Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You've Never Heard Of

I had fallen off the bandwagon a bit when it came to this blog, but one of my favorite features that I have done in the past is contributing to The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. It gets me really thinking about the books I've read in the past. This prompt, in particular, was challenging to me, but I decided to link up some books you may have never heard of, but some that definitely deserve your attention. These are books that aren't mainstream, aren't TV shows or movies, aren't best sellers, but are great reads.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review: Complicit

“There are some dreams you can't wake up from. Ever. These are called nightmares.” 
― Stephanie Kuehn, Complicit

Book Title: Complicit
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Publication Date: 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller
Goodreads Rating: 3.66 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell. 

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.

1. Check another one off bookshelf. Just going to take a quick moment to pat myself on the back. I have so many books on my bookshelf that have been collecting dust, waiting to be read, and I am determined to read all of these books this year. This book.. I have no idea how I got it, who got it for me, or how it ended up on my bookshelf, but I'll take it.

2. Bad Reviews? I'm a sucker for Goodreads. Before picking up a book, I look it up on Goodreads.. check out the reviews, see if any of my friends or book bloggers that I follow have read it, what they have to say about it. So of course, before reading Complicit, I jumped on Goodreads and saw that Jamie, from The Perpetual Page-Turner, had read this book and rated it 1 star. Whomp whomp. I wasn't going to let that distract me from my goal (see point 1...), and I figured since the book was short, I'd at least give it a try. I'm glad I did.

3. Don't listen to them! I honestly enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, but it held my attention for the entire time I was reading (which, lately, is a feat). Yes, there were some issues with the way the book jumped around in timeline, with the character of Cate, and with the predictability of the twist, but the writing was excellent and it was suspenseful enough for me to stay up until 11 last night reading. Jamie's character was chilling and the process of trying to watch him figure out what was up with him was intriguing. AND THE ENDING THOUGH.

4. The ENDING. Ok, obviously I can't say much on this point, but I will say this: despite the fact that I predicted what had happened with Jamie to cause his issues, I had NO IDEA the book would end the way it did. It was heartbreaking and bone-chilling and just really good. If you read it at all, read it until the end.

This book was more predictable than I would have liked, but it didn't detract from the good writing and bone-chilling ending.

“There are some dreams you do wake up from, only to find you can't remember them at all. But that doesn't mean these dreams don't matter... These are dream that hold our most private of truths. These are the dreams that destinies are made of.” 

“Real crazy is about taking something good and spoiling it.” 

"For every truth best left a lie."

Monday, January 23, 2017

On Quitting Books

This year, I made a not-so-resolution to be a better reader. (I made a lot of not-so-resolutions, in that I wrote none of them down, made no actionable goals for them, but still think of it as a lofty dream...) This version of me, the "better reader" would read all of the books I currently own, which is a feat that has probably never been accomplished by an avid reader. I also want to read quality books, a variety of books, and books outside my comfort zone.

So last night, I quit a book.

I've quit books before. I even wrote a blog post about quitting The Kite Runner. In fact, I'm pretty sure this was a book I've quit in the past.

I'm beginning to realize why I have so many unread books on my shelves. They are, for the most part, books I've bought or been gifted and haven't enjoyed. I previously read this book, the one I most recently quit, to the 20th or so page. Which is kind of an outrage, because really, books are still getting set up by the 20th page.

So I gave it another shot. And nope.. Still not doing it for me.

It's a shame because I already own this book (a gift), and it's a really pretty book, but alas, I couldn't stomach the thought of picking up this book yet again. So, on the 75th page, I quit.

RIP book. You probably won't be missed. On to the next adventure...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review: Ready Player One

“Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.” 
― Earnest Cline, Ready Player One

Book Title: Ready Player One
Author: Earnest Cline
Publication Date: 2011
Genres: Fiction, Sci-Fi
Goodreads Rating: 4.31 Stars
My Rating: 3 Stars

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

1. Book Club Done Right. This book was our first book club choice of the new year, and it fits perfectly with one of my new years not-so-resolutions. Over the past couple of years, I've noticed that book club has turned into dinner club... which is cool, except for when I really just want to read good books and talk about them. Sooooo one of my resolutions this year was to take book club back to what I intended it to be -- a place to read books that were outside my comfort zone and discuss the book with friends.

2. So.. this is definitely outside my comfort zone. I don't do sci-fi. Period. I don't pick it up. So when Madeleine recommended this book, I groaned a bit, remembered why I wanted to be in book club in the first place, and resolved to give this book a shot. And I'm so glad I did. It really put me in a place that stretched my imagination, challenged my viewpoints, and made me look up things via Google. A lot.

3. 80s fans rejoice! I think. I mean... I had never heard of 85% of the pop culture references mentioned in this novel, but it was certainly 80s-centric, smashed into a world I couldn't even imagine. Also, if you are a gamer and into old school gaming, this one is FOR YOU. No, seriously, I'm pretty sure it was written specifically for you, nerd.

4. Ok, but was it good? Well... it was. Then it wasn't. Then it was again. I fell asleep in the middle of the book, when the 17 year old main character starts to act like a 17 year old who won the lottery. I couldn't stand him. But he catches his head and figures out what is important. The novel was a bit predictable (oh, who would have guessed that that mysterious game that you were just "drawn" to could actually save your life? wow. you must be a psychic?), but I'm ok with that in this context because the realm of the world was so different than anything I had read.

While this book was nerdy and definitely not in my normal repertoire, it had a captivating plot and kept me coming back for more.

“People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up.”

"That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”

“No one in the world gets what they want and that is beautiful.” 

“You're probably wondering what's going to happen to you. That's easy. The same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to every other human being who has ever lived. You're going to die. We all die. That's just how it is.” 

"The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review: The Perfect Girl

“I believe that if you are lucky enough to have a child, then you should love them, whether or not society labels them as flawed, whether or not you label them as flawed.” 
― Gilly Macmillan, The Perfect Girl

Book Title: The Perfect Girl
Author: Gilly Macmillan
Publication Date: 2016
Genres: Fiction, Murder Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 3.69 Stars
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey - child genius, musical sensation - is perfect. Yet several years ago, Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she's free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life. 

By midnight, her mother is dead. 

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance. It's a story about the wrongs in our past not letting go and how hard we must fight for second chances.

1. Not exactly how I wanted to start 2017. This book was good... But not great. And as the first book I read of the new year, I wanted it to be GREAT. There were too many points of view (which I don't say often because I love multiple POVs), and the story was a bit muddled from the weird skips through linear time, which works for some novels but...

2. It's no Gillian Flynn. This book LOOKED like it should be Gone Girl. The cover is so similar, and the title is The Perfect Girl. But it was not Gone Girl. It lacked the suspense and BIG TWIST that that book had, and the characters were meh. I liked Zoe and Lucas, but I wasn't super attached to them. There wasn't much character development, and there were certainly unnecessary plot lines that just didn't need to be there.

3. That being said... It was a pretty decent book. If you're looking for something interesting and not all too intense, this is a good book to pick up. I kept picking it up when I had other things I could have been doing, which is saying something.

While not the best murder mystery ever, this was a novel that kept me guessing and held me in suspense while drawing out the storyline.

“And in spite of everything, a tiny part of me glows, because I feel a little bit happy that we're going to do this together, that we're going to do anything together in fact, because that hasn't really happened for a very long time."

"Piano playing is like an addiction for me. It’s a path I have to walk down, water I have to drink, food I must consume, air I need to breathe. It’s the only thing that can take my head somewhere safe and everybody tells me its going to give me a ‘bright future’"