13 Reasons Why: Jay Asher
I wanted to talk about this book in my post because it has suddenly been everywhere due to the release of the Netflix TV show. Asher published this book in 2007 and it has been relevant ever since. I don’t think it has ever really left the Top-Books-To-Read tables that you see in book stores or been too far off the best seller lists online. For Young Adults or Adults, this is a must read book that has been a must read for the ten years its been released.
For those who don’t know what it’s about; it is a story through the eyes of two protagonists. Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. The novel is based around Hannah’s story but the reader experiences her story through Clay’s eyes. Hannah Baker committed suicide and instead of a note, she creates a series of tapes where each side of a tape revolves around a person and a reason to why she decided to end her life. These tapes are passed in consecutive order through each reason, or person that is on the tapes. Basically, you receive this box of tapes, you better listen and see what Hannah has to say about you because you are one of 13 reasons why she made the decision she did. Clay receives these tapes and struggles through the journey that Hannah relays to her listeners because he genuinely does not understand why he is a part of these tapes and because he hears about horrible experiences that Hannah endured from fellow classmates.
I loved the book when I read it a few years ago and I still do, but readers be aware that the book and even the TV show touches on some heavy topics like suicide, substance abuse and sexual assault. The book is marked as a Young Adult novel but if you are not mature enough to handle those kinds of topics then this might not be the read for you and that is completely okay!
When I heard there would be a TV show for the book I was really excited because I think with a TV show you can add so many more details than with a movie so I had extremely high hopes that the TV would be good and I honestly think it was close to the book! Now there was some creative liberties added with a bit more of a back story which does worry me for how a possible season 2 will turn out. Will the writers be able to keep the ideas of the characters in mind? Or will everything get so convoluted like TV shows are famous for doing and the main point of the book will be redundant? I don’t know how the writers will play that but I really hope that it respects the book and stays on track.
I also want to disclaim that for those who decide not to read the book and just watch the show (as a book lover this hurts and the book is always better than the film version), there is a lot of graphic scenes. The book and show are shining a light on the sad, unfortunate, heartbreaking and soul shattering affects of suicide, rape and substance abuse. These topics are not meant to be taken lightly and the book and the TV show displayed those topics in an honest way but that display will probably horrify, embarrass or make some uncomfortable to watch and that’s okay; just be aware of what it is you are getting into and even who you are watching with! This is a heavy topic for a post but I highly recommend all of you look this book up and take a look a the show as well because it was really well done! I think the books are always better than their film counterparts and for such a heavy topic, the book was able to make it seem bearable and something that can be talked about and worked through. While some people who are suicidal may feel like they are alone and have no one to go to, this novel shows us otherwise; there is always someone who is on your side. Whether they are a part of your daily life like a friend, family member, teacher or coach or even if they are not. Maybe you reach out anonymously to a help hotline or a therapist, there is always someone you can talk to and you do have other options. It may not seem like it at the time but suicide is not your only option.
Sorry for such a heavy post but look it up! I don’t think you’ll regret it. Let me know what you thought in the comments or either the book or the TV series.
The Wonder: Emma Donoghue
Hello everyone! I have been gone for so long and I am so sorry!! I honestly have no excuse but I’m going to try to give you one anyways! I got busy with my jobs and trying to get some passport things figured out and life just got insane for a while. But I’m back and I’m ready to tell you about this novel.
So this book was big when it came out and I was finally able to get it from the library and I thought it had a really interesting concept and execution. So this is about a little eleven-year-old girl from Ireland who has allegedly been fasting for four months. Her story has reached the media and people want some kind of validity to this story that a person, let alone a little girl, is able to survive on nothing. For four months! So Lib, a nurse who studied under Florence Nightingale, is hired to keep watch over the girl along with a Nun to take on the alternative shifts.
This was such an interesting book in the way that the book was set up as a mystery and psychological thriller. I was interested from page one but I have to say that I didn’t get invested for a bit. The concept of this book was interesting for me that I kept pushing through the slow beginning but when the mystery really started getting serious of how was this little girl surviving?? I couldn’t put it down. I was also a huge fan of the characters too. I will say that I struggled with the intensity of the family’s religious beliefs because at some points in the story, the parents would butt heads with Lib but then again, that also kind of added to the mystery surrounding the little girl.
This is a book I would recommend to people but from some of the other reviews I have looked up, it seems like there are some who liked it and others who didn’t. It has a slow beginning and very strong religious beliefs that some might not like but I do think it helps to round out the novel and really make the truth even more shocking. This book in my library was found under Adult Fiction and I agree with this placement. This has some mature content that I don’t think would appropriate for a Young Adult audience unless they were mature enough to deal with content like that. Overall, I think that this is a solid read and on the whole, I loved the book.
When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes Air is an extremely moving memoir of a man who has always been intrigued with the idea of death but, at the age of 40, is forced to suddenly come face-to-face with death when he is diagnosed with lung cancer. What is so interesting about this book is that the author is a neurosurgeon so he writes on the topic of death as a physician and a patient. This book about his very personal path of dealing and coming to terms with his own mortality and his looming death, but he does write as a loose guide to everyone about how this experience was for him but allows for the realistic possibility that the path to death will differ for everyone. I thought this book was fantastic as it was heartbreaking.
The author explores a concept in the book that I loved which was, death is something that is inevitable for everyone. For those who are young, death is something that seems so far away that we don’t concern ourselves with it; for those who are older, it is something that seems more pressing, or something that is considered so your assets and dependents can be sorted and documented, that they can be safe when you pass. The author was at the height of his career with a loving wife and a future they had planned out together when he made his own diagnoses. The feelings that the author takes the readers through when he confirmed that devastating discovery is so real and I found that this book does make you think a little more about death. While I am young, that does not make me exempt from death. Today, tomorrow, a week from now or years from now, anything could happen to me that will put my perceived future, as I know it, into question. This book makes you think about big questions that I know some people don’t like to consider that that is totally fine. I loved this book, I thought it was so well written and so vulnerable; I was gripped until the very end. I would highly recommend this book to anyone especially those like me who love reading and talking about those big questions.
Darkfever (Series): Karen Marie Moning
Happy fall everyone! I know, I’m a little late seeing as fall started last week or whatever but I said it and that’s what counts, right? And I don’t know how many of you non-Canadians are aware but we just had our Thanksgiving this past weekend and it was so much fun! So Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all of you! I was up at my cottage with my family for the weekend and while it was a bit windy and cold, there were campfires, games, dessert and tea so the whole cold factor- totally worth it. I have to say, I think fall is probably my favourite season because it’s just a bit cool so we get to wear fun, cozy sweaters out that don’t need a jacket; scarves start to come out middle to the end of this season and honestly, who doesn’t love a good blanket scarf? Most of all, and I do realize that I’m playing into every cliché, but I love the pumpkin movement that comes out in the fall. Pumpkin pies, lattes, cheesecakes. You name it, I’m all over it! Haha. But mostly I’m loving that the fireplace starts to come on and the books are being read by the fire; how many of you love to just sit with a book, a hot drink and some cozy socks and read the whole day?
Which brings us to this series. Darkfever was a book that I first read when I was 18 for my English class. I loved the book so much that I ended up reading the rest of the series (the books above). My classmates found it shocking that I had so much spare time but really, they were just so good that I was reading one book a day! This series is a paranormal, romance, adult fiction book. It’s about this woman, MacKalya Lane, who’s life is perfect for a 22-year-old. She has amazing parents, a loving older sister and great friends in her comfortable Georgia home until her sister, Alina is murdered abroad in Dublin. Her sister gives Mac a voicemail that leaves so many unanswered questions that Mac decides to go to Dublin to figure out who killed her sister and have justice served. As the story goes on, Mac enters a world that is full of Fae, deamons and creatures that she doesn’t know what to do with. The first book is the introduction to the rest of this amazing series so it might seem a bit slow but keep with it and I promise you will love it- the fast paced nature of the book, and all the romance thrown in as well. This book does have obvious sexual content in it so use your discretion if that content is not appropriate for you or not something you enjoy reading about.
I loved these books, they were honestly amazing and the level of paranormal activity that went into this series is not overwhelming because the author does such an amazing job of introducing new things and explaining storylines to the reader through her characters. I actually thought this series only had five books to it but I found out that there are at least another four to the series!! So, I recommend that you spend some of this fall curled up by a fire with a cup of tea and explore this series and I will do the same with the rest of the series that I didn’t know existed!
Can You Keep A Secret?: Sophie Kinsella
So this post I wanted to talk about one of my favourite books which is Can You Keep A Secret. I don’t know how well known this book is but I think it’s fantastic. Every time I read this book (yes, I have reread it. It’s that good!) I find myself grinning like an idiot and laughing uncontrollably. The way Kinsella writes this novel is really well done. She’s managed to get all the comedy across to the reader and you can’t help it but to imagine the setting and what that would be like if it happened in real life. I think what makes her humor so effective is that she brings situations that could happen in real life. We all have those moments where we don’t know what to say in an important meeting, or when we’re just trying to fake it through a presentation or whatever the case may be, but Kinsella is able to bring us the humor through those classic situations.
This book is about Emma Corrigan who has many secrets that she would rather die before spilling to anyone. Even her best friend Lizzie. So it becomes a bit inconvenient when Emma is in a situation where she thinks she going to die and spills all her deep secrets about her boyfriend, and her embarrassing dream about her best friend to a stranger on a plane. But she never expected that that stranger who now knows everything about her, would be the head CEO of the company she works for! This is a hilarious book that I really recommend for any one. It’s an adult fiction book so there is a bit of swearing and a few sexual references but overall it’s just a great light, funny book that you can pick up and read on a weekend.
The Art of Racing in the Rain: Garth Stein
Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a good week so far. I don’t really know how well known this book is to all of you but if you haven’t heard of it then you need to find it and read it… like, now! This book is from the perspective of a dog named Enzo. This dog is absolutely hilarious; he has an obsession with thumbs, loves the idea of being human and has trained himself to listen to humans speak so he can understand them better. He managed to accomplish this task by watching TV and listening to his owner, Denny speaking. Denny is a race car driver who has all the skills but has yet to get his big break. Through Enzo’s eyes, the reader is able to see deeper into what makes up a human’s characteristics and Enzo learns through race car driving that life isn’t about going fast or winning, it’s about the skill used to navigate through difficult situations and to race the best you can with the tools you have. This book takes place when Enzo is an old dog who is slowing down. Enzo takes the time to look around at the human life he sees through Denny. The book is Enzo’s reflection of what makes up the human condition and while it is sad it also has a fantastic message to readers and touches on different themes of family, love, loyalty and determination. This is an adult book but I think any mature YA reader could handle it. There are a few heavy themes but overall it’s a funny, sad, amazing interpretation of how strong humans are through the point of view of a dog. I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone!
A Great and Terrible Beauty: Libba Bray
As a kid I had such an imagination. I loved thinking up ideas for playtimes that were out of this world and not at all possible so that is probably a huge reason why I’m in love with the fantasy/supernatural genre. As I’ve said before in my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child post, I love the Harry Potter series and the imagination that’s required from the author to create the story but also from the reader for being able to see what the author sees and believe everything that is written. When I read a book I am so invested in the story that I don’t see the words, it’s just a film that’s playing in my head for me alone. It’s the best feeling to get when reading, I think, but it’s so devastating to realize that you’ve finished the book and now have to either wait for the next book to come out months later, or find a new book and get invested all over again! A Great and Terrible Beauty was a book that I loved as a kid. It’s a historical fantasy YA book (my favourites!!) that feels like a mix of Narnia with a dash of Alice and Wonderland. It’s an amazing book that is about this girl, Gemma Doyle, who starts to have visions just weeks before she goes off to an all girls’ boarding school. From there she has to figure out where she belongs in this cliquey school as well as figure out how to deal with her new abilities like having visions and having the power of travelling to other-world realms. Soon everything gets out of control and Gemma and her friends need to learn how to contain the dangerous magic they’ve been playing with so that it doesn’t cause complete destruction.
It was an amazing book and the other two books in the trilogy were just as fantastic. When I first read this book when I was about 12 years-old and there are a lot of different components to this book that I struggled to keep track of at that age; when I reread this book a few years later (as I often do with my favourites), I had no trouble following all the rules of this magic that Gemma deals with but just as a little note that anyone who is younger and attempting this book, you may need to take your time because there are some weird rules for this book’s magic. All in all, I would highly recommend this book for anyone. I love fantasy and pairing fantasy with a historical novel makes it a winning combination.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: J.K Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
WOW. Let me start by saying that I loved this book and I read it in about… three hours? I have loved Harry Potter since I read it when I was about 10. I honestly don’t think that I have ever read a series that I have loved more than Harry Potter. I mean, my greatest wish is to one day go to Harry Potter World and experience Universal’s take on the series… well, that and so I can try butterbeer, get my wand and be sorted into a house. Haha. I’m dead serious by the way. So understanding my love of the whole series, you can imagine my reaction when I found out there was to be another story to add to this amazing series!
I think it’s important to note that this book is a play that was written with Rowling but I read online that Tiffany and Thorne are the main writers of the play with support from Rowling. In summary, this story takes place in the wizarding world when Harry is 37, married to Ginny and has 3 kids all ready for Hogwarts. The plot revolves around Harry’s middle child, Albus who is expected to be a mini Harry but after being sorted into a different house from his siblings and family, quickly discovers that he is so different from them. Albus is supposed to play the black sheep of the family to the ninth degree. I found that while it made the story interesting it did get a bit annoying with the huge chip on Albus’ shoulder at the fact that his dad is Harry Potter and yet Albus feels like he can’t fit in and play the role of being his son. I felt that at some parts of the book, while I did like the plot, there were a few moments where the story felt like fan fiction. It was almost like someone was forcing somethings to happen, where as Rowling’s books always felt effortless… do you kind of get what I mean? I think this book is definitely worthy of a read and while I will include it as being the eighth book in the series (some people are not including it), I just think that it would have been better if it was written with maybe more of Rowling’s writing, or just written based on the play but as a novel. I liked that the authors decided to publish the script for this play but I’ve never really read anything in play format; I had to adjust my reading of the book to accommodate that there was no in depth narrative like a novel to help me picture what was going on. The little descriptions at the beginning of each scene or act is helpful but I’m the kind of reader who loves the descriptions of everything so I can get a really clear picture in my mind of what’s happening. Either way, something needed to be fixed but I just can’t decide what. 10/10 for this book though, it did feel like a hug from an old friend. Haha.
Wicked Lovely (Series): Melissa Marr
(*Note: The last book Darkest Mercy is missing from the picture because I borrowed it from the library when I read it years ago and never purchased it.)
I don’t know if anyone knows of these books or remembers them but I know that these books were a big hit when the first book of the series, Wicked Lovely, was first published in 2008. I don’t remember when I picked up these books but when I did I was hooked! I think I’ve said before that I’m a huge fan of the supernatural/fantasy genre and as a kid and teen I was all over that genre because of Harry Potter. I love these books so much because it is honestly like a modern fairy tale. The first book had me hooked and it is really good at explaining the whole premise of this hidden world. The idea of Wicked Lovely (book 1), is that this girl Aislinn, wants to be a normal teen but she can see these creatures that no one else can and she is taught that they are dangerous and they no one should, if they have the Sight, make any contact with these creatures. Well, as most of us know, in all story books someone has to break the #1 rule! So a faery by the name of Keenan realizes that a human has the ability to see him and they begin a journey together to see if Aislinn has what it takes to be the Queen of the Summer Faery Court. And that is just the first book; the rest just get more and more amazing. Haha. As the other books go on readers get to see more of this interesting and fantastic world that Marr has created with the faeries and their Courts.
One thing that I really like about this series is that the story in this world continues but each book is focused on a different character each time. At first I found this disorienting but when I read the series over and over again (as I usually do), I understood where things left off and how they were progressing now. I highly recommend this series to any tween, teen or young adult who loves the supernatural/fantasy genre. It is really interesting how the author puts all these books together and to see how all the Faery Courts move and change throughout the series as well as the character development within each book as well. These books are great reads that I hope you like as much as I do!
The Glass Castle: Jeannette Walls
So I’m going to post about this book for two reasons: 1- because it’s amazing and 2- because it has been on all the top books lists since it came out years ago. Seriously, every time I go into Chapters I see it listed on all the tables like Heather’s Picks, 20 Books To Read Before You’re Twenty, Summer Reads, 30 Books To Read Before You’re Thirty… you get the point; this book is everywhere and it was publishes years ago. It’s a memoir of Walls life as she was growing up and what makes this such an interesting book is that her parents decided to live as homeless people basically. Her family moved around everywhere and it was so interesting to read how Walls grew up in rough, rundown places with parents who didn’t really want to parent too much. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother didn’t seem to concerned with being a mother. This book is just so inspiring as well because while Walls and her siblings grew up in an environment that was not supportive or really healthy, the siblings managed to overcome those obstacles which is really neat to read about. If you have not read this book, please do. It was amazing, inspiring and absolutely crazy to read about these insane situations this family got into. As you can maybe see from this picture, my copy is well worn and loved from the countless times that I’ve read this book. Haha. I l love this book and if you haven’t read it then get going! What are you waiting for?? This book has been top of the lists for years– you must read it!!