Tag Archives: book review

What’s On Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for September

Hey y’all. I have another book review for you today. I wasn’t going to put this as it’s own post but I cannot stop thinking about this book. I am sort of in a place where I know I will be going over this in my mind for a while and so to that end, I am putting these thoughts to words here- in case you were debating on reading it… Read this.

Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
Knopf, 2014, 352 pages

Opening Line(s) of the Book:

The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.

Not too gripping, right?

Well, read on. These first few lines are just setting the stage (sorry, not sorry for the pun) for the rest of the book. Going back and forth through time, the book begins with a major event one night in Toronto which sets in place a series of events that change life as we know it, into one where only a few survive and these survivors try to find a way to survive and also live in this new world.

The life of Arthur Leander, a famous actor, sets the backdrop for the story. As his life unfolds, so does the scenery, the characters, and the story. It’s a doomsday book, with an upside. It doesn’t leave us hanging at the end- it finishes. It wraps up nicely in a way that left me feeling more reflective and satisfied that I greatly benefited from reading this book. Yes. A reading win.

I loved the subtley of this book- there is no horribly grizzly scene of the world’s end.The collapse of the world is fast. So fast that it is surprising-  but it is quiet. People just disappear and there is no way to contact them- The internet, electricity, vehicles don’t work anymore and become after time, a thing of only memory; memories are hard to come by with so many dead. The value of keeping the history alive and teaching what was to the children and other survivors is a theme. The book’s Museum of Civilization is seemingly a museum of just things: a high heel, a driver’s license, a comic book. But the importance of these things, and of the preservation of them is so…well, librarian…so basic to my values of remembering our history and artifacts, that I totally loved this idea within the book.

The author has such a knack for depicting a futuristic view without making it a science-fiction future that we can’t imagine. Her devastating future is tangible. We can see how it could happen- making it the scariest book that I’ve read in a while.

Favorite line:

“Survival is insufficient.”

Depicted as a tattoo and also painted on the lead caravan of the nomads, it’s a line from Star Trek: Voyager (Sept. 1999, Ronald D. Moore). I love it, because A) I love that it’s from Star Trek- the most well known sci-fi world that we have had the pleasure of experiencing both on TV and in comic book form- but also B)  I love the words themselves: Reminding us to LIVE. Not just survive. Notice. Experience. Do. Be. But also, of course, stay alive.

'Survival is insufficient.' Reminding us to LIVE. Not just survive. Notice. Experience. Do. Be. Click To Tweet

Favorite Exchange:

“Are you asking if I believe in ghosts?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Yes.”

“Of course not. Imagine how many there’d be.”

“Yes,” Kirsten said, “that’s exactly it.”

Touching on what happens after doomsday event…I am so glad the book addresses how blindly we would follow…or who we’d follow…or what we’d believe if only to find the familiar. Good questions here.

Overall Take:

I loved it, obviously, and highly recommend, and not only for science fiction lovers. If you love history or present day contemporary fiction, I think you would appreciate the currency of this novel- it is so full of imagination, but also grounded by our very real lives today.

The rest of my nightstand is atrocious! I have at least 10 books on there and the pile is just growing. Why? I have time. I have no idea why my progress is so slow, but then, it’s not a race is it? No. Quality, not quantity, my friends.

What’s on YOUR nightstand?


Links within the post are affiliate links (read full disclosure). Linked up with  Book Beginnings, BookDate, What’s on your nightstand?

Book Review: Still Here by Lara Vapnyar

As a book reviewer, I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging For Books to facilitate this review. I received no other compensation and as always my review and opinion is 100% my own. Links within the post are affiliate links (read full disclosure).

Let’s start this review by me telling you that I really enjoyed the book. Now you can keep reading all about it and know that I am not wasting your time!

I didn’t know if I’d like the premise, but ended up very interested:

Four friends who separately leave Russia to live in New York City. The book details how their lives are intertwined, and different since leaving Russia, their expectations and experiences as immigrants in a new city, and how their outlooks on life change, the longer they stay in the US.

For those of you reading from Book Beginnings…the first few line (s) of the book are:

“Promise me you won’t call it ‘Virtual Grave,'” Vica said as they turned onto the West Side Highway.

“You were the one who hated ‘The Voice from the Grave’!” Sergey said.

“‘The Voice from the Grave’ is even worse. We can’t afford a name that’s a downer.”

“Well, the entire idea is about death. And death happens to be a downer,” Sergey said.

From the New York Times Book Reviewe, 100 Notable Books of 2016:

Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hungers for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.

The backdrop of the story is the concept of our digital lives. How we present ourselves one way on social media, either hoping to present our best-selves or the self we want to be. The book raises questions about whether our online life is actually our life, and should it live on once we are gone (dead). The characters in the story debate this idea, and the perception about the value of our digital lives is reflected back and forth as we see the characters live ACTUAL lives.

Huh. Super interesting to me, as I have a sense that I hate Facebook and know everyone presents only what they want people to see, but I also use it a ton for this blog – it is a platform for what I want to show the world about HAG, so I find value in using it in my life. The book was expert in mirroring the absurdity of our digital lives in these characters.

Aside from the story itself, I loved the insight into immigrants from Russia in a city. I liked that I could relate to the characters who were approaching 40 years of age, who were at points in their lives where they are focused on jobs, family, or their futures. I liked that I could relate on that level but also gain some insight into how different living in the US is to someone from outside of it.

Overall Take:

There is romance, technology, contemporary life, urban sensibility and philosophical rambling in here. Maybe not for everyone, but I found it fun and satisfying.

 


Still Here, by Lara Vapnyar
Hogarth Press (reprint), 2017, 336 pages

HAG Reads, a Book Review: The Chesapeake Bride

I am thrilled to share with you THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE by Mariah Stewart.

DETAILS:

(From the Publisher) [tThis is] the charming story of a jaded architect who meets the one man who could finally melt her heart—if she’s willing to let him in.

Cassidy Logan has sworn off good-looking adventurers, having just divorced the one she’d married. Now working with her father’s construction company to build ecologically friendly, historically accurate homes on the Chesapeake Bay, she’s designing them for Cannonball Island. Knowing there’s been no new construction on the island in almost one hundred years, Cass is sensitive to the heritage and history of the sparsely populated island, and has come up with plans so perfect she’s determined to buy one for herself to live in. Even the fact that Owen Parker—whom she dismisses as a lightweight and a player— seems to be everywhere she goes isn’t enough to deter her from building her dream house.

Owen is and always has been sinfully handsome and wickedly clever, a magnet for mischief as well as the girls in St. Dennis. He’s also a rolling stone, going and doing whatever appeals to him, from flying a mail plane in Alaska to working on a cattle ranch in Australia and a shrimp boat in Louisiana, to surfing and diving in Costa Rica. When an old friend offers him a job salvaging a sunken ship in the Chesapeake, Owen gladly accepts. Something’s been telling him it’s about time to head home to Cannonball Island, and a job is as good an excuse as any. He’s totally smitten with the pretty architect, but it seems he’s finally met a woman who’s immune to his charms. Sooner or later, Owen will have to face the reason why he always runs, because this time, leaving just might be harder than staying.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.

MY TAKE:

Love! It is a good feeling, cozy romance with a contemporary story and vibe to it- Having not read the first 10 books, I was worried that I wouldn’t love this- but it was just great! Yes, cheese sounding here as you don’t get the full context of Stewart’s writing, but it reads really well and fast and fun and not cheese-ball at all actually! It is a light, contemporary romance for the non-romance reader!!

I LOVE THIS REVIEW:

Praise for That Chesapeake Summer, Book 9 in The Chesapeake Diaries:

“[That Chesapeake Summer] deftly uses the tools of the genre to explore issues of identity, truth, and smalltown kinship…Stewart offers a strong statement on the power of love and trust, a fitting theme for this big-hearted small town romance.”

—Publishers Weekly

THE DEETS: The Chesapeake Bride

11th in The Chesapeake Diaries series
Mariah Stewart
Pocket Books
August 29, 2017
ISBN 9781501154355
$7.99

Andddd….You guys…here’s an END OF SUMMER GIVEAWAY (Whoot hooot!) to help get you up to speed at least a little on the series:

I am giving away copy of Driftwood Point, 10th in the Chesapeake Diaries (the one right before the Chesapeake Bride, for via UPS. (U.S. only, please.)

We’re celebrating The Chesapeake Bride and Summer 2017 with one giveaway for Driftwood Point, 10th in The Chesapeake Diaries Series by Mariah Stewart! The last day for entries will be Friday, September 22nd (the official last day of summer!) The winner will receive one copy of Driftwood Point. U.S. only, please.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And a little side-note:

Look for Gallery Books’ second installment in Mariah Stewart’s all-new trade original women’s fiction series, The Hudson Sisters, from The Last Chance Matinee, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish—and discover themselves in the process. Remember I reviewed it way back when?!

Well, now Book 2, The Sugarhouse Blues, will publish March 2018, so be on the look out, because the first one was a super cute, feel-good book that I want to keep reading!


*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.

Check out what other blogs I linked this article with: What are you reading, Monday?