Reviews

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

novemberwrap-up-9

Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

432 pages (Hardcover) ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense, Time Travel

September 18, 2018 ~ Sourcebooks Landmark

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.

______________________________________________________________________________

My Thoughts:  

9c5893b6-72ed-419b-9373-e2c3206bdcbe

This book! I don’t even know how to describe it because it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My brain literally hurt when I finished it, but in a satisfying- “I just accomplished something” type of way. I had to start taking notes halfway through because there were so many characters and so much detail. The story is a constant roller coaster with twists and turns and “wait what!?” moments. You are kept guessing the entire time. There is witty banter, a dark creepy house with a sordid past, family scandal, murder (obviously), but there is also a really cool philosophical element to the story that you don’t see coming amidst all the scheming and backstabbing. I absolutely loved this book! While I don’t necessarily think this book is for everyone, I do think there are a lot of readers that will enjoy its dark twists and turns. You will most likely enjoy The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle if you like:

  • Clue – (both the game and the movie) You are basically playing clue in this book except your “character” changes daily
  • Downton Abbey – If you like the upstairs/downstairs drama and intrigue, this is definitely for you
  • Agatha Christie – this mystery is set up just like a Christie novel and Turton does a great job of paying homage to her style
  • Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the characters in this novel have to complete tasks before they are free, these “tasks” are designed to help them become better people- rehabilitation is the goal. A very Dickensian theme

Overall, I thought this was a really smart, interesting, unique, and well written novel. The only drawback for me was that the middle section did tend to lag in a few places. But the reward at the end was definitely worth it. This was an amazing first novel from Stuart Turton and I’m so excited to see what is next for him! 

For more information on Stuart Turton and his books, check him out on Goodreads

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Advertisements
Reviews

Review: The Song of Achilles ~ by Madeline Miller

novemberwrap-up-8

Review: The Song of Achilles ~ by Madeline Miller

352 pages (paperback) ~ Literary Fiction/Greek Mythology  

2011 ~ Bloomsbury

My Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Description:

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights, their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

______________________________________________________________________________

87c5788a-3a47-4cd5-964b-0523170c8e46My Thoughts:  

This book was absolute magic. Reading Circe was a transformative experience, and The Song of Achilles had the same profound impact on me. Though I related to Circe’s story more, mainly because it dealt with so many women’s issues, I really loved the way that Miller was able to give so much depth to a story that I thought I knew. Since there are so many beautiful reviews of this book, I will keep mine short and sweet by listing a few of my favorite elements of the book.

  • The guilt of war – in other stories of Achilles he is portrayed as a killer. I really liked that Miller used his relationship with Patroclus to show his guilt over the lives he was forced to take. This conveyed his goodness and Patroclus’ influence on him.
  • The subtlety of their love story – Patroclus and Achilles’ love for each other is never overtly stated, instead, the reader feels how much they love each other through their actions. Miller does such an amazing job of conveying their deep love and admiration for each other in such a poetic and subtle way.

“He is half my soul, as the poets say.”

  • Concept of fame – the story really plays with the idea of fame since this is something that Achilles chases throughout the book. It brings up questions of fame’s importance to history. One of my favorite quotes from the book addresses this question:

“Fame is a strange thing. Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another? We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory….We are men only, a brief flare of the torch. Those to come may raise us or lower us as they please. Patroclus may be such as will rise in the future.”

I thought this quote was really interesting considering that the book seems to be attempting this very thing.

  • Remembered for his goodness  – The ending of the book was heartbreaking and beautiful. Achilles is a hero who is known for his ruthlessness and his ability to cut men down. However, Miller does an amazing job of attempting to rewrite his history. Instead, we remember Achilles through Patroclus’ eyes. He is remembered instead through this great and epic love story, rather than for death and destruction.

“They do not come as words, but like dreams, rising as scent from the rain-wet earth. This, I say. This and this. The way his hair looked in summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward.”

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Greek Mythology, however, I think that everyone would enjoy it. There is no need to have prior or extensive knowledge of mythology before going into this book.

If you have read it, or plan to, leave me a message!

For more information on Madeline Miller and her books, check her out on Goodreads.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing ~ by Delia Owens

novemberwrap-up-5

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing ~ by Delia Owens

384 pages ~ Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery  

August 2018 ~ G.P Putnam’s Sons

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

______________________________________________________________________________

“Kya was bonded to her planet and its life in a way few people are. Rooted solid in this earth. Born of this mother.”

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

My Thoughts:  

I am generally leery of overly hyped books, but when your big sister forcibly insists you read something for months at a time, you eventually give in. I am really glad that I finally listened because this book was like nothing I have ever read before. The natural world at the center of this book is remarkable. Owens’ love and affinity for the natural world came through on every page and it was as poetic as it was fascinating.

Biggest Highlight for me:

  • Kya’s life is so rooted in the natural world of the marsh that she relates everything she sees in nature back to human behavior. Unlike most of us who have to relate to the natural world through human behavior, for Kya, it is the other way around. Nature teaches her first. She uses her knowledge of the marsh to try and better understand the choices that the people around her make: ie: the Vixen leaving her Kits, the male birds using their extravagant feathers to attract a mate, the female fireflies and the praying mantis attracting mates only to kill them. All of this was SO beautifully crafted.
  • Owens has used her life as a Zoologist to layer a story that is rooted in the natural world but is also rooted in how we perceive that natural world. What do we really notice and try to understand nature? How much of humankind is reflected back to us from nature? How do our choices show who and what we really are? Are our choices primal or are they truly rooted in intellect? These are all questions that the book attempts to answer. This questioning never felt forced or heavy-handed. There were times that I found myself asking, “why do I need to read about the mating habits of fireflies.” But all of the information that Owens gives, comes into play at some point in the novel. Everything is very intentional and well placed. There were lots of “Ah Ha” moments where I finally saw the natural world the way Kya was observing it and how it was reflected back to her in human life.  

The slight drawback for me: (Spoilers Beyond this point)

The only slight drawback for me was regarding the ending. I really loved the twist ending and I was completely shocked when it came. However, I didn’t feel that Kya killing Chase- plotting and executing such an elaborate story- was completely consistent with her character. Owen’s did such a great job establishing her as a gentle and caring person, that to find out that she was actually the murderer at the end was a little tough to wrap my head around. That said, I loved how the murder connected back to the firefly ritual.

Overall, it was an amazing story of survival, love, and connection to our amazing planet. I think that this is a massive success and accomplishment for her first novel. This book really does deserve all the hype.

For more information Delia Owens and her books- Click here >Delia Owens< to find her on Goodreads.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

304 pages (Hardcover) ~ Literary Fiction/Romance   

April 2nd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My Thoughts:  

I read The Girl I Used to Know in one sitting. These two characters captured my heart from the start and would not let go. At first, it seemed to be following the typical trope of a college couple reuniting after years apart, but this story became anything but typical. Reading this book was an emotional, heartwarming, and inspiring experience for me.

The writing is really smart and thoughtful. The story alternates between Annika’s and Jonathan’s perspectives and between two different time periods-  both characters have their own unique voice that is true to their character. Their voices change and grow over the years and really shows the full arc of their characters. Getting to read the unique perspective and understanding of Annika- who is on the autism spectrum- really endeared me toward her. It was really heartwarming to see her grow over the course of the novel and command more agency in her own life. I absolutely fell in love with her character- crying when she was struggling and rooting for her success. It was heartbreaking to read, but also really refreshing and inspiring at the same time.

“I remember feeling stunned when Tina explained that most people draw these conclusions instantaneously, without any extra analysis at all. How amazing but also heartbreaking, because I’ll never be one of them.”Annika

  • The support that Annika receives from those that love her- her parents, Janice, her brother, and Jonathan-  really shows that it is not about those that try to bring you down for your differences, but the precious few that love you because of your differences.

“I’m trying to explain that the way you navigate the world will never be more important than the type of person you are.” Jonathan

My only complaint was that the climax and resolution both seemed a little rushed. I wanted the long, super sappy, drawn-out ending, but I was still really happy with the ending overall. This story has a powerful and heartwarming message that I think will resonate with everyone. It hits bookstores on April 2nd!!

For more information on Tracey Garvis Graves and her books, check her out on Goodreads.

Note: I received an E-ARC of The Girl He Used to Know from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC- Daisy Jones and the Six ~ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

novemberwrap-up

Review: ARC: Daisy Jones and the Six ~ by Taylor Jenkins Reid  

349 pages (paperback ARC) ~ Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction  

March 5th, 2019~ Ballantine Books (an imprint of Random House)

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

My Thoughts:  

I wanted to read this book the minute that I read the synopsis…..late 70s, Rock-n-Roll, LA….sign me up! I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so knew that Taylor Jenkins-Reid would do justice to this amazing concept. Because of all of the hype surrounding this book, getting an ARC proved to be rather difficult for me. Luckily, the lovely ladies at BookSparks hooked me. And I am so glad that I was able to read it. This book is definitely worth all of the hype it’s been getting. It is entertaining, fast-paced, and fun, while still managing to be really complex and thought-provoking.

Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Themes– the book dealt with a lot of heavy themes: addiction, childhood trauma, and the power of choice, just to name a few. These characters are broken in so many ways, and they go through so much together. However, they still manage to look out for each other no matter what.
  • I like the way that Jenkins-Reid was able to portray addiction as something that one never really recovers from. It is a constant choice day to day. She also uses this theme of choice in order to show that it is not what we desire or what we think of doing that defines us, but rather what we actually end up doing. Our choices define us, rather than our addictions. Both of these themes were explored so well and were really powerful when placed in the context of celebrities who have a world of choices at their fingertips.

“History is what you did, not what you almost did, not what you thought about doing. And I was proud of what I did.”

  • The Music- The process of creating music in the 70s, lyrics, instruments, mixing, producing, all without the technology we have today, was all explored so well here and in such detail. It was so cool to be behind the scenes of this creative process. It was even better than watching “Behind the Music” because you feel like a member of the band.
  • Imperfect love- The idea that love doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be true and real was another theme explored here. There was part of me that really wanted to scream at these characters for making the mistakes that they do, but the story really makes to acknowledge that people and relationships aren’t perfect and that is ok. This really made me rethink strongly held beliefs.

“No matter who you choose to go down the road with, you’re gonna get hurt. That’s just the nature of caring about someone. No matter who you love, they will break your heart along the way….But I just kept choosing trust and hope. I believed he was worthy of it.”

What I didn’t love:

  • Interview style- I didn’t care for the interview style of the book. I would have liked if the interview style was mixed in with actual prose. The interview style made the book move really fast, which was great, but I felt that more depth would have come from prose.
  • Predictability- because it was an interview style, there was a lot of heavy foreshadowing by the characters who are telling the story. This made the climax of the story a little predictable for me.

Overall, it was a great ride. I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone, but especially those that love the 1970s Rock-n-Roll scene.

For more information on Taylor Jenkins Reid and her books, check her out on Goodreads and Instagram

Note: I received a copy of the ARC for Daisy Jones and the Six from BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much BookSparks.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC – The Last Romantics ~ by Tara Conklin

img_1524

Review: The Last Romantics ~ by Tara Conklin

386 pages ~ Literary Fiction

Feb 5th, 2019 ~ William Morrow Books

My Rating: 4/5 ✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.

A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.

______________________________________________________________________________

“The greatest works of poetry, what makes each of us a poet, are the stories we tell about ourselves. We create them out of family and blood and friends and love and hate and what we’ve read and watched and witnessed. Longing and regret, illness, broken bones, broken hearts, achievements, money won and lost, palm readings and visions. We tell these stories until we believe them.”

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My Thoughts:  

The Last Romantics is such a wonderful study in contrasts. The story of The Skinner siblings feels, at times, to be sweeping and epic, however, nothing beyond what we can expect from an ordinary life happens to these characters. Their lives and loves are both extraordinary and ordinary at the same time. Conklin manages to portray the complexity of sibling love and shows how powerful and true it is, despite all of its flaws. Her writing is both subtle and powerful and really celebrates “ordinary” human life. The writing is raw and unromantic, but still heartwrenching and beautiful. “True love” in all of its forms, is true because it is flawed, and because it is essentially “human.” This book does such an amazing job of celebrating this. I can’t say enough about how much I loved this book.

Below are a few themes that really stood out to me:

The Poetry- Fiona, the youngest of The Skinner siblings and narrator, is a poet and Conklin manages to seamlessly incorporate elements of poetry that both moves that plot forward and adds to our understanding of these characters. The poetry itself was beautiful, but also added such an interesting layer to the novel.

Representations of Grief and Depression- I really liked that Conklin didn’t shy away from a true portrayal of Noni’s grief and depression during “The Pause.” There is nothing mysterious or vailed about her experience. It is gritty and raw but also tinged with moments of beauty. Grief acts as a constant companion to these characters and changes them in profound ways which is something that I really related to and appreciated.

The connection between Parent and Child- The Skinner siblings come together and pull apart throughout the course of the novel. Their shared experiences and trauma bring them closer together, and yet their individual struggles seem to pull them apart. Their desire to protect Noni is a constant source of connection as well. I thought that Conklin really portrayed this complicated connection beautifully.

“We forgave Noni not because she was all we had, although this was true, but because we shared her. She belonged to the four of us, and for one to forgive her meant that the others couldn’t either, and none of us was willing to shoulder the burden of that decision. None of us could bear to take Noni away from the others again.”

Drawback:

The only slight drawback for me was the third person narrative style told by Fiona. I really enjoyed the flashbacks told from Fiona’s POV when it involved her own life. However, when she was narrating for her brother and her sisters, it did, at times, become distracting and kept pulling me away from the story. I started to question how Fiona knew enough of these details to relay the personal intimate experiences of her sibilings. I liked Fiona as the primary narrator, but I feel that Joe, Renee, and Caroline’s experiences would have been better told from their own POV, rather than Fiona’s.

Overall, this was a wonderful and moving story about the triumphs of family and of “true love” with all of its wonderful flaws. The Last Romantics comes out today, February 5th, 2019. Be sure to grab a copy of this amazing family drama.

I was graciously provided an ARC of The Last Romantics by Williams Morrow/Harper Collins, however, these opinions are all mine.

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Tara Conklin and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Once Upon a River ~ by Diane Setterfield

480 pages ~ Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

2018 ~ Atria/Emily Beatles Books

My Rating: 5/5 ✰✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense, and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

“Along the borders of this world lie others. There are places you can cross. This is one such place.”

My Thoughts:

First, let me say that this book is probably not for everyone. It is a very meandering, atmospheric type of narrative that is more about mood than it is about plot. Although there is a mystery at the heart of the plot, it is not the type of suspenseful mystery that would keep someone up till 3 am trying to get to the bottom of. I would not recommend this to readers who need a fast-paced, suspenseful plot in order to stay engaged. I would recommend this to readers who, like me, enjoy rich, dreamy beautiful prose, simply for the sake of beautiful prose. Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries would definitely be into this. The plot is slow moving, but this book is more than plot. It is about storytelling in all of its various forms and what those stories provide us. Setterfield has a very distinct style that I can only describe as magical. Here were some highlights for me:

-The celebration of storytelling- As I said above, this book is really a celebration of how stories influence us, inspire us, help us cope, and help us make sense of things we can’t understand. The river, in this story, both gives and takes life, it is both salvation and destruction simultaneously. It both inspires the stories, while the stories, in turn, define the river and what it is capable of. This was really such a beautiful theme, especially for someone who spends their life between the pages of a book.

-Darwinian themes- Because so little was known about the nature of medicine and science during the Victorian era, it was really interesting to see how these characters created stories in order to make sense of things that were, to them, unimaginable.

“Once upon a time, a long time ago, an ape became human. And once upon a time, long before that, an aquatic creature came out of the water and breathed air.”

-Connection to the real Henry Taunt– I had no idea that there was an actual Victorian photographer who floated around the Thames on a boat with a darkroom. When reading Setterfield’s notes at the end of the novel, it was really fascinating to see how her own research of Taunt lead her to create this story. I spent about two hours online mesmerized by his photography. I think that it would have been really lovely if the book included a map of the river and some of Taunt’s photography.

-Setterfield does a remarkable job of making the reader feel as if they’re are part this magical transaction of storytelling. You feel as if you are sitting down at the Swan with a pint, listening to this remarkable tale.

“And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bride once more and return to the world you came from. This river, which is and is not the Thames, must continue following without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, you surely have rivers of your own to attend to?”

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Diane Setterfield and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi