The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

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Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star hotel on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for Neptune-Avradimis, reads the words and orders a drink to calm down. Alkaitis, the owner of the hotel and a wealthy investment manager, arrives too late to read the threat, never knowing it was intended for him. He leaves Vincent a hundred dollar tip along with his business card, and a year later they are living together as husband and wife.

High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. He holds the life savings of an artist named Olivia Collins, the fortunes of a Saudi prince and his extended family, and countless retirement funds, including Leon Prevant’s. The collapse of the financial empire is as swift as it is devastating, obliterating fortunes and lives, while Vincent walks away into the night. Until, years later, she steps aboard a Neptune-Avramidis vessel, the Neptune Cumberland, and disappears from the ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.

 

I got this ARC at a give away during NYCC ’19.

I’m really glad I listened to the audiobook of Station Eleven right before reading this ARC because there are some Easter eggs. (Though it’s not a requirement to read Station Eleven before.) It’s almost a parallel universe in a way. I loved that the story played with alternate realities. I imaging an AU of my life all the time. I also liked the elements of ghosts or being haunted by the past (depending on the reader’s views).

I really like Mandel’s style of writing. The Glass Hotel goes back and forth in time and between different POVs. It does it really well. The pacing and the way details unfold is seamless. It made it a real page turner.

I loved the multi-POVs from everyone: the criminals in the Ponzi scheme and the victims of the scheme, and seeing how they all are connected to each other. The characters are interesting and well develop without boggling the book with too much detail.

I also have many favorite quotes that I related to, but I feel that is opening a whole other discussion and I’m going to keep this review just a review.

So here is one quote that made me chuckle:
Page 94 – “You cannot be both an unwashed bohemian and Cary Grant.”

This is so me and all the imaginary discussions I have:
Page 285 – “It turned out that never having that conversation with Vincent meant that he was somehow condemned to alwayshave that conversation with Vincent.”

Yes, I know I am supposed to check the ARC with he final print before quoting, but these are just too good not to share.

4.5  out of 5  Investments. 

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

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In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, on which she discovers an enriching passion for music. Yet after she marries, her husband insists the family emigrate to America–and loses her piano in the process.

In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, twenty-six-year-old Clara Lundy is burdened by the last gift her father gave her before he and her mother died in a terrible house fire: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Now a talented and independent auto mechanic, Clara’s career is put on hold when she breaks her hand trying to move the piano, and in sudden frustration she decides to sell it. Only in discovering the identity of the buyer–and the secret history of her piano–will Clara be set free to live the life of her choosing.

I got this title at Book Con 2019. Penguin Random House/Knopf had a “blind date with a book” giveaway. They had the books wrapped in different color paper depending on these genres: fiction, non-fiction, mystery, true crime, or historical fiction.

I chose historical fiction and got an old ARC for The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander. It was published in January 2019. Even though it was given away as historical fiction I wouldn’t place it in that category. Life in the USSR was not the main focus. Most of the story takes place in California in the 1980s, 90s and present day.

That’s just my opinion. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it. The story was sad but ends with hope. I really like the way it began and ended, like bookends.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, narrated by Kirsten Potter

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One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the cross-hairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

I got an ARC of Emily’s new book The Glass Hotel from NYCC ’19 and before I read that I wanted to listen to Station Eleven.

I could not stop listening to it. It’s not so much that it’s suspenseful but I needed to find out what happened to the characters.

There are a few main characters to follow and it moves back and forth through time, and that has the potential to get confusing and messy. Station Eleven is written seamlessly with the way the little details unfold and connect. That’s also what made it un-put-downable.

Post-apocalyptic stories always scare me just a little bit. Listening to the way civilization unraveled had me a bit freaked out. (I don’t think I’d make it far. I can’t hunt or fish or garden. Unless I found someone to teach me those skills I would die within the first year.)

Favorite Quote in Chapter 23: “Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

5 out of 5 Symphonies 

I only have one small wish for the ending:

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2019 Book Challenge

30 Audiobooks + 6 Comic Books/Graphic Novels + 1 Ebook + 7 Hardcovers/Paperbacks + 10 Advanced Reader Copies = 54 Books Total

30 Audiobooks:

1) Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry,  narrated by Scott Brick; 37 mins; January 2, 2019; 3 out of 5 Cradles.
2) The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs,  narrated by B.J. Harrison; 27 min; January 3, 2019; 3 out of 5 Wishes.
3) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati; 11 hrs and 48 mins; January 16-30, 2019; 4 out of 5 Witchy Women.
4) The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati; 13h 2m; January 31- February 12, 2019 ; 3.5 out of 5 Chyerti.
5) The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati; 14h; February 12-26, 2019; 4.5 out of 5 Mushrooms.
6) Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray, narrated by January LaVoy; 12h 14m; April 1-24, 2019; 4 out of 5 Senators.
7) The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks by Rob Sheffield, narrated by Rob Sheffield, 2h 43m, May 14-22, 2019, 5 out of 5 Shawls.
8) Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds, John Curless, Julian Elfer, Aedin Moloney; 23 hrs and 23 mins; July 14-26, 2019; 4.5 out of 5 Vaults.
9) Thrawn Treason by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson; 13 hours and 13 minutes; July 27-30, 2019; 3 out of 5 Navigators.
10) Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick, narrated by: Prentice Onayemi, Samantha Turret, Khristine Hvam, Gabriel Vaughan, Josh HurleyLength: 2 hrs and 55 mins; August 12, 2019; 5 out of 5 T-Rex Sneaker Duels in Scotland!
11) The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon by Todd Zwillich, narrated by: Todd Zwillich, Angelo Di Loreto; 3 hrs and 32 mins,  Aug13-14, 2019; 5 out of 5 Apollos.
12) Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves  by The Arabian Nights, narrated by: B. J. Harrison; Length: 1 hr and 38 mins; August 15-16, 2019; 3 out of 5  Oil Jugs.
13) The Diary of a Hounslow Girl by Ambreen Razia, narrated by: Ambreen Razia; Length: 1 hr and 36 mins; August 20, 2019; 3 out of 5 Tattoos.
14) A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain, narrated by Hillary Huber; Length: 1 hr and 15 mins; August 21, 2019; 3 out of 5 Scientists.
15) TBSC: Kristy’s Great Idea, by Ann M. Martin, narrated by Elle Fanning;  2 hrs and 44 mins; September 17, 2019; 4 out of 5 Babies.
16) The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by James Lecesne, narrated  James Lecesne; 1 hr 2 mins; September 23, 2019; 5 out of 5 Rainbow Sneakers.
17) Folsom Untold: The Strange True Story of Johnny Cash’s Greatest Album by Danny Robins; 2h 21m; September 24-25, 2019; 5 out of 5 Song Writers.
18)  TBSC: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, by Ann M. Martin, narrated by Elle Fanning;  2 hrs and 50 mins; October 12, 2019; 4 out of 5 Creepy House Noises.
19) Carrie by Stephen King, narrated by Sissy Spacek; 7 hrs and 24 mins; October 13-17, 2019; 4 out of 5 Proms.
20) Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar,  narrated by  Harsh Nayyar, Annapurna Srira, Bernard White, Nick Choksi , Rita Wolf; 1 hr and 38 mins ; October 21, 2019; 5 out of 5 Phone Calls.
21) The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, narrated by B.J. Harrison; 1hr 23 m; October 22, 2019; 3 out of 5 Heads.
22) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, narrated by Richard Armitage; 3 hr and 7m; October 23, 2019;  3.5 out of 5 Elixirs.
23) The Demon Next Door by Bryan Burrough, narrated by Steve White; 2 hrs and 45 mins; October 24, 2019; 4 out of 5 Handcuffs.
24) Dracula by Bram Stoker,  narrated by B.J. Harrison; 17 hours; October 25-31 , 2019; 3.5 out of 5 Fangs.
25) You Can Thank Me Later: A Novella by Kelly Harms, narrated by Lauren Fortgang; 3 hours 5 minutes; December 4, 2019; 5 out of 5 Turkeys.
26) The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen, narrated by Anne Helen Petersen. 1 hour 48 minutes; December 5, 2019; 4 out of 5 Matches.
27) Murder, We Spoke by The Audible Editors, narrated by Kat Johnson. 46 minutes; December 6, 2019; 4 out of 5 Crimes.
28) Press Pause: A Young Person’s Guide To Managing Life’s Challenges by Catherine Singer, narrated by Catherine Singer. 2 hrs and 3 mins; December 8, 2019; 4 out of 5 Breaths.
29) Holiday Greetings from Sugar and Booze by Ana Gasteyer and Mona Mansour, narrated by Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, and more. 2 hrs and 28 minutes; December 19-23, 2019; 4 out of 5 Christmas Villages.
30) The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, narrated by Richard Armitage. 3 hrs and 53 mins; December 30-31, 2019; 3 out of 5 Guests.

6 Comic Books/Graphic Novels:
1) Star Wars: Thrawn by Jody Houser, Luke Ross (Illustrator), Paul Renaud (Illustrator); January 1, 2019; 4 out of 5 Red Eyes.
2) Saga, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer),  Fiona Staples (Artist); January 15, 2019; 4 out of 5 Betrayals.
3) Saga, Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer),  Fiona Staples (Artist); February 10, 2019; 5 out of 5 Escapes.
4) Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer),  Fiona Staples (Artist); March 5-6, 2019; 4 out of 5 Tissues.
5) Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist); April 6, 2019, 4 out of 5 Brothers.
6)  Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer),  Fiona Staples (Artist);  April 6, 2019, 4 out of 5 Cliffhangers.

1 Ebook:
1) Dark Age by Pierce Brown; 879 pages; July 30-August 9,2019; 4.5 out of 5 Storm Gods.

7 Hardcovers/Paperbacks:
1) Year Zero by Rob Reid; 357 pages; February 28- March 17, 2019; 2 out of 5 Downloaded Songs.
2) Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova; 324 pages, March 18-31, 2019; 4 out of 5 Death Masks.
3)  Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice; 340 pages; April 27-May 20, 2019;  2 out of 5 Bites.
4) Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova; 336 pages; September 26-October 10, 2019; 4 out of 5 Hearts.
5) Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett; 506 pages; November 18-28, 2019 ; 4 out of 5 Keys.
6) Dead Voices by Katherine Arden; 236 pages; December 10-15, 2019; 5 out of 5 Bones.
7) The Costumes of Burlesque: 1866-2018 by Coleen Scott; 320 pages; December 29-31, 2019; 4 out of 5 Pasties.

10 Advanced Reader Copies: 
1) Sisters of the Fire by Kim Wilkins; 446 pages; Dec. 31, 2018- Jan. 14, 2019; 3.5 out of 5 Dragons.
2) A Short History of the Girl Next Doorby Jared Reck;  265 pages; May 21-25, 2019; 5 out of 5 Nerds.
3)  The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel by Jeanne Mackin; pages 340 pages; May 26- June 7,2019; 4 out of 5 Couture Gowns.
4) Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett; 290 pages; June 9-14, 2019; 3 out of 5 Musicals.
5) More News Tomorrow by Susan Richards Shreve; 259 pages; June 17-21, 2019; 3 out of 5 Canoes.
6) House of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A. Craig; 402 pages; June 25- July 12, 2019 ; 4 out of 5 Fairy Shoes.
7) The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys; 840 pages; August 19-27, 2019; 5 out of 5 Rolls of Film.
8) Jackpot by Nic Stone; 339 pages; September 13-22 , 2019; 4.5 out of 5 Lottery Tickets.
9) The Starless Sea by  ErinMorgenstern, 494 pages, November 3 – 16, 2019; 4 out of 5 Bees.
10) Infinity Son  by Adam Silvera; 353 pages; November 29-December 3, 2019; 3 out of 5 Phoenixes.

 

Top Ten Tuesday December 31: Favorite Books I Read In 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

December 31: Favorite Books I Read In 2019

1) Dark Age by Pierce Brown; 4.5 out of 5 Storm Gods.

2) The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel by Jeanne Mackin; 4 out of 5 Couture Gowns

3) The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys; 5 out of 5 Rolls of Film.

4) The Starless Sea by ErinMorgenstern; 4 out of 5 Bees

5) Jackpot by Nic Stone; 4.5 out of 5 Lottery Tickets

6) Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova; 4 out of 5 Death Masks.

7) Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova; 4 out of 5 Hearts

8) Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett ; 4 out of 5 Keys.

9) Carrie by Stephen King, narrated by Sissy Spacek; 4 out of 5 Proms

10) The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati; 4.5 out of 5 Mushrooms.

My review of The Rise of Skywalker

Well … what did I think of this expensive fan fiction? It was way better than The Last Jedi. Still I like The Force Awakens a bit better. Only because the ending of The Rise of Skywalker was very long and drawn out. I was getting frustrated and looking at my watch. There were parts I enjoyed but there are some plot holes, in my opinion, and inconsistent aspects. I miss George Lucas. His films were consistent with each other. This Sequel Trilogy (I am calling it the Fan Fiction Trilogy) feels like a mish mosh of 3 different films. The makers should have sat down and planned it all out from the get go. Not each director/writer doing their own thing.  It truly feels like J.J. Abrams started his own movie, then Rian Johnson did his own thing completely off course, and then Abrams went back to finish his own story.

I am going to break this up into things I liked, things I disliked and things I hated it.

 

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Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

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Bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.

I received this book as a gift for my birthday a couple of months ago and this winter season is the perfect time to read it.

This story is like The Shining for middle grade readers. Snowed in at a hotel with ghosts and animals that move but shouldn’t. I really loved it. It was creepy, suspenseful, and smart.

I love the further development of the friendship between Ollie, Coco and Brain. (I do hope though that next time we have more Billy in the story.) It was great that Coco got the opportunity to showcase her abilities by thinking and deducing the tricks.

It was good to see that the story had some backstories for the ghosts but I still want to know more about the Smiling Man.

Favorite Quotes:

Page 91: “Ghosts like it when you’re afraid. It means you acknowledge them.”

Page 98: “A creeping horror started to overtake her: a feeling that, if she stayed there long enough, she would become a reflection instead of a girl.”

5 out of 5 Bones.