Category Archives: authors

Yesternight Review….or Rant

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There are very few times where the second I start reading a book, I automatically am taken out of the book by an element of the book. I tend to understand that there are things in a book that need to be tweaked to make the plot work. It’s what literature is and is supposed to be. Literature is supposed to take us out of our normal lives and be an escape for the duration of reading and sometimes when not reading. So I accept the out of the normal circumstances. I accept that the romance novel does not always work, I understand that the high fantasy novel is not true. I understand fiction is not real. But sometimes I can’t help but be like you, novel, are not okay and your facts are stupid.

I read Yesternight by Cat Winters. This book is one of the few books that I instantly was taken out of. First of all, I was going to call this book magical realism until I remembered that people, not I obviously, believe in reincarnation and believe people can remember their past lives. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into it. And, oh yes, there will be spoilers if you couldn’t tell. This book is supposed to take place in the mid-20s. Nope. Not buying it. I’m not a hundred percent sure but I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that there are very few cases where women would get advanced degrees. I’m going to assume that if a woman did get a degree it wouldn’t be in psychology and work at testing children. There’s no way that Alice would have gotten an advanced degree, work, be single and people be okay with it. Not in the 20s. This book would have worked so much better for me if it would have taken place in the past 20 years ago. It would have made more sense to me that Alice would have been called into a school system then. There’s been developments in psychology in the past 90 years. What was Winters thinking? Seriously. Did she want to take modern technology out of the equation? You can take technology out of a book without it being pre-seat belts in cars. At least at the end of the book they acknowledged that they thought she was going to be a man.

Then we come to the reincarnation part of the book. I was willing to accept the reincarnation in the book. It’s not in my belief system to believe that I can come back as someone or something but for a good part of the book, I did. Like I said before, you have to accept the book’s world. But then everyone decided that they were reincarnated. I wanted this book to be about Janie and figuring out what her deal was not figuring out everyone’s deal. And I’m not familiar with reincarnation but can you choose who you can be born again to?

I liked Michael for some of the book and then the end. Don’t get me wrong, I was angry at both of them for having sex. Alice should have known better, she’s an educated woman. But then Michael went a little crazy and went out the window or whatever and died. That’s not a great plan. Then he came back as Alice’s child. What the hell? Couldn’t she have a child and then that child had a friend named Muhammad and wanted to be called Michael? That would have fit in with how ridiculous parts of this book was. And is Alice that horny that she needs to have sex with a parent? I wasn’t a great teacher but I know not to get involved with a parent. And Alice had an advanced degree. We can’t forget that. And I was not a fan of everyone apologizing for the weather. Stop trying to make the weather a thing Gretchen. (Do I have to explain that reference? Cause I had to explain ‘on Wednesdays we wear pink’ this weekend at work.)

Obviously, not a fan of the book. I have to many problems with it.

Books and Inspiration

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I have read, or listened to, a couple books this year that have inspired other things. A television series and another book. I have read Poldark by Winston Graham, inspired a show on PBS, and Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye, inspired by Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I didn’t realize until now but I have opinions. I’m going to deal with both separately because both are different.

 

PBS has done a fantastic job on taking Graham’s book and turning it into a series. The first book, the only one I have read and there’s 12 total, is the first half of the first season. Why is everyone so good looking and have great hair in that show? I had a friend that saw I was reading and watching this on Instagram and asked me how I felt about it. I told her you had to like post-revolutionary war England and want to know about miners. That’s when I wasn’t feeling season one and only part way through the book. She watched the show, both seasons that are out, and loved it. I ended up loving the second season and we fan girled just a little bit together. I don’t have many people to do that with but that’s how good this gets. I think that the overall story is slow. But there’s details you have to know and characters you need to get to love or hate. It’s so easy with film to change what happens in a story in exchange for time. But it’s PBS so they do a pretty good job.

 

Lindsay Faye, what can I say? You did something. Now, forgive me if I’m a little harsh because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books ever. The book is structured like Charlotte Bronte novel, exactly like Jane Eyre in fact. She goes so far as to have Jane Steele compare herself heavily to Jane Eyre.  It starts with a child living with cruel relations, goes to school and eventually goes to be a governess in a house with secrets. Mr. Thornfield? HONESTLY? Yes, the homage to the original novel is great. I also know that you cannot write a book word for word because that would be plagiarism and that would end Faye’s career. But could there be a better last name for the guy? I guess it’s cheeky and isn’t so bad. There were historical elements I had to look up. Steele seemed to lose some of her edge when she turned a governess. Maybe because she ended up loving the people and she felt at home. She was not as cold. A part of me wants to say he turned into a woman who almost didn’t know what to with herself. Jane Eyre always made up her mind and knew who she was. Couple other things. Clark just leaves which blows my mind. Steele saves her life and then Clark was just out of there. Yes, it’s more complicated but still Clark. Get your life together. I listened to this and every time the narrator said reader, I heard Rita. There were a few times where I was doing something while listening and I would stop and ask myself who Rita was before I realized she said reader.

 

It’s interesting to see differences and similarities in works of inspirations and they’re offspring. It’s always a good discussion for a book club. You can always find inspirations. Shakespeare’s works has been turned into so many different movies and inspired different works. You could have a whole book club on Shakespeare inspirations and have a lot of material. The problem is, there’s so much out there that you have to go through or weed out the crappy stuff. Then if what you’re reading or watching is a recommendation, you have to be careful about who you take a recommendation from because they might not understand you and your tastes and if you take the recommendation and you hate it, you have to be careful with that person next time you see them. Sorry for that horrible sentence. But I’m not taking it back.

 

Life and Book Update.

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I apologize. I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I was gone longer than I should have. And it isn’t because I haven’t read. Because I have. I mean I read A Little Life and didn’t blog about it. If I were going to blog about any book in the last few months, it would be that one. December was one heck of the month. We had several snow storms and I was waiting for a storm since I came back from Hungary but the snow can stop now. I got stranded in town for three days and it wasn’t fun. And I might have to stay in town for the next few days again cause of the wind and snow.

I feel like it has been very common knowledge that I have had my demons since I have been back from Hungary. Depression and anxiety, though not officially diagnosed. And I do have to point out that my experience is not as bad as others. I know I have it pretty good. I just have to get through my own head. I know. And I do feel like what I’m feeling is not as intense as it was when I first came back. The anxiety is just an annoying hum in the background and I have to learn how to deal with it.

But let me talk about the books I have read recently.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. So much better than I thought it was going to be. I did this on Audible and it’s 33 hours long. It’s a good thing that I got a dog to walk so I can listen to this. Oh yeah, I got a dog. Named Florence. I went into it expecting that the hype made it out more than it was going to be. No, it was legitimately good.

Jackaby by William Ritter. Not as good as I was hoping it would be. It’s very young Sherlock Holmes and yeah. Not a fan.

A Man called Ove by Fredric Backman. This wasn’t so bad. I didn’t love it, but it had it’s moments that it was charming. I have his other book trying to read but I have a hard time getting into and staying in the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I was nervous about this one. I have had it on my TBR for a while but then I hyped it up in my own head. It was good. I love the ending.

The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers. I got this book when I made a trip to South Dakota and it’s by a South Dakota author. I couldn’t do it. I’m sure some people love this book but I couldn’t finish it. Nope.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I feel like I have read this plot before. It is definitely not my favorite YA.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. The second in a series. I’ve said this before about Riordan and I’ll say it again, he has the same voice in every book. I like it cause of the sarcasm but find a new voice for a main character.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balsom. I liked part of this book. I liked the flashbacks and I like the elderly man but I hated the relationship between the P.I. and the lawyer. They didn’t have to hook up but they did. Could have been better written.

Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson. Confession: I was sick during listening to this book and fell asleep during part of it. It was good though. I thought.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s about time I read this. I actually listened to it. It as good. It’s a book I do better listening to rather than reading. It sinks in better. It does give me flashbacks of watching the last Hobbit movie in Hungary. I fell asleep during that movie. I didn’t fall asleep during the book.

A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and the Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens. It was timely. I really liked the Carol and I skimmed the other two. The Carol is probably my favorite Dickens.

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julien Rubinstein. Oh Hungary. I love Hungary. I love learning about what happened in Hungary. I think it was well written and it was enjoyable for me cause I recognize names and places in the book. I think this book isn’t for everyone but it definitely good.

I will try to keep up with blogging this year. I will not guarantee it.

Winter Garden Review

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First a personal update. I got a dog. I went to my 10 year high school reunion. I realized that I can’t handle people’s struggle as well as I thought I was starting to do again. I know I have my issues, it just sucks when my issues get in the way of a friendship. I can’t go back now. All I can do is learn from my mistakes. I could write posts upon posts on how I have made a lot of mistakes in the past few years with relationships and how not to make these mistakes. But this is a book review blog.

If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you probably have figured out that I’m a sucker for historical novels. It blends my English degree and my history minor. And because I have a weird fascination with war and I did my senior paper in college on this war, World War II is my weakness. And I have this little spot in my heart about families that try to connect again. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah hit a lot of those spots.

This book is a about a family that has their issues and the mother tells her girls her story without really telling them it’s about her. They have to figure it out. Which is nice to bring them together. It’s nice how that works out. They all open up and get closer in this book. I really don’t know how to feel about the parents’ relationship. Do they really love each other? Did they grow to love each other? How did she really feel about marrying an American soldier? Are they participating in polygamy? The first guy was alive the whole damn time. I’m sure they learned to love each other. He was way more open to loving but I don’t blame her for closing up. I close up a lot for more petty reasons. I mean she did learn to love him, she had to with how she reacted after he died. I do appreciate how she told her story. I like she told it as a fairy tale and I like how they started in regular print and then have a break in a sentence and go into italics. It helped me pay attention because when I know that there’s a story within a story, I space out usually.

I think the girls are way younger than what they really are. Especially with the nicknames. My siblings and I had names we called each other but we haven’t used those names in years. And the girls are in their 40/50’s? What’s the deal? Are they reverting to their childhood?

I get the relationship that these women have. Mainly because I shut down when something happens just like these women do. But I’m glad that they broke down their walls and became close again. There’s hope for me yet. I also like that there was a journey from being told that you are like your mother and hating it to thinking that a pleasure. I also relate to the girls because they’re close to their father. I have always considered myself closer to my dad. And that ending with the real Anya. It makes me happy. The world is right again. It makes me happy they found each other but upset that the mother didn’t find her true love until a year after he died. That’s lame. They should have found each other and then oops, I married another man. But I get what was going on.

I love the writing. Other than the reverting to the childhood. Definitely a go back to book.

Empire of Storms Review

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So until today I thought I was wasting my time. Wasting my time with the Throne of Glass series. It’s not that I hate Sarah J. Maas. I like her. I don’t understand her cause she pushes out books like poop. (I work at a nursing home. If someone takes three days to poop, we worry. And Maas has a lot coming out. Hence the reference) But today, after a short 2 day stint of having anxiety about life, I finished Empire of Storms. I loved it. Or wait. Love is a strong word. Strongly like is better and I’m more comfortable saying it.

So I have reviewed this book on Litsy and GoodReads by summing up by saying everyone hooked up and kind of made friends. It’s true. And it’s about time some of these people hooked up. And I suppose rivalries were strengthened. This book grabbed me like the past two haven’t. The last two were decent but this one was like, hey let’s get back into the swing of things and make you emotionally invested before I end the series. I don’t even know where to start. I guess with the questions.

I do have questions. What’s with the cover? Pants in the front and dress in the back? Is it a mullet? Someone explain that to me. When did I start liking Manon? Who saw what she did coming? When did Aelin start being decent again? What’s the real deal with Aedion? What was with the ending and how do I process it? When will Chaol be back in my life? Why must you Lorcan? Why must Rowan and Aelin’s marriage not be shown? I do understand that question and appreciate that. Those are questions off the top of my head. Just think what I could do with some time.

Let’s take it by couple by couple.

Aelin and Rowan. I love them together. I know I was team Chaol for a long time and I still am and I want him around but Rowan is better for Aelin. I’ve known that for a long time but I was in denial. I love that they’re married and the realization that they should have always been together. And you go get your woman Rowan. You’ve waited way too long for this.

Manon and Dorian are all sorts of yes. When Dorian’s other girl was murdered, I was like ‘oh no you didn’t’ and now it’s okay. They can be feisty together. I like that Dorian is coming more into his own and knowing more about who he is. And Manon. Well look what she’s done with herself in this book. That is all sorts of good and I love her now. I didn’t understand what the witches were for when they first appeared in the series but now it all makes sense now. I find myself not predicting author intentions as well as I used to. But I do say that I like this relationship.

Lorcan and Elide. This is another relationship I love. It’s the relationship that has a hate that turns into love. She seems so innocent for him and they joined a circus. They did that in the last book I read too. There’s a theme here. It means I should grow a beard and join the circus as the bearded lady. They’re another couple that do so well together.

Nehemia and the queen. Need I say more? I said a lot of what the hell with them and their plot line.

If I had to complain about this book, it’s that the couples fit way too nicely together. I do like what Maas did at the end and am really excited for the next book and let’s face it: it’ll probably be out in the next year and a half. How does this woman have time to do book tours and juggle two series? Diana Gabaldon goes years between books and Sarah J. Maas busts them out like nothing. Yes, I realize that Gabaldon has more research to do but they both have intense world building skills. Anyway, go read it. I mean, if it’s your kind of book.

Queen of Shadows Review.

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First of all, that last post has parts of it that, going back, make no sense to me. I’m sorry. My mind farts quite a bit.

I have really been into having full series. Like if I’ll never read the whole series not so much but full series that I’ll read and somewhat enjoy. I’ve slowly been making my way through the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and just finished Queen of Shadows.

First let me say that these are books I never thought I’d read. They’re a Y.A. fantasy books and usually I get into historical fiction. (and let’s be honest, I get really excited about WWII historical novels. I like war. It’s morbid, I know. But I’ve always been fascinated about it. My senior paper for my history minor was centered in WWII. And is wasn’t that good and I still got a B on it.) I did read and enjoy the Harry Potter series and the Inheritance Cycle but I was in high school when I read those. My tastes have changed some. I felt like I had moved on to more refined things. I have enjoyed these books to a point. Except this one.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this book. I know that to a lot of people this is their favorite book. I did like this book nearer the end. Maybe that’s because I started getting in the swing of reading again. There were to many ‘A’ names. Aedion, Aelin, Arobynn. I had to slow my reading at some points because of the ‘A’ names. And then sometimes I was thinking of Chaol when Rowan was around and Nesryn turned into Nehemia. Names was such an issue for me in this book. Now if I had read this series straight through and I hadn’t read Queen during a reading slump, I may not have had this trouble. I also get frustrated with the witch parts. I know the point of the witches but I don’t want to read about them. I skimmed those parts. And of course Lorcan betrayed them or messed up or whatever. We knew that was going to happen. Let’s not fool ourselves.

 

I am totally Team Chaol. But at this point, I don’t think it’s going to happen with him. It’s more likely with Rowan because let’s face it, Aelin and Rowan are practically married. And there was a point in the book where Chaol saw Rowan help Aelin and was like I should be jealous or something right? I was disappointed because he’s moved on. And I thought he died for a while. That makes me not happy. I was mad for a while. How could Chaol die? He’s too important to the story. I feel like if I wanted a relationship, he’d be the guy I would to relationship with. And Chaol is totally going to get it on with what’s her face. Yup. That’s right. I just called her what’s her face.

Aelin learned how to make friends that’s impressive. She’s let down her guard from the first book which can be a good or bad thing. Depending on the situation. It’s taken me forever to switch to Aelin and not Caelena. I spent a good portion of the series, and this book, thinking Caelena. She does accept the responsibility with the name. I don’t mind her but I do like her with Chaol more. With Chaol, she was a youthful happy rather than a more mature happy with Rowan. I think that the way the whole relationship thing has ended is good. Even though it’s not how I want it. I don’t like to be wrong and I’m still letting go of that.

There were parts of this book that I felt were unnecessary. There’s a part near the end of the book between Rowan and Aelin that had no point for me. No, that’s a lie. I do understand what some of these parts are for I just am impatient for the resolution of things. As of now, I think I heard this is going to be a 6 book series and this is only book 4. I wonder though if some of the things that she has in some of these books, especially this one, is just trying to make them longer and to keep the series longer.

There’s good running themes in this series about freedom and friendship. Now I know I’ve sucked in the friendship category the past year and a half like so sometimes the friends’ thing bothered me because I know I’ve sucked. And the freedom thing is always a nice thing to be reminded of because to be a prisoner would suck.

Yes, I will continue this series just to see how it ends even though I am getting bored with it.

Just Another Kid Review like thing

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I do have to apologize for my absence. Lots of things going on. I had a small grass fire in my yard, there was Easter and a small anxiety spell there. (It was nothing major, just a need to leave the table and not be trapped.) I’m reorganizing my book shelves so that genres are somewhat together but with my setup now, it’s not going to happen. If anyone wants to get me big bookcases, I’d be in love with you forever. I also have had a reading slump. I recently talked about what a reading slump is to me compared to someone who doesn’t like to read. It’s radically different. It’s not fun for me. I, in general, needed some time to clear my head and not have so many words in it. And I kind of broke my glasses so I will be chilling with the reading until they’re replaced or fixed because my old glasses aren’t quite the right script. So I recently read and finished Just Another Kid by Torey Hayden. I had a few hours before meeting someone for coffee so I sat at a library and read 200 pages or so.

This book is an interesting book. It’s about Hayden’s last year of teaching and she had 6 ‘emotionally damaged children’. (coming straight from the back of the book) Three are from war torn Ireland and the other three are from various situations. It was interesting to me read this after teaching one year. And I know I will never fully understand teaching and I have a great appreciation for good teachers, especially special education teachers. I know I described the children Hayden taught as emotionally damaged but they were ideally in special education. I liked reading how she dealt with each kid. Some kids weren’t talked about as much and I think that was because some didn’t need as much help as some of the others. Not only did the children need help but some of the parents as well. It’s interesting how sometimes the parents need just as much help as the kids. I feel like there’s a lot of ‘well, it’s the parents’ fault that there kid is messed up’. I know, because I’ve said it as well. But it’s taken me a long time to realize that sometimes there needs to be an intervention. I liked how Hayden handled the parent situation(s). It would have been easy for her to step back because she was leaving as soon as she could but she made the right decision and helped. I appreciate the real life circumstances. I also liked the updates at the end of the book. I only wish that there was an updated update. Like this was published 28 years ago and the updates are from 23 years ago. I kind of wanted a 20 year update. Is that wrong of me?

Recently I’ve been thinking about violence that kids have seen. I just re-watched the second Mockingjay movie. When I watched it in theaters, I had a hard time sitting through it. Especially the part when they lift up their children and try to get them to safety and then there’s the scene where the little kid is yelling at their dead parent. I literally was grabbing onto my chair so I wouldn’t leave the theater and abandon the friend I was with. She doesn’t know about my random spurts of nervousness and I keep that to myself with a lot of people. Anyway, the reason I brought that up is that I was comparing The Hunger Games trilogy with the three Irish kids in this book. Yes, I know the Hunger Games is fabricated. There’s different trauma in each book. In the Hunger Games, you see trauma happen as things unfold. In Hayden’s book, you see the trauma after the main activity has already occurred. And not to knock Collins’ work, because I think she did a very good job at showing how fragile a person can be, Hayden’s book was more realistic. (Yes again, one story is based off real events and the other isn’t. Of course there’s going to be a difference.) In my little area of the world, there aren’t many kids that have had traumatic events and I think literature is a good way to show that and to teach kids empathy. Now, I wouldn’t give Hayden’s work to the same kid I would the Hunger Games. They are at different reading levels and they are at different realities.

Overall it’s a good book. It is not a quick read. If I re-read this book, I would take it a lot slower. But, I had a few hours to waste while waiting for someone to be done giving music lessons. Such is life.