And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, by Fredrik Backman

27 Feb
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FIVE+ of FIVE stars

This book took me months to finish. MONTHS. I started in November and didn’t finish until February. Not because it was horrible, or slow, or a difficult read… but because my heart could barely take it. Any given page in this book had my heart trembling in my throat, drowning with emotion. After any 3-5 pages I would be a sobbing mess, having to set the book down again for a couple weeks while my heart healed. Like all Backman books, this one is happy, sad, beautiful, heartbreaking. But this book is even more of an emotional ride than the others. Perhaps because the main character isn’t as overtly flawed as Backman’s others. Ove had people split down the middle, with people either hating the ornery old man or seeing beyond his outward prickliness. The Grandpa in this story admits he was not the perfect father, but his love for his wife and grandson shine through so magnificently that there is no doubt of the amazing heart within this man.

And because of all the love he contains in his heart, the rest of the story is just too heartbreaking to take. Like all Backman books, the sadness is surrounded by happiness, because Grandpa is surrounded by as much love as he contains in his heart. I mean, it is pointless trying to convey in this review how powerful this book is. Why am I even trying. This book is FIVE STARS. The book is beautiful, it is powerful, it is heartwrenching, it is a must read.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair review. My fair review includes the caveat that I’m sorry it took so long to get a review entered, but the novella is so painfully beautiful that I just couldn’t get all the way through until now.

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The Perfect Stranger, by Megan Miranda

24 Feb
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FIVE stars of Five

Five stars all around.
This book had me completely on edge the entire ride.

The narrator is borderline unreliable; you are never quite sure if she’s telling us the truth, lying to herself, or outright crazy. She does have some boundary issues, some of which I related to, but the reader can’t be sure if they cross a line or exactly which line they cross. Megan Miranda does an excellent job of throwing in clues here and there to keep us off kilter.

But reliable or not (I’m not spoiling the answer!), the narrator is a very intelligent woman. I loved her. To the outside world she may have had some issues, and she’s disappointed herself, but that does nothing to take away the very quick way her mind works.

I’ve seen some reviews state that the narrative isn’t perfect, and while that may technically be true, Miranda accomplishes so much more than your average author does in a mystery book like this. This story is intricate, in the very best way, and I felt Miranda did a genius job putting it all together, just as she did in her previous book All the Missing Girls.

I don’t believe it’s a spoiler to state that nothing much is what it seems here, and that Miranda really shows how any narrator can be unreliable because you are seeing the story solely through their interpretation of events. But what if a reliable narrator tells you a story based on misinterpreted events?

All the Missing Girls was incredible and made me a huge fan of Megan Miranda, now The Perfect Stranger has sealed that deal. I cannot wait for her next book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for allowing me an advance copy for review.

The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi

14 Jan
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2-Stars

I would have loved this if there were any sort of explanation for the entire premise of the book. I will even go along with an explanation that uses big scientific words I don’t understand. Or simply claim “Magic!”

But there was no explanation for what was happening, unless I missed it (it is on Audible, so it’s *possible* I missed something), and so there’s no way I can give this more than 2 stars.

Narrated quite well by Zachary Quinto.

The Big Sugarbush, by Ana B. Good

9 Jan
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4 of 5 stars

This is a light, happy, lesbian romcom, framed by the serious themes of addiction and rehab in a lesbian-only facility.

I fell in love on the first page when we were introduced to Nan, the successful middle-aged lesbian. My favorite couple though was Poppy and Storm, the popstar and war correspondent, respectively.

It does well as a zany lesbian romcom, but I have to admit my imagination couldn’t quite cover some of the very serious situations that were set to comedy and silliness. There were some serious addiction issues in the book, but the recovery was only touched on. There was a seriously dangerous situation that Storm deals with that I really couldn’t wrap my head around as comedy, even though it was obviously supposed to be silly and the antagonists were like cartoon characters. But I can’t put my uncomfortable feelings on the author, I think this is just one of the weaknesses that my very logical, serious brain experiences sometimes when reading books like this.

Overall it was the silly, light, fun little book I had wanted to read. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more, and in these serious times, it is what I needed.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

7 Jan
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5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books you read when you think you have it bad and then you read this and decide you’ll just be grateful for what you have.

This book is solely about Trevor Noah’s childhood and young life in South Africa, nothing about his career rise in the US. Trevor Noah has lived ten lifetimes already, and at least that many nightmares. The book is not a comedy, there is absolutely nothing funny about any of his early life. The horrors he experienced daily are beyond what we can imagine, and the book ends on one of the worst real life events I can think of. It’s a dark story about a boy who grew up with unimaginable horrors just an expected part of daily life.

But throughout the book you can feel Trevor’s strength, which he got from his mother, and his ability to look on the bright side of life, which he also got from his mother.

It’s an extraordinary book about an extraordinary life.

The Food of Love, by Amanda Prowse

17 Nov
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3 of 5 stars

I honestly don’t think a lot of this book. It’s not terrible, but it’s nowhere near the best book about anorexia that I’ve ever read. It feels like someone did a lot of research on anorexia and then just wrote a story about what they think it’s like to have a suffering family member. I didn’t feel the characters were that fleshed out and there just wasn’t a lot of meat in the story.

I also had a lot of issues with the mother, who was much more interested in being a friend to her daughter than in being a mother. I don’t understand parents who firmly believe their teenagers would never ever lie to them, about anything, or who feel that they know better than any doctor.

The moment I find out my 5’6″ daughter weighs only 87 lbs is the moment that kid is admitted into the hospital. She doesn’t want a feeding tube inserted? Tough sh!t. Save the kid’s life first and then deal with the psychological reasons, but if you don’t get her fed then there won’t be anything to help. This mother is in denial until the girl is a moment away from dying in her arms.

And there’s an hour by hour countdown throughout the book, leading up to something… something really tense and scary…. Oh nevermind, that whole countdown thing is NOTHING. It’s absolutely nothing. It’s a fake-out to get you all worked up and concerned about things, and then PSYCH! It’s nothing.

The epilogue as well annoyed me. The book as a whole is a sort of serious story set as a light and fluffy read. I was never able to care whether the daughter lived or died, and I mostly just wanted to shake the mother. It’s not terrible, it’s just not a very good book.

Safe With Me, by K.L. Slater

3 Nov
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FOUR of Five stars

I loved this book, but let’s get one thing out of the way. I don’t really like the cover. It’s really not your average female-victim thriller, and it’s even a bit humorous at times (or maybe that’s just me). But this cover doesn’t make the book stand out in the way that it should.

The story is told mostly through Anna’s voice, after she views a road accident caused by a woman she believes is also responsible for the death of her brother. But it quickly becomes apparent that Anna is a very unreliable narrator, much in the realm of You‘s Joe Goldberg, and possibly just as bonkers. And just like Joe, Anna is often charming in her delusions of love.

But further into the book you realize Anna isn’t the only one with issues of psychology and/or outright deceit. Every single character in this book is hiding who they are in one way or another. And as all the layers are peeled away and we realize who is really who and what is exactly happening, the book becomes more and more difficult to put down.

The last ten percent however, falls a bit apart. It pains me to say that because I absolutely loved the other 90%, and it’s possible that others don’t have a problem with the ending. But for me the end was a little rushed, some logic was dropped, and some corners and character details were cut. It was not an unsatisfactory ending at all though, I just think the intense web of lies that the author created might have required a bit more time for her to arrange in a neater manner.

This is K.L. Slater’s first book, and while I felt the end lacked just a bit of organization, I 100% LOVED the rest, and absolutely look forward to what she puts out in the future. I am definitely a new fan!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an early copy in exchange for a fair review.