For a book that is set in December this made for a surprisingly good summer read. I went into The Herd blindly, I had no idea what this book was about - I just couldn't pass up the cover - it called out to me, bright and bold! Just like one of the characters in it - Eleanor.
The book is told from two points of view, none of them Eleanor's - her two friends who admire and love her very much, which makes for a very intriguing dynamic. There are secrets and family drama and past mistakes, and of course, a dead body - all of the components that make the reader keep flipping the pages faster and faster. Addicting.
The ending itself, while felt a little mellowed out (in my opinion) had a very quiet, and very welcomed eeriness to it. and then came the epilogue - which made the reader realize just how messed up things really were.
My only gripe with this book is its two points of view - I could not tell them apart. I'd be in the middle of chapter and I would stop and think, wait "who is this?". They sounded and acted and talked absolutely the same, which was kind of a big bummer, as it took a lot of personality out of it.
Book acquired through NetGalley and publisher, Random House Publishing - Ballantine via "wish for it" option. All opinions are my own.
A fast and engaging read that fell just a bit short with its ending.
A dystopian that is just a little too real to the life we're living now. This hits the mark because it computes - because I could see this happening in the next couple of years. Whose side would I be on? Would there even be a side to choose?
The concept was there, the writing was there, and I loved the messages it was portraying. Having three perspectives brought a lot of dimension to the story - especially because they were all so different in their views and goals.
I could not put this down for majority of time, but somewhere in the last 10 percent of the book things fizzled out. Slowly, slowly and when I noticed that nothing really paid off it was too late - the book was over.
Overall I am still very happy that I read it, it was a great diversion and a time well spent. Big thanks to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for a digital arc of this.
Here comes a new crisp voice in fiction - one which I am a big fan of now, and will definitely follow.
From the first glance, If I Had Your Face seems like a collection of separate storylines, but very quickly it's evident at just how tightly woven they are. I loved the pacing, I loved how everything came together - one moment I am reading about all these different women and the next I see them as this tight knit group of misfits that are just trying to make it in this harsh world.
This book surprised me, normally I am quite negative towards cosmetic surgery (unless there's a health reason for it) and superficial things, but this book makes them relevant. They are a part of this story and I gulped it all in two sittings. Horrified, at the reality of it all, but unable to stop.
Frances Cha has a wonderful way of story telling about her, it's engaging and it gives just enough without revealing too much. With every horror she reveals, you know that more are hiding underneath, but also with every happy moment she gives you - you know that there is hope for more to come.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for a digital copy to review. All opinions are my own. If I Had Your Face comes out on April 21, 2020.
Hello, if you're new here, I am the one with unpopular opinions. The one who seems to hate books everybody else enjoys, and love books everybody else hates. That's a big generalization, but kind of true.
Oona out of Order is a grand example of that. I look at all those 4 and 5 stars on Goodreads for this book, and I just can't relate.
Oona out of Order is a good example of why you should leave sci-fi concepts to sc-fi writers. Time jumps in this book are muddy at best, and very much tailored to fit the story, and not the other way around. Want a beautiful mind bend? Read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, the man knows his craft.
Oona is a very unlivable character, which does not help, she makes horrid decisions and is basically on the mission to sabotage herself throughout the whole book. Was this meant to inspire compassion and pity from the reader? Didn't work on me.
She's also incredibly rich, how convenient, and once again - can't relate. Time travel is easy when you're loaded. Try being an average middle class citizen who can't hold a job because of time travel, now that's something worth reading. Reading about Oona traveling Asia for half a year because she's depressed - well, didn't make me like her any better, let's leave it at that.
The book, while being 320 pages long, does not offer much of substantiality. Everything is trivial, and frankly, boring to read about. I've also had no emotional interest or connection to any of the characters, well maybe Kenzie, but that's it. The ending message feels generic and very much a cliche - enjoy every day, never take anything for granted.
And lastly, New York's late 80's/early 90's party scene - hard drugs, flowing booze, uninhibited decision making - is not something I enjoy reading about. So, me not enjoying this book is very much a case of "not my cup of tea" . It is apparently many other people's cup of tea, so pick your pick.
Big thanks to Flatiron Books for a copy to review. All opinions are my own.
Here goes my second DNF of the year. I read 77 pages of this, and honestly, I should have abandoned this after the first "short story". I say "short stories" because they are not, not really. All of them are snippets - unfinished, unresolved, without a purpose except maybe to shock and disgust.
My main question is this - what is the purpose of these stories and who are they written for?
Because surely, they are not written for women, not for women who are the topic of these stories. Not for the rape survivors, not for the abused, not for the mistreated.
Because there is no comfort in these stories. There's only crudeness and pain, and abuse and rape, rape, rape. And the worst part? These women take it. They think they deserve it, they don't fight, they don't want retribution. These are not Difficult Women, these women are broken, empty, just vessels for the horrors that happen to them.
There is a better way to tell these stories. A way that will not make a surviver relive their worst fears on the paper, a way that honors the survivors, a way that tells the truth without spitting it in your face.
Oh Shorefall, how short have you fallen ( I think I'm so clever). My expectations for this book were higher than high. I kept checking the release date, kept waiting for cover reveal and when I got an ARC for this I literally screamed (happy screams, happy screams).
And now that I have read it - I have very mediocre feelings about it. Because that's what this was - mediocre. Like lukewarm tea, you have to finish because you don't want to waste it.
Ok, that was a bit dramatic, and don't get me wrong Shorefall was not bad, but it wasn't Foundryside good. Foundryside was electric! It was fast paced and exciting, and page turning. Shorefall was, well it just was.
One might say, second book syndrome. But I don't believe in those. Second books are my FAVORITE books (Two Towers, Well of Ascension are some examples). So what happened? Where was the spark? Or, more honestly put, why the absence of a spark?
No spoilers, so when you read Foundryside - you know how it ended. Clef and Sancia were separated. And you know what, their conversations were what makes the book! In Shorefall there's no Clef/Sancia team, there's no banter and you, as a reader, miss it dearly.
There's also the problem of the cast of the book - it is very minuscule. Which can be nice, but for a fantasy of a scale that this should be, it felt lacking. Not to mention that the existing characters I absolutely loved from book 1 were lacking themselves. They didn't feel as multi-demential as they needed to be.
In the end I did enjoy it, and am very still excited for the next book. This one felt like it was setting up for big things. But those things better be big. BIG.
Here comes the book that needs to be on every woman's to-read list.
A collection of essays written by very different women, from very different backgrounds, that blend and flow together amazingly well.
Each essays explores a word, that all of us as women collectively, have been called at one point or another in our lives. Bossy, loud, cute, lucky, fat... Words have power, and those who wield them even more so. But these women are trying to reclaim that power. Some them have already done it and are encouraging other women do the same. Some are still trying and failing under the world's expectations and their own fears. But all of them tell their stories, raw and unapologetic. No matter how far they have gotten. No matter how low they stooped before they reclaimed their power.
The essays are powerful and inspiring. Some are enraging. There were maybe two or three essays to which I could not connect, but those were very rare and in between.
My favorites were "lucky" and "effortless" among many, many others.
The book finishes on a strong note with a dictionary of words which woman should not be called, and their descriptions.
Read this. It's important.
“Happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch. No matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run, I just can’t reach it. Even when I think I grasp it, I open my hand and it’s empty.”
Oh wow look at me, here is a young adult contemporary coming of age novel that I DIDN'T HATE. Who am I? I guess most of the time when I do pick up YA, I'm disappointed, so I've come to expect the worst. I picked this one up solely for the immigrant story in it, and while the focus wasn't too much on it, I still enjoyed it very much.
It's not a perfect story, not a perfectly structured book by any means. Truthfully I found many things that I did not like, BUT, I found even more things that I did like.
I could do without a very Insta-lovey chapter. It wasn't bad, but hey it still made me roll my eyes.
“One of the things I hate most in life is people telling me to calm down, as if I’m some out-of-control lunatic who isn’t entitled to have feelings.”
Julia, the main character, is a power house (well she is actually a mess, but what a powerful mess).
From the very first page, the narration lured me. I knew that me and Julia will get very much along! Julia is stubborn, willful and doesn't have time for your bullshit. She loves books, she loves learning and she will not settle down for anything!
The book explores a lot of themes, and in a sense it's the downfall of it. It tried to be too many things at once. All of these subplots, while cohesive, could make up a whole other book.
I personally wished that there was a lot more focus on immigration part of the book (the book is advertised as an immigrant experience book, and while there was an aspect of it there, it wasn't quite what I was looking for). I am not your perfect Mexican daughter is a coming of age novel first, and everything else second.
“I love the smell of old bookstores—paper, knowledge, and probably mildew.”
“I watched her die many times. In my way, not in hers. In sunlight, in shadow, by moonlight, by candlelight. In the long afternoons when the house was empty. Only the sun was there to keep us company. We shut him out. And why not? Very soon she was as eager for what's called loving as I was - more lost and drowned afterwards.”
I picked up Wide Sagrasso Sea at a thrift store purely because of the cover. How could I not? It was the most gorgeous and alluring thing I have ever seen. I read the cover and I was intrigued, but skeptical (it is a story of the mad woman in the attic, a presumed prequel to Jane Eyre). I've never heard of Jean Rhys, I feared it might be one of those contemporary fluffy re-tellings of an already known book. I could not have been more wrong.
Turns out Jean Rhys is a well known literary genius and this book, ahh this book is a masterpiece. Fair warning though, if you are a fan of Rocherster's in Jane Eyre, maybe don't read this? Because after, believe me you will not be.
I am trying very hard to separate two books, two so very different pieces of literature. Two sides of a coin I didn't know I needed. But, even if Wide Sagrasso Sea casts an ugly, deep shadow on Jane Eyre's Rochester, I will not trade reading it for anything.
If you're read Jane Eyre already, you know that it reads very much like an autobiography. Characters feel real, the setting even realer and you've left with the feeling that these people really lived, really excited. Wide Sargasso Sea takes that to the next level. If before things felt real, now they are three dimensional.
The writing styles could not be more different, the settings are like day and night. Wide Sargasso Sea is blazing with colors, heat and mad passion, while Jane Eyre is bleak, cold and collected. And yet, and yet Jane and Antoinette (for there was never Bertha, Bertha was a selfish whim of Rochester's) could not be any more similar.
“I have been too unhappy, I thought, it cannot last, being so unhappy, it would kill you”
I am honestly stupefied how a book so short, merely 170 pages could hold so much. The themes it explores, the messages it sends - all the while creating round, tortured characters that feel so very real. At all times I was mesmerized and terrified by this book. At all times, I, as Antoinette herself, felt an unending doom loom over the story.
If there ever was a book to hold discussions over in a book clubs it's this one. The reverse racism, the domestic neglect, alcoholism, prejudices of community and pressure to belong, to fit in. And most of all, the driving force of the story - a woman, so lonely, so forsaken, that she would do anything to be touched, to be loved. For being a classic Wide Sargasso Sea, is so very modern in its regard to women and their sexuality.
“She’ll have no lover, for I don’t want her and she’ll see no other.”
Needles to say that I need more Jean Rhys in my life. Maybe Wide Sagrasso Sea is one time wonder, but I have to know for myself. In her I found something that I've been looking for a very long time. She's sparse with words, but she paints an explicit picture. She holds the details, making the reader's imagination bloom and fill the blanks. She's forward and blunt and I absolutely love that.
I have put away writing this review for months, because I couldn't figure out how I felt about this book. I loved reading it. I did. But I am also not entirely satisfied with legitimacy of it.
It basically comes down to one big problem I had with it - it's written by a very privileged, very white woman, who may or may not have any business writing a non-fiction book about Mumbai.
But people can write books about whatever they want despite who they are or where they are from. Very true. It doesn't always have to be own voices book, it doesn't.
But I kept thinking "what if it was?". What if a person who's actually seen these things, felt these things wrote a book like that? How much more emotional would that have been? How much more real, more truthful and with that terrifying it could have been.
Because I know I should have felt things. The atrocities I've read about in this book should have stirred something in me, but they didn't. I felt like an observer, and not a participant. I was appalled, yes, but I wasn't indignant, or angry. And I sure as hell should have been.
When I was reading the book I couldn't honestly tell that the author wasn't intimately and personally familiar with all of those things. I didn't know that the author was not of color. I didn't know that the author wrote her whole book based on research from the library, because she decided that a trip to Mumbai would affect her weak health too much. All of that came from the author's note. And all of that killed the book a little.
I applaud Katherine Boo for writing a truthful post word and explaining herself. I do. I applaud her writing skills and for making me feel like she knew what she was doing. And I think she did. But, an important story like this deserves more than just a library research. It deserves a stronger voice. A voice that demands justice, not only a voice that tells a story.
To say that I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I did is an understatement! From the very first pages, I knew that this would be the one. The IT book, the perfect summer read, a powerful feministic punch to the face. Yes, yes and yes!
I liked Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows alright, but it lacked something for me, so I was a bit apprehensive going into this. But, I needn't have worried.
The three sisters from the story are as different as it gets: a rebel, a very by-the-book and one that is torn between two worlds. And somehow I was able to relate to all three of them at once.
I say that this is a perfect summer read, because of how easy it reads, how engrossing it is, and because of the hot Indian summer setting, that perfectly correlated with my 100 degrees Florida one. BUT, the topics of this book are far from a fluffy summer read. They are heavy. They are raw and they are so important!
Normally, I don't deal well with the topics this book was exploring. Normally I get stuck up on my own opinions and storm away if the book doesn't share them. But Balli Jaswal made me think. Not change my views completely, no, but open a window of possibilities for other views. And for that this book will be among the ones that have changed me forever.
It's also safe to say that this book has started my thirst for immigrant stories. For own voices stories! I felt a tug when I read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, but after this one, it is unquenched!
I cannot wait for more from this author!
Well, I just finished my first Alice Hoffman novel.
I dislike when books hype me up and then let me down.
I loved the first half of this book so much that I put a hold on Practical Magic at my library after just a few pages. I found the writing chanting, and like nothing I've ever read before. And then, somewhere towards the middle the spell broke.
The plot stagnated, things got awfully repetitive and the writing, instead of being enchanting became way too flowery. I could not wait to be done with the book! Thankfully things did get better for me in the last half, but by then it was a bit too late for me to re-invest myself into it.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I lost interest. I was reading it and enjoying it one moment, and the next - I was not. Books are magic, even if sometimes it's not the good kind.
I also found myself unable to connect to any of the characters deeply, or invest in them emotionally. I only really liked Haylin, and his story arc was the only one to evoke some feelings in me. My least favorite character was Vincent, hands down. Why? He left his dog! He abandoned him at his sisters' and went to live off somewhere in France, frolicking around in fields of flowers! (okay, it sounds really stupid out of contest, but it's kind of what happened). And never once he thought about his dog again. And I just can't like people who abandon their dogs. Sorry, not sorry.
I also found it annoying how certain things were repeated over and over again. For example, the way Franny looked. Almost on every page (not kidding) we are told something either about her red hair, her red boots or her black clothes. Most often we are told about all three at once.
Wait, what color was her hair again??
The main thing that might have killed the book for me was, that most of it was set in New York in the 60s. I'd have known that if I bothered to read the blurb on the cover, but no, I don't do that. And New York in the 60s is a subject I have absolutely no interest in.
I will still read Practical Magic , because I'm curious to see how that one plays out, and honestly hoping that plot will not be too similar. And because it won't be set in the 60s, so I might like it more.
“I felt the way I often felt in this country - simultaneously conspicuous and invisible, like an oddity whom everyone noticed but chose to ignore”
I am somehow both fulfilled and empty after finishing the Book of Unknown Americans. It wasn't the easiest of reads, but I also could not stop. A peculiarity, a paradox that will stay with me for a long time.
As an immigrant myself (a word that is a stigma now more than it was 5 years ago, when this book was written, because the world is going backwards) I found an avalanche of things I related to. And lats year when I read Girl in Translation I also found many things I could relate to. Even though I don't have anything in common with either culture. And just now I realized that it doesn't matter where we come from. We're all the same. It only matters where we come to.
“Maybe it’s the instinct of every immigrant, born of necessity or of longing: Someplace else will be better than here. And the condition: if only I can get to that place.”
The way this reads, a step above young adult, but still abrasive enough, and thought provoking in the best of literary ways - sucked me in completely. The in between chapters were heartbreaking, some even more the others, and added a beautiful collectiveness to the overall story.
“I know some people here think we’re trying to take over, but we just want to be a part of it. We want to have our stake. This is our home, too.”
Sometimes you have to uproot your life and start over. Everybody's reason is different, but all of them valid. Sometimes you stay rooted in new place, weathering all the storms, and sometimes you can't, and the wind blows you away. The Book of Unknown Americans is a beautiful piece of a hard lives collected in 300+ pages. It's well worth the read.
I'm not that impressed? I read a lot of novellas, but this one left me a bit dissatisfied.
I enjoyed the writing immensely, but Binti is way too short. It's tiny. It's literally almost a short story. There was substance in it - it was detailed and well built, but it just wasn't enough to be fully invested in.
I didn't care for Binti as a character, because she felt very one dimensional to me. She can be described int three words - mathematics, her hair and otijze (the clay mix she wears on her skin). There is no substance to her beyond that. Those things define her a 100%. The whole mathematical aspect was weird, because it wasn't explained deeply enough.
I did enjoy the message the novella was portraying - how it feels to be different, and how horrible the world is for only seeing your physical differences, instead of focusing on who you really are.
I will pick up Binti Home, because my library has it. That one is larger, so hopefully I will be invested in it.
I read 20 pages from Binti Home and couldn't care less about anything. Also, I realized how basic and dull the dialog is. That one is a DNF for me, unfortunately. I just don't see what all the fuss is about with these novellas.
“We shouldn't have to go around congratulating each other for behaving with basic human dignity.”
This is the most uniquely structured fantasy I've ever had the pleasure of reading. But what blew me away, and I mean BLEW ME AWAY was the writing. Holy moly guacamole Bancroft can write! Wow. I want to frame random sentences from this book just because of how beautifully sound and graceful they are. Pure literary ecstasy.
“Senlin loved nothing more in the world than a warm hearth to set his feet upon and a good book to pour his whole mind into. While an evening storm rattled the shutters and a glass of port wine warmed in his hand, Senlin would read into the wee hours of the night. He especially delighted in the old tales, the epics in which heroes set out on some impossible and noble errand, confronting the dangers in their path with fatalistic bravery. Men often died along the way, killed in brutal and unnatural ways; they were gored by war machines, trampled by steeds, and dismembered by their heartless enemies. Their deaths were boastful and lyrical and always, always more romantic than real. Death was not an end. It was an ellipsis. There was no romance in the scene before him. There were no ellipses here. The bodies lay upon the ground like broken exclamation points.”
Because of the beautiful writing all the ugly things that this book brings to life seem so sudden and brutal, but also hazy - a chilling combination. Also, the humor was quite good. Senlin Ascends as a debut is phenomenal. Senlin Ascends as a fantasy is brilliant. Cannot wait to see where Tom takes me next, as there have been some unexpected turns.
Only rounding down because I'm not a big fan of books keeping all of its action-y bits till the very end - it overwhelms me.
p.s. And there better be an explanation on Edith in the next book, because WUT? How? Wut?
“I’m going to feel very weak and you’re going to feel very dumb. But that’s how it always is in the beginning. Learning starts with failure.”