BOOK REVIEW: Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave

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BOOK REVIEW: Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris CleaveTitle: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
Published by Simon & Schuster
Published: May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 418
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

War was declared at 11:15, and Mary North signed up at noon.

Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven is a wonderful, heartbreaking novel about the people who find themselves at the beginning of and in the midst of a brutal world war. This novel brings the reader to the front and center of the lives of Londoners at the beginning of WWII, and the reader is able to experience how the war affected people both on the home front and at the war front.

Mary North, a young London socialite, is determined to make a difference in her life and in the lives of others, and she volunteers her services to the war effort. She is assigned to be a teacher to children who have been evacuated from London. There she meets Tom, her employer and future lover, and learns about Alastair, Tom’s friend who has enlisted and about whom Tom is distraught.

There’s bravery on the war front, with men and women facing dangers not seen before, but there is also bravery on the home front, fighting class and racial prejudices. It’s a deft combination of all sorts of bravery and how it affects each of the characters while each are dealing with feelings of longing, belonging, loyalty, and love.

If you’ve read Doerr’s All the Light You Cannot See and Hannah’s The Nightingale and want more to read in a similar vein, this one comes highly recommended.

Thank you to Netgalley for a review copy!

BOOK REVIEW: The Trees, by Ali Shaw

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BOOK REVIEW: The Trees, by Ali ShawTitle: The Trees by Ali Shaw
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Published: August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 496
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

The world ends not with a bang but with a whisper.

Ali Shaw’s The Trees begins when overnight trees shoot up from the ground, destroying life as everyone knew it. I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic books lately, but this is the most natural. No one knows where the trees come from. Are they from Mother Nature? Alien? This isn’t a novel about where a destructive force comes from; it’s a novel about how certain people react and survive in the aftermath of something so unexplainable. And the people who survive are not your typical “heroes.”

This is a novel about nature’s cruelty, but also a novel about nature’s grace. The real survivors are the apt ones as they’re the ones fit to adapt. Our “hero” of the story is someone who’s introverted, unsure of himself and his place in the world, and overthinks everything. And who/what he becomes in the end was incredibly magical to me. It’s a reminder that everyone has a place and a purpose, and it doesn’t have to be overt, extroverted, and loud.

It’s a long book, but it’s well-paced and never seems to drag. I almost wish there was more. It’s a blend of post-apocalyptic horror, fairy tales, and magical realism. It’s brutal in a natural way, and if you’re disturbed by descriptions of violence toward people and animals, this book isn’t for you. But if you’re intrigued by a different sort of post-apocalypse in which nature takes back the Earth from its parasitic human population, read this. It’ll give you chills.

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy!

BOOK REVIEW: Love for Lydia, by H.E. Bates

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BOOK REVIEW: Love for Lydia, by H.E. BatesTitle: Love for Lydia by H.E. Bates
Published by Bloomsbury Reader
Published: May 12th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

In a shorter review, I wrote that H.E. Bates’s Love for Lydia is like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing of neon lights and champagne jazz. Bates’s writing is similar, transposed to the English countryside with pops of flowers against the countryside rather than fireworks against a city skyline.

In Love for Lydia, we follow Richardson (our narrator) throughout his meeting of orphaned Lydia, his falling in love with Lydia, his letting go of Lydia, and everything that transpires between. Richardson is not part of “society,” but he is invited to spend time with Lydia so that she might expand her horizons. During the course of the novel and during the course of Richardson’s and Lydia’s attachment to one another, others are introduced into Lydia’s life and some vie for her attention, which in turn creates resentment and jealousy among everyone in their little friend group.

Nature plays a prominent role in the book. It starts out in winter, thaws out in spring, overheats in summer, and culminates at the brink of autumn. The cycle of seasons is fitting to Richardson’s  behavior and reactions, and serves as an outward representation of his internal dialogue. Richardson’s constant stopping to smell the roses also shows us that he’s aware of the details, of the implications, and the significance of beautiful things. His descriptions of flowers against the drab landscape show us how he feels particularly about Lydia; she’s his flower in the hardship of life.

Lydia, a vixen in her newfound freedom and confidence, becomes aware of her sexuality and uses it to her advantage, but not without destroying the hearts of her beaux. It troubles her; it troubles Richardson who watches it unfold before his eyes.

It’s a love story; it’s a story about parties and obsessive, destructive love in the Twenties; and it’s a very British one at that. Read it if you enjoyed Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Apparently it’s a little Hardy-ish, but I’ve never read Hardy, so I can’t make the comparison yet!

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for a review copy!

Pokémon Go Book Tag

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I stumbled across Aentee’s Pokémon Go Book Tag and decided immediately I wanted to do it, because I’ve been totally obsessed with the app (I even caught some in the Bahamas!)! I don’t know who to tag specifically, but if you want to do it, tag, you’re it!

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I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, but the books that really got me wanting to read more beyond what was given to me were the Dear America books! Does anyone remember those? I was in the fourth grade when I read the first one, and I used to get them through the Scholastic book orders. They were fictional diaries of girls in different periods of history, and I was obsessed. I read the first three in that series over and over and over.

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Jane Eyre, to nobody’s surprise. I’m going to read the rest of the Brontë works in this year and the next because I need to know more of their inner lives after reading Claire Harman’s biography of Jane (and her siblings).

pokemon-tag-03-zubat Maybe A Song of Ice and Fire? I’ll read them all eventually, maybe once Winds of Winter is released or something. Otherwise, there are several series/books that I avoid not just because I see it everywhere but because I have no interest in ever reading them for personal reasons.

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I don’t have a specific answer for this because it’s in a lot of stuff I’ve enjoyed, but I’ll read nearly anything that has a Beauty and the Beast/forced cohabitation and oh look we’ve fallen in love trope. I don’t know why but it gets me every time. It’s seen in stuff like Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Robin McKinley’s Beauty/Rose Daughter.

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Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series. Those books are literal bricks, okay. I haven’t finished the rest of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series for this reason, too.

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Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station was the last book to keep me up past my bedtime. I had to know more about those data vampires and where he took the characters in the world he created. Dracula, when I first read it years and years ago, kept me up out of sheer horror.

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Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. Yvaine and Tristran Thorne. I have more but these are my top three!

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I blazed through Pierce Brown’s Red Rising! I really enjoyed the world building. It wasn’t a new concept, but I thought it was well-executed, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

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I WANTED TO SAY HARRY POTTER UNTIL I STARTED READING THE CURSED CHILD. (I’m still excited for Fantastic Beasts, though, not gonna lie.) So… let’s just say I’ll read all the Star Wars and Star Trek spin-offs until the end of time. Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath is so much fun!

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Some of these aren’t “new” debuts, but I haven’t read them yet: Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte, Paula Lichtarowicz’s The First Book of Calamity Leek, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, and Paige Orwin’s The Interminables!

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NEIL GAIMAN. I also have (decidedly) not read everything of his yet because I always want there to be something of his that’s always new to me.

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Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. It seems like everyone and their mother’s read it, and it’s going in different directions than some of us probably hoped for, but I still like it, and I’m super excited for Empire of Storms!

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Uh… Patrick Rothfuss’s Door of Stone or whatever it’s called. The third book in the Kingkiller Chronicles. WHERE IS IT.

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I read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith as part of an Instagram read a long a while ago, and I loved it so much more than I expected to! I don’t know why I thought of it as a stuffy book and avoided it because of that, but I was surprised at its breadth and depth and magic.

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The Sandman Omnibus Silver Edition. Because OMG.

 

(And if anyone’s wondering/curious, I caught my first Tentacool and Magikarp in Nassau.)

TOP TEN TUESDAY: 10 Books I’d Buy if Given a Fully-Loaded Gift Card

Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is all about those books you’d buy immediately if someone gave you a massive gift card to your favorite book store. This is barely touching the tip of the iceberg, but the following are the ones I’d buy today!

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The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen: This has been featured on tables at work even before it won the Pulitzer, and I keep seeing it around Twitter and Goodreads, and because I try to read award-winners, this one’s on the list.

The Romantic Egoists – Matthew J. Bruccoli: I’m entirely fascinated by the Fitzgeralds’s lives and photographs of eras gone by are one of my favorite things, so why wouldn’t I want a photo scrapbook of their lives!? I also want it for research purposes.

My Best Friend’s Excorcism – Grady Hendrix: It’s set in the 80s, all of the chapter titles are 80s songs, and it was recently featured on a “What to Read After Stranger Things” list so yes, please, I need this in my life.

Penguin’s Little Black Classics: I have the box set of the first 80, but I’m a collector and a completionist, so I’d get the rest and this totally counts as one.

The Truth According to Us – Annie Barrows: Family secrets that a writer uncovers while on a project for the New Deal’s job in the Federal Writer’s Project? That sounds like something right up my alley. Plus I rarely see anything in historical fiction set in West Virginia.

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Amy Snow – Tracy Rees: Someone on Goodreads called this a mix between Dickens and suffragette, and it’s historical about the relationship between two women with letters and secrets. And it’s a debut novel that apparently won some search for the next big novel in the UK? I forget what it’s called, but all of it sounds interesting and I need it now.

The Dark Forest – Liu Cixin: I read the first of this trilogy for my science fiction book group (which got rescheduled and I couldn’t attend the rescheduled meeting), and I really enjoyed it. It’s Chinese sci/fi, and I really enjoyed reading about traditionally sci/fi topics and tropes from an entirely different perspective and history. I think the third is being released in hardcover later this year!

The Beast Within – Emile Zola: Honestly, this is just the first in the Pocket Penguins series Penguin’s released this year (and will be releasing in the weeks and months to come). I’ve already ordered one (oops), but this will probably be the next on my list of things to-buy (and the rest, like the Little Black Classics. Why must Penguin release all of the things I want??).

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Edition) – J.K. Rowling: I don’t know why I don’t have this yet…

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo: So, I’ll admit, I’ve had the ARC of this for a long time. But I want the hardcover because the black edged pages are  so pretty. I also didn’t want to read this until I read the Grisha trilogy, and now that I’ve read the trilogy, I can give myself the go ahead on this, right?

What’s on your list?