Review: All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher

31145070

Funny.  Sad.  Relatable.  Unbelievable.  This book covers all this and more.  And then it goes back and repeats.

Lenny has a lot going on in her life.  A LOT.  Her dad is dying from cancer, mom is a busy attorney who uses her job to escape that harsh reality, and sister Emma is away at college. That leaves Lenny to deal with the day to day stuff.  Still, she’s in denial about how sick her dad actually is.  She copes by keeping a list of all the different ways there are for the world to end.  Oh and her crush on one of her dad’s doctors.

I went back and forth on how much I enjoyed this book, alternating between liking it very much and just liking it.  It’s good, heartbreakingly so at times.  But there are some underlying issues I didn’t feel good about.  Lenny’s behavior at times borders on mentally unstable.  Understandable with all she’s dealing with but still.  And her obsession with the doctor is over the top. Nevertheless it’s a good read, a realistic picture of life and dealing with death.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  All the Ways the World Can End

Review: I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

29875926

Even though I usually run true to form with my book choices, every now and then I surprise myself by going outside my norm.  This is one of those times.

Maddy had it all together.  A stay at home mom, she seemed to thrive on taking care of her husband, her daughter, her house…all her pride and joy.  But then why would she take her own life?  Were things really as good as everyone believed?  This is what her family is left to ponder as they try to come to terms with her death.

Maddy, however, has another job on her hands.  She’s gone but not really, stuck somewhere between here and there.  Before she moves on for good, she’s determined to make sure her family will be okay without her.  Whether that means mending fences between her husband and daughter or doing some matchmaking from beyond, she has her hands busy.

This was a good story, much different from what I’d normally pick.  Sappy and sweet in some places, sad and melodramatic in others, with a few surprises along the way.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  I Liked My Life

Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

25546710

A couple of years ago, I discovered the magical world of ARCs.  Oh the joy in receiving a book before the “rest of the world”, being able to dive into it before anyone else can get their hands on it.  But the best part of reading advanced copies for me is finding new authors with outstanding debut novels.  Such is the case with this one.

Hawthorn has never been one to follow along with  everyone’s idea of normal. She doesn’t fit into any group at school, has one good friend, a hippie for a mom, and an active imagination.  So when Lizzie Lovett mysteriously disappears, Hawthorn takes it upon herself to find out just what happened to the town’s golden girl.

But she takes things a bit too far, as with most things she does.  Working in the diner where Lizzie was employed, visiting the woods where she was last seen, getting friendly with Lizzie’s boyfriend…all in the name of solving a missing person’s case.   And of course, she gets more than she bargained for.

This is an interesting book to review.  I’m not quite sure what it is.  A mystery, sure, but not in the truest sense.  A story of teen angst and drama, possibly.  But aren’t all teens full of angst and drama?  A romance…maybe a tad.  In any case, it’s good.  Hawthorn is funny, and she’s admirable as a leading teen character.  And the ending is satisfying with every question being answered.  A good story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

 

Review: End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

13414676This is a really nice book. I can’t fault the writer at all. However, I have to say it was gut wrenching for me. Schwalbe and his mother had a very special bond. Hell, from what I grasp, she had a special bond with everyone she knew. She seemed like she was a truly amazing person.

The part that was really hard for me was the dedication Schwalbe had for his mum. No, it wasn’t a bad thing. It was an amazing thing. When my father died, I can’t lie, I was, perhaps more devastated by my lack of involvement in his final days. That is so very hard to write. To admit to. Sure, I can blame circumstances. Being in a different country, blah blah blah, but that doesn’t ease the guilt one feels. Then to read a book where Schwalbe went to such great lengths….well it was very hard. Yes, he was lucky. His mum was lucky. We can all say, well, he had a job that allowed him to be by his mother’s side so often. That’s all. He could afford to spend 5 hours a day with her when she was having treatments. He could call her a dozen times a day. Reality is more simple than that though. He made it happen. Amazing sacrifices he made to make sure his mother was surrounded by love in her final years…

I’m jealous of his dedication. Of his courage. His sacrifice. Of those hours, days, weeks, months, and years he had with his mum at the end. Reading this book made my gut clinch with my own guilt…I miss my dad…I wish I had been the kind of daughter to him that was like the son Schwalbe was to his mum…I wish I had that opportunity…

There’s nothing else to say really…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Review: Being Dead by Jim Crace

92559This is one of those books that I found very difficult to choose between a 5 star read and a 3 star read.

I don’t believe you’ll find many other books out there quite like this one, I will give that to Crace. It’s hard to find a really original book out there this day and age, and this is certainly that for me.

The forward in the start of the novel says it all really…

Don’t count on Heaven, or on Hell.
You’re dead. That’s it. Adieu. Farewell.
Eternity awaits? Oh, sure!
It’s Putrefaction and Manure And unrelenting Rot, Rot, Rot,
As you regress, from Zoo. to Bot.
I’ll Grieve, of course,
Departing wife,
Though Grieving’s never
Lengthened Life
Or coaxed a single extra Breath
Out of a Body touched by Death.

‘The Biologist’s Valediction to his Wife’ from Offcuts by Sherwin Stephens

It only gets worse from there. This is a story not about murder, but about death. DEATH. Don’t go into this novel expecting a happy ending. The ending is there, even before the story begins. Hell, even the title gives it away.

Being. Dead.

It depressed me if I am to be honest. Perhaps that is why I can’t decide if I should rate it high or low. Please don’t think the talk of death is what depressed me. For it was not. I actually found that a bit fascinating. But once again, I felt it was forced. Page after page after page after many a page talking about the changes in the body and of nature’s attempts to wipe their image from the face of her good clean Earth…well, it just felt forced. I felt as if Crace was trying to pound it into my brain. I can certainly see where many people would be turned off by that writing (an example to follow at the end of the review). Me? It’s things I’ve often wondered over. I once dreamed of being a forensic scientist. Of course, that was before I realised how much schooling in biology was needed! At any rate, I could deal with that, I just wished that the natural felt…well…more natural…ha!

What depressed me was, what’s the meaning of all of this. Tragically we are led to believe of this great love. Here’s a quote and proof for you!

The plain and unforgiving facts were these. Celice and Joseph were soft fruit. They lived in tender bodies. They were vulnerable. They did not have the power not to die. They were, we are, all flesh, and then we are all meat.

Joseph’s grasp on Celice’s leg had weakened as he’d died. But still his hand was touching her, the grainy pastels of her skin, one fingertip among her baby ankle hairs. Their bodies had expired, but anyone could tell – just look at them – that Joseph and Celice were still devoted. For while his hand was touching her, curved round her shin, the couple seemed to have achieved that peace the world denies, a period of grace, defying even murder. Anyone who found them there, so wickedly disfigured, would nevertheless be bound to see that something of their love had survived the death of cells.

See, there is romance there, is there not?

It made me happy to go on…”devotion defying even murder.” Whoa, Dude! I want some of that….

However, the more I read, the more I got depressed. I have to admit, I’ve struggled with religion that last few years…no….wait….that’s a lie….I’ve struggled with NOT struggling about religion for the last few years…This book….no, it’s not religious…well, not really….I guess, it’s just that here we are, swooning over this image of these two murdered people…projecting our views unto them…romantic views…even death can not end their love….blah blah blah….they died in each other’s arms…blah blah blah….their last instinct was to comfort one another…again, blah Blah BLAH…

The reality is, they are dead. They are crab bait. Further more, as the reader goes deeper into the story, the more they realise that perhaps it wasn’t some great love story…there lives weren’t really even that interesting even to them…

What if it’s true…we only have a short lifetime to be alive…and what if we’re all wasting it on “only” existing and not really LIVING? What happens when we, like every other single person we know, settles in life? We settle on the quiet night at home. We settle on keeping quiet to keep the peace. We settle on no change because it’s just so easy?

What if the greatest story of our lives is that some stranger makes up for us at the end? Because they romanticised some dead hand that seemed to reach for another? What if that’s the last story? One that isn’t even true? What happens if that last false impression isn’t even close to who we really were? Who will correct the misconceptions? How soon will all we tried to do in this life be lost after we have died? Especially if we leave no one behind that really gives a shit? What’s the point?

See! Brilliance! 5 HUGE stars…..

But damnit….that’s what I’m feeling in my head after reading the novel! Whilst reading it, after the half way point I just wanted it to hurry up and END!!! 3 FAT stars.

Sigh….

Here’s but one sample of Crace’s writing style. I loved it….and yet, page after page after page after yet page, I hated it as well….

The dead don’t talk – but bodies belch for hours after death. A woman bends to kiss her husband for the final time. Despite the warnings of the morgue attendant – sweet-breathed or not – she puts a little weight upon his chest, and is rewarded with the stench of every meal she’s cooked for him in forty years. The morgue could sound, at times, as if a ghoulish choir was warming up, backed by a wind ensemble of tubas and bassoons. It could smell as scalpy, scorched and pungent as a hairdressing salon. The breath of these cold choristers was far worse than the onion breath of clerks. But no one said that bodies weren’t sincere. There’s nothing more sincere than death. The dead mean what they say.

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Being Dead by Jim Crace

Review: The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

  
This British rom-com is cute and young and fun… and naïve and a little bit silly for this Definitely Over 30 reader. 

I would have appreciated the wishy washy guy, the finicky girl, the mean older ladies, and the stressed out dad a LOT more if I read this when I was younger. 

While there’s plenty of responsibility going on – renovating a house, taking care of a child, starting a business, running a book club – it was all through the lenses of a 20-something who just really didn’t seem invested in life yet.  Nor does she need to – she’s still young! But I’m not, and I wasn’t the best audience for this story. 

If you’re still in your twenties — or you’re still living with your parents — this book is a good, light read about love, loss, and opening your heart again. 

-calliope

Buy THE BROKEN HEARTS BOOK CLUB

Review: The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery 

 

Three women in an L.A. suburb find themselves in the middle of some changes. Big changes. Marriage, divorce, pregnancy, death, grief, friendship, and new beginnings all play a part in this new series by one of my favorite authors. 

The writing is excellent, from the fleshed out characters to the descriptions of the coastal setting. Technically, everything is on point as Mallery invites us into the lives of three women of different ages, their families and friends, their businesses.

But there’s something missing for me. Excitement, maybe. And I get it that lack of excitement is one of the relationship issues in the book, but the reader should still somehow be pulled into the book… And I just wasn’t. For one thing, there was a lot of “telling instead of showing” (like when one character sat across from her friend and next to her other friend and put her purse on the free chair). I liked the book enough, but I wasn’t totally invested in it. It didn’t thrill me. 

On the other hand, Mallery successfully shows the reader real emotions. For example, one character is mourning a loss. Brava for getting to the nitty gritty of being beside oneself with grief. The scene at Goodwill – I can picture that kind of thing because I have seen people just UNDONE like that. I’m thinking WOW as I remember reading Mallery’s take on it.  And the spa scene with the possible future stepchild – realistic and full of tension. 

Although this particular plot was a bit of a downer for me, I enjoyed Mischief Bay and its inhabitants. I’ll be on the lookout for book number two. 

-calliope 

buy THE GIRLS OF MISCHIEF BAY