Review: Norwegian Wood

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami (Translated by Jay Rubin)

Publisher: Vintage Books

Publication Date: September 12, 2000

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

This is going to be my first book review in quite a few months, my last being an ARC review of The Museum of Us close to four months ago, back in March. The reason being, I’ve been traveling and going through some serous personal and academic changes and self discovery, resulting in the majority of my energy being directed to myself and away from the book blogging community. I have been back in Los Angeles for a little over a week now and will remain here for the next couple of weeks before I fly across the country to New York in preparation of a masters program that I will be starting in September. I’ve been settling back into a calm, translucent life in my parents’ home, back in my childhood room of tower-high books and stuffed care bears all around me. It’s a luxury to be able to walk up and down my shelves and choose whatever I am in the mood of reading, unlike during my travels that I read whatever I could manage to get my hands on, or whatever was the cheapest and least had the least ridiculous cover.

I returned to the United States in low and glum spirits and I was a bit hopeless as to figuring out a way to cope as I’ve never been a girl good at coping and have always been rather hopeless at hoping. Books have always been my way of momentarily caging my sadness or sorrow which is exactly what I fell back on this time around. With the joy that I could finally for the first time in over a year pick a book off of my own shelf I chose a novel from my favorite contemporary author, Norwegian Wood by the legendary Haruki Murakami, and here is what I thought…  Continue reading “Review: Norwegian Wood”

Update | I Have Seen. I Have Done. I Have Thought

Dear fellow Babblers,

To be back in the blogosphere. This is almost too much. I have forgotten how to come back to my keyboard so the fact that I’m here now writing even this much out is already too much. The thought of writing a post! But what fear that creates in me! Who will read? Did anyone even notice I was gone ? What’s changed amongst book reviewers lately ? What’s everyone been reading ? Are we still hung up on Adam Silvera or is there already someone new ? And writing to y’all ? What can, should, do I even do I give a life update that no one really even cares about? I mean, come on, I’m not Selena Gomez here. Well hey, I’m supposedly a book reviewer, right ? So why not write a book review ? Yeah, no. And why ? I really just cannot. There are too many thoughts, feelings, meaningless intentions pulsating in that dark and shallow corner in the back of my mind. I just cannot focus on critiquing any sort of thematics, language, or structure of the world spinning in another writer’s mind. So if this post is not a banal life update or a sophisticated book review, what is all this nonsense doing floating on your screen trying to get across ? Not even I, the thoughtless scribbler behind all of this can give a clear, to-the-professor’s-point response. All I know is I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed interacting with other bloggers. I’ve missed pouring my heart into my keyboard. Being away has brought me back. Fear has kept me away, but nostalgia has lead me back. What I have seen, done, thought in the past three months not writing, whether it be on this platform or another, is what has lead me to discover that writing is one of those hobbies, obsessions, outlets – call it what you will – that give me my spirit, soul – life…

…And so here, for this post is what I have seen, done, thought in the past three months of not writing:  Continue reading “Update | I Have Seen. I Have Done. I Have Thought”

ARC Review: The Museum of Us

Title: The Museum of Us

Author: Tara Wilson Redd

Publisher: Random House/Wendy Lamb Books

Expected Publication Date: June 26, 2018

Genre: YA, Mental Illness

Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received an ARC copy of The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley, as well as Random House/Wendy Lamb Books for this advanced copy which is expected to be released on June 26, 2018.

Dear fellow Babblers,

Sometimes, well, often I find myself sitting at my kitchen table, walking down the street, laying in bed, riding in an airplane without really being “there.” I slip away from reality for moments on end, dreaming about far off places, worlds, and possibilities. I get a sort of idea in my head and just like that become obsessed with dreaming it to life. A lot of my time is spent in these fantasies that it is very easy for me to lose my grasp of reality. That being said, The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd is a book that instantly speaks to dreamers like me. It is a spell binding story of the dangers of becoming so absorbed in the world of fiction that life outside of it appears almost meaningless by comparison.  Continue reading “ARC Review: The Museum of Us”

The Fictional Family Book Tag

Dear fellow Babblers,

Today is the day I bounce up and down off the walls like the Mexican jumping bean my mother has raised me to be. And this is all thanks to our dearest Laura Beth at Hot Shot Headlines. This lovely gal has tagged me in the infamous (…just go with it) Fictional Family Book Tag. The last time I was tagged or nominated for anything was all the way back in Novemeber so y’all should understand my giddy excitement to get down to it. Laura Beth’s blog is always my go to because it not only includes thorough book reviews, but also super interesting commentary on events and news of the day. The Queen mama AKA creator of this tag is Marill at Books and Ravens. So enough of my jibber jabber, and gets see what unlucky characters ’bout to be a part of my gang.  Continue reading “The Fictional Family Book Tag”

Review: The Stolen Child

Title: The Stolen Child

Author: Lisa Carey

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Publication Date: January 12, 2017

Genre: Adult Contemporary, Fantasy

Rating: 3 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

A novel written of Irish folklore, The Stolen Child is a novel where desire meets fate and love meets betrayal. The synopsis is what intrigued me as I’ve never read a book on Irish myths so I figured this would be a wonderful read to not only enjoy but also learn something from. There is a lot of magical realism here, much of it quite dark and a bit creepy at times. I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy, but it’s not something I would pick up again or really recommend. The story itself was unique and well written so there’s nothing that should keep me from giving it a full five stars and pushing it in all my buddies’ faces. It just wasn’t my thing; there were quite a few quirks of the story that made me cringe and put the book down more than once.  Continue reading “Review: The Stolen Child”

30 In 7 Years

Dear fellow Babblers,

I turned 23 just a couple of weeks ago, on February 28. I think it’s safe to say that I’m no longer a teenager but I don’t think I’m ready to call myself an adult quite yet. It’s hard to believe that my “kid” life is already behind me, as there’s so much I had in mind to do before even turning 20. Looking back, I think I was trying to grow up too fast. I was forgetting about the little things in life, the excitement that simple days could have become if I had only lived a little bit more in the moment, and had been willing to love myself instead of marking myself with so much spite.

I don’t normally celebrate holidays, including my birthdays, but something about turning 23 ticked in my mind. I’ve been turning over my life in my mind the last few weeks which have lead me to write this post.

I’ve grown a lot emotionally, mentally and spiritually in the last year alone, overcoming several milestones between academics, professional and personal life. This year. No, the next seven years. I’m giving myself to accomplish all these things. This list gives me life to look forward to – something to work towards, to be willing to change for, to be open to take risks over. Welcome to my next 7 year long adventure.

  1. A Hot Air Balloon Ride
  2. Skydiving
  3. Paragliding
  4. Swim in the Mediterranean (or swim anywhere for that matter)
  5. Travel Through Thailand
  6. Speak French Like A Native (I’m still shy to speak due to my accent, but I’m hoping that I’ll eventually get over this fear)
  7. Own a cottage home in Aix-en-Provence and grow my own garden (my childhood dream has always been to move to the south of France and own my own little cottage and tend to my garden during the week and bike to the city center every Saturday to sell some of my extra flowers that I grow)
  8. Camp in the Sahara
  9. Go backpacking in Central America
  10. Donate blood without feinting (I have the worst fear of needles and blood in my skin. Even the sight of my own blood leaves me sick for hours)
  11. Spend a day watching movies with my mom (I can’t call up any memory of me just sitting at home, spending time with my mom, so this pow-wow is definitely overdue)
  12. Rock climbing
  13. Write a collection of short stories
  14. Run through a meadow
  15. Open up to people more (It usually takes me a while to get comfortable with people and by the time I do they are usually annoyed by me and disappear)
  16. Climb up a tree
  17. Go to a concert
  18. Get a fifth tattoo
  19. Watch the sunrise from a rooftop (I’ve seen plenty of sunrises but never have I got up early, gone up to a rooftop and waited out the last few ours of darkness for the sunrise)
  20. Take a flower arranging class
  21. Dance at a rave
  22. Get high before class (would be fun to be a rebel every once in a while)
  23. Run a marathon
  24. Find the perfect little black dress
  25. Attend a tea tasting 
  26. Find a pearl in an oyster
  27. Send a message in a bottle (pretty cool for someone, anyone out there across the ocean to know I exist and have a voice)
  28. Learn to play the violin
  29. Tell my mom how thankful I am that she is my mom (now living far away from my mom it’s tough sometimes thinking back to everything she’s done and the life she’s given me, not really ever showing her or acknowledging my love for her)
  30. Fast for a 7 days (I keep holding off my seven day body cleanse…)

Yours Truly,

All The Little Loves of My Life

Dear fellow Babblers,

I’ve been having a pretty banal past few weeks. Just a usual cycle of comings and goings. I’m taking a month long break from traveling and am going through wanderlust withdrawl. It’s Monday but the day of the week doesn’t really mean much to me as I’ve fallen into my own sort of circadian rhthym that doesn’t seem to fall in with the rest of the world. I’m in between choosing from four different masters programs, am planning out my upcoming trips (a return to Morocco coming soon!), all the while making ends mean with my part time teaching job.

With all the changes happening in my life, this morning I got around to thinking about love. And why did this idea wake me up? Because although I’m often sad or desperately seeking solitude, there is so much in life, in my life that I can say that I love, and so I thought I would share my concept of love to give sleepy Monday some hope.
Love is something delicate and fragile. It can happen unexpectedly when that special someone walks into your favorite Starbucks. It can be destroyed unknowingly leaving your breathless and unwilling to trust again. Children, spouses, partners, single swingers all carry a spark inside of them where love grows and glimmers with time. That special someone or something that makes our life our treasure, a treasure that we share by being.  Continue reading “All The Little Loves of My Life”

Review: Me Before You | And Everything In Between

Title: Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Publishing/Viking

Publication Date: December 31, 2012

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Series (Me Before You #1)

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

Just bury me with Will please. I am feeling everything I never thought I could feel: heartbroken, in love, confused, hopeful, hopeless – everything is so beautiful and everything hurts. I’ve cried tremendous bouts of tears reading this love story, both happy and sad. This book is one you will never forget, taking readers on a journey through a closed off world where pain is so real that death is something to look forward to. Love, not even love sometimes is just not enough. Me Before You, set aside the promise that it will break your heart, will also change your perspective on the little things – walking, eating, the sunshine, taking chances, taking risks, having choices. It calls into question our everyday life and where we choose to go and who we choose to become from this moment.

Goodreads Review:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Babble:

Louisa Clark is a quirky, chatterbox 26-year-old whose wildly eccentric and colorful clothing makes her stand out in her small town outside of London. She’s worked at the same cafe since she was a teenager and cannot begin to dream up a life outside it’s doors. She’s been dating an average-looking personal trainer Patrick for years for no real reason than that it makes sense. One day she walks into work expecting to grind the same beans, hear the same voices ordering the same drinks, listening to the same customers making the same complaints. Instead she’s met with a ‘closed’ sign and her boss waiting to give her her last paycheck. Louisa’s life is about to take a turn that not even Louisa herself can see coming.

Will Traynor is a handsome business man. He indulges in life’s possibilities and is always looking to tomorrow before today is even finished. He jumps out airplanes, loves Parisian sidewalk cafes, and never not lives. He loves London the idea of having choices, taking risks, seeing the world; never being contained in one place. His life is turned upside down one rainy day on his way to work when he is hit by a driver who loses control of the wheel. In an instant Will loses all vivacity and faith in life as choices are here on out made more him, risks are no longer a possibility and of course not chances. Everything changes and nothing for Will never again be what life is supposed to be.

Will is a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair, has little voluntary movement and require round the clock care. All past caretakers with experience, degrees and professionalism have been a failure and walked out of the job. Time is ticking and Will’s mom is becoming desperate to find someone to save her son from himself. Louisa is out of a job, needs money to take care of her family, and has little experience outside of serving coffee. The local job centre places Louisa is a variety of jobs, all of which she finds pitiful and pathetic. She ultimately obtains a six month contract as a caretaker, finally accepting the job more for the promising salary than for her own sanity.

A few weeks into the job and Louisa’s breaking down. Will is impossibly cranky, bossy and can’t seem to stand Louisa near him, less the sound of her voice or knowledge of her presence in the house. Louisa busies herself with minuscule tasks like cleaning the tiles on the bathroom wall, bringing Will in continuous warm beverages and scrubbing the floor. However, as time wears on the two begin to fall into each others rhythm with some orders from Will and quick comebacks from Louisa. They develop a unmistakable bond and soon make it into each others hearts in a way that one could only think possible in fairytales.

Assisted suicide is a theme that pervades throughout the entire novel. It calls into question the meaning of life and making choices between life an death. Each character is put into the position of rethinking the very definition of life and distinguishing the nuances between living and surviving. Will seems to be just barely holding onto life as he now sees himself as simply a doll confined to a wheelchair, surviving and no longer being given the opportunity to make live or even make choices on his own life. He is left to watch the world pass him by, sitting in front of the window as the seasons change, people move on and the world outside forgets that he ever even existed. The portrayal of suicide in the novel was overwhelmingly touching as Moyes presents both sides of the story, leaving the reader to make his or her own decision on whether to take Will’s mothers side or Louisa’s mothers side.

The majority of the novel is narrated by Louisa with a few chapters told by other characters to give background information and tell thoughts of other characters that Louisa wouldn’t have access to such as Will’s nurse and friend, Nathan, and Louisa’s younger sister, Trina. As the novel progresses Louisa’s hope and confidence in her mission to save Will becomes stronger and all the more heartfelt. She becomes more than just an awkward companion to a crippled and overwhelmingly depressed man. She’s the one that keeps Will holding on for as long as he does. She joins online forums to find activities and ways to make Will believe he can still lead the life he once did. She thinks and spends every waking moment with Will in her thoughts, trying not to watch as the days, weeks, months on her calendar fall and slip away. Louisa is such an affective voice in the book through her observations of Will as well as her own self reflections of her progression. Will inspires her to get out of her bubble and take the world, while she still is young and has a chance. He urges her to seek adventure and be someone greater than what the town allow her to be. Will’s faith in Louisa gives Louisa the faith she needs in herself to take chances, risks and make choices. The reader sees this from little pivotal moments here and there in the story such as the scene in the tattoo parlor, Louisa’s flashback to the maze incident growing up, as well as her adventure scuba diving towards the end.

If all the little yet ripping events in between weren’t enough to tear apart my heart the ending was brutal, just completely and utterly brutal. After the final holiday that Louisa, Will and Nathan took together I was looking towards a completely different, more romantically classic ending. I was definitely not prepared for the way it all ended up. But then again, it is a sort of feminist, contemporary ending where the girl doesn’t necessarily need the guy to sweep her off her feet and lead her into a happy ever after in the sunset. In this story Louisa makes it into the sunset alone, without a guy. This little turn I really liked, but then again there is a part of me that just felt as though Will was completely giving up hoe at adapting to life as it was now available to him. His life was a miracle and, though it was not the life he chose, it was still in the grand scheme of things a life better than many other people were able to get out of a traumatic accident. But then again, reading all the little pieces of Will’s life that he could no longer have for himself from typing a letter on his computer with his bare hands, to dancing with a girl on his own two feet, and even to walking up the steps to his favorite restaurants there is also a part of me that admires Will for having held on for as long as he did. This new life was not life to Will. This new world of pain, constant attention when put in public situations, it was all just too much for Will, even with Louisa around to make it all somewhat more bearable.

Me Before You is an inspiring and memorable story that left me in tears, both happy and sad. Though the ending was not as I would have pictured going in, it was nonetheless perfect in its own right. Lives are changed inside and outside of the story as life and what it means to live one’s own life as one chooses must be redefined. The characters are charming and realistic to the point I found myself at times being them in the course of the story. This book captures everything I’ve ever looked for in a book – romance, heartache, loss and self discovery. This is one of those stories that will make you shudder, sending chills up your spine even after you turn the last page.

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Goodreads)