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”

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”

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)

Review: The Sun is Also a Star | Blinded by this Sunny Star

Title: The Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: November 01, 2016

Genre: YA

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

This book is an outpouring of tears and everything that any girl looks for in romance – affection, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, hopefulness. The Sun is Also a Star is a book on race, immigration, young love, hope, family – everything and anything that can be connected with love. Just like in Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon effortlessly brings together romance and culture by bringing together two young people from different worlds, representing love not only as a union between two people but also an understanding of dreams and differences between worlds and how these worlds affect dreams (wow, that was a riddle in an of itself!). Continue reading “Review: The Sun is Also a Star | Blinded by this Sunny Star”

Review: More Happy Than Not | Everything To Rather Be

Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Teen

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Genre: YA, LGBTQ, Mental Illness, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

How am I just now reading Silvera ? One of the most anticipated books from the debut author in 2015 and I’m just discovering his writing now, in the beginning of 2018. How is this even acceptable for any YA reader ? More Happy Than Not is a whirlwind of tragedy, misfortune, self-discovery, and an utmost pursuit of happiness in a reality where happiness is taken for granted and lost more easily than it is gained. This is a book of struggles between race, sexuality as well as oneself. It’s everything that I could ever hope for in a modern YA of today. This is a page turner that goes back in time recreating the demons of young Aaron Soto’s past and his determination to erase it all, even if it means losing more of himself than just his past.  Continue reading “Review: More Happy Than Not | Everything To Rather Be”

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower | The Perks of This Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephan Chbosky

Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books

Publication Date: February 1, 1999

Genre: Coming-of-Age, Mental Illness

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

It’s very rare that I go about writing a review on a classic, or a book that was published over ten years ago. Such books don’t really need the marketing or to be written about on blogs, nor do readers really go about scouring the internet for pointless nonsense on books already sitting and collecting dust in bookstores. Also, I don’t often read the same book from front to back over and over and over again. I’ve always believed that there is so many wonderful characters and worlds out there to discover that lingering more than necessary over one means to sacrifice all the others. That was all before I fell into Charlie’s backwards world in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I was roaming around the shops during my vacation in Milan back in October when I came across an English bookshop tucked away in one of those tiny shops that are impossible ever to find again. Nothing really drew me to the book I just saw it sitting on a crowded table along with all our other American authors – Steinbeck, Sinclair, Twain, the list goes on and on.

So here I am over a month later on my way to writing a review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. No, it did not take me that long to finish the book. The thing is, I read and reread the book from start to finish three times since. This is no exaggeration. The book and its characters has really touched me heart during a time in my life that I feel myself slipping away and unfamiliar with the soul taking over.  Continue reading “Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower | The Perks of This Wallflower”

Review: Appearances | When Words Discover

Title: Appearances

Author: Michael Collins

Publisher: Saddle Road Press

Expected Publication Date: November 1, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Poetry

Rating: 4 Stars

Esse in Anima

We are each ourselves at the harbor:
Runners run, readers read, children play,

I wander within myself within
the world, nothing is even wrong

with the distant cars in their straight lines,
driving from lot to lot as people

walk between ducks who simply sit
in the sun – I have given my eyes

to deeply to the breeze this morning;
I nearly stepped on one of them

From how it looked, he would have let me.

Dear fellow Babblers,

I was recently sent Appearances by the author, Michael Collins in exchange for an honest review. This is a spiritually uplifting collection of poetry – not a genre I typically will review for, but I am so pleased with this small, yet harmonic book that I feel compelled to share it with my readers. The only sort of contemporary poetry I read is Lang Leav, so I was thrilled to discover Collins’ work. Where Leav’s appeal to nostalgia is directed to love and heartbreak, Collins’ brings nostalgia a step further in coalescing the heart with nature. Typically a Young Adult and Contemporary Fiction reviewer I was initially a bit skeptical going into contemporary poetry. *One day later*…. I’ve read and reread each poem over and over. These poems have touched my heart and have shown me the beauty and sadness that underlies time and it’s passing.

This collection is separated into five parts, compromising a total of 49 exquisite verses. I will not attempt an analysis into the nitty gritty of his work, but lets ust call his writing style a Romantic mixture of Wordsworth and Keats. Each poem brings together the human body to its surroundings, be it fog, the sea shore, or the forests as a means to appeal to man’s dependence on nature, its static position, as well as its changing with time and seasons.

It would seem that the narrator is on a path to self discovery and with each verse, seems to come closer to his purpose as he becomes increasingly aware of the world in which he exists. The poems grow increasingly intimate and sensual as Collins traverses a variety of human emotions by means of his contact with nature. The speaker goes below the artificial surface of appearances in what seems like and intervention, or shall we say, interaction with his mind, heart, spirit, memory – all elements of his very persona – as a means of seeking solace and bliss through the promising, ephemeral moments granted by the world which envelops him.

I was very impressed by the style and use of language in each of the poems. They were powerful, evocative and had an altogether cacophonous tone which made them at once thought provoking and mind blowing. Collins uses vivid imagery such as “fleshy snowflakes,” “orange framed in a tangerine haze,” and “sun dancing snow,” reflective of his observations and musings on the past. All distinct, what renders these descriptions similar is their non permanence. Snow does not last, horizons do not remain orange, snowflakes get carried away come spring. Time changes the world and what unites humanity to this world is the mere fact that time affects all, nothing beautiful is permanent, and nothing young remains young; all must decay, change, and undergo transformation, therefore uniting nature and man into a singular, solid world.

Collins tests and plays a lot with form. Some appear to follow similar to an Alexandrian or Shakespearean sonnet while others are more inventive and seem to be free verse. I believe I read each poem just about a dozen times, all in different tones, including different pauses as a means to differentiate its sound and how the reading process would affect my connection and emotional reaction to the poem. There were subtle changes with each reread and I’m planning to read it again soon; this collection really is, that beautiful, not good, but beautiful. The intricacies and fleeting moments which we give little to no regard to in our everyday life is delicately placed on the forefront of Collins’ vision. He scrutinizes and beautifully recreates the world which we know, but in more translucent color. These poems are heartfelt and give one a sense of awe and delicate bliss, something that seems to fade, change, and intensify with time.

I would encourage all readers, no matter one’s genre preference to read Appearances. I’m more of a Young Adult and Contemporary reader so believe me when I say that this collection has that sparking enchantment that every reader looks for. It’s crisp, fresh, and evokes the sensibilities in a way that could transform one’s perceptions of themselves, who they were, and who they will be. With several references alluding to the soul and multiple reminiscent standalone verses which turn the eye away from the self and towards the horizon Appearances is a stunning read. I’m extremely pleased and honored to have been given this copy from the author and will be looking for more of his writing in the nearby future – more to come!

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Saddle Road Press)

Review: Dear Mr. M | When Suspense is Sacrificed for Style

dear. Mr. m

Title: Dear. Mr. M

Author: Herman Koch

Publisher: Hogarth

Publication Date: September 06, 2016

Rating: 3 Stars

 

“A reader reads a book. If it’s a good book, he forgets himself. That’s all a book has to do. When the reader can’t forget himself and keeps having to think about the writer the whole time, the book is a failure. That has nothing to do with fun. If it’s fun you’re after, buy a ticket for a roller coaster.”

Dear fellow Babblers,

I finished Herman Koch’s newest, perhaps bestselling novel quite a few weeks ago. I absolutely loved The Dinner, which I read for a Narrative Theory class I was taking a few months back because of Koch’s mastery of elements which render an event a story. So logically, wandering through the aisles at my locial bookstore and coming across more from Koch, I expected to be once again swept away my his intricate, stellar writing. Sadly mistaken. I have been putting off writing my review for this book mainly because I was not quite sure on how to approach an honest review without influencing my review by my overall perceptions and feelings of the book as a whole. But since I’ve been receiving quite a few requests lately to share my thoughts on Dear Mr. M lets jump straight to the babble…

Continue reading “Review: Dear Mr. M | When Suspense is Sacrificed for Style”