“Bonfire” by Krysten Ritter


asteriaiconI stumbled on this book while reading an article about hot new releases just prior to Christmas, and found that it was available through our library, so I decided to give it a shot. I recognize the author from a number of hit television shows, though the role she stands out best for me is in Veronica Mars.

The story follows a woman named Abby Williams, a successful environmental lawyer living in Chicago. She finds herself taking on a new case that brings her back to Barrens, Indiana, where she grew up. There are a number of medical cases that suggest there is environmental contamination by the town’s biggest employer, Optimal Plastics. Optimal has weaved its way into every aspect of life in Barrens, funding the school extracurricular activities, town events, even offering scholarships to students, so it is hard to find anyone who will speak ill of such a powerful company. While Abby is researching her case, she becomes obsessed with a long lost friend turned enemy who disappeared suddenly at the end of high school, and can’t help but wonder if her disappearance is connected to her current case.

I really wanted to like this book. I like the author as an actress, and the plot sounded interesting. At the end of the day though, this just felt like a drawn out grown up episode of Veronica Mars. Like Erin Brockovich. Don’t get me wrong, I love Veronica Mars, but this just didn’t cut it for me. I found the ending to be rather unrealistic and the “who-dunnit” an easy guess, which totally ruined it for me. I kept telling myself that the character was there to throw you off, that it couldn’t possibly be this glaringly clear, but no…they weren’t and it was.

I think the idea of going back to your roots somewhat overdone. In fact, I remember bringing a ton of books to my favorite used book store for that precise reason…they all had the same structure of going back to where the character grew up to face their past. I think I am over it! I find it sad that it always is the case where the character is doing so well in their big city life, only to go back to a rough country past and confront something they never got over, never able to escape it. Even in the book the main character’s partner is over it pretty quick and leaves her behind. She even gets booted off her own case because she can’t let her past go. I was happy that the book had under 300 pages, I burned through it quickly, hoping things would get better or more suspenseful. I know it is not an easy task to break out of acting in some major roles and turn to writing, and I applaud her for trying. Her writing wasn’t even terrible exactly, I think I just wish she had gone a different way with it all, and with a few tweaks and polishing it could have been so much better, so I do honestly hope she gives it another kick at the can.

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“The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin


asteriaiconWe all know the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’, but let’s be honest, a good cover is what really grabs your attention, enticing you to read the book. This cover is pretty AF! The book was peppered all over my Instagram feed, and I just had to read it!

What would you do if you knew the exact date you were going to die? How would this information affect your decisions, and shape your life? These questions are really at the heart of this book.

The story follows the four Gold children. In New York City in 1969, the children go to see a fortune teller who tells each of them the exact date they are going to die. They each hold these dates as a tightly guarded secret, until the day their father dies, and everything starts to fall apart.

Simon, the youngest sibling, heads to San Francisco, looking for love and living the fullest life he possibly can. Klara moves to San Francisco as well, and eventually finds herself in Las Vegas, struggling to make it by as a magician. Daniel becomes an unsatisfied military physician, and Varya, the oldest, is a lonely researcher. Each one’s path in life was determined as a result of what the fortune teller had told them that fateful day.

I love love love the cover of this book!! I am a fall fan, and the leaves just speak to me. I adore the little gold dots that sparkle like stars! Honestly, the cover was the best part of the book for me.  I enjoyed Simon’s story the most. It was predictable, but not in an annoying and frustrating way. I knew what was going to happen, but I still took the journey with him to its sad conclusion. I loved the relationship between Simon and Klara; it was probably the best relationship in the entire novel. But aside from Simon, I found Klara’s story rather depressing, David’s farfetched, and Varya’s downright boring. I was so invested in Simon, it was sad to be so indifferent by the time I got to Varya’s story. I did appreciate the very ending with Ruby, Klara’s daughter, paying tribute to her family’s history, but choosing her own path, but not enough to save the whole book.

There were aspects I really liked about the stories. I felt Simon’s story really captured what it must have been like in the 1980’s in San Francisco; the confusion and fear that people must have felt. I appreciated the irony in David’s work in the military, determining if someone was fit enough to withstand going to war. I thought Varya’s anti-aging research was fascinating, and could think of so many possible uses for it in the future, yet it was frustrating that the story veered so far from this.

The book started so strong but I felt it just trickled out. I found the characters rather unlikeable and selfish, blaming everyone but themselves for their problems, with the exception of Simon. Overall, I am happy I borrowed this from the library and didn’t spend the money to buy it, beautiful cover or not. Maybe I was expecting so much more from the book since I had seen it everywhere and everyone seemed to enjoy it, but for me it just didn’t live up to the hype.

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Orange is The New Black – Piper Kerman


asteriaiconSo…I am a book snob. I knew it in regards to certain genres, as an example I tend to snub my nose at romance, but it turns out I am an audio book snob too. I remember shelving the little buggers at the book store, and swearing about it every time. They were frequently cram-jammed on the shelves, hardly anyone would buy them, and they were stupid expensive…call me crazy but it’s a hard pass for me on having to take out a loan just to get a book read to me. I found a few at a garage sale once for $1 and decided to give it a try. I immediately found the whole thing frustrating as I sat in my car at a red light fumbling with a CD, and once I got it to play, I couldn’t remember a bloody thing that had happened in the story, and found myself frequently restarting until I finally gave up. I brought them to my dear friend at the used book store, begging her desperately to take them off of my hands, feeling totally let down and my hatred of audiobooks solidified. A few weeks ago I was looking online at the library’s selection, and found that a book I wanted to read was not available as a paperback, but they did have an audio book. I already figured out this was a service provided where I would download the book rather than fumble with CD’s, so I clicked on the link to see how to get the book, and I fell into a giant rabbit hole of audiobook awesomeness.

There are tons and tons of books available to download…for FREE with a library card! I have already learned I can’t seem to concentrate on doing something and trying to follow the plot of a fiction novel, so I decided to focus instead on the plethora of nonfiction titles they had. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is sitting on my bookshelf in paperback, and since I am “trying” to read what is on my shelf rather than buy new books (I am failing miserably), this was an obvious choice. The sign out process was easy, the book on my phone in no time, and I set off to listen to the story being read to me.

I have watched the TV show religiously, and love it! After listening to the book, I found a lot of the show follows the book fairly closely. Some of the more…spirited and *ahem* physical aspects of the show are significantly embellished or added in for the dramatic effect, but the overall gist of the book is essentially there. As I listened to the story unfold about a white woman who was charged and convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced 10 years after the fact, I couldn’t help but compare it to the TV show. Every character that was discussed, I could easily see in my mind’s eye the character on the show, some with different names, some the same.

It was also very nice to hear how the story differed from the show as well. How there became a sense of comradery between Kerman and the inmates, they became a family, and still write to each other even after release. I loved learning she was a reader, and often bonded with people over books. It was interesting to hear about how they welcomed new inmates and helped them make the adjustment, giving them different commissary items until they had money to buy their own. There were obviously problems; you can’t have that many women in a confined space and not have problems, but overall the women seemed to form strong bonds to help them make it through their time.

I really enjoyed listening to the book. I enjoyed the story, though the TV show is much more dramatic. At the end of the day I have to implore you “Please do not be a book snob like me”. Give audiobooks a try, you never know what you will stumble across and become your favorite book!

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“Bored of the Rings” by the Harvard Lampoon


artemisiconThis book has a special place in my heart, and I understand it’s the weirdest book to have an emotional attachment too, but bare with me!

I read the Hobbit in grade 6, and when I made it to high school I found out there was another series that takes place after that book. I never had the chance to get the books until after the first movie came out. My neighbor was a HUGE Lord of the Rings nerd and as a gift he bought me the trilogy. After I read the first book, he let me borrow his copy of Bored of the Rings.

This book was originally published in 1969, so as you can imagine, the humor is a little different. I read the book for the first time over 15 years ago, and to this day I am still randomly quoting it. So it left a HUGE impact on me.

The story follows the original Lord of the Rings (books, not movies for obvious reasons) so if you’ve seen the movies and not read the books, a lot of events and characters won’t make sense. Even though it’s only 160 pages, and some things were changed for humor reasons, it follows the heart of the story rather well!

The rest of it …is just parody. In the age of Abridged series, Parody’s, and spoof’s, this book fits perfectly. The humor is rather in your face, and at first I thought it was just juvenile and odd, but since I have been watching more things on Youtube, I find a lot of people have the same sense of humor. Watching Game Grumps, I see a lot of the same thought processes in their humor, as what’s in the almost 50 year old book. I think because it’s so heavy handed and in your face, that’s why it’s funny. Like when Goodgulf (Gandalf) casts an elaborate smokey spell to illustrate the evilness of the ring, and Legolam (Legolas) runs behind him to kick the smoking grenade out of the room. It’s almost as if they took the scene, and said what’s the most outrageous and funny thing could we do to it?

My version of the book was published in 2012, and I don’t remember the book I read back in like, the late 90’s early 2000’s, so I don’t know if anything was changed. But in my new book there are footnotes (equally as hilarious as the rest of the book) explaining names and words used, but the footnotes have very modern references. It would be interesting to get an older published book, and a newer one, to compare and see if any words were changed.

Not a child friendly parody. To give you a hint, Bilbo Baggins was renamed Dildo Buggers …but I did read it when I was about 15 or 16, so it’s not completely horrible.

I love this book, it’s one of my favorites. I typically read at night before bed, and I’d get laughing so badly I’d wake up my boyfriend. This kind of humor is not everyone’s cup of tea, and not everyone likes parody’s. If it’s done well, I love it. And my sense of humor loves this book.


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“Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman


asteriaiconI have read some Greek mythology, Roman mythology, and Egyptian mythology, mainly due to reading Rick Riordan books. The most I have learned about Norse mythology is from watching Thor with my fiancé, which is to say I really do not know much.

I picked up this book for 2 reasons. 1) I wanted to learn more about Norse mythology, and 2) I wanted to read Neil Gaiman. For some reason, I had never tried his books, though I have always meant to, and he comes so highly recommended. This book allowed me to kill 2 birds with one stone.

The book was beautifully written, with short, easy chapters, and I kept the book in my car for quick bursts of reading time precisely because of those short chapters, making it easy to put down when needed. Each character is beautifully flawed, and each story had a meaning and a lesson. Gaiman found a way to bring the rich world of dwarves, giants and gods to life.

The book was written in chronological fashion, from the birth of the world, to the end of all things, which obviously made each chapter flow nicely into one another. My only complaint, and this isn’t against Gaiman or the writing whatsoever, was that the names of the characters were so similar, and I often found myself getting confused and struggling to keep it all straight (this could also have been because as a car read, it took quite some time to make it through the book). To Gaiman’s credit, there was a handy glossary in the book that I frequently used to help me keep track of who was who.

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed this book. I don’t want to say too much about the stories, preferring to leave that magic and wonder to Gaiman. I am excited to watch the new Thor movie now that I know what Ragnarok means. I also fell in love with Gaiman’s writing, and am looking forward to reading some of his other works in the future.

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“Artemis” by Andy Weir


asteriaiconIt is no secret that I really enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian, so when I found out that Weir had written another novel, I got very excited. I loved his ability to make science fun and exciting, and was looking forward to seeing himself replicate that in Artemis.

Artemis follows Jasmine ‘Jazz’ Bashara, a delivery porter/smuggler on the first and only city on the moon. The city is very much organized into a monetary hierarchy, where tourism is the biggest industry, the rich live well, and the poor work hard to try to make ends meet. Jazz smuggles in some of the more harmless contraband into Artemis from Earth, with the help of her friend Kelvin, to help make some extra cash in hopes of moving up the hierarchy. When Jazz is offered a very large sum of money from a very wealthy business man to sabotage a property so they ca go in and buy it cheap, she cannot say no. Taking the job means she can live a very comfortable life. But, of course, things go terribly wrong, and she has to find a way to save not just her own life, but the lives of all of Artemis’s citizens as well.

I really wanted to like this book. I really really tried. Sadly, this just missed the mark for me. Some of the science/technology was very interesting, like how water is conserved during showers on the moon, but overall, this just felt…meh. It felt cookie cuttered in from his previous work, like following a formula. I found a lot of the science leaned towards physics and chemistry, not my forte, and a lot of the technology revolved around welding, which frankly I found boring and a little over my head. I found myself skimming a lot, which I don’t love doing, but it did make the book move faster for me. The ending’s pace did speed up, and my interest did increase, but not enough to really like this book.

Jazz was not a very likeable character, none of them really were, which made it hard for me to really root for her. I found some of the story pointless or unnecessary, such as comments of Jazz’s sex life, or how a friend made a reusable condom (gross!) The letters between Jazz and Kelvin that were peppered through the story, were rather pointless and I felt like it was meant to be padding to make the story longer. The only thing I got out of it was that she wrote to him for what needed to be smuggled into Artemis, and for Jazz to bitch about the situations she got herself into.

There were some aspects that could have been so much more interesting. The world on the moon could have been developed more, for me it was what was the most interesting. Even the Gizmo’s, intelligent watches everyone wears (think something like an Apple watch), were really interesting, though I felt the name “Gizmo” seemed rather 80’s style and outdated.

Overall, this was a letdown. Weir tried at humour, which I found so sharp in The Martian, but here, it just felt forced. I was going to DNF this by page 100, but someone was murdered, and I hoped this was going to turn into a murder mystery, but it just didn’t go that way. The highlight for me was a Buffy reference, but that was all I was really excited about. If you are looking for a fun, intelligent, quirky, science fiction, skip this one and read The Martian instead!

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News: Instagram!

artemisiconI created an Instagram for all of our book blog pictures, and whatever other book related pictures we can take.

If you want to follow us there for extra notification we are @bookhole1

Might take a while to get it fully up and running, and we will still  be posting on Twitter. No worry about that!

We are hoping to build up a larger following so we can start giving back! Don’t forget to share and like our posts to let us know how we are doing!

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