Guest Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

 

Special shout out to Midsummer Contributor, Brittany, for reading and reviewing The Circle!

 

 

 

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

This novel was a friend’s choice in our book club.  I was only supposed to read half the novel for our first meeting but I couldn’t stop.  I ended up reading the entire book and I LOVED IT.  Yes, I have read books that have a similar storyline (very 1984ish) but I was really able to relate to this specific portrayal. This is my first time reading the author, Dave Eggers, but I will now be looking into more of his work.    

The Circle is a powerful tech company that is slowly taking over….basically everything…the way you shop, the way you interact with others, and even the way the government works.  In my mind I pictured something along the lines of Google or Facebook.  The Cirlce made me question my own presence on social media.  It made me question the power of the internet in general.  It’s quite chilling because I could potentially see this as our future.  There were multiple times when I put my book down and just thought, “Holy crap.  This could really happen.”  This novel made me ask questions.  What are our limits as a society when it comes to sharing knowledge? Where is the line between innocent curiosity and breaching privacy?  Are we becoming dependent upon instant gratification?  

Some of the ideas and beliefs of the Circlers are just mind blowing.  For instance, if you don’t post a picture of yourself surfing in Costa Rica then you are selfish and are denying others the opportunity to be involved in the experience.  Their belief is that everyone is entitled to ALL knowledge and “sharing is caring”.  Out of context it seems obviously insane, but Eggers brings you so deep into the Circle that these radical ideas begin to make sense.  It brings forth your true notions on how society and privacy should be constructed.  

Mae is such a wonderfully well written character.  I loved watching her journey in finding her place within the Circle and the unraveling of her humanity.  I’m super pumped because this is going to be a major motion picture with Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and John Boyega.  It looks SO good!

Eggers does an outstanding job with this novel.  And let me just say, the ending is awesome.  

5 bards 

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish.  They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers!  This week’s topic is:

Top 10 Books from my Childhood That I Would Love to Revisit

1.  Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

2. Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree by David Korr

                                             3.  Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. StineSuperfudge-9780440484332

caps4.  Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

5. Curious George by H.A. Rey

6.  Superfudge by Judy Blume

7.  Nancy Drew:  The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

8.  Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

9.  Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

10.  There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar

This Top Ten Tuesday was so fun and nostalgic.  I had a hard time choosing my favorites when there are so many classics!

 

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish.  They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers!  This week’s topic is:

Ten Books for Readers Who Like TV Comedians

1.  One More Thing by B.J. Novak

2.  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling

3.  Bossypants by Tina Fey

4.  Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

15.  Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handleruntitled

6.  Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

7.  Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

8.  America by Jon Stewart

9.  Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

10.  Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Book Review: Her by Harriet Lane

HerOn the face of it, Emma and Nina have very little in common.  Isolated and exhausted by early motherhood, Emma finds her confidence fading fast.  Nina–sophisticated, generous, effortlessly in control–seems to have all the answers.

It’s easy to see why Emma is drawn  to Nina.  But what does Nina see in her?  A seemingly innocent friendship slowly develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Nina eases her way into Emma’s life.  Soon it becomes clear that Nina wants something from the unwitting Emma–something that might just destroy her. 

I was excited to read this novel, it sounded like a fun thriller.  Unfortunately,  I ended up being sorely disappointed.  The author did a good job in developing the characters but it felt like that was the entire novel.  There was no plot.  Not a lot of action.  Not a lot of movement or flow in the storyline.  I became bored but I made myself keep reading, hoping that something would happen.  The main characters, Emma and Nina, take turns narrating the story, giving the reader a chance to see both points of view.  While this sounds good, it was not.  I felt that I was reading the same chapter twice…not much difference in the perspectives.  It’s hard for the reader to stay engaged.  There were occasions where I was tempted to skim paragraphs because nothing was happening and it continued to drag on.

When the big “plot twist” happened I didn’t even realize it.  I had to go back and make sure I read everything.  The big twist is extremely random and extremely anticlimactic.

I honestly did not understand the ending.  I am left with tons of questions.  Not in a good way (“Wow, what just happened?”) but in a bad way (“Huh? That doesn’t even make sense.”). I don’t even know if some of the characters know what’s going on.

This novel is also some serious birth control.  I love babies but this novel does not shine the most positive light on motherhood.  Emma is the mother of two young children and she is such a sad and lonely character. She is continually expressing how her children have changed her into a person she does not like.  Her children suck the life out of her and exhaust her.  Emma gives off the vibe that her children annoy her.  There is a ton of resentment and it’s quite sad.  ExhaustedMomQuoteBoth women in the story, Emma and Nina, have husbands that are distant and more interested in work than family.  No one is happy in this novel and its quite sad because they have no reason not to be.

While I disliked this book, I can see why others do.  It was tame and not too much.  A laid back thriller, if you will.  I want my thrillers to be…thrilling.   I want to be freaking out and unable to wait for the next page.  If you like a slower, calmer psychological thriller than Her is a great choice.

twobards

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish.  They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers!  This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the PAST 5 YEARS

fang1.  The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach:  One of my favorite novels of all time.  AMAZING characters that you will fall in love with.

2.  The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson:  A unique and quirky book about a family of performance artists. Really fun.

3.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:  Just a crazy good book.  Psychotic characters.  One of my favorite thrillers.

4.  A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard:  An intense memoir.  Her story of being kidnapped and being held captive for over 18 years is heartbreaking.

5.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett:  Beautiful novel. “You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important.”

6.  One Day by David Nicholls:  Just a classic good love story.  The relationship is on-again/0ff-again so it makes it interesting.

7.  The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling):  Fun murder mystery.  And I love J.K. Rowling.

8.  This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper:  Humorous look inside a dysfunctional family.    bed

9.  The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman:  I found it to be a very funny memoir.  Warning:  She talks a lot about farts.

10.  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James:  I mean…come on.  I had to.

 *These were chosen from books that were published from 2009-2014

Book Review: What The Spell? by Brittany Geragotelis

 Brooklyn is an almost-sixteen-year-old girl with normal teenage wants;  to be pretty, to be popular, to be adored by a cute 13589580guy.  Luckily for her, she’s a witch about to come of age–so she’s only a few spells away from making it all happen.

On her milestone birthday, Brookly’s parents finally unbind her powers, and she discovers her true gift:  the ability to cast love spells.  Pretty soon, Brooklyn has worked her magic to gain access to the elite crowd, and if she jump-starts her relationship with gorgeous Asher using a matchmaking spell, it’s harmless, right?

But Brooklyn’s li isn’t as enchanted as it seems.  As the clique escalates its initiation tests, she’s forced to use magic to complete the tasks.  And if anyone finds out who she really is and what she can do, her life is over, just like her ancestors in Salem.  If she can’t use magic, what does Brooklyn have left–now that she has everything to lose?

 

The title and the cover art made me very weary of this book.  It gave off a childish vibe to me.  In saying this, I still immediately ordered the next two books in the series when I was done.  I grew up watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and this story reminded me of the classic tween show.

sabrina-s2

Our main character, Brooklyn has always felt invisible at school and has never really had any friends.  On the upside, she just turned 16 and is granted magical powers by her witch parents.  Obviously the first thing she does with her new found powers is give herself a head-to-toe makeover.  Brooklyn begins getting recognized by her peers and not just by anyone, but the most popular group at school…The Elite.  In order to get approval, Brooklyn must prove  that she is willing to do anything to get in their group.  The reader gets to watch Brooklyn morph from a nice, quiet girl to a sly, back stabbing witch.  Literally.

This book is great for young girls because it illustrates how important it is to stick to your morals and be yourself.  I couldn’t stop reading because I was intrigued to see just how far Brooklyn would go to impress the popular high school clique.  Is she really willing to put her magical powers in jeopardy so she can sit at a certain table in the cafeteria? It’s OK to be different.  It’s OK to be weird.  Brooklyn is a witch.  She can’t get much more different than that.  There are times when our social status and fitting in with others  seems like the ultimate priority in life.  What The Spell helps young adults realize that these are not priorities and that the grass is not always greener on the other side.  Brooklyn, unfortunately, has to learn this classic lesson all on her own.

I haven’t even  begun to touch on all the drama involved with the characters.  There are friendships (both gained and lost),  lovers quarrels, family issues, and not to mention the fact that our main character is a witch.  It’s a lot to keep up with but never in an overwhelming manner.

Loved the book, even though the ending left me totally clueless as to what is going to happen next.  Thank goodness this is a series because I need more.

3.5bards

 

Book Review: The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

16081272Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett thought she knew exactly where her life was going.  But after a wild night at the hottest club in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, she shocks everyone–including herself–whe she decides to leave the only life she’s ever known and set out on her own.  Grabbing her purse and her cell phone, Camryn boards a Greyhound bus ready to find herself.  Instead, she finds Andrew Parrish. 

Sexy and exciting, Andrew lives life like there is no tomorrow.  He persuades Camryn to do things she never though she would and shows her how to give in to her deepest, most forbidden desires. Soon he becomes the center of her daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imaged possible.  But there is more to Andrew than Camryn realizes.  Will his secret push them inseparably together–or destroy them forever?

 

In The Edge of Never, the main character is from Raleigh, NC (I went to NC State) and her favorite band is The Civil Wars (love them).  Naturally, I’m going to be a fan.

Camryn Bennett and Andrew Parrish, both in their twenties and needing an escape from reality,  board a bus leaving North Carolina.  Whether it be problems with family, friends, or lovers, they both need to escape the drama in their lives.  Did they expect that they would end up sitting beside the love of their life?  Probably not.  Did it happen?  Yes.  It’s fun watching the relationship grow as the two slowly get to know each other and slowly start to form a deep connection.  I love the way they pick on each other, challenge one another, and learn to totally let their guard down.  These two are on the road, going wherever it takes them.   Road trips are always fun and with The Edge of Never the reader gets to be in the front seat for this journey.

Imagine yourself sitting back, reading this sweet love story when BAM!!!  There’s an intense sex scene that just comes out of nowhere.  And it is awesome.  No, this is not some Fifty Shades of Grey wannabe.  The Edge of Never holds its own.  The story is well done and the romantic scenes are  just a pleasant little surprise thrown in the middle.  The sex makes the  characters feel real and you  get to experience their intense love.  The scenes are a bit hot and heavy so I do recommend this novel be for a mature,  young adult.

The only thing that annoys me about this book is how extremely good looking both Camryn and Andrew sound.  She’s a beautiful, hot bodied blonde and Andrew is a muscle man with dreamy green eyes and the perfect smile.  They are perfect human specimen and they have the perfect love story.  Gag me.  But I love them.

To put it simply, this book made me love…love.  There’s nothing more special than the love between two people and this book lets you in on that bond with Camryn and Andrew.

Also…

Throughout the book the reader feels like Andrew might be hiding something. IS HE?… WHAT IS IT?!…  I will never tell.

fourbards

Book Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. 

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Awesome murder mystery! Great story, great characters, and great suspense. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this book. It was a great read and it sucked me in from the very beginning.

It made sense when I found out the author, Allen Eskens, is a criminal defense attorney. The whole plot was very intricate and it was evident that he was very knowledgeable about what all goes into a criminal case. There was never doubt that what I was reading was not exactly how things would go in an actual murder trial. I actually learned a few things about the whole process.

What impressed me even more was the fact that this is Eskens first novel. He writes with the ease of a seasoned veteran.

Totally did not expect the ending. The sudden twists throughout the story left me unable to put the book down.  Eskens kept me interested by diving in to each character…Really giving the reader an understanding of whose these people were.

If you want a good thrill, read this book. One of my favorites this summer!

4 Bards

fourbards

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