Review: All’s Well by Mona Awad

All's Well: A NovelAll’s Well: A Novel by Mona Awad
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Miranda Fitch is a theater professor at a small New England college. Due to chronic pain stemming from the accident that ended her once promising acting career, Miranda isn’t currently functioning at the top of her game.

Doctors and Physical Therapists have been unable to make any progress with her. It all feels like a sick joke; nothing she tries has helped. Therefore, she takes way more painkillers than she probably should.

As we meet Miranda, she is just about at her rock bottom. The Reader gets a glimpse inside her mind, as she tries to direct her students in this year’s production.

Although Miranda is hellbent on All’s Well That Ends Well, her students want to do the Scottish play. Ha! Can you even imagine? Miranda will not let that happen.

The students are relentless. Worse, they’re mutinous and her colleagues, in the faltering Theater Department, are no better. Just when she begins to believe all is lost, Miranda meets three mysterious strangers at her local watering hole who are able to turn the tides of fate. But at what cost?

I really, really enjoyed the first half of this novel. There’s no denying how fantastic the writing is. It’s cutting, funny, socially relevant, dark and quirky.

However, somewhere around 70%, it took a bad turn, from which it never recovered.

There are a lot of elements included that generally work for me. It’s weird, it’s biting, it has a touch of the fantastical, but unfortunately, it just got too confusing. You can have solid weird, without confusing. I just feel like in this case, it missed that mark.

I’m sure there will be a lot of Readers that will get it; I’m just not one of them. During the first half of the story, even when things got a little strange, you could still tell the events that were happening in Miranda’s reality; you could tell she was having interactions with her students, with her colleagues, what were memories, musings, thoughts and wishes.

When it got closer to the end, it changed. I couldn’t tell what was real. I couldn’t tell where Miranda was in time, space, what was happening to her? And it never revealed itself, at least not in my opinion. So, I got to the end and felt like I didn’t have a conclusion.

Theoretically, I understand the ideas behind what was happening, but I just wanted more closure. I was really disappointed with the last 25%. In it way, it made me feel like I had wasted my time. Never a good feeling.

I’m mainly bummed because I expected to enjoy this a lot more than I did. It happens. All’s well, I suppose.

I bumped myrating up from 3-stars to 3.5, based solely on the author’s creativity and quality of writing. The story for me was a solid 3-stars. It was a good story, but not necessarily my cup of tea.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to share my opinions.

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Review: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World BehindLeave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Leave the World Behind is essentially Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World written for people with a subscription to the New Yorker.

While I was reading this, I felt like I had read it before and frankly, for me, I enjoyed how Tremblay did it more.

Amanda and Clay, a married couple with two teenaged children, have a lovely family vacation planned in a remote area of Long Island.

Their goal is the same as many people going on vacation, to let loose and unplug from the stressors of life in the city. If they happen to reconnect as a family, all the better.

Arriving at the rental house, they’re quite pleased; it’s perfect. Everything they were hoping for. The kids can’t wait to get into the pool.

Over the course of the first evening, Amanda and Clay really begin to settle into vacation mode. All is going swimmingly, until quite late when there’s an unexpected knocking at the door.

Surprised at the interruption, they’re even more surprised when they open the door and find an older black couple standing on the porch.

They say their names are G.H. and Ruth and this is their house.

They’re quite apologetic, but explain that something is happening in the city. They aren’t exactly sure what, but something big. There’s a blackout.

They had been out at an event and didn’t feel safe returning to their apartment. They plead with Amanda and Clay to let them stay, which after a quick debate, the couple agrees to do.

The two couples stay up, having a few drinks, and speculating on the bizarre turn of events. In their minds, Amanda and Clay are questioning whether or not to believe these people at all. They have no cell service, no wifi, there’s no way to check their story.

The morning finds no new information, as the tension and uncertainty continues to build.

This is absolutely a tense and captivating story. You get a glimpse into all of the character’s inner thoughts and at times, it’s confusing AF.

Their reactions and musings, it’s all so potent. I needed to know what was happening!

I think if I hadn’t already read The Cabin at the End of the World, I would have enjoyed this more and given it a higher rating.

However, as mentioned earlier, there were just so many similarities between this book and that one, and I personally, enjoyed the Horror writing style of Tremblay’s version more. It was a better fit for my tastes.

With this being said, I appreciate what this story accomplished. The level of tension and sense of dread this author’s words were able to illicit; it’s powerful.

While I know this may leave some Readers underwhelmed, it’s smart, eerie and subtly terrifying. I would definitely be interested in picking up more from Rumaan Alam.

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Review: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarhenas

The Psychology of Time TravelThe Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won’t drag this out. This book just did not work for me.

I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher to read and review, which I truly appreciate. I accepted the title because it sounded like something that would be right up my alley.

I went in, rightly or wrongly, with the following beliefs: the story was Science Fiction, that it followed a group of female scientists who discovered how to successfully travel through time, that a murder happens and they use said time travel abilities to solve it.

What I got was sort of that.

I would say this is a Literary Fiction novel with a few characters who happen to be scientists and where time travel is used as plot device to tie different parts of the story together.

Okay, fine. That’s great, so it wasn’t what I initially expected. I can usually get over that fairly quickly.

The execution of the story, however, for me, was not good.

I generally enjoy multiple perspectives, and even multiple timelines, but here, it jumped around so much, to so many different characters, none of whom felt distinctive in any way, I couldn’t remember who I was reading from or where I was in time.

The chapters were really short, so you were never in a particular perspective long enough for it to have a lasting impact.

On a lot of occasions, I find that short chapters help to increase the pace of the story and the rate in which you read it. Not so here. This was incredibly slow. It just never really went anywhere.

Then I get to the last page, the last paragraph and am left scratching my head. That’s it?

So, yeah, not for me, but it may be for you. This book has numerous positive reviews, so please do not take my word for it. Pick it up and find out for yourself. Will you or won’t you?

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The relationship between mother and child can be a beautiful thing.

However, it’s not always and it’s not exclusively. Oftentimes it can be messy, complex and immensely stressful for both parties.

In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng, weaves an intricate tapestry of such relationships.

The resultant story is one of family, loyalty, community and independence. When I went into this book, I thought it was a story, set in the mid-1990s, about the adoption of a Chinese baby by a white family in suburban Ohio and the resulting community reactions/interactions based off that adoption. There is an adoption. The baby is in fact Chinese, but this baby, her birth mother and her adoptive parents are only a very small part of this deeply emotional tale.

Full disclosure, I never cried but I was moved. I was angry at times, sad, emotionally drained. I had my curiosity peaked, I had my temper flare and most importantly, this story made me think about it even when I wasn’t reading it.

I think that is a sign of a strong literary fiction novel doing its job. I had never read a Celeste Ng book before and I was deeply impressed by her subtle way of totally drawing the reader in to the emotions, drama and angst of her characters.

I definitely plan to read more of Ng’s books in the future. Additionally, I did listen to the audiobook for this and thought that the narration was excellent!

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The Rules of Magic & Practical Magic

Happy day bookworms!  I hope everyone is having a productive Tuesday!  This past Friday, I finished up reading, The Rules of Magic by the infinitely talented, Alice Hoffman. As with many books that I fall completely in love with, it takes me a while before I am able to sit down and put my thoughts of a book down in words.  This book is no exception to that!

I borrowed The Rules of Magic from a friend – after I lent her my copy of Practical Magic she went right out and bought and read Rules.  I knew from her raving about it that it was equal in stature to PM. The Rules of Magic, the prequel book to Hoffman’s super successful, Practical Magic, leads readers through a coming of age tale starring everyone’s favorite Aunts: Jet & Franny Owens. Unbeknownst to me, they also have a brother, Vincent, who is equally vibrant and naughty.

Starting very early, this lyrical book weaves together so many different aspects of the Owens history and lives that pieces of Practical Magic start to fit a little better into place. Hoffman’s style is flowing and beautiful, you cannot help but be swept up into the story. I cried, I laughed and I left a bit of me behind as I closed the final page but I also took something with me: hope & love – that’s what a story should do to us. I would give this book all the stars if I could – it certainly deserves it!

If you are curious about Practical Magic as well, I finished it last October and wrote the following thoughts upon completion: I absolutely adored this- read it in a weekend. The writing is beautiful. It is quite different from the movie version but stands really strong in its own right. I did picture Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in my head though the whole time I was reading it- which really made it come alive. If you haven’t read this, you should!

Have any of you read these books? or any of Alice Hoffman’s writing? I would definitely like to read more of her books – if they are anywhere near as captivating as these two, I know I will love them!

Review: The Beautiful Ones

Release Day: October 24, 2017

I received an early copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press so I ended up actually finishing it on the release day.  The Beautiful Ones surprised me with the smoothness of the text.  I had never read anything by this author, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but I will definitely read other books of hers now.  There was a lot more romance in the story than I would typically seek out in a novel (I am far from a ‘romantic’) but it is subtle and romantic in a way that even I could relate to and enjoy.  While I was reading, I kept thinking of how much it reminded me of a more modern version of William Makepeace Thackeray’s, Vanity Fair, but with magic!

The atmosphere was thick with old world upper class traditions (most notably, gossip!) and excesses; easily transporting the reader to the streets and parties of Loisail (the city where the majority of the action takes place).  The main characters were quirky and full of vices; spewing forth with inner desires.  It is told from the perspective of multiple characters and moves along at a steady pace; although it may be considered a slow burn, taking a while for the action to truly heat up.  There is plenty of beauty and angst in this novel to keep one entertained and I would certainly recommend it to friends who enjoy novels of love, envy and magic.