Book Reviews

Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little LifePublished: March 10th, 2015 by Doubleday.

Format: Hardcover, 720 pages.

Goodreads Summary: When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Thoughts: I didn’t know what to do with myself after finishing this novel. My heart is still heavy with a sorrow so profound that it has enveloped me. It took me six months to complete this story, and I have no regrets.

Although this novel follows the lives of four friends fresh out of college, you will learn quickly that the story centers mostly around Jude. He is the most secretive of the bunch and must carry memories full of terror and devastation that latch onto him like a parasite. I hadn’t discovered this novel until about a year after it was published and realized that it had made its way onto the best-sellers list for 2015. Unlike many others, I went into this book completely blind after hearing such high praise from reviewers and readers alike. Everything about this story is devastating. The story, characters, and, prose have been permanently seared into my mind. Fair warning: This book is not easy to digest. It contains references to self-harm, physical and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and other triggering subjects.

With all that said, the darkness presented by this story doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Hanya Yanagihara has written a book about life in it’s most raw and unsettling form. This is story about the importance of friendship and how much power it does and doesn’t have. The friendships layered within are steadfast, broken, envious, and above all, honest. I suggest that you read this book slowly because it’s woven together so intricately. It’s a work of art, really. I have heard some readers complain about the sheer size of this book, but I believe that every word has a role, and it all works together to create a story that is utterly poetic. From the first page it’s easy to become enthralled in the story of Jude, Willam, Malcolm, and JB, with the people they meet along the way.

“Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”

This is not a book you can just pick up and read. It requires your utmost attention and will fold your insides in on themselves, until everything aches. My tears were relentless in their flow and there were moments so relatable that I thought the author had gotten into the deepest parts of my mind somehow. I have never cried so hard in my life. It was constant. –I can’t stop thinking about this novel and it has jumped to my number one spot for favorite books. Although A Little Life is difficult to read and full of strong emotion that forces you to confront all that is ugly in this world, it is exquisite. This character driven novel keeps you invested until the very last word. If you get a chance to read this one, I highly recommend it for those who are ready. Hanya Yanagihara has written a novel so raw and poignant. One that tries hard to discover the good things in life. This novel will stick with me for the rest of my own little life, and makes me want to be a better person. Isn’t that all we can hope for?

“…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Alice by Christina Henry

AlicePublished: August 4th 2015 by Ace.

Format: Kindle Edition, 304 pages.

Goodreads Summary: A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll…
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

Thoughts: Forget everything you know about Lewis Carroll’s beloved childhood story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and prepare to be thrown into a much darker tale that is sure to drive anyone mad. In this retelling Christina Henry has created a new world so disturbing it’s hard to imagine the beauty of the original novel even exists. The author brings back characters we recognize, but fair warning, no one is safe anymore. This is a different story. A very bloody one.

“Alice dreamed of blood. Blood on her hands and under her feet, blood in her mouth and pouring from her eyes. The room was filled with it.”

Wonderland has disappeared under the grime of the Old City where horrors await for the next unfortunate soul. Ever since Alice returned home after going missing at sixteen, covered in scarlet and talking madness about a rabbit, her parents fear she has gone around the bend. Years later, Alice finds herself locked in an asylum with others society has deemed crazy. Her only friend goes by the name of Hatcher. He talks to her through a small mouse-hole from the cell next door and admits he knows little of his past before this place. The only thing he’s sure of is the reality of his nightmares, and the monster at the very center of them. They are presented a chance to escape when the asylum is engulfed in flames, but their suffering is far from over. Something has escaped with them.

Alice and Hatcher are forced to enter the bowels of the Old City, a place ruled by terrifying lords – the Cheshire, the Walrus, the Carpenter, and the Caterpillar. Leaders waged in a war against each other, and it’s no surprise when they take an interest in sweet little Alice. This novel is full of eerie descriptions that will make your hair stand on end. I also want to mention a trigger warning for future readers. This book features scenes of rape and although I understand why such a horrid action was spread throughout the story it can be off-putting to some readers. It is recommended that readers be 18+.

I must say that I absolutely loved Alice by Christina Henry and I can’t wait read more from her. This book was horrifying and fueled by nightmares. I read this book in one sitting! It was that good. A second part to this story called Red Queen will be released sometime next year. Grab your vorpal blade before you get pushed down the rabbit hole again.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (ARC)

17901125Published: January 27th 2015 by Bloomsbury.

Format: Kindle Edition, 320 pages.

Source: NetGalley.

Goodreads Summary: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Thoughts: It’s finally here! I’ve been waiting to read The Bone Season’s sequel for quite a while now. NetGalley was kind enough to give me an Advanced Readers Copy a few months back and I totally freaked out. Back in 2013 I wrote my review for The Bone Season and completely fell in love with the characters and the world. Samantha Shannon, this series just keeps getting better! It was so easy to delve into the world again because the author does a wonderful job quickly restating the plot. Weeks leading up to The Mime Order’s release, the author posted Crash Courses and Refreshers on her blog explaining important aspects of the world and its characters. Click here to read them. They are well written and extremely helpful for those of you who don’t want to re-read the first book before January 27th.

The world building in The Mime Order is well crafted and complex. I really want to visit London now. Now, many critics of the first book said too much information and unfamiliar terminology was introduced all at once. An info dump that made the beginning of the story somewhat difficult to follow. However, this problem completely disappears as the series continues. It’s also important to note that the plot does build up slowly and that can throw some readers off, but trust me when I say that the story will pick up. It’s worth it because the reader gets to learn more about the Criminal Underworld located under Scion and about the power struggle within it. Eventually we get a sense of just how massive this story will be.

To be back in Paige Mahoney’s head is wonderful. Her POV (Point of View) is mesmerizing. She’s clever, quick-witted, serious, flawed, and extremely resilient. In The Bone Season, she’s thrust into a situation she doesn’t want to be in and reading The Mime Order we see growing character development that is far from over. Warden does make an appearance, but due to spoilers I won’t say much except OH MY GOSH! His presence in the story is intoxicating. I’m head over heals. Aside from the two main characters though, it’s refreshing to see a cast of secondary characters who are just as intriguing. Jaxon Hall can be frustrating, but I love him anyway. Others like Zeke, Nick, and Nadine fill the story with incredible dialogue and life. It’s fantastic to read a series where I’m invested in every character. They all add something.

The Mime Order is a stunning sequel that definitely left me yearning for the third book. If you’re looking for a dark, compelling fantasy I highly suggest you pick this one up. The long wait was worth it and I can’t wait to see what else Samantha Shannon has in store. We still have five books left! Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Bring on January 27th!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

18081809 Published: July 8th 2014 by St. Martin’s Press.

Format: Hardcover, 310 pages.

Source: Barnes and Noble.

Goodreads Summary: Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened
?

Thoughts: I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s impossible for me to read a Rainbow Rowell book in more than one sitting. Due to unpopular (or popular) summer sleep habits, I found myself staying up till dawn to finish Landline. Earlier at the beginning of the year I placed this book on my most anticipated books list of 2014.  I don’t mean to wrap this review up with one sentience, but Rowell has delivered yet another story that I surely won’t forget.

I’ll be honest, my heart ached for both Neal and Georgie as their marriage took a turn for the worse. Especially because we only view the story from Georgie’s point of view. It’s never fun reading about an impending divorce. That said, this story won’t be for everyone. It doesn’t help that I developed an attachment very early on for the two main characters and their love story.

My favorite thing about Rainbow Rowell is that she’s able to create such complex and realistic characters. Not only that, but also highlight their flaws and that adds another detention to the story. Somehow Neal’s distant personality balanced with Georgie’s outgoing one, and I thoroughly enjoyed their college flashbacks. Watching their relationship blossom made me absolutely sure that they were meant to be together. Maybe that’s the hopeless romantic in me peeking out.

The old school landline telephone almost seemed to add a mystical element to the story. At first I had a difficult time understanding exactly what was going on, but found it easier to put the pieces together as I kept reading. I promise it all makes sense by the final chapter. Now, this book is technically labeled adult contemporary but Rowell seems to push the envelope and make it her own.

Laneline by Rainbow Rowell shows a raw account of relationships and just how delicate they can be. Even though I am not married or have children of my own, I definitely found myself captivated by this novel and in turn took something from it. Without a doubt this book has been added to my favorites list. Rowell has done it again.

Let me know what you think.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16143347Published: May 13th 2014 by Delacorte Press.

Format: ebook, 240 pages.

Goodreads Summary:A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Thoughts: I’m just going to say what everyone else has been saying. You’ll get the best reading experience if you go into this story knowing absolutely nothing. That’s what I did, and I ended up loving this story. More than anything, the writing was exquisite and at times poetic. The author has a way of writing so it feels like you’ve read 150 pages as opposed to 30. Most people dislike dense books, but it worked perfectly for this one. All of the details that E. Lockhart uses throughout the novel are so precise and clearly planned out. When you find out the Truth everything suddenly comes together and it all makes sense. I was so invested in the characters that I didn’t even pick up on the twist.

The thing about this book though is that readers will either love it or be disappointed. I have multiple friends who said they were able to guess the ending right away and that ruined it. However they said that the story itself was still enjoyable. Personally, We Were Liars was a gem and I could definitely see myself re-reading it again. Give it a try.

If you have read it and anyone asks you how it ends, just lie.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

18301124 Published: October 12th 2013.

Format: ebook, 405 pages.

Goodreads Summary: Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

Thoughts: I have never been so emotionally moved by a book, until now. I know that seems like a bit of stretch, but I telling you that this book left me speechless by the end of it. Amy Harmon caught my attention due to another book; A different Blue (I’ll be posting a review soon)and I finished that book exactly two days ago. As soon as I finished that novel I knew I’d stumbled upon a potential favorite author. Knowing that I just had to jump into another one of her stories. Oh man. I’m so glad I did!

This book has stolen my heart, completely. It starts off with the mention of a high school crush and Fern is infatuated with this popular boy who doesn’t pay her any attention until they start trading love letters back and forth. The only problem.. He doesn’t know they’re from her. Following the tragedy of 9/11 Ambrose is drawn to the army and asks his friends to fight with him so they can be together. In a combination of present and past Amy Harmon intricately weaves the stories of these two broken people together. As you can probably guess Ambrose Young arrives home alone and full of remorse for his best friends who didn’t make it back. He’s no longer the beautiful man he once was and it weighs on him greatly. Fern along with her wheelchair bound cousin and best friend Bailey come into Ambrose’s life when he needs it the most.

I think that everyone can take something away from this book and If I had to sum this novel up with one word, I’d say perspective. It made me really look at why certain things happen to us and why we enter this world the way we are.

“If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”

I honestly don’t want to say anything more about this story because it deserves to be experienced. I don’t cry when reading, it’s just not something that happens. I didn’t even cry when finishing The Fault in Our Stars, but Making Faces took my emotions and put them into overdrive. Between you and I.. I did cry, many times. No shame, because if you can find a story that makes you laugh, cry, and be angry all at the same time; I think you’ve found a winner. I did.

This book of course was not without a little romance. What I love most about Amy Harmon and her approach to relationships is that she doesn’t focus on the physical aspect. It’s heavy, but on a purely emotional level. The way she handled it helped create a balance within the story that I grew to appreciate more than anything else.

I know that when someone says “read this book” it can seem forced, but I truly recommend this story 100% I’m telling you right now that we’re only two months into the year and this book has already flown to the very top of my favorites list. Part of me wants to re-read this story now. It’s that good.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

13636400  Published: August 20th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA  (466 pages)

Thoughts: There’s been quite a lot of buzz surrounding this debut novel and many are even comparing it to J.K Rowling’s series: Harry Potter. Now before you go off on a tangent saying that nothing could ever rival Harry Potter or something like that, these books are completely different and separate from one another. I first heard about The Bone Season from a popular YouTuber named Carrie Hope Fletcher and she raved about this book so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Goodreads Summary: It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

First of all the premise is so interesting  though it isn’t anything all that new,  Shannon presented it spectacularly. Like many others I have to agree that the novels strength lies in the world building. The author was able to ease the reader into the story and that’s always much appreciated. The idea of a futuristic London and all the details that were put into creating this world blew my mind. That along with excellent characters is what made the book for me. I definitely want to know more about the Scion government and its history. I’m sure we will see that later on in the series.

I think I may have to add another favorite heroine to my ever-expanding list because Paige was kick-ass. She most certainly has her flaws, but personally a character without flaws isn’t that interesting. As the story progresses we get to see her come into her own and take control of her clairvoyant powers. The side characters were just as interesting and I really want to see more of the Seven Seals and their jobs. Hopefully that will come into to play later. What’s great about this series is you don’t necessarily know what everybody’s intentions are.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the romance. Shannon didn’t make it a huge plot point of the story, but she weaved in just enough and even then it was only the beginning of a relationship. I would love to say more but then I’d be getting into spoiler territory.  The bit of romance placed into the story was nicely done and I totally ship these two characters. Enough said.

My only caution is that you should take your time reading this book because there’s a lot of information and that can throw readers off. From what I’ve heard The Bone Season is set to be a 7 book series and I couldn’t be more excited. There are so many different ways this story can progress and I need the next one. If you’re looking for a new action packed series, I’d recommend this one. I can’t wait to see what else Samantha Shannon has in store for us. A great debut novel!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

I hope you all had a great holiday!

Next Book Review: To be determined.

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