This is another wonderfully descriptive novel by Paul Auster. Some people don't like his style but I wholeheartedly ador...moreShelf Notes Review
This is another wonderfully descriptive novel by Paul Auster. Some people don't like his style but I wholeheartedly adore it, maybe minus the reoccurring characters of cheating men (although maybe he writes what he knows?!? He is on his second wife). His books usually contain unusual situations with a heavy hand of existentialism. This novel is exactly that, it starts off with the main character telling a story in his head about a man who wakes up in a hole with little recollection of how he got there. The first half of this book deals mainly with this story within a story and you don't really learn about August Brill (main character) directly until you get closer to the end. What is unusual about this is that we actually do learn a little of Brill through his own story. You see... the story Brill creates in his head is about a man who must stop the Author (Brill) from continuing on with the story. Confused yet? Auster does a wonderful job with this and trust me... you really won't be confused at all (I'm finding it hard to describe since I lack the graceful way with words that Auster has).
The story within the story is finished halfway through the novel and the we continue with August Brill's reality (not the story). At first I was a little annoyed that the story seemed somewhat unfinished but the reason is there, you start to get it towards the end. I enjoyed both parts equally and by the time I was done with the book I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. One part of the book actually has a very graphic scene set in Iraq, one that shows the true horror of the war. It was quite hard to stomach and I'll admit it left me in tears.
I understand why August Brill was creating this story, he wanted to dream of a way to change the outcome of his current life. In the story he created in his head, the point was to stop the Author from changing history but wouldn't that mean the characters would then die? Those characters are imagined by Brill, so essentially by killing him... they would die with him. In Brill's reality we have a horrific event (in Iraq) that has changed his whole family and he uses this story to dream of what it would be like to write a different ending. Man, get your mind around that one! It's a fantastic story, both of them. This might be my favorite Auster book yet, I highly recommend it. Take note though, be careful to be in a good mind frame when reading this... I could see the potential it would have to screw with someone at the wrong time of their life. With that said....
This book was construed to be something different for anyone who saw the movie. SO DIFFERENT. I saw this funny chart from The Oatmeal showing the simi...moreThis book was construed to be something different for anyone who saw the movie. SO DIFFERENT. I saw this funny chart from The Oatmeal showing the similarities between the book and the movie, they nailed it.
So yes, the book and the movie had NOTHING to do with each other. Some people read this book with a misunderstanding for what it was. This wasn't a plot driven, action novel... oh no! This was small blurbs all over the world, of how they're coping after this horrific event. If you read this book with that in mind, you should actually enjoy the extremely thorough details Brooks has compiled. Every single detail or thing you could ever ask... is answered. Brooks has a gift, maybe not for storytelling, but he sure is the go-to guru for the zombie apocalypse. (less)
This book is fantastic. Arianna waited in the massive line at BEA to grab this ARC. I think she'll be posting a review on ShelfNotes of this but I wan...moreThis book is fantastic. Arianna waited in the massive line at BEA to grab this ARC. I think she'll be posting a review on ShelfNotes of this but I wanted to show my love of the book as well. This is a kids book without pictures, yes... without pictures. Think your kid won't want you to read it? THINK again! You'll be forced to read this over and over and over again... just go buy it for your kid, trust me. (less)
I loved this book. I stayed up way too late every night reading this book. Lack of sleep didn't stop me from picking up...moreShelf Notes Review
I loved this book. I stayed up way too late every night reading this book. Lack of sleep didn't stop me from picking up the second book The Year of the Flood the same night I finished Oryx & Crake. Not many books can keep me up like that, let alone wanting me to pick up the sequel directly after. Usually, I'm the type of person that likes to let it digest and even wait a few months to pick up the second book (if at all). Books with series (3 or more) get me anxious (mostly because of the invested time required), I find that I don't usually finish a complete series unless the book rates 4 stars or higher for me. There is just too many books and too little time!
Let me rewind a bit though, I haven't even told you anything about the book yet. Meet Snowman (a.k.a Jimmy), a self absorbed and somewhat dis-likable character who somehow survives this crazy Apocalypse. No, I didn't give anything away that wasn't already given to you by the books description. There are quite a bit of plot twists and surprises and I promise I won't divulge any of those delectable secrets. Atwood brings us back and forward through time using Snowman/Jimmy's eyes. Through Jimmy, we see as he reflects back upon everything that has happened and we meet all the characters that play the part from his perspective. Everything he goes through plays a small part of the impending changes of the future. Since I don't want to give anything away, I think I'll leave it at that.
I like the genre "speculative fiction" and this novel fits perfectly under that category. I really wish I had read this when it came out in 2003. Atwood has taken some scary ideas (most of them could very likely be true) and given us a novel that could very well be the next 1984. I predict that this novel will be looked back upon as a reference for future generations, almost like a warning that wasn't heard (hopefully I'm wrong about this). Wasn't that the same feeling Orwell's 1984 gave us? I obviously wasn't alive when 1984 was published, so I can't say personally but the book has that stigma of predicting the future.
Some of the creepy things we come across in Oryx & Crake include, animal splicing (the Rakunk which is a combination of raccoon and skunk), genetic alterations (chemically injecting food so it won't rot or attract bugs), voyeuristic programming (watching the most taboo of topics on the internet and becoming desensitized by it, like kiddie porn and suicide). Does any of this sound familiar? Atwood definitely gets her inspiration from our own technological advances, she brings the current inventions to a new scary futuristic level. This is a world that you can imagine, a world that could be our future... now THAT is scary!
SPOILER!!! Don't Read Below This If You Haven't Read The Book ... (ALSO contains Battlestar Galactica Spoilers, if you've never seen or finished that show *and SHAME on you if you haven't seen the show!!*)
(view spoiler)[I just wanted to talk about the main theme of the book, the Apocalypse. I think what I loved about this book reminded me why I loved Battlestar Galactica so much. Both give us a decaying world filled with crime, overuse of technology, morals gone wrong and pretty much complete disrespect of the land we call home (again, doesn't this sound a bit too familiar!) Also, both BSG and Oryx & Crake reset the world, taking away everything that was destroying it (including the mass population). Neither this book or the show gives us the aftermath but one can only imagine how the world will be rebuilt with the remaining survivors. BSG went one step further pushing the idea that humanity will just make the same mistakes over and over again. To quote from the show "All of this has happened before and will happen again".
I think the idea of resetting and starting anew, making the survivors live with the earth and nothing else, is SO fascinating. I've often thought of what we would do without all the technology we have, would we be able to survive? Would we be able to reset our own way of thinking and go back to scavenging for food and shelter? I actually think it would be kind of wonderful to get a second chance, but I think the same problems would arrive and like BSG showed us... humanity would be in an endless loop, making the same mistakes over and over again. (hide spoiler)]
SPOILER DONE!!! I have nothing else to say but READ this book.
I love his stories. One of the few authors where I can really enjoy a short story and not feel short changed. He has a way to his imagination that mak...moreI love his stories. One of the few authors where I can really enjoy a short story and not feel short changed. He has a way to his imagination that makes me want to jump into his brain for a day. (less)
This was a secret hidden gem I found. Never knew the author existed so it was a wonderful surprise to pick this book up on a whim and adore everything...moreThis was a secret hidden gem I found. Never knew the author existed so it was a wonderful surprise to pick this book up on a whim and adore everything about it. The story was so magical and creative. The writing was solid and just added to the pleasure of reading the fantastic plot. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales or well thought up original books. (less)
This epic novel by Victor Hugo was quite a surprising treat. I think the enchantment felt was partially due to the lack of knowledge I had of this pop...moreThis epic novel by Victor Hugo was quite a surprising treat. I think the enchantment felt was partially due to the lack of knowledge I had of this popular story. I've never seen any of the films or ventured out to see the play. Anyone who has ever read this will know Hugo tends to digress into many topics which stray from the story itself. Not knowing this, the first digression choked me like swallowing a huge pill. But slowly, after each one… I started to enjoy his digressions and wanted more. Hugo has a wonderful mind and really delves into some thought provoking ideas. All this stimulating writing had me highlighting like crazy.
For example, I loved the way Hugo compared a prison to a monastery and a convict to a nun, never would I have even thought to compare the two! I also loved the entire rant on slang; this topic is still being debated today. Also, the slang of long ago is proper speech today which strengthens his argument even more. He brings a refreshing look at what slang really is and how it should be treated.
One of my favorite characters in the book was actually a very minor character but one which brought about Hugo’s rant of slang. Gavroche, the street urchin who creates a nest in an elephant sculpture, has such cheer and resourcefulness for a child with nothing. This is admirable, yes… but Gavroche’s charm lies with his slangy speech. His speech is chock full of cute words for ordinary things and he tries to correct others when they use “proper” speech. His part is short but his character is so heartwarming and odd that it stuck with me.
Okay, so… this story is aptly named “The Miserable Wretches” because EVERYONE has horrible things happen to them BUT sometimes a happy ending is overrated. I’ll leave you with this quote straight out of the ending of the book:
“It is a terrible thing to be happy! How content one is! How all-sufficient one finds it! How, being in possession of the false object of life, happiness, one forgets the true object, duty!”
It was Hugo’s duty to deliver us a story with depth and feeling, not one of those dull (heard it all before) stories. With this, he has success… End of story. (less)
I love Shirley Jackson, I really do. I've always put this book on the back burner because I wasn't in the "mood" for a haunted house story. Little did...moreI love Shirley Jackson, I really do. I've always put this book on the back burner because I wasn't in the "mood" for a haunted house story. Little did I know that this is SO much more than that. Okay, yes... it IS a story of a haunted house but what Jackson has done for the haunted genre mirrors what Hitchcock did for the spooky film genre. She knows how to descriptively get into the mind and send icy chills throughout your body. I think one of my favorite things about this book is how much I hated all the characters. Usually when one reads a book full of detested characters, that book is hard to get through. This was not the case for “The Haunting of Hill House”, even though the characters had horrible qualities, it only added to the terror of Hill House. It showed just how far people can fall when faced with madness… one who has deplorable characteristics can somehow become even more intolerable when driven to the edge. I loved every bit of the fall from mediocrity (most books follow the “fall from grace”), Jackson wanted to show that everyone who enters the house will be affected negatively. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good chill down the spine, the kind of spook we get from watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie. (less)
Any artist will appreciate the beauty of the story, artwork and unique storytelling technique of this book. I've loved Georges Melies and this book is...moreAny artist will appreciate the beauty of the story, artwork and unique storytelling technique of this book. I've loved Georges Melies and this book is a beautiful reflection of Melies beautiful work. I think he would applaud this book if he were alive to read it. (less)
ShelfNotes Review Review will not be posted on the site until closer to publication date.
This might be the first book that I've read which...moreShelfNotes Review Review will not be posted on the site until closer to publication date.
This might be the first book that I've read which shows a different side of Latino women. Usually, when reading books featuring Latinos, I find the light is a little dark and the setting a little poor (literally). I recently went to see Junot Diaz speak at a local College and he cried out for more Hispanic writing, and he vividly described what it's like to be a minority watching TV and reading books that are full of characters that live a completely different life. The Author, Desiree, gives us a side that reminds us of those similarities and gives us everything that is relatable within all different races. I love that! I gobbled up this story and felt SO much along the way, I didn't feel like an outsider peering into a secret life I knew nothing about. This is where I think we need to get, this is where we need to overcome the thought that people are so different, because deep down WE ARE THE SAME!
Okay, enough of the rant... let's get back to the book. The Amado Women is beautifully tragic, three daughters and a mother get together for family gatherings and each time we see the bonds change between them. The mother, Mercy, who is a proud woman with strength and conviction. The eldest sister, Celeste, who broke free of the family early on (only to succeed in her occupation to make her quite wealthy). The middle child, Sylvia, married young and ends up raising two daughters. The youngest daughter, Nataly, who jumps from ship to ship without figuring out her place in life. Each daughter has an extremely compelling story, we become enveloped with the hurt and/or excitement each one feels.
Starting with Nataly, who can't settle down or live a productive money-making life. I know this person, the artist... the one who struggles to follow her passion but is clueless to the stress it causes others in her life. I felt very close to Nataly because I consider myself an Artist, but I didn't go down the road Nataly did... I was too worried I wouldn't be able to support myself sufficiently. I admire this character but also know that life as an artist is too difficult to cling to that hope, reality bites!
Her sister, Sylvia, has a very different approach with life, marrying an abusive husband and having two children. I know many people who would also relate to this woman, and maybe open the eyes of some to see how horrible living that way is. I found myself relating to this character quite a bit when she started thinking about the big "D" word. How her mother kept nagging her and reminding her that she needed to stay with her husband to be financially secure and for the children, it gave me flashbacks to my own divorce and the way my family handled it.
Then we have, Celeste, the one with "everything", but we quickly realize that she has just as much heartbreak (if not more) than the other two sisters. Money doesn't buy everything, we all know this but sometimes someone hides behind it in order to clear their mind from the tragedy they've experienced. So life like! Every character sweeps in on a cloud of truth dust, I found myself in awe of how connected I felt with all of them... even though each one was so different.
The Author really touches on some realistic issues people go through, in all walks of life AND in all races. I love that this novel might strike a conversation outside of social norms, this would be the perfect book for a book club. Just imagine, sharing personal tragedies or triumphs and recognizing that the person next to you is very much the same. Okay, that happens from time to time. However, the times I've felt close to characters with a different background than me are few and far between. Desiree does this with The Amado Women and I believe every woman should pick this book up and feel that connection too!
I loved this book, every bit of it. Maybe it's because I'm a foodie but it was chock full of great advice, honest memoir and surprisingly great writin...moreI loved this book, every bit of it. Maybe it's because I'm a foodie but it was chock full of great advice, honest memoir and surprisingly great writing from a celebrity chef. I liked Anthony Bourdain before reading this but I LOVE him now. I couldn't believe his honest story telling capability. He hashed every failure in the kitchen, all his downfalls through some enjoyably drug induced times and his rewards among it all.
I loved the way he was so honest about what happens behind the doors of a kitchen, how most chefs love to drink and party to release steam.... even how using those drugs back in the day didn't ruin his life but like most people just turned around one day and said that time has past. He has had such a rich and exciting life in kitchens all over making a book of his career extremely exciting and fun to follow along. Most celebrity memories skip over all the bad times, or even edit them but you can tell he is completely honest about his failures which is so refreshing.
I would recommend this book to anyone, foodie or not. (less)
Wow, just wow. This book is very powerful, cruel and terror inducing. After reading this, you might never leave home aga...moreShelf Notes Review
Wow, just wow. This book is very powerful, cruel and terror inducing. After reading this, you might never leave home again. If you know anything about my tastes (from reading this blog, or just knowing me), you'll know why a book like this will shine for me. Not because I need to be shocked but I need to "feel" something, when a book elicits an emotion (good or bad), the Author is doing something right. Roxane Gay did everything right with "An Untamed State", so much that I even had tears in my eyes and even had quite a few gasping moments (which is VERY unlike me, it takes a lot to make me upset).
Roxane writes so believable, I could feel way too much of what the main character was going through (it was that good). I almost wished the Author didn't have that talent due to the graphic nature of the novel (although, I think that was the idea, to get through to you in that way). The main character, Mireille is a privileged woman who lives a pretty "normal" life with a caring husband and a beautiful new baby. She was born in Haiti but the family moved to the United States during her early childhood. The parents decided to move back to Haiti when the kids had grown up and the family business was booming. Although the family comes from Haiti, Mireille considers herself an American with Haitian parents. The family has an enormous compound in Haiti and will never be "without" (which is a stark contrast to the majority of residents of Haiti). Mireille's friends don't understand her origins very well, thinking Haiti to only be the one depicted on the news (poor and crippled).
Her world falls apart when she is kidnapped (right in front of her family compound in Haiti), and things grow darker when her father refuses to pay the ransom, thinking if he gives in, the kidnappers will just come back and take another member of his family. Her husband, not having the money to pay the kidnappers, tries to find another way to find Mireille. The worst part, Mireille is so proud and strong, she doesn't give into the kidnappers demands of her and she ends up suffering at the hands of her captors because of it. She suffers some unimaginable things and almost everything you CAN imagine. Part of the skewed beauty of the story is the main character discovering the other side of Haiti, even though the circumstances, kidnapping, aren't ideal for a sociology lesson.
Before reading this book, I was very unaware that Haiti was so dangerous. I've heard of kidnapping cases but didn't know what countries and areas they were prevalent in. An Untamed State really opened my eyes to certain things, I learned quite a bit about a place that I knew only by name. This book also made me search within myself, asking if I would have been strong enough, if I would have survived? How would I have coped with the situation after? The entire situation is so far removed from my life and yet... It had me thinking and trying to relate in ways I couldn't fathom. One of my favorite parts of the book was the relationship that formed with Mireille and her Mother In-Law, both when Mireille came and stayed to nurse her back to health and then when she herself was nursed back to health. I found that relationship comforting and true, the way her Mother In-Law treated her before she truly got to know her. I'm always fascinated when characters go through a transformation in their way of thinking (especially in this case), being weary of someone who comes from a different culture but coming around in the end and seeing that everyone has feelings that are not unlike our own.
I'd like to say this book should be read by everyone, but I know there will be those who won't be able to handle it. This book will make you feel dirty and it will hurt to read it, but I'm still going to recommend it to everyone who I think can stomach it. Roxane Gay brings up so many topics that are gritty and challenging, she wants us to really look inside the deepest, dark parts of ourselves and come out with a little clarity. I think I've come out with a better understanding of Haiti, human trafficking, bondage, rape, kidnapping and how far a human mind can go before snapping. So, if you think you can stomach a few scenes within the book that will make you queasy, then you should read this book and learn from it (more about yourself and the world around you). Step out of the bubble and join us in the land of uncomfortable ideas, I believe it's important to feel squirmy about things every now and then.
I feel like Anthropologists are all the 'up-n-coming' rage. You heard it from me first, I'm just saying. I'm not goin...moreshelfnotes.com review
I feel like Anthropologists are all the 'up-n-coming' rage. You heard it from me first, I'm just saying. I'm not going to compare this to The People in The Trees because the only similarity is just that, Anthropology. However, I loved both these books for different reasons and maybe the topic of Anthropology is an itch I didn't even know I needed scratched. Once a topic gets enough attention, you start seeing it everywhere. So wait for it... because I know this is destined to be the next "hip" topic.
So yeah, this book revolves around a trio of Anthropologists living and studying the region of Papua, New Guinea. This trio includes a unnerving couple that don't seem to mesh well at all and a loner Anthropologist who is pensive and looking to ease his loneliness. Each of these people are incredibly gifted and show a very different side of what an Anthropologist is really all about. Nell, the warm but questioning one who wants to find the perfect balance of culture and ideas, and thinks this can be found my studying multiple tribes and comparing them with our own civilization. Fen, the husband, is all about living among the tribes and becoming one of them to better understand the why. Bankson is a little reserved and likes to stay back and observe from the shadows, without interfering with the people and their customs.
You can't help fall in love with Nell, which seems pretty universal when it comes to those around her, I mean she was modeled after Margaret Mead! However, on the other side of the coin... you can't help but detest Fen for his arrogant, bullying, chauvinistic personality. The minute we see these two interact, you know there'll be trouble. He constantly dismisses and demoralizes her and at the same time you see her hesitate but think better of it and just relent to his constant dribble. This dynamic between the two is so stark and disturbing, the hatred for Fen can only increase from there. Then cue Bankson, the adorable and laid back guy who has only the utmost respect and adoration for Nell. You can't help but want them to fall into each others arms desperately in love. I guess this book has a lot of "you can't help" moments, and maybe the Author leads us down this path purposely. I won't give much away as to what happens, but I think this is a book with a few surprises for everyone.
I've established that the characters are wonderfully written and have quite a bit of depth but what about the story-line, what about the tribes? Surprisingly, I don't remember much about them... little tidbits here and there but nothing substantial. I want to say that the brevity spent with the Tam rituals and culture took away from the meat and potatoes of the book, but it really didn't. I'm OKAY that it wasn't the focus, I think having the characters be the shining star really worked well for this book, I wanted to know more about the tribes, yes... but I also loved seeing them through the eyes of the different main characters. The realistic details the Author writes in, like how the bugs gravitate towards someones mouth because of the moisture in high temps. It's the little details like that which have a compelling but realistic look at what it might be like to live amongst a native tribe with hardly any new world comforts at your disposal. As much as I would love to visit places like this, I don't know if I would have the guts to live among them for months at a time.
Overall, this story is one of my favorites this year and I'll highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good romantic triangle without the cheese, I will even recommend this to anyone who has that same Anthropological itch as me. Should I have pursued Anthropology as a career? Possibly! I do love to people watch! Does that count? Ha!
I must really love tragic tales about messed up people. I wonder if this reflects on me at all? This book is one of Oates earlier works and is part of...moreI must really love tragic tales about messed up people. I wonder if this reflects on me at all? This book is one of Oates earlier works and is part of the Wonderland Quartet. The quartet is a group of individual novels with an underlying common theme. These books explore social class by delving deep into a character growing up in America. Sounds like many books you've heard of? Well this is done by Oates and with each book my awe of her writing and stories grows. She understands that humans are not perfect but that society tries to bend us a certain way (especially Americans).
What made me put this in one of my favorites was her unique way on conveying the character. She writes this as a memoir and the way she does it isn't necessarily convincing but enchanting? It's hard to describe. One of my favorite parts of the book was when she had Richard writing fake reviews for his fake memoir. This had me laughing, which isn't my usual reaction to anything I've read by her yet. She calls out every reviewer, imitates their style and then mocks them completely showing us how complete shit reviews can be (especially the ones selected for book jackets). This was such a small and insignificant part of the book but also develops the character in such a creative way. Richard stops to comment on his own work, explain something or even add which made him even more real.
I can't wait to continue on the Quartet but it seems "Them" is not available on ebook anywhere! I guess I'll have to search the libraries or used book stores.