Into the Wild- Jon Krakauer

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“I think I’m going to disappear for a while.”

Like quite a few people out there my first brush with Christopher Mccandless was with the movie Into the Wild. Thank you Sean Penn. The movie was a touching depiction of a young man who wants to leave society behind and live in the wilds of Alaska. I enjoyed the movie; in fact I think I own it but this isn’t about the movie. This is about the book.

The story of Chris Mccandless or Alexander Supertramp is one of adventure and the longing for something more from life that is purely materialistic. Mccandless leaves without telling his family after graduation, suspends his mail so it won’t be “returned to sender” for a few months after he is already gone and does not leave a forwarding address. In the book Mr. Krakauer does give us all the facts and talks to a lot of the key people who knew Alex during his trip to the wild. He also gives us the opinions of people who didn’t know him. People who simply say that he must have been “suicidal” or “mentally unstable”. To that I have to ask; hasn’t there ever been a time in your life when you just want to leave everything  behind? Try to live off the land for a time? To really be in nature? I’m sure most of you have said yes.

Mr. Krakauer does come to Alex’s defense and cites many other men (yes, they are mostly men and I am interested to research and see how many women have attempted such a thing) who have done the same thing. He even cites his own misguided trip up a mountain in Alaska in jaw dropping detail. He also goes in depth to try and uncover what was the real cause of Alex’s demise. Was it simply starvation? He had lived two years on the road and he had survived.

The story of Christopher Mccandless (or Alexander Supertramp) will always live on. Especially in the hearts and minds of people who want to escape the daily grind. Filled with quotes that Mccandless had underlined himself in the books he carried with him, Wild is a story lovingly told of a soul we lost too soon and for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to walk into the wild.

 

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Rest well

Christopher Mccandless

Feb. 1968-Aug. 1992

 


Lamb- Bonnie Nadzam

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Say this was all in hopes of glimpsing something beautiful. And is there anything wrong with that?

I found this book while I was deep in a trailer watching hole on IMDB. You all know what I’m talking about. After watching the trailer I decided to put it on my queue and quickly went to work finding the book on my kindle, which I found for $3.99. It’s hard for me to spend more than $7 on a book for my kindle, but it’s been known to happen.

This book was disturbing. And yet, it was one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in a while. This book isn’t for people who aren’t comfortable with people “pushing boundaries”. Lamb is about a man, David Lamb, whose life seems to be falling apart. His father dies, you assume Cathy is his wife and that they are separating, he seems bored with his love Linnie, and just bored all around with life. That’s when he meets Tommie. Sitting on a bus bench outside of a store she approaches him and asks for a cigarette. This is where things start to push in to “disturbing” territory. He “pretends” to abduct her to “teach her friends a lesson”. He throws her in to his car and then just proceeds to tell her that it’s all a joke. Ya know, haha.

After he takes her home he can’t stop thinking about her, yeah I know. He decides to go back to the bench and lo and behold guess who walks up, Tommie. They create this relationship where he would pick her up every morning before school and make sure she ate a good meal then he would drop her off at school and pick her up later sometimes. Now, through out this whole bit I just kept telling myself “He’s just trying to help her. Little girl without a father figure.” Then things take a turn for the ultra disturbing.

Lamb asks Tommie if she wants to go on a road trip and see the mountains. She says yes. He takes her to a nice hotel and buys her some new clothes, promising to always treat her right and that he won’t touch her or kiss her. “Say ‘ok. Gary.” Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he gives her a fake name, Gary. He also coaches her through out the book to say things back to him which is also pretty disturbing. In the hotel is where you also find out that Tommie is in fact 11 years old; something that good ol’ David/Gary didn’t know either.

They embark on this road trip stopping sometimes at hotels where David/Gary keeps Tommie up at night telling her stories about horses and how he is the horse and that she will take care of him when he is old and grey. The end up at the cabin that they were trying to get to and things just fall deeper in to the rabbit hole. For a brief second we get back to “father figure” mode, but all that quickly evaporates when he tells the clerk at the store that she is his niece and her name is Emily.

I know what you’re thinking, but the word abduction is only said twice in the entire book. But let’s call apples apples, shall we. He coerced a young girl to come with him on a road trip that was not sanctioned by her mother. At one point Tommie puts all of her cold weather clothes on to make a run for it, gets to the fence and turns around. Good ol’ David/Gary even grapples with what the actual f*ck did he’s doing.

Because he knew exactly what the rest of her life would be after he returned her, and it was a bleak and terrible secret that he and all the world were keeping from her, and his withholding was the worst of all, because his presence in her life–this sudden and unusual friendship–might be the only bright spot, the only break in an otherwise scripted life.

Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down. I needed to find out what happened. Did David/Gary get arrested? Does he keep her with him for the rest of her life? Does Tommie run away? I actually enjoyed the book. It was a nail biter and the subject matter is delicate, but it was actually an easy read. It’s not going to be for everybody. But I think that’s what Ms. Nadzam was going for. To get the reader to really think about the borders of friendship and what makes it tip into forbidden territory.


11/22/63- Stephen King

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Time Travel is full of ironies.

So, for this go around I did something I never do. About a month ago my friend Jobeth, you know her, suggested I watch 11/22/63 on Hulu. She mentioned it so out of context that I thought that I needed to check it out. You all know that she’s never let me down yet. I went home that night and signed up for a free month of Hulu Plus and set in on watching the mini-series. Wow. Just wow. It was amazing. The script. The acting. Just everything. Now, here’s where we get to the part where I “never do this”. After finishing the series I had questions. Questions that needed to be answered; nay that begged to be answered. So I picked up the book. Usually I never read a book straight after watching the movie or series it’s based on, but I couldn’t not read it.

I mentioned to a couple of regulars of mine that I was reading it and that produced an eye roll and he said “You’re going to want to punch someone in the face when you get to the end.” He was right. While the show I thought was phenomenal the book just dragged on at a slight snail pace and just when you think it’s about to take off it pumps the brakes. It has some interesting themes (ie: What would happen to the world if someone stopped the JFK assassination? What would happen to a time traveler in general?) but it is wildly different than the mini-series. I actually preferred the mini-series to the book actually. Another thing I never do.

Those answers I was looking for, yeah, never found ’em.  I honestly just don’t know what to say about this one so I’m keeping it short. It was a laborious read at 866 pages and could’ve been shortened. Stick with the fast paced mini-series and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t go looking for answers.


Clariel- Garth Nix

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Unexamined feelings lead to all kinds of trouble.

I picked up the Abhorsen Trilogy back when I was in middle school. I remember loving it! I also remember thinking “this is a young adult novel?” when it described the gentle curve of a male statues, ahem, well you know. I ended up losing the first book in the series Sabriel probably in a move. It wasn’t until I was in college, and I remember this part quite clearly, that I found the trilogy for sale on amazon. I was sitting quietly, probably having a glass of wine, in our little studio apartment on Michigan Ave. when all of the sudden amazon recommended I read the Abhorsen Trilogy. I squealed with joy remembering a book a long ago lost and was desperate to find again; because for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the damn thing.

I devoured the trilogy and loved every second of it. I have vivid memories of staying up late and reading and hanging on every word. Fast forward to a couple months back when I was killing time wondering around over at goodreads.com and they recommended that I check out this new novel by Garth Nix. When I found out it was part of the Abhorsen world I jumped at it. I put it on the back burner for a while to read a few other things that I had higher up in my queue.

I want to start out by saying that I ultimately did enjoy this book. Ok. I should say I enjoyed the last half of the book. The beginning was very slow and when I finally was hooked on the book I was already 75% of the way through. I read another review where they said it read like a first draft not a final product; and I would agree that the first part did read a little like that. There wasn’t a lot of substance behind the words. I know he was trying to set up certain things to get you to the finale but I think the story of Clariel could’ve been told as a short story. By the time I was deep in to the story it was over and I wanted more.

***SPOILER ALERT***

 

 

One of the main reasons I ended up enjoying the end of the book was the return, or introduction rather, of a beloved character from the trilogy. A little cat that you grow to love even though he may be one of the darkest creatures known to Free Magic. That’s right, Mogget is back, or introduced, or whatever. He is still the same old Mogget that we know and love from the trilogy and I wish he had more of a leading role in this story.

Pick up this book if you loved the trilogy as much as I did, but don’t go in to it thinking it’s going to hold a candle to the original series. When you’re finished you are going to want to read the trilogy again. Something I may do, just for the sake of writing a review of it since it was well before this adventure started that I read them. I also hear that Mr. Nix is coming out with a new book this fall called  Golden Hand which is set after the events if the Abhorsen trilogy end. I never read his book of short stories that deal with the Abhorsens so I’ll probably do that before the new book comes out.

Now what to read? I may try and tackle Stephen King’s 11.22.63, I finished the mini-series last week and I’m praying that the book gives me more answers to the burning questions I have. But at 842 pages it may take me awhile to finish.

Stay tuned, friends.


Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs

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“It was never just a story. I would know: a story had swallowed my whole life.”

I finished Library of Souls yesterday afternoon after a long day of laundry and other things that I had put off since the weekend. This being the last book in the series I was looking forward to an epic battle with the wights and the peculiars. I was hopeful that I wouldn’t be let down.

If I’m being honest, this was my least favorite of the series. It was a pretty slow start and when it finally did get going I found it very predictable. I also felt like the end was rushed. So much so that I gave myself false hope; seeing the bar at the bottom of my kindle say that I was only 98% of the way through the book. Alas, the last pages were just information on the photos that are used through out the book.

In Souls you follow Jacob, Emma, and Addison (the brave dog they met in the second novel) on a journey to save their friends and ymbrynes. They make it to Devil’s Acre via a dingy little boat captained by the always cloaked Sharon. Devil’s Acre is home to all of the peculiar rabble and outcasts. Peculiars who have taken too much ambrosia; a drug that was cooked up by Miss Peregrine’s brother to keep peculiars in line. You meet other people along the way who help the children to find their friends. Bentham, Miss Peregrine’s other brother, someone you’re not quite sure if you should trust.

For me, the reason I didn’t quite like this one is because it was slow to start and then when it got moving it was a boulder hurtling down a hill and then it just stopped. Got stuck by a pebble, if you will, until that pebble was dislodged and then it went hurtling to the end. Yes, I was happy at some aspects of the ending, but I also felt it was a bit of a let down, a tad predictable. It felt like they needed to get this book on the shelves by a certain day and just said “ok, that’s it. Done.”

As a series I did very much enjoy it but if I had to put them in order of which ones I liked best I would have to go with publication order. I felt the start and the middle of the series were the most fascinating and the pacing was superb. While the end was satisfying but could have been a little more fleshed out.


Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs

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“She had maintained her strength in the face of all this for so long that we had come to take it for granted, but she wasn’t bulletproof. She might’ve been peculiar, but she was also human.”

I finished the second novel in the Peculiar Children series last night with a marvelous glass of wine. I absolutely devoured the first installment and I was excited to get back to the world of the Peculiar’s. I have had this problem before with second novels though. Namely with the second book in the Abhorsen Trilogy: Lirael. It was a book that didn’t really go anywhere but it was crucial to the plot of the story. A story that continued in the next book.

I don’t want to say that the author had  signed a three book deal so that is what they did. I sometimes think that putting all of that content in to one book would just be too daunting. As is the case with the second Peculiar book. It took a little while for it to get rolling, but when it did, oh when it did. The ending had me in chills. The story continues with the children trying to find a solution for Miss Peregrine and their adventures area nothing short of fascinating.

I hope the last book in the series delivers all of the punches that I’m wishing it does. This series reminds me that sometimes you need a good fantasy novel to remind you that there is wonder in everything.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs

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“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

I received this trilogy for Christmas this year and was not disappointed. I have seen this series floating around in the book-iverse for quite some time and was always interested in picking it up. But I never quite knew what it was. Is it a young adult novel? Is it just straight up fantasy? What is it? Tell me! It is billed as a young adult novel, though I found some very adult themes running through out and if I had read this as a teenager or “young adult” I would definitely have had nightmares. It does feel somewhere in between Harry Potter and The Magician’s.

The premise is simple enough to follow; a boy, Jacob, witnesses his grandfather’s murder by some monster that only he can see. Then he sends himself on an adventure to find the home that his grandfather lived in before he left for WWII. Jacob remembers his grandfather’s fantastical story of a girl who could levitate, a boy living with bees inside of him, an invisible boy. There were even pictures to accompany his grandfather’s “tall tales”, pictures that are peppered through out the book to accompany the tale that you are reading. Which I find amazing! It lends just a little more to the the fantastical nature of the book, it also makes you feel you may be reading someone’s diary. The pictures are all real, some slightly doctored, which Mr. Riggs makes mention of at the back of each book.

<<slight spoilers ahead>>

 

You meet some fantastic characters along the way, not only the invisible boy and the girl who can levitate. There is also a girl called Emma, whom you find out had a rather romantic relationship with Jacob’s grandfather. This is where things get a little weird for me. Emma and Jacob strike up a rather intimate relationship, one that Riggs does comment on as being strange for Jacob. No mention on what Emma feels as of yet. I’m interested to see where Riggs goes with this sordid relationship. I also  have found myself scared for the safety of every character; it feels very Game of Thrones, he may off one at any minute. Which makes me sad because in the span of 300 pages I have grown to love all of the characters; including Jacob’s dad, who I hope makes a triumphant return in the sequel.

This book is for anyone who wants to get lost in a magical world during these last dark days of winter. It’s a quick read because you can’t put it down. You’re racing against time with Jacob to find out the truth behind his grandfather’s last words and to put the pieces together of his own life as he hurtles toward manhood.

Some of the plot twists I saw coming but that doesn’t  mean I enjoyed it any less. I’m excited to get back to Miss Peregrine’s world and fit some more pieces of the puzzle together.

So, let’s go find some loops.


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