Showing posts with label isla morley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label isla morley. Show all posts

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?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book Review: Above by Isla Morley

Title: Above
Author: Isla Morley
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promis­ing and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.

My Review:

Wow.  WOW.  I am currently sitting in Starbucks, where I just finished Above as I was sipping my coffee, and now I'm looking around the cafe like...DID ANYONE ELSE JUST GET THEIR WORLD ROCKED BY A BOOK?  No, that was just me?  Sigh.

I couldn't help asking for an ARC of this book, because the reviews draw parallels with Emma Donoghue's Room--a novel that captivated me, but also one that is very unique in its premise, so I was hopeful that Above would finally give me something similar.

Honestly, the comparisons to Room are not entirely justified.  The novel centers around Blythe, who is kidnapped by an "extreme prepper" who locks her in a missile silo, convinced that the world will soon come to an end and they will one day need to repopulate the earth together.  The captivity theme is pretty much the only way that Room and Above can be compared.  After Blythe gets locked in the silo, her journey becomes very, very different from the one that Jack and his Ma go on in Emma Donoghue's novel.

So no, I won't be reviewing Above in comparison to Room, because it would be doing Isla Morley's novel a disservice...and Above is amazing all on its own, without need for comparison to anything.

Above is the EPITOME of not judging a book by its cover...or in this case, by its book jacket description.  My predictions for how this novel would progress (and eventually end) were entirely, completely, unabashedly WRONG.  Remember when I reviewed Gone Girl, and I said that I finished Part 1 and it was like the whole world exploded?  ABOVE IS LIKE THAT.  The book starts, and Blythe is abducted, and then after a while, I was like, where is this going?  I can only read about Blythe's years worth of struggles with her captor for so long, and I still have 70% of this book to finish...?  And then, BOOOOOOOM.  Major unpredictable game-changer midway through the book that changes your entire perspective of everything--Blythe, her captor, and really the whole central purpose of the novel.

Above does have its slow parts.  As I mentioned, the beginning portion of the novel started to drag for me before the plot got flipped on its head.  And towards the end, I started to feel the same way.  I think Morley tended to dwell on certain parts of Blythe's journey just a tad too long.  However, each transition in the plot action was good enough that I was able to forgive the slow bits pretty quickly.

I can't say much more without getting spoiler-y, but...Above.  Read it.  Love it.  Trust.  (Then come back here and talk to me about it!)

Readers: have you read any books lately that went in a completely different direction than you originally anticipated?
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