This book has the makings to be great: a mysterious breath-thieving affliction, preserved corpses washing ashore, ghosts and lost love. Unfortunately,...moreThis book has the makings to be great: a mysterious breath-thieving affliction, preserved corpses washing ashore, ghosts and lost love. Unfortunately, these elements never seemed to come together to contain my interest. I started this book with high hopes and forced myself to finish it.
Although there were gripping parts that left my hair standing on end, there were not enough moments like that to compel me further into the tale. The momentum is suddenly lost again and again, leaving the reader frustrated. There are stories that do this and it actually works in favor of the novel, but something is desperately lacking here.
It may be the sheer fact that there is just too much going on. From one minute to the next a new event was occurring, each one bigger and more detailed than the last. There are far too many characters to keep track of once everything begins to unfold and the story becomes a bad sci-fi flick about halfway through.
In the end, the reason for the characters forgetting how to breathe is completely lost within a jumble of other disturbances. Nothing here seems tied together, which is very unfortunate because the writing is actually quite good.
I didn’t hate it, but would not recommend it. The textured and haunting cover art is clearly what is selling this book. Also, I find the title painstakingly silly.
Christopher Moore has written another side-splitting novel. I cannot put into words how hilarious this one is so I am keeping it short. This comic retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear from the perspective of Lear's jester, Pocket, is a must-read. But heed the warning in the beginning of the book, for this truly is a "bawdy tale."
I could not put this one down. Extremely entertaining - I think the only sentence my boyfriend has uttered to me in the past four days has been, "What are you laughing at?" I was completely immersed in Fool from page one.
Moore's twisted imagination has a place in my heart forever. I can't wait for his next invention. More Moore! Oh how queer. Fuckstockings.(less)
In The City of Dreaming Books, Walter Moers transports us into Bookholm, a city of authors, living books and curious creatures rounding out every bend...moreIn The City of Dreaming Books, Walter Moers transports us into Bookholm, a city of authors, living books and curious creatures rounding out every bend of this curious and eccentric place. The main character, Optimus Yarnspinner, is an unpublished author hailing from Lindworm Castle... a highly-regarded residence from which great authors are born. Optimus is entrusted with an extraordinary manuscript by his dying "authorial godfather," the likes of which he has never seen. This tome is the most miraculous and perfectly constructed literature he has ever read. The stunning realization here is that no one knows who wrote it. Optimus sets out on a tumultuous and dangerous journey to discover the anonymous creator and the reader is transported into a cleverly devised world that only a true book lover can relate to.
Kudos, Mr. Moers, for creating such an intricately lain universe within this novel. I found myself intrigued from the very first page. From the "word of warning" that catapults you into Bookholm, to the detailed discovery of each and every breed of character, right up to the bittersweet and heroic ending, I was gratified every step of the way.
The characters in the novel speak of a thing called "orm," which we discover is the action of being so overtaken by inspiration that words pour out of your pen and onto paper, creating dramatic masterpieces of literature. The reader cannot help but hope Optimus will discover his own orm somewhere along the way, but he is constantly faced with a different battle. Mr. Yarnspinner is an extremely likable and well-faceted character. It would be hard for anyone not to cheer him on.
Throughout the suspense-filled chapters, Optimus consistently finds ways to make us laugh - both with and at him. The balance of comedy and suspense within this read is something I haven't happened upon before.
The book is laden with translator's notes in an effort to make it seem like it had been written in a language used only in Bookholm (Zamonian). I found this to be very creative and enjoyed learning that a word with four x's in it symbolized a creature as having more than eight legs. Little details such as this rounded out Mr. Moers's world and made the novel all the more endearing.
This was a fascinating and entertaining experience. Walter Moers has certainly found his own orm with this work. Here's hoping that I will someday find mine.(less)
"The Little Book" was a novel I read during my March vacation in Florida. I am only writing a review of it now because I have been turning it over and...more"The Little Book" was a novel I read during my March vacation in Florida. I am only writing a review of it now because I have been turning it over and over in my mind and wasn't quite sure what to say about it. Also, I didn't really like it all that much and I really hate to crap all over someone's hard work.
Mr. Edwards began with a solid story line; infusing time travel with love is something that certainly worked out well for Audrey Niffeneger, but when Edwards throws in literal "curveballs" of college baseball careers and something that seems like incest but turns out not to really be incest because who we thought was his father is not really his father and so falling in love with his own grandmother after going back in time and not recognizing her, the whole story becomes lost within this horrible melding of Heroes meets Days of Our Lives. Another thing that really bothered me about the book was that it seemed like Edwards was crying out, "Look at me! I'm an expert on 19th century Vienna and Sigmund Freud."
There were quite a few wonderful things that could have been done with this piece of work. I had very high hopes for it and kept plugging along, thinking that at any minute it was going to start working and become as fantastical and inspiring as I had wished it would be, but alas... I am sad to say that it is the worst novel I have read so far this year. And it hurts me to say that, it really does. I love novels and words and think of writing as a marvelous craft I can escape into after a long day. Reading is my jailbreak from everything I cannot stand, so when I have to say that I didn't like an author's work it pains me.
Ugliness aside - there was one part of the story that really interested me... the characters in the story, Wheeler and Frank Burden (father and son) find themselves plucked from their regular lives and transported to 1897 Vienna. Hitler is just a child at this time and Frank seeks him out with the intention of killing him, but is talked out of it by Wheeler... altering of history, the butterfly effect, etc. This was the only part of the book that I liked and found interesting. I think the entire book could have been written surrounding this one element and I would have been much more pleased.
If you had the chance to go back in time and kill Hitler, would you do it? What would change? It opens a door to an entire fictional retelling of world history, which I find exciting. If anyone knows of a book out there that is like this, please let me know!(less)
Tinti's debut novel, "The Good Thief" is an adventure that compels you deeper and deeper into the history of her characters with each page. We meet Re...moreTinti's debut novel, "The Good Thief" is an adventure that compels you deeper and deeper into the history of her characters with each page. We meet Ren, a likable, one-handed orphan with a penchant for small thievery. Instantly, the mystery of how Ren lost his hand and where he came from envelopes the reader in a quest to uncover the boy's history.
This book has it all: adventure, mystery, zombie-esque counterparts, engaging characters, the overcoming of adversity and bits of self discovery. It made me laugh, hold my breath, and catch myself close to tears at least three times. The mysteries of the book tie up quite nicely throughout the story, but keep the reader guessing until the very end.
The novel's jacket draws comparisons of Tinti to Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson. I agree with these correlations to a certain degree; Tinti has created an extremely well-rounded and endearing set of characters, using nearly every archetype available in a seemingly well-stocked arsenal. This novel would be wonderful to draw character analyses from in a literary course.
The only drawback that I found to the book was the character of Silas McGinty, who speaks in a Bostonian accent. His dialogue was typed as such, "Yahra thief, not a very smaht one. I've caught yah." While I understand why it was written this way, I found McGinty's dialogue extremely distracting.
Despite some of the darkly horrific plot points, the overall tone of the novel is triumphant and touching. I'm glad to have been propelled into this story and to have met Ren; an antihero who touched the lives of everyone he encountered, despite having only one hand to do it with.(less)
"The rocks are broken into sand, and each grain… eventually… is broken down further. And as each grief crashes into us, we are broken too. We are rend...more"The rocks are broken into sand, and each grain… eventually… is broken down further. And as each grief crashes into us, we are broken too. We are rendered down and broken apart. Maybe some scientist could determine our ages by the size and number of pieces into which we’ve been broken? Maybe she could look at our pieces and measure the weight in impact of every grief and joy and agony. Maybe."
This book came very highly recommended to me by several of my pals on Goodreads. It took me a while to get my hands on a copy; it seemed that every bookstore I ventured into was out of stock. And now I see why.
"Jessica Z." is a story that grips you from the very first page. I read the entire book in less than 24 hours. It was completely different than I expected it to be. There is quite a variation of flavors in this novel: love, suspicion, betrayal, paranoia, understanding, secrets, comfort and realization (to name a few). The story is very modern and unassuming - the reader is taken through various stages of each of Jessica's relationships and comes to care about every single character in the tale; even the seemingly insignificant ones.
I am not one to summarize the story in my reviews, for fear of revealing too much and ruining the experience of the book for a would-be reader. Because of this, it is hard to write a conclusive review on "Jessica Z." There is so much going on here! Read it - you will not be disappointed.
What I took from this book was a gentle reminder of the fact that life, while impermanent, is definitely what you make of it. Silly every day things that may seem mundane at times can actually be missed when they are gone. There is something to be said about the contentment of daily life; while every thing you do may not seem to be making you supremely happy, the little things pile up into something much more. There is a wholeness achieved by daily living, by the things we take for granted. Morning coffee, taking the long way home because we feel like it, a piece of chocolate after dinner... these tiny things that make us feel oh so good. Something big doesn't have to happen to us every day in order to feel content. What happened to being happy because we choose to be happy?
People are too wrapped up in competition with each other: bigger houses, nicer cars... and for what? Competition is toxic. I have never really understood it and have never been a competitive person. I worry about myself and loved ones. I do what I need to do in order to make myself happy. And I do it every day, even if I need to remind myself at times.(less)
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is a disarmingly beautiful book, constructed out of extreme respect and devotion to language. The conti...moreThe Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is a disarmingly beautiful book, constructed out of extreme respect and devotion to language. The continuous and arresting flow of words in this novel alone is worth the read. I haven't seen anyone write with such graceful ability in some time. Every sentence works here. Every phrase has deep meaning and applies to the story. There is not one paragraph awash with unnecessary detail.
I was thrilled that I was able to relate so much to the characters. This book speaks to anyone who has ever felt obscure in their own skin; anyone who has ever felt out of place or unwanted. This is an extremely touching tale about the armor people wear to protect their innermost passions while at the same time discovering just what they truly are.
You can find true beauty in simple and seemingly insignificant things; a flower, your reaction to a misuse of "bring" vs. "take," and the amazing ability that complete strangers have to make your day with simple gestures.
This is a read that I have learned from. It has reminded me of how deceiving appearances are and that everyone you meet is fighting some sort of inner battle. I am amazed at Barbery's use of imagery and sense; she describes an auditorium full of people gathered to watch a choir performance and how once those arranged voices begin singing, nothing else in the world matters to the assembled people... not bills or fights with friends and children or work... how very true. Life needs more moments such as these, coupled with the ability to recognize them when they occur.
Thank you Madame Barbery, your tale has touched my heart. I will look for "moments of always in the never" from this day on.(less)
"All fear comes from trying to see the future, Biff. If you know what is coming, you aren't afraid."
On the surface, "Lamb" seems entirely and brazenly...more"All fear comes from trying to see the future, Biff. If you know what is coming, you aren't afraid."
On the surface, "Lamb" seems entirely and brazenly blasphemous. If I were a religious person, which, thankfully, I am not, I think I would have thrown this book in the trash upon reading the first chapter. However, wrapped within this fictionalized comic version of events are emotive messages and a deep and understanding respect for religion and belief.
I went through ten years of religious schooling in my childhood, so when I say that I am not a religious person I do not mean that I am without faith. I have studied my own religion as well as many others as part of my cultural studies degree program and have come to the conclusion that the version of organized faith one subscribes to must be entirely agreeable with your persona and ideas. If it isn't, keep searching until you find one that is. And if you never do, maybe you will find yourself somewhere in between a whole slew of different belief systems, which is where I am.
In "Lamb" Joshua and Biff are exposed to many different organized faiths and learn something from each one. They learn to block out pain from monks in China and that there are people out there who believe that sacrificing children to a statue will keep them safe and in line. They traverse the continent in search of the three wise men who witnessed Joshua's birth and encounter Yetis, black magic, poison, lepers - all the while healing and laughing as they go.
We all know the story of the Son of God... the last supper, the betrayal of Judas, the crucifixion... so I will not summarize it here. What I will say is that I have taken several things from this book, which surprised me very much as I only expected it to be a good laugh. In "Lamb," Moore gives the best description of the Holy Ghost that I have ever heard. I will even venture to admit that I never truly understood it until now. Also, I am reminded that faith is something that every person has, even if they don't express it in a religious way, and that is what ties all of humanity together. Faith in friendships and family, faith that someone will do the right thing, faith that you will persevere through life and come out on top; even if there are a bunch of dicks who want to nail you to a cross and watch you bleed.(less)
"I wanted only to comfort the boy, to say something that might explain anything. But what? To say that I was a person who had once fallen in love with...more"I wanted only to comfort the boy, to say something that might explain anything. But what? To say that I was a person who had once fallen in love with everything, and what else could I have done? Or to say that all of my attempts to find a way to live had ended up becoming my life? Or to say that I had waited so long that I had almost forgotten there was something I was waiting for, that waiting itself nearly became the point?"
My absolute favorite part of this book isn't even part of the story. It is the title page. The letters fade out gradually throughout the title. It haunted me before I even read the first page. As I read, I kept recalling the fading letters at the start of the book... something so simple, but so fitting to the tale that it stayed with me.
The Story of Forgetting is just that. A story of forgetting. And not forgetting by choice, but at the hands of nature; early onset Alzheimer's that is passed through generations. This book is at times funny, heartbreaking and endearing. The two narrated stories intersect with such an ingenious and delicate touch that I found myself frustrated (but not in a bad way) when one would stop and the other begin. I found myself missing either Abel or Seth in alternate chapters, and wondering what the other was doing when not telling their story.
Although the novel contains a bit more research information about the illness than I really cared for, the story seemed more real because of it. It was obvious to me (maybe well before it should have been) how Abel and Seth would come together, but I still loved following the paths of their lives.
There are many things in life we try very hard to forget... still others we try even harder to remember. The sadness in reading this book came from my realization that there are more things in my life I'd like to forget than remember. What if I had no choice? What would I give up for those few things I'd like to hold onto? What price would I pay for the many things I'd like to forget? Would the thoughts I'd be happier without become those I'd kill to remember if I started to lose track of everything? Aren't all memories important for the mere fact that they've shaped us into who we are; and without them - good or bad... really... who am I?(less)
"I suppose I started thinking about writing my book because... well, why is it that we have a compulsion to reveal? Shouldn't some things be allowed t...more"I suppose I started thinking about writing my book because... well, why is it that we have a compulsion to reveal? Shouldn't some things be allowed to be secrets? What's the relationship between secrecy and the ability to keep secrets, and the integrity of the family?"
"Annie's Ghosts" by Steve Luxenberg is an ambitious and harrowing investigative memoir about his mother's secret. Beth Luxenberg had a sister, Annie, who was physically and mentally disabled. Annie lived her life in a state hospital and Beth shrouded her in secrecy, never revealing her existence to her children or seemingly, to her husband.
After Beth's death, this invisible aunt began to emerge to Beth's children, and Luxenberg found he was unable to leave the mystery underground. He takes us through his investigative journey, a story peppered with his own memories from childhood and humbling visions of Beth's friends and family members' experiences of immigration and losses during the Holocaust. This is an impeccably researched and touching novel.
Nonfiction is not something I normally read, but Luxenberg has found a sort of amazing zone in which he is able to tell the story from two points of view simultaneously: as a son and as a journalist.
What I found most haunting about "Annie's Ghosts" were the allusions of why the secret became a secret in the first place; a question which is never really answered. Sometimes, the parts of a story that remain unraveled while the rest is tied together are the finest. There is a beauty of sorts in trying to piece together someone else's thoughts and rationale for their actions. This novel is left poignantly open-ended, which has caused me to rethink and come back to it in my mind over and over again, a tribute to the ghost of Annie and, moreover, to the secret itself.(less)
I actually listened to this as an audiobook and I am glad I did. If anyone is considering reading this book, I highly recommend listening to it instea...moreI actually listened to this as an audiobook and I am glad I did. If anyone is considering reading this book, I highly recommend listening to it instead and here's why: Hannah Baker killed herself two weeks prior to Clay Jensen receiving a box full of tapes. On each tape, Hannah has recorded her reasons for ending her own life. Clay is the narrator here, but there is also a female voice that recites Hannah's parts. As Clay listens to the tapes, his thoughts are interspersed throughout Hannah's recordings and it makes for a very real and disturbing experience to hear the back and forth of their voices. Plus, come on. It's cool. It's a book about recordings. What better way to "read" it?
This book is unsettling to say the least. I know it is technically a "young adult" read, but it's pretty risque... alcohol, drugs, rape, vehicular homicide... need I go on? The most troubling part of this novel is that it actually seems real. Hannah could have been any kid, in any school. The things that happen to Hannah actually do happen. The only difference here is that no one cared enough about her to reach out to her; to notice what was going on. Wait, no, that is not true. There were people who cared, they just didn't reach out. They didn't know how hard of a time she was actually having. And then she was gone.
I didn't feel right after I read this. I felt like I was intruding. Really, you are reading someone's suicide note; someone's last thoughts. When I was 16 or so, someone gave me a Nirvana import CD. One of the tracks on it was Courtney Love reading Kurt Cobain's suicide note. I threw the CD away. I didn't feel right about it... and I feel the same way about this book.
It was very suspenseful and interesting, but their is a voyeuristic quality to it that makes me feel like it is somehow wrong... but I guess that is what makes it good. If I had kids, I'd be tucking them in a little tighter and driving them nuts with "are you okay"s after reading this.(less)
April & Oliver... Oh, April & Oliver... you duped me. The description of this book on the jacket is one of the best (and most misleading) piec...moreApril & Oliver... Oh, April & Oliver... you duped me. The description of this book on the jacket is one of the best (and most misleading) pieces of marketing material I've come across. It sounds like you're going to be drawn into this alluring friendship that's been wrapped in sexual tension for years and all these scandalous secrets about them will fall into your lap, leaving you salivating and wanting more.
Here's the gist of it. Warning - spoilers ahead. April's brother, Buddy, dies. Oliver (who is actually April's cousin somehow) comes home with his fancy pearl-dotted new fiance, Bernadette, for Buddy's funeral. April makes a whole bunch of brainless decisions like getting back together with her ex-boyfriend who she just threw out and has a restraining order against and who apparently murdered his ex-wife... anyway, Oliver keeps cleaning up all these little messes April is making out of herself while Bernadette suddenly takes a backseat in Oliver's life. Being an extremely jealous and possessive neurotic, Bernadette eventually tells Oliver he can't talk to April anymore, which is impossible because they are COUSINS... and leaves him at the altar on their wedding day. Blah, blah, blah. The story ends with Oliver sending a postcard to April from his travels across the world, which is what he decided to do after Bernadette dumped him. The postcard is blank... apparently this counts as keeping his promise to Bernadette that he wouldn't "talk" to April anymore. Who the hell cares? The bitch left your sorry ass. The end.
April, you're an idiot. Oliver, you're a candy-ass. Bernadette... I have some more choice words for you that are simply too bawdy to list here.
It took me quite a long time to determine how I felt about this novel. I'm still not really sure if I truly enjoyed it or absolutely hated it. There a...moreIt took me quite a long time to determine how I felt about this novel. I'm still not really sure if I truly enjoyed it or absolutely hated it. There are several things I disliked and there are several other things of a different nature altogether; not that I liked, but that kind of left me feeling like... well, I'll put it like this - you know when you are putting eyedrops in and sometimes the drop just kind of hangs on the tip of the bottle, unsure if it wants to be freed? Well I kind of felt like that; not sure if I wanted to stay or go... wanting more but needing less...
"Olive Kitteridge" is a novel told in stories, with the title character being the pivot around which the tales revolve. Each story is about different people, yet all of them are touched in some way by Olive. She is opinionated, feisty and completely lacking of understanding for anything outside of her realm of comfort. Frankly, I hated her. And I guess that means she was a very well-drawn character because my hatred for her has not yet dissipated over a month after having read this book.
The one character I truly loved in this book was Olive's husband, Henry. He is a sweet, understanding and generous man who loved Olive for all her faults. He is a genuine person. Most of the emotion I felt from this story revolved around him: what he did, what he sacrificed and what he stood for. I remember being profoundly sad over what happened to him, and angry that it seemed as if it were just kind of thrown into the story as an afterthought.
I guess what I took from this book was a gentle reminder that you cannot control those around you, despite trying. Not everyone will see things the same way you do, not everyone will understand what you do or why you've done it. There will always be opinions and rumors and it's best just to let people think what they think about you. There is no point in spending your life trying to retie a knot that has been completely undone, because there is probably a really good reason that the threads came loose in the first place. Going on and living life is the best remedy for heartbreak. Time has a way of erasing pain; releasing weighted-down balloons to the wind. And the longer you wait, the further and further away they go, until you are left with a blank and endless sky... the perfect canvas upon which to create.(less)