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

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

book1

Publication Date: January 24th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers

This unique story of 352 pages is unlike anything I have ever read before. This book focuses on Izzy Poole who is our main character. Izzy has recently graduated high school and suddenly falls pregnant with her art teachers baby. She doesn’t really have a lot going for her at home, her dad is a drunk, and her mom is dead. One day, as Izzy is working her shift at the local BBQ joint, Dr. Grind comes to visit her with a unique proposition. The proposition is that Dr. Grind is offering her a spot in the ‘Infinite Family Project’, which is where multiple families and their babies will come to live together at a complex and raise their babies as if they are one big family. Izzy’s baby will not be raised as if she is his only mother, but as if there are many different mothers and fathers. Izzy will also suddenly become a mother to nine other children. The Infinite Family Project is apart of Dr. Grind’s study, and the “theory is that the more parental love a child receives, the better off they are.” (Goodreads). What seems like an ideal way of living to many of the families at the complex at first, might not be so ideal in the end.

As for my thoughts, I thought this was a truly unique reading experience. As I stated earlier, I have never read anything like this before. Ever since I saw this book as one of the options for the ‘Book of the Month’ club subscription box, I knew I was going to pick this up at some point. This was an easy read that I was able to get through pretty fast, and I continuously wanted to know what would happen to Izzy and her child in the end. I enjoyed the premise of this, and I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters more and more as the years went on.

A few things I did not enjoy so much, was the fact that since there were so many different characters, it was a little hard to keep track of who was who at any given point in the story. I also found some things in this story to be pretty predictable, and nothing that happened left me surprised in any way. Overall, I still thought this was a fun read that is worth a go. I also couldn’t help but crave BBQ food the entire time I read this. There is so much talk about southern BBQ in this book that it will literally make your mouth water. I am willing to bet that the author is a BIG fan of that type of food.

I rated this 3 out of 5 stars.

-Carissa

Man Booker International Prize Winner: A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

horsewalks

I am currently watching the live stream of the Man Booker International Prize Winner for 2017…the winner is ‘A Horse Walks into a Bar‘ by David Grossman! Even though I only ended up reading 2 of the short listed books, it looks like I made my picks wisely! Very well deserved I think, and I did a full review of ‘A Horse Walks into a Bar‘. Check it out!

-Carissa

Marlena by Julie Buntin

book2

Publication Date: April 4th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

This is a sort of coming of age story that centers around the main character Cat ,who is living and working in New York, but primarily focuses on flashbacks into her past in Michigan, and the time she spent with her former best friend Marlena. Marlena passed away within the year that Cat first met her; however, Cat remembers this year vividly as the year she experienced many of her ‘firsts’. Marlena gets Cat involved in the bad crowds, pill popping, smoking, alcohol, and promiscuous behavior. It is with Marlena, that Cat experiences her first kiss, first drink, first cigarette, and many more firsts. Bad decisions, and regrets become the norm for Cat as she becomes closer to Marlena. When Marlena is found drowned in the water in the woods nearby, (that is not a spoiler) Cat’s world is flipped upside down as she struggles to cope with what happened, and blames herself for not helping Marlena the way she felt she should have.

As for my thoughts, I really enjoyed reading this. This book definitely brought on a sort of nostalgia of my teenage years. I found myself reminiscing on the memories I shared with my best friend in high school and all of the crazy stupid decisions we made together at the time.

I really felt for Cat as she told her story about her time in Michigan with Marlena, and how she watched Marlena spiral out of control with her drug use. Cat felt like she was in the background, unable to do anything to help, because Cat was slowly getting more involved in that scene as well. I don’t think Cat was able to see clearly what was going on around her until after Marlena was found dead. I also really enjoyed the authors writing style, and there were a lot of beautifully written sentences that made you feel as if you were right there with Cat as she tells this story to you.

I am not sure if this is considered a YA novel or not. The majority of the story is told from the time period that Cat was a teenager, and if it is, it sure doesn’t seem like the typical YA novel. I found it quite ‘literary’, whereas you don’t see that often in YA novels, which is why I never read them.  I am definitely interested in picking up anything else that she writes in the future. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

sincewefell

Publication Date: May 9th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers.

First off, I want to say that this book is extremely hard for me to talk about without giving any spoilers. A basic synopsis of this would be that our main character is Rachel, a former journalist, has went through something tragic while away for work that has caused her to become a shut in. Rachel never leaves the house, and has panic attacks every time she tries to leave, and she never used to be this way. Throughout some sections of the book, Rachel reflects on her life before she became a journalist, and after, and how she fell in love with her current husband Brian. Rachel ends up being dragged into a violent conspiracy that is filled with so many deceptive lies, that you are unsure of who or what to believe anymore. Taken from the synopsis from Goodreads, “Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his best.”

As for my thoughts, I was extremely disappointed. I felt like I just wasted my time reading 419 pages of this book for no reason. When I first started this, it seemed promising, and I really liked where I thought it was going; however, it seemed like the author was telling two separate stories, one in the beginning, and one during the second half of the book, neither having anything to do with each other. At the beginning, Rachel is on a quest to seek out her father who had left her and her mother when she was a small girl. I seriously thought the story would be more about the family aspect, and about Rachel finding herself amongst the struggles and emptiness she has had to deal with throughout her life; however, as we get further and further along, the author basically drops this aspect and goes in a completely different way, and I felt this new direction had nothing to do with how this story was first introduced. The author seemed to just start throwing the craziest most unbelievable things into the picture for a ‘wow factor’, and drama, but I think it completely ruined the story. The ending was also pretty disappointing because just….ended…..no resolutions, nothing.

I know this author is known for plot twists, for example, we all the the big twist at the end of ‘Shutter Island‘, whether you have seen the movie, or read the book, but I didn’t even see any twists or any thrilling aspects for the fact that I thought there were two completely different stories being told. It left me so confused…I want my time back. I rated this 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

-Carissa

Penny: Hands I Passed Through, Things I saw, Stories I Can Tell by Peter Davidson

penny

Publication date: May 7th, 2017

This review does not contain spoilers

First off, I wanted to thank the author for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. This short but entertaining book of 188 pages, is written from the perspective of a penny….yes, you read that right, we are reading all about the life and adventures of the last penny to be made of 95% copper. After 1982, pennies were then created using primarily zinc, and hardly any copper. This penny tells us all about the different people who had once carried it along in their day to day life, or stowed it away for years at a time. This penny has lived more lives than anyone could possibly imagine, and has seen it all from criminals, priests, rockers, writers, you name it.

As for my thoughts, I was able to read this within a couple hours at the beach this afternoon. I definitely thought that this was a quick, and fun read that would be good for not just adults, but teens alike. I have actually thought about this premise before, only with a dollar bill instead of a penny. I can only imagine how many people my spare change and cash has been through, and not to mention the germs…yuck. Obviously this story doesn’t spend much time going in depth with the background of any of the characters we meet, but that is because pennies are passed around so much, that there is no time for much depth; however, if you are looking for something quick and humorous that you can get through in one sitting, I would recommend checking this one out.

My only complaint is that this title is not listed on Goodreads, and I can’t add this to my 2017 reading challenge. If it were listed though, I would rate it a solid 3 out of 5 stars. It didn’t blow me away, but it was good fun.

-Carissa