BOOK REVIEW: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

56783258._SY475_Title: Cloud Cuckoo Land

Author: Anthony Doerr

Book Length (Audiobook): 14 hours and 52 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Read Start Date: January 27, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 2, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

My Review: This book is told from the point of view of various characters, who’s stories eventually come together in the end. Each story is connected through the long lost Greek story of Aethon, a man who wants to turn into a bird and fly to a heaven-like place called Cloud Cuckoo Land (hence the name of the book).

I read a lot of reviews which stated that Doerr’s language / description is overdone, but I actually like it. Especially in audiobook format, the descriptive language really flows nicely, like it’s singing to you.

As far as the individual storylines go, my favorite was that of Konstance. We meet Konstance as she is alone in a vault (save for the AI robot tasked with keeping Konstance safe), piecing together the story of Aethon, which had been told to her by her father. At the beginning of the book we do not know why Konstance is all alone on a interstellar ship hurtling through space, but we come to find out piece by piece. The twist at the end was very unexpected and left me a little annoyed, and with more questions then answers. I wanted more, but the book was over. Sigh.

While I was the least enamored with Anna’s storyline (I didn’t find it all that interesting), hers is perhaps the most important, as it is the catalyst for the story itself. Without her act of stealing the book of Aethon’s story, it would not have been damaged, rearranged out of sequence, and barely readable 500 years later. The physical state of the book is almost as important as the story itself, as the message of the story has been misinterpreted for years, the truth to be rediscovered only by children in the present day.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers, so I will just say that the way that the storylines are interwoven was really clever, especially that of Seymour and Konstance. In general, I really loved the characters and there were definitely tear-jerking moments in the stories of Omeir and Seymour.

Although fiction, each storyline, even that of Konstance, was believable. Each story could have really happened (or could really happen in the future). Therefore, I’m not sure why the book is marked as “fantasy” on Goodreads. This seems incorrect to me, but okay.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you liked Doerr’s other book, All the Light We Cannot See. You can check out my review of that book here.

BOOK REVIEW: Knocked Down by Aileen Weintraub

58604917Title: Knocked Down

Author: Aileen Weintraub

Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 8 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography

Read Start Date: February 23, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 25, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Aileen Weintraub has been running away from commitment her entire life, hopping from one job and one relationship to the next. When her father suddenly dies, she flees her Jewish Brooklyn community for the wilds of the country, where she unexpectedly falls in love with a man who knows a lot about produce, tractors, and how to take a person down in one jiu-jitsu move. Within months of saying “I do” she’s pregnant, life is on track, and then wham! Her doctor slaps a high-risk label on her uterus and sends her to bed for five months.

As her husband’s bucolic (and possibly haunted) farmhouse begins to collapse and her marriage starts to do the same, Weintraub finally confronts her grief for her father while fighting for the survival of her unborn baby. In her precarious situation, will she stay or will she once again run away from it all?

My Review: I received this book from Netgalley as an ARC. To be honest, I requested this book in part because it was one of the few audiobooks available on Netgalley, but also because the cover is so eye popping! I love the pink. The title is also very apt. I interpret it to be a play on words. Instead of being “knocked up”, the author is “knocked down” by her “incompetent uterus”, which forces her to endure months and months of bedrest.

Having just given birth to my first baby 6 months ago, this book really resonated with me. Pregnancy is not easy, even when it is normal. I cannot imagine being stuck laying down for months on end! I really liked the author’s candor and humor throughout the memoir. If I had been in her position: everything seeming to fail around her, from her body, to her house, to her new marriage, I am not sure that I could have taken it with such a good nature, nor would I have been able to see the humor in it all.

I also liked that the book was not only about her pregnancy, but it also dived into the author’s past and took an honest look at the relationship with her parents and religion, and the conflicts inherent in both. I feel like this really rounded out the book and gave the reader more insight into the author as a person, not just a pregnant person.

The only con for me was the audiobook narration. It was so monotone, which did not suit the story. I was also not impressed with the accent that the narrator used when speaking the dialogue for Weintraub’s mother and father: she went for the stereotypical “Jewish” accent, which was a tad offensive.

Therefore, I would definitely recommend this book, but only in a written format.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

56922594Title: The Stranger in the Lifeboat

Author: Mitch Albom

Audiobook Length: 4 hours and 52 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Christian, Religion, Spirituality, Contemporary

Read Start Date: February 12, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 14, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him in. “Thank the Lord we found you,” a passenger says. “I am the Lord,” the man whispers.

So begins Mitch Albom’s most beguiling and inspiring novel yet.

Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number one bestsellers The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The First Phone Call from Heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us? What might the Lord look, sound and act like?

In The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Albom keeps us guessing until the end: Is this strange and quiet man really who he claims to be? What actually happened to cause the explosion? Are the survivors already in heaven, or are they in hell?

The story is narrated by Benji, one of the passengers, who recounts the events in a notebook that is later discovered—a year later—when the empty life raft washes up on the island of Montserrat. It falls to the island’s chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur, a man battling his own demons, to solve the mystery of what really happened.

A fast-paced, compelling novel that makes you ponder your deepest beliefs, The Stranger in the Lifeboat suggests that answers to our prayers may be found where we least expect them.

My Review:  The summary of this book makes it sound like it is just such an inspiring book. I mean, “Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us?” Not to spoil the book, but what happens when “the Lord” appears? Everyone in the lifeboat basically dies, commits suicide, etc. How inspiring. This is because the “Lord” can only save them if all 9 people believe that this guy is really who he claims to be i.e. God. But I guess they don’t so they all die. Nice. So the message, believe in God or die? Only when you believe in God can you be saved? Eye roll. I fail to see how this is supposed to thought provoking or emotional?

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of religious books. I read this book for the story, as a fiction novel. I had no feelings other than apathy. Even with regards to the plot the book was only just okay. The book was separated into 3 story lines: The Sea, The Land, and The News.

The Sea: 10 passengers are on a lifeboat. The luxury yacht they were on exploded and they are the only survivors. Somehow no one comes to rescue them, so they float around for weeks, months. Then each person in the lifeboat begins to die, one by one, until there is only Benji, the narrator of the story, left. This plot seems ridiculous. Why were they not rescued? The owner of the yacht was a BILLIONAIRE! Where was the cavalry?

The Land:  An inspector finds the notebook written by Benji which chronicles the time spent on the lifeboat. He is trying to figure out what happened to the ship i.e. why it exploded.

The News: Gives some background on the yacht.

I think the story could have been so much better. It just felt like the author was trying to hard to send a religious / faith message rather than worry about the plot, the character development, or whether his story actually made any sense.

Is it worth reading? Eh. I’m not sure. I guess if you have nothing else to read and are looking for something quick, then maybe give it a try. Otherwise, there are many other, better books out there.

BOOK REVIEW: Scarecrow Has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky

59507885

Title: Scarecrow Has a Gun

Author: Michael Paul Kozlowsky

Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 10 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction

Read Start Date: February 21, 2022

Read Finish Date:

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sean
Whittlesea was there when his wife was murdered. He saw the light leave her eyes. He held her dead body in his arms. He knows he wept, but he cannot recollect a single other detail. Tormented by the tragedy, Sean relives the horror over and over again. As he struggles to recall what really happened, his imagination serves up an endless chain of scenarios. The truth, however, remains hidden in the vault of his memory, and
the key is nowhere to be found. Nearly two decades later, Sean, now remarried and a father of two, wins a bizarre contest hosted by his eccentric boss. The prize is the Memory Palace, a state-of-the-art black box that purportedly allows its possessor to relive every moment he has ever experienced, playing out all the memories on a screen.

While the small machine at first appears to be the answer to the mystery surrounding the death of his wife, it instead upends Sean’s life. He pushes his family further and further away as the Memory Palace forces him to confront harsh realities and difficult questions that he lacks the strength to face or answer. Spiraling downward, Sean encounters increasingly harrowing challenges that force him to
realize that his memory is not the only thing at stake. To recover the truth about his past, Sean must fight for his very life.

My Review: I received this book from Netgalley as an ARC Audiobook. I gave this book 4 stars, as my overall impression of the book was positive. Let’s start with the cover. My first impression, having not read the synopsis of the book, was that the book was a mystery / thriller starring a detective. I was under this impression due to the title “Scarecrow Has a Gun.” I was not correct in the slightest. The title is actually an obscure reference to the fact that in the movie Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow at some point in the film has a pistol, but that nobody seems to remember this fact. This reference is so obscure, that until the author made reference to it in the last 25% of the book, I had no idea. And even when the character in the book explained this reference, I am still not 100% sure I understand it in the context of the book — maybe that memories are not what they seem? That reality is not what we remember? I wasn’t too impressed either with the cover image itself. 34430839I think it is supposed to be a picture of the memory palace, but when I compare it to the cover of e.g. Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King (see the image on the right), which is another book about a mysterious box, then the cover of Scarecrow Has a Gun seems rather dark and does not draw the eye. Based upon the cover, I’m not sure I would have picked it up at the bookstore.

Regardless, of my initial impression of the cover and title, I have to say that I really enjoyed the book overall. We meet Sean
Whittlesea as he is competing for a prize in his boss’s “widowers club.” Essentially, this is a invitation only exclusive club which is only open to widowers. Every so often (and at random intervals) the widowers compete in a contest to win an undisclosed prize. After several attempts, Sean finally wins. His prize: the memory palace. The memory palace is a box that when plugged into your brain, shows you past memories. Upon seeing such memories, Sean is convinced that there is something wrong with the box because nothing is as he had previously remembered it. Unfortunately, it is all too real and what the box reveals about his wife’s death will alter his life forever.

I really liked the premise of the book: memories are not what they seem. What we actually remember is only an illusion. It made me think whether there are certain memories of mine that are incorrect, or that I am not remembering correctly. Did I really see my grandfather being driven away in an ambulance when I was four? Or is this a memory I have reconstructed from stories told by my parents?

Although this book purports to be science fiction, I didn’t really see any elements of that. To me it would have been better classified as a “mystery” or even a “thriller”.  I mainly listened to this book while feeding my 6 month old baby or going for walks, cleaning the house, etc. It is an easy read and doesn’t require too much concentration. It is a great story to pass the time. The story is engaging and I definitely did not see the twist at the end coming. However, the ending left me a little unsatisfied. It seemed a bit rushed. I would have liked to have it drawn out more. It’s like we waited the entire book to find out what happened, and then in one or two scenes everything is explained and then its over.

The most interesting part of the book for me was actually the widowers club, and how the person running this club (Sean’s boss) was essentially “creating” better people so that they could benefit the company. It reminds me of certain cults. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more regarding the widowers club in the book. I would be interested to read more books in a series about the widowers club. I wonder if the author has this in mind, or if this book was just a one off.

This book will be published in August 2022. I would definitely recommend adding it to your TBR list.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

27362503._SY475_Title: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Audiobook Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Sociology

Read Start Date: January 2, 2022

Read Finish Date: January 5, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

My Review: As of the writing of this review, this book has been on the NY Times Bestsellers list for 35 weeks. This book was also received a Goodread’s Choice award in 2016. Needless to say, this is a pretty popular book at the moment, despite having been published in 2016.

We meet Lily standing on a roof top in Boston, contemplating her decision not to eulogize her father, who had been abusive toward her mother. There she meets neurosurgeon, Ryle Kincaid, and although sparks are flying, Ryle is not the relationship type (as he himself proclaims). Although a little strange, at the time I didn’t give it much thought. I figured, okay he is just a player; but this reluctance is explained later.

Fast forward to sometime later, Lily starts her own business and hires coincidentally, Ryle’s sister. Thus, Ryle is thrust back into Lily’s life, and surprisingly, they start dating. At around this time, Lily’s first love Atlas shows back up in the picture (again coincidentally: they meet at Atlas’ restaurant where Lily is having lunch).

Fate seems to have brought 2 guys into Lily’s life. Lucky girl. Or is she?

Soon we start to see the cracks in the “nice guy” façade that Ryle has carefully constructed. Since the description of the book did not mention abuse, it came as quite the surprise to me. I was definitely not expecting it. If you are a person who has suffered from abuse and would be upset by descriptive scenes of physical violence, including rape, then this book may not be for you. I have to say that I was disturbed myself. It also irks me that this book is classified as a “romance” novel. When I think of romance novels, my mind does not envision an abusive relationship.

In any event, I’m sure by now you can figure out what Lily eventually decided to do about her relationship with Ryle (the title is big giveaway in this regard). Although the abuse was difficult to get through, Lily’s strength and resilience was inspiring.

Although Colleen Hoover wrote the book based on her mother’s own true story, I was a little irked that she wrote Ryle as not the villain, but rather as a person. Meaning, he wasn’t good nor bad, but made mistakes like we all do. He was a good brother and father, but made a horrible romantic partner. That being said, does being a good father, make him a good person? I don’t know. Can you be a good father if you beat the baby’s mother? That Hoover portrayed him as a sympathetic character who sometimes does bad things was strange. Should I feel bad for an abusive person? I certainly don’t want to, but somehow I ended up not disliking Ryle as much as I should have. So, there were some conflicting emotions for me with this one.

Have you read the book? What do you think about the portrayal of Ryle?

BOOK REVIEW: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

43848929._SX318_Title: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology, Self-Help, Sociology, Science, Business, Language, Communication

Read Start Date: February 9, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 11, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?

While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you’ll hear the voices of people he interviewed–scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There’s even a theme song – Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.”

Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.

My Review: I listened to the audiobook version of this book and I have to say it was awesome. The audiobook is read by the author and also includes some bonus material e.g. recordings of the statements / incidents quoted in the book.

The book opens with the tragic story of Sandra Bland, a black woman, who commits suicide in jail after being arrested by an over zealous cop. She was originally pulled over for “failure to signal” after she changed lanes for the said cop without signaling, as he came up behind her. When the officer asks how she is, Bland responds that she is upset. The officer then asks her if she “is done”. Although the officer says that it was not meant in a sarcastic way, Bland takes it as such, escalating the traffic stop. When Bland lights a cigarette to calm her nerves, the officer asks her to put it out. She refuses. Escalating the traffic stop further, the officer tells her to get out of the car, because she had failed to follow his direction. Bland initially refuses. The incident was caught on the officer’s vest cam, and with the audiobook you can hear the actual tape.

The book dives into the potential reasons why this tragedy occurred. The author posits, for example, that when talking with strangers, people “default to truth”, in other words that we initially believe what a stranger is telling us, even if it is a lie. For most of us, the instinct is to believe, not distrust. Another example is “transparency”. Sometimes people are transparent and strangers can infer state of mind by actions, other times, people do not act as we think they should and so we misunderstand them. This is what happened in the case of Sandra Bland.

I really liked listening to the different stories that that author gave as support for his theory. Even if you don’t like, or agree with, the author’s theory, the stories were really interesting e.g. a cuban spy who no one suspected, the interrogation of KSM after 9/11, and the Amanda Knox story. What made it more interesting was the format. I can’t imagine reading this book in paper format. The quotes would have less impact when only read and not listened to.

I definitely recommend this book, but I think that it should be read as an audiobook.

BOOK REVIEW: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Title: The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller

Book Length Audiobook: 11 hours and 15 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Romance, LGBT

Read Start Date: February 2, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 4, 2022

Link and Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13623848-the-song-of-achilles

Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

My Review: We meet Achilles in his youth when a young exiled prince Patroclus is sent to live with Achilles’ father King Peleus. Despite being a book about Achilles, the Song of Achilles is actually told through the voice of Patroclus, Achilles companion and lover. Although the myth of Achilles centers around the Trojan war, I liked how somehow this book was more centered on the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles then the war. The war was more an ancillary topic, another setting if you will, where the relationship took place.

Other than the general knowledge about Achilles and the duly named “Achilles heel”, I knew little to nothing about his myth before reading this book. I was a little surprised therefore when Miller changed the way Achilles died (from an arrow through the back rather than heel), as I felt this altered the myth itself. I’m not sure why she choose to do it this way, but okay.

I listened to this book as an audiobook and finished it rather quickly. I really liked how Miller told the story, the language she used was descriptive in a way that made me imagine what she was saying. Her words created images in my mind as I listened.

I’ve read a lot of reviews where the reviewers complain about pacing: it’s too slow in places and too fast in others. Honestly, when I read the book, I didn’t even notice! Some reviewers also had issues with the character development, that the characters were flat and underdeveloped. I also did not notice, nor did I really think too much in depth about the development, or lack thereof, of the characters.

I read this book as entertainment and it was more than adequate at accomplishing this goal. I have no complaints whatsoever about this book. I often listened to this book while doing other things: laundry, cleaning, feeding the baby, exercising etc. Maybe I was just too distracted to notice the issues (pacing, character development etc)? I don’t know. What I do know is, despite the negative reviews from other, I have to say I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it.

BOOK REVIEW: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Jodi Picoult

Book Length (Audiobook) 11 hours 47 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Read Start Date: February 4, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 8, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57701764-wish-you-were-here

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. The whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

My Review: Right off the bat, I will notify you that I will include spoilers in this review because there is just no way to express my disappointment otherwise. As the summary above states, Diana heads to the Galapagos and gets stuck there due to the lockdown. While she is there, her boyfriend Finn, a resident in a NYC hospital, comes face to face with COVID-19 and battles daily to save his patients from dying, often times not succeeding. These situations / scenarios are spelled out in great detail and I have to be honest, it was a bit much for me and detracted from the story.

During Diana’s time on the island, her boyfriend Finn is writing her emails about his experiences in the ICU. There was no mention of this in the book summary, so it came as a unwanted surprise. Finn goes into great detailed about how sick people are, how scared people are, how people are dying and how many. Why do I want to read about this in a fiction book? This has been REALITY for 2+ years!

I had COVID-19, alpha version, in November 2020. I was sick for 2 weeks, and had brain fog for 4 weeks. I was terrified of being one of those people who’s oxygen level drops but you don’t know it. Therefore, I regularly checked my oxygen levels with a pulseox device I bought on Amazon. I do not need to be reminded of how shitty COVID-19 is while reading something for entertainment. I want to be taken from my reality, not have it hammered into my brain with tons of detail, of which I already knew since I follow the news rather closely.

Despite the emails Diana received from Finn, I really enjoyed reading about Diana’s escape from the pandemic by living as a local on the island. Therefore, I was really disappointed when it came to light in Part 2 of the book, that the life Diana was living on the island was only a hallucination brought on by having COVID and being on a ventilator. Seriously? WTF. It honestly really ruined the book for me. Back in reality, Diana is facing a deteriorating relationship and of course COVID. Why couldn’t the island storyline have been the reality? Why did Diana have to have COVID, and why was it the version of COVID that almost made her die? I mean in the book the author made it seem like ALL COVID positive people die and die horribly. This was definitely not the case.

Would I recommend this book? Eh, probably not. Unless you like reading about the very pandemic you are going through right now. In my opinion this book was too soon and probably would have been better 10 years from now when (hopefully) all this shit is just a memory.