Diary, Essays or Novel? [A Review]

My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

elizabeth-strout-lucy-barton

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

 

This is one of those books that leave me with a “hmmm…”.

At times, I felt like I was reading a Japanese novel because of the tone. Other times, I thought I was reading someone’s diary. And then there were times when I was sure I was reading an essay on life.

You guessed it – I can’t quite make out this book’s writing style. The chapters don’t look exactly like chapters, and some seem like sudden revelations from the protagonist that simply had to be recorded, because they were only a couple of paragraphs long, not that chapters cannot be a couple of paragraphs long.

And yet, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the book. It’s highly readable, conversational at times, and really good at making me pause between paragraphs to think about the one that I had just read. Because it’s about the relationship between a mother and daughter, I can’t help thinking about my own relationship with my mother and daughter too.

I might have to reread this one some other time.

VERDICT: Try this book if you’re looking for something different to spend a few hours with, and especially if you’re the mother of a daughter.

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.

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This Book Reminds Me of My Own Monster [A Review]

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

patrick ness - a monster calls

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

 

This is a book that needs to be read in one seating, preferably in a private and cozy place. I’m glad that was what I did, because anything else would have tainted one’s ability to feel the story. And because I cried buckets when I reached the end.

I cried because I didn’t just feel for Conor, the thirteen-year-old boy in the story. I felt what he was feeling, because I went through the same anger, grief and guilt when a loved one struggled to live for six months before we finally decided to let go. During those six months, there were times when I wished for everything to end, and then an enormous tide of guilt would follow. It was a period of emotional roller-coasting (if there is even such a word), and when it ended, I was hit by a mixed wave of grief, relief and guilt. I didn’t want to let go, but I had to, and was ashamed that I felt relieved when I finally did. The writer, through Conor and his yew tree monster, described it exactly the way I had felt.

The book has been made into a film, which is scheduled for screening in December this year. I just watched the trailer on Youtube. I think the movie is going to provide more context and less room for one’s imagination to take flight, but I also think it’s going to make me cry harder, so I’m still undecided whether I will watch it. 

Maybe I’ll just buy it off iTunes when it’s out and watch it in the privacy of my home.

VERDICT: This is a book that I can strongly relate to, so I’m not sure I will be able to provide a fair verdict on it. But then, book reviews are mostly subjective anyway, so my take is that if you think you’re going to watch the movie this December, I say read the book first.

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Bestselling novelist Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves a heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.

An Alternative Superhero Series [A Review]

The Reckoners Series, by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart, Firefight, Calamity

brandon sanderson - reckoners steelheart brandon sanderson - reckoners firefight brandon sanderson - reckoners calamity

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

 

Oh Calamity! I’ve finally emerged from a fantasy world of superpowers and yet I don’t feel entirely good.

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post, and it’s primarily because I was trying to finish another Sanderson series before doing a review for the entire series. 

As some of you might know, I became a Brandon Sanderson fan only recently, and so I was really excited when I got my hands on The Reckoners series, considering that the last book was just published earlier this year. Despite the fact that this series had been tagged as young adult fiction, I had high expectations of a Sanderson creation, and was certain I would find it entertaining and refreshing.

Well, I must say it was a fairly entertaining read, and much of the narration was generously sprinkled with humour. I felt like I was reading a superhero series (think The Avengers and X-men), and with all that action, I just kept turning the pages.

But I was disappointed with how the story concluded, especially the part where Sanderson tried to explain where the powers of the Epics came from. I thought it was weak and woolly, and the message about how humans are innately good just wasn’t handled well enough. 

VERDICT: Do not expect something as good as the Mistborn series, plus this is more science fiction than traditional fantasy. But if you’re just looking for good entertainment or fast-paced action that’s not on a screen, this might be for you.

 

[I’ve not included the synopsis in this post because I’ve not been able to find one short enough to cover the entire series, but if you need one, Google always helps. 🙂 ]