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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

An unlikely friendship between two young boys told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years.



“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”

Oh, boy. This one really put me through the wringer. If I wasn’t wanting to batter Amir to death with said book because of his selfish childhood actions, I was sobbing crying on my knees shouting “Why, God? WHY?!” I feel like Hosseini was trying to personally destroy me with my feels.

Luckily, I read to feel my feels. Whether that’s excitement, or rage, or tension, or fear, or that moment when you actually feel a pain in your chest and you sincerely hope that your Red Bull addiction hasn’t come back to haunt you and that it’s just an emotional pain deep in your heart. So, yes, Hosseini, you may have broken me, but I loved every minute of it 

The characterisation is just another level here. Within merely 30 pages I just knew that Hassan was a young boy who must be protected at all costs because he has the most pure heart and soul, and I may or may not be welling up again just thinking about him... As for Amir... we got off to a rocky start *see earlier book battering* but you were only a child and I see that in hindsight.

I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy this as I am quite ignorant when it comes to politics in Afghanistan (or any politics, tbh) and I wasn’t sure if the book leaned heavily on this. Thankfully it did not, and any time politics did play a role, the narrator (Amir) explained it in a very accessible and easily digestible manner. Which I really do appreciate!

This book is powerful and moving, and I have no doubt it will stay with me forever. My #jobis30before30 challenge has been worth it for this book alone - now a forever favourite.

One of the nicest things about this challenge is that it allows me to recommend books to my mum (she ain’t about that horror life). I shall force this one upon her so that she too can read this beautiful story about friendship, family and redemption - AND FEEL ALL THE DAMN FEELS!

All the stars!

Johann
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Saturday, 16 March 2019

Book Review: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

A man investigates the seemingly unrelated unusual, tragic, and horrific events of his childhood in an attempt to finally understand them.

"How far can you go into the woods?"

What a strange reading experience I had with this one. As I was reading it I was constantly questioning whether I was actually enjoying it? “Is this it? Where’s the creepiness?” But then during the last quarter or so, when everything started coming together and crazy things were revealed, I started to fully appreciate the creep factor. I looked back on things that weren’t initially unsettling, but with my new insight they quickly became very unsettling!!

After I finished I spent hours analysing and talking through theories with @brittreads and I’m STILL thinking about it over a week later, so it has really had an impact on me! It’s the kind of book that would certainly benefit with a reread.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style though. As far as I’m aware this story started off as a reddit post, upon which Auerbach kept building the story - and it very much reads as a Reddit post. I love Reddit, but to read an entire book in this style was just... eh.

There’s also some parts were Auerbach just goes into far too much detail about mundane things that I don’t care about. For example, when the kids are trying to create this map. That was incredibly tedious - I almost wanted to skim over those parts to get to the good bits!!

This book has left me with more questions than answers, which usually annoys me, but I’ve found it quite fun to ponder and fill in the gaps myself, as well as read theories online etc. Certainly a memorable reading experience!

3.5 stars.

Johann
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Monday, 11 March 2019

Book Review: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

The Last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, faces three mysterious doors which will lead him to different times within our world. From these, he must draw the three who will accompany him on his journey.


"Control the things you can control, maggot. Let everything else take a flying fuck at you and if you must go down, go down with your guns blazing."
So it turns out that my memory of the Dark Tower series is pretty patchy - I have forgotten so many details!! However, I could never forget THAT opening scene. One of the best I’ve ever come across - I was so shocked on my first read and it’s just as impactful on the second go around! 

The “drawing” of each of the characters is such a blast. Eddie is pretty likeable from the very beginning, he always brings some much-needed comedic relief to what can be a very heavy series at times. The introduction of Detta/Odetta is freakin’ explosive - she’s a firecracker! Although Detta’s dialogue does make feel quite uncomfortable at times - how I wish Roland had gagged her sooner!

One of my favourite parts of the entire series, and this book in particular, is Roland coming to grips with different things in “our world”. The observations he makes are absolutely hilarious. Like when he wonders why anyone would be addicted to cocaine or other drugs when they could have the more cost-effective and plentiful sugar instead. I’m with you, Sai.

However, one of my very minor complaints is how quickly Eddie falls for Odetta. I’m just not a fan of these romances that seem to bloom out of nowhere - even on my first read I was bit surprised when it materialised. But that’s not to say that I don’t love them as a couple because I do *hearts* they certainly grow on me! So this is really just me being incredibly nit-picky!

From here on out it’s an addictive and exhilarating journey, I’m already itching to pick up The Waste Lands! 5 stars!

Johann
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Sunday, 3 March 2019

Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, talented and successful, but she is slowing going under - possibly for the last time.

“Because wherever I sat - on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok - I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

Unfortunately I did not fall head over heels in love with The Bell Jar as I had hoped to, but I HAVE fallen for the writing of Sylvia Plath - and even Plath herself. My Pinterest board has recently been covered with her quotes, and I even bought a copy of her unabridged journals following a recommendation from @yleniareads That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy The Bell Jar, I really really liked it, it just wasn’t as life-changing as I had perhaps anticipated.

I resonated with Esther in a lot of ways - I lost my father at a young age and, without sounding entirely egotistical, I also have achieved a lot of academic success in my life, which ultimately leads to me expecting more and more, afraid of failure. The expectations I place upon myself are high, and my mental health will suffer when things don’t go as planned. So it was easy for me to relate to some of the feelings Esther has. And that’s always nice when we read!

Plath’s description of the bell jar itself is genius - that our protagonist feels suffocated, as if she has been placed under one. And every now and again she has moments of clarity, when the bell jar is lifted. Of course there are a lot of parallels between Plath and Esther, and I found it hard to dissociate the two at times. Reading this knowing Plath’s fate is almost uncomfortable, it feels as though you are reading her diary. It just made me feel sad at times :(

It’s a beautifully written book, sprinkled with little moments of dark humour. Some parts were less intriguing or interesting than others. I probably preferred the second half over the first, where we really witness Esther at rock bottom.

Overall, I may not have absolutely adored it, but the memorable quotes and imagery will prevail. I’m glad it has introduced me to the talent that was Sylvia Plath. 4 stars.

Johann
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Saturday, 2 March 2019

Book Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson is in a psychiatric facility following the murder of her husband, but she refuses to utter a word. However a new psychotherapist, Theo, thinks he is the one to finally get her to speak.

“Her silence was like a mirror - reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.”

Talk about a twist I didn’t see coming! It’s been a while since a book made me audibly gasp! So I can confidently say that if you’re looking for a psychological thriller that provides twists and turns... this one is worth checking out.

You can tell Michaelides has meticulously plotted out the story, there’s lot of little details that become very rewarding and perhaps also little hints as to what is going on. He builds the suspense very slowly, where you know something is wrong but you can’t put your finger on it, until it all comes together in an explosive finale. Very impressive!

However, my issue with thrillers (the majority of them anyway) remains the same - once I finish one I’m left with a feeling of “well, that’s that!” and I just don’t really think about it again. They don’t satisfy me in the same way as a lot of the other genres I read. I won’t remember these character’s names... (in fact I had already forgotten, I needed to check the book for this review) and the details already feel quite hazy, to be honest. Whereas when I consider possibly the only thriller I’ve truly LOVED, Gone Girl, I remember so much!! It left an impact!

But then again, not everyone is looking for a lasting impact - this is a great book to lose yourself in and be entertained for a few hours. So on that basis, I’d definitely recommend it! 3.5 stars.

Johann
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