Book Review: The Bone Clocks  April 16, 2015

The Bone Clocks

by David Mitchell.

the-bone-clocks Our most recent book club pick was the new novel by the author of Cloud Atlas. It’s a similar setup, in that the book is divided into separate stories/sections with overlapping details. But it’s more condensed here, as all of the sections take place within one normal human lifetime, rather than spanning centuries. The human in question is Holly Sykes, who when we first meet her is a young Brit with some psychic sensitivity and plenty of teenage angsty rebellion. She runs away from home and unknowingly straight into the midst of a war between Immortal beings. The Horologists are good (naturally immortal) and the Anchorites are bad (steal life from others) and their age-old feud is coming to head. But, as their war is for the most part a hidden affair, the book plays out against the turmoil and events of Holly’s life – love, marriage, motherhood, illness, etc. – with Immortals popping up every now and then.

I’m of two minds about this book. It’s beautifully written prose, and the characters are fully fleshed out. The story of Holly’s life, told from all angles, kept me interested and reading. And I like that this particular timeline meant the book mixed several genres. It ranges from Europe to the Middle East to America, from the 1980’s to the 2040’s, so you get a nice slice of nostalgic historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and future dystopia.But. The fantasy element of this book didn’t really work for me. Or rather, it could’ve worked, but it was too under-explored to have the effect I think the author was going for. The missing part for me was that the Immortals didn’t seem to really matter, on a larger scale. Both groups numbered less than 20 in the whole world, and I just didn’t feel there was anything really riding on which side won the war. The writing seemed to be trying to give the war such gravitas and weight, but I just didn’t buy it. It didn’t feel like the world at large would really be affected by either outcome.

Also, the how of their immortality was never fully explained, which was a bit unsatisfying for me. We get some vague ‘they’re born like this’ and ‘they do this ritual’ for each respective side, but we never find out why they are born like that (evolution? genetic experiments? divine intervention? what?) or how the ritual was discovered/developed in the first place. If you want me as a reader to buy into the setup that this war is important, then you need to give me a fuller history of the two sides, and have some actual, world-changing consequences for the bad guys winning.

All that said, I did still enjoy reading this. If you’re a fan of Mitchell’s other work, you will probably like this book, too.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

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The Bone Clocks

Tuesday Treasure Trove  April 14, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

I’ve finally kicked the last of my cold out. Breathing is normal again! I was still a bit stuffy for our engagement photo shoot last week, but luckily a photo shoot doesn’t capture your voice, just your face, and that was fine. Especially as the hair & make-up people for my wedding did their trial work right before, haha. And Sienna was a doll for the photos she was in – the photographer even said she was the easiest dog he’d ever worked with. #prouddogmama. Now we just have to wait 2-4 weeks to get our pictures back! I may be a little impatient.

What’s going on in your world lately?

Book Review: Second Position  April 9, 2015

Second Position (District Ballet Company #1)

by Katherine Locke.

Second Position Young love has barely gotten off the ground for ballet dancers Aly and Zed when a tragic car accident changes everything. Formerly inseparable, the accident causes a rift, and they find themselves on separate, solitary paths headed in opposite directions. Four years pass. Zed has struggled to find a new life and career for himself outside of ballet. Aly, still the in-demand principal ballerina, finds herself spiraling further into a mental breakdown. When a chance meeting brings them back together, it’s a second chance to work through the fallout of their accident and see what’s on the other side.

This is a contemporary New Adult romance. Not my usual review-fodder, but worth talking about, because it’s not your usual romance setup. Zed is an amputee, and Aly struggles with an eating disorder. Dancing used to be what brought them together, how they connected. Now he can’t dance, and everyone thinks dance is what drove her to her disorder and breakdown. Their journey as they navigate this very fraught and complicated dynamic makes for very interesting reading. And it rings true, from a psychological perspective – the characters feel real and believable while dealing with all of this. My favorite parts in the book were actually the dialogue-only scenes between Aly and her therapist. Not because the romance storyline was lacking, but because the therapy scenes were just so well written. And important. Fiction, especially romantic fiction, doesn’t often give readers lead characters who have to directly face down these particular demons.

The downside is that every scene with Aly & Zed together is very, very angsty. Understandable, as they have a lot to work through, but sometimes I wanted them both to just chill and relax and not react so very strongly to everything. That part did get a little old for me.

But overall, this was a good read, and a nice departure from the normal romance genre tropes.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Second Position

5 Things I’ve Learned from Wedding Planning  April 8, 2015

5 Things I've Learned from Wedding Planning

I’m a little over 3 months in to wedding planning, and a little less than 6 months away from the big day itself. It has definitely dominated my 2015 so far. For the most part it’s been a fun experience, though it’s also been a lot of work. Our wedding is on the small side, too; I can’t even imagine trying to plan something for like 300 people. So today I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned during the process so far:

  1. Wedding vendors don’t do weekend meetings. This seems obvious in retrospect, since, duh, most people get married on weekends and that’s when vendors are booked and unavailable. But it’s something that didn’t really occur to me until I was trying to set up appointments for tastings and floral consultations and our engagement photo shoot, etc etc. All of those will generally have to happen during the M-F week, or in some cases Tu-Th week if they block out Monday and Friday, too. Which means taking time off work if you have an office job, or flying solo if (like me) you work from home but your partner has an office job.
  2. The dress you end up loving might not be the dress you expected. I had a Pinterest board full of A-lines and sheath gowns, lots of sleek lines and such. And what did I end up falling in love with? A ball gown. Yup. Big skirt, train, and all. To be fair, the bodice fits like a dream, but the skirt is not at all what I expected to love. But love it I do, especially since it has pockets.
  3. Wedding brain is a real thing. You will have to restrain yourself from only ever talking about wedding topics. You will obsess over minute details and different shades of the same color. You will mess up things like your own mother’s address when sending Save the Dates. You will most likely get decision fatigue at some point (for me, it was during the meeting with my florist). You will do all of these even if you told yourself heading into wedding planning that you wouldn’t do all of these. Unless you hire a wedding planner, then maybe you escape all of that. But I wouldn’t count on it.
  4. Dark purple roses are not a thing. Or at least not a affordable/realistic option for something the scale of a wedding. One of our wedding colors is aubergine, a nice rich dark purple. And I had planned on having rose petals on the cake and down the aisle and for our send-off, in that color. Nope. No can do, says the florist. Had to rethink some things. So if you are a fellow lover of purple, just be aware- if you want eggplant purple rose petals, you’ll have to settle for fake ones (and most venues don’t allow you to use those outdoors in decor, because environment).
  5. Life does not stop moving just because you have a wedding to plan. The world at large does not care that you are busy and maybe stressed planning a wedding (even though, yes, you are excited and happy about it too). Life will still throw random curveballs at you, and you will still somehow have to deal with them. It might be a surprise nightmare client at work, or having a big house expense pop up right after you splurged on your dream wedding dress, or catching a bad chest cold the same week as your engagement photos. Or finding out someone you love has cancer. I don’t really have any advice for handling all of that except to stay flexible and try to take care of yourself (as I’m trying to do). Wedding planning can (and probably should) go on the back burner some weeks, so that you can focus on other things going on in your life.

Are you married? Any lessons you learned from wedding planning that you’d like to share?

Tuesday Treasure Trove  April 7, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

This cold will not quit! Normally we like to cook something fancy-ish on Easter, even though we’re not religious at all, just for funsies. But this year I was still wiped out by my cold and we just did leftovers. I’m feeling almost back to normal now, just trying to take it easy and kick the last of this out. We’ve got our engagement photo shoot on Thursday, I need to be healthy!

On the upside, I’ve read like 5 books in the past week, so at least I’m catching up on my reading goal.

How about you? How was your Easter weekend?

Tuesday Treasure Trove  March 31, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

I am swimming in a daze of cold medicine, so I’m keeping this short and sweet today. There’s enough links above to keep you entertained for awhile.

Any read-worthy links you’d like to share?