Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

The Monsters Of TempletonThe Monsters Of Templeton by Lauren Groff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I am sitting here to write this review, I'm finding this book to be a really difficult book to explain. I really liked it quite a bit but I'm not entirely sure that I can capture in words the why. I found the story and the characters to be engrossing. The story kind of meandered all over the place but I never found that difficult or off putting. The weaving of the past and the present was actually really well done. I enjoyed trying to pull all of the pieces together as I read. It's not a difficult novel but it does require the reader to pay attention in order to really see the various pieces come together. I found myself going back to earlier sections as I read, needing to remind myself of this or that to keep the pieces and parts together.

It seems that many other readers cite a lack of characterization or weak narrative in their reviews but I didn't find either of those to be an issue in my reading of the novel. I found the themes around motherhood as well as the mother/daughter dynamic to be really compelling. I also really enjoyed the monster piece of the storyline - I think it was a nice addition to the overall story.

Although I really enjoyed this novel, I'm fairly certain that this isn't a novel that will work for everyone. It's a bit meandering and at times offbeat. It's definitely not for everyone. But, for me, it was a really engrossing read and makes me look forward to reading more of Lauren Groff's work!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why in the world did I wait so long to read this series???? I could kick myself ... but I am so glad that I've found it now! It's just fantastic! I loved this one even more than the first in the series. I did not want to put it down! Despite the fact that I still have a bunch of questions, I feel like I'm getting a better hold on the world that Stephen King is creating here and I love the characters that we're introduced to in this novel. WOW! Just fantastic ... the pacing is fantastic, the creativity in the story is amazing and the entire thing just comes together so well!

Although I got some answers to questions that I had in the first book, I have a dozen more which makes me so excited to get to the next novel in the series! I cannot wait to see where Stephen King will take me next!

I really am beginning to understand why so many people are so passionate about this series ... I definitely recommend it to King fans and those who aren't fans of his horror fiction. This is something entirely different. I think it might be the best of King! Can't wait for the next one!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore

The Improper Life of Bezellia GroveThe Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I liked this one much more than her first novel, it still didn't wow me as much as I'd hoped & expected. But, it was a really nice, quick read. I loved the characters in this novel. That is one of the biggest strengths of this novel - the characters. They were well written and came alive on the page for me. Even the characters that I didn't love so much were fantastic!

I think the story was nice but nothing incredibly memorable or unique. I think that is part of why this was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was hoping that this novel would offer something new and something interesting to the realm of southern literature! And so, in the end, I was slightly disappointed because although it was a fine novel it wasn't quite what I'd hoped. If you love southern fiction, then you might want to check it out but know ahead of time that it doesn't offer anything new and different to what is already out there!

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mini Review: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy QueenLooking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although this was a quick, easy read, it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped. I don't think there is anything particularly outstanding here although it was ok. I'm not sure this one is going to stick with me over time but I did enjoy the reading of it. This one is very sweet and pleasant but I'm not sure that it will blow you away. If you enjoy southern fiction, this is a good one to check out. It's not the best of southern fiction but its worth a read! I'm eager to read her second novel as I've heard good things!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

Carry the OneCarry the One by Carol Anshaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really struggled with rating this one. Although I was never bored, I also wasn't ever really engaged. There was something about it that just didn't work for me but I can't completely put my finger on what it is. The writing was fine, nothing fabulous, but fine. The characters were deliciously flawed but never really came alive to me. Maybe my expectations were too high based on the attention it's been getting but I just don't think this one quite lives up to the hype.

This novel has a subtlety to it that I wanted to love but just didn't work for me. However, I can completely understand why some have loved it. I just didn't feel quite as engaged as I would have liked. I loved the idea of this book but I think the execution fell slightly short. I think my primary issue with the novel might be around how Anshaw handled the evolution of each character. The premise tells the reader that their evolution will be based on this event that changes all of their lives but I found little relation between the two. Well, it was there but it wasn't very solid. It felt disjointed in some way for me.

I'm not sure that I can wholeheartedly recommend this one but if the premise sounds interesting, it would be worth a try. Otherwise, you might want to consider skipping this one.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. That is the best way to characterize how I felt about this one! I was pleasantly surprised by this one - it's essentially a collection of advice columns. But, WOW, are they some of the best advice I've ever read. Cheryl Strayed has a way with words and a way of putting things together in such a brilliant way!

I think this is one that I'll buy for my at home book collection. It's something that I would love to be able to go back to over time, dipping in as I needed to.

The advice is sensible, piercing, truthful and compassionate. I was literally brought to tears by a few of these. They just resonated in ways that I would never have imagined.

Here is just a taste of what awaits you in this book -

"Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore.”

“I'll never know, and neither will you of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding and my dear one, you and I have been granted a mighty generous one.”

"But as the mother of two children, I can tell you what most moms will: that mothering is absurdly hard and profoundly sweet. Like the best thing you ever did. Like if you think you want to have a baby, you probably should.

I say this in spite of the fact that children are giant endless suck machines. They don’t give a whit if you need to sleep or eat or pee or get your work done or go out to a party naked and oiled up in a homemade Alice B. Toklas mask. They take everything. They will bring you the furthest edge of your personality and abso-fucking-lutely to your knees.

They will also give you everything back. Not just all they take, but many of the things you lost before they came along as well.”

Okay, that's enough. I could literally add almost all of of the book here. That's how much I loved it. It resonated. It tore me apart. It made me think and re-think. It moved me.

I love the way Strayed writes - she has a 'pull no punches' way about her. I think this is a book most everyone should take a look at. It really is that good.

Okay, enough gushing. Just go read this one. Trust me.

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