Book Reviews

Emma in the Night [review]

**Note: This book was given to me by St. Martin’s Press as part of a sweepstakes. This in no way impacts my review. Review was written in May of 2017.


Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
To be published by St. Martin’s Press on August 8, 2017
Advance Readers’ Edition, 305 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14143-9

I honestly do not know where to begin with this book. I entered the sweepstakes to win a copy of the ARC of Emma in the Night on a whim. The cover was enticing, the plot looked interesting. Hey, why not. I had not read anything else by Wendy Walker and I had not heard anything about this release yet. Boy, was that a good decision. This is an incredible read that could otherwise have slipped me by.

Emma in the Night is a story about a girl and her sister, who vanish without a trace. Three years later, the younger sister reappears. She seems willing to tell the authorities everything she knows about their disappearances. There’s a lot going on, however, that she isn’t willing to talk about. The story is told from the perspectives of Cass, one of the sisters, and Dr. Walker, an FBI agent who can see deeper than anyone else working the case.

At first, I found the disjointed storytelling to be confusing and frustrating. We were just getting bits and pieces of the story from Cass herself or secondhand from Dr. Walker’s recounted conversations with Cass. Right off the bat, the writing style made me feel really lost in the story. As things progressed, I realized how intentional (not to mention essential) this was. Cass is an unreliable narrator, and makes it clear that she only feels the need to reveal things that will help her cause: finding her sister.

The characters were fascinating, complex, and well-developed. The plot and the writing were phenomenal. I could not make myself put this book down. I loved watching the story unravel, seeing things make both more and less sense as we progressed until it all came together with an impressive flourish. I knew there were twists coming, but I truly had no idea what was in store for me.

Wendy Walker blew this out of the water. Her writing is immersive and carefully crafted. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this book–and I’m sure it will be great as a re-read as well. I’d recommend it to all who enjoy a good plot twist, but particularly to fans of thrillers and crime novels.

 

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Glass Castle [review]


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Published by Scribner in 2006
First Scribner Trade Paperback Edition, 288 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-743-24754-2

You can’t kill something just because it’s wild.

Oh wow, I have so many feelings about this book. This was my first time reading The Glass Castle. In all honesty, I didn’t even realize it was a memoir until I sat down with it and really took a look at the blurb on the back. I’ve been hearing about this book for ages and the fact that it’s getting a movie finally pushed me to read it NOW. So when I saw a used copy for sale at a bookstore recently, I couldn’t help but pick it up.

The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeannette Walls that focuses mainly on her relationships with her family. Jeannette had an atypical upbringing; her father was a manic alcoholic and her mother spent most of her time daydreaming instead of parenting. Jeannette and her siblings had to raise each other and often had to go without food and proper shelter.

I could hear people around us whispering about the crazy drunk man and his dirty little urchin children, but who cared what they thought? None of them had ever had their hand licked by a cheetah.

Jeannette perfectly conveys the intricacies of the difficult relationships we sometimes have with the people we love. In many ways, Jeannette’s father reminded me of my own and reading her story hit harder to home than I expected it would. While there are countless differences between her experience and mine, I can relate to some of the things she has dealt with and I can understand loving someone in spite of things that could be seen as unforgivable by others.

She was keeping it, she explained, to replace the wedding ring her mother had given her, the one Dad had pawned shortly after they got married.

“But Mom,” I said, “that ring could get us a lot of food.”

“That’s true,” Mom said, “but it could also improve my self-esteem. And at times like these, self-esteem is even more vital than food.”

While I deeply appreciated the story, the writing itself fell flat for me at times. Jeannette is descriptive and often paints a full picture of the scenes in her life, but at the same time she feels somewhat removed. Her story is told matter-of-factly, often with little emotion. While this is commendable in some ways, it also made it hard for me to really get into the story at some points. Although I may have struggled for a bit, I did find myself quickly devouring the last third of the book.

Overall, Jeannette presents a fascinating, well-written story that I would recommend to all.

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

May Wrap-up


Hi all! Sorry this is a little late but it is my first monthly wrap-up post, yay! I started this blog just over a month ago and I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s progressed so far, although there’s still quite a ways for me to go. Let’s get started with this!

Books I read:

  • The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells. 3/5 stars, review.
  • Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang. 5/5 stars, review to come.
  • The Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson. 5/5 stars, review.
  • Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. 3/5 stars, goodreads review.
  • Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker. 5/5 stars, review to come.

Average rating: 4.2 stars.
Books read: 5.
Comments: It was a good month for good books! I rarely give out 5 stars so I was pretty #blessed in May for good reading. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance and Emma in the Night aren’t going to be published for a bit, so I’ve scheduled my reviews for a week before their release dates! Follow and/or check back in to see what I have to say about them–hint, it’s almost entirely good things. 🙂

Misc. Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

25/35 books read in 2017.

My reading goal is almost always 50 books for the year and I’ve never hit it… so I decided to be a little generous with myself this year. I think I read 33 books in 2016, so I decided to shoot for 35. Looks like unless something goes terribly wrong, I’ll hit it! Let’s say 50 is my stretch goal. 🙂

Currently 11 books ahead of schedule for 35, and just a little ahead for 50! Things that have helped have included: using my commute to read eBooks on my kindle and having a consistent work schedule that allows for me to read more after work and on weekends! I’m hoping to pick up my pace a little more, but I’m still happy with how I’ve been doing.

June TBR: A tentative list, but here we go!

  • Policing the Black Man by Angela J. Davis (currently reading)
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (currently reading)
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

 

Aaaand, that’s a wrap(up)! How was May for all y’all? My favorite read of the month was probably Emma in the Night. What was yours?? And what are you looking forward to in June?

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Book Tags

down the TBR hole [tag]

Alright y’all, I’m pulling this tag from what the log had to say! Overall a good tag, I gotta go through my TBR to weed stuff out more!

The rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here we go!

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Yes yes yes yes I’ve still been meaning to read this so bad.

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
I still absolutely need to read this.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry
Meh, it’s still a cool concept, but I don’t think I’m as into it as I was before. I’ll take it off for now.

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue
Pretty sure there’s some lgbtq stuff going on here, so it’s gotta stay!

Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid by Wendy Williams
I’m pretty obsessed with cephalopods, so this also has to stay.

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Book Reviews

The Roses of May

**Note: This book was received through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.


The Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson
To be published by Thomas & Mercer on May 23, 2017
Advanced Reader’s Copy E-book Edition, 302 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-503-93950-9

Right off the bat I’m going to give my trigger warnings for this book, although it isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list. I will not be discussing these triggers in my review. Content warning for The Roses of May for: eating disorders, stalking, and sexual assault.

I was STOKED when I saw this on NetGalley. I had just read The Butterfly Garden a month or two beforehand and couldn’t believe my luck in stumbling across an ARC of the sequel. I gave The Butterfly Garden five stars and was really looking forward to what Dot Hutchinson was up to next.

Let me just start off by saying that even though I hyped this book up in my mind, it completely lived up to it. I didn’t even read the plot summary because I was so sure that Dot would pull out another wonderful work. It was kind of nice to go in cold and without much in the way of expectations as far as plot goes, but I will briefly cover the story.

The Roses of May is definitely a sequel to The Butterfly Garden. I think I’ve seen a few folks say it could work as a standalone piece, but I really disagree. I mean, it’s certainly possible to read it without any context, but I just don’t think it’ll hold up as well. A lot of the characters carry over and their stories are so closely tied that I don’t think it would do the story justice not to have that background.

The Roses of May focuses on a young woman named Priya whose story is largely unrelated to The Butterfly Garden, save for the fact that the same group of FBI agents had worked a case close to her. Dot Hutchinson uses this connection to weave Priya’s story in with that of the Butterflies’. This book follows Priya’s life five years after the murder of her older sister. Naturally, the killer returns and the agents are on the case. It sounds a little cheesy, but it’s really well done in my opinion.

Dot Hutchinson’s writing is fantastic, per usual. I remembered being struck by her writing in The Butterfly Garden and was glad to experience it again so soon! The story was immersive, the characters were wonderful, and it was almost impossible for me to put down. It was also wonderful to read a book with women of color as the main characters! There are also two notable lgbt women, which I was super excited about! There are so many complex women in Dot Hutchinson’s books, I love it. It was also great to see a really nice mom-daughter relationship, which I feel like we don’t see enough of.

Overall, The Roses of May was a fantastic read that I would highly recommend to anyone interested, but would probably be best for lovers of thriller and crime. I can see why it wouldn’t work for some people, but I loved it!

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Bookworm Blogging

Goodreads Shelves — How do you use them?

I recently (read as: today) delved into the world of Goodreads Shelves. Of course, I regularly use my read/to-read/currently reading shelves, but I’ve never branched out further than that. Today, at the behest of Goodreads itself, I made a “favorites” shelf. Then I decided to make a “to re-read” shelf too! My next big project will likely be a “owned but unread” shelf, to keep track of the books in my physical TBR pile/shelf/I’m really not organized enough to keep them all in one place.

So how about the rest of you? How do you use your Goodreads shelves? How many do they have, how do you decide what goes where? I love organization, so any ideas and suggestions you all have would be welcome!