Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

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Soundless | Richelle Mead | On Sale Since Nov 10, 2015
Razorbill | 272 Pages | ARC Provided by Publisher

Synopsis:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.


 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.


 

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.


 

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

Review:

Continue reading Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Book Review: Binge by Tyler Oakley + GIVEAWAY

Binge Cover
Title: Binge

Author: Tyler Oakley

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pub Date: October 20, 2015

Pages: 320

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Synopsis: 

Pop-culture phenomenon, social rights advocate, and the most prominent LGBTQ+ voice on YouTube, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays.


For someone who made a career out of over-sharing on the Internet, Tyler has a shocking number of personal mishaps and shenanigans to reveal in his first book: experiencing a legitimate rage blackout in a Cheesecake Factory; negotiating a tense stand­off with a White House official; crashing a car in front of his entire high school, in an Arby’s uniform; projectile vomiting while bartering with a grandmother; and so much more. In Binge, Tyler delivers his best untold, hilariously side-splitting moments with the trademark flair that made him a star.

Review:

[If you’re here for the giveaway, scroll down to the bottom! Of course, I wouldn’t object to your reading some of what I’ve written about the book as well . . .]

Binge content warnings: profanity, eating disorders, depression, sexual content.
I’ve never fully understood Tyler Oakley’s Youtube demographics, but this is a very grown up books, and I would not recommend Binge to readers under the age of 16.

A couple of my favorite excerpts (SPOILER FREE!):

"It's like when I was in sixth grade and this kid 
told me in the hot-lunch line that I had a hook 
head. When I asked what what even meant, he said 
that the back of my head jutted out like a pirate'shook, like I've got a big brain or a least a siza-
ble tumor going on. I had no clue whether it was 
true, but he had planted the seed of doubt in my 
big hook head. To this day, you will never catch meprofiling my silhouette." - pp 111-112
"February 29 needs to be discussed. Every four 
years, we have an extra day in our calendar and 
call it a leap day, and everyone just kind of goes along with it. But why don't we do something radi-
cal on that day to celebrate? Like something com-
pletely outrageous. I've got ideas. Hear me out. 
What if, on February 29 we . . .
-Give women equal pay.
-Don't shoot people based on racial bias.
-Gays and straights alike accent the existence of 
 bisexuals.
-People stop accusing me of having a hook head.
Let me know what y'all think! Maybe if everyone 
likes these the first year, we can just make them 
an everyday thing?" p 159

I’m going to start another review detailing what this book is NOT. This book is not written in the lush prose styles of literary fiction. This is not the type of book that is going to win a Pulitzer. I think we tend to forget that the vast majority of published works out there do not go on to win groundbreaking or career-defining awards. Most books are just books. A lot of them are good books, don’t get me wrong! But there are only a few selected every year that get the prestigious honors we tend to associate with “good” literature. Continue reading Book Review: Binge by Tyler Oakley + GIVEAWAY

Book Review: A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Title: A Window Opens

Author: Elisabeth Egan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pub Date: August 25, 2015

Pages: 384

Format: eGalley

Source: Provided by publisher

Synopsis: 

In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine, Elisabeth Egan, brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age.


Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.


Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?

Review:

Let me be frank: I liked this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. In the book’s official synopsis, Egan’s protagonist Alice Pearse is compared to Bridget Jones . . . and I like Bridget Jones. But my opinion of Bridget is so tied to her stereotype in the hive-mind (whiny, shallow, and silly) that I hesitated to jump into A Window Opens, hoping that Egan did not base the story on a whiny caricature of a woman. That would have been a deal breaker for me. I had nothing to worry about – Alice is an intelligent and complex character that the reader can easily relate to.

A Window Opens is easily classified as Women’s Fiction, but it didn’t take me long to realize that Egan’s writing is some of the best in the genre. I think that, looking back on the book now, I would categorize it as Contemporary Fiction as well. The way I see it, for a title to be considered Women’s Fiction, it only needs have the following: A female protagonist, a female author, and a suburban/middle class foundation on which to build the story. This book has all of these, but also weaves in issues of terminal illness, generational gaps, and technology’s role in society. This would be a great book club pick! There’s so much to talk about and relate to.

The plot started out a little bit slow. I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book. But somewhere around 100 pages in, I found myself hooked. That’s the most miraculous way to become engrossed in a novel: gradually. When did it happen? How did it happen? Why? Just one of life’s little mysteries that I’m going to accept without question right now.

I really enjoy a good bit of Women’s Fiction every now and then to cleanse the literary palette. It’s easy to read and often fun to read as well. And I don’t have to worry about getting used to weird alien planet names, or pay too much attention to historical details. A Window Opens surprised me by being more than just entertaining and refreshing. It is insightful and devastatingly truthful.

But the thing I liked the most about this book was the obvious love of books that Egan instilled in Alice and her best friend. Books about books contain the incredible gift of making the reader feel like a true insider. This book did that for me.

I especially recommend this book to fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, of Barbara Kingsolver, and Zadie Smith.

About the Author:

website | facebook | twitter

Elisabeth Egan is the books editor at Glamour. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in Self, Glamour, O, People, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Huffington Post, The New York Times Book Review, LA Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, and the Newark Star-Ledger. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Book Review | Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

Book Review (6)

Lois Lane: Fallout coverTitle: Lois Lane: Fallout
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Switch Press
Pub Date: May 1, 2015
Pages: 304
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Synopsis: Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy

Review:

First thing I need to say is that I was a huge fan of Smallville back when its reruns ran on abc family. The show featured the transformation of awkward (yet ridiculously handsome) farmboy Clark Kent into our All-American hero: Superman. Lois Lane eventually enters the storyline, but she does not immediately become a love interest for Clark. So when I heard about this revamp of the bustling Metropolis, home of The Daily Planet, it went right on my list. Continue reading Book Review | Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

ARC Book Review: Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley

Book Review (4)

Hugo & Rose Cover ArtTitle: Hugo & Rose
Author: Bridget Foley
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: Hardback
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Synopsis:
Rose is by most qualifications an ordinary housewife, except for her dreams. Since childhood, she has always dreamt of the same island, with the same imaginary companion: a brave, heroic boy named Hugo. Rose’s own children now live for tales of Hugo and Rose’s adventures, battling giant spiders and bouncing on the pink sand of the Blanket Pavilion. And each night, after putting her sleepy children to bed, Rose escapes from the monotony of diapers and cracker crumbs to become a more perfect, fully-realized version of herself.

Until one day, Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, and everything changes. Here is the man who truly knows her, who grew up with her, even if they aren’t what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?

Review:

I’ll start by saying that I finished this book in about three days, despite my life being in high finals mode right now. I was really fascinated by the premise of shared dreams. The beginning of the book struck me as very Rainbow Rowell but also very The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, an interesting pair. Continue reading ARC Book Review: Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley

Book Review: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

book review: boy snow bird title

Title: Boy, Snow, Bird
Author:
Helen Oyeyemi
Publisher:
Picador/Riverhead
Pub Date:
February 27, 2014
Pages:
308
Format:
Paperback
Source:
Purchased
Synopsis:
BOY Novak turns twenty and decides to try for a brand-new life. Flax Hill, Massachusetts, isn’t exactly a welcoming town, but it does have the virtue of being the last stop on the bus route she took from New York. Flax Hill is also the hometown of Arturo Whitman – craftsman, widower, and father of Snow. SNOW is mild-mannered, radiant and deeply cherished – exactly the sort of little girl Boy never was, and Boy is utterly beguiled by her. If Snow displays a certain inscrutability at times, that’s simply a characteristic she shares with her father, harmless until Boy gives birth to Snow’s sister, Bird. When BIRD is born Boy is forced to re-evaluate the image Arturo’s family have presented to her, and Boy, Snow and Bird are broken apart.

“I’ve never tried to explain it to anyone before, but what I mean to say is that a whole lot of technically impossible things are always trying to happen to us, appear to us, talk to us, show us pictures, or just say hi, and you can’t pay attention to all of it, so I just pick the nearest technically impossible thing and I let it happen.” (page 237-8)

Review

I have mixed feelings about Boy, Snow, Bird. But I do have to say that my opinion sways heavily toward the positive! I’ve never read anything by Oyeyemi before, though Mr Fox has been on my book depository wishlist for a while now, and I found her writing style to mesh really well with my tastes. Continue reading Book Review: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi