Books

Lily’s Literature #9

I’m pleased to be back with another installment of Lily’s Literature! I really enjoy reviewing my recent reads and seeing what y’all have been reading or think I should add to my “To-Read List”. Before I begin, there’s something I’m curious about–How many of you have Kindles/Nooks/E-Readers, etc. and how many of you buy your books or go to the library? I usually purchase mine but I feel like it’s getting slightly out of control.

The book that I started reading after my last literature post was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. I’d been interested in reading this one for a while. The story takes place in a small Georgia town and follows five characters that all, in their own way, have lonely hearts. The character that brings all of these stories together is a man named John Singer who happens to be a deaf mute. The other four are drawn to him and are only content when he is around. The story ebbs and flows around these characters and is often heartbreaking.McCullers heart

I wasn’t totally immersed in the book. I thought the writing was great, the characters were well developed, and the nuances were apparent. I just couldn’t fully get into it for some reason. It felt like it was one-note the entire time so I wasn’t excited or depressed or angry. I just read the story and was like, “Okay.” But, as I said before, it was very well written and the characters were extremely life-like. Maybe I couldn’t concentrate because Carson McCullers’ picture was on the back of my book and her cheeks were too distracting.

After that I read a book that I wouldn’t have picked out on my own. It’s titled My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD. I was really nervous to read this one because I knew it was the author’s account of having a stroke and what she learned from it. Jill was one of the lucky ones in that before she had her stroke, she was a brain scientist. Not only that, but during her stroke she was able to contact a friend just in time to get her help. Not everyone is so lucky. She then goes onto explain what happened during the time of her stroke, her recovery period, and what we can do to help those we know who’ve survived having a stroke. my-stroke-of-insight-cover

I didn’t think I would like this book simply because I dislike science and hate learning things. I’m not a big fan of non-fiction, but I was willing to try this one out because it was for a book club. I actually took a lot away from this book and feel like I have a lot more insight and respect to how my complicated little brain works. It really makes you look at life differently. If you’re into science and nature, this is a good one to try!

And finally, the book I finished today, my favorite book that I’ve read all year is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I don’t even know where to begin. In this sci-fi story, the year is 2044. Earth is pretty much a wasteland dump because all of the resources have been used up and everything has gone to shit. Video game designer James Halliday made a simulated game-like world where players can basically live life. It’s called OASIS. They can go to school, work, go shopping there–do whatever they needed to do to escape life on Earth. When the creator dies, an announcement is made that he hid 3 keys in OASIS that lead to a mega Easter egg containing Halliday’s fortune and control of OASIS. Even though he gave the population clues, he hid the keys so well that no one found anything for a couple of years. Until one day, Wade Watts uncovers the first key and the word goes crazy.Ready-Player-One-Paperback-Cover

I can’t even describe how into this book I was. I’ve been telling everyone I know to read it because I need someone to talk to about it. I’m always in awe when authors can create a whole world different from the one we know. There are tons and tons of video game, movie, TV, and music references–mostly from the 80’s. It’s great. I would recommend this book to those who are interested in all of that nerd-speak. Otherwise, you might get a bit lost. But still, I think almost everyone would enjoy this read.

Have you read any books lately?

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Books

Lily’s Literature #8

Welcome to the 8th installment of Lily’s Literature where I review the last three books that I recently read. I’ve been supremely proud of myself this year in the reading department. I’ve almost reached my goal of finishing 25 books this year! I know that 25 doesn’t seem like a ton, but I’m a slow reader and I like to focus on every sentence when I read. But enough about that–now onto the books.

The book that I started reading in September was a pick from one of the members in my book club. She chose Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. I had previously watched the Netflix Original TV show based on this book so I wasn’t super stoked to read the book. I feel like I can’t really get into books if I’ve already seen the movie version simply because I already know what happens. But I figured I would give it a shot because I literally have nothing else to do.Orange is the New Black book cover

The book OITNB is so extremely different from the show. As I read it, I realized that the Netflix version is totally made for Hollywood. So much of what happened in the show was never even touched on in the book. It was just about Piper’s life in prison and how she survived. The book itself was slightly dry, but very real. I liked it for that reason. I felt her pain and emotions so much more by reading her words than from watching a woman play her role.

I enjoyed reading about Piper’s journey–the events that lead her to prison, her life behind bars, and her thoughts after she was released. The characters are interesting (of course not as interesting as the Netflix version) but they add a lot of color to the pages. Overall, I enjoyed Piper’s account of prison. It’s not something that many people get to experience and it’s pretty eye-opening to see what it’s like.

After that I read a book that I had been meaning to read for a while. I had heard good things from friends and relatives so I decided to pick up Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks. Whenever war is involved I usually run the other way. I loathe reading about war. Any war. It’s just so blehhh. I can’t relate to it. I know many men fought and died for us and wars were the biggest part of their life, but I just can’t get into reading about them. I’ve tried though, trust me. I’ve read The Things They Carried, Catch 22, and Slaughterhouse Five all of which were just meh in my opinion. So why I thought this one would be any different, I know not.51n01ltpukl_ss500_

The story is about Stephen Wraysford, an Englishman, who ventures to the Azaire household in France to learn more about his company’s work. While in France, he falls in love with Isabelle Azaire and they have a love affair that takes them away from both his job and her life. Time wears on their relationship and Stephen eventually fights for his country during WWI. The rest of the book is a mixture of Stephen’s war-time trials and his great granddaughter’s modern (late 1970’s) life.

I really enjoyed the love story part of this book. It was VERY romantic, if you’re into that kind of thing. I wished that section of the story was longer, to be honest. I had trouble focusing on the middle of the book, during the war time, but the parts about his great granddaughter were mildly interesting. The book definitely declined for me after Part 1 though.

And lastly, I finished Still Alice by Lisa Genova today. The story is about Alice Howland, a 50-year-old professor at Harvard University known for her work in the Psychology and Linguistics department. She was enthusiastic about learning and teaching about her subject of which she was  a professional. Almost suddenly, Alice starts forgetting details of her lectures, getting lost in familiar places, and forgetting to catch important flights. She goes to the doctor and learns that she has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She struggles with her diagnosis but strongly continues on with the help of her family.still-alice

I didn’t know the extremity of the pain and heartache that Alzheimer’s could cause for both the patient and their family. I’ve never had a family member with dementia, so I couldn’t really relate to any of the situations in the book and I’m very glad for that. This story really opened my eyes to the severe changes that people go through with early onset Alzheimer’s. At the beginning of the book though, and I hate to say this, I didn’t really like Alice. I thought that she was a little too cocky and proud of her achievements. So it was almost kind of rewarding when she started forgetting things. (I know that’s horrible, but I’m a horrible person so whatever.) In the end it was sad and tragic to read about her trying to remember her own family members or how a microwave worked. It kind of reminded me of Flowers for Algernon.

Have you read any books lately?

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Books, Surroundings, victoria b.c.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I have been having a ball “witch hunting” recently. Oh, what? You don’t witch hunt? Well, I’ve always had a thing for history and learning about different religions, cultures, and societies both ancient and modern. When I was in university I took a Women in History class and there was a segment on witches that I fell in love with.tumblr_mrwg3poBNx1rp8l2lo1_500

The idea of witches/Wiccans/Satanists has been around since the biblical ages. Many scripts warn people of witches or those who practice Black Magic and say that any act of that sort is punishable by death. In early Europe though, especially in the UK and Ireland, peeps got a little carried away with this instruction causing tens of thousands of executions. It was especially scary if you happened to be born a woman and did anything out of the ordinary. Depending on how harsh your fellow townspeople were, you could be in danger of being called a witch if you had red hair or laughed in public. Or even if you were widowed.

This kind of behavior made it easy for men and women alike to accuse almost anyone of being Satan’s mistress. Often times if a fellow member of society didn’t like someone, they could say something like, “When she looked at me, her eyes pierced through my soul!” and bam–they were a considered a witch. It was a game of one person’s word against another’s.tumblr_mox6z1S1Pn1ra7whpo1_250

Most people know how these medieval communities would judge if someone was a witch. It was pretty gruesome. Basically, the belief was, if you were a practicing witch, you wouldn’t be able to feel any pain or at least wouldn’t be capable of showing that you were hurt. It was also believed that witches couldn’t drown, so of course the easiest way to test this would be to hold suspects under water and if they drowned–congrats! They weren’t a witch! And if they didn’t, they would be put to death. A win/win really.

That’s not to say all women accused of such crimes weren’t practicing witchcraft. Some were. There have been accounts (some true, most probably false) of covens or circles of women that would meet in the forest at night, naked, sacrificing animals or even dead human children to Satan. Spooky stuff. There were also a handful of women who confessed to being witches in early modern Europe.tumblr_me5a8bjRVS1rdyfv3o1_1280

Most witches, but not all, had a vast knowledge about nature and the human body. Midwives who tried different techniques for removing children from their mother’s womb had to be careful not to be accused of magik. Same with those who had a keen sense of herbs, spices, and anything from the apothecary. This seems stereotypical but many witches, even today’s modern Wiccans have a profound knowledge of such things, as well as crystals, stones, and many animal and insect species.tumblr_msl39rnSC91qdv8q2o1_500

Of course the scare of witches has moved all around the world. One of the biggest, most common hunts was in Salem, Massachusetts from 1692-93. This was a particularly popular case because there was mass hysteria and the public actually held court room trials about it.tumblr_ms2gseOR2f1soehg5o1_1280

You wouldn’t believe my excitement when I started to research witches/Wiccans in Victoria, B.C. (where I live now) and the results showed that it held, at one point, the highest population of witches in North America. Of course I quickly grabbed my purse and ran out the door to find out more about the topic. I went to a used book store and found their Wicca/witchcraft/occult section. I was looking more for a history of witches in B.C., but only found a lot of how-to books. Which were still amazingly cool.

I asked about a book that is out of print called Michelle Remembers. Every time I asked about it, people gave me a weird look and smile like, “Ohh you’re into that stuff?” Apparently this book is the maybe-true-maybe-false story of a girl who lived in Victoria that had insane night terrors to the point where she would find herself  awake and screaming. She visited a psychologist who used hypnosis to find out the root of her problem. Apparently when she was younger, she was abused in satanic rituals. Super creepy. The book is out of print and impossible to find. But I’m on a waiting list for it. My husband of course has not only read it, but also been to the house where she lived. It’s been knocked down but the address numbers used to be 666. Spooooky! I feel like I’m telling ghost stories right now.Michelle_Remembers

On my journey I visited a couple stores that focus on the metaphysical world. Both had a wide selection of books, but none on the history of witchcraft in general or in Victoria. And both had many crystals for sale. Recently I purchased a quartz crystal pendant, which not only looks chic, but also gives me power, energy, and clarity. Jus’ sayin’!tumblr_mps584W3sH1r0ue6ro1_500

I was super intrigued when I visited a store in Fan Tan Alley (a 4 foot-wide alleyway downtown that people used to visit during the 19th century to illegally gamble, drink, and do other things…) called Triple Spiral where I talked to a woman about classes that I could take to learn about witchcraft/Wicca/occult magik. You even get to create your own spells and rituals! So cray cray. I guess it’s taught by some of the high priestesses in town and is supposed to be a great series of classes. It’s out of my price range though. How cool is it that they offer that kind of thing?

Lastly, here are some ways you can add a touch of witchy wonder to your drab, everyday life:

Listen to:

“Rihannon” by Fleetwood Mac

“Season of the Witch” by Donovan

“Wicked Annabella” by The Kinks

“Black Magic Woman” by Santana

“Witchy Woman” by The Eagles

“Wicked Witch” by Lene Lovich

“A Witch’s Promise” by Jethro Tulltumblr_mc0t5qqXcr1qau76oo1_1280

Read:

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Michelle Remembers by Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder

The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe by Brian P. Levack

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft by Denise Zimmerman

The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall

Apply:

Wicked nail polish by Essie

Black Shatter nail polish by OPI

Magic Spell Juicy Tube by Lancome

Ceridwen’s Cauldron bath melt by Lush

Magic Ink liquid eyeliner by Benefit

Watch:

The Witches (1990)

Practical Magic (1998)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

American Horror Story: The Coven (FX 2013)American-Horror-Story-Coven-Season-3-Poster-3

Watch Ironically:

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Harry Potter (2001)

Theater:

Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Eat/Drink/Smoke:

Soups

Tea

Poison (or regular) apples

Spices

Clove cigarettes

Wear:

Crystal pendants

Vintage Rings

Lots o’ black

Lace-up boots

Long billowy skirts or dresses

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent

Midnight Poison by Diortumblr_mtna4hexDe1qgw2foo1_500

Visit:

Cemetaries

Underground tunnels

Ghost Tours

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Books

Lily’s Literature #7

This batch of books took me a while to read. They were very descriptive and I always want to make sure that I don’t miss anything when I’m reading. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of forgetting what happened in a story or forgetting the book entirely. I’m not a re-reader so I want to make sure I have a full grasp and then be done with it. I’m making it sound like reading is painful and I just want it to be over with. Not so. I just don’t want to re-read stories because I want to read new ones! Plus, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

The first book I read since my last literature post was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. If you’re into learning more about women in the bible, this is your book. Diamant weaves the tales and lineage of those mentioned in Genesis 34 and by doing so, brings life to that biblical chapter. It was really amazing to get a different perspective on what happened to Abraham and Issac and his children after that. I have no idea how Diamant did her research, and some of it is “historical fiction”, but she really takes the audience into the ancient Middle East and Egypt.The-Red-Tent

The story’s narrator is Dinah (pronounced Dee-nah…like from Jersey Shore!) who is the youngest child and only girl born of her mother Leah. Dinah’s family is big and has many members (about 14 kids) all raised by her father and his 4 wives who all happen to be sisters. FUN TIMES. So Dinah is raised by her mother and aunts and is welcomed into their red tent at a young age simply because she is the only girl. The red tent is where women would go to “be in their moon” or menstruate in the company of other women away from men. It is there that Dinah hears the gossip and stories from her mother and aunts and learned to become the strong woman that she was. The book follows Dinah through her entire life of hardship and struggles but she finds happiness in the end which is comforting.

After that I picked up Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. At the beginning of the year I read Sedaris’ Naked and really enjoyed it. This one was good and very similar but I think I enjoyed it less than the other one. It’s just my personal preference I guess. Don’t get me wrong though, some stories in this one were great and made me laugh out loud (which is rare). But overall I thought the stories in Naked struck a chord with me more. Corduroy and Denim just didn’t seem as succinct. I guess it’s not fair for me to compare both of them. If I’m just looking at this one on it’s own then yes, it’s a good book.DressYourFamily_hires

What makes David Sedaris’ snippets from his life enjoyable is his wit. And his family. I especially like whenever he talks about growing up with his 4 sisters and brother in rural North Carolina. It brings me a lot of joy. Especially when he sprinkles his stories with lines from his abusive mother, it becomes extra comical. He also talks about growing up gay and how no one knew, yet everyone knew.

Some of the stories that he includes don’t captivate me that much, but that also happened in Naked as well. I guess that’s something that I like about his books. It’s very real. Not every story that someone tells is going to appeal to everyone in their audience. But most of his tales have an endearing quality to them. In fact, a movie is being made from some of his stories in Naked. It’s called C.O.G. And if any of you say that I need to read Me Talk Pretty One Day, I already know. 

And the book that I most recently finished was The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.  This one is also a historical fiction novel that my mom picked out for me. I feel like I know a lot about early European history and ancient history, but I know almost nothing about the Italian Renaissance era. And that’s when this book takes place. Because I was unfamiliar with a lot of the names of key political players of the time, I had to pay extra attention. But besides that, it’s pretty easy to follow.

Nothing I hate more than when illustrators put a women on the cover who looks nothing like the character in the book. Have you ever seen any blonde Italian women?

Nothing I hate more than when illustrators put a woman on the cover who looks nothing like the character in the book. Have you ever seen any blonde Italian women?

The story is of a privileged fourteen year old girl named Alessandra Cecchi. She is a strong headed teenager who is more interested in the arts and literature than getting married or learning to dance. Because of the approaching French armies, Alessandra will be forced to join a convent and leave Florence or get married because it’s dangerous for single women to be around during such times. Alessandra’s brother arranges a marriage for her and the secrets begin to unravel.

I can’t really say any more than that because it will ruin some of the juiciness of the story. I liked this book but I thought Dunant could’ve expanded on some parts of the story line. There’s a whole murder aspect that nothing really comes of. But otherwise it was good–and you learn a lot about Florence and how unruly the townspeople become when they blindly follow leaders in their church.

Have you read any good books lately?

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Books

Lily’s Literature #6

It feels like I haven’t written anything in a long time. It probably feels that way because that’s the way it’s been. I’ve been doing less writing and more reading and lots of movie watching. I can’t remember a time during the past fortnight when I wasn’t at the movie theater watching This Is The End. If you haven’t seen it, I would suggest it.  But only if you like that Seth Rogan-y crew.

I managed to get some good reading in while I was at my mom’s house. It’s just so cozy there that I feel the need to constantly be bundled up, reading a good book. And most of the books I read this month were good.

I like reading books that have had movies already made in their honor. That way, when I finish the book, I can rent the movie and it becomes a fulfilling process of seeing your vision come true (even though characters and plots aren’t always portrayed in the way that I envision). So I picked up Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I didn’t really know what to expect besides southern-ness. I knew it would have a southern feel, and boy did it ever.Friedgreenbook

The story is about the lives of many different women, some living in the 30’s, some living in the 80’s, some that lived during both times. One of the main characters, Virginia “Ninny” Threadgoode observed what life was like in homespun Whistle Stop, Alabama during the earlier part of the century. A lot of the book is Ninny recalling memories to her friend Evelyn Couch who visits her at a Nursing Home. Other bits of the story are treated like glimpses back in time, witnessing Ninny’s life in Whistle Stop, living with the Threadgoode family that adopted her.

I was really intrigued that this book hinted at a lesbian relationship (at least, that’s the way I saw it) in such a dismissive era. The character Imogene “Idgie” Threadgoode “had a crush” on new-girl Ruth, who came to visit the Threadgoode home one summer. It seemed unlikely, but also very real at the same time. I guess the part that seemed unlikely was that her whole family and town was alright with Ruth and Idgie’s relationship. They were surrounded by so much love and acceptance during a time that I imagined not much existed. Other than that, I thought it was a sweet little story with lots of southern flavor (railroad stories, Ku Klux Klan appearances, and many delicious recipes).

After that I picked up Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I was under the impression that this book was a murder-mystery type book, but it was actually way different than that. I liked it because it surprised me. The first half of the book had a lot of character building and explanations.  Almost 200 pages worth, which was a lot. BUT it made the twists and turns even better when the time came.gone_girl_8442457

The book jumps into the disappearance of Amy Elliott Dunne, married to Nick Dunne, the lead suspect in her murder. Nick isn’t the best guy, but he’s definitely not the worst guy. Reading the book, I was constantly changing my opinions of characters and evidence. I gained a lot of respect for Ms. Flynn for being able to take my mind on an adventure, write in two different voices (male and female), and throw me for a loop. I would definitely recommend this one.

After that, I picked up a quick 90-pager laying around my old bedroom. It was The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I have a soft spot for Steinbeck so I thought I would give it a shot, especially since it wasn’t that long. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the best of his work. But, to be honest, it’s very different from his typical California-set tales. This one was inspired from a Mexican folk tale about a Gulf town, La Paz and what happened when a villager came across “The Pearl of the World”.the-pearl-book-image

Kino and his wife, Juana, lived simply and happily until one day when their infant child is stung by a scorpion. Desperate for a doctor’s help, Kino goes diving to see if he can find anything to afford medical attention. Whilst under water, Kino came across a shimmer in the mouth of a clam. In his boat, he opens the shell and finds the biggest pearl that has ever been seen, “as big as a seagull’s egg.”

The story details what happens when someone achieves wealth overnight, surrounded by a jealous, coveting society. The pearl changes life for Kino and Juana. And not in a good way. Overall, I would give the book 3 out of 5 stars. It’s good, but it’s not the best Steinbeck by any means.

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Books

Lily’s Literature #5

Welcome to another addition of Lily’s Literature aka Where I Make Myself Sound Well Read. I keep forgetting to add at the end of these posts suggestions for any books that you think I should add to my to-read list. This month I have quite the motley crew of titles and themes. Hope you enjoy!

After last month’s Lily’s Literature, I joined a book club. Just a friendly little get together, but it was really fun and I ended up noticing more patterns once we talked about the book together. The book that was the topic of discussion was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. Unlike the rest of the world, I haven’t read Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, so I had no idea what his writing style would be like or if the topics he chose would interest me. What really drew me in was the opening story. 16115612

The book started with a brother and sister listening to their father tell them a middle eastern folk tale of sorts. It was magical and beautiful and possibly one of my favorite parts of the entire book. The rest of the book is set in reality (bummer). It follows intertwining stories of the brother (Abdullah) and the sister (Pari) and all the roads related to them. Early on they’re separated, while readers spend the entirety of the book wondering if they will ever be reunited. There are reoccurring themes of caring for others while giving up your own life juxtaposed with those who cut ties and choose freedom. It’s very interesting and sad at times. I’m definitely going to look into reading The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

After that I picked up the hugely popular young adult novel, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Now, I’ve always been suspect of teen books right off the bat. It’s tough because some are really great, like The Hunger Games, and others are too simple (in my opinion). There was a lot of hype with this book. I mean A LOT. Everywhere I looked, there was praise for it. On Goodreads it gets a super high score in the 4 star range. Everyone talks about it on Tumblr and how it changed their lives. And even at my own bookstore it’s one of the highest sellers. So I was pretty excited to read it.The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

And then I finished it and was totally underwhelmed. The story follows a teenage girl, Hazel, who lives with lung cancer. She isn’t a survivor per se, but she has survived for quite a while due to certain medications. While in support group for teens living with cancer, Hazel meets Augustus, a dreamboat amputee (his leg) who falls in love with her. The book follows their blossoming relationship and is speckled with bits of humor and tragedy. I just wasn’t a fan of the book because the writing was so pretentious. I had to stop multiple times a re-read sentences because they were so philosophic and advanced. Not many 16 year-olds talk about existentialism on a daily basis. At least, I didn’t think so. In that way, it didn’t seem believable and the characters came across as false and unlikable (in my opinion). Not my fave.

Most recently, I finished another book for my book club called Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford of Twitter fame. I’m torn with this one. Humor books are tough for me because I’m harsh judge. The last humor book I read was White Girl Problems and it made me lol many, many times. Ms. Oxford’s book? Not so much. I mean, it was funny, but it seemed like she was trying. 13609922

Don’t get me wrong, she chose many snippets from her life that we circumstantially funny, but I wasn’t totally wowed. What I did enjoy, however, is that Kelly was raised in Calgary, and Victoria was even mentioned. So I was digging that for real. But for most of the book she acts like she’s such a terrible person for thinking certain things or saying others. It’s like, calm down, no you’re not. And she also comments on how naturally skinny she is often which really bugged. Must be rough.

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Books

Lily’s Literature #4

I’m finally back with another segment of Lily’s Literature! I read a weird array of books this month–they were all very different from each other. I feel like if I read too many similar books in one go, I’ll get bored and stop reading altogether. In other news, I color coordinated my bookshelf. So yeah…that happened.

After my last book review post, I picked up the book She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I had a lot of people tell me this was one of their favorite books, so I figured it was about time I checked it out. Right off the bat we’re introduced to the protagonist, Dolores. The novel follows her throughout her life, told in her voice. There are so many tragic events that happen to Dolores, which make for a good read, but also for a very sad character. There were often times when I was frustrated with her, but I think it was only because I hadn’t experienced her pain, and if I had lived through the kind of things that she had, I would be angry and wounded too. shes-come-undonoe

I was incredibly impressed with Wally Lamb’s writing. As I kept getting deeper into Dolores’s life, I had to check online to make sure Wally wasn’t a woman himself–his writing was that convincing. He made his characters so real that there were times that I actually felt depressed from what I was reading. Like, one time my husband came home from work and he could tell I was sad and he was like, “Is everything okay?” And I was like, “Oh yeah. It’s just that one of the characters in my book is going through a really hard time right now.” Lolz. Anyway, I would totally suggest this great read to both men and women.

After that, I went in a completely different direction and picked up Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Now let’s be real. Vonnegut is a weirdo. But he’s creative and tells his stories beautifully and bluntly. The only Vonnegut I had read previous to this was Welcome to the Monkey House, a book of his short stories that I was assigned during my sophomore year in high school. What I concluded from his work then was that it was weird but good. I would still use that feeling to describe Slaughterhouse-Five. Weird but good.slaughterhouse-five

I didn’t really know what to expect with this one, and after reading it, I knew I would’ve never been able to guess that the story would unfold the way it did. It was a story about a solider named Billy Pilgrim and his time in World War II. I’ve always kind of hated war related books, but this one was different. It was also sprinkled with a futuristic element because Billy is kidnapped by a race of aliens called Tralfamadorians. They live in a peaceful world and teach Billy a lot about himself and humanity.

This book won’t be for everyone. However, it was a quick read with interesting characters and a very creative spin on your typical war story.

Today, I just finished the memoir Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. This was a phenomenal account of what life was like in Limerick Ireland in the 30’s and 40’s. The story follows Frank’s family as they struggle to make ends meet. His “Mam” Angela tries to do the best she can for her many children even though her husband can’t find work, and when he does, he spends all his money on “the drink”. I loved the accents written into the story. It made everything come alive. There was so much detail. Everything was expressed through Frankie’s (a young Frank) mind–so observant and innocent.

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One of the first lines of the book was, “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all.” True enough. Three of Frank’s siblings died of starvation and sickness, their clothes looked like rags, their “house” flooded when it rained (almost daily), and Angela would end up begging for money on the street. Life was rough for these folks. The story really brings to light what life was like in those days. As they would say in the book, Jasus and Mary Mother O’ God what a sorry sight.

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Books

Lily’s Literature #3

If you don’t know about my Lily’s Literature posts by now, you’re obviously not a true fan and I hate you. Basically these pieces are reviews of the last three books that I’ve read. For my previous reviews you can click HERE and HERE and even HERE. So yeah you should get on that.

I recently picked up the popular semi-real semi-fake memoir, A Million Little Pieces written by James Frey. There was a lot of media commotion attached to this book after Oprah found out that Mr. Frey embellished some parts of his story. I could honestly care less. If a book is good, then it shouldn’t matter what’s real and what’s not. The story is pretty unbelievable so the fact that parts of it are true makes it even better. 1241

At first I was frustrated by James and his situation. As a reader, the minute James introduces himself you become aware that he’s not in a good place. He’s an addict and he’s used almost everything possible (alcohol, cocaine, heroine, glue, gas, etc.). He eventually ends up in rehab, not willing to listen to anyone trying to help him. He wants to do things his way or the highway. The book shows him grow as a person through his observations and lots of therapy. Mr. Frey’s writing style is short and choppy, unique and easy to follow. If you’re in the mood for a real gritty read, you should probably pick this one up.

After that I grabbed Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Besides having the longest title of all time, it proved to be a very interesting read. I actually had a love/hate relationship with this book. Well, not as extreme as love/hate. More like love/meh.Devil-in-the-White-City

The novel tells two stories, one being how the Chicago World’s Fair exposition came to be, and the other about a serial killer lurking in the area. Hence the title Devil in the White City. Mr. Larson does a fantastic job bringing to life what the architects had to endure to make the fair a success. You learn so much about the city designers, as well as some famous names such as George Ferris (inventor of the Ferris Wheel) and Nikola Tesla (conductor of electricity), and even Buffalo Bill. After a while, I started to get bored from learning all the facts and started to long for the juicy serial killer story line. That part of the book really kept me going  while also amazing me that in the 1890’s you could basically get away with whatever you wanted. Even murder.

Today I finished reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I had a couple of people recommend this book to me and I just don’t understand the appeal. The book itself is only 100 pages which seems do-able. But like my friend Carter told me today, they were the longest 100 pages of my life.0eb0d5af-ad8f-46e0-a0fc-b7d28fc7d415-1

The story is narrated by a sailor named Marlow who recounts his trip into the depths of the African jungle down along the Congo. He explains the dreariness of it all and talks about the “horrors of colonialism.” Throughout the book I was looking forward to meeting a character named Kurtz who had made himself somewhat of a legend in the ivory trading business. The natives worship the man and the other sailors are fascinated by him. I wasn’t wowed at all, to be honest. Most of the book was a lot of long thoughts that weren’t of particular interest to me. It was written well, but I just couldn’t get into it. My apologies Mr. Conrad. Actually, no. Mr. Conrad should apologize to me.

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Books

Lily’s Literature #2

If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to make Lily’s Literature a staple part of my blog. By now you should be obsessed with my blog and notice any sudden movements or new installments. Anyway, as I’ve explained before, after I finish reading three books I’ll review them in one post. You can read my last couple reviews HERE and HERE.

The last 6 books I read had mostly been about serious topics. I decided to switch it up and read something that I know would make me laugh, White Girl Problems by Babe Walker. During the last couple of years the mysterious Babe Walker has gained a cult following by being simply hilarious on her twitter account. Quickly followed by an equally comical website and Youtube account, Ms. Walker’s fame started to grow. And the birth of White Girl Problems became the crown jewel to her funny observations.9781401324544_p0_v1_s260x420

In a way, the book is a recounting of life events that brought Babe to her lowest point in life–shopping rehab. She lived the life of a privileged California golden girl who was handed everything she could ever want. Often being made fun of in rehab, in a fit of rage she scribbled down how hard life could really be for a white girl.

This book is super funny, super cringey, and very inappropriate. It’s a quick read and definitely entertaining. You’ll fall in love with Babe Walker. Or totally hate her. Or both.

After that I went back to serious again. From my mom’s suggestion, I picked up the book Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. This book is the pieced-together true story of the woman who had a lasting affair with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This book was hard for me to love because I didn’t feel a connection to the main character. She let lust get in the way of her marriage to a loyal man and let it help leave behind her two children at home. She was selfish in so many ways.loving_frank

This story is a very detailed account of the relationship–the ups and downs of changing your life for someone else. The excitement of new places, and the dread of going home and being judged by everyone. For a pretty tame book, the ending is unbelievable and makes it worth the read.

And the most recent book I read was The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides. The reason I picked this book was because I haven’t seen the movie yet. If I’ve seen the movie version before reading the book version, I won’t be able to read it because I’ll already know what happens. And that’s super boring. However, if I see a movie and already know what happens because of the book, it’s okay because I’ve only painted the picture in my mind and I haven’t seen in acted out yet. Do you know what I’m saying? No? Okay cool.VirginSuicides

I expected this book to be depressing. It was pretty much everything I thought it would be. The writing style is different in that it’s like a stream of consciousness retelling events in chunky paragraphs without taking a breath in between. The tale is told through the eyes of the boys across the street of the Lisbon household. Five girls living in under one roof that were seriously depressed. You can probably guess what happens in the end. The story is sad and beautiful at the same time. Definitely worth a read if you feel like living (or reliving) through a 70’s high school experience sprinkled with sex, sisters, and suicide.

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Books

Lily’s Literature #1

I’ve been waiting to use that alliteration for way too long now. I’ve started reading a lot more these days. I think I’ve been out of school long enough to want to read again. Reviewing three books at a time seems to work for me, but that also means that there will be lag time between my literature posts because it takes me a long time to read. My last literature post was HERE.

Sometimes I like to be brave and trust reviews about books that I’ve never heard anything about otherwise. Usually if my mom has read a book and liked it, I know that I’ll like it too. Whenever I branch out from her suggestions, I always regret it. That’s what happened to me with this book, The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.
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This book has tons of accolades and best sellers written all over it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Also, the author seems so young from her picture that I couldn’t really believe that she wrote any of it. The story takes place in a made up country somewhere in Eastern Europe it seemed to me. The main character was a girl in her mid twenties who was a young doctor. Her grandfather with whom she grew up, recently died and she wanted to find out more about his life.

The story cuts in and out of her life and her grandpa’s memories and stories. Some of the stories were mildly interesting, but I just didn’t become attached to the characters at all. I could care less about them. They weren’t very developed. However, the writing was beautiful. The stories were detailed and flowed nicely, but I just couldn’t find myself caring. It’s unfortunate because I really wanted to like this one.

I’m uber happy that I picked up my next book though. I knew I had to make up for not liking The Tiger’s Wife, so I had to pick something good. Almost too good. I choose East of Eden by John Steinbeck. And oh my lord did it make up for it. The writing was like butta. It just flowed and oozed greatness. If you ever want to feel like you’re a crappy writer and accomplished nothing in life, read East of Eden4406

The story is about a man named Adam Trask and his complete life story. Like, literally his complete life. I felt like I knew Adam Trask personally. The story ebbs and flows throughout the trails and tribulations that Adam has to endure, the people he meets, the lovers he has, and the places he lives. This piece of work shows how well Steinbeck knew man kind.

What the most surprising part of this book is, in my opinion, that John Steinbeck is one of the characters–it’s semi-autobiographical. He’s not a big character, but he’s part of a family that intertwines with Adam’s family. Most of the characters though, mimic those of the well-known biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel.

What I’m trying to say is, that if you only get the chance to read one book in your life, you should read East of Eden. Plus it’s really chunky so it will look impressive on your shelf.

And the most recent book that I finished is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk CrossThis is the beautiful tale about a girl defying the odds and achieving above and beyond what anyone told her she could. Joan was born into a poor household in Frankland in the 9th Century AD. She had a peculiar parental arrangement in that her mother was a saxon “heathen” that her father, a missionary priest, converted to his Christian ways. Joan’s mother was anything but converted and taught Joan about her Norse gods and goddesses. pope-joan

Joan yearned for knowledge and was told she would accomplish nothing because she was born a female. Not only did she prove them wrong, she eventually ruled over them all. I suggest this book if you’re into girl power and love a good underdog story. And a bit of history as well.

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