Review: Grey by EL James

01 grey Let me start out by saying I haven’t read Fifty Shades in over 3 years. I read them before the hype in 2012, so I had forgotten many of the smaller points. I’ve seen the movie twice, so I have the gist, but still I missed a lot. I was actually planning a doing a reread during my vacation next week. That all changed when EL James announced she was releasing a book from Christian’s POV. I was debating on rereading still, but decided on going in fresh. Let me tell you, I am so glad I did!! She gave us what we wanted, and I couldn’t be happier.

Grey is a retelling of Fifty Shades of Grey. A retelling. This means you will get a lot of the same scenes and even the same conversations. And let’s not forget those fun emails. SHOUTY CAPS and Twitchy Palms. But the best part is now you get to see what goes on in his head. I like that. I’m a girl. I know how we think, but I have no clue how the male mind thinks. Christian Grey is NOT your typical male. So to have glimpse into his brain is very intriguing. I liked his vulnerability. I liked the way he was so unsure of himself. Every time someone would gaze at him or he would look in a mirror, you saw his reaction and how he felt about himself. It was sad at times, yes. He had a rough beginning, so his self esteem isn’t where it should be.

I was completely lost in his feelings for Ana. He adored her. He wanted to be the one for her. His feelings were overwhelming to him. He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that she was willing to be with him, for love and no ulterior motive.

I went back and forth between listening and reading, and let me tell you, if you have the extra audible credit, get it. Zachary Webber does a fantastic job as Christian. I mean, holy crap, that was HOT!!! Yes, some parts were super sexy and I needed a minute to compose myself, in public, when I was grocery shopping. Word to wise, don’t listen while grocery shopping, unless you wanna end up standing in the frozen food section in front of an open door, for a few minutes. But no only are sexy parts super sexy, the sad and emotional parts will tug at your heart. His dreams, and memories of the past, are what make him who he is, and when you hear them, it’s way worse than reading them. So, I’m warning you now.

She’s mine. She’s heaven.

My most favorite parts of this book were the smiles and strange glances from those around Christian. They knew what was going on with him, even before he did. He’s so clueless, it’s hilarious. He had no idea why they kept looking at him like that. I was smiling right along with them.

I’ve come alive since I’ve know her. These last few weeks have been the most exciting, the most unpredictable, the most fascinating in my life. I’ve been enticed from my monochrome world into one rich with color-and yet she can’t be what I need.

Since this is a retelling from just the first book, you know how it ends. It’s not pretty, but it makes me even more excited for my vacation reread. I look forward to reconnect and remember how he changes and grows.

Thank you, EL James, for listening to us die hards and giving us what we begged for. Now I’m crossing my fingers that she decides to give us the rest of the books also, and perhaps a prologue from 10 years later. Crossing my fingers.

~Melpomene

Buy Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian

Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

*1So weird…this of course was real life vs Murakami’s imagination. I absolutely love how this man can stump me on one single sentence for minutes at a time…I just read them over and over again….this book was not like that….it was pretty straight and to the point….with most of his books I give them 4 stars right off the bat and then go back a month later and bump it up to 5 because, honestly, it sometimes takes me that long to fully appreciate him….yes, a month later, I still often think of the latest Murakami book I have read. It’s true…for me, his words become part of me…they seep into my very bone marrow…but for whatever reason, this one got 5 stars right off the bat….why? I am not sure…I just know it deserves it….stupid reason, but there you have it…and really, who knew he could run 60 plus miles in a single day? Who knew he has more albums than I have books? But most of all, I felt a real connection to him after reading this book. I don’t write. When I write down my thoughts they start to consume me. I lose control. It is a very scary thing for me. It’s why I avoid it when I can…Murakami spends some time in this book explaining why he must run to offset the unhealthiness of his imagination…How you have to go deep inside you to be able to tap your creative vein…if you don’t stay healthy on the outside, the inside will take over….me? I just have never learned how to do that…I fear one day I would just bleed out….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Review: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

*1Since this has been all over the news of late I thought it was time to revisit. I now live in the United Kingdom and often do my clothes shopping online (much easier than trying to suffer though the experience with my loving but very impatient husband) and I admit I was somewhat shocked at looking at the shipping restrictions. It appears that post is no longer allowed to be sent many countries now with “Ebola virus” listed as the cause….This is just mind-blowing to me….anyway…here is the review of this book that has always stayed in my mind. I worry about chemical warfare and someone leaking this type of virus much more than I’ve ever worried about a bomb going off overhead….

What can I say? This one really makes you stop and think. How close are we all to death? What blink of an eye can mean the end of the world as we know it? Forget how utterly disgusting this book was. I mean, seriously, this was the most insane, make you wish you hadn’t eaten that for lunch, I think I just threw up in my mouth, wipe that grimace off your face book I have ever read. i still can’t stop imaging what it would be like to have your tongue, esophagus and intestines slough off and run through your body. Nor can I stop trying to imagine the black vomit or bleeding out through ever orifice of your body. Screaming monkeys. This book really could give you some nightmares. Seriously. Who is that guy sitting next to you on the plane? Does he look sick? Does he have a virus lurking in his hazel eyes? Did that cough just set the virus free?

I tell you something, this type of book makes me reevaluate my life. I want to do things differently. I want to be in a different place….and today might be the last day to do so…time to get my ass moving…..

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Listen to this!!!

01aa11
Do you listen to books?? I must admit, up til a year ago, the only audible books I listened to were Hank the Cowdog, with my kids. I’m dead serious. They’re funny as heck, but when you find yourself listening, in your car, ALONE, it’s time to be a grown up and listen to grown up books.

Around this time last year, I grabbed a ton of the classics, which were free at the time. But have I listened to them?? That would be a big fat NO. However, around this past March, a friend gifted me Maybe Someday, by Colleen Hoover. Since I already read the book, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. But, I stinking loved it!! I fell in love with Zachary Webber, during this book. Seriously. That kid can read me the phone book and I would sit and listen to it.

Since then, I’ve found myself buying more and actually wanting to walk my dog and go grocery shopping alone, just so I can listen to some books. So far this year, I’ve listened to Flat-Out Love, by Jessica Park, Red Hill, by Jamie McGuire, Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover, and Divergent, by Veronica Roth. I started The Fault in Our Stars, but never finished and I’m currently listening to Outlander: A Novel.

But by far, the BEST BEST BEST audible I’ve listened to is The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. I’ve read the book a couple times and it’s in my top 5, but when I listened to it, I lived it. The guy who does the guy’s voice, Kirby Heyborne, did an amazing job!! He had such emotions I seriously thought he was crying. He sounded so believable. If anyone asks what audible they should try, I always tell them this one. Talking about it now, kinda makes me wanna go and listen again.

Sometimes the book is read by a single person, which can be good or bad. I’ve tried to listen to a few and found them quite annoying, but some I find, very enjoyable. My first experience was with Flat-Out Love. At first I wasn’t so sure I was going to like it, but after a little bit, I actually forgot it was only one person. That book was so sweet and funny, I actually startled a few people, in the grocery store, when I was listening to it.

Some books are read my numerous people. Red Hill, for example, was read by three different voices. Zachary Webber *sigh* was one of them. I actually had my hubby listen to this one, on our way to Chicago, in June. The story was so well written, that I was on the edge of my seat listening. My poor hubby kept getting shushed, even though I read the book before. I just wanted to listen to them, not him. The voices were so smooth I felt like I was in a trance.

So far I’ve only listened to books that I’ve already read. I think I enjoy the story more that way. For me, if I never knew the story, I think it would be hard to pay attention. I know I would miss things. My life isn’t always silent and I get distracted easily. So I think I’ll keep to previously read books. Up next, on my audible list, Ugly Love, by Colleen Hoover.

If you’ve never tried audible, I encourage you to do so. They’re always running deals. In fact, if you’re a new subscriber, I think you get 2 free books. That’s great!! And even paying monthly, is sometimes half of what an audible costs. It’s so worth it. And if you do try, let me know which ones you get.

~Melpomene

Buy Flat-Out Love

The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel

Red Hill

Maybe Someday

Hopeless

Divergent

The Fault in Our Stars

Outlander: A Novel

Ugly Love: A Novel

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

Review: Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

20140728-154355-56635463.jpg There’s nothing quite like having a sister to help you through life. In Lucky Us, the expectation is that Iris will take care of her little sister Eva after their loved ones abandon them. But it is Eva who holds together the relationship, with dim hope and quiet strength. The sisters embark on an adventure like no other, opening their eyes and their lives to worldliness and shallow sophistication. They try – but fail – to piece together a family. They try again. And again.

Lucky Us is about losing a family and finding a family. It’s about the damage that a mother and father can do and undo. It’s about making a life out of nothing but the kindness of strangers, and then recognizing that kindness as the only love you’ll ever know.

This book is historical fiction, set during the 1940s, referencing the war and its horrors, and illustrating the stunning commonalities among Jews, Germans, and Japanese. I don’t even like historical fiction, but I was taken in by the human facet of the decade. It read so much like contemporary fiction that I forgot what decade I was in. The crafting of this book is exceptional, the format perfect for the story, and the writing is tight, with every substantial paragraph meaning more than you think.

Lucky Us is hopeful. Eva shows how a young woman can endure much – maybe not with joy but with grace – and find acceptance for the life she has.

I found Eva so impressive, gracious, and strong. The grand finale in Eva’s life is the return of two loved ones. Adding them to the one who never left is Eva’s happily-ever-after finally coming to fruition. Lucky, indeed.

–calliope

Note: Amy Bloom will give a free talk about LUCKY US on Friday, August 1, at 7p.m. at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut.

buy LUCKY US

Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

20140426-172618.jpgPredictability in an author is a good thing, but so is the unknown. I enjoy knowing what I’m in for when I read a new selection by a favorite writer. But it’s so much better when an author delivers something different yet equally amazing with each new novel. Chris Bohjalian is just such an author. With this latest work, he once again has gone off course in a delightful way for me.

Emily Shepard doesn’t have a picture perfect life. Her parents drink and argue too much and are miserable with their lives in Vermont. Emily “fails to live up to her potential” according to counselors at her school. She’s always right on the edge of things, flirting around with major trouble. Still, she lives in a nice home, loves writing in her journals, and adores her dog Maggie. Then it all begins to fall apart in a matter of hours. The nuclear power plant where both of her parents work has a meltdown, killing her parents and scores of other people. Her town is declared radioactive, and to make matters worse everyone blames her father for the devastating accident. So Emily does the only thing she knows to do. She flees her small town and heads to Burlington where she joins the ranks of homeless teenagers trying to survive. Hooking, stealing, using drugs, cutting…Emily experiences it all during the few short months she’s on the streets. If not for the love of a lost little boy she might have stayed there. But one tragic event leads to another and she eventually finds herself back on the road to home, to confront her emotional demons as well as whatever physical ones might remain.

This book started off well, pulling me in very early on. It proceeded nicely if somewhat uneventfully for about the first half. Then the story built to a crescendo, ending on a high note. Especially memorable for me is the moment when the reader finds out the meaning behind the title. If anything was missing for me, it would be that I was left with a few questions about some of the major characters. But still, sometimes it’s better to be left wondering than to be given an ending that you don’t like.

~Thalia

Buy it Now: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands: A Novel

Review – Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

6314763To many readers, today’s review may seem like an awfully familiar title. Well, you would be right. This week I read the memoir that inspired the Netflix show, Orange is the New Black. The memoir, also titled the same, follows a period of just over a year in the life of Piper Kerman. Piper is, by her own account, a blonde, upper-middle class, private college educated female. However, when she was young and naïve, yearned for something a little more risky and exciting. This came in the form of Nora, her lover and fellow convict. Nora convinces Piper to smuggle drug money across international borders, and the crime eventually catches up with her… More than 5 years later. Imagine going about your day and suddenly, two FBI agents come to your front door, hand you a notice of indictment, and inform you that you are to appear in court on federal charges of money laundering and other drug related crimes. Well, that’s what happened to Piper and it would be a further 6 years before the trial took place. Being sentenced to 15 months, Piper was lucky. Very lucky. The real meat of the memoir begins when she surrenders at FCI Danbury, a federal prison complex in Danbury, CT. Again, this was pure luck, as the second nearest federal women’s prison is located in Virginia.
OITNB, explores the day to day interactions that Piper has at Danbury. We get to know a host of the various prisoners and the guards, and how each one impacts Piper and her experience. Fans of the Netflix show will be glad to hear that many of their favourite characters make an appearance in the memoir, albeit in different formats, and names. However, the reader gets a much more intimate glance at these characters than they do in the Netflix show. I don’t really want to go over any more of the narrative as it is not necessarily linear, and it wouldn’t make much sense out of context.
If you want a read that will make you laugh, think, despair, angry, sad and confused, then I highly recommend this offering from Piper Kerman.
Until next time,

Pegasus.
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

Review: Four Years Later(Drew+Fable #4), by Monica Murphy

001four Owen makes me feel like a cougar. He really does!! I should be ashamed, but I’m really not.

I knew he was going to have a great story to tell. Tragic, yes, but still great. No story is perfect after all. And since we saw what kind of life he had, growing up with Fable, are we really shocked how he behaves and lives?? Not so much.

When Owen makes one wrong choice after another, his world is turned upside down. When he is told to either stop messing up and take control, or he is done with college and football, he has only one choice to make, shape up. This is where Chelsea comes in.

“You’re not a bad seed. You’re just a flower waiting to bloom.”

Chelsea is a super shy, super smart overachiever, with a secret she wants no one to know. She wants people to just get through college without anyone knowing where she came from. She needs to tutor students in order to make ends meet. And this is where Owen comes in.

“I’m not like most girls.”
“I know. That’s what I like most about you.”

At first, their relationship is strictly tutor and student. But then soon, they find themselves wondering if they mean more to each other than that. The classic virgin and manwhore. I love how they always get thrown for a loop. Neither one sees it coming.

I felt so bad for both of them. Owen just wanted to be loved and he was willing to do some very dishonorable things, in order to produce that feeling. Chelsea was sick of her mother always choosing her deadbeat worthless father over her. She just wanted to be loved, but was to scared to go looking for it.

As they started to grow closer, you started to see bits and pieces of the broken young boy, who grew up without a mom who cared, and who tried to make every happy. He was so lost, he needed Chelsea to hold on tight and keep him together.

I loved seeing a bit of Drew and Fable sprinkled in the story. I loved seeing the way they accepted Chelsea, and knew she was perfect for Owen, even if he didn’t.

It’s sad to see these characters go. I’ve enjoyed peeking into their lives. But all good things must come to an end.

~Melpomene

Buy Four Years Later: A Novel (One Week Girlfriend Quartet)

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

20140111-211005.jpgI’ll start off with a disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories. That being said, at times they all tend to run together with story lines that are too similar to keep them separate in my mind. Boy/girl surviving in a harsh future world that’s been changed forever by a virus/alien invasion/advanced technology/drought with a love story thrown in for good measure…you get the picture. But this new offering by Ann Brashares offers a different take on the oh-so-popular genre.

Seventeen-year-old Prenna comes from a world that’s been devastated by a killer mosquito-born virus. Millions of people have died, and society is in ruins. In order to save themselves as well as the entire human race, a “community” of those with a natural immunity to the virus is formed. They decide to travel back in time in an attempt to change the course of events that set the world on a path to destruction. The community has a set of present-day rules that must be followed: never attempt to interfere with events, never reveal that they are from the future, never form a relationship with someone outside of the community. Prenna doesn’t question these rules until she falls for Ethan who, as luck would have it, is one of the few outsiders who can “see” that she’s actually from the future. Turns out there’s actually a bit of a conspiracy going on with the higher-ups of the community.

This was one of those books with several intersecting story lines. Yes, Prenna is the main character and Ethan is her love interest. But there are many other things going on at the same time. It’s a good book, just very hard to describe or summarize neatly. Read it if you enjoy well-written futuristic stories.

~Thalia

Buy it Now: The Here and Now

The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal

18077844For those of you that love historical fiction, this may be a book for you. I’m personally not a huge historical fiction fan, and I generally hold everything up to a few favourites I’ve read in the past. Not fair? You’re right, it isn’t but unfortunately I can’t help it!
The Anatomy Lesson is set in Holland in the 1600’s. It follows several characters around the time in which Rembrandt was commissioned to paint one of his most famous pieces: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulpe. Each of the characters in the story all have something to do with, or influence the events around this painting. The general premise of this book is interesting and it would have made a really good novel. However, in my opinion, there were too many flaws that didn’t allow me to enjoy it as much as I should have.
First, let’s talk about the structure. The story is initially divided into two narratives. One set in 17th century Holland, and the in modern day Holland. The latter narrative revolves around an art historian who is examining the painting and trying to repair it back to its former glory. To me, this narrative really wasn’t necessary. It did not add anything to the plot.
The other thing that bothered me (and it might not bother others), was the constant change of tense and personal narrative. One minute someone is speaking in 1st person and the next 3rd person. I’m sure there was a literary/personal reason for this, but it just grated on me.
This is a short review, because as you can probably tell, I didn’t really enjoy it. However, if you enjoy historical fiction, and want something different than the usual 16th century royal family sagas, then give this one a go, and form your own opinion. There is definitely potential…

~ Pegasus.

The Anatomy Lesson: A Novel