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text 2015-01-01 18:36
Happy New Year - 2015!
The Winner's Crime - Marie Rutkoski
Shadow Scale - Rachel Hartman
The Mime Order - Samantha Shannon
Find Me - Laura van den Berg
Rook - Sharon Cameron
A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas
The Conspiracy of Us - Maggie Hall
The Buried Giant: A novel - Kazuo Ishiguro
Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard
Dziewczyna z pociągu - Paula Hawkins

Happy New Year!

 

I was planning to reflect on all of the books I read in 2014, but truthfully my list isn't very comprehensive and does not reflect all of the wonderful books that were released last year.  I decided that I won't set a reading goal for 2015 that focuses on the number of books read.  Instead, I want to challenge myself to read books across a variety of genres that will push me out of my comfort zone.  I'll still read from my favorite genres, but I will make more of an effort to pick a few non-conventional choices for myself.  If there's a book that just isn't working for me, I will be better at giving myself permission to say it's okay not to finish it and move onto something else. 

 

I am excited about the literary journey that 2015 will offer.  Here are some upcoming releases that I can't wait to get my hands on:

 

 

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle (January 01, 2015)

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (January 13, 2015)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (January 13, 2015)

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (January 27, 2015)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (February 01, 2015)

Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg (February 17, 2015)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (February 24, 2015)

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 03, 2015)

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (March 03, 2015)

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (March 10, 2015)

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (April 28, 2015)

Rook by Sharon Cameron (April 28, 2015)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (May 05, 2015)

End of Days by Susan Ee (May 12, 2015)

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon (May 19, 2015)

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker (June 02, 2015)

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (September 15, 2015)

Winter by Marissa Meyer (November 24, 2015)

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review 2014-12-31 15:09
First collection is better
xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths - Kate Bernheimer,Laura van den Berg,Ron Currie Jr.,Anthony Marra,Dawn Raffel,Maile Meloy,Willy Vlautin,Gina Ochsner,Madeline Miller,Manuel Muñoz,Benjamin Percy,Edith Pearlman,Joy Williams,Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud,Victor LaValle,Ben Loory,Elizabeth Mc

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                This collection is not as good as the previous collection, though it does have slightly more international feel (several stories are translations). Despite the title, there is more than Greek mythology in play here as well. Perhaps because it is sadder, the term that Bernheimer uses in her introduction. Perhaps. But it also felt less magical and, in some cases, more like an audition.

                Regardless, there are some stunners in this book. In particular, “Labyrinth” by Ron Currie Jr, which uses the famous maze to tell about a different type of being loss?  

                The best story in the collection is “The Squid Who Fell in Love with the Sun” by Ben Loory. It is lovely, funny, touching, and beautiful. It is rivaled, though it does surpass, “Sawdust” by Edward Carey. “Devourings” by Aimee Bender does something to right the ignoring of a central character in some fairy tales.

There are several versions or influences by Demeter in this collection, so many that after awhile they seem to bleed together. Perhaps this is the reason why the collection is not as good as its older sister.

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review 2014-03-30 04:28
The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg
The Isle of Youth: Stories - Laura van den Berg

Title: The Isle of Youth
Author: Laura van den Berg
Genre: Short Stories
Setting: Argentina • France • Cuba • USA
Design by Abby Kagan
Publisher: FSG Originals (November 5, 2013)
Literary Awards: Amazon Best Book of the Month (November 2013) | Won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (others)

 

Laura van den Berg has created an original, smart and engaging piece of work with The Isle of Youth.  It evoked haunting thoughts about our connections with others and the struggle to find ourselves. While all these stories are about women trying to grapple with their own difficult and complex circumstances, each story stands on its own. At times strange, mysterious, and unsettling, the stories draw you in without any ounce of demand or coercion. The stories were written with admirable brevity and you can’t help but read them. My favorite stories from the book were Antarctica, Lessons and the title story, The Isle of Youth.

 

The women in The Isle of Youth have experienced abandonment in its different guises, but each character and story remains distinct. They long to connect with their loved ones, but everyone seems to be leaving them and asking them to move on as well. We either get the sense that they are trying to escape their loneliness while struggling to move on, or they have resigned themselves to their fate, not wanting to do more. When an opportunity shows, they become impulsive and act upon it without much further thought. Some of their decisions border on the ludicrous at times. One can’t help but feel that these decisions will cause them more harm unless someone intervenes. These characters seem to be trapped in their lives and relationships. Personally, I didn’t consider them to be thoroughly likeable, although their stories allowed me to sympathize with them.

 

There is this sense of incompleteness in the stories, seemingly juxtaposed with the characters’ own emptiness and desire for something more. While the endings are uncertain, it doesn’t mean they are unconvincing. The vagueness of how each story ends serves not only to mimic the uncertainty each character faces as they move along with their lives, but also perfectly mirror their imperfections and indecisiveness. It just shows that we never know what’s coming.

 

People say Laura van den Berg is one of the great new writers we have today… I can’t agree more. Her writing is smart, energetic and sophisticated. Each of the stories in The Isle of Youth left me affected. In this book, I came face to face with my own vulnerabilities. The ambiguity of the women’s situation is a stark contrast to the author’s simple, straightforward, and unadorned writing. The clarity and simplicity of it all is one of the things I adored in this book. The stories seem familiar, but the depth and complexity of these great stories will no doubt stay with me. This is the first book of short stories I’ve read in my adult life, and the first book written by Laura van den Berg that I’ve read. I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect book of short stories to read. I am definitely looking forward to her next book. Highly recommended.

Source: 5eyedbookworm.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/the-isle-of-youth
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review 2013-12-08 23:13
The Isle of Youth
The Isle of Youth: Stories - Laura van den Berg

These stories all feature a woman or women, trying to understand the world in which they find themselves. How did they end up with the lives they are leading, what did they miss, how did they make the mistake that led them here.

 

The writing is detached as if it is an observer telling these stories. Surprisingly that worked very well in this collection and lets the reader become an observer themselves. Another thing that impressed me was that these stories were complete in and of themselves, and a few had big moments for me when the meaning became clear. The only one that I liked but truthfully did not get, was The Acrobats and as is usual my favorite was the title story. An impressive grouping.

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review 2011-05-16 00:00
What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us: Stories
What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us: Stories - Laura van den Berg I rarely ever read short stories so I'm feeling so very inadequate to provide any sort of review. All the stories, however, have one thing in common (as is mentioned on the back of the book) that about women all awaiting for something - some light to point the way to go next...Whilst I can't imagine myself in these women's shoes, I can however imagine being in a position where things are either in such a mess or just so ordinary that you just go with the flow... waiting, just waiting, for that errant wave to push you over, to direct you away... To find the one OR next direction your life is supposed to take...*sigh* yup, definitely powerful stuff.
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