Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

Blurb from Goodreads:
Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction.

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.
My Review:
This is an interesting dystopian novel with a narrative we've heard before -- plague destroys most of the world, especially most women, and those left are unable to birth live children. This book is told both through diary entries as well as a sort of omniscient narrator -- I actually appreciated both of these voices and views in which the story was told and it added to the story.  I've seen comparisons to Station Eleven but the language was not nearly as beautiful. The story and way in which it was told was compelling but it's definitely not on the level of some of my other favorite dystopians -- namely, Station Eleven, The Handmaid's Tale and Gold Fame Citrus -- despite a similar narrative.  Still, I enjoyed this and sped right through it. It also provided an exceptionally relevant and prescient commentary on how men behave and how they treat women when there is no society and nothing to lose.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife came out earlier this month on October 11, 2016 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this one if you like gritty dystopian.
In the days when the world had not yet fallen, the screaming of sirens was constant.  The structures that still held were the ones designed to cope with emergency and disaster, but none of them could work indefinitely. Desperation moved block by block,and people fought and fled. 
The died of the plague, and they died of proximity to each other. When there weren't enough people in charge of keeping the lights on, the cities went dark. When the sirens quit, the rules gave out. Some people had been waiting their whole lives to live lawlessly, and they were the first to take to the streets. Some people knew that would happen; they knew better than to open their doors when they heard cries of help. Others didn't. What disease cannot do, people accomplish with astonishing ease.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Conversations With Myself (& Hopefully You): ARC Greed

This discussion is inspired by my feelings lately when reading and reviewing ARCs versus the feelings I had when I requested those same ARCs:


ARC greed -- have we all experienced this?  What I even mean by this term is that I sometimes feel overwhelmed when looking at Netgalley and Edelweiss and  I sometimes over-request, if only because I can!  I get greedy when I see all the new and shiny ARCs available and I will sometimes request things that have even a hint of interest for me, not necessarily focusing only on those books that I really, really want. 

The problem with this over-requesting and with getting greedy with requesting (and receiving) ARCs is when it comes time to read and review these ARCs.  Last month and this month, I have looked at my ARCs with a release date in each respective month and I just haven't wanted to read any of them.  I need to start asking myself -- If I was immediately approved for this ARC, would I read it right this minute? And if the answer is no, I really need to stop being so greedy with requesting.  It's easy to get greedy when it comes to requesting ARCs -- you will see books you've been wanting, new books from authors you love or even just a book that you've seen on a WoW -- and suddenly, you can take the chance of being able to read that book early. I need to stop falling into this trap but I guess what I most want to know is whether I'm alone in this feeling.  Do you ever request something that down the line you don't even really want to read, or at least not on a strict timeline for review? Do you feel guilty when you do?

As always, these are just my thoughts -- I'm sure someone somewhere has discussed something similar.  And if you know of such a post, please link it to me below!  In the meantime, let me know if you are ever super hungry, or even greedy, when it comes to ARCs. Does that same feeling still exist when you eventually read the ARC or do you read ARCs as soon as you get them without pause for their release date? And, if so, how do you do it? Teach me your ways!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Celine by Peter Heller

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Celine by Peter Heller

From Edelweiss:
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense—the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed—that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmark, with a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.
Love the sound of this between the setting, the mystery and this author! Celine is scheduled to be released on March 7, 2017, and this one sounds great!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Review: IQ by Joe Ide

Blurb from Goodreads:
A resident of one of LA's toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores.  
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. 
They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay. 
This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes. 
My Review:
Oh IQ! He is my new favorite tragic hero. Seriously. This was such a fun book to read -- I laughed out loud several times and was also continually intrigued. When I finished this book, I was honestly sad it was over and I haven't felt that way in a LONG time.  This is another mystery told intercalary but you know what I loved most about this?  We find out so much about IQ by learning about his past and what makes him tick and yet, I still want to know more.  Because of this, I really hope this is the start of a series.  I, for one, can't wait to read about the next mystery IQ will solve and also to find out more about him. This was funny, well thought out and written in such a way that it was so easy and a joy to read. 

I think (HOPE) that this is going to be a series -- I am definitely ready for more IQ! Definitely recommend this one to fans of Elmore Leonard or fans of witty mystery-- this had a bit of Psych feel as well! IQ comes out today on October 18, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
"I'm an up-and-comer, you know what I'm sayin'? I was born to be a celebrity. I should have the spotlight all over me." 
"Spotlight all over you -- for what?" Isaiah said.   
"What do you mean for what?  That Kardashian girl's booty could fit inside my booty and you talking about for what. You know she made thirty million last year?" 
Isaiah knew other girls who felt that way. Somehow believing a big booty was like owning real estate or having a college degree, something you could put on a job application.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: The Apartment by S.L. Grey

Blurb from Goodreads:
A high-concept psychological chiller about a troubled married couple on a house swap from hell. An Anchor Original.

Mark and Steph live an idyllic life with their young daughter in sunny Cape Town until one day when three men in masks violently break in. Traumatized but physically unharmed, Mark and Steph are unable to return to normal and are living in constant fear. When a friend suggests they take a restorative vacation abroad via a popular house-swapping website, it sounds like the perfect plan. They find a nice artistic couple with a charming apartment in Paris who would love to come to Cape Town. How could Mark and Steph resist the idyllic, light-strewn pictures, and the promise of a romantic getaway? But once they arrive in Paris, they quickly realize that nothing is as advertised. As their perfect holiday takes a deadly turn, the cracks in their relationship grow ever wider and dark secrets from Mark’s past begin to emerge.

Deftly alternating between two complex and compelling narrators, The Apartment is a terrifying tour de force of horror, of psychological thrills, and of chilling suspense.
My Review:
I'm telling you right now - please don't read this. I had seen some other reviewer's opinions (that I trust) on this one before I read it that were less than stellar but I still wanted to give this its fair shot; I wish I hadn't. I almost DNF'd but I was intrigued enough to want to know the "twist" or mystery but now I can confidently tell you that this was not worth finishing. Maybe the story for this book seemed like it a good idea for a book at one point but either the author did not really want to finish the book or there was a critical lack of editing involved in the execution.  THere were so many sub-stories that were glossed over and made to seem important but ended up being red herrings to the actual plot. And I'm not talking just a few of these but four or five of these, maybe more.  I also have severe issues with the "twist" - it didn't make any sense and it wasn't properly flushed out to even give a hint that anyone could suspend their disbelief. And the characters? First, they were supremely unlikeable -- that, I could get over -- but they were also so not developed.  You can't imagine why Mark and Steph are a couple now or why they ever were.  There was also this weird focus on the problems with their relationship that added nothing to the plot, depth or story. This one did not work for me in any way.

The Apartment came out earlier this month on October 4, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
I pull the plug and gather the toys and put them in the bucket at the corner of the tub. I pick out the soap and turn on the hand shower to rinse the tub. The water's draining slowly, blocked by Hayden's hair in a drain hole. I pick it out and it comes away in a satisfying mat; it shines with a blue gleam, full of life.  I can't bring myself to throw it away so I squeeze the water out and take it with me.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

Blurb from Goodreads:
Bashir “Bish” Ortley is a London desk cop. Almost over it. Still not dealing with the death of his son years ago, as well as the break-up of his marriage. 

Across the channel, a summer bus tour, carrying a group of English teenagers is subject to a deadly bomb attack, killing four of the passengers and injuring a handful of others. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board. 

The suspect is 17 year old Violette LeBrac whose grandfather was responsible for a bombing that claimed the lives of dozens of people fourteen years ago; and whose mother, Noor, has been serving a life sentence for the part she was supposed to have played in the attack.

As Bish is dragged into the search for the missing Violette, he finds himself reluctantly working with Noor LeBrac and her younger brother, Jimmy Sarraf.

And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more Bish realizes that they may have got it wrong all those years ago, and that truth wears many colours. Especially when it comes to the teenagers on board the recent bus bombing. Including his daughter. 

Tell the truth. Shame the devil. Bish can’t get Violette LeBrac’s words out of his head. But what he may get is some sort of peace with his own past as the worlds of those involved in two bombings, years apart, collide into the journey of his life. 
My Review:
Bish is the type of character that you can immediately sink your teeth into -- real, good, striving to be better and, most of all, intent and focused on finding the truth. We are thrown into his reality immediately upon finding out that his daughter was on board a bus in France blown up by a bomb. We struggle with him throughout this book and its many complexities and this is what Marchetta is a master at -- hanging on to each thread and revealing the story with the right timing and with the right pacing, not an easy feat. This book was seamless and the characters so well-developed that it was a treat to read this.  I loved the characters in this book more than the story although the mystery is realistic, well done and offers great insight and social commentary.  But the characters! I loved them all - it was refreshing to read a book with so many beautiful, good and real characters. They were the real star of this book above and beyond the thriller/mystery but, really, when was the last time you could say that about a thriller or mystery? 

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil came out earlier this week on October 11, 2016 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this one if you're looking for a thrilling police procedural with really well thought out and developed characters.
"She studied Henry IV this year. 'O, while you live, tell truth and shame the devil,'" Noor quoted. "She borrowed it from Shakespeare."  
"What truth is she referring to?"   
The hostility was back in her eyes as she studied him. As if he was supposed to know the truth according to the LeBracs and Sarrafs.   

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review: Fill the Sky by Katherine A. Sherbrooke

Blurb from Goodreads:
Tess Whitford’s world is thrown into turmoil when Ellie, her dearest friend, runs out of medical options and grabs onto the hope that traditional healers in Ecuador might save her from a terminal diagnosis. Tess is skeptical, but cannot deny a request that might be Ellie’s last. Together with Joline, whose spiritual work inspired the trip, they travel to the mountain village of Otavalo, where they are immersed in nature and introduced to strange, ancient traditions. After an ayahuasca ceremony goes awry, and an unlikely betrayal threatens their friendship, each woman faces her own deep need for healing. FILL THE SKY is a story about the complexity of friendship, the power of the spirit, and the quest to not simply fight death, but to shape an authentic life.
My Review:
Wow, another amazing 2016 debut!  From the first page of this one, I was totally hooked. Not only with the story and the characters but the setting of Ecuador.  I have some serious wanderlust after all the amazing settings I've been reading lately and this book is right at the top of the list.  This book was filled with beautiful descriptions of the landscape, the people, the mood and the feeling of this awe-inspiring country and those descriptions were seamlessly juxtaposed with trying to heal Ellie; this entire book and experience felt so spiritual even with this dark but hopeful cloud hanging over them as the reason for the trip. This novel is about friendships and about accepting past choices while still and always moving forward.  It has a bit of forgiveness but something more powerful that I think transcends words -- it's a feeling and I definitely felt it when I was reading Fill the Sky and especially when I finished this book.  This book may cause you to think about alternative healing practices and question whether, sometimes, modernity is not always the answer.

I loved this book and can't wait for more from this author -- definitely recommend it if you like introspective novels that a re a bit spiritual and off the beaten path!  Fill the Sky comes out next week on October 20, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
She drank in the explosion of color on the right side of the road--flowers in pink, purple, gold and orange dotting a huge field, nature resplendent and harmonious.  Each flower was a universe of its own, the stalk commanding water from the soil as petals flapped open to accept the sun.  She said a brief word of thanks to the universe for all of nature's glories, especially the ancient vine that they would be working with, so revered it was known simply as "the plant," a moniker Joline liked to think marked it as the originator of all other vegetation.  Powerful, indeed.  
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