Showing posts with label sarah lotz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sarah lotz. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2015!

IT'S FAVORITES TIME!!!

It is time to announce...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2015!

As I always disclaim with this list: you may be surprised by some of my choices...and some of my non-choices.  There are books on here that, in my initial review, I enjoyed but maybe wasn't completely gushing over.  And there are books not on the list that I mentioned as potential favorites when I wrote my reviews.  But at the end of the year, when I make this list, I go by what's really stuck with me--after months have passed, what are the books that are still leaving an impression?  Still giving me something to think about?

As in past years, this list is in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews:

1. Day Four by Sarah Lotz
If you haven't read Lotz's The Three yet, do that first, and then do yourself a favor and read this book.  The Three was on my 2014 favorites list, and the sequel did not disappoint!

2. The Shore by Sara Taylor
Potentially the most unique novel I read this year.  I can't wait to see what else Taylor has in store.

3. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
One of the only 5-star reviews I gave all year.  This story is heart-wrenching and beautifully told.

4. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer is still one of my favorite nonfiction writers.  He handles this delicate subject with the same objectivity and fastidiousness that is the trademark of his other works.

5. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
A truly awesome reading experience from cover to cover, made even more enjoyable because I did not originally expect so much from it!  I love it when a novel makes me bend my typical genre preferences.

6. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
This novel made me feel all the feelings.  Not the most uplifting choice on my list, but certainly one that continues to stay with me.

7. Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Few nonfiction writers can bring their subjects to life the way Larson can.  These real-life events read with the suspense of a fiction novel, while still capturing all of the historical detail needed to make this an enlightening read.

8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
You had me at "post-apocalyptic literary fiction."

9. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
This is one of those books for which I did not write an especially amazing review, but due to the fact that I continue to mull it over and over, and hit my friends with random factoids from it all the time, it has still earned a spot on the favorites list for this year.

10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Ughhhh, I feel so bandwagon-y and lemming-like putting this on here.  I mean, it's on every list EVER, right?  But I can't deny it was one of the top 10 books I read this year.  Fact.

That's a wrap!  What made YOUR best-read list for 2015?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Feeling a tad seasick...Day Four by Sarah Lotz


Title: Day Four  (sequel to The Three)
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

Hundreds of pleasure-seekers stream aboard The Beautiful Dreamer cruise ship for five days of cut-price fun in the Caribbean sun. On the fourth day, disaster strikes: smoke roils out of the engine room, and the ship is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon supplies run low, a virus plagues the ship, and there are whispered rumors that the cabins on the lower decks are haunted by shadowy figures. Irritation escalates to panic, the crew loses control, factions form, and violent chaos erupts among the survivors. 

When, at last, the ship is spotted drifting off the coast of Key West, the world's press reports it empty. But the gloomy headlines may be covering up an even more disturbing reality.


My Review:

First, Sarah Lotz ruined air travel for all of us in The Three.  Now, Lotz is back with Day Four to sabotage what is arguably my favorite mode of travel: cruising.
In a previous life, I vacationed without children and did ridiculous dances in life vests.
Seriously??  Can't a girl just go on vacation and enjoy herself without worrying about being stranded at sea with a creepy The Grudge-esque ghost child?  APPARENTLY NOT.

First and foremost, I've read a few reviews of this book that were written by people who did not read The Three first, and many of them did enjoy it as a stand-alone.  However, as someone who has read both, I absolutely think you should read The Three first.  There are SO many good connections between these two books, and while I wouldn't say Day Four is a sequel in the traditional sense (not much character overlap, completely different setting, etc), there are a lot of small details that clicked perfectly for me in this novel, simply because I knew how they played out previously in The Three.  Plus, the ending of Day Four is good on its own, but it is mind-blowing if you put it in the context of The Three.

But let's be clear...Day Four is not The Three.  First, it is much, much creepier.  Day Four would be an excellent horror movie; I can imagine just how spine-tingling some of those visuals would be.  The Three definitely was unsettling, but it's format (told via book excerpts, interviews, chat forums, etc) does not convey quite the same tone as Day Four's third-person narrative.

That said, I did find that the story moved a bit more slowly for me in Day Four.  I think the constantly-changing narrative in The Three is part of what made me read it so fast--there was always a new perspective, and that made the novel hard to put down.  In Day Four, you do have several different POVs between chapters, but they are all essentially telling the same tale from various viewpoints, and about halfway through the book I felt like the entire story hit the brakes.  We're stuck at sea...we're still stuck at sea...things are getting kind of weird...running out of food...stillllll stuck at sea...etcetera.  I was feeling rather disappointed, honestly, between the 50-75% marks of the book (I read it on Kindle).

However--the last quarter of the novel made the wait worth it.  I positively flew through the last section (as the book description alludes--this is when the ship is finally discovered in Miami), and I love love loved the ending.  The only caveat: the ending (and the entire message behind this book) is probably only going to be enjoyed by readers who liked the ending to The Three.  As you know from my previous review, I was a huge fan of it, but I've talked to several readers who didn't love the open-ended nature of its conclusion.  If that didn't ring well with you in the first novel, then you might have a bit of trouble with Day Four, as it builds on many of the same themes.

Overall, what Day Four lacked in fast pacing, it more than made up for in its crazy, mind-bending conclusion, and it is an excellent follow-up to The Three.  Sarah Lotz has a serious talent for exploring the fluidity of "life after death", and has most definitely earned a spot on my Favorite Authors list.  If you want a book that will leave your wheels turning for a long time afterwards, this is the read for you.

Where are my fellow cruise lovers??  What's the last cruise you took (destination, cruise line, etc)?  Or, if you've never cruised (or heaven forbid, hate cruising), what's your favorite mode of travel?  Perhaps you, too, can experience the privilege of having it ruined by Sarah Lotz in her next novel!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Where I've Been...And Where I'm Going

Hello, reader friends!  I hope you've hung with me while I went on a bit of a vacation.  While part of my absence was accounted for by an actual vacation for the last week, I've admittedly been a bit flighty 'round these parts for longer than that.

During the last few weeks of my race training, I was just too tired to get much reading (or blogging) accomplished.  Then the race happened, and I took a full week off from running, but instead of spending that time reading, I spent a load of time with my family and just loafed around, catching up on Netflix.  (Ain't no shame in my game.)

Then we left for vacation, which consisted of 1 day at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA (basically preschooler crack. I was more tired this day than all other days combined):

Followed by 7 days in Cape May, NJ.  Which was 95% running around the beach with 2 very happy kiddos, and 5% reading and day-drinking:
Kindle, keys, beer, and baby monitor. CHECK.
That 5% was pretty amazing though.  I read ONE AND A HALF BOOKS during the week!  Unheard of for me these days.  The one I finished was Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan, and the one I half-finished was Day Four by Sarah Lotz...which my reader friend Julie alerted me to during vacation, because it's Lotz's latest release after The Three, which you may remember I ADORED last year.

(For my running compadres, I also managed 3 early-morning runs while on vacation...I even ventured onto the sand for the first time!  That is HARD WORK!  Not only because of the soft surface, but the slope of the shoreline near the water made it hard to balance.  Oh, and let's not forget the humidity.  Quite the sweat sessions, they were.)

Anyway, now I'm home, and looking forward to reconnecting with all of you.  I have some book reviews to write, and would also like to make time for a few bookish non-review posts that I've had in mind for a while.  I have only one book tour that I'm doing all summer, so I'm really looking forward to some free-range reading over the next few months!  I would also like to bring The Well-Read Runner back every few weeks, as I am in the midst of figuring out my next race plans...especially because I'm back from vacation and something needs to be done after I ate all that fudge and drank all that wine all week.  HA.

So, the moral of the story is...I'm back, so let's talk books!  :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2014!

The time has come!  Favorites must be declared!

Today, Month of Favorites participants are jumping in with the Top Ten Tuesday topic over at Broke and the Bookish: Top 10 Favorite Books of the Year.  In keeping with that, I figured there was no better day for me to announce...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2014!

If you are a careful reader of my blog (and who isn't, RIGHT?), you may be surprised by some of my choices...and some of my non-choices.  There are books on here that, in my initial review, I enjoyed but maybe wasn't completely gushing over.  And there are books not on the list that I mentioned as potential favorites when I wrote my reviews.  But at the end of the year, when I make this list, I go by what's really stuck with me--after months have passed, what are the books that are still leaving an impression?  Still giving me something to think about?

As in past years, this list is in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews:

1. The Three by Sarah Lotz
I know I said this list is in no particular order, but there might be a reason why this was the first one I threw on here.  I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK.

2. Man V. Nature by Diane Cook
I haven't read a collection of short stories this good in a very, very long time.  I find myself thinking about them a LOT.

3. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Is anyone surprised by me putting a Jodi Picoult novel on this list?  Noooooooooooope.

4. What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell
An intricately-woven family drama that explores the many complicated facets of relationships.  Cornwell's ability to smoothly blend several different story angles together still impresses me.

5. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
If there was ever a bitch that got shit done without caring what anyone else thought, it was Scarlett O'Hara.

6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I know, jump on the bandwagon about a year late, right?  But it's just so, so good.  A major time commitment, but an epic in every sense of the word.

7. Above by Isla Morley
This book is excellent, but it earned a special bump onto this list because it has the distinction of being the book that I have successfully recommended to the most people after reading it.  "Successfully" meaning they raved about it afterwards, too.

8. The One & Only by Emily Giffin
Emily Giffin is pretty much always a winner for me.  I adore her ability to make readers sympathetic to what would normally be the undesirable side of a situation.  Such is the case with The One & Only.

9. The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson
To quote my own review: "complex characters, surprising twists, and intriguing relationships."  Plus beautiful writing to top it all off.

10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read several good YA fiction novels this year, but Wintergirls has the distinction of being the best.  Anderson's writing is beautiful and poignant, and her handling of the topic of eating disorders is equal parts careful and impactful.

That does it for 2014!  In going over everything I read this year, I realized how many excellent books I enjoyed in the last 12 months.  A truly fantastic year for reading!

What made YOUR best-read list for 2014?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Back in the groove! September 2014 in Review

September, a banner month!  On the home front, it was good times for so many reasons.

1. Our 7th wedding anniversary...which was celebrated with a dinner out BY OURSELVES!  No kids!  At a not-very-kid-friendly restaurant!  It was amazing!  We ate too much and drank too much responsibly (we did have to parent when we got home) and just generally enjoyed each other's company.  It was wonderful.

2. My 31st birthday, which was celebrated with a dinner out as well, though this was with the kiddos and involved eating my weight in hamburger meat at Red Robin and listening to Small Fry sing to me.  Also wonderful!

3. Finishing my half marathon, which as you well know by now, was quite the saga, but I am rather proud of myself and licking my wounds more quietly.  :)

Plus, I feel like I made a bit of a comeback around here, which is exciting.

In September I read 5 books:
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
The Blonde by Anna Godbersen
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (which included a celebration of Banned Books Week!)
The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson

In addition, I did a new Small Fry Saturday review for My Bus by Byron Barton.

I also talked about my issues with e-books vs paper (the struggle is real), and told you about my new tattoo and love for Jodi Picoult (though those two things are not related, which is probably a win for Jodi Picoult).

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm hoping for some spooky reads in October, plus possibly snagging a copy of Picoult's Leaving Time, and I do have one TLC Book Tour coming up as well.  I know, I took the whole summer off!  But it will be nice to review some new releases again.

How is fall treating you, friends?  Are you pro- or anti- the pumpkin spice craze?  (Personally, I think the Pumpkin Spice Oreo is an insult to humanity.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Three by Sarah Lotz


Title: The Three
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival.


My Review:

I first heard about The Three a few weeks ago from Julie over at Book Hooked Blog.  She posted about it on Instagram, and I was like, "A book about plane crashes and conspiracy! Count me in!" (I'm so morbid.)  My interest was piqued though, so I ran off to the library for a copy.  I was NOT disappointed.  This is potentially one of my favorite reads of 2014.

The Three utilizes a lot of varied literary elements that, when put together, create a unique novel that is fast-paced, suspenseful, and thought-provoking.  Unusual format + suspense/horror + political unrest + open-ended conclusion = this book.

The first thing you'll notice is the journalistic format (similar to World War Z).  The story is told through news articles, interviews, chat room transcripts, etc.  This is responsible for the fast pace, as each "chapter" is quite short, and you've got a steady stream of new information coming at you all the time, not to mention a wide variety of different perspectives to draw from.

Genre-wise, this book melts into several different categories.  I've heard some say horror, but I didn't find the material "horrific" enough to fully justify that description.  However, it is definitely suspenseful and creepy, because disturbing children are ALWAYS creepy (a la The Uninvited by Liz Jensen).  Alongside those eerie details, you also have a conspiracy going on that brings in political, religious, and moral questions, so you have to be ready to take your sinister leanings with a side of philosophical arguing.  This is what makes the book into more of a "literary thriller" and really got my wheels turning as I was reading it.

Finally, you've got the ending.  Based on the commentary I've seen on Goodreads, this is arguably the make-or-break issue for a lot of readers of The Three.  For me, it definitely MADE the book.  Yes, it is open-ended, and every little detail is not neatly wrapped up.  However, I don't think this novel was ever meant to end that way.  It was making me think from the very beginning, so why wouldn't it keep that up at the end?  Lotz gives you just enough detail in the final pages to allow you to extrapolate your own conclusions, and leave you thinking about the what-ifs for a good long while afterwards.  Honestly, I STILL have no freaking clue what happened, but I have a lot of ideas rolling around in my head, and the time I'm taking to agonize over all of them is entertainment enough.

Simply put, The Three was a truly impressive read.  I couldn't read it fast enough, it was creepy creepy creepy, and I loved the moral questions that were posed throughout.  MORE LIKE THIS, PLEASE.

What say you, readers: do you like an open-ended conclusion to a novel?  Or does that just drive you batty?
 
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