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review 2018-04-20 16:11
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a really hard review to write. Overall, I liked the book, but it is kind of hard to put into words what I did and did not like. 

I found the book interesting enough. The story was unique in it's overall arch, although it utilized a lot of not-so-creative story concepts (the cheating husband, grumpy old guy who knows sorrow, accidental pregnancy). It was full of overused plot devises, which was annoying, but they were put together in an interesting way. 

It's not that I didn't like the book, but to me it just didn't live up to the hype. That's the problem with books that become really popular. You start getting unrealistic expectations and the thing itself just can't compete. The book was in no way bad, but it felt surprisingly slow-paced despite all of the interesting concepts. 

I did like the focus on short stories and A.J.'s recommendations of them to Maya. I think it was an interesting way to structure the novel by having A.J.'s notes on the story to open each chapter. 

Having said that, it felt like it was trying too hard to appeal to book-lovers. At first it was kind of cool for The Book Thief recommendation to pop up or for Maya to be holding Where the Wild Things Are, but after a while all of the literary references felt strained. Mostly, I just wanted to get on with the story. I absolutely love books, but I don't want to necessarily read a book about how much other people love books. Sometimes it works, such as when fictional, non-existent books are mentioned (The Series of Unfortunate Events) or if real books are used, to have them further the plot of the story (Book Scavenger). This one just kind of made a lot of tangents to discuss books when what I really wanted was to continue the plot and hear the story of this book. 

I think for the most part, I just didn't care about a lot of the characters. Most of them just kind of floated from page to page, letting things happen to them. Tamerlane is stolen. Maya just shows up. Things happen, because that's the way they're written. It felt more like the characters let things happen rather than the characters actually doing anything. 

Also, the characters are annoying woven together. The cast is surprisingly small and they are all connected. I get it's set on an island and it's a symbol for how A.J. isolates himself and all that, but I got tired of hearing about the same characters over and over again. I longed for some side character to pop up for a bit. 

There's a bit of a twist near the end, which was interesting, but I don't think it was enough to "save" the rest of the book. By the end, I was just irritated by the annoying way that everything came together so perfectly and obviously. I wanted something to not work out quite right. But every piece has its place and the tight-knit group of characters stays tight-knit until the end.

Overall, it was a good read, but it was a bit drawn out at times. 
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review 2018-04-19 04:05
The Joy of Cookies
The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Guide to Life - Sesame Workshop

Joyful indeed. Do you love Cookie Monster? Of course you do (Who can resist the lovable blue monster?). Then you need this book.

 

And a cookie.

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review 2018-04-19 03:54
Understanding Heaven's Court System: Exp... Understanding Heaven's Court System: Explosive Life Changing Secrets - Bill Vincent

I enjoyed this book. It should be on every believer's shelf. Expounds on our authority in the spiritual realm as Christians and packed full of scriptures. I am certainly going to keep it handy to refer to often. I would like to read more by this pastor. I received this copy in a giveaway. Thank you!

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review 2018-04-18 13:31
Life During Wartime (paperback) - Lucius Shepard

I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. I had a hard time getting through the whole book only reading a few pages every so often but I absolutely loved the story and characters. I think it may have been because of Shepard's prose. After reading a little I think I just had to step away and let it "sink in" some before continuing.

Highly recommended!!

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text 2018-04-18 11:00
Facts About Me: A Life of Reading

My parents taught me to read and write before I attended school. Here in the UK (for those not familiar) we start around the age of 4/5, depending on whether your birthday falls before or after August, which is the start date for all after-Summer-Holiday terms. I started at 4, able to read and write, which got me and my folks into trouble at school, because they like to teach their own way, and didn't like that came pre-taught. Tough luck for them.

For that reason, by the time we started doing reading for classes in school, I was at an advanced level to the other kids. I also had a bit of a knack for being patient – sometimes more patient than the teachers! – so I helped another kid in my class with his reading, because he had dyslexia and/or learning difficulties. I'm vague about this, before I was too young to really understand it (about 9/10 years old) and it wasn't talked a lot back then. Some teachers just thought those with such challenges were slow, were lazy, or didn't want to do the work. I remember that much, because I remember staying inside during break times to help him catch up with his reading. Not many of the teachers, or other students, liked it, but the kid I helped did. And he did great.

I'm pretty sure that's why I wasn't much of a reader growing up. Hard to believe, right? Well, I wasn't. I read Sweet Valley High books, Sherlock Holmes, and stuff the school made us read, but I wasn't voracious about it, like I am now. I think that's mostly because of the subject matter. I never really liked what was being given to us, or what was recommended reading for my age at the library. I guess, nowadays, you'd call me a mature reader. Back then, I just didn't have the time (between school work and home life) or the inclination (subject matter!) to be as passionate about books as I am now.

Now, I read approximate 300 books a year. That doesn't sound like a lot, to some people I know, who can read 500+ a year, but in between that, I read-to-review (which takes longer, because I write notes as I'm reading, and then have to process and type that all up when I'm done) for both Netgalley and Divine Magazine. I also write, as you probably know by now. I can write a book (say about 80k) in a month, if I had unlimited time. Since that's rare and maybe only happens once a year, I can write about 2-3 novels a year, all of which take time, planning, editing, repeated reading, and research. That all takes time. So, for me, 300 books a year is a lot.

And I LOVE it. I love getting to explore new stories, new worlds, new writing and new authors. And I love being able to write my own stories. It might have taken a while, but I found my passion in the end.

 

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