The Fisherman by John Langan

fisherman

Publication Date: June 30th, 2016

This review does not contain spoilers.

‘Goodreads Blurb’

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.

My thoughts

This was definitely an interesting story, and unlike anything I had ever read before. I really enjoyed the sections about Abe and Dan, and how they became fishing buddies, and it’s very much a story about tragedy and loss, with some horror bits mixed in. When Abe and Dan are sitting in a diner for breakfast before leaving for a new fishing spot, one of the locals warn them, and begin to tell them about the creepy things that have been rumored to have happened there. From this point, the attention is taken away from Abe and Dan, and the author then decides to write about the tale that the local warned them of. It is essentially a story within a story, and this can work; however, I thought this chunk of the book went on for way to long. There were definitely scary elements to this section of the book, but I did find myself nodding off a few times, just because I was more interested in the present with Abe and Dan. After you get past this section, we see what eventually unfolds during their fishing trip to this particular spot. I have been wanting to read this book for awhile now, and even though when I first started it, and was sure it was going to be a 5 star read, I ended up giving it 4 stars on Goodreads. I would still recommend this to anyone who likes horror, and I think they would really enjoy this. Its not a very long book at all, but the author took several years to write it, and I can definitely see that he put a lot of thought into this story.

-Carissa

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American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse

americanfire

Publication Date: July 11th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

‘Goodreads Blurb’

The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate—there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.

The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.

My thoughts

I enjoyed this book well enough; however, I did find myself getting a little bored near the end. I thought the story of this case dragged on a bit too long, and it could have been shortened just a hair. I had never heard of this case though, and I did find it quite interesting. Arson seems to be a crime that you don’t often hear much about, and these particular people decided to set fire to a bunch of abandoned homes for no particular reason, which I found interesting. I liked how the author talked about the history behind those who commit arson, and the shared traits that many of them have with each other. I also enjoyed learning about Accomack, my husband is from Virginia and I am not, so I learned a little bit more about the state that I did not already know. While this was not the best nonfiction book I have read so far this year, it was still quite good. I think it is worth a read if you are someone interested in true crime. Overall I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

***

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

whatsheknew

Publication Date: December 1st, 2015

This review does not contain spoilers

As Rachel walks along a path in the woods with her eight year old son Ben, he suddenly asks her if he could run ahead little bit on the path. Reluctantly, Rachel allows him too, and she soon realizes that she makes the worst decision of  her life when she finds that Ben has suddenly disappeared. After running into another women on the trail, and asking for help to look for him, the police are called, and from this point, the story takes off with an investigation in the disappearance of Ben.

In this story we are introduced to not only Rachel and Ben, but also Rachel’s sister Nikki, her friend Laura, her ex husband John, and several of the police officers involved in the case. We learn that not everything in Rachel’s life is what it seems. Many secrets come out during the investigation, and we also find out that Rachel is recently divorced from her ex husband John, who left her for another woman. After a televised interview with Rachel goes horribly wrong, much of the public believe that Rachel is actually guilty.

As for my thoughts, I really enjoyed this book. Even though it was quite long, at almost 500 pages, it read pretty quickly. It is told from 3 different perspectives, Rachel, Officer Clemo, and the therapist that sees Clemo throughout the length of the story. I was easily sucked into this story, and I never had a problem picking the book back up when I had to set it down. I am definitely interested to read more from this author in the future. Excellent debut thriller! I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.

****

 

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

the namesake

Publication Date: September 1st, 2004

This review does not contain spoilers.

Hello, remember me? Yeah I haven’t updated in a few weeks. I have been battling a serious reading slump, and I am slowly but surely getting out of it…but anyways….

In this story, we follow several different characters, starting with Ashima and Ashoke, who are recently married and move from their homes in India, to the unfamiliar world of Massachusetts. This is an immigrant story where we follow the Ganguli family as they have two children and become accustomed to daily life in America, and the struggles that they run into along the way. Life in America is so different compared to what they knew in India, and Ashima struggles to cope with the fact that they are so far away from family and the culture that she is familiar with.

When their son is born, they give him the name ‘Gogol’ which comes from a Russian author that Ashoke admired, and also signifies a certain tragedy that he lived through from his earlier years; however, Gogol hates the name, and does not understand why he was given a Russian name as a Bengali boy. Ashoke does not explain the meaning of Gogol’s name until later in his life, and throughout most of the novel, you see how a name is one of the most important pieces of identity you can have. We essentially watch Gogol from birth until well into his 30’s as he struggles to figure out who he is and what his purpose is. We also watch as this family slowly adopts American values and traditions, while also trying to hold on to their Indian culture.

As for my thoughts, I really enjoyed this novel, and I hope to read more from Jhumpa  Lahiri in the future. I was looking for books that are somewhat similar in style to Khaled Hosseini, who wrote ‘The Kite Runner’, and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, which are two of my favorite books. When I did a google search for books or authors that were similar, Jhumpa Lahiri kept popping up, and I had ‘The Namesake’ sitting on my shelves for awhile, so I thought it would be the perfect time to give her a shot. I love novels about families, and especially families that are of different ethnicity and background from myself. Lahiri’s writing was very easy to follow, and I learned a lot about India and Indian culture from reading this book. Even though it took me a long time to finish this, I don’t blame the reasoning on the book itself, only on the fact that I just haven’t been reading much this month. I look forward to reading Lahiri’s other novels. I rated this 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

*****

-Carissa

 

How often do you review books for authors who request? (Discussion)

Over the past few months I have become inundated with review requests from authors. Many of the book reviews I have listed are from authors who have graciously provided me a copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. While I absolutely love to be given the opportunity to give back to these people who have worked so hard, I have started to think that I need to take a little bit of a step back.

When I first started my blog, it was solely for the purpose of talking about all the great books I have chosen to read for myself, and hoping to get the chance to read some for review as well. I started to list my blog name under book blogger lists and directories and became really excited when I started getting an influx of requests on a daily basis. During this point in time, I would pretty much accept anything. There are definitely a few titles under my book review list that I would have never considered reading in the first place, but had felt bad about rejecting. While I never lied in my reviews if the book wasn’t good, there are still many times that I have been brought into horrible ‘reading slumps’ because of them, and it has gotten to the point many times that I don’t even want to read. Unfortunately, I am now in a dilemma because I know I told people that I would review their books; however, I am no longer excited for them.

At this point in time, I have about 6 books that I am ‘supposed’ to read and review; however, I think I am going to have to narrow it down to 2, and then start out fresh. I am currently reading one (and am enjoying it), and that is ‘Home to Roost’ by Chauncey Rogers, and I have another one that I am interested in, but after that I think it will be time for a break.

I want to read and review more books that I WANT to read, and feel less pressured into pumping out the reviews from requests. Since I am not getting paid around here, its time to start being a little more picky with what I choose to read. With that being said, how often do y’all review books for authors that request?

-Carissa

The Long Walk by Stephen King

thelongwalk

Publication Date: July 1979

The Long Walk‘ is apart of the Richard Bachman books, which Bachman was the pseudonym that Stephen King was writing under at the time. We are first introduced to Ray Garraty, who is getting dropped off at the starting line of the walk by his mother. Garraty is a 16 year old boy who represents the state of Maine. The long walk is an annual contest where a large group of boys gather to walk until they can not walk anymore. If they fall under a certain speed, or can no longer walk for any reason, death is the consequence that the boys will face. Whoever is the last one to remain standing is declared the winner, and is promised anything that they desire. Along the way, Garraty develops a number of friendships with the boys who are walking with him, and we see how he is able to cope with the loss of his friends who are taken out, as well as his own deteriorating health. Will he live to see the end, or will he die trying?

As for my thoughts, I unfortunately felt like I should have gotten a lot more from this, and it seems that I am the odd one out when it comes to my thoughts on this. From what I have seen, everyone loves this book, but I don’t think I am able to say the same. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, and I am slowly making my way through his works, but I can’t say that this will be a favorite of mine.

First of all, I just wanted more from this story other than reading about a big group of boys walking, getting shot, walking some more, and getting shot some more. Other than a lot of walking, there just wasn’t a lot going on in this book, and it took me forever to finish. I wanted more depth, and when I was reading it, I would often find myself falling asleep after reading only a couple pages. I really liked the premise of this story, I just thought there could have been more to it, and there also was an open ended conclusion that left me frustrated. Even though this wasn’t my favorite, it won’t deter me from picking up more of King’s books. Overall, I rated this 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

When Houses Burn by Lauren Lee

whenhousesburn

Release Date: August 15th, 2017

This review does not contain any spoilers.

*Thank you to the author for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review*

Goodreads Blurb

Dr. Delilah Hedley is a well-respected Doctor of Psychiatry in a small, affluent city on the East Coast. Despite her professional success, Delilah is physically unable to have children, causing increasing turmoil in her marriage. When Delilah begins seeing a new patient, a man previously accused of murdering his parents, a woman is simultaneously found dead in the river. As the hunt for Jane Doe’s killer intensifies, Delilah falls deeper and deeper for her new patient, despite his dark past. Will the doctor get a taste of her own medicine, or will she find an escape from the flame in time to save her own life?

Personal Thoughts

Im going to get it out of the way and say it now, this was the best book I have read by an author who has provided me a copy in exchange for a review so far. This is very well written, and well thought out, and has to be one of the better thrillers that I have read as of late. You immediately get sucked into the story, and it is very hard to put the book down once you get going, and that is exactly what I look for when I read from this genre.

This fast paced story left me gripped and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and I was never able to guess how the story would go. It is told from Delilah’s perspective from the present tense as well as past tense, and you also get little snippets from inside the investigations taking place. You see how Delilah’s relationship with her husband slowly crumbles away, but you also see her build this relationship with her new patient, leaving you unsure of who you want to root for because all the characters are unstable in their own right, even Delilah herself. I really think that this title is so deserving to be the next big thing within this genre, and no I am not going to say the next ‘Gone Girl’, because that was so TWO years ago. This is exciting, new, and FRESH.

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

*****

-Carissa

 

Mid Year Book ‘Freak Out’ Tag

I never do tag posts, but I figured I would switch things up a bit today. I also was not specifically tagged by anyone to do this.

Here goes..

1: Best Book You’ve Read in 2017 So Far?

Looking back at all the books I have read so far this year, I have only rated 4 books 5 stars..I think I am getting more critical and picky with my books as the years go on. I would have to say that ‘The Interestings’ by Meg Wolitzer would be my favorite so far. I really love character study type books, where the characters are what drives the story along, and not necessarily the plot. This is a slow novel, but you really get invested in every single one of the characters lives.

the interestings

2: Best Sequel You’ve Read so Far?

I have not read a sequel this year. I don’t generally read books that end up having a sequel, or a series.

3: New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To?

I would really like to read ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden. I have been intrigued by it ever since I’ve seen it. It was released in January of this year.

the bear and the nightingale

4: Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2017?

I honestly do not pay attention to books that have yet to be released.

5: Biggest Disappointment?

Easy. ‘Since We Fell’ by Dennis Lehane. I really did not like this book, and I had high hopes for it. You can read my review for it here

sincewefell

6. Best Surprise?

I really enjoyed ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ by David Grann. I was unsure of how I would get along with this nonfiction story, but I thought it was awesome and very informative. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys nonfiction. There is also a rumor that this is getting turned into a movie, and I sure hope so!

killersoftheflowermoon

7: Favorite New Author?

I read ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ by Anne Tyler earlier this year, and even though I only rated it 3 stars, I would still be interested in reading more from this author. I really enjoyed her writing style, and I hear nothing but good things about many of her other works.

8: Newest Fictional Crush?

Yeah…I don’t have fictional crushes, that is a bit juvenile for me.

9: New Favorite Character?

I don’t have a favorite character, I know I am boring.

10: Book That Made You Cry?

Call me heartless, but I don’t cry while reading books. I do, however, think that I would have to say that  ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ was the saddest book I have read this year so far, and its true!

11: Book That Made You Happy? 

Definitely ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Bill Bryson. I think this is one of the most hilarious books I have ever read, and its about hiking. Something about two overweight men throwing themselves onto the Appalachian Trail, with a goal of hiking the entire thing without problems was absolutely historical.

8

12: Favorite Book To Movie Adaptation?

I think I have only read one book and seen its movie this year, so I will have to give that to ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. The book was definitely better, but the movie was still quite good.

wild1

13: Favorite review you’ve written? 

I started this blog in February, and honestly, my reviews were not that good early on, but as I have gotten the hang of it, they have progressed significantly. I think my review for ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ by David Grann, or my review for ‘Marlena’ by Julie Buntin are done well.

14: Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year?

I don’t buy a lot of books, the new books I do get come from the Book of the Month’ subscription box, and I don’t consider any of the covers particularly beautiful. I read a lot of ebooks or ebooks that people send me for review, but the one book I did go out and buy this year was ‘Shelter’ by Jung Yun, and I think the cover is quite pretty.

shelter

15: What Books Do You Need to Read By The End of The Year?

There are so many books I want to get to by the end of the year. I will just insert pictures of some of them. No guarantee that I will get to them….

I tag whoever wants to do it!!! Im already late to the game.

-Carissa

The New Recruit by Elise Abram

thenewrecruit

Book Blurb

When sixteen-year-old Judith meets Cain, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Cain is the most beautiful human being Judith has ever seen, but he hides a dangerous secret. When Jo-Jo, Cain’s surrogate father, offers her a job, she accepts, unaware she’s been recruited as a pawn in Jo-Jo’s ecoterrorist plot.

THE NEW RECRUIT is a timely story, exploring how, without love and support from those around them, our disenfranchised youth can be so easily misguided.

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Girls & Women
Pages: 214
Release Date: 1 July 17
Blog Tour Date: 1 – 8 July 17

Sixteen year old Judith Abraham feels like an outsider. She has just transferred to a new school, has only one friend, and suffers from social anxiety, but when recruiter Cain Barrett offers her a job, her whole life changes. Things are great at first, but the more she learns about Cain’s world of climate crusaders, the more she questions his motives behind singling her out. Will Judith find a way out before it’s too late?

————————————————————————————————————————

THE NEW RECRUIT is the first book of a trilogy (followed by Indoctrination) by author Elise Abram, winner of the 2015 A Woman’s Write competition for I WAS, AM, WILL BE ALICE. THE NEW RECRUIT is a young adult contemporary romance for the new millennium. In a time when jobs are scarce, politics are unstable, and the future is uncertain, millennials are ripe for recruitment by cults, groups offering a stable world view in exchange for total devotion. THE NEW RECRUIT is meant to be a cautionary tale exploring how, without love and support from those around them, our disenfranchised youth can be so easily misguided.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Google Play

iBookstore

Kobo

Barnes & Noble Nook

Personal Thoughts

A short well written little book that keeps you entertained throughout. While YA fiction is not normally my genre, I can easily see that many readers of the genre would enjoy this particular story. You see Judith as she deals with her relationship with herself, her father, her friends, and the boy that she has fell in love with. Not only does Judith experience love, but also loss. My only complaints also probably fall under why I really don’t read young adult, and that is that I found the main character to be incredibly naive and gullible. I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her the entire time, and tell her that she was making terrible decisions. This is something that I find often happens in YA. I would have liked to have seen her as a stronger, smarter, young girl, and tell her to stick by the people who actually loved her. Overall, I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. It is worth a read. 

Author Bio

elise abram author

Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and Computer Studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Social Media Links:

Blog

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Find an excerpt of this title here

***

-Carissa

Hope Dies Last by Megan Webb

hopedieslast

Publication Date: June 28th, 2016

This review does not contain spoilers.

This is a fairly short book about our main character Mekana, who doesn’t seem to have a lot going for her at her home in New Mexico. She works at a local pet shop, and she seems to enjoy the company of animals more than people, but she suddenly finds herself along side a friend who takes her on a brief trip to Alaska to attend a funeral for her friends Uncle. While there, they plan to not only go to the funeral, but to also explore Alaska a little bit as well. When Mekana boards a sightseeing plane for a quick tour, she has no idea that it is about to be hijacked and crash landed in the middle of nowhere. Mekana finds herself and a few others fighting for their life as they struggle to survive in the Alaskan bush while awaiting rescue.

As for my thoughts, I really hate to say it, but I was fairly disappointed with this story. First of all, it is only 204 pages. Short books don’t normally bother me if the story works well with the short length allowed for it; however, I didn’t really think that this particular story worked well. There was so much happening in so little time, that you never really get a good chance to get to know any of the characters except for Mekana. In order for me to fully immerse myself in a story, I need depth, and unfortunately there was no depth. I found myself confused several times on who was who at the crash site, and I never really understood what the characters were trying to accomplish or who they were running from when they ‘hijacked’ the plane. This story just seemed to be all over the place, and I found it very unbelievable. The synopsis for this book seems so much more interesting than what  I actually got out of it.

I also had no idea that this was in the Christian fiction genre when I read the synopsis, and I would have never guessed it was until the last third of the book when the author suddenly starts to mention God every other sentence. I have no problems with Christian fiction at all, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought this was going to be an awesome adventure story which takes place in Alaska, and I thought it would be a lot more realistic and atmospheric. I lived in Alaska for two years, and I was hoping to get to ‘experience’ Alaska again through writing, which is what a good book is supposed to do, unfortunately it fell flat for me. Overall I rated this book 2 out of 5 stars.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

-Carissa