Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

🔥 out of 5 steam level

Did you miss me and my posts? I know, but absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s not because I haven’t been reading books. But I don’t like the new wordpress block format to make my posts and last time it made me really mad. But alas, I decided I’m in charge of my own blog so if the formatting isn’t the same for a while, then so be it! (But really, that legit drives me crazy).

Anyways, shall we talk about the actual book I read? Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. I think it’s potentially my first book in the magical realism genre! I really liked it and it was close to five stars for me.

I listened to it on audio and did have to speed up the narrator quite a bit. I would suggest reading this one if you’re able, rather than audio- but I’m kind of a narrator snob.

I really liked Natalie, I felt like she was a grown up version of a lot of teenagers I read about in Sarah Dessen novels.
I loved Gideon and Cam. I was sooooo into the chapters that featured these two guys.
I liked the town so much, I could picture it and I wanted to visit.
The town characters added to the story and didn’t distract from it. I was rooting for little plot points in the side characters storylines the whole time.
I loved all of the tea and food references!
This would be a great book club book (in fact, it was selected for our book club to read!) Perhaps I’ll eventually make it into a books & baking post!

I had an issue with Anna Kate being attached to the idea of never breaking a promise at the demise of her own happiness.
I had a very difficult time believing that Mrs Lyndon evolved as a character so quickly the way that she did.
I don’t like in a plot when people aren’t upfront about their past. I know people like it to drive you to keep reading but I find it to be unrealistic. I wouldn’t hang out with someone who is cagey when I ask them a question.
Lastly, I felt like the romance section of this book built so beautifully and then I didn’t get to experience the actual pay off of that but more of an epilogue.
I know my list seems long of dislikes, but that’s because I was really into the book and I thought it was so close to being perfect if it would’ve made a few tweaks!

Overall I would suggest this book to a fellow foodie, a bird nerd, someone who likes plotlines involving complicated family dynamics, and someone who likes reading books from multiple POVs!

Drink: loose leaf tea for the health benefits
Do: ask a relative a question you’ve always wondered about
Eat: blackberry pie
Watch: The Big Year

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

glass hotel

official blurb

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I’ve only read Station Eleven by Mandel, but I loved it. In fact it is probably my most widely recommended books.  However if you’re reading this review and you’re still in the throws of coronavirus- now is not the time to read Station Eleven.  But feel free to still go over and read my review of it! 🙂

Now let’s get started with this review.  I decided to format this one a little bit differently because why the heck not.  Here are some of my notes I wrote down while reading this beautifully written book.  You can decide when you read them, what my rating should be. Because I still haven’t totally decided what this book should be rated.

  • 55 pages in and it’s really confusing. There are seemingly random numbers on the pages throughout the chapters. The chapters are written from multiple characters perspectives. There are a ton of names to keep track of and I can’t remember them all. I keep flipping back and forth to see if it’s a name from a previous section and it rarely is.
  • There’s a girl named Vincent. Who names a girl Vincent? It has taken me at least 50 pages to remember that Vincent is a girl.
  • Over 90 pages in and no real plot yet. They keep alluding to the plot but not much of anything has happened. I’m enjoying the journey though.
  • I don’t know anything about pyramid schemes other than people making jokes about Young Living. Which I think is more MLM but honestly don’t know. After reading this I’m still completely confused about it. I think it needed to be actually explained to the laymen better. Page 205, an actual explanation! Yay! (And I actually even followed the explanation with “newborn mom brain” working against me!)
  • Page 240 before the storyline of “the woman who disappeared off of the boat.” This whole time I thought it was referring to… well to someone else (I don’t want to spoil that) It wasn’t…
  • I think this book should have a different title. Maybe Ghost Stories.  You decide what you think when you finish it and let me know what you think the title should be.  I feel like Ghost Stories is a pretty strong contender.

I would recommend reading this on a Kindle. Like station eleven, only in writing style, there are roughly 7000 names in this book. Okay, you got me, not 7000. I have a flair for the dramatic. But there were a lot of names. And if you have a memory like mine, a Kindle will be your best friend for the X-ray feature.

After finishing this book I have NO idea what to rate it. I didn’t feel fulfilled with the ending and it actually seemed like it was a two different stories written in the same book. That’s not to say that the stories didn’t converge in some sense but… Not enough for it to make sense to me.

I HAVE to mention that there are little easter eggs in this book if you’ve read her other books.  I’ve only read Station Eleven, like I mentioned, but I’ve heard that some characters from her other books made their way into this one as well.  That’s right, keep your eyes peeled and you might see some of your old friends from Station Eleven in this one!  

When I say I really enjoyed the writing style, I mean it!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

-“Why were the righteous so often irritating?”
-“One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid.”
-“It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.”
-“That’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money”
-“Very few people who go to the wilderness actually want to experience the wilderness. Almost no one.”

Okay it’s time for me to rate this thing.  I know I won’t be widely recommending it like Station Eleven.  It really had a slow but steady pace… which in fairness I think quite a lot of adult fiction has this pacing.  It seemed like different stories were all jammed into one book.  The characters weren’t very likable (I think this is a trend for Mandel that she writes “realistic” characters.  I put that in quotes because I hope that if you met me in real life I would be likable and I am also a real person.  So with all of that in mind… I think I’m going to officially rate it:

3.75 our of 5

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Trespasser by Tana French


Detective Antoinette Conway and her partner Stephen Moran’s new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. But Aislinn Murray’s death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steven into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she new Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

4 out of 5

A friend of mine turned me onto Tana French’s books about a year ago. I’m not normally one for murder mysteries, but I have really been enjoying them. The Trespasser is only the second Tana French novel I’ve read, but I’m hooked. French has the ability to put the reader inside the mind of the character, so we are just as puzzled by the crime and the witnesses, and just as surprised at all the twists and turns. I like the way French has her characters interact with each other. Some authors give the reader hints that the characters don’t get, so we are often able to figure out what’s going on first. But French doesn’t do that. And I really enjoy reading a crime novel written that way.

The other Tana French novel I read was In The Woods. That novel messed with my head a bit more than The Trespasser. I was very satisfied with The Trespasser‘s ending. I also ended the book still liking the characters. I would read this book again, and definitely recommend it to anyone who loves crime novels or is interested in checking out crime novels for the first time. It’s not gory, there isn’t a lot to freak a person out if she’s reading at home alone at night. Overall, a solid novel!

-Hawk-