Garden Spells ~ Sarah Addison Allen


Garden SpellsGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I tried not to read this book in one day but I couldn’t help it. Even though I had guests and things to do and people to cook for, I started this book on Saturday morning and but a little past midnight on Sunday morning I was done. Every time I read one of Allen’s books I fall in love. It is rather an exquisite feeling to be so enchanted with the mind and worlds of another. She creates true magic on the page and I must admit that I am eternally grateful to her. I started reading a bit of Magical Realism with Alice Hoffman but didn’t quite love her s o much. Ali Shaw excited me far better. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake excited me in theory but not in execution. And then Allen came along. The more I read her stuff the more empowered I feel to write the same genre and the idea excites me more than I can express. Some writers are so good at this particular genre that experiencing their stories feels like childhood fantasy come true. That childlike search for wonder has been satiated by these writers for me. How do you say “thank you” for that? How do you let someone know that because of them something in your own universe has shifted for the greater good and that they have given you a priceless gift for which you will  always be grateful.

If you’ll excuse me, I now have to go and find the rest of Ms. Allen’s books because it has become very clear to me that I need them…

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His & Hers ~ Mike Gayle


His 'N' HersHis ‘N’ Hers by Mike Gayle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Terrible news: I have to demote Mike Gayle from my Top Ten authors list. It’s kind of ok because I really just put him on there because I didn’t have a real top ten authors list so I made on up quickly and filled in the last couple of spaces with authors I kind of enjoyed and felt like reading about in March during my “favourite authors” marathon. Anyway – this book was kind a “meh” in that it was so cliche that I actually started to get annoyed. The WHOLE book was cliche with a ridiculous unrealistic ending that didn’t match all the rest of the realistic cliche-ing. I can’t help but think Mr Gayle may have been trying to work out a few personal issues by writing this book. Actually….that’s not the first time I’ve had that thought about his stuff.

I’m growing up I guess. Bloke-lit can be awesome and Gayle has done a good job of it in the past, but I think this time he didn’t succeed quite as well as he usually does.

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Trying to Save Piggy Sneed ~ John Irving


Trying To Save Piggy SneedTrying To Save Piggy Sneed by John Irving

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Because of Garp, Own Meany, and all the folk at The Hotel New Hamshipre, John Irving will always be one of my favourite writers. He is pretty heavy though and I must admit that lately I don’t quite know if I’m clever enough to read him any more. I have most of his books displayed proudly above my fireplace. Some I have read, some I haven’t. I keep thinking I should get around to them but then opt for something a little less taxing on my IQ. I chose to read Piggy Sneed this month because I couldn’t leave John Irving out of a month of reading my favourite authors, now could I? And it was the shortest book. Unfortunately I have to admit that I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it either. But it didn’t stay with me at all. Not like Owen Meany and Egg did. Not at all. IT was good writing, because Irving is good at writing, but I’ll forget these stories soon enough. I’ve actually forgotten most of them already.

Perhaps it is time to pick up another one of his novels….

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A Long Way Down ~ Nick Hornby


CYMERA_20140313_150819As you can possibly see by this failed sort-of-attempt-at-arty photograph, I own three copies of Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. I’m not entirely sure how this came about. No. I lie. The red one I bought when it first came out because High Fidelity, About a Boy and How to Be Good were awesome. The purple one I bought because it was on sale at Bargain Books  and the cover was pretties than the red one. And the blue one my mom bought me at a flea market because she knew I liked Nick Hornby. So now I have three. To be honest I’m not even sure this particular red one is mine. I loaned someone a bunch of books once. Since then she kind of broke up with me friendwise (ok then) and so because she wasn’t speaking to me I asked another friend to ask her for my books back. I’m sorry but I really don’t think you should have to go through all that whatthefuckjusthappened crap and then still have to lose your books as well. Anyway – she returned a bunch of books and none of them were mine. I used to have a red copy of this book, but I’m pretty sure someone else has it at the moment. So now…. I don’t really know what to do or why this blog post has ended up being such a giant preamble to what is essentially probably only going to end up being a vaguely informative review post.

I decided to indulge in this particular book for the third time (see…I have three books… I’ve read this book three times…. totally normal!) because 1. I am reading my favourite authors this month and I don’t have any Nick Hornby books that I haven’t read yet and 2. the movie of this book is coming out soon so it’s always fun to have a bit of a catch up before watching the movie. Anyway….and here is where the vague part comes in…. I love this book. It is awesome. Nick Hornby never fails to impress me with his ability to become so many different characters. Of course, this book is extra special to me because it kind of inspired my own novel (which I now hate, but still) and I must be honest I was kind of weirded out by how little of it I actually remembered. I guess it’s kind of cool that my brain doesn’t retain stuff properly. It means I can kind of enjoy my favourite things more than once.

So who would enjoy this kind of book? Anyone who ever gave any real thought to pretty much anything ever. Anyone with the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Actually I’m kind of high on a flu virus right now…. Possibly no one should listen to anything I have to say….

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The Labrador Fiasco ~ Margaret Atwood


CYMERA_20140309_131145I have a confession to make: I totally chose this Margaret Atwood book to read because it was only 40 pages long.  And the book is teeny tiny so it’s not even a normal 40 pages so much as it about a quarter of that because seriously – them’s some tiny ass pages! But, I have great respect for Ms. Atwood and I wanted to include her in my favourite authors month, but I just didn’t have it in me to get into a heavy novel. So I read this one. And it was kind of sweet. Like I got it, even though I can’t really tell you what it was about. A man who had a stroke I guess. And a story about people getting lost in the wilderness. It was nice to read though it didn’t carry any sort of lasting message I guess. Unless you can count Margaret Atwood is good at writing as a message. Actually that seems like a pretty ok message….

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Looking for Alaska ~ John Green


Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now that I have had a few days to process this a little I think I can write a bit of a review. Or can I?

How do I put into words how interesting I find it that John Green chose to give his main character an obsession with famous people’s last words? How do I explain how much I feel like everything he chooses to say speaks so eloquently to his own personal real-ness in a way that makes me feel extraordinarily hopeful? I cannot. I cannot explain why I feel such a connection to this man. I cannot explain how much I wish he had been around for me to experience when I myself was a kid. I cannot explain without feeling a little bit stupid how grateful I am that John Green exists. Sometimes the man feels as though he is a gift, and yet I know he would sort of brush off such a statement with a humble smile and perhaps even laugh a little at the thought. I don’t know. But what a beautiful man. What an extraordinarily beautiful man. I’m so glad I picked up The Fault in Our Stars  at the airport in Bangkok. If I hadn’t, I might never have met John Green. And that, dear friends, would have been a great tragedy.

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Are We Not Reading the Same Books?


Photo on 2014-03-05 at 9.39 AMI was bullied pretty badly as a kid. I’m sure nothing as serious as what a lot of other people out there have endured, but it was pretty consistent (boring, tedious). I never considered killing myself. I don’t think I ever felt completely hopeless. But I did spend a lot of time in quiet tears that I didn’t let anyone see. It was a stupid thing. One of those things that I considered my problem because asking for help was too hard and I didn’t want anyone else to feel sad because of it. And your friends (and teachers) teach you very quickly that it is your problem and that they’re not actually going to stand up for you or do anything about it. They’re just going to sit on the sidelines and be grateful that you’re the target and not them, and sometimes they’re going to give off a giggle because being cool with the cool kids is what life is really all about. Your square ass doesn’t stand a chance! Kind of stupid I guess but you quickly come to the conclusion that you’re alone on this one, and if you’re lucky, you grow the boobs to deal with it and move on, hopefully unscathed.  Continue reading

How Did I Forget That I Love John Green?!


1660975_10153903486230094_2069668086_nSo John Green has lately become my favourite thing of all the things because he is a real person (sadly, as much as I love The Doctor, he is not real) and as a real person I think the contribution that he is making with regards to changing the world is a significant one. John Green is just a good and brilliant man. This is literally a person who has made the world a better place to live in simply by reminding so many people that not-being-an-asshole is kind of the coolest thing there is. John Green and his brother Hank started the Nerdfighter movement which is too much awesomeness for me to even remotely comprehend nevermind share with you so that you might comprehend it. John Green writes the kind of YA literature that you can confidently give your kids and not worry about somehow messing them up for life. In fact, if your kid is reading John Green you can be pretty confident that they will be better people at the end of each novel. How do I know this? Because I am a little bit better for each of his novels that I have read. That is how magic he is.

Anyway – the point is that I forgot that he is one of my favourites of all the favourites while I was writing a post about reading all my favourite authors this month.  This is kind of lame of me but he is a “new” favourite in that he has been a favourite for less than a year so I reckon I can forgive myself for the mistake. Luckily!! My husband bought me this little treasure as an anniversary present (I got him nothing…seriously…why did this man marry me?!) which made me remember that I LOVE JOHN GREEN and now I am so super duper happy because I get to read it right now this very minute as soon as I stop writing about how excited I am to have this new (to me) book by the awesomeness that is John Green. Continue reading

I’m totally naked in this photo….. (Catching the Sun ~ Tony Parsons)


1654136_10153890169420094_666020563_nAfter making just the tiniest bit of progress regarding our potential  move to Thailand I couldn’t resist picking up this book and getting lost in someone else’s ideas of the place. So, of course, I took a hot shower and jumped on to my bed to read it while the family was out somewhere (this blissfully happens from time to time) and yes… I am totally naked in this photo… Reading in the nude after a hot shower is the best way to read. (hashtag:true story)

As always Tony Parsons did not disappoint me. Funny enough this particular book got bad reviews but I still loved it. Toni Parsons bring a certain kind of honesty to his writing. He is so real that I do feel like his books are teaching me something. I feel like he teaches me what it is to be a man, and in doing so he shows me how men and woman can kind of understand each other. I feel like he understands me and that I understand him because when he writes, he simply just writes. I don’t know if it is silly but this gives me hope. We are not so lost and different. There are pieces of ourselves that easily intertwine with the pieces of others. And when those others are essentially “good people” it feels incredibly good.

Tony Parsons makes me feel hopeful. He makes me feel hopeful about ordinary life. It is one thing to instil in someone a longing through the power of fantasy imagination, but to meet a longing by simply pointing out the beauty in human flaws? It feels like a relief. And I do very much think that counts for something….

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March: A Month of My Favourite Authors


Photo on 2014-03-01 at 11.31 AM #4It’s after 11am and I’m still in bed. It’s Saturday so at least there’s that, but I can’t help thinking that I should at least get up and shower and make the bed. And perhaps some more coffee. Instead I’m still lying here thinking about my favourite authors and why I love them so much. I am busy reading Tony Parson’s Catching the Sun and I find myself wrecked and elated at the same time. What is it about this man? I feel as though he profoundly understands me. I am aware that this is a ridiculous thought. It feels good though. After too many fairytales in February (they were fun but they got a bit much after a while) I kind of feel like I deserve a “break” and should be allowed to indulge in my failsafes for a while. They never let me down, after all.

Here are some of the talents I hope to get around to this month:

1.) Tony Parsons

The introduction to One For My Baby  remains one of the most exquisite pieces of writing I have ever experienced. I often read just that piece and every single time it overwhelms me.

2.) Nick Hornby 

I have loved this man ever since I read About a Boy for the first time. His movies and his books have all moved me, but none quite so much as  How to Be Good  which I will probably re-read another 10 times in my life. I hope to get around to  A Long Way Down  this month because the movie is coming out soon. With Toni Colette again! *squeal*

3.) Anne Tyler

I cannot express the gentleness of this woman. Her understanding of the nature of mankind. She takes the ordinary parts of life and underlines the beauty. Magical.

4.) Sarah Addison Allen

A new favourite, Allen enchanted me with  The Girl Who Chased the Moon and I do believe I will remain enchanted throughout the rest of her works as well. After reading The Sugar Queen last year I finally decided on what kind of books I would like to write myself. I think I was kind of heading in that direction anyway, but she helped to push me over the edge. I picked up a copy of Garden Spells  the other day and I can’t wait to get into it.

5.) Mike Gayle

Love this man for the same reasons that I love Parsons and Hornby. He’s such a “bloke” – but a nice bloke. And I like him.

6.) William Kowalski

Just a guy doing his writer thing. Making me smile. Making me nod.

7.) John Irving

This man is so far out of my league that I hardly feel worthy of reading his books!

8.) Margaret Atwood

Same as John Irving. Not worthy I tell you.

9.) Elizabeth Gilbert

How 21st Century of me to fall in love with this woman! Though possibly her work is not good for my general disposition. I fell in love with Ms Gilbert after seeing her TED talk and only then did I decide I should give this Oprah-approved book a read. I found that Eat Pray Love left me with a feeling of profound sadness and dis-ease. But I suppose she made all of us feel like we have forgotten how to live. I want to try Committed again because I struggled with it before.

So….

Do you have your favourite authors who you use to rub your heart a little? Those few writers who you can trust to deliver something to ease your soul a little and leave you with a feeling of content instead of anxiety, or worse, indifference?

(Hmmmmm….. I’ve just realized that the  Photobooth thingy on this computer does a mirror image… Weird…. )