Review: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published February 14th, 2017 by Random House
My rating:
In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it.

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices—living and dead, historical and invented—to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

My thoughts…

Lincoln in the Bardo was selected by my library book club for this month’s read and it wasn’t what I had expected. Before I started the book, I had to look up the definition of Bardo, as most of this book takes place in the Bardo. 
Bardo: (in Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person's conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death. an indeterminate, transitional state:
Abraham Lincoln visited the crypt of his eleven-year-old son, Willie, several times to hold his son's body. Willie doesn't realize he's dead. His soul is stuck in a transitional phase along with the other ghosts who inhabit the cemetery. The ghosts are stunned at the rare scene of a tenderness towards the dead. Lincoln leaves, but promises to return. Willie is determined to stay and wait for his father’s return. The ghosts must create a plan to convince Willie to move on. The ghosts come and go, and they each have their own story to tell.

It loosely centers on the historical facts and portions of historical journal entries and newspaper clippings. I could not get past the format, it’s was not an enjoyable read and I found it boring. It was almost like reading footnotes, it was full of quotes (with no quotations) from the many historical journal entries and newspaper clippings. It was just strange and something that I wasn’t expecting.

I was surprised to learn Lincoln in the Bardo is a Man Booker Prize Winner. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to this book but, it wasn’t for me.

Books I Could Re-read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, Jana.  The topic this week (February 27) is Books I Could Re-read Forever.

All the books I have listed have been ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ star reads for me, I have read them several times. I only have nine books listed, maybe someday in the future I’ll find number ten and enjoy that re-read for years to come. All book title links will take you to Goodreads.

The Illustrated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Dame Darcy (Illustrator) – My favorite classic. I have multiple editions of Jane Eyre, but this edition with illustrations by Dame Darcy is the one I read over and over.

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.  But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband's home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realizes that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs. de Winter walks in her shadow.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Rubén Toledo (Illustrator) – Another book that I have multiple editions of. Once again, this illustration is my favorite to read.

Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley, and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights. Returning years later as a wealthy and polished man, he proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries.

Cinder & Ella (Cinder & Ella #1) by Kelly Oram – Personally I think this is the best retelling of Cinderella that I’ve read. It’s very sad and emotional. Every time I read it I cry an ugly cry. I should really post a review.

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet.

Twilight (Twilight #1) by Stephenie Meyer – Twilight will always hold a special place in my heart, it was the first Young Adult book that I’ve read as an adult and led me to enjoy other books from this genre. Yes, I was a Twi-mom, there, I said it… Team Edward! I’ve read this series multiple times, I usually skip New Moon because it wasn’t my favorite.

When It's Real by Erin Watt – This is always a fun read. A contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend. 

Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan - Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

The Time in Between (Magdalene #3) by Kristen Ashley – Who can’t resist Kristen Ashley’s alpha males? ME, that’s who. This book easily turned into one of my favorites.

After a painful loss, Cady Moreland is coming to Magdalene to start the next chapter of her life. A chapter that began eighteen years ago but had a heartbreaking ending. The time in between was full of family and friendship, but Cady could never get the man she fell in love with all those years ago out of her heart.

Coert Yeager has learned to live without the girl who entered his life right when she shouldn’t and exited delivering a crippling blow he never would have suspected. The time in between was full of failing to find what he was missing…and life-altering betrayal.

Intensity by Dean Koontz – This book is intense. Do not start it late in the evening, because you will want to stay up and finish it. I usually buy Intensity for book exchanges or secret gifts. I also bought it for few family members as well. 

Past midnight, Chyna Shepard, twenty-six, gazes out a moonlit window, unable to sleep on her first night in the Napa Valley home of her best friend's family. Instinct proves reliable. A murderous sociopath, Edgler Foreman Vess, has entered the house, intent on killing everyone inside. A self-proclaimed "homicidal adventurer," Vess lives only to satisfy all appetites as they arise, to immerse himself in sensation, to live without fear, remorse or limits, to live with "intensity." Chyna is trapped in his deadly orbit.

Did you read any of the books I have listed? Are they some of your favorite re-reads as well? I’m looking forward to visiting other participants blogs to see what everyone added to their list of re-reads.


Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Merrit Hicks (Narrator)
Audiobook, Duration: 10:01:46
Published October 1st, 2013 by HarperCollins
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists . . . until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

 After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to life without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

 In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

My thoughts…

I needed an audiobook to listen to while cleaning house and happen to come across this wonderful book that I knew nothing about. I wasn't sure what to expect but, what I got was wonderful! This book is filled with angst, heartbreak, sweetness and love.

Reena becomes pregnant with Sawyer’s baby and before she has a chance to tell him about the pregnancy, he leaves town. Renna has a difficult time adjusting to her new life raising Hannah. After graduation Reena was looking forward to leaving her small Florida town, going to college and then travel to all the places she dreamed about. Reena also comes from a devoted Catholic family with strong beliefs, her father has been treating her differently since he found out about her pregnancy.

“I think of how it felt to lose him, slow and painful and confusing, and how it felt to wonder if I'd ever really had him at all.”
Katie Cotugno, How to Love

Meanwhile, Sawyer has left town to work on himself. He didn’t like the person he was becoming using drugs and drinking. Sawyer travels and goes where he likes, he doesn’t have any contact with his parents or Reena while he is gone. He eventually checks himself into a rehab clinic to get the help he needs. In the beginning I had a huge problem with Sawyer, he was manipulative and didn’t consider Reena’s feelings. She was there for him, but he wasn’t never there for her.  

Everything has become routine for Reena until the day Sawyer comes home and declares that he’s there to stay. Sawyer is surprised to learn he has a daughter with Reena. Now Reena must work through her feelings both past and present to determine her and Hannah’s future.

This was a pretty emotional read, I really felt for Reena having to deal with her father’s resentment and Sawyer’s mothers dislike for her. I really liked Reena and how she handled the situations she found herself in. She was able to work through her feelings about Sawyer and not deny him spending time with Hannah, even though her hurt her in the past. Reena was such a good mother, always caring for Hannah’s needs first.

The story is told by each chapter going from present day to the past. I felt that the story was very realistic and being Catholic myself I can understand her father’s disappointment about premarital sex and unwed mothers. This book has serious topics of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, toxic relationships, family relationships, religious beliefs and death. It’s also a story about love, mistakes, and forgiveness.

“Nothing about you, my dear, has ever been lost on me.”
Katie Cotugno, How to Love
Happy Reading -J 

Inky Edition of the Sunday Post #7

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about ourselves and what is coming up on your blog for the week.

What I read this past week:


What I am currently reading: 

The Black Key (The Lone City #3) by Amy Ewing (audio-book)

What I added to my shelves this week: 

Stacking the Shelves #39

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks.

I’m excited because this week I didn’t purchase any books, even though I was tempted many times. The two books that I did add to my shelves this week are both audio-books borrowed from the library. 

Last week on Inky Impressions:

Everyday Life:

On Tuesday I was at the dentist once again, this time I was able to get my permanent filling on the root canal that was infected about a six weeks ago. I’m so happy all those visits are finished and thank goodness we have dental insurance.

I finally had a chance to go see Fifty Shades Freed at the movie theater. I couldn’t make it with my motorcycle group ladies. I was planning on going by myself until my sister volunteered to go along with me. She’s not a fan of the books or movies, chances are she will use it against me and drag me to see a sci-fi movie with her. I’m grateful I have my sister living nearby, we get together at least a couple times a week.

This week the fur babies and I are spending time with my parents in Wyoming. I usually try to visit them monthly now that they are older. I’m very blessed that I don’t have to work, I can be away from home for about a week until my family starts to miss me. I tell everyone I’m still on maternity leave, my daughter is now 22. 😉 

Some Cuteness:

I was going through some older photos the other day and I came across this photo of our fur baby Toby when he was a puppy. He had taken my daughters childhood blanket from her room and dragged it around the house, hoping no one will notice him.

Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week.

Stacking the Shelves #39

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks.

I’m excited because this week I didn’t purchase any books, even though I was tempted many times. The two books that I did add to my shelves this week are both audio-books borrowed from the library. 

For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived a life of servitude, controlled and manipulated by the royalty of the Jewel. But now, the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power and knock down the walls dividing each circle.

 And while Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it—for her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return, to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City.

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

 The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard - Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader - wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

 As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet - and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week.

Review: Ryan's Bed by Tijan

Ryan's Bed by Tijan
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 274 pages
Published January 21st, 2018
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident. I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should've left...

 I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

 I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept. The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could've stayed forever, I would have. He became my sanctuary.

 Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.

 ** Standalone full-length novel, Mature YA themes

My thoughts…

Mackenzie's family had just recently moved to Oregon due to their fathers work promotion. Mackenzie and her twin sister Willow are getting ready to start their senior year of high school and their little genius brother Robbie is also excited to start at new school.

On the day before Mackenzie’s and Willows eighteenth birthday, what should have been a happy day filled with upcoming celebrations turned into a traumatic day for Mackenzie and her family. Willow committed suicide. Mackenzie was the one to find her sister laying on the shared bathroom floor with blood surrounding her.

While Mackenzie’s parents are taking care of the arrangements for Willow and finding a new home, Mackenzie and her brother Robbie stay at their father’s business associates home for the time being. During the first night staying at the unfamiliar house Mac accidently crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed, she thought it was his sister’s bedroom. She barely knew him and asked Ryan if she could stay, he let her, she slept easily for the first time since her sister died. 

Ryan’s parents discovered them the next morning, Ryan explained to his parents that Mac was there accidently, and nothing happened between them. Ryan’s parents let the sleeping arrangements continue while she stayed with them, on the condition that the nanny cam will be there in the room along with them. Mac is surprised that she finds comfort with Ryan, slowly she begins to feel a little more put together and he understand what she was going through.

A slow and wicked grin spread over his face. His eyes darkened, falling to my lips. “I’m a nice guy and all, but I’m not that nice, and especially lately, so trust me when I say this. You can sleep here any time you want.” His head leaned forward, his eyes almost digging into me. “That offer doesn’t go to anyone except you.”
  Tijan, Ryan's Bed

From that day on a beautiful friendship emerges, the sleeping arrangement continues with them sneaking into each other’s home late in the evening. I loved Ryan and Mac’s friendship, he understood her pain and let her be herself.

It was difficult to watch the way Mac’s parents avoided interacting with her after Willow’s death. When her parents looked at her they saw Willow, it was extremely sad. They were both so grief stricken, they forgotten they had a living daughter that was also grieving. We see how the entire family reacted to Willow’s death and how everyone coped, and eventually came together to begin the healing process.

I was there. I was in their house, and I struggled every day to say something. My parents weren’t evil. They didn’t mean to forget about me because they didn’t love me, but I fully believed they didn’t want to see me. They saw her when they saw me. Tijan, Ryan's Bed
I was wailing. I was crying. I was pleading for her to look at me again—because what mother doesn’t want to see her child’s face? But no sound came out. Tijan, Ryan's Bed

I wasn’t expecting all the high school drama and I loved that Mac was strong enough to stand up for herself. Ryan’s Bed is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about friendship, suicide, family and first love.


Almost every reader on Goodreads talked about the ending and how it was shocking and wasn’t what they expected. I didn’t want any surprise, I cheated and read the last chapter along with epilogue before I started. I’m pleased that I did know the ending, it helped me understand Mackenzie and what she was really going through.

If you would like to know the ending… click on the button below. 

Books that I'm No Longer Interested in Reading

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, Jana. This week’s topic is: February 20: Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested in Reading.

I was excited to read these books when I added them to my list, not so much anymore. I need to go through my bookshelves and donate some books. I also think it’s time for another purge of my “want to read” shelf at Goodreads. I cleaned it out a few years ago and removed over 3,000 books that I didn’t think I would ever read. All book title links will take you to Goodreads.

Hiroshima by John Hersey
Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel 
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Did you enjoy any of the books I have listed? I’m looking forward to seeing your response to this weeks Top Ten Tuesday meme. Happy Reading.

Inky Edition of the Sunday Post #6

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about ourselves and what is coming up on your blog for the week.

What I read this past week:

This was a really good book from the Romance Book Club and the first book I’ve read by Penny Reid. I’m happy the couple didn’t jump into a relationship right away. Even through they have know each other since childhood, they took the time to get to one another.

What took me so long to start this series? Probably because I didn’t have book one, I was able to borrow it from the library. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. Secrets were kept from the surrogates, Violet soon discovers those secrets that the royalty keeps from the circles.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
This was an interesting read and not what I expected. I would have like to have more from Abe, instead of the ghosts. I did not like the writing style even though it did make for a quick read.

What I am currently reading:

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

How do you fix a love that’s been broken beyond repair?

For years, Cassie Taylor tried to forget about Ethan Holt. He was the one great love of her life, and when he failed to return her love, a part of her died forever. Or so she thought. Now she and Ethan are sharing a Broadway stage, and he’s determined to win her back. Claiming to be a changed man, he’s finally able to say all the things she needed to hear years ago, but can she believe him? What makes this time different from all his other broken promises?

Ethan knows he can’t change their tumultuous past, but if he’s going to have any chance of being with the woman he loves, he’ll need to convince Cassie that her future belongs with him.

Stacking the Shelves:

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks.

You can find my books here: Stacking the Shelves #38

Have you read any of the books I have listed?

Last week on Inky Impressions:

Everyday Life: 

I was a total slacker with blog posting. I blame social media but, it’s all on me for not managing my time properly. I’m trying to keep up with all book related things on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. I may need to take a break from social media or limit my time that I spend on those sites.  

I’ve been considering not writing individual ‘reviews’ and just post a weekly wrap-up of the books I’ve read. Or, shorten my ‘reviews’ to a paragraph. I already have a list of reviews to finish and since I blog for fun and don’t have review commitments, I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. I really enjoy participating in daily memes, maybe I’ll have a meme blog and only post those. 😉 Decisions, decisions. What do you think?

I did have a chance to visit one of my favorite used bookstores downtown Colorado Springs this week. I now take a list of books to look for when I shop. I’ve talked myself into thinking a list will keep me from over spending.

My husband and I finally decided on the SUV to get me out and about in the Winter snow. We bought an Audi Q5 and I can’t believe all the creature comforts it has. I’m slowing learning how to use all those buttons. I thought I would miss my little Nissan 370Z, but so far, I haven’t. It just wasn’t a very practical car to have in Colorado.

Some Cuteness:

Our little stinker Avery, being adorable. Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week. -Jovita