Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1448752778l/27209140.jpgI'm a bit conflicted in how I feel about this book. The starkness of the landscape in which it takes place and the grittiness of it appeals to me very much. I love a strong heroine, which Elka is, and I liked the writing style. The plot lines, however, get a bit tangled up. The first half or so of the book offers the strongest plot moments, with the rest becoming a bit more convoluted. 

I think the biggest problem that is the villain. His actions are not explained as fully as it is necessary to make him a three dimensional character. Some of his actions feel random, like they are just happening because the story needs them to happen. This occurs throughout the book, as well, with Elka many times doing the opposite of what she just said she was going to do just because it is the only way for the plot to move forward.
We really don't get much world building, either. We know this is a post-apocalyptic world, but we don't really know what the rules are in this new world. It would have been nice to learn a bit more about it.
The end also feels rushed. Everything kind of comes together at the last minute and it takes Elka a few second to deal with the villain who has plagued her from the beginning. If it makes sense, it is too built up and at the same time not built up enough.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman

It’s hard to avoid comparisons with Tartt’s The Secret History. Both novels take place in Ivy League schools and both involve a murder that upends the main characters’ lives. this story, however, does have a different way of tackling at the event, with the reader being tossed back and forth in time.

This novel tries. Hard. But it is plagued with unlikable characters with whom the reader feels little to no sympathy, making it impossible to grow too interested in their struggles. The writing is well paced, however, with tight plotting that makes the novel move at a nice pace. There were some missed opportunities when it came to sub-plots that might have made the characters come alive a bit more, which adds to the novel’s frustrating element.

It is a quick read, I suppose, but if you really want a novel that delves into what this one tries to, read The Secret History.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The VegetarianBefore the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

This is a book that is brutal and difficult to put down once you start. The stark writing style emphasizes the cruelty that fills the pages, making every page really hit the reader squarely in the stomach with its gut-wrenching prose.

The main character is not someone we get too know very well. We see everything she does through the eyes of the people around her, who are all unreliable narrators. The only times we get an inkling into what she is thinking is when we read her dream sequences, which are full of poetic violence.

If you are looking for a story that will linger within you for a long time after you finish, this is the one to choose.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Eleanor by Jason Gurley


 1985. The death of Eleanor's twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor's mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.

1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time... when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it's only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives... and something rips her out of time itself.

And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.

This book melds gorgeous writing with fantasy elements and creates something wholly new. It is a portrait of grief and redemption, and is one of the loveliest reads I’ve picked up this year. 

The story travels back and forth through time, and because two of the characters have the same name it can throw the reader every once in a while, but otherwise it is not as complex to follow as the jumping dates might suggest. There are moments of real heartbreak in this book, so if you are looking for something light to read, this isn’t it. If, instead, you want something that will make you think and will make you feel, then this novel is a wonderful choice.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring BookThis is a lovely coloring book appropriate for adults as well as kids. It features stunning drawings that just beg to be colored in  and many fun items to search for throughout its pages. You will enjoy the time you spend within its pages. This is a sequel but can be enjoyed alone.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

J by Howard Jacobson

JSet in the future - a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited - J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn't know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn't then, and isn't now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn't ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren't sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they've been pushed into each other's arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?

Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe - a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

The problem with this novel is that it is dull. Quite dull. It took me a long time to get through it because of its rambling passages, which though beautifully written, could have easily been cut out of the novel without any serious effect. The veiled references to the Holocaust start off interesting enough but soon grow tiresome and somehow get even vaguer. 

If the characters had been more engaging, perhaps the whole thing could have worked, but neither of the protagonists made much of an impact. The entire cop storyline felt disjointed and forced, and was never really resolved, as the murder of an irrelevant character in the middle of the book. 

There are many dystopian novels out there much more interesting and less boring than this one. It tried to be and say too much and got bogged down by its ambition.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

The Demonologist A stolen child.

An ancient evil.

A father’s descent.

And the literary masterpiece that holds the key to his daughter’s salvation.

This novel has all the elements that I love: horror, demons, psychological terror, and an interesting main character. The execution of it, however, is what really keeps me from recommending it. 

The pacing could have been better throughout the last half of the book. It starts off well, with enough momentum to keep us reading but without overwhelming us, either, but it veers off into a race somewhere at the half-way mark. It is well written for the most part, but the plot is thin. Very thin. There is no real reason why any of it truly happens, why the protagonist goes to Venice, why he returns, or why he goes off into an endless cross-country road trip. This weakens the plot substantially. Most of the turning points in the story also come about my almost random guessing on the part of the protagonist, which takes away from the reader’s enjoyment. 

The ending, too, leaves a lot to be desired. It is wholly expected and bordering on the cliché. All of this makes the novel a pretty strong disappointment.