Review: Stoner by John Williams

Bollocks!!!!

That’s all I can think of about this book. Yet I give it 5 stars! Ha!

I know people like Stoner exist. You have a young man who is, if not happy to work on his family’s farm, he is at least not unhappy. There’s not much doubt that his parents are the same. That their parents were the same as well. Hard workers and not much for complaining. Then Stoner goes off to college and a simple reading of literature changes everything. I found it a bit sad that Stoner couldn’t even imagine a new life until someone said it out loud first.

That’s due to my own personal experience. Books have always been what sparked my imagination and desires. Then there is Stoner. Moved as much as he can be and still left for someone else to imagine a different future for him.

Then there is his wife. Eyy eyy eyy. How I did not like this woman. But yet again, you see Stoner, more or less resigned to his fate…until once again, someone imagines a different life for him and he suddenly moves ahead and makes a change.

The entire novel is like this. Who am I to feel sorry for Stoner? Any disappointment he meets in life he just gets on with it. He doesn’t dwell on it time and time again. He is just resigned to his fate. He doesn’t shake his fist and yell at the Gods.

He proves a man strong in his convictions. He doesn’t back down. But nor does he make waves.

What makes this book such a compelling read? Was it my desire to finally see Stoner stand up and wave his fists in defiance?

Well I certainly hope not, or else I would be well disappointed.

I listened to this book on audio, and the narrator did a superb job with the reading. However, John Williams is an amazing writer. How the hell do you evoke so much emotion from what you do not write as compared to what you do write. Somehow, Williams does exactly this. That is why the narrator is so brilliant as well. Stoner, the narrator and Williams himself leave it to the reader to be outraged and to wave their fists at the Gods, whilst all three of them just simply carry on. If anything we are like the hare, flighty and weaving all about, whilst they are the tortoise that just plods along steady as they go.

I have wanted to read this book for about 5 years now. All the while I was angry at myself for not being motivated to actually start it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more angry at myself for not having started it sooner. And yet….

I am disappointed that I’ve finally read it. It really is something to be savoured. It’s such a difficult book to pin down. It’s difficult to explain. It’s difficult in so many ways…

But it’s not difficult to love…even though it might be very difficult to explain just why…

As you’ve always heard, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for…Stoner is that quiet one sat in the corner. That person whose story is bigger than they let on…

This story is one that is so much bigger on the inside of your mind than it appears on the pages of the book…and isn’t that the very best kind?

Don’t put it off…read this one…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Stoner by John Williams

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Review: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Can’t beat a story about three sisters, all together for the summer with their families – including mother and grandmother. One of my own favorite memories is of visiting my childhood home at the same time my brother and sister were there. We enjoyed that at-home feeling. Not that we didn’t have our own homes, but there was something comforting about being in the backyard while Dad grilled dinner, mom brought out the sides, and we all talked. Easy, cozy, safe.

That’s the mood Harvey sets forth in Southern Charm. The three sisters get along, annoy but love each other, and take care of each other’s families. My favorite part was when Sloane’s husband wasn’t sure they should take Caroline’s offer to stay in her house for a while. Sloane said that what was Caroline’s was hers, because she, Caroline and Emerson were all the same one person.

Despite the ups and downs of life, the heartbreak and the grief, that’s how I feel … my siblings and I will always be the same person. We are rooted in our parents love, as are these three Southern sisters.

The book is a little slow (boring? overly descriptive) in some places, and could use some tightening up. There are also a few plot lines that I take moral issues with. Besides that, I enjoyed it, and it brought back some nice memories for me.

-calliope

Buy The Secret to Southern Charm

Quick Review: Traitor Born by Amy Bartol


Oh my gosh!!! Exciting, emotional and non-stop action. Seriously. I couldn’t put this down. I need to sit down and collect my brain after that ending. I mean, holy crap. Amy knows how to get my blood pumping. You must read Secondborn before you even think about diving into this book. If you don’t have time to sit, grab the audible. I did my reread via audible and it was just fabulous.

Roselle is doing everything in her power to change the world around her. She’s surrounded by those who are supposed to be helping her but the more she’s involved, the more I realize that she’s utterly clueless. And then SHE doesn’t realize that until it’s too late.

No spoilers here, no worries. By the time I was at the ending, I had quite a few “Holy frak” moments. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, the rug was pulled out from under me. This girl can’t seem to catch a break. She wants to trust everyone, but she really can’t. Everyone has an agenda. And if she’s not smart, she going to be taken out of the picture.

That being said, I have a few predictions and a few “I hope…” ideas, but I’ll just have to sit here and wait. Gah!!

~Melpomene

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Review: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

I should have expected it. Every book I’ve read by Lisa Genova has pulled on my heartstrings, tugged at something inside me. But she still throws me for a loop every single time. I think it’s because she writes stories that could happen to anyone, tales of heartbreak that are far too real.

Richard and Katrina were in love once, the deep kind of love that’s supposed to last forever. Their love didn’t last, though. Richard became a world-renowned pianist. And Katrina? She gave up her dreams so that he could follow his. Eventually they drifted apart, and then finally their love was no more. In fact, it became a deep hate on both sides.

And then Richard becomes ill. More than just ill, however. He’s diagnosed with ALS. Denial at first, but that’s not enough to keep its progression at bay. When Katrina finds out she’s torn. She wants to feel compassion for him but it’s hard. Soon enough, the day comes when Richard can no longer live on his own. To her surprise, Katrina does the only thing she knows to do. She moves Richard and all of his medical equipment back home, to the home they once shared. And thus begins their journey to the end.

This story makes you feel so many things. It could easily happen to any of us. And how would we react? Would I be able to put my feelings of resentment and anger aside as Katrina did? Would I be able to put my life on hold to care for a person who I once loved but now hated? The answer is, I don’t know. None of us do until we are in that situation. And if we’re lucky, we never will be.

~ Thalia

Buy It Now: Every Note Played

Review: 51 Weeks by Julia Meyerscough

As I settle in to my mid forties, I often think I should do some kind of challenge before I turn 50. I have one friend who collected library cards from the 50 United States. I know women who took all-girls vacations to tropical locales. And then there’s this book’s protagonist, who decided to do a different challenge each week for the year before she turned 50. The premise fascinated me and had my brain storming ideas from the beginning.

However.

Some of these challenges just left a bad taste in my mouth. I thought they’d be charming challenges, but they were sometimes crass, sometimes crossing moral boundaries, and sometimes just silly. Now, I realize Amy’s friends came up with the list, but even if a good friend of mine challenged me to cross a line that I don’t think a married woman should cross, well, I wouldn’t cross it. Amy didn’t have such scruples. (Maybe I’m a prude, I’ll admit it.)

Playing in the background throughout the novel is the soundtrack to a marriage on the rocks. It was just too much negativity for me when I instead expected a happy go lucky, positive tale of self-discovery.

If you don’t need all the loose ends tied up, and if you’re a little mellower than I am when it comes to following the rules, you’ll likely appreciate Amy’s fun journey, supported by her awesome friends.

-calliope

Buy 51 WEEKS

Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

100% my type of book. I loved every single minute of it and hated for it to end.

Oh. My. Word.

Sometimes I look at my library and despair at ever finding a book to read. I have thousands of books in my TBR pile. No, I jest not. My “to-read” list on Goodreads is currently at 9,886. These are books I own in one format or another (audio, DTBooks or Ebooks). I don’t have them all listed of course. so you could probably add a couple thousand more. My cloud on Amazon alone lists over 6,000.

I can spend hours trying to decide what to read next. I am always trying to find the perfect book for me. I hate to know that I can pick a book that, although a good book, isn’t a great book.

The book I am forever searching for is THIS TYPE OF BOOK! This is the type of book I live for. Some people live for chocolate. I live for this type of book.

Just oh my word. What did I NOT love about it? Ummm….I can’t think of anything…except maybe that it ended. Some say it has a fairy tale sort of feel. Yes, I can see that. It also has that fable type of feel as well. It has moral conflicts scattered throughout. It has old folklore scattered about as well. It has strong secondary characters that one finds just as intriguing as the main characters. And oh my dear lord, Chava and Ahmad. *swoons* Talk about two halves of a whole. Two creatures that mirror and reflect off each other. I’m not talking romance here. This novel isn’t a romantic type of read. Please don’t think this is some hot and steamy romance. It’s so not. This is…well it’s just what I said…It’s two halves of a whole and reflections off one another that go on to shape who these creatures are. What does it mean to be human?

This is one of those novels that you have to stop and leave all your expectations at the door. This isn’t a novel that you go into imagining it to be some sort of read…because what you imagine won’t be true…you just need to let the story unfold and let it be your guide…not some preconceived notions of what a story is meant to be.

I can’t express enough how much I loved this book. If a jinni came up to me and granted me one wish of a book I would like to read…well, I would be completely unable to tell them exactly what I wanted/needed/craved…but if I were able to tell them and express every desire…

Well here you would have it…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Review: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is so darn good. I’ve enjoyed every single one of her books. From the very first pages until the last word she keeps you guessing. And this one is no exception.

Maggie has a happy life. Her handsome husband, Noah, is a successful doctor. She adores her stepson Caleb. Together the three of them are living the American dream. There’s just one piece missing for Maggie. She has a daughter, Anna, who she hasn’t seen since she was a baby. But now Anna is back in her life and everything seems perfect. Until it’s not so perfect anymore.

Things begin to quickly go wrong. However, it goes from bad to the absolute worst when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime. Did he or didn’t he? And what was going on with Anna in the weeks leading up to her death? These are the questions that Maggie is faced with as she tries to cope with the loss of Anna while at the same time Noah is on trial for his life.

Besides the fact that the author is simply brilliant, I loved the way this one was written. Noah’s story begins with the conclusion of his trial and works its way backwards. We hear Maggie’s story going forward from the time she’s reunited with Anna. The two collide in a dramatic finish when Noah’s fate is revealed. Grab this one and be ready for quite a ride!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: After Anna