Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 336
Publisher: Knopf
Year Published: 2014
Format: Paperback Copy (Own It)
First Line: "The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored."

"An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be saviour, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in the time- from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future when a theater troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains- this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twist of fate that connects five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Travelling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationship that sustains us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it."

My Rating: 4.5/5

This was my local book club book for the month and I'm really surprised how much I enjoyed it. This story takes place in the before and after of the apocalypse switching perspectives between many characters who somehow intertwine. I think that the author painted a chilling picture of what the world would be like if things ground to a halt. I loved the writing style as well as the organization of the parts of the story. Everything just made it an enjoyable read overall. I also loved the changing of perspectives between the past and the present and how different people lived their lives in these times.
I would recommend this to lovers of science fiction and dystopian if you're looking for a more relaxed reading experience.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This story was a very confusing read at first. As many of you know I like to go into my books very blind so this story I knew next to nothing about. I knew that it was dystopian and that it started with a Shakespeare play. So I guess I knew a few things.  I loved the way this story was told the before and afters of the apocalypse was scary to think about. I also liked that it was told from perspectives that were all very different. I also loved the way the author wrote out different years of the apocalypse and helped the reader to understand how things went south and just when things stopped working. I would definitely reread this book, it was super interesting and in an odd way comforting to think about how everything is connected.

Characters:
Arthur: I wonder how he would have survived if he had made it through the "plague" and if he would still be such a jerk overall with the women he had. He seemed to view each woman as an upgrade which was frustrating to read about. That being said, I think it was interesting to see the difference in how he acted with Miranda in the beginning and then near the end of his life. 

Kirsten: Her life would be an interesting one to document especially since she was so young during the collapse of society. She lived a tough life when the collapse happened and lost many people who were close to her. The lengths she went to, to keep her company and others safe. I also hope that her life is happier now that she has entered the airport and seeing progress towards society once again. 

Miranda: I felt for her. Especially being an introvert trying to live the best life that she can when having next to nothing. To be "rescued" and taken care of was disguised as a blessing when really her marriage to Arthur seemed rushed and hasty. 

Tyson: To see him grow into such a crazy character makes you wonder what happened to him and his mother, when they left the airport to "bring the light" also to think that the light would mean marrying underage girls, is scary to think about. But I guess anything is possible at the end of the world. 

Clark: It made me happy to see a character who was able to move on in his life but celebrate his old life. I think having all the memories around him of his past friends and family. Also, all the things he took for granted helped him make a museum and educate people who didn't have as many opportunities as he did as a child.

Elizabeth: What happened to you? Did your son hurt you? Or was your death the thing that pushed him over the edge?


Moments to Remember:
Pg.77
"The revelation of privacy: she can walk down the street and absolutely no one knows who she is."

Pg.223
"'You're from London,' Arthur had said. 'A guy like you can take cities for granted. For someone like me, coming from a small place... look, I think about my childhood, the life I lived on Delano Island, that place was so small. Everyone knew me, not because I was special or anything, just because everyone knew everyone, and the claustrophobia of that, I can't tell you. I just wanted some privacy. For as long as I could remember I just wanted to get out, and then I got to Toronto, and no one knew me. Toronto felt like freedom.'"

Final Line: "He likes the thought of ships moving over water, towards another world just out of sight."

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review: Behemoth by Scott Westerfield

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Title: Behemoth
Author: Scott Westerfield
Series/Standalone: Leviathan (Book #2)
Genre: Steampunk, Science Fiction, Young Adult,
Pages: 481
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Year Published: 2010
Format: Paperback (Library Copy)
First Line: "Alek raised his sword."

"The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy.It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally, together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies and brave hearts to face what's ahead."

My Rating: 3.5/5

After being so drawn into the end of the first book, I was hoping to enjoy this book a little more than I did. I don't think that this book is bad by any means, it just seemed to be missing something that I needed as a reader. I enjoyed the change of scenery as well as the different characters we met in this second book, but nothing about it really wowed me. That being said, I do plan on continuing with the series and finishing it in the coming months. So far, I would recommend this series to anyone who is interested in a steampunk war historical fiction. If any of that sounds interesting to you, you would likely enjoy these novels.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Behemoth by Scott Westerfield

So the first book was kind of hard for me to get into but after getting closer to the end I became more interested in the characters and the plot point. I also enjoyed the use of steampunk elements more and more as the story went on. 
I did find the beginning to be interesting but found the more I read, the less I was into the storyline. And I'm not sure why. It just seemed to be a missing plot element for me. Especially with the use of love interests. That being said, I still enjoyed the story and look forward to finishing the series soon.

Characters:
Deryn: I loved her character and how strong she was to live in a group that was only for 'men' and 'boys' but here she is kicking ass. I also really enjoyed her loyalty to Alek as well as her ship. She grew a lot as a character this book, but that being said her increasing interest in Alek is frustrating. I just feel like this love is not necessary to the storyline at all.

Alek: He also grew as a character in this book. He really had to stand for himself in Istanbul and make choices for himself that would have serious consequences. While I didn't agree with all his choices, I loved that he was able to give information on himself before Deryn was dragged in with Malone.

Dr Barlow: I'm interested in her intentions with the creatures and Alek. Is she actually on their side or is she going to turn?

Malone: He was just a huge pain in the ass during the whole story. And I understood that was kind of the purpose of his character but it was extremely frustrating.

Bovril: I'm wondering about his species and what he will be used for now that his siblings are being hatched. What are they for and why are they only for Alek? And what does Barlow suspect?

Lilt: I liked that she was a strong character and willing to stand her ground for what she believed in that being said, I found that she was also an irritating character.

Nene: I hope we get to see her in the final instalment at some point. 


Moments to Remember:

Final Line: "What mad providence was this?"


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

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Title: After You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Series/Standalone: Me Before You (Book #2)
Genre: Adult Fiction, Chicklit, Contemporary
Pages: 353
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Year Published: 2015
Format: Audiobook

"How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa CLark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can't help but feel she's right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding- the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will's past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future...

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await."

My Rating: 3.75/5

I am so unsure whether this is a 4 star or a lower rating read. The audiobook made me so happy and made me happy that I had chosen to continue on with the series, but the physical copy (I just finished the last 100 pages in a physical book) was just as addicting. That being said there are some flaws with this book, I found that the family dynamic was interesting but also chaotic to a point that wasn't necessary. I also found that some things were very dramatic, so if you're ok with those aspects you would probably enjoy this story. That being said, I loved seeing Lou grow and change in ways that we didn't get to see in the first book. Especially learning to live with Will's loss.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: After You by Jojo Moyes

I was really glad that I continued this series with an audiobook. It helped me to get through the first half of the story but by the second half of the story picked up and sucked me in. In the best possible way, I needed to know what Lou would do, where life would take and what choices she would make based on those in her life. The family antics where also entertaining but there were points where they got a little overdramatic to say the least.

Characters:
Lou: I think that she had a whole lot to overcome in this second book. I'm sure people are quick to judge about how she used the money that Will left her. But to an extent, I understand what she did and why she did it. I also am kind of glad that she took time to feel what she was feeling, and to take time for herself to heal. I'm curious to see how her next endeavour goes in the final book (as far as I know it's the final book... right?).

Sam: I loved his character especially the way he treats Lou. I respect his job and the crap he probably has to deal with. That being said, the shooting was more than a little overdramatic. I think that the fact that Lou was the one who had to hold in his blood was a little much for me. That being said, I'm curious to see how they'll do with distance due to their relationship being so physically based.

Lily: She was possibly my least favourite character in this whole book. I understand that she had a lot going on, but that again was very dramatic and seemed to be blown up repeatedly. I do wonder what she will do with her Granny now that they are getting closer. 

Bernard: His final hope to win back his wife made me laugh so hard. The fact that he sat through having his legs waxed to prove a point was fantastic. Also, the fact that he didn't act like he was the man through it all was hilarious.

Josie: Good on her for making a change and seeing that she needed to take time for herself and explore her future. I think it was also important to point out that no matter your age your relationship will go through struggles.

Richard: I wish that he hadn't smartened up in the end. It was kind of nice to have a jerk to pin something on.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 435
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Year Published: 2013
Format: Hardcover (Own It)
First Line: "There was a boy in her room."

"From the author of New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park. A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family, and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan.

But for Cath, being a fan is her life- and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.

Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?"


My Rating: 4/5

So just to clarify this is the first book that I've read a physical copy of by Rainbow Rowell and overall, I really enjoyed it. I had listened to Eleanor and Park last year and it was far more heart-wrenching in some aspects. That being said I really enjoy this story overall. The characters and the setting (in some ways) reminded me of some of my college experiences. As someone who has anxiety, some of this representation hit pretty close to home when going to college and having a big life change. I also enjoyed the fandom aspect of this series, and look forward to reading Carry On. 
The only reason this wasn't a 5/5 for me was that it seemed to drag near the end, but at the same time, it seemed to end abruptly. I'm not sure how to explain my feelings other than this. I didn't realize I'd reached the end until I read the last page and was looking for a bit more.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Fangril by Rainbow Rowell

This is the second Rainbow Rowell book I've consumed. Overall, I enjoyed the story being told in Fangirl and the idea of change. I understand the fear and anxiety that comes with change as an eighteen-year-old. Especially moving away from home and everything you've known. It's really scary. I'm not going to lie to anyone. But I was happy to see that Cath was able to find some good in the experience that horrified her so much to begin with. I also enjoyed her fanfiction writing and her need to live in her own world. I can relate in a sense. When I was in college I read to escape things, or binge watched tv just to get out of my own head. I think those are pretty common things. 

Characters:
Cath: I felt like I could relate to her anxiety and struggles with branching out. It takes alot when you've been able to rely on those around you for a social outlet. That being said, by the end she seems to have her shit together more than Wren and that's saying something. I also appreciated that the author took so much care in describing what might be anxiety or panic attack with Cath's character. I can relate.

Wren: I think the idea of teen drinking was an important part to bring up. In the states, it's notorious that colleges are filled with parties (yes in Canada we party too but our legal drinking age almost across the country is 18). And the idea of using alcohol to cope isn't outlandish. It's rather realistic. Scary even.

Dad: I don't know how I feel about his mental health. I understand that he doesn't want to use medication as the only way to cope with his health problems, but at the same point it's not quite fair that his daughters have to pick up the pieces and keep such a clear eye out for him. But that's the way of life for so many people. I think it's also important to note that mental health is just as important as physical health. It can invade your life and change the outcome of everyday things.

Laura: I have a lot of feelings towards her and they are not good. Yes, she gave birth to the girls, but she doesn't have the right to ask them to get in contact with them now. If you can't handle someone when they're young, what right do you have to come back and try to re-enter their lives?

Reagan: I loved how snarky she was, the only part I wish that her being Levi's ex-boyfriend hadn't been thrown in. Or if it was it had been thrown in earlier. I was glad that they clearly appeared to be over each other though.


Levi: I loved him. His teasing, his easy smile and his friendly manner. I also love that he was able to pick up Cath's fanfiction and fall for her writing. I also really enjoyed their relationship overall. He was willing to take it slow and put in his time with her to get to know her before trying to make a commitment. 

Nick: I think in the end he got exactly what he deserved. He was a huge jerk to Cath and treated her like crap.


Moments to Remember:
Pg. 265
"Her dad was wrong about worrying. Cath liked to worry. 
It made her feel proactive, even when she was totally helpless." 


Thanks for reading,
Sidny


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Book Review: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton


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Title: Baby Doll
Author: Hollie Overton
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult
Pages: 281
Publisher: Redhook
Year Published: 2016
Format: ARC (bought online by accident)
First Line: "A dead bolt has a very specific sound."

"Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.

This is what happens next...
...to her twin siser, to her mother, to her daughter... and to her captor."

My Rating: 4/5

WARNING THIS BOOK CONTAINS: sexual assualt, violence, swearing, mental health disorders, etc.
I'd heard about this book a while ago, but had just read Room by Emma Donoghue, so I put off picking this one up. I think that was a good choice to make. This book is a very interesting story about forgiveness, letting go and serving justice where it's due. I liked the different perspectives that we followed and was interested mostly in the view of the captor throughout the novel. That being said, there were aspects of the story that I found to be unneccessary, or to just add drama to an already dramatic situation. Overall, I would read more work by the author and would recommend this book to those who have read and enjoyed Room.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

So this is a very interesting read. Baby Doll has many different characters that we follow including: Lily, Abby, Eve, and Rick. We see how the escape of kidnapped woman and how her escape affects her twin sister, her mother and her captor. I think that this story was interesting in the way the story took place. I found this book to be a bit slower of a read just based on the subject matter. 

Characters:
Lily: She was an incredibly strong spirit, and I have no idea how she didn't give up on getting away from Rick or protecting Sky. She was thought to be dead for so long, and little did she know that her captor had befriended her family. It makes my skin crawl just to think about it. I also think it's important that in this novel that after time Lily was able to accept taht she needed help and that Sky might need some help too.

Abby: To have your sibling taken and to witness her come back after years of defending her and saying she wasn't dead. I can't imagine. Also to have gained a connection with your sisters first love interest is scary. I did think that she needed help before she got it, and I'm not sure she's going to be able to deal over time with her actions towards Rick.

Eve: I liked her but I found some of her actions to be extremely annoying. The way she threw herself towards men as a term of coping was frustrating especially in the midst of the biggest moment of her daughter's life.

Rick: He is sick. And I think that it was so frustrating that he didn't have a reason to acting for the way he did. But I guess sometimes people do shitty things. I don't even know how to feel about that. I felt so uncomfortable reading from his perspective but I think it was an important part of the story. To see how he felt and rationalized what he did.

Sky:I think that her perspective would have also been interesting but a confusing one to follow. To have 6 years confided to a basement with a closet and a bed, and then to be in the wide open... that would be a huge shock for anyone.

Missy: I understand how she didn't say anything. You want to believe the best in your partner and don't want to spoil your time with them. 

Wes: To fall in love with your first love twin sister, that's a little crazy. A little much for me, but I tried to wrap my head around it. They would understand what each other had gone through and be able to talk about it. That being said, it's really awkward with Lily back in the picture....

Scott: This seemed unneccessary.... like it's important that she was learning to have romantic relationships again, but I would have been happier if I heard that she was working with a therapist to get there along with Scott... or whoever..


Thanks for reading,
Sidny