Monday, February 11, 2019

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield - Book Review

Happy Monday, readers! Today we're chatting about the highly anticipated new release from Diane Setterfield, " Once Upon A River". Discussing this book in sixty seconds (ish) was tough because I loved this book, but the plot is complex and meandering, and just doesn't lend itself to quick explanations. Where to begin! The story is set along a river, one day a man wanders into a bar holding a young girl - the man collapses and the young girl is believed to be dead - she isn't breathing and has no pulse. As it turns out, she comes back to life, *but* she is mute. The plot really picks up when three different families come forward, believing this young girl to be their missing child. There is so much more to the plot, but that's a good start! "Once Upon A River" has these beautiful small doses of magical realism, they're pretty subtle, and they're used to explore how these families are grappling with the grief of losing their child. It's one of the few times where magical realism really worked for me in a book - and I love that. This novel is longer and it is a slower burn, but it is so well written, and so thought provoking, and so creative - if you're in the mood for a longer, whimsical novel this is definitely one I would recommend. 

Have you read "Once Upon A River"? Comment down below let me know what you thought of it! 

Many thanks to the publisher and the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton - Book Review

"Words on Bathroom Walls" by Julia Walton is a YA fiction novel that follows main character Adam who was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. The book is a collection of letters that Adam is writing to his therapist in the counseling sessions that he attends but refuses to speak in. This book is hard for me to review, because I think that there are readers out there that would really connect with Adam, because they have personal experiences that line up with the novel. That aside, as far as writing style and reading experience, this was a two star read for me. The book is written in letter form, so it is very casual but it also felt incredibly unnatural and a very unlikely premise. The main character while experiencing a complex illness, is not portrayed as being particularly complex, and after reading the author's end note I'm not entirely sure how accurate this portrayal of schizophrenia actually is. Have you read "Words on Bathroom Walls"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs - Book Review

"Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs is a memoir about Augusten's life - starting in middle school and going though high school, and those years for Augusten were *chaotic*. In middle school, Augusten's parents began seeing a therapist and what follows is one of the most bizarre Addam's family type situations I've ever read about. Augusten has processed everything in the book with wit and humor, and I loved it, and flew through this book. But the effect of that humor, is also this vacuum where you really get a sense of the hurt and confusion that Augusten must have felt because the situations described in the book are also terrible. For example, one of my favorite quotes from the book is Augusten describing his mother's most recent mental breakdown as "not crazy in a 'let's paint the kitchen bright red' sort of way but crazy in a gas oven, tooth paste sandwich, I am God, sort of way." Have you read "Running With Scissors"? Let me know what you thought of it below! 

Everything is Horrible and Wonderful by Stephanie Wittels - Book Review

"Everything is Horrible and Wonderful" is a memoir that Stephanie wrote after her brother, Harris, died of a heroin overdose in 2015. Harris was an actor and writer, and if you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, you might know him as Harris the Animal Control employee, but he was also a writer for the show and a producer. Stephanie shares so much material that he wrote, emails he wrote her, instant messages that they shared - it's impossible to deny how hilarious he was. But she is also brutally honest about the anger and frustration that she felt towards and still feels. I listened to this book on audio, and it brought me to tears several times listening to her rage against her brother's choices and the long term consequences that will have on her life and everyone who loved Harris. As hard as it was at times to get through, I think this book has a lot to say about drug addiction and I am so glad that I read it. Have you read "Everything is Horrible and Wonderful"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of this book!

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

"Moxie" by Jennifer Mathieu is a YA book with a lot of hype, and for me, it totally met it. "moxie" follows a junior in high school named Viv. Viv is fed up with the sexist tones in her high school - the catcalls from the high school football team, the dress code the seemingly only applies to the girls, and the terrible game played in the hallway, "bump and grab" - yeah, welcome to hell. One day, Viv creates a zin calling out all of this, called "Moxie" and the movement takes off at her high school and becomes something so much bigger. As an adult reading YA, I tend to pay a lot of attention to how the "grown ups" are acting. I was really struck in this book by the adults and their complicity, it made me so frustrated. This book does such an amazing job showing all of the layers of complication and control that lead to these toxic environments- those that Moxie girls and women everywhere fight.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reading Wrap Up II October 2018

Check out my reading wrap up for the month of October! I read a total of six books, which honestly - yes, any amount of books is great - but that aside, for some reason I had built this month up in my mind as one where I would have more books read - why? I have no idea. There is only one extra day, Katie, why did you think you would manage to fit in three more books this month- because you didn't! Anyway! While all of the books weren't winners, the ones that were great, were extra great. Check out the video up above and let me know the best (or worst) books you read in October! 

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti - Book Review


This book absolutely blew me away and I just can't help but to gush about it! "A Heart in a Body in the World" follows a main character named Annabelle, and at the start of the novel, Annabelle decides that she wants to run across the United States, something many people have done to draw attention their cause. At the start of the book, you aren't quite sure what happened to Annabelle, but one of the wonderful things about this novel, is the way the author, Deb Caletti, reveals this to the reader through PTSD episodes that are seemlessly woven into the narrative that felt incredibly natural to the plot and the experience of PTSD. And so Annabelle runs with the help of her family and friends, as well the people who she meets while she is running. Long story short, I love this book. There are so many amazing quotes in this novel and so many nuggets of wisdom about hypocrisy and the terrible lessons that we can be taught as young women. I did struggle a bit with this book plot wise, but I gave this book four stars and strongly recommend it. Have you read "A Heart in a Body in the World"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of this book!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Line That Held Us by David Joy - Book Review

"The Line That Held Us" by David Joy follows a man named Daryl - he needs food and so one day he decides to go hunting on another man's property. Shooting in the dark, he believes he has shot a pig, but is shocked to find instead that he killed another man. To make matters worse, the man that Daryl killed is a member of the Brewer family, and when his brother Dwayne find out - things to dark... very, very dark. Daryl desperately tries to cover up the crime, calling his best friend Calvin to help him to bury the body - my blood pressure is rising just thinking about this book! It was such an intense and quick read! I gave this book four stars, I loved the suspense in this book. The author told a story that was not just gripping, but also held some really important moral questions for the reader - what are you truly willing to do for another person, what lines do you hold? This book is a gritty page turner and perfect for this time of year. Have you read "The Line That Held Us"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult - Book Review

"A Spark of Light" by Jodi Picoult has a very unique set up - the story is told in reverse order, starting with the "ending" and then filling us in on how the characters got there.  The setting is called "The Center" and it is the single women's clinic in the state of Mississippi that provides women with abortions. A gunman takes over this women's center, holding individuals hostage. The story is told from several perspectives, but the most highlighted it feels like is the hostage negotiator and his daughter, who is inside The Center as a hostage. This book felt like a very special episode of Grey's Anatomy, it's sweeps, they need to get the ratings up, and an original cast member is leaving, levels of drama. There are parts of "Spark of Light" that I really enjoyed, but it was impossible to ignore these twists ( even more than the one mentioned) that just felt incredibly unnecessary. Also, Jodi Picoult took a very didactic approach with this book, it's informative and interesting, but it also completely pulled me out of the narrative and because of these two issues I gave this book three stars. Have you read "A Spark of Light"? Let me know what you think of this book below in the comments!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg - Book Review

There are books and plots that are easy to explain, and then there's this book! "Did You Ever Have A Family" by Bill Clegg is told from half a dozen different perspectives, all of whom are involved in a tragedy that happened - a home explodes the night before a wedding, and in the home are the bride, and the groom, as well as the boyfriend of the mother of the bride. The perspective changes each chapter but they all come together to explore grief and blame and healing. One thing about this book is that it demands your full attention, there is no reading this with one eye on the other eye on the book and the other eye on your phone or a television screen. The writing in the book is beautiful and haunting and there are parts of this book that will cause me anxiety for years to come. I generally don't enjoy books with a bunch of different narrators, I think it gives it a very disjointed feel and that's definitely the case in this book, so for that reason I wouldn't recommend it. Have you read "Did You Ever Have A Family" by Bill Clegg? If so, comment down below and let me know what you thought of this book! If not, drop a recommendation below for a book with multiple narrators that you enjoyed!

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Rosie Project by Graeme Samisen - Book Review

"The Rosie Project" by Graeme Samisen follows main character Don, he is an autistic scientist starting something that calls "The Wife Project". Which is basically a questionnaire he has created, that if he can get any women to take, he is hoping, he will find his perfect match. Rosie is introduced to Don, and while she in absolutely no way passes this test, Don finds that having Rosie in his life is incredibly enriching. This was a five star book prediction for me, I really thought that I was going to enjoy it, and instead it was two stars, and that's okay. But this book wasn't just disappointing, it made me angry. "The Rosie Project" takes this laugh track approach to autism, that with this particular storyline felt especially cheap and especially frustrating. Have you read "the Rosie Project"? Comment below and let me know your thoughts on this book!