“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Publish Date: 2005 Pages: 288

I am a fan of Ishiguro’s writing as well as dystopian novels, so I had to read this as it got good reviews. Besides, who wouldn’t want to read EVERYTHING by an author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature?

This is a story of a girl named Kathy, who is brought up with several others at a boarding school in England named Hailsham. It seems ordinary enough with the teachers giving me a nun-like feeling, but you can tell something is different about this school. This school teaches normal things, but primarily focuses on health & art. There is a lady called Madame who occasionally visits to collect the best art for “The Gallery”. As they become older one of the teachers has a breakdown and tells them that their purpose is to become organ donors. Amazingly it really doesn’t seem to faze the students. It is as though they already knew, but do not acknowledge it.

Kathy has two close friends named Ruth and Tommy who are in a relationship. Ruth is a bit controlling and does not like that Tommy and Kathy are close friends. At 16 years old the three are moved to a place called the Cottages. This is supposed to slowly help them adapt to life outside of school and is a bridge to their fate. Most students start out as what they call a carer then move on to become donors. Kathy excels at being a carer and eventually takes care of both Ruth & Tommy as they become donors. While caring for Tommy their relationship slowly becomes romantic.

Meanwhile there has been a rumor going around for some time that the Gallery may actually serve a greater purpose. That if two clones are truly in love, Madame would be able to tell by their past artwork and tell if it is true love. I don’t want to give away too much, so I will leave it at that.

In my opinion this is a rather ordinary novel with a small enough twist to make it interesting. It does make one think what life would be like if this were a reality. With the place and characters being so ordinary I think it could one day happen. I came away from this novel torn because it made me feel that life is simultaneously precious yet unimportant.

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“The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry

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Publish Date: May 27, 2016                Pages: 448

So I will just start out with the reason I read this book. It got very good reviews & I heard from others that is was good. I am reviewing this book at the request of a dear friend, so Oliver this ones for you!

 

I was very excited when I read the plot of this novel. Set in Victorian England with a mix of fantasy (hence the serpent). So, it begins with the story of a lady, Cora Seaborne,  right as her abusive husband dies. Her mourning was brief, if it ever existed. There is also their odd son. He reminded me a lot of the Obscurus kid in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. After a small amount of time, she decides to move to the country, the Blackwater marshes of Essex, which suits her very well as she takes to being a “tomboy” quite quickly. She runs into a man with a goat stuck in the mud one day & helps him free it. Late after being introduced by some friends she realizes that man is the country clergyman. She forms a close bond with him & his wife, William & Stella Ransome, which over time becomes more serious & inappropriate in nature. The wife also has an odd illness throughout the while book which they claim in tuberculosis. I never really understood that as she was obsessed with blue things & coughed up blood, the latter being the only part that made sense.

 

There is also am imp named Luke Garrett who also manages to be an amazing & cutting edge doctor. He is in love with Cora, and is hoping for more after her husband’s death. His story was probably more interesting than anyone’s in the entire book and I would be glad if the author did a spin-off novel about him.

 

As for the serpent, I have to say I am very disappointed. I am going to try not to spoil it for anyone, but I am unsure how this book claims to be about a serpent at all. There is no literal serpent & I didn’t even feel there was a “moral” behind the story or myth of it.

Overall I was quite disappointed in this book & expected much more after all of the praise it got. There is one quote that I do believe all women should try to acknowledge and practice occasionally if not more:

“I’ve freed myself from the obligation to try and be beautiful,” she declares, “and I was never more happy.”

 

~Geneva

“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

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Publish Date: May 13th, 2014        Pages: 227

 

Ok here we go again….this book got some really good reviews & I am unsure why. It’s ok, not good or great. It’s one of those books that claims to have a mind-blowing twist!!! But, the twist was confusing & made me feel like I wasted my time getting involved with all the characters to see where they ended up. Without spoiling too much we will just say they ended up nowhere.

Now on the subject of the writing, I was equally unimpressed. The author uses a lot of short, punchy sentences. On the plus side it made for a very quick read!  The author tried to use some colorful analogies, but it ended up being the same ones over & over. She really likes to use “slitting your wrists & bleeding” as a description of how it feels to talk about your feelings to someone. That got old really quick and I actually found myself rolling my eyes every time it was mentioned.

So if you have nothing else to read (as was my situation at the time) here is a book. I am going to try to find a few more books to tide me over until the October 3rd release of Dan Brown’s Origins!

 

“The Red Market” by Scott Carney

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Publish date: 2011       Number of pages: 254

 

Red Markets : (noun) any economic system or economy that trades primarily in human flesh or human beings.

Buying and selling human bodies is fundamentally different than any other sort of commerce. Unlike black, white or gray markets, red markets exist in a different category because the product being traded cannot be valued in monetary terms alone. The value of human tissue is the value of life itself, and its costs are paid in blood.

 

There are the usual things you would expect this book to discuss (i.e.-kidney thieves, black market babies, etc.), but as I got into it I was more shocked than I thought possible at the depravity of mankind as well as the lengths people will go to make money. One particular story was about blood farms. I did not know such a thing existed. My disbelief was such that I had to put the book away for the evening.  I have worked in the medical field my entire life & most of that time was spent in labs with body fluids & parts. You always hear about these things, but it is nothing we see here in America. I respect the author for doing such a great job of investigative journalism & mainstreaming these issues.

 

I rarely read non-fiction, but this novel was far too intriguing to pass up. I had previously read “Stiff” by Mary Roach & it was very fascinating. Upon stumbling across this book I knew it was similar and had to read it. I am very glad I did! I highly recommend it & it is a short read, so

 

 

 

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

 

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Publish Date: 2011            Number of Pages: 382

 

 

So let’s just get right into it. The plot is about a boy (Jacob), who grew up listening to his grandfather’s tales of peculiar children with strange talents. He grew up with these peculiar children in an orphanage in Wales before WWII. He left said orphanage to fight in the war & never returned. Suddenly one night, his grandfather is attacked & killed by a tentacled monster. While dying he tells Jacob to “… find the bird in the loop on the other side of the old man’s grave on September 1940, and tell them what happened.” Of course when he tells his parents this & said he saw the monster they send him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Golan. This doctor encourages him to go to Wales & see what has become of this orphanage for closure. I fear for saying more as not to give away the entire story.

 

As much hype as this novel got I was not dazzled as most were, it seems. I think the writing was good enough. I feel where it lacked was in the storyline itself. When you put a bunch of magical people together & have them fend off dark creatures (of course) I expect something big to happen. Perhaps even just a good old fashioned magical showdown. But no, the biggest threat was a wight with a  gun.

 

This may be blasphemous to say, but I’m thinking the movie may indeed be better than the book in this case. Of course it helps that it is directed by Tim Burton (& all of his bleak & melancholy éclat). I still suggest it as a read for no other reason than it’s easy  & enjoyable enough. Hey, if you end up loving it there are two sequels! I still intend to go see the movie soon because…..it’s Tim freaking Burton!

 

 

 

“Tales of the Peculiar” by Ransom Riggs

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Publish Date: September 3, 2016    Pages: 160

 

Hello lovelies! I have brought you a particularly fun & quick read! These are the fairy tales that precede the book “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”. I have embarked on  that book today and cannot wait for Tim Burton’s adaptation that comes out September 30, 2016. I like to read in order, so that is why I started with this book even though it is the most recently published. To get a better knowledge of the future you must look to the past of course.

This book is composed of 10 peculiar fairy tales. All teach a life lesson in a entertaining albeit dark manner. My favorite would have to be “The Splendid Cannibals”. I would say these tales are more for young adults rather than children though due to some of the context. The art is also something to appreciate. The illustrations are by Andrew Davidson & are stunning. Another enjoyable piece of this book was this page in the front matter:

tales

So, if you are in need of a quick fix that will leave you daydreaming I prescribe this book! If you have read it, let me know what you think!

 

G

 

 

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

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Publish Date: 2015        Pages: 323

I must say, I absolutely LOVED this book! I started it Sunday mid-morning & finished that afternoon (with some housework sprinkled in between). It is a very fast-paced novel, so I would be surprised if many prolong reading it.

 

The main character’s name is Rachel, but I feel like so many of the characters are “main”. I also fear to say too much because of spoilers, but if you don’t know already I will say it is a murder mystery. It is very raw, full of emotion, and the writer doesn’t gloss over anything. You get real life, as painful as it may be. There was only one disappoint to me & it is writing related. I think the author used some descriptive phrases over & over again to describe certain weather. I’m unsure if she had no other expressions, or did not realize she was doing it, but it was moderately monotonous. On the other hand, she did write this gem: “Hollowness: I understand that. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”

 

If you read “Gone Girl” & thought it was a worthy novel this is even better, trust me. Sorry I can’t say more, but I would hate to ruin any part of it for anyone! Would also be a great book club pick!