‘Mrs. Everything’ Review

This is the story of two sisters, Bethie and Jo, going from the 1950s all the way to our year of 2022. It shows how they come to find themselves and grow as people in the everchanging society around them and what it means to a be a woman of the modern age.

Character work in its finest form, Bethie was the most relatable character for me, but I liked her less and less as the novel progressed. Jo, on the other hand, her story was like nothing that I had ever read before. Bethie had the ‘flower child’ story we see a lot of when the twentieth century is portrayed in literature, whereas Jo was something different. Jo was a struggling housewife, living the perfect American dream but not being able to be her true self. The characters were so human, with their flaws, and that was one of the main factors of this story.

I have never read a historical fiction book, other than ones in the Tudor era, that follows the whole life of its protagonist, not until now. As the characters change, the reader sees how the world changes around them and it was just perfect for slice of life from the 1950s to the modern day in 2022.

The writing is why this is not receiving a five-star review. Do not get me wrong, there were beautiful paragraphs that I wanted to annotate. (I will on reread.) However, it was lengthy and longwinded. Some of the formatting was awkward. The passage of time was hard to tell as chapters went on. This could have been edited better, but as it is, this a book that would make for a good audiobook experience.

The plot is where, ‘Mrs. Everything’ flies. There are so many ideas brought forth by Weiner. Ones including family, race, and religion. My favorite was the themes of feminism throughout the novel. That a woman does not have to fit into one mold and how the idea of feminism is different for each woman, rather it be a housewife in a northeastern suburb or a drifter in Santa Fe, but that in the end each woman is wanting the same thing, wanting to live their life how they see fit. There are also interesting discussions of how mental and physical health intersect one another. The main theme is the life of women, and how it has its bumps and is never perfect, mistakes are made and sometimes learned from. In the end the life is lived with all its highs and lows and makes for a beautiful story.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

‘Eleutheria’ Book Review

 

Willa Marks grew up with paranoid, doomsday prepper parents. A childhood isolated from the real world, the rest of society. She goes on to live in Boston with eccentric, strange, cousins. The city leaves her shell shocked compared to the nature surrounding childhood she once had. That all changes when she comes across Harvard professor, Sylvia Gill. Sylvia is intelligent and shows Willa how the world really is. 

  After many days spent with the professor, Willa comes across a book about a place called ‘Camp Hope’ and how the leader of this camp has plans to save the world from the impending climate disaster. This is all a girl filled with hope needs to hear before jumping on a plane, to the Bahamas, to join those saving the ecosystem around them.

 The reader gets to experience two sides of the climate spectrum here. First, we start with Willa’s childhood. Parents, who I would say are far-right conspiracy theorists, who only view the negative that nothing can be done to stop the apocalypse and that you should only focus on yourself and your small family, when the time of the end of the world comes. In most literature that I have read, we always see things from a leftist perspective, now I may not agree with a far-right point of view, but I do want to read from all standpoints and see people who have different beliefs than my own. Later on, in Willa’s life, we see her meet Roy Adams and his local of Camp Hope, Adams is an optimist, he is trying to prevent climate change or make it easier for the people who will go through it. To Willa, this is the complete opposite of what she has known, and it intrigues her, gives her hope in the world. 

    Willa is a character who grew up in isolation. She seeks out other people to compensate for the lack of relationships with other people in her childhood and teenage years. Rather this be, following her cousins, with their crazy schemes throughout the city, stalking a Harvard professor until she becomes her closest companion, or flying to the Caribbean to join a somewhat cult to stop climate change. Very unique character work. 

  If we think back to Willa’s childhood, growing up in a secluded cabin, in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire; that makes me want a book with that atmosphere. Yes, we do get bits and pieces in flashbacks but that would play into a really cool story in itself. Boston, it was like you would expect it to be. The Bahamas, Camp Hope, very intriguing, especially as someone who had been to the Bahamas, and not for vacation purposes. It was very easy to picture and just overall fascinating at the thought of someone making a camp or compound like Camp Hope.

The writing is what I marked the most of in my experience annotating ‘Eleutheria’. There are positives and negatives. At first, I had no idea how this writing would be for me, I knew that I was either going to love it or hate it, well, I fell in the middle of that. The quotes lack actual quotation marks, but I never had a hard time telling who was speaking. This is the first time a book that I have read has been successful with that. Another thing, at the start, the author seemed so focused on making the writing sound poetic or metaphoric. I could not help but roll my eyes at some of the comparisons. However, as the book progressed, it became easier and easier to read and I started underlining more and more quotes. That being said, some of the paragraphs were beautiful and had great commentary on the society we live in and are going towards. 

That leads us into the plot. The first plot point that I will focus on is how Americans view climate change and really anything in the world that is not at our front door. A lot of us, Americans, don’t seem to care what is happening in other parts of the world. We just scroll on by and say something like “Oh, that sucks.” and just go on to the next post but no, most really don’t care unless it is right in their backyard threatening their actual way of life. This can be said for a lot of first world countries in the Western Hemisphere. It was just great to see this brought up and how no matter the number of protests and petitions are done, most of the time nothing is actually done to fix the issue. Hyde, the author, just goes to show the morals, or lack thereof, that go behind so many campaigns on making the world a better place or just social movements in general. Just great, great commentary on the political climate around us and how it is truly all messed up. It was all just so realistic on how people, mainly Americans, would act and are acting in the world of an ever changing climate. I highly recommend picking this book up for the ideas and themes that are presented.

The reader gets to experience two sides of the climate spectrum here. Very unique character work. If we think back to Willa’s childhood, growing up in a secluded cabin, in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire; that makes me want a book with that atmosphere. The setting was very easy to picture and just overall fascinating at the thought of someone making a camp or compound like Camp Hope. The writing is what I marked the most of in my experience annotating ‘Eleutheria’. That being said, some of the paragraphs were beautiful and had great commentary on the society we live in and are going towards. I highly recommend picking this book up for the ideas and themes that are presented.

3 out of 5 stars.

‘Dynasty of Evil’ Book Review

(Since this is a last book in a series, I am only going to give the description of the first book in the series.)  Des lived a rough life, the son of a miner, that was the life destined for him; to be just like his father. Des has always dreamed of escape, to see the galaxy. He finally gets the chance when he gets into serious trouble and must go on the run. He gets sent to war; he joins the ranks of the Sith army to fight against the Republic. All his talents show in this field and the higher ups know that he is destined for far greater things as the role in the Sith empire. Des does not believe the teachings he is given at the Sith academy and goes against it all to find his on role in the galaxy.

This almost seems like the second book, was just an introduction to this one. In ‘Rule of Two’, I felt as though some of the characters were one dimensional and were just doing random things. In the third book, one of those characters, Zannah, became my favorite. It was like a switch was flipped and they all suddenly came back to the depth they had in the first installment. We had some new characters introduced as well, I enjoyed them. All the connections between the characters and their arcs, overall, ended nicely.

Like in Karpyshyn’s previous works, the writing was fast and easy to read. Something that other books in this era of Star Wars has lacked. For the Old Republic, this author is the shining star for writing.

The first, maybe, twenty percent of the book, did not grip me. I was scared that this was going to be another fail like ‘Rule of Two’ but then connections started to be made, missions began, and I buckled up for a new journey through the galaxy. That being said, it did take a little while ,it not feel like it though with the fast writing, to get into but once the plot got going; it was hard to put down.

This almost seems like the second book, was just an introduction to this one. All the connections between the characters and their arcs, overall, ended nicely. Like in Karpyshyn’s previous works, the writing was fast and easy to read.For the Old Republic, this author is the shining star for writing. The first, maybe, twenty percent of the book, did not grip me.That being said, it did take a little while ,it not feel like it though with the fast writing, to get into but once the plot got going; it was hard to put down.

4 out of 5 stars.

‘Spoiler Alert’ Book Review

Marcus is an actor who has his big show coming to an end. An unsatisfactory ending, that is. April is a fangirl but has never shared her interests with anyone in her life. That is until there is a tweet from Marcus’s show that asks fans to send in their best cosplay pictures. April sends in her picture and it definitely gets a lot of attention, and not all positive. Marcus takes note of this and invites her out to dinner from the kindness of his heart. Little do both know that they both already know each other through their secret online identities and that there might actually be real feelings.

I did not hate the characters but I also did not connect with them. First we are introduced to Marcus and he started out like a jerk but somehow when he is with April he is a completely different person, yeah, I don’t know. April started out good, we got some backstory on her and building on her personality but as the novel went on she was a stagnant. At times, she did annoy me but I could only find it relatable, of being insecure about yourself and also trying to date. It isn’t easy and I am glad to have read about a character going through something similar.

In romance books, atmosphere plays little part so there is not a whole lot to say for the atmosphere category in the CAWPILE system. It is set in Northern California, scenes in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

The writing was lengthy, this was something that I was shocked by. Usually, romance reads fast even if I am not a fan of one or two elements that the story has. Here, I was constantly having to check how many more pages that the chapter entailed. This could have been diced down a lot and not include, or just dice down, the bits of scripts and fan fictions between chapters.

Where this book will be a hit or miss for people will be the plot. I mean, is the star of a show like Game of Thrones really writing fan fiction about his own character and cast mates? I mean, it is kind of creepy to be writing dirty stuff about your coworkers, if you ask me. Still, this book is every fangirl’s dream. The other fan account you are talking to ends up being the guy your are a fan of? I think all fangirls have dreamed that at one point or another. All the talk of servers, fanfiction sites, and just the dynamics of a fandom, is spot on. Especially if you are apart of the Game of Thrones or ASOIAF fandom, I think that you will have at least a little fun with this one!

I did not hate the characters but I also did not connect with them. April was a relatable character and it was nice to read to someone who has the same fears of dating and relationships that I do. In romance books, atmosphere plays little part so there is not a whole lot to say for the atmosphere category in the CAWPILE system. The writing was lengthy, this was something that I was shocked by. It could have been diced down a lot and you would still get the same story. Where this book will be a hit or miss for people will be the plot. An average, three star, read.

‘Medici ~ Supremacy’ Book Review

In the mid to late 1400s, the new leader of the Medici family is having to come to terms with ruling and giving up the woman he loves to marry a woman from a high-ranking Roman family. Lorenzo is torn between love and power and making the right choices for the city of Florence. There are enemies from his family’s past and then those who have come out the shadows, trying to come for the young Medici’s neck.

Strukul’s writing of characters improved tremendously in this installment in the Medici trilogy. In the first book, I was connecting more so with the side characters than the actual Medici. Here, all the characters are enjoyable to read from and all so different, they are each going through their own thing, Lorenzo ruling a city, Clarice in a loveless marriage, Leonardo wanting to discover things that are against the church’s beliefs. This book really showed off how people were advancing during the renaissance. I liked that it did not paint the Medici like gods, no, they all had flaws and did make wrong choices at time. This book made historical figures into real people.

 Atmosphere is made by descriptive writing, in my opinion. The reader really gets to see how Florence and Italy has changed from the first book. It is interesting to see how the politics of the leaders changed the republics around them as the series continued. This story takes place in the peak of the renaissance with a Medici and then Leonardo Da Vinci as two of its main characters.

The author has never lacked with his writing skills. In the first book, there might have been some errors in translation, but I did not see any of that in this installment. As stated before, Strukul is a descriptive writer, but he does not overdo it in anyway. This was fast and easy to read and if historical fiction is not your main genre, I still think that you would find this enjoyable. The dialogue was great as well, I really hoped it would be for the characters that the story focused on, I was not let down.

This is my favorite time in the Medici family history I was super excited for the plot of this book. This book only spans about ten years, yes, I would have liked to see more of Lorenzo’s “reign”, but I was not disappointed with what I got. I truly was not expecting to get Da Vinci as a point of view, and it was so interesting to see his thoughts on the Medici and his process of making his inventions and masterpieces. Lucrezia is one of my favorite characters on the Netflix series about the Medici, this book gave her so much mor depth though of how she was seen in Florence with Lorenzo and Leonardo. Clarice has not been someone in the family’s history that I ever connected with but her portrayal in this story was so much more harrowing than we usually see. Strukul does not paint the renaissance as this beautiful and bright time, he showed the hardships and violence that was happening as well. I think there could have been so much more added to the story like Giuliano, Botticelli, and Simonetta Vespucci but I understand the author did not want to linger too far from the facts and I respect that.

Strukul’s writing of characters improved tremendously in this installment in the Medici trilogy. This book made historical figures into real people. The reader really gets to see how Florence and Italy has changed from the first book. This story takes place in the peak of the renaissance with a Medici and then Leonardo Da Vinci as two of its main characters. The author has never lacked with his writing skills. The dialogue was great as well, I really hoped it would be for the characters that the story focused on, I was not let down. This book only spans about ten years, yes, I would have liked to see more of Lorenzo’s “reign”, but I was not disappointed with what I got. Although this did not feel like a five star, I still enjoyed my time reading this book. I will finish up the series next month, in April.

4 out of 5 stars.

‘A Lite Too Bright’ Book Review

Arthur Pullman’s famous grandfather passed away shortly before this story begins. He believes there is more to the story and his family is too greedy and self-absorbed to investigate it. When clues start to appear at the family’s cabin, that makes Arthur set off on a grand voyage across the United States to find out what truly happened to his grandfather.

The biggest downfall here, for me, was the characters. I think they might be made to be unlikable but even so, I should still enjoy reading about them. We have a bit of an unreliable narrator here and that is something that I have not read a lot of, so it was something interesting and new for me. There was no connection there for them, but I will say, this is one of the young adult books that I have read where I have found the adults to be annoying and the kids to be less so.

The atmosphere in this novel was cool. In America, our train system is not the most used source of transportation, so it was awesome getting to see it being used in this story. The reader also gets to see the small railroad towns of the west and Midwest, somewhere that the average person probably has not visited. I liked getting to explore some of these places that I have never heard of.

The plot started out strong and I loved how Arthur was going out and discovering this mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance and then death. The atmosphere and literature played into the plot nicely. Towards the middle, we get these ‘cult’ aspects and that turned it off for me. It brought this from being a 3.5 to a three star.

The writing was albeit strange. I should say it was more formatting than anything, just a guess. We would randomly have a flashback scene with no break in the page or anything, so it was quite confusing for the reader. There should have been a break in the page or maybe even starting a new chapter all together. Other than that, this writing was above average for a young adult novel.

The biggest downfall here, for me, was the characters. I liked getting to explore some of these places that I have never heard of. The plot started out strong and I loved how Arthur was going out and discovering this mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance and then death. This writing was above average for a young adult novel. This book touched on a lot of important subjects like the protests of the Vietnam war, capitalism, police brutality, mental health, and Alzheimer’s. I knew of some of these subjects before but for the ones that I did not it has given me a good place to start on my research.

3 out of 5 stars

‘The Sun Also Rises’ Book Review

In, ‘The Sun Also Rises’, we follow a group of friends who are expats in Europe after the end of the first world war. I feel like this book was supposed to be a character driven one, but I just could not get connected with them. There was a lot of dialogue, something I have found common in books from this time period, rather than internal thoughts. Overall, they were dull like much else in this story.

The atmosphere was cool and really reminded of books like ‘The Nightingale’ and ‘The Paris Hours’, Hemmingway is a character in that one. I really think this book did a good job at showing us what life in post war Europe was like and all the angst and questioning that came with it.

The writing was quite descriptive at times, and I think it was the highlight of the novel. Especially the descriptions of the travel between France and Spain, I could see the rolling hills and how beautiful they were. There were other parts with how a person was described maybe something as small as the look in their eyes, but I thought that it was beautiful and rather emotional in writing.

The writing might have been great, but this was a dull story. I just do not know what the plot was and that’s why I could not even write a synopsis for it. We just followed the lives of these characters day to day. Even with their dramas, I did not care because I could not connect with the characters. This book was boring and after reading it, I just wanted to go to sleep.

I feel like this book was supposed to be a character driven one, but I just could not get connected with them. I really think this book did a good job at showing us what life in post war Europe was like and all the angst and questioning that came with it. The writing was quite descriptive at times, and I think it was the highlight of the novel. I just do not know what the plot was. I have read two books from this author now, if I do not like the next one that I read from him, then I will not read anymore.

2 out 5 stars

‘Rule of Two’ Book Review

(Since this is a sequel, I am only going to give the description of the first book in the series.)  Des lived a rough life, the son of a miner, that was the life destined for him; to be just like his father. Des has always dreamed of escape, to see the galaxy. He finally gets the chance when he gets into serious trouble and must go on the run. He gets sent to war; he joins the ranks of the Sith army to fight against the Republic. All his talents show in this field and the higher ups know that he is destined for far greater things as the role in the Sith empire. Des does not believe the teachings he is given at the Sith academy and goes against it all to find his on role in the galaxy.

I am stunned by this one. In the review for first installment in the series, I will leave a link below, I said that the authors know how to develop a character. In this one, absolutely not. The problem for me was that I had no connection to Zannah, whatsoever. She is the character that is getting the most page time, but I felt like her actions were random and she was one dimensional. I did not hate her, but I did not know enough about her to care. Bane is the one who carried the first book and his development in that was excellent but in this one that is just not the case.

‘Rule of Two’ is not as atmospheric as the first novel but we did get to explore some new worlds. I really liked one of the planets, it seemed to be inspired by Italy by its politics and a few other hints. We also got to see some places that anyone familiar with Star Wars would know, like Coruscant.

 The writing was typical. It was fast and easy to read, I thank God for that because I do not know if I could have gotten through this book otherwise.

I really liked how this started off exactly where the previous book left off. That makes it easier for the reader to adjust and remember the events of the previous story. Again, I felt like the plot was all over the place much like the actions of the characters.

This was a disappointing read as I have loved and enjoyed all the other books that I have read from this author. Bane is the one who carried the first book and his development in that was excellent but in this one that is just not the case. ‘Rule of Two’ is not as atmospheric as the first novel but we did get to explore some new worlds. The writing was typical. I really liked how this started off exactly where the previous book left off. Nevertheless, I will continue the series and my journey of reading every Star Wars book in chronological order.

2 out 5 stars.

My review for the first book: https://izzyreads.blog/2021/05/15/path-of-destruction-book-review/

‘Infinite Country’ Book Review

Elena and Mauro grow up in a world full of violence in Colombia. Once they are married and have a child, Mauro thinks that it would be best for the family to move to a safer environment: the United States. They stay past the date of their visas and continue to move and have children, that is until Mauro is deported and Elena is left in this new country to raise their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia. She must make a decision that will even divide her family more than it already is.

Talia was my favorite character and her chapters really stood out from the rest. I was quite bored as there was not a lot of dialogue coming from the others, just descriptions and a lot of showing but not telling. I did like Elena’s chapters, but we should have got her perspective and the other two siblings’ perspectives earlier in the story as well. Talia’s chapters were enjoyable to read from, but it was harder to connect with the other characters of the story.

I have not read that many books with a South American setting, so I enjoyed getting introduced to a new country and setting. The reader gets great descriptions of Bogota and Colombia as a whole. I will be looking at pictures and reading about the culture and history of the city of Bogota now that I have had an introduction to it.

The writing is where this gets confusing and messy for me. I do think that this story was beautifully told and powerful. Some points have me questioning. As stated before, there was a lot of description rather than dialogue, I would prefer getting to be in the character’s head or having them speak their thoughts and feelings. Randomly, at sixty-four percent of the way into the book we go from third person perspective to second, and then to first. This was random and took me away from the story. The writing is the reason that I am not giving this a four star.

This was a very moving story, and I am glad that I just this as my BOTM pick back in February of last year. The main theme here is immigration but I also think there is a theme of is The United States better than any of the other countries in the world? Countries that the west sees as less than. It really makes the reader think of the violence that we see in the states and how it is civilians while in countries like Colombia it’s militias or other kinds of groups. There are a lot of interesting points to take away from this novel and it really has me thinking. I encourage you to do your own research if you are one of the people to say something like ‘send them back’, think about the families and think about these people as people.

Talia’s chapters were enjoyable to read from, but it was harder to connect with the other characters of the story. I have not read that many books with a South American setting, so I enjoyed getting introduced to a new country and setting. The writing is the reason that I am not giving this a four star. There are a lot of interesting points to take away from this novel and it really has me thinking. ‘Infinite Country’, might not be a five star but it is definitely a memorable read that I will hold with me.

3.75 out of 5 stars.

‘The Call of Chthulhu and Other Weird Stories’ Book Review

The characters in this are nonexistent. Yes, there are characters, but they are interchange for each story. most of the time the character has no time, fears something, and ends up getting mauled by that something. There is no character development, and they are all one dimensional if even that.

The stories are usually set with Lovecraft’s native New England. Sometimes we will see stories set in other places like England or Egypt but for the most part, expect the United States. I have nothing to say about the setting, it was there and that’s that. You will see throughout much of this review, I do not have any major thoughts.

At first, I enjoyed the writing. It was descriptive and I was wanting full novels out of the first few short stories. As the collection went along though, the writing just felt as though it was getting lengthier and with little to no dialogue it was growing to be tiresome. a lot of the stories were told in first person, but I feel like so much more could have been done to them if third person had been used as a lot of the time the author used fade to black and we did not really get to see much of these monsters. I think that Lovecraft has a nice writing style but at times he got too carried away with it.

As stated before, I really enjoyed the plot of the first few stories that are in this collection. My favorites being Celephaïs, Dagon, and The Rats in the Walls. Since I enjoyed a few of the stories that is why I am adding half a star to the two-star rating. The descriptions of the monsters or other scary things were quite vague so I could not have a definite picture of them in my head. I do think at the time that these stories came out that they must have been shocking but for the most part they were lackluster for me.

The characters in this are nonexistent. There is no character development, and they are all one dimensional if even that. The stories are usually set with Lovecraft’s native New England. At first, I enjoyed the writing. I think that Lovecraft has a nice writing style but at times he got too carried away with it. I really enjoyed the plot of the first few stories that are in this collection. I do think at the time that these stories came out that they must have been shocking but for the most part they were lackluster for me. It was interesting to see the stories that inspired much of our modern-day fantasy and science fiction stories, but I will not be continuing with Lovecraft.

2.5 out of 5 stars.