House of Leaves

I’d like to start off by stating that I am the type of person who cannot watch horror movies (even if they are cheesy and poorly developed) because I will have nightmares and I will resent anyone who tries to sit me down to watch one. That being said, I am not the type of person who can turn down the opportunity to read a book that gets rave reviews and an absolutely massive amount of hype, even if it is a horror story. I know, it doesn’t make sense. I’m a girl, being complicated in engraved in my genes.

I was skeptical before I picked up this acclaimed novel by Mark Danielewski, I did not know what to expect. If you happen to be a conservative reader.. um, well.. find something else.
Having taken quite a few psychology classes throughout highschool and college, I find it very hard NOT to psychologically evaluate a book while I am reading it. As you dissect the text, you find the subtext. When you read into the subtext of this novel you seem to walk away with more satisfaction. I’m afraid that’s not something that I can teach someone to do.. So, you’ll probably just be scared and frustrated throughout most of the 700 pages.

This postmodern story starts out with a basic storyline: A family moves into a house which seems to be larger on the inside than on the outside. Then the story unravels and turns into a story within a story (and so on).
There’s a young man named Johnny Truant acting as literary editor, presenting the compelling and disturbing scribblings and ramblings on an old man named Zampano. Zampano’s papers, which are presented posthumously, recount, at times blow-for-blow, a documentary film called “The Navidson Record” of a family moving into a house which proves to be larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

There is also another editor above Johnny, who makes comments on top of Johnny’s comments. Johnny finds himself wondering if the old man didn’t just make up the whole story about the young family moving into the house, because Johnny is unable to find any corroborating scrap of proof that the film exists.

Of course, add into the mix that Johnny is a self-admitted fibber and story teller extroidinaire. He tells us how much fun he has making up completely bogus stories for the benefit of strangers which he meets in bars.

Now you’re in the situation which the reader has to start to wonder if the old man, Zampano, even exists, or if he was simply just an invention made by Johnny. And if you follow that line of thinking too far, you might start to doubt the simple idea of whether you are, in fact, reading the book.

The book twists and turns and unravels so many times over. There is simply no way to give the book justice in words. It is something that should be read and experienced in order to be appreciated. Don’t let the 700 pages scare you away. Maybe there aren’t 700 pages in the book, maybe it’s all part of your imagination…

Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J Watson.. let me just say.. this book raped my mind.. in a good way.

This book is based (mostly) on journal entries from the protagonist, Christine, who had severe head trauma and memory loss. She would wake up with no recollection of the days that proceeded the one she was waking up to.
The plot of the story was nothing new.. but in this type of story, execution is key. Watson did a wonderful job with the format of the story.

Christine wakes up every morning next to a man that she believes she has never met before in her life. Every morning she has to be told what she has done with her life and what she enjoys. She has to trust the man that she wakes up with. His name is Ben, and he is her husband. When she walks into the bathroom every morning she sees pictures that are taped up on the mirror. They are mostly of her and Ben. When she looks at the photographs she can recognize that it is, in fact, her in those photos. But then she has only one question: how did she become this way?
She is approached by a doctor that gives her the hope that, with his help, she could possibly get some of her memory back. She does not tell Ben about this doctor since she has had many failed attempts at mental physical therapy. Every morning her doctor calls her to tell her about the journal that she been writing in and where she is hiding it. Every morning Christine reads her journal and slowly starts to remember things from her past; both long ago and just yesterday.
When Christine begins getting these memories she then realizes that she has many more unanswered questions. She wants to know how she REALLY got to be injured and what happened in the twenty years since the ‘accident’. She starts looking to speak to the people from her past in order to get the answers that she is so desperate for.
Christine’s sanity and identity are assaulted every time she wakes up but something is horribly wrong beyond her amnesia and how it has wrecked her life. How Christine manages to uncover the devastating and shocking truth despite her inability to rely on her own recollection is a marvel of storytelling. Before I Go to Sleep is not a perfect, airtight book – it has some logical holes – but I never saw what was coming; I am not joking, my mind felt like it was raped!

I won’t ruin the end of this story in case there are some people out there who want to indulge. It almost becomes predictable towards the end of the book.. but it is still definitely worth picking up.

So I may be a sucker for Nicholas Sparks..

It’s no secret that Nicholas Sparks knows how to write a sappy romance novel. So please forgive me for caving and deciding to read them. (Some of them are actually pretty good)!

The latest novel that I have read of Sparks’ is The Lucky One. It is about a marine who finds a picture of a woman and he considers the photograph to be lucky. When he finally gets the opportunity he decides that he needs to find the infamous woman from the photo. And so it begins..

Logan, the main character, sets off on foot (with the company of his dog, Zeus) to a small town in North Carolina (like always, because Sparks never gets creative) and seeks out a job with an older woman. Her granddaughter happens to be the woman from the photograph.
Naturally the characters fall in love and, like all of the stories in the genre, you find out about the baggage that comes along with most romances.
Logan and Elizabeth have a very typical romance and Logan becomes very close with Ben, the son of Elizabeth. Logan is able to replace the father-son relationship that Ben no longer had with his biological father. The story starts to get interesting when Keith, the ex-husband of Elizabeth and the father of Ben, starts to interfere with the lives and happiness of the love-birds.
Keith begins to sabotage the happiness of his ex-wife with threats to destroy the relationship between Logan and Elizabeth. He will stop at nothing to get the satisfaction of destroying the lives of others.

The story gets very heated and the climax will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Thankfully this story gives us a nice change with a happy ending.
It’s a cute story that doesn’t take much intellect to read, but I think it was worth the day (day & a half, tops) that it will take to read.

The good thing about Nicholas Sparks is he knows his forte. The man can write a romance novel. What really bothers me is the fact that the novels are all basically the same story, he just changes names and slightly changes situations. This story only stood out a little due to the [unexpected] happy ending. The only reason I actually decided to give this book a good review is because it was such a difference to see one of these sappy, sad love stories actually end on a good note.

The Hunger Games.

I’m so torn when it comes to writing this review. I am disappointed because I wanted to love The Hunger Games. I wanted to experience what many readers had.

After much persuasion I finally decided to bite the bullet and read ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy. I was shocked by the fact that these books were geared towards young adults. I am not one who gets queasy by a little violence and I do not see why a few psychological twists can’t be thrown into a book… but when we’re talking about A LOT of violence, the readers should be a more mature audience. That being said, the story was somewhat compelling and entertaining. Since these novels were written with the young adult in mind, it would be generous to say that the writing could use a little work. The first novel had a good flow and a strong tendency to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Even though the themes in this novel had been done plenty of times before, this story brought in a few new aspects that gave the impression of a completely never before seen idea. The premise, as a whole, really seems to lack authenticity. In order to enjoy this book, you MUST accept everything at face value. You must accept that the people of Panem are so resigned to the barbarism that is the Hunger Games, they never question it. In fact, in seventy-four years, not even one tribute has questioned the mandate that they must fight to the death in some arena while their families watch and place bets on which teenager will be victorious.

Another issue I had with The Hunger Games was the personality of the main character, Katniss. I am just like many other readers in the sense that I like to be able to associate myself with the protagonist of the story. It is hard to find similarities with a character that is so oblivious of what is right in front of her. One of my biggest pet peeves is the design of a character that seems to not realize that impact that she has on the men who surround her. I despise when Katniss plays the ‘I didn’t realize that anyone ever noticed me’ card. Other than her unintentionally dense personality, Katniss does start to win the reader over with her compassion.
The Hunger Games are the violent way of showing the districts in the book that they have to sacrifice for what they have been given. One boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts are randomly drawn once a year to be thrown into an arena to fight for their lives while the cameras everywhere show their every move to their loved ones at home. Katniss and Peeta are the ones who are chosen to represent District 12. The twist that is thrown at the readers early on is Peeta confessing his undying love for the girl that he might have to kill in order to save his own life. The difficult part of the story is how quickly you fall in love with the brave and adorable Peeta. Knowing that they couldn’t possibly kill off the main character (or could they?!) I hated myself for cheering for Peeta since, unintentionally, he is the enemy.

This novel has been read and appreciated by readers of all ages across the nation, but in the rare case that we have people who have not jumped on the bandwagon, I will not divulge any suspenseful details of the compelling series. (Although if you decide to take my advice & read ‘The Hunger Games’ please, please stop there. Do not read the other two novels in the trilogy).

I feel as though I don’t need to say this, but I’ll go ahead just in case my readers are as dense as the main character: If you enjoyed these stories and have been fortunate enough to not subject yourself to the motion picture, I would strongly suggest you keep it that way. The movie ruins the book completely for any appreciative reader with half a brain. (Katniss is taller than Peeta in the movie, enough said.)

One more guilty pleasure..

Since you have probably already judged me admitting that I find Tucker Max to be funny, (if you didn’t read that post, feel free to judge now) I should just go ahead and tell you that I also indulge by reading the works of Chelsea Handler. Go on and laugh at me, I’m comfortable enough with myself to know how much respect I’ve just lost.

Let’s just chat about ‘My Horizontal Life’.. This being first of her books, Chelsea Handler set the stage for how people would view her for the rest of her career. It was refreshing to read something with so much honesty but, at the same time, this book reminds you why you were smart enough to not make the same choices as Ms.Handler.
This is about 200 pages of what happens when you grow up in New Jersey. I’m kidding, this is what happens when you grow up in NORTH Jersey. (Side note, people talk crap on Jersey girls all the time, all of that judgement is geared towards anyone who lives above Trenton). Chelsea Handler had the advantage of being the youngest child. From experience I know that having older siblings comes in handy when you want parents that really only care that you come home in one piece and not pregnant. Unfortunately, Chelsea did just about everything that parents try to keep you from doing. She goes through her childhood discovery of masturbation, with plenty of detail. It is fun and entertaining to be taken on a colorful tour through the crude love (or lack there of) life of Chelsea Handler.
It is quite a commitment for someone to publish material like Handler’s. Once this information is out there, you cannot take it back. Being fully aware that she would never gain back the respect that was lost, Chelsea Handler went on to publish her first book.

I would hardly call this (or any of her publications) to be intellectually scintillating, but it was successful in the area for which it was meant to be successful; it makes the reader laugh. If you have a sense of humor and can enjoy reading about the humiliation of others, I’d say that this book would be worth picking up.

everyone is going to judge me…

Ok, I’ll say it.. I think Tucker Max is funny. I do not have the slightest clue why, and I’m pretty ashamed of it, but I can’t help it.

I’ve read all of his books, because I am a helpless, dedicated fan. (Everyone has their guilty pleasures, I’m just open about mine). ‘I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell’ was, without a doubt, the best of all of the raunchy, outrageous books that he has published. I was disappointed with his later books due to a good amount of the stories being repeats from his premier best seller.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not the type of book that I normally read when I want to broaden my horizons… this is the type of book you read when you don’t want to THINK about anything, you just want pure entertainment.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the infamous Tucker Max:
He is a pig. He is THAT frat guy who is known by everyone. All the girls know they should just ignore him and steer clear (they never do). He is the guy who sleeps with all of those insecure girls and treats them like complete shit so that he has something to tell his friends. He is probably the raunchiest, most deplorable, misogynistic man on the planet. His stories get old after a while because it usually the same situation being repeated in different places with different people.
But, to be honest, it is a best seller for a reason. The man is pretty funny. People like disgusting, disrespectful men that they cannot bring home to their mothers. About 99% of people know what these books are about before they pick them up. They realize that the sexcapades of a college frat-boy who lacks humanity is the basis for this entire series of books. That being said, don’t read it if it is not your cup of tea.

This guy is proud of himself and made a boat-load of money from these books, that is quite an accomplishment for someone who is merely being himself. I will say that one thing that could be tweaked is Max’s writing. He went to school to be a lawyer, not an author, so at least he has that going for him.. but the books reads as if it has been written by a 15 year old. If you can tolerate bad writing skills and want to laugh at the misfortune of others, then I’d say to pick some of his books up. After all, what have you got to lose? (Besides your faith in humanity).

The Solitude of Prime Numbers

The one thing I will never stop appreciating about is the never-ending list of recommendations I receive after viewing or purchasing a book that I am interested in. There are many novels that I would have over looked had it not been for Amazon. There are also others that I wish I would have looked over.
When ‘The Solitude of Prime Numbers’ was suggested to be I figured I would give it try, after all I really don’t have much to lose. I was not familiar with the author, Paolo Giordano, mainly because this was his debut novel. Every new author should be given a chance. Sometimes, however, they have to do a lot of convincing for me to give them a second chance.

This novel starts out with the stories of a young girl, Alice, and a young boy, Mattia. You get a feel for the pressures and troubles that these young children had gone through and the emotional trauma that comes along with those decisions we make that can never be taken back, and never be forgotten. Mattia found himself responsible for the disappearance of his mentally challenged twin sister, which is only the beginning of the years of self loathing that he has to look forward to.
Alice and Mattia form a close bond when Mattia is moved to the same high school as Alice. From the very beginning, the relationship between the two is anything but ordinary. No one else ever seems to understand either Alice or Mattia, so they seem to be a pretty nice fit for one another.
The two young adults take separate paths once they are finished with high school. Mattia, a brilliant mathematician, goes off to the university to study, one of the things he prefers to do because he enjoys his time alone. Alice begins work at a camera shop with a small job of photographing weddings.
The two reconnect off and on. Mattia summed it all up by saying he and Alice were “twin primes” alone and lost, “close but not close enough to really touch each other” —lonely individuals forever linked but separated.

This story displays the worlds of two young adults who are forced to deal with their loneliness and try to find the right path to go down. The book has a very slow feel and it is hard to connect with the characters. The amount of unneeded detail that is added to the story gives you about an extra 100 pages of paper that are a complete waste. The story, in my opinion, could have been more satisfying if it had been a short novella.

This is not a novel that I would go out of my way to read again, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time since the novel is easy enough to get through.

“Choices are made in brief seconds and paid for in the time that remains.”

Oh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, you have a wonderful mind.

‘The Great Gatsby’ is one of those books that isn’t as appreciated the first time you read it, especially since it is usually ‘required’ reading when students are in high school. Most students don’t appreciate the delicacy of a novel that has been written by a decent mind. Many students usually just resort to renting the movie… I have never once seen a classic book turned into a movie and have it turn out to be better (or even equivalent) to the novel itself.

It is almost impossible to read an entire book when you absolutely loathe the main characters. It is even more impossible to actually enjoy the book when those shallow, self-deprecating characters continue to get worse throughout the entire novel. But in some weird, encouraging way it was made possible by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I dove into this story the first time around having my fingers crossed that the demented love story between Daisy and Gatsby would have a happy, rainbow filled ending. The second time around it gave me satisfaction knowing that my naive highschool mind was left behind when I graduated.

Gatsby is a newly wealthy man who accumulated his fortunes through dubious means. Daisy, on the other hand, has always led a life of privilege and could not let love stand in the way of her comfortable existence. She married Tom Buchanan for that sole purpose. With Gatsby’s ambition spurred by his love for Daisy, he rekindles his romance with Daisy, as Tom carries on carelessly with an auto mechanic’s grasping wife.
Again, you just begin to feel hatred for the characters, but at the same time you are rooting for them to be happy in the end.
Fitzgerald has a way with detail, he has a gift of making every sentence feel like it is an important part of the story. Some people can actually learn a lesson from reading this novel, assuming humans can learn lessons without doing things the ‘hard’ way. (ha ha)

Pick up this book and read it. Even if you read it in high school, there will be more satisfaction the second time around. You certainly won’t be disappointed. (hopefully)

“All right… I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

Ok, just a little Sylvia Plath. just a little.

I find ‘The Bell Jar’ to be a fantastic read. Although Sylvia Plath gets a bad reputation because of her depressing writing and her, well.. suicide, I can’t deny that she was a very talented writer.

You don’t have to be depressed to be able to empathize with Sylvia Plath, although that usually does help. But the truth is, she was a hell of a writer.
When I first read ‘The Bell Jar’ I was a high school senior and did not take as much away from the book as I did the second time I read it. This book has a way of challenging any reader of any age. (Especially if you have had a bout of depression in your life, like the protagonist, Esther, has).

In today’s society we are much more comfortable with the topic of mental illness and we have much more insight into the minds of the “crazy”. It takes someone who has been in a rough situation to be able to put those thoughts into writing and just absolutely hit the nail on the head. If Plath could write about anything at all, it was depression. She has a way of drawing readers in. Plath wrote this book with a very contemporary feel, especially since it can be considered a ‘classic’. She takes you through the life and the mind of the young Esther Greenwood and the impossible struggles that set her mental decline into motion. Trying to fit in with the other interns, as well as dealing with boys and co-workers prove to be almost impossible at times for Esther. And later, when the real depression and suicidal thoughts set in, readers are invited into a twisted world which was created realistically and with honesty by someone who had been in a similar situation.

“So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state.”

John Green’s ‘Paper Towns’

This one is more geared toward a younger audience, but is still an interesting read for someone at any age.
John Green has a way of incorporating the perfect amount of details so that the reader can associate oneself with the characters in the story.

To everyone who associates with Margo Roth Spiegelman, she is an adventurous, unconventional, and intelligent person that everyone seems to place on a pedestal. So when Margo sneaks into Quentin Jacobsen’s late one night and involves him in her crazy exploits, he can’t help but feel as if he is living in a new chapter of his life, and just maybe he can be a part of the adventures that he has only ever dreamed of with the only girl he’s ever cared about; Margo.

But the next morning all of Quentin’s hopes are dashed with Margo’s disappearance. Her parents and the police think this is just another one of her stunts. Margo has left a string of clues in her path, one right after another, which seem to be left for only one person, Quentin. He’s not quite sure what he will find, but he is also determined not to give up.

The mystery in Paper Towns is clever, and will leave readers searching for more while a close group of friends struggle to piece together the clues with some frustration and tons of humor. But these teens are just as quick to get serious as they contemplate what has actually happened to Margo. Quentin is at a stand-still when he has to deal with his own torn feelings when he finally sees her in a completely different light… with a little help from the poetry of Walt Whitman.

‘Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.’ For me, that really sums up what this book is about, our expectations of one another, and the way in which we can never truly understand other people. It’s one of those instances where it can pretty much sum up what being a teenager is all about. And all of the confusion that went along with it.