September 24, 2018

Book Review: Ghosted by Rosie Walsh


When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
Source: Urban Dictionary
You’re going to think that you have the whole thing figured out close to the beginning – like I did. And perhaps debate on whether or not to read on. DON’T STOP READING. Just when you think you know exactly what happened – why Eric didn’t call Sarah – the book will flip the script on you.  Come a certain point I had to reread a bombshell of a sentence three times. Then a bit further on, just when I was really invested, I cried out loud, “No! Why are you playing with my feelings like this???” 

Ghosted didn’t quite break my heart – but it certainly came close to it. And if you’re like me, you will want to settle in for a good chunk of time because you will not want to stop for anything to get to the truth. I read all night – and it was worth it!

Yes, this book is wish fulfillment fantasy reading for anyone who’s ever been ghosted and left wondering. You might have even done some mental gymnastics to explain why he didn’t call – he got in an accident and broke both his hands, as well as his phone, and had temporary amnesia, etc… Just as Sarah does in this book. You might have shrugged off your friends' gentle piercings of your bubble, sure of the undeniable chemistry between the two of you. And just like Sarah you might have done some cyber investigating, looking through social media to find clues as to what ever happened to the guy who inexplicably disappeared from your life.  

However, the typical ghosting situation probably doesn’t have the complicated backstory in this book. So, I hate to break it to you – but he probably just wasn’t that into you.

September 17, 2018

Book Review: I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis

Jim is in New York City at Christmastime shopping a book based on his blog—Gone for Good— premised on the fact that “being nostalgic for things that have disappeared is ridiculous.” Progress decides for people what they need and what’s obsolete. It’s that simple. Of course, not everyone agrees. After Jim bombs a contentious interview with a radio host who defends the sacred technology of the printed, tangible book, he gets caught in a rainstorm only to find himself with no place to take refuge other than a quaint, old-fashioned bookshop.

Ozymandias Books is not just any store. Jim wanders intrigued through stacks of tomes he doesn’t quite recognize the titles of, none with prices. Here he discovers a mysteriously pristine, seemingly endless wonderland of books—where even he gets nostalgic for his childhood favorite. And, yes, the overwhelmed and busy clerk showing him around says they have a copy. But it’s only after Jim leaves that he understands the true nature of Ozymandias and how tragic it is that some things may be gone forever…

Ozymandias by Percy Bysse Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I expected, after reading this neat novella, to have been persuaded to the opinion that print is sacred and that e-books are evil, as the aforementioned radio host declares.  The media of the present can become degraded over time; therefore, the digital books of today might be unreadable tomorrow which means that its contents, if not backed up, would be forever gone. 

I'm not sure what message, if any, Willis was trying to prove.  But whether in print form or digital - books are precious to me for their content. Yet, Jim's journey through the vast expanse of Ozymandias, which is full of books he has never heard of - "rescued" from fires, estate sales, and other disasters - fetishizes the printed word. The demise of any physical book is portrayed as tragic. But most of the books in Ozymandias have titles such as How to Remodel Your Patio, No Effort Weight Loss, a 1928 Brooklyn phone book.  In other words - they are not worth saving. The vast wasteland of forgotten books doesn't inspire as much sadness as I thought it would. Like Ozymandias of the Shelley poem - these books are the last vestiges of a dead empire.

September 10, 2018

Book Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste...

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

Yes, Social Creature pretty much follows the plot of The Talented Mr. Ripley:  Poor nobody cons her way into becoming friends with one of the rich and beautiful people. The conniving nobody, Louise, is only somewhat sympathetic. Lavinia, the fascinating creature she becomes obsessed with, quickly becomes annoying. She is a manic pixie dream girl on steroids and sounds more exhausting than intriguing. Neither comes off in a particularly flattering light. Lavinia's rarified existence, and her circle of friends who share the same, makes a dreary contrast with the life of regular folks like Louise. When things take a drastic turn for the worse, I wanted to shake Louise for lacking self-respect and dignity yet at the same time hoping she gets away with her con. Upon finishing, I couldn't tell if Louise ultimately succeeded or not. The ambiguous ending leaves room for a sequel(s). 

SPOILER ALERT:

The "social" of the title refers to Louise utilizing social media to aid in her deception. Being set in the digital age, I had to question how slowly her crime(s) were uncovered.  Considering surveillance cameras, geo-location of snaps and photos, as well as cell location data - Louise should have been caught immediately, especially as her crime(s) involved a rich and Insta-famous person.  

September 3, 2018

Book Review: Paris Ever After by K.S.R Burns

Source: Author

When Amy left her stale life and crumbling marriage in Phoenix for the enchanting gardens and cozy caf├ęs of Paris, she not only conquered her food issues and learned to enjoy a good croissant, she began to build the beautiful, elegant, and loving life she’d always longed for. Then, on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, her estranged husband William shows up—with no warning. Before Amy has a chance to find out if he’s after reconciliation or separation, a second newcomer arrives, unleashing a chaos that threatens to leave her homeless. As secrets are revealed and surprises occur on seemingly an hourly basis, Amy must choose between two very different worlds, each with a claim on her heart. 

Paris Ever After is the sequel to The Paris Effect, which I did not read. Although you get the gist of what happened in the first book, I think you would be better served having read The Paris Effect prior to the sequel. I found myself disoriented for the first 3 chapters, which detracted from my enjoyment of the story itself. I kept wondering why Amy ran off and left William in the first place. I really wanted more details on how Amy met the people that are now so important in her life in Paris. (And maybe take some notes. What incredible luck to have found such loyal friends!) Finally - the first book has a party in the catacombs! Worth reading just for that. There are only tantalizing references to that legendary scene in the sequel, which sadly has no similar scene.  

However, it does have some surprises of its own – such as a magical scene of a castle hidden in the midst of urban Paris, a character very shockingly turning up from the dead, a kidnapping, and of course … you have Paris.  

“…the first time I stepped onto a Paris sidewalk, I felt wholly at ease.  The sky was the color of pewter. The streets were shiny jet black from a night of rain. I walked for miles, sloshing straight through puddles, invincible in my boots and then-pristine black fingertip-length trench coat.  It was, to date, the nicest walk of my entire life.”

I have to say, no matter how unstable Amy’s life in Paris got, life in Phoenix never stood a chance.