The Spirit Keeper :: K.B. Laugheed

Title: The Spirit Keeper
Author: K.B. Laugheed
Read: 10/29/13-11/21/13
Obtained via: free ARC from publisher
Stars: 4/5

Katie is a miserable, poor Irish immigrant living with her abusive parents in 1700s Pennsylvania. Syawa is a Native American seer, somewhat of a god, who has a vision of her and makes an incredibly long trek with his companion Hector to find her. Katie’s life is turned upside down when she is taken captive (along with some family members) by these two unknown men. What seems to be a horrible situation quickly rectifies itself when Katie finds that she enjoys their company and is being treated much better than she ever was by her family. Soon, Katie, Syawa, and Hector split off from the rest of her family to journey back to Syawa’s home.

I have to admit, I struggled through the first part of the book. I was battling a boring plot with no real direction, and I just could not get used to the 1700s English. When I finally got sucked into the story, I couldn’t put the book down. I was sneaking pages constantly!

I do have a few qualms with the book, nothing major, but still things that stood out for me. For one, I thought Katie’s change from thinking of her captors as savages to thinking of them romantically came a bit too quickly. Second, she seemed to be able to express herself in their language of gestures almost overnight, and their spoken language within weeks. Of course, it took longer for her to become fluent, but it still seemed very quick. Finally, I got fed up with Katie and her love interest going back and forth explaining why they weren’t good enough for each other. Just be together or don’t, stop arguing about it!

All in all, it was an enjoyable book once I got past the rocky start. I laughed out loud, got a little teary, and was just generally entertained. Final rating of 3.5/5 (for the questionable beginning), rounded up to 4/5 (for the awesome rest).

[also posted here]


Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Read: 6/2/13-6/6/13
Obtained via: bought myself
Stars: 3/5

You can’t really review this book without giving away major plot points.  Click through for the review.

When I started this book, I could not stand Liz. I couldn’t decide whether I even wanted to read to the next chapter, let alone finish the book. She was moody and spoiled and whiny and awful. She was rude to her grandmother, rude to everyone, really, and I could not sympathize with her at all. You died and what, you want to immediately die again? You’re borrowing hundreds of eternims from your grandmother, even thousands maybe – under false pretenses, no less – to spy on your parents and friends? You crash the car because you’re throwing a tantrum over being dead? Yes, an entirely likable character.

But at some point, she grew on me. Or maybe she grew up. Either way, she became more bearable. I even started liking her. I liked Owen, and I liked Betty, and I liked Curtis, and I liked Thandi. I thought the characters developed really nicely, and the story moved along nicely, and then it just stopped. Which I suppose, given the whole aging backwards thing, is kind of what happens in Elsewhere. But still, it was frustrating that just when the story got really interesting, they turned into children again and then suddenly Liz is a baby going back to Earth.

I struggled a lot with what to rate this book. The beginning was so slow and frustrating that I didn’t know if I’d finish – one star. The middle was great – at least four stars! The abrupt ending was fitting but frustrating – three stars. I guess it all evens out to about three stars, so I’ll go with that.

[Also posted here.]


Title: Do Not Disturb
Author: Tilly Bagshawe
Read: 9/19/13-10/7/13
Obtained via: free ARC from publisher
Stars: 3/5

Firstly, the characters. And the POVs. There are an awful lot of characters. In addition to our two main characters, we have friends, lovers, relatives, rivals, co-workers, all playing equally important roles in the story. Each character is well-developed and has a significant plot line, but wow. There is a lot to remember. The POV switches constantly, which isn’t much of a problem unless you have to stop mid-chapter to do something else.

Second, the timeline. The pacing of the book threw me off several times. We’ll have six chapters dedicated to a week and then suddenly we’ll jump forward three years. I get it, hotels aren’t built overnight, relationships (usually) aren’t torn apart in the course of five minutes, and you’d probably die of exhaustion if everything in the novel took place over a couple months. BUT it seems that the pacing of the book could have been improved a bit. It comes across as weird and disjointed at times.

Third, the plot. Now, I’ve read a lot of terrible books recently. Books where the author thought he’d show off his vocabulary more than his storytelling abilities. Books where I have no attachment to the characters because the author spends more time describing the trees in the backyard than describing what’s happening to the characters. So I suppose reading a book like this, where the characters are the main focus, was a welcome change. The plot is simple yet interesting. I was never bored. It wasn’t anything special and it was a bit formulaic, but what can I say? It’s fluffy chick lit. I wasn’t expecting huge plot twists. The book wraps up very neatly.

One thing I can say I was disappointed in was the relationship between Honor and Lucas. The description on the back of the book makes it sound like they have an angsty love affair, but the relationship is much more hatred than anything else. They’re constantly battling each other in the press, making accusations, telling anyone who will listen how horrible the other is…

So all in all, Do Not Disturb is neither the best nor the worst I’ve read this year. I enjoyed it for what it was and it kept my attention, but I probably won’t actively seek out additional books from this author. If I’d paid for the book, I probably would have been a little disappointed, but since I got it for free I can’t complain too much.

[Also posted here.]

Subtle Bodies :: Norman Rush

Title: Subtle Bodies
Author: Norman Rush
Read: 9/3/13-9/18/13
Obtained via: free ARC from publisher
Stars: 2/5 (I’m being generous)

After an extensive internal struggle over what to rate this book, I settled on two stars.

I can’t even tell you how much I hated the beginning of this book. So obnoxious. So pretentious. Do people like Ned and Doug really exist? Unfortunately yes, because they are the kind of people I have to deal with at my job. They think they’re smart. They think they’re funny. They use big words to try to confuse other people. They think they’re better than everybody else. Honestly, I get enough of it at work. I don’t really need to read about it when I get home. Maybe that’s a reason why I disliked this book.

I would now like to give you a rundown of some of the vocabulary words used in the book. Exophthalmic. Burgomaster. Miasma. Hinterland. Patrician. More? Okay. Baronial. Weltanschauung. Cineastes. Aoroi. Derisory. The list goes on. At certain points, it seems like Rush just consulted a thesaurus with no regard for common usage. I love words – I have a BA in Linguistics, after all – but I had to step away from this book several times because I couldn’t even handle the vocabulary.

And then the plot. Or the lack of plot, for the majority of the book. Men talking. Men reminiscing. Men sulking. A wife. An ex-girlfriend. Nothing cohesive. The best plot summary I could think of was “Old guys using big words at a funeral.” Honestly, I stopped worrying about the plot about halfway through. I concentrated on Nina, my favorite character, and took the book as a distraction, or just something to read to relax before bed. I enjoyed it much more.

I think this book was probably intended for a demographic that I do not fit.

[Also posted here.]

On the Jellicoe Road :: Melina Marchetta

Title: On the Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Read: 7/28/13-8/5/13
Obtained via: bought myself

This book is very hard for me to rate. The beginning was so confusing that I hardly wanted to finish reading it. The story flips between dreams, past events, and current events without much distinction. If I hadn’t read so many glowing reviews, I may not have kept going. But suddenly, starting about halfway in, I couldn’t put it down. All the confusion cleared up and it was a constant rush of emotions in the best way possible.

A lot of people insist that On the Jellicoe Road is amazing, a masterpiece, the best piece of literature they’ve ever read. I don’t know if I’d go that far – the book has a few flaws in my opinion – but it is a good book. You just have to trudge through the frustrating first half to get to the gold at the end.

[Also posted here.]