All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What a beautiful read. All the Light We Cannot See is such a magnificent book. Anthony Doerr’s incredibly descriptive writing transports the reader into the past and into the midst of World War II. Full disclosure, I usually love all books WWII related because that is one of my favorite time periods.

This novel, like many of the ones I read, has a few different correlating storylines (which don’t come together until the final third of the book). We meet Marie-Laure, a blind sixteen-year old girl, who flees Paris as the war starts for the coastal town of Saint-Malo to live with her eccentric great uncle. Doerr introduces us to Werner, a young man with a knack for fixing radios, who is drafted into the Hitler Youth and travels through Russia and makes his way eventually to Saint-Malo, where his and Marie’s paths converge. We also go inside the mind of a Nazi officer as he searches for a precious stone removed from Paris’ Museum of Natural History that is said to bring immortality to its holder.

It took me about two weeks to read this book (if you know me, you know that’s a long time for me), due to work and travel issues. But in some ways that made this book even more amazing for me. Every time I picked it up, it was like getting a little snippet of the story and each part was so enticing. I cannot stress how descriptive and imaginative this writing was. Definitely recommend it if you like historical fiction and beautiful writing.

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Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill

This is one of those books that is so innovative and wonderful that I almost have nothing more to say than to tell you to just read it. Almost.

Department of Speculation is a really tough book to describe. It follows the inner thoughts and feelings of a married woman, as she navigates life with her husband and her child. We never learn her name, yet we are able to connect with this wife in a way that is incredibly moving and almost magical. As readers, we are taken through this woman’s life, she recounts her happiest moments and moments that cause your heart to break. We experience her pain as her own imperfections and those of the ones closest to her are thrust into the spotlight.

Jenny Offill’s writing style is unique – this book’s chapters are atypical and separated as we experience changes in the wife’s thoughts. I want to describe it as stream of consciousness, but I still have such negative connotations to that writing style because of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. But it’s not written at all like a typical novel, it’s almost like a long-form short story, if something like that can exist. I read this book in one afternoon, it’s not very long, but it is fantastic. I know it is one of those books that I’ll be able to read again and again, each time delving deeper into it.

Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes

I’ve reviewed a couple other of books by Jojo Moyes on this blog and have thoroughly enjoyed her work. However, Sheltering Rain was not nearly as good as the others I have read. I knew going into the book that it was some of her earlier writing and I could definitely sense that as I read the novel. Her writing has certainly changed and matured into something beautiful over the years. So, in a sense, reading Sheltering Rain was really fascinating, because I got to see how much Jojo Moyes has developed as a writer over the years.

Sheltering Rain has a few different plots, maybe even too many. We have three main characters (I think): Joy, Kate (Joy’s daughter), and Sabine (Kate’s daughter and Joy’s granddaughter). However, most of the story focuses on Sabine, who was sent to live with her estranged grandmother, Joy, in Ireland. Kate sent Sabine to Ireland, so that she could attempt to get her life together after she broke up her longtime live-in boyfriend. Throughout the novel, we get bits and pieces of both Joy’s and Kate’s childhood, as well as an in-depth look at Sabine’s life at her grandparents’ house in Ireland.

I think my issue with this novel was that the stories jumped back and forth with too little development. I really only felt connected to Sabine as a character, so when big secrets were revealed about Joy and Kate, I was not particularly interested. It definitely wasn’t a horrible book, I didn’t hate reading it, but it would not be something I would suggest you need to read right away. If you’ve got time and have read and liked Jojo Moyes’ other works, then it might be something you want to check out.

Please proceed to step out of the woods.

This doesn’t really go with the theme of my book blog, but I think everyone could use a piece of writing like this today.

hannah brencher.

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You are more than the things you tell yourself on repeat. 

My god, you have no idea how badly I want to believe in those words. I want to say them on repeat. I want to grab people in public places and just shake them real good while those words shoot out of my mouth like promises I know I can keep.

You are more than the things you tell yourself on repeat. 

I wrote them in my palm. I kept opening and closing up my hand just so I could see those words, suck them in, believing for longer than a second that the words are true. They’re written in ink. I never want to stop reading them. I keep thinking they’ll act like a cloak that hangs over my shoulders and keeps me protected from the doubt and the insecurity that try to come crawling beneath my…

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Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

I love YA books. I love YA books. I love YA books. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld is no exception. I loved this book. I’ve enjoyed Scott Westerfeld’s books in the past, especially the Uglies series, so I was really excited to read Afterworlds.

I cannot stress how clever and interesting the layout of this novel is. It is split into two distinct yet related worlds. In some chapters, we learn the story of Darcy Patel, a young novelist who moves to New York City after her first book gets picked to be published. In others, we are able to read Darcy’s novel, aptly named Afterworlds, which follows a teenager named Lizzie who narrowly survives a terrorist attack and learns she has the ability to drift between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

Scott Westerfeld’s brilliance shines in Afterworlds. I was equally excited to read the parts with Darcy as I was with Lizzie, which isn’t always the case when I read split story novels. I could not put this book down and when I finished, all I could think was “I hope there’s a sequel.”

Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of YA fiction, good books, a little bit of paranormal activity, and the lives of writers.

Reunion by Hannah Pittard

Over the weekend I finished reading Reunion by Hannah Pittard. And I think I really liked it.

Reunion begins with the news that our main character’s estranged father has taken his own life. Boom. That’s the information given to you in the opening lines of the novel. Hannah Pittard does not ease you into this story, rather she throws you in and hopes you get lost in it, which I certainly did.

Kate Pulaski, our main character and narrator, is not in a great place in her life. She hasn’t produced a viable screenplay in years and her husband is demanding a divorce. When her brother and sister tell her that she’s to join them on a family trip back to Atlanta to pay respects to their father (who was not a great man), Kate is less than thrilled. In Atlanta, family secrets are exposed, including those that Kate has held dear.

While reading Reunion, I felt transported into the slightly-crazed mind of Kate as she dealt with personal and familial drama. I could imagine so clearly the scenes, the fights, and the emotions that Kate experiences back in her hometown. Hannah Pittard is an incredibly gifted writer with a talent for creating characters who the reader can connect with, even if he or she may not have a lot in common on the surface.

Worth a read.

Don’t Worry, I’m Still Here

Happy New Year!! I hope 2015 brings you love, joy, and good books.

I wanted to let all my dedicated readers know that I’m not done with book blogging, I promise! It’s been a wild couple of weeks and I haven’t been in my reading prime. I also may have decided to re-read the All Souls Trilogy after writing the review of it because I missed it so much. (Suggestion: Go read that now.)

Anyways, I’m now back to chugging my way through the 10 library books I have sitting on my bedside table. Expect a new review on Monday!