Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventy-Sixth Book Review: “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” by Bryn Greenwood

What does love look like? In “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” by Bryn Greenwood, we follow Wavy as she tries to find her way in the world. Her parents are useless – negligent at the least but ready to shell out abuse whenever they take notice of her. The only family she has left after her parents are thrown in jail are her grandmother and her aunt. When thrust in with her extended family, Wavy refuses to follow any rules. Her mere presence puts a tremendous strain on her aunt and the fact that she refuses to talk, refuses to eat, and will not allow anyone to touch her, especially contribute to make Wavy a challenge.

Wavy comes to realize that the people in her life try to make her fit in one particular space. When she finally meets someone that doesn’t spend his time trying to change her in any way, is there any surprise that they build a relationship? “After Liam and Butch took Kellen away I thought about how he left spaces for me when he talked. If I saw him again, I decided I might put words in those spaces.” (All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, pg 28).

There were so many weird parts to this book. On the one hand, Wavy is the main character and throughout the book we are learning more about her and how she is treated and what expectations others put up for her. It isn’t surprising that she does her own thing. So when she starts to fall for Kellen, you can’t help but cheer for them. That is, until an outsider observes them. And you realize that it is weird. That if your niece was in a similar situation that you would fight tooth and nail to protect her. That this relationship is for lack of a better word – icky.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. It was really well written and I liked the different characters. And it was definitely a book that made me think. But it is a little messed up. There are plenty of ugly things that come into play in this book and I was a little uncomfortable at times. So I wouldn’t recommend this book to the public at large. But I am glad that I read it and I would definitely pick up another book by Bryn Greenwood.

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Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventy-Fifth Book Review: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was an enjoyable read that was clearly geared towards children. That being said, it was a fun introduction into the magical world that J.K. Rowling created and there were several times that I found myself laughing aloud. This happened despite the fact that I had read this series before.

The book starts off with an introduction into the Dursley family. It is quickly established that this family does not like anything out of the ordinary and that they are snobs at best. This family contains some of the worst people. When their nephew is left on their doorstep they very reluctantly take him in where he is raised in an appalling manner. Maybe I’m just naïve, but it seems to me that if your sister and her husband are murdered that you might try to take slightly better care of her newly orphaned son. Just maybe. But instead, Harry is treated like dirt and forced into an almost Cinderella-type servitude in his family’s home. But Harry is special and soon a whole new world is opened to him when he learns he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday.

The story is fun, but what really makes “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” stand out is the characters that we meet. Dumbledore is a quirky, wise headmaster and one of the greatest characters that I’ve seen in a long time. “The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.” (HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone, pg 298) This is just one tidbit of wisdom that Dumbledore shared with Harry in what promises to be a noteworthy relationship.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – anyone looking to get lost in a book for a little while would enjoy “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling. It is written with a younger audience in mind, which makes it a quick read. At the same time, there are a lot of adult topics that are touched upon. We barely skim the surface of what is to come and it is a great way to whet the pallet in preparation for the rest of the series.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventy-Fourth Book Review: “The Runaway Princess” by Hester Browne

“The Runaway Princess” by Hester Browne was a really fun read that kept a smile on my face for most of the book. Sometimes a lighthearted read is just what the doctor ordered after reading too many edge of your seat thrillers. My other reading experience with Hester Browne was The Little Lady Agency series. Books that I highly enjoyed, but overall felt a little frustrated with, not to mention slightly disgusted at the behavior of the main character’s family. I was hoping that “The Runaway Princess” would stand alone as a separate book and not follow a formula that so many authors seem to fall into these days. I was pleased that this book did not go in the direction I was expecting and that the main character’s parents were good people.

Amy Wilde was a fun main character that I felt myself relating to quite a bit. More of an introvert than her roommate, Amy is way outside her comfort zone at the heaven/hell party Jo throws at their London flat. After promising to not spend the whole party hiding in the kitchen, Amy reluctantly finds herself in the midst of the festivity being chatted up by a mysterious stranger. “I guessed this was how a rabbit felt, shortly before being swallowed whole by a boa constrictor, scared but oddly flattered at the same time.” (The Runaway Princess, pg 27) I liked this quote because it made me laugh and it gives a good sense of who Amy is; she’s the kind of girl that doesn’t expect to be the focus of a sexy stranger’s attention. This sexy stranger turns out to be Rolf – a prince that has sort of dated Jo. What Amy doesn’t realize at the time is that the guy who talked Rolf down and got him to behave (sort of) was Rolf’s brother, Leo who is also a prince. And thus, we move into the love story.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was a fun read. It isn’t one that is going to really stimulate your intellect, but it is nice to sometimes allow yourself to get lost in a junk food read and that is exactly what “The Runaway Princess” delivered. I’m glad that Hester Browne’s stand alone novel was a fun read and I will definitely continue to read her books!

Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventy-Third Book Review: “Nothing to Lose” by Lee Child

“Nothing to Lose” by Lee Child is the twelfth book in the Jack Reacher series. Reading through the series, I have come to know and love the character Jack Reacher. He lives life by his own code and he doesn’t get caught up in unimportant matters such as possessions or, from his perspective, relationships. He just is enjoying living a solitary life outside the military. Reacher is the kind of guy that stands up where he sees injustice. He will fight for the little guy. He’s always ready to help out a damsel in distress. And almost always, I find myself cheering him on for his behavior and his honest outlook on life. In “Nothing to Lose” I found myself in unknown territory. Instead of cheering for Reacher, I found myself judging him harshly. He wasn’t getting involved because of some grave injustice where someone smaller was unable to stand up for themselves – this time Reacher was causing trouble because he felt personally insulted. He didn’t like getting kicked out of a town. “He liked to press on, dead ahead, whatever. Everyone’s life needed an organizing principle, and relentless forward motion was Reacher’s.” (Nothing to Lose, pg 7). This was a situation where Reacher’s own stubbornness was the cause of his troubles. And boy, does Reacher like to get into trouble.

Despite my personal frustrations with Reacher and his behavior in “Nothing to Lose” I really liked the fact that Lee Child wrote this book. It was a different twist to have Reacher appear as the guy making trouble from the start. Causing problems in a town that never did anything to him except ask him to leave. On his quest for personal justice, he does stumble upon his standard heroic default – but that was unclear to the reader for the majority of the book. And that was a nice change.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this book series is and I really enjoyed that Lee Child wrote “Nothing to Lose” where Reacher was painted in a different light. It is amazing that twelve books into a series, the author continues to surprise and capture readers. I am eager to read the next book and see what Reacher will be up to next.