A Review of The Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Malorie and her children are leaving their house and sanctuary for the first time since she was pregnant. Almost 5 years after an event that changed the course of humanity as she knew it, she had to raise her children in this new post cataclysmic world where your eyes could be your undoing. There is something out there that is causing people to go crazy and commit suicide the second they lay their eyes on it. This narrative goes between present time and the time before, while she was pregnant, and just learning about the events as they slowly take over the whole world.

I read this book in a day. That’s how good it was. I normally don’t have time to read but I put everything aside to finish this one. The story was gripping. I was compelled to read it after I was told by quite a few people how weird and interesting it was. I couldn’t put it down. There were no lulls in the book and the author gave hints at the characters back stories, developing them in a way that made me care about their safety and what happens to them.

The only thing I didn’t like is that I felt there were a few discrepancies within the story and I don’t feel like there was a complete explanation or resolution to what was going on. Many theories were given but none were fully satisfactory to me and they never once said that any of the theories were what was happening.

I loved this book. I will give it a solid 5 out of 5. It’s rare for a book to capture me so much where I can’t stop reading it. There is some parts of fairly graphic gore so it may not be for you if you are squeamish. But for someone who is into post apocalyptic survival type books, it is fully engrossing, and will knock your socks off!

A Review of Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

Stingo is a young writer trying to make his print on the writing world. He comes from a decently wealthy family and his father has options for him to become a peanut farmer in Virginia but that lifestyle is not for him. He moves to Brooklyn into an apartment building run by a Yiddish woman and filled with a conglomeration of of interesting individuals. Two of these individuals are a couple that live across the hall from Stingo, named Nathan and Sophie. Nathan is a scientist and music lover and Sophie is a polish holocaust survivor plagued by tragedy. The trio meet and their lives become intrinsically linked and their lives are forever changed. This book is Stingo’s book about the events that happened in the few months he got to know the couple and their volatile relationship.

I started this book in January and I just finished it this morning. It was an incredibly grueling read for me. It is apparent that this author loves words and the written language because he uses an over abundance of them. His sentences drag on forever and he uses so many adjectives and so much description for everything that I found my mind wandering. Not only that, but he would begin a narrative about a certain past event which would then go off on a tangent into unrelated events and personal histories on characters that are only in the narrative for a few sentences. I felt there was a lot of unnecessary information, which the author, writing as Stingo, often talked about being unnecessary but he felt compelled to write it anyway. This doesn’t always translate to good writing. In this situation, I believe the less is more rule applies.

The biggest tragedy of this book is that a really greatly tragic story is hiding beneath all the drivel. Styron talks about Sophie’s time at Auschwitz and Birkenau and how it affected her and her family and it was incredibly heart breaking. The lengths she went to and the choices she had to make were things that would kill most people mentally. But just as I became emotionally invested in what was happening then suddenly the story went into something else and I never felt totally felt fully connected or invested in the characters. I feel it is sad that I never cried during such a tragic tale.

My overall thoughts on this book is that it was just okay. I would give it a 3 out of 5. This is because of the various reasons I already listed. A wonderful story was drowned in too many words. This booked was listed under books that have previously been banned in the United States and I can only guess that at the time this was first published it was because of the content and the strong sexual situations, which I found to be quite vulgar and over the top. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy history, especially the holocaust, as more than half the book is written about Sophie’s time there. But if you don’t like an overabundance of description than this book is definitely not for you. It can get almost painful to read at times.

A Review of Society Builders by Anthony Puyo

I was gifted this ARC by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. As an advanced copy it is also a pre-edited edition.

Society Builders is a science fiction account about a world on the cusp of total technological immersion. There are no more cell phones. Citizens now have usb style chips ported directly into their brains. This allows them to access the entirety of the internet with just their thoughts, including calling and messaging others- all from their brains. Jason Mendes works for the company powering this endeavor, Matson Cybertech. But he is also a double agent working on getting intel for his true allegiance, PAC, an organization developed to stop what they view to be a breach of ethics and morality. Matson’s latest edition, The Thin Chip, may have more behind it than just to bring together humanity- something much more nefarious.

I’ll start with my only real criticism and I don’t want to say much so you can make your own decision once you’ve read it. I really didn’t like how the relationship between the love interests in the book played out. I wanted more and I also thought more time could have been put into developing their relationship. It was sudden and very quick.

On the whole, I quite enjoyed this one. I’m a big fan of sci fi, especially that dealing with future societies and the toll technology can take on them. The thing that really impressed me with the whole concept of the book is how real it seems and the way humanity is evolving alongside tech. In a lot of ways, this story is kind of prophetic and because of that also truly terrifying. I found many similarities and parallels to our current society and the technology we are already trying to develop. Jason is a great main character, he’s passionate about the morals his dear grandmother instilled at him and he doesn’t sway from those even when confronted with things like love and as an every man type he’s relatable.

I recommend this book to any fan of sci fi. If you like things like the Terminator franchise, this will appeal to you. There’s a lot of action and after the first few chapters I couldn’t put it down. I give this a 4.5 out of 5. This was without taking the editing mistakes into account because the author made it clear this was pre-editing review copy. I gave it this score because I really enjoyed the plot but I thought there were a few things that needed more development and I don’t care for how the romantic sub plot played out.

A Review of In the Kingdom’s Name by Amy Jarecki

I was gifted this ebook from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I received this one awhile back but upon finding it was a sequel, I purchased the first book in the series and read it first. You can find the review for that book in this blog as well.

In the Kingdom’s Name finds Eva still in medieval Scotland, during the war to free themselves from English rule. Andrew Murray is on the brink of death and William all but forces Eva to use her newfangled healing to save him, something time does not want her to interfere with. Because of this, she is spirited away back to modern day and is desperate to get back. Will fate let her go back? Can she change time to save William Wallace’s fate.

This was a really good follow up as it helped to further develop Eva and William’s relationship but aside from the historical aspects of where the story had to go in order to still be true, the rest was kind of a let down. Jarecki explains her decision in the author’s notes and it makes sense but it didn’t feel right to me. I thought there were many things that could’ve happened to make the outcome more enjoyable. The last chapter of the book felt very forced to me and I never gained any real emotional connection to the resolution.

Another thing that bothered me, is that William Wallace is an extremely pious man. He had decided that he was going to take his vows into the priesthood until he decided to take up arms to fight the cause of his country. That being said, he very quickly jumped into a sexual relationship with Eva from the very beginning. While men can change their minds, he continued to read his psalter and to quote scripture all while this is taking place. So for me, I don’t feel like his character stayed true to himself and the whole sexual relationship was contrived to help the story further along.

This was a decent read but I liked the first installment of this saga better. I give it a 3 out of 5. This decision was mainly based on the fact that the ending was completely lost for me. I felt the author couldn’t figure out a way to make her original ending work and so this was plan B and everyone, including Eva, got the second best option. ┬áThis book has strong sexual scenes so reader discretion is advised.

A Review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Gilead is a postwar society that assigns women very specific jobs. Some of these jobs include handmaids and marthas. A very small percentage become wives to the men in higher power positions. Offred is a handmaid. She is nothing more than a vessel. Because she is deemed one of the few fertile women after the affects of nuclear fallout she has 3 chances to conceive a child with the Commander in charge of her household, so that his wife may adopt this child and become a mother. In Gilead, women are no more than property and functioning machines.

I think this book is relevant to today. Especially when they describes the political ideology. It is extremely well written and the author has a firm grasp of how to capture a reader and make them feel what the character feels. I found myself worrying about my own safety in a postwar society like this. The way the take over is described seems scary and probably to me.

This is, in fact, one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. And it left me with a feeling of hopelessness after finishing it. I hated the ending. It was extremely abrupt and the historical notes seemed like they should’ve wrapped things up better. Instead I was just left frustrated and weary of the whole think. I’m not a leave it up to your imagination type person. This book has a lot of political ideology and religion. Gilead is a society run by misconstrued political beliefs. I don’t even think the men who created this society really believed the foundation they build their new country on. I think it was a ruse to dominate women and to use them for their own purposes. In an already male dominated society, its scary to think that our rights could so swiftly be taken from us.

I enjoyed this book til the very end. I gave it a 4 out of 5. I thought the end fell apart. Atwood could’ve done so much more with such a strong plot. I look forward to watching the new series based on this book and what they may do with it. I recommend this book to everyone. I think it is a good reminder of the way things could go if we don’t keep our politicians in check and our eyes open to false doctrine.

A Review of Death by Petticoat by Mary Miley Theobald

Death by Petticoat is a collection of myths that people have been led to believe over the years about our colonial ancestors. These myths, though one time thought true, have since been proven wrong. This book was put together with the help of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Its not categorized in subject matter or chapter, but rather, numbered by myth. There are 62 different ones. Some of them I remember learning, while some I thought were fairly obscure and may have only been known by history buffs. This book even goes so far as to explain where these myths may have originated.

I really enjoyed reading Death by Petticoat. It was a fairly quick read, only taking about an hour. It had some great photography to accompany each myth. I give this a 5 out of 5. Its a great little trivia book that you can use to impress your history loving friends. I definitely recommend it.

A Review of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Jean Perdu is a man who has spent the last 20 years of his life in mourning and angry about a woman who spurned him and then died. He lives his life angry at her for leaving him, doesn’t sleep, and lives a very basic sedentary life. He runs a bookstore on a barge floating in the Seine River, called the Literary Apothecary. He has a special talent for reading people emotionally with a minimum of information. With this skill and his love for books he prescribes books to help patrons with what ails them emotionally. He’s been stuck in this rut for a long time, until a newly divorced woman moves into his building and a popular young author seeks refuge aboard his boat, and everything changes.

I absolutely loved this book. It gripped me emotionally from the first few pages. Perdu is a truly broken man and Nina George guides you along his journey as you empathize and feel for everything he is going for. I fell in love with each and every character in this book. They all possessed qualities that seemed to encourage each other to grow and is even great advice for the reader. I found this book to have some of the greatest quotes about life and love. The entire book is a roller coaster of every emotion imaginable. I found myself laughing one minute and crying the next.

There are parts of this book that I think are a bit wordy and I felt my attention drifting a bit, but just when I thought I might lose interest, I was reeled back into the story. There is some mild sexual content, as Perdu is a middle aged man who has completely shut himself down, and along the way he rediscovers his sexuality along with finding that his heart is still capable of love.

I will easily give this book 5 stars. There was no point where I was truly board and I truly empathized with Perdu and rooted for him as he created new friendships, built himself a family, and allowed himself to see the light in life again. I found myself not wanting it to end. I wanted more from the Epilogue. I fell completely in love with this book and the core characters.