A Little Life by Hanya Yangihara

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Goodreads Summary:When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

This is not a happy book. Are there happy moments? Sure, and actually this book features some of the sweetest scenes I have ever seen but this is not a happy book.  This book is an investment both because of the sheer length and how much it will destroy you. I am not usually the type of person who will cry while reading a sad book but I was bawling not once but so many times that I started to lose count. There are so many trigger warnings so you absolutely have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse, physical abuse, cutting, suicide, pedophilia and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting. I had no idea what I was getting into when i started reading it so I read this book very slowly because there was only so much I could take before I broke. So don’t  take the decision of reading this book lightly because while it’s  an amazing book, it’s very intense and isn’t for everyone.

That being said, damn was this book phenomenal!  It felt like it was never going to end but when it finally did, I wanted more. Not everyone could have pulled a book like this off but Yanigahara managed do it.  You have to be a very good author to write a book with such disturbing content because most of the time it seems like the writer is using people’s suffering to their advantage. A Small Life wasn’t like that. Yes there was so many disturbing moments that made me want to barf but she managed to write it in a way that was tactful and heart wrenching.   Writing a book like this is a mark of a truly remarkable author and I can’t wait to read her other works.

This book starts when the characters are in their mid 20s and ends when they’re in their 50s so spans many decades which are the best time of books. I loved seeing the evolution of the characters and really liked how information was slowly revealed throughout this behemoth of a novel. I started off liking the characters a little bit but by the time I was done, I was so emotionally invested in their lives and they felt like dear friends. The way the characters were crafted was so amazing and while this book did primarily focus on one character, Jude, all the other characters were just as interesting. Another really interesting thing about this book is that for the most part it was just expository prose with very little dialogue which is usually something that throws me off in a book but it was done so well. The writing style was so simple and easy to read that it didn’t make the huge hunks of texts as intimidating as it usually would be.

This book is about so many things but I think one of the most important things is that it’s about relationships. And not just romantic ones. Friendships, relationships that aren’t bound by blood but are just as important.  Relationships that maybe aren’t the most traditional but are just as valid. They’re are so many different and unique relationships in this book and while some are downright disgusting, others are extremely beautiful. My favorite thing is when books have great characters and great relationships and  A Small Life did both amazingly.

The last thing that I really appreciated was the  fact that their was no easy solutions. The struggles that the main character, Jude,  went through throughout the book was consistent and while there were good periods, his struggles never went away. I found that to be very true to life and while it really hurt to see him suffer so much, I really liked the fact that he didn’t miracurously get better. It was very difficult to read at times because of how true to life it was but I think it’s important to write a story like this. This is not a happy book. There are no happy endings. But every page was worth the sufferring.

Have You Read A Small Life? What Did You Think Of It? Did You Cry as Much As I Did?

 

 

 

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When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeyburn

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Goodreads Summary:Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.

My Rating:4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

The minute I read the tagline on the ARC, I knew that I was in for a wild treat. I mean how could you not be intrigued by “Some people have school spirit. Shelby Black has real ones.” Combined with a interesting summary and a stellar opening, I knew that I would have a fun time reading this. And I really did! I wasn’t quite as impressed with it as I had hoped to be but I didn’t have any major qualms with it.

I’m a huge fan of contemporary books that feature some unusual element which is what initially drew me into this and that aspect of the book was really great. How could you not  enjoy reading about a teenage exorcist juggling training to expel demons, her schoolwork and first love? From the first line, I was widely smiling as I learned about Shelby Black’s wild life. While it was definitely a fun read and it was a book that I flew through quite quickly, I feel that the unique aspect of this book could have been amplified substantially. There is so much that we don’t know about exorcism in this novel and I would’ve really liked much more insight into what type of role exorcism plays in their society and how exactly Shelby feels about it.  By the time the book was finished, it was still unclear to me if being an exorcists was something that was acceptable and known about the society. While obviously this is primarily a contemporary novel so  I shouldn’t expect as much world building as I would like but a tad bit more would’ve been nice.

One thing that I always appreciate in YA novels is strong female friendships and this book had them and I’m so happy! I love how Shelby upkept her friendship with Vanessa throughout the entire book.  In so many books like these, the MC drops her best friend because she’s too busy so I’m really glad that that didn’t happen.

No Swoonreads contemporary is completely with a swoon worthy  romance and I really liked the Love interest! Spencer was a super sweet character with some secrets of his own which definitely kept things interesting. I think there could’ve been just a bit more development of their chemistry and relationship because it was just a bit too fast for my taste.

Have You Read When Life Gives You Demons? What Did You Think? Do You Want To Read It If You Haven’t? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Bellow!

 

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom Book Review

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Goodreads Summary:When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

My Rating:2.5/5 Stars

Disclaimer:I received a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Plot:

I requested this book from the publisher without realizing what this book was. If any of you are on twitter, you may remember the hashtag that was going around like a year and a half ago #morallycomplicatedYA after the author of a certain book said that his book was much more morally complicated than any other Young Adult book.This is that book. It is so arrogant to say that you’re YA novel is so much better than any other ones. You can’t just belittle your target audience.So while I tried to be objective while reading this, it’s really hard to when the author claims that his book is so much better than everybody else’s

So the Cruelty is about  Gwendolyn Bloom who is the daughter of a diplomat, one day on a visit to Paris, he goes missing. Gwendolyn then takes upon herself to find him, and goes from Paris,to Berlin, to Prague, in search for some answers. The Cruelty is a very fast paced, interesting novel filled with an intriguing plot that kept me turning the pages. While I did like the premise, a lot of things were lacking.  Their was this weird random romance that was super insta-lovey that made like no sense whatsoever. While I’ve never read a book with this exact plot, The Cruelty is anything special. It utilizes a lot of clichés and a lot of the time it’s really weak. You can really tell that the author was trying very hard to get that  “morally complicated” vibe down, but it failed very hard. There was also some really weird ass descriptions,  one of them was like “his skin glowed as if there was a lantern inside his chest.” I’m not even kidding.

Characters

My main problem with this book was Gwendolyn. The book starts off in her classroom where they’re reading some classic novel, and of course she’s already read it,not only that but she read in its native tongue. She then proceeds to swear at a some girl in french for calling her off on her pretentiousness. She’s described as noone knowing where she’s from,because she looks like so many ethnicities which is just such a copout. Why couldn’t she be a person of color?How on earth do you look like everyone? That’s not even possible.  Gwendolyn is so high and above herself and I feel as though I’ve read a million books with characters like her. Her character isn’t any special,and frankly it’s kind of really annoying, and she’s not an interesting thing to read about.

Honestly this book is really hard to review, because while it was enjoyable and while it did have its merits,I’ve read a million YA books that are better.I don’t think this white guy  deserved to get a six figure deal, while there are marginalized people who can’t get their book published. I don’t think this book will be as successful as predicted.