Category Archives: Opinion

The Little Paris Bookshop Review

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I realize I have a problem. I was going to say it’s a minor problem but that’s not always the case. And yes, I realize I have more than A problem. I realize that I, at times, am more interested in someone’s backstory than the actual person. For example when I lived in Budapest, I would pass the homeless and wonder how they became homeless and not how could I help them now. I understand that this isn’t all bad because to know one’s past is to know one now. If you believe in that theory and I mostly do. All this to say is that I read a book by Nina George. If you don’t know who Nina George is, don’t feel bad because I really don’t know much but there is a fact about her that I’m interested in. She is German who lives in both Germany and France. I’ve been reading more translated pieces and most of the time I don’t get invested in an author, I don’t even do that with American authors. I just got fascinated by people who live in two different countries at the same time.

 

The book I read of hers was The Little Paris Bookshop. This book really got me interested in a person who writes a novel set in a country that is not their own. I got really defensive for a while and thought what made her qualified to write a book about France. But knowing after the fact that she lives in two countries makes a lot more sense. For those whose geography sucks, because mine isn’t great, Germany and France are neighbors so it’s not impossible to do. I know for Americans that’s a hard thing to understand sometimes.

 

Little Bookshop is a book, as I took it, that is about forgiving yourself. I feel like this book, that I really didn’t read the back of, came at an interesting time. I’ve had to learn to forgive myself on a lot of things the past few years and I’m still in the process of doing so. It also comes at a time where it seems like a lot of people on Facebook have been posting articles pertaining to letters to a former best friend. Putting that all together and me being let’s say, overly emotional, made this book a very interesting read.

 

This book isn’t a hard read. At the beginning of the book I was a little worried that it was going to be a book of flowery, beautiful sentiments coming from an old man that ran a bookshop and drastically changed people’s lives. I’m glad that it wasn’t and Perdu isn’t that old, he’s 50. Maybe I see that not as old because I’m in the last year of my 20s and since life goes by fast, 50 isn’t that far away. I don’t mind the flowery, beautiful sentiments when used sparsely but at the beginning of this book there was a lot of those lines that make a sentiment person sigh and dwell thoroughly on what they just read. I hesitated finishing this book after the first few chapters because I was worried Perdu was going to become Ove from A Man Called Ove. For those of you who haven’t read that book, Ove is an older man who is in his grief and angry. Then someone is determined enough to pull him out of his depression and makes him more joyful. And yes, that kind of happens to Perdu but you can’t really put his journey on one person.

 

I can’t help but be utterly invested in Perdu. He is broken hearted, has a boat bookstore and is neighbors with an author. Do I have to say he has a boat bookstore again? I’m not a boat person only cause I live in the frozen tundra and there’s a lake nearby but when do I have time to make friends with a boat owner. I’m more interested in the bookstore and how he can pinpoint what book a person needs. I want to do that. Like the whole thing, bookstore and instinctively know what book someone needs. I also reacted strongly to his journey. Like there were people in his life that brought him to a healthier spot in his life and vice versa.

 

I kind of liked Perdu and Catherine’s relationship. Yes, there was the past love that Perdu had to get over but he was also thinking about Catherine. I also think he didn’t conscientiously realize how much thought he put into Catherine. That just makes them better.

 

Manon’s journal entries were an asset to the story. I wish that there were a couple more of them in the book. But I realize that a person’s journal is a very personal thing. I’d have a major problem if someone got a hold of my journal. I understand that the journal was meant for one other person, Perdu. So I get it. I didn’t need to see the whole journal. I’ll respect a fictional character’s privacy. I know to someone who doesn’t read a lot and has actual real life friends doesn’t understand this sentiment. I think Perdu needed to read that journal to bring him to the end of the majority of his hurt.

 

That young author. I can understand why Max hid. I’ve partially hid for the past year and a half because of the same reason he did. I don’t know what’s going to be next. So in that case I understand Max but at least I’m working and I have things I want to accomplish like buying a car and taking a major trip. Max completely hid and isn’t even working. He drove me crazy for the majority of the book.

 

So if we had to sum this book up, I’m like or relate to a few characters. It’s a self-forgiveness, travel novel that people discover things in. Because of the timing that I read this book, I like this book way more than if I had read it at a different time in my life.

 

 

 

Books and Inspiration

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I have read, or listened to, a couple books this year that have inspired other things. A television series and another book. I have read Poldark by Winston Graham, inspired a show on PBS, and Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye, inspired by Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I didn’t realize until now but I have opinions. I’m going to deal with both separately because both are different.

 

PBS has done a fantastic job on taking Graham’s book and turning it into a series. The first book, the only one I have read and there’s 12 total, is the first half of the first season. Why is everyone so good looking and have great hair in that show? I had a friend that saw I was reading and watching this on Instagram and asked me how I felt about it. I told her you had to like post-revolutionary war England and want to know about miners. That’s when I wasn’t feeling season one and only part way through the book. She watched the show, both seasons that are out, and loved it. I ended up loving the second season and we fan girled just a little bit together. I don’t have many people to do that with but that’s how good this gets. I think that the overall story is slow. But there’s details you have to know and characters you need to get to love or hate. It’s so easy with film to change what happens in a story in exchange for time. But it’s PBS so they do a pretty good job.

 

Lindsay Faye, what can I say? You did something. Now, forgive me if I’m a little harsh because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books ever. The book is structured like Charlotte Bronte novel, exactly like Jane Eyre in fact. She goes so far as to have Jane Steele compare herself heavily to Jane Eyre.  It starts with a child living with cruel relations, goes to school and eventually goes to be a governess in a house with secrets. Mr. Thornfield? HONESTLY? Yes, the homage to the original novel is great. I also know that you cannot write a book word for word because that would be plagiarism and that would end Faye’s career. But could there be a better last name for the guy? I guess it’s cheeky and isn’t so bad. There were historical elements I had to look up. Steele seemed to lose some of her edge when she turned a governess. Maybe because she ended up loving the people and she felt at home. She was not as cold. A part of me wants to say he turned into a woman who almost didn’t know what to with herself. Jane Eyre always made up her mind and knew who she was. Couple other things. Clark just leaves which blows my mind. Steele saves her life and then Clark was just out of there. Yes, it’s more complicated but still Clark. Get your life together. I listened to this and every time the narrator said reader, I heard Rita. There were a few times where I was doing something while listening and I would stop and ask myself who Rita was before I realized she said reader.

 

It’s interesting to see differences and similarities in works of inspirations and they’re offspring. It’s always a good discussion for a book club. You can always find inspirations. Shakespeare’s works has been turned into so many different movies and inspired different works. You could have a whole book club on Shakespeare inspirations and have a lot of material. The problem is, there’s so much out there that you have to go through or weed out the crappy stuff. Then if what you’re reading or watching is a recommendation, you have to be careful about who you take a recommendation from because they might not understand you and your tastes and if you take the recommendation and you hate it, you have to be careful with that person next time you see them. Sorry for that horrible sentence. But I’m not taking it back.

 

The Bookseller Review

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The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson is not a bad book. It is a book that if you don’t think much about, you won’t mind it. But I’ve overthought it for you because I overthink everything.

Let’s talk about the bad things right away and get that out of the way. My biggest problem is with the end. Swanson had a perfectly good stopping point and then it seems that she had some extra time before her deadline and added some more and ran out of time. Then the publisher said okay, whatever you want and published it. I feel like it didn’t end well. I feel like there was loose ends that really, REALLY needed to be tied up. I would have ended it after Kitty saw her former friend and saw her parents. End story. The friend situation bothered me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve royally screwed up a friendship before and it hit a nerve or this is just one of those things where it wasn’t handled well. After years of letting things settle and for the reason why Kitty backed out, there would be a little more grace for what happened. But I don’t know. I’m not always the person to ask when it comes to relationships. And what the crap is with this title? Yes, in one life she is a bookseller and that’s what pretty much drives her in one life but this book is way more of her finding what life is the real life and which one is fake. And what is Kitty’s husband? Average with amazing eyes or hot? I guess I understand that her opinion changes with how she feels about him but I hate when people do that in real life so in books it bothers me.

I am completely fascinated by the premise. At first I was like, yeah, she’s just dreaming the one life and then not long before she realizes it, I start to wonder if she has it flip flopped. Kitty did say after she figures out that the one life was very convenient. I did like how this book started which is so weird for me to love a beginning and hate the ending. I usually will say I love the ending. There are parts of each of her life that I really like. One life she is more conventional than the other and I don’t know how I feel about that. Both ways Kitty is painted seems to fit her. I want to like that there are triplets in the story. My mind stops from liking it and I don’t know why. I think having children, especially one with a disability, adds dimension to the book. I do really like Lars. He seemed like a really good guy that I would get along with. The kids seemed pretty good but I saw her parents as being part of a faction of people from a certain generation that would bug me about not being married and then be too sweet. But people can annoy me so don’t take my word on the parents.

I do like that Kitty sees how her life is both ways. It makes me wonder what my life would be like if I had gotten married after college and had kids instead of stayed single and traveled and basically have the life I do now. 99% of my life I wouldn’t change but it’s still interesting to think of an alternative life, just as long as I keep it a fleeting thought.

This book does have dimension to it and I don’t completely hate it. It’s a good book if you’re looking for a half decent book. Like I said, I would have loved this book a lot more if the end was different.

Life and Book Update.

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I apologize. I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I was gone longer than I should have. And it isn’t because I haven’t read. Because I have. I mean I read A Little Life and didn’t blog about it. If I were going to blog about any book in the last few months, it would be that one. December was one heck of the month. We had several snow storms and I was waiting for a storm since I came back from Hungary but the snow can stop now. I got stranded in town for three days and it wasn’t fun. And I might have to stay in town for the next few days again cause of the wind and snow.

I feel like it has been very common knowledge that I have had my demons since I have been back from Hungary. Depression and anxiety, though not officially diagnosed. And I do have to point out that my experience is not as bad as others. I know I have it pretty good. I just have to get through my own head. I know. And I do feel like what I’m feeling is not as intense as it was when I first came back. The anxiety is just an annoying hum in the background and I have to learn how to deal with it.

But let me talk about the books I have read recently.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. So much better than I thought it was going to be. I did this on Audible and it’s 33 hours long. It’s a good thing that I got a dog to walk so I can listen to this. Oh yeah, I got a dog. Named Florence. I went into it expecting that the hype made it out more than it was going to be. No, it was legitimately good.

Jackaby by William Ritter. Not as good as I was hoping it would be. It’s very young Sherlock Holmes and yeah. Not a fan.

A Man called Ove by Fredric Backman. This wasn’t so bad. I didn’t love it, but it had it’s moments that it was charming. I have his other book trying to read but I have a hard time getting into and staying in the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I was nervous about this one. I have had it on my TBR for a while but then I hyped it up in my own head. It was good. I love the ending.

The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers. I got this book when I made a trip to South Dakota and it’s by a South Dakota author. I couldn’t do it. I’m sure some people love this book but I couldn’t finish it. Nope.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I feel like I have read this plot before. It is definitely not my favorite YA.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. The second in a series. I’ve said this before about Riordan and I’ll say it again, he has the same voice in every book. I like it cause of the sarcasm but find a new voice for a main character.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balsom. I liked part of this book. I liked the flashbacks and I like the elderly man but I hated the relationship between the P.I. and the lawyer. They didn’t have to hook up but they did. Could have been better written.

Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson. Confession: I was sick during listening to this book and fell asleep during part of it. It was good though. I thought.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s about time I read this. I actually listened to it. It as good. It’s a book I do better listening to rather than reading. It sinks in better. It does give me flashbacks of watching the last Hobbit movie in Hungary. I fell asleep during that movie. I didn’t fall asleep during the book.

A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and the Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens. It was timely. I really liked the Carol and I skimmed the other two. The Carol is probably my favorite Dickens.

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julien Rubinstein. Oh Hungary. I love Hungary. I love learning about what happened in Hungary. I think it was well written and it was enjoyable for me cause I recognize names and places in the book. I think this book isn’t for everyone but it definitely good.

I will try to keep up with blogging this year. I will not guarantee it.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Review

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The January read for the Budapest book club was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Daiz. It’s won a crap load of awards including a Pulitzer Prize. Two things happened when I saw that this was a Pulitzer Prize book. First I checked the publication date. (2007 by the way) The second was I wondered if it was going to be over my head. In my mind, if you have won a Pulitzer Prize you have a complexity that I’m not sure I can comprehend and my mind shuts down a little. Or I think it’s really boring and my mind still shuts down. But obviously they’re amazing to be Pulitzer or else every book would be a Pulitzer winner.

The language in the book felt authentic. The way Spanish was mixed into it felt real. It helps that the author was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the States very similar to those in the book. That makes the book feel a lot more authentic. My mind did wonder some in this book. It’s not that it’s a bad book, it’s a very good book. I had the problem with the dialogue. I know it’s kind of a history so the dialogue isn’t what it is in other fictional books.

When I started this book I thought it was going to be completely about and focused on Oscar. The title does imply that. But it wasn’t. It was in a way but it was about his family and ultimate death. After the first switch, from him to his sister, I was a little confused because I was tired and didn’t quite understand why it was switching. I did totally think that Oscar was going to be Asian of the title. Wao seems like it would be an Asian name to me. But Wao isn’t his last name. I didn’t get until later in the book that it was Yunior that was narrating. I thought it was just a regular third person omniscient. I did like Yunior though he didn’t know how to keep it in his pants. I really did like someone who wasn’t a part of Oscar’s immediate family narrating. It gave a certain impartiality that was really nice.

And how about those footnotes? Some of them would have been better as end notes. But if I had to guess, having them all as footnotes was a stylistic choice. It does help with not having to flip back all the time. But some of them were so long. I did like how they were written though. They were very personable. They were straightforward but comfortable. If that makes any sense at all.

We could talk a lot about the literary devices in this book. The reoccurrence of the mongoose, power of appearances, the magical realism, etc. All those things, plus more are very present in the book. What has struck me in this book, and others, is the fact that virginity is looked down upon in our culture. Not only do men give crap to other males when they don’t “close the deal”. But it’s also amongst woman. Maybe it’s my own “inexperience” or my ideals but I think that virginity before marriage should be honored. But if I weren’t the kind of woman that would honor that, I wouldn’t sleep with Oscar. From how they describe him, a big man way too into comic books, I don’t know if I would be physically attracted to him. Not my type. But obviously from having a type, I’ve gotten REALLY lucky.

I understand why this book has gotten so many awards. It’s a very interesting book with a narrator you kind of roll your eyes at because of his actions (or at least I did. Get over yourself. Either stay faithful to Lola or get over it. And seriously, she can’t be that beautiful if you can’t keep it in your pants), a “protagonist” who dies, and a family that is supposedly cursed. There’s lots of things going on. I don’t necessarily go for this type of book. Not because of the Pulitzer but because it drags for me. Like I said, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t something that kept me interested. I know, I’m a little weird and people love and rave about this book. I just couldn’t stay there with it all the way through. It depended on who was being talked about. I was really into Lola and Yunior and Oscar. Everyone else I didn’t really care. Again not because it wasn’t interesting but because it wasn’t directly a part of Oscar’s life or time period. It led up to him and that time. I know. I make no sense. Overall, I’d give this a 3.5 stars out of 5.

 

Most Liked/Least Liked of 2015

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I know in the past I’ve done this so I thought I’d do it again. It’s the books I liked and didn’t like of the year. It’s a good way to reflect and it should be easy-ish since I read 50 books this year. I will do the top five (in no order) of each.

LIKED.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. It was the first book that took place in Hungary after I came back from Hungary. I love it. Even if I hadn’t gone to Hungary I would have loved this book. It made me feel. Or if I were to talk like a teenage girl, it made me feel the feels.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I love Beauty and the Beast. This is my first Maas book and it was really good.

The Order of the Sanguines first 2 books of the trilogy because I haven’t read the last book yet by James Rollins. I just love James Rollins. I didn’t like the second book as much but they’re both excellent books.

Spelled by Betsy Schow. Another retelling. If you remember the review on this you know that there was a little annoyance of the humor but it’s still really funny and I do appreciate the humor.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I liked what it was about. I didn’t necessarily love all the characters. But that’s what happens in books.

DISLIKED

Love You More by Lisa Gardner I just didn’t like how it was handled and I consistently had to remind myself that the narrator wasn’t male because of her name.

Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught. Cheesy title, stereotypical plot, felt like there was some details missing at points with too many at others. Just couldn’t win with this book.

The Bachelor Club by a bunch of different authors. It’s 4 novellas in 1 book and each author took a book and it was typical Christian romances super condensed. This was the first book that I read after a major separation from a friend and maybe that contributed to my not liking it but it was overly simple. I’m getting rid of some books that I won’t be reading again or ever and this is one of them.

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith. UGH! How is this book actually sold? Well I can’t really talk because I got this at a library book sale. It sounds interesting. On the other hand, the book sucks. I faced palmed a lot during this book. The characters are so condescending/stupid/every bad thing under the sun.

Full of Grace by Dorthea Benton Frank. I just wanted it to be better. I felt like I wanted more after this book. Like I was missing something. It wasn’t bad but still disappointing.

Now that it’s New Years Eve and I don’t work until tomorrow, what are my plans? I’m going to go grocery shop and then go home and maybe clean a little and then watch movies and drink a little wine. Just like I did last year. Happy New Years.

A Lesson Before Dying. (Review)

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So A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Not a bad book but I found out that I can’t read this book and watch The Green Mile at the same time. I would have finished it the other night but I tried doing both at the same time and it sent me into an anxiety attack. So that was something. But it doesn’t take much anymore. I mean, I spent the weekend with someone and they were listing off some restaurants and I kind of panicked and couldn’t make a decision and made her do it. But this was bad.

The book was written in 1993 and it’s set in the late ‘40’s. A young black guy is wrongly accused of killing people and is sentenced to jail. The guy’s godmother and another lady make the other lady’s nephew go and talk to the accused before he’s executed so that he will come across as more educated when he’s educated. Are we starting to see why I couldn’t read this during The Green Mile in my current emotional state? Which is sad because I’ve never seen that movie all the way through and I still haven’t watched it all the way through.

I hate the main character of Grant Wiggins. He’s pretentious. He’s one of those people that because they have an education after high school, they are God’s gift to the world. Some of the smartest people I know don’t have a college education. Wiggins hated going to see Jefferson because he felt superior to someone without an education. To Wiggins, if you weren’t educated, you were nothing. I hate that in person. He’s also called Professor and it bothers me. He’s a teacher, not a professor. They’re different things. And Wiggins doesn’t have the kind of education to be a professor. Wiggins is also seeing a married woman. Sure, the woman’s going to get a divorce but as the book says, a separation is not a divorce. I may be very conservative on this subject but don’t screw the girl you like if she’s still married. I feel like he changed minimally throughout the book. Yeah, he felt for people more but he was still kind of an ass, in my opinion. I did admire him getting in a fight because of Jefferson though. That was admirable.

During the trial, Jefferson’s state appointed attorney made Jefferson seem like less than human. The attorney went so far as to compare Jefferson to a pig. When Wiggins goes to Jefferson, Jefferson acts like a pig to make a point to Wiggins. And at the end, Jefferson tells someone to tell his godmother that he walked on his own two legs meaning that he didn’t go on all 4 like a pig. And they didn’t use pig in the book, they used the word hog. I know this is the 40s and things are totally different but it really bothers me that happens. Jefferson goes into a state of depression. I’m sure I would if I were wrongly accused and were going to be executed. I think that Jefferson was the one that stuck to his guns the most. He was stubborn about how he felt about being in jail. He kept his pride the whole time and he kept his pride the whole time.

A few other things. Then there’s the trio of religious leaders. The preacher, the aunt and the godmother. I see nothing wrong with trying to save someone before their death. But I don’t like how insistent they were. So that’s that. And I found it interesting that Wiggins called his aunt ‘Tante Lou’. I’m not sure why he would use the German word for Aunt. It just doesn’t seem to add up in my head. Like if it’s ever explained why he goes German for that, I missed it. He’s a black guy with, from what I know, no German blood in him or having German lessons.

Probably will not pick up this book again. It’s not that it was bad but it’s just one of those books that you just don’t pick up every day.

Personal update: Still dealing with a lot of stuff. Not fun stuff.