Every Note Played #newbook #bookreview

Author of Still Alice has a new book out this month called Every Note Played. I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. This review is spoiler-free 🙂 Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

Every Note Played

 

Title: Every Note Played

Author: Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Scout Press

Date published: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 320

 

 

synopsis

“From neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice comes a powerful exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom, and what it means to be alive.

An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.

Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.

He knows his left arm will go next.

Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.

When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.”

My Review

After thoroughly enjoying Still Alice (about early onset Alzheimer’s disease) and Left Neglected (about traumatic brain injury), I was extremely excited to receive a complimentary copy of Lisa Genova’s new novel Every Note Played. This is a heart-breaking drama about Richard’s struggle with ALS, told from both his perspective and that of his ex-wife Karina. When we meet Richard he is at the top of his game, preparing for yet another big concert where he gets to flaunt his fantastic piano playing. He’s a narcissistic, sexist jerk, and I thought there was no way I could ever care about him. Flash forward to me, crying many tears many times while reading this touching story.

Richard and Karina have a daughter, Grace, who is attending University. After the divorce Grace distanced herself from her father because while growing up it seemed like he was never home. Richard is lucky enough to have an amazing care worker named Bill, a strong, professional, compassionate, homosexual man who made me chuckle and weep.

I didn’t know a lot about ALS going into this, and feel grateful to read a novel that gives a description in a clear way that the average reader could understand. Although this is a somber story about disappointment, resentment, and betrayal, it’s also about love, forgiveness, and hope. I am left in awe of the ALS warriors and the champion care-givers.

About the author.jpg

Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She has captured a special place in contemporary fiction, writing stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. Her books focus on people living with neurological diseases and disorders who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is accessible to the general public. Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research. She has written about Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington’s disease, and ALS.

STILL ALICE was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.

In 2015, Lisa was named one of the U.S. Top 50 Influencers in Aging. She received The Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square,The Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award, The Global Genes RARE Champions of Hope Award, and The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Media Award for Informing the Public about Treatment and Ongoing Research in Medical Illness.

In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bates College, The Alzheimer’s Association’s Rita Hayworth Award, and The Huntington’s Disease Society of America Community Awareness Award.

Her 2017 TED talk, “What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s,” was seen by over 2.5 million viewers in its first few months and was one of the most popular TED talks of 2017.

Her fifth novel, EVERY NOTE PLAYED, is about ALS and will be published in early 2018.”

www.lisagenova.com

www.Facebook.com/authorlisagenova

www.Instagram.com/authorlisagenova

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Stray City #bookreview #MarchBookRelease #LGBTQ

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss, for allowing me to review.

Stray City

 

Title: Stray City

Author: Chelsey Johnson

Genre: Adult Literary Fiction, LGBTQ

Publisher: Custom House

Date published: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 432

 

 

synopsis

“A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.

All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .

Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.

A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.

A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.”

 

My Review

 

Stray City is a nostalgic read, especially for those born in the 80s, teens who listened to music on walk-mans, made mixed tapes, and had Myspace profiles. There are parts of this story that are heart-wrenching, but also humour, and a big dollop of quirky-ness.

Gender, sexism, sexuality, family, acceptance, and identity are some big themes talked about, but not in a preachy way. I think we all struggle with identity, and many of us change how we act in front of different groups of people. Even if you’re not gay, I think you’ll find you can relate to the main character’s feelings.

The main character is Andrea, raised in Nebraska by an extremely religious mother, forced to hide the fact that she is a lesbian. Nebraska was a great choice for her birth place because it gave the opportunity to share Brandon Teena’s story, a trans murdered in Nebraska. Having the reader reminded of that heart-breaking story brings a heavier, darker, authentic feeling to Andrea’s stress of living in Nebraska and helps to explain why Portland was such a haven for her.

I admire how independent Andrea is. As a young person, on her own, with no family financial support, she is working three jobs, successfully paying her rent and doing okay. She has created a new family in Portland, a family that accepts her for who she is. During a night out with her friends she sees two of her ex-girlfriends flirting with each other. Devastated, she meets Ryan at the bar, and after a drunken kiss she finds herself in a secret relationship with him. Forced to hide her true self from her friends, like she did while living in Nebraska. Just when her life couldn’t feel more complicated, she gets pregnant.

 

“Smart and delightful . . . A chief pleasure of the novel is its shagginess, reflected in Andrea’s ‘mostly hopeful,’ unambitious, but inquisitive life. Johnson taps into a nostalgia for a reader’s youth and a simpler time, and the story keeps its vitality and humor throughout.” -Publishers Weekly

“Stray City has it all; as funny as it is moving, as joyful, as radically communal, as it is lonesome, the story covers the varied complications of place, home, sex, city—but mostly it’s about the necessary and unexpected revolutions of the self, and about how queerly we make our way through this world. Honestly, one of the most absorbing, finely-tuned books I’ve had the pleasure of falling down into. Chelsey Johnson is a wonder.” -Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals

 

The plot is a little predictable and I really didn’t like Ryan leaving, it felt completely out of character to me. I would have loved to know more about his family and upbringing, perhaps that would have made his choices a bit more believable. That’s about the only fault I can find. Absolutely loved this book! I devoured Stray City in two days and cannot wait to read more of Chelsey Johnson’s writing.

About the author.jpg

“Chelsey Johnson received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts, among other outlets. She has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Signal Fire Arts. She currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, and is an assistant professor at the College of William & Mary. This is her first novel.”

Currently Reading: Stray City #LGBT #AdultFiction #Contemporary

Stray City.jpg

Stray City is expected to be published March 20, 2018, I was sent a complimentary copy in advance in exchange for my unbiased review.

Title: Stray City

Author: Chelsey Johnson

Expected Publication: March 20, 2018

Publisher: Custom House

432 pages

Adult Fiction, Literary, LGBT, Contemporary

 

“One of the most anticipated debuts in years, Stray City strikes a perfect balance of hipster charm, sparkling literary acumen, and the sort of timely themes that make for the most popular book club selections.” Edelweiss+

A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.

All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .

Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.

A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.

A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.” Goodreads

  • Stray City will appeal to readers of LGBTQ-themed titles such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, and Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, as well as fans of general coming-of-age stories such as the ‘90s cult classic Reality Bites, or Nick Hornby’s classics High Fidelity and About a Boy.” (Edelweiss+)

 

Book Review for Upcoming Mystery/Thriller “A Guide for Murdered Children” by Sarah Sparrow

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

 

Title: A Guide for Murdered Children

Author: Sarah Sparrow

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Expected Publication: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 400 pages

 

 

synopsis

We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.” (Goodreads)

 

My Review

A Guide for Murdered Children is separated into three books: “Closely Watched Trains”, “The Spirit Room”, and “Local and Express”. While reading the first 25% of this book the first time around I was terribly confused. I honestly had no idea what in the world was happening. The story flipped from past to present and it was challenging to keep everything straight. I almost decided to stop reading it, instead I flipped to the beginning to try again. I’m SO GLAD that I did, because I understood it much better the second time around.

Detective Willow “Dubya” Wylde is presently at a rehab in Arizona. He’s made some really bad choices in life, ruining his career and family. It’s time to make amends and restore balance. The story flips to the past where we meet brother and sister, Troy and Maya on the day they were murdered in Saggerty Falls, Michigan. Back to the present we meet Deputy Lydia Molloy as she falls to her death at the Macomb Orchard Trail and Deputy Daniel Doheny, who dies from a heart attack. In the present eleven year old Winston is also murdered around the same time that Renée “Honeychile” Devonshire dies from an asthma attack. The murdered children’s spirits enter the body of those who have recently died (usually adults except for Honeychile) in order to achieve their moment of balance by killing the person who took their life.  As the murdered children’s spirits enter their “landlords”, the “landlord” body comes back to life – so the people who know the “landlords” don’t realize they have died. I hope that made sense. I’ll wait while you go back and re-read that part…Okay, you following me?

Annie, the Porter, greets the new arrivals on the train, giving them the address for the meeting.  There are also Subalterns on the train, who are ancient, shadowy beings. Annie, The Porter, knows her replacement is coming soon but doesn’t know who it is yet.  At the meeting the murdered children are given the Guidebook of rules they must follow.

Detective Willow has a recurring dream of being on a train. In the dream the Porter gives him an address. When he wakes up he decides to go to the address, discovering it’s the new house of his ex-wife and her new husband Owen, who is Willow’s old cop partner. He makes up a story that he’s there to make amends with both of them, and Owen asks Willow to join his new Cold Case team. In Book Two and Three there are a lot of twists and turns, it kept me turning the pages wondering what in the world was going to happen next.

A Guide for Murdered Children is an extremely out-of-the-box concept of balance and forgiveness. It’s a little far-fetched for a Mystery/Thriller, you’ll have to put aside your questions and just let it be revealed to you.

The main character, Willow, is seriously annoying. I don’t think he experiences enough of a transition to make me like him in the end. If you like unlikable characters he might be right up your alley.  Although I did not enjoy Willow’s character, I enjoyed Annie, and Willow’s ex-wife. I would have loved more information about the Subalterns.

The book is too long and can benefit by an editor not afraid to trim the unnecessary bits.  If you can get past the first 25%, and let your mind wander outside of reality, then I think you’ll enjoy this thriller.

 

About the author.jpg

From what I could figure out A Guide for Murdered Children is written with a pen name, Sarah Sparrow. I attempted some digging around online, but wasn’t able to figure out the real name of the author.

Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis: A Guide For Parents {Spoiler-Free Book Review}

Talking with your child about their autism diagnosisTalking with Your Child about Their Autism Diagnosis: A Guide for Parents

NonFiction
Expected Publication: November 21, 2017

GoodReads Blurb

As a mother of two children on the spectrum, with over ten years’ experience as a psychologist specialising in childhood autism, Raelene Dundon has all the tips you’ll need. In this concise book, she sets out case studies, examples and resources that will equip you to make your own informed choices and help your whole family to live well with autism. Part One provides ways to tell children of different ages and development levels about their diagnosis, including photocopiable and downloadable worksheets designed to help diagnosed children understand autism, and gives advice on what to do if they react in a negative or unexpected way to the news. Part Two explores the pros and cons of sharing the diagnosis with others, including family, friends, school staff and your child’s classmates, and guides you through what to do if others don’t understand or accept the diagnosis.”

My Thoughts

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss, for allowing me to review.

Talking With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis is an informational book that highlights why, how, when, and what to tell your child about their Autism diagnosis. Dundon shares common parental reactions to a diagnosis (and how to deal with feelings), what to do if a child uses Autism as an excuse, and also what to tell family, friends, and teachers about their child’s diagnosis. She includes an abundance of resources, such as downloadable worksheets and a list of helpful books, videos, and websites.

I highly recommend this short book to EVERYONE, not just parents of children who have been diagnosed with Autism. I believe that the more we all know about it, the better we can share facts and provide support to children we know.

About The Author

Raelene Dundon.jpgRaelene Dundon

“Raelene is the Director of Okey Dokey Childhood Psychology in Melbourne, Australia. She is a registered Psychologist and holds a Masters Degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Raelene has extensive experience working with children with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as typically developing children, providing educational, social/emotional and behavioural support.

Raelene has worked extensively in early childhood intervention settings, schools and private practice, and works with preschools and schools to provide individual student and staff support, as well as running social skills groups for students. She regularly presents workshops for parents and professionals on topics related to supporting children with special needs in the classroom and in other settings, and has recently presented at an International Autism Conference in Edinburgh, as well as conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne.

Raelene is also the mother of three children, two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum, and draws on both her personal and professional experience to provide support and guidance to families and carers.”

A Stranger in the House – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

stranger in the houseA Stranger in the House

Large Print Copy: Published August 2017 (first published July 2017)
Random House
Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Tom Krupp arrives home in a rich New York neighborhood to find his wife isn’t there, and has left in quite a hurry. She left her purse, phone, and didn’t lock the door. He is concerned because it’s not like her to leave the house unlocked. The cops show up to tell Tom that his wife Karen has been in a car accident. The police say she was driving recklessly. Karen wakes up in the hospital and can’t remember why she left the house so quickly, or why she was driving so fast in the “bad part” of town. Officer Kirton and Office Fleming visit Karen in hospital to question her, and let her know that she will be charged with reckless driving. Karen and Tom hire Jack Calvin as their lawyer. He’s confident that with Karen’s clean record she’ll be able to have the charges dropped.
Brigid Cruikshank is Tom and Karen’s nosy neighbour, she’s also Karen’s best friend. Her husband Bob works long hours and doesn’t pay much attention to Karen. She spends her time watching the neighborhood through the front window, knitting, and waiting.
When Karen arrives home she begins to notice things have been moved around and she’s quite sure that someone has been coming into their home. She’s suffering from a pretty bad concussion so Tom is sure her short-term memory is a little fuzzy.
A man and woman stumble into the abandoned restaurant looking for a place to make out when they come across the dead man’s body. Detective Rasbach and Detective Jennings are on the case to find the murderer. Not far from the scene they find a pair of pink dishwashing gloves. The gloves have tire tracks on them, which seem to match the tire tread of Karen’s Honda Civic. The detectives become extremely suspicious of Karen and pay her and Tom a visit.
Did Karen really murder someone? Is Tom in on it? Did Brigid see anything? A Stranger in the House is a fast-paced, page-turning thriller.
The characters were a little one-dimensional for me. I would have loved a little more background about Bob and Brigid. Tom, Karen, Brigid, the cops, the detectives…they all annoyed me. I found some of their actions slightly off. I don’t think I could even pick a favourite character to be honest with you.
I also found it a weird that Tom would keep telling the police how it’s so out of Karen’s character to be in “that part of town”, and she never speeds, etc…BUT they’ve only been together a few years. That’s not very long at all. I wish Tom and Karen would have been married for longer, because then when he said it’s out of her character it would have been more believable.
There was too much telling and not enough showing.

And the ending…ugh…I did not like the ending at all.

I’m not a fan of using amnesia as a tool to help set up twists in a thriller. I didn’t like it when it was used for The Girl on the Train and I don’t like it in A Stranger in the House.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy, non-gory thriller then I’d recommend A Stranger in the House.

New Book Published! The Shoe on the Roof ~ Spoiler-Free Review

The shoe on the roofThe Shoe on the Roof

By Will Ferguson

Published October 17, 2017 by Simon and Schuster

384 pages (hardcover)

Adult Fiction

Goodreads Giveaway: Ends October 31, 2017

 

 

 

Book Blurb

From the Giller Prize–winning novelist of 419 comes the startling, funny, and heartbreaking story of a psychological experiment gone wrong.

Ever since his girlfriend ended their relationship, Thomas Rosanoff’s life has been on a downward spiral. A gifted med student, he has spent his entire adulthood struggling to escape the legacy of his father, an esteemed psychiatrist who used him as a test subject when he was a boy. Thomas lived his entire young life as the “Boy in the Box,” watched by researchers behind two-way glass.

But now the tables have turned. Thomas is the researcher, and his subjects are three homeless men, all of whom claim to be messiahs—but no three people can be the one and only saviour of the world. Thomas is determined to “cure” the three men of their delusions, and in so doing save his career—and maybe even his love life. But when Thomas’s father intervenes in the experiment, events spin out of control, and Thomas must confront the voices he hears in the labyrinth of his own mind.”

The Shoe on the Roof

A woman dies on the operating table. The doctors refuse to give up on her. After they miraculously bring her back to life she says she floated about them all, floated up to the roof of the hospital. The doctors explain how that feeling is caused neurologically. She tells them she saw a shoe on the roof. They sent a janitor up there who finds the shoe she had described.

My Thoughts

The Shoe on the Roof has an extremely unique plot. The idea that belief in God can be caused neurologically is certainly provocative. When I read the book blurb about how this story is about a failed psychological experiment I was worried it would be a “heavy” read with lots of difficult words and medical jargon. That is not the case at all. The scientific terms are not difficult to understand. Other reviewers have said there were many times that they laughed out loud, and although I didn’t find it funny enough to actually laugh out loud, it is a fun, quick read.

Each character had a distinct voice and personality. One of the mentally ill men who calls himself the magician is my favourite character by far. I would read an entire book about his life story. There are lots of interesting medical information and thought-provoking ideas about the relation between mental health and religion.

There are some interesting comparisons between this story and Christianity. The Shoe on the Roof highlights father/son relationships: Thomas and his father, Jesus Christ and his father. Thomas is trying to cure three men who believe they are the Messiah, which made me think of the three wise men. Thomas’s godmother Frances is a wonderful woman who helps the injured and sick homeless people  – probably inspired by Saint Frances of Rome, a nun who served in hospitals and even established a homeless shelter at one point in her life.

There is a big twist at the end that I DID NOT SEE coming. I often guess the big twist when reading mysteries and thrillers, so I’m always impressed when an author manages to make my jaw drop.

I did not start liking the main character, Thomas, until around 3/4 of the way through the book. At the beginning of the story he is a sexist, arrogant, a-hole. I did not understand his motivations which made me not care about if he was able to win back his ex-girlfriend. Actually, I don’t even like the ex-girlfriend either to be honest. Thankfully, Thomas achieves a crap-load of personal growth, and by the last 50 pages I found myself finally caring about him. I would have quit reading it before the 100 page mark if it wasn’t an ARC. I am glad I did finish it, because this ended up being a pretty good read for me.

I don’t understand why there was a murder mystery sub plot about homeless people being murdered. That could have been left out of the story completely and wouldn’t have changed the main plot in any way. Actually…you could also cut out the Thomas/Amy storyline as well. It would have created more room to give us more background information, especially about the three mentally ill men.

If you’re a fan of mysteries and like science/psychology I think you’ll dig this book.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

About the Author

Will Ferguson.jpg

 

Will Ferguson is an award-winning travel writer and novelist. His last work of fiction, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour a record-tying three times and has been nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His new novel, The Shoe on the Roof, will be released October 17, 2017. Visit him at WillFerguson.ca

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower Book 3) By Stephen King #SpoilerFree #BookReview

The Waste Lands The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)

By Stephen King, Illustrated By Ned Dameron

Published by Plume January 1992 (first published August 1991)

ISBN 0452267404

422 pages

 

The Waste Lands is an epic fantasy horror science fiction story with bad-ass gunslingers and sociopathic bad guys brought to you by Stephen King. King begins The Waste Lands novel with an “argument”, providing a quick summary of the first two books, along with some intriguing insights. The story then picks up “some months” after the ending of The Drawing of the Three, over 60 miles from the Western Sea in Mid-World. Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger, has drawn two companions into his world, Eddie and Susannah Dean, who have agreed to help him find the Dark Tower. Eddie was once the Prisoner. Susannah, the Lady of the Shadows, was once Odetta Holmes and Detta Walker. While Roland is training Susannah how to shoot she confesses that she knows there has been something wrong with him since the conflict on the beach. He claims that there is nothing wrong. While they are talking, Eddie is leaning against a tree whittling away at a piece of wood when they all hear an enormous crash in the woods.

Mir, parasite-infested, largest and oldest creature in the Great West Woods charges toward Eddie, who manages to scramble up the highest tree nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Roland’s shoulders Susannah successfully shoots the spinning rusty radar-dish on Mir’s head, which “kills” him. Roland tells them this enormous bear is one of the twelve Guardians. It is 2,000-3,000 years old and its real name is Shardik. The Great Old Ones created the twelve cyborg Guardians to stand watch at the twelve portals. The Thirteenth Portal, which rules all the worlds, is found at the Dark Tower. Roland explains that if they can find the portal Shardik was protecting they would be able to follow a straight line to the Dark Tower. As they journey to the portal Roland is slowly going more insane. He finally tells them the tale of his journey through the desert, under the mountains, and how he sacrificed Jake in order to catch up with the Man in Black. Roland has two memories of what happened at the Waystation – one where he met Jake, and one where he didn’t. Time travel is a bitch ain’t it? Roland throws the Man in Black’s jaw bone into the fire and Eddie watches it change and become a key. Eddie is convinced that he has to remember the exact shape of the key. After finding Shardik’s portal Roland, Eddie, and Susannah begin their journey traveling along one of the magnetic-type Beams which help to bind and hold this world together. Eddie is overwhelmed by an urge to cut a piece of tree next to them. He has no idea why, but he believes he is meant to carve this piece of wood, replicating the key he saw in the fire.

We then flip to Jake’s perspective. It’s May 31st, 1977. We get to learn more about Jake’s childhood, family, and school. Jake thinks he’s going mad. He hears voices in his head who insist Jake was hit and killed by a car on May 9. During the last ten days Jake has become fascinated by doors. He’s going about his days, attempting to pretend that he’s okay.

While in class he glances at the title of the final paper he has no memory writing, “My Understanding of Truth”. He continues searching for the door that will take him back to Roland’s world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Understanding of Truth

The gunslinger is the truth.
Roland is the truth.
The Prisoner is the truth.
The Lady of Shadows is the truth.
The Prisoner and the Lady are married. That is the truth.
The way station is the truth.
The Speaking Demon is the truth.

Roland let me die. That is the truth.
I still love him.
That is the truth.

When is a door not a door? When it’s a jar, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.

You have to watch Blaine all the time, Blaine is a pain, and that is the truth.
I’m pretty sure that Blaine is dangerous, and that is the truth.

I want to go back and that is the truth.
I have to go back and that is the truth.

Choo-choo, and that is the truth.


 

It took me a long time to read The Waste Lands, but that was not because I wasn’t enjoying it. It’s definitely the most exciting book in the Dark Tower series so far. My favorite character is Oy, a billy-bumbler that Roland and his crew meet during their journey. Oy has black and gray striped fur and gold-ringed eyes. He’s intelligent and can mimic what he hears. I mean, it’s the perfect pet! I really want a billy-bumbler for Christmas. Maybe I could dye my cat’s fur to make him look like one.

King has an amazing ability to create characters who are unbelievable and yet they feel completely real. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just say Roland’s crew meet some pretty interesting characters: a Demon, a group of old folks at the river crossing, Gasher, the Tick-Tock Man, and Blaine the Mono Rail. There are many beautiful illustrations throughout the book,  but they aren’t located in the right spots during the story. I don’t know why this bothered me so much, but it did. The pace was extremely slow in between extremely intense moments. I find the romance between Eddie and Susannah slightly annoying at times and feel like it could have been left out. Maybe there IS a reason for their relationship, I guess I’ll find out as I keep reading the series. There are a lot of unanswered plot points in the first three books, and I’m really needing answers for at least a few. FYI – The Waste Lands ends on a BIG cliff hanger. It took King six years to publish the next book and I’m extremely grateful that I don’t have to wait six years before reading Wizard and Glass.

I recommend this one to anyone 16 years and older (sex, violence, swearing) who likes to leave their troubles behind and enter fantastical worlds, perhaps via Blaine the talking train 😉

ARC Review: A Bold and Dangerous Family – Spoiler Free 🇮🇹 🔫 👩

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss for allowing me to review.

A bold and dangerous familyA Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism

Expected Publication October 3, 2017
Non-Fiction, 20th Century History
Nominated for The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Longlist
“The acclaimed author of A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets delivers the next chapter in “The Resistance Quartet”: the astonishing story of the aristocratic Italian family who stood up to Mussolini’s fascism, and whose efforts helped define the path of Italy in the years between the World Wars—a profile in courage that remains relevant today.”
Caroline Moorehead uses letters, family interviews, and photographs to tell the story of the Rosselli family and their courageous actions during the first three decades of the 20th Century. Amelia, a girl who grew up in Venice, triumphed through many hardships to raise her three sons who grew up to become extremely involved in Italian politics. They refused to allow Mussolini and his squaddristi to deter them from standing up to fascism, which ultimately had an enormous impact on Italian history.
Amelia was born in Venice January 1870. She had an extremely lonely and tough childhood. After her father’s death Amelia moved to Rome with her mother when she was 15. She met her future husband Giuseppe Rosselli in Rome when she was 19. She gave birth to her son Aldo in 1895, Carlo in 1899, and her third son Sabatino (Nello) in 1900. In 1903 Amelia moved to Florence with her sons after Giuseppe and Amelia separated. She spent her time writing poems, short stories, and articles for magazines. As an extremely vigilant mother she was sometimes perceived as harsh. In 1911 Giuseppe fell ill, Amelia went to look after him until his death later that year.
There was incredible political tension in Florence at this time. Amelia became extremely involved with fighting for women’s rights, in particular education. In May 1915 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, and Amelia’s son Aldo left to join the war. Sadly he died and she opened a home for children of soldiers who had no mothers and named it after her son, La Casina di Aldo. Her other sons Carlo and Nello went to war, thankfully both returned safely in 1920.
Benito Mussolini took advantage of a broken Italy, created the Fascist Party in 1919, and a military unit called “The Black Shirts” to silence anti-fascists like the Rosselli brothers. Moorehead provides a detailed account of the action-reaction relationship between Mussolini and the Rosselli family over the next two decades. I had never heard of the Rosselli family before reading this book, and am grateful to have gained that knowledge.
My favourite part of the book was reading about Amelia. The book started with her being the star of the story, but as her sons become more involved with politics her thoughts and actions become less visible. This book is obviously well-researched, and it should have interested someone with a minor in history, but I was often bored and feel like it would have been better if useless information was omitted. I debated not finishing this book, which is something I don’t do very often (there are only maybe 2 or 3 books that I started and haven’t finished). It was the title that drew my attention and made me think this would be an exciting historical account of a “dangerous” family, but in actuality it’s extremely dry and academic.
That being said, I do feel like there are many readers who would love to learn more about the Rosselli family and their impact on Italian history. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy WWI and WWII history, especially if you’re interested in learning more about Italian political history during that time period.

 

Caroline Moorehead.JPG
“Caroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of Village of Secrets, A Train in Winter, and Human Cargo: A Journey Among the Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer, Moorehead has also written for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The Times, and The Independent. She lives in London and Italy.”

September 2017 Releases I want to Read

September 2017 new books! 🙂

Clash of Kings Graphic novel #4George R.R. Martin’s A Clash Of Kings #4

by George R.R. Martin, Landry Q. Walker (Adapter), Mel Rubi (Illustrator)
Expected Publication: September 20, 2017
Arya continues to travel north to the Wall, and makes the acquaintance of a most unusual character – Jaqen H’ghar– but when the recruits for the Night’s Watch are stopped by the Gold Cloaks, a confrontation seems inevitable… Meanwhile, Catelyn Stark must come to terms with her son, Robb, is now also the King in the North – and that sometimes family and politics conflict.”

Sleeping BeautiesSleeping Beauties

Expected Publication September 26, 2017
In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.“

Little Fires Everywhere.jpgLittle Fires Everywhere

Published September 12, 2017
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

There's someone inside your houseThere’s Someone Inside Your House

Expected Publication: September 26, 2017
Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.“

they both die at the endThey Both Die at the End

Published September 5, 2017
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.”

The Language of ThornsThe Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

by Leigh Bardugo and Sara Kipin(Illustrator)
Expected Publication: September 26, 2017
Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.“

What new books are you excited to read?

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