By Myself Book Club: December Edition (halfway mark!)
December 19, 2019
Let’s just get to the chase here – I’ve read a lot of novels, here are my thoughts!
Ninth House by: Leigh Bardugo
“He didn’t know how precious a normal life could be, how easy it was to drift away from average. You started sleeping until noon, skipped one class, one day of school, lost one job, then another, forgot the way that normal people did things. You lost the language of ordinary life. And then, without meaning to, you crossed into a country from which you couldn’t return. You lived in a state where the ground always seemed to be slipping from beneath your feet, with no way back to someplace solid.”
I’ll be honest that it took me a moment to get my bearings in this novel and it wasn’t until the absolute very end that I understood why. The beginning chapters involve a lot of “setting up” in the sense that a lot of characters are introduced and a lot of plot laid down involving descriptions of all of the ‘houses’ and their various powers. Until the very last page when I realized she was setting up a series I completely understood.
Once I navigated my way through those chapters and found my way again I absolutely devoured this novel. The heroic figure Alex is absolutely perfect and I am beyond stoked that I’ll get more stories from her perspective.
I enjoy fantasy novels, however, I prefer fantasy based in reality and that’s exactly what this gives me. Magical beautifully written fantasy based at Yale in New Haven. It’s brilliant.
Wanderers by: Chuck Wendig
“Apophenia, they called it. An epiphany was a useful revelation about the world around you; an apophany was a revelation, too, but wrong in that you had incorrectly discerned a pattern where none had existed, taking enlightenment from an untrue thing. It was the human way – seeing truth in the storm of darkness and noise. Faces in clouds, ghosts on video, Jesus on a damn piece of toast”
This. Novel. This novel nearly broke my brain. Partially through my own doing and pure stubbornness, partly because this is a monster 800 page novel and partly because it is just simply…too much in one novel. Or, at least, too much for me.
I loved the first 400-500 pages. It was compelling and that’s from someone who is not at all into apocalypse/dystopia novels, movies, anything. I liked the premise of people being overcome by a “sleepwalking sickness”. It was just creepy enough without being completely frightening. It loses me when it goes off the rails into deeply radicalized right-wing characters that lead to some really disturbing aspects of the book that just took it a bit further than I felt was necessary.
My thought is that he was going for an EPIC, magnum opus story beginning to end and truthfully he did that successfully – it was just too much for me personally.
The Nightingale by: Kristin Hannah
“I know these modern seatbelts are a good thing, but they make me feel claustrophobic. I belong to a generation that didn’t expect to be protected from every danger”
“Men tell stories,” I say. It is the truest, simplest answer to his question. “Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
This book hurt me deeply. Not just because of the horrific fact that it was based off of World War 2 and all of the absolute atrocities that made up that period of time. It hurt me also because it was largely about a mother trying to navigate her world literally being exploded to pieces while she is just trying to protect her child. The novel is set in France during the German invasion and ultimate takeover of the country it follows sisters. One who is a young mother just trying to keep her head down and survive for her child, the other who is set on rebelling and fighting in the resistance to free France.
It made me contemplate the life I’ve had in comparison to the lives of those women. It wasn’t so long ago that mothers had to make horrifying choices for the simple survival of their children. It wasn’t so long ago that a full generation became hardened by a war that my current generation cannot even fathom.
It’s true that when we look back on the history books the pages are filled with stories of battle and men and violence. What we don’t read about was that there was a whole other war that happened for the women and children that were left behind. The women who had to make the choice between having soldiers (who’s mission was to slaughter your husband or father or son) stay in your home with you or allow them to leave you homeless. Mothers who starved so that their children could eat the small rations they were allowed.
It’s a heartbreaking story and although it is fiction, the pain is tangible because….at the end of the day those things truly happened.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by: Alix E. Harrow
“It’s a profoundly strange feeling, to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips. If you should ever be lucky enough to find that magical, fearful symmetry, I hope you’re brave enough to grab it with both hands and not let go.”
“Once we have agreed that true love exists, we may consider its nature. It is not, as many misguided poets would have you believe, an event in and of itself; it is not something that happens, but something that simply is and always has been. One does not fall in love; one discovers it”
I didn’t dislike this novel, but, I didn’t love it. I liked the way it was written – it was very flowery beautiful writing which I was very into. The problems I found were that she spent too long getting the story going. It wasn’t until well past the 50% mark that I got invested enough in the story to honestly even care to finish.
I also think this book was at a disadvantage because I just recently read The Starless Sea which made me absolutely enamoured with the concept of portal magic and it was so beautiful that anything else paled in comparison to it. I had also read The Ninth House just prior and for the same reason – this book just didn’t stand up to it.
It’s very tough to end a novel and I did actually enjoy the ending and it may have oddly been my favourite part of the whole book.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by: Taylor Jenkins Reid
“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you can stand in front of them bare and their response is “You’re safe with me” – that’s intimacy”
It’s a shame I don’t have more quotes flagged but I truthfully didn’t even have time to pause to focus on any particular quote because I INHALED this novel. It was absolutely stunning and such a unique concept.
I’ve always had a fascination for the complexities that go on with celebrity relationships and how much goes on behind the surface that is presented to the general public as “consumption material”. This took that curiosity and launched it into the stratosphere. Was Evelyn real? Can we all just shake on it and forever pretend that she was? Ok great.
Daisy Jones & The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid
“It is what I have always loved about music. Not the sounds or the crowds or the good times as much as the words – the emotions, and the stories, the truth – that you can let flow right out of your mouth. Music can dig you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until it hits something.”
“I am not going to sit around sweating my ass off just so men can feel more comfortable. It’s not my responsibility to not turn them on. It’s their responsibility to not be an asshole.”
My gosh what a unique novel. I felt like I was reading the transcript from a biography about a real band. It was so real the author made me feel like I had heard the songs before like I had seen them perform.
How she managed to make me invested in the thoughts and feelings of SO many characters was simply brilliant, brilliant writing. I loved Daisy so much. She was unapologetic, lived life hard and fast but also had such a softness to her that just made you fall head over heels for her. I rooted for her, I got mad and frustrated with her, she was just such a three dimensional character I couldn’t help but be intensely invested in her story.
The Sentence is Death by: Anthony Horowitz
I don’t have any flagged quotes for this one – not really that type of book…not sorry about it.
It was fine. This is the second novel about detective Daniel Hawthorne and Anthony Horowitz (the author who inserts himself as a first person character in the novel). I read ‘The Word is Murder’ and loved it – the way it’s written is so unique and that wasn’t lost on me at all in this one as well. I think what made me love his first novel was the style in which it was written, I had never read anything with that angle before.
Because this one didn’t have that spark of nuance it became just another mystery novel – which, don’t get me wrong, I love, but it didn’t grab me and hold me like the first one did. I found the ending also relatively predictable, which is always a bummer – this girl likes a solid twisty ending.
Twice in a blue moon by: Christina Lauren
“For the first time in my life I get it: home isn’t always a space; it can be a person.”
“Shock is a cold hand on my shoulder, a complete standstill in my brain and chest and veins.”
“He’s the one who taught me what love looked like and felt like and then taught me it’s a lie. I have never been able to come back from that.”
Ah – this book just gave me warm, fuzzy feelings. It was a perfectly done love story and made me swoon. There’s something incredibly satisfying about reading a simple heart swelling love story and this was exactly that.
Now, excuse me while I read every novel by this dynamic romance duo.
Red White & Royal Blue by: Casey McQuiston
“Sometimes, he’s taken over by a dark mood, an unusually acerbic wit, strange and vitrified. He’ll withdraw for hours or days, and Alex comes to understand this as grief time, little bouts of depression, or times of “too much.” Henry hates those days completely. Alex wishes he could help, but he doesn’t particularly mind. He’s just as attracted to Henry’s cloudy tempers, thee way her comes back from them, and the millions of shades in between.”
“I’ve always felt it, in him. There’s this side of him that’s…unknowable.” He takes a breath. “But the thing is, jumping off cliffs is kinda my thing. That’s thee choice. I love him, with all that, because of all that. On purpose. I love him on purpose.”
“But the truth is, also, simply this: love is indomitable.”
Oh. My God. This book made my heart explode into eight thousand pieces. On paper it had already hooked me – the son of the first female President of the United States falling in love with the Prince of Wales, yeah ok consider me intrigued. It was the PERFECT rom-com love story but also so much more complex than that.
It takes place in some wild imagined future where we get a female president and the Queen of England basically gets told to take a seat. WHAT A RIDE. This novel made my heart beat fast, it made me blush (a LOT of times), it made me emotional… it gave me every feeling in the rainbow and I LOVED every second of it. This was a novel that was endorsed by nobody. It was on no celebrity book club lists and it went viral as hell and I completely understand why. Consider me a forever shipper of Alex & Henry – now give me a movie or a sequel immediately so I can avoid this deep post-read depression I’m experiencing currently.