Categories
Fiction General Fiction Literary Fiction

ARC Review: The Butchers’ Blessing by Ruth Gilligan

Thank you so much to the publisher for my Advanced copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Butchers’ Blessing
  • Series: n/a
  • Author: Ruth Gilligan
  • Publisher & Release: Tin House Books, November 10th 2020
  • Length: 312 or
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡sure,  because I think it’s a personal problem

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Every year, Úna prepares for her father to leave her. He will wave goodbye early one morning, then disappear with seven other men to traverse the Irish countryside. Together, these men form The Butchers, a group that roams from farm to farm, enacting ancient methods of cattle slaughter.  

The Butchers’ Blessing moves between the events of 1996 and the present, offering a simmering glimpse into the modern tensions that surround these eight fabled men. For Úna, being a Butcher’s daughter means a life of tangled ambition and incredible loneliness. For her mother Grá, it’s a life of faith and longing, of performing a promise that she may or may not be able to keep. For non-believer Fionn, The Butchers represent a dated and complicated reality, though for his son Davey, they represent an entirely new world—and potentially new love. For photographer Ronan, The Butchers are ideal subjects: representatives of an older, more folkloric Ireland whose survival is now being tested. As he moves through the countryside, Ronan captures this world image by image—a lake, a cottage, and his most striking photo: a single butcher, hung upside-down in a pose of unspeakable violence.

A widow’s grief after losing her 7 sons and husband in a war, led to the curse: no cattle can be slaughtered without 8 men present and touching the cow at the time, to celebrate her grief and keep it alive. Enter the butchers – a squad of men that go around Ireland, leaving their families behind to slaughter cattle for people that believe in the old traditions.

First off – I made the mistake of thinking this is historical fiction – and it is definitely more literary fiction and coming of age than historically true, as the curse and butchers are fictional.

I was 100% on board with this as fiction set in 1990s Ireland, until the last page, which made me re evaluate the whole entire book. I can’t say why it threw me without spoilers, but it was so out of character for the entire book. What did I miss? What happened next? I also wasn’t following some of the things that happened in the last few chapters, the finality didn’t make sense and I felt like the aim of the story unravelled a bit as it was coming to a close. I was at 5 stars until i finished the book and dropped to 3-3.5, and it didn’t help that I originally read it thinking “historical fiction,”

Set in a time of Irish cultural change, The Butchers’ Blessing is a meditation in faith, growing up, growing apart, and changing culture. My brain had it pegged as historical fiction but its just stereotypical of Irish legends, in a more modern setting. Regardless, this is a great story (minus the last page). It is labelled as a literary thriller and while definitely dark and poetic at times, I don’t think its really a thriller. There is the ever present issue though of how the heck a Butcher got hung up by his feet and left in a cold storage. Tension in the country surrounding BSE and old vs new in general, is a huge ongoing theme in the novel.

The chapters bounced between Gra, Una, Davey, and Fionn, four characters at different life stages. Una is probably the main character and has to cope with growing up while her dad is off slaughtering 11 months out of the year, targeted by her classmates, and wanting to follow in her dads footsteps. Davey is learning who he is before he heads off to college. Gra and Fionn both are dealing with growing apart from their kids, difficult parenting, and various senses of desperation and loss. Each character has to come to terms with the changes brought to their personal lives as Ireland and it’s people modernized.

For a meditation on growth, self discovery, a bit of corpse defamation and mystery, Irish legend, beautiful writing, and a whole lot of growing pains, this is an excellent read for anyone I would say 14+. I just didn’t like the ending and felt like it brought the whole book out of character, as well as some events occuring that I just don’t personally care to read about. I would still recommend to anyone interested in Irish folklore, life, and some 90s throwback culture!

Categories
Fiction Historical Fiction Literary Fiction

ARC Review: The Wrong Kind of Woman by Sarah McCraw Crow

Thank you so much to MIRA for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Wrong Kind of Woman
  • Series: n/a
  • Author: Sarah McCraw Crow
  • Publisher & Release: MIRA – October, 2020
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 maybe for older women?

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

A powerful exploration of what a woman can be when what she should be is no longer an option

In late 1970, Oliver Desmarais drops dead in his front yard while hanging Christmas lights. In the year that follows, his widow, Virginia, struggles to find her place on the campus of the elite New Hampshire men’s college where Oliver was a professor. While Virginia had always shared her husband’s prejudices against the four outspoken, never-married women on the faculty—dubbed the Gang of Four by their male counterparts—she now finds herself depending on them, even joining their work to bring the women’s movement to Clarendon College.

Soon, though, reports of violent protests across the country reach this sleepy New England town, stirring tensions between the fraternal establishment of Clarendon and those calling for change. As authorities attempt to tamp down “radical elements,” Virginia must decide whether she’s willing to put herself and her family at risk for a cause that had never felt like her own.

Told through alternating perspectives, The Wrong Kind of Woman is an engrossing story about finding the strength to forge new paths, beautifully woven against the rapid changes of the early ’70s.

Man I have to say that it took me forever to get through this book. The Wrong Kind of Woman takes place in the early 70s during a time of political and campus unrest.  It follows a woman trying to find her way through the Clarendon collegiate (fictional) boy’s club after her husband dies. There is a group of four women pushing for coeducation, tenure, rights, recognition and etc. It also follows a confused young man named Sam who is a student of Oliver’s, and he incidentally botches a small bombing to impress a girl. Sounds exciting but it was honestly pretty tedious for me.

I was not really feeling anyone except Sam’s passion, and he confused me too. I wasn’t quite sure what the purpose of his character was.  At first he seemed like a sexually confused kid who had a crush on the dead teacher, but then he fell for a girl involved in domestic terrorism.  A lot of the book was Virginia’s inner monologue as she learned about the women’s movements and adapted her thinking to her own needs and those of the “radicals.”

The parts I found most interesting were the family issues as Virginia and Rebecca tried to make ends meet, and reconcile their household after Oliver (the husband) died.  They had some misadventures.  I would have not minded some more time spent on the commune out of town either.

I just feel like somehow it could have been a little more readable and engaging.  Something about the storytelling lacked for me.  Maybe slightly older women who can relate to the times and connect with the characters would enjoy the book a little bit more than I did, but I did finish it eventually.

Thanks again to the publisher for my copy!

Categories
Dystopian Horror Literary Fiction Paranormal Science Fiction

Book Review: The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books for the finished copy of The Phlebotomist in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

Quick facts:

  • Title: The Phlebotomist
  • Series: standalone
  • Author: Chris Panatier
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot – September 8th 2020
  • Length: 345 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a reaper.

To support herself and her grandson Isaiah, Willa works for the blood contractor Patriot. Instituted to support the war effort, the mandatory draw (The Harvest) has led to a society segregated by blood type. Hoping to put an end to it all, Willa draws on her decades-old phlebotomy training to resurrect an obsolete collection technique, but instead uncovers an awful truth.

Patriot will do anything to protect its secret. On the run and with nowhere else to turn, Willa seeks an alliance with Lock, a notorious blood-hacker who cheats the Harvest to support the children orphaned by it. But they soon find themselves in the grasp of a new type of evil.

My dark sci-fi dystopian blood drawing nurse heart was all about this book. My patients not-so-lovingly call us night shift nurses “vampires” because we are always after blood at night, and I was immediately drawn to the synopsis where a mandatory blood harvest has created a segregated society based off of blood types.

Willa Mae is in her 60s and a fantastic older main character. Lock, the blood hacker, can’t be much younger, and for some reason reading about older women playing the heroes struck a chord with me. They are snarky and wholesome and so caring for their young charges. Both rely on their knowledge and use of older technologies in a highly automated big-brother type world to undermine Patriot and practice some old-school phlebotomy to (at least try) to save society.

I can’t talk about Patriot too much without spoilers but the company runs blood collection stations all over the country to fuel the need for blood transfusions after nuclear bombs struck in certain “gray areas.” The lies, murders, and political structure of Patriot.. let me just say that I couldn’t put this book down once I started.

100% not what I expected.

The side cast of characters was great too, there was so much hope in one area called “bad blood” where everyone that was undesirable for transfusions was sent. They grew gardens and repurposed factory stores. The book definitely was not always happy, there were some significant and bloody deaths which I 100% endorse in any good resistance based dystopian.

Lastly there is a bit of transfusion based science provided just for informational sakes and I thought that was great. We have to do so much checking and double checking of blood before transfusing and I think Panatier did a phenomenal job putting this all into layman’s terms for readers.

If you are even slightly into dystopias, sci fi, resistance based novels, even fantasy/paranormal readers could cross over and enjoy this, I totally recommend it.

Happy Book Birthday!!!!

Categories
Fantasy Fiction Literary Fiction

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

Title: In the Night Wood

Author: Dale Bailey

Length: 224 pages

Release Date: 10/8/18 (get a copy)!!!

Rating: 4/5 ****

Thank you to NetGalley and John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

My little summary: “Once upon a time…” a man living near an enchanted wood starts having delusions and writes a book. Many years later, an English scholar bumps into that book and his fate appears to be linked to the Story from that point on. It is a Story (capital Story) within a story… Something I wish the author had pursued more!

The book is more about grief than folklore, but there is a healthy mix of both. Charles and Erin are still reeling from the death of their child and his infidelity. Their marriage is disintegrating and they move to Hollow House trying to start over. When the visions and nightmares and story parallels start…!

In the middle of the book the grief exposition got a bit repetative, but I had no urge to skim pages. My biggest issue was that neither main character showed a tad of growth. Can their relationship change despite ?

I enjoyed learning a lot of new words but some parts seemed unnecessarily complex. It fit with the atmosphere but the writing took a bit of work and a dictionary at times.

Long story short: awesome story! Would recommend to anyone that likes a good fairy tale, atmospheric fiction, folk lore, or a good story in general!

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Categories
Fiction General Fiction Literary Fiction Uncategorized

Review of Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

Good evening everyone and welcome back! I finally finished Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk, has anyone else read this or any of his work?

My first thought about this novel is that it is not a good one to introduce yourself to Palahniuk with. This is an obvious conclusion after getting midway through two chapters. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Invisible Monsters, Fight Club, Diary even, but this book requires warming up to.

This is a satire of American culture, seen through the eyes of a young foreign operative. I would guess Czech Republic or one of those countries. The protagonist is a genius yet supposedly speaks in terrible broken English, in which the entire book is written. I felt like I missed important things due to the way that the language made me want to skim paragraphs. The language is also very repetitive at times.

To the meat though – if you can stomach the shock of a graphic sodomizing, or tolerate the 13 year old’s constant fixation with genitals, the book really is hilarious. Trips to Wal-Mart, religious propaganda outlets, his reverence of great war hero Colonel Sanders, mixed with quotes from all of the European dictators … it all does make for a difficult but entertaining read. The take home point is reading this in the mind frame that it is satire, and taking the recurring shock points for what they are.

I would recommend this for adults who are already Palahniuk fans or like his minimalist style. You can google similar authors faster than I can type them!

Recap: 3/5 stars for difficult structure. Redeeming point is that he managed to make Pygmy out to be a real person with feelings by the end. Also made me alternate between laughing out loud and cringing, at least every chapter.

Find me on IG at OneReadingNurse and as always, let me know if you are here! Thank you!

Categories
Fiction Literary Fiction

Review: Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Happy Sunday and welcome back! Let’s talk about Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani. This was released back in 2015, but if it missed your radar I highly suggest that you go back and do yourself the favor. It was a Goodreads choice best fiction award winner as well, so I am not the only one who loved it!

Long story short, the patriarch of an Indian American family falls into a coma and during the months that he is on life support the family has to come together, then come to terms with their history. There are secrets, buried emotions, traumas, and all the history just waiting to either destroy or rebuild these women anew.

I wouldn’t automatically grab this off the shelf if I didn’t have a sick parent at this time, but if you are a fan of this sort of fiction, a fan of beautiful language, good quotes, strong dialogue, and a flawless editor, please read this book! The language is truly flowing and I managed to read it in about three days. I also learned a lot about Indian culture.

I don’t know if this book might be upsetting to domestic abuse victims, but I do feel like it’s a subject that we shouldn’t shy away from in popular culture. It is a story of healing and coming to terms with the past. Finding ways to put away your fear and pride and loving your family.

Even with some parts being a bit melodramatic I give this a solid 5/5!

As always, please let me know if you stop in! I love feedback and talking books! This is a 100% unsolicited review with no compensation

Find me on IG at OneReadingNurse