September and October Book Reviews

8 Nov

It’s that time again! Time for me to tell you all about what I’ve been reading lately. I’ve got a good chunk of books to talk about today, so let’s dive right in.

 

Stephen King – It
Goodreads stars: four
What an absolutely fantastic read! It took me ages to get through (it is over 1000 pages after all) but I loved almost every moment of it. This man knows his way around some scary stuff! I was thrilled, terrified and humored often throughout this novel. King transports you to wherever the characters are, whether it’s sunny woods or a dank, foul sewer system. And because the novel is so long, by the end of it, you feel as if these people are your friends and confidantes. A truly fantastic, riveting read.

Sara Gruen – Water for Elephants
Goodreads stars: five
If you know me at all, you know I love animals, elephants especially. Gruen has a wonderful way with words and she captured the bond that can form between man and animal so wonderfully. I ached for the caged circus animals and could almost hear the circus music somewhere off in the near-distance. I sped through this book like the train on its way to a new city. One of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Jean M. Auel – Clan of the Cave Bear
Goodreads stars: four
This book gave me a whole new look at the idea of historical literature. How much more historical can you get than cavemen? Auel is a bit long-winded at times, but she tells a wonderful story. It follows Ayla, an Other, and her life amongst Clan people who are different from her in every way. She adapts and becomes a successful hunter and medicine woman before she is banished, to leave behind her family and friends. This is just one of a series, and while the book was good, I don’t think I’ll be picking up the rest anytime soon.

Mary Roach – Stiff
Goodreads stars: four
Another great book! This is a non-fiction piece about the life (pun intended) of a cadaver. A friend recommended this one to me as a good Halloween-time read. It isn’t scary in any typical way but it does follow around a bunch of dead people. I’m not squeamish when it comes to that kind of thing so it didn’t bother me much. Roach takes a different approach in each chapter, varying from visiting mortuary schools to seeing what happens in crash-test centers. She even visits a university where bodies are laid out in the sun so that scientists can examine the decomposition so that forensic people can determine how long someone has been dead in the unfortunate case of murders and other suspicious deaths. I didn’t realize how curious I was about cadavers until I read this. And I can say now, I am truly proud to be a donor.

David Nicholls – One Day
Goodreads stars: two
I was rather underwhelmed by this book. The characters are monotonous and oftentimes loathsome. The only likable characters are killed off by Nicholls. The whole novel I felt like it was on a plateau and that something was going to happen but then … nothing happens, until the end, which I won’t ruin for you if you plan to read it. It was also very predicable. I guess I could just say that this felt very British, in the stereotypical sense that Americans tend to think of the Brits as dry. This book was dry. (And absolutely no offense to any Brits that might read this! Doesn’t matter where Nicholls is from, this book still would have been at the bottom of my list.)

Veronica Roth – Divergent
Goodreads stars: four
I went to Barnes & Noble last week with teen adventure fiction in my head. This was a perfect antidote to my literary needs. It felt Hunger Games-esque in that there’s teenaged love, perilous situations and murder all set in a dystopian future. The premise is that Chicago is divided up into five factions, each representing a different value. Our protagonist, Beatrice, leaves her faction because she feels she doesn’t fit in, but surprises everyone in choosing a faction that is almost the exact opposite of where she came from. What follows is her journey to self-enlightenment, love and hopefully, a brighter future. While the prose is somewhat simple (which is to be expected from teen fiction), I cannot wait to read the second in the series, Insurgent.

Lois Lowry – The Giver
Goodreads stars: three
I want to preface this by saying that I do not think this book is bad or mediocre by any means. But, I believe that reading a book such as this, with as much hype as there is, there is bound to be some let-down. Friends on twitter were appalled that I could have only given this book three stars. But reading it as an adult obviously has different implications than reading it as a youth. It’s like whenever someone tells me they read Catcher in the Rye and they only thought it was okay. What do you mean, OKAY!? This book shaped my youth! Well yes… that, exactly, is what I mean. It’s hard to shape someone’s youth with a book that isn’t read until you’re into your twenties. I realize that I’m getting a bit off-topic here, but having a lot of other dystopian literature in my repertoire, it’s hard to say that this book is wonderful or life-changing when my life was already changed by so many other books similar to this one. I will say that Lowry does a great job of creating the Community and the people within it. She included minute details that pull all of it together. It was a great one-day read, and I am glad I read it, but for me, it was not life-changing.
Now give me a book about a woman in her mid-twenties trying to make it through dystopian-corporate-America… that might be life-changing 🙂

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