The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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“It’s like everyone around you has a copy of the script of life, but no one gave it to you so you have to go in blind and hope you can muddle your way through. And you’ll be wrong most of the time.”

In 1991, Annika is an English major at the University of Illinois. She struggles with social situations, finding the behaviour of others confusing, which contributes to her anxiety. The calming and comforting forces in her life are books and the solitude and challenge of chess. When Jonathan transfers to the University of Illinois and joins the chess club he is drawn to Annika and over time the two develop a relationship that turns into a love story, one where they are planning a future together. That is until a tragedy changes everything and their lives go in separate directions. A decade later, a chance encounter brings the two together. Annika is in her dream job as a librarian and Jonathan is the Wall Street businessman he strived to be, fresh off a divorce and seeking a new start. The attraction between them is still very much there, but they need to confront their past, what drove them apart and the fears and anxieties that still persist. Continue reading “The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves”

My Most Anticipated Spring Releases

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It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.

–C.S. Lewis

There are a lot of books to look forward to this Spring, and my list of ones I am eagerly awaiting seems to keep growing. These are the top five Spring releases I’m most looking forward to reading: Continue reading “My Most Anticipated Spring Releases”

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

IMG_5349Young man,” he said, “understand this: there are two Londons. There’s London Above – that’s where you lived – and then there’s London Below – the Underside – inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you’re one of them. Good night.

Intriguing in concept and full of imagination, Neverwhere tells the story of a fantastical world in which there are two Londons: London Above (real London) and London Below (full of magic and invisible to those above). Richard Mayhew has a successful career, a fiancée, and is relatively happy with his life, until one fateful night opens his eyes to a London he never knew existed. His encounter flips his world upside down and takes him on an unforgettable journey under the streets of London, which is filled with danger and adventure.

“You’ve a good heart. Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it’s not.”

I thoroughly enjoy Neil Gaiman’s writing style. There is a quality to it that provides an almost fairy-tale feeling and really brings back childhood memories of diving into great and fantastical stories. Neverwhere is written wonderfully and the world created is quite fascinating and compelling, however there is something about the story as a whole that just did not click with me and I never fully engaged with it. There is a disconnect with the characters that was there throughout the entirety of the novel, and I did not care for the main character, Richard who I found to be incredibly irritating. His journey is one that supposedly leads to growth but there is frustratingly little character development, if any. For this reason, Neverwhere is an okay fantasy novel rather than a great one.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

img_3286“On his best days the blank canvas of the landscape set him at ease; on his worst days he contemplated madness. The land did not care for him and there was nowhere else to go. He wasn’t sure yet which sort of day today was.”

Good Morning, Midnight follows two storylines that inevitably connect and intertwine. The first one is that of an aging astronomer named Augustine who refuses to evacuate his latest post in the Arctic after news of a catastrophic event. Not long after the evacuation, he discovers a mysterious child named Iris and finds that the two of them are completely alone as the airwaves have gone dead silent. During this time there is a crew of six astronauts on a return flight from Jupiter, from what has been a successful mission. They are the first to make such an extensive journey into space and each have made personal sacrifices to do so. Not long after they embark on the long journey back to Earth, Mission Control falls silent and they are not sure if they will ever reach home or what awaits them if they do.

“This moment, Sully, this is where we must live.”

I found this to be a beautifully written novel that examines feelings of loneliness, isolation, love, belonging, and connection through characters that face an uncertain future. The circumstances and emotions of their present situations are powerfully conveyed, and we are also taken back to past moments through flashbacks from Augustine as well as Mission Specialist Sullivan. This aspect of the book is compelling on its own, however there is also an element of suspense as the two stories progress with the question of how everything will come together and conclude. A truly unique and exceptional novel.

The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

blog“Leah is living in Queens with a possessive husband she doesn’t love and a long list of unfulfilled ambitions, when she’s jolted from a thick ennui by a call from the past. Her beloved former boss and friend, Judy, has died in a car accident and left Leah her most prized possession and, as it turns out, the instrument of Judy’s death: a red sports car.”

The Red Car is a novel of self-discovery and realization, that follows Leah’s experiences upon returning to San Francisco when she learns of the death of her former mentor. She re-visits her old life in contemplation of where her life took a turn to lead her to where she presently found herself. In many ways, she has accepted her circumstances and her unhappy marriage, however Judy’s death shakes her into looking at her past, and at what the possibilities are for the future.

While I thoroughly enjoy stories of personal journeys, this particular one left me slightly confused by my reading experience. The protagonist, Leah, is incredibly insecure, and her internal dialogue is sad and at times heartbreaking. Even though she is not a particularly sympathetic character, I felt somewhat interested in learning about her and following her progress. However, rather than a story of self-discovery, this reads like a novel of odd circumstances and random events that happen to her, and her choices and behavior is baffling. One interesting aspect was the experience of viewing the sad way a life unfolds when an individual is so consumed by negativity, insecurity and the belief they are not good enough or worth something. I also liked the simple and straightforward writing style. Overall it felt very disconnected and in the end was quite forgettable.

*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: October 11, 2016.