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I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes

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I was approved for “I Am Pilgrim” as an arc in 2014 and I hate to admit that I am just now getting around to it. I requested far too many books last year and I have several more to catch up on. But as far as this book goes, I’m right in the middle: I neither loved it nor loathed it. As far as the positives, I felt that the writing was engaging and I had no problems creating the author’s world in my mind and was thoroughly entertained. But there were the negatives that kept it from being a winner for me. I felt that it was way too long by about 300 pages…I felt there were characters that didn’t really contribute to the story…I didn’t like the varying POV’s and thought that the story had too many directions. With that being said, the negatives weren’t so strong that it kept me from enjoying the read altogether and I would recommend reading it as many people really loved this one.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

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I am doing a book giveaway for a paperback copy of Bitter Greens Sept 23-29.  Send me an email if you want me to add you in the drawing or just click the like button (here or on my goodreads review) and you will be automatically entered! (US residents only)

This is a retelling of the most famous fairytale, Rapunzel. It is told from the girl with the long hair’s POV, the witch’s POV, and the author of the story (Charlotte-Rose de la Force) from the late 1600’s POV. Somehow all three are told simultaneously yet individually and woven together so extraordinarily; just like Rapunzel’s long hair. I found myself grateful to be a woman during this time and age and having the freedoms to make my own choices as opposed to being independent and stuck in a time where you had to choose between being a nun, whore, or wife. And at that time all three were a form of imprisonment.

This book was written beautifully and at times I didn’t even notice myself being swept away into the enchanted world that Kate Forsyth created. I remember when reading the synopsis for Bitter Greens and thinking it sounded interesting and how could I go wrong since I love historical fiction so much. I had no earthly idea that I was stepping into three completely different worlds (yet somehow woven together) and the disappointment that I would feel when I had to put the book down and step back into the real world. Books like this one are so rare to come by that I am lost for where to go when I am finished reading because I know it will be awhile before I can match another one like it or even come close.

One thing that made this book so great for me was that I wasn’t at any point distracted by my own thoughts or anything going on around me, I never thought: Why is this book going so slow? at any moment, and I seriously got lost in the words as though I were in a trance…I’m not kidding!

I highly recommend this book, especially to those who love historical fiction and fairytales!!

Thank you Amy Bruno, St. Martin’s Press, and Kate Forsyth for the advanced copy for an honest review!

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand

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This story truly is one of resilience and redemption. It mainly follows the life of Louis Zamperini who was somehow able to defy all odds as a POW and to come out on the other side to heal and live life to its fullest. He is truly inspiring.

It’s amazing (not in a good way) how many fighter pilots lost their lives during the Second World War by malfunctions more than by enemy attack. That fact alone blew my mind. I am so glad for having read this book because I think that it isn’t until you somewhat understand the trauma that those in war endure, especially POW’s, that you truly sympathize with their mental stability or instability that they face when the war is over. After reading of the conditions of the POW’s in Japan, I don’t know how any of them survived not only while imprisoned but even after they were home.

This book was heartbreaking at times and difficult to read. I was angry at times of the unjust treatment not only the POW’s had to go through but even an innocent animal. I am sad to know the depths of evil that people stoop down to during war, but am just as touched to read of the people who put their lives on the line to lend a hand to those who needed it.

I highly recommend this book.

 

To buy this book, click on the book cover below:

 

Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

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PAIGE if you are reading this…this is a winner! 🙂

There is a quality to Liane Moriarty’s writing that just sucks me in. Maybe it’s the character’s that she so wonderfully develops, or it could be her perfect comical timing, or even how skilled she is at putting in those plot twists that make you say, “What the f?”

It seems that as with every new book that Moriarty writes, they get better and better. I absolutely loved this book so much that I will probably read it again within the month.

As a side note…I purchased the Audiobook when reading “What Alice Forgot” and the narrator was amazing at nailing the characters and I adored the Australian accent. Since that was such a hit for me, I bought the audiobook for this one too and it was great! Caroline Lee did a fantastic job bringing this story to life. So..if you enjoy audiobooks then this is worth the credit that’s waiting to be used!

If you would like to purchase this book, click on the book cover below:

 

We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas

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 It was a bit hard for me to rate this review with stars. There were times that I thought that I was going to give it 3 and other times 5 stars, so I’ve settled in the middle of the two.

Instead of being plot-driven this book seems to be solely character-driven where you get a feel of the families individual idiosyncrasies and if you pay particular attention to detail, you can see how the twists and turns in their lives cause subtle changes in each character as you would in real life. This story is best summed up as being centered around one family, mostly following the mother Eileen, and their ups and downs throughout life. Although I would have to say that it was mostly downs than ups.

Eileen wants to live a life of prestige. She not only graduated from high school but received a BS in Nursing as well as a Masters in Nursing Administration. At some point she finally meets a man that she deems worthy enough for her, after giving up the dream that some wealthy man would sweep her off her feet and allow her to live off of his wealth. And when life sets in and things start to move off-track, Eileen chooses to overlook them as if they weren’t happening because in her mind her life was going to be projected the way she wanted her life to actually be.

Eileen and her husband, Ed, eventually have a child and name him Connell. Luckily for Connell his dad seems to be great at giving him emotional support. Growing up Eileen’s mother was very distant and as a result, Eileen is hard and off-putting almost as though she were narcissistic, but I am not sure that she could be labeled as so. It seemed that her image would shift from indifferent to cruel to passive and then controlling. I couldn’t quite figure her out, but I felt sorry for her son because she treated him horribly at times. I think deep down though that she loved him the best way that she knew how.

Because this story is mainly character-driven, it is long and at times slow moving. I think this would be the only reason why I didn’t take the plunge and give it five stars. I think as much could have been achieved with developing the characters in the story had it been tightened down to at least 100 less pages, but this is my personal opinion.

The author did an excellent job with making the characters three dimensional because I found myself getting angry and frustrated at the mother when she would act so indifferent to her son or controlling toward her environment and at other times when she was so oblivious and chose to see things not as they really were. At times it was painful to read these parts because as the book progressed I began to loathe her. She reminded me a lot of the mother from the movie ‘Ordinary People’, Beth Jarrett, because she was wound so tight and was so concerned with outside appearances than to open her eyes and look at her life as it really was. At first I thought that the book failed by making the MC so dislikable, but the more I thought about it afterward, I realized that the character of Eileen was so well developed that she pulled some serious emotion from me.

If you are looking for a great character-driven novel then this is definitely the book for you.

Thank you to NetGalley/Simon & Schuster/Matthew Thomas for the advanced copy for review.

To purchase your own copies of this novel, click on the book cover below:

The Girl With All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

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 THIS IS A MUST READ!

I must admit that I went into this read blind…completely blind. I had no earthly idea what it was about but I noticed the high ratings and I was a bit intrigued by the title. Had I known the genre, I would have avoided it at all costs and that may be the reason why the synopsis is slowly revealed throughout the book.

I absolutely loved the build up of the story and throughout most of the book, I wanted to know what would be revealed next. I found this book to be intense and exciting and also endearing. And because the author made a huge effort to slowly reveal the storyline, I am choosing to avoid all spoilers as I think that everyone should go into this one as I did.

I really enjoyed the medical and scientific aspect that is presented in this clever and original novel. Having worked in the OR myself, I found it so exciting and refreshing to read about the human anatomy and physiology in such a way that was creative and thought provoking. What I appreciated most is how highly researched the way the body ticks is and was explained and presented in a very specific way rather than in vague terms. I appreciate authors who treat the reader as though they are smart enough to ‘get it’…because we are…thank you author. I like a book that makes me use my brain and doesn’t vaguely explain things or over specify as if the reader were dumb.

I loved this book immensely and it is one of my favorites for 2014 and quite possibly my very favorite. So, what’s this book about? Read it and find out…you’ll be glad you went in blindly because the author did a fantastic job of revealing just enough as the story progressed. It doesn’t disappoint.

Click on the book cover below to start reading this exceptional book today