‘[...] 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...more‘[...] 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.(less)
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...(less)
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 the...moreMy 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.(less)
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 ou...moreMy 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.(less)
"...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...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 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.(less)
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, this...moreIt'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. (less)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars A copy of The House at the End of Hope Street was provided to me by Pamela Dorman Books for review purposes.
"If you stay I can...moreMy rating: 2 of 5 stars A copy of The House at the End of Hope Street was provided to me by Pamela Dorman Books for review purposes.
"If you stay I can promise you this. This house may not give you what you want, but it will give you what you need. And the even that brought you here, the thing you think is the worst thing that's ever happened? When you leave, you'll realize it was the very best thing of all."
Alba, Carmen and Greer all recently experienced life-changing events that they never thought they could possibly persevere over, and that's when they discovered the House on Hope Street.
To me, magical realism is based in contemporary with subtle magical undertones. When well done, magical realism has the ability to absorb you so completely in the story that all of the magical elements become real and possible. With 'Hope Street' it was so magical and at times far-fetched in the belief department I would almost go so far as to consider it a lite-fantasy novel, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
From the very first page, I knew that this novel would require a suspension of disbelief when Alba walks into a strangers house and immediately accepts the offered invitation to stay for 99 days so she could get her life back on track. Alba had never been there before and had never seen the house before, yet had felt safer within those walls than she had in a long time. Hm. What I never quite understood was their complete acceptance of the 'out-of-the-ordinary' events that were taking place in the house. Like the talking pictures of deceased individuals or the letters that the 'house' would leave for them. I would've at least liked a moment of aw by these characters in regards to the amazement they felt towards the house rather than an immediate blind acceptance without question.
Much is disclosed about all of the characters, yet I had a hard time liking or 'feeling' anything for any of them. Alba is an intellectual prodigy and is fighting internal battles over a personal secret, Carmen is from Portugal and has run away from a bad situation but it always manages to follow her, and Greer is healing after heartbreak and trying to discover what she wants in life. In addition to the women, there are two incredibly tortured male characters that provided additional yet unnecessary drama. Albert had an affair with a woman two decades ago, fathered her child, yet she ended up returning to her husband and forcing him out of her life. He spent the rest of his life waiting and hoping she would come back to him. Blake has resolved to never marry and frequently cheats on whoever he's with in order to avoid feeling anything for her. He says he does this because his mother left him when he was young. The amount of dramatic effect that was added to all the characters was in excess. It made them less realistic and made me less likely to empathize with them.
The frequently alternating POVs (I wasn't even trying to keep track of the different POVs but I remember 9 just off the top of my head) was distracting at first but once you get a handle on the chaotic mess of characters it did become slightly easier to follow. I did think that each character section was far too short and ultimately created a jarring effect whenever the switch in POV was made. Also jarring, was the fact that it felt the story jumped around in time and I was always unclear how much time had passed.
I was hoping for a light, fluffy read, something that would fit that cutesy cover that drew me in to begin with. There were some good bits where I found myself really enjoying it but unfortunately, the chaotic mess of characters with a ridiculous amount of problems and the implausibility of the whole thing lessened my overall enjoyment.(less)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars I received this book free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the c...moreMy rating: 4 of 5 stars I received this book free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘Sometimes, all you need is something to believe in.’
Kate has lived in a slumberous state since her husband passed away a year ago. She wakes one morning and feels truly awake for the first time since the accident and looks around to realize her life has ran away from her while she was ‘asleep’. Her mother-in-law has sold her house, has put her daughter Devin into a private school and is in the process of moving the two into her house. Nothing is as she would want it and she decides to take a spontaneous trip with Devin to Lost Lake, an unforgettable place where she visited one summer as a child
Sarah Addison Allen’s signature magical touches were present in Lost Lake but what was even more magical was her exceptional cast of characters. Kate herself was an enigma but there was her quirky daughter Devin, her charming Aunt Eby and Selma and Bulahdeen the two best friends that love to hate each other. They were all so delightfully enchanting additions to the story and even their back stories were welcome additions and didn’t detract from the story as a whole. The camaraderie these characters generated was infectious and alluring.
‘When your cup is empty, you do not mourn what is gone. Because if you do, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again.’
This is Sarah Addison Allen’s first book in three years due to a break she took after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In her book trailer she explains she discovered: “Sometimes you are at your most lost right before you find your way again.” Lost Lake is a stirring and atmospheric novel of healing, of overcoming disastrous events and insurmountable obstacles that was most inspirational.(less)