Review- All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Rating: 5/5 stars

Pages: 529

It doesn’t hurt, she explains. And there is 18143977no darkness not the kind they imagine. Everything is composed of webs and lattices and upheavals of sound and texture”

Marie-Laure LeBlanc goes blind at age six, living with her father who works at a museum and dedicates his entire being to making sure his daughter is loved and well taken care of. They live in Paris during the German bombings, and are forced to flee their home and head to London, where her crazy, but tender great-uncle lives.

Werner Pfennig is a young boy living in an orphanage in Germany. His exceptional skills in engineering land him a place in one of the most prestigious schools in all of Germany. Werner knows that serving the Germans without believing in their cause is wrong, but he is expected to follow the rules and fulfill his duties. In his final call to action, Werner must decide to obey his military instructions, or follow his heart.

This novel is beautifully woven, told in many different perspectives that eventually intertwine. I found Marie-Laure’s storyline to be the most interesting, although I believe that Werner’s character was also very well-developed. Doerr does an excellent job giving these two children deep characterization, giving the reader full understanding of their personalities.

This book tore me to pieces. Before reading All the Light We Cannot See, I haven’t cried during a book since I read To Kill a Mockingbird 8 years ago. I had to take a mental rest from the heaviness of this novel every 75 pages or so. Still, I absolutely adored it.

The writing was beautiful, the characters were beautiful, the story was beautiful. I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction, but this definitely makes my list of Top Books I’ve Ever Read. No wonder this book has won so many awards. Congrats, Anthony Doerr, you’ve officially changed my life as a reader.

Advertisements

Sunday Book Recommendation 12/28

So I’ve decided to post a book recommendation every Sunday to keep my blog active and such. The format will differ from the way I’ve been writing my book reviews, just to switch things up. I’ll try not to use the same genre twice in a row.

9780307341556_p0_v6_s260x420

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I read this book last summer without checking the reviews or knowing anything about Gillian Flynn. This was before Gone Girl blew up, so I don’t think she was very well known. I remember spending the whole day in bed with my kindle because I couldn’t seem to put this book down.

As a warning, this book is creepy. I mean, it really messes with your head. Half way through, I wanted to throw the book down and never pick it up again; that’s how messed up it got. The main character, Camille, is trying to solve the murder of two preteen girls who happen to be from her home town. As a journalist, she’s forced to go back and stay with her hypochondriac mother and face the demons of her past while she simultaneously tries to figure out what happened to those two young girls. While there, Camille is confronted with a childhood tragedy that she so deeply tried to cut from her life years ago.

If you’re looking for a roller-coaster read, this is definitely it. Although Gone Girl is Flynn’s more famous novel, I’d say that Sharp Objects is her best (she also wrote Dark Places which was pretty good as well). Just as a reminder: this book may be triggering to some readers, as there are scenes that involve self-harm.

If you’ve read this book, please comment and let me know what you thought of it!

Review- The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Rating: 5/5 stars

 Pages: 293TheGraveyardBook_Hardcover

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

Nobody Owens is a human boy raised by the ghosts of dead souls in a graveyard. He is free to roam around the graveyard as he pleases, learning to fade in and out of vision and able to jump into dreams of the living. He is told to never leave the graveyard, for there is a man named Jack who is on the hunt to kill him. Nobody meets many different types of people in the graveyard—witches, ghouls, and living people walking among the graves. These different beings take him on many adventures both inside and out of the graveyard.

This book read more like a collection of related short stories to me. Although fluid, the chapters could be read individually. Nevertheless, Gaiman’s writing is articulate, fun, and easy to follow for readers of all ages. Nobody is the perfect protagonist for a young reader to relate to and a way for older readers to reflect back upon themselves as children. I really enjoyed joining Nobody through his adventures in discovering the laws of the undead.

I found interesting parallels between this novel and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. At first I was worried that the two would be too similar, but Gaiman takes this novel into a completely different world than The Ocean. (By the way, if you haven’t read The Ocean yet, please go do so right away).

I didn’t really know what urban fantasy was before I read The Graveyard Book, but now it all makes sense. There’s no way I could put the genre into my own words, but this is definitely it. Since I don’t usually read “fantasy” books, I was hesitant to jump into this book. Now I am an avid lover of urban fantasy, a title that I embrace.

Neil Gaiman is fantastic. You probably already knew that. Hell, who doesn’t know that by now? The Graveyard Book is, also, fantastic. I got the book for Christmas and I’m writing this review Christmas night.

The Best Books of 2014 (IMO)

I’ve read quite a few books this year! It feels good to scroll through Goodreads and see my year in books. I thought I’d highlight 8 books that really grabbed me this year. In no particular order, of course.

Dawn by Octavia Butler— Butler was one of the first female African American science fiction writers. Dawn is the first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy and the other two books are currently on their way to my house. Dawn was a mix of sci-fi, thriller, and horror…a great combination, if you ask me.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman— This was the first book I’ve read by Gaiman and I ended up purchasing two more of his books for Christmas. This book really stuck with me; I find myself randomly thinking about it throughout the day. Gaiman is absolutely brilliant.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult— I’m a sucker for Picoult. I’ve loved her books since I was in middle school. She’s the reason I became such an avid reader. I think Sing You Home is extremely underrated. Perhaps this is because it touches on a bunch of controversial issues. Regardless of your stances on gay marriage, artificial insemination, and abortion, this is a fantastic story.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman— Unwind was one of the only YA novels I read this year. It’s part of a trilogy, although I think I’m going to stop at the first book. It was captivating and a very fast read. Despite this, the concept of unwinding is very interesting to both YA and adults. I got this book for my younger brother for Christmas this year!

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel— What a fantastic graphic novel! Well, I guess it’s technically an autobiography told in graphic novel format. Bechdel tells of her life growing up in Vermont, the suicide of her dad, and her eventual coming out as a lesbian. Bechdel lives around my university, so sometimes she’s spotted at the local bookstore. She seems really cool.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman— I’ve just learned that this book is going to become a movie in 2015. I rarely read historical fiction, but this book was a great exception. The plot was very interesting, and I’m so excited to see what they do with the film!

Ubik by Philip K. Dick— Philip K. Dick is one of my all-time favorite writers. His books are weird, I mean, I found myself looking up from this book thinking “what was this guy on when he wrote this?!”. He’s written so many books and I’m glad I randomly picked this one up. It’s about sci-fi, time travel, and drugs. Awesome.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield— If you scroll down two posts, you’ll see an in-depth review of this book. I loved it. It was great. Read the review!

Review- Attachments

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

41StMr9ElGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Rating: 4/5 stars

Pages: 323

Lincoln is the IT guy, or “internet security officer”, for The Courier. His job is to read through the company’s flagged emails–the ones with inappropriate language or jokes. He begins reading email threads between two of the writers, Beth and Jennifer, and can’t seem to stop. Lincoln finds himself falling in love with Beth via snooping around on her email conversations. Lincoln ultimately has to choose between telling Beth about his actions and losing his job, or letting her go.

This book was funny and an all-around enjoyable read. I usually begin my reviews with a nice quotation from the book that spoke to me, personally, but I couldn’t really find one from Attachments. Though, I don’t believe that Rowell meant for this book to resonate deeply with people. My guess is that she wanted this to be a fun read, which it was.

There wasn’t really anything that made this book special. It was a light and quick read that left me satisfied at the end. The events were very unbelievable, but again, I don’t think that was Rowell’s point. She did a great job using unique points of view (Lincoln’s narrative and the email conversations between Beth and Jennifer) to engage the reader without making things confusing.

I found myself laughing at the absurdity of Lincoln’s life, but also at the jokes within the text. Beth and Jennifer are funny people, and their email thread reflects it. I was in a reading slump before I picked this book up, and it certainly brought me out of that slump.

After hearing so many great things about Rainbow Rowell, I finally caved in and got this book. I’m so glad I did! I look forward to reading more of her work.

Review- The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

200px-ThirteenthtaleRating: 4.5/5 stars

Pages: 406

    “How long did I sit on the stairs after reading the letter? I     don’t know. For I was spellbound. There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you   prisoner.”

 Margaret Lea is a biographer who has lived in an apartment above an antiquarian bookstore her entire life. She is contacted by a famous novelist, Vida Winter, and asked to recount her life story which has been a mystery for years. Lea takes the job and finds herself captivated by the characters and intense tale that Vida Winter weaves for her. Throughout listening to the old woman talk, Lea discovers the power of family, love, and storytelling.

Honestly, I really liked this book. To start off with, the hardcover version is beautiful with and without the dust jacket. It looks like an old book with wear to the pages. Having it physically in my hands definitely added to the experience.

Vida Winters, although not the protagonist, seemed like the most well-developed character in this novel. She was interesting, mysterious, but easy to understand by the final chapter. Margaret Lea, on the other hand, was still a confusing personality to me at the end of the novel. I wish Setterfield had taken a bit more time to develop her.

The plot was slow to start off with but absolutely gripping by a third of the way into the book. The novel uses the ever-captivating topics of twins, death, and reading to draw the audience in. Setterfield intertwines these topics very well. I read the last half of the book almost in one sitting.

My favorite part of this novel was the appreciation it showed for writing and reading. The main character is a writer, and her love for the written word is very prevalent. Like anyone who enjoys reading, this appreciation for writing resonated deeply inside of me.

Overall, this was a great book to start off my winter break. It was a great length and never seemed to bore me. The writing style and plot were excellent and the character development was good, but not superb. The Thirteenth Tale is a nice addition to my bookshelf and I’m very glad I bought the physical copy, rather than the eBook.