** minor spoiler alert ** Oh boy…I almost stopped reading this book and didn’t get past my annoyance until about 35%. I’m thankful I stuck with it, but honestly, the parents and the way they were portrayed almost did my head in. I am still considering going back and forth each day and bumping my review back and forth from a 1 star to a 5 star. I just do not believe any person would act like these parents did. I can understand their lack of affection. Even how they seemed to not even want a child in the first place. I can even understand them being neglectful and seemingly uninterested. However, I still can’t believe that anyone would talk as they did (example – show up at a police station after your 14-year-old has just been part of a kidnapping, continually interrupting a police officer to correct him that it’s not your real child but an adopted child and then after doing that several times, interrupting him once again to explain how you wouldn’t mind “doing” a member of the royal family even if she was older than the normal type you liked, all the while never once showing any concern over the kidnapping). You have not only the father acting like this, but the mother as well.
I just found myself not finding these portrayals in any way true to life and it made me want to quit the entire book. I really don’t understand why they were portrayed as such. It would not have changed the book at all to have them as ‘normal’ disinterested, neglectful, self-centred people.
Once the story moved on from the parents (for the most part) I loved every word. I’ve read other novels that have tried to explain the sexual environments in the past to not be completely shocked by the horrors I read in this book. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t angry. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel for the characters in this book. I have to say that, unlike some others, I 100% felt that I saw the reasoning behind Cyril’s choices and the paths he decided to take.
But damn, I was so angry. Life is so fucking unfair (as quoted a few times in this novel).
I just don’t know. I didn’t cry at all during the reading of this novel, but I sure wanted to time and time again. For whatever reasons I was reminded time and time again of Patrick Gale’s ‘A Place Called Winter’. Two totally different stories, but both made me ache with loneliness and despair at the unfairness of so much…Both are books which I found almost poetic in the writing style and absolutely hauntingly beautiful in both word and story
There is so much of me that wishes I could say this book was just over the top with bad things happening. That one thing after another happened to Cyril and it was just too much to be believed. But I can’t. It all felt so genuine. Hence why my heart is broken when I read books like this…and I want to cry, not just for the characters, but for myself…and all of humanity…so many people just have to make other’s miserable no matter that it’s nothing to do with them… #loveislove
This was a truly fascinating read. I’m not much of a science person. Never have been. It was perhaps my least favourite subject in school. I even liked maths more…and I HATE maths…but regardless, I found this novel fascinating.
Two points, as I am sure you don’t need me to summarize this novel and tell you what it’s about…that’s what the blurb on the cover is for!
First point, whilst I loved this novel it was a bit off-putting after a while to be so obsessed with needing to know what was fact and what was fiction. The author does a decent job helping separate the fact from fiction in the notes in the back of the novel…however, I didn’t know this whilst reading it! Ha! I kept putting the novel down and searching out different incidents to see if they really happened. This was wonderful at the start…but it soon became hard work!!! It was distracting me time and time again from actually enjoying this novel as much as I think I could have.
This novel probably educated me more about history and inventions than school ever did. I couldn’t help but to wonder what it must have been like. To live in the an era that was changed so much by new inventions. How lives were forever changed by such men as were in this novel. Yes, there will always be new inventions…but I can’t imagine any that change so many lives in such a huge fashion.
Now, second thing, history is shaped just as much by the people who write it as it is shaped by the actual events that happen. Simplified, imagine all those times in primary school when your parents told you to ignore something and it would go away. That if you keep on fighting with someone and giving them attention it wold never stop. Well history is the same. If the media, or schools or whatever, never talk about xy&z, well it’s not very long before xy&z just completely disappears in the history books…but on the other hand, the things that the media choose to report, or the schools decide to teach…well they remain the history that future generations start to believe. It doesn’t matter if huge chunks are missing…or even if they aren’t all exactly true…they *become* true over time as more and more people hear and repeat it.
Sometimes I love a book so much I feel compelled to read it over again. When this happens I oftentimes feel a bit let down and get upset with myself. That I ruined a great book with a reread.
For me, very few books are as good the second time around. Having said that I have a few I read over and over again (TKaM, TNotW, TWMF and PiL). Each time I read them I love them. Never did I love them more the second time around…I loved them as much…or nearly as much…but never more…
Despite having books I love during a reread, I can’t ever recall a feeling like I’ve had reading this novel for the second time. When I first read this book I knew instantly that it was a 5 star read for me and that I loved it. With the second book coming out soon I wanted to refresh the story in my mind…So I once again went deep into the Rus’ forest at winter…
Once I started it again…well…magic happened. The first time I loved the story. The second time, I knew the story and I fell in love with the storytelling. I honestly loved it more than I did the first time. I must be getting old (hell, I AM getting old!!!!) but at times I just wanted to cry…for no other reason than I loved what I was reading.
It’s like looking over at your spouse sitting on the couch, and feeling a tug at the heartstrings and an overwhelming feeling of love…suddenly the emotions well up and you have a huge lump in your throat…that’s what happened to me whilst reading this book.
The only issue I have is that…well….I have wanted to start the second book for months now…I opened the cover (I received an ARC months before it’s release) but I was worried I wouldn’t love it as much…I’ve had friends read it and tell me it’s just as fantastic…I can’t explain it, but I am really scared to read it! I thought rereading this one would fix that problem…but now I am terrified…
10,000 stars!!!! I am speechless. Wow. What a wonderful magical fantastic novel!
How does one review a book that you absolutely love and manage to do it the justice it deserves? One where you get to 40% and can’t put it down. One where you have 20 pages left and tell your husband to shut up and leave you alone when he reminds you that it’s bedtime. One that after reading you’re so hyped up you can’t possibly sleep, even thought it’s past 11 pm and you have a full day of work to do the next day.
If I had to complain about anything, it’s that at the start it is a bit confusing with the children’s names. They have their given name, but also the names their family calls them and they go by. I also struggled with some of the Russian vocabulary, but soon discovered that there was a glossary in the back. I soon got over these bits and had no issues at all following along.
There is so much here to review. So I will just tell you again, that I loved this book. Every single bit of it. The family. The fairytale. The spirits that Vasilisa cares for. Even the Winter Demon. I love these old folklore stories and they all came to life in this book. Please, give this novel a chance. It will go down as an all time favourite of mine. Seriously. Top 5 lifetime reads.
What I find very interesting is that the step mother and Vasilisa are from the same bloodline and although they are much alike, their attitude it what separates and divides them. One refuses to accept what is before their very eyes, the other one does. This attitude makes all the difference to themselves, but also to everyone in the village.
Man, this is truly a Midlevel Russian Fairytale. Go satisfy that child within your heart, the heart that longs for a good old-fashioned story…where good and bad clash….where you’re too scared to breathe and too afraid to not go on…where you have to pause to build your courage and you close your eyes at the truly scary parts and cheer for the really happy parts….go curl up to a warm fire on a snowy night, make yourself a hot drink and some fresh cookies, find a warm and fluffy blanket and curl up with this book. I can’t imagine a better way to spend any night…Seriously….the best…
I guess I’m one of those people who don’t really mind fan-fiction. Hell, I guess I’m just not smart enough to see it in most books. Maybe because I’m not obsessed with many writings. Or maybe I think we all take inspiration from where we can get it, so I don’t really often see fan-fiction as a knockoff. Some people act like it’s a terrible thing and cheating. Other’s can’t get enough of it. I’ve never been bothered either way. If anything I should think it would be an honour. At the end of the day there are very few original concepts out there…and even then the artists still got their inspiration from somewhere!
Starting this book was like an eye opener. Two chapters in and I was like, “oh shite, I’m not sure I will like this.” I mean it was so obviously “The Breakfast Club”. I was like, “really? are you freaking serious?”
But then again, growing up in the 80’s who can’t say that TBC wasn’t just, the be all, end all of everything 80’s. Who doesn’t love that movie?
Then I got over it, and the book progressed. I won’t say I was shocked at the ending. Or surprised. I won’t say I had it all figured out, but I had a pretty good idea of what happened, just not how all the players tied in together.
At the ending, I wasn’t left feeling cheated. I didn’t feel the author took shortcuts or intentionally mislead.
I wasn’t blown away by it, but I did enjoy it once the novel moved on from TBC type feel. I did go back and forth about which character I liked best (this isn’t a bad thing!). I enjoyed them all. I could also relate to them all (just like in TBC). I wanted good things to happen for all of them.
If this is what McManus has to show us in her debut novel, I seriously can’t wait to see what her next one will be like.
Won’t lie, parts of this short novel were a bit hard. My father died of cancer. Cancer that started in the lungs and metastasis to the brain. When I read Kalanithi’s words about fatalities of that type of brain cancer…well…it was a like a punch to my stomach.
I was a bit gobsmacked at times reading this. I mean, when we are talking about brain surgery a mm can mean life or death, functional or nonfunctional. I just can’t even imagine the skill it must take. I found most fascinating Kalanithi’s reasons for choosing this field. The concept of our minds and actions just being a byproduct of our brains…well, that might seem simple in concept but I still find the entire concept too all-encompassing to grasp.
I hate what happened to Kalanithi and his family. What they went through, I mean, how could anyone not? I would have loved to read a b by book by Kalanithi that wasn’t sure to end the way it did. I found his subject matter and how he discussed his cases and brain surgery fascinating. I wonder if he would have been a different type of writer had he not had cancer. Was his writing style and his reflections modified because of his diagnosis? Did his future make him more humane? Please, understand, I’m not trying to imply that he was anything but compassionate before…I…well…maybe I am kinda wondering if he was less compassionate before….not by a conscious meaning to be…but just by the circumstances of that type of work. Of any type of work really.
If any of us were to sit down and write about ourselves and our current path, wouldn’t it be different from the words we were to write if we knew our death was imminent.
I’m glad I read this book. It gave me so much to think about. It offered insights I’m not sure I’ve had before…but I would have loved to read a different type of book by Paul Kalanithi as well…for so many various reasons…
Until next time…
Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review
I’ve finished this novel and am just wondering how in the hell none of my mates have read it. Seriously, I know many that would really like this one!
Second, I listened to this on audio. I admit that I was a bit worried when I started and found out that author was one of the narrators. I have nothing against authors reading their own books, but oftentimes it just doesn’t work for me…It would be the same as any random person trying to narrate a book…it’s not easy to do and not everyone is meant to narrate an audiobook. However, Jess-Cooke did a wonderful job. She absolutely made the book, as did the male narrator, Bruce Mann. I listen to maybe 30 audiobooks a year as I walk back and forth between my home and jobs. I rarely comment on the fact that I listened to the novel…however, again, I absolutely LOVED this audio version!
About half way through this book I figured it would most likely end in one or two ways…and it did. I don’t even care. I really enjoyed this novel. I loved Alex and his story. I loved Ruen. But most of all, I loved Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s storytelling. No, it’s not the be all end all of books. No, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever read. However, I enjoyed the entire experience of this book in so many ways. The audio, the personalities of the narrators, the story, the country of Ireland as a backdrop, Shakespeare, the music, demons, the family bond, the mother, the son, the doctors, teachers and social workers. They all meshed together to create such a wonderful reading experience.
Again, I’m shocked this book isn’t more well known…That other’s haven’t heard of it…I might just have to climb to the top of the highest hill near me here in Wiltshire and whisper the title and hope that the wind carries it near and far so others can enjoy this novel as much as I did…