Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Book Review

★★★★★
March 14th, 2019

I don’t know a lot about music. I don’t know a lot about the 70’s. I don’t even particularly like romance in stories. So if you were to lay out all of these elements on a table and tell me that’s what this book is about, I would say that there’s no reason for me to read it.

But then you’d get to the plot. You’d talk about struggle with addiction, with perfection, with imperfection, and with drive, and I’d listen a little closer. You’d tell me that this is written in a less traditional format, and I’d keep listening, and then you’d tell me that I would rate it 5 stars and I’d say “We’ll see.”

I read this book in three hours. It’s an oral history of a fictional rock band in the 70’s called Daisy Jones & The Six, as the title suggests. It’s the story of how they got together, and why they broke up. It flies by, and the format has a lot to do with that. It’s easier for me to read a conversation than it is description.

I loved this story. I loved watching Daisy and Billy struggle independently and together, I loved the resolve of Karen and how grounded she was in her work and knowing herself. I liked the relationships between everyone involved in the music, but most of all I loved Camila. She’s the glue that held Billy together, and their relationship was my favorite part of the story.

I read a lot of reviews for this book, and all of them talked about Billy and Daisy’s love story, and the “will they or won’t they aspect.” I didn’t care about their relationship to each other. I cared about their relationship as it related back to Camila. Billy’s strength in choosing her and not letting her go, even if it was the harder choice sometimes is what kept me reading.

Of course, I also loved reading the effect that had on Daisy. Her drive and need for approval, for someone to be with her, and her desperation to be loved by anyone else so she could forget about Billy.

Yes, it’s a romance story, but at the same time it’s about how romance doesn’t always work.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the lyrics to their songs are printed at the back. I’m not good at being invested in the musicians I listen to. I separate art from the artist, and I purely consume the art. This book made me wish that these were real people, which in turn made me want to learn more about the people whose art I do love.

-Siobhan

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel | Book Review

★★★★☆
March 12th, 2019

I’m no stranger to Sylvain Neuvel’s writing. I flew through every book in the Themis Files and eagerly awaited the next installment. I was thrilled to see that he was coming out with something new.

The Test is not exactly what I was expecting, and I mean that in a good way. Part of my surprise was the size of the book. It’s tiny, barely hitting over 100 pages. Not a lot of depth can happen in 100 pages, so I wasn’t sure about what to expect from the story.

In the not too distant future, citizenship in the United Kingdom is determined by a test. This is where we’re going to get into spoiler territory, so if you’re planning on reading it, come back in an hour after you’ve read it and then we can chat.

Done? Good, let’s talk about it.

I was intrigued by the idea of a simulation that requires people to make choices about who to save. I liked the psychology of that choice, and was intrigued by the idea of that being the determining factor for getting to stay in a country.

I also liked being given the other side of those choices, and seeing what goes into the back end of the simulation. I liked Deep as a character more than Idir, but that may have just been because of the nature of their roles in the story.

To me, Deep’s choices and his test is more interesting than what Idir chooses. Based on what you learn of him and what he’s been through, it’s easy to see the direction and the choices that he’s going to make int he simulation. What you can’t see is Deep’s choices and their lasting impacts.

The length of this story is a blessing. It doesn’t need more than 100 pages to get its point across, and I enjoyed that.

I also know that I’ll enjoy pretty much everything Sylvain Neuvel writes. He uses format to his advantage and the same is true of The Test.

-Siobhan

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton | Book Review

★★★★★
January 30th – 31st

I sometimes have trouble with books that are mostly description. I find myself getting bored, glossing over the words and then trying to find the next section of dialogue to go to and keep me interested. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender didn’t make me feel that way at all.

This book was beautiful. This was the second book that I read by Leslye Walton, though this was her first novel. I absolutely loved this book. I read The Price Guide to the Occult back in July of last year, after hearing amazing things about this book. I was pretty disappointed by that one, so I hesitated to read this one.

I’m so glad that I did. The characters seemed so believable and relatable, and I loved the way that it followed the generations of women in this family, from France all the way through immigrating to the United States in New York City at the turn of the century, and then traveling across the country to eventually settling in Seattle. I loved how these woman loved and lost and carried their loves with them.

The story follows Ava Lavender’s story as a girl who was born with wings, her mother Viviane who fell in love too young, and her grandmother Emmaline, who sees the ghosts of her past loves everywhere. I loved the amount of love in this book. It was refreshing to see it through the different generations and in all of the different locations of the story.

Most of all, I loved the magic element of this story. It didn’t feel forced, or added on, but felt entirely natural to the characters and this world, like small elements. I loved how strong all of the women in this story were, even when they felt like they weren’t.

I think this book had the best ending of any book that I’ve read so far this year. It tied everything up, didn’t leave any questions for me, and felt like it was coming to a good point of closure where the characters had changed, developed, aged and become stronger and different.

I’ll defiantly need to get a physical copy of this one to add to my personal collection, because I loved it and will revisit it in the future.

-Siobhan

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel | Book Review

★★★★☆
January 28th – 29th

Station Eleven, plainly, is the story of a traveling group of Shakespeare actors in a post-apocalyptic setting. After a flu wipes out 99% of the population, those that remain are just trying to get back to a sense of normalcy, without electricity or any technology at their disposal.

This book was really beautifully written. I loved how interconnected the whole story and all of the characters were, even though most of them were strangers. It gave the book a very narrated feel as it went back to points in time before the flu, or later, or even twenty years prior or after.

With the flu itself, I found the aftermath very interesting. People lived in airports, Wendy’s, Wal-Marts. Anywhere that sold food was converted into a tent city, which I found super intriguing. I liked following Kirsten and August into abandoned houses to see what was inside. I loved the motto that the company had, which was “Survival is Insufficient” from Star Trek.

I did have a few plot-based issues with the book. I enjoyed the ending and the way that things tied together, but I felt like Kirsten should have showed Clark the paperweight that she had to tie that together. Similarly. we got no reaction from Clark about the prophet’s death, and we never saw Jeevan get to meet with any of them and connect with their story.

After hearing so many good things about this book for so long, I’m glad I finally picked it up. I do wish that it was a bit longer to flesh out the ending a bit more, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

-Siobhan