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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Down the TBR Hole #2

Back at it again, kids! My TBR is currently at around 300 and I suuuper need to cut that down.

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?

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Octopus: The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate

The visually arresting and often misunderstood octopus has long captured popular imagination. With an alien appearance and an uncanny intellect, this exceptional sea creature has inspired fear in famous lore and legends – from the giant octopus attack in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Ursula the sea witch in The Little Mermaid. Yet its true nature is more wondrous still. After decades of research, the authors reveal a sensitive, curious, and playful animal with remarkable intelligence, an ability to defend itself with camouflage and jet propulsion, an intricate nervous system, and advanced problem-solving abilities.

In this beautifully photographed book, three leading marine biologists bring readers face to face with these amazingly complex animals that have fascinated scientists for decades. From the molluscan ancestry of today’s octopus to its ingenious anatomy, amazing mating and predatory behaviors, and other-worldly relatives, the authors take readers through the astounding life cycle, uncovering the details of distinctive octopus personalities. With personal narratives, underwater research, stunning closeup photography, and thoughtful guidance for keeping octopuses in captivity, Octopus is the first comprehensive natural history of this smart denizen of the sea.

If any of you know me, you’ll know I’m in love with cephalopods and that my apartments is plastered with octopuses. KEEP.

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The Wild Girls

It is the early 1970s. Twelve-year-old Joan is sure that she is going to be miserable when her family moves from Connecticut to California. Then she meets a most unusual girl. Sarah prefers to be called Fox and lives with her author dad in a rundown house in the middle of the woods. The two girls start writing their own stories together, and when one wins first place in a student contest, they find themselves recruited for a summer writing class taught by the equally unusual Verla Volante. The Wild Girls is about friendship, the power of story, and how coming of age means finding your own answers, rather than simply taking adults on faith.

Umm, this sounds beautiful and I absolutely still want to read it. I think I originally thought it was an lgbtqia book and it doesn’t appear to be canonically so, but I’m still moving it up on my TBR list! KEEP.

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This Is How You Lose Her

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

I’ve heard many good things about this and am still intrigued by it! KEEP.

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The Eye of the World

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

I vividly remember a cute, drunken college student telling me how good this series was one of the first and only times I went out with the party kids during my undergrad career. I know it’s recommended to fans of ASOIAF and LOTR and I do enjoy the former, but feel like I probably won’t be committing to this series anytime soon. TOSS.

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A Guide to Being Born

A Guide to Being Born is organized around the stages of life—love, conception, gestation, birth—and the transformations that happen as people experience deeply altering life events, falling in love, becoming parents, looking toward the end of life. In each of these eleven stories Ausubel’s stunning imagination and humor are moving, entertaining, and provocative, leading readers to see the familiar world in a new way.

In “Atria” a pregnant teenager believes she will give birth to any number of strange animals rather than a human baby; in “Catch and Release” a girl discovers the ghost of a Civil War hero living in the woods behind her house; and in “Tributaries” people grow a new arm each time they fall in love. Funny, surprising, and delightfully strange—all the stories have a strong emotional core; Ausubel’s primary concern is always love, in all its manifestations.

UHHH, this cover is beautiful and these stories sound amazing!! This is moving up up up on my TBR. KEEP.

Aaaand, I only ended up removing one book, but I did move two to my TBR ASAP list! Which means they will hopefully be read and removed by the end of the year.

Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Policing the Black Man [review]

NOTE: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way impacts my review.

Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis book cover
Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis
To be published by Knopf Double Day Publishing Group on July 11, 2017
ARC eBook Edition, 336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-101-87127-0

Policing the Black Man is a collection of essays detailing both the history of racism in the United States’ criminal justice system and the issues we face today. These essays were written by various criminal justice experts. The essays are strongly connected to modern issues, discussing recent killings of black men by police and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The essays are laid out in a common sense manner, beginning with the roots of racism in criminal justice and moving forward to where we are today. They are all extremely well-written and, for the most part, easily digestible by the layperson. Some of the material presented was things I already knew, but the details and additional statistics provided allowed me to more fully grasp what has been going on. A decent amount of the material provided was brand new to me–for instance, I had no idea to what extent prosecutors were involved in racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

This book was extremely eye-opening to me, particularly as a white woman of relative privilege. This book provided everything I look for in a non-fiction book, from good writing to fascinating content. I highlighted endlessly, whenever notable statistics or vital information came up. Its only downfall was that a handful of sections became a little too technical at times and I got lost in them. Otherwise, this was an incredibly important read that I recommend to all, particularly those with an interest in racial relations and/or the criminal justice system.

Rating: ✪✪✪✪

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2017 (so far)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is best books you’ve read in 2017 so far. I’ve read approximately 30 books at this point, so I’ve got a decent amount to choose from compared to recent years! A handful of these don’t have reviews linked because I read them before I started blogging and a couple have not been released yet, so my reviews for those are scheduled to be published once they’re out!

 

10. milk and honey by rupi kaur

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milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

9. Sand by Hugh Howey

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The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this land of howling wind and infernal sand, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost.

Palmer has never been the same since his father walked out twelve years ago. His elder sister, Vic, is trying to run away from the past; his younger brothers, Connor and Rob, are risking their lives to embrace it. His mother, left with nothing but anger, is just trying to forget.

Palmer wants to prove his worth, not only to his family, but to himself. And in the barren, dune-covered landscape of his home, there is only one way to earn respect: sand-diving. Plunging deep below the desert floor in search of relics and scraps of the old world. He is about to embark on the most dangerous dive of his young life, aiming to become the first to discover the rumoured city below.

8. The Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson, review

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Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?

7. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

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Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

6. The Book of Cthulhu II edited by Ross E. Lockhart

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For nearly a century, H. P. Lovecraft’s tales of malevolent Great Old Ones existing beyond the dimensions of this world, beyond the borders of sanity, have captured and held the imaginations of writers and aficionados of the dark, the macabre, the fantastic, and the horrible. Now, because you demanded more, anthologist Ross E. Lockhart has risked all to dive back into the Cthulhu canon, combing through mind-shattering manuscripts and moldering tomes to bring you The Book of Cthulhu 2, with even more tales of tentacles, terror, and madness.

Featuring monstrous stories by many of weird fiction’s brightest lights, The Book of Cthulhu 2 brings you even more tales inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s greatest creation: The Cthulhu mythos.

5. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right – stopping a vile trade in humankind – Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen’s armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Yet there was a time before the Crossing, and there Kelsea finds a strange and possibly dangerous ally, someone who might hold the key to the fate of the Tearling, and indeed to Kelsea’s own soul. But time is running out…

4. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, review

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My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

3. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

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One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

2. The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

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Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

1. The Fireman by Joe Hill

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No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke

 

Thanks for reading! What are your top reads of 2017 so far?? Have you read any of the ones on my list yet–and if so, what did you think of them?

You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

 

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Rapid Fire Book Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Rachel @ peace, amore, libri to do the Rapid Fire Book Tag. And here it is!

Question 1: E-books or Physical Books?

Both for sure! I love physical books, but e-books are perfect for my commute and for books that would otherwise be super bulky (the asoiaf series, for instance). I also NEED my kindle app to read NetGalley books!

Question 2: Paperbacks or Hardbacks?

Paperbacks all the way. Hard covers are nice for decoration, but I stress too much about ruining dust covers and they’re just not practical for me when it comes to actual reading. My books tend to take a beating.

Question 3: Online or In-store Shopping?

In store! Bookstores warm my heart and I love browsing physical shelves. Online shopping just isn’t as interactive and while it can be convenient at times, it just doesn’t cut it for me with books.

Question 4: Trilogies or Series?

Trilogies, just because I have such a difficult time following series! I always forget to keep an eye out for upcoming books and I can lose track of everything real fast. Trilogies give me less to worry about.

Question 5: Heroes or Villains?

It’s a tie for me, it depends on the hero and it depends on the villain!

Question 6: A Book You Want Everyone To Read

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It is a commitment, but it is SUCH an amazing book!!

Question 7: The Last Book You Finished

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

Question 8: The Last Book You Bought

Three books at once! Everything, EverythingThe Glass Castle, and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Question 9: Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark

Um, I’ll use literally anything as a bookmark if I don’t have one on hand. A candy wrapper might be the weirdest??

Question 10: Used Book Yes or No?

Yes! I mean, why spend the extra money on a new book when you can get a used for a fraction of the price? My favorite thing is used book sales at libraries.

Question 11: Favorite Book Genre

That’s a hard one for me! I’m a mood reader so it changes based on what I’m into at the moment. YA is probably my favorite this month.

Question 12: Buy or Borrow?

I need to get back into the habit of borrowing!! I haven’t had access to a library in over a year but I literally JUST got a library card for my local library (finally), so my new deal with myself is that I am only allowed to buy a book if it is one of my absolute favorites and/or if the cover is so Aesthetic™ that I NEED to display it on my shelves. Hold me to this, y’all.

Question 13: Characters or Plot?

Characters! I don’t care how good the plot is if I do not care about the characters at all.

Question 14: Long or Short Books?

Depends on my mood, honestly!

Question 15: Long or Short Chapters?

Short! It’s nice to have little built-in breaks in books. Especially because I like to stop at the end of chapters if I can, so shorter chapters makes that easier.

Question 16: Name the first three books you think of

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. House of Leaves. Harry Potter.

Question 17: Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry

Both! Books that make me feel any kind of emotion strongly are good.

Question 18: Audiobooks Yes or No?

No, I usually miss bits because it’s hard for me to stay concentrated. I might try them again someday after I work through my backlog of podcasts, though.

Question 19: Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Absolutely. I know it’s not always a good thing to do, but I don’t have time to read the description of every single book ever!

Question 20:Book to Movie or TV adaptation?

TV! Movies are usually too short to really get everything important in. My pet peeve, though, is that TV shows usually give the creators a reason to add unnecessary things in or to continue making more seasons even when it’s not warranted.

Question 21: A Movie or TV show you preferred to the book

I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but I hear The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made a better movie than book (I’m not enjoying it so far so I’m sure I’ll agree with that).

Question 22: Series or Standalones?

Standalones! Same reasons as listed above in the trilogies vs series question. Although duologies and trilogies are doable for me most of the time. And I do enjoy series, don’t get me wrong! I just struggle to read them all a lot of the time.

 

And that wraps it up! I tag anyone who is interested in participating in this tag! 😉

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday: Father’s Day

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This is my first time doing TTT, and I’m excited! 🙂

This week’s theme is Father’s Day. This is perfect, because my dad has had a huge influence on my love of reading. My dad was also a reader for a very long time. He has a great love for Stephen King and all things horror, so now I have a great love for Stephen King and all things horror. For my Top Ten Tuesday, I’m going to list 10 books from my TBR list that remind me of my dad, and are topics that I think he’d enjoy to some extent. Here we go!

Nostradamus: The Man Who Saw Through Time by Lee McCann
My dad has always had a thing for Nostradamus and I got this book for free, so it’s perfect!

Fascinating glimpse into the life and career of the enigmatic physician whose books of prophecy have intrigued readers since their publication in the 16th century. Presents modern interpretations of his most astonishing prophecies-many imminent in the next ten years!

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
This is a series my dad has always loved, so I’ve been meaning to read it forever! I have his old copies of most of the series, but don’t have a matching copy of this one. I recently bought a kindle version when it was on sale, so I’ll probably get around to reading it soon.

This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
A classic Stephen King book, I don’t think I need to say more.

Thousands of miles away from the small township of ‘Salem’s Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to ‘Salem’s Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.

Papi: My Story by David Ortiz
Okay, this one is a little off-genre, but my dad is a HUGE Sox fan, so it still makes sense.

David “Big Papi” Ortiz is a baseball icon and one of the most popular figures ever to play the game.  As a key part of the Boston Red Sox for 14 years, David has helped the team win 3 World Series, bringing back a storied franchise from “never wins” to “always wins.” He helped them upend the doubts, the naysayers, the nonbelievers and captured the imagination of millions of fans along the way, as he launched balls into the stands again, and again, and again.  He made Boston and the Red Sox his home, his place of work, and his legacy. As he put it: This is our f*ing city.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
My dad also loves space and science!

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
My dad lives in the woods of New England, has an unbelievable amount of wilderness survival skills, and would probably love to be a hermit, so.

Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality–not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.

The Book of Cthulhu edited by Ross E. Lockhart
Back to horror!

The Cthulhu Mythos is one of the 20th century’s most singularly recognizable literary creations. Initially created by H. P. Lovecraft and a group of his amorphous contemporaries (the so-called “Lovecraft Circle”), The Cthulhu Mythos story cycle has taken on a convoluted, cyclopean life of its own. Some of the most prodigious writers of the 20th century, and some of the most astounding writers of the 21st century have planted their seeds in this fertile soil. The Book of Cthulhu harvests the weirdest and most corpulent crop of these modern mythos tales. From weird fiction masters to enigmatic rising stars, The Book of Cthulhu demonstrates how Mythos fiction has been a major cultural meme throughout the 20th century, and how this type of story is still salient, and terribly powerful today.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
My dad also loves learning about indigenous folks.

In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”

Dune by Frank Herbert
Sci-fi! He also loves sci-fi.

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the ‘spice’ melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

That’s only 9, but I kind of ran out of things I thought my dad would actually like. Regardless, I had fun doing this and can’t wait until next weeks’ TTT!

You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Everything, Everything [review]

everything everything by nicola yoon book cover

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Ember (Penguin Random House, LLC) in 2017 (originally 2015)
First Ember Edition, 305 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-553-49667-3

Y’all I just finished Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and WHERE do I BEGIN.

Actually, I know exactly where to begin. I’m going to begin with the caveat that, while I enjoyed this book, I can acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with it!! I do not consider myself physically disabled and thus cannot speak to the topic as an expert. I implore you to seek out some reviews speaking specifically to the problems present in this book, particularly this one (it does contain spoilers, although mine does not).

My review will be specific to my enjoyment of the book as a book, and not objective in any way. I am coming from a place of extreme privilege in this respect and acknowledge that. All this is to say that I am very aware of the many troubling issues there and I encourage other readers to explore these as well.

And with that, let us begin.

One thing I’m certain of: Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.

Everything, Everything is an adorable YA novel about a girl named Madeline who has a condition known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). This means, essentially, that she is allergic to loads of things and cannot leave her house because she doesn’t know what might trigger a deathly reaction. Madeline is 18 years old and hasn’t left her home since infancy. No one comes in, and she lives in near-isolation with only her mother and her nurse, Carla. Of course, an intriguing young man moves in next door and Madeline is immediately smitten.

This book gave me so. Many. Feelings. I haven’t felt this way while reading a book in ages!! I think it’s also been a while since I’ve read YA, specifically contemporary romantic YA. I’ll admit it upfront: I’m a sucker for cheesy romance. I’m a hopeless romantic. I love instalove. I love the concept of loving someone with your whole being. This book GOT ME. My heart ached and it took all my self-control not to roll around wailing the whole time I was reading it. But that’s just me.

Love is a terrible thing and its loss is even worse.
Love is a terrible thing and I want nothing to do with it.

I really adore that Maddy and Olly got to know each other through emails and IMs! (I won’t count that as a spoiler because it’s pretty predictable and happens very early on.) It made me so nostalgic. I can’t tell you how many of my relationships (friendships included) have been formed through online interactions. I’m such a shy, anxious person out in the real world that technology allows me to build relationships with people in a low-pressure environment where I don’t have to stress face-to-face interactions until after I feel comfortable with someone!

I also ADORED the writing. Nicola Yoon is very talented and there were only a few phrases from this book that I rewrote in my head (for some reason I keep getting Editor Brain while reading–I’ve never been an editor! Although, I did work in my college’s writing center for a while.) It was easy for me to feel immersed in the story and I love the illustrations that we get every so often! It’s a cute, fun way to tell a story and I really appreciated it.

I will caution avoiding the movie trailer until you’ve read the book. That’s something I try to avoid in general and I didn’t even know Everything, Everything was being made into a movie until I bought it a week or two ago, so I lucked out. The trailer, in my opinion, gives away some things that I considered to be too revealing. Basically, the movie trailer is filled with spoilers. You basically get the whole plot out of it, except for the ending. It’s annoying. I’m glad I got to go into this mostly cold and I want you to do the same if you can!

Anyway, I think that’s about all I have for this one. I definitely recommend it, particularly if you enjoy romantic YA novels. Don’t go into it expecting a great portrayal of someone with a disability, others do a much better job explaining this than I would (as stated in my initial paragraph).

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

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: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

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?

You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

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!