August rewind

This is a look back on the books I have read in August. I've read quite a lot this month, because I've started taking the bus regularly. It's quite a lot of different stuff this month, but I liked most of it. It was a pretty good month for me. It was nice. Looking forward to September. 

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Yeah. I wondered about this book, cause you know, big hype with the movie and Jennifer Lawrence and all that. It’s about a man named Pat Peoples, who has just moved home from a mental health facility. We don’t know why he’s there until the end of the book, but there has been some sort of incident with his wife Nikki. He has been released against doctor’s advice, to live with his parents. To stay away from what he calls the Bad place he takes meds and sees a therapist. To get back with his wife he tries to change, or better, himself. He works out ALL the time, and has a gym in the basement, and he tries to read the novels his wife teaches. He meets a young widow named Tiffany and they start running together, without actually talking. They basically have a very odd relationship. I really liked it. I like Pat being honest, and weird (not because he’s sick, his illness is very believable and genuine, he’s just odd, the way he speaks and acts), he’s unintentionally funny. He has these moments of great intelligence and insight, but struggles to see how other things work. He gets angry when he reads Hemingway and Plath because the books don’t end well. I liked it, most of the characters are good and believable, some things annoyed me, like how when Pat is upset at the harassment addressed at a suicidal football player, his therapist doesn’t seem to think this is a thing worthy to be upset about. He doesn’t see why Pat sees a parallel to his own life, which to me seems quite an obvious thing to think about and the shrink just writes it off as nothing. It annoyed me a little. It’s obviously tiny, and upset me more than it should, but I can’t help myself.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I was very surprised by how much I liked this book. I don’t even know why, I think I was very curious about it when I bought it like a million years ago. It’s about a young woman, Katsa, who lives in the Middluns. She is a Graceling, which means there is an aspect of her that is enhanced. For some people it’s the ability to read minds, for some it’s an enhanced ability to swim. For Katsa it’s the ability to kill without difficulty. She lives at the court of her uncle Randa, who uses her as a weapon against his enemies, or people he doesn’t like. Katsa is lonely, and angry, she is afraid of Randa, and of her own Grace. Then she meets another Graceling, Po, who can match her on the training grounds and everything changes. Katsa and Po are interesting. They have their own flaws, that make up for their superhuman sides. The plot is interesting, the side characters are delightful and creepy and cool. The writing was okay, sometimes it was a bit meh, but it was okay. It’s really fun, really exciting and I wanted to know exactly what would happen. I need to buy the other two books too. Because it is a series, even though the book is sort of a stand-alone. It’s weird. I liked it. Without revealing too much, I didn’t even dislike it when the author let Katsa grow into her Grace and understand it, even if it seemed a bit like a cop-out, she had put out clues and made it seem believable. So you know, kudos.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
So I didn’t really want to read this book very much. Because it doesn’t seem like the kind of book I would like. No disrespect to people who liked it, but ugh. It’s about a Spanish shepherd named Santiago who meets the king of Salem, and he is sent off on an adventure to find a treasure by the pyramids. I realize this is not a book for me, but jeesh. The instalove GAH. Also the writing, I imagine it loses something in translation, but it is just so pretentious and cocky, and made me angry. And I just got really annoyed and I hated it a little bit, which is annoying. I don’t see what the fuss is about really.

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
I can tell that I’ve started taking the bus to get to my job. I’m reading a lot these days. The Winter Ghosts was very different from the kinds of books I usually read, because it’s sort of a love story. It’s about a young man, Freddie Watson, who lost his older brother George in the Great War. He eventually develops PTSD, although obviously they didn’t have that term in the 1920s, and he is admitted to a sanatorium when he is 21. He then gets released when he is 27 and he travels to France to get a scene change. He comes to a village named Nulle and meets a young woman, Fabrissa, whom he shares his whole life story with. Things about George he hasn’t been able to tell anyone. He then falls asleep outside in the snow and when he wakes up she’s gone. He becomes obsessed with her final request, that he find her. The story is a bit odd, and it’s interesting, Freddie is amazing, he’s very believable in his pain and anguish, and in his desperation. The writing though, oh the writing, she’s such a wonderful writer, it’s so beautiful. I loved it.

The Ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman
This is Neil Gaiman’s most recent book. It was sort of weird. I get very excited when Neil Gaiman releases books. I got excited now too, it seemed sort of weird and fantastical, which is good. As always the thing that was most amazing about the book is how Gaiman writes, it’s just so beautiful and wonderful. The book is about an unnamed narrator who goes back to his hometown for a funeral. After the funeral he goes to the end of a lane where he used to go when he was a kid and he remembers back to when he was a kid. He remembers an incident when he was seven and hung out with Lettie Hempstock, who lived in the house there, and claimed the pond was in fact an ocean. The narrator goes with Lettie to the “other side” when weird things start happening. Something comes back with the narrator and they spend the rest of the book trying to fix the problem of this thing coming back. It’s a fascinating story, it’s told by a child, but it isn’t a children’s book, which is cool. The writing is beautiful, the story is weird. The ending is sad and achingly sweet, and I loved it. It’s not his best book, I’m a sucker for American Gods, but still: thumbs all the way up.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
I just finished this today. I’m on a Gaiman-binge. I have two more books by him I haven’t read, but I might need to take a break from Gaiman-y things, or I will possibly be a bit weird. Coraline is a children’s book Neil wrote for his oldest daughter and finished for his youngest. It’s about a girl named Coraline who has moved into a new house with her parents. The house is divided into flats, and she is very curious about a door in the drawing room that leads to nothing but bricks. Because her parents are too busy to play with Coraline, and there’s no school yet, she spends her time exploring. One day she opens the door with the bricks behind it, and finds a hallway instead. She finds a copy of her flat, and her Other Mother and Other Father, who have buttons for eyes. When she goes back home she finds out her parents are missing. She realizes the other mother has them and she has to go back in to the other mother to save them. It’s really creepy and Coraline is funny, and she’s tough as nails. I love her. I think I would have been completely creeped out if I had read this as a child, but because I’m a cynical grown-up I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be. It is really freaky though, and creepy.

 Hollow Earth by John and Carole E. Barrowman
This was a book I was very excited about. It sounds really cool, people have been praising it, and it sounds brilliant. It’s about a pair of twins, Matt and Em, who can make art come to life. They are like their mother, an Animare. They are also like their father, a Guardian. When people come after them for their extraordinary skills they run away with their mother, to Scotland to stay with their grandfather. The concept is really interesting and the plot is cool. There’s a lot of action, and I liked that. I didn’t like the writing, it’s annoying. I actually wrote a whole review, so you can check that out here, but my overall feelings were sort of: meh, and grr.