The Night Child by Anna Quinn

The Night Child

Title: The Night Child

Author: Anna Quinn

Page Count: 200 

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction

*Stacks on Deck – August 2017 – Book #1*

Summary: (Pulled from NetGalley)

All Nora Brown wants is to teach high school English and live a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks—a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body—the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire—when you think you might die.

Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. This time, it whispers, Remember the Valentine’s dress. Shaken once again, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered—a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.

The Night Child is a breathtaking debut novel about split consciousness, saving a broken child, and the split between past and present. It’s about the extraordinary capacity within each of us to save ourselves through visionary means.

 

My Thoughts:

(WARNING: Slight spoilers!)

Quinn’s novel is beautifully written and eloquently dances with mental illness, revealing it’s true nature. The symptoms and conditions associated with Nora’s psychological break rang true in my head as appropriately describing mental illness, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nora’s Margaret (or her subconscious) is written in such a way that makes her relatable but also terrifying in her power over Nora.

The pain and trauma described in the book are not overdone and are believable descriptions of physical and sexual abuse that some people are forced to endure. Quinn’s writing allows us to relate to Nora during her break because we know and understand that this break with reality is essential to her healing and further growth. Nora must make every effort to mend the shattered pieces of her childhood and quickly realizes she has to include Margaret on this path towards healing.

Ultimately, I had a hard time putting this book down. The shorter chapters (a la James Patterson) kept pace with the theme of the novel and helped lend perspective into the time passed between the ups and downs of Nora’s condition.

The ending of the book is really the only thing that threw me for a loop. I was expecting some kind of closure, but that’s not quite what I got.

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BUT! I did get the impression that Nora was FINALLY on the up-and-up. And that’s all that we can really ask for.

 

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Rating: 4 out of 5 cacti

Commonwealth – Ann Patchett

Commonwealth Cover

Title: Commonwealth

Author: Ann Patchett

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Harper

Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction

 

Summary:

Patchett’s bestseller follows six children in their dysfunction throughout life and the parents who made them that way. Theresa and Albert Cousins, with their four children, are divorcing at the same time Fix and Beverly Keating, with their two children, get a divorce. This is not a coincidence as Albert Cousins and Beverly Keating’s newfound love for each other is the reason for the dissolution of marriages.

Albert and Beverly decide they want to live their happily ever after, so they move themselves, plus Beverly’s two children, out to Virginia to live. Fix Keating decides to stay in California while Theresa Cousins, with her four children, decides to do the same.

Though this book follows many of the children, the real story is from Franny’s, Fix and Beverly’s daughter, perspective. In fact, the only reason this story is being told at all is because Franny is telling it to Leon Posen who writes a bestselling book “loosely” based on Franny’s childhood.

The family itself is considered, by today’s standards, a large blended family. But the children refuse to blend, leaving them all united ONLY with their distaste for their parents. Franny paints the family portrait in an interesting light as she displays each child’s specific personality and how they handled their responsibilities.

The untimely death of a child plays a huge role in everybody’s lives as they all harbor guilt because of their own actions during, and immediately after, the death. Ultimately, grief tears the families apart which so often happens when a shocking death occurs. This grief pulls the family back together again in the later years of each child’s life as their respective parents age and pass away.

Together, each child is able to be strong and independent of each other while still relying on each other for emotional support.

My Thoughts:

The cons of this book are also it’s pros. The books bobs and weaves through difficult issues that have occurred in the characters’ lives. It’s incredibly easy to get characters mixed up, but this is also part of the beauty of the book.

This novel reflects life very well by making stories told hard to understand and follow. There are SIX children after all. (Holy crap!) It only makes sense for the stories and people to be easily confused with others. Every character is vying for the reader’s attention, much like a real child would do.

The beauty of this book is also the downfall of it. Trying to follow the time warps in this novel sometimes left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not a fan of going back and re-reading, but I found I had to do that in this book.

The book doesn’t flow well and I would consider it disjointed. Though that may be its intention, it doesn’t mean I, or any other reader, have to enjoy it. It’s choppy. And not karate-choppy. Like strong waves in the water choppy.

Overall, the reality of this book is what made it a decent read. It’s interesting (at least for me) to see how the same traumas all of the children endured affects each one of them differently.

Though the story cuts back and forth often, I still didn’t want to put it down while I was reading it. My psychologically-oriented mind wanted to devour each character inside and out to better understand and empathize with them.

 

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Rating: 3 out of 5 cacti

 

Stacks on Deck – August 2017

To Be Read – August 2017

Hi guys! It is the end of one month and the beginning of a new one which meansssss …. drumroll please …. NEW BOOK GOALS!

August is my birthday month and even though I’m going to be an old lady (26 years old. THE HORROR!), I’m really, really, REALLY excited about the books I’ve set out to read this month.

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As you can see below, I like a little bit of everything and I don’t want to limit myself to one specific genre.

THERE’S A WHOLE WORLD OF BOOKS OUT THERE GUYS! Explore. Learn. Grow. It’ll feel good.

Here are the books on deck for August 2017:

The Night Child

 

1st: The Night Child by Anna Quinn (NetGalley read)

I was fortunate enough to have received this book when I requested it on NetGalley and I’m very excited to dig into it. I briefly read the 1st 5 pages and was absolutely hooked. I’m ready for it! (You can pre-order this guy on Amazon. It’s only $6.99 for your Kindle!)

 

 

Behold the Dreamers

 

2nd: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This book is in Oprah’s Book Club, so it must be a great read right?! I hope so! I picked my copy up at the good ole’ Costco for about $9. (Cheaper than any other store I’ve seen this book in.) Sounds like a fantastic read.

 

 

Redeployment

 

3rd: Redeployment by Phil Klay

A National Book Award winner with a 4.5 star rating on Amazon?! Yes, please! My husband picked this bad boy out for me and I’m excited to read it. Hopefully this will provide me with a better understanding of the traumas of war and of the soldiers who come home to us.

 

 

The Young Wives Club

 

4th: The Young Wives Club: A Novel by Julie Pennell

The trials and tribulations of a young southern girl who has her dreams shattered and must rebuild. A bit different from the other books, but I’m hoping it’ll prove to be a great story with wonderfully charming characters.

 

 

 

Me Before You

 

**Bonus: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I’ve heard nothing but wonderfully heartbreaking things about this book. I’m ready to have my eyes burn and my heart broken! **Bonus points if I’m about to get to this book this month! Bonus points don’t really matter and you can’t use them for anything, but they’ll make me feel better. 🙂

 

 

Do you have any of these books in your line up for August?

Did you already read one or more of these books?

Tell me what you liked/didn’t like. Tell me about your favorite characters. Tell me if there’s a major plot twist I should expect.

I want to hear your thoughts. Use that keyboard. Talk to me. 🙂

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Clockwork Angel – Summary & Review

Clockwork AngelTitle: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Page Count: 481

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Summary:

Clockwork Angel takes the reader back to a late 1800s London, leading us on the tumultuous journey of a young girl, Tessa, who’s traveling to London from New York to stay with her brother, Nathaniel.

Immediately after arriving in London, Tessa is tricked into believing her brother sent two women (WITCHES!), The Dark Sisters, to pick her up from the port and bring Tessa to him. Not long after, Tessa is being held captive by The Dark Sisters who are “training” her to control a gift she didn’t even know she possessed. Some time later we find out Tessa is being groomed for marriage with a mysterious man everyone calls The Magister.

While still being held against her will and abused by The Dark Sisters, Tessa masters her special ability of Changing herself into other people. Enter the Shadowhunters Will and Jem. They’ve both been tracking a young woman who was violently stabbed in an alleyway. It just so happens that The Dark Sisters force Tessa to Change into this poor woman and the Shadowhunters are able to find the Changed Tessa, thinking she’s the dead woman, and eventually rescue her from The Dark Sisters.

Tessa is then nursed back to health in The Institute where she learns about the Shadowhunters’ world, The Dark Sisters’ true identities and who The Magister may be. Through all of this, Tessa remains in the dark about her brother’s whereabouts.

Tessa’s determination in finding her brother quickly becomes a focal point of the novel as every step she takes involves looking for Nathaniel in some way or another.

During her time in The Institute, Will, the brooding and sarcastic jerk, and Jem, the frail but fierce fighting partner of Will’s, are both consistently fighting for Tessa’s attention and affections.

Tessa is quickly pushed into using her gift to benefit the Shadowhunters and their own government, the Clave, by attempting to capture the nefarious head vampire, de Quincy. During her kerfuffle with a room of vampires, Tessa finds her brother, Nathaniel, beaten badly and in very poor health. The Shadowhunters, with Tessa in tow, bring Nathaniel back to The Institute to heal his wounds.

Some tension brews between Tessa and Will as we learn that Will is hiding a deep, dark secret that he refuses to speak about. Still, Tessa falls a little harder for Will every day, despite his harsh words and careless attitude.

My Thoughts:

(*Warning: Brutal and savage thoughts expressed ahead!*)

There is very little development of Tessa, who has the fantastic power to Change, but doesn’t use it in any way that is truly beneficial to herself or the Shadowhunters sheltering her. Instead, Tessa seemingly remains a young girl who is sometimes frightened by her own shadow. By giving Tessa an amazing ability, Tessa’s character could have been an awesome and badass warrior woman.

Maybe Tessa develops further in the other books, but I don’t care to read them.

By making Jessamine into a Shadowhunter who’s desperately trying NOT to be one, Clare misses an opportunity to have a truly strong female Shadowhunter who could teach Tessa a thing or two about confidence. Instead, Jessie is portrayed as a rich bitch with a penchant for selfishness who seeks nothing more than a husband to take her away from the awful Shadowhunter world.

The entire novel reminded me of The Mortal Instruments (TMI) series. So much so that I thought I had already read this book. This book was startlingly similar to City of Bones. Tessa, Will and Jem had the same personality features as Clary, Jace and Simon. The only thing really different was the Victorian London setting which was so poorly developed it made the novel hard to believe.

There’s also the issue of the book’s namesake. Every day Tessa wears a clockwork angel necklace given to her by her mother. There’s no backstory behind the necklace’s meaning or purpose for it in Tessa’s life. There is one instance where the necklace seems to fight away a couple member’s of the Magister’s clockwork army, but then no other mention is made of it in the book. Why name a book after an item that is hardly ever at the forefront?

Whereas TMI’s plot twists kept me interested throughout, Clockwork Angel (and Clare’s writing throughout the entire book) left a lot to be desired.

I understood the twists and turns the book was about to take before Clare even turned the wheel. If you’re going to read a series written by Cassandra Clare, choose The Mortal Instruments.

Overall Rating:

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2 out of 5 cacti.