Review- How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

26372 Rating: 5/5 stars

 Let me start off by saying this is the best book I’ve read in September 2016 and the best graphic novel I’ve ever gotten my hands on. I already knew that Gaiman was a genius, but this still blew me away. I am making this my October staff pick at the book store I work at, as I want to share it with everyone who will possibly listen.

Enn is a teenage boy still learning what life is like after puberty. His friend, Vic, is the same age as him, but does not struggle with this awkward stage nearly as badly as Enn. The duo decides to attend a party (that they weren’t really invited to) and Vic is immediately away from Enn’s side and talking to the prettiest girl in the room. Enn envies Vic, but doesn’t have the same courage to really say anything of substance to a girl—he can barely get a few words out. As Enn wanders from room to room in this giant house, he discovers that not everyone at the party is very…normal.

This graphic novel is very short, but in my opinion it was the perfect length to get the story across without over explaining anything. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the illustration is breathtaking. There are a lot of otherworldly girls in this novel, and the illustrators depicted them as true goddesses. I wish these feminine creatures were real solely so I could see actual photographs of them. I think that means this is truly well done artwork.

Neil Gaiman certainly has a creative mind. I have read 5 of his books and each one is brilliant in its own way. I don’t think I’ve heard of anything quite like How to Talk to Girl at Parties and I don’t think I want to read anything like it ever again; it wouldn’t measure up. I wish I could follow Enn on more adventures, but perhaps being left wanting more is better.

I would recommend this book to any adult looking for shorter read. You don’t need to be a graphic novel enthusiast to fall in love with this book. It definitely is a cover grab too, as the illustrations on the hard cover will make anyone want to get their hands on it. I can’t wait to read more Gaiman graphic novels (I’m looking at Sandman Vol. 1 next).

Review- Super Sad True Love Story

510jnPKfu5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Rating: 3/5 stars

“‘You don’t understand, Leonard’

The phrase I hate the most in the world. I do understand. Not everything, but a lot. And what I don’t understand, I certainly want to learn more about.”

Leonard, or Lenny, Abramov is a 39 year old business man working to make people live forever. He, himself, is not in perfect physical condition, but he travels around the world in search of good candidates. While in Europe, he meets a beautiful, and much younger, girl named Eunice who captures his heart. He journals about Eunice and invites her to stay with him in New York when they both arrive back in the states. Although very mismatched, the couple finds themselves living together a few weeks later. Through Lenny’s journal entries and Eunice’s chat logs with her friends, these two narrate what a complicated relationship truly looks like.

I picked up this book because I saw my friend reading it for his college English class. He actually told me that he really did not enjoy it, but I wanted to give it a try for myself. I genuinely thought I would like this book more, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Super Sad True Love Story reads more like a catalogue of events and feelings than an actual novel. Most of the book is told in the format of Lenny’s journal entries which are, to be honest, really pathetic. He is a really unlikeable character whose only redeeming quality is his ability to somehow always see the good in a girl who treats him poorly. I felt bad for Lenny while reading his pitiful diary entries, but not bad enough to actually like him as a character.

Eunice, too, doesn’t have very many good qualities about her. She plays with the heart of a man who truly wants the best for her, uses her parents for money, and seems to lack general maturity. On top of this, it wasn’t even fun to read from her point of view. I skimmed most of her sections.

I gave this book a lot of patience and wasn’t really rewarded in the end. That being said, I did read all the way through it without being put in a reading slump. The quality of writing and narration was there, but I couldn’t get on board with the characters. I wish I had liked Super Sad True Love Story more.

Review- Divergent

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

Rating: 5/5 stars

Yes, I finally gave into the hype that is the Divergent series. I randomly chose this book out of haste at my local library and took it home without thinking much about it. It has been a long, long time since I got wrapped up in a Young Adult novel, but Divergent definitely grabbed me.

Tris lives in a world that is divided into factions—each faction living off of different morals and specializing in different work. She was born into Abnegation, which honors selflessness and helping others, but feels like she does not share these same qualities with her family. At 16, Tris takes an aptitude test that is supposed to reveal which faction she truly belongs to and grants her eligibility to switch out of Abnegation. Her tests results come back as inconclusive, meaning she scored equally in more than one faction, and she is deemed DIVERGENT. Tris is told that this label is extremely dangerous and she should, under no circumstance, ever reveal her test results. When ceremony day approaches, Tris must decide if she will leave her family in Abnegation, a place where she does not truly belong, or switch into a faction that suits her better. Her heart battles between protecting her parents and staying true to herself.

I had no idea what to expect from this book, which worked to its advantage. I had not seen any of the Divergent movies or read any previous reviews of the series. Going into Divergent blindfolded was a wonderful experience and I truly got to form my own opinions on Roth’s novel.

I loved Tris, I thought she was a great protagonist with a lot of admirable qualities without pushing the “misunderstood teen” character too much. I can imagine teen girls reading Divergent and emulating the willpower and strength of Tris. I love imagining what it would have been like for my younger self to read YA books and predicting how they would have affected me. Divergent definitely would have been a positive influence in my teen years.

I liked the way that Roth incorporated the love interest in this book. The interactions between Tris and this young male were very organic and innocent. Tris learns what it’s really like to be attracted to someone and it takes her by surprise. Re-experiencing the feeling of having a first, major crush was very heartwarming and I think Tris’s emotions stayed very true to that of a real 16 year old girls.

I am so very pleased with this book and very happy that I decided to pick it up at the library. It was a quick, but very entertaining read. I plan on watching the movie sometime soon and (hopefully) moving on to the second book of the series.

Review- Fishbowl

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

5146-n3Pb+L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Rating: 3/5 stars

-I received a an eCopy of this book thanks to NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.-

A cheating hunk, a woman in the midst of childbirth, and an agoraphobic, professional phone-sex employee are all seen through the eyes of a goldfish. This goldfish is named Ian and he is falling from his bowl on the 27th floor of an apartment complex. He often forgets that he’s airborne, as goldfish have very short memories. Nonetheless, he gets a glimpse of an eclectic bunch of events and people living in the homes beneath him. Before Ian hits the ground below him, he sees many people who have lived very isolated lives come together as one apartment complex.

This book was okay. I ended up skimming about a quarter of the pages. Despite this, I liked the writing and storylines enough to keep reading and finish the novel. At first, it was a bit confusing to keep track of the very unique and different characters, but about halfway through the novel ,I was immersed in their interwoven lives. I loved seeing the formerly disconnected residents of the apartment complex come together in quite fascinating ways.

I wish I liked this book more. I feel like it had a lot of potential but fell short of the mark. I do give Somer credit for writing a handful of interesting plots in one novel. The execution wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad I didn’t put this book down. I rarely give books a 3 star rating– I usually either love a book or absolutely hate it. This is definitely an exception to that rule. This book was just okay; that’s the best description I can give it.

For those of you looking to read this book– my favorite storyline was definitely between the building maintenance worker and the ever mysterious Garth. (spoiler alert?) I’m sure Garth looked beautiful in his gown and the two men dancing together made me smile.

Review- The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

ows_138203116777579Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Theo Decker is 13 years old when his mother dies in a terrible accident that he, somehow, manages to survive. This accident miraculously leaves a priceless piece of art, The Goldfinch, in the possession of young Theo. After losing his mother, this painting is the only thing that Theo holds close to his heart for the next decade. The loss of his mother throws his life into the hands of other people–his best friend’s parents, his alcoholic father, and many others who claim to only want the best for Theo without actually helping him. As he grows older, Theo finds comfort in working at an antique shop as his life never seems to take a normal turn.

I have a really hard time with long books, and let me start off by saying that this book is long. I’m often turned off by books that are more than 600 pages and get discouraged when I’ve been reading for 3 hours and haven’t made a good dent into the novel. That being said, I can appreciate lengthy books when they are appropriate. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. I do think that this book could have been trimmed a bit. Still, my review goes on.

This book just sweeps you in. The first 100 pages are so tragic and heartbreaking that it’s impossible not to go on from there. Poor Theo has his world turned upside down with the death of his mother and to stop reading would have been abandoning him. I respect Donna Tartt for successfully toying with my emotions from the very beginning of the novel.

I feel like reading this book was a privilege, like Theo was letting me into this mind for a few days. For 5 days, this young man narrated these terrible events that occurred in his life and how he coped with them. I saw his weaknesses and lowest moments and it all felt so personal. I’ve never felt that way about a book or character so that’s pretty incredible.

It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I’m still processing what happened. I think that’s a sign that this was an incredible book with a great journey. I’m really glad that I got myself to pick up this rather large book and stuck with it the entire time. It was definitely worth the read and I loved getting to know the mind of Theo. No matter how much he tried to come across as reserved, Theo let me in.

Review- Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready_Player_One_coverRating: 4.5/5 stars

“You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.”

Wade Watts is born in the year 2044, when the Earth is in shambles and most people live in trailers stacked on top of each other. The only thing that keeps humanity going is an online world called OASIS. In OASIS you can choose the features of your avatar and tone of your voice. All you need to do is put on a pair of video glasses and you’re transported into an online world where kids attend virtual school and everyone spends their free time completing quests and exploring the endless game worlds. OASIS is threatened to be taken over by a large corporation looking to make money off of the free virtual reality. That is, unless Wade can become the best OASIS player and beat them to the finish line.

This was such a fantastic dystopian novel! I loved Wade as a protagonist–he had a very complex brain that held thousands of facts about pop culture of the past decades. His friend and love interest, Art3mis, was a great secondary character and definitely a strong female role. Their dynamic was very fun and put a smile on my face.

Many dystopian novels these days are repetitive but I’ve never read or heard of anything quite like Ready Player One before. Pop culture from the 1970’s-1990’s is such a prominent theme in this novel and multiple facts about classic video games are thrown into each chapter. I feel like I learned a lot about old movies, songs, and games while reading this book. That was a great twist to the storyline.

Even though I finished this book in only a few sittings, I still feel very attached to Wade and the future Earth he lives on. It’s interesting to think what our lives would be like if people spent all day in a virtual reality. It’s no wonder that Wades world became trashed and abandoned by humanity. Long story short, this is a great read that can fall into both the young adult and adult science fiction categories. Please pick up this book!

Review- All Inclusive

I’m back from my hiatus and ready to keep this site active with book reviews every week. I apologize for being gone for so long–I was in a pretty bad “book slump” and couldn’t get myself to finish anything! Thankfully, I’m out of that rut and ready to keep reading.

All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.36.19 PMRating: 2/5 stars

This book follows the life of Ameera, a woman who works at a Mexican resort and dives into the world of Swinging every now and then. Her work and personal life finally begin to clash as multiple anonymous complaints about her work ethic are filed for getting, perhaps, too personal with her residents. While her work life seems to be crumbling, Ameera is also haunted by the thought of never knowing her father–she constantly wonders what he looks like, where he lives, and what his family’s like. Somewhere, Ameera’s father is out there longing to meet her too.

I set this book aside a little after I passed the half-way point. I rarely abandon books, but I felt like this novel was putting me in a slump. I read it for over 3 weeks and couldn’t manage to finish it. That being said, I don’t think I can give it a fair or full review. I can understand how this could be a great novel for some people, but it just wasn’t for me. Ameera was a very fun character to follow, but the writing kept confusing me and I couldn’t keep track of what was happening. Also, swinging is a very foreign concept to me and I got caught up thinking about it.

I really wish I could finish this book and give it a little more time, but I must move on to the rest of my requests and to-be-read lists. Like I said, this review cannot do the full book justice, as I did not finish it. A big thank you to NetGalley for providing me an eCopy of this book!

Review- The Star Side of Bird Hill

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson

Release date: June 30th, 2015

Rating: 5/5 starsScreen Shot 2015-05-10 at 9.52.37 AM

-I was given an Advance Review Copy of this book by the Penguin Press-

Dionne and Phaedra are two adolescent sisters living with their mom, Avril, in Brooklyn. After deciding that the girls need to get more in touch with their extended family, Avril sends the girls to Barbados for the summer. Dionne and Phaedra spend those hot months living with their grandmother and attending Catholic Summer School–which is very different from the way they were living in New York. Phone calls and letters from Avril become scarce, and the girls become closer to their grandmother and community in Barbados. Both Dionne and Phaedra use this summer to grow and learn more about the family their mother left behind.

This is such a beautiful coming of age novel for two girls. Dionne and Phaedra are, by far, different characters but they both come to a point of realization and mental/emotional growth by the end of the novel. They share the narration of the story equally and the reader comfortably gets to know both characters and understand how their brains work.

I loved this book, I loved the writing, and I loved the characters. Jackson did such a phenomenal job with character development, even for the somewhat minor ones. I feel like I really got to know the grandmother, the neighbors, and the classmates that interacted with the girls every day. Since I am closer to Dionne’s age, I connected with her the most. Jackson definitely made her struggles genuine. They are struggles that I’ve dealt with myself. Seeing Dionne grow into a confident young woman made me feel proud for her and I definitely saw aspects of my own life and decisions in her’s. There was definitely a big smile on my face when I was reading the ending of the novel.

I’m going to categorize this book in both the young adult and adult section of my blog. I truly think that all women and girls should read this book at some point so PLEASE put this on your “to buy/read” list for next month! I’m grateful that I got to read it in advance!

Review- Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

51VhFX0pD6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I picked this book up from the Barnes and Noble “must reads” sections. It was stacked next to 1984A Clockwork Orange, and Beloved. Therefore, I expected a high-quality story from Ishiguro; and that is what I got.

Before I read books, I usually go through the top reviews on Goodreads so I know what I’m getting myself into. For Never Let Me go, all of the reviews say that it’s better to start this book without knowing any plot background or spoilers. This was a little irritating, especially because the story begins without explaining anything to the reader. Now, I’m very glad I had no idea what this book was about because it probably would have ruined it for me.

Therefore, I am not going to give this novel a full review. I gave it 4.5/5 stars and really enjoyed it. The book is quite short and makes for an easy read that can even be finished in about 2 sittings. I understand why this book was put in a section with “classics” and am happy to have it on my shelf at home.

Review- Landline

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

41iHvwDY7GL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Rating: 3/5 stars

“Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay–that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.”

 Georgie McCool is a comedy television writer with a marriage she knows is falling apart. Her husband, Neal, never says that he’s unhappy but certainly never acts like the college junior he was when Georgie first met him. She misses those days before everything went downhill, before her job took off and she spent more and more time at the office. Georgie finds herself with a magic phone, the yellow landline phone in her old room, that can talk to the old Neal from when they first started dating. Georgie has to figure out if this is her chance to fix things with Neal or end the relationship before they even get married.

Like the last Rainbow Rowell book that I reviews (Attachments), this book was just okay. The plot was fairly interesting, but the writing wasn’t anything spectacular. I usually tab quotes that I liked and stood out to me while I read, but I left Landline without any sticky tabs. In fact, I got the quotation at the beginning of this review by Googling “Landline quotes”. It seems like almost everyone excepts for me absolutely adores Rainbow Rowell. I don’t really see the hype.

This is a good, light book for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to read. It was easy to skim some chapters, as a lot of the dialogue wasn’t crucial to the main plot. I did think that the flashbacks to Georgie and Neal first meeting and dating in college were cute, but the novel as a whole was a little bland. I think my problem with Rowell’s writing style is that it’s very young adult-like. I know she has written best-selling young adult novels and I think she has a hard time crossing over to the adult genre. Maybe if I read one of her YA novels I will appreciate her writing more.