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review 2017-11-13 20:28
The Shipping News (Proulx)
The Shipping News - Annie Proulx

"Outside, an hour later, Quoyle at his fire, the aunt taking things out of the food box; eggs, a crushed bag of bread, butter, jam. Sunshine crowded against the aunt, her hands following, seizing packets. The child unwrapped the butter, the aunt spread it with a piece of broken wood for a knife, stirred the shivering eggs in the pan. The bread heel for the old dog. Bunny at the landwash, casting peckled stones. As each struck, foaming lips closed over it."
"They sat beside the fire. The smoky stingo like an offering from some stone altar, the aunt thought, watched the smolder melt into the sky. Bunny and Sunshine leaned against Quoyle. Bunny ate a slice of bread rolled up, the jelly poised at the end like the eye of a toaster oven, watched the smoke gyre."

It's all there in the quotation, pulled pretty much at random from the pages of this novel. Short, choppy fragments of sentences. Highly specific and unexpected physical detail. Metaphor and simile that more often than not cause a double-take. The occasional very odd word.

In some ways, the distinctive language of this book overpowers the rest of it for me. It's not that the characters aren't interesting - they are - nor that the book lacks incident - it most certainly does not! There is death, cultural discovery, peril in the wildness of nature, a gruesome revelation and even a miraculous resurrection (oh, and a lowish-key love story). But in the end, I enjoyed it but never felt fully drawn in, and I attribute that in large part to the idiosyncratic narrative. It's as if I were constantly dancing on the surface of the language, exploring it - and that was certainly enjoyable! - but I never fell deeply enough into it, past all those fleeting physical observations and curious insights, to really care about Quoyle, or his bratty kids, or "the aunt", brave and resourceful though she was.

I don't know if that really amounts to a serious criticism - it may just mean that this book had virtues different from the ones I usually remark on.

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review 2017-06-14 01:13
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Review)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Alright, once again, I finished the book almost two years ago and because I was in school and had other nonsense going on, I took very few notes and put off writing the review until now. I have few details to give, which is especially depressing when you’re giving a low rating to a book that is beloved by thousands, if not millions, of readers. You want to have more to say to defend your opinion, but… well, yeah.

 

When I first tried to read this series at the age of thirteen or fourteen, Prisoner of Azkaban killed me. I quit partway through, and this is a big deal because I never just quit a book. I have not finished exactly two books since Prisoner of Azkaban all those years ago, and both of those were because they had graphic sexual content—obviously not the case here. Even the second time around, it took me months to finish this book.

 

This book is just boring. There’s not a lot happening, and it follows a very distinct pattern from the first two books. I enjoyed Lupin, but that was about it. There’s an incredibly interesting story lurking somewhere underneath the side plots and downright boring writing. Without the nostalgia of reading this as a child, I don’t have a lot of patience for the childish nature of the side stories and writing. Most of the story happens in a few exciting chapters, but everything else is muddled and boring. I get that these books are sentimental to lots of people, and I know there are things I love to read that others find boring, but this one was just kind of painful to get through.

 

Overall: Fortunately, I’ve already read Goblet of Fire, and I actually enjoyed that one. For me, this is where the childishness ends and we can move forward into a grown up and intricate plot. I’m relieved to put this one behind me and move forward with the series. I can’t count how many people told me to skip to Goblet of Fire to begin with, and they’re certainly right.

 

Read this review on my blog!
http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/161793118862/harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban-review

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review 2017-03-31 23:58
Red (Review)
Red - Alison Cherry

This is yet another book I initially read about a year and a half ago, but since I remember enjoying it, I decided to reread it so I could review it better. To my relief, despite lower-rated reviews I read from friends, I found that I still enjoyed Red for all its goofiness and craziness.

 

The second I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I needed to have it. I’ve been dying my hair a coppery red since I was fifteen, and it’s actually astounding how many people feel slightly betrayed when they discover that I’m not actually a redhead. I’ve had “real” redheads poke fun at me, and while I don’t care if people know I dye my hair, I sometimes feel a little bit like a liar when someone (especially strangers) compliment my hair color. My reaction is always to say, “Thanks, I dye it,” like I want them to know I can’t take credit for it.

 

That could be why I enjoyed Red so much, despite its immaturity and its flaws. I usually don’t go for books that can’t convince me to believe in its world, but fortunately I found that Cherry convinced me quite easily that Scarletville is a real place, and the people there are really kind of messed up. Felicity is a perfect narrator for the novel because she changes the most, and she’s not intentionally cruel but just kind of clueless. Felicity learning that her hair color—and everyone else’s, too—doesn’t matter is a perfect metaphor for the insignificant differences we all have that we can get hung up on.

 

What I Liked: Spoilers!

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review 2017-03-29 04:53
The Fill-in Boyfriend (Review)
The Fill-In Boyfriend - Kasie West

When I first read this in 2015, it was the only book I gave five stars that year. Admittedly, I wasn’t reading as much as I would have liked, and I’ve been in a hardcore reading slump since then, but still—one five star book is a little disappointing. I never wrote the review because things got in the way and I didn’t make time, but as I started looking back on my experience with this book, I started to worry that maybe I didn’t like it as much as I’d remembered. Maybe it was just the kind of book I needed at the time. Maybe it wasn’t all that great after all, and I was looking at it through rose-colored lenses.

 

That worry resulted in me picking it up again today to see how I really felt about it. And guess what? I loved it just as much as I did the first time! I read it (again) in one sitting, and I fell in love (again) with the characters and their stories. This is my first encounter with Kasie West, and I’d always been meaning to read so many of her books, but The Fill-in Boyfriend really sold me on absolutely everything. It is the perfect summer read—heck, it’s the perfect it’s-still-winter-even-though-it-should-be-spring-now read, too. It is the perfect chick-lit romance without shoving insta-love or cheesiness down your throat. I highly, highly, highly recommend it, and I’m so grateful that it will always be on my shelf for those days when I just need to escape reality and dive into something satisfying.

 

What I Liked: Spoilers!

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