The Immortals by S. E. Lister

Imagine the joy of finding a bookish gem. Literary content that there has not been any hype about. In a ‘bargains’ box at that local bookstore you go to. Edges already a little bent and spine beginning to break. Imagine carrying it home in your coat pocket, smile on your face, because no matter how good or bad it might be, you saved that book. You  showed it kindness and for that there is only one thing it can give back to you- another new, great adventure. That is the story of how I found ‘The Immortals’ by S. E. Lister and without forestalling too much, it’s the beginning of an infinite love.

This a story of falling through time, of an uncontrollable journey, of lost wanderers. This is the story of Rosa Hyde, of the Immortals.

“The possibilities of their stories were dazzling. […] In the bright, broken light there was something unreal about the four of them, Tommy Rust and Amber Lakshmi, Nate and Harris Black. As though they were figures fixed in a varnished painting, beyond the touch of air or dust. Rosa thought that they looked everlastingly beautiful.”

In order of a trauma in her father’s past Rosa Hyde has never left the year 1945. In all her seventeen years of life her family and her are forced to live through the same year time after time, from beginning to end and over again. For most of those seventeen years, she did not know how that was possible until she escapes, falling through time. But she finds company in Tommy Rust, a man certain that he will will forever, an Immortal, like her. Roaming the millennia they wander, ever admiring the places, wherever the tides might take them.

“She rose, and crossed the room to the wide window. A pair of passers-by were arguing animatedly, the tinkling of piano keys echoing across the cobbles from a nearby café. The sounding of a motorcar horn, an outburst of laughter. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, she lifted her face to the fresh night air. The sky above the city was clear, stars sharp as gems. She remembered when she had looked out over London in the same manner, then flung open her arms and danced with the joy of possibility. At the time no dream had seemed greater than that of keeping her feet on the same ground. How small, how simple-minded the thoughts appeared now.”

But as easily as the tides had brought Tommy and her, and the other Immortals together they fall apart the same, leaving her falling through time all over again.

“[…] perhaps they had already gone their separate ways, four bodies spinning off into space. You could find them if you wanted to, Rosa reminded herself. You will find them again f you only catch the right current, in the right place. There is no call for panic, gypsy girl, much less grief. After all, you never belonged to one another.”

But from that point on something is different. It seems that the tides too are aware of it’s travelers, and that the harder they hold on to anything that is dear to them, the faster it all falls apart and there is nothing they can do.

my thoughts- As you might have been able to tell, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did, but also know, that it is unlike others. The Immortals is not like other time traveling novels, in my eyes. I have always, until The Immortals, thought of something you do willingly, with an automaton or something. The Immortals are either born with the ‘ability’ to travel through millennia or are assigned with it by an Immortal close to them. Whenever a tide takes them, they fall, never knowing where they will arrive, only being able to take with them what they are carrying at that moment. I find the idea of that very fascinating and beyond anything I have yet read on the topic. It feels more real, to me in a way, than all other forms of time traveling, especially because it is so abrupt. But that surely isn’t all. In my opinion The Immortals is another one of those books more about the characters than the plot. The plot is messy and unordered, which is a little disturbing from time to time, but spreads a certain atmosphere and is with that an important part of it. The characters too are all a little strange, but well developed in the context of the plot. What made me love this books so much, you ask yourselves? The writing. As you might have already realized, it’s likely a book gets right to my heart just in order for it’s style. With The Immortals I have found another vastly beautiful collection of words that I will most likely hold dear for the rest of my life. It is a book made for dog-earing pages and underlining sentences. Here is some proof, if you doubt it…

“[…] wished she could look in every direction at once, that each part of the scene was a page in a book she could open, savour, open again.”

“The collection of stars wheeled within his oversized eyes, as though they took in all of the universe, as though he had swallowed it whole.”

“They were sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon, sipping hot coffee, coats about their shoulders. The autumn sunlight cast a rosy glow over the rooftops and the cobbled street below […]”

“And what do you know. What did you ever know, gypsy girl. That disembodied grin which was once bright with golden promise, wide as a never-ending lifetime.”

…I think that should be it. The last thing I have to say about that book- i you are still looking for a special book for autumn, this should be added to your list. It has some massive autumn vibes, I can’t even say why, but it just seems to be written to be read with rain outside the window, a lit candle and under the warm sheet of a bed. It just feels right. Give it a try (and if you actually do so, tell me all your thoughts!).

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If we were Villains by M. L. Rio

IMG_5352.JPG“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.”

Imagine living on words. Imagine living throughout the words of another person. A person who lived far before your time being. I am talking about Shakespeare. Imagine dedicating your whole existence to Shakespeare.

“‘Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?’ The question is so unlikely, so nonsensical coming from such a sensible man, that I can’t suppress a smile. ‘I blame him for all of it,’ I say.”

That’s what Oliver and his classmates at Dellecher do. Or rather, once did. Because it’s been ten years since Oliver has last been at Dellecher, serving ten years for a murder he may or may not have committed.

“‘It’s not all bad. I still get letters trying to convince me that you’re innocent.’ ‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I get those, too.’ ‘Are you convinced yet?’ ‘No. I know better.'”

Being released after all, he finds that he is not the only one, who cannot forget and after ten years, he might finally be ready to share what happened a decade ago.

“Could I explain it all to Colborne, the little twists and turns and final exodos? I study his blank open face, the gray eyes winged now by crow’s-feet, but clear and bright as they have always been. ‘All right,’ I say. ‘I’ll tell you a story. […]'”

As they start their fourth year of acting at the elite conversatory Dellecher they think it is going to be just as it has always been. The seven of them, never apart, playing the same roles in life as on stage.

“Enter the players. There were seven of us, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.”

But then everything begins to shift as castings get changed and the friends seem to drift apart. And all of a sudden they find themselves actors in a tragedy they never intended to play. Their every-day rivalry becomes more and more present until one of them is found dead, while the rest of them have to face their most significant role yet. Convincing the police, and each other, that they are innocent.

my thoughts- I bought this book before having read The Secret History by Donna Tartt and remember being unsure about buying it for exactly that reason. You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with The Secret History, well, it is said to be similar to it and I thought, why have two books of the same kind, without you knowing if you like it? I had already fallen in love with the cover though, so I ended up buying it. Then I read The Secret History and liked, but was far from loving it. I had my doubts about this book after that, but started reading it anyways, a few weeks later. I was drawn to it from the first page. If We Were Villains hooked me in all the possible ways. It is written in in first-person, from Oliver’s point of view, and has a unique, yet easily understandable writing style, that was straight forward or describing at exactly the right times, which made the plot have a good pace. The writing style also made a good access to the the characters possible. I liked Oliver since page one and rooted with him all throughout the story, looking at things through his eyes. Him and all other characters were really well developed. Some points of the plot itself were a little predictable, but that makes complete sense, because it fits Oliver’s character (as you will learn, while reading the book) to realize some things a little later than the rest, meaning relations ships going on unofficially and stuff. I also really loved the way the story was told. In the ‘now’ at the beginning of each ‘act’ to then continue by looking back at past events, like unraveling it the other way around, from back to front, from present to past. That was a refreshing way to deal with a murder case in a book. Another thing I was obsessed with was the autumn-ish, fall-ish feeling it spread. While reading I stumbled over some incredibly beautiful fall quotes, that I still have to go look for again sometime soon. And there is more positiveness about it. If we were Villains easily manages to encourage to read Shakespeare, and a lot of it, I feel. Reading the characters act out all those plays and roles from works like ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ gives me a lot of incentive to check them all out and to study them. What else I can say is that it stays suspenseful until the very very end, but there’s nothing more coming from me now. I’m done, and you, you just go get the book. Oh, and don’t you dare not tell me if you end up liking it!

If you haven’t got enough of this book yet, go check out my currently developing If we were Villains board on my Pinterest.

yours, anna xx

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

{Before getting into this review too deeply and forgetting about it eventually, I want to thank Robin Roe for her book with it’s message about friendship and the power of kindness. Thank you, Robin.}

What it is about- Adam and Julian, Julian and Adam. A fifth-grader and a second-grade-kindergartener as reading partners. When Adam hears about it, he still isn’t sure if it’s going to be fun or not really so, but then he get’s to know Julian.

“The boy assigned to me – Julian – looked like and anime character, with too much shiny black hair that fell just short of his enormous round eyes.”

Julian, the second-grader that has to take reading practice along with the kindergarteners,

“‘If you are a second grader, then why are you here?’ I asked. ‘I have dyslexia,’ he said. ‘I’m in Reading Improvement.'”

and Julian the most talented singer, the one that draws the best pictures. Julian, the happy kid.

“I can’t remember what Julian sang, but he was good. Not just little-kid-good, but really good.”

The two drift apart and find back together at a time in which too much has changed. There is no Julian, the happy kid.

“When he looked up, his enormous eyes were like glass, something reflective instead of animated. ‘Julian?’ I said.”

And they drift apart again only to find back to each other another time. That’s where the story begins.

“‘Julian?’ I spin around. And the moment seems to slow. […] He breaks into a grin. I glance around to find who he’s smiling at, but no-one is there. ‘It’ me,’ he says. ‘Adam.’

Adam’s and Julian’s, Julian’s and Adam’s. A friendship that is meant to be, but hard to accomplish. When Adam wants to help, Julian pushes him away as far as he can, refusing help that is desperately needed.

“I panic. ‘W-who are you calling?’ ‘The police.’ ‘No, don’t!’ I plead. […] ‘Please.’ He takes a deep breath. ‘Okay. Okay.'”

But their story grows and shows the power of kindness, of friendship, even in moments where there should not be hope or the slightest possibility of healing. While talking of loss and immense pain, Adam and Julian show, that there is always a way to work life out, taking it however it may come.

Why I picked this book up- I received this book as my February book of the month in my Bookish Box. Actually I didn’t plan on picking it up so soon, but after I had read Adam’s short review on it, I couldn’t help myself. I started reading it an hour later. About forty eight hours later I sat in my room crying, the book opened on it’s last page. And people, I want you to know that I have been in a reading slump since finishing the hours by Michael Cunningham a whole month ago. Yes, the book was that good. Buuuut, it’s time for my opinion only now.

How I liked it- This book and it’s message mean far too much to me. Kindness is a value I respect more than almost any other. Kindness has power just like hate does.

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”

It did so much to me. I will never, never be able to feel how Julian felt, because little have I lost compared to what he has suffered through, but I can understand now. I understand as much as a person who did not live through it can and the loss of a person is something we all have experienced.

“It’s strange how many ways there are to miss someone. You miss the things they did and who they were, but you also miss who you were to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.”

Especially this quote makes me remember a special member of my family that has passed away when I was only five. Five, an age that you can already, but far from enough, remember. I am said to look like him, be like him. I am said to have his eyes and hair and humor and music talent. It is more than just sad knowing that you shared so much with someone you barely had the chance to get to know. But I know, he would be so proud of me and that is everything one needs. 

Even under the message this book can put in an appearance. And a good one it is. With a simple and easy-to-get-into writing style Robin Roe tells the story that is other than the writing a lot more difficult on every level. The characters, to get to them are all their own individuals and there are a lot of them. A lot. There is none of them taken less care of than another one. They have their very own opinions, strong opinions and that’s a good thing. Another thing about this book is that it is so fast paced you probably have to calm yourself down. Fast readers will most likely read it in one sitting, but let me tell you, A List of Cages deserves more than a few hours of your time. It deserves all your time and after and even while reading you should set it down for a moment now and then to think, just do it and thank me afterwards.

To come to and end, this book is a book for everyone. Adults just as teens, as it’s a young adult novel, but it’s far more than that, so don’t let that make you shy away from picking it up. But above all it is a book to talk about. A book to one’s characters should look up. And I wish it all the luck on the big bad book market. It deserves to be admired, read, hugged and loved. Just as it deserves to be presented from one person to another, not obligatory for a birthday or another yearly festive, but just like that. Out of kindness, because this is what it is supposed to teach. The Power of Kindness.

the hours by Michael Cunningham

{after i have successfully missed the one-year-anniversary of my blog, i am finally back with a review of a rather unknown book back from the year i was born in, 1999, which had a great impact on me, will forever be remembered and re-read a over and over again. this book is named the hours and was written by Michael Cunningham}

what it is about- the book follows three women through a day in each of their ordinary, plain lives. It is 1920, London, and there is someone or something who or that links these three, completely different women together. Virginia Woolf and her still unfinished book “Mrs Dalloway”. the hours follows Virginia herself in the process of writing it,

“She may pick up her pen and follow it with her hand as it moves across; she may pick up her pen and find that she’s merely herself, a women in a housecoat holding a pen, afraid and uncertain, only mildly competent, with no idea where to begin or what to write. She picks up her pen. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

then Clarissa Vaughan, Mrs Dalloway, in New York, who is preparing to surprise a recovering friend

“‘Who is it?’

‘Just me.’

‘Who?’

‘Clarissa.’

‘Oh, Mrs. D. Oh, come in.’

Isn’t it time, she thinks, to dispense with the old nickname? If he’s having a good enough day, she’ll bring it up: Richard, don’t you think it’s time to just call me Clarissa?”

and finally Laura Brown,a young women from Los Angeles, yearns to get away from her responsibilities and mother and wife to read Virginia Woolf’s book Mrs Dalloway.

“She lays the book face down on her chest. Already her bedroom (no, their bedroom) feels more densely inhabited, more actual, because a character named Mrs. Dalloway is on her way to buy flowers.”

Why I picked this book up- I randomly found this book at my local library and since I was going to lend another book anyways all I thought was, well why not take a second one and if you don’t end up reading it, what bad did it do? Also, it’s pretty and you like pretty books. I ended up taking and reading it as you might have noticed. On another note, I have not yet read anything by or about Virginia Woolf so that wasn’t a reason either. It was just plain interest, a good cover and well written synopsis. Thank you to my local library for having it on their shelfs and thank you to myself for not dumping it, because it is one of the best books I have yet read.

How I liked it- Before I get all caught up talking about how much I loved this book, here are some things you should know about it: It would be good if you read Virginia’s Mrs Dalloway before reading this, at least I have heard it would, because it refers to it in a way, but if you just want to enjoy good writing, then you totally don’t have to do this. I didn’t do it because I picked it up without knowing anything, but I bet you’d get into this book faster if you would have read it. I recommend not to pick up this book if you want a fast paced, plot packed novel, because this is something totally different. This book is poetic and about life and the characters way more than about an actual story. It is a novel you take yourself some time for, in which you appreciate the writing, all it’s words and maxims. It takes some time getting into it or better to be said, getting the hang of how it works, but as soon as you have read the first three chapters (a chapter from each of the characters) you will be just fine. It’s time to get on to my encomium now. Michael Cunningham is a true artist of words. His writing style is almost poetic and I would love to quote every single line of him from this book for the rest of my life. If I was to read only one book for the rest of my life, I would be close to pick this one. I have never before read a story that was written this way, meaning the close connection of the three women, which are so much unlike each other at the same time and then again so similar. How they are all three linked by that book Mrs Dalloway is remarkably made. It is easy to follow the plot, once into it and it is the usualness that actually makes it special. The way each character sees the world, the people around them and life in general. I recommend it to all of those, who are open for three stories about life written in a very poetic way. If you are into poetry and quotes, you can’t quite end up not liking this book {just like me}.