The most disturbing book I’ve read this year…so far

Hello fellow readers. Today I wanted to discuss a book that really disturbed me. I am still gathering my thoughts and I am unsure as to whether I liked or hated this book. The book in question is… the Dumb House by John Burnside.

A brief synopsis:

Young Luke is fascinated with the secrets of the human soul and how it relates to human language. He becomes obsessed with a story his mother told him as a child about the Dumb House, a palace where children were raised in complete seclusion and never hearing human speech. He decided to conduct his own experiment with children and creates his own version of the Dumb House.

My thoughts:

The book is told from Luke’s perspective and I have to say that it was very disturbing to be inside the mind of a psychopath. The book opens where it eventually ends and we go back into Luke’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. From the onset it is very apparent that his family environment is unhealthy. Without over analyzing, I saw that he was governed completely by his mother who haunts the rest of the story. His relationship with his father is almost nonexistent. As he grows older, his twisted tendencies go unchecked (you might even say that they were encouraged) and he takes it upon himself to begin experimenting on animals seeking answers about life and the question of where soul comes into play. His later relationships with other characters are twisted and when he performs his biggest “experiment” I was appalled.

As a human and especially as a mother I was completely disgusted and uncomfortable throughout the whole book. I found certain parts very difficult to read.

The writing was excellent. The sentence structure and language were well done and narrating the book from Luke’s thoughts were a great way to present such disturbing content. I was inside his mind the entire time and I was uncomfortable even while I kept reading. Beginning the book at the end and then working from his childhood to the end was probably the best way this story could have been told. While I would consider it a psychological thriller, it is not the quickest paced book out there. Nevertheless, even with the disturbing content and relatively slow pace, I found myself turning pages wanting to know what happened next and hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. It did.

All in all I found it to be disturbingly interesting though I probably won’t read this again. This is not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if you are looking for something disturbing to read that isn’t as gory as some other more horror type books than this might be worth your time (though I’d recommend checking out my warning below).

Warning ⚠️

This books contains elements of child abuse, possible child molestation, rape, exploiting of mental illness, and cruelty to animals.

If you’ve read this book please tell me what you thought. I’m still gathering my thoughts and can’t tell how I’d rate it but I’d love to discuss with someone.

Advertisements

War of the Worlds: My thoughts

I have been wanting to read this book for so long, but after I read The Time Machine, I found that I wasn’t really eager to pick it up anymore.  I put this book on both my Classics Club Challenge list and my Back to the Classics list and finally picked it up last month when I was trying to recover from a book hangover. I wasn’t sure if I’d finish it as I was a bit bored by The Time Machine, but I needn’t have worried because this book sucked me right in.

war of the worlds

 

A brief synopsis:

It is the end of the 19th century and a series of explosions on Mars is seen from an observatory in England.  Scientists are intrigued, but shortly after this, what appears to be a meteor lands in England.  The meteor turns out to be a landing pod which contains Martians.  Several men approach, waving white flags to signify peace, but are quickly incinerated by a strange Martian weapon.  What follows is utter chaos as the Martians begin their invasion of earth.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that the narrator was unnamed, but I found him to be a very likeable character. He never claims to be a hero and I was rooting for him the entire time. The narrator has a series of narrow escapes and I found it utterly freaking fascinating as he describes the breakdown of society and the mass panic that follows the invasion.

I tend to like books and the writing style from this era, but I think even those who aren’t very accustomed to this particular writing style will find it enjoyable in this book.  The story moves along pretty quickly and the writing is never an obstacle toward enjoying the book.  A Sci-fi book written in the 19th century might be expected to be a little “cheezy” (for lack of a better word) but I honestly found the book to be very suspenseful and no more “cheezy” or hard to swallow than any of the modern movie adaptations (In fact, I don’t think a single movie adaptation has done this book justice). This was definitely a page turner for me, but it also gave me a lot to think about when the narrator described society’s breakdown so clearly.

IMG_4360

Working in an industrial environment as I do, a cheap paperback edition was perfect for reading on breaks.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and I think this book would be a perfect choice for someone who wants to read more classic literature but is intimidated by massive tomes of literature written in archaic language.  5/5 stars for me.

Thanks for joining me today! Happy reading!

 

A mid year recap of my least favorite books this year

Now that we are officially halfway through the year, I was thinking back over all the books I’ve read so far and there a few that I have very strong feelings about so I thought I’d share what some of my favorites and not so favorite books are. Part 1 is dedicated to my least favorite books and Part 2 is dedicated to my favorite books so far in 2018.

Let us begin with the Books I didn’t enjoy so much in the first half of 2018:

img_3466-1

I was a little let down by this book and I’m not quite sure why.  I had such high hopes for it because it was a multi generational historical fiction book with what I guess would be considered magical realism and/or supernatural elements.  It’s not a bad book and the writing was good, I guess I was just expecting more.

 

 

city of brass

This is another book I had high hopes for.  After reading The Golem and the Jinni I was super excited when I heard about this book on the All the Books podcast and ran and picked it up immediately.  I was severely let down by this one. The concept of this book was fascinating but I found most of the dialogue to be very juvenile (which is perfectly awesome when I’m expecting it) and though it was marketed as an adult book, I found that it felt much more like a YA novel.  I have nothing against YA and enjoy reading YA books WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR THEM. But this had a lot of what my 11 year old would call “cringe-y” dialogue and plot.  I found the whole thing to be a little cheezy and overdone.  I really wanted to like this but I doubt I’ll read the next one.

 

abc murders

*Sigh* I hate to add this one to my non fave list because I feel like I am betraying my queen.  I am a definite Agatha Christie lover and have been doing a read through challenge of the Poirot books, but this one is not my cup of tea.  Part of why I love reading Agatha Christie is because of the cozy yet clever mysteries presented in her books and this one felt a little too much.  It was a little over the top for me.

 

villette

People aren’t kidding when they say this isn’t Jane Eyre.  Aside from the obvious “well duh, it’s a completely different book” it really is different.  I did not hate this book and I mostly enjoyed it because it still had that element of melancholy throughout, but I found it very slow to start and the ending was like getting hit by a bus.  I immediately said “WHATTTT????!!!!” and went online to see if I had interpreted it correctly.  I had, and I was very taken aback by this book’s ending.  Still worth the read though.

 

So that is all for my least favorite books this year.  Please let me know if you love or hate any of these books.  Maybe I am missing something! Stay tuned for my favorite books so far in 2018.

 

 

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett: my thoughts

After reading A Little Princess, The Lost Prince, The Secret Garden, and Little Lord Fauntleroy last year, it finally dawned on me that I freaking adore the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Having read (and reread in some cases) her beautiful children’s literature, I was delighted to discover that she has a long list of adult works as well. After going through her children’s literature canon last year, I moved on and the first adult work I read was A Lady of Quality which I really enjoyed. This year I decided to continue on and as it is also on my Classics club challenge list and my Back to the Classics Challenge list, I decided to go ahead with The Shuttle. This was one of her longer works and I definitely felt it warranted a short review from me.

A brief synopsis:

It’s actually a little difficult for me to put this in my own words. Basically, this book uses a shuttle to describe the way “threads” of family connection and commerce connect England and America. The book follows one family whose elder daughter marries a penniless but titled English gentleman when English/American marriages were just beginning to be more commonplace. As the book progresses, we get to know the younger daughter of the family during a time where the marriages between Americans and English have become an everyday occurrence.

So I will not lie, I loved this book. The characters in this book are just lovely. I started out with a mild feeling of impatience towards the older sister but the younger sister is just superb. The characters in this book were just too engaging to ignore. If you are looking for adventure and the like, then this book is not for you, but I fell in love with all the characters in this book. Even the antagonist in this book was fleshed out and I wanted to know what became of him. I am typically a plot driven type of person but I was so interested in all the characters that I wanted to keep reading. The plot in this book is not particularly exciting but it is interesting enough that you will want to know what happens to all of the characters. We come across a rather weak female character in the beginning of the book but after meeting the male antagonist, things move along pretty quickly. The main character shows herself to be strong and intelligent and worthy of the few hundred pages that follow. As I stated before, there is not a whole lot of adventure going on here so I can’t really say much more without ruining the book. But I can say that this is one of my favorites of the year and gives me one more reason to love Frances Hodgson Burnett.

My thoughts on The Name of The Wind… all 672 pages of it

I got this as a gift from my husband for my birthday last year.  He was so proud that he actually went to the bookstore and got a recommendation for me based on books he knows I like.  Problem was, I started reading it and my attention wandered so I put it down.  I came back to it a month later and read the first chapter and found it mildly interesting, but got distracted by another book and put it down again.  After listening to my husband tease me for 6 months about how I must hate it because he gave it to me, I finally picked it back up again last month and I am so freaking glad that I did.

A brief synopsis:

The book is an epic fantasy that follows Kvothe as he recounts the story of his early life and the tragic events that led up to (and including) his years at the prestigous magical school.

That synopsis is short as hell for a book as big as this one.

So I think what initially caused me to put the book down was the fact that in the very beginning we meet three very unexciting characters who don’t really pull you in.  But once you discover that none of them is the main character and they are merely sitting in the same room as him, the pages fly.

It is difficult to describe what I feel about Kvothe.  Over the course of 600+ pages we get to know him very well and he really is very kind and very loyal, but it can get a bit tedious reading how he is basically the best there is at anything.  Oh? You have a Masters Degree in underwater basket weaving?  Give Kvothe 5 minutes to read a chapter or two about the subject and he will be ready for his Doctorate in underwater basket weaving.

That being said, once I got into the actual narrative I constantly wanted to know what happened next. There are some nicely fleshed out characters and a nice balance between world building and plot. I think it’s hard to find the right balance in a book as large as this one and the fact that it was so well done in this book makes me think it would appeal to any fan of fantasy whether you prefer plot driven or character driven stories. As far as the world building is concerned, I don’t think I have been as enthralled by a fictional world since I read The Lord of the Rings. (And no I am in no way comparing this to the LOTR, I just really fell in love with Tolkien’s world)

My biggest gripe with this book is that after getting sucked in and purchasing the next one, I realized that it’s the first in a trilogy and the final book has yet to be published and there is no (to my knowledge) publish date as of yet. I despise starting series when there is no conclusion so this was rather annoying for me. All the same I loved this book and I’m holding off reading the next (or trying to at least) until I have an idea when to expect the last one.

So in short, I’d say that this is the most quality fantasy that I’ve read in years. And while LOTR will probably forever remain on top for me, I’d say this book earned a place on the same shelf.

Utopia: My thoughts

Hello again 🙂 Being a fan of cartography and travel memoirs, an amateur history buff, and an almost graduated history major who has a special fondness for Tudor history, I have long been fascinated by Sir Thomas More. So naturally Utopia is a work I have wanted to read for ages. I had been intimidated in the past and until recently only had an ebook version. When I finally discovered the benefits and pleasure of annotating books (my own copies of course) I finally realized I was capable of tackling books that had intimidated me in the past. Fortunately I found this very inexpensive copy on book depository for around 5$ last month and was very excited to dive in- which I did over the last four days. For such a famous work, I am surprised that I had no idea how short it was (my copy was only 85 pages long) but nevertheless I took my time with it and took about 4 days reading, annotating, reflecting, and taking notes.

A brief synopsis:

This book, written by Sir Thomas More in the early 16th century, describes a fictional Kingdom. A perfect society where everyone works and has useful occupation, and in which nobody goes without the basic necessities.

My thoughts:

This book was pretty darn fascinating.  One of the things that drew me in from the first was the fact that most of the main characters were real historical figures.  Thomas More himself is in the book and narrates the entire thing. And from the very first sentence, in which More mentions Henry VIII in very flowery and flattering terms I was fascinated.  It could also be owing to the fact that I know that More would be executed by Henry VIII years later, while he doesn’t.  And while I do not know if it was his intention, I think that by using real people as characters, he turned it from something that was purely fictional into something that could be related to. The book is essentially just a long discussion between these men.  Given the topic and the book’s criticism of contemporary societies, I think this was an incredibly daring thing to do.  But by his choice of companions (all reputed to be good, learned men) and by setting himself up to criticize and be skeptical of all that is told to him by his friend Ralph, he manages to bring these ideas to his intended audience without seeming like the bad guy who’s got a grudge against society.  It also did not escape me that Ralph, who is the one describing all of these radical ideas, is a fictional character while More and the others are not.

Another thing that struck me early in the book was something that is actually very trivial, though to me as lover of history and cartography it was very interesting. This was a mention of visiting countries below the equator. Now I know that many of the ancients were aware that the earth was round and that in the Tudor period they were aware of this as well, but the idea of the equator just seemed like such a new concept to me that I got on a tangent looking into some medieval maps and reading up on the equator itself. I found some very interesting things. For one, I had no idea that in the early medieval period, the belief that people could live beyond the equator was considered a heretical belief by the Catholic Church. In fact many maps of the time depict the equator as a ring of fire. This idea was still prevalent when Columbus set sail. And that was not so long before this book was published. And while this may not have any bearing on the book itself, I found it fascinating and decided to share it here because nobody in my house was excited to hear my ramblings 🙂

To say that this book is important would be a gross understatement. It has influenced many writers and thinkers for the past 500 years. The ideas presented in this book were radical to say the least and this book had my rapt attention throughout (if you don’t count the times I got sidetracked looking things up)

I’d gladly give it 5/5 stars and I highly recommend picking up this interesting piece of history.

Thanks for joining me while I rambled on about this.

Eternal Life by Dara Horn: my thoughts

Hello again 🙂 I am back with some thoughts on another book I just finished. I heard about this book while listening to one of my favorite podcasts not long ago. The premise sounded fascinating so I went and bought it immediately.

A brief synopsis:

Rachel is a young 2000 year old woman (seriously) who cannot die. As a young mother living in Jerusalem, she had made a pact with God to spare the life of her son. The book follows Rachel mainly throughout her modern life with several flashbacks into former years of her life. Having raised many different families over 2000 years (because yea she can still have kids) she struggles in the modern era with a granddaughter who is a renowned scientist specializing in genetics. Will she find out Rachel’s secret and expose her? And what would be the consequences if she does?

My thoughts:

I really loved the idea of this book. I always love books that take place over multiple generations or that tie together events from different millennia. There was some beautiful writing in the book during particular scenes and the flashbacks to earlier times in her life were particularly well written. Dara Horn seems to be familiar with and done a decent amount of research into daily life in ancient Jerusalem. But despite all this, I found there to be something lacking- especially in regards to the ending. I disliked most of the characters and I really didn’t care for any of the relationships between characters, whether between parents and children or between lovers. The one character I was rather fond of was the one that Rachel kept at arms length for the whole book and it frustrated me quite a bit. So the bottom line is, yes I enjoyed the book but no I did not love it. I give it 3.5/5 stars. This is a book I would recommend when it comes out in paperback and not a shiny new hardback.