2017/10/23

BOOK REVIEW:
THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS BY MARINA KEEGAN

Title: The Opposite of Loneliness
Author: Marina Keegan
Published: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 224
Rating: 2/5


Summary:
This is a collection of short stories, both fiction and nonfiction, from the award-winning Marina Keegan, a young woman who sadly lost her life in a car crash five days after graduation at Yale university.


Review:
This is a difficult book to review and I've been contemplating what rating to give this book. It's a difficult one to critique because the story of the author is so sad, but I've decided to try and put that aside and just look at the stories the way I would any other collection.

I do generally gravitate more towards magical realism and weirder stories when it comes to short stories, and this is a purely realist book, which is probably one of the major reasons this didn't quite jam with me. The stories are seperated into fiction and nonfiction, and of the two, I thought the nonfiction ones were the strongest. In the fiction section, there were a few stories that were very good, but a lot of them honestly felt a bit boring and I even ended up skipping quite a few.

The introduction of this book though, written by Anne Fadiman, is excellent and almost brought tears to my eyes; you can feel how much Keegan meant to those around her and what an impact she made in her short life. Fadiman speaks of great potentioal and I can see that potential in this book, and I can't help but feel sad for the fact that we will never see the author reach her fullest. I would've definitely wanted to keep my eye on her, but alas.

Even though this wasn't quite my cup of tea, I would still recommend giving it a go if you like short stories and realist fiction.
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2017/10/21

BOOK REVIEW:
GHOSTLY TALES

Title: Ghostly Tales: Spine-Chilling Stories from the Victorian Age
Authors: M. R. James, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Marion Crawford, Amelia Edwards
Published: 2017
Language: English
Pages: 176
Rating: 4/5


Summary:
This is a collection of seven spooky tales from the Victorian era.


Review:
Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned ghost story?

I really, really enjoyed reading this book, and I say that even though I'd read most of the stories in here already. The book is filled with old houses, ghosts, graves, dead bodies, you name it. It's exactly the kind of book it says it is; spine-chilling. The accompanying illustrations in this book are quite lovely as well, and it's just a gorgeous book to have on ones shelves.

I also really like that the stories chosen for this collection are of such variety, and I'm sure there's something for everyone in here. I just love the time period this is set in and you get such a good feel for all the authors different styles.

I would highly recommend this book if you like reading classic spooky stories. It's perfect for autumn and for cuddling up in the sofa with in the weeks around Halloween.
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2017/10/20

2017/10/18

BOOK REVIEW:
CHURCH OF MARVELS BY LESLIE PARRY

Title: Church of Marvels
Author: Leslie Parry
Published: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 320
Rating: 2/5


Summary:
Set in New York in 1895, this is the story of four young outsiders, among them circus perfomers, a night soiler and a woman escaped from an asylum, whose lives come together one fateful night.


Review:
I am not convinced by this book.

There is so much going on in this book that it's hard to know where to start, and I think this is its downfall; we follow all of four main characters, all very different. We've got a circus, a poor boxer, a mysterious baby, an asylum, a crazy mother-in-law, opium dens, you name it. It's all in here and the story drowns in it.

I think it's very difficult to have so many main characters and do them all well, and this does not achieve that. They're interesting, but difficult to connect to. I could also see where the story was going very early on and by the time I got halfway through, I just wanted to be done with it already. The writing does redeem it quite a lot though; I really enjoyed the descriptive style of it.

I think a lot of people would like this book though and maybe I am a bit harsh in my rating, but I stand by it. I'd recommend giving it a go if you think it sounds like something you'd like, because the majority of readers do seem to enjoy this.
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2017/10/17

THINGS I LIKE NO. 6

I love this lipstick all year round, but in the fall months it's extra suitable I think; it's the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in the shade Glastonberry. It's a really deep shade and it's matte, but not dry, which is pretty incredible.

I generally quite enjoy the make-up from Charlotte Tilbury, though it's definitely a luxury item. I also love they way they are packaged!

This is definitely one of my favorite make-up items, I love wearing it!
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2017/10/16

BOOK REVIEW:
REDEFINING REALNESS BY JANET MOCK

Title: Redefining Realess: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
Author: Janet Mock
Published: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 289
Rating: 4/5


Summary:
In this profound and courageous book, Janet Mock tells the story of her experiences of growing up multiracial, poor and trans in America and her journey of becoming a woman.


Review:
This is an important and fantastic read.

The story is written in an accessible and compassionate way, even if the prose is a bit off on occasion. It's honest and moving, and sheds light on vital concepts without being condescending. It's very good at explaining the fact that transitioning is more than just the act of acquiring the "right" body; it's a continual process and womanhood does not need to be contained within certain walls. Because of this, I think this would be an excellent introduction to this topic, the trans experience and the concept of womanhood in general.

I also really appreciate that Mock includes some of the darkness to her tale as well and is honest about the fact that even though she now is a successful and well-adjusted woman, the road there wasn't easy and isn't easy for most people. She also seems aware of her own privileges (the few that she has).

I would definitely recommend this book to just about everyone. It's great for both those new to the topic and not, as well as people who new to memoirs. It really is just a very good book.
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2017/10/14

BOOK REVIEW:
THE WASTE LAND AND OTHER POEMS BY T. S. ELIOT

Title: The Waste Land and Other Poems
Author: T. S. Eliot
Published: 1922
Language: English
Pages: 96
Rating: 3/5


Summary:
This is a collection of poetry by T. S. Eliot, including the revolutionary poem "The Waste Land".


Review:
This was a very good collection.

My only exposure to Eliot before this has been reading some of his poetry for school, which I quite enjoyed. I like his style and the structure of the poems, and the use of language is beautiful. It's easy to see why his poetry has stood the test of time so far and why a lot of people like it so much.

One of my favorite paragraphs from one of his poems is on page 49 of this collection:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive toward such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

I did enjoy reading this, but I cannot proclaim that I've found a new favorite poet. It's one of those authors that I can completely see the merit of, but does not speak to me deeply, if that makes any sense. I think perhaps it would've touched me deeper, had I spent a bit of time studying its meaning (which I might do, one day).

I would definitely recommend reading some of his poems though; they're really quite something.
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2017/10/13

2017/10/10

BOOKSTAGRAM SPOTLIGHT:
@READSFORKEEPS

I've got another bookstagram account to tell you guys about today; it's the lovely @readsforkeeps. I really enjoy seeing her pop up on my feed and see what she's reading.




Go follow!
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2017/10/09

BOOK REVIEW:
THE BREAKDOWN BY B. A. PARIS

Title: The Breakdown
Author: B. A. Paris
Published: 2017
Language: English
Pages: 415
Rating: 3/5


Summary:
Cass Anderson, a young, happily married woman, has witnessed a crime but is too afraid to tell anyone, and as she tries to figure out what has happened on her own, she finds she is starting to lose her memory, and she keeps getting these mysterious phone calls when no one else is home...


Review:
This was an absolute page-turner!

I really enjoyed reading this and I read it in two sittings, it was so hard to put down. I thought the characters were really interesting, and the mental deterioration of the main character was captured perfectly. It's quite a roller coaster ride, seeing her try to figure out what's happening, all the while we're unsure if we can really trust her.

The story does get a little bit repetitive in the middle and I wouldn't say I necessarily saw the end coming, but I wasn't particularly surprised when it happened and it did lessen my enjoyment of the story a little bit. It all felt a bit too neat for me, how everything was solved in the end.

It's a very compelling thriller though and definitely worth the read if you like the genre.
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2017/10/07

BOOK REVIEW:
THE GROWNUP BY GILLIAN FLYNN

Title: The Grownup
Author: Gillian Flynn
Published: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 79
Rating: 3/5


Summary:
A young woman is making a living by faking the ability to read auras, and then one day, a customer walks in and tells her about a haunted house, and when the woman offers to cleanse it, she gets drawn into a dark and dangerous place.


Review:
This was quite a creepy little story. It's pretty short and concise, so I'm going to try and be the same.

The writing in this is very good, the characters are very well-developed for such a short story and in only seventy or so pages, it takes you for a complete ride. It's pretty creepy and in a lot ways open-ended which leaves you feeling a bit spooked.

I thought this was enjoyable and definitely worth the read, and I would recommend it if you like short stories.
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2017/10/06

2017/10/04

BOOK REVIEW:
GOODBYE, THINGS BY FUMIO SASAKI

Title: Goodbye, Things: On Minimalist Living
Author: Fumio Sasaki
Published: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 256
Rating: 2/5


Summary:
In this book, Sasaki muses on minimalism and how he went from be a maximalist to having as few possessions as possible.


Review:
I thought this was going to be a very interesting book, and in some ways it was, but I'll admit I'm a bit disappointed.

I think minimalism is fascinating and I think it's a very interesting way to live. I think perhaps I would've enjoyed this more if it focused only on the authors journey to becoming a minimalist and there was less of the "this is how you become a minimalist" parts. The reason for that is that the minimalism in this book is pretty extreme and to be at least, felt very inaccessible. It's also presented in what I perceive to be a bit harsh; this is the way to be happy and there's very little room for anything else.

I also must mention, I thought this was pretty boring. The first chapter was really interesting, but it went downhill from there. I had next to no inclination to pick this up after I'd put it down.

I think this could be pretty interesting if you're already a minimalist and want help to bring it to the next step, but I don't think I would recommend it to anyone else (though I wouldn't say "don't read it" if you want to read it either).
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2017/10/03

2017/10/02

BOOK REVIEW:
THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR BY SHARI LAPENA

Title: The Couple Next Door
Author: Shari Lapena
Published: 2016
Language: English
Pages: 368
Rating: 3/5


Summary:
The babysitter of a couple has cancelled and instead of staying home, the parents leave their child at home, taking a baby monitor with them and promising each other to check on her every half hour - but when they return in the middle of the night, the child is gone.


Review:
This is a book that immediately pulls you in with it's suspense, and it doesn't let go until you're done.

It's a story one wants to devour; it's a thrilling page-turner, filled with all sorts of flawed characters and their darkness becomes more and more apparent. It's an intense read - just the way you want your mystery thriller novels to be. I'm not the kind of reader that easily figure out what the next turn is going to be or who the murderer is, so it's not surprise I didn't see any of the twists and turns coming.

It is more plot-heavy than character based, but I thought most of the characters were quite well done, though they do tend to be a bit more dramatic than necessary. The writing isn't the best and I'll admit that at points I thought: "Hm... this could've used some work."

It's the perfect read for when you don't want to think too much and you want a story you can just jump into and it'll take you for a rather exciting ride. I did enjoy it so much I'm already eyeing her other novel, which I've seen at my local bookstore...
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