Stacking the Shelves – A Meme

Stacking the Shelves

Welcome to my Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves is co-hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality

What is Stacking The Shelves all about?

We are all book lovers and the need to share our enthusiasm is sometimes overwhelming. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

My Stack This Week

My stack haul this week has been very, very small. With being as ill as I have been, I’ve barely made it to the library! Plus, my shortlist TBR and currently reading lists are so overloaded, I think I would get stressed out if I added much more to them. In fact, my goal this last week has been to get as much off my currently reading list as possible! Thus, in some ways I’m glad this haul is so small, but it’s also kind of sad!

Library Haul

I grabbed When The Sea Turned to Silver when my hold came in because I knew I was going to need to it soon. It’s my current car audiobook and my previous one, Peter Pan, was almost finished by the time this arrived. I’m getting close to finishing it, so a few days ago, I grabbed Brown Girl Dreaming as my next car audiobook. I’m a bit nervous about how I’ll like a story told in verse in audiobook format, but I decided there was only one way to find out!

This month I have three book clubs and Rebecca was our pick for my friend book club. For my regular library book club, we are reading, The Other Einstein, which I’ve already read. But, for some odd reason, I feel like I should read a book that the group read this year before I joined, which is how I ended up with Necessary Lies in my haul. Honestly, with how heavy my shortlist TBR and currently reading lists are, I probably won’t get to it and will just return it instead. Have you read it? Is it worth it?

Purchases

I am on a book buying ban for the year, but that doesn’t mean books don’t end up appearing on here for a variety of reasons. For one, the book buying ban only applies to books I spend actual money on and not the freebies I come across. Second, I sometimes join Audible during free trials or when their running a membership promotion, so I don’t count this toward my book buying ban. Lastly, occassionally if there’s a really good sale or it’s a book I’ve been wanting for a long time, I have gone ahead and made an exception. But I have to be careful here – it’s way to easy to simply make endless exceptions!

I already own The Fifth Season, in both paperback and ebook, but Audible was having a sale on the audiobook and I broke my buying ban to snatch it up. I obviously don’t need another copy, but I plan on re-reading this again at some point (I’ve already read it twice) and I thought listening to it might be a great way to experience as new all over again! I also broke my buying ban to buy Literary Yarns, which I am super excited about and you will be too! In the book are crochet patterns for literary characters and I plan on making them to post on this blog. I am so excited to review a book and then post little amigurumi literary characters from the book! I don’t feel too bad about breaking this buying ban since I used points for the purchase instead of real money. Not my greatest month for my book buying ban, but not my worst either!

Both Dunaway’s Crossing and Daughters for a Time were free through the Samsung book deals program where once a month, Samsung users are able to buy one of 4 Kindle books for free. Most of these, I never get around to reading, but sometimes I do when I just need something light. I have mixed feelings about whether I should buy these books and I sometimes forget to claim my free book, but I have come across a few gems and thus, I end up hoarding ebooks. Do you also hoard ebooks?

ARCs

I went a bit over board with ARCs this week. I won’t be requesting more for quite awhile. I have too much of a backlog to get through!  I listened to Lydia Kang’s other book, A Beautiful Poison, and greatly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the storyline and while there was a predictable element, there were some surprises along the way. It was a fun read. When I saw her second book, The Impossible Girl, on Netgalley, I immediately requested it. I expect this to be another fun read! I saw other reviews on Goodreads review Confessions of the Fox and those glowing reviews made me scoop up the eARC of this book. I am excited to read it as it will diversifying my reading! Concerto in Chroma Major grabbed my attention with the beautiful, artistic cover. But the description is what made me request it. I am a sucker for a well done music story and I’m hoping this one won’t disappoint!

I wasn’t sure whether to put Imaginary Things in ARCs or purchases. I am part of a short summer book club where we first read Andrea Lochen’s first book, The Repeat Year. At that book club, we were given a free copy of Imaginary Things. There’s no expectation of a review, but I decided to treat it more like a ARC than a purchase since I do feel a bit of an obligation to review it. Her first book, The Repeat Year, was out of my book genre comfort zone, so I was glad to diversify my reading. Imaginary Things might also do that, though I am not sure as I haven’t full read the back blurb!

What books did you add to your stacks this week? Let me know by either commenting or linking your Stack the Shelves blog post below!

 

Carmilla – A Reflection

CarmillaCarmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu is rated 4 stars, though probably more like 3.5 stars because it was a bit predictable, but otherwise well done and engaging. Though, I say a bit predictable as is if there was a genre for this kind of work before this book, so 4 stars is the more accurate rating, time period considered and all.

NOTE: This review and reflections have all sorts of spoilers, but also, I haven’t seen a summary of this work that doesn’t essentially spoil the big reveal, so take this spoiler alert for what it is. The review mostly reveals the same spoiler Goodreads does, but I do mention my interpretation of something that could be considered a spoiler. I will list that specifically as a spoiler, in case you want to read the rest.

First a Review

Carmilla is a beautiful, atmospheric story of a vampire written before Dracula. It shows a vampire that is neither evil nor good; she simply is a human immortal. I greatly enjoyed this complex rendering of such a creature. I am personally not a fan of vampire stories, but I was interested in reading this one due to the YouTube series Carmilla. [SPOILER ALERT] That series takes seriously the lesbian elements in the story and I very much read the story that way, though I can understand how other readers would see the relationship as mearly platonic. I was happy to see this story have elements of romantic love between two women as it is rare a classic or old story has such elements. [/SPOILER ALERT]

I find it challenging to review classics as it feels as though everything one could say about it has already been said. I don’t have much more to add than my personal account above. I do recommend this book to anyone interested in reading one of the first, if not the first, novels to write about a vampire, or a story alongs the lines of a gothic mystery.

Next a Reflection

Reminder: There are spoilers, or least spoilerly interpretations ahead. 

Platonic friendship or romantic relationship? This is a question up for debate in books like Carmilla where there is enough intimacy, it could be interpreted as a romantic intimacy. Who gets to decide what kind of relationship it is? Should we assume it’s platonic unless otherwise specified? Where is the line? Why is the line often so much more clear when two men are involved than when two women are?

I definitely do not have fully articulated arguments for all of these questions, let alone clear thoughts. The thing that was clear for me when I read Carmilla is that it. is. so. incredibly common to dimiss lesbian relationships as close friendships and I don’t think we should. I don’t think we should dimiss lesbian relationships as friendships because that only feeds into homophobia and lesbian and bi erasure and it. is. so. incredibly hurtful and harmful. I myself have experienced erasure and it deeply hurt me. It damaged my heart and soul in a way that I have not been fully able to heal. Telling women, particularly young girls, that a deeply meaningful, soul-mate love level relationship is just a misunderstood friendship is devasting to the core. It shakes their ability to determine what they are actually feeling and who they are sexually. Maybe it seems like it should be a minor thing to dismiss a sexual relationship as a friendship, but in a society in which women are routinely dismissed all. the. time. it is crucial we don’t dimiss them and who they are, even when we are not sure what we are seeing. I would rather people assume I am dating my female platonic friend than assume I am not dating my girlfriend, my partner. It is painful to feel invisible, even when that invisibility affords some privilege. Some female same sex relationships pass as friendships and that helps keep them safe from violent homophobes. Some female same sex relationships pass as friendships and they are allowed additional sexual opportunities straight couples would not have. My high school girlfriend and I were able to stay over at each other’s houses because neither of our parents believed us when we told them we were dating. We were even allowed to go on a vacation together, with her parents, and have our own hotel room for an entire week. We had much more freedom sexually than I did at the time with any male I was dating. Yet, none of this made it any less painful that very few people ever saw the love and commitment we had for each other nor did they believe us when we told them. This kind of dismissal is not reserved for the young. My same sex relationships as an adult have been dismissed as friendships, even when we’ve engaged in public displays of affection. My point is that J. Sheridan Le Fanu could have wrote in Carmilla the words, “these two women were sexual lovers and considered each other to be fulfilling romantic partners on the deepest of levels” and people would still argue they are just friends. Whenever possible, please think carefully about whether your interpretation of a bookish relationship feeds into bi and lesbian erasure or if it tries hard to avoid doing just that.

Lastly, a Bookish Freak-Out

Have you seen Carmilla the YouTube Series by KindaTV? The YouTube series is how I first heard about Carmilla, though I didn’t realize it was a book until a fellow book lover was reading it daily through the Serial Reader app (isn’t Goodreads an amazing way to find great reads???). Carmilla the YouTube Series was a pretty big deal when it first came out in the lesbian community, or at least, the lesbian Tumblr community I was plugged into at the time. I really enjoyed watching the series and definitely followed it up until the movie came out. I was a bit disappointed that it had such an exclusive opening and only after the exclusive opening could anyone else rent it. It was what it was, but I just ended up moving on to other things. Vampires have never exactly been a concept that particularly interested me and I haven’t ever quite gotten into a YouTube series the way I have of TV series. My interest wanned and I never finished the series, but now that I have read the book, I definitely plan on finishing it! If you’ve watched it, what did you think?

What are your thoughts???

Note: Most of this review posted first in June 2018 on Goodreads. The reflection and freak-out are new content not found on any other site.

WWW Wednesday – A Meme

WWW Wednesdays.jpgWelcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and is now hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words For this meme, you just answer the three Ws:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Please share your answers in the comments below or link your blog post!

What are you currently reading?

We Are WaterThe book I am the most actively reading right now is We Are Water by Wally Lamb. I LOVE Wally Lamb, but it’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve read him. I found a near perfect used copy of this book rather recently for a great bargain. Owning the book moved it up on my TBR, but, well, also down as for some reason, books I own seem to sit on my shelf much longer than books I borrow. Weird, right? But not this time! I am already tackling it, though I’m not really sure I can count it toward my Mount TBR challenge since I broke my year long book buying ban to snag it. I’ve been noticing that as a trend lately… Anyway, I’m reading this book now in large part because a friend and I are buddy reading it. I haven’t gotten very far in it, but I’m loving it! Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

I am also tackling a few other books at the moment – too many really. You can always see what I’m currently reading on the sidebar Goodreads widget or on Goodreads. If you pop over on Goodreads, definitely friend me! I love following other book lovers!

What did you recently finish reading?

The WoodcutterI finished The Woodcutter on Sunday the first, just one day shy of counting it towards June. I almost did since I was so close to done when my light dimmed enough I could now longer read, but there was just too much left to justify it as a June read. I have yet to review this book…I know, I know…but I LOVED it. The atmosphere was beautiful and the story engaging. When the main story arc concluded, I would have enjoyed the book and probably given it 4 stars, but then there was a bit more and, boom, 4.5 stars. Just well done. Of course, I had a few criticisms of the book, but that’s to come, hopefully in a full review next week!

Isn’t the cover beautiful? Have you wanted to read this book? What do you think about a woodcutter fairytale? It was a different take for me and one I’d be happy to read again!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Rebecca coverI usually say that this is a hard question for me as I tend to be a mood reader, but this month, I have a tight TBR if I’m going to finish my buddy read in a timely manner and read my two book club reads. I’m not sure this is going to work out, but I’m trying! It does mean I have my next book determined for me and it is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. In my friend book club, we are trying to tackle books from PBS’s The Great American Read list. Last month, we read The Color Purple and this month, our selection is Rebecca. I’m curious to see if I’ll like this book. It’s definitely not one I would have picked up if it weren’t for book club.  I’ll try to post a review here when I finish it, assumming I do between my buddy read, 2 library book clubs, friend book club, and eARCs on my TBR! I think I have been way too ambitious book wise lately. Do you ever find yourself doing that? What do you do to handle it?

What are your answers to the three Ws? Please comment below or link to your blog post!

The Month – A Conclusion

7311315660_1cf738220d_o Danbo enjoying the view from Tokyo Tower | Takashi Hososhima | CC BY-SA 2.0

This post is late and there weren’t posts on Friday or Monday and I am very sorry for that. On Thursday afternoon, I fell very ill and wasn’t recovered until this morning. I was well on my way to getting this post down before my regular 10 am CST posting time until a bird flew into my window. I contacted my local wildlife rehabilitation center and they asked me to bring him in. I am so glad I helped this robin, but it made this post late. My apologies.

My June Stats:

Books read: 25
Audiobooks: 16
Nonfiction: 9
Children’s: 6
Graphic Novels: 2
Classics/ Modern Classics: 3
Average rating: 3.06

I’m calling this as pretty good reading month!

Favorites:

Book:

Starry River of the SkyMy favorite book of this month is Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. It is a beautiful story and is filled with traditional Chinese folk tales which add a deep richness to the book. I love how I am transported to a real and yet magical place. I am listening to the follow-up book, When the Sea Turned to Silver and am enjoying it so far! I hope to have reviews for these two books and the first one Where the Mountain Meets the Moon very soon. While these are children’s books, I believe they have much to offer readers of all ages.

My favorite book this month would have been The Woodcutter but I ended up reading the last 5% of the book on July 1st. It will be interesting to see if it is my July favorite. I’ll be reviewing it soon!

Audiobook:

Winnie the PoohFor this category, I focus more on the quality of the audiobook than the quality of the text, though to a certain extent they go hand in hand. My favorite audiobook of this month is Winnie the Pooh: Volume 1. I particularly love audiobooks which include noises to enhance the atmosphere of the story. In this audiobook, such sounds are incredibly well done and well placed. In addition, there are short, little songs between the stories and a bit longer songs between the cd changes. In addition, the voices are well done, though it’s still hard to totally wrap my head around them not being the classic Disney voices I grew up with.

Thing:

I went to Legoland Discovery Center with my sister and nephew and it was amazing. He had such a wonderful time and with my love of Legos, I found it just as fun. We sat for quite awhile building a tower and he loved the 4-D movie. I built him a race car and he raced it over and over again until we insisted it was time to eat lunch. I hope to go back again with him!

What Were You’re June Favorites?

 

 

Ms. Marvel Volumes 1-4 – A Review

On Tuesday, I finished reading Ms. Marvel Vol. 4. Instead of reviewing that single volume here without having posted reviews of the proceeding volumes, I decided to post all the reviews here in one blog post. I tend to write short reviews of graphic novels making this a great way to review them in a blog post. This graphic novel series is incredibly important to the genre of super hero comics since it features a Muslim teenager as the inhuman super hero. This series accurately depicts her culture in various scenes and makes no apologies for her character’s decision to respect that culture. In addition, it strives to be feminist, diverse, tolerant, and modern. Even as someone who doesn’t read the super hero comic genre, I can see how vitally important this series is to that genre and I think it is worth the time to review the volumes I’ve read here.

Ms Marvel Vol 1Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson is rated 5 stars because it is incredibly well done and shows a perspective and culture rarely depicted in literature. Volume 1 collects single issues #1-5.

I don’t read superhero comics. I barely read graphic novels of any kind. I rarely give 5 star ratings. Yet, I just gave a 5 star rating to a superhero comic. That in and of itself speaks volumes and I’m not sure how much I can add to it, but I will try.

This volume contains the individual issues around Ms. Marvel’s backstory. Kalama’s struggle to understand who she is before she becomes a superhero is an interesting enough storyline on its own; adding the element of her also becoming a superhero gives it even more dimension. It is a fully flushed out aspect of her character and it gives her substantial depth – deeper than some novels are able to achieve.

Also, I LOVED the illustrations. The background images are incredible. Like the sticker on the fire extinguisher which reads “Die Fire Die.” I want tons of those in every issue! They are fantastic and made me laugh over and over again!

As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy violence, even when PG-level depicted, I was happy to find little of it in this volume. One of the only other superhero graphic novels I’ve read, Strong Female Protagonist, had more violence in it than strictly made me happy, so I was thrilled that this one kept violence to a minimum.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who has yet to pick it up; not just because it is a great leap forward in terms of representation, but because it says incredibly important things (see vol. 2 in particular). This is the future of socially revelant media and I’m so glad it is becoming more of the norm.

Ms Marvel Vol 2Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson is rated 5 stars because the social commentary is incredible! Volume 2 collects issues #6-11

While I LOVED Ms. Marvel vol. 1, I didn’t expect to continue to like the series. I have found that I have a hard time sticking with series in any format, mostly because they always disappoint me at some point. It’s hard to keep hitting the high mark and eventually when it consistently falls short, I lose interest. So far, Ms. Marvel is no where hitting below the high mark; in fact, this volume might have raised it a bit. The social commentary in this volume is incredible. I won’t say more, but you should definitely check it out.

There was a guest illustrator for the first two issues in this volume and that was disappointing, particularly because I was not a fan of the new illustrator’s style. Importantly, the subtlies of the background that I love disappeared and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stick with a series that lost that much depth. But, it went back to the same high caliber of illustrations. So, if like me, you are a bit hesitant after the first issue in this volume, just give it a minute.

This is a phenomenal series and I definitely recommend people give it a read.

Ms Marvel Vol 3 Ms. Marvel Vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson is rated 3.5 stars because it moved much more towards the super hero good guy versus bad guy trope and that’s not my thind. Volume 3 collects issues #12-15.

There are some great moments in this volume, like when Bruno gets all annoyed by the term “friendzone” and articulates well how there’s no such thing. And it’s still refreshing to see a non-white American culture accurately portrayed. But, unfortunately, this comic is headed down the road that is expected of it – to become a regular good guy vs. bad guy fight it out comic. That sort of thing does not hold my interest. But I will stick with it through another volume. It’s still an incredibly well done comic series; it just isn’t my kind of series.

Ms Marvel Vol 4Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson is rated 2.5 stars because I was particularly disappointed with this volume, which had som much potential to do great things, but ended up instead moving away from its feminist roots. Volume 4 collects issues #16-19.

I was disappointed with this volume for several reasons. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers or vague story lines. The sheer number of cross-overs is getting annoying, especially since I’m not a typical comic book fan and have little knowledge of these characters. With these cross-overs, Kamala goes back to being a fan girl with little agency, which I find incredibly annoying. But the thing I was the most disappointed with was the conversation Kamala and Bruno had as they were looking at the end of the world. I simply need Kamala to have more agency and more tenacity than she does. Honestly, that conversation feeds into sexism and I came to the series to see that removed from the typical comic book genre. I’m honestly not sure I will be picking up the next volume. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought about it so I can decide whether to read it.

Note: The reviews for volumes 1 through 4 originally posted on Goodreads.

Another Note: for some reason, when I linked to my Goodreads review of Strong Female Protagonist, that review was posted on this blog post inadvertently. I have since fixed that issue, but it may still show on some social media posts. I apologize for that oversight.

What have you thought of this series so far?

 

WWW Wednesday – A Meme

WWW Wednesdays.jpgWelcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and is now hosted by Sam on Taking on a World of Words. For this meme, you just answer the three Ws:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Please share your answers in the comments below or link your blog post!

What are you currently reading?

The WoodcutterThe book I am the most actively reading right now is The Woodcutter by Kate Danley. I have wanted to read this book for quite awhile, but never quite got around to reading it. I’m glad I finally did! So far, it’s really intriguing and I definitely want to know what happens next, but it is a different style of writing and hasn’t pulled me in as much as I had hoped. But I still expect it to be a good read! Have you read it? What did you think? Did it live up to the hype and its awards?

I am also tackling a few other books at the moment – too many really. You can always see what I’m currently reading on the sidebar Goodreads widget or on Goodreads. If you pop over on Goodreads, definitely friend me! I love following other book lovers!

What did you recently finish reading?

The Color PurpleI finished The Color Purple on Sunday. I read it for a book club my friends and I have been doing for 11 years! I was part of the initial membership, but then moved away a few times, and came back a few times, but now I’m here to stay in the book club. It’s absolutely wonderful. Are you part of a book club?

We read The Color Purple because we decided to tackle some of the books on PBS’s Great American Reads list. This was a book several of us owned and hadn’t yet read, so we picked this one. I greatly enjoyed this book and am so glad we picked it. I suspect I watched part of the movie at some point because I was aware of the plot up until the book switches point of view. Or maybe that part wasn’t in the movie? I’m not sure since it was so long ago I watched it. Have you wated the movie or read the book?

What do you think you’ll read next?

We Are WaterThis is a hard question to answer for me as I tend to be a mood reader. In addition, there are so many books on my TBR shortlist, it’s a bit of a guessing game to figure out what I will tackle next. But I decided to go with the safe bet for now. A friend and I have been doing buddy reads about every other month and she suggested we start reading the next one soon, which is We Are Water by Wally Lamb. I am really looking forward to reading it as I love Wally Lamb. Plus, I own it and I’ve had a goal this year of 25% to 50% of the books I read to be ones I already own. It’s a bit ambitious, but it’s also ben satisfying! I’ll probably start We Are Water as soon as I finish The Woodcutter. But I might pick up an ARC or a book from the library on my TBR. Who knows!

What are your answers to the three Ws? Please comment below or link to your blog post!

Station Eleven – A Critique

Station Eleven Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is rated 4 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed it so much while I was reading it, but now it is less clear whether this book deserves 4 stars

NOTE: This critique contains spoilers, listed between the two spoiler brackets ([spoiler] to [/spoiler]. The rest is a spoiler free review.

This book really drew me in and I had a hard time putting it down. I was constantly thinking about it. I even watched American Experience: 1918 Flu Pandemic to better understand how such a situation could arise. I needed to know what happened and why. I needed to learn their stories. I just could not stop reading it.

Some of the books appeal is how well done symbolism and themes are throughout the book. [SPOILER ALERT] One such theme is the end of one story is the beginning of another. This comes up several times, sometimes after a character dies, but also in other ways. The theme is weaved throughout the story in such a way that it is not immediately apparent until one sits and contemplates it critically. Then one starts noticing all the other things that weave throughout the story. There are several objects that move with various characters, seemingly weaving together their stories, yet not exactly doing much of anything. But they are important because another theme of the book is what takes with them from the past interwoven with the theme of what one would miss the most. How these themes are intertwined and how they use symbolism to convey them is fantastic. A reader can read the whole book and not notice them, but they are impactful nonetheless. I did not expect to see this many literary tools in a contemporary work of science fiction, yet somehow, it works incredibly well.

A theme that was incredibly powerful for me was how different people respond to the same thing and how they understand and interpret its significance differently. It is hard to discuss this particular theme without spoiling the book for those who have yet to read it, but suffice it to say that there are two characters who start with similar things and end up on very different paths.

There are obvious themes that I suspect nearly all readers will find in Station Eleven. These are survival is not sufficient and the vitalness of art. Both of these themes are made strongly prevelant and come up often in the book, but in several different ways. For example, a character struggles with discovering that survival is not enough before the collapse of society. Characters value and thrive because of art before and after the collapse. These are likely the takeaways St. John Mandel wants her readers to feel and reflect on. They are powerful and in the book club I attended, they certainly were a significant part of the discussion.

Interestingly, another part of the discussion was how accessible the writing was for readers. This timeline jumps forward and back, not just around the collapse of society, but also within each. For example, at one point, the book may focus on the current period which happened right before the collapse and then jump back a decade to look at a character’s past. Or the reader might be 10 years in the future after the collapse, back to the beginning of the collapse, and then back 10 years before the collapse. It is a very contemporary writing style, not simply because of the disjointed time, but also because of the way St. John Mandel writes. There were several people in book club, of the baby boomer generation, who struggled greatly with this writing style and ended up strongly disliking the book because of it. They struggled to keep the characters and timelines straight and thus did not takeaway from the book the major or minor themes which are so critical to its success. What fascinated me about this discussion is that I found the writing style to work incredibly well for this book. To me, it said something about the fragmentation of collective memory and it showed how interconnected current events are to our past. [/SPOILER ALERT] I’m not sure I would have liked this writing style in another book, but for this one, it very much worked.

This book is successful at saying much more than what is immediately apparent on the page and I can understand why it was nominated for awards. Even if readers do not consciously understand the themes, they are working on the reader in such a way that the book is incredibly engaging and memorable. But, objectively, I don’t think this was particularly a 4 star book. There were some significant aspects left unexplained and some significant pieces were incredibly improbable. Not all the storylines resolved and there wasn’t a main story. Really the draw of the story is to understand what happened. I expected this to be a strongly character-driven story and it wasn’t exactly. There are small references to how they themselves changed, but there isn’t enough character development to see full shifts. In fact, several of the characters do not seem to change at all. This was disappointing.

This is by far the most critical 4 star review I’ve written. I’m not sure if a 4 star rating makes sense, but while I was reading it, I was greatly enjoying it and now that I’ve thought more about it, I realize it is because of how the book uses themes and symbolism to tell a story, though I’m not sure that makes it a 4 star book. But there is something to be said for a book I devour, so it’s a 4 star rated book with a fairly critical review. If the blurb interests you, I’d recommend you’d give it a go!

A note: the review part of this critique originally posted on Goodreads in early June 2018; however, the literary critique is entirely new material and only posted on this blog.