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Showing posts from January, 2018

Book 183: "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux

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I grew up on the musical based on this book. It's really been a shameful secret that I hadn't yet read the book.

A true Gothic novel... I was underwhelmed. I found the majority of the characters intolerable. Finding really only two that I liked: the Phantom and the man who brought him to France. I want more of each of their backstories. They seemed to have all the depth the rest of the characters lacked.

Christine Daae was stupid and amazingly naive. Raoul is always crying! Weeping every 10 seconds- it does not surprise me that Christine initially shows more interest in the Phantom. I would two if they were my only choices. The rest of the side characters were exactly as expected.

What makes this book is the atmosphere and amazing tricks that the Phantom uses. But in the end, this is a Gothic tale, told by an unreliable narrator, about a sadistic serial killer and his obsession with a beautiful, yet very stupid, young girl.

I'm glad I read it, but think I'll stick to …

Book 182: "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng

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I picked this book up on whim. I needed something to read while my besties and I laid on the lake shore in the sun. My favorite thing about "whim" books is how often they end up being great and expanding your horizons.

As you've most likely noticed, I get caught in the fantasy and dystopian genres the majority of the time. While I do read literary fiction here and there and often read classics, general fiction is often moved to the bottom of my TBR pile. I'm glad this one made it to the top by chance.

Everything I Never Told You is an in-depth story about family and grief. It's about inter-racial couples and prejudices. It's about finding out who you are in spite of who your parents want you to be. It's about dealing with the realities of who your family members are even when you believed them to be completely different. It's about secrets. It's about escapism and avoiding reality. It's about love; familial and romantic.

The story follows one …

Book 181: "Looking for Alaska" by John Green

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John Green is the Nicholas Sparks of YA. You probably know him from The Fault in Our Stars. While this book, Looking for Alaska, is the only book of his that I've read (I do know the story of The Fault in Our Stars), I have a feeling that most of them have the same feel. Please correct me if I'm wrong- I'm happy to give him another chance.

I need to clarify. I don't dislike this book. It was well-written and most likely the Catcher in the Rye for this teenage generation (it has the same elements: teen angst, love, boarding school, friend/family problems). I also was not amazed by this book. I found the story and characters predictable and shallow. They are filled with angst and rebellion. And though the characters and plot progressed, I was left with the feeling that they didn't really grow or change in any meaningful way.

There was nothing here that has not already been said, portrayed, and explored many times over. In short, though well-written and interesting, …

Book 180: "The Farming of Bones" by Edwidge Danticat

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An eye-opening story to a small piece of the Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I began reading this book with practically no knowledge of the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic except for the fact that the DR is wealthy and modern (generally), while Haiti is steeped in poverty.

This is one person's story of escaping the genocide of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. It is her tale of the family she grew up with and served and her harrowing escape just as the genocide commenced. In it, she loses everyone she loves. It is the tale of living in Haiti waiting for news. It is heartbreaking and hard to read.

Edwidge Danticat is a well-known author who often writes about he Haitian experience. She was born in Haiti, moving to the US when she was 12 and she offers a unique literary perspective on a people and country that I feel is largely un-represented in literature. Though this book was hard to read (on an emotional level) I'm really glad I did. I'm glad that I learn…

Book 179: "The Diabolic" by S.J. Kincaid

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This book surprised me. It was surprisingly good. Really good. I'll be honest that when I picked this up with my Besties for our "book club" that never really happened, I expected this book to be another easy teen dystopia/fantasy with a love triangle and every other trite thing that those books have to include since the success of a certain terrible, teen, sparkly vampire series. (Sorry, I went off subject there....)

I was happy to find that while, yes, this book does contain it's fair share of angst and love- it was a really good book. The characters show immense growth and the idea is actually pretty unique. The main character is truly likable and even believable (even as killing machine). The plot managed to surprise me a couple of times and was not completely predictable.

This author is not afraid of causing turmoil in her character's lives. A fact that I appreciate- maybe more than I should.

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Diabolics are genetically engineered human…

Book 178: "Rogue: Going Rogue"

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I went as Rogue for Halloween this year. So for inspiration,  I read this Rogue graphic novel/ comic. I'm really glad I did. I haven't read many X-Men graphic novels or comic books (my knowledge coming solely from the my brother and father, the cartoon, and the recent movies). Rogue has always been one of my favorite X-Men, so I thought she'd be a great place to start.

This is not her origin story. She has been an X-Men for quite a while and is already in love with Gambit. This also does not cover her escapades with the X-Men. These are stories that happen completely outside of that role for her.

Overall, I don't have a lot to say. It was well-written, well-drawn, and really fun and interesting to read. If the X-Men and comics are your thing, it's definitely worth your time.

Book 177: "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

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I read The Handmaid's Tale in college and was... unimpressed. I think I must have been overwhelmed with other books at the time (I was taking 4 lit classes that semester and some books just didn't hold my attention to detail as much as others). I re-read this book in preparation for the Hulu series (which you should also watch; it is chilling, but fantastic!) and I'm really glad I did. This book is great. 
The subject matter is especially poignant to our current political clime. It it is almost alarming how clearly you can see this happening. 
I can't discuss too much without giving spoilers, but this is a book about human rights, about women's rights, and about the dangers of extreme power and beliefs becoming a political party. It is written in present tense set in an undetermined future time. Because of infertility becoming more and more common, a political party was able to overcome the freedoms of our democracy little by little in an effort to continue to gro…

Books 173, 174, 175, and 176: A Shade of Vampire Books 1-4

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I will be honest, these books are completely shallow, romance novels with some action that I just couldn't put down. I started reading them at the gym- they were perfect to whittle away at the time I spent on the Stair-climber; completely enveloping but requiring no mental effort. While shallow in plot and themes- they are well written. They have complex characters who grow throughout each book. They have suspenseful plots that keep you reading and even have twists that are hard to see coming.
I was going to continue to read them. I still may read the 5th book, but two things have kept me from continuing: 1. The drama NEVER ends in an extreme way. These people solve one problem only to have the problem come back and be worse. There's a glaring problem with no solution. The "bad guys" are endlessly predictable and most are un-redeemable, making them unbelievable. There's only so much life or death of everyone at any moment drama I can read. It makes the fact that…