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Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt


The Secret History by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Secret History is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read forever. According to my Kindle account, I purchased a copy more than five years ago; somehow, I just never got around to reading it. It’s one of those books that sounds so perfect for me that I’m afraid to read it for fear of it failing to meet the irrationally high expectations I have for it. When my co-blogger Emma informed me that it was one of her favorite books ever, I decided to take the plunge. I’m so glad I did. Far from failing to meet my absurd expectations, The Secret History blew them out of the water and is now happily ensconced on my favorites shelf.

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely?”

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Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery

Pages: 384 pages

Published: 17th January 2019 by Corsair (UK) & 14th August 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (US)


Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that’s massively praised worldwide, and it lives up to all the hype.

It doesn’t matter whether you read literary fiction or not, if you’ve visited Amazon or a bookstore in 2019, it’s quite likely that you’ve heard about Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens’s FIRST novel that’s praised and hit bestseller everywhere. Honestly, I didn’t expect to read this one; my girlfriend and my co-blogger—Celeste—highly recommended it to me even though they know that it’s well outside my usual genre—SFF—of novels to read. However, the immensely high average ratings made the book a must-try for me. At the time of writing this review, it has an average of 4.5 stars out of 463k ratings on Goodreads, and on Amazon US it has an average rating of 4.8 out of 27.3k ratings/reviews! To make things even crazier, this is the author’s FIRST novel, and everything about it lives up to the hype.

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

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Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne

Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne


A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“And you’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, haven’t you?”
He shook his head.
“That it’s like setting a ladder to the sky. A pointless waste of energy.”

I have to say, I’d never have picked up this book had it not been so highly recommended by both Petrik and his girlfriend, Katherine. Not because the subject matter wasn’t of interested, but because I had honestly never heard of it. I’m not sure how, but A Ladder to the Sky completely missed my radar when it was released in 2018. I had heard of two other of the author’s work, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and while they sound great, the premise of this particular book is far more intriguing to me personally. As someone who loves every single aspect of books, from how they’re made to who wrote them to those who sell them and the stories they actually hold, any novel that involves bookselling or authorship or any other profession or hobby linked to books is always going to draw me in. Not every such book delivers, in my opinion, but this one sure does. A Ladder to the Sky was compulsively readable from page one, even though it took me a bit longer to actually gel with the story it was telling.

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Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction

Pages: 567 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 9th February 2017 by Doubleday (UK) & 22nd August 2017 by Hogarth Press (US)


The Heart’s Invisible Furies is beautiful, heartbreaking, dark, and occasionally humorous.

If you follow my reviews, you should know already that literary fiction isn’t my favorite genre to read; I probably read, at most, one or two literary fiction book per year. But when I finished A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, which I enjoyed very much, at the end of last year, I knew that I had to give his most highly-praised work, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, a read and I’m glad I did.

“But for all that we had, for all the luxury to which we were accustomed, we were both denied love, and this deficiency would be scorched into our future lives like an ill-considered tattoo inscribed on buttocks after a drunken night out, leading each of us inevitably toward isolation and disaster.”

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Book Review: Beartown (Beartown, #1) by Fredrik Backman

Book Review: Beartown (Beartown, #1) by Fredrik Backman


Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard, It makes demands. Hate is simple. So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe – comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.”

I would’ve never picked up this book had I not enjoyed another book of Backman’s so much. But Beartown couldn’t have been more different from A Man Called Ove; honestly, I wouldn’t have even guessed they were by the same author. That being said, they were both masterfully done. A Man Called Ove made my heart swollen and tender in the best way. Beartown shattered my heart and sharpened the fragments into deadly shrapnel that threatened to rip into those I love. It absolutely wrecked me. And not at all in a healthy, cathartic way. No, I wasn’t myself the entire time I was reading this. I was barely suppressed rage.

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Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep

Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep


The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit US/Redhook) in exchange for an honest review.

It’s.
Not.
Fair.
I know that life isn’t.
But stories are. Or if they’re not fair, they’re not fair with purpose.
I wish I could tell better where stories end and life begins.

Sometimes you just need to escape into a good book. But if you’re Charles Sutherland, sometimes you inadvertently facilitate the escape of fictional characters into the real world. Imagine being able to read out your favorite character from a story and have an actual conversation with them. That sounds like a dream come true for most bookworms, but it’s been a nightmare that Rob, Charley’s big brother and our first person perspective character, has spent his life trying to avoid. He’s had to clean up Charley’s fictional messes a multitude of times throughout his life, but the current fictional mess they find themselves in is the zaniest and more far reaching, and frankly the most dangerous, that the Sutherland family has ever faced. Their world is going to be changed forever if they can’t figure out a way to thwart what’s coming.

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Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have very strong feelings regarding Southern fiction. I love Louisiana and the entirety of the American South. In my opinion, there’s something magical and incredibly atmospheric about the South. However, I also see the failings of the area, the poverty and lack of education and propensity to hate whatever is different. It’s the kind of place where people will bend over backwards to help a person in need, but only if said person is an accepted part of the community. People who are different are often met with ignorance, distrust, and judgment, and that’s if people decide to notice you at all. Southerners are old pros at pretending a problem doesn’t exist if they can just ignore it hard enough. Thankfully, my community has grown past this, and it far more accepting of those of different religions and ethnicities and sexualities than we were even a decade ago. Even here in the South, things can change.

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Book Review: The Nickel Boys

Book Review: The Nickel Boys

 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published: 1st August 2019 (Little, Brown Book Group)

‘Even in death the boys were trouble.’

The Nickel Boys opens with an unearthing of bones. In this physical evidence, held and photographed and catalogued, is an impossibility: denial. Cue shock and horror at this ‘revelation’, a ‘hidden’ past in the form of dead black boys.
Book Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Book Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Sparrow (Book 1 of 2)

Genre: Science fiction, literary fiction

Published: 20th anniversary edition, 2016 by Ballantine Books (first published in 1996)


“Matthew ten, verse twenty-nine: Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”

“But the sparrow still falls.”

The Sparrow is a multi-award-winning science fiction novel about first contact. After reading it, I could understand why. I came across this title over two separate occasions. First was when a friend recommended it to me many years ago, but I’ve forgotten about it. And then it was mentioned in the Great Course audiobook for How Great Science Fiction Works, which I’ve recently finished, under the sub-topic of ‘Religion in Science Fiction’. The context in which The Sparrow was discussed in that Course finally tipped me over to pick it up.

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Listen, not every story is made for telling. Sometimes just by telling a story you’re stealing it, stealing a little of the mystery away from it.”

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is quite possibly the most achingly beautiful novel I’ve ever read, and I find it mind-boggling that anything this lovely could possibly be a debut novel. There are a scant handful of novels I’ve experienced in my life (The Name of the Wind, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, and The Night Circus come to mind) that were breathtaking debuts of this caliber, and they remain my very favorite books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I’m so incredibly happy to add Alix E. Harrow’s novel to that list.

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