July, July! This Month’s TBR List

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It’s baaaack–my monthly TBR blog post. Ain’t that exciting? Yes, I said ain’t. During the course of this past year, and maybe more in the recent months, my reading preferences have become less focused on genre and more focused on story. As much as I love YA, and still read a lot of it, I have recently moved on to different genres and books. This month is no exception; with a list mostly comprised of different genres. Surprise! There is only ONE YA book listed. Wow. I’m surprised too. But, as I looked through my books (and asked someone for suggestions) I came up with these six. Hopefully I get to them all this time. I am trying to read more, but my hectic schedule leaves me tired. I have only read 15 books so far! 15! that is so low for me. But, beats last year’s pathetic total of I believe 12-14 books read. I need to get back in the reading game.

Well, without further ado, here is my list. I hope you find some good reads out of this. I am especially excited to read Christina Henry’s Alice. It’s a Sci-fi/Fantasy take on Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. If you know me at all, you know I am a HUGE Alice in Wonderland fan. A little obsessed, one could say. This new take on Alice and crew sounds intriguing, entertaining, and a hell of a ride. Henry is coming out with the second book, The Red Queen, later this year.

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Land of Enchantment by Leigh Stein

Alice by Christina Henry (if I don’t finish it this week)

Father’s Day by Simon Van Booy

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Penny Dreadful by Will Christopher Baer

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

There She Goes: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

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After Alice

By: Gregory Maguire

Released: October, 2015 by William Morrow

Length: 273

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015

 

“The day is wound up and begins even before the last haunted dreams, the last of the fog, those spectral and evanescent residues, have faded away.”

 After Alice takes place in an alternate universe where Alice was followed down the rabbit hole. Ada had hoped to find her only friend to play with. What Ada sees instead as she spots Alice, is her falling through this strange hole. Curious, and maybe even worried for Alice, little Ada jumps in to save her. What Ada soon discovers is a strange place called Wonderland where she meets talking flowers, a Mad Hatter, and the Red Queen as she seeks to find and save Alice. What ensues is a journey unlike Alice’s from the original text.

Ada’s journey, although a bit fanciful, is slightly dull. She mostly just questions everyone. Although not spineless, she doesn’t necessarily have a courageousness to her. While she is inquisitive, she tends to accept things and follow the leader. I wasn’t impressed with this narrative. But, to be fair, it was more exciting than the second narrative of that of her sister trying to find her with a new visitor by her side.

My, how bland! I passed certain parts as they were uninteresting. It was mostly just Ada’s sister bashing her for disappearing again. There wasn’t much to this narrative. There was a present day twist that was interesting, but it was towards the end. If you gave up on this book, the same way as I almost did a few times, you haven’t missed much. If you haven’t read this book yet, but want to, might I suggest the adult fantasy series by Christina Henry instead. Ada is not exactly featured, but the concept is certainly different and unique. I will be writing a review within the next couple of weeks.

Maguire fails to hit the proverbial mark. Although at times entertaining, or more so surprising, it didn’t capture this big fan of the original text. I had hoped for so much more from this book. Maybe because I had created hype for myself, but honestly it’s not worth a read. There are too many spots where one might want to give up. The first forty or so pages were hard to get through! If you make it past that, you are possibly in the clear to continue. But, it will drag. The twist at the end is the only redeeming part; and why I decided to give it two stars.

Where a Miniature House Can Tell So Many Truths: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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The Miniaturist

By: Jessie Burton

Released: August, 2014 by Ecco

Length: 416 Pages

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction- 17th Century Amsterdam

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via publisher

What would you do, if at eighteen, you just get married to a man you hardly know? To a man who isn’t around? Nella Oortman is faced with those questions and more. When her husband finally returns from sea, he gives her the strangest wedding gift–a miniature replica of their house. Once a miniaturist is sought out to make the furniture, it is then secrets start to tally up. How does the miniaturist know? How does he or she predict these things? 

Taking place within three months in 1686 Amsterdam, The Miniaturist takes a deep look at what it was like for the working to high middle class at the time. Full of secrets, twists, and back-stabbing intrigue, this debut is not to be missed. Nella starts off as a small voiced, scared newlywed who is afraid of her older, much more out spoken sister in law Marin. With brilliant character development, and a more brilliant twist, the reader is taken on a surprise journey with these two women. Not to mention how the marriage goes! This book is full of plot twists that take you aback. You won’t expect a single thing that happens, which makes this book ever more engaging and fun to read.

Burton’s writing is fresh, imaginative,  and daring. With one of her plot twists, she goes there. Really, really goes there where most authors, established or not, would be hesitant or afraid to. But, not Burton. She takes it to the unexpected, especially for that time period. The way she did it was highly successful in my opinion. I was shocked, surprised, and not at all in disagreement with her choice. I was impressed with what she did, actually. That wasn’t the only plot twist where she pushed the envelope, either. She wrote one more thing, where in today’s time would not be too big of a controversy, but in 1686, big big big controversy. And, it worked! It wasn’t put in the story just to push our limits. It made complete sense.

I loved this book. I loved everything about it. The plot twists impressed me. The writing was astonishingly good for a first time author. The characters developed perfectly. The end was nicely open ended for the readers. There wasn’t a thing I could complain about. I was completely invested. It was hard not to be. The first page alone pulls you in by starting with a funeral for someone who apparently has no friends. You have to think who it is for. It’s that good. It pulls you in that fast. I’m going to say it. This book was one of my favorite reads of this year. It was that good. I can’t recommend it enough. It will pull you in; leave you wanting more. If there is one historical fiction novel you read this year, I honestly think this is the one you should read. It isn’t about Kings or Queens. Treason and the like. It is about people like us. Finally, a historical fiction novel we can relate to!

When You Travel into the Crooked Little Vein of America: Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis Book Review

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Hello all my indie readers, it’s finally here! My first review in over a year of many to come. Ain’t that exciting? Have you heard of this underground gem of a book, Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis? If not, you will now.

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Crooked Little Vein

By: Warren Ellis

Released: July, 2007 by William Morrow & Company

Length: 280 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Lent to me

“This is the mainstream now, Mike. This is how life in America is. Moment by moment, our country has grown sicker. Our borders, Mike, have come to encompass the nine circles of Hell.”

What a journey through America, and the “nine circles of Hell”  Warren Ellis takes the reader on. Part crime/detective story, part mind fuck, Crooked Little Vein takes us through America as hard on his luck Private Investigator Michael McGill is sent on the case of a lifetime by The President’s Chief of Staff to retrieve the real US Constitution. With little to go on, McGill and Trix, his partner in crime, discover what America is really like ; and it isn’t pretty. From guys injecting saline into their nether regions in Cleveland, Ohio to  crazy rich men in Texas, and much more, this novel is a wild goose chase that I couldn’t put down.

If you know my reading tastes, I don’t normally read crime novels. When this was lent to me, I was immediately hooked; just by hearing the first couple pages being read to me. There is something refreshing and new in Ellis’s first novel. True underground classic. A complete mind fuck that gets darker, funnier, and intriguing as the story goes on. If you are looking for a light-hearted book, this is not it. Each page gives you pause; with a little What the– thrown in for good measure.

I absolutely loved it. I honestly wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It’s just so original. Something that I haven’t read in a while. Sure, I’ve read other books this year, and in the past, but this–this book is the one that has blown my mind completely. I’m not even going to ask for the remaining pieces. It was that good. Warren Ellis, I am not sure what, if any, drugs you were on, but thank you!

If you like books that make you question reality, all that this country is, and that takes you on a crazy, explicit ride, then this book is for you. For fans of Will Christopher Baer, author of the Phineas Poe series. You will love it, I assure you! To the person who recommended the book to me, I’m hooked. Give me more!

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