Book Review: Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

cruel-beautiful-world

Title: Cruel Beautiful World
Author: Caroline Leavitt
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Date: October 4th, 2016
Pages: 357
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Set in the early 1970s against the specter of the Manson girls, when the peace and love movement begins to turn ugly, this is the story of a runaway teenager’s disappearance and her sister’s quest to discover the truth.

Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.

It’s 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default caretaker for most of their lives, Charlotte’s youth has been marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into nightmare.

With gorgeous prose and indelible characters, Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and what happens when you’re responsible for things you can’t fix.

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Review:

Cruel Beautiful World hit me in a way only few books can.
The story, even though is fictional, became personal to me.
Reading this book, written in the most beautiful way, became hard for me.
I already know that writing this review will be even harder.

Cruel Beautiful World talks about three sisters, Lucy and Charlotte, adopted by their aunt much older sister Iris.
Set in late 1960s and early 1970s, the story briefly talks about Mason girls and perfectly describes the atmosphere and fear that was present in that time.

Lucy is 16 years old girl who falls in love for the first time. She thinks no one understands her completely, no one but the man she loves – William, her teacher who encourages her to write, because he believes she could be a famous writer one day.

After some time, William gets a new job, in free school, and Lucy decides to move away with him.
Because she is a minor, she must not tell anyone, not even her sister, where the two of them will be going.
When they settle down in a small house in rural Pennsylvania, William controls Lucy’s every move and, because she is often alone in the house (waiting for him to come back) she realizes that the kind of life she chose for herself is not the kind she wants.

Charlotte is Lucy’s older sister, who has always been her protector. She is in college, an excellent student, but after Lucy starts missing, she can’t concentrate on anything. Her soul can’t have rest until she finds her.

Iris thought she would never be a mother, but once the girls come into her life they become her world.
She never told them she is their sister, they think they are her nieces.
After Lucy’s disapearance, Iris can’t have piece. She lives for the day she’ll reunite with Lucy.

Cruel Beautiful World is beautifully written story. Caroline Leavitt really captured the 1970s atmosphere well, but where she did the best job was in describing feelings.

While reading this book, one can not help but feel. Feel love, feel fear, feel sadness, feel anger, and feel the feelings that are hard to explain with words.

Lucy was my favorite character. In fact, she got so under my skin, that she became one of my all time favorite characters.
Maybe that is why I was so concerned about her.

I hated William. I still hate him. There are a lot of personal reasons why I hate him, but it is what it is.
I rarely hate book characters, I even often like villains, but I hate William passionately.

Cruel Beautiful World is beautiful, emotional book with an open ending, that I would highly recommend to literary fiction lovers out there.

4

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Book Review: There is Always More to Say by Lynda Young Spiro

there-is-always-more-to-say

Title: There Is Always More To Say
Author: Lynda Young Spiro
Publisher: New Generation Publishing
Date: April 18th, 2016
Pages: 168
Format: Paperback
Source: from Author for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): A heartfelt novel about the connections that bring people together.

Soho 1984: Two people meet and their worlds are changed forever. An unexpected meeting – a look that means their lives will never be the same again.

In There Is Always More To Say Lynda Spiro chronicles the lives of the couple through friendships, marriage, fleeting moments and snatched time. It is a passionate account about a connection between two people that never dies even when tested by distance and when life throws the unexpected at their feet.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction both are transformed.” C G Jung

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Review:

There Is Always More To Say: A never-ending story about an everlasting friendship is a novel only 168 pages long, so I’ll try my best to write my review as short as possible.

This novel talks about love disquised as friendship. The love that couldn’t have happened for some reason, the love that is hard to let go, even years from when it started.
But the friendship I said was masked is real, so this book also talks about connection between two people, the connection so strong, it can’t be broken.

The story is written in second person. The main character is writing to her friend the book we get to read. The book is composed from letters, diary pages and emails.

I like how this novel makes you think and reminisce about life and relationships between people.
When I was reading, I couldn’t help but think about my own friend who I miss very much in my life, even though my friendship with my friend is simply pure female friendship, there are still many phrases from this book that can describe the feeling of longing. I even dreamed about my friend one night, so the impact this book had on me is immense.

We never got to know a friend’s name, but we got names of friend’s partner and the person friend had an affair with: Ashley and Sam.
I like it so much, and the reason for that is because Ashley and Sam can be female AND male names, so when I started to pay more attention, I realized we never got to know friends gender.
Because of that, this story can be interpreted in different ways. That makes it more special.

Also, the concept of this book is so wonderful. Every chapter starts and ends with beautiful quotes.

My main problem with this work of fiction was the fact that it is too repetitive. In my opinon, this piece of work would be so much more qualitative without some sentences and if it was one third shorter.
It also needs some editing. English is not my native language and if I, who taught myself this language can see it, then other will see it too.

There Is Always More To Say gives us just one side of the story, and we never get to see friend’s reasons behind his/her decisions.
It is a shame, but it is also what makes this book special and realistic, because often in life we don’t get answers to all of our questions, and sometimes we don’t get to see other sides of story.

Reading this book was an emotional experience and I would recommend it to readers who like to read literary fiction, as well to those who like for their books to have dash of phylosophy on their pages.

3,5

Book Review + Giveaway (INTL): Malaren: A Swedish Affair by N.E. David

malaren-a-swedish

Title: Malaren: A Swedish Affair
Author: N. E. David
Publisher: John Hunt Books
Date: November 25th, 2016
Pages: 296
Format: physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Alan Harrison is a perfectly ordinary, middle-class, middle-aged and happily married man. But when his wife, Susan, suddenly dies, his life starts to disintegrate. Rather than stay at home where the memory of his wife still haunts him, he decides to spend the summer in Sweden at the invitation of his in-laws. On the shores of Lake Malaren, he discovers fresh reasons for living and a contentment he had not previously thought possible. But unexpected guests arrive to disturb his new-found peace and he is forced to take unprecedented steps to recover it. Set against a backdrop of stunning Swedish scenery, MALAREN shows us the redemptive power of physical labour and male bonding as an unlikely hero struggles to overcome his challenges.

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Review:

I don’t read literary fiction too often, but when I do, I usually always finish a book with a thought how I have just finished the most beautiful book ever.

Really, if you look at all the books I read this year, you’ll notice only few books from that genre, but when it comes to quality, they are all at the very top of my list.

I love literary fiction mainly because of the beautiful writing it is mostly famous for.
My second reason why I love it is because it explores characters on a deeper level.
Finally, my third reason is because it helps reader to improve his vocabulary.

Malaren: A Swedish Affair is a novel pitched as piece of literary fiction that explores man’s inner thoughts and one’s life under stress in exceptional situations.

Honestly, when going into this story, I had no expectations whatsoever, as I haven’t read any of N. E. David’s work before, nor do I know anyone who read this book before me.

The only thing I can say I expected were beautiful sentences that would make me think about human’s life.

I can’t phraise Malaren for beautiful writing style, although I can say it had quality, especially when it comes to describing one’s feelings and actions in real life situations.

However, I have to say that, to me, Malaren sounded more like a slow general fiction then literary fiction.
When I was reading, I actually wondered if there is a genre that’s a hybrid between general and literary fiction. Because if there is, Malaren would definitely belong to that category.

The story takes place in a course of 6 months.
It talks about one man’s life after his wife dies.
In order to move on with his life, he goes to Sweden, in his in-laws house.

In those 6 months, I felt like almost nothing happened, and, even if literary fiction is familiar for slow pacing, this one lacked something to make it more interesting.

I didn’t see any change in main character at the end of the story, excpet the one that was inevitable.

Good thing about this piece of work is that it kept me up at night as I was (not even sure why) curious if something was going to happen (already).

The novel is composed of four parts, and the fourth one is the one where the story finally becomes somewhat interesting.

It has less then 300 pages, but it does not read fast.

It is written in first person.

Malaren: A Swedish Affair maybe isn’t the most interesting book out there, but I think it’s solid read and it would be a good choice for someone who wants to try to read literary fiction, as this one reads like a mix of two genres (general and literary fiction).

2,75

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Giveaway (INTL)

Lovely people from John Hunt Books publicity were kind enough and offered a physical copy of Malaren: A Swedish Affair to one lucky winner.

This giveaway is internatonal.

Enter here:

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Book Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

faithful

Title: Faithful
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: November 1st, 2016
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithfulis the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

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Review:

Faithful is the book you can’t help but notice. It’s beautiful cover is what draw my attention immediately, but after I read it’s synopsis, I just had a feeling this book might be something I’d like.
I’m not even sure how to describe it, I just had a feeling this book will be right for me.
I am so thankful I was right.

This book was beautiful. There is no other way to describe it.

And hopeful, because when I finished it, it left me in hope that life can get better, people can make something out of their lives after the fall, even after dark places and hard times.

The story follows Shelby who was in a car accident that left her friend in vegetative state.
Shelby was the one who drove, and now she feels guilty for her friend’s stolen life.
She can’t help but feel responsible for what happened, knowing that she’s the one who had put her friend in the state that she is now, the state that turned her into a sleeping beauty in a way.

Faithful is written in first person. From Shelby’s POV we get to see a life of a young girl during time period of several years, where she do her best to overcome her guiltiness and grows as a person, making her life with no perspective turn into a life with potential to be a good one.

The writing style is simply beautiful. It takes more time to progress everything that’s written, but it is worth it.
This is the first book by Hoffman I have read, and it left me wanting to read more.

Shelby was an interesting protagonist. I understand why some readers might find her unlikeable, but I emphatized with her the whole time.
She had some moves that I wouldn’t approve, but still I understood her.
Side characters were well developed and they radiated with realness.

This book deals with depression in, to me, very realistic way.
It also talks about feeling of guilt that can overtake someone’s life.

I like how love for animals has been present the whole time but it did not overtake the main story.

Everything was just done very tasteful and I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have read this year. 

5