Friday, December 21, 2018

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

Quotable: "It was his sanctuary - a realm of stories, not just from the Unseen City, but the world."

Character Development: Fully realized characters, unique and realistic. I can't wait to see how they develop the Godlings' story and the history of Weep in the next book.

World Building: A vivid landscape from library to desert, the whole world is created in your mind right away. The kind of place you get lost in from the onset.

Writing Style: Taylor writes at the level of my favorite authors, with wisdom and insight into the human experience. I'm a fan from reading one book!

What I Enjoyed: Everything about this book was wonderful. It starts out a bit confusing when they introduce certain characters, but if you hang in there for a few chapters all will be revealed!

Deal Benders: The only thing I don't like is that the book ended at all!

Overall Rating: 5 stars - Such a gem of a giant book, I can't wait to read the next one.

For Fans Of: [bookcover:The Cemetery of Forgotten Series|40809736]

Saturday, December 1, 2018

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Quotable: "Rishi was a naturally good friend, she could tell. The kind of guy who thought your every fight was his as well."

Character Development: When I realized this was a story about arranged Indian marriages, I was not excited to finish it. I expected misogyny and anti-feminist ideas, but was pleasantly surprised to find Dimple Shah has a mind of her own! I was happy that Rishi went from a rigid planner who always obeys his parents to his own - still respectful - adult. Their relationship and romance is realistic and adorable, which I was not expecting.

Writing Style: Readers from any background can pick up this story and gain insight into another culture without feeling out of place. It takes talent for authors like Menon to accomplish this.

What I Enjoyed: I wanted to know how these two would end - reading large chunks of this book at a time. I'm glad someone in my book club added it to the list, because I otherwise might not have given it a chance.

Deal Benders: Many Indian words and phrases are used, and the meaning often gets lost in translation. The author does her best, but once in a while it draws away from the story when you have to lookup a word in another language and hope it was translated correctly.

Overall Rating: 3 stars for a solid enjoyable young adult becoming story.

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Quotable: "People who don't feel cared for are not always comfortable being cared for..."

Character Development: Arthur and Maddy are unlikely friends who change each other for the better. From their awkward meeting in a cemetary throughout the time they spend together, it's clear they become each other's catalyst for hope and second chances. Others support their story, yet remain on the outside of this special bond.

Creating a character like Arthur makes me wish men like him really existed. The way he loved Nola is beyond swoon-worthy. I'll just be over here daydreaming of meeting the kind of soul that goes out of his way to be kind to others. <3

Writing Style: I now have a new favorite font called Electra, thanks! I flew through reading this book, and cried at the end. Easy language with complex life themes.

What I Enjoyed: Nuggets of wisdom and life observation sprinkled among the chapters made for a poignant read.

Deal Benders: Quite a few instances of repeated phrases became distracting, and it was never explained why they were important enough to repeat. Like someone decides to do something, so they do it, because they decided to do it? Circular reasoning.

Overall Rating: 4 stars - I really liked Arthur and Maddy's story. A heartwarming read.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Quotable: "On the train, I watch strangers' eyes, studying the wrinkles that curl from them like script, like talons. How much squinting, how much laughter to earn each of those lines?"

Character Development: Pearl and her son are the main focus of the story, dealing with themes of loss and mental illness. I think watching them grow was one of the best parts of this story.

World Building: A future where machines play psychologist and tell us how to find personal happiness is an appropriately disturbing yet wistful notion giving the rise of technology. What an intriguing concept - what if there was an algorithm for happiness?

Writing Style: I adore Williams' carefully crafted prose! The way she tells the story alone makes this a good read. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy the tickle of clever words.

What I Enjoyed: The writing again is remarkable, and I cared about the characters.

Deal Benders: The ending felt like there was nothing left to say, but not exactly finished. I would have liked some resolution to the happiness machine thread rather than just following Pearl and her son for a short while.

Overall Rating: 4 stars because even with the unsatisfying ending, the writing in this book made me really like it.

Angel and Bavar by Amy Wilson

Cover Quote: "One Beauty. One Beast. One Enchantment to Break."

Character Development: Angel and Bavar are each scarred by their early childhood memories - their parents disappearing from their lives in mysterious ways. They learn a few lessons along the way, but I couldn't say I ever really got to know either of them.

World Building: Earth with magical elements and a Gothic style house provide the backdrop for a spooky retelling.

Writing Style: Accessibly to readers of all ages, Wilson gears towards teens while giving adults relatable content.

What I Enjoyed: I'm a fan of favorite classics with a new twist, and I've never dreamed of this version. Angel and Bavar give fresh breath to an old tale.

Deal Benders: Some of the story felt a bit flat, and the main villain had strange dialogue.

Overall Rating: 3 stars for a solid likable read.

For Fans of: Beauty and the Beast

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

Quoteable: " is not the big events that hurt the most but rather the smallest questionable shift in tone at the end of a spoken word that can plow most deeply into the heart."

Characters: I've known versions of each of the character types represented in this novella. Many of the trappings of modern day romance and growing up play out in these pages. I realize many people hated this book claiming they felt flat, but I found quite the opposite.

Writing Style: Martin's observations of human behavior may very well come from personal experience. While it's allowable to not relate, I feel many of the low ratings were given based on personal agenda rather than actual merit. I enjoyed his writing.

What I Enjoyed: This book made me feel, sometimes empathy and other times pity for different personas. Works like this are important - reminding us we're not alone in the confusing universe of dating and finding our center.

Deal Benders: The ending felt a bit unfinished. I'm not quite sure what else I expected to happen, but I was expecting more of a flourish. Also I seem to have picked up a few books lately that have random explicit content. I don't read romance novels because they're the equivalent of so-called 'girl porn'...I'm all for some sexual tension but it would be nice to see a bit more innuendo and less F-bombs. If you're writing erotica then just do that rather than masquerading amid an otherwise enjoyable storyline.

Overall Rating: 3-3.5 stars. I liked it, but have to adjust for the innaccessible pieces. If it were appropriate for a wider audience, I could give the main story more of a recommendation.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

First Impression: I'm intrigued by a dystopian society where middle aged means dispensable.

Characters: I felt for the inhabitants of the unit, especially as they grow attached to each other while knowing it cannot end well. One relationship in particular stands out as star-crossed.

World Building: Claustrophobia is palpable in the underground unit, where only two seasons rotate around artificial sunlight. Otherwise a chracter-driven world.

Writing Style: I read this in one sitting, which is a testament to Holmqvist's writing ability. Except for a few unnecessary scenes, the story flowed really well.

What I Enjoyed: It didn't end the way I thought it would, which makes it all the more memorable. The relationships and moral questions bubbling up from this novel haunted my subconcious into the next day. The hallmark of good fiction is when it changes you in some small way.

Deal Benders: The author writes sex scenes with all the passion of a scientist observing the act. Seriously egregious sex scenes, enough already. This makes your book unsuitable for such a wider audience, I'm still not sure why authors feel the need to laboriously detail intimacy. It feels like a cheap ploy to increase hype...End rant.

Overall Rating: 3 stars for a solid likeable read.