Category Archives: reviews

Ready Player One

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This novel is pure nostalgia in a lot of ways. While I didn’t grow up in the ’80’s, the movies, music, and television from that era are so pervasive in American society and pop culture. John Hughes movies are still shown on television as are TV shows like Family Ties and Square Pegs. Turn on any classic rock station and you can find Pat Benatar and Foreigner. I really enjoyed reliving many of the classics I grew up watching and finding out new ones. Ernest Cline knows the decade well.

I loved how the novel incorporated so many elements. It’s like playing a real video game at times in your head as the characters battle it out in the OASIS. The theme of the blurring of reality and fantasy was so well done. And is just as pervasive in our world. This is the reason many people read. To escape their own reality for a little while and enter someone else’s. And in the OASIS, that’s exactly what happens. Your world erases and you are allowed to build a new one. You can create a character to be anything you want. There are no limitations.

That is why, in Cline’s Ready Player One, the OASIS is so popular. The real world around them has crumbled and they’ve retreated into the comfort of the OASIS. Enter the main character Wade, better known as Parzival. He’s a self made gunter, a person hunting for Halliday’s famed Easter Egg and his fortune. Halliday was the creator of the OASIS and when he died he left behind him the greatest game he ever made, the hunt for the Egg and for his massive fortune.

During the journey for the Egg, Wade begins to realize that perhaps virtual reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nowhere is perfect. It may be easier to hide behind your avatar but rarely does the easy path lead to change.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

The Library at Mount Char

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Wow, just wow. This was honestly like no book I’ve ever read. At first I didn’t know if I liked it or was just confounded by it. In a roundabout way, The Library at Mount Char is a story about creation, with definite biblical tinges. The world is now in the fourth stage of creation and ruled by Father, a heartless monster of a person who is training his “children” in different catalogs of knowledge. All of these children and their father live in the Library, a kind of metaphysical limbo. Each child is in charge of their own catalog and cannot share or will face extreme punishment. The catalogs are wide and varied from mathematics to resurrection.

The story itself starts off with a bang. You’re introduced to Carolyn who is walking the street covered in blood. So many, seemingly unconnected things, happen in the beginning. It’s not until you get closer to the end that you see what the novel is about.

Carolyn is the central figure. She’s the key to unlocking this mystery. But it’s a kind of slow burn to figure out how everything ties together and how these gruesome events all serve a greater purpose.

By the end of the novel, I was devouring the pages. I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded and see how much Carolyn grew throughout. Even as smart as she is, Carolyn has important things to learn if she is to control her destiny in a positive way.

This novel reminded me very much of the Golden Compass trilogy. Not so much the story line but in the dealing of large and weighted topics. In the destruction of the world and the building of new beliefs.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment in the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

First Glance

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Annie Van jacket

Next up in the Pop Reading Challenge is the first book I noticed upon walking into a bookstore. That could be many things but the novel that sticks with me the most in Katherine Howe’s The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen. The cover is really odd but breathtaking in it’s simplicity. I noticed it right away when I walked into my local bookstore. It was on display in the current pubs right as you enter.

I walked right over and picked it up and was just as intrigued by the book’s description as I was by the cover. I do love a good ghost story.

According to the book jacket, the novel is about an aspiring filmmaker named Wes who is going to summer school at NYU. While helping out a fellow student he sees a girl who instantly intrigues him. A girl named Annie. Soon Annie and Wes start spending more and  more time together and begin looking for the thing that Annie lost.

I can’t wait to find out what exactly it is that Annie lost and what secrets they uncover along the way about her past.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen. Happy reading!

Luckiest Girl Alive

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Ani FaNelli is leading what she thinks is the perfect life. She has a blue blood fiance, a high powered job in NYC working at a magazine, and a killer figure. But underneath all of the facade lies something not so pretty from her past that continually gnaws at Ani. But nothing can stay buried for long, no matter how hard we try to repress them.

I have to say, this novel kind of disappointed me. I was expecting something different than what I ended up with. I found it hard to like the main character. Ani is like a high functioning sociopath. She seems to revel in the fact that she’s “damaged” and feels the need to damage those around her. I imagine the characters as grown up versions of the cast of Pretty Little Liars. They’ve grown up in the same area, the Main Line in Pennsylvania, and all care about wealth and status.

Ain does have redeeming qualities and some very horrible things happen to her that she manages to survive and even, in some instances, to thrive. She refuses to let anyone see her for who she truly is, most of all herself. She keeps a lot of things pressed down tightly. In a way this is a coming of age story. Ani does find herself at the end and finds out what she truly wants and what she doesn’t. But it’s a bit of a slog to get to that realization.

Final Rating: 3/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

NY Bestseller

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First up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a New York Times Bestseller. I’ve seen this book everywhere lately and have been dying to read it. And, according to the cover the book was an instant NY Bestseller. That novel is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

From the description, it’s supposed to be very much like Gone Girl but with it’s own twist. The teasers on the flap definitely drew me in. I can’t wait to find out what’s hidden in Ani’s past and how that past might jeopardize her future. I’ve been trying to avoid reading any reviews online so as to avoid spoilers. This seems like one of those books where the twist ending pulls the whole plot together.

Stay tuned for the full review of Luckiest Girl Alive. Happy reading!

The Nightingale

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When I first started reading The Nightingale I was immediately reminded of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Both novels are very similar, in some respects. They both take place in France during WWII and deal with the German occupation of the country. Both are tragic tales about the courage of ordinary people who become extraordinary.

The Nightingale is a novel about family. Two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, have been torn apart by the tragic death of their mother and their father’s inability to take care of them. As they grow older the rift continues to deepen. Vianne marries early and starts a family as her way of coping with the loss, while Isabelle escapes from various boarding schools making her way back to their father in Paris before being sent out again.

The war brings the two sisters together again in their family home in Carriveau. Isabelle is determined to stand out and help the French Resistance, while Vianne is determine to hide in the background and take care of her young daughter. But naturally, nothing goes as planned in war.

The sisters soon find themselves doing things they never thought they would to protect those they love and find the glory they wish to achieve. They realize things about each other and themselves that they had refused to see before. And find out that maybe the other sisters’ way of thinking may not be so wrong after all.

Isabelle becomes further and further involved in the Resistance, earning the name The Nightingale. Vianne becomes a force herself trying to protect the children of Carriveau and surrounding areas.

I don’t want to say too much however. This is a novel that you must experience for yourself. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I did indeed cry for about the last quarter of the novel. There is so much tragedy that is all the more heartbreaking because it happened. People’s capacity for hope is an amazing thing. Even in the bleakest of times there is something to strive for.

Rating: 5/5

Stay tuned for the next, and last, installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

A Re-Return

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel that I started reading but didn’t finish. There aren’t many novels that I start and don’t finish simply because I have a compulsive need to finish every novel even if I don’t particularly care for it. In this case, I just couldn’t read the novel fast enough. I checked Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale out from the library many moons ago and started to read it but couldn’t finish in time before I had to return the novel. I’ve placed a hold on the novel and have finally got it back so that I can finish it.

I can’t wait to finish the novel and see what happens to each of the characters. I have a feeling that this is one novel that will bring me to tears. The other Hannah novel I read for this challenge, The Winter Garden, had me crying and I feel this novel will be very similar.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Nightingale. Happy reading!

The Bottom of the Pile

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book on the bottom of my to read pile. Since I’ve been doing this challenge, my list of books to read has narrowed and narrowed. I don’t have many books from which to choose for this category anymore. Ultimately, I decided upon Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood. This book was published this year and hasn’t been on my list long. However, since I’ve started this book challenge, I’ve bumped this novel from many other categories it could have fallen into. I was going to read it for the crime novel but decided against it. Then I was going to read In a Dark, Dark Wood as an author I’ve never read before and bumped it again.

Finally I bumped the novel to this category, a perfect fit. From the back, this novel sounds like it’s going to be a nice cozy type mystery. Women get together after many years for a hen party that goes tragically awry. I can’t wait to see what twist awaits me in this mystery.

Stay tuned for the full review of In a Dark, Dark Wood. Happy reading!

Career of Evil

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Career of Evil is the third installment in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. The first, The Cuckoo’s Calling, introduced us to both Strike and Robin and focused much of it’s efforts on how to plot of the novel brought the two characters together. The second Strike novel, The Silkworm, was extraordinarily plot driven. And this newest novel is a mix of the two. Career of Evil lets us get to know more about these characters that we’ve come to love. We learn about both Strike’s and Robin’s past and how their pasts lead them to each other and the life that each has chosen.

Strike and Robin remind me so much of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. They have a similar rapport with each other, outside of crime solving. Out of the three, this novel is by far my favorite. I feel like these two characters have been through so much together but know so very little about each other. And as a consequence, we the reader, don’t know much about either’s past.

This novel shines a light on the past of each and how it drew them to where they are. As we already know, Strike’s mother was a groupie and his father a famous rock star. The crime in this case directly goes back to Strike’s past and is the perpetrator’s way of getting revenge on Strike. The three main suspects represent each phase of Strike’s life and all of them have a good reason to want revenge. Robin’s past, although not directly related to the case, ultimately leads to her involvement in it.

I loved seeing both Robin and Strike evolve in this novel. The characters have so much depth to them. The closer I got to the end the sadder I became. I didn’t want this novel to have an ending. I would happily continue reading about Strike and Robin.

As with the other two novels, this one has all of the danger and perhaps a bit more romance. I loved the focus on each character as they get to know each other better, faults and all. This novel has a lot of miscommunication, especially between Robin and Strike. They see and hear what they want, and that may not be at all what the other person means. It leads to many tense moments in the novel and to the novel’s conclusion, which isn’t so much about the plot but more about resolving the conflict between characters.

Rating: 5/5 Can’t wait to see what’s next for this crime solving duo.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

The Mistress of the Salmon Salt

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book my mom loves. Like myself, my mom loves a good mystery. She’s been reading the Cormoran Strike novels and recommended them to me for this challenge. I read the first two and liked them immensely. Cormoran Strike is a brilliant character. He’s an English Philip Marlowe if you will. He’s got all of the demons chasing him from his past that he continually tries to outrun.

In this novel, his assistant Robin gets sent a human leg in the mail which leads them down a dark trail to find a killer who has a vendetta against Strike. Once again, Strike and Robin take matters into their own hands and doggedly try to solve the case against the wishes of the police department.

I can’t wait to read what’s in store for Strike and Robin and perhaps find out more about both of their pasts.

Stay tuned for the full review of Career of Evil. Happy reading!