What I Read

BOOKS I’VE READ AND REVIEWED ON THE BLOG

CRIMSON PEAK: THE ART OF DARKNESS 
Mark Salisbury
This is a big coffee-table type book, full of insight into one of my favourite movies. The production of Crimson Peak is endlessly fascinating to me, and this book covered absolutely everything, and also included something that I LOVE in books: little papers and envelopes and post cards and such, that look like they’re really from the movie.

CRIMSON PEAK (movie novelisation) 
Nancy Holder
A great adaptation of the movie. It’s so odd reading a book that is based on a movie, especially such a unique movie, but Nancy Holder did a pretty good job of capturing the atmosphere and characterizations that Guillermo Del Toro initially created. My only complaint is that the novel wasn’t longer, because I wanted more backstory and more detail.

NOT A FAN
Kyle Idleman

This book was sold in our church to accompany a sermon series based on its contents. Normally I stay away from religious type books because a) I don’t want to cry and b) they’re often lame. This one was a pleasant surprise, however, and I was glad I read it. It challenged me to think about things in a bit of a different way, which was very good, and it also showed me that all books on Christianity aren’t lame-o. It had humour, excellent teaching moments, and was very easy to read which I appreciated.

YES PLEASE
Amy Poehler

I need to start by saying: I love Amy Poehler. I love her humour, I love her style, I love her portrayal of Leslie Knope. I think she’s a real cool cat. Bryan surprised me with this book for Valentine’s Day, and I devoured it within hours of receiving it. She’s so funny and and easy to relate to. In particular, her story about apologizing and regret and taking too long to fix things really spoke to me. Also, and this is something I appreciated about Mindy Kaling’s first book, she depicts a childhood where she had two very loving parents and where she didn’t feel the need to be a rebel. I grew up with two loving parents, and I never ever even considered rebelling (although to be fair, how the heck do you rebel in small-town Saskatchewan?). I like reading about the struggles of peoples’ childhoods sometimes, but it’s also always nice to read a book where you can really relate.

WHY NOT ME?
Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling’s second book was a fun read, though I didn’t like it as much as the first one. That is not to say that I disliked it or thought it was bad, I just thought her first book was stronger in general. Took me an afternoon to get through it, and I found myself giggling here and there and just generally enjoying her writing style and anecdotes. I wish she would write a novel sometime, as I really think she’d be great at it.

ROOM
Emma Donoghue
Ugh. This book. It was SO good. It was one of the most intense books I’ve ever read. There were several parts where I had to physically put the book down so that I could gather myself, and remind myself that this was only a fiction book. Unfortunately, I know that events similar to those in the book DO happen, so it was very hard not to dwell on that. I ended up having to read the book in two sittings, as I was emotionally drained. It was really a wonderful story though, written from the perspective of a five year old boy who has never seen the world. The author really did an amazing job at creating his little voice, and giving him characteristics that really seemed realistic. I can’t wait to see the movie. (Congrats to Brie Larson!!)

STILL ALICE
Lisa Genova
This one was a toughie to read. I probably shouldn’t have read it immediately after such a heavy book as Room was. By the time I finished this book (which is about Alzheimer’s – something that terrifies me), I was feeling very disoriented and confused, a side effect of the incredible writing. I was so sucked into the story, and so deep into Alice’s head, that when I completed reading the book I had to take a few minutes to really collect myself and remind myself that I do not have Alzheimer’s, and it was just a book. This feeling passed after a couple minutes, but it was an odd sensation. I’m a bit nervous to watch the film, as anything to do with mental illnesses or the elderly tends to freak me right out – I’m not afraid of growing old, but I AM afraid of what comes with it – but I think I may give it a shot this afternoon while Ginny is asleep. We’ll see.

SPOILED
Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
I recently read a book by this duo, The Royal We, and I loved it so much that I decided to take a chance on their young adult novel, Spoiled. I’ve avoided YA books recently, because I just can’t get into them or take them seriously, but Cocks and Morgan tend to be hilarious so I figured if I’m going to spend my money in the Teen section, it may as well be on their book.

The basic plot is: teenage girl finds out her dad is a massive Hollywood movie star, her mom dies, she goes to live with him and his other teenage daughter (who is a snob), and then worlds collide and stuff happens. It’s a predictable book, but good for some light summer reading. I’m actually not finished reading this one quite yet, but it’s one of those books where I am one hundred percent confident with how I’ll feel by the end already. The book is witty, full of interesting celebrity and fashion-world  references, and despite it being a YA book (which I have nothing against…they just personally don’t work for me anymore – with the exception of old favourites of course – I will never let go of that lovable Harry Potter), I enjoyed reading it and will keep it in my library to read again.

BITTERSWEET
Colleen McCullough
I’m just going to be upfront: this book was a disappointment. The reasons I picked it up were A) it had an attractive, art-deco cover, B) I recognized the author and already have one of her books, and C) the plot did sound intriguing. I rarely buy books that I’ve never heard of, that haven’t been recommended to me, or that I haven’t read already, but I figured that this one would end up being a good choice. Wrong-o.

It takes place just before, and during the Depression, in a small town in Australia. It follows the lives of four sisters (2 sets of twins) as they become the first registered nurses at their local hospital, as they find romance (or not), and strengthen their own sisterly bonds. All of that sounded right up my alley. Medical stuff? Yes! Old timey medical stuff? Even better! Romance? Sign me up! Sisters? I have one of those! Sadly, the book just did not live up to any of my expectations. By the time I finished, I was regretting buying the book, which rarely happens. I hate having a book in my collection that I won’t re-read, but this is one of them.

Here’s where the book went wrong. The chapters that focused on the nursing education the girls were receiving, were only researched to the bare minimum. The information I was reading (and I was not expecting a factual non-fiction account), seemed like just common sense and offered nothing new or interesting, save for the hierarchy of the nurses, “sisters” as they were known, which I honestly didn’t care about. I was hoping for at least one or two really good medically interesting scenes, but there were just no details.

The characterization of literally everyone is where the book also failed. Everyone was given a distinct personality from the get-go, but then flip-flopped throughout the story. In life, and in books, sometimes a person can change, but I found it very hard to believe some of the changes these characters went through. It was frustrating to really become fond of someone, only to have them turn out to be kind of a knob.

The final issue I had, was the pacing. The book was touted as a saga, which to me meant that it would span perhaps several decades, but it really only covered maybe 5 or so years. Within those years though, too much and not enough happened, we would skip ahead a number of months in a way that was jarring and had me confused as to whether or not it was just months or in fact years. And then the book ended in such a way that VERY incomplete. I closed the cover and felt like I had wasted 3 hours of my life, and I wanted to ask the author, “Where’s the rest of the book?!” It ended so abruptly and in a way that was very unsatisfying.

IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? (AND OTHER CONCERNS)
Mindy Kaling
I’d been itching to read this memoir for quite a while, so when I found it for a really great price, I made sure to grab it. This book was exactly as I expected: funny, charming, and a good insight into an actress I’ve grown to like. Something I wasn’t expecting: to relate to her. Mindy Kaling is such a vivacious broad, and judging from her performances on TV, very much unlike myself. But you shouldn’t really judge actors by their roles! That’s silly, and I know that, but whatever. Mindy is so grounded, and has great values and I really appreciated reading about her thoughts on one-night stands, and family.

S.
Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams
This was a book and a half. I found it by accident as I was trying to spend the last of an Indigo gift card. I was aimlessly wandering in the aisles, waiting for something to call my name and this book just started screaming at me. This is a complicated book. It is really a book within a book, and I’d like you to please stick with me as I try to explain. S. is the book. Ship of Theseus is the book within. S. comprises of Ship of Theseus as well as two college students (a guy and a girl) who meet and begin communicating in the margins of Ship of Theseus. Handwritten notes litter each page, and as the plot of the novel develops, so does the plot of these two students. Loose leaf pages, napkins with maps drawn on, photographs, and postcards are to be found tucked into the pages of the book and it was so exciting to turn the page and find a new treasure to remove and inspect. It is a VERY hard book to read. There are several ways to read the book (just the novel, just the margins, novel and margins at the same time…), and once I finished reading it myself, I realized that I will need to go back and re-read at some point because I have NO idea what the heck happened. Still, this is an incredible book, and an incredible literary experiment that was just a delight to be able to try out. So the plot: These two students are trying to solve all these clues that were apparently left in Ship of Theseus by the novel’s translator, and in trying to solve the mystery they become targets of a nefarious group themselves.

SOPHIE’S CHOICE
William Styron
Sophie’s Choice is one of the most well-written books I’ve read in a very long time. The style is so unique to the book, and was very easy to read despite the heavy subject. A young man moves to New York to make it as a writer, and encounters the beautiful and sad Sophie, as well as her abusive and off-his-rocker boyfriend. As the story unfolds, we learn that Sophie is a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, but there is even more to just that than at first glance. I was fully expecting this book to be a tear-jerker, but while much of the story did really get me thinking and was quite powerful, the moment of Sophie’s Choice seemed to pass by without much fanfare. Especially after watching the Choice scene from the Meryl Streep movie on youtube (which is one of the most terrifying movie scenes you can ever watch, particularly as a parent), I was a little disappointed that the Choice didn’t have more impact. However, it is absolutely a book I will be reading again.

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