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 🙂

The Sky is Falling, by Sidney Sheldon

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Washington TV anchorwoman Dana Evans suspects the accidents befalling the rich Winthrop family, killing all five members, were murders. Like Chicken Little and the sky falling, she chases clues across the world to unravel an international conspiracy. The inheritance goes to charity, so money is not the motive.

Her Sarajevo ward Kemal gets expelled, a prosthetic arm, then often naps afternoons under care of kindly new housekeeper. Unseen agents follow her, bug hotel rooms, while an evil mastermind voice overhears taped conversations and supervises regular secret auctions, inviting armed wealthy customers. Witnesses and informants die before, and after meetings. Friends become foes, nobody can be trusted. (from Goodreads)

The only thing enjoyed of this book was finishing it, and taking it out of my to-read pile.

I found it completely uninspired, with null literary value. I didn’t care about the story and couldn’t care any less for any of the characters as they didn’t come out not even remotely as real people, I felt they had unidimensional, completely flat personalities. It reminded me of those bad action movies that air here on Saturday afternoons on tv.

I personally wouldn’t say that I “hated” it, but I didn’t like it at all. I was always prejudiced against this author, for whatever reason, so I never felt enthralled to read his works. The one thing this book accomplished was to confirm my prejudice. Maybe he has better works, but I honestly don’t care to find out. 

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

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Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives. (from Goodreads)

I knew beforehand that I’d like the book, because I liked the series. It was very pleasant to see that it was very well adapted! Although, after all this time (I’ve haven’t watched the first season since it aired) I might have forgotten all the minutiae of the adaptation, I could remember very well a lot of scenes as I revived them through the book. The downside of this is that there were no surprises at all, since I already knew every single plotwist and revelation.

I really liked the book, and I totally recommend it. Although I think I enjoyed the series more (probably just because it was my first approach to the story. I’m sure that Sam Heughan has nothing to do with it)

(LIES!)

No one writes to the Colonel, by Gabriel García Márquez

41059627 Set in the decaying Colombian town of Macondo, the Colonel is scraping together the money for food and medicine. It is the Colonel’s rooster that gives him hope for a better future as it has become a symbol of defiance in the face of despair.

Don’t know what happened last week -college, more likely- but I completely forgot to publish here. Well, it’s not like someone is reading…

Anyway…

The Colonel is waiting for a letter. He’s been waiting for this letter for years, and will probably wait for many more… Or maybe not, it could arrive any day, now.

This letter, if arrived, would mean they’d asigned him, finally, a pension for his services in the army. This letter would mean that he could, finally, have a more dignified life, a less desperate economic situation for his ill wife and himself. For now, all he has is his endless patience, and a rooster. This rooster belonged to his deceased son, and it’s promised to make him, and many other people, a fortune in the cockfighting ring, in some months from now. So he waits, just a few more weeks and all his problem will be solved…

This short novel reminded me a lot of the movie Zama (adapted from the homonym novel by Antonio Di Benedetto*), not because of the plot, but because it depicts the sloth slow  movement of bureaucracy. Slow to the point of hopelessness. And for being such a short novel, it really gave me a lot to despair.

*which I haven’t read, but I hope I will.