Wrap-Up | October 2015

So I managed to read 4 books this month, which I think is pretty good considering one of them came in at over 700 pages. I was really pleased with and enjoyed all the books I read, and I even found a new all-time favorite.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 4/5 Stars

Six of Crows is a new book that takes place in the same world as the Grisha trilogy. No worries, though. You don’t have to read the Grisha books to fall in love Six of Crows! The strong point of this book was definitely the unique and diverse cast that Bardugo put together. I haven’t talked to a single person that didn’t love the characters. Check out more of my in-depth thoughts on this book in my full review.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

My rating: 5/5 Stars

Oh, man. This book. I found a new all-time favorite in this one. When I think about it, I guess I’ve got Ariel Bissett to thank for me finding this book. She was selected to be a Manbooker vlogger and put up an introductory video about it. Although she didn’t actually vlog or read the books… if it weren’t for her, I would have never known what the Manbooker prize was. I wouldn’t have explored it further and found other people who were loving this book, which spurred me to pick it up, as well. This book is raw, relentless, harrowing and real. You go on a journey with the main characters over 3 decades and come to love them as your own. You love them with such a fervor, which is why everything that happens hurts so much. Enough gushing here though, check out my full review for more!

In the Woods by Tana French

My rating: 4/5 Stars

When I was looking for some suspense books to read for October, I found out about Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. In the Woods is the first book in that series, and I did quite like it. I had some small issues with the actual mystery part of the novel. It just felt a bit like a plot you’d seen on a TV show like Law & Order. It was a bit cliche, but I loved the characters, their relationships, the writing, and the overall feel of the book. I think she has the most important stuff down. Better mysteries will come easier than having to be a better writer. I’ve heard from many people that the second book in this series (The Likeness) is amazing and a complete step up, so I’m excited to maybe get to that next month!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4/5 Stars

This is the last book I read this month. It’s a pretty short book, so I flew through it in about two days. Even though it was short, she managed to get a lot of content in there. This is her debut novel so I was really interested to see what her beginnings were like. The characters were all (mostly) horrible people, but I was hooked! The last half was especially suspenseful; I couldn’t put the book down! You can read more of my thoughts on this one in my full review.

Those are my brief thoughts on all the books I read this month. Have you read any of them? What did you think?

Book Review | Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Adult – Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Broadway Books
Release Date: July 31, 2007
Pages: 254

Synopsis:

Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Review:

Gillian Flynn really has a knack for psychological thriller novels, which is probably why she is the first author that comes to mind when I think of the genre. Sharp Objects is a good representation of why. This book is her debut and really sets the stage for her future, and very popular novel, Gone Girl. You can see the makings of a captivating storyteller emerging, and it’s really interesting to go back in her repertoire and see the progression she has made.

But don’t get the wrong idea, her debut was great. I really enjoyed it, and I found that some things that annoyed me in other books didn’t annoy me in this one, simply because they were well-executed. For example, I did a review in the past where I criticized the fact that nearly every character in the book was unlikeable and it ruined my overall experience. However, in this book, the characters are so much more vile, but I didn’t even mind. I think that takes a certain level of skill to pull off successfully.

Many people will probably want to gauge this book against Gone Girl. Is it better than or even equal to Gone Girl? No. Is it still a good book you should check out? Absolutely, yes! Flynn’s writing style is a kind I really like. It’s very simple and raw, yet mildly poetic without trying too hard. This book kept me guessing and turning the pages the entire time. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat from the mid-point until the end. I did guess who the murderer was, but then it got bogged down in other details which made me change my mind and even forget my initial guess, lol.

The book is pretty short at just over 250 pages, but there’s a lot of content in there. I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed and even abrupt, but considering the amount of pages, I am impressed with just how much she was able to fit in there. I do think you should give this book a try, especially if you are looking for something suspenseful that can mess with your mind a bit. Since I’ve read this, now all I’ve got left is her second novel, Dark Places. Bring it on!

4 stars!

              

Book Review | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Pages: 480

Synopsis:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Review:

This book was great! I really enjoyed it. The best part was definitely the unique and diverse cast of characters that Bardugo put together. I wasn’t really a fan of Matthias, but I loved everyone else. Especially Inej and Kaz. I honestly want to be Inej when I grow up, which is crazy because she’s like 16 years old. All the characters in this book are so young but scarily badass.

Troubled and brooding male leads can get into annoying territory, but I thought Bardugo did a good job with Kaz’s character, so I never felt that way towards him. Aside from just the characters being great, the rapport and relationship between them was equally great. Some of the dialogue between them had me giggling.

The book is told in alternate POVs, so you get to hear from every member of the crew except for Wylan. You might think that could get clunky, but I honestly had no issues with it at all. I actually liked being able to see through everyone’s eyes and I hope in the next book we get to hear from Wylan’s perspective.

The actual heist part of the book was action-packed and suspenseful. There were some moments that had me at the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen. I simultaneously hated and liked the ending because although it’s not something I wanted to happen, it was a good way to lead us into the next book.

Now, this book takes place in the same Grisha world as Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone Trilogy, but it is a separate story and you do not have to read Shadow and Bone in order to enjoy Six of Crows. I  wanted to familiarize myself with the world before jumping into Six of Crows, so I did read the first two books in the S&B Trilogy. I’m kind of glad I did because I felt like I had a better grip on all the different Grisha powers and the different country names and whatnot. I think the only thing about not reading S&B before going into Six of Crows is I feel like some of the Grisha powers aren’t fully explained as far as what they can actually do and the extent of their power. Very brief explanations are given and it can leave questions for the reader, but maybe Bardugo plans to go into it more in the next book!

Overall, I thought this book was great and I definitely recommend it. It will leave you wanting to be a part of their crew for sure!

4 stars!

              

Book Review | A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Title: A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Pages: 736

Synopsis:

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.

Review:

I honestly don’t know what to say about this book. I feel like anything I write here will not do this masterpiece even half the amount justice it deserves. At the same time, I am vary wary of praising it too much and overhyping it for someone else. I want as many people to experience this book as possible without super high expectations that it will never be able to reach.

But what can I do? This book was fucking fantastic, and it’s my duty to let everyone know!

WHAT I LIKED

  • We are TIMELESS.
    There is no reference to what time period it is during the book. Some people really had a problem with that, but I liked it. I felt like we didn’t need a time period. It kept the focus solely on the characters and their relationships with each other, which I think was the goal.
  • Flawed, but flawless characters.
    No character is perfect in this book. Everyone has flaws, but they are so developed and genuine that at the end of the day, you still love them. Much like real people.
  • The way sexuality is handled.
    There will be off-hand comments about how that guy has a new boyfriend or something like that, but it’s not made into a huge production and it’s not the defining thing about the person. Which is the way it should be, but sometimes in books it can feel very much like “LOOK AT ME PUTTING  A GAY CHARACTER IN MY BOOK. I’M SO VERY DIVERSE.”
  • Love over romance.
    This book is definitely not romance, but it is so full of love. A Little Life centers around Jude and his relationships with all the people who love him over the course of three decades.

“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”

– Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

THE AFTERMATH

So…this book hurt me. It hurt me more than a book has ever hurt me before and more than I ever thought was possible. The reason for this is that Yanagihara is a master at creating real characters. They were so incredibly fleshed out that by the end of the book I felt like I had known them all personally for years. I felt like I was truly in this world and that is what made the events of this book 100 times more impactful to me.

A Little Life has a reputation for being devastatingly heartbreaking, but I did well for the majority of the book. There were many scenes that made my heart clench or even made me gasp aloud, but I had not broken down yet. I thought I might make it through, but then those last 100 pages happened. Bruh. Tears streamed down and down and down for the entire duration of the last 100 pages. I was so distraught.

I love when I am able to have this kind of reaction and it’s the ultimate praise to the author. It means they successfully brought the world they created to life and it made an impact on someone else. This isn’t a book that you will be able to read and just move on to the next one. It stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

If someone were to ask me what my favorite book is right now, at this very moment, I would have to say A Little Life. I loved it that much. I hope my review will convince someone to pick it up and give it a try. I feel bad giving this book 5 stars because when I think about the other books I’ve given 5 stars to on this blog, they don’t measure up to this one. But since 5 stars is the highest rating possible, of course I give it…

5 stars! (But it gets 100 stars in my heart, lol).