Book Review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

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I have to be honest, I didn’t much like this book. I felt like it had the same sort of idea (or reminded me of Flowers for Algernon, which is one of my favorite books–so I had a hard time liking this one. I do think it was well researched and you could tell it was clearly written from experience, as I believe Haddon worked with special needs children. (I could be wrong).

The story is told from the point of view of the main character–Christopher Boone, who is on the autism spectrum. He is a 15 year old boy who find his neighbor’s dog dead from a pitch-fork wound. The story begins with his narration of finding the dog and also his detective work to find out who did it. The book is written in sort of a diary format, so each day is titled with the next prime number in sequence, because Christopher loves math. That’s one of the reasons I disliked the book, because he’s good at math so there are a lot of complicated algorithms and math problems that he depicts in his story–most of which I don’t understand. But maybe that’s the point–Christopher doesn’t always understand social norms or puns, but he does understand things that are logical that most people can’t.

The majority of the book is about his complicated relationship with his parents, who are divorced. Christopher lives with his father, who is just trying to keep it together after his wife apparently died. Christopher and his father are more like roommates–his father feeds him but they don’t really do much together so Christopher is alone most of the time, which he prefers.

I liked the fact that this story was told from the perspective of an autistic teenager. I felt like it gave me a glimpse into his mind and what kinds of things he likes and dislikes. There wasn’t always a reason given behind why he didn’t like something–like the color yellow; however, he clearly spelled out the reactions he would have to things he disliked.

2.5/5

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Yes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You-Kunal Nayyar

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Kunal Nayyar

 

I’ve been meaning to read this book for 2 years and I finally just now read it! I love The Big Bang Theory and I’ve been watching it almost as long as it’s been running. There are many things I like about it: the show has a great cast with funny actors, it’s about smart people trying to have social skills, and it’s only 30 minutes an episode so you can really burn through them really quickly!

Kunal Nayyar plays Raj on Big Bang. He’s a shy, selective mute, astrophysicist on the show. In real life, he’s an emotional, family-oriented actor. I liked how he didn’t spend the whole book talking about being on BBT– he took the time to start by writing about his childhood, and what growing up in India and moving to America at 18 was like. I couldn’t imagine having to move to a completely different country all by myself, let alone at the tender age of 18! I had a hard enough time learning to adjust to college life when I went to Ball State University, which is only an hour away from my parent’s house.

I thought the most interesting one of Kunal’s hobbies growing up was badminton. He described an entire tournament in one of the chapters, and I thought he did a good job of conveying the adrenaline rush he would get every time he played. Not many people play badminton—I played in gym class and occasionally at my grandparents’ house in the summertime. But I felt like I was there, in the crowd, cheering on Raj—I mean, Kunal!

Another thing Kunal talks about in his book is dating—tips for dating Indian girls, how to kiss, his childhood celebrity crush, and eventually meeting his now-wife! I thought a lot of these stories were funny and he sounded really down to earth and honest about his dating triumphs and failures. Toward the end of the book, he describes his 6 day wedding ordeal, which I enjoyed.

If you’re a fan of the show and like memoirs, I highly recommend.

4/5

The Light Between Oceans-M.L. Stedman

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Light between oceans

 

I was really excited to read this book because the movie looked really good. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I know by the book that it’s going to be sad! I felt like Bilbo Baggins reading this book, “I feel like butter that’s been spread over too much bread”. In other words, I felt like the story was a great concept, but it was stretched out and didn’t have enough plot points to drive it home. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it, and thought it was well researched and written. But there are only so many ways that you can say, A couple living in a lighthouse finds a baby washed ashore and they torment themselves over what to do.

Tom Sherbourne returns from the war to Australia. He finds a job as a lightkeeper, which is perfect job for him because he’s an independent man, not wanting for much. One of the previous lightkeepers suggests to him that he find a wife or he might go mad out there alone. This is sort of foreshadowing—Tom is just fine when he’s by himself, but once he and his wife find the baby washed ashore with her father’s dead body, they slowly begin to go crazy with worry, fear, and guilt.

Tom’s wife, Isabel, has suffered so many miscarriages and one stillbirth. They’ve all but given up their dream of having a child, when they find the baby they come to call Lucy. Isabel begs Tom to keep her, despite his better judgement.

This is when the book starts to stretch and tug too tight over the conflict. I think the author did a very thorough job of detailing all the emotions Isabel and Tom experience while having Lucy in their possession—on the one hand, they want keep her for their own, but Tom knows in his heart that he needs to tell someone ashore.

The real plot twist comes when they go ashore for the first time since finding Lucy, when she’s about 2 years old. They learn of Hannah Roennfeldt, a woman stricken with grief over losing her husband and 3 week old baby. They were never found. I won’t give anything else away, but it does have an interesting ending.

I wish this novel had more plot twists in it—I think it would have held my interest better. Instead, the author focused more on details and the emotions of the characters. It’s not bad, just different. I’m interested in watching the movie and seeing if it stays true to the book.

2.5/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking as Fast as I Can

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I have a new reading challenge that I am attempting this year I found on Facebook somewhere. One of the challenges was to read a book that I could read in one day. This book met that criteria–it was only 209 pages. I think I read the first half straight through.

Lauren Graham’s first novel Someday, Someday, Maybe came out in 2013. My review can be found here.It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, because I think I was hoping for more of a bio, like this book is. That’s why I loved this book so much more.

Everyone who’s a huge Gilmore Girls fan like myself, wants to know about the making of the show and what it was like during those 7 years. Well, this memoir will give you some insight into those years of playing Lorelai Gilmore, as well as the Parenthood years, and the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life mini-series.

I liked the way Graham wrote this book; she writes to the audience as if she is talking to them face to face. Plenty of jokes and sarcasm. I think I would have preferred her to write this book first, before Someday, Someday, Maybe but I understand why she wrote that first now. She had some spare time in between shooting Parenthood episodes and that’s where her first novel began. I certainly applaud her for putting her baby out there for everyone to read and getting a book published! I’ve never done anything like that so I definitely give her props.

My favorite part about this book was where Graham watched all the Gilmore Girls episodes and commented with her favorite scene, hairstyle/fashion, and a fun-fact for each season. It was interesting to know that she makes a point of not watching herself in shows so she had forgotten some things that happened in the show. There was one part when she was shooting Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and she had to have the part where Lorelai and Christopher get married completely hashed out to her because she forgot it had happened! Such an important detail that she had forgotten! But with how hectic actors’ lives are, I can see how you wouldn’t be able to remember everything that ever happened in a TV show you’ve been filming for 6 years straight.

I highly recommend this book if you’re an avid Gilmore Girls fan and I’m excited to read her next book!

4/5

 

Salt to the Sea

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It took me a couple of months but I finally finished this book. It was not my favorite of Sepetys’ three novels, but certainly ranks high as far as historical fiction goes. Reading the Author’s Note at the end gave me a greater appreciation for the amount of research Sepetys does for her novels. You know she’s dedicated when she spends 3 years doing research, interviews, tours, and traveling to multiple countries for 1 novel. I don’t have the patience to finish anything I start. That’s why I will never be a novelist. Plus, as most writers I hate my own work.

This novel is unique because Sepetys tells the story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff through the voices of 4 characters. Joanna, is a young Lithuanian nurse trying to help others to appease her guilty conscience. She meets Emilia, a 15 year old pregnant Polish girl trying to survive the deathly cold alongside Florian, a mysterious Prussian who is hiding a secret from everyone. The three characters come into contact with the fourth, Alfred, aboard the Wilhelm Gustlaff at the end of World War II. All 4 characters have a story to tell of how they are trying to survive the war.

I like the fact that not all the characters are likeable, especially Alfred. He is a tormented soul, not quite all there mentally but still a three-dimensional character. He writes letters to his Hannelore in his head, to keep himself sane and boost his ego about being an important soldier serving Hitler.

Joanna was probably my favorite. She is a young woman full of emotions but trying to hide them all. She is interested in Florian, whom Emilia calls “the knight.” She tries very hard to help others as best she can, to make up for all the needless guilt she feels. I related to her the most.

Emilia is a quiet, young girl with a strong will to fight all through all of the suffering she has endured. She stays close to Florian because she views him as her savior, literally and figuratively. She looks to him as protection and safe-keeping from the war.

Florian was a hard one to figure out. You don’t quite know his whole story until the very end. He is on a mission to save an important artifact but pretends to work for Hitler most of the time, to save his life. He doesn’t open up to anyone until he meets Joanna. I like him because he is the romantic figure in the book without trying to be.

Although I liked this novel a lot, I will say the shipwreck portion was a bit disappointing for me. I have seen the movie Titanic a hundred times and this has some of the same descriptions and lines as the movie. I will say she did do her research and got the time period very accurate as to what would have been available in case of a ship sinking and the realities of imminent death. I just wished for something a little bit different I suppose.

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you like historical fiction/ or World War II accounts.

I give this one a 3.5/5.