Eat Him If You Like, by Jean Teulé

13559431Tuesday 16 August 1870, Alain de Money, makes his way to the village fair. He plans to buy a heifer for a needy neighbour and find a roofer to repair the roof of the barn of a poor acquaintance. He arrives at two o’clock. Two hours later, the crowd has gone crazy; they have lynched, tortured, burned and eaten him. How could such a horror be possible? (from Goodreads)

Yes. That happened (although the eating part was never proved).
When I read the back cover of this book I thought it was purely non-fictional. The fact that it was novelized, I believe, certainly reinforces the atrocity of the facts as it humanizes the main character, making it easier to empathize with his desperate situation. On the other hand, it also permits certain “poetic licence”, reimagining and creating dialogues and relations between characters, to reinforce certain gruesome aspects of the story, that may have never happened.
One way or another, it was far from being a pleasurable reading, and by this I don’t mean that it’s not a good work. It’s just hard to read, definitely not for those of weak stomach, heart, impressionable minds, etc
Interesting enough, it has some transcripts from the judicial process that followed the slaughter. And, for those interested in a more business-like and less personal rendition of the affair, the French Wikipedia article is very good (and I recommend the French one because is the most complete and extense).

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The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson

38472788Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s hated them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would… (from Goodreads)

A couple of years ago, my dad asked me what books he could gift to my little cousin, so I sent him a list of options, this book being one of them. I hadn’t read the book, but it seemed nice and was age apropiate. A couple of months back, my cousin told me very excitedly that there was a movie adaptation, ocation I seized to ask her to borrow the book, since I hadn’t read it.
Once I was at it, I did wonder if I’d recommended it if I’d read it first. I was a bit shocked by certain attitudes in Gilly, her fatphobic and racists thoughts, her general misbehaviour et al. I did corrected myself, in several ocations, reminding me that this was a neglected child, who had a less than optimal upbringing. But I did find a bit disheartening that, even though Gilly does improve her conduct and prejudices, at very few points is remarked that her previous attitude was disrespectful and hurtful.
Anyway… I was glad to realize that the movie adaptation was updated (the book was published in the 70s) for this day “sensitivities” and it may or may not have made me cry a bit, allegedly.

Night Flight, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

45017590Under the pressure of his boss, the intransigent Riviere, the airmail pilot Fabien attempts a perilous flight during a heavy night-time thunderstorm in Argentina. As conditions get worse and the radio communication with Fabien becomes increasingly difficult, Riviere begins to question his uncompromising methods, and his distress turns to guilt when the pilot’s wife comes to find him in search of answers. Based on Saint-Exupery’s own experiences as a commercial pilot, Night Flight is a haunting and lyrical examination of duty, destiny and the individual, as well as an authentic and tragic portrayal of the intrepid early days of human air travel. (from Goodreads)

This story was based in Saint-Exupéry’s experience as director of Aeroposta Argentina, an early pioneering airline established in the late 1920s, and a subsidiary of the French airmail carrier Aéropostale.
The nouvelle narrates the events of one night, while in Buenos Aires is awaited the arrival of three flight coming from Chile, Paraguay and Patagonia. While the northern route is quiet and clear, the flight coming from the Andes had a strong storm at its back, and the southern one fell straight into it.
These pioneering nocturnal flights might be entirely endangered if something goes wrong, an the presure is as much in director, as in the inspectors and the pilots, for the excellency in the service above all, to prove everyone that this is possible.
It’s hard to wrap my mind around these early moments of commercial aviation, before the second world war. It seems both so far away (almost 100 years) and yet very recent. It was an activity both risky and exciting, and the pilots seemed to be very aware at all times that they were making history.

The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

85618The five Lisbon sisters are brought up in a strict household, and when the youngest kills herself, the oppression of the remaining sisters intensifies. As Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Lux are pulled deeper into isolation by their domineering mother, a group of neighborhood boys become obsessed with liberating the sisters. But what the boys don’t know is, the Lisbon girls are beyond saving. (from Goodreads)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, at least since I had watched the movie adaptation, if not before.
Even though it’s been several years since then (curiously, despite that I liked it very much, I didn’t re-watched it, not even once), it left a vivid impression in my mind, not as much that I was able to remember every event in the story, but several scattered plot points and, above all, a vivid visual aesthetic that exuded a deep feeling of nostalgia.
It was very pleasant to realize that that feeling of nostalgia was very present along the entire book, and that the movie (or what I remember of it) was a great job of adaptation.
I do wonder if I’m just acommodating my memories to fit, so I hope to rewatch the movie soon, to have a more exact opinion, not just based on evocations.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

16065736Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. (from Goodreads)

In a very recent group swap, in which we talked about podcasts and audiobooks, I publically declared my undying love for Neil Gaiman’s voice. So Cindi asked, “Hey, have you read this?” and no, I hadn’t, so I dived right into it because I have no selfcontrol.
Thank you, Cindi, for the recommendation.
I really liked this book! The supernatural characters nonchalantly living in our terrenal realm reminded me of American Gods, although the overall tone of he story is quite different. I spent a very cozy couple of afternoons listening to it, and I do highly recommend it 🙂

Howards End, by E. M. Forster

Howards EndA chance acquaintance brings together the preposterous bourgeois Wilcox family and the clever, cultured and idealistic Schlegel sisters. As clear-eyed Margaret develops a friendship with Mrs Wilcox, the impetuous Helen brings into their midst a young bank clerk named Leonard Bast, who lives at the edge of poverty and ruin. When Mrs Wilcox dies, her family discovers that she wants to leave her country home, Howards End, to Margaret. Thus as Forster sets in motion a chain of events that will entangle three different families, he brilliantly portrays their aspirations to personal and social harmony. (from Goodreads)

This was such an interesting book, and exceeded any expectation I had of it. Not that I had any particular expectation, but I guess it just was different of what I thought it would be, but in a good way.
The author did an amazing work marking the subtle and not so subtle differences among social classes, and how those differences affected the interactions between them, their decision making, their expectations, etc. At the same time, continously notes the ongoing changes in society and the consequences of this new modern life has for the surrounding spaces, the urbanization of London, and the living style at the beginning of the 20th century.
Immediately after reading this I watched last year’s BBC adaptation, which is really well made, but even though the action and the dialogues were spot on, I realised that there’s a lot of the story that occurs in the voice of the narrator, or in the characters inner thoughts which are, understandably, left out.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

28356582Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. (from Goodreads)

I’m not sure I could pinpoint  what I enjoyed from it. It took me a bit to get into it, reading it in little pieces, through a couple of weeks, but after the first quarter of the book I seriously commit to it and finished it in a couple of days. I guess I just needed to let myself immerse in it.

Considering I was constantly comparing it with the Harry Potter series and all the fanfiction I’ve been reading within that world, I guess one of the things that I liked the most was that the narrator changed from chapter to chapter, so even though Simon is obviously the main character, all the other relevant ones get a say in this and that was quite refreshing. I mean, there are many of us HP fans who love the series but consider that Harry gets a bit annoying, and how much more interesting it would be if we’d got some chapters written from the point of view of any other? The chosen ones can be a bit insufferable.

I also liked the way things turned out in the end. I could predict some of the things that were happening, but I didn’t expect at all how it would end for Simon. I wouldn’t said I’m versed in this genre, but for my little experience, the ending sort of broke the mold.

Even though Carry on stands alone and doesn’t require having read Fangirl in advance(*), I did reread it so I’d refresh my memories of Simon and friends, because when I first read the book I honestly didn’t pay much attention to those parts, as I was more interested in Cat’s storyline. This second time, I read Fangirl with a completely different “agenda”, sort to speak, due to my recent interest in fanfiction and my intention to get into Carry On.

I think I’ll most likely keep reading the series. The second book is expeted to be released later this year. 

 

(*) I think, in fact, reading Fangirl in advance was detrimental for me. Some of the problems I had at the beginning of the book were because I was trying to read it as if it actually were Cat’s work of fanfiction. So when Simon, more or less, explains to the reader things that happened in his previous years of school, I couldn’t help but thinking “Wouldn’t Simon Snow’s readers already know all of this? Why would a fanfic author repeat and remind the readers all these things they already know?”. Then I thought maybe this wasn’t Cat’s fanfic, maybe this was Gemma Leslie’s work. That wouldn’t explain either why the original author would remind constantly all these episodes that occurred in previous books. In the end, I decided to stop questioning every flashback and about that time was when I began to enjoy the book xD

Fortunately, the answers were awaiting me in the Author’s Note at the end of the book 🙂