Mini-reviews: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis; Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney; Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan; and The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

shadesofearthTitle: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Genre: YA science fiction
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: “Wait,” I say, my heart clenching.

Goodreads blurb: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

I absolutely loved this final book in Beth Revis’s series. When it comes to a series, consistency is always an issue: will the second book live up to the first? will the final book wrap things up in a satisfactory way? This series is one of the few in which each book is equally strong. I loved the characters, the world-building, the story – this will now be on my list of all-time favorite YA series.

marblesTitle: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
Author: Ellen Forney
Genre: Graphic memoir
Publisher: Gotham
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library

Goodreads blurb: Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.

Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.

I saw this reviewed on a couple of blogs (I think by Kathy and Vasilly) and so was excited to discover that my library actually had a copy. I don’t think I loved it as much as they did, but it made for an entertaining, quick read – and an informative look at the world of bipolar disorder. I enjoyed the discussion of past artists, and the questions as to whether their disorder contributed to their art – or just made them miserable. I’m glad I read this one.

lifeboatTitle: The Lifeboat
Author: Charlotte Rogan
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Today I shocked the lawyers, and it surprised me, the effect I could have on them.

Goodreads blurb: Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

This is another one that has gotten rave reviews in the blogosphere, but left me slightly underwhelmed. I loved the premise – and I usually really enjoy unreliable narrators – but the main character was simply too hard to put my finger on. I wanted to know what happened, but this wasn’t one that I closed thinking, “Wow! That was amazing!” I will be watching for the author’s next book, however, because I enjoyed her writing.

imperfectionistsTitle: The Imperfectionists
Author: Tom Rachman
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: The Dial Press
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal
First line: Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks.

Goodreads blurb: Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff’s personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his family’s quirky newspaper.

As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper’s rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder’s intentions.

In spite of the fact that the title of this book calls itself a “novel,” it is more a collection of inter-related short fiction. I am a bit of a hard sell with short fiction, as a I prefer a longer time to get invested in the characters. I did enjoy Rachman’s writing style very much – especially the way his stories often caught me off-guard at the end, going in a completely different direction than what I expected. I think I would have enjoyed it more if every story didn’t end on a slightly depressing note.

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10 Responses to Mini-reviews: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis; Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney; Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan; and The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

  1. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I did like Marbles more than you did but not as much as Vasilly did. I’d probably give it 4 stars. It was an eye opening read for me.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathy – it did give me a better understanding of what people with bipolar disorder go through – made me grateful.

  2. irene says:

    You’ve been a busy reader, thanks for your honest review.

  3. Kailana says:

    I really have wanted to read The Lifeboat but just haven’t got around to it… One day… Hopefully I will like it! I have also been curious about The Imperfectionists, but not in a huge hurry to try it. Maybe someday

  4. You have me wanting to read Beth Revis’s books! The Lifeboat hasn’t intrigued me enough to want to pick it up, but I know so many people have loved it.

  5. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I adored The Imperfectionists! I liked The Lifeboat. I need to read Marbles.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Candace – I’m sure your list of “must reads” is just as long – if not longer! – than mine. 🙂