• Uncategorized

    A Ladder to The Sky – a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Welcome to a writer’s worst nightmare.

    Maurice Swift is handsome, charismatic, ambitious and lacks the talent needed to become a successful writer on his own merits.

    As a young man, Maurice becomes the obsession of author Erich Ackermann. Maurice needs Erich to help his career along and Erich has other intentions. As they develop some semblance of a relationship Erich confesses to Maurice a terrible act he committed in concert with the Nazis resulting in the deaths of four people.

    Maurice in turn takes this story and packages it as the novel, Two Germans, and his career takes off while simultaneously destroying Ackermann’s career and essentially his life.

    After the success of his first novel, his sophomore book has less than stellar results and Maurice marries an up and coming author who narrates the second part of the book addressing Maurice as “you” – an interesting twist in narration.

    One calculating move after another leads the reader to realize that Maurice may not be who he appears to be. My jaw dropped multiple times as I went back to make sure I understood what had just happened.

    John Boyne is an incredibly talented writer – The Heart’s Invisible Furies is in my own top five books. I downloaded this audiobook expecting a good book but this was another phenomenal book – different from Furies but with some shared similarities.

    In both books references to real authors are made. In Furies the main character is always reading James Joyce or another Irish literature giant. Boyne takes it a step further in Ladder with Gore Vidal appearing as a guest star in the book.

    An exchange between the two men served as the shift from young aspiring author to a more sinister Maurice.

    There is also a nod to Maude Avery – a reference Furies readers will appreciate.

    These literary details gave this book a solid footing when at times you felt as if you were reading the impossible.

    I personally love books about writers writing, the publishing process, and literary criticism and this book was simply phenomenal, even for someone who doesn’t find that process to be all that interesting.

    At the heart, it is a character study and one can only imagine how Boyne went about developing such dark yet interesting characters that will keep a reader engaged despite how despicable a character is behaving.

    Mark this one down as one of my top books of 2019 – even if it’s only July.

  • Bookish,  mental health,  Writing

    Reading & Mental Health

    This post was meant to be my June wrap-up. I wrote it, edited it, deleted it and finally started over.

    I love posting big stacks of books read just as much as the next bibliophile. But what happens when that stack represents far more than books completed?

    When that stack represents a month marked by struggles?

    You write about it.

    May was mental health awareness month and I felt great. I even wrote about it to increase awareness. But then June happened and how disingenuous would it have been to pretend that I felt good and June was just another month?

    I couldn’t do it.

    I’m a slow burner. Things happen and I go into crisis mode. I hold it together and make sure everyone around me is taken care of first. The crisis is endured and once everyone else is back to “normal”, I implode – long after most think to ask how I’m doing. And that’s my fault, not their fault.

    There are many studies out there on the benefits of reading and the correlation to mental health. I have found those studies to be true with one exception:

    What do you do when you feel so bad that you can’t concentrate enough to read a few pages?

    My answer is audiobooks. They engage a different part of the brain, are a great distraction, and dull the roar of anxiety in your mind. This has been my experience at least.

    So here’s my honest wrap-up for June:

    I struggled with depression and anxiety. I needed my medication adjusted. I saw my therapist more and I read when I could.

    I listened to three audiobooks this month and they made a difference in my days – and sometimes even nights when I couldn’t sleep.

    I still read four books this month. I finished The Recognitions at the very beginning of the month and the other three I finished towards the end.

    I’m feeling a lot better now and all in all, I’d say June was a good reading month.

    Here’s to July and a little extra vitamin D!

  • Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

    Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday where I compile a bookish list of 10 things each week. Today’s list is childhood favorites and wow, this was easy to write!

    1. Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery – I read this series multiple time and had the biggest crush on Gilbert.
    2. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I was obsessed with this TV series and the books. I think this was my first determination that the “book is better than the show”.
    3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – I had a teacher read this aloud to us in school. She frequently did this and was one of my favorite teachers.
    4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – what’s not to love about this book? Fun fact: my 15-year-old daughter will be in this musical this fall. I can’t wait!
    5. The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene – these were my first exposure to the mystery genre. I read every one I could get my hands on.
    6. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary – I read this book too many times to count. It’s one of my very favorites.
    7. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – Another instance of the book being better than the movie!
    8. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
    9. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – I still love anything by C.S. Lewis. He is timeless and I have always been impressed by his ability to have written for both children and adults.
    10. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – Am I the only one who loved Templeton, the rat?

    What was your favorite childhood book?

  • Himalayas of Literature,  Uncategorized

    The Psychology of Time Travel: A Read Along​​

    Four women will invent time travel.

    Three will make their mark on history.

    Two will do anything to be remembered.

    One will not survive.

    Sound intriguing? I love a good female character-driven novel and time travel is one of my very favorite sub-genres. Combine those things with beautiful cover art and I am in!

    I am excited to announce that I am co-hosting a read-along of The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas with Jessica from Book Oblivion.

    If you are unfamiliar with Book Oblivion, simply put, they are some of the smartest and nicest people in the online book community. I am a member of The Himalayas of Literature group as well as the Critical Theory & Philosophy group. Jessica is also the mastermind behind the super-nerdy reading schedule.

    So here are the fun details:

    • I am currently giving away one copy of The Psychology of Time Travel. You can enter to win here on Instagram.
    • Jessica will also be giving away a copy later this week.
    • We have a private Facebook group you will want to join for extra insights along the way.
    • On August 17th we will meet to do a live online video call to discuss the book. You can sign up for that here.

    Please feel free to comment or email me with any questions.

    I hope you will join us and finish up the summer with this fascinating book!

     

     

  • Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: Magical Realism Favorites

    Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Do you have a favorite genre? This is one of the most common questions I am asked – right behind my favorite books.

    I have a very black & white personality so it surprised me when I landed on an answer:

    Magical realism 

    1: painting in a meticulously realistic style of imaginary or fantastic scenes or images
    2: a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction
    It all started with Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. And these days I read one or two from this genre each month. It was tough to narrow it down to my top ten but here they are, in no particular order.
    1. Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield – The perfect mix of mystery, lore and master storytelling combine to make this fantastic dark fairytale.
    2. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi – A family recipe, a dark tale, and a teenaged daughter searching for the truth combine to tell an unexpected story.
    3. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – If you enjoy a good time traveling story, this one is for you.
    4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – Heavy on the realism with plenty of Latin lore mixed in throughout.
    5. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges – If you enjoy this genre, this is a must read.
    6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I read this book when it was released. After discovering how much I enjoy this genre, I’m rereading it this month.
    7. The Nix by Nathan Hill – Another one that is heavy on the realism while the tale of the Nix is woven masterfully throughout the story.
    8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – This is the first book in a series of three. Heavy on the magic and highly imaginative.
    9. Beloved by Toni Morrison – Another must read for many reasons.
    10. Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman – Three siblings with different gifts navigate New York, love, and life. One of my very favorites.

    What is your favorite genre?

    If it’s magical realism, do you have any books that I need to add to my TBR list?

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