Tuesday, November 10, 2015

October Book Review


Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend.
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

Boy, Snow, Bird By Helen Oyeyemi
Rating: 3.5

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, exposes the Whitman family secret. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

I can't decide how I feel about this book.  I loved the writing but I can't decide on the story itself. Boy's motives were hard to figure out. It was clear from the beginning that Boy was not in love but she decided to marry anyways and then proceeded to make a really horrible decision regarding Snow. I really did not like Boy but I did enjoy the part told from Bird's perspective.

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
Rating: 3.5
I received a digital copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Part Homeless Bird and part Matched, this is a dark look at the near future told through the alternating perspectives of two teens who dare to challenge the system.
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

I breezed through this book. It was written in alternating perspectives of a girl choosing who to marry and a boy being tested. The girl, Sudasa, became aware of the corruptness going on within the tests and was a strong female character who was not afraid to go against tradition and her family. Her story was told in prose and normally I am not a fan of this style of writing but this did not bother me. I loved Kiran, who was the boy being tested. I will forever be a champion of the underdogs and I loved his kindness and brazenness. My only negative was the ending. Ugh! I needed to know more. It was too abrupt. I needed more of Kiran's story.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Rating: 3.5

Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story.
I loved People of the Book but in all fairness, that might be because I love novels that have to do with some sort of hunt for a lost treasure.  I adored Bethia for her strong will and that she was not afraid to think outside of women's roles in society during the 1600's, She had a strong desire to learn and found creative ways to make that happen. She would not accept that women were not meant to educate themselves. I fell in love with the story of Bethia and Caleb even if I was hoping for some romance.  I found myself skimming the parts of the book that got overly religious. I did not know before I read it that the book was largely based on Martha's Vineyard and I found the history of the island interesting.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
Rating: 4

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.
 Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Another month, another McMahon book. This is the first audio book I've listening to in a long time but now that I have a 30 minute drive back and forth to work, I figured I could start maximizing my time. I have a hard time with audio books.  My mind tends to wander and then I'm like what just happened? I also think the voice of whomever is narrating matters as well. I like when authors narrate their own books, which was not the case with this one. Not McMahon's best work but I did enjoy the story.  Without giving too much away, there was a part of this book that actually reminded me of a reoccurring dream that I used to have as a child.  I used to have this dream that there was this witch living down a trail we had in our woods, kind of like in the Sleepy Hollow movie. Anyways, the book was told from various view points both past and present day. I didn't mind that it left a few things open.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
Rating: 4

A magical novel, based on a Japanese folk tale, that imagines how the life of a broken-hearted man is transformed when he rescues an injured white crane that has landed in his backyard.
I loved, loved this book.  I love books that are centered around retellings of folk tales/folk lore. The main novel was interwoven with the folk tale telling, which was my favorite part.  I love anything that has to do with magic or mysticism. I love the feeling that anything is possible and something wonderful and unexplained can happen during ordinary life. This was my first Ness book and it will not be my last. I really connected with the characters and even though it had a very melancholy feeling, it still had this hopefulness to it.

Love it: The Crane Wife & 5 to 1
Leave it: Boy, Snow, Bird

Life According to Steph
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  1. oooh the crane wife sounds fabulous! adding it to my list!

  2. The Crane Wife doesn't seem like anything I really read...I'll give it a go!

    I'm sort of interested in The Winter People too.

  3. I participated and finished an Aussie author challenge this year. I'm already eyeing books for next year, and Geraldine Brooks is Australian...so Caleb's Crossing might be a good choice. I read Year of Wonders by her and recommend it.

  4. The Winter People sounds really interesting. It sounds similar to another book I really liked so I'll give it a try.

  5. The Winter People sounds like something I'd be into. And a Vermont setting... So cozy.

  6. I was intrigued by The Crane Wife after seeing it on your Instagram, and I think I'll add it to my list. It doesn't sound like my typical kind of book, but I'm at least somewhat familiar with the Japanese folktale it's based on ... Though that's only because I was curious after my first listen of The Crane Wife album by The Decemberists. They actually wove some elements of the story into the title track (which is broken into 3 parts), so I wanted to learn more.

    I'll also be adding the McMahon novel (if it's not on the list already) because I tend to like her books. Her endings usually disappoint me, though, so we'll see how this one goes.

    I may also read the Oyeyemi book. I loved White is for Witching, and I usually don't mind if a main character is an awful person. It probably won't go to the top of my list, but I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually.