Ready Player One Book Review

Ready Player One Book Cover Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Science Fiction, Dystopia
08/16/2011
Audible
374 pages; 15 hours 46 mins

Synopsis (from Penguin Random House):

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

 

My Review:

I’m going to sound like a total book nerd (which I am), but I LOVE being in book clubs. It’s a great way to meet new people, to socialize with friends, to make it a habit to consistently read, etc. But, my absolute favorite thing about being in book clubs? Being exposed to books that I normally wouldn’t pick up on my own. My encounter with Ready Player One is a perfect example of this.

One of my co-workers suggested this book for my work book club. I didn’t know much about the book going into it – just that it was long and it was something in the realm of science fiction. In the spirit of being exposed to something new, I went into it with an open mind and decided to go with the audio book title, which is narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Wil Wheaton

Credit: sciencefiction.com

So, as the synopsis described, Ready Player One takes place in 2044, where the world is very different from current circumstances. Most people live in dire poverty, so to escape, they log into the OASIS, a virtual reality world where members can do anything – go to school, work, explore, etc. Wade, our protagonist, is just a typical teenager who spends most of his time in the OASIS. The book starts with Wade recounting how the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, died suddenly without any heir to his fortune. Instead, he creates an elaborate treasure hunt. Whoever is able to follow the clues and find the easter egg will inherit all of Halliday’s money. Ready Player One follows Wade as he navigates the OASIS and the real world trying to find Halliday’s egg.

Let me start by saying that I was completely blown away by Ready Player One! It is literally one of the most EPIC books I’ve ever read. Cline has created a future with painstaking detail. Seriously the amount of imagination and creativity that went into crafting the OASIS and the real-life world that exists in 2044 is amazing. Also, Wheaton’s narration is incredible – he is exactly the person who should have narrated this book. He perfectly captures Wade – his enthusiasm and his frustration came to life with Wheaton’s voice.

The story itself grabbed my attention from the jump. Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt filled with riddles and quests? Think The Da Vinci Code on video game crack. Wade is the quintessential underdog and you can’t help but root for him. There’s a ton of character development around Wade, but even the supporting characters are well defined.

As I said before, every bit of this book is so detailed that you can’t help but literally lose yourself in the worlds Cline has created. The 1980s play a HUGE part in this book. Cline is a huge 80s buff, and so weaves in countless references – movies, TV shows, songs, bands, video games, the list goes on. I loved the feeling of nostalgia I got when Cline referenced a show like Family Ties, but even more, I loved looking up the references that I didn’t get. As I listened to the book, I felt like I was on my own treasure hunt.  

I gave Ready Player One 5 stars because it delivered on every front for me – creative & original story, exciting narrative, and a protagonist that I came to know and love. This book is basically Cline’s love letter to the 1980s, wrapped up in fast-paced thriller. Whether you’re into video/computer games or not, I highly recommend Ready Player One. It’s a story that will capture your imagination and take you on a crazy and gripping ride!


 

Next Up: I’ll be posting next week on my favorite book of 2015 so far, and the book’s author, who I got to recently hear speak at my local library. Check back soon!

The Kind Worth Killing Book Review

The Kind Worth Killing Book Cover The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
Thriller, Suspense
02/03/2015
Audible
312 pages; 10 hrs 18 mins

Synopsis (from Harper Collins):

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda's demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

 

My Review: 

Whenever my husband and I have to go on a trip, I always try to find a good audio book so that we can listen along on the drive. It makes the boring road trips go by faster. We don’t always have the same taste in books, but he’s usually on board with a good thriller. So, I usually do some research on Goodreads, find a title I think we’d both like, and then order it through Audible. The last book I ordered for us to listen to together was The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.

This is a thriller about Ted & Lily, who meet at an airport and instantly connect. Ted opens up to Lily about Miranda, his cheating wife. Lily then offers to help Ted kill Miranda. From there, the story takes many unexpected twists and turns. The story is alternately told from Ted, Lily, Miranda, and a police detective’s perspective. Lily’s narration also alternates between present-day and background on how she learned so much about killing people.

I enjoyed The Kind Worth Killing. The story was interesting, and I liked learning about the background of each character, especially Lily. She was definitely the main character, and I liked how smart, capable, and shrewd Swanson made her. Lily was a woman who could take care of herself. She didn’t always make choices I would condone, but still there was something to admire in how calculated and thought-out her actions were.

There were quite a few plot twists that I didn’t see coming, and I enjoyed how Swanson kept me guessing. The ending was great – everything seems to be tied up quite nicely and then Swanson ends with one last surprise. It definitely stayed with me and I found myself thinking about the book and the ending for a few days after, imagining what happened after the story ended.

I gave it 4 stars because I felt the story dragged a bit at times. This very well could be the result of the audio book narrators, but it was just a bit slow for me. The backstory on each character was great, but there were some sections I could have done without, mainly because I wanted to get past the background and back into the action. Still, overall I liked the book, and would be interested in reading more by Peter Swanson. I’d recommend trying it as a traditional book or ebook. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought!


 

Next Up: Check back soon for my review of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline!

BookCon 2015 Recap

BookCon

As I mentioned in my last post, a couple weeks ago, my friend Anne and I hopped a bus to NYC and got to attend BookCon 2015! It was my first time attending a book conference, so I was super excited to check out all of the cool panels, author talks, and events, and then share everything with all of you!

Here’s a quick overview of BookCon, from the website:

Taking place in the publishing and cultural capital of the world, BookCon is the event where storytelling and pop culture collide. BookCon is an immersive experience that features interactive, forward thinking content such as:

  • Panels and Q&As with the hottest authors, celebrities and content creators
  • A Show Floor with the most influential publishers in the world
  • Autographing sessions
  • Literary quiz shows

BookCon is the ultimate celebration of books, where your favorite stories come to life.

BookCon was held at the Javits Center and spanned two days: May 30th & May 31st. We decided to just go for Saturday, but they did have 2-day passes available as well. A couple weeks before the conference, we received our badges, which served as our entry ticket into BookCon.

BookCon Badge

 

The conference started at 10am on Saturday, but when we got off of our bus at 9:30am, the doors were already open. So we headed inside, where we were presented with a BookBub lanyard for our badges and a cute canvas tote bag courtesy of Harper Collins.

collage-2015-06-09

Initial Thoughts: The Javits Center is HUGE! There are A TON of tweens & teens here (I think I assumed it would be an older crowd). There doesn’t seem to anyone checking badges to make sure we actually had a ticket.

As soon as we got inside, we had to line up to get wristbands for the various panels offered throughout the day. I’m going to do a quick little rant on the whole panel wristband process because it was literally chaos and could have been planned so much better. So basically, there were 5 panels scheduled throughout Saturday:

  • Mindy Kaling in conversation with BJ Novak to discuss her upcoming book Why Not Me?
  • The film panel for the movie adaptation of Emma Donaghue’s Room
  • Nick Offerman’s Gumption Revival, with guests Paul Rudd & John Hodgman
  • Aziz Ansari for his upcoming book Modern Romance
  • The film panel for the moving adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns

Seating in each panel was limited, and there was no way to reserve a spot ahead of time. So, there were 5 different lines in this huge room, and you had to go stand in each line to get a wristband. You couldn’t stand in line and get all 5 at once…you had to stand in 5 different lines one after another. Once you got to the front of the line, everyone went crazy and it was sheer chaos to try to get a wristband. People were pushing and shoving. It was insane. We were lucky in that we were able to get through the lines fairly quickly and score a wristband for each panel. But, we ended up spending a good hour & a half just waiting in the different lines. It seemed to me that it would have been a much better use of time to just allow attendees to reserve panel spots online through the ticketing process. So once we stood in line forever and barely escaped a teenage stampede to get our wristbands, we were told to arrive at least 30 minutes before the panel time, so that we could wait in line again to actually get into the Panel event space. Not a great experience. Hope you’re taking notes for next year, BookCon.

Once we realized how much time would be eaten up by the panels, we realized that we wouldn’t have any time to check out the Show Floor if we went to all of the panels. So we decided to forego the Room panel and structured our day like this:

9:30am: Arrived at Javits Center

9:30am – 11am: Waiting in line

11am – Noon: Mindy Kaling panel

Noon – 2pm: Show Floor & lunch

2pm – 2:30pm: Waiting in line

2:30pm – 3:30pm: Nick Offerman panel

3:30pm – 4:15pm: Waiting in line

4:15pm – 5:15pm: Aziz Ansari panel

5:15pm – 6pm: Waiting in line

6pm – 7pm: Paper Towns panel

We literally spend 3.25 hours waiting in line. UGH. Okay, I’m done ranting…time to actually talk about all of the cool stuff I did :)

Mindy Kaling Panel

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

This was a great panel/Q&A session! BJ Novak peppered Mindy with questions (he started with “HOW DARE YOU?” lol), and they talked about her last book, her new book, her writing process, The Mindy Project, and lots more. They have such an interesting banter, so it was very cool to experience their rapport first hand. Mindy also brought some cool swag – we all got a little booklet with a chapter excerpt from Why Not Me? and an adorable little Mindy pin.

Mindy Kaling

Show Floor

The Show Floor was pretty cool. There were a ton of publishers (big and small) there and some of them were giving away advance reader copies of various titles. If a publisher wasn’t offering free books, they usually did some titles for purchase at a substantial discount. Here are the books I picked up from the Show Floor:

BookCon Haul

  • The Kashmir Shawl – Rosie Thomas
  • The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
  • A.D. 30 – Ted Dekker
  • Hammerhead – Nina MacLaughlin
  • Dragonfish – Vu Tran
  • The Story of My Tits – Jennifer Hayden

The best find, by far, was The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. This is the second book in the Queen of the Tearling series, and actually came out today. Anne found a small booth in the back that was offering the advance copy of The Invasion of the Tearling for $25 (plus they threw in a copy of The Queen of the Tearling and a tote bag for free – score!). I had been counting down the days until The Invasion of the Tearling came out, so to be able to grab an early copy 10 days before it hit bookstores was AMAZING!

The Invasion of the Tearling

Nick Offerman Panel

Gumption by Nick Offerman

I seriously love Nick Offerman. If you’re not familiar with who he is, shame on you. He played Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation and he is literally a modern-day Renaissance man. Do yourself a favor and go pick up his first book, Paddle Your Own Canoe, so that you can enjoy the awesomeness that is Nick Offerman.  Anyways, Nick was at BookCon to promote his new book, Gumption, which is a collection of tid-bits on 21 of his favorite Americans throughout history. Nick started the panel by playing us a song that he wrote for his wife Megan Mullally. Then, John Hodgman and Paul Rudd came on stage to interview Nick about Gumption. Finally, the panel ended with an audience Q&A session and then another song, performed this time by John Hodgman. This was probably my favorite panel. Nick is so hilarious and adorable, but it was so much fun to see Nick, John & Paul all interact together on stage. They all seemed to be really good friends and joked around with each other a lot.

Aziz Ansari Panel

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

 

Another Parks & Recreation alum, Aziz Ansari was at BookCon to promote his upcoming book, Modern Romance. The books is about how dating and relationships have drastically changed due to online dating and the prevalence of cell phones in our lives. Aziz worked with a sociologist, Eric Klinenberg, to conduct focus groups and research a variety of topics for the book. The panel consisted of Aziz and Eric being interviewed by Daniel Jones, the editor of the NY Times column Modern Love. Aziz and Eric did a great job explaining the detailed research they conducted, while weaving in humor and tales from Aziz’s last comedy tour. The panel ended with an audience Q&A session. It definitely piqued my interest in Modern Romance, and I think I’ll grab it on Audible when it comes out.

Paper Towns Panel

Paper Towns by John Green

The Paper Towns film panel was the last panel of the day, and probably the most anticipated. The author, John Green (he also wrote a little book called The Fault in Our Stars), discussed the film adaptation of Paper Towns with the film crew, including cast members Nat Wolff and Justice Smith. Full disclosure, this wasn’t my favorite panel. First of all, I have not yet read Paper Towns, but I absolutely loved The Fault in Our Stars, so I was interested in going to this panel mainly for John Green. I think this panel was more targeted towards those who’ve read and loved Paper Towns, as well as those who are die-hard John Green fans. It was interesting to hear about the cast and crews’ take on the book and the film, but ultimately I didn’t get a lot of the references since I haven’t read the book. We were shown an exclusive trailer as well as a couple scenes from the film, so that was pretty cool. I will say, though, that seeing the panel made me want to read the book before the movie comes out.

Overall Thoughts: I really liked BookCon! It wasn’t as well organized as I would have liked, and it ended up being a really, really long day, but I still had a blast. I got to learn about a ton of new and interesting books, and it was cool to be at an event celebrating my favorite pastime – reading! Hopefully I’ll get to keep going to these types of events in the future.


 

Next Up: My book review of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. Check back soon!

Bird Box Book Review

Bird Box Book Cover Bird Box
Josh Malerman
Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Thriller
05/13/2014
Kindle
272 pages

At a Glance:

Malorie and her children live in constant fear. Five years ago something began to wreak havoc on Earth. No one knows exactly what it is or where it came from, but once a person sets eyes on it, they become uncontrollably violent and eventually kill themselves. Most survivors, including Malorie and her children, never leave their homes for fear of accidentally encountering one of these mysterious creatures. But now, Malorie must find a way to get her children to safety, and that means going outside...where THEY are.

 

I’m back! It’s been an absolutely crazy six months, but I really, really missed blogging. So I’m back and going to do my best to keep putting out reviews for you guys to read. And I’m going to start with a book I read at the beginning of this year. Enjoy!

My Review:

So, full disclosure, I’ve been on quite the post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction kick as of late. Not sure why, but the genre has really hooked me. The genre has also caused me to stay up nights thinking “what if?” and “could this happen??” and “holy crap is the end coming?!”

the-end-of-the-old-syllabus-is-near

LOL. Anyways, Bird Box was the book that first got me into this genre. It’s a very interesting concept. Earth has been taken over by some sort of creature. And whenever a person looks at one of these…things…they go crazy and end up committing suicide. So now nobody ever goes outside without blindfolding themselves. The main character, Marjorie, lives in seclusion with her two young children. She has trained them, from birth, to use their other senses so that they can function extremely well in a world without sight. She eventually realizes that it’s not tenable to continue living in the old house they stay in, so the three of them have to venture outside to try to get to a safer place.

One of the things I like most about post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction, is getting to learn about how people live. In this new world that they’re living in, how have the daily functions of live changed? By this I mean finding food, shelter, water, etc. I just find it fascinating to learn about how people persevere through, what may appear to be the most mundane of tasks, but in reality are the actions that make the most difference.

In Bird Box, the story alternates between present day and flashbacks. I loved this because you slowly learn the events that led Marjorie to be living alone with her kids. You slowly start to see the adaptations Marjorie had to make to make life in her new reality possible. You can see the progression of events that turned Marjorie from a fun-loving woman into a hard and no-nonsense mother. This alternating format also allowed for the suspense to really build. There are two very climactic points in the narrative, and I found myself racing through the book to find out what happened.

Overall, I really liked Bird Box. There were definitely moments where I wanted more…more explanation, more back-story, etc. But, I think Malerman did a great job crafting a suspenseful story that really draws the reader in. If you’re into that delicious shiver of anticipation you get from a proper thriller, give this a book a try!

Next Up: My recap of BookCon 2015! I’ll be posting about all of the fun panels I attended, and ALL of the goodies I picked up. Check back soon!

 

All The Light We Cannot See Book Review

All The Light We Cannot See Book Cover All The Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Historical Fiction, World War II
05/06/2014
Kindle
531

 

At a Glance:

Marie Laure lives in Paris with her father, the master of locks for the Museum of Natural History. Marie is also blind, but her father has, through a miniature model of their neighborhood, done his best to teach her to utilize her remaining senses to be somewhat independent. They lead a quiet and happy life, until the Nazi's invade France, and Marie and her father are forced to flee to Saint-Malo, on the Brittany coast, in hopes of temporarily evading the military.

Werner, an orphaned German boy, displays a talent for mechanics. He is given a place at an elite Nazi Youth Academy, where he is able to develop a radio tracking system. He is conscripted into the military, and uses his radio to track members of the Resistance. Eventually his job leads him to Saint-Malo.

All the Light We Cannot See is the telling of Marie Laure & Werner's stories, how their paths connect, and their experiences during World War II.

My Review:

Hi Guys! I’ve been so excited to share this review with you because All the Light We Cannot See is, by far, my favorite book of 2014! This book was chosen for a monthly book club that I’m in with a few girlfriends. I had heard a lot of good things, and as you all know, historical fiction is my jam, so I felt like this would be right up my alley. I was not disappointed at all! This is one of the most beautiful and unique books I’ve read in a long time. So let’s get into the review.

As my synopsis said, All the Light We Cannot See tells the parallel stories of a French girl (Marie Laure) and a German boy (Werner), their experiences leading up to and throughout the War, and how their paths eventually cross. There is also an ancillary story of a mysterious and beautiful diamond called the Sea of Flames, which has the power to grant immortality to its owner. Unfortunately this immortality comes with a steep cost – while the owner lives forever, those around him or her are cursed:

” ‘The curse was this: the keeper of the stone would live forever, but so long as he kept it, misfortunes would fall on all those he loved one after another in unending rain.’ “

So, the first thing I want to say about this book is that is has the most beautiful, detailed, and illustrative writing. I haven’t read anything else by Doerr, so I can’t say if this is just how his writing always is, but wow. Seriously, wow. At every point of the book, I felt like I was there, experiencing everything with these characters. I could actually see the bumblebee frescoes in the Hotel of Bees in Saint Malo. I could smell the seashells in the laboratory of the the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle. Here’s an excerpt where the author describes the seaside town of Saint-Malo:

“Saint Malo: Water surrounds the city on four sides. Its link to the rest of France is tenuous: a causeway, a bridge, a spit of sand. We are Malouins first, say the people of Saint-Malo. Bretons next. French if there’s anything left over. In stormy light, its granite glows blue. At the highest tides, the sea creeps into basements at the very center of town. At the lowest tides, the barnacled ribs of a thousand shipwrecks stick out above the sea. For three thousand years, this little promontory has known sieges. But never like this.”

Amazing.

One thing I noticed is that this is a very different perspective on World War II. Typically, in the WWII accounts I’ve read, the focus is on the 6 million+ Jews who were systematically murdered through mass genocide. But, what many of us don’t know is that the Nazi’s also targeted non-Jews: Roma (i.e. gypsies), people associated with Resistance efforts, homosexuals, and both physically and mentally disabled people. There is no consensus on how many of these people were also mass-murdered, as many records were destroyed by the Germans, but experts guess around 5 to 6 million.

What I liked about this book is that it shed light on these victims and told their stories. Marie Laure and her family were French citizens, non-Jewish, and were still targeted by the Germans. There were many reasons why Marie Laure & her father had to leave Paris, but I think one was that he was afraid of what the Nazi’s would do to a blind girl, who didn’t conform to their standards for the “ideal race.”

Werner, a German boy, was  not the typical Nazi Youth that we’ve all learned about. He knows he has a talent that is valuable to the Reich and leverages it to improve his situation and his future. But, he is also able to compartmentalize, and not become completely brainwashed by the Nazi indoctrination. As Werner goes through the Nazi Youth Academy, and later his military job, he questioned the things he saw around him. And that was a big theme, especially with Werner’s storyline: questioning whether something is really right even though everyone else is doing it. We know, based on history, that most Germans did not question. They absorbed Hitler’s propaganda, and perpetuated his atrocious acts. And while Werner did not vocally question the Nazi beliefs, he did not let himself get swept up in their frenzy. He knew that, in order to survive, he had to act like he believed, but he didn’t actually have to believe.

All in all, this is an amazing book. I can’t praise it enough. I highly, highly recommend it to anyone. I really think this is a book that could appeal to any reader. At 531 pages, this book may seem a little lengthy, but I felt that I wanted to take my time while reading, to really savor all of the prose. This is not a book you’re going to want to rush through, simply because you’ll miss all of the stunning details and imagery. Give it a chance, I promise you’ll enjoy it!

Microreview Monday – Is This Tomorrow and 3 More

Happy Monday Guys! Hope you all had a fun Halloween. I’m back today with another round of Microreview Monday. Here are 4 quick reviews for you. Enjoy!

1. Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

Book Review of Is This Tomorrow

  • Synopsis: Lewis is a 12 year old kid living in Boston in the 1950s. His parents are divorced in a time when broken homes are a rarity, and consequently he and his mother, Ava, are ostracized by the other families in their neighborhood. Lewis’ only friends are siblings Rose and Jimmy, who are also low in the social ranking of their suburb. The unlikely trio are inseparable, until the day that Jimmy goes missing. Life changes dramatically for Rose, Lewis, and Ava after Jimmy’s disappearance. Until, years later when Jimmy is found, and they are all reunited.
  • My Review: I found this to be a really beautifully written book. When I first picked it up, I thought the story would focus on Jimmy’s disappearance. And while you do eventually find out what happened to Jimmy, it wasn’t the main part of the story. Rather, the book delved into how people are changed by the events that occur in their lives. It also dealt with the issue of divorce in a time when it was not so widely accepted.
  • Read or Refrain: Read, it’s a little slow-moving, but if you stick with it, you won’t be disappointed.

2. The Case of the Love Commandoes by Tarquin Hall

Book Review of The Case of the Love Commandos

  • Synopsis: Ram and Tulsi are in love and are determined to get married. Unfortunately, Tulsi’s father is against the match and threatens Ram. When Ram suddenly disappears, premier Indian Private Detective, Vish Puri, is called in to solve the mystery.
  • My Review: Star-crossed lovers, a disapproving father, gangsters, and a bumbling PI? This seriously could be the screenplay for a Bollywood movie. I downloaded this book on a whim as it was a Kindle Daily Deal. It doesn’t hold a candle to the Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith, and there were definitely more than a few scenes that had me rolling my eyes, but it was fairly entertaining. Vish Puri has his moments as the stubborn but lovable Detective, and the mystery was definitely engaging.
  • Read or Refrain: Read – if you’re into detective mysteries, and looking for a quick and easy to digest story.

3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Book Review of The Goldfinch

 

  • Synopsis: Theo Decker is only thirteen years old when his mother is killed in a tragic accident. Theo manages to survive, and is drawn to a painting that reminds him of his mother. As he grows up, Theo moves from New York to Nevada and back to New York, and the painting remains with him. Ultimately it pulls him into the art & antiquities black market world.
  • My Review: This book got A LOT of hype, so I was eager to read it. Maybe it just wasn’t for me, but I didn’t really get it. I found it very rambling and verbose. There were a lot of characters that came and went in the narrative, and by the time I slogged through to the end of this 700+ page book, I just didn’t think there was much payoff.
  • Read or Refrain: Refrain; seems like it’s kind of an esoteric story.

4. The Circle by Dave Eggers

Book review of The Circle

 

  • Synopsis: Mae is a recent hire at The Circle, the most powerful Internet company in the world (think Google or Amazon). She quickly becomes enamored with the high-technology atmosphere, the company perks, and the charismatic leaders. Mae jumps head-first into the company tenet of “Transparency” – basically being connected always, and in all ways. But, over time, she starts to realize that transparency comes with a cost, and there may be a darker side to The Circle.
  • My Review: This was a pick for one of my Book Clubs, and I really, really enjoyed it. I work in the world of digital marketing, and the issues of constant connectivity and privacy concerns hit close to home. I did feel like the story went off on unnecessary tangents at times, but overall it was definitely a chilling story that made me think hard about being “on the grid.”
  • Read or Refrain: Read, especially if you’re curious about what our digital-driven world could look like one day.

Spooky Stories for Halloween

Hi Guys! In honor of All Hallow’s Eve, I wanted to share my list of spooky stories that are sure to send a shiver up your spine. Hope you enjoy!

1. The Never List by Koethi Zan

Book Review of The Never List

Jennifer & Sarah are best friends who always look out for each other. One day, they foolishly accept a ride from a stranger and both end up held captive for three years in a sadist’s dungeon. Eventually Sarah manages to escape, but Jennifer isn’t so lucky. 10 years later, Sarah is an agoraphobe who’s barely surviving life after her harrowing experience. Her kidnapper is in prison, but he’s up for parole soon, and Sarah must confront her demons in order to come to terms with what really happened in that basement so many years ago.

2. The Asylum by John Harwood

Book Review of The Asylum

In this Gothic mystery, protagonist Georgina Ferrars wakes up one day in a mental asylum and is told that she voluntarily checked herself in as Lucy Ashton the night before. She tries to explain her true identity and prove her mental capacities, but no one believes her. As bits and pieces of the mystery unravel, readers have to figure out whether Georgina is really telling the truth, or if something darker is lurking below the surface.

3. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Book Review of The Distant Hours

Another delicious Gothic tale, this story follows Edie, executive at a London publishing house. During a trip to meet an author, she happens upon Milderhurst Castle, home to the mysterious Blythe sisters – Saffy, Percy, and Juniper. Edie learns she has a personal connection to Milderhurst, as her own mother was evacuated there during the War. Edie’s mother is tight-lipped about her time at the Castle, and Edie is determined to find out more. However, what she discovers about the Blythe family is more haunting than she could have ever imagined.

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Book Review of Sharp Objects

Before Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn wrote two books that are arguably much creepier. Sharp Objects is about Camille Preaker, a newspaper journalist with a dark secret. When her hometown is rocked with the murders of two young girls, her editor ships her home to cover the story. As Camille struggles to deal with her ruthless mother and her eerie half-sister, while simultaneously trying to root out the truth about the murders, she comes head on with some sinister skeletons from her past.

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Book Review of Dark Places

Flynn’s second book, Dark Places is about Libby Day, the only one to survive a horrific homicide that took her mother and two sisters. And the killer was none other than her own brother, Ben. Twenty-five years later, Libby is approached by The Kill Club, a group of individuals who follow high profile murders, and offered money to look back into the case for any new details. The Kill Club is hoping to exonerate Ben, and Libby is just looking to make a quick buck. But, as Libby relives those terrible memories, she quickly learns that not everything is as it seems, and she may not be able to trust her memory of the murder.

6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Book Review of The Historian

One evening a young woman comes across a very old book in her father’s library. Upon opening it, she learns that it catalogues her parents’ connection to an ancient quest to prove that Vlad the Impaler – also known as Dracula – is still alive. The young woman must decide whether she too will take up this quest, especially now that her father has gone missing. Spanning four decades, this book takes readers on a scary journey across Eastern Europe to find the truth about the Dark Prince, Count Dracula.

7. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Book Review of The Thirteenth Tale

Vida Winter, Britain’s most loved author, is a notorious recluse who has never told anyone the true story of her life. Now that she is on her last leg of life, she calls upon a quiet biographer named Margaret Lea to record the tale. What follows is a Gothic story filled with haunting characters, ghosts, and a tragic fire. By relaying her dark past, Vida is able to come to terms with her demons and let go of the misery that has been plaguing her for so many years.

 

 

Blog Announcements + the first Micro-review Monday!

Hi Guys! Time for some real talk. My schedule has been packed to the brim lately with work, family obligations, and extra-curriculars with friends. It’s been challenging to keep up with Every Book and Cranny and my review schedule. I’ve been trying to think of an easier way to keep up with my backlog of read books, and to ensure I’m posting new reviews at least 3x per week. So, I’ve decided to change up the format of my posts a bit:

  • Micro-review Mondays: I’ll post 4-5 short reviews of titles I’ve recently read.
  • Full Review Wednesdays will be reserved for full reviews on my absolute favorites out of my recent reads.
  • Audiobook Fridays will be for reviews on the latest audiobooks I’ve listened to.

I’m really excited for this new schedule and I think it’ll help me keep my posting more regular!

Now that the business is over, let’s get to the first Micro-review Monday! I have 4 quick reviews for you guys today:

 

1. The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

  • Synopsis: The novel starts with the narrator, Arthur Winthrop – the headmaster of an elite prep school in Vermont, being picked up by the New York City police for wandering naked around Central Park. At the police station, Arthur begins to recount the events leading to this day to the police, and what emerges is the story of his life, his marriage, and his family.
  • My Review: What I really enjoyed about this book is that it surprised me. The first part of the book, narrated by Arthur, details his recent affair with one of his students and how it led to a semi-mental breakdown. But, there’s a big twist in part two, and suddenly the book morphs into a different story, discussing love and loss and how the two affect each other.
  • Read or Refrain: Read!

 

2. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Synopsis: This book is about the Binewski’s, a traveling carny family who have bred their own children to be sideshow freaks. Narrated by Oly, the albino dwarf daughter, the story follows her parents, Al and Lil, her siblings, Arty the Aqua Boy, Iphy and Elly the Siamese Twins, and Chick, and their dark journey across the country.

My Review: This was selected by a coworker for my Work Book Club, and was definitely a book I would never picked up on my own to read. It was different…very dark, somewhat obscene, but still entertaining. Overall, I liked it – It was firmly outside of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed the challenge of reading something out of the norm. One complaint however: I felt that it was unnecessarily long. I think the book could’ve been cut down by about half and still would have achieved the same affect.

Read or Refrain: Read, but with a caveat: this book is not for everyone. There are some very graphic parts, and if that’s not for you, then I would pass. If, however, you like reading Chuck Palahniuk or enjoy watching American Horror Story, I think you’ll dig this one.

 

3. The Crown by Colleen Oakes (Queen of Hearts #1)

Synopsis: Dinah is the Princess of Wonderland, and the future Queen of Hearts. She spends her days with her tutor, Harris, her best friend, Wardley, and her younger brother, Charles. Her father, the King of Hearts, seems to despise her, and she cannot figure out why. When a mysterious stranger named Vittiore arrives at the castle, Dinah begins to sense that her throne is threatened. She starts to receive clues about what’s really happening in Wonderland, and realizes that there are dangers lurking all around her.

My Review: Alice in Wonderland is one of my all-time favorite stories, so when I heard there was a book that went into the history of the Queen of Hearts, I was really excited to read it! I enjoyed the book, but it was by no means perfect. The book is part fairy tale, part fantasy, and the author has done a good job at creating the fantasy world of Wonderland. But, the writing seemed fairly amateur, and the plot didn’t always make sense. That being said, there’s a good cliffhanger at the end, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Read or Refrain: Read, but don’t expect this to be a great work of literature.

 

4. Hidden by Catherine Mckenzie

Synopsis: One day Jeff Manning is hit by a car and killed. Two women mourn him – his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. The story details the relationship Jeff has with each woman, and how his secrets have a ripple effect on their lives after his death.

My Review: I had high hopes for this one. And while it was a compelling story, I felt like it really dragged. It took forever to figure out the true relationship between Jeff and Tish. I also think there wasn’t much action in the book, just a lot of reminiscing and talking. It just got old for me.

Read or Refrain: Refrain; I don’t think it’s really worth the read.

Of Marriageable Age Book Review

Of Marriageable Age Book Cover Of Marriageable Age
Sharon Maas
Fiction, South Asian Fiction
03/14/2014
Kindle
530

 

At a Glance:

Of Marriageable Age is the story of three different characters: Savitri, a servant girl growing up in British-ruled India; Nataraj, the son of a small-town doctor in South India; Saroj, a headstrong girl growing up in Guyana. How these three characters are linked forms the crux of the story, and takes readers on a journey from India to South America to London.

My Review:

I really wanted to like this book. I’m a big fan of South Asian fiction (I’ve enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, Indu Sundaresan, and many more), but I found Of Marriageable Age to be a really bad example of the genre.

In the beginning, it was interesting to read from the three different perspectives of Savitri, Nataraj, and Saroj. I was engaged in trying to figure out how the three characters were connected. But, due to bad writing/editing, it quickly because confusing and error-ridden. From a simple plotline perspective, the story didn’t make sense. I’m all about a plot twist, but Maas employed too many and the story became addled. The writing was very lengthy and I found that the story dragged in many places. In addition, I felt that Maas’ details were redundant, which added to the lengthiness.

Overall, I was not impressed with Of Marriageable Age at all, and would not recommend it to anyone