Books

Silver Sparrow

Hello again, so I apologize for that unannounced hiatus — but I am back.

Luckily enough during my hiatus, I did still get to read a bit. I actually just finished reading Tayari Jones’ novel, Silver Sparrow. I actually had the opportunity of meeting Tayari Jones last year and not only is she an incredible talent, inspirational speaker but she’s also just a genuinely relatable human being. Last summer, I heard her speak to my Columbia Publishing Course class in a time that I desperately needed to hear everything she had to say. I could probably gush for ours about how much of a role model she is to me but let’s concentrate on her book.

I actually purchased her book when she came to visit the Publishing Course and she signed my copy for me. I knew that I was desperate to read it but with little to no free time within the course – it kept getting postponed. During my hiatus, I had been off and on reading the novel and was a little unsure about the general direction of the plot. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to happen or where I wanted the plot to go.

Silver Sparrow is the alternating narrative story of two girls who live in the south and how their circumstances have impacted them. The narrator of the first chapters is Dana Lynn Yarboro who is the daughter of James Witherspoon. Even in her childhood, Dana is acutely aware of the fact that she is a secret. Her father, an already married man, participated in bigamy by marrying her mother, Gwen, and fathering her. Although older than her sister, Chaurisse, Dana as the product of that bigamy and must learn to take a backseat in all things. The narrator to the second half of the novel is Bunny Chaurisse Witherspoon, James Witherspoon’s daughter from his first marriage. These chapters highlight the complex circumstances and truly cast a shade of gray on things that are generally seen as black and white.

I think that Tayari excelled in making the depth of each character’s turmoil apparent. There are so many conflicting feelings and opinions, that even the reader is swept into the conflict. This novel is very different from what I usually gravitate toward the shelf but I enjoyed reading it as a whole. It was an escape that I was happy to turn to and I look forward to reading more of Jones’ works.

 

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Books

*Hiatius*

HI GUYS!

I’m terribly sorry for that extended hiatus. Life was getting a bit hectic so my reading temporarily hit the back-burner. Hopefully, things are officially slowed down to a manageable pace so I can get back to doing what I love: reading, writing and reviewing!

While my posts may have stopped temporarily, the growth of my TBR pile never wavered. I still have a bunch of books that I can’t wait to review for you guys and pick up right where we left off.

So, keep an eye out for my next post which is going to be a book review on Tayari Jones’  Silver Sparrow.

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Books

Girl in Pieces

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I recently finished reading Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel, Girl in Pieces. Girl in Pieces is a young adult novel that follows main character, Charlotte “Charlie” Davis, on her journey of self-discovery. Charlie specifically is battling against her proclivity to self-harm through cutting and decides to strike out and start fresh in Arizona. Despite being in a different location, Charlie learns that no matter how many miles between her home and Arizona, that doesn’t mean her past can’t catch up with her.

In this novel, Glasgow shows her skills as a master of entering into the mind of a teenage girl. Despite the complicated feelings Charlie has, the use of striking metaphors leave a lasting impression on the reader. I really enjoy the alternative format of the novel, there weren’t traditional chapters but sections divided by markings on the pages. There were also pages that would include descriptive blurbs about the setting and Charlie’s feelings about the situation. Self-harm is a serious condition that Glasgow handles delicately. I think that anyone who enjoys reading young adult novels like John Green would really enjoy reading this. I stumbled upon the novel while seeing the “recommended books” section of Amazon and definitely do not regret the purchase.

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Books

Looking for Alaska

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Before reading “Looking for Alaska,” I had always seen quotes from the pages and never truly understood the context. For example, quotes about seeking the Great Perhaps or the quote “we are as indestructable as we believe ourselves to be.”

I’m honestly surprised that it took me this long to read this book. It was absolutely amazing, I think that John Green does a phenomenal job with the main character, Pudge. We can all relate to yearning for more at his age, yearning for adventure. In his case – that sense of adventure was Alaska. She opened his eyes to a whole new world and challenged him in a way that he had never been before. I really like how Alaska’s character is this flawed, impulsive and witty character. I wish there were more female characters like her in books and films, willing to take life by the horns and live their fullest life.

John Green is legendary within the YA community with bestsellers like The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines. I’ve recently added some of his books to my library and look forward to reading them. John Green did not disappoint and was able to write a memorable piece of fiction that has managed to impact his readers years later.

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Books

The Truth About Alice

High school, bullying, slut shaming…oh, the good old days – NOT! Unlike Gossip Girl and any John Hughes’ film, “The Truth about Alice” shows the truth of high school, especially in a small town where everyone knows everyone else.

You see how small rumors lead to gigantic repercussions. In the past few months, I’ve learned that I truly enjoy the style of narrative that uses two or more fragmented perspectives to move the plot forward. You also see how the different perspectives all eventually reach a head where you become the omniscient reader.

I recently read an article from refinery29 about the best YA books and “The Truth about Alice” is on there for a reason. It felt genuinely curious and adolescent in the best way. Even the open-endedness of the final page was well done. Much like our youth, the possibilities are endless and just when you’re beginning to give up is when you’re actually on the precipice of something new and exciting.

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Books

The Sister

 

If you’re all about psychological thriller and suspense novels, then you’re going to want to add Louise Jensen’s “The Sister” to your TBR pile. It has all the necessary ingredients: secrets, lies, death, paranoia, everything you could ask for and then some. I stumbled across this book on Amazon as I was adding various books to my wish list. Basically the main character, Grace, is struggling with the aftermath of her best friend, Charlie’s death. Grace can’t seem to let go of her last words to her which were: “I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me…” That line enough leaves far too much to the imagination.

Grace is determined to find out what those words mean and what exactly happened to her best friend. In her search, she begins to look for Charlie’s long-lost father hoping that he has the answers but runs into Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister instead. Anna inserts herself into Grace and her boyfriend, Dan’s lives, and even into their home all the while dealing with a mysterious stranger following her and an overwhelming sense of paranoia.

I’m not going to lie, the book initially was extremely tough to get through. Grace is immediately to put it bluntly, a basket case, and it was difficult to be empathetic to her without having the full scope of her past. The story eventually fills in the blanks to explain her personality but it still does not make her behavior in certain situations any less infuriating. Despite her overwhelming sense of paranoia and need to double check all the locks in her house twice, she can’t seem to deduce some of the obvious things that are right in front of her face. Overall, I’m glad I stuck with the story because I was truly surprised by the turn of events. It was unexpected and refreshing the way that Jensen chose to direct some of the characters’ paths especially in the climax and conclusion. I’m sure there are typical ways to end a thriller but Jensen was sure to leave her own mark on the genre.

I really enjoyed reading it even at the times that I wanted to smack some sense into Grace. That is more of a testimony to Louise Jensen’s convincing writing skills that I felt that sense of conviction, I suppose. This isn’t the kind of novel that I would read twice but I did enjoy the welcome distraction and applaud Jensen for being able to write something proudly and passionately.

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Books

The Girl on the Train

 

A la Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl,’ Paula Hawkins takes you on a dazzlingly hypnotic journey in the #1 New York Times Bestseller, “The Girl on the Train.” I know that if you’re looking into my track record, besides Amie Barrodale’s “You Are Having A Good Time,” all of my book reviews have been generally positive. I’m working on being more critical going forward and expressing more clearly WHY exactly, I enjoy one book in comparison to others similar to it.

As I have mentioned before, I’ve decided to delve further into the thriller and suspense genre. I live for the shows of the same genre so it would only make sense to explore the books. I had my first taste with “Gone Girl,” and it will probably be my basis for comparison for any and all thriller/suspense books that I read going forward. “The Girl on the Train,” as cliche as it sounds, legitimately blew me away. Hawkins flawlessly introduces you to the main character, Rachel, and flippantly provides you with intimate details of her character and how it affects people’s perception of her. From the first page where Hawkins casually interjects that Rachel has an overactive imagination to the final page of the story, every detail is important and serves a purpose. The sections in Rachel, Megan and Anna’s perspective all come together like three individual pieces of thread to eventually help complete the picture of what is truly going on. It is onlywhen the perspectives align with similar events and dates that you begin to truly grasp what is actually going on and who is truly responsible for the main events of the story.

I eagerly found myself flipping through the pages of this book to the point that it became 3:00AM without my realizing. Instead of foregoing the last 40-some odd pages for tomorrow morning, I refused to go to bed without finishing it. In all sincerity, if there were some other ranking system far more highly regarded than becoming a #1 New York Times Bestseller, I would recommend that this book be awarded that honor. It’s witty, charming and enveloping in the best possible way. It’s shocking that this would be Hawkins’ first thriller after being a journalist for 15 years. She has definitely shocked the masses and set the bar high for herself regarding any future projects. I hope to read more works from her. In terms of recommendation? I would recommend this to anyone looking to try out the thriller/suspense genre and someone interested in a little mystery.

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