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 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. ¬†This 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 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.

A Review of Rise of a Legend by Amy Jarecki

Eva MacKay is an archeological journalist fascinated by the legend of William Wallace. After he husband is brutally murdered she takes a job on a historical dig at the battleground of Loudoun Hill. One early morning, her professor gives her a necklace without telling her much about it. She falls asleep at Fail Monastery only to wake up amidst a historical battle in 1297 Scotland. Right as she thinks she’s going to die, she is rescued by a man of great size. After introductions, she realizes her savior is none other than William Wallace himself. Their chemistry is instant and so begins a tumultuous relationship during some of Scotland’s greatest massacres and battles.

This book caught my attention from the very first pages. Eva has known a lot of tragedy in her 27 years and you begin to feel for her right away. There is a lot of history in these pages the author went to great lengths researching the history of William Wallace that we know, while still injecting her own twist to what happens. This era in Scotland’s histories has quite a few holes so the author used multiple sources to weave her tale. William was a battle hardened man with a chip on his shoulder about the English monarchy. Jarecki gave a nice contrast between a man bent on taking back Scotland for his people and a ¬†softer man falling in love with a woman he doesn’t completely understand.

My one criticism is the numerous sex scenes. I, personally, don’t enjoy reading about extremely graphic sex. I would have enjoyed something a little more subtle to characterize their budding romance instead of gratuitous sex. The relationship between Eva and William starts out very carnal and this is shown throughout the book. I did, however, greatly enjoy the slow transition between lovers blowing off the steam of tragedy and the deeper love their grew to have for one another.

I give this book a 5 out of 5. Despite the graphic sexual content, the history and character development was amazing. I love time travel of any kind and historical romance is one of my favorite sub genres of this. There’s something so intriguing about someone from our own time finding themselves in way earlier time periods and falling in love with icons I’ve only read about in history books. To be front and center to histories battles would be incredible. I recommend this book to fans of historical romances. Definitely keep in mind that there is a lot of sex and very graphic depictions of death and battle of the period.

A Review of Hatred Day by TS Pettibone

This book starts out in the viewpoint of Desya while trying to rescue his sister but changes almost as soon as he rescues her to her point of view. In the distant future, a race of beings called the Inborns, leave their world through a portal to inhabit Earth. The people of earth do not like this and destroy the portal killing thousands of inborns and separating thousands more from their families. Since that time, the people of earth have celebrated Hatred Day, the day they forced out the Inborns. But the Inborns are still living amongst them in hiding because they look just like earthlings. Many have mated with earth beings and produced halfbreed children. But the government is tired of them living with them and has shut Hollowstone off from the rest of the world and is intending to do DNA testing and only allowing pure earthlings to leave the dome. Snofrid and her family must find a way out before they are eradicated with the rest of the city.

I liked the science fiction aspect of this book, especially the technology. The characters had well developed back stories and there was a lot of action. The governmental aspect was very true to life and the race story arc was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and all the Jewish people and those that supported them had to deal with.

Though I liked the book, the plot took way too long to unfold. The character back stories were given in the smallest pieces and left me mostly unsatisfied. This was obviously meant to be a series, so much was left unsolved or not even touched on at all, even though mentioned in the book and as a reader I find that to be infuriating. I don’t mind cliffhangers but to leave out large points was annoying.

I gave this one a 3 out of 5. It has potential to be great but it is a really long book with too much left out. If the author was going to include as much as she did then I expect her to not leave so much for the next book. There was also a secondary love story between a couple of the characters that I actually really enjoyed but there was no resolution to that at all. If you like sci fi and slow burn novels that turn into series than you would enjoy this.