How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

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I guess there was a war going on somewhere in the world that night but it wasn’t one that could touch us.

I first heard of How I Live Now because I stumbled upon the trailer for the movie one night while I was on IMDB. When at the end it said “based on the book by Meg Rosoff” I knew I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to read it before I saw the movie. I did it right this time and I wasn’t disappointed.

How I Live Now tells the story of Daisy, a teenager who is shipped off by her father to live in the English countryside with her Aunt and cousins. With Daisy Meg Rosoff touches on things that may seem controversial, you may especially think so if you are a parent of a child who is reading this book, and this book is billed as a young adult novel. The book touches upon the fact that the main character has an eating disorder, a disease that many young woman are dealing with. She doesn’t come right out and say “I have an eating disorder”, but it is implied in many ways. How I Live Now also broaches the subject of teens and their sexual awakening, although the way in which it is brought around is shocking to say the least. At its heart Rosoff’s How I Live Now is a tale of survival in a war-torn world and what we are willing to sacrifice to make it back to the ones we love. At just under 200 pages this is a quick one to read but thrilling none the less. I recommend it highly, but please don’t read it merely for the shock factor, this is a high-octane book that doesn’t leave you disappointed at the end.


The Caster Chronicles – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

 

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Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.

I broke one of my rules with this one. I saw the movie “Beautiful Creatures” first. I know. I know! I couldn’t help myself though. My fiance was out-of-town I had a nice bottle of wine and what girl can resist a young adult fantasy romance movie, I ask you? So, I rented the movie and I really enjoyed it. I’m not saying it’s Oscar-winning material or anything and I actually heard that they aren’t going to pursue adapting the other books because BC didn’t get the reception that they were hoping for. Which is a shame. It’s a guilty pleasure movie that I have since watched again and I have no shame.

That being said, once I saw the movie I HAD to read the book and coming off of the second GOT’s book I needed a decent “fluffer” book to keep me from going crazy on the train to work.

(Side note: A fluffer book is a term that I coined a few years ago when I started reading the Twilight series. I had just read a mammoth of a book and needing something easy and mildly entertaining to read.)


Beautiful Creatures is told from the point of view of Ethan Wate a high school senior who lives in Gatlin, South Carolina where nothing happens. It was pretty refreshing to read a YA book, in particular, that has a young male at the helm. Ethan has a very fleshed out voice and you can hear him speaking in his slow South Carolina drawl throughout the book. These are YA novels so they text is super easy to read and I flew through the first book with reckless abandon. I felt the fantasy aspect was balanced enough that you could actually see this sort of scenario playing out in a small southern town. I liked how the two authors steered away from using the “usual” word for someone like Miss Lena Duchannes and instead created the world of the Casters. Lena Duchannes is the youngest of the Duchannes clan and she is staring her destiny in the face. The Duchannes have been cursed ever since Lena’s ancestor did the unthinkable and resurrected her lover from the dead on the battlefields of the Civil War. Now, whenever a young caster girl turns sixteen powers are claimed for either The Light or The Dark. Her Uncle Macon is determined to protect her from the Darkness and reassures her that on the night of her claiming she will be of The Light. When she meets Ethan she is scared that she will be claimed for The Dark and therefore become a person that he doesn’t know. Through out their journey to break the Duchannes Curse they discover things about their pasts and ancestors that neither imagined.

I read a review on goodreads.com that Ethan seems to have no problem accepting the fact that he has fallen in love with a Caster and that he can now see the past when they each are touching a locket that binds them to this life and the past one; or that he and Lena can communicate telepathically. To that I have to say, it’s a book. It’s a young adult novel that asks you to suspend your beliefs. Did Bella have any problems when she found out Edward was a vampire or that Jacob could turn in to a wolf? I don’t think so. This is why we read books like these to imagine what it would be like if these things actually existed.

The books all fit together nicely and keep the ultimate story moving along. I have never been one for spoilers so I will end it here and just say that I enjoyed these books more than I thought I was going to. In revisiting them to write this blog I would actually not mind reading them again. They are a wild ride but one that is worth taking, especially if you’re looking for something to get you through a book coma or maybe you’re just looking to suspend your disbelief and take a peek in to the Caster world. Whatever  your reason is for visiting Gatlin and Ethan, Lena, Amma, Link, Ridley, John, Liv, and Macon you will enjoy the adventure.

 


A Game of Thrones & A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

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Winter is coming.

I will admit here that I was a “bandwagon jumper” when it comes to GOT. We were allowed to borrow the first season and tore through it in a couple of days during the long winter of 2012/2013. Then we had a HBO promotion through our cable provider so we marathoned the second season, again, within a few days we were finished. Then I remembered a very dear friend of mine had given me the first four books in a box-set since he had no need for two.

The first book A Game of Thrones was adapted almost word for word in to the series, some times I actually felt like I was reading the script, and I was happy that they stayed so faithful to the source material. That being said; the first book was super easy to read since I had already been introduced to the characters and the lines that they spoke I had already heard before. As far as the story goes, Mr. Martin has created a world that you wholeheartedly believe in with characters that you grow to love and some that you hate with a passion.

Each chapter is written from a different characters perspective, a style of writing that I enjoy reading because it gives you more of an insight into what everyone is feeling and how they perceive the situations around them. Each character was a joy to read except for Bran. I know I may get some flack for this, but Bran bored me. I would always flip to the end of the chapter to see how many pages I had left to go. Yes, his story is integral to the plot, but (at least for the first two books) he bored me to tears.

The second book, A Clash of Kings, was painfully hard to get through. Even though I had seen the second season and I knew, for the most part, what was happening or about to happen it was slow going getting there. Mr. Martin drudges up battles and characters that you have never heard of before just to tell you that they all died. Why do I care? Again, yes, they might have been a pertinent part to the plot but why do I have to read about these dead men (who all have names mind you) that I don’t care about. That was really my main beef with this book. The pacing was slow and he would ramble on for what seemed like forever about dead people.

So, when it came time to read the third book I just simply couldn’t do it. I have heard that it is the best one and every fans favorite and I will read it, that I can promise you. For now; I will continue to watch the show, which continues to shock me every season, and one of these days I will get around to finishing A Song of Fire and Ice.


It’s been a long time…

Hello friends,

I realize that it’s been a very very long time since I’ve posted and I am truly sorry. To say life got chaotic is rather an understatement, but now I live in the great state of Michigan with my fiance and our two cats and I couldn’t be happier. Even though life was spinning wildly into madness over in Chicago I never stopped reading. I did take a bit of a break there for a while, you can’t blame me. It’s hard to read when you have three weeks to pack, move, find a house to live in, and you accidentally packed up the book that you were reading. Never the less, I am back and hope that you haven’t abandoned me as I so carelessly abandoned you.

Now, a journey to the past. Let’s take a look back at what I’ve been reading since I left.

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

The Caster Chronicles #1-4 – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

The Divergent Series #1-3 – Veronica Roth

The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler

Juniper – Monica Furlong

These Things Hidden – Heather Gudenkauf

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

So, there you have it. I am going to blog about all of these experiences and I will try to put the series all in to one to avoid bombarding you with a ton of posts all at once.

Read on, friends!


Anne of Green Gables- L. M. Montgomery

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“It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it.”

I was telling a coworker of mine that I wish I would’ve read A of GB when I was younger. The book is filled with short chapters of Anne Shirley getting into trouble and causing all kinds of shenanigans with her friends. Each chapter is a short moral story that, I’m sure, a young impressionable girl is supposed to learn from. I did enjoy the book but it became a tad trivial for me since I have done the bulk of my growing up and know not to do certain things. I did find her trials amusing none the less.

For me it was about imagination. When Anne grows older she realizes that she must put her imagination to rest, or at least not voice her imaginings as much as she used to. No matter how old we get we should never completely lose our imaginations. I feel it is something that a lot of us take for granted. The imagination is where a mind can play without repercussion. My father had brain surgery about a year ago and I asked him if he was nervous, he said “I just don’t want to lose my imagination.” It is a lesson for all of us. We are all running around and barely look to the clouds anymore. So, take this lesson from Anne and imagine on dear friends, imagine on.

side note: I may be MIA for a time. I have started reading George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series and at about 800 pages each it will take me some time to finish. I’m averaging about 2 1/2 weeks to finish one. I’m trying to decide if I should blog them separately or wait until I finish the fourth. Thoughts?


Winter’s Tale- Mark Helprin

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For what can be imagined more beautiful than the sight of a perfectly just city rejoicing in justice alone.

I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by this book at first. It being a behemoth at 748 pages and also that it is my boyfriend’s father’s favorite book. My boyfriend had also given it to me as a Christmas present, which felt almost like a rite of passage. I was terrified. “What if I end up hating it?” I thought. It’s such a delicate thing to give someone a book that is so dear to your heart and is at the top of all of your “Favorites of All Time” lists. That, along with with the sheer size of the thing scared me half to death.

I will be the first to admit that it did take me a while to finish it, but at 748 pages can you blame me? There were also some extenuating circumstances that also lead to the delay. (We had been packing to move again and I accidentally packed the book.) So, about a week ago I had a little more than 400 pages to go and I decided, since I had two days off, to buckle down and finish them. What a ride.

Mark Helprin has a way with words that is unparalleled. I know that I have said, many times, that an author writes poetically and Helprin is no different. He may even be the grandfather of poetic writing in a novel. Even the chapters are well chosen words that make you swoon. (I audibly said “genius” after reading the chapter “Nothing is Random” and right after it “Peter Lake Returns”.) He truly transports you to New York City and even though it is the NYC that we all know and love, it isn’t. There is a veil of mystery that surrounds the entire place and though you can’t quite put your finger on it, you know that it’s there. The city is just as much a character in this novel as any of the many characters and you grow to love it, if not more than the people living in it.

Of those people living amongst the backdrop of the city, Peter Lake is by far the one that I fell in love with most. I’m sure I’m not the only one either to succumb to his charms. He is a powerful force on the page and yet he is humble. I did start falling for him during the beginning of the book but it is towards the middle where he really starts to steal your heart away and begs you to stay with him. It becomes so, that you don’t want to put the book down because you have to leave him and the journey that you are taking, together.

There are truly no words to describe the feeling of reading this book. It is an adventure. It is epic. It is a mystery. I will not betray it by giving anything away and I am confident that everyone who reads this book will draw their own conclusions upon it’s ending, but I know what I believe. This book begs to be read and, trust me, it will stay with you long after you are done. Especially when the snow starts to fall.

All of my fears about this book were unfounded and I loved every word. I talked about the book so much that my boyfriend is now going to reread it. Even though I said it is a delicate thing to recommend a book that you love so much to someone in fear that they might hate it. I implore you to read this book. Best enjoyed in the winter time with a large cup of tea.


Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell

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Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?

I simply devoured Cloud Atlas. I will not say that this book “changed my life” or anything of that nature, but I was transported to every environment and into the lives of each character.

Mitchell splits the novel into six small novellas through out and each has a very distinct voice, which I feel must be hard for some writers and even more so with this novel. To have everything connected and yet for everyone to have their own voice. I will say that the novella titled Sloosha’s Crossin” An’ Ev’rythin’ After was the hardest for me to read. It is written in very broken English with a bizarre accent attached, there is only one such novella so it pays to muscle through it.

It is very easy for everyone to have different views of this book because I feel like it deals with so many different themes, reincarnation being at the fore front. There are certain characters in the novel who all possess the same birthmark on their shoulder, coincidence? Also, certain feelings they get while being around objects or places that other characters have been, the feeling of having been there already. While I do believe reincarnation plays a big role in this book, I feel that the common thread is simply “everything is connected”. Characters finding the diary of another, passing ships that another has been on, seeing films about another based upon another characters’ life. One can liken it to “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Everyone and everything is connected and I ,for one, am a full believer in that mantra.

Like I said before, there are a few places in the book that lag a little bit and they feel like they take forever to read. Then there are those bits that fly by and you just want them to keep going and going and going, but every great book must end. I was a bit unhappy with the way the end was turning out until I got to the last line that sums up everything perfectly. I felt like the end was a bit rushed and he was trying to pack WAY too much into just a few pages. Either way, it is a book I will not soon forget and will recommend to others. I have not seen the movie but I am glad that I read the book before doing so.


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