Tag Archives: realistic fiction

The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm

Tin House Books
TBP: October 9th 2018
228 Pages

An American woman wakes up alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside a storm rages and the fog is dense. Her phone is dead. She doesn’t have a map or a compass or any food. 

How she ended up there, and the tragic events of her past emerges over the course of this slim, gripping novel. We discover that she’s a writer with a bad case of writer’s block – she hasn’t written a word since her husband and daughter died in a tragic car crash. As we watch Jane’s life spiral out of control, we also see how she got here – her troubled parents and loving marriage. – Goodreads

*Short Review*

I have a hard time reading books, in which the author does this really big circle around an issue or the point before actually getting to it. This makes for a long drawn out experience that I am not up for.

In this read, the author relied heavily on intrigue to keep me reading the book. You’re constantly wondering what is going on with Jane and why is she so melancholy and blah to everything around her. You know about the death of her husband and daughter but there is something more to what is going on. The author takes beating around the bush literally and that is what killed the book.

But beyond this, the author breaks down grief, regret and well I wouldn’t necessarily say forgiveness because you don’t believe it actually happens. . . more like acceptance. This wasn’t a bad book but it was too drawn out for me to fully enjoy it.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Every Little Bad Idea by Caitie McKay

West 44 Books
Published Aug 1st, 2018
200 Pages

The women in Skyler Wise’s family have a weakness for bad boys, but not Skyler. She has one thing on her mind, leaving her run-down neighborhood and going to college. When Skyler’s normally strict mom starts dating again, she feels abandoned. Skyler meets Cole, a boy who makes her question everything she thought she knew about herself and her future.

Even though he has a dangerous reputation, Skyler believes she knows the real Cole, the sweet, caring boyfriend who makes her feel seen for once in her life. When Cole starts to change, Skyler realizes that she’ll do anything to keep him around, even if it means giving up her dream and losing the people closest to her.- Goodreads 

What a gem! Seriously, this book is really was surprising. A quick read but memorable none the less.

Firstly, Skyler; a completely relate-able character. Unfortunately, parents or even a single parent can sometimes add so much pressure and expectations intentionally and unintentionally that when a child comes across something new things tend to get out of hand. Skyler understands that she is testing the boundaries but also understand that she is looking for something and Cole may or may not be it. She wants an experience and not only grow but wants to enjoy and make her own decisions. I liked her. Her voice throughout the book was honest because you have can hear the slight hesitation as well as strength in voice which mimics her actions.

The book is verse, which makes for a quick read. The author doesn’t use a lot of fluff to pretty up the words or story. I appreciate that. She builds a world that I can see right in front of me. And most importantly it is detailed without feeling like a run one.

Here is the thing about this book though.Because it is told in verse the Skyler doesn’t actually grow. She makes a series of conscious decisions that work and do not work in her favor. Also I feel some type of way about how her best friend treats her. And finally the ending is as expected (because the author set up the book that it can literally go two ways).

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was quick, the verses flowed well, the characters were enjoyable and there was a nice lesson to learn.

3 Pickles

Short Story Book Review: A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One- Jilted Love by Kyla Ross

Self Published
Jan. 29th 2017
94 Pages

In this collection of dark tales lives will be savagely twisted, inner demons will be reawakened and deception will reign supreme. A quest for a fix turns bloody for two heroin addicts as their vicious endeavors land them into a gruesome pitfall. A marketing executive and car salesmen are deceived by the ones they love. Armed with rage, they set out to slaughter those responsible. -Goodreads

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting with this collection. It was a suggested read from Amazon, while I was on vacation. I am really glad I read this book.

It literally gives you a taste of what the author can do. Seriously… all you get is a taste because each of the stories take care to not dip too much into a specific character or the overall plot.

The first story called Junk for Two was a great start to the book. Ross leaves no hints to where the story is going and I am completely for that. It provided enough of a backstory and details regarding the main character, Trev, that I didn’t feel as if something was missing. As I was reading this short story, I had a sense of satisfaction, which is my biggest issue in short stories.

Story 2, Iris, was extremely quick and came off more as a shock factor then a story that can grown to become a full novel or even novella. With work it can become something bigger but in its current state, it doesn’t leave much to be desired. But it does get credit for showing off writing skills. Ross can build a story, so it is easy to get sucked in.

My favorite story, which happens to be the last is story 3, Phil. Sticking with the obsessive theme, Phil provides a much more detailed and intense story-line than the previous stories. This story can become not just a single novel but a series if written correctly. What I loved about it was how easy it was to see the events happening. I don’t mean predictability even though it is there slightly. What I mean is the flow was so easy and seamless that getting sucked into the story and wanting more was inevitable. If the first two stories does not show you the skill, Ross has then this one does.

Overall, I enjoyed this quick read. I would recommend it as a introduction to Kyla Ross.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Spiegel & Grau
Published June 13, 2017
448 Pages

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love. – Goodreads

This book was really different for me. I normally, for one, do not read adult fantasy. For whatever reason they do no appeal to me as much as YA fantasy does. But I am trying to change that and my first book for that goal is The Changeling. I was not disappointed.

Let’s start with the pros. The story is about a black family in modern New York City. For me it not only making it relate-able by because of location but because racially and culturally I can identify with the characters. (Diversity for the win!). But also beyond that, I really really loved the fact the author decided to write this from parents point of view and not a brother or a sister. This added a completely different emotion and truth to the book even if you are not a parent.

Also the way the author was able to wrap Apollo’s world as well as New York City with the mythology was smooth and seamless. There was an art and care as well as a appreciation for a world that was already existed. That is not something your find all the time in books.

Despite these points, I did have an issue with the book. It was long. It was so long and drawn out that I had to put the book down breathe and then dive back in. I appreciate the author building up to the point but the build up was like climbing a tall snowy mountain the first time. It was a bit rough.

In regards to characters, everyone played their role and fit together well. I wanted Apollo to be more supportive of his wife in the beginning because of his out-worldly experience. But at the time, I was a bit disappointed in him because although he was a book collector/seller business man it felt like he didn’t actually read. Its slightly hard to explain but reader to reader you can tell.

Overall, I enjoyed this read would have liked it to have not been as stretched but I enjoyed it.


3 Pickles. 

Book Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Tim Macbeth is a 17 year old new transfer to Irving boarding school. He is

    Knopf Books for Young Readers    Published Jan. 8, 2013         312 Pages
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published Jan. 8, 2013
312 Pages

an albino student who hopes to get by this semester unnoticed. However, he does the opposite and falls for the most popular girl in school Vanessa Sheller, who happens to be the girlfriend of the most popular boy in school.

If anyone finds out that Vanessa and Tim have a thing going on it could mean social disaster. But that is not the only worry of Vanessa and Tim. They have to complete a senior paper called “The Tragedy Paper” given by the hardest English teacher in the school.

YAY For my second realistic fiction book of the year! I enjoyed this book very much. The author did an amazing job capturing me as I read. You are told the story through Tim however, Tim has graduated school and you are hearing through a CD  as a student named Duncan is hearing it.  Tim left his story, recorded on CDs, in his old room left for Duncan to hear. This set up was really cool because while Tim is sharing his story, Duncan has an on going story of his own.

As for the characters, I thought they were extremely developed. I was surprised by Tim because although he was conflicted on the inside you did not see it as he spoke with others. He was an extremely likable character; even Vanessa was a likable character. No one was over board with emotions or pity.

What I didn’t like was the lack of focus on the tragedy paper. Tim and Vanessa was not stressing this paper. It was there but it wasn’t the main focus. It was a focus for Duncan because Tim left his words to show Duncan tragedy. Tim and Vanessa did have school concerns but it was overruled by their feelings for each other.

Another concept about this book that I like and didn’t like was the tragedy. The author makes you assume and she even feeds that assumption  by bluntly saying everything that you’re thinking and when the climax hits you’re like that is not what expected. I love to be surprised in books but I go back and forth in this case because she made me feel as if I knew the ending. Good writing trick.

Overall, I loved this book. Perfect score: 5 Pickles