Review// Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Book Length: 368 pages 
Publisher: Hutchinson
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

My Review:

“To be honest, I thought Daisy’d get tired of trying to write an album pretty quickly. I underestimated her. Let me tell you this. Don’t ever doubt Daisy Jones” 

I had a feeling I would fall in love with Daisy Jones just as I had fallen in love with Evelyn Hugo and guess what – I was right. Badass takes-no-bullshit female protagonist? Check. Rock band? Check. Characters that felt so real, I wish they existed? Check. This book was practically made for me. What I didn’t anticipate though was falling in love with The Six and all the other characters too. I am going to miss Camila, Karen, Graham, and yes, even Billy. As I was reading, I was kind of getting A Star is Born vibes, so if you liked that movie, there is a good chance you will appreciate this book. It took me by the hand and brought me back to the 1970s – an era I have never lived through but feel like I have experienced in some small way because of Daisy Jones.

The book is written in an interview-style format, which I wasn’t sure I was going to like, but I thought it worked well for the subject matter. I think it’s hard to write a whole novel in this style and still have it flow, but TJR did an excellent job. However, if there is one thing I disliked, it would be that the ending felt a little rushed. As quickly as Daisy Jones and The Six rose to fame is as quickly as it felt like falling action took place – a little bit too quickly in my opinion. I loved the book as a whole, I just wish there had been a bit more time taken in ending it off less abruptly.

I heard that there is going to be a TV series out based on this book, and I am really excited to see it all come to life – I’d love to be able to search Spotify for the Aurora album and listen to all the songs whose lyrics read so poetic and emotional. This was an excellent book and one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

– Catherine

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Review// The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: March 27, 2007
Book Length: 662 pages 
Publisher: Penguin Group
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

My Review:

An absolute adventure from start to finish. If you are into fantasy and haven’t read this book, you need to!

The writing was beautiful – poetic, even. If you are a fan of world building, you will definitely enjoy this book; Rothfuss did an excellent job in that regard. The characters all had so much personality and dimension, making you fall in love with even the most secondary ones. I loved all the scenes with Kvothe and Deanna, Sim and Will, and Auri the most, although there was something to be said in every chapter that held my interest. The book is basically a story being told within the story, and I liked that it took the time to go back and forth from past to present a few times as it really set the tone.

The only thing I dislike is that I didn’t get enough; I needed more because now I have so many questions! Unfortunately the series is not currently finished, and I’m unsure if the author will be finishing it, but regardless, I can not wait to pick up the next book.

– Catherine

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Review// Darling by Rachel Edwards

 

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Author: Rachel Edwards
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: February 7, 2019
Book Length: 352 pages 
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Review: 2.5/5

If it weren’t for this being my book club book this month, I don’t know if I would have finished it. Not going to lie though, sticking it out to see what ridiculousness was going to happen next for me to roll my eyes from here to Mars about was worth it.

Let me start off explaining a little bit about what this was about: Darling, a middle-aged single mother of 6-year-old Stevie, meets Thomas, the single father of a 16-year-old Lola, at the grocery store. Flash forward a few months, and these 4 become one ‘happy’ family. Except, this is no Brady Bunch – Thomas’ teenage daughter, Lola, isn’t too keen on having a step mother; can you blame her? Well, surprisingly, you totally can, because Lola is a nutcase. These two ladies are at war; can they both make it out alive?

First off – the positives:

  • A biracial couple as the main characters! – I have said this before, but I have wanted to read more of that. Was it done well? No comment (yet).
  • The alternating narrators between Darling and Lola – the writing wasn’t the best, but I liked how we got both perspectives.
  • The mystery – a lot of the book eludes to Darling having a negative past, and all of the speculation made me want to continue reading to find out what that was.
  • The plot twist – I was surprised, and it added half a star to my overall rating.

Now for the negatives:

  • Many. Extreme. Scenarios. – Think of any scenario, and this book probably had it. It just felt like the author kept adding random events for shock value, but I didn’t feel shocked because there were far too many [Pregnancy; Bulimia; Sex Tapes; Murder; Incest; Pedophilia; Affairs, etc].
  • Zero spark between the love interests – I don’t even know what to say to further explain myself on this. It just is what it is; they didn’t really seem like a couple.
  • Lola – Yikes. Do not get me started on the writing in her chapters. “And I was like, I hope Will doesn’t get with Emma lol like seriously I’m soo much prettier #hatethatbitch #hesmine.” That’s not even a real quote, but all of her chapters sounded exactly like that. It felt like the author was trying to sound too much like a teenage girl. As a former teenage girl, I can assure you we don’t sound like that. Note to authors out there writing teenage characters: #DONTRYSOHARD.
  • Darling – I know the book is named after her, but I couldn’t care less about her chapters. Lola’s were annoying, but Darling’s were mostly boring.

I thought that this could be so much better, because the plot doesn’t sound that bad; I think that the execution was lacking though. In addition, characters can make or break a book for me and because I didn’t particularly care for either of the main ones, this felt sort of like a chore to read. This wasn’t the worst book ever, but just not for me.

– Catherine

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Review// Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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Author: Lisa Genova
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: July 6, 2007
Book Length: 292 pages 
Publisher: iUniverse
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…

My Review:

Occhiolism (n) – the awareness of the of the smallness of your perspective in the grandness of the vast scope of the Universe.

I like books that widen my perspective—books that make me aware of how small the world—my world—is in the grand scheme of things. That is what this book did to me.

It was heartbreaking to read about Alice’s condition worsening and her going from giving talks at Harvard to not even recognizing her own children. I think a lot of people have the misconception that Alzheimer’s is something that only happens to the elderly, but this really opens your eyes to the fact that it happen even to younger, well-educated, successful people that you wouldn’t typically associate the disease with.

I liked how the book focused on the familial relationship and how her husband and children coped through the progression of the Alzheimer’s alongside Alice. At times I grew frustrated with her husband especially, because it felt like she had almost become a burden in his life rather than someone he loved and wanted to care for. However, I also couldn’t even imagine someone with whom I had built over 25 years of life with developing something so slowly deteriorating, so I did begin to understand his character and sympathize as time went on. I think the Alzheimer’s actually made her family closer, which is sad but also a reality that many families do face. That’s what I particularly liked about this – it felt honest and real. Alice’s life still had meaning and value even though she couldn’t remember much of it by the end. Her value was derived not by what she was able to remember, but by everything she gave of herself throughout her life to others to remember her by.

Although I didn’t cry, this book made me emotional on several occasions as I got to feel like I really knew Alice and grew to love her. I really enjoyed reading this book and it will remain close to my heart forever.

“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment.”

– Catherine

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Review// A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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Author: Jennifer Egan
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Book Length: 341 pages 
Publisher: Anchor Books
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

My Review:

There’s this memory that I have from grade 9 geography class that will stick with me for the rest of my life: we were watching a nature documentary, and this one scene of a waterfall flowing through rocks was on the television screen as the narrative voice of a woman said, “tiiiime paaasses” – elongating the vowels just like that. This one girl in my class thought the voiceover was hilarious, so she kept repeating ‘tiiiime paaasses’ over and over and giggling as only a 14-year-old girl can in her vivacious way. In that moment I remember thinking that as funny as it all seemed, that voice was right—time passes. And although I knew it at the time, the way you always do when you realize you’re living in a moment you know will turn to a lifelong memory, time really does seem to have passed so quickly since then. That’s what this book is about: the passage of time.

This book focuses on a web of people who are all connected in some way – the story is told from the perspective of a different person per chapter, and at different time periods in their lives. I loved that, for example, you would read about the childhood of one character, and then in the next chapter narrated by a different person, the child that was in the previous chapter was now referenced as an adult. I found this to be a very unique writing style and it made the characters feel so real to me. Sometimes it wasn’t until a few pages into a new chapter that I would realize who was narrating and what their connection was to the others, and I kind of enjoyed the mystery of having to piece them and the time periods all together.

I felt like this book did a great job of mirroring reality.  Not everything is always going to be sunshine and rainbows—some of it is—but not all. Since the chapters presented such a well-rounded perspective of these characters, you got to see their lives from all angles—good and bad— and I really enjoyed that.  The choices you make when you’re young will affect your future; the people you associate yourself with will shape you as a person; sometimes people grow apart; and sometimes people change, sometimes they don’t, but no matter what, time doesn’t stop for anybody.

This is my favourite read of the year so far. I would highly recommend it if you enjoy character development, books that make you think about life, and/or are looking for a unique reading experience.

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