Oliver Loving, Stefan Merrill Block

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Title: Oliver Loving

Author: Stefan Merrill Block

Pages: 400

Genre:  drama, literary fiction.

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publication Date: January 16th, 2018

Summary:

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

One warm, West Texas November night, a shy boy named Oliver Loving joins his classmates at Bliss County Day School’s annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, an enigmatic Junior named Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music plays, a troubled young man sneaks in through the school’s back door. The dire choices this man makes that evening —and the unspoken story he carries— will tear the town of Bliss, Texas apart.

Nearly ten years later, Oliver Loving still lies wordless and paralyzed at Crockett State Assisted Care Facility, the fate of his mind unclear. Orbiting the still point of Oliver’s hospital bed is a family transformed: Oliver’s mother, Eve, who keeps desperate vigil; Oliver’s brother, Charlie, who has fled for New York City only to discover he cannot escape the gravity of his shattered family; Oliver’s father, Jed, who tries to erase his memories with bourbon. And then there is Rebekkah Sterling, Oliver’s teenage love, who left Texas long ago and still refuses to speak about her own part in that tragic night. When a new medical test promises a key to unlock Oliver’s trapped mind, the town’s unanswered questions resurface with new urgency, as Oliver’s doctors and his family fight for a way for Oliver to finally communicate — and so also to tell the truth of what really happened that fateful night.

A moving meditation on the transformative power of grief and love, a slyly affectionate look at the idiosyncrasies of family, and an emotionally-charged page-turner, Oliver Loving is an extraordinarily original novel that ventures into the unknowable and returns with the most fundamental truths.

My thoughts:

Full disclosure, I didn’t finish this book.  Actually, I didn’t even get through half of it.  While I loved the idea of it (the blurb was amazing!) the writing style was too scattered.  It went from one POV to another and while they were all labeled and each one had a different voice, it was hard to keep up between timelines.  Also, the author was really verbose… like J.R.R. Tolkien verbose.

Now, this book is getting some really stellar reviews.  I honestly think this is one of those books you either love or hate.  Sadly I hated it, but if I had forced myself to keep going maybe- MAYBE- it would redeem itself.  I just don’t have the time nor the inclination at this time.  For me this is a two star book.  normal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is some violence and I don’t know what else because I gave up.  I cannot in good conscious give it a number.

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Flatiron Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

The book comes out on 1-16-2018, has anyone read it?  Thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Take Me With You, Andrea Gibson

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Title: Take me with you

Author: Andrea Gibson

Pages: 193

Genre: Poetry/ Sayings, LGBTQ

Is this part of a series?  No

Publication Date:  January 23rd, 2018

Summary:

Accompanied by illustrations by Sarah J. Coleman Gibson had given us a small collection of poems that vary in theme from: politics, love, gender, family, forgiveness and sexuality.  Gibson is an American poet and considers themselves to be gender neutral.  A lot of her feelings toward gender and the socially approved “norm” come through in her poetry.

My thoughts:

I really liked these poems.  they felt fresh and real, an insight into an intriguing soul.  I actually wish I could add a few of the poems just to show what I mean, but as I was given an advanced copy I need to wait until it is published incase something changes.  I will tell you that as soon as the last poem was read I went on line and bought the paper copy of the book.  Amazon will deliver it on or near the 23rd.

Many have likened Gibson to Rupi Kaur, and I guess I can see why, but I felt like it had a different flavor.  Sassy, sometimes (but not often) bitter, hopeful, loving and honest; these are poems I will want access to again and again.  Please don’t get me wrong, I liked Kaur’s work… but I think it left me feeling more drained than Gibson’s did.  For me this was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, these poems do delve into sexuality and have some coarse language.  I would give it a seven.  While I think it is alright for older teens (17 and above), I would not give this to my niece just yet.  Parental Guidance

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out 1-23-2018.  Who else is waiting for their copy?

Link to book:

Amazon

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A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, Atia Abawi

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Title: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

Author: Atia Abawi

Pages:  288

Genre:  Realistic fiction, YA, Contemporary fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date:  January 23rd, 2018

Summary:

Destiny takes us through war torn Syria and other countries as one family tries to make a life in the midst of destruction.  After loosing his home, mother, grandmother, and several siblings to a bomb; Tareq understands that it’s time to leave Syria.  His father takes him and his sister Susan to the relative safety of his brother’s home.  What they find is a city under Daesh (Isis) control.  The city is in ruins and the citizens terrified.  Tareq and his cousin actually see a beheading.  When Daesh starts looking closely at the boys it is decided that they have to leave immediately.

They made it into Turkey, legally, but the two cousins were separated from Fayed (the father) and Susan.  When things start going badly in Turkey, Tareq decides to try leaving for Germany with Susan while Musa remains behind.  Fayed will come later.  The trip is treacherous and not all his companions make it.  Once there, they make new friends and find some much needed support, but also closed borders and unhelpful governments.  Where will their new home be, and will they ever be accepted?  One friend told him, look for the helpers, and he tries.  Tareq knows that he should be grateful he still has his life, and some family.  He wants to be grateful- he has made a promise to be.  This is a story of life, death, love, war, pain and hope.

My thoughts:

Though this seems like a shorter novel to my way of thinking, it packs quite a punch.  I was excited by the idea of Destiny being my narrator as it’s something a bit unique.  It reminded me a bit of how Death walked us through The Book Thief.  Destiny was an interesting character in of themselves.  I liked their phrasing, and that they allowed some of their own thoughts and feelings in.  The characters- especially Tareq, were moving and I immediately found myself enthralled by their world and the plight.  Full of almost poetic descriptions and characters that will haunt you, this is a must have.

I will say that it took a while to read.  The material gets very heavy- we are after all talking about war refugees here.  There were many times that I had to set the book aside for lighter fare.  I still wouldn’t have missed this book.  Awabi, through both Destiny and other characters, makes sure that we see the refugee crisis for what it is- a crisis.  We are forced to put a face to the masses and listen to their hopes and fears; as well as to get a small inkling of what they may have already been through.  When you’ve sobbed for Tareq’s family it is impossible to ignore the fact that these are just people.  They have the same hopes and desires we all do- safety, security, warmth…. who can say they aren’t worthy, that we can’t give them this as a country?  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there was some language but mostly there was violence.  A lot of violence.  Simply for the magnitude of violence, and the pain it caused me personally to read it, I have to give it a five.  I am still buying it for my niece.

Parental Guidance

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out on 1-23-18.  Is it on your radar?

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory

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Title: The Wedding Date

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pages: 320

Genre: romantic comedy

Is this part of a series?  While this is the author’s debut novel, I would not say no to a book surrounding some of the support characters here…. but nothing is being said yet.

Release Date: January 30th, 2018

Summary:

Sometimes the most surprising moments can change your life.  Dreading a weekend of wedding festivities where the bride is his ex and the groom one of his best friends, Drew is cursing his luck.  He doesn’t even have a date!!!  Getting stuck in the hotel elevator is the last thing he needs right now…. or is it?

Alexa is bringing champagne and snacks to her sister’s hotel room to celebrate Olivia’s promotion. Hard working and driven, she doesn’t have time for dating and things.  When the elevator taking her to Olivia looses power, she meets a guy that makes her stand up and pay attention.  As the two get to know each other over cheese and crackers Alexa finds herself agreeing to a really crazy idea.  She is going to go to the wedding with Drew, posing as his girlfriend.  She knows he doesn’t do relationships- they talked about it.  So what’s wrong with a fun weekend with a hot guy?

At the end of the weekend the two can’t seem to let go.  Text messages and weekend trips to see one another keep them together…. but together how?  Alexa doesn’t know and she’s afraid to ask.  Drew seems like the best guy in the world, but she knows he doesn’t do relationships…. so what are they doing?   A misunderstanding becomes the blowup that could break them.  Can Drew find a way to get over his hang ups and keep Alexa- and does he even want to?

My thoughts:

I loved this book.  It dealt with some racial issues- Alexa being African
American and Drew… well, not…. but it didn’t linger on this issue and I felt like it was handled respectfully.  I loved these characters and their support characters.  Maddie and Carlos were especially great and I wouldn’t mind a new book centering on either of them.  The story was engaging and well written, if a bit cliché at times.  As with every good romance there were several times where I wanted to shake either character.  For me, this shows that I can invest myself in this book and that’s a good thing.  It was a charming, fast paced read with great characters and interesting plot.  I give it a four.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there was language and sexual content- not mild but not too terribly explicit.  I would give it a five.  mature audience.

I received an eARK from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out 01/30/2018, I recommend it for those who like romantic comedies.

Link to book:

Amazon

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Everything Here is Beautiful, Mira T. Lee

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Title: Everything Here is Beautiful

Author: Mira T. Lee

Pages: 368

Genre: family life, contemporary fiction, mental health

Publish Date: January 16th, 2018

 

Summary:

   In the end what is owed family?  How far is it, before loyalty becomes interference?  Two very different sisters, Miranda and Lucia, make their way through life after the death of their mother.  Responsible, over-protective Miranda knows she has to look after Lucia who has been diagnosed with a slew of maladies including schizophrenia.   Lucia is free spirited, impulsive, and inquisitive; constantly searching for that beautiful life that will give her perfection and finally silence the “serpents” in her head.

Time and again the two butt heads as Lucia jumps head first into crazy situations, and Miranda tries to protect her from the aftermath.  Each woman tries to find love and their way in life, while trying to protect their relationship.  Love, anger, illness and loyalty.  This is a book of emotions and beautiful descriptions.

My thoughts:

I loved and hated this book in turn.  I wanted to shake each sister, to yell and scream.  The characters were so real to me, so beautifully flawed.  The description from place to place drew me around the world following Lucia.  I loved how the characters interacted to one another, and being allowed to truly see both sides.  I felt deeply for Lucia, even though I rarely agreed with her decision making.  More than anything, the nearly magical descriptions of people and places through Lucia’s eyes kept me turning pages far past my bed time.  The way she saw things and people was unique and beautiful- when she was well everything was beautiful- truly.  The highs and lows, roller coasters of the mentally ill, intrigued me.  My favorite character was probably Yonah with his enormous heart and constant love of Lucia, whether she deserved it or not.  I thought it was very well done, the way you had several different points of views, and the transition between each narrative.    For me, this was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating
On the adult content scale, there was sexual content, and language.  It could, at times get a little explicit, so I have to give it a seven.  mature audience.

I received this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

The book comes out January 16th, 2018.  Is it on your TBR list?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Match Made in Manhattan, Amanda Stauffer

 

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Title: Match Made In Manhattan

Author: Amanda Stauffer

Pages: 320

Genre: chick lit, romantic comedy

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date: January 23rd, 2018

Summary:

Leaving a several year relationship, serial monogamist Alison doesn’t know how to jump into the modern dating world.  She knows she can’t keep dating people she’s known forever, as with her last relationship- Dave, friend-turned-lover.  Biting the bullet, she starts her internet dating experience with Match.com.  What follows is a year of first dates-turned-buds, undercover agents, folk-singer-turned-investment banker, and a nearly perfect psychiatrist with a huge….dog.  Pithy conversations, the “pants speech” and hazmat suits…. who knew dating was so hard?

My thoughts:

I loved Alison, and I felt for her right away.  In her relationships, there had always been a basic knowledge of one another and a closeness from the get-go.   That’s what she wants, and she doesn’t want a physical relationship before having a real, committed emotional attachment.  Understandable, but not really in line with most of the on-line daters.  She meets some great guys….. but not a lot that seem right for her.  On the plus side, she has made some great friends and had some great drinks.  I adored the premise of this story and found it fast paced and often hilarious.  I found myself rooting for certain guys ( I have to admit to an absolute love of Older Luke, dog and all).  In the end I was saddened by the ending a bit, but I can’t see it going any other way.  For me, this book had nearly everything.  It was fun and funny, flirty and a bit adventurous, but also serious at times and always sweet.  I was just a teeny bit disappointed by the ending.  It is still a five star book for me.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, I give it a four.  There is some sexual content, though mild.  Also language.  Nothing major.General.svg

I was lucky enough to get an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  pro_reader_120

The book comes out 1-23-18 and ought to be on everyone’s radar.

Link to book:

Amazon

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Green, Sam Graham-Felsen

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Title:  Green

Author: Sam Graham-Felsen

Pages: 320

Genre: YA, coming of age

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date:  January 2nd, 2018

Summary:

David Greenfeld is one of the two white boys at Martin Luther Middle School in the 90’s.  Everyone makes fun of him, and he can’t make friends.  He feels out of place, not knowing the right way to behave, or having the correct gear to fit in.  Having hippies as parents is definitely not going to help him fit in.  Enter Marlon Wellings.

He’s one of the black kids from the projects and doesn’t get a lot of hassle at school.  He’s also bookish, nerdy, neurotic and a Celtics fan when no one else is.  No one is more surprised than Green when Mar stands up for him.  No longer alone, the two spend more time together and help one another fight against the stereotypes placed upon their race.  They watch vintage basketball games together and get ready for their rise to Harvard.  As Green invites Mar into his world though, he notices that he knows nothing of Mar’s and begins to see all the advantages he’s been given that Mar hasn’t.

My thoughts:

Whoever wrote the blurb on Goodreads needs a raise.  This book sounded amazing and necessary- one of those that would rock me to my core.  I think my expectations were too high.  As a character, I must say I hated Green.  He was constantly trying to fit in, changing who he was and what he liked in hopes of being popular.  He HAD to have this outfit or those shoes or he would never “fit in”.  He HAD to go to private school because Martin Luther was far too Ghetto.  He complained constantly about his brother Benno getting tons of breaks, when it was obvious that not only did Benno have serious issues that were never really addressed but that he adored his big brother.  Then there was the language.  Green’s narrative was so fraught with slang from the 90’s as to make it almost farcical.  I was in school at that time and I never heard anyone speaking this way- ever.  It actually detracted from the flow of the story for me, and made it hard to take it seriously.  Honestly, I wish this book had been centered on Marlon instead.  For one, he was the more likeable character by far.  Secondly, I feel like the social divide would have been more clear through his eyes as Green was usually focused only on himself.    I mean, yes, there was character growth at the end, and odd moments of brilliance in the writing- like how the divide between races was explained.  The inescapable force.  It made sense.  It wasn’t enough to save the book though; and what might have been one of the most important books of 2018 became…. just okay.  Two and a half stars.

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On the adult content scale, there’s language and violence.  I would give it a three.  There is nothing here that I would be worried about my niece reading.  General.svg

I received this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

first to read

The book comes out 1-2-18.

Link to book:

Amazon

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