Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

burialrites

Publication Date: September 10th, 2013

This review does not contain ‘spoilers’.

Well, as much as I wanted to love this book and have heard so many good things about it, I ended up being a little bit disappointed by it. This is the fictional betrayal of the true story regarding Agnes Magnusdottir who was the last woman to be executed in Iceland during the 1800’s. Agnes was accused of brutally murdering Natan Ketilson and Petur Jonsson in March of 1828, and little is known as to what occurred the night of the murder or what actually happened. I commend Hannah Kent for being able to create a full story out of what little facts are known from the time, I couldn’t imagine that being an easy process. I can also see why people would really love this book. This story is extremely well written and you really get to feel the emotions of all the characters she writes about. I especially enjoyed reading from the members of the family Agnes stays with up until her execution.

The way that Iceland is written about in this book was also done exceptionally well. I have always been fascinated by Iceland, and in between periods that I would read this, I was also watching youtube videos all about Iceland. Needless to say that Iceland would be an amazing place to visit and extremely beautiful.

As to why I was somewhat disappointed? I just wanted more to the story. Nothing really happened. Agnes is sent to live with this family up until her execution date and nothing else really occurs after she arrives. Agnes goes into her back story and tells the truth about what happened the night of the murder to some of the family members, but I also became confused about some parts of her backstory as well. Unfortunately, I also thought some of the information that was given did little to nothing to add to the story. It took me forever to read this book just because I found it so slow going that I never wanted to pick it back up again once I had sat it down. I normally don’t have any problems with books that don’t have much plot, but maybe this book was just so overhyped for me that in the end I was disappointed.

I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

-Carissa

Shelter by Jung Yun

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Publication Date: March 15th, 2016

This review does not contain ‘spoilers’.

First off, I was not sure what to expect when I picked up Shelter, but I had read nothing but good things about this which gave me the push that was needed to finally pick it up. I would describe this debut as a dark, twisted, family drama, that deals with many heartbreaking topics. It all starts when Kyung and his wife Gillian meet with a realtor at their home to discuss putting their house on the market. While the realtor is walking through the home, taking pictures, and discussing their options, she looks out the window and sees a woman running toward the house naked, and in distress. When Kyung looks outside to see what is going on, he soon discovers that the woman running toward them is his own mother. From this point forward, without giving too much away, we find out the tragedy that takes place in his parents home that led his mother running for help. We learn the secrets of Kyung’s past that continue to haunt him, and get a look at the pain that runs through the family that is already broken.

If you pick this book up expecting a fast paced thriller with a lot of twists and turns, you might find yourself disappointed; however, I found it extremely hard to lose interest in what I was reading, and did not want it to end. While this book is very easy to read, the author forces you to slow down and take in every line so as not to miss any important details. Jung Yun is obviously very talented at being able to get the reader to feel the same emotions as the characters facing hardships in her book. She shows the reader that stories like these are real life, and not every ending is done with all problems being solved, and tied into a nice beautiful bow. Sometimes there is no resolve, pain and suffering are life long consequences cause by the actions of someone who is supposed to show none other than love and care. I can’t wait to see what books she comes out with next.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

 

March17 To Be Read

Good Morning everyone, it is rainy and nasty here in Honolulu today, and I wish I could sit at home all day and do nothing but read; however, college responsibilities are calling and I will be getting soaked out there enduring this weather. Anyhow, look out for upcoming reviews for all of these books soon. In February I managed to finish 5 books total, so I am hoping to get to all of the following in March.

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Publication Date: September 10th, 2013

Goodreads synopsis:

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

shelter

Shelter by Jung Yun

Publication Date: March 15th, 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?

As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one’s family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Publication Date: August 1st, 2017

NetGalley ARC

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

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The Troop by Nick Cutter

Publication Date: February 25th, 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once a year, scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story and a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—stumbles upon their campsite, Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. An inexplicable horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival that will pit the troop against the elements, the infected…and one another.

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

Publication Date: July 11th, 2017

NetGalley ARC

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

-Carissa

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

the-interestings

Published: April 9th, 2013

This review does not contain spoilers.

First off, all I have to say is, wow! That was one of the best books I have read in a long time.  Meg Wolitzer is obviously extremely talented as a writer, and I can’t believe I never got to this sooner. This book has only been sitting on my shelf for the past couple of years! Though it did take me almost the entire month of February to read, I think it is one of those stories that require you to slow down when you read it, unlike other books where you can read straight through as fast as can be. This is very much a character driven book rather than a plot driven book though, so if you are someone who likes an obvious plot including problems, climax, and a solution, this might not be the book for you. It starts off with a group of teenagers in New York who meet at ‘Spirit in the Woods’, a summer camp for aspiring artists. They come together and form a group, calling themselves ‘The Interestings’, and from there, the story takes off following each of the members of the group from when they were teenagers all the way until they are in their mid 50’s. Obviously, a lot of things occur within the story since it covers such an expansive time frame, but there is no particular moment that defines the entire book. The story deals with friendships, love, loss, and everything else that is real in a lifetime. I can see why many people who prefer a plot heavy story would think that this might be a bit dull; however, I truly think a story that really shows the ins and outs of each character, and their life is what truly makes a novel great. When I look back on all the books that I have read in the past, my true favorites would be the ones that are more focused on the characters lives as a whole, and the ones that aren’t, end up being forgotten as I read more and more. I can’t say much else with out giving a lot away, so you will just have to read it and find out for yourself! Enjoy.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

The House by Simon Lelic

thehouse

Official publish date: August, 17th 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

I am not sure what I was expecting when I chose this title from Net Galley, but I am glad I did. I was in the mood for something creepy or suspenseful, and the cover is what drew me to this title right away. This book is written from two different perspectives, Jack and Sydney. At the beginning of the book we are brought to a snippet of a scene where it seems like something has happened that has caused the police to be watching their house; however, at this time no explanation is given because the author then brings us back to the beginning of Jack and Sydney’s story. They start off by deciding to house hunt in London and look for what they would like to be their ‘forever home.’ After finding what seems like could be their perfect place, they begin to move in only to find out that strange things are occurring in this house. Did the old owner of the home decide to up and move quickly because there was something eerie going on, is he guilty about something, or is Jack and Sydney’s past coming back to haunt them?

I really did enjoy this book, and it definitely left you guessing the entire time. I enjoyed reading from both Jack and Sydney’s perspectives, and I thought that reading from the perspectives as if it were written in a journal was a unique idea that I haven’t really seen done before. The author is obviously very talented at being able to create such an intricate detailed story with mind bending twists and turns; however, at times I almost felt there were too many plot twists. I started to get confused once I reached the halfway mark in the book, the story ended up going in a completely different direction than what I thought would happen, and then further on it turned about 3 more times. I really do enjoy a good book that messes with your mind, but if it is overdone, it could start to get confusing. I also thought some of the things that happened in this book were a little far fetched and unbelievable at times, but overall I did enjoy it.

I rated this 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but if I could, I would give it a solid 3.5.

-Carissa

The Bloom Girls by Emily Maine Cavanagh

bloomgirls

Official publish date: March 14th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

This was my very first net galley review, and I was unsure what to expect when I chose this title. From the synopsis, all I could see was that it was about three sisters whose father had suddenly died, and them coming together during the aftermath to plan a funeral. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this book was about way more than what I initially thought. The author goes into the backstory of each of the daughters as well as the father himself. This book discusses the pain and hurt with the relationships they had or lack thereof with their father and amongst each other. She brings up difficult topics throughout the book and explores the idea of coming together as a family to mourn the death of someone whose past has hurt not only members of his family, but potentially others in the community. The characters in this book are all well developed and important to the story and I appreciated how it all wrapped up in the end.

A few negatives- Though this book was fast paced, interesting, and easy to get through, I noticed several typos within the text on numerous occasions. In the end, I was able to overlook these errors and continue on regardless; I do think the story is worth a read, and I would recommend.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

bonesofyou

Am I the only one getting sick of books being compared to ‘Gone Girl’. I don’t understand why books need to be compared constantly to another book. Well, ‘The Bones of You’ by Debbie Howells is another one that has the “If you like Gone Girl, you will love this!” blurb attached to it. Not only was it compared to ‘Gone Girl’ but it was also compared to ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold as well. Just so everyone knows, I did not choose to read this book because of the comparisons claimed. Also, the only reason I could see it being compared to ‘The Lovely Bones’ in anyway, is that they both are about a murder of a young girl in a small town, and both have perspectives told from the girls before and after death, but the rest of the two stories are completely different.

This review does not contain spoilers.

This book is set in the UK and involves two separate families. Kate receives a phone call that Rosie Anderson is missing which disturbs her immensely. Rosie is one of the daughters of the Anderson’s whom she has become acquaintances with through their daughters school. Rosie would sometimes stop by Kate’s to ride the horses that she owns and soon finds out that Rosie was murdered in the woods back behind her house. Kate soon finds herself intertwined with the Anderson’s due to becoming close friends with Jo, Rosie’s mother. Kate regularly goes to the Anderson’s house to help console and comfort Jo during their difficult time and mourning. This story revolves around the mystery of what happened to Rosie, who would want to kill such an innocent young girl in the small village in which they live?

I really enjoyed this book, it was extremely fast paced and kept you guessing the entire time, which is what I like when I go for this particular genre. (thriller, suspense) I find that  a lot of books from this genre today are very similar, and if you read too many of them at once they all seem to mold into one story. Luckily, this was completely different from what I was expecting. Not only do you get Kate’s point of view, but you also get Jo’s, Rosie’s sister Delphine, as well as Rosie herself before and after her death. I would recommend this book, and gave it a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

Book Blog ‘Newbie’ Tag

I found this tag circulating and thought I would use this as a starting point to introduce readers as to who I am and why I am doing this!

1 – Why did you start this blog?

I read so many books and enjoy writing down my thoughts so I figured why not start a blog? I can only hope that one day I will have some viewers and a following! Reading other blogs out there has given me the inspiration and push to finally make my own.

2- What are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?

I do not stick with one particular genre. I know most people have a ‘favorite’ but I truly don’t. I think there is something to offer from every genre. It’s all about the writing that comes from the author and whether or not it is interesting.

3 – What are you most excited for about this new blog?

As ‘cliche’ as it is, I am just excited to be able to share my love for books with other people.

4 – Why do you love reading?

I love reading for the same reason that many others love watching movies. I enjoy escaping reality for awhile and putting myself into different ‘worlds’. It expands my creative thinking. 😉 I don’t understand why people wouldn’t love it.

5 – What book or series got you into reading?

That is a tough one because I’ve always ‘enjoyed’ reading, but I did not become an avid reader until I was around 23 years old and still in the Coast Guard. I explain this in my ‘About’ page; however, what got me into reading wasn’t just one book but being stuck at sea with nothing to do but work and READ is what really made me fall in love with it.

6 – What questions would you ask your favorite authors?

Well I am pretty quiet, so to be honest, nothing I am sure. Though I do wonder how they all did it, and how they made it because getting published and becoming popular is extremely hard these days.

7 – What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?

Obviously getting a viewership is important to me. I would like to have a following of some sort, whether that is big or small; at this point I do not care. I am also a full-time college student seeking my degree in Business Marketing. School and the real life will get in the way for sure.

8 – When did you start reading?

I’ve read since I was a little kid..though I did not become an avid reader until my early 20’s.

9 – Where do you read?

Mostly on the couch or in bed; however, I will read anywhere; the beach, the bus, drs office.. etc.

10 – What kind of books do you like to read?

I love fiction and nonfiction and all different types of genres, but I have never been a big fan of ‘self-help.’

11- What are you currently reading?

img_1259 The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer- loving it so far!

That is all for now! 😊 Thanks!

Find and follow me on Goodreads

-Carissa

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

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I will start this blog off with a bang featuring this gem of a book that I finished near the end of last year. (2016)

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Published 2010.

This book was my first introduction to Sarah Water’s work and all I can say now is that I will be reading everything else that is written by her.  If you are looking for a story that is reminiscent of a classic gothic tale, then look no further.

Dr. Faraday is called upon to visit a patient at Hundreds Hall. He has always been fascinated with the hall ever since he was a young child and his mother worked as a maid there. Hundreds was once seen as one of the most grand houses of it’s original era, but has since seen a massive decline and abandonment within the past several decades. The decor is deteriorating, the walls are falling apart, there are no more events or guests bustling in and out, the only ones left at Hundred’s are 4 members of the Ayres family who has called the hall home for more than 2 centuries. When Dr. Faraday arrives to treat the one and only maid still working at the hall he soon learns that not everything is as it seems inside. Something dark and mysterious is happening inside and Dr. Faraday gets terrifyingly intertwined with those living in the hall.

This is not your typical horror or thriller that are so publicized today. This is more of a literary ‘slow burn’ type of novel. It is quite atmospheric, and you really get a sense of being there at the hall. The writing is fantastic and the character development is excellent. This book forces you to focus on the characters more so than the overall plot which is a plus for me!

Check it out!

-Carissa