#FictionFriday: A Prayer for Owen Meany

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

Welcome to another #FictionFriday, book lovers! The weekend is finally here. (Cue the angel choir) While I still have a lot of housework to do this weekend, I’m hoping to get quite a bit of reading done. Currently I’m reading through Carry On by Rainbow Rowell for my book club. Since it’s such a thick book I’m debating on adding a second book to my “currently reading” list. What do you think?

4473This #FictionFriday, I’d like to share with you A Prayer for Owen Meany. If you’ve been following my page for a while, you’ll know that I read this book last year. I’ll be honest, I’m not very familiar with John Irving’s writing and that’s simply because I’ve never read any of his books up until I picked up this one. I’d seen the movie Cider House Rules which was based off one of his books. But that doesn’t really count.

A Prayer for Owen Meany follows two young boys, John and Owen, in the 1950s and beyond. Owen is a strange boy with an abnormal voice and a belief in miracles. What do you do when your best friend believes he is God’s instrument?

I have to admit, I wasn’t immediately taken in by this book. It’s not something that I would have picked up on my own but I enjoyed it. It took a bit but eventually I was hooked wanting to know what happened to Owen Meany. I’m still not quite a fan of Irving’s writing but I enjoyed this book. Perhaps I’ll pick up another one soon. Any lovers of John Irving out there? If you have a book you think I should read, send me a message.

S.T.A.G.S.

IMG-1694“I am not a murderer.”

Welcome to St. Aiden the Great School, better known as S.T.A.G.S. and run by a group of prefects known as the Medievals. A cruel group that doesn’t believe in the latest technology and is filled with old money. Greer MacDonald is privy to their punishments until one day she receives an invitation to spend a weekend with them at Longcross, Henry de Warlencourt’s palatial home. As she falls head over heels for the stunningly handsome Henry, she must also find her way out of a deadly game that is centuries old.

Filled with intrigue and mystery, S.T.A.G.S.  took me by surprise. I did not expect such a well thought out story. Bennett had me staying up late just to see what happens next. I love a book that can keep me on my toes and S.T.A.G.S.  did just that. I never knew what would come next for our protagonist or the two friends she finds along the way. And the ending left me wanting more in the best way possible. I hope M. A. Bennett gives us more from this world!

Lullaby Road

IMG_1630I have never read any of James Anderson’s novels. But I was sent Lullaby Road for review and was a little disconcerted finding out that it was a sequel. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story having nothing to go on from the previous book. However, that worry was unfounded.

Lullaby Road stands well on its own. Following Ben Jones in his truck along highway 117 in Utah made for some interesting adventures. The desert can do some strange things to a person’s mind as we are shown time and time again. Ben himself even has to contend with what the desert has made of him. From the very beginning we are thrown into a strange situation. Ben has stopped by his transport station to pick up a load but also winds up taking a child and a dog that won’t leave its side. As he struggles to make his run with the child, the dog, and his neighbor’s infant, he must also solve a major mystery and a web of lies that has entwined most of the small towns linked by his truck route.

James Anderson has a way of pulling the reader into the story and making them comfortable. Like a warm bed on a cold winter morning, Lullaby Road was hard to get out of. While I wasn’t particularly happy with the ending, I can’t help but applaud Anderson’s ability to weave a tale of intrigue, suspense, and sarcasm.

I was given this book from Blogging for Books for review.

Lily and the Octopus

IMG-1522For those who don’t know me, I’m a huge animal lover. I currently own (or am owned by) 4 cats and 3 dogs. But one is particularly close to me. My German Shepherd, Shyera, is my furbaby. She’s my best friend and an amazing dog. I honestly can’t imagine my life without her. So when Lily and the Octopus popped up on my book club list, I knew it was going to hit me hard. In fact, I’ve never had a book affect me so much.

In Lily and the Octopus, we’re introduced to Ted and his dachshund Lily. They have a routine and a close relationship. They even carry on conversations with one another. But in the midst of their day-to-day life, Ted notices an octopus on Lily’s head. How it suddenly came to be there, he doesn’t know but it’s there now and he must do something about it. Steven Rowley does an amazing job of bringing the reader into the struggles of trying to save the one you love from something that’s so hard to fight. How do you decide between what your heart wants and what is right? And how do you handle the consequences of your decision?

I’m not kidding guys. You will need boxes upon boxes of tissues. Lily and the Octopus explores all that it means to fall in love with a four-legged friend, to have them integrate themselves so completely into your life, and the trials and tribulations that come when an octopus decides to visit. I highly recommend picking this book up the next chance you get!

DSC_3157My puppy, Shyera

Futura: a novella

21jVaTxwrHL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Paris. The future. Things have changed. Technology has advanced. Nature has receded. Except in Paris, where they have managed to integrate both nature and technology to create a haven for all.

In Jordan Phillips’ fiction novella, we explore Paris as it could be in the future. There middle class is now successful and known as Basics. You are not required to work. In fact, cooking has even become a hobby as AI units known as the Invisibles take care of pretty much everything humans may need.

In the midst of all this technology, Ruby yearns for a baby. But after a failed relationship, how is she to get what she wants? Sure, the Invisibles can help but she prefers a bit of nostalgia in this. As Ruby wrestles with being happy in her life and wanting a little one to love, we see her day-to-day interactions in this new Paris.

While I enjoyed Phillips’ story, I was left disappointed. I wanted more. I wanted to see more of Paris in the new era, more of how things had changed. I feel Phillips simply skimmed the surface of this world she has created. I hope she one day decides to flesh this story out so we can go deeper into Futura.

The Bear and The Nightingale

25489134._UY1000_SS1000_This book has intrigued me for quite some time. I’ve heard some good things about it and was excited to finally add it to my list.

Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book in the Winternight Trilogy. The Bear and The Nightingale is set in Russia, where winters are hard and household demons run rampant. Vasilisa is the last born of her mother, and just like her mother she carries magic in her blood. She can see and speak with the wood spirits, the river goddess and even the vazila in the horsestables. But her stepmother is a Christian woman who fears the old gods and tries to bring her husband’s lands under a Christian rule. But in doing so, she puts everyone in danger. It’s up to Vasya to save her people and discover who she really is with the help of an unlikely alliance.

Arden weaves a tale of literary beauty and fantasy. While each character has about four different names, which can make it a bit difficult to keep track of them all, the story itself is beautifully written. Perfect for a winter read. I easily fell in love with the characters and the flow of the story had me staying up way past bedtime in order to finish another chapter. I highly recommend picking up The Bear and The Nightingale and I’m excited to read the second installment of the Winternight Trilogy.

Time’s a Thief

512g7Rgn-sL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_B.G. Firmani’s Time’s a Thief takes place in 1980s New York, and early 2000s New York. We follow Francesca “Chess” Varani through her years at Barnard. Coincidentally also where Firmani attended. Immediately we meet Kendra Marr-Lowenstein, a wild child from a high class family.  Chess is instantly taken with Kendra and her crazy ways. Throughout Firmani’s novel, we follow the ups and downs of Chess and Kendra’s friendship as well as just how deeply Chess finds herself in the Marr-Lowenstein family and the number they do on her.

While Time’s a Thief was easy to fall into and very easy to read, I found myself annoyed with the incessant lists of poets, composers, and literaries that seemed to add nothing to the story other than to flaunt Firmani’s knowledge. Beyond that, the novel read like a stream of consciousness writing. Very Bohemian and Kerouac-esque. I didn’t love the book but I didn’t hate it. I won’t give anything away but the ending seemed very bland to me as if nothing had actually happened through the entire story.

Still, if you’re looking for a novel to kill the time then Time’s a Thief is a good choice. As Firmani’s first novel it could use some work.

I received a copy of Time’s a Thief from NetGalley for review.

The Children

20170804_105908This book was difficult for me to get through. Not so much that it was a heavy read but more that it didn’t hold my interest. For those that know me, I’m a completionist, which comes in handy when I need to finish a book but just can’t find anything to keep me hooked.

The Children tells the story of a jigsaw family, one that has been split up and put back together but not quite correctly. The pieces sort of fit but there’s still some dissonance amongst them. Especially when Spin brings home his new fiance Laurel. In a family where no one talks about anything and secrets are being kept, how can a family move on from the past?

Ann Leary gives a cast of characters not quite unique and a story that for the first fourteen chapters doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Nothing seems to really happen until the last four chapters of the book. By that point, I had kind of given up hope on the story. I was never quite sure where Mrs. Leary was going with this family or what the endgame was. In the end, it was a mediocre story with an ending that seemed to be rushed and half-hearted.

Long Black Veil

31214015This review was a long time coming. It took me a bit to get through this book but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan tells the story of a group of friends who are connected by a haunting experience that changes them forever. There are a plethora of characters to follow who each have their own story. It was difficult for me to keep track of them all as the chapter jump between characters as well as time and location. I never fully fell in love with any of them. Because of this and the story jumping around so much, I quickly lost interest and would have to take long breaks from the book.

Boylan’s quite creative in her story and I think the concept is brilliant but it was poorly executed. The ending seemed rushed and thrown together. All in all, there was too much going on in the short 290 pages.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.

A Study in Charlotte

51Kt7MWjz2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I picked up A Study in Charlotte a while back and have been looking forward to reading for quite some time. I’m a huge Sherlock fan and this book lived up to the legend, but don’t be confused. It can easily stand on its own as a whole new take on the Holmes-Watson relationship.

Brittany Cavallaro brings her own spin on the history of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson with all new characters to love. Even though it’s a retake on a classic, Cavallaro doesn’t leave out the wit and mystery that we’re so fond of from previous Holmes stories.

A Study in Charlotte brings to life Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the famous Sherlock Holmes. Studying in Connecticut at a boarding school, she meets her counterpart James Watson (yes, that Watson). It isn’t long before the two have found themselves in the midst of a murder case and they are the key suspects. In true Holmes fashion, Charlotte takes the lead in trying to get to the bottom of things while James becomes her sidekick. While Cavallaro borrows some stories from the original adventures, she manages to write her own version and the twist of a possible romance between Watson and Holmes adds a whole other layer to this novel.

Lovers of the original Holmes stories would do well to pick this one up! A Study in Charlotte is the first of a planned trilogy. I can’t wait to pick up the second installment to see what Cavallaro has planned for our tag team.