By Adventures in Obsessive Reading 

Gizelle’s Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog

Author: Lauren Fern Watt
Page Count: 256
Rating: B
Keywords: Coming of Age, Friendship, Addiction, Dogs, NYC
Genre: Memoir
Younger Readers: The writer does discuss some sensitive topics such as her mother’s drug and alcohol addiction. Nothing is exactly inappropriate, just may raise some questions and strong emotions. Conservative readers may be uncomfortable with the casual discussion of sex, though it is not detailed.

This book was given to me as a graduation gift because I am about to move with my own fairly large dog. I did enjoy this read and the gift was well-intentioned but I was sobbing quite audibly by page five.

If you have ever read a book about a dog, you know that there are going to be tears. Usually, the book builds up to the heart-wrenching devastation that has you ugly crying while strangers look on in concern. Not this one. Instead, it begins at the end. I apologize to my own dog who got far more hugs than she would have liked during my time reading about the mastiff named Gizelle. 

Aside from the normal crying that comes with a dog book, I did enjoy this coming of age story. Lauren is not some alien creature writing about something insane. She is a girl you could have found yourself knowing in school or through work. Her past has some dark moments and her present has its own struggles, but her adventures with Gizelle are quite simply a girl learning to be an adult with her best friend. 

Lauren is a quick and clean writer. She does not focus on unnecessary details and, unlike some other memoirs I have read, everything she writes down is for a reason. When you come to the last page and close the book you feel as if you have been told a complete tale rather than snippets of a life.

You might be wondering why I didn’t give it an A rating if I liked the book, and the truth is that I just have a hard time connecting with memoirs. My interests in nonfiction tend to lean more towards history and cultural studies. But, if you enjoy autobiographies and memoirs I honestly believe you’ll love this book. Give it a chance and just be sure to have tissues close by…..and maybe don’t read this one in public.

In the Night Wood

Author: Dale Bailey
Page Count: 224
Rating: A-
Format Read: Galley
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Keywords: Fairytales, Fae, mystery
Kid Appropriate: No
Expected Publication Day: October 9, 2018

The synopsis of this book had me expecting something completely different from what I encountered with this story. That being said I really enjoyed this slower adult fantasy.

At only 224 pages I expected to be able to finish this in a sitting or two. This is not a tale to be sped through. Rather it sits heavily on your mind and is meant to be sipped and savored rather than devoured. Long after putting this book down, I would find it creeping back into my mind, its fantastic mix of fantasy, mystery, and family drama drawing me further in.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which Bailey introduced the fantasy elements into this book. They were not overpowering and the degree of certainty, or rather uncertainty, that they truly exist always matches the perspective of Charles as he muddles through his own tale. There is never a feeling of we as readers know more than the main characters of Charles, Elaine, and to a lesser degree Silva.

Another point that I was worried about after I began reading was whether or not the death of Charles and Elaine’s daughter would make this an overly heavy, depressing read. At first, this was the case but as the story progressed I never felt that the drama and sorrow were overly played out the way that some stories dwell on the death of a child so that there is nothing else. It was an important part of the story but realistically handled in the way each parent handled their grief and how that does not always look the same even between partners in a relationship.

This would be a perfect read for adult fans of Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince or The Darkest Part of the Forest as well as readers looking to recapture the magical writing of Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale) or Naomi Novik (Spinning Silver and Uprooted).

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