Results May Vary by Bethany Chase {Book Review}

8.20.2016

 It would be easy for a novel involving the aftermath of infidelity to turn into a navel gazing, depressing, wallowing sort of story, but that doesn't happen with Results May Vary by Bethany Chase.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Results May Vary in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Results May Vary hits you with a gut punch right off the bat. Caroline, a modern art museum coordinator, learns that her husband has cheated on her. The novel follows her process of dealing with surprise after surprise as she learns that she didn't know her husband as well as she thought she did.

You don't expect a roller coaster ride in what is essentially women's fiction, but it seemed like every time the story hit a lull, Chase would hit us with another twist or revelation. These weren't crazy departures from the story, but were believable and surprising at the same time.

It would be easy for a novel involving the aftermath of infidelity to turn into a navel gazing, depressing, wallowing sort of story, but that doesn't happen with Results May Vary by Bethany Chase.
Chase has created fully realized characters in this novel, with all the quirks of a real person. For example, Chase didn't include these details in the book, but when asked how Caroline dresses, she offered a crystal clear description:

Caroline has a very classic, 50's inspired, feminine style: she never wears pants if she can wear a skirt. A typical Caroline work outfit would be a silk button down tucked into a full, knee-length skirt, finished off with a beautiful belt and a pair of round-toed pumps. And one of the things that helps her get through the long New England winters is the sweaters: she's never met a cable knit, Fair Isle or intarsia that she didn't love.

It would be easy for a novel involving the aftermath of infidelity to turn into a navel gazing, depressing, wallowing sort of story, but that doesn't happen here. Caroline is smart, sassy, and determined to make the best decisions for herself. While the art metaphors were a bit heavy handed at times, more often than not they added texture to the story.

Results May Vary went on sale on 8/9, so go grab a copy!

It would be easy for a novel involving the aftermath of infidelity to turn into a navel gazing, depressing, wallowing sort of story, but that doesn't happen with Results May Vary by Bethany Chase.

A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install {Book Review}

8.15.2016

When I picked up A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install, I wasn't expecting a heartwarming, globetrotting adventure involving a man and a disheveled robot, but that's what I got.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of A Robot in the Garden in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

When I picked up A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install, I wasn't expecting a heartwarming, globetrotting adventure involving a man and a disheveled robot, but that's what I got.

For some reason, I thought this was a book intended for the YA crowd, but no. A Robot in the Garden is definitely not for kids! While handled in a subtle and tasteful way, our protagonist Ben carts his robot, Tang, around through many unique and not kid-friendly circumstances, including an android fetish hotel, the breakdown of Ben's marriage, and Ben's own floundering with his adult life.

Install works wonders with how she presents a near future world where androids are ubiquitous. Ben is not a fan though and fights through the change in culture with his antique touchscreen phone. This is a world we can recognize, but is just different enough to seem exotic.

Even the writing style reflects the personality of Ben, with clear and simple prose that communicates his thoughts and feelings without pretension. This was a delightful read and a perfect pick me up.

Smoke by Dan Vyleta {Book Review}

8.03.2016

Smoke by Dan Vyleta has all the makings of a great novel: a historical setting in Dickensian London, a system of religion involving smoke physically rising from people who are sinning, and three-dimensional characters. In Smoke, we follow the story of three boarding school students: Thomas, Charlie, and Livia. They are on quest to understand why people are afflicted with smoke, how some control it, and how to eradicate it from humanity's future.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Smoke in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Smoke by Dan Vyleta has all the makings of a great novel: a historical setting in Dickensian London, a system of religion involving smoke physically rising from people who are sinning, and three-dimensional characters. In Smoke, we follow the story of three boarding school students: Thomas, Charlie, and Livia. They are on quest to understand why people are afflicted with smoke, how some control it, and how to eradicate it from humanity's future.

The titular smoke has caused England to isolate itself from the rest of world, creating a technological and cultural desert. The government is corrupt and London has sunk into deprivation and dismay. This dark setting creates an atmosphere bordering on horror and certainly has a psychological thriller feel.

Some reviews refer to Smoke as a YA Gothic novel. I get the Gothic part, but the only aspect of YA that I found in this book was the age of the main characters. I certainly wouldn't characterize it as YA given the maturity of several storylines and the emphasis on the darker aspects of human nature.

The first third of this book really grabbed me, but my interest waned after that. I wanted more resolution, more discovery, more hope. However, readers who love a dark novel with religious aspects will eat this one up because Vyleta's writing is simply beautiful.

3/5

The Children by Ann Leary {Book Review}

7.29.2016

The Children by Ann Leary is a seemingly quiet family novel, set almost entirely in one location, and narrated by an almost-agoraphobe. It is a perfect Summer read, though I don't want to imply that it's fluff.

{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of The Children in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Children by Ann Leary is a seemingly quiet family novel, set almost entirely in one location, and narrated by an almost-agoraphobe. It is a perfect Summer read, though I don't want to imply that it's fluff.

This is the story of an unconventional family. I want to say dysfunctional, but that's not exactly the right word. The focus is on the children of Whit Whitman and how they view him and each other. There are revelations of family secrets, changed perspectives on who they thought their father was, and a mysterious new addition to the family.

Underlying these sweeping themes are details that created three-dimensional characters. The narrator, Charlotte, is particularly interesting - she runs a secret Mommy Blog, despite having no children. Her relationships aren't perfect and neither is she, but Leary writes her in such a way that the reader is rooting for Charlotte to succeed.

Some reviewers have expressed frustration about the ending of The Children, but I was perfectly pleased by it. While part of it was somewhat predictable, the overall effect was impactful.

4/5

The Loney by {Book Review}

7.20.2016

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley is a dark, creepy, and atmospheric book.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of The Loney in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley left me feeling puzzled. This dark novel is more atmosphere than plot, more creepy that horrific, more suspense than thriller. I was expecting a grand twist, but if it was there, I missed it.

The story is told from the perspective of a young boy, whose only name offered in the novel is his last - Smith. He travels to a desolate area of England called The Loney on an Easter pilgrimmage with his family and members of his local Catholic parish. His older brother, Hanny, is disabled and their mother is banking on a miracle.

The writing throughout this novel is beautiful, lyrical, descriptive prose, but I kept waiting for the action to start. Facts and story lines would arise that I was sure would be important later, but which simply disappeared or petered out.

I think an atmospheric novel is just not the best fit for me. I need more plot and more characters to really get on board. However, if you love dark, gothic, creepy stories, this one could be right up your alley.

3/5

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar {Book Review}

7.18.2016

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar has a classic sci-fi feel and explores deep themes of war, memory, and technology, all within the setting of a far future space port.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Central Station in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Reading Central Station by Lavie Tidhar was a singular experience. This novel tells the story of the people of Central Station, a space port near the city of Tel Aviv.

Many of the chapters were originally published as individual short stories, making Central Station read like a hybrid between a single narrative and linked short stories. As a result of this structure, though, a few story lines felt unfinished. It also reads like a sci-fi classic, which is right up my alley.

The world of Central Station is so realistically drawn by Tidhar that his descriptions of fantastical aspects of the future seem like references to completely commonplace occurrences. Of course there's a robot priest, preaching to appliances, cyborgs, and robots in the Church of Robot. Of course people live their lives with a node embedded, connecting them to everyone else in the digital world.

Central Station contained so many quotable lines that I was tempted to flood my feed on Litsy (I'm Madeline there if you want to follow me!). I'll leave you with one of my favorites in an effort to entice you to read this novel, which explores themes of love, war, memory, and technology:

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar has a classic sci-fi feel and explores deep themes of war, memory, and technology, all within the setting of a far future space port.

Read These Books {Quick Lit July 2016}

7.16.2016

YA Dystopia, World War II, embezzlement, geekdom, Millenial angst, and fairy tale adventures were all part of my reading life over the last month.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARCs of many of these books in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

If you'd like to destroy your TBR list, may I recommend heading over to Modern Mrs. Darcy and checking out all the submissions to Quick Lit? It's terrible and wonderful all at the same time! Here's what I read this month:

YA Dystopia, World War II, embezzlement, geekdom, Millenial angst, and fairy tale adventures were all part of my reading life over the last month.
The Fire Sermon and The Map of Bones by Frances Haig - I was happy to find a new YA dystopian series to read! Check out my review here.

The Assistants by Camille Perri - Student loan debt stinks and you can commiserate with just how terrible it is in this novel. Check out my full review here.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave - I struggled to stop comparing this book to All the Light We Cannot See, but it was still a good read. Check out my full review here.

YA Dystopia, World War II, embezzlement, geekdom, Millenial angst, and fairy tale adventures were all part of my reading life over the last month.

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer - Loved it, though there were a few references that seem a little racy for the 8-12 age ("harlot," "bimbo," "floozy," affairs, references to a boy being like a girl when very cold, etc.).

Armada by Ernest Cline - This novel by the author of Ready Player One was such a treat for fans of sci-fi and fantasy novels. Check out my full review here.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phoebe Patrick - This book was just so sweet, yet thoughtful, too. Check out my full review here.

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #0.1-0.2) - These were excellent backstories to choose from Red Queen. Although, it did make me anxious for the third book in this series!

Not Working by Lisa Owens - Being a lost soul can also be quite entertaining. Check out my full review here.