3 NetGalley Reviews

These are my most recent NetGalley reviews, thanks as always to NetGalley for giving me copies of these books.

The End We Start From – 3.5 Stars.

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

This book was a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be, so I actually ended up sitting down and reading it in an evening.  The End We Start From has some really beautiful, and almost lyrical prose.  I wasn’t expecting an apocalyptic book to be written like this, and right away it hooked me on the book.

The characters in this book were all named with just initials, which was interesting. Though I felt it made the characters feel a little distant. I never really felt for them as much as I wanted too, and as much as I thought the story had potential to make me feel. But I did like the idea of seeing the end of the world from the point of view of a mother. In the end I decided to give this book 3.5 stars.

The Wisdom of Dead Men – 1 Star.

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Goodreads Synopsis: While investigating a series of mysterious murders, Nate uncovers dark secrets that threaten to reveal the true nature of the Wildenstern family. The British Empire is no longer the authority it once was. Instead, it’s controlled by private business organizations–the most powerful of which is Ireland’s ruthless Wildenstern family. Eighteen-year-old Nathaniel Wildenstern has given up his dreams of travel and adventure to devote himself to being his brother Berto’s head of security. With the help of his wife, Daisy, Berto wants to change the barbaric ways of the clan. But there are many among the Wildensterns who like things the way they are, and will resort to whatever devious methods necessary to keep it that way.Meanwhile, the burnt bodies of women are appearing around Dublin. When a connection to the Wildenstern family is discovered, Nate, Daisy, and Nate’s sister Tatiana decide to investigate. Soon the young Wildensterns are digging into shadowy societies and dark family secrets that date back to the origin of the engimals, who are part animal, part machine. And what they find could shed light on the savage nature of the Wildensterns themselves.

This book took me months and months to read. I kept trying to get into the story, kept trying to be interested in the characters but I just wasn’t.  Part of this could be that I wasn’t able to read the first book. I didn’t realize this was the second book in the series when I originally got it from NetGalley.  Awhile back I’d read the prequel to the series and loved it, so I thought I’d read more.  Maybe if I’m able to read the first book and I like it I can come back to this one and try it again.  1 star.

Once, In Lourdes – 3 stars.

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Goodreads Synopsis: Four high school friends stand on the brink of adulthood—and on the high ledge above the sea at the local park in Lourdes, Michigan, they call the Haight—and make a pact. For the next two weeks, they will live for each other and for each day. And at the end of the two weeks, they will stand once again on the bluff and jump, sacrificing themselves on the altar of their friendship. Loyal Kate, beautiful Vera, witty C.J., and steady Saint—in a two-week span, their lives will change beyond their expectations, and what they gain and lose will determine whether they enter adulthood or hold fast to their pledge. Once, in Lourdes is a haunting and moving novel of the power of teenage bonds, the story of four characters who will win your heart and transport you back to your own high school years.

I was expecting this book to be somewhat dark, it is after all about four kids who have a suicide pact. But I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so disturbing.  I mean the book was interesting, it had more of an experimental feel when it came to the writing. It included some of the drawings of the main character Kate.  The characters were all interesting as well, I was able to feel for all of them.  The ending took me by surprise as well, and I wasn’t sure if I liked it. It was a very dark ending. Which is why I ended up giving the book three stars. It whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Weird Girl and What’s His Name – By Megan Brothers

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the tiny podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, seventeen-year-old geeks Lula and Rory share everything—sci-fi and fantasy fandom, Friday night binge-watching of old X-Files episodes, and that feeling that they don’t quite fit in. Lula knows she and Rory have no secrets from each other; after all, he came out to her years ago, and she’s shared with him her “sacred texts”—the acting books her mother left behind after she walked out of Lula’s life. But then Lula discovers that Rory—her Rory, who maybe she’s secretly had feelings for—has not only tried out for the Hawthorne football team without telling her, but has also been having an affair with his middle-aged divorcee boss. With their friendship disrupted, Lula begins to question her identity and her own sexual orientation, and she runs away in the middle of the night on a journey to find her mother, who she hopes will have all the answers. Meagan Brother’s piercing prose in this fresh LGBT YA novel speaks to anyone who has ever felt unwanted and alone, and who struggles to find their place in an isolating world.

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Another LGBTQA+ read! Weird Girl and What’s His Name is an easy read. It’s 336 pages, it has quirky characters who love the X-Files and it’s about finding yourself in life.

I found myself liking the first half it more than the second half. Rory is the narrator for the first part and I really liked his character. He lives with his alcoholic mother and his main friend is the funny but selfish Lula. His character really grows over the story. You understand why he’s in the unfortunate relationship with his boss, but the book does a good job of never condoning what happened. It was wrong and he begins to see that. He also learns that he wants to be with someone who loves being with him. And that was my favorite part. Rory really begins to love himself by the end of the book.

I didn’t like Lula’s character. And thus I didn’t enjoy the last part of the book where she’s narrating. Her whole running away escapade was so selfish. And I didn’t feel like she ever took responsibility for her actions like she should have. I think if not for her I would have given this book a full four stars. Also some of the characters in this book were biphobic, and all though they apologized for it I just don’t see why it’s necessary to say biphobic things. Let’s just stop with the whole “Bi people are confused” shit. It’s 2017 people!

I did feel for Lula despite it all. She goes in search of her mother, who abandoned her as a young kid. Her mom is seriously a terrible person. And it was hard to see Lula be rejected by her mom. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the treatment of the mom.  It didn’t feel supportive of women who can’t/don’t want to be mothers.  Lula’s mother is portrayed as a huge bitch through the story, like the mom literally doesn’t care about Lula at all. And I wanted it to be more positive, some people just don’t make good parents. It’s not that they’re messed up or anything.  Still it was good for Lula to grow up and realize that she had a great life being raised by her grandparents.

The overall plot was great, now I really want to watch the X-Files and see what all the fuss is about. 😀  I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.  It’s a cute book, and if you can get over Lula you’ll enjoy the story.

Light in August – By William Faulkner

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Goodreads Synopsis: Light in August, a novel that contrasts stark tragedy with hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, a lonely outcast haunted by visions of Confederate glory; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.

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Again, I decided to read this because I’ve been on a classic literature binge.  This one is probably my favorite of my recent classic reads. Light in August is a haunting story. From Lena to Hightower to Christmas, each character has a past that makes their life difficult and each is struggling for something else in life.    This book is a fast read, and I should warn you does not have a very happy ending.  Lena finds the man who got her pregnant but he’s not what she thought.  Christmas gets into trouble with the law.  Only Hightower doesn’t have some catastrophe fall on him.   But I would definitely recommenced reading this book. It’s a book that looks into the heart of man, it shows people for what they are and how circumstance forces them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

After reading this book I’m excited to read more by William Faulkner.  His writing was very impressive, and his characters deep.  Does anyone have any recommendations for more books by him?

In the end I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser

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Goodreads Synopsis: A tremendous bestseller when it was published in 1925, “An American Tragedy” is the culmination of Theodore Dreiser’s elementally powerful fictional art. Taking as his point of departure a notorious murder case of 1910, Dreiser immersed himself in the social background of the crime to produce a book that is both a remarkable work of reportage and a monumental study of character. Few novels have undertaken to track so relentlessly the process by which an ordinary young man becomes capable of committing a ruthless murder, and the further process by which social and political forces come into play after his arrest.
In Clyde Griffiths, the impoverished, restless offspring of a family of street preachers, Dreiser created an unforgettable portrait of a man whose circumstances and dreams of self-betterment conspire to pull him toward an act of unforgivable violence. Around Clyde, Dreiser builds an extraordinarily detailed fictional portrait of early twentieth-century America, its religious and sexual hypocrisies, its economic pressures, its political corruption. The sheer prophetic amplitude of his bitter truth-telling, in idiosyncratic prose of uncanny expressive power, continues to mark Dreiser as a crucially important American writer. “An American Tragedy,” the great achievement of his later years, is a work of mythic force, at once brutal and heartbreaking.

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This was quite the read! An American Tragedy is not only a long book it’s also a very deep book. There were times I wanted to stop reading because of the verbose prose, but the intriguing main character made me stick with it.

The story follows Clyde Griffiths, the son of missionary parents, a young boy who longs for a better life than the poverty that he was raised in.  Clyde isn’t a selfish person in the beginning, he’s just a person trying to decide how to get through life. After his sister runs away in her teenage years, Clyde begins to look more critically at his life and tries to takes steps to change his circumstance.  We see Clyde go from odd job to odd job, and then finally taking a job in a hotel where he finds a good position, for awhile anyway. In the hotel he gets mixed up in a group of stupid selfish boys who only care about getting into questionable fun. From there thing just go downhill, and an accident forces Clyde to go on the run and leave the state.  When the story picks up again he’s now in his twenties and working for a rich uncle in a factory. There he meets a beautiful girl with whom he starts a relationship with, and again things go south.

Dreiser creates a very vivid story, and you feel sympathy for Clyde even when you don’t like what he’s doing.  Clyde is a coward and a selfish person. But you wonder what he could have been if circumstances were different.  Like I said earlier there are times that the writing gets a bit dense. My copy of the book was 972 pages, which was a bit much, even for me. Still I couldn’t help wanting to know what would happen in the end of this tragic story.

In the end I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

Truthwitch By Susan Dennard

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Goodreads Synopsis: In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

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This book has a surprising amount of mixed reviews, so I went into it not expecting much.

Truthwitch has a lot of good things in it, and a lot of things that could have been done better. In my opinion the world-building sucked. There were parts that didn’t get explained at all, like why was Iseult’s race hated?  What’s the background for Cahr Awen? And the worst was the war, that I wasn’t really sure why it was happening or who was fighting in it?

The characters however were well written. I loved the friendship between Iseult and Safi, I also wanted them to get together, which sadly did not happen. Iseult is badass and has a great backstory.  Safi is, like all fantasy main characters, the special one. But unlike most YA fantasy heroines, she actually manages to pull it off without being annoying or too stupid.   The love interest was really boring, why are all YA fantasy guys exactly the same? I don’t know it’s lame. In my opinion this book could have had no romance or a gay romance, sadly no one asked for my opinion. 😉   Aeduan was the only other decent character, though he was iffy at times.

Truthwitch is narrated by a ton of POV’s, which was annoying but then I always find it annoying so at this point I’m just learning to roll with it.   When I finished the book I felt that I would definitely read the second in this duology, but that Truthwitch wasn’t a 4 star book.  I ended up settling for 3.5. I’d say if you go into knowing it’s mediocre you can enjoy the read. 🙂

When Herscue Met Jomphrey – A Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: “I knew this guy was out of the square. He was so far out, he was in the hexagonal prism that was past the triangle next to the square.”

When the author met her future husband, she was instantly charmed by his intensity, wacky conversation choices, and innate desire to create peculiar names. Seventeen years, one wedding, one baby and several adopted names later, it began to dawn on ‘Herscue’ that family jokes about her husband having Asperger’s Syndrome may be closer to the truth than she had first imagined.

Filled with moving and hilarious tales, one of which provides the origins of the author and her husband’s adopted names, Herscue and Jomphrey, and their even stranger pronunciations, this personal account grapples with the highs and lows of a 25 year marriage to an Aspie husband.

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Enjoyable story, realistic and heartwarming, these are my thoughts as I put down my phone and start to think about writing a review.

This book wasn’t written exactly how I expected it to be, not as much of a story but almost a handbook on living with a person with Aspergers. Which was interesting, and not bad at all, just different. I enjoyed reading the stories in there, and was kept interested as she told her feelings over the years and how she coped.
At times I felt like she wasn’t the best writer, sometimes it was confusing.  At one point she had an analogy  about cars and Aspergers then said at the end of it “If none of this makes sense and you are wondering what cars have to do with Aspies, welcome to the world of Autism. Don’t panic. Analogies work in the unconscious in a deep and often unknowable way. So somewhere in you, sense will be made.” And around this time I thought, maybe you should just write a different analogy if you’re worried people won’t get it?  There were a few other times I felt like the writer wandered and I wasn’t sure what her point was.  But overall it didn’t take too much away from the reading experience.

One thing that surprised me was how much religion and God came up. It wasn’t something that I expected, but it made sense that she needed something to help her through years of this life.  Overall I was struck by her strength and her courage.  I admired her greatly, and it’s so wonderful that she and her husband have been married for 25 years.  The love they have for each other is so beautiful.   The writer tells a funny,  sometimes sad but beautiful story of her life.  I definitely recommend it.

I gave this book 3.5 stars and was given this copy from NetGalley.