted, and epidemics.  #books #bookreviews
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Void Star free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

THE BOOK

 Void Star

PUBLICATION DATE

April 11, 2017

RATING


REVIEW

Reading Void Star by Zachary Mason felt a whole lot like going down a rabbit hole. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that this sci-fi novel was going to have me in a constant state of confusion, I just went with it and I couldn't put it down.

Void Star follows several characters, all of whom are living completely different lives in a post-apocalyptic sort of world. The reason for the chaos is shrouded in mystery, though we hear references to burning cities, entire swaths of land completely deserted, and epidemics.

Despite the destruction of so much of the world, technology has moved forward exponentially. In fact, it has moved so far that mind implants have become a thing of the past and artificial intelligence has become the future.

This seems like a novel that people either love or hate because you never quite feel like you're on solid ground. I definitely fell into the love column and will be thinking about this story for quite some time.

11.26.2017

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan {Book Review}

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan is the second book in the Shadow Magic series. It's not often you come across a middle grade fantasy series with death and destruction, but enough humor to keep the mood light.  #middlegrade #books #reading #bookreview
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Dream Magic free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan is the second book in the Shadow Magic series. It's not often you come across a middle grade fantasy series with death and destruction, but enough humor to keep the mood light.

Dream Magic picks up the story of Lily, who recently became Lady Shadow and the rule of Gehenna. Her ancestral home, Castle Gloom, is windowless, full of zombies, and haunted by ghosts. But none of this is scary in Gehenna, where death is embraced and honored.

We also pick up with Thorn, whose mysterious connection to the nation's Executioner, Tyburn, continues. I am anxious to read the third book in this series mostly because of the underlying suspense concerning Thorn and his future.

The plot of Dream Magic was a bit more convoluted than that of Shadow Magic and a few of the jokes here were a little too explicit for a middle grade book (mostly double entendres that many kids will not understand and talk of kissing), but this is otherwise a solid middle grade fantasy read.

11.03.2017

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer {Book Review}

Have you been looking for a book featuring a giant god-like flying bear, a mysterious Company ensconced in a skyscraper within a decimated city, and some shape-shifting biotech? Then do I ever  have the book for you - Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. I guess the cover should have clued me in to what I was in store for! #books #bookreview #review
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Borne free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Have you been looking for a book featuring a giant god-like flying bear, a mysterious Company ensconced in a skyscraper within a decimated city, and some shape-shifting biotech? Then do I ever  have the book for you - Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. I guess the cover should have clued me in to what I was in store for!

While reading Borne  I learned about the existence of an entirely new-to-me genre - New Weird. The genre starts with ideas often found in fantasy novels, but pushes those ideas to extremes that will leave your brain hurting. According to this article from Book Riot, the idea is to "subvert cliches of the fantastic in order to put them to discomfiting, rather than consoling ends." Other authors who write in this genre are China Mieville, David Mitchell, and Octavia Butler.

But back to the giant bear  . . .  in Borne, we are introduced to an unnamed post-apocalyptic city and to Rachel, who has survived it by the skin of her teeth. She has teamed up with Wick, a drug dealer, in an alliance that can feel tenuous. We follow her as she meets the titular Borne and struggles to deal with her circumstances. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but this story was riveting.

I was very happy to see that VanderMeer is writing a few novellas in the Borne universe, which I will certainly pick up. I also plan on reading his Southern Reach Trilogy because I am apparently a fan of New Weird!

10.16.2017

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Myers

If you remember the story of the Madoff ponzi scheme, then you know the plot of The Widow of Wall Street. #books #madoff #bookreview
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of The Widow of Wall Street free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Book

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Myers

Publication Date

April 11, 2017

Plan to Happy Rating


If you remember the story of the Madoff ponzi scheme, then you know the plot of The Widow of Wall Street. It has only a few deviations from the story and is told from the perspective of Phoebe, who married Jake Pierce at 18, before he began the scheme that devastated so many.

I'm a little torn on this one. Reading it prompted me down a rabbit hole of Wikipedia and newspaper articles about Bernie Madoff, his inner circle, and the fallout of what is likely the worst financial scam ever perpetrated. I even listened to the Ponzi Supernova podcast on Amazon Channels (which was great, by the way).

But I'm torn because while reading this novel, I found myself skimming ahead past yet another internal monologue saying the same thing the last five internal monologues said: he couldn't fix it ad the pressure was killing him. It became repetitive.

I also wasn't very interested in Jake's perspective. I feel like there is tons out there about the scam and how it happened. I would have enjoyed a novel entirely from his wife's point of view. I also would have loved the focus to be on the aftermath, rather than the downfall, of the House of Madoff. In any event, this was a good read, especially for those who love the drama surrounding this true life story.

10.08.2017

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey {Book Review}

I feel like I was missing a fan to flutter in front of my face while reading this adorable YA Historical Fiction novel, with a bit of romance thrown in. In Duels and Deception (which almost sounded like a non-fiction title to me) by Cindy Anstey, we meet Miss Lydia Whitfield, who is considered much too clever for her own good in 1817 England.   #ya #historical fiction #books
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Duels and Deception free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

I feel like I was missing a fan to flutter in front of my face while reading this adorable YA Historical Fiction novel, with a bit of romance thrown in. In Duels and Deception (which almost sounded like a non-fiction title to me) by Cindy Anstey, we meet Miss Lydia Whitfield, who is considered much too clever for her own good in 1817 England.

Also wrapped up in this delightful novel is a bit of a whoddunit, some star crossed lovers, and a whole bunch of Regency manners.

Duels and Deception is Anstey's second novel and I loved her writing style so much that I already went and bought her first book, Love, Lies, and Spies. It felt so much like Jane Austen, but with a more modern sense of humor.

Before reading Duels and Deception, I had never heard of its publisher, Swoon Reads. It's an imprint of Macmillan that publishes young adult and new adult novels. According to the Swoon Reads website: "Writers can submit their original, unpublished manuscript to the Swoon Reads website, and readers who sign up can rate and comment on manuscripts to help us choose which titles we want to publish." Sounds like a wonderful way to find new authors and stories.

9.16.2017

Tea Tour {Subscription Box Review}


{Many thanks to Tea Tour for sending this box free of charge.}

I was hunting through my old post archive and ran across this review that I never published! Given my terrible Summer cold (thanks, first week of school), this review seemed particularly appropriate this week. Here goes!

THE BOX

Tea Tour

THE COST

Starting at $14

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Three tea samplers straight from Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company in Greenwich Village, NYC

REVIEW

I have a soft spot for these tea subscription boxes because they are affordable and feel like such a treat when they arrive in the mail. Here's what Tea Tour sent:



Top left: Ancient Jasmine Emporer
Bottom left: Keeman Mao Feng
Right: Peach Oolong

Tea Tour is the perfect subscription box for someone who loves to try new things, while supporting a small business at the same time. The tea was fragrant and great quality without the tiny, broken pieces that will sometimes accompany loose leaf tea.

Gift subscriptions are available, too!