Books

Presently reading

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I think this is a long overdue read for me. I’ve been putting it off because I think it’s going to be a little too real for me. Been dying to experience Sylvia Plath’s startling prose so….. here goes nothing!

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book review

Caraval

OH MY GOODNESS! I am at a loss for words. If you knew me personally – you would know that basically never happens but let me try my best to explain my speechlessness. I have just finished reading Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and it was absolutely unforgettable! In all honesty, before we proceed, stop now and please add it to your TBR… it’s okay…I’ll wait.

You added it? Put it on your Amazon wish list? Made it to the local bookstore?

Good. Let’s proceed.

Caraval is the story of two sisters, Donatella (Tella) and Scarlett born, raised and restricted to their home island of Trisda. Living under the strict and abusive supervision of their father, Governor Dragna forces the two sisters to yearn for lives far away from their reality especially for the mysterious and magical tournament, Caraval. Scarlett eventually grows out of her fascination but hopes that her impending marriage to an unknown suitor will be the salvation that her and her sister have been waiting for while Tella yearns to attempt bolder methods.

Stephanie Garber is incredible in this novel and does a remarkable demonstration of skill in this fantasy novel. The themes are sisterhood, self-discovery and love in a multitude of forms. Despite the romance that builds in the story, it’s purely and innocently done and refreshingly not the primary focus of the story. No better story of sisters has been done this well apart from the film, Frozen with Elsa and Anna (at least that comes to mind). Caraval was the fantasy novel that I desperately needed to read and I will probably re-read again, each time finding something new to love about it. This has definitely earned and carved a place for itself in my favorites.

I also tweeted at Stephanie Garber today and she responded to me. I fangirl-ed soooo hard.

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Books

The Girl on the Train

 

A la Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl,’ Paula Hawkins takes you on a dazzlingly hypnotic journey in the #1 New York Times Bestseller, “The Girl on the Train.” I know that if you’re looking into my track record, besides Amie Barrodale’s “You Are Having A Good Time,” all of my book reviews have been generally positive. I’m working on being more critical going forward and expressing more clearly WHY exactly, I enjoy one book in comparison to others similar to it.

As I have mentioned before, I’ve decided to delve further into the thriller and suspense genre. I live for the shows of the same genre so it would only make sense to explore the books. I had my first taste with “Gone Girl,” and it will probably be my basis for comparison for any and all thriller/suspense books that I read going forward. “The Girl on the Train,” as cliche as it sounds, legitimately blew me away. Hawkins flawlessly introduces you to the main character, Rachel, and flippantly provides you with intimate details of her character and how it affects people’s perception of her. From the first page where Hawkins casually interjects that Rachel has an overactive imagination to the final page of the story, every detail is important and serves a purpose. The sections in Rachel, Megan and Anna’s perspective all come together like three individual pieces of thread to eventually help complete the picture of what is truly going on. It is onlywhen the perspectives align with similar events and dates that you begin to truly grasp what is actually going on and who is truly responsible for the main events of the story.

I eagerly found myself flipping through the pages of this book to the point that it became 3:00AM without my realizing. Instead of foregoing the last 40-some odd pages for tomorrow morning, I refused to go to bed without finishing it. In all sincerity, if there were some other ranking system far more highly regarded than becoming a #1 New York Times Bestseller, I would recommend that this book be awarded that honor. It’s witty, charming and enveloping in the best possible way. It’s shocking that this would be Hawkins’ first thriller after being a journalist for 15 years. She has definitely shocked the masses and set the bar high for herself regarding any future projects. I hope to read more works from her. In terms of recommendation? I would recommend this to anyone looking to try out the thriller/suspense genre and someone interested in a little mystery.

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Books

Never Let Me Go

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As of a few hours ago, I finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go.” I truly enjoyed reading it and it brought up a lot of interesting questions, at least personally, about the concepts of life and mortality. That seems a little melodramatic but I actually enjoyed the unique perspective and how it makes you question those things.
There may be some spoilers up ahead so if you haven’t read the book you might just want to skip ahead to the end of the asterisks.

 
*** Spoilers Ahead: So, the book interestingly enough takes on the perspective of students who are essentially raised at an academy, Hailsham, in order to be used for organ donations. You come to learn that the students are actually clones that are being raised at the academy in preparation for when they come of age, become carers for a time frame until their eventual time to donate their organs. There doesn’t seem to be any further explanation given for what the organs are used for other than the brief mention of cures to cancer in this seemingly alternate reality since the book is set in England, 1990s****

 
Overall, I really liked reading the book because it was a unique concept that I’d never heard of being done. I also have never had the pleasure of reading any other works from Ishiguro so I was eager to see his style reveal itself. Ishiguro does a phenomenal job of creating dynamic, three-dimensional characters who actually evoke strong emotions from the audience. I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed by empathy when it came to the narrator, Kathy and her interactions with her friends, Tommy and Ruth. Kathy seems to live her life quietly which is contrasted by her childhood friend, Ruth. You see that Kathy and Tommy come to grow up curious about themselves, their futures and what exactly the guardians are not telling them. This curiosity seems to become an underlying theme in the lives of Tommy, Ruth and Kathy until it all reaches a head.

 

I would recommend this book to all those who like Kazuo Ishiguro’s previous works, those who enjoy a little bit of sci-fi and enjoy reading thriller/suspense books.

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Books

Bel Canto

I have just finished reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. It was a beautiful read. It was unlike anything I have read before – from the plot to the narrative. I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied with how the book concludes but maybe after speaking with other people who have read it, my opinion will change.

I sincerely was blown away from the storyline. We are introduced to the multitude of characters: Mr. Hosokawa, Gen, Roxane Coss, Simon Thibault, Father Arguedas, Ruben Iglesias and etc. You jump around through their thoughts and how exactly they view the situation around them. The plot truly begins at the international party for Mr. Hosokawa’s birthday where  the famous opera singer, Roxane Coss, has been hired to perform as his gift. It is at this party that a terrorist group comes and holds the party hostage. The guests are held captive for months and much like any social experiment, learn to adapt to their current living situation. You see the initial terror of the hostage situation slowly decrease. Unintentionally, the guests of the party gone terribly wrong begin to surrender to their present circumstance. Rather than count the days until they are returned to their lives, they begin to accept their present situation as their lives. They all, whether they realized it or not, began to stop thinking of their past and discontinue thinking of their future. Even as the reader, despite logically knowing that a hostage situation has to end in either one way or the other, you hope against hope that things turn out in a way that everyone gets what they want. You hope that the romances built and developed in this terrible circumstances out of pure serendipity manage to last the test of time and the series of obstacles presented to them.

The major theme of the novel was opera. Even from the name meaning “beautiful song or beautiful singing,” you know that music will be the theme. Amongst all of the chaos and tragedy, opera proves to be the only shining beacon of hope throughout the book. Roxane’s voice manages to wash over the hostages and allow them to surrender their fears and worries. Through her voice and opera itself, they are all transported to a place of peace.

This book was a recommendation from a friend and it was a delightful read. Words cannot accurately describe the skill with which Patchett is able to provide insight from every character’s perspective without any awkward transitions and while showing all angles to a situation. I would recommend this book to all young readers, lovers of opera or music, or pretty much anyone.

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Books

Sweetbitter

After reading Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, I think that I am a different person than I was before I started it. That’s the power of books, you know. You live a whole other life within them and whether there are any physical differences or not, you are forever changed.Sweetbitter was better than I could have ever imagined. I was captivated and honestly could have finished the book in 24 hours if I didn’t have other responsibilities.

From the deckled edge to the narrative voice, the book is young, rough, raw and full of emotion. Danler manages colorful descriptions from the biting cold of winter to the feel of sunlight peaking over the horizon as you stumble home from a night out. In 352 pages, you see New York City with the wide eyed innocence of 20-something year old Tess. You understand her desire to escape her small town life, become free and experience life for the wild ride that it truly is. Danler intentionally uses the changing seasons, various platters and flavors and the people in her life to set the stage for all the life experiences that Tess will go through. She will be changed forever and you know it from the beginning and eagerly hang on for the ride.

Danler has set the bar pretty high for her debut novel and I cannot wait to read what she comes up with next. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a good, captivating read but more specifically for 20-something-year-olds with an insatiable sense of adventure.

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