Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I hate to write this review. I have avoided it for almost a week. I feel almost guilty because I know how many people really love this novel and I just didn't feel the same. I wanted to love it based on all of the great things I've heard about it. Perhaps that is exactly why I didn't like it? Were my expectations too high? Almost everyone I know and respect as readers loved this book and here I am giving it 2 stars. Yikes.

But, I have to be honest and say that I just didn't get it or like it nearly as much as everyone else. I read those reviews and think to myself 'wait, is that the same book that I read?' I think this book was conceptually amazing - the concept itself is fantastic and has so much potential. However, I just don't think this one did a good job turning that amazing concept into a good novel. It's not a bad novel ... it just isn't a very good one, in my opinion. I had to MAKE myself keep picking it up and reading. I really wanted to quick half way through but I stuck with it, thinking that something would WOW me. But, nothing ever did.

Neil Gaiman is obviously a good writer. He makes good use of mythology which is always fascinating to me. The idea/concept is original and unique. However, I just couldn't get myself to actually CARE about the world he creates with the old gods and the new gods. I kept thinking to myself: eh, who cares? Nothing felt compelling. Nothing felt anything to me but blah. The characters never really captured my attention - they were interesting on the outside but it felt like there was no there there, you know? They were like cardboard figures to me. I never warmed up to ANY of them, even those that I liked. I also didn't love the ending - and the plot seemed to meander all over the place for 3/4 of the book and then ended in a place that seemed silly and contrite to me. I don't know. I just didn't get it. It didn't feel impactful at all. It just all made for a very boring and ehh reading experience for me.

Given how beloved this book is by so many that I respect, I definitely recommend those interested pick it up. I hope you'll enjoy it more than me. I'm going to give him another try ... I have a few of his novels so I am going to give one of them a try and see if perhaps this one was just not a good fit for me. I liked Coraline and The Graveyard Book but didn't love them (solid 3 stars for me). I'm worried that Neil Gaiman and I just may not be a good fit ... but I'm going to give him another try because so many that I respect love his work.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think that I've found my favorite book of 2012. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. IT CANNOT BE MISSED. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It's beautiful - the writing, the story, the characters, and everything else. It's all beautiful.

Books rarely make me FEEL something. But, this one really connected to me in a way that I didn't expect at all. I was so taken with every single aspect of this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. It resonated with me on so many levels. It's a coming of age story but its also a story about compassion, family, love, friendship and growing into yourself.

The main character, June, spoke to me in so many ways - she has such a unique and beautiful voice! She is unlike most people and that is what I really love about her. She knows who she is and she's OK with who she is. She is comfortable in her own skin in a way that I wish we all were.

I am not going to say much because I don't want to ruin the book. All I can say is this - don't miss this book, it's beautiful, it's a GREAT read, and the writing is so good. If you don't read another book this year, read this one. Seriously. It's worth taking the time to read. In fact, its so worth it, that I plan to buy this one and re-read it. I feel like I have to have a copy nearby so I can revisit the story again one day. I rarely (ok, usually never) re-read books. With the exception of Beach Music by Pat Conroy which I have read numerous times. This one is right up there with Beach Music for me - a book you want to revisit again because it gets under your skin!

After finishing it, I immediately called several friends to tell them that they HAVE to pick it up and read it. I loved it that much. I highly recommend it. Without a doubt, this is my favorite book of this year. And I cannot wait to see what Carol Rifka Brunt has coming in the future.

And I also want to note that this book has one of the best explanations of how it feels to be shy (introverted) in an extroverted world ... it hits the nail on the head for me! THIS is how I feel at social events and parties -

“That's what being shy feels like. Like my skin is too thin, the light too bright. Like the best place I could possibly be is in a tunnel far under the cool, dark earth. Someone asks me a question and I stare at them, empty-faced, my brain jammed up with how hard I'm trying to find something interesting to say. And in the end, all I can do is nod or shrug, because the light of their eyes looking at me, waiting for me, is just too much to take. And then it's over and there's one more person in the world who thinks I'm a complete and total waste of space.
The worst thing is the stupid hopefulness. Every new party, every new bunch of people, and I start thinking that maybe this is my chance. That I'm going to be normal this time. A new leaf. A fresh start. But then I find myself at the party, thinking, Oh, yeah. This again.
So I stand on the edge of things, crossing my fingers, praying nobody will try to look me in the eye. And the good thing is, they usually don't.” ― Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I'm Home

What are you doing??? GO READ THIS BOOK!!! :)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Bad MonkeysBad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is without a doubt one of the most unusual novels that I've ever read but I shouldn't be surprised ... that is Matt Ruff in a nutshell. He has such a unique voice and gives his readers such amazing experiences in reading! And this novel is no exception!

This is a difficult book to describe but its really a mash up of a lot of different kinds of books - thriller, mystery, and more. It's certainly what I'd describe as a wild, mind bending ride! Twists and turns abound throughout the novel. You're never entirely sure where you are or what is truly happening yet you cannot stop reading because its all so compelling!

I don't think this will be a book for everyone - you have to let go of your preconceived notions and just suspend disbelief which isn't something everyone can or wants to do. It's out there. It's different. It's even odd. But, if you're open to it, I think its a fantastic book that really takes you on a great ride, challenging you to think about things in new and interesting ways!

I've never read anything like this and I think that it was definitely worth the read. Compelling story, great writing and unique plot! Matt Ruff has done it again!

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper

The Book of JoeThe Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just love Jonathan Tropper ... something about his writing and characters just speaks to me. Although this particular novel wasn't quite as good as This Is Where I Leave You, it's a really good novel that was a joy to read. I laughed, I cried and everything in between. Tropper just has a way of making you FEEL as you read - the good, the bad and the ugly. This book definitely reminded me of the TV show October Road (which was one of my favs before it was cancelled way too early).

I wouldn't say the plot is mind blowingly original but I think it was well done and kept my interest throughout. It's really the characters that make this book stand out for me. This entire novel is essentially a study of human relationships and emotional growth.

I really liked this one and definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a novel that has warmth, humor, and interesting characters. It's a fairly quick and easy read ... but one that is definitely worth the time.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

Memoirs of an Imaginary FriendMemoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this novel - what a cool idea! The world building here is outstanding and really makes this book great! I can't think of another novel that I've ever read that covers this territory in this way - Imaginary Friends!

This is a novel that is deceptively easy to read and seemingly simple. Yet, it's much more complex than it appears as you read. After finishing, I realized just how effectively the author pulled it all together - he took something that could have been very complex and made it feel easy and simple.

As a parent, this book really expressed a number of of things that really resonated with me. I truly enjoyed the experience of reading this book. The pacing was fantastic, the character development was great and I thought the writing was good.

This is a book that I definitely recommend to anyone. Very nice, unique story with a really interesting perspective and voice. I am so glad I took the time to read this one!

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I didn't love this one quite as much as Gone Girl, I think it might be my next favorite of Gillian Flynn's books. She's very dark and twisty but never boring or predictable! I think this is one of those books that will stick with me awhile - it's almost haunting!

As is typically the case with Gillian Flynn's characters, each and every one of them has a myriad of flaws. In fact, most of them are just one big bundle of flaws. And they interact with one another in extremely unhealthy ways. Gillian Flynn's ability to weave all of these different strings into a really interesting, well paced story. And although some pieces were obvious to me as we went along, others really snuck up on me and made me practically gasp aloud as the next thing was unearthed.

This definitely isn't a novel to read when you're feeling down or low but if you can handle the darkness, it's a fantastic wild ride through dysfunction! It is disturbing and definitely made me uncomfortable at moments but I didn't want to put it down. I had to follow it through. And I'm so glad that I did. I definitely recommend it but not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle darkness, dysfunction, violence and ugliness, this may not be the novel for you. But, if you can handle it, this is definitely a worthwhile read!

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

The Night Season (Gretchen Lowell, #4)The Night Season by Chelsea Cain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this next book in one of my favorite series right now. I was worried this one wouldn't be great since I didn't think the previous book in the series was as strong as 1 & 2. I'm hoping that #3 was just an anomaly! If this book is any indication, I think that might be correct!

Although Gretchen Lowell is not really more than a quick mention in this book, her influence permeates every page due to her lasting impact on Archie. I love Archie and Susan so this book really gave Chelsea Cain a chance to give the reader some dedicated time with them!

The story was well done and unique. Lots of intrigue and good overall storytelling. And I love how Susan's character developed throughout this novel - she was Susan at her best! Chelsea Cain does a fantastic time creating a Portland that I can see and feel, almost as if I'm there.

I really enjoyed this one and look forward to getting into the fifth book in the series soon!

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