Four books to read this autumn

The season of seasons has almost come upon us. Stores are flooded with leaves and pumpkins, there is rarely any food or drink that has not been seasoned with pumpkin spice, the trees are shedding their first leaves and the air is getting crisper. If you are an autumn-enthusiast just like I am, this is about the right time to think about what books to get cozy with this fall. May I present you my top four picks, including If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Diviners by Libba Bray and The Immortals by S. E. Lister.

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio- Imagine dedicating your whole existence to Shakespeare. That’s what Oliver and his classmates at Dellecher do. Or rather, once did. 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. 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. 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. But then everything begins to shift, 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.

“Halloween approached like a tiger in the night, with a soft rumble of warning. All through the second half of October, the skies were bruised and stormy, […]. As the ill-omened day crept closer, it was impossible to suppress a buzz of mounting excitement among the students. The morning of the thirty-first, whispers chased us around the refectory as we poured our coffee. […] When witching hour arrived, we set off through the woods, one by one.”

If you have read The Secret History by Donna Tartt you’re probably suspicious. Yes, If We Were Villains is similar to it, I cannot deny it, but I personally liked it better than Tartt’s work. I know that quite a lot of people consider The Secret History a very fall-appropriate book and I do too, but M. L. Rio took it a step further. Halloween, especially the night of it, plays an important role as the story unravels, but I don’t want to forestall anything. If We Were Villains has just the right amount of poetic fall passages, the darkness that comes with obsession and an overall stunning sense for plotting the perfect crime. You will have to see for yourselves, but having a glimpse at this one probably won’t let you down.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik- As long as tales exist, the darkness of the woods has awakened fear in people everywhere. The forest close to Agnieszka’s home is no different. Her whole life people around her have been living fearing it, but there’s more to it than just it’s darkness. No-one comes back from the Woods unchanged. So for as long as Agnieszka can remember every ten years a wizard, the Dragon, comes down to her village to choose a young woman to serve him for the next decade, in exchange for providing the villagers safety. Already fearing her friend Kasia to be taken during the Dragon’s next choosing, for she is the most perfect of them all, Agnieszka’s world is turned upside down when it turns out, it’s not Kasia he takes.

“On the last day, I found us a clearing in the woods where the trees still had their leaves, golden and flame-red rustling all above us, with ripe chestnuts all over the ground. We made a little fire out of twigs and dry leaves to roast a handful. Tomorrow was the first of October, and the great feast would be held to show honor to our patron and lord. Tomorrow, the Dragon would come.”

Uprooted is like an old children’s tale you’ve never come across before. Every word in it is heavy, as if drenched in magic. Reading this book, one feels like knowing what is going to happen next and constantly ending up being surprised by how differently from ones own imagination the tale unwraps, one page after another. Uprooted is a novel unlike any other. At most times it is strange and dark, intensely fantastic and magical. Yet sometimes manages to authentically include friendship just as love along the way. Uprooted is a fall must-read.

The Diviners by Libba Bray- It’s the 1920s. Evie O’Neill gets sent off to live with her uncle, curator of the “Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult”, in New York City after getting in trouble at home one too many. By the time she gets there a series of mysterious murders is troubling the city and Evie finds herself diving headfirst into investigations.

“She knew she could try to read any of the objects to find out more about Sam Lloyd, but it wasn’t worth the headache. She’d trust that he’d come back looking for the coat. It was September, and the weather would turn soon enough.”

The Diviners just had to make the list. This book is kind of spooky and dark with fantastic elements, but not in a way as serious as the other three books. It has humor, a kick-ass female lead with a well-developed male character right by her side. Beside that it’s gripping and mysterious, only revealing what has to be revealed in order for the reader to still understand the main plot, but there sure is a lot more going on. This would definitely be my go-to Halloween pick for a book.

The Immortals by S. E. Lister- This is a story of falling through time, of an uncontrollable journey, of lost wanderers. This is the story of Rosa Hyde, of the Immortals. Due to a traumatic event in her father’s past Rosa Hyde has never left the year 1945. During all her seventeen years of life she and her family 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 doesn’t have a clue about what is going on, how something like that is possible, until she escapes, falling through time. But she finds company in Tommy Rust, a man certain that he will live forever. An Immortal, like her. Roaming the millennia they wander, ever admiring the places, wherever the tides might take them. But as easily as the tides brought Tommy and her, and the other Immortals, together as easily do they fall apart all the same, leaving her falling through time all over again. 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 seems to be nothing they can do about it.

“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 […]”

The Immortals manages the perfect balance between being intensely fantastic and magical and at the same time spreading a very realistic aura. It’s a mixture I have never seen so well developed in any other novel and that’s exactly what makes this book so special. The warm feeling you experience when reading about magic intertwined with pure every-day life wrapped up in a layer of stunningly beautiful wording. All of the four books I am introducing in this review are dear to me, but out of them all, this is my favorite pick. Partly because it seems to be so unknown, but mostly because I just genuinely love it’s writing style and the complexness of the plot, just as the characters. But above all, because it really reminds me of autumn. It has this certain feeling to it that makes me think of crisp air and crunchy leaves. I am holding onto myself desperately to prevent myself from begging you to read it. You’re welcome, but please still do so.

With that said, I wish you the most memorable of autumns! May you have golden days, just as rainy ones and may you find the perfect read to keep you company, no matter the weather.

Advertisements

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

“[…] it didn’t really matter how many years or decades or centuries had passed, because you were always living within the parameters of your personality. No expanse of time or place could change that. You could never escape yourself.”

Imagine being close to immortal. How would you spend your days? A question Tom Hazard has to ask himself over and over again. He has lived hundreds of years, dozens of different lives, has seen it all, done it all. Worked for Shakespeare himself, complimented Fitzgerald on his “Great Gatsby”, but then again he saw his mother being accused and drowned for practicing witchcraft, experienced his great love die of the pest. Yes, Tom Hazard has seen it all and he is tired of it, but a promise he has once given, hundreds of years ago, keeps him going, one day after another. But when you know there’s always a tomorrow to have another try, do you even know how to live? Because after all those hundreds of years Tom is nowhere near sure he does and there is not a day he does not struggle with his past, the memories of it.

“I need to get over everything. I need ‘closure’ as people say these days. Though you can never close the past. The most you can do with it is accept it. And that is the point I want to reach.”

They have never left him after all and every single passing minute adds up to them.

“So here I am, with my head full of human fears and pains, my chest tight with anxiety, thinking about how much future I have in front of me.”

 

5BB18389-1E63-465F-88E3-9EAB283E397B

my thoughts- I was recommended this book by a dear friend of mine, Ophelia. She really liked it and since she knows my taste told me to read it, because she was sure I’d enjoy it and I did. I enjoyed it immensely. If you know my tastes in books from around the internet you could most likely even skip this part of the review or check out my last one on “The Immortals”, since it’s always similar things I cherish a book for. For me those include the writing style, for example. The writing style I enjoy most is a very wise one, one that is a little poetic, very figurative, that has an eye for the little details. If I dog-ear pages or underline passages, sentences in the process of reading, then it most likely turns out to be a book I end up recommending to others. So basically I enjoy works I can quote, that hold sequences which contain a deeper message, that teach me something about life. “How To Stop Time” hides quite some like that and that’s why I ended up loving it as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the plot, it was really well structured, though a little confusing, always going back into the past, but randomly into all different kinds of eras. It supported the concept of the book though, since Tom was caught off guard by his memories all the same and it gave the reader insight in what he was constantly going through. I liked that. But as I said, I liked it best for it’s wise words. You can’t imagine what I mean by that? Well, look at this.

Last but not least, if you have read this book and you’re looking for one that’s similar to this one, then head right over to my review of “The Immortals”. You will soon realize both the plot and the beautiful writing style are a little similar to the one in “How To Stop Time”. And just like “The Immortals” I believe this would be a very decent autumn read, but yeah, I’m just saying. Maybe I’ll re-read in autumn and see for myself.

Wishing you all out there a great summer! And to all fellow autumn-lovers, hold on just a little longer, it’s the next season to come.

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}.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

a spoiler-free review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller follows…

What it is about- Everyone knows him, the hero of the greek, the fallen one. And with his Name they know his tale, the one of Young Achilles, half-god and half-human, Born to be a hero, died as one. But there is another Boy, one only few know, one just as much of a hero as his companion. A Young Boy who bad things have happened to, banned from home by his father, sad and rather lonely.

I would have no parents, no family name, no inheritance. […] This was how I came to be ten, and an orphan. This is how I came to Phthia.

Until the lifes of both collide and for them both nothing will ever be what is was again.

He yawned, his eyes heavy-lidded. “What’s your name?” […] “Patroclus.” It was the name my father had given me, hopefully but injudiciously, at my birth, and it tasted of bitterness on my tongue. “Honor of the father,” it meant. […] He rolled onto his side to face me. A stray lock of Gold fell half into his eyes; he blew it away. “My name is Achilles.” I jerked my chin up, an inch, in bare acknowledgement. We regarded each other for a moment. Then he blinked and yawned again, his mouth cracked wide as a cat’s. “Welcome to Phthia.”

The Song of Achilles is a Tale of Gods and Godesses, Kings and  Queens, Immortal fame…


“Name one hero who was happy.” I considered. Heracles went mad and killed his family; Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason’s children and new wife were murdered by his old; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus’ back. “You can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward. “I can’t.” “I know. They never let you be famous AND happy.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll tell you a secret.” “Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this. “I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it.”
“Why me?” “Because you’re the reason. Swear it.” “I swear it,” I said, lost in the high color of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes. “I swear it,” he echoed. We sat like that a moment, hands touching. He grinned.

…and the human heart…

“He is mortal,” she says. “And mortals die.” “I am mortal!” he screams. “What good is godhead, if it cannot do this? What good are YOU?” “I know you are mortal,” she says. She places each cold word as a tile in a mosaic. “I know it better than anyone. I left you too Long on Pelion. It has ruined you.” She gestures, a flick, at his torn clothing, his tear-stained face. “This is not my son.” His chest heaves. “Then who is it mother? Am I not famous enough? […] And who else? Send them before me. I will kill them all!”.

It tells the story of the rise and fall of two heros, one known for it, famous, the  other one not. But above all it tells the tale of two lovers, who fought to be together until their last breath and after. After all it is a tale of love and what we are willing to sacrifice for it.

Why I picked up this book- The Song of Achilles was recommended to me by two of my dear book-companions Tringa and Morgaine. And then, because I fully trust them and because it was said to be an emotional Story, I ordered it this summer, took it to London with me and read it.

How I liked it- This will be the messed up part. I finished this book over a week ago but it’s still hurting me and when I see it lying around in my room, I pick it up and hug it to my chest. I like to Keep it Close These days though I have finished it, i always have it around. I would have never picked up this book myself. I don’d usually read a lot of historical fiction and I’m not a huge fan of it but.. this BOOK! Everything about it is just precious: 1) It actually makes you learn something. 2) Every Character is absolutely amazing. 3) The writing style. The writing is one of the most beautiful things in this book. It is so poetic. I just died every second sentence.Okay, so yes, I liked this book. I liked it so so much I’ll never let it leave my heart and my copy of it is already so worn out. I underlined in it and it had a dog-eared page and honestly, I just don’t care. For me it gets even more beautiful with every single crack in the spine, every dog-eared page. So, whoever you are and whatever book-genre you like, read this one because it’ll make you grow mentally, it’ll do something to you and that’s why it’s so prechious and everyone should read it. Okay, so my Job is done now, I’ll go hug my book again now. Writing this review made me cry and while I’m being emotional you go run and to the next bookstore and get this book. We’ll talk again when you’ve finished reading it and are emotional unstable, just like me. GO GET IT!