BOOK REVIEW: The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni Fagan

fbmreview

BOOK REVIEW: The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni FaganTitle: The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
Published by Hogarth
Published: July 19th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Blogging for Books
Goodreads

 You can drink light right down into your chromosomes, then in the darkest minutes of winter, when there is a total absence of it, you will glow and glow and glow.

It’s 2020 in Scotland, and the world’s freezing over. Jenni Fagan’s The Sunlight Pilgrims is an end-of-the-world novel, but it’s not a loud one. There are no explosions, no aliens taking over the planet, no rampant diseases. Just ice and snow and a chill that never seems to go away. It’s a quiet exploration of family, death, life, and identity when the world as we all know it is ending.

The Sunlight Pilgrims will make you think about your family, and maybe other families too, and hopefully make you realize and every family has its problems. It will make you think about death a little bit and maybe the end of the world and what comes after. But mostly, this book will make you think of some event that led to your “coming of age.” The event that made you cross that line from child to tiny adult, from tiny adult to actual adult. At the heart of it all, The Sunlight Pilgrims is a coming-of-age novel, and sometimes, some of us have several of those coming-of-age moments..

What I liked most about it is Stella. In the midst of the chaotic climate change, she is figuring out her identity and figuring out how to share it with the world without being constantly humiliated. Each of the characters are fully formed with an interesting backstory that links them all together, but I was really curious to see Stella’s story developed, and Fagan raises key points about gender identity that I thought poignant and timely.

I read this in a day, mostly in a single sitting. I don’t often get the chance to do that, and I don’t often become so engrossed in a book that I want to do that. The Sunlight Pilgrims is a haunting, lyrical exploration of a family at the brink of change, for themselves and for the world.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for a review copy!

BOOK REVIEW: Children of the New World, by Alexander Weinstein

fbmreview

BOOK REVIEW: Children of the New World, by Alexander WeinsteinTitle: Children of the New World: Stories by Alexander Weinstein
Published by Picador
Published: September 13th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 229
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

 “If it’s any consolation,” says tech support, “they won’t feel a thing; they’re just data.”

Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World is a fantastic collection of speculative fiction stories. Each of the stories is incredibly engaging and explores different aspects of our future and technology’s integration with our future. Each of the stories also explores the human relationship with technology and the positive or negative effects technology has on our hearts and our society. I rarely read short story collections in which I enjoy every story, and in this case, I enjoyed every single one and am left thinking about each one long after I’ve read it. I’m looking forward to reading more of Weinstein’s work.

My favorite stories are “The Cartographers,” “Children of the New World,” and “Rocket Night,” because they’re immediate and more than once made me think what the fuck, this is going to happen in our immediate future.

The stories are both a nostalgic trip (because it feels like we’ve done this before and will do it again, and there’s a pervading sense of longing) and a warning (because this is our future if we’re not careful, and our future doesn’t look so welcoming).

If you enjoyed Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno, I think you’ll enjoy reading these.

Thank you to Netgalley and Picador for a review copy!

BOOK REVIEW: The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis

fbmreview

BOOK REVIEW: The Dollhouse, by Fiona DavisTitle: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
Published by Dutton
Published: August 23rd 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

Fiona Davis’s The Dollhouse explores two women who live in the famous Barbizon hotel in alternating viewpoints from the 1950s to modern day New York City. When Darby McLaughlin arrives at the Barbizon in 1952, she is nothing like the other girls who live on her floor. The other girls model and are gorgeous and compared to them, Darby is plain and soft-spoken. When she meets Esme, a maid at the hotel, Darby becomes involved in a world she’s only heard about and eventually is involved in a deadly accident. Years later when the hotel has been converted into condos, Rose Lewin, after hearing about the accident involving Darby and Esme, sets out to uncover the history and the secrets between the two women to write an article and she ends up discovering so much more.

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s a breezy read that kept me entertained and left me wanting to know how Darby’s story and Rose’s story intermingled with one another. Davis’s writing explores women who are left to the side in society because they “aren’t enough” to the men in their lives, and each of the women discover who they are through the course of the novel and become stronger for it.

One of my favorite parts of the novel is the contrast between what was expected of women in the 1950s versus what is expected of women in the 2010s. I particularly liked the attention to detail in clothing and attire that women were supposed to wear in the 1950s, like the clothing, the gloves and the hats; and I liked the contrast in the restrictions women had in that time, especially at the Barbizon, to today’s current social climate regarding the freedom of women. I thought it realistically portrayed each woman’s struggle in finding the right job, her purpose in life, and even the right partner, and I loved the similarities in those struggles each woman faced contrasting with the differences in society.

This is an excellent read if you enjoy historical fiction about women in their discovery of self, no matter what time in which they live. I’m looking forward to reading more by Fiona Davis!

Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton Books for the review copy!

BOOK REVIEW: Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

fbmreview

BOOK REVIEW: Red Rising, by Pierce BrownTitle: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Published by Del Rey
Published: July 15th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 382
Format: Trade Paper
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

I read this book over the summer on the way down to Florida to go on a cruise. I found it a fast, fun, engaging read, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. It draws on a lot of popular series in fiction, and that’s all right, because I think Brown does an excellent job reinventing and reimagining those tropes. If you enjoy the Hunger Games and want something deeper and like the intrigue of Game of Thrones, I’m sure you’ll like Red Rising.

Darrow, the main character, is born on Mars and mines beneath the surface. He’s of a lower caste than others, but then he’s modified, becomes perfect in the eyes of the law, and is chosen to be sent to an arena-sized game board to fight for dominance. Through his transformation from someone of a lower caste to someone in a higher caste, we get an insight into the unfairness of class treatment and the effects it has on society as it trickles down. During Darrow’s transformation, we also get political insight into why the Reds are Trojan horsing themselves into the upper castes. For freedom, mostly, and that’s what a lot of the “lesser” people in any society tend to fight for.

It’s a little unbelievable sometimes, even for science fiction, but I liked how Brown didn’t take the time to explain all of the foreign details straight away. He uses words, phrases, technology, and ideas (like headTalk, helldiver, and frysuit), and incorporates them into the story, building upon them and expanding our horizons as he does so. Not everything should be explained right away. Good exposition does that for us. Sometimes the writing seems a little melodramatic and over-the-top, but I think it’s supposed to be that way. Upper classes often puff themselves up and make themselves seem more important than they really are, using frivolous language to embellish everything.

Brown does know how to write and how to keep the pace, and his editor does him a service. There wasn’t a time while reading this that I felt bored or felt that the story dragged on. It’s brutal and engaging, and it left you wanting more. It’s got great character development, great action, and an ending that will leave you wanting more (and thankfully there is more!). Definitely pick this up if you’re in the mood for some great science fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Empire of Storms, by Sarah J. Maas

fbmreview

BOOK REVIEW: Empire of Storms, by Sarah J. MaasTitle: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #5
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Published: September 6th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 693
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

I won’t lie, I was so excited for this book. Queen of Shadows had enough of a cliffhanger that left me wanting more. But then I started reading Empire of Storms, and I was sitting there, thinking to myself, what happened? This isn’t going to be a very favorable review, and I’m a little sad about it, I think, because I realized I’ve grown out of this series, maybe? This review also contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so please be forewarned if you haven’t finished the book yet.

Continue reading