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January reads!

Heyooo! Back after my unexpected two week hiatus to bring you a list of what I’ve read this January. I didn’t read nearly as much as I feel like I should’ve this month (especially considering I bought about 12 new books xD) but I’d like to start doing these posts monthly in order to encourage myself to read as much as I used to. So without further ado, here are my January reads!

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The Likeness by Tana French

Previous to this book, I had read In the Woods, Tana French’s debut novel, and could. not. put. it. down!! I bought The Likeness right afterwards because I saw that it was the logical ‘next’ book in the Dublin Murder Squad series (they are standalone novels, they just contain a lot of the same characters), and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Just like In the Woods, this was an insane page-turner for me- I was up past midnight choking down coffee and trying to crash skidding into the finish when I had a six o clock wakeup the next day because I HAD SIXTY PAGES LEFT I COULDN’T STOP THERE. The story is from the point of view of detective Cassie Maddox, who gets sucked into a case where a girl is found murdered who looks exactly like her and was using an old alias of hers. Cassie poses as Lexie Madison (the fake name of the dead girl) and infiltrates the house where she lived with four of her friends, a set of mysterious characters who attend and teach at the local college and live in a big, historic & isolated house. This book is SO full of suspense, and when events finally unravel to the case’s end it’s like coming to the end of a great rollercoaster ride- not that I know what that’s like, AHAHA. I felt for a lot of the characters, and the ending was just so tragic and perfect and contained a lot of twists a and unexpected elements. (Also, can I just note Cassie is a much better narrator than Rob from In the Woods, one of my only complaints about that book was that he was too whiny xD)

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How to be Perfect by Ron Padgett

I got How to be Perfect on a trip to the book barn in Niantic, where the cover arrested me with its simple image and title.  This is a hard book to review not only because it’s the first poetry book I’m attempting to review (and poetry is so much harder for me to critique in any way). I wasn’t the biggest fan of it overall as a collection though I did see it had a lot of high ratings on Goodreads- a lot of the poems didn’t engage me personally, though I will say Ron Padgett is a master of taking poetry from everyday thoughts and musings. His poetry is very accessible and often humorous while still penetrating to a deeper level. I did love the title poem and there were a few others (“The Stapler” comes to mind as well) that resonated with me.

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Black Butler volumes 1-3 by Yana Toboso

Premise: In 1800s England, the young aristocrat Ciel Phantomhive forges a pact with the demon Sebastian Michaelis, who poses as his butler. The exchange is to be Ciel’s soul for revenge against those who wronged him by selling him into slavery and murdering his parents two years prior to the story opening. Finally started in on this series after watching the anime a few months back, and so far I am LOVING it! I’d heard that it’s a different animal than the anime entirely (as in, a lot of the anime never happens in the manga, which is 21 volumes so far! AHH! ) and I’m already seeing this manifest. Right now I’m at the place the story starts to deviate, after the Jack the Ripper arc when Ciel and Sebastian go hunting with Elizabeth and her mother. The artwork is beautiful in these books, and I can’t imagine the level of research on Victorian England that must I am obsession-level fixated on Grell Sutcliff (you don’t want to know the amount of amount of needless merch I bought…it’s a veritable Grellection…hahaHA) and I am finding Grell’s character even more amazing in the manga…slightly different from the anime, but in a very good way. Actually, everyone’s character is more shapely and complex here so far, which I suppose I should expect, as it usually is the case in the jump from screen to page. Even Sebastian, who was probably my least favorite (IDK, I know a lot of fans of BB love him, I just found him realllly boring in the anime) is a little more intriguing to me so far. I can’t wait to read further, especially as from hereon out it should be completely new story to me!

Welll, that’s about it! Hope you’re well and I’ll see you next week!

{C}

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Review- The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

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The copy of this book I bought smelled INSANELY good. I ate half the pages while reading. JUST KIDDING! (…or am I?)

4.5 stars

Warning: the ‘things I really really liked’ section gets a tad spoilery, so read at your own risk ; )

Description from the back cover of the book:
“On a dark road in the middle of the night, a car plunges into a ravine. The driver survives the crash, but his injuries confine him to a hospital burn unit. There the mysterious Marianne Engel, a sculptress of grotesques, enters his life. She insists they were lover sin medieval Germany, when he was a mercenary and she was a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal. As she spins the story of their past lives together, the man’s disbelief falters; soon, even the impossible can no longer be dismissed.”

This book was addictive reading. I started it for a book club, and the description on the back cover drew me in, but I still didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The Providence Journal apparently said this “reads like the mad spawn of Anne Rice and Stephen King” and I am inclined to agree. Considering I love both Rice and King, this is a good, good thing. The way the narrator talks to himself internally and his personification of the ‘snake’ in his spine after the accident makes me think of King, and his experiences with Marianne Engel and her eccentricity and lifestyle make me think of Rice. Like, really, that was spot on. 😀 DERP. Anyway.

This book is graphic, especially in describing the narrator’s burns and the treatment thereof, but I didn’t think it was nearly so graphic as some reviews complain, and I actually enjoyed these details, as they taught me a lot about the subject that I didn’t know. Then again, I’m not a squeamish person, so…eh!

Things I really really liked:

  • The fact that the narrator is not named throughout the entirety of the book, even though much of his life story up until his accident is described, never once is his name mentioned. Also feel I should mention it’s so flawlessly and effectively done that I DIDN’T FREAKING NOTICE until I FINISHED THE FREAKING BOOK, and went back to look for his name. Ohhh boy.
  • you never quite get a “case closed” conclusion as to whether Marianne Engel is or is not schizophrenic or “crazy”, but by the end you do get the sense she was probably not and the narrator made the right decision by BLANK BLANK BLANKETY BLANK (spoilers, lol)
  • PAST LIVES. I love anything involving the concept of reincarnation. Yess.
  • The fact that the narrator starts out as an atheist and ends, not in the same place, but not on the complete other end of the spectrum. Because of his love for Marianne, and because of her hyper-religiousness, I felt sure there’d be some type of “And then he FINALLY believed the same way she did!” type thing near the end. I’m so glad that shit didn’t happen. I mean, he comes to believe certain aspects of everything he’s told, but it’s natural and he retains his own outlook to a large degree while still making a personal transformation. It makes the story more powerful that they were able to be on the same spiritual level anyway through their love alone.

Hopefully that last one’s not tooooo much  of a spoiler, I just wanted to make that known in case anyone started to read and stopped because they thought it might end up cliche. This story is really anything but cliche, can’t believe it’s a debut! Wow. Just, wow!

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book. The ending brought tears to my eyes. There were a few parts where there was more meat maybe than there needed to be, but it was such a surprisingly quick read because I got so entrenched in it every time I picked it up again. I found myself upset I couldn’t read more sooner due to other obligations, a sure sign of a good book!!

{C}

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March reads

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Why is this called March reads, you may ask? It’s friggin’ April!! Well, you’re right. But I’m going to be painfully honest. I didn’t read much in March. All of TWO BOOKS in fact. So I’m going to start my first installment of weekly reviews with the last MONTH’S worth :P. It’s worth noting that I read both of these books for book clubs I belong to (and finished NEITHER of them in time for the actual club meeting, FAIL). But since they were book club books, they were both picked out by people other than me, which I always find interesting. LET’S SEE WHAT I THOUGHT, shall we??

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

4 stars

Fun fact: I started reading this book on my 26th birthday. Fun Fact #2: Cheryl  was also 26 when she started out on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), an account of which she gives in this book.

I found this story overall inspiring. I didn’t have anything approaching Cheryl’s tumultuous past, but my mother also died when I was around the same age hers did, and it also left me feeling lost in a lot of ways, many of which I have yet to resolve. The nerviness of setting out on the trail with no experience and no companions, staggered me. It’s the type of thing I like to think I could do but very much doubt I could- but knowing this is a real-life account and that she did in fact succeed in what she set out to do is what makes it inspiring. I thought the way Strayed mixed some of the stories from her past and memories of her mother into the story instead of giving us it all in one was very effective and organic, like she told it as she felt it or as it was relevant along her journey.

Probably the worst part of this book for me was just the fact that there were a little too many parts where I could just set the book down, forget about it and not come back to it for a while. I would get bored with one part that seemed to stretch on a little too long, and I’d give up for a while. A lot of that is personal taste though- I have a brother who’s super into hiking and he also read this book and told me it took him two days to fly through it. As for me, it took around fifty straight pages of reading to get me to really READ with fixed concentration.  For such a short book, it took me quite a while to get through it.

(Also, I realize how dumb this one is, but she starts her journey with a fresh tattoo, and as a tattooed person myself, I wondered how the hell she managed to care for it/keep it from getting infected on the trip. SO off-point, but still xD)

My favorite part of it was the fact that there was no solid “Moral of the Story”. It was an honest account of something one woman set out to do and succeeded in doing. It changed her along the way, but she doesn’t go into extreme detail over how it changed her, how it resolved all her issues or any of that other cheesy shit. I liked and HELLA appreciated how real it was. The solitude of her final nights and the joy and sadness in knowing they were her last, the high at the end of her great test of will, and then the ‘what now’ moment after. I panicked a little with her whenever she ran so low on money she couldn’t even buy a drink, and especially when she met the two sleazy men towards the end of the trail.

So even though there were several parts where I became bored, at the end of it- which I read considerably faster- I came out feeling empowered and just really *good*. I think I was meant to read this book when I did so I’m glad the book club assigned it. I’m curious as to what the movie is like, though I’m always wary about that sort of thing 😛

Cain’s Blood by Geoffrey Girard

3.5 stars

I don’t often read books like this- all the reviews on the back cover kept comparing it to Michael Crichton, but since I’ve never read anything by Michael Crichton the comparison was lost on me. This did remind me of Thomas Harris and a little bit of Stephen King, both authors I’ve very much enjoyed, in the way it was written.

One of my least favorite things about this book was how Jeff, the ‘good’ clone of Jeffrey Dahmer who helps Castillo throughout, appeared to have almost no personality. I wanted there to be more of him, just more…emotion in general, and I wanted him to get angry more often than he did because honestly any normal kid would be LOSING IT just a little. I wondered for a bit if it was to distinguish him thoroughly from the other kids, who turned into the monsters they were raised to be. Then around the time we find out he was cloned as an older boy with no real childhood memories, I wondered if that might be the reason for his unusual passiveness and I hated it just a little less xD. (There is another book by Girard called Project Cain from Jeff’s point of view, and I’m wondering if his character is a little more complex/interesting in that one than it was here). In any event, you still end up feeling for him with all he goes through because DAMN.

One of my favorite things about this book was the crazy fuck Dr. Jacobson’s actual murky reasons for doing his experiments. I found the fact that it was really about him in the end very true to the human condition. He believes from an early age that he is either related to or is somehow an incarnation of Jack the Ripper (even though the latest research shows he probably ISN’T), and wants to prove to himself that this is just a part of his nature and is therefore inevitable.

I was really, really impressed with the ingenuity of the idea behind this book. Not only was it terrifying to think that this organization is making clones of all the world’s worst serial killers, as well as human-creature hybrids from the same DNA, but to think that this is all within the realm of possibility, that human cloning and testing could come to be used in such an immoral way in the future of the world- that’s where the real horror comes in.

For info on my rating system, or for info on how to rec me something to read, go to my reviews page (tab up top or link here)

{C}

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