Lily’s Literature #19

What is there to do in the winter besides curl up and read? Not a lot. Reading doesn’t add any additional calories to our already bloated holiday bodies. It doesn’t harm our precious little brains with wifi signals or cause our eyes to glaze over like all the Oscar nominated movies like to do. It just is. And that’s good.

I really tried hard to like Nick Cave’s book, And the Ass Saw the Angel. I really frickin’ did. Nick Cave has this coolness about him where people feel like the need to like him and accept anything he creates. Or at least I feel that way.9780141045610

The world that Cave brings to life is unlike any other that my mind has encountered. I tried to find reference when I was reading, wanting desperately to compare it to something familiar, but I couldn’t find a match. It was just too bizarre. The story begins with Euchrid Eucrow, a sad sack born to even sadder sacks of parents. Surrounded by inbred, bible thumping townsfolk, Euchrid is left alienated and survives as best he can. A mixture of visions, wild animals, and prostitutes turn his world upside down and ends up giving him purpose.

I spent most of my time trying to make sense of what I was reading. I was slightly disturbed, but mostly confused. I do have to commend Cave on his writing–beautifully crafted and descriptive. Barely comprehensible southern accents dotted the pages which was entertaining, but didn’t do anything to aid my understanding of the novel.

After that I read Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. You don’t even have to say it. I know. How has it taken me this long to read The Kite Runner? For some reason I just ignored it’s huge success and read other things. Granted, I believe I was in college when it was at the height of it’s popularity. I wasn’t much of a reader during college, what with having to study and write papers at 4am. But now I’m making up for lost time. 9781594480003_p0_v3_s260x420

For those of you who haven’t read this glorious work, Hosseini’s novel takes place in Afghanistan in the 1970’s. The protagonist, Amir grows up in a wealthy home with his father and hazara (servant) and their hazara’s son who also serves as a playmate for Amir. Desperately longing for his father’s approval, Amir demolishes anyone and anything that would deter the love he would receive from the man he looks up to. Through severe twists of fate, Amir is dealt a harsh hand that forces him to choose between his father and friendship.

I ate this book up and wanted more afterwards. It was so heartbreaking and emotional. I was so involved with Amir’s life journey and choices. Feeling bad for him one moment and hating him the next. Hosseini has a way with words where he makes the reader do as little work as possible. He lays it all out in a beautiful way and in turn, you’re left with a vivid picture to soak up. I’ve forced most of my family and friends to pick this up if they haven’t already.

Most recently, I read a book that would normally be outside of my comfort zone. A science fiction novel written by new author, Chad Ganske. I’m always a bit nervous before delving into new worlds that I may or may not understand. However, there is no reason to be scared of Idyllic Avenue51LJBv1RSOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Set on the Utopian planet, Ultim, mutant Stanford Samuels is trying to persevere as best he can. The only way he and his arranged wife, Sarah, can guarantee their safety and ultimately continue living is if they procreate a perfect child to aid the re-population of a sustainable bio-dome. With the help of robot aids, genetically defectless allies, and a mutant army, Stanford has to take a stand against everything he has ever known.

Idyllic Avenue is a great intro into what the world knows as classic sci-fi. There are definitely similar elements of other Utopian societies such as Winston’s watched-over world in Orwell’s 1984, and also parts of Lowry’s inescapable, role-dependent dome in The Giver. The mutant vs. perfect element reminded me of a science fiction book that I recently reviewed, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. That being said, Ganske’s novel is very much it’s own story and quite unique. His character, Stanford is relatable and realistic in his thought process and relationships with those around him. The setting of the novel seems intimidating, but it’s really no more complex than the previously mentioned books. To write a book comparable to some of the greats is quite a feat. If you are interested in a concise, well-written novel, I would suggest this read.

Have you read anything of worth lately?


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.