I lost touch with books for about a decade because of life but thankfully I am able to return to this beautiful world. Eclectic mix from YA to erotica. I blame fanfic.
As someone who was bullied as a child, teenager and yes even let people emotionally bully her as an adult, this book was such an emotional journey for me. I lost count how many times I cried, a mixture of my own demons that I let loose in between the dialogues of fictional bullies that tormented August and of course R J Palacio's wonderful narration of a life lived alongside malicious hate. I loved the format of the book, the different points of view so that things are seen from varying perspectives, adding a richness that is raw and real.
A lot of the criticism aimed at this book revolves around it's fairytale take on this issue. It's meant for MG audiences and though some might see it's sunny disposition as further cotton wooling of children, I think sometimes you need to believe in such victories. It's not a revenge story and so the catharsis shouldn't really ever come from seeing your enemies get their comeuppance. I don't think this book creates these unattainable expectations for life either because it's about August's redemption. He's not to blame for anything that happened to him but it's hard to see him push everyone, every opportunity for potential companionship away because of hate for the world. You understand his actions as he chooses to turn his life into a tragedy but it breaks your heart. That's why the ending, the way Palacio develops him, manoeuvres the story to it's brilliant end has such an impact. It wasn't too sweet but perfect.
Today see's the first guest post in the featured "Why We Read" - keep them coming folks! Today its the turn of our friend here on Booklikes - A Little Faith.
Today is the first of hopefully many guest posts from my reading friends on the joy of reading. Why we Read. Today I welcome one of my BookLikes Buddies – A Little Faith.
You can find out more about what and why she reads by visiting here: http://alittlefaith.booklikes.com/
Why we read – a little faith
As a child I believed that the written word was intended exclusively for adults. I was alienated from it because I didn’t understand it nor did I like it. It was all too flowery for my tastes, full of circumlocution and elitism. So I spend my leisure time with comics not books, not realizing that I was in fact still technically ‘reading.’ I read everything from action heroes to Garfield, the dark to just plain silly. However as I entered my double digits, I stumbled across Calvin and Hobbes. It was a revelation. It spoke to my soul. It was as though I had spent my life thus far without ever encountering wit. Of course I had but I never before appreciated its cleverness and brilliance. I was in awe.
I have this wide pedantic streak that runs through my core. Confessions of bringing me the moon and stars will only result in scorn from me. I’d rather something more honest and thereby inherently more humble. You can’t guarantee to keep me always happy but you can promise to hold my hand through it all. So Bill Watterson’s words were pure genius to me. I’ve never seen irony done better; that exquisite juxtaposition of the literal and the figurative creating a pleasing kind of absurdity. I love the playful conversations between Calvin and his constant companion Hobbes filled with the mocking tone of barbs yet also profundity and love.
I didn’t always understand them but I knew that if I sought answers I would be rewarded. Every strip left me wiser and always with a smile on my face. (Don’t ask me about the raccoon…) I always imagined that when he grew up he would follow in the footsteps of Ferris Bueller – that same style of life-affirming impulsive stupidity. Questioning everything – apart from his father – a contrarian by nature because being an outcast, misunderstood or social pariah was nothing if you were true to yourself. Calvin remains a wondrous creation – a character with personality that never ceases to amaze or endear him to you.
Eventually at school we began studying Shakespeare’s plays, though I didn’t give it due attention because school was a difficult environment for me, for many reasons and mostly I dreamed of another life whilst in class. However self-study of his plays brought proper appreciation of his art. I found it incredible that something written centuries before could still be relevant to me. I realized that the universal language was not only love but hate, envy, loyalty and in fact the whole gamut of human emotions.
The hard truth in King Lear scrapping down the blackboard of enlightenment wasn’t just astute it was an accurate description of the motives and desires of the people around me including all their hitherto ‘secret’ justifications for their actions. What is reprehensible to some is only too easily natural for others. All expounded through intricate verse and epic stories though let’s not forget those sumptuous insults! “You are not worth the dust which the rude wind blows in your face.”
However it was the nuanced description of the human experience in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being that presented emotions not in the broad black and white strokes of Shakespeare but in the grey void in which we all live our lives. The title is beautiful, philosophical and even spiritual. In amongst the rebellion of the all the characters against themselves, people and the world, Milan Kundera weaves in weighty questions about the meaning or meaningless of life. I love that he doesn’t necessarily propagate one answer or message but explores all the possibilities just as I infer he must have thought over, just as the characters do and just as the readers will inevitably.
It is his wondrous metaphors that are profound yet simple placing the rebellion of the characters’ action against the question of commitment to each other and fundamentally this life. It is a plot centred on the characterizations so that the mystery lies in the soul and not the thrills of who dunnits. It is about the journey more than the end and I found myself lingering over his elegant choice of words and sophisticated reasoning complete with original analogies. I did not wish to rush to the end to find out the conclusion because I was enjoying the present too much; almost mirroring the message in some respects.
Then four years ago I came across the writings of David Foster Wallace and decided to pick up what I wrongly perceived to be the ‘mammoth’ task of reading Infinite Jest. Again, what a wonderful title inspiring wit and immediate interest. His writing is superb combining all the traits beloved to me: wit, semantics, irony with a pinch of playful pedantic attitude. His mastery over his craft is intimidating but his comprehension of the human spirit is magnanimous. It is about the struggle that we all grapple with but above all is about empathy. As Herman Melville said, “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.” None of us are qualified to serve out justice in just decrees. Furthermore everything we do is tainted by ethnocentrism and the lament of existentialists everywhere!
I get why people find his books difficult to read and as Dave Eggers noted though extremists argue over the need for contemporary fiction to be easy to read vs. challenging the many who live in the middle “don’t mind a little of both.” Wallace gets difficult right though, it isn’t pretentious or self-righteous. It is quirky placing detailed next to popular. As he himself says, “At root, vulgar just means popular on a mass scale. It is the semantic opposite of pretentious or snobby. It is humility with a comb-over. It is Nielsen ratings and Barnum’s axiom and the real bottom line. It is big, big business.”
That’s why I now read everything inclusively.
Thanks for reading.
What I love about this book is that Novala Takemoto takes a profound message about acceptance - not only yourself but others around you - and clothed it in absurdity. The people are weird but never caricatures because there is reason behind their madness. Each garish persona coupled with personality is rich in detail. It might be hard to equate any of the people and story with reality but still it feels real because you are easily able to follow their train of thought. They do those things that society and your demons have convinced you, you can't. It doesn't matter if you don't understand or know the culture, popular culture or completely insane pseudo popular culture, Novala gets you to understand it all by making you understand the people.
But that's not all, Novala Takemoto has a way with words. Granted, I read a translation but I can only imagine the original to be more eloquent. His word choices, the way he describes not only things but feelings are original to say the least but also poetical.
This is a book for people that like unique but also a story about friendship. It's about finding that you do actually care even though you had convinced yourself you didn't.
The Road Less Travelled is a piece of writing containing five fictional stream of consciousness. Narratives covering the concepts of love, hope, trust, courage and gratefulness. The central theme is the importance of contemplation.
"The world we have created on the earth seemingly spins against it as if to slow it down in a bid to discipline time. It is only in the quietude of the night when the earth holds us still, do we note the true pace of nature. We expect love, life and lessons learned to come as immediately as the instant everything that is at hand but reality unfolds as a rose which cannot be forced open lest we rent asunder. We must grant our hearts and minds time enough to ponder and wonder over our actions, thoughts and emotions because sometimes all that is needed for betterment is a turn of a heart or one thought no less!"
I won a copy of 'A Road Less Travelled' by Morning Hope in a giveaway competition here on Booklikes. Obviously the author is using a pen name 'Morning Hope'. The author, in a forward to the anthology, admits that the name is a conjuring based on the initials of his first name and surname, very mysterious indeed! Additionally, I suspect, from the quality of the writing in the collection of short stories, that a play on the word morning is afoot -- morning :- beginning and mourning :- end appended by 'Hope' --I think it is intentional and wholly disconcerting ... as is each tale in the book.
This is a "deep" work, but I suspect that even if literature is not your thing, you will find the prose lyrical and arresting, as well as the heart of each offering unique and insightful. My favorite story of the bunch, and it's difficult to choose, is Blue. The point at which the male protagonist removes his glasses in order to see color for the first time in a while, only to give the item which, to him is unutterably beautiful, AWAY! confounded me and simply blew my mind! and although that says quite a bit about the tale, I don't think its a spoiler.
The writing is sometimes dark, sometimes heavy, but the author manages the themes with aplomb and maturity, turning each piece out with a lightness that often belies it's central theme. This is a short collection of short stories and I challenge you to find better writing anywhere... You won't!
This book was just a pleasure to read. The story, the lovelines and characters were all gorgeous. I felt myself pushed towards a wall, pulled to the floor as my emotions were laid bare. I tallied up double digits of 'what's wrong?' and 'why are you smiling?' whilst reading this story.
Pepper is endearingly awkward. A girl on a mission to get her unrequited love; she might feel 'unqualified' to even be a contender but she's not going to let that stop her. Whether you classify this as an underdog story or modern age Cinderella, Sophie Jordan creates a girl that you can't help rooting for. You want her to have her cake and eat it too.
Enter Reece and she unwittingly becomes part of a "friendship caught on fire." It pretty much follows the rest of that Bruce Lee quote too.
However Sophie Jordan writes each character so well, full of mystery, back stories and present woes that you want them to all win. You can't help but root for Hunter too - even if for the sake of Pepper's long held desire. She's deft with wit and eloquence too.
Highly recommended NA book.
I don't write reviews for every book I read, mostly I don't talk about the bad ones and though this wasn't a bad book, it wasn't anything to write home about either.
However I wanted to mention the wonderful structure of this book. It looks at the mysterious death of a girl firstly from her own past, including social media snapshots and her mother, the lawyer trying to come to grips with the fact that her daughter might have committed suicide or was killed. This mother daughter dynamic was strong but juxtaposing the past and present, illuminates those doubts that we all have at the death of a loved one because who knows anyone really? Going through their belongings, writings is a mixture of comfort and fear; relief at the familiar and distance at new things all shrouded in the fear that you'll stumble across something you don't want to know.
Personally I found it such a poignant read because the more I got to know Amelia the more I liked her, her way of thinking so that it pinches you everything you remember she's dead.
The pace is fast and Kimberly McCreight doesn't treat you like a idiot needing to be spoonfed everytime. There's a good amount detailing so that it wasn't a frustrating or boring read. The ending kind of dipped but I didn't regret reading it. Not a bad way to wile away the office commute.
*spoilerish* unless you've read the blurbs...
I loved this read! The book had me from 'a boy who kills the dead' - paint me intrigued. Cas is endearing from the beginning - that wonderful balance of naive and cocky.
Kendare Blake has written a beautiful book around this interesting premise - kudos to her because that's where I feel most authors fail. Seeing that this book is about ghosts, it creates an eerie, often gory background landscape that weaves itself onto the normal life of most. I love, just loved how the ghosts' stories carry poignancy in their journey to becoming bitter and damaged (I can truly relate there...) so that you feel that pinch of 'why did it end up like this?' though obviously their menace has taken on a form that must now be stopped. It's that struggle of present justice over past yet you can't help but wish to go back in time and dole out justice in a timely manner, more fairly but this isn't a time-travelling story, well not in the truest sense because of course the ghosts are in some way stuck in their own past. I digress, what I meant to imply is that there is a real presence of danger and this book is not along the lines of a scooby-doo who dunnit mystery. You fear for Cas. Thank goodness for Tibbles, I just always felt safe when he was around...yeah I'm a cat lady.
As for the romance, it was very superficial, less Buffy & Angel and more like loving a celebrity. You don't really give it much respect. I thought that aspect was disappointing just because falling in love with someone that's never going to work out is also a speciality of mine and I just love reading about how others deal with that - even fictional others. However this isn't a romance book and this little nit pick did not sour my enjoyment of the book at all. Cas' feelings and 'relationship' with his father made up for all that because as Robert Benchly said, 'Death ends a life not a relationship,' which I kind of see reflected (or refracted) with Cas' and Anna.
Sign me up for the series!
Just a heads up that there are only a couple of days left on the two giveaways I've created over in the giveaway section here at Booklikes.
Head over asap or...well or nothing because these aren't the things regrets are made of.
So I went through this WW2 phase a decade or so ago - around the time Band of Brothers came out - and devoured lots and lots of non-fiction and autobiographies about that difficult period of time. Aside from poetry, this is the first fictional book - I think - that I'm reading set in that time period and though I can't tell if my bias is showing, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rachael is an excellent creation. She is such a poignant and layered characterization of loss, grief and bitterness. The overall meandering pace of the story suited this examination of the aftermath of something so awful it's hard to comprehend how any kind of normalcy could be returned yet that is the state the human soul can't help but feel safe in even if it can only get there through denial. Maybe it's a part of comfort or healing but that delusion is bittersweet, no doubt. The varying points of views added rich detail and essentially this is a character driven story.
The lines of German were a wonderful touch and something I love since it reflects so much the increasing multi-cultural world we live in - especially the online community - but also enhances the awkward aura of the setting.
Recommended for people who like fictional WW2 stories and or solid characterizations.
This book is set on the very edge between magical and realism which for the most part works in its favour. It has all the elements of fantasy that you expect but the narration is autobiographical in tone so that the core is about a person's journey from child to adult. There again there's an element of fantastical because he doesn't just become a man but a hero - the stuff legends are literally made of.
Kvothe is arrogant to be sure but it's understandable, though not condoning it. His upbringing has shaped him and it's refreshing to see a 'charmed' protagonist grapple with that consequence. I love that he's not perfect yet still a hero like all those other cocky bravehearts who you wonder how they might have changed the world if they turned to the dark side.
The world is eloquently detailed but nothing like a set piece so that it almost wraps around Kvothe like another layer of his adornments for environment is as much part of us as our natures. The writing is meticulous and paces pretty much as fast or slow as Rothfuss wants it to be and I was more than willing to go along with it just because I trusted him. In other words I didn't skip or jump or even peek ahead. This is life story and so does actually follow a pattern of cause and effect. To understand the later parts you have to go through the earlier stuff. It's like when you ff to the end but don't get that emotional punch because you skipped all the mundane, the struggle, the anxiety leading up to that point - there's just nothing left for catharsis.
Rothfuss has written something of a masterpiece within this genre in my opinion; it's style and story is unique but brewed from the same source of many legends I've loved before.
Never has a book divided my friends so much. Luckily I love this kind of indulgent writing; indulgent not in the verbose way but filled with musings that we often ask ourselves in those awkward lulls in between the battles of this rat race. It was just so much fun to read! It kind of reminded me of the whimsy of Stanislaw Lem - I'm not saying she's his successor or anything but I haven't found myself smirking whilst getting caught up in random hypothesis since reading his stuff.
Scarlett Thomas keeps the pace quick, filling up any pauses with mysteries for you to mull over. She's also got a way with words and some of her lines are beautiful in their eloquent heartbreak. Ariel has faults enough, but they are not of understanding (yep Darcy follows me everywhere...) She is easy to love and the perfect person for adventure to pick as a playmate.
If this is your kind of thing, then you'll love it, if not then you won't make it past the first page.
What an amazing, fantastical, gut wrenching end to this duology. I loved it! I think the first book is better of the two but I gave this five stars just because Alison Goodman doesn't disappoint me or let this story that I'm very much invested in go to the dogs. She develops (and nurtures) Eona into this magnificent warrior and young lady. The pacing felt a little inconsistent in the first half but the second half is a page turner and I couldn't finish it fast enough. The romance that wasn't really there in the first book, heats up and I have to say I too struggled with the lovelines. The only thing that really irked me was all the deception but then in the book's defence this has been a running theme from the beginning - I couldn't say I wasn't forewarned.
Highly recommended series.
Eon is a marvellous fantasy book. The main reason I rave about it is Eona. What a wonderful characterization. Alison Goodman has created a beautiful and giving girl but with a wide streak of stubborness, hehe that's what I like to see! She's given an excellent background, good present issues and a future filled with anxiety yet hope. Her struggle with her identity is something I think a lot of girls might grapple with, especially those who are forced to grow up too quickly, given responsibilities so that you are obliged to push your femininity and sexuality to one side. Your life is your burden and nothing more but still you have that core person residing inside you that never truly dies and though you deny her, she doesn't want to just wilt away. Ah! it was just heartbreaking and poignant, beautifully done by the author.
Her nemesis, Lord Ido is well rounded yet vague so that he's not a caricature. Ryko and Dela are just awesome. I loved how Alison Goodman strips away all your notions of gender, so that instead you pay attention to the actual person and their personality. It was just so refreshing. The second reason why I loved it is because of the detailing of the world right down to the smells. It is vivid description of place steeped in history yet living it also - a kind of rich vintage.
My father bought me this as joke. I had long been obsessed by cheese - there was no meal I ate in which it wasn't incorporated or at least served up as a side dish. And indirectly was responsible for introducing me to the wonderful writing of Willem Elsschot. This remains my favourite, maybe because it was the first.
This is humour done at its best. It's witty, it's wry and it's sumptuous in its intricate descriptions of the silliness of human beings. Frans Larmaans is just an extraordinary characterization. I felt what it was to be like being inside his painfully shy nature as he grapples with a froward and wayward world. He's not self-righteous because all his notes are tinged with contemplation and he doesn't carry a chip on his shoulder. He's an underdog but his story is also of his own making in some respects and that makes this a tragedy for me. It's about living your life for other people, their standards and measurements so that before you know it, you've given it all away and kept nothing for yourself.
Elsschot masterfully writes with such eloquent wit through the eyes of someone just struggling to get his share of the world. It's heartbreaking and it's wondrous because it deals with the human soul. It is something everyone of us can relate to and it hurts because we feel the pain too, yet it brings a smile as we recognize the silliness of it all.
I'll be honest I didn't love this book as much as the first in the series but I did enjoy reading it as much. This time though my excitement came from returning to a story that I was deeply invested in. The pace is inconsistent and some set ups seems forced to me, almost filler material.
Ruby is endearing as ever and she grows stronger, more resilient by each chapter. She's someone I hoped I would have grown into; giving and strong.
This is not a series I'm giving up on. The story is good and Alexandra Bracken's style is effective. I look towards the final instalment with trepidation -as I feel it will make or break the series for me - but it's one of the things I'm looking forward to in life and that's not half bad.
*spoilerish* For people that know me and can read between the lines.
This book was a thrill to read. Right from the origin of the premise, -the fact that children that survived a plague become the ones persecuted because apparently that which doesn't kill you only makes you into a target for people to find other ways to kill you... - I was hooked. I think I was invested so much because if any of these things were to happen in 'our world' I can easily see the same thing occurring. The fear of the unknown, of people that 'evolve' was a theme developed in X-men and yeah I see the similarities but this isn't a cheap rip off.
Alexandra Bracken's style is easy to read and the action is paced nicely. However what I loved the most about her writing was the manner she skillfully developed Ruby's character. You can see the way she grew more confident and stronger with each incident. The dynamic within the group of kids she bands with is lovely and the loveline between her and Liam didn't irk me as much as I thought it would - me just wanting to get on with the action (no that that kind, I mean the main plot of the story) - as romance in action plot lines can be bothersome and unsatisfying.
I think the worst thing that people said about this book was that they wanted more exposition but I'm didn't feel it hindered the story in any way and I'm hoping for the details in the next instalments. All in all a good read.