January Wrap Up, Part One (Spoiler Free)

Hello Friends!

It’s almost January 14th (four more hours), and since January 1st I have read seven books! SEVEN of them. This seems ridiculous, and it’s way more than I could ever physically read in two weeks… but this week was an exception. I was sick in bed for 5 days straight, with the worst flu/head-cold of my adult life haha. I literally did not move more than twice a day for five days. So basically I had nothing else to do but read, watch Netflix, complain about how sick I was to my poor boyfriend, eat too much ice cream, watch the entire season of “The Crown” etc etc.. I figured I may as well get a head-start on the huge pile of books I planned to read this year.

I’ll be honest out of the seven I read, I HATED almost half of them. I am easy to please, and usually I can read and enjoy almost anything… but this month I just had bad luck I guess. Also of course this is all my personal opinion, and these books I’m about to review were all very well written, and I’m sure the ones I disliked have fans as well.. they just weren’t what I was looking for at the moment I guess. I will be posting a Review for each of the seven books, with my own thoughts and ideas. They will all be *Spoiler Free* of course, and I will attach some great quotes & the plot summary from Good-Reads as well.. in case you are interested in checking it out. For my format, I will post the Reviews for my first two weekly challenge reads (Part of the Reading Challenge 2017/ One Book A Week/ 52 Books Total), and then whatever other random books I read during those two weeks.

Hope you all have had a wonderful start to the New Year,

xo.

Carly

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Ps. For Christmas I got some really exciting fairy-lights, that are portable. They take two AA batteries, and you can take them anywhere with you. This is incredible for Photo-Shoots, because the fairy light gives off a really beautiful glow. I took some photos of myself for fun, using only the light of the fairy-lights.. the room was pitch black otherwise. I think they turned out quite cool, so I’ll attach some onto this blog as well.

Xo.

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1.) “Animal Farm”, by George Owell

10/10

Weekly Challenge #1 “Read A Book You Read in High-School”

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

Wow. The last line of this book was absolutely chilling. Well actually the entire book was chilling.. so dark and disturbing and well written. Such a simple story to begin with soon becomes a powerful deeply unsettling parallel between these events, and the actual events that took place around the time of the Soviet revolution. The story is meant to represent not only the events leading up to/during this revolution, but communism and corruption as well. We have a main pig named Napoleon who is a clear portrayal of Joseph Stalin. George Orwell meant for this story to expose how awful the Stalin-ism and the totalitarian government really was. You forget you are reading about a group of animals as the story goes on, becoming more and more horrific. I felt pain for these characters who were being used and lied to.. just completely lead blind into basically slavery. You begin to see these characters as so human-like. You see how the powerful people (the pigs) begin to become corrupt, while using propaganda and lies to manipulate the uneducated masses (sheep, chickens etc). It was such a haunting book and told so simply but so powerfully. I can’t stop thinking about it and what it means. I’m so glad I read this one again. Wow…

Fav Quotes

“The Seven Commandments:
Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

“Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than just ribbons?”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

GoodReads Plot Summary

(One night on an English farm, Major the boar recounts his vision of a utopia where his fellow creatures own the land along with the means of production and are no longer the slaves of humans.

Before long his dream comes true, and for a short while all animals really are equal. But the clever pigs educate themselves and soon learn how to extend their own power, inevitably at the expense of the rest of the community.

This well-loved tale is, of course, a satire on the Soviet Communist system that still remains a powerful warning despite the changes in world politics since “Animal Farm” was first published.

This production is based on Orwell’s own radio version which was first produced in 1947.)

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2.) “Running Out of Time”, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

5/10

Weekly Challenge #2 “Read A Book From Your Childhood”

When I found out what Week #2’s Challenge was, I was so excited. There are so many books I read as a child that I was obsessed with. Mostly “Sweet Valley High”, and the “Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley” obviously haha. However there were a few standouts from my young age, that stuck with me. One of those books has always been this strange little book I read a long time ago called “Running out of Time”. I remember it completely blowing my mind, and I couldn’t remember why. A few weeks ago I came across this book at a used book sale! I screamed when I found it, I can’t explain how exciting this was. I couldn’t remember the name of this book, and when I saw the cover I immediately knew it was the right one. So I had HIGH hopes for this, to say the least.

Ahh I was super disappointed with it. I think this shouldn’t have shocked me, because the books you read at ten years old are obviously not going to be as good years later. The blurb on the front cover says “If Ray Bradbury had written The Giver, the result might rival Margaret Peterson Haddix’s “Running out of Time”- Richard Pech. I think somebody paid this Richard to say that. I know that sounds mean, but seriously it was so bad.

In the book’s defense, for being written in 1995 (not to mention being a children’s book) the actual premise was really super imaginative and interesting. It’s the story of a young girl living in the year 1840, in a little village called Clifton Village with her family. All of a sudden children are getting sick and dying from a diphtheria outbreak. THEN (drum roll)……. Her mother lets her in on a bizarre secret… It’s ACTUALLY THE YEAR 1996!!!!! They are basically living in a “Fort Langley” (historically reconstructed village) that is a tourist site for people to come observe, via hidden cameras etc. None of the children in this village are aware of this obviously, only the parents.. who all wanted to lead a “simpler” life or something and thought this would be a great idea. They were promised that if an illness came, external medicine would be given.. but it’s mysteriously NOT being given out, and children are dying.. so our main character Jessie has to escape the village and break into the “real” world, and get help.

This is not a spoiler, it’s pretty much word for word on the back cover plot summary. And this sounds really interesting right? Well it’s not. I mean for a child, this will probably blow their minds (like it did mine), but reading it as a 29 year old adult I found way too many problems with it. Just slow moving, un-interesting characters, weird observations thrown in for no reason, and just overall kind of blah. However it did have a pretty wild twist I didn’t really see coming, which was great. It was very well written, and the plot is incredibly inventive. This wasn’t terrible, and the ending is quite interesting. Just wouldn’t suggest this one to an adult reader 🙂 For anyone ages 10-15 though, this would be amazing.

GoodReads Plot

(Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie’s mother sends her on a dangerous mission to bring back help. But beyond the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and threatening than she could have imagined, and soon she finds her own life in jeopardy. Can she get help before the children of Clifton, and Jessie herself, run out of time?)

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3.) “Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter

10/10

I ABSOLUTELY loved this book. I read this book with a group of girlfriends for our Book Club, and we had so much fun with it. After initially reading the back of the book Plot Synopsis, I would NEVER have guessed where this book was going. I honestly don’t want to say anything about the Plot because I want you to go into this blind, because it’s way more fun that way. This book actually SHOCKED me in parts. I have read so many psychological thrillers, that I’m beginning to notice the familiar tropes over and over again, but not this time. This book was wild.

It’s at it’s most basic level about two estranged sisters, coming back together to solve a new mystery in their lives.. while also trying to figure out what really happened to their sister who went missing years ago. You honestly will be shocked to the core, when you find out. So disturbing, I’m still dreaming of this. Or more like having nightmares about it. I highly highly recommend this.

Fav Quotes

“People did not change their basic, core personalities. Their values tended to stay the same.”
Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls

“Your mother and I had always been secretly pleased that you were so headstrong and passionate about your causes. Once you were gone, we understood that these were the qualities that painted young men as smart and ambitious and young women as trouble.”
Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls

“Maybe that’s why Claire had perfected the art of invisibility. It was a form of self-preservation. You couldn’t resent what you could not see. She was so quiet, but she noticed everything. Her eyes tracked the world like it was a book written in a language that she could not understand. There was nothing timorous about her, but you got the feeling that she always had one foot out the door. If the situation got too hard, or too intense, she would simply disappear.”
Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls

GoodReads Plot

(#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.)

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4.) “The Other Half”, by Sarah Rayner

3/10

Ugh. I really hated this book. I should have known better, but I thought this sounded like a trashy little romance book, and “how bad could it be” played in my mind.. convincing me to buy this. It was only seven dollars, so I don’t totally hate myself. I just hate that I gave this book two days of reading time, it wasn’t worth it.

This book is a story of your basic “married man has an affair” story, except that it’s told in two parts, two voices.. The Wife & The Mistress. I thought this sounded kind of interesting, in a smutty beach read type of way. It wasn’t awful, and it did have it’s moments.. I was curious about what was going to happen so it was a quick read, which is a positive. It was also very well written, and kind of funny in parts.

What I disliked about it so much was the characters. It couldn’t have been more cliche. The Wife is portrayed as an “uptight, sexless, nagging woman”, who is more interested in cleaning the house and photographing her food, than her Husband. So of COURSE he has to have an affair with The Mistress character.. who is portrayed as “wild, very sexual, driven, into doing cocaine, and is so much fun.. giving off a glow”… UGH SO LAME. Just the most obvious surface level descriptions, and so cliche that I actually rolled my eyes about 100 times. You can probably guess how this ends, I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to read it (don’t bother though).

Also PS, I forgot to say.. The Husband is a complete idiot. His character is almost worse than the dry/dull/basic female characters. Also the ending made me SO MAD.

I’m not going to bother with quotes.

GoodReads Plot

(In the internationally bestselling author Sarah Rayner’s The Other Half, Chloe, bright, hip and single, is a feature writer with ambitions to launch a magazine of her own. When she meets James, her potential new boss, she knows she shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, but finds it impossible to resist…

Maggie appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, a talented writer, and has a gorgeous husband. But something’s not quite right: his job as a magazine publisher is keeping him in the city until late most evenings, and some nights he doesn’t come home at all…

Told in the alternating voices of the mistress and the wife, this story of an affair is a sharp, seductive take on modern love.

Who, if anyone, comes out unscathed?

In writing that is lively, sexy and sharp, the international bestselling author Sarah Rayner explores modern-day relationships and age-old moral dilemmas.)

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5.) “Girl in Pieces” by Kathleen Glasgow

9/10

I loved loved LOVED this book. This is a “young adult” novel, that has been described to me as a “young and fresh version of Girl Interrupted”. Immediately I was sold after hearing that. I loved “Girl Interrupted”, and if this was anything like that I knew I would love it. It didn’t disappoint.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Also a major trigger warning for anyone dealing with/having dealt with issues of self-harm. This story goes into some extremely graphic descriptions, that would unsettle anyone. This book is about a young woman named Charlie who goes through some very intense trauma, and turns to self harm. She ends up in an institution/rehab place for other young women dealing with similar self destructive problems. There she meets new friends, and then the story goes on to tell the incredible coming-of-age style story of this girl, and how she deals with everything.

The story is told in Charlie’s voice, and she is such a great character. Very insightful, well developed, and easy to relate to in so many ways. She is funny, and this book is actually kind of funny in parts. It’s ultimately an up-lifting and amazing story of facing you issues and coming out on the other side. I really loved this.

Fav Quotes

“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.”
Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces

“I remember the stars that night. They were like salt against the sky, like someone spilled the shaker against very dark cloth. That mattered to me, their accidental beauty.”
Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces

GoodReads Plot

(Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.)

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6.) “You’ll Grow Out Of It”, by Jessi Klein

7/10

This book is a memoir written by the comedy star “Jessi Klein”. She writes for the Amy Schumer show & SNL, and actually it was Amy’s blurb on the front of her book, that turned me onto it. The blurb says “Jessi Klein is a brilliant comedic mind and this book is a perfect reflection of that. It’s like having a glass of wine with the best friend you wish you had”.- Amy Schumer

This book was really interesting, and as someone who has never seen or heard anything from Jessi Klein.. I was coming into this as a total newbie. The book is a collection of funny personal essay’s. A lot of them were laugh-out-loud funny, some were kind of sad, and some were a bit boring. For some reason I felt she did a LOT of self-deprecating, to the extent that she was hating on women in general. For example, one chapter she went on and on about skincare about about how it all goes to shit at a certain age.. she made a lot of generalizations, that just ended up making me feel bad about myself. Obviously this wasn’t her intention, and she actually says a lot of very great things about women as well. It was just a lot of statements like “all girls think this”, “all women are like this”, that kind of annoyed me. Also the chapter about her trip to the Emmy’s, where she pretty much bitched the whole time about how she wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, or A list enough… and she ended up thinking of the night in a sour way because of that… Just left a bad taste in my mouth.

I wouldn’t advise buying this book, but I bet the Audio-Book was hilarious, and when it comes out in Paperback might be easier to swallow. But paying the $31.50 this cost, kind of sucked for me.

GoodReads Plot

(INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT hilariously, and candidly, explores the journey of the twenty-first century woman.

As both a tomboy and a late bloomer, comedian Jessi Klein grew up feeling more like an outsider than a participant in the rites of modern femininity.
In YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT, Klein offers – through an incisive collection of real-life stories – a relentlessly funny yet poignant take on a variety of topics she has experienced along her strange journey to womanhood and beyond. These include her “transformation from Pippi Longstocking-esque tomboy to are-you-a-lesbian-or-what tom man,” attempting to find watchable porn, and identifying the difference between being called “ma’am” and “miss” (“Miss” sounds like you weigh ninety-nine pounds).
Raw, relatable, and consistently hilarious, YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT is a one-of-a-kind book by a singular and irresistible comic voice.)

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7.) “Sweet Lamb of Heaven”, by Lydia Millet

8/10

First off, this book has some very unexpected elements. The book jacket plot gives the impression that this is the story of a woman and her child.. on the run from her psychopathic husband. It IS very much the story of that, but there is a very deep/existential crisis type of subplot going on as well. The story is told from the point of view of the main character, who is fleeing her awful husband, and hiding with her young daughter in a run down motel. Her husband then gets involved in politics, and desperate for the “picture perfect” image of family, he hunts them down.. with the intent of forcing them to pose alongside him during this election. The subplot also going on, has to do with mysterious voices she begins to start hearing, as well as many deep thoughts about past lives, God, etc. She is unsure what is causing the “voice” and explores every option… like supernatural, spirtual etc. Also the guests at the motel are bizarre and she begins to question their motives, and her own sanity.

I really loved this, and I found all the “deep” parts super insightful and interesting. Also the psychological thriller part was strong as well. I would very much recommend this book, just wanted to let you guys know about the other aspect to it, so you weren’t caught off guard. Especially since this book is a Hardcover right now, and costs almost $40.00, which is a lot of money to spend on something you might not like.

GoodReads Plot

(Blending domestic thriller and psychological horror, this compelling page-turner follows a mother fleeing her estranged husband.

Lydia Millet’s chilling new novel is the first-person account of a young mother, Anna, escaping her cold and unfaithful husband, a businessman who’s just launched his first campaign for political office. When Ned chases Anna and their six-year-old daughter from Alaska to Maine, the two go into hiding in a run-down motel on the coast. But the longer they stay, the less the guests in the dingy motel look like typical tourists—and the less Ned resembles a typical candidate. As his pursuit of Anna and their child moves from threatening to criminal, Ned begins to alter his wife’s world in ways she never could have imagined.

A double-edged and satisfying story with a strong female protagonist, a thrilling plot, and a creeping sense of the apocalyptic, Sweet Lamb of Heaven builds to a shattering ending with profound implications for its characters—and for all of us.)

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Thanks for Reading Guys!

Happy Reading Adventures!

I’ll check back in with you guys in 2 weeks, for Part 2 of my January Wrap Up

xo,

Carly.

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