A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness took me by surprise. I don't think I would have picked this book up if I had known what it was about as I tend to avoi...moreA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness took me by surprise. I don't think I would have picked this book up if I had known what it was about as I tend to avoid books and films with a theme of cancer, especially when they are about people losing their mum's from cancer, as for obvious reasons it is too close to home. The reason I did pick this up was its visual appeal. What I was expecting was a mediocre-good YA fantasy, somewhat weak in plot, but with wonderfully spooky illustrations that might still make it worth reading. What I got instead was a journey to a place I've already been, and didn't want to revisit at all - but once I started reading I felt like I had to see it through, like I couldn't abandon Conor, the main character, just because it was too painful for me, if that makes any sense. That's how real it felt for me, despite the fantasy elements. I can see that it may be a very helpful book for a young person in grief to help process what they are going through (when and if they felt ready to read it). Or to develop some empathy for what someone else is going through. It was a very intense read but very very good (and I loved the idea of the tree/monster).(less)(less)
I have to admit I found Villette a bit slow-going at first, and doubted it would live up to Jane Eyre. However, I was soon wrapped up in the story, lo...moreI have to admit I found Villette a bit slow-going at first, and doubted it would live up to Jane Eyre. However, I was soon wrapped up in the story, loving the stunning language and descriptions, and the character of Lucy Snowe. A truly beautiful novel.(less)
One of the best books that I've read this year. I found the Handmaid's Tale original and engaging, and not that far-fetched for a futuristic/dystopia...more One of the best books that I've read this year. I found the Handmaid's Tale original and engaging, and not that far-fetched for a futuristic/dystopian story.
I love Atwood's writing style (based on the only two novels of hers I have read so far - this and the Blind Assassin). I think she does the stream of consciousness narrative technique really well (not every writer can pull this off), and her diction and imagery are striking. I also really liked the juxtaposition of the narrator's original 'liberal' personality, whose name we never learn, and the submissive, obedient being that is Offred (and the way in which the former at times shines through even under these ridiculous and horrible circumstances). Although the story was told in almost an emotionless sort of way, that juxtaposition we get through the flashbacks, gives the story its emotional impact.
I think it is one of those stories that is scarily poignant in pointing out how easily (easily is probaby not the right word, quickly maybe)people adapt to their labels and socially appointed positions, whether they are assigned to the role of the oppressed or the oppressor, which is always an uncomfortable realisation, since we all like to believe that wouldn't be us.
In short, I think Atwood is a really skilled writer, and this was a really great read. Can't wait to read more of hers. Oryx and Crake is next on my reading pile.
**spoiler alert** I can't remember the last time I cried so much reading a book; my husband couldn't understand why I was putting myself through the o...more**spoiler alert** I can't remember the last time I cried so much reading a book; my husband couldn't understand why I was putting myself through the ordeal of reading it, and yet it was such a special and important book that I had to finish it.
This was an amazing tribute to Courtenay's son Damon, a haemophiliac who died from AIDS in his early twenties, transmitted from one of the many blood transfusions he required. It is the story of their short time together, the love they shared, and of his son Damon's courage, wisdom and optimism, even as a very young, very sick child. It is also Courtenay's expression of gratitude to the young woman who became his defacto partner for her love and devotion to Damon, and to the many friends and family members who loved him and were there for him when he needed them (just as he always was when they needed him).
It is also a social commentary, on the way the medical profession treated and mistreated haemophiliacs and their family (in the 1960s and 70s), and of the prejudice faced by AIDS patients (during the 80s/90s).
It is told from multiple perspectives including Bryce's, Damon's (he had asked his dad to make sure his story was told); Damon's mother and brothers, and his girlfriend. It was written very shortly after Damon died, so is of course laden with the very raw emotions that accompany grief, and therefore a very emotional read, but well worth it.(less)
Absolutely beautiful book with an important and inspirational message for children and adults alike - take care of our planet, and of our brothers and...moreAbsolutely beautiful book with an important and inspirational message for children and adults alike - take care of our planet, and of our brothers and sisters, the animals. The illustrations are amazing.(less)
I love a book that surprises me and this one did just that. It surprised me because I've never bothered to read a western before, as I really didn't t...moreI love a book that surprises me and this one did just that. It surprised me because I've never bothered to read a western before, as I really didn't think they'd be my thing, but turns out this one was great. Also it surprised me because it started off so slow and almost sleepy (but enjoyable)and then once the action started it became quite epic in style and it was one adventure after another, some quite unpredictable (well, I thought so anyway), and I really didn't want to put it down. (less)
War books are not really my choice of genre, so this one had been sitting on my shelf unread for quite some time now (it was given to me a number of y...moreWar books are not really my choice of genre, so this one had been sitting on my shelf unread for quite some time now (it was given to me a number of years ago). Therefore I wasn't really expecting to like this book, let alone rate it as an amazing read, but really how could I not? It is such a heartwrenching, insightful story. Young men, barely out of childhood, sent to fight a war that they didn't choose, trying to make sense of it all, but mostly just trying to stay alive, under unimaginable, terrifying conditions. It sounds like any other war story, and it's certainly not the first time I have heard such a story told, but it was incredibly powerfully conveyed and moving; it was very easy to form a 'relationship' with the main character/narrator, and to feel his pain and anguish, and to understand where the author (himself a WWI soldier) was coming from and what he wanted to get across.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is the first book I've read this year that blew me away. It was a really intense and beautiful read. For me to give a novel 5 s...more**spoiler alert** This is the first book I've read this year that blew me away. It was a really intense and beautiful read. For me to give a novel 5 stars I have to feel like I am in some way involved with the characters and their lives, and to experience a connection of some kind, and I was quite surprised to feel that with this book which is just so far away from my own life experiences. Yet, while it was obviously a very powerful story about the oppression of a race of people, and the brutality of slavery and abuse, for me it was the universal experiences that I connected with - the primal nature of birth and motherhood, that intense love, the yearning to keep them safe, the fear of not being able to keep them safe, the heartbreak and devastation that comes with grief and loss. I could only imagine too vividly the horror of people approaching, people who are a danger to your child, and the best option at the time being something so terrible and horrific, as to take your own child's life to keep them 'safe'. How abhorent would someone's life have to be for them to consider this an option? And interesting that so many of the people who ostracised her for her actions had their own skeletons in their closets as revealed in some of the last chapters of their books, but isn't that always the way, since we are all just part of the human condition? I could also feel her intense joy at having her baby return to her after all those years, and totally understood why she would accept the seemingly impossible without question, because who hasn't yearned for the return of their lost loved one/s. Also, her need to keep explaining her actions over and over, to have her forgiveness, yet not feel at all deserving of it. This is one of those books that reminds you to be so grateful for what you have and to not hold back in letting those around you know just how much you love them. I thought it was an amazing story and so beautifully told; what a wonderful way with words Morrison has. Will definitely read more of her books.(less)
Changing from 4 to 5 stars, because I think the reason I only gave it 4 to begin with was because I have seen the T.V series so there were no real sur...moreChanging from 4 to 5 stars, because I think the reason I only gave it 4 to begin with was because I have seen the T.V series so there were no real surprises from reading it. However upon reflection, I still enjoyed it enough to rate it 5 stars. Looking forward to the rest of the series. (less)