What I Read: A Monster Calls

 

 

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Oh my gosh this book, A Monster Calls, was incredible. Patrick Ness is the best young adult author I have ever read. He wrote this book based on an idea from Siobhan Dowd, who passed away before she could write it.

The book centres around Conor, a boy whose mother has terminal cancer. He starts having dreams involving a yew tree in his yard and a monster. Through his interactions with the monster, Conor has to come to terms with his situation and admit the truth.

This book was an emotional sucker-punch. It was so beautiful, and so sad. The illustrations by Jim Kay were just so well done, as you can see above, the pages were illustrated and the illustrations of the monster were spot on. The darkness Conor feels just came to life on the page.

Next on my list to read is More Than This by Patrick Ness. I loved the Chaos Walking trilogy by him, and cannot wait to read his latest. It’s sitting in our living room, I bought it for my fiance for his birthday, as he is also a HUGE fan of Ness. Read his books! They are amazing!

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Series I Love: Jack Reacher

Back in 2005 I was browsing the stacks in the public library in my city, looking for something to read. This was before the days of Goodreads and book blogs when my reading was a little less planned out than it is currently. I still sometimes just wander around the stacks, looking for covers that appeal to me. I love spontaneous discovery.

On this day, I found a book that led to me reading 17 (!) more. Killing Floor by Lee Child. The main character is Jack Reacher, an old military policeman who is a loner on the road, is very large, approximately 6’5 I think, drinks a lot of coffee and never owns more than one outfit at a time. He buys new clothes and trashes the old ones, because he doesn’t like to carry stuff around. There’s a murder in the town he’s passing through in Georgia, and somehow he’s arrested for murder. Suspense, mystery and crime-solving ensue.

These books are no literary masterpieces, but I enjoy a larger than life character who is just too ridiculous to exist in the real world. Also, I enjoy predictability in my reading sometimes. I know what I’m getting when I pick up a Jack Reacher book. He’s on the road, he gets involved in some sort of crime, people are usually out to get him for some reason, he usually meets a lady friend, and talks a lot about how he doesn’t like to be tied down.

There’s currently 18 in the series, with a couple of shorter stories included in there, one of which is from Jack Reacher’s perspective as a child.

I introduced my fiance’s dad to this series and he loves it. Maybe your dad would too! Or maybe you would. I love it. But don’t get me started about how Tom Cruise ruined what could have been a great movie franchise. Tom Cruise is a full foot smaller than Jack Reacher is supposed to be, and nowhere near as badass. It still makes me angry to think about!!!

Book Hoarding

I will admit, I have a problem. 

I love buying books. Unfortunately, this often ends up with piles of books on my shelves that I don’t have time to read. So I want to challenge myself to make it through a bunch of these books gathering dust on my shelves, that I really have been meaning to read, but just haven’t picked up yet. I just get distracted so easily!! One day I feel like YA, so I buy a bunch of YA books. The next day I am feeling like crime novels, so I pick up a bunch of those. I get books for Christmas, and my Mom and Granny give me books when they finish reading them (I do this with them too so it somewhat evens out). 

These are some books I need to read. They’ve been hanging over me for months, some even for years. I feel guilty about not reading them and then in turn, ignore them, because that makes everything better. If you click on the pictures it will take you over to their Goodreads pages.

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These are just a few of the things hanging over my reading conscience. I wonder if this is a problem for other people as well? I bought my Kobo with the hopes that e-books will help alleviate some of my hoarding tendencies.

What I Read: The Heart Broke In

So, sometimes I do choose a book by its cover. When I saw this beauty on display in my local public library, I couldn’t help but pick it up.

The plot seemed interesting, so even though it was quite long, I decided to bring it home and try to read it.

A little bit about the plot from Goodreads:

“From James Meek, the award-winning author of the international bestseller The People’s Act of Love, comes a rich and intricate novel about everything that matters to us now: children, celebrity, secrets and shame, the quest for youth, loyalty and betrayal, falls from grace, acts of terror, and the wonderful, terrible inescapability of family.

Ritchie Shepherd, an aging pop star and a producer of a reality show for teen talent, is starting to trip over his own lies. Maybe filming a documentary about his father, Captain Shepherd, a British soldier executed by Northern Irish guerrillas, will redeem him.

His sister, Bec, is getting closer and closer to a vaccine for malaria. When she’s not in Tanzania harvesting field samples, she’s peering through a microscope at her own blood to chart the risky treatment she’s testing on herself. She’s as addicted to honesty as Ritchie is to trickery.

Val Oatman is the editor of a powerful tabloid newspaper. The self-appointed conscience of the nation, scourge of hypocrites and cheats, he believes he will marry beautiful Bec.

Alex Comrie, a gene therapist (and formerly the drummer in Ritchie’s band), is battling his mortally ill uncle, a brilliant and domineering scientist, over whether Alex might actually have discovered a cure for aging. Alex, too, believes he will marry Bec.

Colum O’Donabháin has just been released from prison, having served a twenty-five-year sentence for putting a gun to Captain Shepherd’s head when he refused to give up an informer. He now writes poetry.

Their stories meet and tangle in this bighearted epic that is also shrewd, starkly funny, and utterly of the moment. The Heart Broke In is fiction with the reverberating resonance of truth.”

 

A lot going on, right?? Well let me tell you a little bit about my experience reading this book. I have a really bad habit of reading the first 50-75 pages of a book and then abandoning it if it doesn’t immediately catch my interest. I figure, if I’m not enjoying something, why bother continuing? I almost did not finish this one. It did not immediately catch me. As I was about to abandon it, my good friend Alixe was visiting and she told me that she always finishes her books no matter what, because “if they’re bad I want to know for sure that they’re really bad,” or something like that. So I decided to challenge myself to keep going with this and finish. And you know what? I’m glad I did.

All of these very different people are somehow connected through the tangled webs that are weaved in social structures. This book shows both the good side of humanity and the bad. People do incredibly good things, and people do incredibly terrible things. There are plot elements that deal with music, science, the IRA and poetry, but mostly it is a book about friendships and relationships. There is one moment where a character makes a decision to do something to help her family, that may seem morally wrong to most people, but it makes you sit and question, how do we define what is right and what is wrong? Who is the decider? And it makes you realize that people have a lot of secrets. Not just in books, but in everyday life people make decisions and do things that are hard choices, ones that they don’t necessarily share with the world.

I don’t usually read contemporary fiction, and I find long books daunting, so this over 400-page tome was a challenge, but a good one. It helped that the chapters were short. I don’t think I will be rushing to pick up James Meek’s other novel, but I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone in order to finish The Heart Broke In.

What I Read: Where’d You Go Bernadette

From Goodreads:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world. 

 

My thoughts: 

I initially gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but after sleeping on it I changed my rating to four stars. Let me explain. I loved the way the book was written. Loved getting the perspective of Bee, loved learning about characters through their correspondence, and really related to the character of Bernadette. Bernadette is an oddball who suffers from anxiety, specifically social anxiety, which is also something I struggle with. So sometimes when she was behaving irrationally I was just thinking “Yep, sounds about right, do what you gotta do Bernadette.” I love that this book felt a bit like an onion, with all these different layers that you keep peeling away until you get to the heart of the issues. I also loved the satirical aspect, mocking private schools, crazy in-denial mothers who think their children are perfect, and the culture of Microsoft. With all that being said, I think the ending could have been better. I won’t ruin anything for you with spoilers, but I’ll just say this – I don’t like loose ends and issues that are unresolved. So instead of five stars, I give Where’d You Go Bernadette a very solid four.

 

OMG Great Gatsby

A new trailer was just released – this looks so good!

I read this book in high school, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I had a fabulous English teacher who had us read books like The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway (my number one favourite book of all time), Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and The Great Gatsby, to name a few. When I heard Leonardo DiCaprio was in the movie with Carey Mulligan and it was directed by Baz Luhrmann, I nearly died of excitement. I want this to be in the theatres now!!!