A Few Thoughts & Goodreads Ratings on Books I Failed to Review

Unfortunately, time seems to be against me these past few months as I notice that I am accumulating a list of “read” titles on Goodreads that I never managed to review. So I thought I would share a few thoughts and my final Goodreads rating on them today.


the_atrocitiesThe Atrocities
By Jeremy Shipp

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Final GR rating: 3/5

This was a wonderfully creepy novella that hooked me from the start. I was instantly drawn into the mystery of Isabella and the gothic setting. I appreciated the author’s ability to immediately set the stage for a mysterious and fast-paced story that managed to deliver something original. It did feel like it began to unhinge slightly toward the end, however, lowering my final score to an even 3/5. I would still easily recommend this to fans of supernatural and horror novellas.

into_the_drowning_deepInto the Drowning Deep
By Mira Grant

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Final GR rating: 3/5

This is an author I am still trying to find my ground with. While I admit that I enjoyed Into the Drowning Deep much more than her Every Heart a Doorway, it was a slow start. But when I finally gained my footing I found that this was simply entertaining and for that worth my time. I love the idea of mermaids and sirens and will always appreciate any author who attempts to connect them to their darker origins (which is certainly the case here). My chief complaint would be that I found the characters less than engaging at times and the execution felt off. The pacing seemed to fluctuate a lot. I did enjoy the exploration of the creatures’ anatomy and the scientific elements incorporated throughout. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more frightening? Still, if you are into the mysterious deep dark sea and mythological creatures, you might try this on for size.

the_shape_of_waterThe Shape of Water
By Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus

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Final GR rating: 3/5

Okay, so here is the truth; I wanted to love this book and I did not. I loved the film, but somehow I struggled with certain aspects of this story on page. I appreciated the additional insight and backstory that are provided here though. I feel it is a wonderful addition to the film, but also one of the rare cases where I would suggest watching before reading. I think that the alternating PoVs started to weigh on me, as there were certain characters I truly disliked reading about. And at times the pacing was too slow for my taste. It just failed to move me or engage even remotely close to the way the film did. Which is something you will rarely hear me say! But then again, I hold a special affection for del Toro’s films and maybe my expectations were too high. It is still an incredibly beautiful story that as we have come to expect of his work challenges humanity and dares to question who the real monsters are.

brave_new_girlBrave New Girl
By Rachel Vincent

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Final GR rating 4/5

This was an on the whim audible listen that was surprisingly perfect for me. It is a dystopian tale that follows young Dahlia 16 who is part of a series of clones bred to be anything but unique or different. Doing so means being flawed. Being flawed leads to recalls (i.e destroyed). So what happens when she starts breaking all of the rules? Ok so this one was not overly complex and is somewhat brief, but it felt like an honest start to something truly appealing. The author’s writing was fluid and the protagonist viable. All elements here just worked for me and I was hooked. Simply put, it was fun!

the_changelingThe Changeling
By Victor Lavalle

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Final GR rating: 4/5

Gah! I do not even know where to start with this one. I am just going to be upfront and state that this was close to being a 5 star read until things took a detour during the last 25% or so of the story. It is beautifully written and full of the unexpected. Think modern fairy tale for adults with that added moral compass and valuable message we expect from them. It is ambitious, engaging and for the most part, wonderfully executed. Unfortunately, the final events deviated too far for me and it left me with mixed feelings.


Have you read any of the above books? If so, what were your thoughts? Which are you most likely to pick up?

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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Excerpt: Snow City by G. A. Kathryns

 

Excerpt & Spotlight (1).pngToday I am pleased to share an excerpt from the magical realism book by G.A. Kathryns, Snow City.

About Snow City

G. A. Kathryns is an award-winning author of novels and short stories. Her latest release SNOW CITY is a novel of hope and magical realism.

SNOW CITY is a dreamlike journey into the life of a woman who has given up on a dystopian reality and fabricated her idea of a perfect dream world. And then one day she wakes up in that fantasy world…


Snow City Front Cover (1)bkreviewtemp1 (3)

Snow City
By G.A. Kathryns
Publisher: Sycamore Sky Books
Genre: Magical Realism

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Synopsis:

Her name is Echo Japonica, and she lives in Snow City. But she was not always Echo, and she did not always live in Snow City. Somewhere else, she was someone else, and it was to Snow City that she fled in order to escape a place and a self that had at last become intolerable.

For Snow City is a dream — Echo’s dream — of a better place, an idealized place, a place of both anonymity and fulfillment. It is, for Echo, a haven of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.

But Snow City remains, nonetheless, a dream, and dreams, being such fragile things, can so easily shade into nightmare…

Purchase: Amazon.com  Amazon UK


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Excerpt from Chapter 3

“Good evening,” I say. I do not have to see her. I know she is there. “My name is Echo Japonica.”

“H-hello…” comes the uncertain reply. “Have you been following me?”

“I have not. But I knew where you would be.”

“H-how?”

“I saw you here on a previous occasion.” I do my best to keep my voice noncommittal. “You were standing in the rain in the daylight, and now you are standing in the rain in the night. It is not right that you be out alone in the dark and the wet. So I wonder…”

I risk a glance at her. Yes: in the rain and at night. But not a drop of water on her.

“…I wonder whether I might once again be so bold as to offer you the sharing of an umbrella.”

Her voice drifts out of the dim alley like a distant hand groping through miles of mist. “Why?”

“Because you are a child.”

The hot denial comes quickly. “I’m not a child!”

I nod, sighing. I should have expected it. “And I, for my part, find it difficult upon occasion to believe that I am an adult. But,
leaving aside the question of our respective ages: share an umbrella with me, I pray, and I will see you home directly.”

“I…I don’t…”

I sense — no, I know — what she is a about to say, and it frightens me. Has Snow City fallen so far? Frayed so terribly? Raveled so completely?

“…I…don’t have a home.”

Homeless, then? Horror follows horror. This should not — cannot — be happening here.

“I mean,” the girl goes on, her words spilling forth in fits and starts, “I’ve got a home, and I’ve got a family. But they don’t…they
don’t want me. They turned me out. They told me…they told me to go away and never come back.”

I stare at her. Well-spoken, polite…vulnerable, perhaps, but with an edge of determination, she seems so unlikely a candidate for abandonment that for the better part of a minute I can find no words with which to reply.

“What about friends?” I manage at last.

“They run away…now.”

Which explains the scene I witnessed the other day: the students’ uneasy expressions, the agonized guilt of the older sister.
I cannot let this happen. Unbidden, I step into the alley and, uninvited, shield the girl with my umbrella…which appears to be
entirely superfluous: there is not a speck of water on her save for the tears trickling down her cheeks.

Has nobody spoken to her like this before, asked these questions, offered the slightest shred of help, of comfort?

What is happening?

“Child,” I say, “regardless of your family, regardless of your friends” — We are face to face, almost touching. I have never allowed anyone else in Snow City such intimate proximity. I never dreamed that I would ever permit such a thing. — “you surely cannot be living on the street.”

Anger flares…accompanied by a kind of vague shame. “Stop calling me a child. My name is Charity. I’m sixteen years old and I’m not a child!” And then: “And in any case, I’m…

She looks away quickly.

“…I’m not living anywhere now. At least…not…not really living.”

I stare at her.

“There was an accident,” she says, the water falling all around and she dry in spite of it. “In January. A car. I was killed.” She
lifts those green eyes to me, and I see in them what I, concerned until now only with surface appearances and bare facts, did not see before: a window into unknown depths, into abysses of knowledge that lie beyond all dreams, all nightmares, all imaginings.

“I…” I stare, stupid and bewildered.

“Don’t you see?” she demands. “I’m dead. I’m a ghost.”

The tears take her then, and she begins to sob uncontrollably.


Author Bio

G.A. Kathryns grew up on the West Coast and later on moved to the drier and higher realms of the high plains. She currently makes her home in the Denver metro area where she shares the company of a spouse and two small dogs.

Along with SNOW CITY, she has written a Southern Gothic themed title, THE BORDERS OF LIFE (soon to be reissued in a revised, corrected, and updated version), several pedagogical works devoted to playing the harp, a number of short stories, and a collection of dark fiction.

Follow G.A. Kathryns: Website  Facebook


I would like to thank the author and Book Publicity Services for this opportunity and excerpt!

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Norma by Sofi Oksanen

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normabkreviewtemp1 (3)Norma
By Sofi Oksanen
Translated by Owen F. Witesman
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
ISBN13: 9780451493521
Pages: 320
Genre: Finnish Literature/Magical Realism

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Synopsis:

When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood–and the moods of those around her–moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother’s funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life. Setting out to reconstruct Anita’s final months–sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files–Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair’s powers than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma’s imagining. As Sofi Oksanen leads us ever more deeply into Norma’s world, weaving together past and present, she gives us a dark family drama that is a searing portrait of both the exploitation of women’s bodies and the extremes to which people will go for the sake of beauty.


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Norma was an interesting encounter that occurred during my ongoing efforts to read more translated titles. I cannot say exactly what expectations I had set upon picking it up nor am I certain that they were met. My experience was a complicated one that I am still attempting to sort out.

Norma has a unique attribute. Her hair. It grows at a rapid rate and reacts not only to her own mood, but the mood of those around her. When Norma’s mother suddenly commits suicide, it is this very ability alerts her to the possibility that there is more behind her mother’s death than she has been told. What ensues is a journey to discover the truth and the revelation that perhaps her mother knew more of their shared secret (Norma’s incredible hair) than she told even Norma.

This is a somewhat typical mystery that is heightened by an added dose of magical realism supplied to the reader through Norma’s supernatural hair. Her hair is what defines her, setting her apart from other protagonist. I found this to be a mix of strength and weakness in terms of character development. While this unique feature provides an interesting variant, there was little else here that really made Norma jump off of the page. She was relatable in her grief and isolation, but perhaps not profound. I was comfortable with her, but not astounded. Supporting characters really failed to grow into anything of true interest for myself. They simply co-existed with the story.

The plot does boast some relevant topics that touch on human trafficking and the selling of black market babies that are worth note. However, it all unfolds at a somewhat surreal pace that is hard to describe as rewarding or heavy hitting. Narration is broken down into easily digested chunks that offer a fast read, but also seems to strip away from what I felt could have been a more impactful experience, leaving the reader to question what is really happening at times. The result is awkward and abrupt. I felt engaged but struggled to maintain the connection at times. Perhaps I would have appreciated this more if the author had chosen to place more emphasis on the topics contained within and explored them further. The pacing was ill-timed, dragging on during uneventful moments and skimming through significant revelations. I cannot say how much of my time with Norma was altered due to this being a translated work, but I have found nothing to imply it has not been translated well.

I think many fans of magical realism with an appreciation for the odd and eccentric might enjoy Norma. For myself, it was a mixed bag of emotions that never seemed to fully blossom into something memorable.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a blend of raspberry hibiscus tea.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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