Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On Writing by Stephen King

This book is exactly what the title leads you to believe. It's Stephen Kings thoughts on writing. It's part memoir and part master class on the art of writing. 

I devoured this book in a day and took lots of notes. My love of reading has long since evolved into a love of writing and I tend to snap up really inspiring and helpful books related to the art of writing. I do play about here and their with stories and things, I've even written quite a stack of terrible poetry. Perhaps I will evolve some more into an author myself. Who knows? What I do know is this book will be the first review of possibly many related to books on the art of writing. 

In this book Stephen King talks about his life, his hardships, what it was like starting out writing and going through his life. It was eye opening, personal, and truly inspiring. 

I greatly respect him as both a writer and a person. This book really gives a behind the scenes look at his life and his work. I always feel more connected to an author after learning more about them. Makes them more human and the writing of a book more attainable. 

There is even a whole section where he shares an unedited piece of work and goes over how he would edit it which is super helpful. I am happy to have this book close at hand for future reference. 

Recommendation: For any writer, this book is a must. Even if you don't love his work, you have to acknowledge his mastery when it comes to writing. (Of course this book is even better if you do love his work!)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I can't remember why I hunted this down at the book store. I must have read about it somewhere in passing, but it wasn't until after checking out reviews that found out how popular this book has been.

The edition I have comes with and introduction from the author. That alone gutted me in two. Right from the start it broke me open and started putting me back together. 

This book is so full of wisdom and life lessons that must come right from the universe its self. It speaks to you in subtle and not so subtle metaphors that urge you to live a life with more happiness and purpose. It teaches you the importance of following your dreams.  It's a great experience. 

I really do think that this book, if you're paying attention, can change your life. I think everyone, no matter who you are, should read this book at least once. or twice. or five times. Sometimes I pull my copy out and flip through it.

You need to know that this book isn't like any of those self help, mushy, how to be the best person you can be in 5 steps type of book. This book tells you a story, and if you're listening, it will show you so much more. 

I had not read or even heard about this author before reading this book. I have to say now that I'm hooked. He writes in such a bewitching manner that you just drift away in his stories. I have a couple more books of his in my library already, but I feel like they all need to be covered on their own.

Recommendation: This book is called a fable about following your dreams. We all need that kind of encouragement in our lives. Read this. It will change you. I promise. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This book was raw, honest, and incredibly brave. It was also quite compelling and interesting.

I won't recap the novel suffice to say that it is about a woman who became ill with an almost unknown, almost undiagnosed disease that took over her life for a period of time. 

This woman is so brave to share her story with such honesty and transparency. She tells us all the gritty details of her illness, what she knows to have happened, and how she believes she felt. She is a journalist by trade so there are a lot of details that I really appreciate, especially how she took the time and effort to go back and collect all the info she could.

It's crazy to think that there are still illnesses out there that doctors are just now figuring out. Definitely makes me worry a little every time I don't feel well.

I am happy to have read this book. I am happier still that she fought such a crazy battle and is still here to tell us all about it, not to mention that there are wonderful doctors out there who keep searching for answers.

I was surprised to learn that the disease she had could have been the cause of "demonic possessions" throughout history. That alone I find pretty darn fascinating! 

Recommendation: I am glad I read it. If you enjoy true stories, especially the medical mystery type ones, then please pick this up! 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Who doesn't know the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald? Especially the Great Gatsby? (It's okay if you don't, I'm sure its just a little oversight)

Honestly, until the movie came out I wasn't in a hurry to read it. A couple years ago I made the decision to broaden my horizons and branch out from the usual authors to read the classics I should have read years ago.  I much prefer to read the books before I see the movies so I grabbed it up (for a great deal I might add) and read it.

Reading it didn't take me long. Figuring out what I felt about it took a whole lot longer. I felt like I was on the outside, being forced to watch something, and having no idea what to feel about it. There was so little to the story, but so much all at once that I didn't know what to focus on. It felt like everyone was talking about a party they went to around me and I just had to sit there and wait till they talked about something I could be a part of. 

I didn't dislike it. I honestly didn't know what to say about it at first, but I know I didn't hate it. I was pretty sure I liked it, but I was still having mixed feelings. 

With the movie coming out around this time there were articles online full of bits and pieces of the life and motivation of F. Scott Fitzgerald to write this book. The more I learned the more I started to appreciate this story and what it meant to him. It's like the pieces were clicking into place.

I have the movie and I've watched it many times. I think that the movie might do a better job of telling the story then the book does, but that's just me. Besides, Leonardo DiCaprio is just.... yeah. 

Recommendation: You are doing yourself a disservice by not having read this book yourself. Classics are meant to be experienced. Plus, it's pretty darn good! 

Thank you for reading!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

This is one of those books. It's a classic, and its one that no one really explains why they like it (even though many say they do.)

In my pursuit of expanding my reading of the classics, I picked this one up to see for myself what the whole rigmarole

Well I can honestly say I am more confused then before. This book was well and truly wasted on me. I didn't really like it, I didn't really enjoy it, and I didn't really understand it. I couldn't identify with the main character at all, which is what so many people say they like about this book. I just kept feeling lost like I was out in fog and I couldn't figure out where I was or even if I knew where I should be going. 

I googled the book after I read it and it was clear I missed a lot of the nuances and themes in this book. Even knowing more after didn't make the book any less odd to me. Perhaps if I had been required to study it in school perhaps, with someone to help me make sense of it? I might have at least been more comfortable with this book.

I keep having the feeling that this book is like the Emperor's Clothes. We all say this book is lovely and great for fear of some type of repercussion if we admit there really isn't anything of substance there at all. 

Recommendation: Read it at your own will. I don't think it should be missed, I think it should be experienced, but just know its well off the beaten path. 

*As usual, this is just my opinion. Take it and leave it as you wish. There is no possible way for us all to fall in love with the same things all the time. That's what makes us unique.*

Thank you for reading!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In case you didn't know Amy Poehler is a writer, actress, producer, and director. She is also super funny. This book a collection of awesomeness in a kind of memoir format. It's pretty darn cool.

I do love a good comedy movie and television show so I have seen her work a few times, but I didn't really get a feel for the woman behind the humour. It wasn't until I saw the show Parks and Recreation that everything changed for me.

Honestly, a woman who can act out and bring so much life and love to a character like Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation deserves a whole lot more of our attention. I could go on and extol
the love I have for that show but we would be here for a looooong time. (Please go watch it if you haven't seen it. It's worth it I promise!)

Now, if you are at all interested in this book please PLEASE go to the store and simply open it and flip through it. I will not elaborate, but you will immediately understand why you need this book in your life. Seriously.

She is hilarious and brilliant and funny and smart and wise and perfect and awesome all wrapped up into this special great person that just makes her one of a kind. I loved her writing. It felt like she was sitting there talking instead of writing. I really enjoyed it.

There were quite a few different quotes I've written down and since I read this over a period of a couple weeks (I needed to leave some for later, didn't want to finish it too soon) I found myself bringing up bits and pieces, even reading some out loud to my guy.

Recommendation: Read it. You will laugh, you will enjoy it, you will come to know so much more about this woman, the world of comedy, improv, and life.

Thank you for reading!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

This is the first review so far of a book that I have just read. I finished this one a couple nights ago.

I am almost certain that I've read a novel by Philippa Gregory in the past, because her name always looks so familiar. I did a little research on the author and it turns out that she wrote the book The Other Boleyn Girl that was made into a movie which I sadly have never watched.

I purchased this novel a week or two ago from the clearance last copy sale section of my local Chapters book store. Combined with another discount I had, the book cost me $1.44. It was a huge steal, cheaper than I find at most used book stores. Of course I had to have it.

This book was a historical fiction book set in the late 1400's in England and it followed the lives of some of the royalty at the time. This author takes real historical facts like people and places, then paints her own picture of what could have happened (especially where there is not really an explanation of what happened in real life.)

I liked how she did it. It was very interesting. I liked that it was set from a woman's perspective living as royalty back in the 1400's. Because it was based in real life, with certain events having been recorded certain ways, she was limited in certain ways. This is why I disliked the ending the story had to have. It was not her fault, she was staying true to history, after all.

I don't think I will be hurrying to pick up her other novels. I liked it, and it kept my interest, but I do not feel like I am going to collect her other books. I think that the stories could get repetitive and although I do enjoy historical fiction, its not my absolute favourite. If I saw another book on a super sale, I would probably pick it up.

Recommendation: If you like historical fiction and you are familiar with her work, then read it. Otherwise, it isn't life shattering if you pass this one by.

Thank you for reading!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Often I find my eyes stopping on the spine of this book when I glance over to my book shelf. I have plans to read this one again, but alas the "to be read" list gets bigger by the week it seems.

I can't recall how I heard of this book, but it was probably because the movie was coming out. I think I might have picked it up because it was so talked about at the time and because I knew it was starring Emma Stone. 

I found it to be a moving story and although it was fiction, I do believe that the lives as told by the Help could have and probably did happen just like the author wrote. I think this book
encompassed the right amount of humour, truth, historical references, and enough fiction to make it an important but easy read on an indelicate subject. 

I thought this book was very well written and easy to follow. I can see why it became so popular at the time, and I hope it is still well loved.

By the way, I love the movie too. It brings me to tears and it makes me laugh. I love all the actors and actresses in that movie and I think it was wonderfully done. Emma Stone is one of my absolute favourites.
 I only have one complaint with it, but as far as movies based on books, I think they did it justice. 

My only wish would be to be able to read the book they wrote in this book. I would be very interested to hear more stories about the real lives of the people who worked as The Help. I have a fascination with people and their life stories, good or bad. 

I count this book among my favourites and I have watched the movies several times. 

Recommendation: If you haven't yet had the pleasure, please do!

Thank you for reading!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Flavia De Luce Mysteries by Alan Bradley

I discovered the Flavia De Luce mysteries purely by chance a couple years ago. I was looking to step away from my usual authors and pick up something new. There was a whole display of newer books and I picked up The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie mostly because of the title.

The novels follow Flavia De Luce the eleven year old chemist as she discovers dead bodies and becomes wrapped up in the mysteries that ensue. She's stubborn, shes very smart, and she keeps you on your toes. She is an English girl living in a big mansion with her father, two sisters, a man of all trades, and a cook that comes to help out in their kitchen. Everyone is a character and a half and well worth getting to know. 

I love these books. I really do. The main character is a refreshing one, and the titles alone are totally cool. There are six so far in the series, and I have them all. I read somewhere that there are plans for 10 which makes me incredibly happy because these books are great.

The latest one that has come out this year has the novel going in a bit of a different direction, but I am a-okay with it. These are definitely up there with my favorite books. I had hoped to get them all in soft cover, but I found the third one at a thrift store for about $5 in hard cover so I couldn't resist. Same with the newest one, it was 40% off I believe, so I didn't wait for soft cover. 

I love that these books were written by a Canadian, but I still find it a little odd that a man can write a little girl so well. I will say that perhaps Flavia is a little more masculine because of it. Doesn't matter though, I am still on board and loving these books.

Recommendation: If you love a good mystery, pick these up! They are wonderful!

Thank you for reading!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Series

The first series I wanted to talk about is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books by Steig Larsson. I believe they are also called the Millenium Triolgy but I never liked that moniker.

If you did not know they were written by an amazing Swedish author and were published posthumously. I really wish this wasn't the case because I would have loved to read more of his writing.  I read online that he had plans for 10 novels but only finished the three before his death. I am not sure if  that is true, but it definetly makes me wish he could have written them all.

You may have heard that there is a new book coming out using the same characters and perhaps some of the general plot points of the previous novels. This was written by a different man and although its related it's supposed to be somewhat of a different take, I believe. I could be wrong. It's supposed to be released at the beginning of September here in Canada.

I am on the fence about it, to be honest. There are many books that have been read by someone else using (with permission of course) the characters and style of another deceased author which I have enjoyed, and who knows, this one might be just as good. I will have to wait and see what the reviews are like. 

I have what I call a Twilight complex when it comes to books that everyone becomes obsessed with. Often I will find myself hating the books that are so very popular with everyone else. Not these ones thought. 

I loved these books. So much so that I have read them twice and i think it's about time I read them again. 

These books are for the mystery lovers, for the thrill seekers, for the lover of a good read. They do look long and drawn out, but honestly, I didn't notice the length of them. I really enjoyed the ride. I will say there are parts that are very detailed and you may wonder why we needed to know this, but other then that, they are great. I really liked being sort of immersed in Swedish culture and the use of Swedish names and such. Kept it fresh for me.

I could go into more detail, but in case you have not yet had the pleasure of reading these lovely books, or if you've seen the movie, it would be quite unnecessary. 

As for the movies, well I have only seen the original Swedish version with the subtitles starring the amazing Noomi Rapace and it was perfect. I refused to watch the Americanized version because in my eyes not one could replace her as Lisbeth Salander. 

If you were interested in picking up these books for yourself, I would suggest you have a look at your local thrift store or used bookstore. I was in one a couple days ago and they had four copies of the first two for sale for about 5$. No doubt they will be readily available again because of the new novel coming out. 

Recommendation: Read them! I don't think you'll be disappointed as long as you don't let the long lenth discourage you.

Thank you for reading!


Monday, May 4, 2015

Much Ado About Books

I love to read. It's one of my favourite things. I feel that through reading we can live thousands of lives, learn new things, and experience moments we would never have been able to in our daily lives. I think reading is truly magical.

These days when I get into a book (usually when I have free time) I find myself reading it in one sitting. This means I read quite a few books a month. Because of my interest in literature, I've started expanding my reading to books that may have been out of my comfort zone before and to learn to better appreciate the writing. I feel that novels are meant to teach us something, especially the classics, and because of that I have started writhing down what I feel about each of them for myself. 

 It occurred to me that a lot of my most recent book purchases were made because I came across the books on someone else's social media. I have also come across so many lovely book focused Instagrams and blogs that I adore. I won't lie, I wanted in on the fun! 

There will be no detailed synopsis on the books, no major plot points discussed, no spoilers of any kind. I am not assuming you have read the book so I am treating this more like a general review and less like a book club discussion.

I am going to go through some old favourites as well as some new books as I read them. Some books will be reviewed by author, some by series, others on their own. I will do this at my own whim, so please, bear with me. 

Recommendations are absolutely welcome! I would love to read and write about what interests you, so please let me know.  

Thank you for reading!