Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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american gods book coverTitle: American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: William Morrow

Length: 529 pages

Summary (from back cover): Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself. Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined – it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.

American Gods is one of those books that I can’t stop talking about but can’t seem to bring myself to review. I’ve been done with this book for almost a week now, and I’ve set it on my desk with the sole intention of sitting down and reviewing it, yet I can’t seem to bring myself to actually write about it. This isn’t because it’s a bad book – make no mistake, I completely and utterly loved this book.  Maybe it is because I loved it so entirely that I’m not sure how to put my feelings about it into words. I suppose I’ll try anyways; after all, is that not the purpose of this blog? Continue reading “Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman”

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Fit for a Queen: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

 

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book-coverTitle: Victoria: A Novel of a Young Queen

Author: Daisy Goodwin

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Length: 416 pages

Release Date: November 22, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads): In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone. One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….
Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Disclaimer:  This is an advertisement for SheSpeaks/St. Martins Press.

There have been a lot of exciting books released so far this year, and Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, which comes out next Tuesday, is one I have been anticipating for a while now. Anyone who reads this blog will know how much I love historical fiction, and combine that with my love of the English monarchy and what could go wrong?! Continue reading “Fit for a Queen: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin”

Man Bookering: Hystopia by David Means

hystopiaTitle: Hystopia

Author: David Means

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Pages: 336

Summary (from inside flap): At the bitter end of the 1960s, after surviving multiple assassination attempts, President John F. Kennedy is entering his third term in office. The Vietnam War rages on, and the president has created a vast federal agency, the Psych Corps, dedicated to maintaining the nation’s mental hygiene by any means necessary. Soldiers returning from the war have their battlefield traumas “enfolded” – wiped from their memories through drugs and therapy – while veterans too damaged to be enfolded roam at will in Michigan, evading the government and reenacting atrocities on civilians. This destabilized version of American history is the vision of twenty-two-year-old Eugene Allen, who has returned from Vietnam to write the book-within-a-book at the center of Hystopia. In conversation with some of the greatest war narratives, from Homer’s Iliad to the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” David Means channels the voice of Allen, the young veteran out to write a novel that can bring honor to those he fought with in Vietnam while also capturing the tragic history of his own family.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am currently attempting to read the entire Man Booker 2016 long list before October 25th, when the winner will be announced. So far I have read two of the thirteen, both of which I have written full reviews of – The North Water by Ian McGuire and My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth StroutHystopia by David Means is my third Man Booker read. I’ve decided to take a little break and read some other books before continuing with the long list, so this may be my last Man Booker post for a week or two.

“When I start to feel the urge to recite poetry, I know we’re about done for the day. And I feel that urge. In that war you had a superabundance of highly educated men in the trenches carrying a working knowledge of Greek and Latin, reading Hardy and Dickens, filled with a desire to capture in words the way a sunrise or sunset looked from the bottom of the trench, or the way it felt to do a stand-to at dusk or twilight. All we’re getting from this war is the desire to write rock-and-roll lyrics.”

Continue reading “Man Bookering: Hystopia by David Means”

August in Review (or, what I read, wrote, photographed, and loved this month)

August Review

Hello lovely readers! Today I’m starting a new segment on my blog (I feel like I’m saying that a lot lately!) where at the end of each month I’ll reflect a bit over everything I’ve read, written, and photographed over the past month. I think this will be more interesting than traditional monthly wrap ups, and I hope that you enjoy it as well. 🙂

The Books I Read in August

All in all, I think I had quite a good reading month in August. I completed a total of of six books, got halfway through one novel and then decided to put it down, and am currently reading three books.My favorite book in August would probably have to be a tie between Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which was a reread for me, and It Ends with Us, which I am planning on writing a review of soon. If I’ve written a review of any of the other books mentioned below, that review will be linked.

  1. The North Water by Ian McGuire 
  2. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  5. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (review to come!)
  6. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (review to come!
  7. Hystopia by David Means (DNF)
  8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (currently reading)
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (currently reading)
  10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (currently reading)

Continue reading “August in Review (or, what I read, wrote, photographed, and loved this month)”

Wizarding Whimsy: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

harry potter and the cursed childTitle: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two)

Authors: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Pages: 327

Summary (from inside flap): It was always difficult being Harry Potter, and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and a father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: Sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places. Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play by Jack Thorne. It is the eighth Harry Potter story and the first to be officially presented on stage. This special rehearsal edition of the script brings the continued journey of Harry Potter and his friends and family to readers everywhere immediately following the play’s world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

“Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint…and memory…and love.”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was released at the end of July, was quite possibly the most anticipated book in all of 2016. People were thrilled that we were finally getting another installment in the lives of everyone’s favorite witches and wizards, yet their excitement was tinged with disappointment as they learned that a) it would be a play, not a novel, and that b) it wasn’t actually written by J.K. Rowling.

Despite all this, however, Potterheads across the world pulled out their robes and wands once more and lined up all night at midnight release parties. A whopping four million copies were sold the first week alone in the US, UK, and Canada. Hopes were high, and, unfortunately, many people were left disappointed. I, however, was not one of those people, and I thought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was completely and utterly brilliant. Continue reading “Wizarding Whimsy: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

Shannon Recommends: Art History Books (Part One)

shannon recommends art history

Hello everybody! 🙂 I’ve decided to start a new series of posts on my blog called Shannon Recommends, in which I’ll take one category/subcategory of books (i.e. literary historical fiction, 1920s classics) and recommend some books to you that fit in that particular genre. I’m hoping that this series will be a fun way to get some of my favorite books out to you in a shorter, faster format than full-length book reviews (because let’s be real here, full-length book reviews take a long time to write!!).

If you weren’t already aware, one of my biggest interests outside reading is art history. In particular, I love collecting and reading art history books, and I’m always getting requests on my Instagram account to showcase some of my favorite art history books. I have way too many to fit all in one post, so this will be Part One of a two or three part series (I haven’t decided yet) in which I tell you about some of my favorite art history books and what they look like. Without further ado, let’s get to the books! 🙂 Continue reading “Shannon Recommends: Art History Books (Part One)”

Man Bookering: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

my name is lucy bartonTitle: My Name is Lucy Barton

Author: Elizabeth Strout

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 191

Summary (from inside flap): A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, brilliantly told, profoundly affecting, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all – the one between mother and daughter. Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

“This is a story about love, you know that. This is a story of a man who has been tortured every day of his life for things he did in the war. This is the story of a wife who stayed with him, because most wives did in that generation, and she comes to her daughter’s hospital room and talks compulsively about everyone’s marriage going bad, she doesn’t even know it, doesn’t even know that’s what she’s doing. This is a story about a mother who loves her daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly.”

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am currently trying to read my way through the Man Booker long list for 2016. After finishing The North Water by Ian McGuire, which was extremely intense and rather disturbing, I wanted something a bit less taxing. The portrayal of a young woman’s relationship with her mother promised in the summary of Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton sounded like just the book, so that is what I chose as my second Man Booker read. Continue reading “Man Bookering: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout”