Wednesday, May 24, 2017

*Review* American Gods by Neil Gaiman


Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: July 2001
Pages: 674

Synopsis

A storm is coming...

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Review

With this book being a show now, I kinda had to read it. Especially because I really want to watch it. The issue is that everyone else at my library had the same idea, so the hold was about infinity billion months long. Seriously. I put a hold on it last year after having seen an article about it. But it was amusing that I got it right about the time the show started. Just in time for me to be behind everyone else!

I’m about to out my lameness even further. I’d also never read a Neil Gaiman book before. I know, the shame! I’ve watched a couple of his movies without realizing they were books first, because I bring shame and dishonor to my family. Also I really enjoy the Doctor Who episodes he’s written. So it’s not like I should have been worried I wouldn’t enjoy them. Mostly I’m just a bum.

Being a big fan of mythology, the whole concept of this book fascinated me. So I was both excited and intimidated to start this one.

I’ve got to say, it starts out slowly. But it’s still fairly captivating. There’s a lot going on, and it’s pretty easy to get lost - especially if you’re listening to the audiobook. So you’ve got to really be paying attention. At the same time, because of how much is happening it’s also easy to completely forget things going on around you while being immersed in what is going on.

Okay, so to sum up my feelings on this. It was pretty cool. But it was also drawn out and more wordy than it needed to be. That took away from a lot of my interest and made it a bit boring throughout. But I thought it was cool and I do still want to watch the show.

⅗ Platypires - Joood - Hooligan

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About the Author

I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).

In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

*Deja Revu* 22 May 2017

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#SneakPeekSunday - Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Title: Once and For All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Romance (Contemporary)
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Goodreads

Synopsis

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

Sneak Peek Review

I received a copy of this sneak peek from Viking Books through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This sneak peek gave me a small taste into the life of the daughter of a wedding planner, who, surprise surprise, gets/has to work for her mother over the summer helping to plan weddings. This is a position that I can almost relate to, as I worked in my father's grocery store when I was growing up (starting in 5th grade), but it was my choice to start working there, and it doesn't seem like Louna got that same choice. However, once I started working for my father, I was the person who got called in to work when the flaky high school kids called out sick, because Dad knew I wasn't busy. So I can relate to Louna having to work just because Mom says so. Because Mom knows exactly what commitments Louna has. This helped to draw me into the story a little bit. 

Now since this is only a three chapter sneak peek, I don't really have a very firm grasp of what is going on in the story at all. I am curious what role Ambrose will play, from the brief glimpse of him I got in Chapter Two, it seems that it will be significant.* I got a little bit giddy thinking about Louna and Ambrose dating over the summer while her mother is planning his sister's wedding. I would be interested in seeing how that plays out. I'm also very intrigued by a black dress and a pair of sandals that were mentioned in these early chapters. There's obviously a story there that I would like to hear. 

Now that being said, would I buy this book on release day? No. I would not. Contemporary romance is rather low on my list of preferred reading material, and while I occasionally enjoy it, I basically never find myself just dying to read it. I would buy a used copy at my thrift store, or snag it for my Kindle on sale. I would be interested in reading the rest of the story, but not interested enough to pay full new release price for it myself. 

*Yes, I realize the synopsis makes it clear that Ambrose plays a significant role in the story, but I didn't read the synopsis until after I wrote my review.

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About the Author

Sarah Dessen is the author of twelve previous novels, which include the New York Times bestsellers Saint AnythingThe Moon and MoreWhat Happened to GoodbyeAlong for the RideLock and KeyJust ListenThe Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby. Her first two books, That Summer and Someone Like You, were made into the movie How to Deal
 
Dessen’s books are frequently chosen for the Teens’ Top Ten list and the list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. They have been translated into twenty-five languages. Sarah Dessen is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult division of the American Library Association, recognizing her significant contribution to young adult literature.
  
Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors in creative writing. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.
 
Visit Sarah at sarahdessen.com.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

*Review* Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Genre: Literary Fiction
Published: May 14, 2013
Pages: 610

Synopsis

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Review

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and I'm glad I did. The narrator had an intriguing accent that I'm assuming is authentic Nigerian, I don't have anything to base that assumption on though other than that the main character is Nigerian, so I could be wrong. But the narrator's accent added an element to the story that would have been missing for me if I had read the book myself. 

This book was included on the list of books every woman should read by 40 that Platypire Bob and I are racing to complete before we reach 40. We started the race a little over a year ago, and this is the first new book I've completed since then (but Bob hasn't read any new books yet, so I'm still doing better than her.) That's not the only reason I read the book, but it did influence the timing a little probably. 

This story was told in semi-dual POV, although we mostly get Ifemelu's perspective on things. I thought it was interesting how Ifemelu's life in America mirrored Obinze's life in the UK in some ways. I also found it interesting the lengths they had to go to in order to support themselves outside of Nigeria in the beginning, especially Ifemelu with her student visa. I mean, you'd think we'd want students to be able to support themselves while attending school, right? 

And at this point, I honestly don't think anything else I could possibly say would do this book justice. I have actually been agonizing over this for a couple weeks now, and I just can't put into words my feelings about the book while also avoiding spoilers. So I'm just going to say that I absolutely understand why this book made it onto a list of books every woman should read, and to urge you to do just that. 

5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author. Her best known novels are Purple Hibiscus (2003)Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013).

She was born in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. At nineteen, Chimamanda left for the U.S. to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years, then went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

It was during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus , which was published in October 2003. 

Chimamanda was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008.
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*Stacking the Shelves* 20 May 2017


(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt - She wrote The Goldfinch, which is highly acclaimed, although according to articles on the internet not ever read, so I figured I should get this book too. 
The Feast of Roses by Indu Sundaresan - I'm pretty sure this book would work well for May's Platypire Diversity challenge theme (Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage). I'm pretty much 100% guaranteed not to read it this month at this point, but I'll have it for next year I guess. 
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly - This book has been on my radar for a while, because I absolutely love this cover (my copy has the boards, roses, and hand on it). Honestly, I want to read it just because I find the cover intriguing and I absolutely judge books by the cover.
Tai-Pan by James Clavell - I have Gai-Jin already, and I think I might have Shogun, and this book falls between them in the series, so this was a great score.
Living Together by Pathway Publishers - This is a grade 5 reader...my son will be in 3rd grade next year, but it doesn't hurt to start planning ahead. 
From the Gracchi to Nero by H.H. Scullard - A book about Roman history is a great addition to any library.
Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher - Yes, THE Carrie Fisher. I'm pretty sure this book got added to my wish list when I heard the unfortunate news about Carrie's passing, so finding it at the thrift store was nice. 
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones - It's historical fiction, and I like historical fiction. 
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - I've heard really good things about this book. 
Fairest: Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer - So this is the fourth book in the series, and the only one I own in paperback, but whatevs. Maybe I'll find the others sometime soon. 
Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia Macneal - WWII era historical fiction. That's an auto-sell for me. 
Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist - Another historical fiction. This was a good week for historical fiction for me. 
Essentials of World History by Smith & Smith - Educational resources are always a good buy. 
A Perfect Christmas by Christy Webster - A Barbie beginner reader for my daughter. 
Dinosaur Battles by Michele R. Wells - A beginner reader about dinosaurs. I'm a bit disappointed that it says it's from the Boys' Life series because girls can like dinosaurs too you know, but whatevs, my daughter will still read it. 
Past...Present...& Future... by the Cooks of Saint James United Methodist Church - It's a church cookbook...a Methodist church cookbook at that. I'm not really religious, but church women and men know how to cook some good food. 

So that's all the books I picked up this week at the thrift store. This haul cost me $4.25 because I caught a bag of books sale, but that doesn't apply to the beginner readers and the cookbooks. Still a great price for all these books. 

What books did you add to your shelves this week. - Katie 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

*Review* Feed by M.T. Anderson


Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: February 23, 2004
Pages: 308

Synopsis

Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

Review

I got this free from Audiobook Sync, it was one of the two titles they were offering last week. I probably wouldn’t have any interest in it otherwise, to be honest. I like science fiction and dystopia, but this just looked so overdone. And I was right. The big difference between this and the titles they compare it to (George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and M. T. Anderson) is it was done so with the most annoying group of teenagers.

One of the only things that kept this book from being marked DNF was that I was listening to the audio version. You get more of an understanding of the feed this way, because they made commercials and news reports and whatnot to make it more immersive. That was pretty cool actually. Although the first time I was confused and didn’t know what was going on.

The thing that keeps this book from being a total dud, excluding the feed bits, is the message that it sends. It’s pretty much a story of a teenage girl, told from the perspective of a guy who is attracted to her, that doesn’t conform to society. And she’s the entire best part of this story. Or the only good part actually.

Maybe my issue with this book is that it’s about the majority of society doing a thing, and I already don’t really conform how I’m expected to. So I already find the basic people to be annoying AF. And I already feel like Violet. Also I was homeschooled by a father who taught me to think for myself. So she’s pretty much me in the future. And that’s really sad, actually.

Anyway, I’m giving this 2.5 Platypires. - Joood - Hooligan



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About the Author

Matthew Tobin Anderson (M. T. Anderson), (1968- ) is an author, primarily of picture books for children and novels for young adults. Anderson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His picture books include Handel Who Knew What He LikedStrange Mr. SatieThe Serpent Came to Gloucester; and Me, All Alone, at the End of the World. He has written such young adult books as ThirstyBurger WussFeedThe Game of Sunken Places, and Octavian Nothing. For middle grader readers, his novels include Whales on Stilts: M. T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales and its sequel, The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen.
-Wikipedia