Review: End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

13414676This is a really nice book. I can’t fault the writer at all. However, I have to say it was gut wrenching for me. Schwalbe and his mother had a very special bond. Hell, from what I grasp, she had a special bond with everyone she knew. She seemed like she was a truly amazing person.

The part that was really hard for me was the dedication Schwalbe had for his mum. No, it wasn’t a bad thing. It was an amazing thing. When my father died, I can’t lie, I was, perhaps more devastated by my lack of involvement in his final days. That is so very hard to write. To admit to. Sure, I can blame circumstances. Being in a different country, blah blah blah, but that doesn’t ease the guilt one feels. Then to read a book where Schwalbe went to such great lengths….well it was very hard. Yes, he was lucky. His mum was lucky. We can all say, well, he had a job that allowed him to be by his mother’s side so often. That’s all. He could afford to spend 5 hours a day with her when she was having treatments. He could call her a dozen times a day. Reality is more simple than that though. He made it happen. Amazing sacrifices he made to make sure his mother was surrounded by love in her final years…

I’m jealous of his dedication. Of his courage. His sacrifice. Of those hours, days, weeks, months, and years he had with his mum at the end. Reading this book made my gut clinch with my own guilt…I miss my dad…I wish I had been the kind of daughter to him that was like the son Schwalbe was to his mum…I wish I had that opportunity…

There’s nothing else to say really…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Review: The Secret History by Donna Tart

29044I really liked this story. This is a story of 6 friends. It is the telling of the events that lead up to the death of one of the friends, the death itself, and the aftermath of that death. There are layers and layers of nice, dark, deep, pathological juicy bits to go though. So much to keep you up late at night to think about. You’ll be thinking about this book all the time you read it…but you won’t stop thinking about it during the times you have to set it aside for the *real* world.

But let me be honest here….as much as I loved the story, and no matter how much I enjoyed these very…errr…unusual characters, I just don’t care for Ms. Tartt’s writing style. It’s tough for me. I absolutely loved “The Goldfinch”. Much more than I liked this one. However, I felt the exact same. I love books that go into great detail. I loved longer books. But having said that, the details I think Ms. Tartt goes into just aren’t the ones I need to know. I find bits of her stories very very very VERY repetitive. The bits I want more details to, I think she just skims over them or gives us just the barest of bit of knowledge she can to get on to the boring bits. I find myself just tapping tapping tapping my feet, waiting for her to get all those nonsense words out of her mouth and get back to the really relevant bits.

So many of these characters are so fascinating (or were to me). I can almost forgive the bits I felt dragged on for way long…almost….but not quite…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Review: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin

8574333This is totally my type of read. I love the style. I loved the voice of the characters. I loved the story. Best of all I love all the implications.

This is a story about a woman, a wife and a mother, that disappears. As the family searches for her we start to see that there is much more than to this lady. Is anyone just a wife or a mother? How does one separate this two different identities? Confused? Okay, take your life. Stop and look at yourself. Say you are a college student. Are you also an employee? A daughter? A girlfriend? Maybe even a wife? Or even a mother? A sister? A friend?

This book shows us something that we all know, but no one really stops and thinks about…There are many facets to each of us. Yes, those parts help define us. However, how one person sees us does not fit in with how someone else views us…

As we hear from the children, and the husband, we see that they have very different views of who this woman is. Later, as we hear from the woman, we see that none of these views really “mesh” with who she is.

This novel is going to reside in me for a long time. Yes, I believe we do set out different vibes to different people…we want people to view us in a certain way. However, this novel makes it clear to me that we only see what we want to see in those around us….yes, a mother might act a certain way with her children…different than she might act with her husband….but this points out that children and husbands are often only interested in seeing that wife and mother as THEY want to see her…not as she truly is…

So, now, the question begs to be asked….

Does one even really *need* disappear to be hidden to those closest in our lives?

Just go and ponder on that one for a bit, why don’tcha….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin

Review: Grey by EL James

01 grey Let me start out by saying I haven’t read Fifty Shades in over 3 years. I read them before the hype in 2012, so I had forgotten many of the smaller points. I’ve seen the movie twice, so I have the gist, but still I missed a lot. I was actually planning a doing a reread during my vacation next week. That all changed when EL James announced she was releasing a book from Christian’s POV. I was debating on rereading still, but decided on going in fresh. Let me tell you, I am so glad I did!! She gave us what we wanted, and I couldn’t be happier.

Grey is a retelling of Fifty Shades of Grey. A retelling. This means you will get a lot of the same scenes and even the same conversations. And let’s not forget those fun emails. SHOUTY CAPS and Twitchy Palms. But the best part is now you get to see what goes on in his head. I like that. I’m a girl. I know how we think, but I have no clue how the male mind thinks. Christian Grey is NOT your typical male. So to have glimpse into his brain is very intriguing. I liked his vulnerability. I liked the way he was so unsure of himself. Every time someone would gaze at him or he would look in a mirror, you saw his reaction and how he felt about himself. It was sad at times, yes. He had a rough beginning, so his self esteem isn’t where it should be.

I was completely lost in his feelings for Ana. He adored her. He wanted to be the one for her. His feelings were overwhelming to him. He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that she was willing to be with him, for love and no ulterior motive.

I went back and forth between listening and reading, and let me tell you, if you have the extra audible credit, get it. Zachary Webber does a fantastic job as Christian. I mean, holy crap, that was HOT!!! Yes, some parts were super sexy and I needed a minute to compose myself, in public, when I was grocery shopping. Word to wise, don’t listen while grocery shopping, unless you wanna end up standing in the frozen food section in front of an open door, for a few minutes. But no only are sexy parts super sexy, the sad and emotional parts will tug at your heart. His dreams, and memories of the past, are what make him who he is, and when you hear them, it’s way worse than reading them. So, I’m warning you now.

She’s mine. She’s heaven.

My most favorite parts of this book were the smiles and strange glances from those around Christian. They knew what was going on with him, even before he did. He’s so clueless, it’s hilarious. He had no idea why they kept looking at him like that. I was smiling right along with them.

I’ve come alive since I’ve know her. These last few weeks have been the most exciting, the most unpredictable, the most fascinating in my life. I’ve been enticed from my monochrome world into one rich with color-and yet she can’t be what I need.

Since this is a retelling from just the first book, you know how it ends. It’s not pretty, but it makes me even more excited for my vacation reread. I look forward to reconnect and remember how he changes and grows.

Thank you, EL James, for listening to us die hards and giving us what we begged for. Now I’m crossing my fingers that she decides to give us the rest of the books also, and perhaps a prologue from 10 years later. Crossing my fingers.


Buy Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian

Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

*1So weird…this of course was real life vs Murakami’s imagination. I absolutely love how this man can stump me on one single sentence for minutes at a time…I just read them over and over again….this book was not like that….it was pretty straight and to the point….with most of his books I give them 4 stars right off the bat and then go back a month later and bump it up to 5 because, honestly, it sometimes takes me that long to fully appreciate him….yes, a month later, I still often think of the latest Murakami book I have read. It’s true…for me, his words become part of me…they seep into my very bone marrow…but for whatever reason, this one got 5 stars right off the bat….why? I am not sure…I just know it deserves it….stupid reason, but there you have it…and really, who knew he could run 60 plus miles in a single day? Who knew he has more albums than I have books? But most of all, I felt a real connection to him after reading this book. I don’t write. When I write down my thoughts they start to consume me. I lose control. It is a very scary thing for me. It’s why I avoid it when I can…Murakami spends some time in this book explaining why he must run to offset the unhealthiness of his imagination…How you have to go deep inside you to be able to tap your creative vein…if you don’t stay healthy on the outside, the inside will take over….me? I just have never learned how to do that…I fear one day I would just bleed out….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Review: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1q84I started this book when it first came out and I enjoyed it, but wasn’t absolutely in love with it. I became busy with life…or disenchanted with life…whatever….but for whatever reason, I set it aside after book one to pick up again at a later date…..that never happened…..until now. All I can say is I was a total fool for setting it aside. Book one was just a prologue for the real action in the second and third book. By the middle part of the 2nd book, I was enthralled with the entire thing. By the last part, I was in love.

This still might not be my favourite Murakami book, however, as always, I will have to soak it in and think about it before I can say that for certain. I love the concept of this book. I realise that some of what I am feeling is personal. Murakami doesn’t know me, so of course, this can’t be true…however, it amazes me how many of the things found within the cover of this book are things I have believed either now or at some point in my past. I don’t think one should ever be too old to believe in the unexplainable. No, I am not really saying that I believe there is some alternate universe. However, I do believe that we have connections with others that can’t always be explained. I also am okay with this enough now to just accept it for what it is…and no longer trying to rationalize it or explain it. Simply put, what is…is….

What strikes me most as I walk away from this book….having read the last page… that like him or not, Murakami is like no other. Truth be told….Murakami isn’t even like Murakami! Each book I’ve read by him has been so very different. Yes, he has reoccurring things that take place…mention of moon(s), sex, cats, alternate worlds…and love…most importantly love….but the style….the types of books…well they are just so different.

I love reading. I love discovering new writers. I can’t imagine a world that didn’t include reading. Of having a life that isn’t surrounded by books….

But I have to say, there might be an author or two that I love more…..there might be books that I love a bit more than some of Murakami’s works….but all that aside, if you told me I could only read one author for the rest of my days….well there is no hesitation in my mind that I would have to pick Haruki Murakami. There is no author that surprises me more with his beautiful writing. There is no other author that makes me *feel* more than Mr Murakami. It’s amazing just how much I feel whilst reading his books. I think Murakami is an author that the more you read, the more you appreciate and love…and seriously…I feel the same about his works as well. In other words, I think that if I ever read 1Q84 again that I will love it even more than I do at this moment…..and I am seriously in love right now…just saying….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Review – Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

13562049Have you ever read a book by an author that you adore, and still end up surprised by the direction in which the novel is taken? Well, that recently happened to me with Ian McEwan. Now, I’m not sure one can really stick McEwan into one genre, or style of writing, but he manages to surprise me with every book he writes, and Sweet Tooth, is no exception.
Set in 1970’s England, the novel follows serena, an avid reader that ended up graduating from Cambridge with a degree in mathematics. After graduation, she applies to MI5 (British security services) and is given a low level desk job. After some time, Serena is approached to join a unit in which the government pays authors, artists, journalists etc…, to produce work that is more aligned with the official views and status quo of the government. Serena is tasked with handling Thomas Haley, a new and upcoming author that the government believes could be a liability. However, as Serena begins to develop feelings for Thomas, will everything work out as planned?
Fear not, dear readers, I have not given away any spoilers! An author of lesser caliber would have been content with writing in the constraints of this simple plot, but not McEwan. Oh no. McEwan is known for character development, and you get 150 pages of that before you even begin to see a peek of the main plot. It may seem unnecessary, but it actually works in this particular instance. Everything builds upon itself, and you will find yourself going “Ahh, so that’s why so and so did or said that”.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am indeed a McEwan fan-boy, however, I believe that actually helps because it allows me to really pick out any negative points, and there are some – only a few very minor points – but nonetheless, they exist. When Serena is vetting Thomas, we read his short fiction along with her, and at times, it did get a little tedious. Necessary, but tedious. There were also one or two minor plot points that could have done with fleshing out, but that’s just me being picky.
If you have read anything of McEwan’s before, then I highly recommend that you pick up his latest novel. If you have not read any of McEwan’s work before, then this is just a good of a place to start as any. Just remember to be patient. McEwan is like water: It will flow in all different directions, but eventually end up where it is supposed to. Enjoy the ride! Sweet Tooth: A Novel
~ Pegasus.

Review: The Bat (Harry Hole #1) by Jo Nesbø

The BatThe Harry Hole series by Nesbo has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years. I’ve been meaning to try it out for quite some time….as it goes with so many of my OMGIWANTOREADTHISSOFREAKINGBAD books, the series just kept getting bumped for one reason or another. Lucky for me a friend gifted me the first of the series (thanks Art…xx). Also, lucky for me, I waited long enough for the first two book to actually get published and didn’t have to start the series in the middle….

As I marked this book “to read” I noticed that a couple of friends had read it and weren’t that impressed with it….however, I believe that they read the later books first, as those were the first ones published in English….after seeing the ratings, as anyone that has thousands of books on their TBR list, I was apprehensive of wasting time on a book that I might not like…but since this was a gifted book..and since I’ve been wanting to try the series for a few years, I went ahead.

All I can say is I am very glad I did. No….it is not a perfect book. I’m not sure all the clues added up correctly. I am not sure if everything was laid out properly….but I am very sure that I seriously like Harry Hole. I am sure I was entertained by this book as well. This book has just the type of flawed hero I really enjoy. This read made me remember why mysteries/thrillers/crime novels were just about the only type of books I read for over a decade. I so enjoyed loosing myself in the world that Nesbo painted…Sure, lots of people wish to lose themselves in a world of romance, chocolate, roses and true love….but screw that…give me the smell of gun powder, addict’s stale sweat, the metallic scent of blood, and the tension from cops racing against the clock any day of the week…

I’m seriously excited about the lower ratings from all of my friends now. If they didn’t much care for this novel, but loved the others….well well well, I might just be reader’s ecstasy once I give them a shot….There’s so much in Harry to build on. So many ghosts in his past. So many demons he must fight daily….oh hell yea….I’m seriously excited now…bring it….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now The Bat (Harry Hole #1)

Review: Perfume by Patrick Süskind

perfumeOkay, so I HAD to read this one….The book was written in 1987, so it’s not a new book. I had never heard of it….however….for some reason all of a sudden I heard it mentioned 3 or 4 times within a month…I was determined to read it at this point…it had to be a sign right? So I tracked down an old paperback copy since it is not available on e-readers.

Well, I wish someone had told me it was full of symbolism. I seriously did not like this book. Don’t get me wrong…it has very high reviews and every time I mentioned it to someone who would tell me how smashingly brilliant it was….

Did I ever mention that the one class I never had to study for in high school was literature? Need I go further and tell you that I always started out wanting to read the stories we were assigned but once symbolism was sprinkled upon the pages I tuned out? Let’s take it a step further and confess that I passed many many a test having never read the book because of symbolism. I mean, really….if the story has been told dozens of times, why must we rehash it again and just substitute one object for another. I don’t think I’m so genius when it comes to symbolism. I just seemed to have a knack for knowing exactly what the author was trying to tell me without having to bother myself to read the book….this book was no different for me….once the main character
was caught, I knew at that second what was to happen… it was to end….

So what is the actually book about? I won’t tell you the symbolism…just in case you happen to like that sort of thing and wish to figure it out for yourself….This is a novel about Jean-Baptiste Grenouille born in the slums of France in the 18th century. Grenouille has an uncanny ability to remember every smell he encounters. He is able to peel the layers of odors apart and knows what they encompass. However, he has not “smell” of his own….He teaches himself the trade of perfumer. Along with no smell, he also possesses no real physical needs (other than the basic food and water needed in order to live). He doesn’t emphasize with people. He doesn’t love. He doesn’t feel a need to be accepted. He doesn’t socialize. He survives. Then it happens…In a single moment of time, Grenouille smells a scent he has never encountered before and seeks it out….a young, pure, innocent girl. He takes her life with no thought of all, just so he can relish in the smell of her. He then sets out to learn his trade in hopes that he can find some way to capture this scent as his own….

Read the novel if you want to know what happens at the end…and what does his lack of scent mean? And what is it he is actually seeking in his *special* perfume….

but this novel (and the reason chose to review it) did bring up a very interesting question in my mind. One that I had to put the book down and ponder it for quite a while. Where does our sense of smell come from? Why is it that certain scents warm our hearts? Make us drool (oh come on….am I the only one that drools over fresh-baked cookies?????) What makes some scents so unpleasant to us? Sure, we all know that if you work at a paper mill, the scent of those chemicals will make most people retch, but for that worker that collects his pay from the mill….well, it turns into a pleasant scent. We all also know that if we open a container of play doh that it doesn’t *really* smell good, but it does bring forth our fond memories of childhood. Don’t even get me started on what happens to me when I walk into a coffee shop! We all have smells that do that. Memories and scents are so closely connected…..however…..what about new scents? what about going into a new restaurant or a foreign country for the very first time? How does our sense of scent determine the new smells that we love and those that turn our stomach?

So although I didn’t care for the symbolism and all that, I can really appreciate a book that can make me stop and think….so there you go….

until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Perfume