Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

What an interesting novel. I’m not even sure how to explain it. I’m not even sure what happened really. However, what I am sure of is that I loved it. I was captivated by it. I want to read more about Ruth and Nao. I was sad when the novel finished. I won’t lie. Parts of the novel really sickened me and made me extremely sad for humanity. There are some really horrible instances of bullying and at times Nao and her father continued to break my heart over and over and over again. I wanted to grab them both and hug them and never let go. Of course, I am sure this would have freaked them both out equally, but I would have just held on until hopefully, their discomfort eased.

If you’re looking for a book that fits nicely into a box where everything ties together and it all comes together at the end then this isn’t the book for you. But…if you’re looking for a book that’s imaginative in a way that isn’t able to be placed in a box, one that will make you sad, happy, having you laughing out loud at times, and cringing at other times, then this might very well be the book for you!

After finishing the last page, I read the blurp for the book, and really it does sum it up rather nicely…

“Full of Ozeki‚Äôs signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.”

I’ll definitely be looking for more of Ozeki in the future!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now a tale for the time being ruth ozeki

Advertisements

Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

There are many reasons why I stopped reading the blurbs listed for books. For one, I started seeing more than a few authors/publishers feel the need to give a detailed outline for the entire book in the blurbs published on Amazon and Goodreads. That’s the same reason I try not read any review or even publicity postings for books I intend to read. It’s always a fine line to walk to see what’s being talked about without hearing too much of the talk! The main reason, for me, to avoid blurbs is that I honestly sometimes feel like I no longer need/desire to read the book if I’ve read so much information and I don’t go into the story “blind”. This is something that’s happened in the last 5 or so years. So it’s true to say that I go into the majority of my reads with little more information that the title of the novel and the author’s name.

Why do I tell you all of this? The danger of this is that I often avoid a book far too long because I assume it’s something it isn’t. Bel Canto is one fine example of this. I’ve never read Ann Patchett before. I went into this thinking it would be…well I don’t want to label anything or make a label sound bad, when that isn’t my intention. But I basically thought this would be a family drama with some difficult every day issues to deal with and at the end of the day it would be a HEA.

This wasn’t at all like that. I really enjoyed this novel. Part of that love was that it was so opposite of what I was expecting.

If you’re looking for detailed descriptions on what occurs in this novel…well….go read the blurb or some of the reviews…hahahahahaha…

I will say I felt the ending was a bit abrupt…buuuuttttt….if it had ended any other way it would have just been because the book was exactly like the reason I avoided it for years in the first place…hahahaha…really, I’m not sure how the novel could have ended differently and stayed true to the story…

I certainly understand why some people love Patchett and others don’t care for her…I’m not so sure that everyone has a literary heart that is strong enough to take an ending such as this…so many of us use novels to escape the reality of the world…we want only HEA endings…

Some might see this novel as a HEA, many others will not…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

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…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

I won’t go into a long review. I’ll just say that I loved this book. Papa especially broke my heart. I can just feel his warmth coming forth from the pages. I felt his heartbreak and courage time and time again. That’s not to say that I didn’t love everyone in this novel. For I did. I loved them all.

My only wish is that this book had been a thousand pages longer. I hated to leave everyone behind when I finished this novel. However, I’m not so sure I did. I still feel my heart pounding with love for them all.

Finally, I know many people will view Marshall as a villain. I know most will absolutely hate him. However, I still remember the boy at the start of the novel. I know who the real villains of this story are…and I still remember the victims that were left behind and suffered through their abuse.

Yes, my heart aches for Marshall as well….

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Review: The Princes of Ireland (The Dublin Saga, #1) by Edward Rutherfurd

This is my second Rutherfurd book. I admit that I should bump this and give it 4 stars. The history is there, however, I just didn’t care for any of it…okay…I lied…I loved the start of the book and the Druids…after that I quickly lost interest and although I found a couple of the characters enjoyable, I never really connected or deeply cared about any of them. They were forgotten as soon as Rutherfurd stopped writing their names.

There are some really fantastic historical writers out there that really know how to engage the reader with a mixture of facts and fiction. My favourites that come to (my) mind are, Cornwell, Penman, Follett, and now Rutherfurd. Just because I didn’t care for this book doesn’t mean that I don’t love Rutherfurd.

Reading his novels is both depressing and refreshing. It’s depressing to realise yet again that once we no longer walk the earth that we are soon forgotten. That we can spend our entire life devoted to bettering our world and our family’s fortune (a fortune not always need be counted by gold coins mind you) and as soon as we pass, that family we strove so hard to provide for may not even know our name…

OTOH, it’s refreshing to know that we, as individuals, can make change for future generations…even if they do not know our name or the sacrifices we made for them.

I can’t wait to dive into another Rutherfurd book, even if this one wasn’t to my liking.

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

Review: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Really hard to get my thoughts around this novel. Yes it’s a novel about war. Yes it’s a novel with a love triangle. Most of all it’s a novel about the human condition.

Why do people do the things they do? I’m still not sure what motivated these combat photojournalists. Why they continued to push the boundaries. I’ve read other novels (both non fiction and fiction) about journalists and war…but none have touched me this way. Often after reading these novels I am left angry. Angry at politics, angry at impossible circumstances people find themselves in. I’ve even been angry at journalists that seem to place themselves in danger and danger to others with nothing but fame and glory on their minds. However, I felt none of that with this novel. I felt incredible sadness, and an inability to understand the motives of these journalists. I guess that’s not exactly true. I did understand, but it was all so complex. Almost as if everything was right there…I could see it, but it just remained a sliver of air out of my grasp.

That’s why I really loved this novel. I’m not so sure I can explain, but Helen, Sam and Linh had so many parts that made the whole. The depth of what drove them forward day after day and shot after shot…well…it left one breathless. It shows us just how complex the human psyche can be. There might be one thing that started them each on their journey, but there were so many facets that all combined to build them into the people that they were. So many parts that pushed them through day after day. Yes, glory was part of it, but only a small part. They were all products of their history…they were all products of their present. They were all products of their future. Products of their jobs. Of their countries. Of their families. And finally, products of each other. You take away one single element and the whole thing collapses.

How they started their journeys, how they took those journeys and how they ended those journeys were all part and parcel of who they were. But who they where could not have existed without the journeys that shaped them. One would be hard pressed to decide where one started and the other one ended.

Again, all of this continued to go around my head as I listened and really felt for these characters. It’s a novel that contained, for me, far more ideas than could be contained within the pages. For me, this is the best kind of novel. One that makes you exam more than just the words you are reading…

Extraordinary characters…well done, Tatjana Soli!

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Review: Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris

Maybe not my favourite of David’s (NOT DAVE) books, but it was the most telling for me. It was fascinating to note the difference from the start to the finish. How different he was at the start. Still somewhat sarcastic and funny, but I felt that there wasn’t much enjoyment (I guess that’s pretty understandable when you’re sleeping in vomit covered rooms and showering in tubs that have your own vomit in them).

A couple of things. It was a lightbulb moment for me when David writes in his diary towards the end about his birthday wish. When he wished for not more…but for less. When he reflects how he can just go and buy what strikes his fancy, whilst in the past he was content with just being able to borrow a book for a library and have a cup of coffee uninterrupted at McDonald’s. I imagine we have all been there. Hopefully we are all in a better place than we were a couple of dozen years ago. I mean that’s how it’s meant to work. You work hard and then you can enjoy and stress less as you’re older….but how nice to remember that you were perfectly able to survive with less and still be happy. Seriously…it was a stop the book for a moment and reflect moment for me.

Another thing. Poor Hugh. I mean seriously….Poor poor Hugh. And thank goodness for Hugh. The honesty in David and Hugh’s relationship, in even a few short sentences from a diary entry…well…it’s amazing…and humbling as well. I wonder where David would be if he hadn’t met Hugh. I also wonder where Hugh would be. Talk about two opposites attracting. And the strengths of one complimenting the other…whilst the weaknesses of one smooth the rough edges off the other at the same time. I just imagine a household where there is a lot of eye rolling on both sides!

Another thing…I challenge ANYONE to read one of Sedaris’ novels without laughing out loud. I just don’t think it can be done.

Finally, when I’ve thought of diaries, or have kept journals in the past, I always imagined they had to have some sort of deep thought process…or that they had to be pages and pages long. Now I know they don’t have to be daily…and they don’t have to be word for word. They can be random. They can be funny. They can be sad. They can be angry. They can be just a single sentence. They don’t have to thought provoking…but funnily enough, a single sentence about an observation of a stranger CAN be though provoking!

So glad he published this one. Sure, I’ve read his other books and I know he’s had a substance and alcohol problem…but reading this novel really was an eye opener for what has really made David Sedaris the person that he is today. From social attitudes, how strangers have treated him, from family, to jobs, to being poor, from teaching, from lack of taking control, from a thousand different things that have shaped him…I think I love him even more…as if that was possible…and as only David can make you feel, I at times, absolutely dislike him…but that’s only the social pressure that says you shouldn’t allow people to say some of the things he does out loud….but I can’t help it…his honesty is one of the reasons I love him the most…and how can you stay annoyed at someone whilst at the same time you’re laughing your head off as well?

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Theft by Finding by David Sedaris