For years, I thought The Shadow of the Wind was a standalone novel. When I learned that wasn’t the case, I ignored that information for more years. I thought The Shadow of the Wind was pretty nearly perfect on its own, and didn’t need expanded upon. I’ve read some marvelous books that should have been left alone, that had further books tacked on later that didn’t measure up to the first, and somehow manage to tarnish that first book. I didn’t want that to happen to my magical experience with The Shadow of the Wind, so I just ignored the rest of the series for a long time. But then, I found a gorgeous copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the last of the quartet, on sale. I had to buy it for the cover alone, because it just captivated me. But I still didn’t think I intended to read it, or the two books between it and that first novel I had so loved. …
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We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Literary fiction, Crime fiction
Pages: 344 pages (Kindle)
Published: 26th March 2020 by Zaffre
Melancholic, compelling, and so beautifully written. …
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, Ecco, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
“…some find God while trying to lose Him…others lose God while trying to find Him.”
I have a terrible weakness for dark academia novels, which I didn’t even realize was a thing until very recently. I read the O.G. of the genre, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, first the first time at the beginning of this year. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it, but it immediately became an instant favorite. I also adore any book that delves deep into religion or philosophy or, even better, the intersection of both. David Hopen managed to combine both the academic setting and the religious contemplation that I love so much in his debut(!!) novel, The Orchard. …
“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
This is the premise of The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s newest novel. I’ve never read anything by Haig before this book, but I can guarantee that this oversight will be addressed. Because The Midnight Library was wonderful. There’s incredible philosophical depth packed into relatively few pages. And for a book that begins with a suicide attempt, it ended up being surprisingly positive and uplifting. Not only is it a thoughtful novel, it inspired deep contemplation within the reader, but in a way that is comfortingly gentle for the times in which we’re living.
Lovely. Odd, incredibly odd, but lovely both in spite of and due to the oddity. There’s an elegance to this book that feels like a rarity. For a novel that is less than 300 pages, Piranesi is quite the slow burn. The first half of this short book took me four days to read. Not that it was boring, mind you. It was meditative, inviting you as the reader to mull and ponder instead of racing forward to see what happens next. But then I read the second half in one sitting. When things finally picked up in the narrative, my attention never wavered.
“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher (Flatiron Books) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Migrations is a beautiful, heartbreaking, defiant literary fiction debut. While McConaghy has written SFF in the past, this work is something entirely new for her, and you could feel the passion and anger pouring off of every page. I’ve never read any of her SFF novels, but I might have to give them a go. Because the woman can really write. …
“Where does a mistake begin?”
This is the opening line of Amity Gaige’s newest novel, Sea Wife. We know from the very beginning that something terrible has happened. We just don’t know the specifics of what or how. The story is told largely from two perspectives: Juliet in the present and her husband, Michael, in the past through the captain’s log he kept during their sailing year. There are a few different mysteries woven through the plot, but I felt that the story largely centers around what makes a marriage, and what ends one. Sea Wife is a deep, beautifully written novel with enough pace to the plot to maintain investment while also discussing timeless topics in fresh ways.
“Tears or sweat—so many stories end in salt water.”
“The weight of what has been lost is always heavier than what remains.”
The Mothers is a powerful, moving picture of a how a secret can wreak havoc on a person, a family, a church, a community. An action that seems to only effect one person never does. Instead, even the smallest decisions can have far-reaching consequences, small ripples that grow into tidal waves.
“After a secret’s been told, everyone becomes a prophet.”
Bel Canto is a beautiful novel. I’ve never read Ann Patchett before, but I quickly became infatuated with her storytelling over the course of this novel. To be completely honest, this was a 5 star read until the last ten pages. I shouldn’t have been so blindsided by the climactic events. The story does, after all, revolve around opera. But I was indeed blindsided. I feel slightly scarred. It was still a great book, and one that I might even read again someday, but the list of people to whom I would recommend it shrunk significantly in those last pages.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Tor) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
“I have been a word on the tongue. I have been a word on the page. And I hope I will be again.”
Or What You Will blew me away from the very first page. The last time I got this excited over the first paragraphs of a book was when I read The Ten Thousand Doors of January, which ended up being my favorite book of 2019. My pulse actually sped up as I read, and I had to stop and go back and reread those first few paragraphs because they were just so gorgeous. I had read passages to my husband and frantically text my fellow Novel Notions besties about how excited I was before I even finished that first chapter. And I continued to deeply appreciate the writing all the way through, and highlighted and annotated an incredible number of passages. But after such a wonderful beginning, things went from beautiful literary fiction to an unexpected accounting of the art scene of Renaissance Florence. I mean, I have no problem at all with the topic but that shift came out of nowhere. I would say it was jarring if the air of the novel wasn’t so meandering. And then there were a ton of Shakespearean characters added into the mix, which was surprising. But the book never really came back to what I loved so much in those first few pages, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was incredibly disappointed by that decision on Walton’s part. …