‘[...] 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
“Most people choose their futures by accident. They don’t even know they’re making choices. They don’t even know that thereMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
“Most people choose their futures by accident. They don’t even know they’re making choices. They don’t even know that there are forks in the road – much less forks within forks. The future no longer has to be messy. It can be tested out. It can be known.”
In an alternate yet still contemporary Baltimore, there is a flourishing market of Envisionists: doctors that are trained to show people a small glimpse of their future. A cup of pills, a virtual reality helmet and a name of a person gives you the ability to what your future would look like in a relationship with that given person. And with a discount package (Five visits for the price of three!) you can catch a glimpse of multiple futures with multiple different individuals. The Future for Curious People centers around two individuals: Evelyn and Godfrey.
Evenlyn Shriner is a librarian who is most likely addicted to envisioning (she’s had five sessions in the past two weeks). She’s just broken up with her boyfriend of almost two years after their envisioning session showed them singing Happy Birthday (in Spanish, no less) to a chihuahua and arguing about cheese. Godfrey Burkes works a deadend job at a place called The Department of Unclaimed Goods and has just proposed to his overbearing girlfriend. Her stipulation before saying yes is for them both to go to an envisionist, just to make sure they’re right for each other. At Dr. Chin, the envisionist who’s office smells like Chinese takeout and incense is where Evelyn and Godfrey meet. The two decide to envision each other on a whim and both glimpse a future close to perfection. The end result is predictable even without an envisionist but the between pages are still a delight.
This story is chock-full of witty dialogue and oh so clever characters but comes off occasionally audacious when it tries to also incorporate more serious topics. For the most part though, it still worked. The Future for Curious People is at heart nothing but a quirky romance but will have more of an affect on readers that can’t help but wonder about the present, if it’s always going to be this way and how differently the future could be. It certainly brings to light an idea to ponder: If you could have a glimpse of your future on the current path you’re on, would you want to see it?
I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....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.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
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