Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chancers by Susan Stellin & Graham MacIndoe

Chancers: Addiction, Prison, Recovery, Love: One Couple's Memoir

In this powerful double memoir, a reporter and a photographer tell their gripping story of falling in love, the heroin habit that drove them apart, and the unlikely way a criminal conviction brought them back together.
When Susan Stellin asked Graham MacIndoe to shoot her author photo for an upcoming travel book, she barely knew him except for a few weekends with mutual friends at a summer house in Montauk. He was a gregarious, divorced Scotman who had recently gotten sober; she was an independent New Yorker who decided to take a change on a rough-around-the-edged guy.But their relationship was soon tested when Susan discovered Graham still had a drug habit he was hiding.
From their harrowing portrayal of the ravages of addiction to the stunning chain of events that lef to Graham's arrest and imprisonment at Rikers Island, Chancers unfolds in alternating chapters that offer two perspectives on a relationship that ultimately endures against all odds. Susan follows Graham down the rabbit hole of the American criminal justice system, determined to keep him from becoming another casualty of the war on drugs. Graham give a stark, riveting description of his slide from brownstone Brooklyn to a prison cell, his gut-wrenching efforts to get clean, and his fight to avoid getting exiled far away from his son and the life he built over twenty years.
Beautifully written, brutally honest, yet filled with suspense and hope, Chancers will resonate with anyone who has been touched with the heartache of addiction, the nightmare of incarceration, or the tough choice of leaving or staying with someone who is struggling on the road to recovery. By sharing their story, Susan and Graham show the value of talking about topics many of us are too scared to address.
I requested this book several *cough* months ago... As I may have mentioned at some point, I was really busy for a spell, and even if I got to read, I certainly couldn't find the time to blog and write reviews, much less anything that anyone else would want to read.

I'm still really busy these days, but I'm finding ways to make time for reading and blogging and such. So, when I finally went in and downloaded my Netgalley shelf, I had truthfully forgotten what this book was about and why I requested it. I only remembered that it was a memoir of a couple. 

My first impression, 36 pages in: I have been in one of the whirlwind relationships that Susan describes at first, with a person who is so charming and charismatic that it's magnetic, and you can't pull away. At this point, it almost seems like she is trying to make herself seem super sensible and responsible, but I know from first hand experience, no matter how put together you are, a person like that, pursuing you like that, makes you lower tat guard and act reckless when it comes to them.

As if reading my mind, I came upon the next chapter, which is written by Graham. At this point, I remembered reading that this was a couple's memoir, but I didn't realize that the chapter alternate between Susan and Graham's POV. I don't think I would have believed some of Susan's story if it weren't for Graham backing her up. However, I figure that she probably had the last say in how the book turned out, especially from the way her personality is depicted. I ended up liking both of them much more throughout the book than I did when I first started reading. 

I've never heard of, or read, a memoir, especially one about addiction, written by a couple. It's "brilliant" (yes, that's quoting the Scot that wrote half the book! By the time I was done with it, I was describing everything as brilliant). The concept is just BRILLIANT!

I really enjoyed this book and getting to hear two sides to this story. I've read lots of memoirs, and after I finished this one, I thought about how the book would have turned out if it only featured one perspective, and I think it would really be lacking. I don't think I would have read it if it was only from Susan's POV.

I probably would have read it if it was only written from Graham's POV, and he might have even revealed more in that case. However, it would have taken away one of the biggest themes of the book: Sometimes you just can't five up on someone you love, and occasionally it takes the person you love hanging on through it all to pull you up when you hit rock bottom.

I received this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Riverkeep by Martin Stewart


The Danek is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations--clearing it of ice and week, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Wulliam's father, the current Riverkeep, is proud of this work. Wull dreads it. And in one week, when he comes of age, he will have to take it over.
Then, the unthinkable happens While recovering a drowned man, Wull's father is pulled under--and when he emerges, he is no longer himself. A dark spirit possess him, devouring him from the inside. In an instant, Wull is Riverkeep. And he must care for his father, too. 
When he hears that a cure for his father lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected--but never explored. Along the way, he faces death in any number of ways, meets people and creatures touched by magic and madness and alchemy, and finds courage he never knew he possessed.
So, my first impression of this book, not far at all into it, is this book is definitely weird, but I wasn't yet sure if it was going to be a good kind of weird or creepy weird or just...weird, weird. But it also starts off a bit slow, and a bit sad, and I just wasn't sure how much I was going to like it...

About 50 pages in, the humor picks up, and the rest of the book ends up have some pretty funny stuff sprinkled among the strangeness. This is when my impression of the book started getting a lot better, and it kept getting better from there. It's definitely a good kind of weird.

This book was really quite good! The author did a great job at telling the story in a way that things don't quite make sense all the time as you read, but by the end, everything is brought together in an awesome way.

I really enjoyed this easy read, and if you like things a little weird, you will too!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via First to Read, in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Baby Doll

For fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, Baby Doll is the most tense thriller you will read this year.
Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole lige. But one day, their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.
This is what happens next... her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter...and to her captor.
So, I came across this book about a month after reading the book Room, just after seeing the movie when it came out. It seemed very similar, and I wanted to see if I liked it as much. 

At first, I thought perhaps it was a ripoff of Room. However, the more and more I got into it, the only real similarity is the main plot of the story. 

While Room is told from the POV of the little boy, Baby Doll rotates through several POVs. You get to hear the story through both twins, the mom, and even the abductor. That is something that I thought was interesting, not often do you get the perspective of the bad guy. The only thing that I wish was visited a little bit is the POV of the little girl. I think that would have added something to the story, but I can see why the author did not include this, as it would be hard to include this where it would flow well with the rest of the story.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with this book, especially since I figured it was a ripoff of another book. However, the books are way to different to accuse the author of that. 

If you liked Room, you will probably like this book. It also does not focus much on the actual acts that were done to the main character, just an FYI, as I know that a couple of people that I've talked to about room did not want to read it if it was too graphic about the abuse. Like room, while the abuse is mentioned, there are not graphic details, and the author does a good job at showing how much the abuse affected the main character without spelling out everything that was done to her.

This was overall, a good, easy read, and I would recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wonder by R.J. Palacio


I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
I kept hearing about this book, and I just had to try it out. I was not disappointed, to say the least. 

I think this book is wonderful for children (and children at heart) of all ages! 

I encourage anyone to pick it up! It's a short, fun read, with a great message, and the message is not just for children. In situations like many in the book, it is not just the children that behave badly. This book could teach some adults I know a thing or two!

I will admit, it did make me cry (*cough* twice *cough*). 

I know this is a short review, and truthfully, I wasn't planning on reviewing it on here at all. I figured it was just a short read that I kept seeing everywhere, so I grabbed it from the library. I really just enjoyed it so much that I figured I should contribute to the many many reviews that are already out there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins


A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe.
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
Carolyn's not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.
After all, she was a normal American herself once.
That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father.
In the years since then, Carolyn hasn't had a chance to get out that much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient customs. They've studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing--perhaps even dead--and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.
But Carolyn has accounted for this.
And Carolyn has a plan.
The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she's forgotten to protect the things that make her human.
Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling--and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.

Imagine if Chuck Palahnuik started writing YA Fantasy....

Yeah, I know! How AMAZING would that be?!?!?!

This book has a little bit of everything... It's funny, it's got bits of fantasy, a little sci-fi, some historical fiction, a YA feel...
"That's the risk on working to be a dangerous person," she said. There's always the chance you'll run into someone who's better at it than you."
"Steve didn't like the stairs, It bothered him that they hung in midair, unsupported. Steve said this 'weirded him out.'
This wasn't surprising. The list of things that Steve found objectionable was long and growing. It included the Library itself ('How can the furniture hang on the ceiling like that? It's creepy.'); the jade floor ('Jade isn't supposed to glow.'); the apothecary ('What the hell is this thins? I' m out of here.'); the armory (David's trophies made him throw up); the Pelapi language (It sounds like cats fighting); her robes ('Did you borrow those from Death?' She hadn't.); and, of course, Carolyn herself."
Yes, it can get a bit graphic in places, and if you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip a few bits here and there (and everywhere).

I had never heard of Scott Hawkins before, but I am super happy that I came across this gem on Blogging for Books! I will certainly be on the lookout for future work from Scott Hawkins, and I can only pray that he will write a sequel.

DISCLAIMER: If you do not like weird, you will not like this. This book has some serious weirdness, and I loved it!

I received this book from the publishers via Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.