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review 2017-01-05 00:00
Fall 2016 Debut Fiction Sampler
Fall 2016 Debut Fiction Sampler - Variou... Fall 2016 Debut Fiction Sampler - Various I really love these samplers put out by Netgalley, this one specific to fall 2016, as a way to get more insight from a book then a synopsis gives and it's a great way to preview a novel prior to purchase. There are six novels featured in this sampler and the preview you are given for each is quite significant and more than just a couple of pages. I read this on my Kindle and received at least the first 30 pages per book which is definitely enough to get a feel for the writing style, the storyline and plot and an introduction to the characters in order to judge weather or not the book is something you want to continue reading. The six featured samples included in this publication are as follows:

The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett (Riverhead)
The Girls: A Novel by Emma Cline (Random House)
Dark Matter: A Novel by Blake Crouch (Crown)
Sweetbitter: A Novel by Stephanie Danler (Knopf)
Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf)
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by Amor Towles (Viking)

Of that selection I have personally, so far, read The Girls and Dark Matter because of my piqued interest after reading the sample of each book in this publication and they were both 5 star reads that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm looking forward to reading the other four novels featured in this sampler as well, especially The Mothers.

This is a great way to get inspiration for your TBR shelf and i highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading fiction novels especially if they like to have an idea of what they are getting before they go out and purchase a book. I especially enjoy this because 99% of the books I purchase I buy from online companies so I don't have the luxury of actually flipping through the book like I would at a physical bookstore so I usually have to rely on the brief description provided in the synopsis, or from the reviews of other readers, so this publication is a great resource for me, and for the countless other out there who purchase their books online.

I received Fall 2016 Debut Fiction Sampler from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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review 2016-12-19 00:00
Spring 2016 Debut Fiction Sampler
Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel This is a difficult publication to review...obviously it's not my typical fiction read but I wanted to include it on my blog all the same because it's a wonderful little reference for readers out there, one that I've grown very fond of and slightly dependent upon. I received this little gem courtesy of Netgalley, and rely on it to gain insight and ideas for what to add to my "to read" shelf and in deciding what to read next. It's made up of a group of different books that were recently released and includes the first couple chapters of each. It's a great way to learn of new releases and get an idea of weather or not a book is going to be enjoyable before purchasing the entire novel. The only problem is when a book starts off so intriguing that I'm frustrated that I don't have the entire publication to enjoy! But I suppose that's a good problem to have.

I received a copy of this publication from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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review 2016-11-20 22:28
Carson McCullers: A Life
Carson Mccullers: a Life - Josyane Savigneau

Savigneau's biography is a great introduction to the life and writing of Carson McCullers. The book follows a logical timeline and tries to explore different angles of McCullers' personality. However, there are some questions that I have acquired from reading McCullers' works that are not addressed or are only glanced at, and this describes one of the problems I have with this biography.


Much of my interest in McCullers is derived from her writing, and while Savigneau's book is a solid biography, it didn't go deep enough into McCullers' work for my taste.


The second problem I have with the book is that it is now out-dated. The book was originally published in 1995 (28 years after McCullers' death) and one would have thought that enough research into her life and writing would have been done by 1995, but not so. 

McCullers own, tho unfinished, autobiography Illuminations and Night Glare was not published until 1999, and there is at least one other book (Schwarzenbach's Das Wunder des Baums / The Miracle of the Tree) that is referred to in Savigneau's work that was published after this biography.


Still, this is a good basic reference to McCullers' life and work.

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review 2016-10-12 23:12
The Meaning of Matthew & The Laramie Project
The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed - Judy Shepard
The Laramie Project - Tectonic Theater Project,Moisés Kaufman

This isn't much of a review. I've been trying to put together a review of both books ever since I read them earlier this year, but just really don't want to critique the stories or styles or messages in either The Meaning of Matthew or The Laramie Project.


The Meaning of Matthew is Judy Shepard's biography of her son and her account of the trial of her son's murderers. She's not a writer but she does tell her story in earnest and without canonizing her son. He was a flawed young man with problems that he was working to overcome. His mother is very candid about this. As much as the book is about Matthew and his death, however, it is also about the public response and the family's engagement with the family. The overwhelming public support that the Shepards received led them to set up a charity in their son's name, which is still going.


I expected that at least some part of the book might be bitter; it was not. On the contrary, I found it to carry a different message altogether: Instead of accusing society of its failings to protect her son, the message the book seemed to carry was one of amazement of how people of different faiths, different backgrounds, different views, could rally together in a crisis, and one of hope that society as a whole will grow from that crisis.


The Laramie Project is a play based on interview's that the theatre group conducted in Laramie in the wake of the murder. The interviews captured the shock of the community and the disbelief that such a senseless act of violence could have happened in that community.

Much like The Story of Matthew, The Laramie Project also focuses on the humanity and kindness that came to the fore in the aftermath of the murder. My favourite scene - which is also features in Judy Shepard's memoir - is how a group of students made up angel costumes and formed a chain around a group of Westboro Baptist Church protestors to block them from shouting abuse at the family at the funeral. 


What led me to picking up these two books is that I have my own memories of the media coverage and discussions about the murder. When Matthew Shepard died on 12th October 1998, I was a teenager, away from home for the first time on my own for a long period of time. I had accepted a placement as a foreign exchange student in a small town in West Texas. What I remember mostly about the actual event, is that a lot of people I went to school with - only a three years younger than Matthew - were full of homophobic nonsense and full of conviction that their view of the world was the only one that was valid. It was scary.

So, I was both surprised and grateful that both books chose to not focus on the fears and  prejudices in people they, I am sure, must have encountered in connection with the events, and instead chose to create a memory to people who found a way to share their humanity.

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review 2016-08-20 23:58
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

Ok, the last few chapters have turned decidedly towards a focus on human interest.
I thought this was going to be a 5* star read, but the part with the evangelism was the beginning of a downward slope.....

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