Photo Review – Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

Dolores Claiborne

By Stephen King

Summary: Now available for the first time in a mass-market premium paperback edition—master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic #1 New York Times bestseller about a housekeeper with a long-hidden secret from her past…one that tests her own will to survive.

“Everything I did, I did for love…”

When Vera Donovan, one of the wealthiest and most ill-natured residents of Maine’s Little Tall Island, dies suddenly in her home, suspicion is immediately cast on her housekeeper and caretaker, Dolores Claiborne. Dolores herself is no stranger to such mistrust, thanks to the local chatter and mysterious circumstances surrounding her abusive husband’s death twenty-nine years earlier. But if this is truly to be the day of Dolores Claiborne’s reckoning, she has a few things of her own that she’d like to get off her chest…and begins to confess a spirited, intimate, and harrowing tale of the darkest secrest hidden within her hardscrabble existence, revealing above all one woman’s unwavering determination to weather the storm of her life with grace and protect the one she loves, no matter what the cost…

Source: I received a paperback from a friend

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Review:

I really enjoyed Dolores Claiborne. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the narration style at first as Dolores spoke to the detective and stenographer in a room and no other dialogue was spoken, but it didn’t take very long for me to be transported into her story and forget I had any thoughts at all about the writing style.

I loved the story and I love that Stephen King can write about so many different aspects of horror, expanding upon what horror really is. He gets people right and I think that’s what I love most about his writing.

The story will stay with me and will make me think about the lives of the ordinary and plain “nobodies” I may pass every day throughout my life.

I definitely recommend the book, especially if you’re just getting into the horror genre or want something a little more real world, without the ghosts and supernatural stuff that dominates the genre.

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Photo Review – Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi

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Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1)

by Tomi Adeyemi

Summary: They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Source: I borrowed a digital copy from my library

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Review:

Children of Blood and Bone was one of the most disappointing books I’ve read this year. I It was incredibly overhyped, in my opinion, and my expectations were fairly high after seeing so much praise from other readers.

I borrowed the book from my library digitally and had been on the hold list for quite some time. It took me the entire 3 week time frame to finally finish it, which is saying something when I can normally finish a book within a couple of days. I almost DNFed the book at least a dozen times, only slogging through it because I had waited to read it and I knew if I returned it, it would be another few months before I could pick it back up again.

The book was very slow and underdeveloped. The characters weren’t very well fleshed out, making it difficult to care about their dire circumstances. There were different POVs from first person narration and all of them had the same voice. If I was reading, put the book down mid chapter, and picked it back up, I had to go back to the chapter heading just to figure out who was narrating or try to pick up some context clues, because aside from their immediate surroundings, there was little difference between each POV. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and I don’t understand why authors don’t embrace third person narration if they can’t seem to get their character’s voices right.

I felt that Children of Blood and Bone was a mediocre YA fantasy novel full of the same awful tropes that seem to dominate the genre sometimes. Awful romance pairings, flat characters, repetitive writing, and the same story arc that I’ve seen so many times despite the unique setting and cast of characters. The book was incredibly long, yet it lacked world and character building. I almost feel as if this a big experiment to see if authors and publishers can get away with producing mediocre YA novels with simplistic themes if the marketing is right, but it’s probably more correct to say that some books just do well with the right marketing and others don’t and it’s probably difficult to even predict how it will go.

The only real positives that were brought to the table were the diverse cast of characters, the fact that the story wasn’t Euro-centric, that the author herself is from Nigeria, and the book itself is inspired by Nigerian mythology. I do understand why the own-voices movement exists and I’m glad to see more authors springing up from various backgrounds writing unique fiction, but it’s just unfortunate that it’s the only positive thing I can say about the book. (It is also quite disappointing to see so many reviews on Goodreads from Nigerian readers who claim she didn’t even get the mythology right.)

Reviewing books is sometimes difficult because it’s so subjective. I’ve admittedly given terrible books lots of stars because it was thoroughly entertaining or I could ignore some of the negatives. Other times, I’ve given wonderful books less stars because I expected more from it or something about it bothered me. I think perhaps this is one of those books that is important due to the audience craving a point of view they can relate to and understand and could perhaps be a part of something bigger, when publishers are actually attempting to give rise to more voices in fiction. This can be a breath of fresh air for some readers and perhaps that’s why it received the praise that it did. For me, there was nothing about the book that overcame my problems with it, so I can’t rate it highly.

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Star 2

 

 

Wreck This Journal – Page 168-169: Internal Monologue

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Wreck This Journal
Pages 168-169

This Space is Dedicated to Internal Monologue

 

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“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside – walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer to a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”  -Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

“People love taking, and I have never been a huge talker. I carry on an inner monologue, but the words often don’t reach my lips.”

“It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.” – Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” -Sylvia Path, The Bell Jar

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.” -Steve Jobs

“There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

‘I Feel this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong,’

No teacher, preacher, parent, friend

Or wise man can decide

What’s right for you– just listen to

The voice that speaks inside.”

-Shel Silverstein, The Voice

 

Photo Review – Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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Small Great Things

by Jodi Picoult

Summary: Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Small Great Things was an incredible thought provoking book about racism. I thought it was well done and highly recommend it.

Racism is definitely an issue that more and more people are becoming aware of and I liked that the book gave the reader the point of views of the black nurse, the white supremacist father, and the white defense lawyer who never really thought about race in order to tell a story that a lot of readers need to hear.

It was clear from the book and the author’s note at the end that the author put a lot of research and thought into this book and making sure it was told the right way. It was inspired by real events and her research helped her get the voices right. Like any book, it will not always speak to everyone or for everyone’s experiences,

While I do understand the own voices argument, I have always felt that it’s wrong to box people in and say they can only ever write about their own experiences or from their own points of view. If that were the case, Picoult should have stopped writing a long time ago because she’s never been in the shoes of most of her characters. It’s important to raise awareness and with Picoult being an author known to tackle issues, it feels like it would be more wrong for her to avoid this particular issue instead of trying to get it right, so I applaud her for finding the courage to try.

If all this book does is make Picoult’s target audience aware of their own privilege, then it did its job. It made me uncomfortable, got under my skin, and got me thinking about the topic, which for some people is something they’ve never had happen before and will generate thought and discussion, even if it’s limited to their own social circles. The fact that so many people can walk around and just choose not to think about racism is why Picoult writing this book for her audience (at the very least) is so important.

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Star 4

Photo Review – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

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Nineteen Minutes

by Jodi Picoult

Summary: In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who — if anyone — has the right to judge someone else?

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Nineteen Minutes was such an incredible story. Just when I think that I have opinions about things, Picoult makes me realize that nothing is black and white. The world is a complicated place and no one is wholly good or wholly evil.

I did not read the blurb, or maybe I forgot the blurb, but either way I had no idea what the story would be about until I started reading. I think school shootings have certainly gotten worse as I’ve been an adult, but I did grow up in what felt like a pivotal moment, when society starting wondering where we went wrong, how innocent kids turned into shooters, who could be to blame.

I feel like maybe I should mention that I’ve never felt particularly bullied, nor have a felt that I’ve gone out of my way to bully others. There were moments I laughed when I felt like I should’ve helped, as well as moments I kept my head down and hoped to not be the target of any bully. I could never hope to really put myself in the shoes of a shooter who was bullied to that point, but the book was eye opening.

I empathized with every character and cringed as nearly all of them made the wrong moves in the book. We got to see so many points of view, from past to present, that helped explain how something like that could happen. I think there’s something realistic about the issue presented in the book. It feels wrong to empathize with the shooter, but it’s not like people just grow up evil and commit crimes and it was clear that Peter was just as much victim as he was villain.

A lot of people dislike Picoult’s books for being controversial issue books with stereotypes and emotion, but I think she gets it right most of the time. We try to do the right things throughout our lives and sometimes things don’t work out and snowball into bigger issues. We don’t communicate enough with each other. We make mistakes. One of my favorite things about Picoult is that her endings are often not satisfying. And yet, such is life. Her books are about people and issues and they are almost never wrapped up into nice bows.

I closed the book feeling that people just do what they think is best in the moment. Stopping bullying is not just about making sure people follow policies and that policies about bullying exist, it’s about being aware, every day, of what decisions you make, how you communicate with others, and how you treat others.

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Star 4

Photo Review – The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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The Perfect Stranger

by Megan Miranda

Summary: Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

The Perfect Stranger was unpredictable and hard to put down! I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this genre lately, but I felt that this book got it right.

I love unreliable narrators and lately, thrillers keep giving me drunk unreliable narrators who witness things and aren’t reliable because they can’t keep fact from fiction straight and I don’t like that. I miss the genuine unreliable narrator and this book delivered. The Perfect Stranger was unpredictable, not because the main character was drunk or on some sort of medication, but because we knew she was running from something and her situation was getting weirder by the day.

I really enjoyed this one and definitely recommend it, especially if you’re also getting tired of The Girl on the Train type of books.

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Star 4

Photo Review – Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas

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Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7)

by Sarah J. Maas

SummaryYears in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

Source: I purchased a hardcover (Barnes and Noble exclusive edition)

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Review:

Kingdom of Ash was a giant epic conclusion to the Throne of Glass series. Just under 1000 pages of craziness from start to finish, another Empire of Storms in terms of plots and near misses and millions of POVs to keep track of.

I love this series and I’m glad it’s over. It ended well, but I’m also frustrated.

Something happened to the series after Queen of Shadows and I’ve been frustrated ever since. When I read Empire of Storms the first time, I was eager to get to a conclusion and there were just so many characters and plots and schemes to keep track of and I felt the same way reading Kingdom of Ash. There was so much happening and no conclusion in sight and POV switches and near misses and just.. so many pages of it.

I have to admit, I feel a little manipulated by all of the secrets and scheming and near misses, characters being saved just in the nick of time with more deals and sacrifices. The constant POV shifts felt manipulative as it was cliffhanger after cliffhanger, lives in the balance, schemes with different characters, back to battles, back to someone in danger, back to traveling.. dealing with it for 1000 pages just got frustrating.

I’m glad that the main characters are important and that we care about them and don’t want them to die, but I feel like Maas should’ve just upped the stakes and killed someone off or stopped throwing more obstacles in their way if they aren’t going to actually do anything to prevent said character from achieving said goal. I can’t even imagine how frustrated Aelin’s court must be if I’m getting frustrated as the reader by not being clued into certain plans time and time again. For real, it’s a good thing so many people are immortal because they should have gray hair and blood pressure issues at this point if they weren’t. If something is clever and it will work, can we just talk about it so I stop worrying so much instead of brandishing it at the last second like a “gotcha” moment? I would enjoy the plotting and planning sessions of the characters if they revealed said plans ahead of time. I’d even say that’s an aspect of reading fantasy that I enjoy.

Kingdom of Ash wasn’t bad and there was some pretty amazing moments. I wouldn’t be so frustrated if I didn’t care so much about the characters, but I’m just glad it’s over and I’m not totally convinced that it was a great book. I never accused Maas of being repetitive or over the top while everyone who dislikes her books did, but Kingdom of Ash was kind of repetitive and over the top and I just feel like Maas should’ve been getting better, not worse, with the writing. (seriously how many times can I be reminded that Rowan smelled like pine and snow?!) Prove your haters wrong, Maas, and stop the repetition. A lot of the phrases or repetition of phrases and overall gist of the story slid a bit into the ACOTAR series territory (which I do love, but recognize as a completely different type of series), as if she was being influenced by her other books. I miss the early Throne of Glass days when there was less Fae mating and matching everyone up and more heartache and loss and strength.

Overall, if you’ve made it this far, keep reading, it would be insane not to just finish it. It ends well, there’s a lot of wrap up afterwards, and it’s worth the page count to see it through to the end. But for me, I’m just glad it’s over and glad I don’t have to sit through another book like that because I’d lose my mind. And that’s ultimately why I’m only giving it 3 stars. Maybe if I go back and reread it now that I know what to expect, I’ll appreciate it more, but I shouldn’t have to feel that way, so I’m rating it with my gut now.

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Star 3