Friday, October 7, 2016

A Reader's Ramblings v. I

Debut Novel by Kerry Lonsdale
Super Short Synopsis: Love, loss, and learning to let go are all explored in the unexpected twists and tragedy that has befallen Aimee Tierney as she attends her fiance's funeral instead of her own wedding. Unsettled by a few unanswered and ignored questions regarding her love's death, Aimee attempts to dig into the accident that claimed his life while pulling together the pieces of her own. 

Two Things I Loved:

  1. Lonsdale does an amazing job bouncing around in time, pulling threads from the past to the present and weaving a rich tapestry of interrelated plot lines. This could easily be a confusing, try-hard attempt at a family-involved psychological thriller, but Lonsdale achieved a perfect balance with her seamless transitions. 
  2. This one made me think. It made me think a lot. About love, about what would happen if Jason went missing, about the way family is complicated and messy, about working in the family business. This was a novel with themes that stick with you, begging you to think about them again and again and again. 
ALSO: Londale's second novel All the Breaking Waves releases in December and I'm already awaiting it's availability. One Thing I'd Change:  
  • I wanted a break sometimes. The plot twists and turns wildly which kept the plot moving rapidly forward, but sometimes I wanted to settle in, to find a little bit of peace, and to breathe... This didn't happen, really, at all. Which I guess leads to the fact that the ending wasn't as developed or peaceful as I wanted from the chaos of the novel. 
Reminded Me Of: What Alice Forgot, The Pilot's Wife, The Light Between Oceans

The Things We Wish Were True
by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Super Short Synopsis: A picture-perfect small town is rocked by a near tragedy at the community pool where there are more than families seeking cool water gathering. 

Two Things I Loved:
  1. An exploration of suburban life in America like this one is necessary and interesting. I found myself relating it back to the small town we live in... Which was a smaller town that I grew up in... And the swimming pool that marked many summer afternoons of my childhood. Whalen picked up really relatable settings and events while making a gentle commentary on what it means to live in a small town. 
  2. Redemption is found in a plethora of ways which gives the close of the novel a complete and relaxed feel. I was thankful to tear through the many characters and plot lines of this one to feel like the end offers a clean and tidy closing that doesn't feel rushed. 
One Thing I'd Change:
  • The pace of this novel isn't typically something I'd enjoy. It was slower, more deliberate in making it's plot points and turns, but that felt refreshing in the context of the wildly thrilling books that filled almost the entirety of my month! 
Reminded Me Of: Big Little Lies, Four of a Kind, This One is Mine

by Carla Buckley
Super Short Synopsis: A psychological thriller that explores the complexity of family relationships, generational gaps, and asks the question "how well do parents know their children?". Following the lives of Arden and Rory in the months before and after a mysterious fire that leaves both girls clinging to life, Buckley deftly illustrates the way secrets and stories change -and can ultimately destroy- the way families operate. 

Two Things I Loved:
  1. The Audible recording. The narrators that were cast and the pace of the novel are perfection. I couldn't get enough of the audiobook and I was thankful I'd picked this one up as a Daily Deal. 
  2. The complexity in relationship among the characters. Buckley manages to portray challenging relationships fourfold in the novel and, as a result, has you guessing the cause, the arson, the outcome of the fire until the VERY close of the book. You'll be shocked, I promise. 
One Thing I'd Change:  
  1. I HATED one of the characters. That's the point: to hate her. So I wouldn't technically change this because I believe in emotional responses as literary tools (which furthered Buckley's cause), but I really, vehemently HATED her. (Not telling who!) 
Reminded Me Of: We Were Liars, Reconstructing Amelia, Where They Found Her 

by Lucy Knisley
Super Short Synopsis: This graphic novel-memoir depicts Knisley's relationship with food starting in her youth -as a daughter of a chef and a foodie- up until adulthood. Filled with amazing cartoons and hilarious memories, Knisley invites you to understand, better define, and cherish your relationship with food.

Two Things I Loved:
  1. The illustrations are amazing. From comic strips to illustrated family recipes, Knisley is a talent and it's easy to appreciate her craft. 
  2. The recipes and food are delicious. She talks about pasta and croissants and street tacos in Mexico. This is a mouth watering read that had me ready to make a four course meal full of carbohydrates. 
One Thing I'd Change:   
  • I'm not a graphic novel reader so this was out of my wheelhouse which means I have nothing to compare it to. Literally, nothing at all. So, I would only change my own lack of experience with graphic novels (which means GIVE ME YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS). 
Reminded Me Of: Bread and Wine, How to Bake a Perfect Life, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

by Emily Bleeker
Super Short Synopsis: A plane crashes in the middle of the ocean and only two of the five passengers lives to return to America to receive immediate news fame. While return home after two years on a deserted island should be blessed, the new status of the passengers in society and their homes brings each of them to lie about the events that filled their lost time. 

Two Things I Loved:
  1. So, so easy to read. The plot moves fantastically, the characters are easy to have opinions on, and the lies are present from the outset and, well, until the close. I couldn't put the book down and had to know immediately how the consequences of each character's actions was going to play out in the greater story. 
  2. The themes -news' disrespect for privacy in search of ratings, popular cultures trivialization of suffering in order for mass entertainment, the misplaced right to judge of most television viewers, the victims' desire to protect their lives and loves despite circumstance- are SO relevant right now. They spoke to the communications theory major in me that wants to pick apart all of the ways bias comes in to play. 
One Thing I'd Change:  
  • The storyline is far-fetched. This is allowed for fiction and I, honestly, kept with it despite thinking how hard-pressed it would be for all of the wild things contained in this novel to happen because the inner dialogue and play between characters outweighs the one in a million weight of the plot line. I also felt as though one of the "twists" was unnecessary and may have, actually, done a disservice to the overarching commentary on mass media. 
Reminded Me Of: Salem FallsThe Girl on the Train, Before the Fall 

It Ends with Us
by Colleen Hoover
Super Short Synopsis: This (what appears to be a) romance novel unexpectedly explores the way our pasts shape our futures, the cost of love and heart ache, and what it means to forgive what seems unforgivable. 

Warning: There's abuse in this novel. It's hard to read (not in the graphic sense, in the LET ME HELP YOU sense), but it's so necessary, so worth it, so made me a fan of Colleen Hoover.

Two Things I Loved:
  1. This novel was haunting -not in the spooky way, but in the pressed my emotions in and through and around and all the ways. It stayed with me well beyond those last pages (and the author's note -best I've ever read) making this review even challenging to write because I want to pour out all the feelings, all the perspective shifts, all the ways I can now say, I better understand the world.
  2. The way Hoover works with pace in the novel is amazing. The plot moves effortlessly; sometimes at a sprint, sometimes at a crawl, but always with an ease that I've not experienced often in my years of readership. I read the entire book in four hours because I couldn't stop until it was done. 
One Thing I'd Change:  
  • I wanted more at the end. I wanted to hear about happily ever after and all the kids and the marriage and just, everything. It makes sense why it needed to end, but GOODNESS I wanted to spend more time with the characters to see the way redemption played out beyond the most gorgeous of redemptive moments in the tail end of the novel. 
Reminded Me Of: The Silent Wife, Eight Hundred Grapes, Eleanor & Park

In the Land of Milk and Honey
by Jane Jensen
Super Short Synopsis: The second in a series about detective Elizabeth Harris, this novel is set in the Amish country as an epidemic is proving fatal to the local farming community. It is up to Harris to bridge the gap between her new friends, the Amish, and the CDC despite the deep distrust and difficult relationship between the two groups. 

Two Things I Loved:
  1. Jensen presents Detective Harris as a real, flawed person despite her role as the heroine of the novel. She's tempted, she's frustrated, she's emotional, and yet, she's a hero at the close of each novel (this isn't a spoiler, promise). 
  2. Amish culture has fascinated me since we visited there when I was a child. Jensen has done her research, she knows about their beliefs and their culture in a way that appears brave and true in the novel. I learned more about their cause and effect relationships which (always) earns the novel some respect in my opinion. 
One Thing I'd Change:  
  • This one wasn't as strong as the first. I'm not sure if it was the sweeping nature of the epidemic or the technical conversation required for the fatal dosages, but I just wasn't drawn in and dying to read more like I was with the first. However, it seems really important to note that I listened to the first on audiobook, I read the second. This might account for the disparity. 
Reminded Me Of: Plain Truth, Cuckoo's Calling.

I finished my 52 books challenge.
I'm still going to read.
I want your suggestions.
Tell me the best book you've read this year.

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