Book Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

We were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored, to build a new world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged.

The Book
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Goodreads

What It Is
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is am an ambitious child, spending his time inventing, learning, acting, making jewelry, and more. After his father dies in one of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Oskar feels a lot of different emotions: anger at his mother for seemingly moving on; fear of many things, from elevators to public transportation to bridges; empathy for the many people around him, like a homeless man he passes frequently on the street. He appears to be suffering from PTSD and insomnia after the tragic events that took his father, and he looks for ways to be close to his father once more.

One day while exploring through his father’s closet, he comes across a blue vase he’d never seen before. While reaching for it, his hand slips, and the vase falls to the floor, shattering. Among the broken glass, he discovers an envelope with the word “Black” written across the front of it. Opening the envelope, he finds a mysterious key.

The novel is the tale of Oskar searching for the lock, meeting new people along the way, and trying to find evidence of his father along the way. It’s a truly heartbreaking story and one that will stick with you long after you finish it.

What I Loved
The novel is written from three points-of-view, Oskar being one of them. I’m hesitant to say who the other narrators are because I feel it’s best to just let the story unfold for yourself. Foer does a wonderful job of making Oskar’s narration seem believable coming from a nine-year-old character. The book is also great for taking a terrible, tragic event, and dealing with it in a relatively light-hearted way, while still maintaining elements of tragedy and heartbreak.

This was also the first book I’ve read by Jonathan Safran Foer, and I was a huge fan of his writing style in this book. I’ll be reading Everything is Illuminated soon, I’m sure.

What I Disliked
When I first began the novel, I had a hard time relating to the main character, Oskar, because he seemed so annoying and unlikable to me. After the first hundred pages, however, he grew on me. I sort of believe my initial aversion to Oskar is simply based on the fact that I’m not a fan of child narrators.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. It’s important to remind ourselves of the tragedies that occurred in New York City, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. For many people, it’s easier to remember through fiction. This is definitely a book I’ll be reading again.

 

Click here to discover more books about September 11th, 2001

 

Watching Hurricane Florence? Here are some hurricane-related books while you prepare

As someone who lives very near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you’d better believe that I’m obsessively watching all updates relating to Hurricane Florence. I’ve survived a ton of hurricanes living in this area, but until they hit, it’s hard to tell just how bad it’ll be. When I was in the ninth grade, my area was hit by Hurricane Bonnie, which was a relatively weak storm by the time it got to us; a tornado plowed through our yard, fortunately missing our house. During Hurricane Floyd in 1999, a massive storm, my brother and I played frisbee with the shingles as they flew off of the roof. So, you never really know how it’s going to play out.

I’ve been obsessed with severe weather and meteorology since I was in second grade. Fun fact: if you write fan letters to television meteorologists to tell them how cool and smart you think they are, most of the time, they write you back. I did it more often than I’d like to admit.

Here are a few books if you’re curious about hurricanes:

    1. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown
      Goodreads
      Drowned City - Don Brown
      It wouldn’t be much of a list about hurricanes without a book detailing the insane devastation that New Orleans and the surrounding areas endured, during and after the storm. This is a graphic novel aimed at young adults and teenagers, but it’s accessible for everyone.

 

    1. August Gale: A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm by Barbara Walsh
      Goodreads
      August Gale - Barbara WalshThis book examines a hurricane on the coast of Newfoundland in 1935, and a family’s pain.

 

    1. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
      Goodreads
      Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn WardYou probably recognize Jesmyn Ward’s name from her more recent, and very popular book, Sing, Unburied, Sing. In this earlier novel, she examines twelves days in the life of one family, concluding as Hurricane Katrina hit. I’m buying this book as soon as I can. I love the way Ward writes, and I can’t wait to read this one.

 

    1. Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro by Rachel Slade
      GoodreadsInto the Raging Sea - Rachel SladeA container ship called the El Faro disappeared during Hurricane Joaquin. Slade recounts the last twenty-four hours of the ship and its crew as it dealt with the worst case scenario.

 

  1. The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters by Robert Muir-Wood
    Goodreads
    The Cure for Catastrophe - Robert Muir-Wood

For those of you who will be impacted by Hurricane Florence later this week, please get ready and stock up on water, medicine, pet food, and any other supplies you might need. If the storm gets as strong as they’re saying you might consider evacuating if you’re in a particularly prone region.

5 Books About Suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organization, someone takes their own life every 40 seconds. Here are five books that deal with suicide.

If you or a loved one are at risk, please act before it’s too late. In the United States, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you live outside of the United States, please check your national health organizations for similar information. 

    1. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
      Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
      Goodreads
      Both immensely popular as a book and a Netflix show, Thirteen Reasons Why is currently one of the most talked-about books dealing with suicide. Clay Jenson receives a package containing tapes of recordings by his classmate Hannah Baker, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. The tapes explain, in thirteen reasons, why she took her own life.

 

    1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
      The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
      Goodreads
      It’s hard to have a list like this without including this classic American novel. The book describes the main character’s descent into madness and depression. The only book published during her lifetime, Plath committed suicide just a month after it was released in the U.K.

 

    1. Dying to Be Free: A Healing Guide for Families After a Suicide by Beverly Cobain and Jean Larch
      Dying to be Free - Beverly Cobain
      Goodreads
      Advice for the families of those who have committed suicide. Hopefully, it’s not a book that any of you will ever need to read.

 

    1. Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
      Suicide Notes - Michael Thomas Ford
      Goodreads
      This is a young adult novel that follows a young man after a failed suicide attempt. It deals with LGBT issues and follows him while he’s in the psychiatric ward of a hospital.

 

  1. A World Without You by Beth Revis
    A World Without You - Beth Revis.jpg
    Goodreads
    Bo and Sofia are students at a school for troubled teenagers. After Sofia commits suicide, Bo, who is convinced that he can travel through time, tries everything he can to try to reach her, even if that means succumbing to his own madness.

If you know of any other books that aren’t on this list, please list them in the comments below.

Book Review: The Water Knife – Paolo Bacigalupi

Toomie sighed. “I used to know this Indian guy. Skinny dude, came over from India. Didn’t have a wife or family anymore. Maybe they were back there in India, I can’t remember. Anyway, the thing he said that stuck with me was that people are alone here in America. They’re all alone. And they don’t trust anyone except themselves, and they don’t rely on anyone except themselves. He said that was why he thought India would survive all this apocalyptic shit, but America wouldn’t. Because here, no one knew their neighbors.” He laughed at that. “I can still remember his head wagging back and forth, ‘No one is knowing their neighbors.'”

The Book
The Water Knife – Paolo Bacigalupi
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

What It Is
A post-apocalyptic novel that takes place when the world has passed an ecological tipping point. The American West has run out of water, and only the largest cities remain. Forest fires rip across the mountains, and states have closed their borders to outsiders. Cities are resorting to nefarious means of getting their hands on water rights, with California lining snipers up along the Colorado River and Las Vegas employing mercenaries as “Water Knives” to implement take-overs of pipelines.

The book follows several different characters and weaves their stories together. Angel is a water knife working for Catherine Case, the “Water Queen” of Las Vegas. Case sends him to Phoenix when one of her other guys starts getting scared of what’s about to go down. He’s not sure what he’s looking for, but right away he can feel something is off.

In Phoenix, he meets the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Lucy, who moved there in order to write about the city as it crumbles around her. She’s resourceful, clever, and is dedicated to her job. We also follow the story of Maria and Sarah, two youngish girls trying to survive, by whatever means necessary, eventually leading to tragic and very violent ends.

Lucy and Angel team up to track down the oldest known water rights to the river, finding corpses and backstabbing along the way. Eventually, Angel realizes he knows exactly where the rights are, and together they go after them.

What I Loved
It’s a terrifying interpretation of what could happen if we, as a species, don’t act to stop runaway global warming, especially with articles like this coming out. Post-apocalyptic tales are my favorite genre, and I enjoyed the climate change angle in this one. I also enjoyed the pace of the story.  However, I have read other reviews where people have said it started off too slow for them, so I think it comes down to personal taste.

What I Disliked
A lot of the characters fall flat, and I wish there had been more character development. Most of them display a “have to be tough to survive” mentality, and that’s about it. Maria and Toomie are the only characters I had any amount of sympathy for. There was also the rushed and unlikely romance between Lucy and Angel, and I feel like the story could have easily continued without it. Finally, I hated the moment Angel realizes he knows where the water rights are; it seems unlikely and a little bit like a copout.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Borrow. It’s an entertaining book to read, and it’s an interesting look at a futuristic America where we didn’t do enough to stop global warming. It’s not perfect though, so I’m not sure this is the sort of book that you would find yourself picking up multiple times.

Bookish Loot: The Hobbit

I have found that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. – Gandalf, The Hobbit

The Hobbit has been my favorite book since I was a child. My mother had a gorgeous green leather-bound edition of it, and I always loved sliding it out of the box just to hold it. Here are some of my favorite bookish loot related to this wonderful book.

A retro Hobbiton travel poster. Arts And Travel Prints – $5.40

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An enamel pin of Bag End. Dust and Pages. $10.99il_570xN.1482090514_5r4n

This beautiful skirt inspired by The Hobbit‘s cover art. I’m seriously in love with this. PicknMix. $42.97+

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Middle Earth inspired wooden coaster set. Geekwood Co. $15.00

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A candle inspired by Samwise Gamgee. From the site, the scents are dewy, citrus, bergamot, tomato leaf, wild herb, floral, moist earth, musk, and twig. I’m seriously about to buy this. Chasing A Story. $8.00

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A Hobbit peel-and-stick wall decal. This would look great in your reading corner or dorm room! Amazon. $10.98.

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A super cute metal mug. Cask and Quill Shop. $22

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And, finally, a build-your-own Hobbit Hole Terrarium. It’s adorable! Windows of Asch. $26+

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Did I miss anything? If so, add it to the comments!

Sunday Links

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Literature

 

Articles

 

Wellness

 

And More…

In Case You Missed It – From Read Yourself Happy

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – Book Review

Ernest Hemingway’s last novel published before his death, “The Old Man and the Sea” is a short, simple book with a lot of meaning. It won the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.

The Book
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Goodreads

What It Is
This is the last novel published by Ernest Hemingway before his death in 1961. It was released in 1952, and when Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, the Nobel Committee stated that this book was one of the reasons why.

Santiago, the “old man,” is a fisherman, living in Cuba, who sleeps on newspapers and survives on the kindness of his young friend, referred to in the novel as “the boy,” who brings him bits of food and coffee, and occasionally buys him a beer at the end of the long day.

When we first meet Santiago, he’s gone eighty-four days without catching a fish. He’s lonely, and there’s a heartbreaking reference to his deceased wife.

Once there had been a tinted photograph of his wife on the wall but he had taken it down because it made him too lonely to see it…

On the eighty-fifth day, Santiago decides to go further out into the ocean, far past the point that most of the local fishermen would travel, in order to have a better shot at catching a fish.

The novel follows Santiago as he hooks an extraordinary marlin, facing immense hardships and suffering, and losing much on his way back to his island.

It’s a short book, and a simple one, but it displays courage in the face of suffering and hardship. The book is also an absolute masterpiece, and if you haven’t read it, or if you were forced to read it in school and haven’t picked it up since, now would be a great time to do so.

What I Loved
Only Hemingway could write a book about a lone fisherman trying to catch a marlin, and turn it into such a powerful work of fiction.

The novel essentially has just three characters, Santiago and the boy, and then the marlin. Both Santiago and the boy are immensely lovable characters. Although his parents won’t let him fish with Santiago anymore because they kept coming back empty-handed, he feels sorry for the old man, and feels a sense of responsibility to him, bringing him food and the daily newspaper so he can keep track of baseball and his favorite player, Joe DiMaggio.

It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around his mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

I also love the respect Santiago gives to the ocean and the marlin that he’s trying to catch.

“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

By the end of the book, you also find yourself feeling attached to the old man. Throughout everything, he remains positive and brave, and it’s a lesson we all need.

What I Disliked
About the book? Nothing. I love this book.

I read this book for the first time when I was in the tenth grade, and I feel that I wasn’t able to really appreciate it because I didn’t have enough life experience yet to actually understand it. I feel that forcing high schoolers to read it is a great disservice to this classic American novel.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. It’s a short book and a great choice for a lazy day at the beach. It’s a true American classic.



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Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.

The Book
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Goodreads

What It Is
This is the last novel published by Ernest Hemingway before his death in 1961. It was released in 1952, and when Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, the Nobel Committee stated that this book was one of the reasons why.

Santiago, the “old man,” is a fisherman, living in Cuba, who sleeps on newspapers and survives on the kindness of his young friend, referred to in the novel as “the boy,” who brings him bits of food and coffee, and occasionally buys him a beer at the end of the long day.

When we first meet Santiago, he’s gone eighty-four days without catching a fish. He’s lonely, and there’s a heartbreaking reference to his deceased wife.

Once there had been a tinted photograph of his wife on the wall but he had taken it down because it made him too lonely to see it…

On the eighty-fifth day, Santiago decides to go further out into the ocean, far past the point that most of the local fishermen would travel, in order to have a better shot at catching a fish.

The novel follows Santiago as he hooks an extraordinary marlin, facing immense hardships and suffering, and losing much on his way back to his island.

It’s a short book, and a simple one, but it displays courage in the face of suffering and hardship. The book is also an absolute masterpiece, and if you haven’t read it, or if you were forced to read it in school and haven’t picked it up since, now would be a great time to do so.

What I Loved
Only Hemingway could write a book about a lone fisherman trying to catch a marlin, and turn it into such a powerful work of fiction.

The novel essentially has just three characters, Santiago and the boy, and then the marlin. Both Santiago and the boy are immensely lovable characters. Although his parents won’t let him fish with Santiago anymore because they kept coming back empty-handed, he feels sorry for the old man, and feels a sense of responsibility to him, bringing him food and the daily newspaper so he can keep track of baseball and his favorite player, Joe DiMaggio.

It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around his mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

I also love the respect Santiago gives to the ocean and the marlin that he’s trying to catch.

“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

By the end of the book, you also find yourself feeling attached to the old man. Throughout everything, he remains positive and brave, and it’s a lesson we all need.

What I Disliked
About the book? Nothing. I love this book.

I read this book for the first time when I was in the tenth grade, and I feel that I wasn’t able to really appreciate it because I didn’t have enough life experience yet to actually understand it. I feel that forcing high schoolers to read it is a great disservice to this classic American novel.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. It’s a short book and a great choice for a lazy day at the beach. It’s a true American classic.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi – Book Review

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

“Dear Miranda Silver,
This house is bigger than you know! There are extra floors, with lots of people in them. They are looking people. They look at you, and they never move. We do not like them. We do not like this house, and we are glad to be going away. This is the end of our letter.”

The Book
White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
Goodreads
Author’s Links: Website

What it is
Miranda Silver, her twin brother Eliot, and their father live in a haunted bed and breakfast across the street from a field of unmarked graves. The Silver House is the ancestral home to the Silver women, who appear to linger in the unseen portions of the house. Outsiders are unwelcome, particularly people of color and immigrants, and the house uses its mysterious supernatural attributes to get those people to flee.

Much of this book deals with Miranda’s mental illness. She suffers from pica, a disorder that causes her to hunger for non-food items, her favorite being chalk. She spent time at a clinic for her disorder while in high school, and we ride back with her to her home after she’s picked up by her father and brother. The scene in the car is a distinctly awkward one, and Eliot seems particularly uncomfortable and quiet.

The family is also grieving the loss of Miranda’s mother, Lily, a photo-journalist who was killed in Haiti when the twins were sixteen. Miranda wears a watch with its time set to “Haiti time,” and feels some guilt about her role in her mother’s death, despite being in Dover, England as it happened.

Miranda is accepted into Cambridge, where she meets Ore, a young woman adopted from Africa, and they find themselves in a romantic relationship. Ore tells Miranda a story about the soucouyant, a monster that leaves its body to consume the blood of the living. The folklore of the soucouyant is reflective of Miranda’s relationship with Ore, as Ore transitions from healthy to nearly anorexic while they’re together. Miranda is literally sucking the life out of Ore.

When Miranda’s father becomes aware of how bad her health has become while away at college, she is brought back home until she can get better. Ore comes to visit her, witnessing some unsettling experiences while there, and confiding in the housekeeper and cook, Sade.

Miranda grows sicker, and we then see the influence the house has on her, culminating in Miranda’s disappearance.

What I Loved
I’ve never read a book like this, and I’m honestly quite unsure how to classify it. Most often I see it listed as a horror novel, but, although it does contain many elements of the supernatural, it feels more like magical realism to me.

So many of the spooky happenings in the house are ambiguous and intentionally left unexplained. I enjoyed that aspect, as it reinforces the overall tone of the book and leads to the reader feeling unsure and a bit spooked.

One of the most unusual aspects of the book that I enjoyed is that the house itself is a narrator of the story at times. To be honest, the house is just as much a character in the story as the Silver family. It has its own personality, although that personality is a very racist and evil one.

What I Disliked
There are side stories in the book that are left hanging, and it was frustrating at times. The best example involves Kosovan immigrants that are being murdered around town, with no suspect in custody. Miranda is confronted by a classmate who accuses her of being involved in the murders, as they believe she’s been seen with the victims prior to their stabbings.

“We saw you,” the second girl said. “You and Amir, you and Farouk, you and Agim, you and whoever. Then they end up getting stabbed.”

Aside from a run-in with Agim, the attacking girl’s cousin and one of the victims who survived, we don’t learn much more about their stories. However, I feel like we’re meant to understand that their murders are related to the Silver house, as we also read in the book that Miranda greatly favors her great-grandmother, Anna Good, whose ghost or spirit is still possessing the house. Referred to as “the Goodlady” throughout the novel,  Anna Good, whose husband died in the war, loathed “outsiders” and blamed them for her husband’s death. Is it possible Anna Good is the cause of those murders?

There are also some awkward allusions to flirtings with an incestuous relationship between Miranda and Eliot. I can only remember two references, but it felt pretty unnecessary to the story.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. This is definitely a book you’ll want to read more than once.

White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi

“Dear Miranda Silver,
This house is bigger than you know! There are extra floors, with lots of people in them. They are looking people. They look at you, and they never move. We do not like them. We do not like this house, and we are glad to be going away. This is the end of our letter.”

The Book
White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
Goodreads
Author’s Links: Website

What it is
Miranda Silver, her twin brother Eliot, and their father live in a haunted bed and breakfast across the street from a field of unmarked graves. The Silver House is the ancestral home to the Silver women, who appear to linger in the unseen portions of the house. Outsiders are unwelcome, particularly people of color and immigrants, and the house uses its mysterious supernatural attributes to get those people to flee.

Much of this book deals with Miranda’s mental illness. She suffers from pica, a disorder that causes her to hunger for non-food items, her favorite being chalk. She spent time at a clinic for her disorder while in high school, and we ride back with her to her home after she’s picked up by her father and brother. The scene in the car is a distinctly awkward one, and Eliot seems particularly uncomfortable and quiet.

The family is also grieving the loss of Miranda’s mother, Lily, a photo-journalist who was killed in Haiti when the twins were sixteen. Miranda wears a watch with its time set to “Haiti time,” and feels some guilt about her role in her mother’s death, despite being in Dover, England as it happened.

Miranda is accepted into Cambridge, where she meets Ore, a young woman adopted from Africa, and they find themselves in a romantic relationship. Ore tells Miranda a story about the soucouyant, a monster that leaves its body to consume the blood of the living. The folklore of the soucouyant is reflective of Miranda’s relationship with Ore, as Ore transitions from healthy to nearly anorexic while they’re together. Miranda is literally sucking the life out of Ore.

When Miranda’s father becomes aware of how bad her health has become while away at college, she is brought back home until she can get better. Ore comes to visit her, witnessing some unsettling experiences while there, and confiding in the housekeeper and cook, Sade.

Miranda grows sicker, and we then see the influence the house has on her, culminating in Miranda’s disappearance.

What I Loved
I’ve never read a book like this, and I’m honestly quite unsure how to classify it. Most often I see it listed as a horror novel, but, although it does contain many elements of the supernatural, it feels more like magical realism to me.

So many of the spooky happenings in the house are ambiguous and intentionally left unexplained. I enjoyed that aspect, as it reinforces the overall tone of the book and leads to the reader feeling unsure and a bit spooked.

One of the most unusual aspects of the book that I enjoyed is that the house itself is a narrator of the story at times. To be honest, the house is just as much a character in the story as the Silver family. It has its own personality, although that personality is a very racist and evil one.

What I Disliked
There are side stories in the book that are left hanging, and it was frustrating at times. The best example involves Kosovan immigrants that are being murdered around town, with no suspect in custody. Miranda is confronted by a classmate who accuses her of being involved in the murders, as they believe she’s been seen with the victims prior to their stabbings.

“We saw you,” the second girl said. “You and Amir, you and Farouk, you and Agim, you and whoever. Then they end up getting stabbed.”

Aside from a run-in with Agim, the attacking girl’s cousin and one of the victims who survived, we don’t learn much more about their stories. However, I feel like we’re meant to understand that their murders are related to the Silver house, as we also read in the book that Miranda greatly favors her great-grandmother, Anna Good, whose ghost or spirit is still possessing the house. Referred to as “the Goodlady” throughout the novel,  Anna Good, whose husband died in the war, loathed “outsiders” and blamed them for her husband’s death. Is it possible Anna Good is the cause of those murders?

There are also some awkward allusions to flirtings with an incestuous relationship between Miranda and Eliot. I can only remember two references, but it felt pretty unnecessary to the story.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. This is definitely a book you’ll want to read more than once.

Week of 9/4/18: Exciting New Books

“Tuesday is neither here nor there in the hierarchy of the week.”
― Anthony T. Hincks

So, I know it’s a little late, but there are a ton of books coming out this week that I’m so ready for. Let’s get right to it.

  1. I’d Rather Be Reading – Anne Bogel
    Id Rather Be Reading - Anne Bogel
    Non-fiction/Memoir
    Goodreads
    I love Anne Bogel’s blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, and I pre-ordered this book as soon as I was able to. What more could you ask for than a book about books, from one of the best literature bloggers out there!
  2. The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
    The Silence of the Girls - Pat Barker
    Fiction
    Goodreads
    This was one of the two books I got from Book of the Month Club, and as soon as I read the description I became excited to start reading it. It focuses on the women from The Illiad, particularly Briseis, who becomes a slave and concubine to Achilles and his conquering army.
  3. The Wildlands – Abby Geni
    The Wildlands - Abby Geni
    Fiction
    Goodreads
    Taking place after a tornado destroys their hometown, Cora and Tucker McCloud team up to act against animal testing and cruelty. Although I’m confused as to why all of the book blurbs I keep seeing mention a “Category 5 tornado” (tornadoes are rated on the EF/Enhanced Fujita scale, hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Category 1-5 scale), I’m still curious about this book.
  4. Sadie – Courtney Summers
    Sadie - Courtney Summers
    Young Adult/Thriller
    Goodreads
    Everywhere I look, there are rave reviews of this book. I haven’t read a lot of young adult mysteries, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a shot. It follows the story of Sadie after the murder of her younger sister, Mattie.
  5. Citizen Illegal – Jose Olivarez
    Citizen Illegal - Jose Olivarez
    Poetry
    Goodreads
    Contemporary poetry about immigration, race, class, and the state of modern America. This is Jose Olivarez’s debut.
  6. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree - Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Young Adult
    Goodreads
    A village is attacked by Boko Haram and a young girl is kidnapped along with the other women of her village. The author based the book on real interviews with victims of the terrorist organization’s kidnappings. I doubt this is going to be an easy read, but I feel like it’s going to be an important one.
  7. Tales of Valhalla: Norse Myths and Legends – Hannah Whittock, Martyn Whittock
    Tales of Valhalla - Martyn and Hannah Whittock
    Mythology
    Goodreads
    Norse mythology is always interesting, so I’m excited to have another book to read on the topic. I adored Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, so I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy this one just as much.
  8. The Golden State – Lydia Kiesling
    The Golden State - Lydia Kiesling.jpeg
    Fiction
    Goodreads
    Lydia Kiesling makes her debut with this novel about a single mother named Daphne leaving her home in San Francisco after her husband, an immigrant, is denied re-entry into the United States. The book deals with Daphne’s anxiety and loneliness. I’ve heard amazing things about this book.
  9. The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
    The Lost Queen - Signe Pike
    Fantasy
    Goodreads
    I’ve been wanting to read a good fantasy book lately, and this one seems great. It takes place in sixth-century Scotland and follows Queen Languroreth. The novel deals with the arrival of Christianity to the nation, brought by the Anglo-Saxons as they invade the isles.
  10. The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson
    The Forbidden Place - Susanne Jansson
    Mystery/Thriller
    Goodreads
    Taking place in a Swedish village called Mossmarken, a biologist comes across a body in the bogs. Sounds like a simple mystery novel, but then bodies start floating to the surface, one of them with pockets full of gold.

Chapter One

Welcome to Read Yourself Happy!

My entire life has been heavily influenced by books.

Both of my parents were avid readers. My mom preferred romance novels and popular contemporary fiction, while my father exclusively reads historical non-fiction, biographies, and memoirs. My brother is a huge Ernest Hemingway fan and got me hooked on his writing as well. Almost all of my friends are bookish, and my boyfriend and I bond frequently over our mutual adoration of all things comic book related.

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My attempts at organizing our comic book collections when Ian and I move in together

Some of my favorite places in the world are libraries and bookstores. I spent all of my twenties living in Asheville, NC, where I could walk to Malaprop’s Bookstore, Downtown Books and News, and even Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, where you can sip on a glass of wine or a latte while tucked away amongst stacks of books.

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Sipping on champagne at Battery Park on my last day in Asheville

While science fiction is my genre of choice, I read everything. I alternate fiction with non-fiction and am always reading a book of poetry and listening to audiobooks on the side. I love all the books, and I want to share that love with everyone around me.

My goals for this blog are simple. I want to influence others to pick up books, I want a space where I can share my thoughts about every book I read, and I want to help people be happier.

I was influenced to start this blog after reading an article about how reading makes us happier, less anxious, and smarter. If you are dedicated to a life of wellness, I recommend making daily reading a part of that.

While this blog will primarily focus on books, I’m also going to occasionally include other things that make me happy, such as journaling, trips to bookish places, crafts, wellness and lifestyle tips, and probably pictures of my cat (although I promise to keep it at a minimum! She’s just so darn cute!).

Layla with her tongue out
Layla. She is a silly cat.

If you have any questions, feedback, or just want to say hi, check the top of the page to contact me! I’d love to hear from you!