‘[...] I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I’d never d‘[...] I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I’d never done that before. And these images — the now and then of my father — converged, and at that moment he turned into a weird creature, wild, concurrently young and old, dying and newborn. My father became a myth.’
Edward Bloom is an enigma of a man that has always told only the most elaborate yet unbelievable tales of his life. He is a traveling businessman that rarely comes home, even though he has a wife and a son forever waiting for him. Being home so little forces his son, William, to put these tall tales together in his mind in the hope that his father might become less of a mystery to him. When Edward comes home to stay because he’s dying, William seeks to learn as much as he can about his father before it’s too late.
‘Beneath one facade there’s another facade and then another, and beneath that the aching dark place, his life, something that neither of us understands.’
The tall tales of the man named Edward Bloom are the very definition of far-fetched, yet being the only stories he has ever told has transformed them into a type of myth thus transforming him into an inspiring hero of his own making. He’s encountered a giant and a two-headed Japanese geisha. He’s rode on the back of a giant catfish and explored an underwater town. There have been river-girls and all-seeing glass eyes and even a time when he saved a little girl from certain death by ripping out the very heart of a wild dog. Each piece of his life is told episodically but not always chronologically and serves only to heighten the mystery.
‘When a man’s stories are remembered, then he is immortal.’
William’s insistence on discovering the true nature of his father never amounts to much as Edward continues to shroud himself in his stories steeped in fantasy. But it ultimately becomes unnecessary anyways. Magical realism runs rampant in this tale, yet at the heart of the story it’s simply about the unconditional love between a father and son....more
Memories of My Melancholy Whores opens with a most surprising statement froMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.’
Memories of My Melancholy Whores opens with a most surprising statement from our unnamed narrator: “The year I turned 90, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” While this might not inspire any sort of positive feelings towards this man, the truth is he has lived long enough to not really care because his lasciviousness is simply who this man is and has always been. Introduced to love-making at an early age in a local brothel, he boastfully states that he has never gone to bed with a woman that he didn’t pay to do so. After a statement like that it comes as no surprise that he was also the twice crowned client of the year. He stopped keeping track of his sexual escapades at age 50 when he had reached 514 tallies.
Memories of My Melancholy Whores may not feature your typical grandfatherly figure but our narrator still manages to charm us in his liveliness even at such an advanced age. While sleeping with virgins won’t likely be on my bucket list when I reach 90, being in a healthy position to do so regardless is definitely something to aim for. Our unnamed narrators story stirs up comparisons to another older fellow who was fond of a young girl, one Humbert Humbert.
‘Seeing and touching her in the flesh, she seemed less real to me than in my memory.’
The way this story was written is also similar to Lolita in that it almost feels like an attempt to explain and defend his feelings for what happened between him and the 14 year old girl he names Delgadina. Instead, his actions would indicate that he has no reason to not be truthful and that his decision to call upon Rosa Cabarcas and ask for the girl was the first step towards doing what he should have done all along: look for love. Not unexpectedly, this is not your typical love story. Our unnamed narrator is smitten with the young girl, yet even he can see the ridiculousness of the situation he has found himself in, especially when his meets with the girl are always while she’s asleep. He reads her stories and strokes her body and while away from her he fantasizes of a life spent together with her.
‘...that was the beginning of a new life at an age when most mortals have already died.’
Memories of My Melancholy Whores is more than just an unlikely story of love. It is also about when reaching the point in your life and being able to look back on how you’ve spent yours causes you to change and transform into the person you had always intended to be. For one that spent his life never truly knowing love, it finally came to him when least expected....more
‘First frost was always an unpredictable time, but this year it felt more... desperate than others. Something was about to haMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘First frost was always an unpredictable time, but this year it felt more... desperate than others. Something was about to happen.’
First Frost marks the return to the beloved town of Bascom, North Carolina where the Waverley sisters reside. Claire has left her catering business behind after creating Waverley’s Candies. The business itself is lucrative and does extremely well, but the amount of time she must dedicate to the business leaves Claire with little time for her family or anything else. Sydney now owns her own business as well in Bascom, a hair salon that is equally successful, but her apparent inability to have more children is a painful reminder every day. Sydney’s daughter Bay is now in high school and because of her gift for knowing exactly where things belong she knows that she belongs with Josh Matteson, she just needs to convince him she’s right. First frost is an unpredictable time for the Waverley’s and it also heralds the arrival of an old man that brings a story that might change everything for these women.
I really, really enjoyed Garden Spells (the second time I read it at least) but the ending didn’t leave me anticipating that there would ever be a sequel so the announcement of First Frost was quite a surprise, but an exciting one for sure. First Frost centers around the two sisters but includes more of Bay and her struggles to understand her magical gift and coming to terms with it. It was wonderful to see her all grown up and matured, no longer the six year old girl that could spend all day in the backyard staring into the branches of the mystical apple tree. The inclusion of the mysterious old man that threw everything the family knew into question was an ill-fitting piece of the story. He was manipulative and conniving and even though he was a necessary piece in order to add drama to the plot, the motivations behind his actions lacked in logic. The majority of the story was spent explaining it to an extent and I would have much preferred to see that time spent telling more of Bay’s story which was my favorite part. While I felt the multiple storylines didn’t mesh together quite as well as they did in Garden Spells, it was still wonderful to be back in Bascom.
The magic of the Waverley’s is definitely back with the characters we all know and love, and even a few new faces. First Frost is an incredibly quick and entertaining read where the pages will fly as if by magic. It’ll be hard to say goodbye this time but personally I’m now hoping for future Waverley stories to come.
Kate sits in wait for her husband to come home from work and ends up having a conversation with a neighbor. His tale is of heartbreak and loss but of hope as well.
Waking Kate was a fabulous albeit quick introduction to Kate and sets the scene fantastically. It left me highly anticipating the upcoming release of Lost Lake (and also made me extremely curious about Butter Coffee!) http://www.foodwoolf.com/2013/06/butt......more
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or theMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
"This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do."
Underneath the ancient stone prison lies a space called the dungeon. Men that go there are never to return until their bodies are carried out after their execution. A man named York is kept their until his final days, which will be soon he has decided. The Lady is assigned to York’s case to search for lost information that will hopefully save him from his demise. The prison is a dark and violent place yet from one prisoners eyes, the narrator, it is transformed into an enchanted place that only he is able to see.
The Enchanted was an incredibly unsettling story. It’s about the monsters of society, the horror of humanity and its incredibly visceral and at times a bit too gratuitous for my liking. I understood going into this that it involved a prison and its inmates so I knew it wasn’t going to be a peaceful tale, but I loved the idea of the magical realism aspects with the golden horses that charge through the prison. Except that aspect failed to deliver for me. To me, when you incorporate magical realism into a story it needs to be woven into the story as a whole rather than bits and pieces interspersed sporadically throughout. It just made those bits and pieces feel ill-fitting and out of place.
‘I knew that I would never again see the beautiful soft-tufted night birds outside the window, never again sit in the library with the slanting sun through the bars. And that was okay, because I brought those ideas with me, stored in my heart.’
The haunting prose with lines of immense depth was incredibly well-done and was the only redeeming factor of this story. It’s not Stephen King-esque in the least bit but is still memorable. The information on prisons and life as a death-row inmate is incredibly detailed yet that apparently comes from the authors personal experience working as an investigator in death penalty cases. She explores the prison culture of this specific prison with its corrupted guards and all the dreadful things that go on when they turn a blind eye.
The story is told for the most part from the point of view of an unnamed (till the end) death row inmate who acts as an omniscient narrator. The role of omniscient narrator was inconceivable though when you consider this is a man relegated to a cell and wouldn’t have the ability for the information he’s divulging.We’re given information about his dark past, of the Lady, of York, of a priest who is employed by the prison, of the Warden and various other characters as well. I felt this left the story with a scattered sort of feel and would have been better off if York was left as the sole main character. The overwhelming amount of information of each individuals past was only spent on what made them flawed and essentially failed to distinguish them. Everybody has their own dark past yet that doesn’t have to define them is what I have surmised to be the moral of this story.
This is definitely an impressive first novel that I would have loved to love if not for the disquieting subject matter that I felt was overly and intentionally grim....more
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars Source: Library Checkout
"Today we are going to talk about where the human race may be headed. We have the power to improve ouMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars Source: Library Checkout
"Today we are going to talk about where the human race may be headed. We have the power to improve ourselves, if we wish to do so. We can become anything we wish to be."
After the postman fell in love with a raven they had a child, a child that looked like a normal human being except for the fact that she could not speak (only caw) and she had an extreme longing to fly. She traverses life as easily as any normal girl but she's constantly living a life that is lacking. When a doctor, a Dr. Moreau type, tells her that he has the ability to give her the wings she's always dreamed of she feels the stirrings of hope.
This story actually came to be after Audrey was asked to collaborate with the Royal ballet in order to a dark fairytale type story to life on the stage. With it's haunting subject, dream-like qualities and gothic undertones I can definitely see this being a beautiful stage production.
The artwork was gorgeous and the creation process of the illustrations was far more complex than I would have normally guessed. Using a procedure called aquatint, it's a process that was intended to imitate watercolors but it's an extremely time-consuming process. To learn more about aquatinting, Audrey discusses it in detail in this video on youtube: http://youtu.be/oO4v9miJLxY
The Raven Girl is an obscure tale of a metamorphosis of sorts. She underwent an artistic transformation because after living with knowing she was different for so long she finally became who she was always meant to be....more
"...down in what was once Olive, you could still find the townspeople who never left. They looked up into their murky sky, waiting to catch sight of"...down in what was once Olive, you could still find the townspeople who never left. They looked up into their murky sky, waiting to catch sight of our boat bottoms and our fishing lines, counting our trespassing feet."
Ruby and Chloe are sisters that live in upstate New York together. Their mother is forever absent and the two have learned to only rely on one another. The town they live in is located near a massive reservoir that is reported to have submerged a town called Olive, and older sister Ruby tells the story of the town as if the people are still down their living their daily lives. One night at a party taking place at the reservoir, Ruby boasts that her sister could swim across the reservoir and if so inclined even go down and get a souvenir from Olive. The only thing she brings back from her swim is a lone rowboat in the middle of the reservoir where the body of a dead girl lies.
After the rowboat incident, Chloe moves to Pennsylvania to live with her dad and step-mother, leaving Ruby behind. A random text every now and then is the only communication Chloe has with her sister, but two years go by and her sister has appeared suddenly in town to coerce her to return, insisting that things are back to normal. Chloe does return and finds that things are in fact back to the way they were, but they aren’t truly. Something eerie and mysterious is at work and Chloe knows that Ruby’s the reason for it all. The strange stories her sister tells about the town of Olive, and of the reservoir, and of the dead girl named London are all connected somehow and Chloe’s curiosity is overpowering. She trusts her sister implicitly despite the strangeness that her hometown now exudes.
Imaginary Girls is a mesmerizing tale that will leave you contemplating the magic that threads itself through this novel. It’s a strangely horrific tale with a subtle delivery causing the eeriness to come upon you slowly. The story of the town of Olive and the people that still live down there. Imagining their eyes following you as you swim in the reservoir. Ruby’s enthralling power and influence she holds over the town and its inhabitants is intriguing until she begins to take it too far.
Suma’s writing will captivate you with its skillful blend of magical realism but the focal point of the story, the unbreakable bond between two sisters, makes a powerful statement....more
It's funny, I usually start out my reviews with a short little blurb of my own just rehashing the particulars of the story. With 'Touch' though, thisIt's funny, I usually start out my reviews with a short little blurb of my own just rehashing the particulars of the story. With 'Touch' though, this story was so all over the place that I can't adequately explain it's basis; it simply eludes me. The official summary feels deceiving and makes it sound ripe with potential... but it never lived up it, that's for sure. I truly feel as if I've been hoodwinked. I blame the stunning cover! *shakes fist* But honestly, I recall going through this magical realism stage and added practically every book tagged as such. This is one of them. I'm thinking that if the author isn't Sarah Addison Allen, then I apparently don't care much for magical realism.
It should be said that according to the Reading Group Discussion questions (yeah, I read them in hopes that it would clarify some things. I was wrong) this is considered more along the lines of mythical realism as it incorporates Inuit mythology. While I could say that the incorporation of mythological elements may give it a smidgen of credibility in comparison to strange magical stuff happening for no apparent reason, it was a poorly managed addition to the story. The story is centered around this small town in the Canadian wilderness which came into existence only after gold was discovered. It's a story about survival. But then out of nowhere some strange creature would pop up and it was like mental whiplash. Like the mahaha (actual creatures name, I wasn't just laughing):
"They tickle you until all your breath is gone. Leave you dead, but with a smile."
Holy freaky shit. That's the stuff of nightmares. But I was intrigued and wanted to know more so I googled this scary beasty with the funny name. The page I found described the mahaha in basically the exact same way the author did in the book. Like it was copied. And that kind of killed the cool out of it. To me, magical realism IS the story, it's incorporated and intertwined into the very fabric of the story. But all the magical elements in Touch felt like a strange and ill-fitting addition that was added as an afterthought to an otherwise contemporary tale of survival.
The writing style itself, apart from the actual story, was lacking a much needed finesse. The tale was not linear and bounced all over the place without any indication as to whether we were back in the present tense or still being told the story of the past. The point of view was a poor choice as well. The grandson is the narrator retelling his grandfather's story. Why not just have the grandfather tell his own story? Even though the grandfather told him his story it seemed unlikely that he would know as many details as he did. There were also strange leaps to other characters and telling the story through there eyes which definitely made it implausible as his grandfather wasn't even present in those instances.
While the writing reflected definite potential, it was too unpolished for me to enjoy. I can't remember the last time (if ever) I finished a novel and honestly had absolutely no clue the purpose or meaning of it. So much of this story was too farcical in its inconceivability for me to garner any sort of entertainment. Many people have lauded this book for it's eerie, haunting qualities but ultimately this left me chilled for all the wrong reasons. ...more