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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.

Book Review: Brain Damage by J.A. St. Thomas

I wasn’t sure about this one at first – I liked the beginning, but it wasn’t sucking me in the way I hoped it would (it felt a little too “teenage angst”), until all of a sudden I just found myself hooked… I can’t point to what did it, but at some point early on it shifted and felt like more than the typical YA story arc (a “misfit” kid that doesn’t quite fit in turns out to be more than anyone – himself included – expected) it appeared to be at the start. From there, things got weirder and weirder and more intriguing, and by the end I was thoroughly engaged and couldn’t wait to see what the Big Reveal would turn out to be. Continue reading Book Review: Brain Damage by J.A. St. Thomas

Book Review: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

There’s no denying that Lisa Scottoline writes a compelling, easy-to-read story. She is a storyteller – her style and voice(s) are strong and clear and crisp and very engaging. I really liked the format – the back-and-forth in time (separated into “before” and “after” segments for each narrative character) and setting was an interesting way to set the stage, and I liked that one story/narration ran backwards in time while the other ran forwards, it made for clever imagery as the secrets unfolded.

That’s what I liked.

What I didn’t like, and didn’t altogether buy, was the actual plot and storyline. Continue reading Book Review: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Book Review: The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

OH. MY. GOODNESS. What a lovely, lyrical story this was, and what a talent Blum possesses! This book was such an absolutely beautifully and delicately crafted tale (even more so than the evocative cover!) – I didn’t even realize how much so until near the end, when the purpose of all the coincidences finally became clear. (I can’t say more because it would be a huge spoiler, but trust me.)

It’s funny – with some books, the review writes itself. Either the plot or characters pour themselves out in such a way that they are easy to encapsulate with words. I’ve found this to be true with books that I really enjoy and ones that I don’t. But then sometimes, the review is tough – and this is, oddly, also true with books I enjoy as well as those I don’t. Sometimes, especially those I like. Continue reading Book Review: The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Book Review: The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley

I am a huge fan of world-within-the-world (or -behind-the-world) books, in which self-described “average” or “outsider” characters who have always felt lost suddenly find out that the world is much bigger/different/stranger than everyone realized and that their outsider status in the *real* world was due to their exceptional positioning in the bigger/different/stranger world. When I started reading this, I sort of thought I’d be in for the usual ride on that train – then things rapidly got even bigger/more different/vastly stranger, and that’s when I was completely hooked…

The Zanna Function is a fascinating sideways trip into a world of science that is more magical than most worlds of magic. There are truly unique elements (pun intended) at play here, and their intermingling with scientific principles and phenomena make for a very original and highly entertaining read. Zanna herself is a fascinating character. This is, in many ways, a personal growth tale as much as anything (as most YA stories tend to be), and while Zanna may doubt how much growing she’s done throughout the course of this book (which, although not labeled as such, quite clearly felt like a Book One to me), I as a reader feel that it was both significant and a signal of even greater things to come. But the book didn’t read like a lesson in growing up. It read like a tale of the frustration every one of us has felt when we’ve stumbled up against something bigger than ourselves that doesn’t make sense or fit into our worldview, and that requires us to contemplate not only our own position in the world but also our own position within ourselves. Continue reading Book Review: The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley

Book Review: A Way Out by Michelle Balge

I am always astounded at the bravery inherent in writing a memoir about one’s personal battles, particularly when they fall within the broad-brush category of mental health. If I’ve learned anything by reading books like Balge’s, it’s that our brains lie to us all the time – and for some reason, scarily, particularly when we are young – and laying bare those lies and the self-destructive things we do to live with those lies has got to be one of the bravest acts ever. Continue reading Book Review: A Way Out by Michelle Balge



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