"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."
It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's wo"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."
It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's work; I quite liked the concept behind Elsewhere but not the execution, and I pretty much hated All These Things I've Done. But this book is just so warm and funny and bittersweet. It speaks to the thing inside me that has always loved books, will always love books, and has allowed my life to be swept in certain directions by my love for literature.
A.J. Fikry is one of my favourite kinds of characters - he's cynical and grumpy, but simultaneously witty, clever, funny and lovable. This is essentially the tale of his life after the death of his beloved wife. He must somehow pick up the pieces of his world and continue managing his bookstore, while all he really wants to do is drink away his problems.
One day, A.J. receives an unexpected package that is guaranteed to completely change his life. Like many great books, his life twists in a strange new direction, introducing him to new people and new ways of thinking. He soon begins to realise that he still has many things worth living for.
Woven with allusions to many works of literature - especially short stories - this novel should resonate with many book lovers. Those of us who have been truly affected, influenced, changed or - dare I be so melodramatic - even saved by them. I don't know if Zevin intended to make a point about the death of the bookstore and physical books in favour of ereaders, but I found myself feeling a little melancholy as time went by and more people stopped buying physical books. Though ultimately relieved, as I realised how important bookstores and paper books still are to many people.
Whether this book is for you or not, I cannot say. It is both funny and serious, happy and sad, light and dark... but I wouldn't have it any other way. ...more
A few years ago, me and my sister nearly killed ourselves laughing when we discovered a "song" our dad wrote when he was about 9 years old. It opens:
TA few years ago, me and my sister nearly killed ourselves laughing when we discovered a "song" our dad wrote when he was about 9 years old. It opens:
The streets are straight They're very cool So is our house It's got a pool.
Talent for poetry aside, that is a downright lie! I don't know anyone in Britain who has a pool.
But regardless, my dad evidently missed out on his opportunity to have a career writing poems if this book is anything to judge it by. Because I swear that some of the "poetry" in this book is of about the same standard as my dad's 9-year-old efforts.
I mean, it's hard to know where to begin. I could criticise the simplistic (not in a good way) nature of almost all the poems, or the awkward rhymes some of them try to get away with. But even without that, these are so steeped in teen emo angst that it's hard to imagine anyone can take them seriously.
And they're all about boys being your life, your hero, your everything... nothing else can compare, you will never get over him, and - get this! - you wish "to die so I can end this on a high." Feminism and female independence get murdered by this book:
“I feel the end is drawing near, would time be so kind to slow? You are everything to me, my dear, you are all I really know.”
“He has me at his every whim; everything starts with him.
To all the boys I used to kiss— everything stops with his.”
I don't know who voted for this collection as a Goodreads Choice Award winner, but I do know who I would recommend this book for: myself at thirteen. I was that kid at thirteen who was enjoying being the first generation growing up with the internet, which meant collecting depressing quotes on Photobucket and checking out emo graphics on other people's Myspace profiles. Goddamn, I would have eaten this up.
Thirteen year old self, this is one for you....more
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved onceMarie Rutkoski has upped her game.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved once again that most writers of YA fantasy focus on the flirtations and romancing and forget about pretty much everything else. However, the way that book ended had me curious about the potential new directions of book two...
I was right to be curious. I was right to take my chances on the sequel.
This book just has everything. I would liken it to what Maas did when she took us from the romantic, fantasy-lite Throne of Glass to the clever, action-packed Crown of Midnight. Rutkoski gets vicious in this book. Kestrel must make the hardest of decisions, sacrifice people for the "greater good", and outwit the emperor and his armies. There are no such things as friends and allies in Kestrel's world anymore; the only person she can rely on is herself.
It's amazing how much more I liked the relationship between Kestrel and Arin when it was slipped into the background behind all the treason, revenge and backstabbing going on. The moments when they did meet had more love/hate tension and I found myself angsting over what would happen between them. Because this second book is very clearly not a romance and I felt the complete lack of guarantee in a happy ending on every single page.
The Winner's Crime is much more tightly-plotted and full of genuine surprises than the first book. I could hardly look away as it zipped along at a wonderful pace, twisting one way and then another. I like how Kestrel is a complex heroine and not wholly good; she's allowed to be selfish and make choices we don't necessarily agree with.
I also feel like we got a better sense of Kestrel's intelligence and ability in this book. Now she has bigger concerns than her romance with Arin and high society life, we get to see her plotting, being damn sneaky, and outwitting the emperor. It gave me a new kind of respect for her and I can't wait to see where her story goes.
One thing I like a lot about these books is the way each ending has promised a very different kind of story. I only picked up this book because the ending of the last seemed to suggest an entirely new setting and array of problems... and the end of this one does the same. I can already see that the third book will bring something very different.
"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vort"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vortex, and which always seemed to him to be an invitation to adventure."
I guess I'm inviting haters and trolls by reviewing this much-loved Booker Prize winner, but the eye rolls started somewhere halfway through chapter one and they just wouldn't stop.
It makes me feel bad saying this about a book which was clearly inspired by the author's father's own experiences on the Burma death railway. How can you criticise a work that sets out to tell such an horrific story of war and violence? But this book is drowning itself in its own pretentious language. A woman's ear is an invitation to adventure? Give me a break.
If the story had been less dressed-up with fancy trimmings, in my opinion it would have been better, had no Man Booker Prize, and sold far fewer copies. Which is sad, really. But I guess when you strip it down, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is yet another war story with plenty of gore and sadness; it achieves differentiation by waxing poetic about life, love and ears.
And: "He found her nipples wondrous." Oh, come on. They. Are. Nipples. They might be a lot of things, but... "wondrous"? Forgive me if I'm somewhat skeptical. Or perhaps I'm just jealous and wish I had wondrous nipples; I didn't realise it was something I was missing out on until now.
Then there's Dorrigo Evans who, despite the flowery language and metaphors floating around, feels like a Gary Stu worthy of some YA books I've read. I just don't buy into his self-deprecation. He's like one of those people who is humble just so he can wait around to be applauded for being humble. Like he fancies himself as a modern Socrates: "I know nothing. Therefore I'm more intelligent than you because I know that I know nothing." Let's all step out of the way and make room for Dorrigo's lack of ego.
The Man Booker Prize is such a huge award that I'm always intrigued by its winners, but I find myself liking them less and less. Whatever they're being judged on is clearly not something I'm looking to read.
Oh well, there are thousands of positive reviews of this book if you want to go see why you should love it.
It's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach aIt's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach a review for a Stephen King book. I use a different tone when writing about different kind of novels - classics and literary fiction usually get one style of review, fantasy/paranormal and YA (genre fiction, basically) get another. But where does Mr King fit?
The "problem" with Stephen King is that he writes such engrossing, imaginative pageturners that manage to hook you, creep you out and make you think. Every book release jumps to the top of the pop fiction charts. Which, in theory, is great; except that Mr King often gets overlooked as a truly great writer, which he is.
With this latest book, King takes one of the oldest of the old ideas and breathes new life into it. The underlying theme of this book is that timeless question: what lies after death? Is there anything beyond this world? Is there a way for the living to ever find out before their time comes?
Using his familiar talent for creating characters that feel entirely real, King at first introduces us to a small town and religious community in New England. Into this unremarkable place comes a new minister, Charles Jacobs; his arrival sparks a series of events that will change the lives of both our narrator (Jamie Morton) and numerous other unfortunate people for decades to come.
The story spans many years of Jamie's life; from his childhood in New England, to his teenage and young adult years as a musician, and his subsequent heroin addiction. Charles Jacobs will come back into his life many times and propel Jamie towards a ever more disturbing truth.
This book starts as a contemporary drama type book that creates complex characters, looks at themes of religion and family, and builds up an interesting three-dimensional portrait of a small community. But as the novel moves along, it becomes darker and creepier. It took me a while to understand why so many people thought this book was so scary and disturbing... but it was worth waiting for.
Unsettling. That is how I would describe this story. It's not a tale of traditional monsters that hunt you down in the dark; in fact, it plays on the very real fears of everyone. It takes questions everyone has asked themselves and creates something horrifying out of it.
I know this is a heavy claim to make, but I think this might be one of my favourite Stephen King novels....more