Night Sky With Exit Wounds By Ocean Vuong | A Book Review

Title: Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Author: Ocean Vuong

Genre: Poetry

About the book: It’s an anthology of poems. I received a copy from the lovely folks at Publishers Group Canada.

First impressions: I read more prose than I do poetry, so I was excited to expand my horizons. To begin with, I love the title. I think it captures the essence of the collection. I especially enjoyed the poems at the beginning.

Quote:

“Everyone can forget us—as long as you remember.”

Writing: The writing is elegant but accessible. If you love enjambment, you’re in luck. There’s plenty of imagery as well. Vuong plays with a variety of forms and styles.

I wish the anthology was longer because it’s quite short. That said, reading this collection has inspired me to experiment more with my own poetry. Vuong addresses real, serious issues in an honest way. He writes about family, love, war, etc. The subject matter for some pieces are a bit more mature though.

Final thoughts: I highly recommend Night Sky With Exit Wounds even if you don’t read much poetry.


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Iron Gold By Pierce Brown | A Book Review

Title: Iron Gold

Author: Pierce Brown

Genre: Science Fiction

About the book: The fourth novel in the Red Rising series set ten years later.

First impressions: I’ve been eagerly awaiting this novel so much that I preordered it. Took me a while to get into the world again. To be honest, I forget a lot, so I had to jog my memory. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about having multiple viewpoints. But I came to love the different narratives.

Characters: Brown tells this story through the perspective of four characters: Darrow, Lysander, Ephraim, and Lyria. They’re great in their own ways, but I especially enjoyed Lysander’s point of view.

Because of the various narrations, there’s still development but not as in-depth as in Red Rising, when the author told everything from Darrow’s eyes.

The narratives mesh together even though they’re all are so different from one another.

Quote:

“The key to learning, to power, to having the final say in everything, is observation.”

Writing: I like Brown as a storyteller. He builds upon the world with each book. At times, I felt a little overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information presented. Kudos to him for doing his research though. There’s a ton of everything. Action, dialogue, description. The plot is complex but advances at a nice pace.

Final thoughts: Iron Gold seems to set up the next novel and possibly the whole series in general. Still, I’d recommend reading the first three books before this one. The novel felt strange yet familiar at the same time.


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Those Girls By Lauren Saft | A Book Review

Title: Those Girls

Author: Lauren Saft

Genre: Young Adult

About the book: It’s a standalone debut novel.

First impressions: The premise of three girls making their way through high school seemed promising. It had potential to explore both platonic and romantic relationships. I think I went in expecting more depth, but even the beginning left me a bit disappointed. Then again, I didn’t expect the novel to cover such mature themes.

Characters: Alex, Mollie, and Veronica are so flawed I didn’t care much for them. Of the three, I liked Alex the most. The characters seem to be extreme, exaggerated versions of people in real life, and their actions felt too unrealistic. The girls are toxic and terrible to each other. I’m not sure how they’re even friends. For me, the book lacked character development.

Quote:

“You don’t do this for them; you do it for you.”

Writing: There’s a lot of eye-rolling from various characters. Some of the lines made me want to roll my eyes. The writing could’ve been better. Also, these girls swear a lot. I feel the author could’ve scaled back on the swearing, and it wouldn’t have affected the story.

Final thoughts: For better or worse, I found the novel nothing like my own high school experience. It might have been better off spending more time on real friendships rather than romantic relationships.

These Girls is a short read, but it’s not for everyone.


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You Know You Are A Reader When

You have a stack of unread books at home, but you still buy more. All those novels you bought ages ago? They’re still sitting on your shelves collecting dust.

You’re running out of space, yet that doesn’t stop you from adding to your collection. Which means you have to get creative. You end up stacking, squeezing, and shoving.

You would rather be in your room than go to a club. There’s nothing wrong with spending more time around characters than your friends. Besides, fictional people will never judge you or your decisions.

You can’t stop talking or writing about books. That’s why you started a book blog. Now you’re able to rave on and on without anyone interrupting you.

You tell people to read certain books until they finally cave. Afterwards, you have one-sided conversations where you’re doing most of the talking. You can’t help extolling the virtues of your favourite author.

You wonder what fictional characters would do. So you proceed to channel them, believing yourself to be a super cool protagonist.

You get books as gifts from family and friends. They know you need to read as much as you need to eat. Better yet, they’ll leave you alone when you crack open the latest novel from a beloved author.

You can never find a comfortable reading position. Anyone who needs glasses to see knows the struggle is even more real.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy You Know You Are A Writer When.

A Q&A About Books, Goodreads, And Reviews

Why do you read?

I need to escape from reality or else I’d lose the little sanity I have left.

Why did you make a Goodreads account?

I didn’t want to rely on my memory to track the books I’ve read. Especially since I’m not getting any younger.

What do you look for in a book?

A good story. Great writing doesn’t hurt either. I like characters I can relate to, resonate with. Give me character development or give me fictional death.

What made you start writing reviews?

It wasn’t enough to read books. So I decided to review them too.

What are your reading goals for 2018?

They’re similar to the resolutions I made in 2017. I want to read every day. I’d also like to expand my bookshelf a bit. I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction, so I want to dip my mind further in the latter.

What are your reviewing goals in 2018?

I’m a bit behind on getting my reviews up, so if I can catch up that’ll be ideal.

Happy reading!

Change Of Heart By Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Title: Change of Heart

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

About the book: The standalone novel alternates between the perspectives of four characters: June, Michael, Lucifus, and Maggie.

First impressions: I’ve read Picoult’s work in the past, so I was excited to read Change of Heart. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the four different storylines. I hadn’t expected so many. It took me some time to settle into the story and get to know the characters. But once I did, I quite enjoyed the journey.

Summary: Shay Bourne’s a death row inmate who wants to donate his heart to Claire Nealon, June’s daughter. However, he’s also convicted of murdering June’s husband and her other daughter. June has to decide whether to let Shay give his heart to Claire. Maggie becomes his lawyer, Michael his spiritual advisor.

Characters: They all have their own unique voice. I liked the unique dilemmas of each character.

Quote:

“You do not learn to like something you abhor; you come to live with it.”

Conflict: There’s a lot going on with the plot. Yet the author does a fine job simplifying complicated issues enough to make them understandable for the layperson.

Writing: I’m fond of the style. Picoult describes what’s going on well enough for me to picture each scene in my head. I didn’t mind the dialogue either. The characters have conversations about real, relevant issues.

I’m not religious, so I don’t know much about religion. But I think it’s a tough topic to write about. The author isn’t condescending or preaching. If anything, through the conversations in the book, Picoult may even encourage discourse in real life.

Final thoughts: I liked Change of Heart. I’d recommend it if you enjoy contemporary reads about contemporary issues.


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Game’s End By Natasha Deen | A Book Review

Title: Game’s End

Author: Natasha Deen

Genre: YA Paranormal

About the book: The third novel in a trilogy. I received a copy through the Goodreads giveaway program.

First impressions: It took me time to get into the story’s world. I haven’t read the first two books, so I didn’t know what happened previously. But once I got caught up and had a better sense of the world, I enjoyed the plot more.

Summary: Maggie Jackson has a lot on her plate. She’s a guardian helping people transition from one plane of existence to another. But when more people start dying, Magge finds herself at the center of it all.

Characters: I like the cast of characters because they’re different and flawed in their own way. They also develop over the course of the novel. Maggie is the female protagonist. Like the author, she’s a person of colour. I liked the banter between the group of friends: Maggie, Nell, Craig, and Serge. The varying relationship dynamics work well together.

Quote:

“Sometimes trying to avoid your destiny brings you to it.”

Conflict: In hinsight, I probably should’ve read the first two books before this one. I still understood the plot about soul-eaters, but having more backstory might have helped me better appreciate the book as a whole.

Writing: The language is simple and straightforward. Deen does a good job on the dialogue. I wouldn’t have minded more description or worldbuilding. Even though I spotted a couple of formatting errors and missing punctuation marks, there aren’t any major errors.

Final thoughts: The ending answers some questions, yet poses new ones. If you’re looking for a quick read with supernatural elements, give Game’s End a try.


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The House On Foster Hill By Jamie Jo Wright | A Book Review

Title: The House On Foster Hill

Author: Jamie Jo Wright

Genre: Romantic Suspense

About the book: A debut novel by Wright told in alternating viewpoints. Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

First impressions: I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it got more and more interesting. The beginning sets the stage for the novel to play out at a decent pace.

Summary: The book switches between the perspectives of Ivy and Kaine. Ivy tries to find out the identity of a dead woman. Kaine’s husband dies, so she moves away to start anew. Both women have pasts holding them back from living in the moment and enjoying what life has to offer.

Characters: Ivy works with Joel in the past while Kaine meets a man named Grant in the present. They’re similar in some ways but different enough to be distinct individuals. The women have flaws yet Kaine and Ivy do their best.

Quote:

“Sometimes the only way you can silence the bad being done and protect the ones you love is to hold it all inside and never beathe a word.”

Conflict: The author tackles an important issue that isn’t talked about enough.

Writing: The writing is well done. I liked the contrast between the early 1900s and modern day. Wright does a good job with the different time periods. Even though I didn’t find the pacing too slow, it picks up at the end. Everything falls into place and unanswered questions are answered. In my opinion, I found some of the plot twists hard to predict, but they made sense nonetheless.

Final thoughts: A lot happens in the conclusion. I have a feeling this story will stick with me. For a variety of reasons, it’s a memorable read.

I’m pleasantly surprised at the fact that the book doesn’t have too many touchy-feely scenes. Wright strikes a nice balance. The storylines aren’t overwhelmed by romantic relationships.

The House On Foster Hill blends many different elements together for an interesting read.


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The Gunslinger By Stephen King | A Book Review

Title: The Gunslinger

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the first novel in a series called The Dark Tower.

First impressions: I’ve read King before, so I had high expectations. My edition included a foreword where King talked about writing, which I loved reading. To be honest, I didn’t know what was going on at first. Fortunately, the story got more interesting and less confusing.

Summary: The gunslinger, Roland, pursues the man in black across a desert. The latter has answers the former is seeking.

Characters: I liked getting to know Roland, especially learning more about his past. Near the end, the gunslinger catches up with the man in black who remains a mystery for most of the novel. Along the way, Roland meets others. Even though the conversations included unique slang I didn’t always understand, I enjoyed the interactions nonetheless.

Quote:

“What hurt you once will hurt you twice.”

Conflict: I found the plot moved at a slow pace.

Writing: It’s well written. I feel like this story and perhaps the series as a whole is quite particular in that you either love it, hate it, or don’t get it. I feel like I’m in the last camp. For most of the book, I felt lost more than anything.

I see some parallels to our real world, but other than that, a lot of the scenes went over my head.

Despite my ignorance, King still did a fine job with the description and dialogue.

Final thoughts: In my opinion, the ending might be the best part of the story. It answered questions and posed new ones for the next novel. That said, I probably won’t continue with this series.

I didn’t love it, but I’m sure there are individuals out there who would love The Gunslinger and all the other books. Besides, the first one isn’t too long.


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Picking One Of My Passions

I love reading, writing, and blogging so much, they’re daily habits of mine. At least I try to do them every day. I had the brilliant idea of making myself pick one of my passions over the others. This will be fun.

Reading or writing?

I already hate myself for doing this. I can’t give up creating stories. I say this while staring at all the books on my shelves. They used to be empty, but it’s slowly filling up.

Writing or blogging?

I’m reminded of the time I thought I could only take a writing class or a blogging one. Turns out, I could take both, so I did. Interestingly enough, I did slightly better in the blogging course, but my heart still loves writing more. Also, I’ve skipped more days of blogging than I have writing since I started both.

Reading or blogging?

This is tough as well. I can’t imagine myself not reading ever again. After all, I’ve been reading almost my whole life and blogging for only one fifth of it.

Hopefully, I never have to give up any of my passions. I feel grateful I’m able to do the things I enjoy. I wouldn’t be the same without books, blogs, and baseball. The latter is a story for another day however.