The Map of True Places

You guys are super special. You’re getting two (count ’em, TWO) book reviews this week!

Really, it’s because I’m in this weird period of stasis where I’m waiting to find out if this one thing is going to happen – if it is it changes lots of things and if it isn’t I have to make a pretty difficult choice. I’ll let you know what happens once the dust clears, but for now I’m just waiting. But I did get a wonderful shipment of NEW BOOKS this past week!

I’m so happy because my most recent Barnes and Noble haul has come in. This time I got 18 books for 51 dollars and some change. Although I love rereading all of my books for this project, there is almost nothing I’d rather do than curl up on my bed with a brand new book and spend a few hours enveloped in a new story.

That, friends, is exactly what I did with my day yesterday. And it was marvelous. Not in the least because this book is a total gem.

I like this cover okay. I’m really sort of meh about it though. Do covers influence you guys much? If I really don’t like a book’s cover it affects the way I go into a book. Which is totally wrong and everyone knows you’re not supposed to do that (there’s a whole saying dedicated to it) but it’s my life and I am a grown woman and if I want to judge a book by it’s potentially crappy cover, I totally will.

Once again I have the delight of reading about a character who is achingly and refreshingly human. I need writers to stop serving up pale imitations of life and caricatures, give me someone I can really sink my teeth into. I want a character where after reading I feel a little weird referring to this person as a character. That’s my ultimate happy place. If they’ve made the transition from character to personhood I’m almost certainly going to like the book.

Yes, I’m very aware I wrote the word character about forty-seven kabillion times in the last paragraph, oh well.

Lots of things are happening to Zee (whose real name is Hepzibah and just, dang) and I am impressed by the author (her name is Brunonia so maybe she’s just working some things out insofar as names go) and her ability to make each of the subplots legitimately intriguing. They all also stayed (mostly) relevant to Zee’s main journey, which is commendable in itself. Often I find that if an author has too many things going on a few of the subplots get lost and resurface randomly. Although that’s not really a problem with this book, eh. I don’t know. I almost wish she had just written two books or something, or maybe supplemented with some short stories. It just seemed like she had so much to share about these characters and this place and it’s just a lot.

I still enjoyed it though. This is the first review I’ve written of a book I’ve only read once, so who knows. Maybe when I come back to this book in a few years I’ll feel differently, but as of now I’m definitely happy with it’s purchase. I know I’m not so good at the summarizing thing, but I do feel I should give potential readers some idea of what they’re getting into. So here goes:

Zee is a woman in her early 30’s who is dealing with issues that are true for so many right now, which is just sort of figuring herself out. Her father is nearing the late stages of Parkinson’s and she has to return home to Salem not only to take care of him, but to hash out her past and discover what she wants for her future. As always, there’s a love interest and a scary person and a couple of other things in play. I found myself most intrigued with the parts about her mother (who dealt with mental illness) and the fairy tales she wrote.

So yeah! There’s that. Want to buy it? Here’s a good place:

If you read my review of Louis Bayard’s The Black Tower, you’l know what to expect for next week. However, I do have another new book in the B’s to share, so I think I’ll review that one too! It’s going to be a surprise though. So check back in.

we finished the first letter!

Well guys, we have officially made it through 9 weeks of book reviews, and in doing so I’ve re-read all of my ‘A’ authors! Onto the ‘B’s!

Before we continue on our merry way, I wanted to kind of give a chance for anyone who might be following the reviews to give their opinion. After doing this 9 times, I’ve realized that my style is less “here’s what this book is about, here’s why it’s good or bad” and more “i love books i love to read here is why i like this book also have a picture”.

And I like it. I don’t read to find out if a book is good or bad. A book has to be really, really awful for me to get no enjoyment from it, so I read books because I love to read. I also really like sharing the things I love, and this is a way to do that. Now, I like my book reviews. And yes, partially I’m writing them for me. It’s a good way to unwind, by going back over a recent read I get to enjoy it again. I also might look something up about it and learn something, and I have fun trying to add little tidbits and pictures. However, I’m also writing these reviews because in the past couple of years, I’ve noticed this trend of people on the internet asking, “what should I read?”

So I’m also doing it for them. In a few years, maybe I’ll have reviewed every book I own. Maybe it’ll help some people come to love the same things I love. I want this to be useful to people.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do, person who might be reading this: if you’ve followed all 9 reviews or even if you skimmed through one, what did you think? Do you feel like you learned enough about the book to discover whether you’d have any interest in it? Do you have any constructive criticism for me on how I can adjust my style to better serve the reader?

If so, please feel free to comment! If you’d rather share your thoughts with me privately, you are welcome to do so. I have set up an email specifically for reviews: shelbyanneleereads@gmail.com

There’s a lot of ‘E’s so type carefully! If you have a book you’d like me to review and I haven’t already passed that letter, I’ll look into it.

Thanks guys. I want these to be great for everyone.

 

for next week:

THE BLACK TOWER

by Louis Bayard

going, going, going?

I have a perpetual case of ants-in-the-pants.

I can’t sit still. If I’m not happy someplace, my immediate inclination is to move on.

bigger. better. different. elsewhere. somewhere. go. go. go.

I don’t know why. This is just the way I am.

Some things are happening in my life right now. I’ll share them soon, once everything settles and I can sort of see what the path looks like. Right now I’m taking life a day at a time, struggling not to get pulled under by the multitude of choices and options I have before me.

I’m so much happier than I was even a few weeks ago. I had gotten complacent and was dying inside because nothing was happening. My life was stilted and stalled. Sure, it’s stressful to have things be in turmoil, but at least I’m moving. I don’t know where my destination is or even what it is, but I’m going. Going, going, going.

 

Sense and Sensibility

Coming straight from last week’s Pride and Prejudice review, we’re moving right along to another Jane Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility.

While there is still a sense of ‘wow, cool, history!’ for me with this book, I don’t like it nearly as much as I do Pride and Prejudice. Sadly, it’s quite likely got something to do with the fact that I love the P&P movie so much that it influences my reading of the book. I haven’t ever seen any of the film adaptions of S&S, so maybe if I do I’ll come to love it.

I do also know that S&S was her first novel, and maybe that also plays into it. I just realized I’m making it sound like I don’t enjoy this book, which really isn’t true! It’s just that reading it right after P&P is maybe not the best idea because I’m still coming off of the high from that book and this one just can’t support it.

It’s another story of girls meet boys, boys are mean and rude but some are nice and eventually they get married. The end!

Still though, they are enduring. Sense and Sensibility was written in 1811 for crying out loud! Why are these romantic comedies still so relevant and read? I think it’s because Jane Austen has got something special, and also because we (as modern people) have a sort of history hard-on for the landed gentry of old.

I mean, come on, Downton Abbey anyone?

I mean COME ON

Of course, a great deal of the drama in these Austen novels is that her landed gentry are living in houses which aren’t quite as grand as these, and the father is dying or old or dead and the girls have no choice but to marry rich or be destitute.

Why do we like these books so much? I don’t know. But I like them. I’d love to get the rest of her books. And I’d love for you to read them to!

Look how pretty this copy of the book is! I want it! If you want it too, or want to buy it for me, get it from this link! I get points!

 

 

for next week:

THE BLACK TOWER

by Louis Bayard

daddy’s girl

I was going through my photos, looking for some pictures of me and my dad to spice up this blog post. I came to the realization that my dad and I don’t take all that many photos together. I told him today I think that’s partially because we’re very sensitive about the way we look in photographs. We both have round faces, and they only get waaaaay rounder when you’re smiling. We also do this weird thing where if we’re laughing really hard (or smiling really big) we get this really cute line of gum that shows. So pretty much, if we take a picture together where we’re both smiling, it’s like everything we don’t enjoy about ourselves photogenically multiplied by two.

Or at least that’s my theory.

32613_10200683185154620_885566774_n

134362_10200518769879147_819462830_o

431125_3185942420060_480378928_n

8672_10200971913652652_1266502876_n Continue reading