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Archive for the category “What I’m Reading”

Review: Taste of Lacey

Taste of Lacey
Taste of Lacey by Linden Hughes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book surprised me. After a slow start, “Taste of Lacey” unfolded into a smartly written and realistic dramatic romance. I’d recently read some very cliched books which were driving me toward giving up on the IR sub-genre altogether, but “Taste of Lacey” has somewhat renewed my faith.

First off — I’ve never been much of a romance reader until recently. I always thought heaving bosoms, throbbing members, and ripped bodices were laughable. If I had known stories were written like this — about real people in real situations — then I would have been reading a long, long time ago.

“Taste of Lacey” almost turned me off, though. The book starts with Lacey rightfully being proud of herself after a successful event run by her company, but then she’s making arrangements with her lifelong neighbor for a stress-relieving tryst. Now, I understand that Ryder McKay is her brother’s best friend and therefore would answer the call to support Lacey’s big day. I also understand that they’d have no problems being in close quarters because they’ve grown up together. I even understand that they both may have succumbed to the energy of the moment. What turned me off was that insta-heat “fit like a train to a track” stuff. Perhaps what bothered me most was how coarse the language got when Rye and Lacey got close. Not just in dialogue, but in the narration.

I feel it set a false precedence.

Sure, this book has tons of fire between Rye and Lacey, but this isn’t an endless smut-fest. There’s a real story here (and a lot of smut).

I had read on some discussion boards about what IR readers don’t like. One of them was the constant reference to the differing races/cultures. The story’s subtext is built upon that — how very different Lacey and Rye are on the outside but so alike on the inside. I was worried that it would be redundant to read about how fascinated Ryder was with Lacey’s skin, but it was kind of cute.

The standout in this book is Ryder. His interaction with his family and others is engaging and very real. His thoughts about Lacey are authentic. Sure, he is ruled by his gender, but he is well aware that his addiction to Lacey goes beyond physical. I kept waiting for some confession that he’d been intrigued by her since they were kids. That being with her was a wish fulfilled. I even expected Lacey’s father to say something like that–reveal some childhood declaration Ryder had made and forgotten about that was finally coming true. But those cute but cliched moments never came. However, I would have liked to actually hear from Lacey’s father and not a third or fourth person relaying the message.

There were times where I thought Lacey was being a bit ridiculous with her wildly vacillating emotions, but this was the first time in forever that she truly felt something for someone, and she doesn’t have the first clue on how to manage these feelings in her highly controlled life. There’s a scene where she rips her dress to shreds that left me scratching my head.

I appreciate that the author didn’t gloss over their races. I’m glad Lacey was aware that not everyone was accepting of their relationship simply because of their skin colors, even though she tried to use that as an excuse to not pursue her feelings. I also liked that the opposition was coming from her mother and brother and not bigoted strangers.

The dialogue was sparse early on — they were in the bed during most of the first third of the book… I would have liked for more diverse interaction, but they both are creatures of habit, so Ryder and Lacey quickly fell into a routine.

With the introduction of the supporting cast, it still took a while for interactions to feel real. Lacey’s cousin and business partner are terrific, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of the book where I felt Lacey’s dialogue loosened up with Monica and felt like real best friends who happened to be related. I’d like to think that Lacey was just that uptight over Ryder that she doesn’t relax in any aspect of her life until she and Ryder declare themselves official…but it doesn’t read that way.

The rest of the players leave a lasting impression, unfortunately, I never really cared all that much for Lacey. I would have given the book another star if Lacey had more growth.

I would love for some of the subplots introduced in this book to be expanded upon but not resolved, particularly Monica and Lisa. I bet Lisa’s got her own secret lover.

“Taste of Lacey” is a solid read. It’s enjoyable from nearly start to finish. I had a tough time getting into it, but after chapter 1, things flowed smoothly for an engaging read.

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Review: Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft

Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft
Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft by Jessica Bell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had read three other books on writing the week I read this title, so maybe I was burnt out. The book is just okay… I didn’t really learn anything and found the large list of examples to be too much. I ended up skipping most of them.

Don’t get me wrong, there is good information here; I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this book–I did make notes. There’s wisdom in the pages.

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Review: Girl With a Pearl Earring

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this audio book years ago, and the feelings this story evoked have stuck with me all these years. I knew nothing about writing then…I was schlepping my way through life and the cover struck me, so I borrowed it from the library. I sat in my car long after my commute to hear more about Vermeer and Griet.

I may revisit this title one of these days and see if I have the same response.

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Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally sat down and read this book (well, I listened to it over the course the week leading up to Christmas). Sharp Objects was so good, Dark Places drove me batty, but was utterly enjoyable. Gone Girl…I don’t know what to think.


Okay, you’ve been warned.

The first third of the book was an absolute bore, but it’s by design. I hated Nick, hated Amy. I hated everybody except the cat, really. They were all just so mundane that it’s comical. I kept asking myself why Reese Witherspoon was producing this movie because nobody was gonna want to watch the equivalent of a grocery trip.

Even after Amy disappears, the book feels completely predictable. Let me add that the book alternates from Nick’s POV and Amy’s diary. Flynn uses this type of storytelling in all her books — I’m not a huge fan of alternating POVs which seems to be popular in today’s fiction, but I digress. Amy’s diary is that of a good little wife who loves her husband so much that she abandons her High Society life in Manhattan to follow her husband to his hometown somewhere in Missouri to care for his dying mother. Amy is dutiful despite living well below her upbringing, even after she and Nick both had lost their journalism jobs in NYC.

Nick is likable enough. He’s a typical guy. Nothing special about him, at least to me, but Amy thinks he’s hung the moon.

After Amy goes missing on their fifth anniversary, Nick is still likable enough. He does what his in-laws advise, appearing on TV shows and making pleas for his wife’s safe return. Forgetting Amy has an anniversary tradition of a scavenger hunt, Nick is handed the first clue by a police officer which leads to another clue…and another. In the past, Nick was never any good at deciphering Amy’s cryptic notes about moments and locations in their relationship that seemed to mean everything to her while Nick might not have paid all that close attention.

Things get interesting with the introduction of Nick’s twin sister, Go. I started to suspect she may have had something to do with Amy’s disappearance because of jealousy or something. All the while Nick is still so friggin’ likable, and not really all that worried about where his wife is. I can’t really say that I suspected him right off, but at this point I was not pleased with the book because it felt so formulaic. Things really get interesting when Andie shows up. Nick’s been boning one of his community college students–now he’s not so likable. Yay!

During all this, the dull drivel of a lonesome, but perfect, housewife keeps showing up in the form of Amy’s diary. That part was kind of confusing now that I look back on the whole book because the actual diary was not found until the third act, so what we’re reading is really Amy as she’s writing her diary entries; however, they don’t line up with the timeline of Nick telling his story. Okay, I’ve just confused myself.

Moving on…

Nick kinda-sorta befriends one of the cops investigating his wife’s disappearance. At least she doesn’t outright suspect and detest him like her partner.

So, at this point, I’m suspecting Nick because he’s taken the last of his wife’s trust fund and opened a bar, has been having an affair with a co-ed, and Amy’s life insurance policy was just bumped up. Amy’s belongings are turning up along the trail of her scavenger hunt, but not as part of the romantic clues. Whodunit? Lance Nicholas Dunne, that’s who.

But where’s the body?

After a Nancy Grace-esque TV show, Nick is painted as the villain, and we hear from Amy again. This time it’s really Amy — and Amy’s a bitch.

I won’t give much details about what happens next, but Nick figures out that he’s being set up once the cops show up with a stack of credit card bills that total hundreds of thousands of dollars. When faced with this damning evidence, he still acts unaffected for the most part, but finally wises up and gets himself a lawyer. A slick, big city lawyer who specializes in domestic cases.

After finding a couple more of Amy’s anniversary clues, Nick pieces together that Amy is setting him up because she’s somehow learned of his affair with Andie. He confesses this to his sister and his lawyer, and they formulate a plan to reveal this to the police and the press.

Oh, and we discover that Amy’s pregnant, and there’s blood that has been cleaned up on the kitchen floor. And that the crime scene is ludicrously staged. Nick knits things together and gets mad, but he keeps a lid on his anger. At this point, I’m hoping Amy stays gone so Nick doesn’t kill her because guess what? I like him for real this time.

Masterfully, Nick appeals to the public as the lost, contrite husband that Amy wants. All the while she’s up in a cabin watching her plotting unfold and laughing her fool head off. She meets some drifters at her little hideaway and kinda sorta makes friends. Then she gets her ass beat. I don’t condone violence, but this one time was well-earned.

With her plan changed, and her money gone, she seeks the assistance of a childhood friend that she’s kept on a short leash his entire life. All throughout Amy’s life, she’s left a trail of carnage of the lives of those who have wronged her. As the inspiration for a popular children’s series Amazing Amy, Amy Elliott Dunne could do no wrong. Whatever she said was bond. So if she said she was being stalked, was raped, and so on, it was the irrevocable truth.

There was one, albeit brief, moment when I felt sympathetic for Amy, and that was when she spoke of how she came to be. I’ll let you read that for yourself. It was soul-stirring, at least I thought it was. That sympathy was short-lived, though. That bitch is crazy!

I can’t even do justice to the insanity of the third act. I’m about go to back and read it again, it’s just that good! It’s like what the Sixth Sense‘s ending felt like the first time I watched it (a feat M. Night Shylaman has sadly failed to repeat, but again I digress).

What I will tell you is that Amy ends up killing someone. Like I said, that bitch is crazy!

As with all Flynn’s books, I’m left panting, drooling, writhing around for more. Her endings piss me off. I want to know what happens next, but as with King, who she claims to be one of her literary heroes (mine too), she leaves room for the reader to fill in the blanks.

Flynn does well with her descriptions, giving all the right details and leaving things out so as not to fill up the moment with useless chatter. Because I listened to the book and did not look at the printed pages, I feel as if there was not a whole lot of dialogue, but there was so much interaction and wit, that the pacing didn’t need the boost of expository conversations.

Although I said I was bored through the first third of the book, it is by design, and brilliantly done–Amy is a crazy bitch.

Do yourself a favor and read plotting and pacing done right. Gone Girl was a gripping look into what lies beneath the shiny outer layer. Do we truly know who we’ve bound ourselves to? Divorce is not an option for Amy and Nick. It’s not good enough for Amy, and Nick wants to live, so he endures.

I can’t say enough good things about Flynn’s novels. I look forward to what else she produces.

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Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a terrific debut novel that shows the author has oodles of talent. I look forward to what else Erin Morgenstern comes up with.

I checked out the audiobook from the library and was immediately drawn in. The dramatic reading was so rich, I was lost in the narrator’s voice. Once the book was over, I felt as if I had missed something so I went and got a print copy to re-read some parts.

After digesting all that I heard (and read) and speaking with some others who had the same feelings, I have to change my initial rating from four stars to three because I’m left, even after re-reading, wanting more, but not in an “Oh, this is so amazing!” way. It’s a “That’s it?” feeling. The book is amazing, don’t get me wrong. The world of the circus is brilliant in its descriptions. I truly felt transported most of the time.

Bailey and the twins, Poppet and Widget, were some of my favorite moments, but then the book kind of ends without knowing how they all make out.

As the story progressed, I didn’t really care much about Ceclia and Marco, although the story of the challenge and their mentors is interesting, the draw is the circus and its acts. That appeal (in the world of the book and to me as a reader) is thanks in large part to Herr Theissen and the Reveurs (who deserved larger roles).

It’s a circus, so the cast is going to be huge. But the circus is the star. It is a living entity, sustained by its players and patrons–those who love it. The multiple story arcs all come together well, but I’m left knowing too much about some and not enough about others.

I really want to love this book. It is engaging and at times thrilling. Erin Morgenstern will provide the world with some lasting work, I’m confident of that.

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Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve had this, and Flynn’s other books, for at least six months and am just now cracking this bad boy open. I don’t quite know what to make of the story yet. The writing style is a bit peculiar, but the narrator is a strange bird. She’s a reporter for a small Chicago newspaper. When her editor sends her back home to a tiny Missouri town to investigate the murder of a small girl and the disappearance of another, she quickly assimilates, but hates what she’s doing.

After meeting her mother, sister, and some other townsfolk, the mystery surrounding who harmed these little girls seems to be solved; I think the real mystery is why she did it.

I’d love to have more time to read because things are just heating up. Camille’s mother is a piece of work. A pristine, proper, poised southern belle who looks upon her eldest child with so much disappointed annoyance it’s caused me to recoil. Then there is her baby sister – mother’s precious China doll – living a double life at thirteen. Between them is another sister, long dead, but ever-present. Adora, their mother, she has some skeletons. I think Camille will put the pieces together to solve this mystery, if she doesn’t let the hot-shot detective from Kansas City distract her too much.

It’s been a slow tick, but I’ve been reading in fits and starts since I began this book a few days ago. At chapter four a lot has been revealed with imagery that is unique and captivating.

I started this book having absolutely no idea what it was about. One of my co-workers had read Gone Girl and thought I should give Flynn a try. I should have checked out her website to give myself a bit of a buffer before I downloaded the book.

I’m about halfway through and have every urge to drop out of life for half a day and barrel through the rest of this book. I must know how things are resolved…IF they are resolved.

Camille has revealed more of herself, her demons, her self-image, her woes. As I read I wondered why she wrote on herself with pens and markers. Why was the act so significant? She’s a cutter. I never had any personal experience with this, so reading Camille’s thoughts of how she feels around others (particularly her mother and half-sister) burn through me just as words brand themselves invisibly on her flesh.

It’s hard to admit to liking a book about little girls who were brutalized and murdered and whose savior could have easily been in their same shoes, but I do not want to put this down. I yelled at my husband last night when he asked me a question while I tried to squeeze in a chapter before we went to our son’s curriculum night. The storytelling is so gripping with little nuances of the characters that speak so loudly, yet in a whisper. “…her face so perfect and character-free she could have just popped out of the womb. They all seemed unfinished.” That’s one of my favorite lines, so far.

I think Adora, Camille’s mother, is the perp, although that was made rather clear early on (unless my sleuthing skills are way off). Like I said in my earlier review, the mystery isn’t of whodunit, but why. These folks in Wind Gap have deep closets, and they’re filled with skeletons.

Sharp Objects – Flynn, Gillian, 100%

Holy crap! That’s the best way to sum up my feelings. Really well done, although not entirely the mystery I anticipated. This was one helluva journey. The characters and settings were vivid. The final act went too fast, as all final acts do. I was not ready for this book to end. Although there were no loose ends, I still had a lot of questions. But that would probably end up being a hundred pages of boring ‘where are they now’ kind of stuff.

Poor Camille, her family is a few chips short of a taco plate. I’m so glad I finally read this book. I can’t wait to get into her other work.

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Review: Dark Places

Dark Places
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m reading: Dark Places – Flynn, Gillian, 5.0%

It’s taken me a while to get through the first chapter of this book. I started this book, then stopped more times than I can recall. I thought I wanted something fluffy to read after finishing Sharp Objects, instead, I didn’t read much of anything. That book kind of blew my mind; I hadn’t read anything non-fanfiction in ages. I’d forgotten the wonders of a published book. It really is a beautiful thing — new characters, new settings, new voices.

But I digress. This book hits hard from the very beginning. It is a story about the sole survivor of her family being brutally murdered at the hands of her older brother. Libby has managed to survive all these years through trust funds that have now run out. Her lawyer encourages her to find employment. As she ponders this, she gets a proposition to appear at a true crimes type of convention.

That’s as far as I got, because I have to get ready for work. I’m left with a WTF feeling. This is all kinds of effed up. I will be sneaking in some reading time during my work day.

@I’m reading: Dark Places – Gillian Flynn, 84.2%

It’s been a slow read–not nearly as engaging as Sharp Objects. This is a deliberately slower-paced story which flip-flops between the first person narration of the main character, and third person retelling of events leading up to the MC’s family being murdered.

As the sole survivor, (her brother is in prison, convicted of slaughtering their family) Baby Day’s money has dried up. Twenty-four years later, Libby must find a way to support herself. She is approached by an odd young man who is the treasurer of the Kinkaee Kill Club (a group of oddballs who are obsessed with the Day family murders). Kill Club members believe a then seven-year-old Libby was coached in her testimony against her brother, and urges her to reassess what she always believed to be truth.

Libby is a hard sell, but she’s hungry, so she goes ahead with KKC’s idea to have her speak with her violent, drunkard of a father who seems to owe everyone. She even faces her brother, who she hadn’t communicated with since the trial twenty some odd years earlier.

What starts out as a hustle: meeting with people from her past, ask a few questions, get a few hundred bucks; sell a few inconsequential trinkets of her family, letters, journals, ramblings of elementary school girls, get a few hundred bucks. None of it mattered, so she thought. The KKC causes Libby to reevaluate everything.

Her mind changes kind of fast. Probably because her life has been so stunted since the murders. She’s just been stuck. Hiding out. Not moving forward or backward. She needed something to do.

New information is being uncovered through Libby’s investigation. She’s now not so sure her brother is guilty, but he’s not entirely innocent, either. Libby digs a lot of skeletons out of her brother Ben’s proverbial closet.

Switching between present day and the 1980s, Dark Places isn’t hard to follow, it’s just slow. I’ve been reading this book for nearly a month. Granted, I’ve been doing tons of other things too. I feel as if we’re coming to the climax of the story, the pace have picked up exponentially. I’m eager to know who really committed the crimes.

The murders are tangled in a mess of farms, devil worship, drug abuse, child abuse, lies, alcohol, slaughtered bovines, and hair dye.

If you’re able to read this book in one sitting, I’m sure it would be more engaging. I’ve read this in fits and starts, making an already slow story drag. Dark Places is richly written with Flynn’s usual colorful imagery filled with bizarre analogies and terms. There are laughable moments right along with squicky ones. The marriage of so many contrasting elements make for some really great storytelling.

@I’m reading: Dark Places – Gillian Flynn, 100%

Holy crap! Didn’t I say this was picking up? That was a thrilling third act! I’m bummed that it’s over. I wanna know what happened to Crystal.

The real murderer turned out to be who I thought it was, however, Flynn is clever, dropping hints here and there, planting seeds. Really good stuff.

I got choked up a bit at the end. I sincerely want to see these guys living out the rest of their days in the light–in peace. That probably comes from reading so much fan fiction where the writer doesn’t know where or want to end the fic. Sometimes just overcoming the current obstacles is enough. There’s no need to draw out the story–leave some things for the reader to devise their own vision of the future.

I’m going to start Gone Girl in December, after I pull out my hair over NaNoWriMo.

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Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What do I think?

I don’t even know…

The book is herky-jerky, beginning when Theo is a man, then he’s a boy, and the reader follows his misadventures until he’s a man again. The opening of the end was like a punch to the gut. Journals? Letters to his dead mother? Incomplete recollections?

I see why this book is renowned, the imagery is breathtaking. However, I felt woefully under-educated and inexperienced as I read. I would probably flunk out of this book club.

‘The Goldfinch’ is an education in art history, antiquities, high society and those middling others who slink about feasting on the scraps of the wealthy and trying to blend in with fanciful histories and equally fancy attire. ‘The Goldfinch’ offers lessons in wealth, ill gotten gains, addiction, abandonment, self preservation, (homoerotic) love, and obsession.

But I can’t say I enjoyed this book…

Once I made it through chapter one, the plot became more engaging. I felt deeply for the poor orphaned Theo. I hoped he would turn out okay, but he won’t based on the beginning of chapter one (an unhappy fact that stayed with me as I read the 780+pages). I continued to read because I needed to know how he ended up in such a state.

There was no escaping the sense of being told a story. The language and tone of the narration, the word choice all felt deliberate. A boy of 13 would not speak in such a way, despite acknowledging he was gifted in words from a young age.

What truly kept me turning the page was the colorful supporting cast. Boris, Hobie, Pippa, the doormen, the Barbours, even Welty and Mrs. Decker were much more interesting than Theo. Perhaps because Theo himself believed them to be more alive than he was.

But I can’t say I liked this book.

Clearly, there is a master at work in these pages. Tartt paints vivid pictures that only come alive in the presence of others. Theo is a drugged out, paranoid antiques dealer who suffers from PTSD.

The book was ridiculously long for a simple premise which repeated itself. Theo the accidental art thief coveted his treasure. The painting was then stolen from him, and he was never aware until one of his antiques customers confronts him about being swindled. Why Hobie made replica furniture was lost on me… Boris, the loveable scamp, showed up to confess that he’d taken the painting some years earlier and had amassed a fortune from it, but he will get it back for his beloved ‘Potter.’

All the best parts had Boris in it.

But I still don’t know if I liked this book.

All the highbrow talk became tiresome, although Hobie remained likeable. I too would have enjoyed spending time with him in his workshop. Theo’s constant performing became exhausting. However, for a first person POV, I appreciated the visceral connection to Theo’s experiences and the narration. I usually don’t care for first person POV because so much of what else is happening around the narrator is omitted and the reader is stuck inside one person’s head. Theo’s head is effed up. He’s paranoid, so he saw everything and had a detailed opinion about it. He was most himself with Boris, I think. At first I thought the author was a bit inconsistent with the two boys’ voices, but perhaps Tartt is just that skilled to show the nuances in Theo’s development. That he would speak, and maybe even think, with the same cadence of the company he kept.

That ending… I never believed this would be a happily ever after, but there’s no real end. Theo kinda sorta celebrated that he was a part of immorality while he watched Boris shoot up.

For character development, Tartt gets top marks. Plot. The story is layered and engaging. Delivery. It’s a bit too long, yet I’m not sure what could be trimmed, perhaps cutting back on the descriptions would help move things along. After a painfully slow start, the story picked up (at about 30%) and never really slowed down until about 95% complete.

Read it, but start maybe in chapter 2, part 3.

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Review: Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has been out for a while, so I’ll save you all the recap of the story. Instead, I’ll share what I liked, what I didn’t like, etc.

-Tight 3rd person POV.
-A refreshing spin on a common theme (coming of age).
-Excellent use of secondary character arcs and subtext. I’d love to read a more about Art (Cath and Wren’s dad).
-Unique structure intertwines Cath’s fanfiction, fiction, and real life. At first I thought I could skip the parts that showcased the other stories because I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but they seemed to build off one another. I marvelled at what I envisioned Rowell’s writing process–actually writing several books at once with the same theme and struggles but set in different realms of space and time.
-Realistic portrayal of first relationships and new loves. Cath is a creature of habit and feels safest in a routine, but the whole of college and being separated from her twin sister could send her into a tizzy. Instead, she clings to her constant–Simon Snow fanfiction. Conversely, it is Wren who falls apart, becoming the poster child for teens behaving badly.
-Untraditional love interests. I figured out early on that Nick was the antagonist, just like I knew it was Hans from his very first lines in “Frozen.” Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I’m definitely NOT a romantic. I knew from the beginning that Levi was into Cath and that he and Reagan weren’t truly dating. The complexity and depth of their relationship was a bit of a surprise. I never really believed Reagan was the mega bitch she pretended to be. I liked her from the start.
-Rowell writes in a way that draws you in and makes you not want to leave.

-Too tight of a POV. There is very little time spent with other interesting characters. I am unfamiliar with depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, so when it is revealed that Art lives with these issues (Cath acknowledges her own struggles but Wren doesn’t) and how the girls have coped, I was deeply intrigued. Then to learn not that their mother passed away as I initially suspected, but that she left them when they were old enough to remember the good and bad of her, I was so angry for Art, Cath, and Wren. I wanted to follow that arc and not go into Cath falling for Levi. Their family dynamic was much more interesting to me.
-The use of the other stories was confusing for a little while, particularly once they became so tightly bound. **I usually turn on my phone’s screen reader to listen to books during my commute, so if there were any physical markers other than asterisks, my reader didn’t pick them up.** After a while, I didn’t see how Cath’s story could exist without the others.
-The ending. I see a trend with Rowell, and I’m not sure I like it. Her endings don’t fade, they are like a cymbal crash of a bombastic march, and then it’s over. As with “Eleanor & Park,” I was left wanting but not entirely unfulfilled, which is not unlike Gillian Flynn’s ending which fade as if transitioning to another movement, so the audience doesn’t know to applaud or not. What we’ve just experienced was brilliant, but is there more?

I liked this book for it’s refreshing take on life. It exposed me to a realm I’m unfamiliar with, offering a bit of an escape and opportunity to explore new worlds. I totally want to read some Simon Snow (but not Harry Potter). “Fangirl” feels much more deliberately YA than “Eleanor & Park,” perhaps it’s because the latter reflects my generation, and therefore more relatable.

What I liked best is that Cath is incredibly unsure of everything except a couple of points: Simon Snow and her family. She fiercely fights, in her own way, to hold on to her truths and not lose herself. It seems detrimental at first, but Cath is so much tougher than what she seems.

“Fangirl” is definitely worth recommending, particularly for those who are embarking on major life changes. Stay true to yourself.

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Review: Monster

Monster by Francette Phal
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book has a lot of potential, but the storytelling, so far, is disjointed and tell-y (it reads as if it is a very early draft). Instead of building tension with descrpition and dialogue, the reader is told Dom the Dom is “brutal” and has been “horribly cruel” to his wife. Perhaps it’s the author’s chosen narration. I prefer 3rd person POV, but I’ve seen recently where it has not been used effectively. The distance the author has placed between the narrator and the MCs dulls the reception of the images.

There are other issues I have, but those revolve around editing. Primarily, the book starts too soon and quickly becomes repetitive.

For what it’s worth, I think this is an intriguing set up. I’m going to continue reading because I’m anxious to uncover the real story.

I finished the book by listening to it through my screen reading app. My brain cannot not edit what I read, so I had to remove the words from my view in order to absorb the story being told.

Although the actual story was interesting, it took too long to get there. The author began to find her rhythm when Eden makes a decision, but it was still a bit too long to get to the meat of story.

At a little over 50% in is where things got interesting and the author seemed to catch her stride.

Disclaimer:I don’t seek out books like this, it was red’d by a friend, so my expectations were low.

Dom the Dom’s history surprised me. I love a solid, character-driven story with a lot of angst; revealing Dom’s motivations gave the story what it had been missing thus far–heart.

Up until Dom’s back story, I didn’t care about the MCs, and the supporting cast is an assortment of stock characters who do predictable things and don’t really add much (they don’t detract either).

The FMC…I wasn’t feeling her–ever. Her story is spread all over the place, and the reader is given pieces here and there. Her history doesn’t make her endearing, at least not to me. I’m a stickler for realism, even in fantasies, and felt a lot of what happened to her wasn’t entirely plausible. Sure, the crap her mogul husband did could happen, but her ‘rags to riches to rags to upper middle class’ all with a newborn in tow was a little unrealistic.

All the way up to the end I just never saw any real depth to Eden. Dom changed and grew (which is the crux of any story), but much of his journey took place “off camera”. I would have much rather been witness to therapy sessions, his internal battle to be gracious, his growing affection for his son… I didn’t like watching those moments with Eden. I would have much rather the view come from Dom.

This book is all about Dom, yet he’s not the focus. He’s a good character, well developed, but under utilized.

In the end, I felt like I was given half a book. It started late and ended too soon.

Technical execution: Like I said, I could no longer look at the words if I expected to finish reading within a week, so I had the book read to me. It is unnecessarily verbose. I found the excessive use of redundant adverbial phrases and complex words off putting. Having to grab a dictionary in the middle of a heated scene completely threw off the flow. I laughed every time caramel or macchiatto or honey were used. How many different ways are necessary to say brown? That kind of stuff screams fanfiction to me.

There were a few inconsistencies like her hair was one color then another in an early chapter, or maybe the varying ways the author used to say brown confused me. I’m a simple woman. Toward the end, I noticed a few dropped words and typos, but no book is without those.

Pacing is inconsistent, but maybe I felt that way because I was unsympathetic toward the FMC and the view focused mainly on her. As I said in the first part of my review: I prefer 3rd person, but here it’s underutilized. Where the view could get tight and evoke a lot of emotion, it stays just out of reach, filling the moment with descriptions of clothing and tingling flesh.

Ms. Phal has created a compelling character in Dom, but his story feels unfinished. This is the first book of Ms Phal’s that I’ve read. Her talent is evident; I think I’ll give her Bet series a try.

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