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Photo Review – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

SummaryBig Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Source: I borrowed a digital copy from my local library

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Review:

I feel like I’d seen enough hype about this book and I knew it was a show on HBO, so I finally placed a hold at the library and began reading when it was available. I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, but I thought it would be a contemporary about moms. And I was right for the most part, but it was also a murder mystery, so that was fun.

I really enjoyed Big Little Lies. The book immediately hooked me and I found myself genuinely intrigued by the lives of the characters. I had no idea what would happen next and was truly surprised by the twists. It did have that contemporary feel, but was focused just as much on the darker side of everyone’s lives that it fits in with the thrillers and suspense novels that are popular these days.

I definitely recommend this one!

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Star 4

Book to TV Show Thoughts:

After I read the book, I decided to check out the HBO show and devoured it fairly quickly. I felt the show was true to the essence of the book, but they did make a few changes. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t set in Australia, but the setting in the show still worked well. I was a bit taken aback by the casting, but they all did a great job and were true to the book characters for the most part. I definitely recommend watching the show, too!

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Photo Review – Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

by Zoraida Cordova

SummaryNothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

I enjoyed the premise of the book and the culture and mythology surrounding the family. The story felt magical in a rich, dark, and beautiful way. I wished the main character would’ve immersed herself a bit more in her culture, but I could understand why she wished to be rid of magic and her abilities altogether.

I loved the book for most of the first portion as she met someone willing to help her give up her powers forever and she followed him through the rabbit hole and through a magical journey.

The rest of the book felt rushed and convenient, so much so that I’m surprised it was on lists for featuring LGBT or feminism. The main character turned her back on her culture, let someone she didn’t know guide her without once asking herself it was a good idea, and yet she seemed really headstrong and firm in her opinions. I felt like I knew her character, until the end when suddenly she was in a relationship that came out of left field.

I only gave the book 3 stars because I didn’t like how it all concluded. I have read that the second book follows someone else in the family and is better, but I’m not sure that I’ll continue reading.

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Star 3

Photo Review – Obsidio (The Illuminae Files_03) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files _03)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryKady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I enjoyed the finale of Obsidio and I was happy to get the closure I needed for the whole story. I only gave Gemina 3 stars because it was so disappointing in comparison to Illuminae and I don’t think Obsidio was much better, but I gave it an extra star because it was interesting and it did conclude the story and involve the original characters and AIDAN a lot more.

Illuminae was the best book in the trilogy by a long shot, but if this is read as one long story with different POVs, then it’s still an amazing scifi trilogy that is worth reading. I think other people might like Gemina or Obsidio as much as or more than Illuminae, but the horror lover in me just really enjoyed the plot of Illuminae more than the traditional scifi adventure plot of the rest. The storytelling is unique for this entire trilogy and I highly recommend checking this series out and diving into a story that is told in so many ways. It was creative and full of so much adventure, love, action, horror, and mystery.

(2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for Book Set on a Different Planet)

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Star 4

Photo Review – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

By Gabrielle Zevin

Summary: As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

We are not quite novels.

We are not quite short stories.

In the end, we are collected works.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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Review:

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt: a book that involves a bookstore or library. The prompt was proving difficult for me because I have learned that I dislike books about libraries or other books generally. I’m not really sure why. I wanted to read 0 of the books recommended to me for this prompt until my friend recommended this one.

I figured I’d try it out, expecting a clunky literary tale with titles strewn about the pages and bookworms being boring or classic literature references bogging down the pages. (See? I LOVE these things but I HATE reading about them!)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was not any of those things. It was a lighthearted contemporary book about a grumpy man who eventually grew on me. It was fun and sweet and not at all the boring tale I expected. It still paid homage to many great works of fiction and the pages were peppered with bookish references, but not in a way that felt clunky or otherwise awful.

I was charmed by the book and definitely recommend it!

Photo Review – The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich

The Orange Eats Creeps

By Grace Krilanovich

Summary: It’s the ’90s Pacific Northwest refracted through a dark mirror, where meth and madness hash it out in the woods. . . . A band of hobo vampire junkies roam the blighted landscape—trashing supermarket breakrooms, praying to the altar of Poison Idea and GG Allin at basement rock shows, crashing senior center pancake breakfasts—locked in the thrall of Robitussin trips and their own wild dreams.

A girl with drug-induced ESP and an eerie connection to Patty Reed (a young member of the Donner Party who credited her survival to her relationship with a hidden wooden doll), searches for her disappeared foster sister along “The Highway That Eats People,” stalked by a conflation of Twin Peaks’ “Bob” and the Green River Killer, known as Dactyl.

With a scathing voice and penetrating delivery, Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps is one of the most ferocious debut novels in memory.

Source: A paperback was given to me as a gift

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Review:

I read this book for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt A Book with a Fruit or Vegetable in the Title. It’s been on my bookshelf for years and was gifted to me by the owners of a bookstore where I worked. I’m always up for vampire fiction and I finally had a great excuse to read it.

I don’t think I’m “cool” enough to read this book. The reviews are all quite good, but there’s an element to the culture of the book that I just don’t get. I think I get more of it now that I’ve lived in the PNW for the past year, whereas before I might not have really grasped things like why there would be homeless people not in urban areas, but I will also admit that there’s still a lot of PNW-ness that I will never understand and I definitely am not the right demographic in region or age to fully appreciate that part of it.

The book was weird and clever and told in a strange way and I think if it was about 30 pages long, I would have given it a better rating. There’s no need for this to be a book and not a short story and the “revolutionary” storytelling started to grate on my nerves as I strolled through the disjointed stream of consciousness type of narration.

I wanted to like this more, but I do appreciate the symbolism.

Photo Review – The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile

By Stephen King

Summary: Stephen King’s classic #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film starring Tom Hanks!

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk “the Green Mile,” the lime-colored linoleum corridor leading to a final meeting with Old Sparky, Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities over the years working the Mile, but he’s never seen anything like John Coffey–a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about John Coffey–a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs….

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I chose this book for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for book with my favorite color in the title.

It has been on my TBR for quite some time as I’m a huge Stephen King fan and also love the movie. King gets some bad movie adaptations, so I was expecting the book to be wildly different, but it’s was very similar. I enjoyed the story in book format and I love the serial format and kind of wish I read them that way.

If you have been wanting to try a Stephen King book, but you don’t like long books and/or you’re not really a horror fan, this is definitely a book I recommend. It’s not very long (and not Stephen King length) and it’s not rooted in horror at all.

I’m so glad I got to finally cross it off of my To-Read list!

Photo Review – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

Source: I purchased a softcover.

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Review:

I read The Hobbit a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The Lord of the Rings has been on my to-read list for years and years, but it just seemed so daunting and long. Much like other older fantasy books, I expected it to be long and boring and dry, so I kept putting it off. For the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, I decided I would finally read it this year as Book Mentioned In Another Book and finally get to scratch it off of my 100 Essential Books Scratch Off Poster.

I’m glad I read it! It wasn’t nearly as slow as I’d expected and I was able to match up a lot of the characters with those in the movie, which helped me put some faces to names and keep it from being confusing. It also helps that I read The Hobbit, so I cared a lot about the events in the beginning and I’m not sure I would have cared about Bilbo and his party and his birthday if I hadn’t read The Hobbit.

I still prefer The Hobbit because Frodo just isn’t as fun as Bilbo (not that his task was really fun in the first place) and because everything was so dark and serious and dramatic and I much preferred the lightheartedness of The Hobbit. Still, LOTR was really good and much better than I expected it to be.