“The Impossible Fortress” by Jason Rekulak

This isn’t the cover of the book. It’s the cover of the ARC I received, which is way more awesome than the book’s cover.

I was surprised that I enjoyed this one.

Goodreads summary:

A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it. (Goodreads)

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“The Curse of Chalion” by Lois McMaster Bujold

I’ve often heard of Lois McMaster Bujold, but have never been tempted to pick up one of her books until I read Jonathan’s review of the Curse of Chalion.

I’m immediately drawn to fantasy novels in which religion factors greatly. It’s not something I often see in the fantasy novels I read. Often, religion is a slight thing in the society and not a major part of the world building. It certainly doesn’t often affect magic, unless it is to denounce the use of magic. However, in the Curse of Chalion, magic is greatly influenced by religion and the gods.

Side note:

I really enjoyed this book and it’s now one of my favorites, which means I went overboard with this reflection piece. It’s long ass fuck. Skip to the Overall section and read some of the quotes for a quickie.

Quick summary:

The Curse of Chalion is a high fantasy novel told using a limited third-person narrator from the perspective of our protagonist, Lupe dy Cazaril, a former soldier and courtier who returns home to the provincar of Baocia (basically a dukedom) mentally and physically scarred after his serving aboard a Roknari slave galley. Roknar is a country to the north of Chalion.

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“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

gone-girlThe movie for Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl was released in 2014. Everyone was reading it and/or talking about it back then, and my cousin, who had read the book, told me it was great. But I avoided it. Too much hype. Plus, I wasn’t interested in mystery novels. I have no patience for them.

Now it’s 2017. After watching the last half of the Gone Girl movie, I was so intrigued that I immediately downloaded the e-book from my library and was hooked on the story from its first sentence.

Though I knew how the story would end, I was still engrossed in it and curious to see how the events would unfold.

Goodreads summary:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears.

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“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed

tiny-beautiful-thingsI’ve been interested in reading one of Strayed’s books, namely Wild, since I first listened to a podcast episode featuring her on Longreads. The episode was inspiring and I thought her memoir would be also.

Though I bought Wild last year, I have yet to crack it open. However, at the start of this year, I decided to download Tiny Beautiful Things on my library’s Overdrive because it was available; but the electronic format made me sleepy.

I borrowed the book from the library and was so taken by it, that I found myself placing dots on almost every page (it’s my way of highlighting library books without being intrusive). Eventually, I decided to just get my own copy so I can highlight every damn thing.

Quick summary:

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way. (Goodreads)

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“Gilded Cage” by Vic James

gilded-cageHave you ever read a book that’s so compelling you can hardly put it down but is so annoying that you wish you could? That’s how I felt over the 8 days I spent reading Gilded Cage. I was curious about some of its plot points, but I had so many issues with it that I was frustrated the entire time I read it.

Quick summary:

Gilded Cage is a young-adult fantasy novel set in the present day, where some people (the Equals) have magical abilities (the Skill) and enslave those who lack such abilities (the Commoners). Some countries have improved their policies and allowed equal opportunities for both Equals and Commoners; however, in the U.K., where the story is set, slavery is still in effect.

When the story begins, one of our protagonists, Abigail, and her family are about to begin their slave days. Commoners must dedicate 10 years of their lives to being a slave, however individuals can choose when to begin. Parents can choose for children under 18, but all Commoners must begin before they are 60.

Abigail is 18 and is studying to be a doctor. However, she is willing to set her aspirations aside to start her slave days with her family, which includes her mom and dad, her 15-year-old* (I forgot his age, but it’s about there) brother Luke, and her 10-year-old sister Daisy. Abigail plans for them all to have an easy time working their slave days at the Kyneston estate, one of the most powerful Equal families in the country that is managed by brothers Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen Jardine. However, her family is ripped apart when Luke is taken to Millmoor, the harsh factory town that mistreats its slaves.

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Two Illustrated Books: “Armstrong” and “The Only Child”

I picked up these two illustrated children’s books the same day I grabbed J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives from the library. They were on display and since it’s been a while since I’ve read I picture book, I decided to give them a try. Armstrong looked familiar, but I couldn’t recall where I’d first seen it; and I’ve often seen the cover of The Only Child so I wanted to know why a stag was hanging out with a kid.


armstrong-the-adventurous-journey-of-a-mouse-to-the-moonArmstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann (illus.)

Goodreads summary:

A long time ago a mouse learned to fly . . . and crossed the Atlantic. But what happened next? Torben Kuhlmann’s stunning new book transports readers to the moon and beyond! On the heels of Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse comes Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon where dreams are determined only by the size of your imagination and the biggest innovators are the smallest of all. The book ends with a brief non-fiction history of human space travel from Galileo s observations concerning the nature of the universe to man’s first steps on the moon. (Goodreads)

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“Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination” by J.K. Rowling

very-good-livesGoodreads summary:

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, Very Good Lives offers J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?

Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Toward the end of last year, I visited the library and unsure of what to get, I grabbed whatever caught my eye. Very Good Lives was one of the three books I left with.

Very Good Lives is the published copy of a speech J.K. Rowling gave at Harvard’s commencement in 2008. It’s not the first that I’ve encountered it. I watched a video of Rowling giving the speech a couple years ago on Brain Pickings. There were several other commencement speeches in that post, including one by Steve Jobs, and all were uplifting.

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