Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer

It has been ages since I've posted on here! I miss my blog but it started to feel like a chore. It was like 'having' to review and blog each book I read was taking something away from the reading experience.. And that is not how it should be. 

Instead, I've been tracking my reading on goodreads and writing the occasional review on there. I thought I would share this one on here, since I loved this novel. You should all read it!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I am not sure how to review this novel and do it justice. I am not even sure how to formulate my thoughts since I just put it down, and am feeling slightly overwhelmed.

It is a wonderful and heartbreaking novel.....How life is a rotten, dark, miserable old thing yet it is precious and beautiful at he same time.

Life is full of possibility... But why do we focus so much on those possibilities instead of on the present moment? We look forward to the future instead of enjoying what is right in front of us. It's a novel about death and loss and learning to live in a world full of those things. It is a novel about love and not taking anything for granted.

Oskar was an endearing character, trying to make sense of a world that has no sense. He made me laugh and cry. 

It is a study of what makes us human. How each person has their own eccentricities, their own little quirks... And that is beautiful. Foer has a special talent for 'seeing' people... Really seeing them. This is what made this book for me. 

I found this novel hard to read at times due to the style. It was dry in parts. Other parts were pure poetry, and reading those parts was a pleasure.

I found the pictures from September 11 hard to look at, but I always have. Those were people jumping out of those buildings and this novel really drives that loss home. It is so sad and so devastating and so hard to read...Thinking about what those people went through, the fear of knowing... Foer does a tasteful and sensitive job of reminding us that they were human beings with loves, fears, passions, hobbies, children, wives, husbands, favourite foods, lovers of music, books, animals... They were Oskar's Dad... They were people and their lives were taken in a horrific and terrifying way. 

I think authors who write about September 11 are treading on thin ground... It can be easy to over sentimentalise, but I think Foer *just* avoids this. 

This novel also focuses on the Dresden bombing. Again: so hard to read about, but so important in our history as human beings. When will we ever learn?

I'd recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary literature. It's not a light read. It's emotional and exhausting... But it's worth it. Just don't read it at work.. I read it during breaks and found it hard to switch off once I had to go back to the read world. I lived in a mental fugue for a few days.

Taking a Hiatus

It's been a while since I posted a review here.... A long while and to be honest, the review was so rushed and I felt so pressured to write it, it was bad. Time to face the fact that I just don't have the time for this blog at the moment.

I have books a,ll the way back to November I haven't yet blogged about. Look how many!

This makes me sad. I love my blog, I love talking about books and I love the book blogging community. But the time has come to take a break. Blogging now feels like a chore, something I must do... and that isn't how it should be.

So for now I won't be writing reviews. I will still be tracking the books I read via my Reviews by Month page, but I won't be writing about each book I read. This doesn't mean I won't post on here occasionally, I still love to talk about books and may have things I want to share, but the pressure to review is something I need a break from.

I'll still be reading your awesome blogs when I can and I WILL be back!

So for now, happy reading and see you soon!

Finding Things in Books

I bought this book from Dymocks today. This note was inside....

Changless — Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #2)

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Genre: Fiction, Steampunk, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2010
Rating: 3/5

You know... trying to write this review I realise I don't have much to say about this novel. Sure I am way behind in my reviews and it's been months since I read it, which could be the reason why, but really, what is there to say?

For me the Parasol Protectorate series is my go to when I need a silly read. You know those times when you just can't do serious, you don't want to think too hard and you want something fun? Yup, these books provide just that and I mean that in a positive way. These types of books are just as important as serious, award winning literature.

That said, I have no firm opinions on the plot in this book. Sure it was an enjoyable enough read. There were a few laugh out loud moments and Carriger has a unique writing style, but I didn't connect with the characters and for me that is the number one aspect of what makes a book excellent instead of average.

Reading this series, I know Lord Maccon is supposed to be a mega hotty, but I don't see it. Honestly, I am probably not the best person to review this book as despite my enjoyment of paranormal novels, I just don't "do" paranormal romance in the sense it makes me swoon.... and I think I am supposed to swoon. Instead I picture Lord Maccon to be hairy, smelly and ... well.... let's leave it at that.

As for Alexia. I want to love her, I really do. She had so much potential in book number one to be an awesome, kick are female protagonist. Unfortunately I didn't feel her character was developed much more in this novel... for me, she lacks depth. Depth is what makes an ordinary character a brilliant one. Honestly, I think it must be extremely difficult to write 'real' characters, especially when they are of the supernatural variety. So that can be forgiven.

When I read Soulless last year I enjoyed it. Mainly because it was so different from my usual reads. So I picked up Changeless thinking I could really get into this series. Although I have Blameless sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read (and I will read it) I am not itching to do so. I am happy for it to sit there until I am having one of those days where I need some silliness.

Wither – Lauren DeStefano

What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Simon and Schuster
Year: 2011
Rating: 5/5

I picked up this book on sale at Basement Books in Sydney.  It was cheap. It has a pretty cover. And I had previously read a review on 25 Hour Books which caught my interest.

Despite that, I wasn't expecting too much. Nowadays the market is saturated with these types of novels. YA romances. Dystopian fiction. They are a dime-a-dozen and there is plenty to choose from. So I was expecting the run of the mill read. I was pleasantly surprised. Wither was intriguing and haunting. I couldn't put it down.

Thanks to scientific experiments in genetic engineering, people now only live until they are young adults. Once women hit 20 and men hit 25, they get sick and die a horrible death. In an effort to save the human race from extinction, the older generation which are still living from before these days, encourage their offspring to procreate before they die. All while looking for an antidote.

This has resulted in woman being treated as a commodity. Life is tough. You have to fight to survive and harsh realities face teenage girls. There is fear of being murdered, kidnapped and forced into prostitution, or kidnapped and forced to be 'a bride' in order to have babies and keep the human race going.

For Rhine, all of these options are horrifying, so to say she is unhappy when she is kidnapped and forced to marry Linden is an understatement. She joins two other girls, her sister-wives, and together they are afforded to live their short lives in luxury, on the condition they do their best to get pregnant. 

When it comes down to the crunch, this doesn't sound so bad. Rhine gets to live in a beautiful manor, she is given plenty of pretty dresses and has two other girls to spend her time with. But loss of freedom is loss of freedom no matter what the circumstances, all Rhine wants to do is escape and return to her twin brother. 

The novels focuses on her plans to do this and her growing relationship with her sister-wives, a young servant boy and her husband. Things are never as they seem and Rhine learns this the hard way. 

The big bad in this novel is Linden's father. He will stop at nothing to try and save his son. He is driven by a desire to find an antidote and will do all it takes. Even if it means murder. There sure are some creepy scenes in this novel.

Underneath the basic story DeStefano touches on some very important issues. Human trafficking, mortality rates, the sex trade, womens rights and lack of power are all issues that are very real in our world today. So although this book is fiction, it really isn't all that far from reality. If you can look past the futuristic setting and dystopian aspects, you could relate these themes to problems facing women in many different countries in our world today. 

This book, being YA, was also an easy read. I basically read it in one sitting. So this is one of those books that is great for a lazy Sunday afternoon or long journey. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction. Just be aware that this novel is focused on the characters so don't expect a great new world. I think that is the only negative about this novel, the world isn't really fleshed out. But that's ok. The characters and the issues they face are more than enough to make this book a good read.

Books read in 2011

January 2011

1. Soulless – Gail Carriger
2. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
3. Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
4. Shame on You – Clara Salaman
5. Possession – Peter James
6. Deadly Decisions – Kathy Reichs
7. After the Quake – Haruki Murakami

February 2011

1. I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas – Adam Roberts
2. Fatal Voyage – Kathy Reichs
3. The Player of Games – Iain M. Banks
4. Under the Dome – Stephen King

March 2011

1. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books – Azar Nafisi
2. Grave Secrets – Kathy Reichs
3. Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer
4. hush, hush – Becca Fitzpatrick
5. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

April 2011

1. The Enemy – Charlie Higson
2. Freedom – Jonathan Franzen
3. Dead in the Family – Charlaine Harris

May 2011

1. Bare Bones – Kathy Reichs
2. Lisey's Story – Stephen King
3. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
4. The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

June 2011

1. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
2. Endless Night – Agatha Christie
3. Towards Zero – Agatha Christie
4. Fallen – Karin Slaughter
5. Purge – Sofi Oksanen
6. Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
7. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
8. Enduring spirit : convicts or colonists – Len P. Hedges 

July 2011

1. The Shifting Fog – Kate Morton
2. Room – Emma Donoghue
3. The Devotion of Suspect X – Keigo Higashino
4. Horns – Joe Hill

August 2011

1. Ordeal by Innocence – Agatha Christie
2. Portrait of a Spy – Daniel Silva
3. Ham on Rye – Charles Bukowski
4. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

September 2011

1. The Stand – Stephen King

October 2011

1. Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life – Howard Sounes
2. A Murder is Announced – Agatha Christie
3. Solar – Ian McEwan
4. Wither – Lauren DeStefano

November 2011

1. 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
2. Changeless – Gail Carriger
3. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
4. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

December 2011

1. The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
2. Perfect Match – Jodi Picoult
3. City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
4. Monday Mourning – Kathy Reichs
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