Review: Apeirogon by Colum McCann

50185600._SX318_SY475_ (1)Apeirogon by Colum McCann

Published: February 25, 2020 by Random House

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: Colum McCann’s most ambitious work to date, Apeirogon–named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides–is a tour de force concerning friendship, love, loss, and belonging.

Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on, to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend, to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate.

Their worlds shift irreparably after ten-year-old Abir is killed by a rubber bullet and thirteen-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of each other’s stories, they recognize the loss that connects them and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

McCann crafts Apeirogon out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material. He crosses centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history, nature, and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. Musical, cinematic, muscular, delicate, and soaring, Apeirogon is a novel for our time.

Rating: 2 star

Review: I really wanted to love this book because I was so entranced by the first half of it. In the end though, this book made my brain hurt. It was physically exhausting to read. This is due solely to the style that it was written in. It seems like stream of consciousness more than anything else and when it was done I felt like I needed a very long nap.

The author has written this book as 1001 micro-chapters. Most of them are no longer than a paragraph. The author is referencing The Arabian Nights clearly because he frequently talks about this throughout the book. The idea is that you get little snippets of many different stories and through reading the whole stories of Bassam and Rami are slowly revealed. I liked this as it is a physical manifestation of the title. An apeirogon is a polygon with countably infinite sides (I googled that). Thus we have a book with numbered infinite chapters. I like that play on language and could picture in my head when we following on side of the story and then branched off into another, like creating a shape.

This book is also beautifully written. The prose is almost like a poem. Early on I was a bit confused at the sudden, jarring shift in narrative every few paragraphs but I learned to let it wash over me like a wave. And as we progressed further into the book the stories of the two men became more apparent. The stories were heartbreaking. I cried for Bassam and Rami. I agonized with them over their feelings about “the enemy” and their slow transformation into not seeing one another as “other” but as “friend and fellow father”. I loved it and was immersed in the beauty.

Unfortunately this book was just so long. While I was immersed in the story, I had to make a conscious effort to pull out the bits of the story about Bassam and Rami amongst the other detritus. In between relevant bits of narrative we talked about bird migration, history, ecology, biology, architecture, religion, politics, war, fiction, geography, Biblical studies, scripture, ancient weaving techniques, symbology in women’s clothing over time….honestly I could go on with this list for several weeks without running out of things to list. This audiobook was 15 hours, 20 minutes long. It was physically and mentally exhausting to continue to follow the actual bits of plot and after awhile it just became white noise. I was too exhausted to continue paying any attention at all.

I am saddened that I didn’t like this book more because it’s a wonderful story that is written in a creative, beautiful way.


Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

scent of magicScent of Magic (Healer series #2) by Maria V. Snyder

Published December 25th, 2012 by Harlequin MIRA

Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Buy this book at: Book Depository / B&N / Amazon


Hunted, killed, survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomaniacal King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confidant, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet: an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible…again.


Rating: 4 star



Let me just start this by saying, I loved this book.  Every page was a joy for me to read and I couldn’t wait to see where things would go.  I read the first book in this series and fell in love with it and couldn’t wait to read the second one.  The cover was amazing, the synopsis was amazing, and I jumped at the chance to read it.

This book picks up just a handful of days after Touch of Power ended.  Avry and Kerrick have been spending some time, ahem, getting to know each other better.  Now they have to get back to work.  Kerrick is going to go meet up with Prince Ryne and prepare their army to meet with Estrid’s troops to take on Tohon’s attack.  Avry wants to go find her sister and do what she can to get her away from Jael and set things right with her.  And so the two of them split up, with Kerrick promising to keep Avry’s miraculous survival a secret so that no one suspects she is still alive.  This is where we get to the narration of the story.  We have two different stories being narrated, Kerrick’s story and Avry’s story. I found this an interesting approach that complimented the story overall.  We haven’t heard much from Kerrick’s perspective before and I found him to be a great character.  I knew he was a strong, intelligent, but stubborn individual but hearing his narration took his character to a whole new level.  I like Kerrick more than I did before.

Avry is still just as fantastic a heroine as she started out in Touch of Power.  She still has a few moments of being sacrificing to the point of stupidity, just like in the prior book.  But, overall, she is everything a book heroine should be.  She’s strong, smart, determined, stubborn, resourceful, and compassionate.  Why can’t we have more heroines (particularly in YA ficiton) like her?  My only complaint is that she didn’t seem to be doing much.  Yes, she was helping Estrid’s troops but it was mostly just day after day of the same with a few things thrown in on the side.

The plot was very interesting, but I admit that in places it seemed to drag and there wasn’t much going on.  This was supposed to be the preparation for war with Tohon and Tohon’s attack.  We got some preparations for war, but because neither Kerrick or Avry was involved in that planning the reader didn’t get to see too much of it.  The attack by Tohon was good and things really started to get interesting.  I also really like the secondary plot of investigating the properties and abilities of the Death Lilies and Peace Lilies.  I have to say that I was hoping to see more of this than we did.  We had characters lost and characters returned.  We learned more about the depths of Tohon’s evil mind.  I also think the title of the book is appropriate for the secondary plot that was explored.  Lilies have the ability to know if someone is magically inclined, and we also meet a character who can literally sniff out the magic of others.

Overall this book did exactly what the second book in a series is supposed to do, move the plot forward, and entice readers to read the next in the series.  Though I felt the plot could have moved a little quicker, I am not disappointed by where it is going.  And that ending, holy crap!  How long until the next book again?

A free copy of this ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you Harlequin for a great read!




Collapse by Richard Stephenson

Collapse by Richard Stephenson

Published July 5th, 2012 by Stephenson & Powers Publishing House

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Author’s Website:

Book can be purchased at: Amazon (I also found a listing at B&N, put it was just for the paperback and at like $40.00 so I decided not to list it here)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  No compensation or promise of good review was promised in exchange or the book.


America is falling, ready to join the Roman Empire as a distant memory in the annals of history. The year is 2027. Tired and desperate, the American people are deep in the middle of The Second Great Depression. The Florida coastline is in ruins from the most powerful hurricane on record; a second just like it is bearing down on the state of Texas. For the first time in history, the Middle East has united as one and amassed the most formidable army the world has seen since the Third Reich. A hidden army of terrorists is on American soil. This is the story of three men: Howard Beck, the world’s richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict. Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burned out Chief of Police of a small Texas town. At first they must fight for their own survival against impossible odds. Finally, the three men must band together to save their beloved country from collapse.


I was not really sure what I would end up rating this from the beginning until the very end, I still am not entirely sure that’s the right rating.  This one was difficult for me since I honestly did enjoy the book very much.  But even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel it was as good as my usual 4 or 5 star book.  So this is somewhere between a 3 and 3.5 star book.

Collapse is a story about the demise of the United States.  Debt is ever mounting, the country is in a never-ending war with the Empire of Iran, a hurricane has devastated Florida and killed millions, wildfires rage across much of California, and that’s just the beginning.  The novel follows several characters on their individual journeys through the tumult all over the country.  There is Richard DuPree, a former Navy SEAL who is currently imprisoned for murder in California.  There is Malcom Powers the current President of the United States. Maxwell Harris is the Chief of Police in a small town in Texas who has spent most of his career crippled and addicted to painkillers.  And finally we have Howard Beck, the wealthiest man in the world and creator of the world’s very first true artificial intelligence program. The story is told alternately from all of their points of view as events unfold until finally the circumstances bring all of the together.

I really enjoyed all of the individual characters.  We didn’t see Malcolm Powers as much as I might have liked, but he was a good character when we got him.  Max Harris was my least favorite of the characters and I can’t really say why.  There was nothing wrong with the character, I just found him boring. Richard was fascinating, I looked forward to every single one of his chapters so that we could learn more of his story.  My favorite character however was Howard Beck.  He was funny, witty, and really just took the story to another level.  His interactions with his AI program (Hal) were priceless and Hal became a character in his own right as a result.
The plot of the novel was also very good.  Everything that happens in the book was something that you can read safely because it seems like it would be so far away if it ever happened.  But at the same time, looking around this country, you could see the possibility for all of it to actually happen.  To me, that is what makes a good dystopian novel. A plot that seems far away but entirely plausible given the current state of events in the world.  I really loved seeing the individual plots moving forward and wondering how it would all come together and bring these people into the same sphere of reality.

So all of these things sound really excellent right?  What could possibly be giving this a 3 star rating?  Well, here it is.  There was a lot of jumping around in this novel, both in timeline and narrators.  While I liked the narrators, we jumped around in the plot timeline so much that it made me feel like I was reading through 6 months worth of plot even though it all takes place in a few days.  Because we jump around narrators so often, a lot of things get repeated.  I think I heard about the impending hurricane in Texas probably 6 times before it actually happened and about 8 times after.  Every time we switched narrators, we got told a lot of the same things that we’d just been told by the last one.  This got a bit tedious and made it harder to engage with the plot.  It also got predictable and tiresome to have EVERY chapter end in a cliffhanger.  I spent a lot of time wondering what the cliffhanger for that chapter would be rather than focusing on the plot, not a good thing.  I think the right editor could tighten up the storytelling a bit and really make this sing even more than it does right now.

The final shining star for this novel is the ending.  While we had cliffhangers through the entire book, I didn’t feel like we ended on that big of cliffhanger.  Maybe a little one, but nothing major.  If the story was over and no other story was forthcoming I would have been completely satisfied with the ending.  With another story coming, it intrigued me enough to make me want to know.  It was the perfect way to end this book and I loved it.