Friday, August 6, 2021

Taking A Hiatus

Hello everyone,

I've been writing this blog for the last 12.5 years. With Trey's help, we've reviewed 231 books. I've had two babies, moved twice, and brought numerous new cats into my home to love. I've found book clubs and other passionate readers who like to spend their free time really talking about books. I've discovered new authors and gotten lost among so many pages.

Reading is the most amazing thing I'm able to do each day, and I love books. I love that it's a little more than halfway through the year, and I've finished 21 titles, but life is busy. Work is busy. Kids are busy. I'd rather take the free time I have now to read more instead of writing up book reviews.

I started this blog to continue practicing my craft as a writer, and I'm thankful that that has now become my job. I write every day, I read every day. Life is good, so I'm going to take a little break from my blog. I may come back, I may not, but I'll always be there for a book suggestion should you need one.

Like my new favorite shirt says, Fight Evil, Read Books. Keep it up friends.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles


Second book club book #16

This book is hard to sum up. It's good. It paints a wonderful picture of a slice of life in 1930's NYC, but the snippet is complex. It's hard to tell who the book is really about, and it definitely has multiple messages, which complicates things.

If compelled to give an opinion, which these blogs are ultimately all about, I'd say I liked this one specifically because of the characters. The year in the life this book covers gives each character a complete arc. Nobody ends near where they start, and accomplishing that for this cast is an admirable feat.

It's quite a fun group in Rules of Civility though:

  • Katey is the "career" girl, whose innovation, talent, and smarts carry her.
  • Evelyn is the opportunist who struggles to find that perfect escape from the life she has to work to lead.
  • Tinker (what a great name) is the charmer with the hard lessons on the horizon.
  • Hank is probably the most intelligent guy in the crowd, but he's battling between self-expression, addiction, and duty.
  • Anne is the high society dame who's hard to resist.

This list only hits the characters that reoccur the most, but there are plenty more. Many of which complete smaller arcs of their own, moving on to a new place from where they begin within the course of the story. It's so well done.

The only complaint with this book is that, for me, it was hard to feel like anything was really happening because of the tone. Everything is delivered at a more even clip, no matter how huge it all really is in the lives of these characters. Sometimes, I found myself flipping back a page or two to soak it all in.

However, overall, this is a very well-done novel, and an enjoyable read. Nicely done and recommended for anyone in need of a period piece that's outside of the Regency era in Britian.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig


How to Stop Time is a love story that’s riddled with way too much internal monologuing. Tom Hazard, the main character, thinks in such long-winded thoughts that I found myself rolling my eyes as I read. He also over thinks everything which is most likely a side effect of the fact that he’s over 400 years old.

Due to a rare disorder, Tom ages much more slowly than the average person and has lived many lifetimes when we meet him in the present day. Of course these lifetimes are corrupted by the sadness and pain from having fallen in love when he was just a young man, in a time where suspicions often lead to death. He's had to run and hide, leaving behind his love and losing her and his daughter to time.

Today, Tom’s a mess, pinning for a daughter that may or may not be alive while enduring the same ageless gift that has him existing within constant fear. As a member of the Albatross Society, Tom lives his life in eight year increments, moving on to a new place and inhabiting a new identity when each period is up. All this comes with a price, and between each transition he must complete a task for the Society, who’s trying to recruit all the others like Tom. Those refusing to join, don’t always come to a natural end.

Right now, Tom is a history teacher in London, fighting off headaches and detailed reveries into his past where stories shift from sadness and pain to meeting people like Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He catalogues his great love and truly whines quite a bit. It all climaxes with an epiphany, a discovery, and a lot of philosophizing. There's also kind of a happy ending, but it’s not exciting. Tom may end the book hopeful, but he can’t shake his essence as a big 'ole downer.

I picked up this book because of The Midnight Library. I liked it and enjoyed Haig’s writing style, which is similar here, but it just doesn’t work for me. I never got into the characters and couldn’t tell what kind of book I was reading, so mixed were the signals. I’d recommend skipping this one, but trying Haig out by grabbing a copy of another one of his books.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman


I loved this book. It's so perfectly written. New bits of information are rolled out at the perfect time. Although everything takes place within a few hours, nothing ever feels rushed.

Everyone in this book is anxious. It's an appropriate title, but the pressures everyone is under are totally different. First, there's the bank robber who's anxious because their botched robbery has led to a hostage situation. Each of the hostages are anxious because of what's happening in their lives, not because of the fact that they're all stuck in an apartment for sale, right before New Year's Eve. Rounding out the gang are two cops whose interpersonal baggage and desire to save the day make them anxious as well.

It's a humorous setup, with a bank robber who can't do anything right, but this isn't a funny story. Many of the characters start the book sad and a little lost. The storytelling feels a little comical, and we're definitely in the realm of the absurd, but everything becomes so emotional, and then becomes emotionally fulfilling. I may have almost cried at the end, almost.

Throughout their time as hostages, every character changes their view of their lives. They all start with something hidden. It's all exposed. They're all changed. You get an ending that puts each into a new arc that's both pleasing to you and happier for them. The story also comes full circle in a perfect way, one that has nothing to do with the botched robbery.

This is a great book. It's so different from what I've read lately and was not what I expected it to be at all. It's an intelligent, and unique, look at everyday people, put into an unlikely situation. Instead of being scared, they face it head-on, all of them, and come out better than they went in. It's a great read for anyone.