karen's Reviews > Lily and the Octopus

Lily and the Octopus by Steven  Rowley
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really liked it
bookshelves: grgiveaways, roof, books-that-made-me-cry

congratulations! semifinalist in goodreads' best fiction AND debut author categories 2016!

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i added this book to my to-read list back when i heard about it, but it was one of those wobbly to-read intentions - the plan was to wait for it to be released and check out the reviews on here before committing one way or another. in general, books whose blurbs gush about how "moving" the story is and gleefully relate how many tissues you will need to get through it are not a selling point for me. books that are "heartbreaking" never break my heart because it's hard for me to sustain emotional connections with the books i read. i can identify where the sad beats are, but they unfortunately don't work on me, and since so many of these supposedly emotionally draining books are about dogs, i was concerned that this would be just one more schmaltzy, emotionally manipulative addition to the dog p.o.v. movement* where everyone has a good cry but me.

but this book is not *just* a tearjerker, and it mostly stays on the good side of cutesy. it's about a man named ted and a dog named lily and the octopus that threatens the boundless ocean of their love for each other. stupid octopus.

it's pretty much a page-four reveal, but i'm not going to go into more detail about that.

but i will say that lily is an absolute delight, and ted's - well, not a delight, but he's very sympathetic, and his love for lily is so raw and fierce that you're just as likely to choke up at the happy-sweet parts as the sad ones. like i said, i can identify where humans will experience emotions even if i don't feel them myself.

and yet - wonder of all wonders - this book did indeed give me a tear. on the subway, on my way home to my own little beastie-cat, i sprung a leak and i felt one warm droplet escape my eyeball, and it made me so happy! which is totally backwards, i know, but it's a relief to know it's not that i'm broken; but that authors just aren't trying hard enough to reach me. There you are, said my eyeball.

it's a sweet book, but not a flimsy one. it's not perfect, but it's much less self-indulgently twee than i'd feared, and it's as funny as it is sad, which is a nice balance for a book about grieving to strike. i say go for it, even if the thought of entertainment marketed as tearjerkers makes you feel bored inside. because you never know - it might be the day your own plumbing breaks down!

at any rate, there's some cuteness to be had:

WHAT! IS! THIS! COZY! BOX! THIS! WOULD! MAKE! A! GREAT! BED! FOR! ME! I! LOVE! ITS! SIDES! AND! THIS! ELASTIC! STRAP!

"That is a suitcase. I have to put my things in it so I can travel."

"Great. I'm already in it, so you're ready to go!"

"Sadly, I can't have you in it. It's for my clothes and shoes and shaving kit."

"Why can't I be in it? I am one of your things!"

I sat down beside the suitcase and scratched the back of her head, between her ears. "You are, in fact, my most treasured thing." She raised her nose in the air and squinted her eyes. "But you're going to stay nearby and have an adventure of your own."

Lily looked at me with her soulful, almond-shaped eyes. "We're going on different adventures?"


oh my god awwwwwww

maggie is my most treasured thing.

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*when everyone knows that the ONLY good book that has a dog p.o.v. is Heroic Measures. which is also a dachshund, come to think of it.

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*UPDATE*

A! SINGLE! TEAR!



and twenty pages to go! thank you for making me cry, book!

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you want me to cry, book?? go on, let's see whatchoo got... do your worst.

come to my blog!
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Reading Progress

March 2, 2016 – Started Reading
March 2, 2016 – Shelved
March 4, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 85 (85 new)


message 1: by Juj (new)

Juj Nice review of yours!


karen not a review, just a challenge before i dive in...


message 3: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Clare May the strongest emotions win.


message 4: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike The blurb alone was enough to make me poach it for my TBR mountain. Can't wait to see what you think of this one, Karen. Hope it lives up to the billing.


karen it's been a looong time since a book succeeded and i'm ready for it to happen!!


Anmiryam I caved. Cried I did. But, that's not much of a challenge. You are probably tougher than me.


karen it's not even about toughness - i just read kinda clinically. i wish i didn't. i rarely cry, i'm never scared; i'm missing out on half the fun! i'm glad to know you liked this one - i couldn't tell if it was going to be good or schmaltzy. but i trust you.


Anmiryam Ack, the pressure! Let me say it's schmaltzy in a good way. It has flaws -- for example, the ending is way too Hollywood and didn't work for me, plus on the whole it flirts with being more saccharine than I like, but something in it works. I loved the wild surrealism and the naked sense of love for Lily that comes through in every sentence. Steven gave himself to her, learned a lot from living with her and received a lot in return -- then he put every molecule of that on the page. It's about as honest a book about owning and loving a pet (not that i've read that many since so many of them make this one look like a miracle of sardonic post-modernism) as i've ever read, mostly because it doesn't shy away from the fact that our love for the furry beasts strips away our masks and pretenses. It's not going to work for everyone, but what book does? FWIW, I gave an extra galley to a customer who stopped by because she had to put her cat to sleep that morning and it seemed to be exactly the right medicine.


Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* A TEAR???? You are breaking your monster-mould, m'love! I am so proud (and disturbed).


karen it's amazing! there are feels deep within my surface!


karen hahahaha yes!!


message 14: by Ginger (new)

Ginger Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster* wrote: "LGM??"

Ha!


Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* I never know when is an appropriate LGM moment, seeing as how I don't really know greg and definitely don't know his mom....

Anyways, I am interested in this review... because I am a monster and it interests me when my fellow monster leaks her own tears.


Anmiryam Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster* wrote: "I never know when is an appropriate LGM moment, seeing as how I don't really know greg and definitely don't know his mom....

Phew, I was trying to parse LGM and feeling hopelessly lost. Now I feel like I shoulda known which boat to take, but can forgive myself because I didn't know the language.



Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* We have all had that moment, Anmiryam! I remember way back, at the turn of the century (or maybe just a few short years ago), innocently asking "what does LGM mean??" .... Karen has corrupted me!


karen i will give you all LGM lessons later. i should go finish these 20 pages though. fingers crossed for more wahhhhhhs


Jennifer This book made me emotional. :(


Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* karen wrote: "i will give you all LGM lessons later. i should go finish these 20 pages though. fingers crossed for more wahhhhhhs"

Go forth and SOB!!!


message 21: by Jannah (new)

Jannah (Cloud Child) The dog is so done with that octopus tho..


karen but stoic about it. grace in suffering & all.


message 23: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Fantastic review, Karen.

I know I'm going to love this one after reading the brief inclusion about the suitcase. I'll be prepared for the plumbing to break

Not so sure your Maggie was pleased about being posed - maybe it's the poor resolution on my screen.


karen ha! no, she jumped in all on her own! if she was cranky about it she only had herself to blame! she was less "take me with you" than "this bag is mine" though, being a cat and all.


message 25: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane LGM?


karen hmm i don't know if that has enough subtext for an LGM, but maybe i don't know the current slang...


message 27: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Ah if it squeezed a tear out of you sounds like a book to add. And since cats own everything of course it includes your suitcase


message 28: by Aditya Laddha (new)

Aditya Laddha laddha oh really babe


karen Laura wrote: "Ah if it squeezed a tear out of you sounds like a book to add. And since cats own everything of course it includes your suitcase"

she's like "it has cats on it and i am a cat. mine now."


message 30: by Ellyn (new) - added it

Ellyn I am your opposite -- I cry at everything. Is this going to send me round the bend? Or can I take it?


karen it is likely you will cry, but it's cathartic!


message 32: by Ellyn (new) - added it

Ellyn Thank you! I don't mind a cry if it is in service to a greater good! I hate when I get suckered into crying for bullocks and then just feel like a sap.


karen Ellyn wrote: "Thank you! I don't mind a cry if it is in service to a greater good! I hate when I get suckered into crying for bullocks and then just feel like a sap."

the whole concept of having a pet and falling in love with your animal has sorrow built right into the contract. so i think books like this one can emotionally useful to people who are facing this inevitable reality. it made me hug my maggie like crazy, much to her dismay.


karen she's allright. between the instagram and the march project, she's getting a little full of herself.


Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* It's because of her magical half mustache.... she's a marvel of science :P

You are probably right, though.... too much attention is bad for cats, they get even more arrogant :P


karen hahah i just posted today's march project picture, and that's exactly what it's about!


karen spooooky


message 41: by Caroline smith (new)

Caroline smith Cbeesgams


message 42: by Ellyn (new) - added it

Ellyn karen wrote: "Ellyn wrote: "Thank you! I don't mind a cry if it is in service to a greater good! I hate when I get suckered into crying for bullocks and then just feel like a sap."

the whole concept of having a..."


Oh, agree! But some are just gratuitous tear jerkers. I have lost beloved pets and I have an elderly dog now, so it is a tender spot. If it's well done, though, I'm in.


message 43: by jean mac millan (new)

jean mac millan I used to have a dog


message 44: by Forrest (new)

Forrest Makes me miss Loki, our old ferret. Great review!


karen thanks! and yeah - this will definitely take you through a mental unpacking of all your pets ever. that helps the sniffles come.


Wayong ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) wrote: "An octopus? No cat? What a rip-off."

Yeah, no cats? No torties? Not even an Octo-Kitty?

For shame... =^.^=


message 47: by TL (new) - rated it 5 stars

TL won this off goodreads giveaway :)


karen me, too! i've started winning them again - it's wonderful! lemme know when you review - my feed is all sorts of busted.


message 49: by TL (new) - rated it 5 stars

TL karen wrote: "me, too! i've started winning them again - it's wonderful! lemme know when you review - my feed is all sorts of busted."

awesome:)

will do, hopefully it'll come soon


message 50: by TL (new) - rated it 5 stars

TL karen wrote: "me, too! i've started winning them again - it's wonderful! lemme know when you review - my feed is all sorts of busted."

my review is up, dang this book (in a very good way haha)


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