Green is the New Black: Green Girl by Kate Zambreno

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Green Girl

By: Kate Zambreno

Re-released: June 24th, 2014 by Harper Perennial

Length: 304 Pages

Genre: Fiction

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Purchased

 

Look at me don’t look at me look at me look at me don’t look at me don’t look.

 Ruth is a young American in London, trying desperately to navigate a world she feels uncomfortable in, while battling with herself. Time and again she questions her existence and the existence of others while trying to find the pursuit of contentment. She discovers herself often in precarious situations that she must find a way out of. Full of epiphanies and life lessons, Green Girl introduces us to the new The Bell Jar and Esther Greenwood.

It is hard to put into words how much I loved this book. From the first page when the other is naming Ruth, to the epigraphs before each chapter that I bookmarked almost each time. Was it all the inner battles Ruth had? There are too many reasons why. I was hooked from the beginning. Ruth was by far the most interesting character I had met this year in my year of reading. She was troubled, confused, promiscuous, fierce, and strong without realizing it.

There wasn’t much that happened, but the prose! The prose was beautifully written. It was insightful, intelligent, and left me wanting more. This debut was moving. Zambreno has a brilliant career ahead of her. I was really impressed. It did remind me a lot of The Bell Jar which is one of my all time favorite novels. So, I may be a little biased. There was something just so raw and fresh about this novel. Something I haven’t seen in a while. This is definitely a novel to be checked out. I highly recommend it.

 

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Not My Kind of Nest: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

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Nest

By: Esther Ehrlich

Released: September 9th, 2014 by Wendy Lamb Books

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: Middle Grade

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via publisher

What lengths would you go to make your life stay the same? How would you feel if the person you love most in the world stops smiling?

For eleven year old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her mother is everything to her. When her dancer mother gets a devastating diagnosis that stops her from dancing and smiling, Chirp doesn’t know what to do. Soon after, her mother spirals into a depression. Nest tells Chirp’s sometimes heartbreaking journey as she trudges through life during this time with adventure, escape, and self-discovery. It isn’t all bad, but it isn’t all good, either.

This novel deals with some very adult issues at the heart of this middle grade novel. The character may be a middle schooler, may behave like one, but the situations are anything but. I had a slight problem with that. I usually don’t read middle grade novels, so I am not sure if this is an usual occurrence. But, may did it take an adult turn. Too adult, I would say. It made me very uncomfortable reading it. As it is a spoiler, I am not at liberty to reveal it, but it made me dislike the book. I loved Chirp. She developed a nice relationship with the boy next. They had a cute conversation towards the end of the novel that I loved.  However, this was not enough to give this novel a better rating. What took place towards the later middle/end was too heavy for me. Not heavy for me as an adult, but heavy as me reading a middle grade novel. It isn’t something that I personally believe should take place for this age group. I don’t think they can handle it, grasp it, and it takes away from the rest of the novel because of that.

It was a big shocker for me. If this was a Young Adult novel, I don’t think the event, if you can call it that, that occurred, would have taken me so off guard, but since this is for a younger audience it did. I don’t think it needed to happen to get the author’s point across. Yes, what happened completely at the end was a great character development exercise, but could have been reached without what took place because of it.

Although I did not find this novel extremely heartwarming, I definitely can see where a reader can. This is, at its core, a middle grade novel, but too much of it is adult for me. But, if there wasn’t that one thing, this would have been a great debut for me. Like I mention before, the characters were great. The plot, for the majority of it, was pretty decent. It evoked the right emotions. It showed how powerful friendships could be. It was poignant, honest, and positive.

I am torn on recommending this book. There were some great positives about this book. But, the negatives were so negative. I really feel strongly about what took place that makes it too inappropriate for its age group. I can’t seem to get past that. But, at the end, it was uplifting. There was a positive message. I would say, look at the back. Think about it. It’s heavy. It’s mostly about mental illness; and, the affects it has on our loved ones. If that’s hard for you, I’d say pass. It gets emotional, just so you know.

Happy reading!

Kiki is kinky; Kiki by Amanda Earl Book Review

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Kiki

Kiki

By: Amanda Earl

Released: October 1st by Chaudiere Press

Length: 130 Pages

Genre: Poetry

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via publisher

 

I  am a window made of paper,

a fragile silhouette that goes up in flames

with the merest touch of light.

-untitled from “Alice”

Kiki is based on Kiki de Montparnasse, born as Alice Ernestine Prin. A woman of many talents and surrealist photographer Man Ray’s mistress, Kiki tells her life in parts. Divided up in four sections, the collection begins with “Alice” with rather short, untitled poems about Alice becoming Kiki; the marvelous nights spent drinking, dancing, performing; her sexual awakening and awareness. It is perhaps one of my favorite sections of the collection. The next part titled “Tales of Montparnasse” is one long poem about just that. Fitzgerald and Hemingway make an appearance, of course, as do many others. I didn’t find myself connecting to this one as much. The third section is entitled Opium (After Cocteau). The shortest long poem in the collection, it is by far my favorite in the entire collection. It is about opium use, but there is a beautiful juxtaposition that takes place within the poem that made me instantly fall in love with it.

I remove my mask.

I lie prone on the ground,

a flower’s stem impaled in my chest.

There is something in those two lines is slightly disturbing, but when I picture the flower’s stem, I can’t help but think about the rest of the flower. The whole poem has very strong imagery that challenges each of your senses. It’s the one section not to be missed. The most unique section, and the last, is a call and response to William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch with Kiki as the speaker. The most interesting section by far, I read it very quickly, compelled to keep reading. The responses were very fascinating, and passages chosen from the novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection. It was very sensual, explicit with curse words in “Alice”, with imagery that both challenges the senses and brings a reality to the life of Kiki. I think she would be proud of this piece of work.

 

Dreams Do Come True?: John Dreamer by Elise Celine Book Review

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John Dreamer

By: Elise Celine

Released: February, 2014 by Authorbuzz

Length: 203 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Seven chairs, seven strangers, one strange white room.  What ensues, is only in your dreams.

John Dreamer is simply about living out what you desire most; but not in the way you think. The first dream , one of the more intense dreams, is a brutal battle. One of the “strangers” is mistreated during the battle, and the weakest stranger protects her. It turns out it’s his dream, to be strong and tough. He succeeds, both there and in life afterwards, becoming an award winning scientist. He is the first to leave.  As the novel continues, more dreams are fulfilled, deeper secrets are revealed and connections are made.

My favorite dream sequence comes from the tough guy Ray. His was the most powerful and gut wrenching. It really hits you.  As each dream had, it had a great message in the end. Celine really leaves you with a good sense of the character, what they were after, and what they got. And better yet, what you can learn from them. Learn from them you certainly do.  Even with the characters that aren’t there for very long, there is great character development because of how well the dream sequence is written. You really see what the character is all about. At the end of each successful dream, you get a follow-up of each character, which is nice. You see how this really helped them.

Of course, there is a love story between the main character Andy and John Dreamer. At first I was weary of their romance because of a comment Andy makes. It’s a little nauseating. It’s about falling in love so fast. However, I quickly changed opinions. The love story became believable pretty fast. The twist at the end was great, too.

I really liked this book.  This is going to be a series. I will definitely continue reading this series. I hope you’ll give it a chance.

Blog Tour: Excerpt from The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

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I was in Cafe de Flores, drinking coffee and talking with a friend, Madeline from Albany, when the man sitting next to us put down the paper he had been reading, stood so quickly that he was unsteady on his feet, and rushed out the door.

“He’s in a hurry,” Madeline commented. She had a high-pitched voice that carried quite a distance, and the other diners looked up as well. Our waiter pursed his lips and blew through them, making the familiar sound of Parisian disdain. He took away the half-finished coffee, the untasted ham and cheese baguette, but before the waiter could take the paper I reached for it.

It was the New York Times from two weeks before, the Tuesday, October 29 edition.

“Stock Prices Slump $14,000,000,000 in Nation-Wide Stampede to Unload,” I read.

“Daddy must be so upset,” Madeline said. “Bet he’s going to cut my allowance. And I just ordered a dozen new frocks.”

“Just a dip. It’ll right itself,” Jamie said when I went back to our room on rue Froidevaux, across from the old cemetery. “Dad must be nervous, though,” he admitted, after he had thought about it for a moment. “I can’t go back yet, Nora. We’re okay.” When we made love that afternoon, rolling naked in the warmth of the early autumn weather, Jamie seemed a little preoccupied. “Don’t worry,” he repeated so often that I began to worry.

Two weeks later Jamie had a letter from his father explaining that his monthly income would have to be reduced a little, but otherwise all was well. People will always buy bread. Two months later there was another letter, saying that the Tastes-So-Good Bakery had almost defaulted on a loan and staff were being laid off.

“Come home,” his father wrote. “It’s time.” Jamie grimaced and tugged at his ear, the way he did when he was upset. “No,” he said back to the letter.

Blog Tour: The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

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The Beautiful American

The Beautiful American

(historical fiction)

by

Jeanne Mackin

Release date: June 3, 2014
at New American Library/Penguin

352 pages

ISBN: 978-0-451-46582-5

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris: when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever.

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women. [provided by the author]
For reviewers’ attention: brief, very mild sex and violence

***

My Thoughts

The Beautiful American tells the story of two very different women in the span of over twenty years, from the early 1920s to after the second World War. Nora Tours is not an artist. She follows her photographer, High School sweetheart Jamie from New York all the way to Paris where they meet the celebrated Lee Miller–model, photographer, and surrealist Man Ray’s mistress. There, a foursome is formed. They take the city by storm. Soon, secrets start to pile up. Lee won’t acknowledge the past she shares with Nora that is tainted.  Soon, devastation and secrets revealed shatters the foursome, breaking them up.

This novel was an interesting read. I didn’t love it, as I had hoped to. However, I did like it. I liked the Paris years. Lee was an interesting, selfish, perfectly conceited side character that kept me wanting to read more. Having known a little about Man Ray, I enjoyed learning more about him. I found Nora to be boring, far too love sick for me. She had limited desires to work, make a name for herself, be anyone but Jamie’s girlfriend. Jamie, too, I felt was a flat character. He was a little whiny when he talked. He didn’t add much. I think Nora could have done better. I did feel somewhat bad that he wasn’t given better chances as a photographer, though.

The plot and structure of the story was interesting. The backstory took up a majority of the book, which I wasn’t too happy with. I did enjoy it, for the most part, but would have liked it broken up a bit. It didn’t flow as smoothly as it could if it was broken up better. It was written with the current problem given a chapter in the beginning, then the backstory kicks in for the majority, then the current problem randomly kicks back in. There wasn’t much fluidity to it. It worked okay, but it could have been better. Again, wasn’t a major issue, but did stop me from giving it four or five stars rather than three on goodreads.com.

I thought Mackin did an excellent job historically. I felt I was in Paris during that time period, meeting everyone. She did not slack on the details. She did a great job describing the devastation of the War, as well.  There are a lot of redeeming qualities about this book, but what she misses on, she really misses. I just didn’t feel the connection as deeply as I would have liked. I still would recommend this book as a good historical fiction novel because of the accuracy historically. I think you really feel you are there, in the past. I may just be too picky with the characters. There wasn’t anything immensely wrong with this novel. I hope you do give it a glance at.

Praise for The Beautiful American

Readers will rank [it] right up there with The Paris Wife?. A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece???New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas

Will transport you to expat Paris and from there take you on a journey through the complexities of a friendship. Breathes new life into such luminaries as Man Ray, Picasso, and, of course, the titular character, Lee Miller, while at the same time offering up a wonderfully human and sympathetic protagonist in Nora Tours.Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing. Sure to appeal to fans of Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife and Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda, or indeed to anyone with a taste for impeccably researched and beautifully written historical fiction. Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France

Beautiful.A fascinating account of a little-known woman who was determined to play by her own rules.Historical Novel Society

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne MackinJeanne Mackin is the author of several historical novels set in France,
and has earned awards for her journalism
as well as a creative writing fellowship
from the American Antiquarian Society.
She lives in upstate New York with her husband,
cats and herd of deer,
and is still trying to master the French subjunctive.

Visit her website.

Follow Jeanne Mackin on Twitter | Facebook

Buy the book | on Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books a Million | Google Play | iBookstore | Indiebound | Powells

Giveaway time!!

***

Click on Entry-Form to enter the giveaway:

Entry-Form

Visit and follow each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour
will give you 5 extra entries each time!

5 copies:
print for US/Canada residents only.

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS, GUEST-POST, EXCERPT

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