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I LOVE THIS BOOK! If Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams had a baby and then let Toni Morrison raise it, it would be this book. Terrible deaths, fantastic deaths, good lives, not-so-good lives, humor and heart. Fun and thought-provoking. And who doesn't love Death falling in love? – – (A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.) – @michaelpoore007 #terrypratchett #douglasadams #tonimorrison #reincarnation #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #booklover #bookworm #bookish #bookgram #bibliophile #booknerd #bookreview #bookaholic #bookquote #bookphotography #readthis #readersofinstagram #read #reading #readingtime #readinglist #reader #newbook #books #readingisfun #readingjunkie

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Lincoln in the Bardo – a book review in 200 words

Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

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I stayed away from Lincoln in the Bardo for a long time, even after several recommendations from readers I respect. I did read the first few chapters (a couple of times) and was bothered by the way the book was setup. Why all these quotes? And conflicting quotes? What is happening?

Then I heard it was long-listed for the Man Booker prize, and gave it another go.

And I love it!

Lincoln’s son, Willie, has died and Lincoln comes to his son’s tomb for a last visit in the middle of the night. What Lincoln cannot see is the full and vibrant “afterlife” that is happening around him – the men and women who are stuck in a sort of purgatory (the Bardo) where thoughts can change everything and the spirits don’t know they are dead.

This book is a touching portrait of Lincoln, the mood of the United States in the Civil War’s early years, and the moments we most regret when we leave the living.

Be prepared for a difficult slog at the beginning but you quickly get used to it. Hang tough, because in the end, the ride is completely worth it.

Rating: 92/100

Buy it at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

The Witches of New York – a book review in 200 (and a few) words

The Witches of New York

by

Ami McKay

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If you are intrigued by any of the following:  mysticism, spiritualism, witches, demons, opium, absinthe, crazed clergy, surviving civil war soldiers with missing limbs, Egyptian obelisks, the djinn, fairy tales, spells, ghosts, the Fae, talking animals, insane asylums, fortunetelling, scrying, herbal remedies, the Salem witch trials, women suffragists, mediums and/or folk magic – then this is the book for you.

The Witches of New York tells the story of three witches in New York City in 1880. Eleanor comes from a long line of witches, absorbing her folksy magic from her mother. Adelaide learned fortune-telling while working for a side-show and quickly found she had a real knack for it. The too-smart and restless Beatrice moves to the City and learns that she’s a new kind of witch.

There is so much history and magic contained in the pages of this book, that it is difficult to describe it exactly. McKay blends the real 1880’s New York with her fictional characters and circumstances so effortlessly that I found it difficult to discern the difference. Her descriptions are spot-on as well; when her characters walk down the street, you walk with them – you can hear the newsboys, smell the roasted peanuts, feel the cold on a sleigh ride through Central Park in January.

Hopefully, this book is the first of a series or I will be sorely disappointed; many storylines were left unresolved at the end of the novel. Plus I would love to spend more time with these three witches of New York.

Rating:85/100

Buy this book July 11, 2017. Pre-order at:

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Vector (Joe Rush #4) – a book review

Vector

(Joe Rush #4)

by

James Abel

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“Mutation is, by definition, always a surprise.”

If you are not already scared into agoraphobia by the threat of the Zika virus, Lyme disease, and skin cancer, James Abel’s book will make you afraid to leave your house or at least make you clothe yourself from head to toe and top that off with a couple layers of bug spray.

Vector is a chilling exercise that imagines the results of a terror organization’s ability to weaponize an everyday annoyance we barely notice here in the United States. It is terrifying how easy Abel makes it seem to create, distribute and disperse such a weapon.

The book starts with Joe Rush and his partner, Eddie, travelling the Amazon. Except that Eddie is missing, Joe is being followed, his guide is less than trustworthy and a large number of malaria-stricken individuals have disappeared from their homes.

Things go terribly wrong for Joe at the same time that events are going awry quietly and steadily in the United States. A terrorist’s threat is delivered, the government is blackmailed, hard decisions are made. (Some of the most terrifying moments in the book stem from the decisions of people in power and the reasoning behind those decisions.)

“Presidents say they will not make deals with enemies, but they do. Kennedy faced down the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But behind the scenes he pulled U.S. missiles from Turkey. Nixon said he’d never talk to North Vietnam. He sent a rep there at the same time.”

When the two story lines intersect, the action comes quick and fast.

The pacing of this book is just what you want in a thriller. The science was written in a believable and easy to understand way. And the ending does not disappoint.

I will definitely be going back to read the first in the Joe Rush series, White Plague.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 87/100

Buy it July 25, 2017.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – a book review in 200 words

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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I ended up grabbing this Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from work because no one else took it. I don’t read romance (usually), and the cover just screamed the word at me. To my great surprise and unending delight, Seven Husbands by Taylor Jenkins Reid, is one of the finest books I have read so far this year.

The story follows the reclusive movie star, Evelyn Hugo, as she plucks an unknown journalist out of obscurity and gives her the scoop of her career. Hugo is nearing the end of her career and, clearly, her life, and has decided to finally let the public in on her secrets. Her seven marriages act as a clever literary device, a way to discover Hugo’s relationships that range from old Hollywood marriages as the beard to gay leading man to the affair with the love of her life,

Not to be forgotten is the mystery that unfolds around the journalist, Monique Grant, as Hugo’s choice to write her story. The discovery of who Grant is started me on my first crying jag.

My second jag – ugly-crying through the entire last few chapters, but in a good way.

Go out and buy this book today!

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 90/100

Buy this book:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Into the Water – a book review in 200 words + an outrageous cast list

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

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Into the Water (ITW going forward) by Paula Hawkins is a book about two women who have drowned in…the Drowning Pool. It is here, legend holds, that witches were drowned and countless women have committed suicide.

Early in ITW, Hawkins uses a compelling story-telling device. She tells the story in one character’s viewpoint, in the next chapter shows us the same events from another’s perspective, and then that character takes over the story until the next chapter. If this way of writing was sustained throughout, ITW would be spectacular!  Unfortunately, this is not the case. Paula Hawkins, she of Girl on the Train fame, has written ITW from the point of view of ALL of the following:

Danielle ‘Nel’ Abbot (deceased) – via a manuscript of her unpublished book
Jules Abbot – sister to Nel Abbot (also called Julia often/confusingly)
Lena Abbot – daughter of Nel Abbot
Mark Henderson – teacher
Erin Morgan – inspector
Nickie Sage – charleton or medium
Helen Townsend – wife of Sean
Patrick Townsend – father of Sean
Sean Townsend – inspector
Josh Whittaker – brother to Katie
Louise Whittaker – mother of Katie
Lauren, Libby and Katie (deceased) – drowned women
(Feel free to print this list and use it while reading the book. It may be the only way you can remember everyone and how they relate to the story.  I found myself looking back to earlier chapters to figure out who was speaking well into the middle of the book.  While compiling the above list, I had to refer back to the book to figure out the cast and how they related to each other – even after finishing the book!)

Hawkins would have better served her characters, and her readers, had she focused solely on Jules’ and Lena’s viewpoints and Nel Abbot’s manuscript.

Having just finished reading, I can tell you that I am truly, deeply disappointed with this ending. The only real twist in ITW was related to the reason behind the two sister’s bitter, long-lasting feud.  After this first startling reveal, I expected sweeping revelation after sweeping revelation to close out the novel. Unfortunately, I was only to be let down by the resolution of the rest of the story lines – and no remaining shocks, surprises, or twists to hold my attention to the end.

 

Read it? Let me know if you agree with my review in the comments below!

Rating: 55/100

Buy In the Water at Barnes & Noble

Buy Into the Water at Amazon

Night by Elie Wiesel – goodreads review

NightNight by Elie Wiesel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my list for a long time, and I wish that I had read it sooner. It is not for the faint of heart as it covers Elie Wiesel’s journey during World War II in several German concentration camps. His battle is heart-breaking – from the Jewish community who couldn’t fathom what was happening to the terrible journey forced on prisoners right before the German surrender.

The disbelief of the Jewish community, even as they were being persecuted, brings to mind the current political/world situation and how easy it is for people to make excuses for the actions and beliefs of others, even if they are stated out-right and in bold type. Chilling.

Though I’ve read other similar accounts to Wiesel’s, I found this one particularly moving as we see him lose his faith, both in his God and in other people. I know that he eventually comes back to his faith from reading about him, but the amount of personal anguish he shares is riveting and unbelievable. It is no wonder he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1986.

If you have a few hours, I highly recommend you read this slim book. It is well worth your time. For me, I plan on reading the other books in Wiesel’s trilogy, Day and Dawn, as soon as I’m able.

View all my reviews

Sweetbitter – a book review in 200 words

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

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I am torn, conflicted.

Sweetbitter is beautifully written, a book I felt inclined to mark and quote and share.

But, I hated every single character. It felt like real work to get through the novel. I felt stuck. Perhaps that is what the author intended, for the reader to feel as though they are 22 again and moving through that world of flurry and uncertainty, with everything transitory and unimportant.

“Pain is what we know. It’s our barometer of reality. We never trust pleasure.”

The main character, Tess, is a conundrum. She moves to New York by herself and lands a job at a busy, exclusive restaurant. Brave, right? Strong, yes. Yet, she cannot stick up for herself, neither protecting her soul nor her body. She is beautiful, yet has no self-confidence. Full of determination, but cares for nothing. She is solitary, but yearns for love.

“The posture of a woman who had stood in a casual spotlight in every room she’d ever been in, not for gloss or perfection, for self-possession. Everything she touched she added apostrophes to.”

Sweetbitter is an uncomfortable read about a girl so unsure of herself it is painful. But, whenever I felt inclined to stop reading there would be a sweet still moment of solitude or a small moment of victory, and I would read on, mining for those nuggets of truth hidden within the text about a girl in a tough industry, tough world.

“Get out of your head. If you don’t, you’ll always be disappointed.”

You, see! I cannot decide if I hate or love this book. Have you read it? What did you think?

Rating: 85/100

Buy Sweetbitter at Barnes & Noble

A Little Life – a book review in 200 words

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life will kill your heart.  Once finished, you will need to binge watch Disney movies for days.  But, this book. A life changer.

A Little Life is a mystery/romance/straight-up literary read about four boys right out of college who move to New York to start their careers.  Willem, JB, Malcolm and Jude; actor, artist, architect and lawyer.  Yanagihara throws you directly into the thick of things, so some readers may find it difficult to navigate  the beginning, as you must sort out who is who.  Do not give up.  Understanding comes quickly after the first few chapters.

As in real life, all of the boys are somewhat broken, but the meat of the book centers around Jude.  Jude is damaged, physically and mentally.  He doesn’t talk about it, his friends don’t ask.  Not surprisingly, Jude finds myriads of ways to hurt himself, and by extension, them. How does he deserve these friends?

In the most simple, beautiful language I have ever read, Yanagihara writes about self-harm, suicide, depression, abuse, victim-hood, orphan-hood, trauma, friendship, relationships, love and family.  This 2015 Man Booker Prize finalist is a must-read and has become one of my top five reads of all time!

Rating: 96/100

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

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