Book Candy

I'm quite the avid reader as anyone who knows me would tell you. I try to mix classics with newer literature. I like to read all genres but I do stick to books that have been recommended in some way, be it through a friend, NPR, BookPage, Goodreads, etc... This will be an outlet for me to explore writing, something I've never thought I had the knack for. Writing reviews has been something I've been doing for 3-4 years now but all on goodreads. I'm hoping to delve a little deeper and maybe try to market myself to those who like my style.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel - Anthony Marra This is a book about a war that essentially has very little war related content. The Author tells a story interwoven with richly developed characters set in Chechnya during a complex, conflicted time of war. Knowing hardly anything about the conflict in that region, I was grateful for the brief clarified scenes that connected me to the story. The Author didn't overly describe the trials of the war but grazed them just enough for the story he was trying to tell. The characters of the book broke my heart, each one stuck in the life they were given (never easy to face that). The internal struggles of freedom, betrayal, survival, love and loss are blanketed within all the different characters who're connected in the large web of life. It's hard to break away from this novel, I found myself researching and delving deeper into Chechnya and it's history. Anthony Marra may not have thrown down the entire history by pen but he definitely seems to have peaked this interest within his readers to find out for themselves. What a clever little devil he is, intentional or not.

Beasts

Beasts - Joyce Carol Oates This was a short novella of JCO’s that follows college girls and their lust for a poetry professor. Simple enough plot, this was a little hard to get into at first but the ending was where Oates shined. I would recommend it, especially since it’s such a short read… however, not if it’s your first encounter with Oates (or even your 2nd or 3rd). I would wait until you start to understand Oates a little more, giving you more empathy towards her point of view. The following is just a funny observation I made after reading the book, might only pertain to someone who has read the book.After I finish reading a book, I like to research the book/Author on google, just one of my many quirky habits. Sometimes this can reveal very interesting things and sometimes it can be a waste of time. With “Beasts” the former is true, extremely true. I've read quite my fair share of Joyce Carol Oates, so after reading this book I was looking for something SHE had written about this book. After meeting JCO at a book reading/signing I really came to appreciate HER explanation of her own work and the process she goes through. I couldn't find anything close to this (however, if you come across it… please share with me). What I did come across was disturbingly funny. My search was simple, “joyce carol oates beats” right into google search. If you’d like to recreate this search, the result I’ll be writing about comes from page three. I’m sure everyone knows of the site OKCupid, right? My search resulted in this result: After reading this book, come back to this review and tell me how disturbing and funny this seems? Let’s just say that I wouldn't want to be promoting my interest in a book that had dysfunctional love as the main theme!

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell This book had really nice stories all interwoven together but somehow I still wasn't thrilled with it. I was left with a feeling of quizzical annoyance more than anything. I REALLY wanted to love this book and nothing is more frustrating when reality doesn't fall in line with those hopes. I'd like to break this book down to what I loved and what I didn't, but really... this story didn't grip me enough to want to delve into it's pages further. I thought it was only meh... bad review, I know.

Mother, Mother: A Novel

Mother, Mother - Koren Zailckas "Mother, Mother" is a mystery novel, a very unique one. It tells this elaborate family mystery through the eyes of two very different but equally tortured teens. The daughter is the typical rebellious girl who feels unloved and misunderstood. The character that really got me hooked was the son, the beloved slightly autistic child who can't cope without his mother’s love?!? (The word love is debatable). Part of what made this a unique mystery is a big mish mash; young teen characters, broken family and psychological disorders all thrown into a giant blender with a huge dash of mystery and puzzle solving, this concoction makes for a fantastic story. I’m not an avid reader of either the YA or mystery genre, mostly because I feel like you have to sift through so much to get something unique. However, this is something unique and I believe it’s mostly due to the Author, a girl who herself has personal experience with teenage struggles. I haven’t read her other books but I plan to, especially now. Sorry Koren, but I never had an interest to read another tortured teen telling her life story…. BUT one who writes, and does it with passion… yes, I will. Thankfully you had a booth at BEA this year and with a successful book already behind you… I was more inclined to check out this fictional one. I’m ever so glad I did! If you’re like me (sifting through dozens of upcoming YA or mystery Authors just feels exhausting and not worth the time) you’ll want to give THIS one a chance, it’ll be worth the time.

A Book About The World's Greatest Piece of Cheese... And More

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese - Michael Paterniti

This book is filled with magic but isn’t fantasy. It captures time, culture and gives you the meaning of storytelling. Reading this will have you traveling through time, feeling that magic and wanting to hear more. True, this is a story about cheese but as the cover title says, “A tale of love, betrayal, revenge…” all of those descriptions are spot on. Michael Paterniti is very lucky to have met Ambrosio and has to be kismet. If the events of his life didn’t happen exactly the way they did, this beautiful story would have been hidden in Guzman forever.

I’ll admit that the cheese drew me into reading this book. This is one of the signed advanced reading copies I received from Book Expo America 2013. This book/author was the first signing through the door and it’s also the first book I selected to read after lugging home a small suitcase full of books. I finished all 340 something pages in less than a week and felt so grateful at the opportunity to meet this Author (although at the time I had no idea how much I would truly like the book). I wish I could turn back time and ask him so many questions. 

But back to the cheese, I’m a cheese snob so I thought this would be the perfect book for someone like me… and it was, but not because of the cheese. Paterniti captures the magic a food can hold, that one taste that can transform the way you look at that particular food each time. The way a food can bring forth a memory, something that was preserved in time from that flavor… THAT is the magic. 

The best part of this book was the courage Paterniti and his family had to just give up the modern world for a small time and move to Guzman. Without giving too much away, all I can say is that you’d be surprised how amazing life can be when you truly experience it. At first I didn’t know who I would recommend this book to… (Cheese Lovers? Food Snobs? Frequent Travelers?), after I finished the book it became clear that there is something in this book for everyone. I HIGHLY recommend it.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese - Michael Paterniti This book is filled with magic but isn’t fantasy. It captures time, culture and gives you the meaning of storytelling. Reading this will have you traveling through time, feeling that magic and wanting to hear more. True, this is a story about cheese but as the cover title says, “A tale of love, betrayal, revenge…” all of those descriptions are spot on. Michael Paterniti is very lucky to have met Ambrosio and has to be kismet. If the events of his life didn’t happen exactly the way they did, this beautiful story would have been hidden in Guzman forever. I’ll admit that the cheese drew me into reading this book. This is one of the signed advanced reading copies I received from Book Expo America 2013. This book/author was the first signing through the door and it’s also the first book I selected to read after lugging home a small suitcase full of books. I finished all 340 something pages in less than a week and felt so grateful at the opportunity to meet this Author (although at the time I had no idea how much I would truly like the book). I wish I could turn back time and ask him so many questions. But back to the cheese, I’m a cheese snob so I thought this would be the perfect book for someone like me… and it was, but not because of the cheese. Paterniti captures the magic a food can hold, that one taste that can transform the way you look at that particular food each time. The way a food can bring forth a memory, something that was preserved in time from that flavor… THAT is the magic. The best part of this book was the courage Paterniti and his family had to just give up the modern world for a small time and move to Guzman. Without giving too much away, all I can say is that you’d be surprised how amazing life can be when you truly experience it. At first I didn’t know who I would recommend this book to… (Cheese Lovers? Food Snobs? Frequent Travelers?), after I finished the book it became clear that there is something in this book for everyone. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Wives or Inner Character? Free Short from The New Yorker

Thirteen Wives by Steven Milhauser

 

Click on the title above to be taken to this short story published in The New Yorker.

 

This short story is exactly what the title says, a man with thirteen wives. It starts with a short blurb from the husband but then breaks off into small chapters expanding on each wife and his relationship to them. This gives us a broader picture of a complicated relationship, one which I have to give credit to the Author's selected layout. 

 

The first question that popped into my mind while reading this was if the Author had experience with multiple wives. Nothing in his wikipedia bio talked about anything related to life relationships, so with that in mind... I continued to read this short story.

 

Going back to the story, I'll give you a glimpse of each wife:

 

The first wife is harmonious with the husband, so I'll name her Harmony. 

The second wife is comforting and nurturing, so I'll name her Solace.

The third wife is the biggest complainer ever, so I'll name her Sissy.

The fourth wife is perfect, one can only plateau or fall from there, I call her Apogee.

The fifth wife has me stumped... Although, I'm positive she should be named Cohort.

The sixth wife is stranger than the last; she can only be named Artiste.

The seventh wife is a copycat, so I'll name her Echo. 

The eighth wife entices with temptation, so I'll name her Cajole.

The ninth wife is distant and aloof, I believe the best name would be Automaton.

The tenth wife is sickly (my favorite chapter so far), I'll name her Anemia.
The eleventh wife gets things done, like a handy"woman", I'll name her Artisan.

The twelfth wife is full ISN'T and WASN'T, to name her is hard but she will be Cipher.

The thirteenth wife is about wishful thinking, I'll name her Ambition.

 

My hunch is that the Author may have meant for these wives to be within the main character, like personality traits. Not sure if I'm on the right track but it would be interesting to see what other people think about this.

 

I should probably let everyone know that this is a first experience/impression with Steven Milhauser, so this short story will either make me want to pick up one of his novels or steer entirely clear. I've come to the conclusion while this story might not be my cup of tea; I love the silly, fun and jesting style. I'm convinced I should check out more of his work.

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2013/05/27/130527fi_fiction_millhauser?currentPage=all

Thirteen Wives

Thirteen Wives - Steven Millhauser This short story is exactly what the title says, a man with thirteen wives. It starts with a short blurb from the husband but then breaks off into small chapters expanding on each wife and his relationship to them. This gives us a broader picture of a complicated relationship, one which I have to give credit to the Author's selected layout. The first question that popped into my mind while reading this was if the Author had experience with multiple wives. Nothing in his wikipedia bio talked about anything related to life relationships, so with that in mind... I continued to read this short story. Going back to the story, I'll give you a glimpse of each wife: The first wife is harmonious with the husband, so I'll name her Harmony. The second wife is comforting and nurturing, so I'll name her Solace.The third wife is the biggest complainer ever, so I'll name her Sissy.The fourth wife is perfect, one can only plateau or fall from there, I call her Apogee.The fifth wife has me stumped... Although, I'm positive she should be named Cohort.The sixth wife is stranger than the last; she can only be named Artiste.The seventh wife is a copycat, so I'll name her Echo. The eighth wife entices with temptation, so I'll name her Cajole.The ninth wife is distant and aloof, I believe the best name would be Automaton.The tenth wife is sickly (my favorite chapter so far), I'll name her Anemia.The eleventh wife gets things done, like a handy"woman", I'll name her Artisan.The twelfth wife is full ISN'T and WASN'T, to name her is hard but she will be Cipher.The thirteenth wife is about wishful thinking, I'll name her Ambition.My hunch is that the Author may have meant for these wives to be within the main character, like personality traits. Not sure if I'm on the right track but it would be interesting to see what other people think about this. I should probably let everyone know that this is a first experience/impression with Steven Milhauser, so this short story will either make me want to pick up one of his novels or steer entirely clear. I've come to the conclusion while this story might not be my cup of tea; I love the silly, fun and jesting style. I'm convinced I should check out more of his work.

The Under Toad of The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp - John Irving

Irving writes LONG books but fantastic LONG books. Spending the time to glide through the pages is worth every word.

 

What is the book about? Really?!? Do I need to go into this? Read the blurb. Just know that the book is excellent and everyone should read it.

 

How clever is "The Under Toad"? The cute back-story that gets mutilated by all the UNDER TOADS that happen throughout the book. I hope that doesn't give much away... but I'm pretty sure that it would be more confusing to someone than anything else.

 

Irving has some amazing quotes in this novel too. One of my favorite quotes had to do with the feeling one gets when everything stops and the world goes monotone; "What Garp was savoring was the beginning of a writer’s long-sought trance, wherein the world falls under one embracing tone of voice." You don't have to BE a writer to have experienced that feeling, I believe it relates to any art.

The Horror of "The Jungle"

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair, Eric Schlosser, Charles Burns

Imagine yourself standing in a puddle of blood, covering the entire floor. All around you is corpses, the dead hanging from the ceiling to bleed dry. The smell is so nauseous you don’t understand how such a disgusting mess turns into food for the people. This isn't a horror story or perhaps it is…

 

 

 

Upton Sinclair has created a jaw dropping story that inspired ACTUAL CHANGE. This was a fictional story with truth woven through it, this truth will make you question your political views, it may even change the way you eat. There was a brief part of this book that had me staring at my dinner plate untouched, which then prompted me to run to my computer and look up the TRUTH behind “The Jungle”. After reading about the change this book inspired (which I barely knew about from the little history I retained from high school), I felt slightly better about things.

 

However, some of these issues still exist today. We might not throw scraps of rat chewed meat to be sold BUT look at all the controversy today surrounding antibiotic fed livestock, etc. In some ways we may be coming full circle on some of these issues. The treatment of people in the workplace, rules and unions are still struggling to get basic rights (in some circumstances). Clearly, we still have a lot to learn; maybe someone will be brave like Upton and speak out through storytelling to shock the masses. Oh wait… this does exist… in documentary form… all over Netflix.

The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp - John Irving Irving writes LONG books but fantastic LONG books. Spending the time to glide through the pages is worth every word. What is the book about? Really?!? Do I need to go into this? Read the blurb. Just know that the book is excellent and everyone should read it. How clever is "The Under Toad"? The cute back-story that gets mutilated by all the UNDER TOADS that happen throughout the book. I hope that doesn't give much away... but I'm pretty sure that it would be more confusing to someone than anything else. Irving has some amazing quotes in this novel too. One of my favorite quotes had to do with the feeling one gets when everything stops and the world goes monotone; "What Garp was savoring was the beginning of a writer’s long-sought trance, wherein the world falls under one embracing tone of voice." You don't have to BE a writer to have experienced that feeling, I believe it relates to any art.

Jungle: The Uncensored Original Edition

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair, Earl Lee, Kathleen DeGrave Imagine yourself standing in a puddle of blood, covering the entire floor. All around you is corpses, the dead hanging from the ceiling to bleed dry. The smell is so nauseous you don’t understand how such a disgusting mess turns into food for the people. This isn't a horror story or perhaps it is…Upton Sinclair has created a jaw dropping story that inspired ACTUAL CHANGE. This was a fictional story with truth woven through it, this truth will make you question your political views, it may even change the way you eat. There was a brief part of this book that had me staring at my dinner plate untouched, which then prompted me to run to my computer and look up the TRUTH behind “The Jungle”. After reading about the change this book inspired (which I barely knew about from the little history I retained), I felt slightly better about things. However, some of these issues still exist today. We might not throw scraps of rat chewed meat to be sold BUT look at all the controversy today surrounding antibiotic fed livestock, etc. In some ways we may be coming full circle on some of these issues. The treatment of people in the workplace, rules and unions are still struggling to get basic rights (in some circumstances). Clearly, we still have a lot to learn; maybe someone will be brave like Upton and speak out through storytelling to shock the masses. Oh wait… this does exist… in documentary form… all over Netflix.

A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki This book was chosen for me not by me. There is a quaint bookstore down by the shore in Connecticut that convinced me to sign up for a monthly club that sends you a signed 1st edition copy they select for only the price of the hardcover. This sounded like a deal to me and a good way to branch out and read something I might have otherwise left alone. Although Ozeki's novel didn't speak to me the way it did to others, I still feel like RJ Julia will give me something in the future that I'll really like. This book has dozens of readers who LOVED every little word.Moving on... what didn't I like? THE ENDING. This will be very hard to review without giving that away... the ending.Let me start with what I liked about the book. The topics Ozeki brought up in her novel had real depth. I really loved "Nao" the main character in the story within the story. However, I HATED the dynamic between Ruth and her husband. They didn't play nice with one another which made me feel awkward, the kind of awkward you feel when your friend is in a fight with their significant other and you wish you could disappear into the wall before they bring you into it. Okay, I said I would start with what I liked and I went straight into a dislike. This gives you an idea of how I felt reading this. When I liked something in the book, I LOVED it but the same goes for when I didn't like something it turned into an extreme DISLIKE. Now to get into the gritty ending and for this I have to say goodbye to those who haven't read the book. What the heck was up with the crazy explanation to how she ties up the ending to make it clean and happy!?!? I HATED it. I would rather have a sad ending then a crazy one that explained everything vaguely with parallel worlds and quantum mechanics. Oh how I wish I could warn those who read through 350 pages of great story only to have it end in with this. I'm sure there are those out there that weren't bothered by this or maybe even enjoyed it. I'm not one of those. I love Sci-fi, watched every season of Stargate (also has many episodes on quantum mechanics and parallel worlds) BUT the difference being... this book had no place for this. It just didn't fall into place and the explanation was held by such a small thread it broke when I turned the page in the book.The three stars I gave "A Tale for the Time Being" was for Nao and her heartwarming, compelling story that kept me reading for the entire four hundred thirty two pages. I warn you that this is not for everyone (the ending) but at least you'll have a nice journey getting there.

The Marvellous Land of Oz (Puffin Classics)

The Marvelous Land of Oz - L. Frank Baum, David McKee This was really cute and made me remember how clever Baum's imagination is. This would be stories I would read to my kids at night (if I had kids). Can't wait to see what else the series brings.

Winter Journal

Winter Journal - Paul Auster Winter Journal is Paul Auster revealing himself. He swoops down into the darkest (and lightest) bits of him and PRESTO we have the inner workings of an excellent artistic writer. I decided to audio book this because Auster reads the book himself, giving you the perfect tone and inflection. The "journal" is done in second person which pulls you right into his life. He sets the mood for each setting so well, I could close my eyes and imagine I was right in the middle of his life. I feel like I should have more to say about this book (especially since it has now become a "favorite")but I think you'll have to read it yourself to experience the magic it holds. However, I do recommend listening to it on audio if you have the option.

The Book of Proper Names: A Novel

The Book of Proper Names - Amélie Nothomb, Shaun Whiteside Gothic Nirvana! Each novella I read by Nothomb makes my skin go all bumpy. She oozes such beautiful, dark, twisted and elegant writing. This story follows the tragic story of Plectrude, an orphan taken in by her Aunt. The background of this girl is tragic and what happens throughout the story is deeply tragic. TRAGEDY! Oh, how I love thee. For some reason I'm pulled in when a story contains anything twisted, dark and tragic. I believe it must be due to the fact that this makes something unusual, and unusual things make interesting things. Nothomb not only knows how to turn a mundane story into something so much more, but she can also play with some of the best Authors in the Gothic genre. I must devour more of her novellas... more I say!

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