Where the World Ends is Where You Must Begin: Reviewing The Gunslinger (Book One of The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

Hi everyone! It’s time for me to stop padding this blog with random posts and start giving you some actual book reviews. I was grateful to receive the entire Dark Tower series from my aunt not too long ago. I have mentioned in the past that it has been awhile since I have read a series. I’m also a Stephen King fan so this was all very serendipitous. Now, here are my thoughts on The Gunslinger. 

The mysterious man called the Gunslinger is on the hunt for the equally enigmatic Man in Black. As he travels across the desert, the Gunslinger must survive many magical obstacles in his path as well as protect Jake, a kid from Earth in order to reach his arch nemesis. King’s mix of epic fantasy and classical Western tales provides a surreal backdrop for the thrilling and dark tale of the Gunslinger and his quest.

As you have probably seen, I have reviewed King’s horror novels in the past but I have not read one of his non-horror novels yet. The Gunslinger had a surreal and gritty atmosphere that brings together all of the classic elements of a Western story with the kind of fantasy I’ve read in Lord of the Rings. The story is certainly not structured in any traditional way. It took me a bit to realize that as the story simply flows together and isn’t broken up by so many chapters. The Gunslinger is actually a quick read but the story makes you pay attention to detail as King certainly follows the “show don’t tell” rule of story telling. I finished this book feeling intrigued. King does inject his usual gory form of story telling into this novel, so you have been warned if you are sensitive to violence. At times, the writing did carry a certain sexual overtone that made me a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t enough to deter me but, again, you may not enjoy this if you are sensitive to this kind of content. In the end, I found myself very intrigued by The Gunslinger. I love the mashup of two very different genres and will definitely be reading the rest of the series. I’ll go ahead and recommend this novel to fans of fantasy novels. The Gunslinger is an epic exercise in pushing the limits of action and fantasy.

Note: I know the movie adaptation came out a year ago or so. I haven’t seen it but let me know if you think it is worth watching. I would like to know.

Who Wants To Live Forever?: Reviewing The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Hi everyone! I know it has been way too long since I’ve posted last. I’m trying not to neglect this blog but life happens sometimes and, unfortunately, that prevents me from reading. Anyways, I wanted to talk about a novel that I went in knowing nothing about and only picked up because I heard good reviews. Sometimes, you never know what you’re going to find. I will now tell you about Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists. 

In the summer of 1969, Daniel Gold heard rumors of a woman in his apartment building who could predict the future. Eager to know his fate, he convinces his three siblings to come with him and they each learned what day they would die on. Over the next fifty years, the Gold siblings must deal with this information. The youngest, Simon, runs away to San Francisco with no direction. Klara studies to become a magician, dreaming that she may defy death. Daniel struggles to maintain his career as an Army doctor. The oldest, Varya, studies longevity. As the lives of the Gold siblings unfold, each must learn what it means to live forever and what to do when you know on what day your life will end.

Like I said, I picked up this book with no real expectations and I have to say that I was impressed by what I read. Benjamin’s writing has a surreal and almost magical feeling while the plot itself is very much steeped in reality. The characters are very well fleshed out and dynamic in their own ways. The story does span a large amount of time but Benjamin dedicates plenty of time and detail to each story without making it feel as though it’s dragging on. The novel is part love story, part family drama, part mystery, and part tragedy. Benjamin does an excellent job testing the idea of fate versus free will without getting overly philosophical. There’s still plenty of philosophy but it is woven into the story lines. The Immortalists certainly surprised me in all of the best ways and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

Between Always and Never: Reviewing Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Hello everyone! I am finally back with another book review. I mentioned in a previous post about how I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of Aciman’s novel. Of course, it was only natural I read the original novel. I’ll give some comparisons in this review for anyone who might be interested in seeing the movie after reading the novel or vice versa. But first, I will give you my review of Call Me By Your Name. 

Everything changed for Elio when a handsome stranger came to stay at his parents’ summer house. The two find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other as they spend more time together. Elio and Oliver must navigate their way through the passion, obsession, and desire as they hurdle towards a romance that neither was prepared for.

Before I begin this review, I wanted to address the one thing in this novel that everyone takes issue with: the age gap between Elio and Oliver. Elio is about sixteen in the beginning of the novel while Oliver is twenty-three. Nothing about their relationship, however, is predatory for either party. In fact, the age gap is actually an important topic in the novel for both characters. With this being said, Call Me By Your Name is a sentimental and thoughtful novel told through the eyes of Elio, an intelligent and self-conscious young man. The novel is written in a stream-of-consciousness style and keeps a romantic tone without glossing over Elio’s complicated emotions. The characters felt very nuanced and unique in their thoughts and actions. Aciman balances between intimacy and passion in a way that doesn’t detract from the serious underlying topics of this novel. I also want to add that the end of this novel is much more satisfying than the one in the movie. Call Me By Your Name is an exploration in love and sexuality that is unlike any other romance novel out there. I would definitely recommend this novel for any fans of romance or someone who may not be a fan of romance. Call Me By Your Name was thoughtful, touching, and it kept me invested until the very end.

No Good Men Left: Reviewing Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I was really hoping to post this review sooner but a storm took out the WiFi for a two days then I had to go out of town for a family reunion. The plus side of all of this was that I was finally able to finish this particular novel. I also got a whole new pile of novels plus Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Be sure to expect more book reviews soon. For now, I will give you my review of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

Elliot “Eli” Cardale was on the brink of discovery. With the help of his roommate, Victor Vale, they were able to test the boundaries of human nature and unlock something supernatural. Unfortunately, this discovery leads the two brilliant and calculating young men down a dangerous path that they can’t come back from. Years later, Victor and Eli must face off in a merciless battle for revenge.

Vicious is a fast-paced and violent novel that doesn’t hold back. The characters are incredibly interesting as none of them can really be classified as “good guys.” It’s almost up to the reader to decide who the real protagonist is. Like I said, novel is fast-paced and it actually jumps around in time but it doesn’t lead to any confusion. Schwab excellently handles this non-linear story telling. There is plenty of gore and violence but it doesn’t take away from character development. One of the reviewers describes novel as “comic book-like” and I would have to agree with that. In fact, I would love to see this novel in comic book form. In conclusion, I highly recommend Schwab’s Vicious to any one looking for something violent and addictive to read.

The Princess, the Damsel, the Queen, and You: Reviewing The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Hello everyone! I know I had promised another book review to you earlier but (of course) I get sidetracked with other books because I have no self control. Back to the topic at hand, I am excited to talk to you about Amanda Lovelace’s first collection of poetry, the princess saves herself in this one. I may have mentioned that I’m really not a diehard poetry fan but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to explore the territory. You can read my reviews on Rupi Kaur’s poetry collections. Before that, please read this review of the princess saves herself in this one. 

In her debut collection of poetry, Lovelace does not hold back from exploring the difficulties that she has faced in her life. Her whole narrative is beautifully tied together with her fairytale metaphors, that help the reader to better understand the situations she is describing. Personally, I felt a deep connection to Lovelace through her poems. She often describes herself as “bookmad” and I think that is a wonderful term. Though the book does cover very heavy topics, such as abuse, self-harm, death, and bullying among others, there is still a message of hope. Modern poets, such as Lovelace, are unafraid to express their fears and hopes, which makes such an impact on the reader. If you are a fan of Rupi Kaur, I highly recommend Amanda Lovelace to you.

Note: Lovelace recently released her second collection of poetry, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. Stay tuned for that review.

We Fought. We Persevered. We Rose.: Reviewing Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything. I wanted to wait to completely finish this novel before talking about it but, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you my thoughts about it. I’ve had to put this book on hold more than once due to graduation and now work. Anyways, I am incredibly excited to tell you all about Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zelie Adebola was just a child when the king targeted the maji and wiped out all of the magic in Orisha. Zelie lost her mother and was forced to hide her powers from the world. Now, years later, Zelie has the chance to bring back magic with the help of the rebellious Princess Amari. With her brother and Amari at her side, Zelie must race against the bloodthirsty king and ruthless prince in order to bring back magic to Orisha.

There has been a lot of hype about this novel and it has even been promoted by Jimmy Fallon. I am pleased to say that Adeyemi’s debut book lives up to the hype. It has a wonderful balance of world building and character building. It has a very Game of Thrones vibe as the narrative is a similar style with the chapters alternating the characters’ points of view. It also carries the same adventurous spirit as Harry Potter. This book is a journey in every sense and it is a great YA novel as it deviates from so many of the tropes in YA fantasy/adventure novels. Fans of mythology will also enjoy this as it is based in African folklore and mythology. I haven’t read many (if any) fantasy novels that weren’t told from a Western perspective so this novel is particularly unique in that sense. I highly recommend Children of Blood and Bone to anyone looking to an exciting YA novel that you don’t want to put down.

Note: I know that Adeyemi had released that title for the next novel in this series and that she is in talks for a movie adaptation.

Kill God then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Waking Gods (Book Two of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hello everyone! It only took forever but I’m finally back with more book reviews. I’m starting to get my life back in order so I’ll have more time for this blog now. Okay, enough with the excuses. Here is my review of book two of The Themis Files, Waking Gods. 

Dr. Rose Franklin is supposed to be dead but she’s not. She is surrounded by the mystery of Themis as well as the mystery of her own existence. When Earth is brought under attack by another giant robot, Rose realizes that she is even closer to the truth about herself and the robots than before. As major cities are coming under attack, Rose and the Earth Defense Corps must unlock the secrets of the ancient alien technology that will let them win the battle for Earth.

One of my favorite things about the first book and this one is how Neuvel keeps a balance between character development as well as the action-filled parts of the story. Building character development in an unconventional story structure is difficult but Neuvel manages it. The novel doesn’t fall victim to “sequel-itis” as the stakes are higher, the mysteries go deeper, and the characters are faced with tougher choices. I was taken on many twists and turns that I did not even begin to expect when I started this novel. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I had a hard time not skipping ahead to see what would happen to my favorite characters. Waking Gods keeps the thrills going in this adventure that is perfect for sci-fi fans.

Be Strong, Saith My Heart: Reviewing Circe by Madeline Miller

Hello everyone! I am beyond excited to talk to you about Madeline Miller’s sophomore novel. I have reviewed her debut novel, The Song of Achilles. You can check that out on my blog. Anyways, I do absolutely love mythology, in particular Greek mythology. I also enjoy these particular stories that are classic tales retold with a new angle. Novels likes Wicked have shown how popular this trope is and how it is really great when done well. I shall continue on and tell you all about Circe by Madeline Miller. (Quick note: Circe is pronounced as Sir-See.)

During the fall of the Titans, Circe was born to Helios, a god of the sun and a powerful force. From her birth, Circe realized she was different that the other immortals and turns to mortals for comfort. Circe then discovers her true talent: witchcraft. She is banished by Zeus and Helios to a remote island for eternity. There she hones her powers and crosses paths with many icons of mythology, with the most notable being the cunning Odysseus. Circe, however, soon finds herself in danger after angering the gods and Titans alike. Circe must prove her true powers or else lose everything that she loves in this thrilling and vivid story.

I was absolutely hooked on this book from the first page. Circe herself is a relatively lesser known figure in Greek mythology who is only really known for having an affair with Odysseus. Miller, however, saw this character and turned her into a force to be reckoned with. The first thing I wanted to talk about was the mythology backdrop and the godly characters. They felt equally as human as they did divine. The competition between the Olympians and the Titans felt very much like Game of Thrones, which I enjoyed. With that being said, the novel did present a certain harsh reality within the mythical world. Circe herself embodied what it meant to be a survivor, in my opinion. Despite her familial history, she still goes through many struggles with little to no help. The novel certainly carries a feminist message throughout, which I found very empowering. Her voice, thoughts, and feelings are all very strong and honest. Miller certainly proves that even gods struggle but that there is hope through survival and perseverance. You probably know I’m going to highly recommend this novel to you. Circe was an exciting and emotional reading experience that is impossible to put down.

Note: I got the title of this review from The Odyssey. I do actually really enjoy that epic.

Build God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Sleeping Giants (Book One of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hi everyone! First of all, I want to congratulate myself for posting two days in a row. Second of all, the title is stolen from a Panic! At the Disco song (which they probably took from something else) and I’m not ashamed because it works really well with the review. I am really excited to talk about this particular novel. A lot of reviews compared it to The Martian and World War Z, two books which I love. It pretty much hit all of the marks on something I would be interested in. Now I shall tell you more about Sleeping Giants. 

When she was a child, Rose Franklin stumbled across a giant metal hand in her town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Years later, Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist who dedicates her life to finding the mystery behind the origin of the hand and how it works. Dr. Franklin and her team must work against powerful forces stronger than any government in order to learn whether the world will ever be the same after discovering that we are not alone in the universe.

The first thing I want to say about this novel is I love the narrative style. Like The Martian and World War Z, it is told through things like interviews, articles, and journal entries. Some people don’t particularly like this style of story but I really enjoy it as it makes me feel immersed in the story. Sleeping Giants felt like diving down a rabbit hole of conspiracies. It felt so real and unreal at the same time as the story navigates between the science fiction elements and the global political crises caused by the discovery of the hand. I find conspiracy theories fascinating so this really piqued my interest. The writing itself felt very real. The transcripts of the interviews helped to develop the characters as well the story itself. I liked the balance between the forces driving the plot. Neuvel doesn’t sacrifice character development for the sake of the alien element. There’s more than enough humanity in this novel. What is also nice about the novel is it doesn’t get involved with jargon to the point that you don’t even know what anyone is talking about. Since most of the characters are involved in science, the military, and the government, it can get overwhelming at times but the unnamed interviewer helps to serve as the one who clarifies all of it. Speaking of that, the book has an overall suspenseful feel as everyone has their own agenda and it makes the story even more interesting. I found myself not wanting to put the book down at all. If you couldn’t tell by my long review, I am absolutely going to recommend Sleeping Giants and I look forward to getting my hands on the rest of the series.

Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die: Reviewing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Hi everyone! I’m back from a much needed Spring Break and I am counting down to graduation at this point. I had a different review planned as I wanted to do a review of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. That one will come eventually but I managed to get a hold of the electronic version of one of Thompson’s most famous novels. Hunter S. Thompson has always fascinated me and I really wanted to read one of his novels. I can’t do any justice explaining what Hunter S. Thompson was like as a person so I will leave some links below with information on him. In the meanwhile, I will tell you how I felt about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 

Based on real events in Thompson’s life, this novel follows the drug addled and lurid journey of Raoul Duke, a jaded journalist, and Dr. Gonzo, his erratic attorney with a penchant for getting in trouble with the law. The two begin an odyssey to the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Las Vegas and find themselves in the midst of the ugliness hidden in Sin City. Thompson’s semi-autobiographical novel examines the fall of the counterculture of the 1960s and the reality behind the infamous “American Dream.”

Thompson’s novel was just as wild to read as I thought it would be. It’s not necessarily a stream-of-conscieneness type novel but it isn’t terribly coherent as far as the plot goes. Granted, the narrator is on every single recreational drug that he and his attorney could get their hands on. Within the drug-fueled action of the novel, there are some slow and thoughtful moments that offer an excellent insight into the culture of the early 1970s with Las Vegas being the perfect backdrop for American consumerism. Its fascinating how Duke deals with his inner turmoil as well as the navigating a landscape that doesn’t accept his authenticity. The one thing I truly enjoyed about the novel was how authentic it felt. Thompson’s feelings are made loud and clear with Duke as his mouthpiece. This novel is definitely hard to read at times as it jumps about and has some graphic descriptions of Duke’s hallucinations. If you enjoy unique narrations and an honest look at the American landscape, then I recommend this novel for you. I can definitely see myself reading this again and I might want to check out the movie. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a wild ride that delivers in its emotional and mental depth.

General Information on Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson’s Daily Routine

Interview with Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas