Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

moyes me before youSeries: Me Before You # 1
Genre:  General Fiction
Published:  January, 2012
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Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format:  Paperback
Started:  May 31st, 2016
Finished:  May 31st, 2016
Wine Pairing:
  After the bottle or two of whatever wine you have in the fridge, you’ll just need a bunch of water and tissues.

Real, witty, and heart wrenching…

…I can promise you that this book will live up to every and all expectations you hold for it – especially if you have been lucky enough to stay relatively in the dark about exactly what happens.

But really, this book is a gem. I know, I know, that’s hard to say seeing as it’s already been made into a moviebut seriously. Moyes’ writing is unbelievably articulate and heart wrenching, but so refreshing and beautiful that you hate but love it all at the same time.

There was a lot of things I didn’t agree with, but there were a lot of things I did. I fell in love with all of the characters and found a little something to relate with each of them. Luckily, I missed the tears and slobber fest that everyone else seems to have, only tearing up once or twice. Like many of the other reviews from great people I’ve read, I’m not going to go into detail about what this book is about. It’s really a book best served cold (…but not in a weird way).

But really, just grab a box of tissues or a bottle of wine (discretion advised) and sit down with this pretty little book. I, personally, have no desire to read the second book and like to think of this as a stand-alone novel, so don’t sweat the sequel. Just sit down, relax, and enjoy Louisa and Will.

Have you seen the movie or read the book?
Did the two compare?

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

hosseini the kite runnerSeries: Standalone
Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction
Published: May, 2003
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: June 30th, 2016
Finished: July 2nd, 2016
Drink Pairing: Dark, black coffee and two sugars.

The Kite Runner has always been a book that seemed distant to me. Not just because of the geographic distance between Canada and Afghanistan or the religious difference between something-in-between-nothing and Muslim, but because The Kite Runner has always hung around my head for years in big, flashing bold Impact font. It’s whispered and beckoned like all the classics – The Iliad, the Odyssey, Frankenstein, The Divine Comedy – that sing like sirens and taunt their maturity. Their pages are full of stories and verses that make your head spin and your heart soar, and they tear down the walls you’ve built up and think you hide behind only to give you a stick and push you on a path and tell you to walk. You know they are great: partially because you’ve always been told they’re great, and partially because you want to believe them. Even though it isn’t right to fear a book that is on the other side of your wall I think that it’s okay to put it aside, let it simmer and wait until you warm to it, before picking it up.

The Kite Runner waited many years for me. I saw it on all the top, “Must Read!” lists and Gilmore Girls and Emma Watson has recommended Hosseini’s other works too – it’s constant praise is most likely what raised it to the level of classics (the comparison I’m sure many will not appreciate). Then finally one morning, I woke up thinking, “It’s time,” like I was staring in a Hollywood heist movie. Hidden away in my favourite used book shop I found my copy; a few weeks later I was savouring every page.

And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.

Despite our history together, as soon as I opened to the first page all preconceived notions and expectations evaporated. I was able to enjoy the book for what it is:

a beautiful fiction novel.

Amir is the son of a wealthy and highly respected businessman in Kabul, and Hassan is the son of his father’s servant. They have played together since they were born, flown and ran kites together in the winter, and climbed the pomegranate tree with their names carved into it. But personal histories only go as far as loyalties run, and Hosseini beautifully portrays the dynamics between father-son and childhood boys, and the power jealousy has over the fragility of friendships. As it was set in Afghanistan, the culture, history, and religion drew a beautiful and eerie back-drop of what life in Afghanistan was, and is, like as it contrasts with Western culture. There is even a brief glimpse into Afghan community life within San Francisco.

So was the build up appropriate for the book? In a way, yes. Hosseini’s writing was beautiful and captured my attention, I enjoyed savouring the pages and took my time reading them. The story and characters were diverse and spanned many years, there was growth and shortcomings, change and stagnation. And in a way, no. It’s not life changing like I was expecting it to be. Eye-opening, sure, and enjoyable, of course. But not quite the life changing read I was expecting. Though, is this really a bad thing? The Kite Runner is, after all, only a fiction.

For you, a thousand times over.

Do you come across many books that have a long-standing history
and set expectations, that turn out to be something completely different?

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

o'dell island of the blue dolphinsSeries: Island of the Blue Dolphins # 1
Genre: Fiction
Published: May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.

This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: June 30th, 2016
Finished: June 30th, 2016
Drink Pairing: A nice cup of hot herbal tea, I think.

I have to say that my attachment to Island of the Blue Dolphins is mostly sentimental. This was one of the first books I really remember reading over and over again, along with Harry Potter. I’m not quite sure why ten-year-old me couldn’t get enough of reading about a girl getting stranded on an island all alone for 20 (+/-) years, but I must have read Island of the Blue Dolphins at least half a dozen times or more (trust me, as someone who doesn’t re-read books often, this is kind of huge). Now, over ten years later, even though I’m reeling in the rating from 5⭐️ to 3⭐️, I will still always hold this book dear to my heart (literally and figuratively).

Juana MariaKarana’s small tribe live on the Island of the Blue Dolphins just off the coast of Southern California. They live peacefully and quietly, content in their isolation and tradition. But with the arrival of the Aleuts (the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands and Shumagin Islands of Alaska, United States and Kamchatka Krai, Russia), history repeats itself and Karana’s tribe start planning to leave. When the chance comes, Karana dives overboard when she spots her younger brother still on the island.

The premise of this book is seemingly simple, yet as it takes place over 25 years in a mere 184 pages there is a lot more complexity just below the surface. And guess what.

This is based off of a true story.

Crazy, right? Though there’s only small pieces of information available – where she was found, when her tribe arrived in California and when she was, what she was found with – I think this is a beautiful interpretation of what could very well have happened. Beautifully written and wonderfully intriguing, I hope you’ll give Island of the Blue Dolphins a chance. It’s a beautiful book and a wonderful little piece of (unofficial) history.

Have you read anything from Scott O’Dell?
Would you make it alone on a deserted island for 18 years?

(assuming you had some sense of survival skills)

Room, by Emma Donoghue

RoomGenre:  Fiction
Published:  September, 2010
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“To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.”


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5/5
Format:  Mass Market Paperback
Started:  March 1, 2016
Finished:  March 1, 2016
Wine Pairing:
Gasp, dare I say it… none

Jack is an adorable five year old boy who has grown up in Room with his Ma, together they occupy an 11 ft. x 11 ft. space that makes up their entire world. He has many quirks – mostly from the way that Ma has had to raise him, and from the things that he can’t understand. To Jack, things in Room are real but parks, mountains, trees, candy, other people, the sea… that’s all TV. It’s just not real, it can’t be – there just wouldn’t be space for it all. To him, the entire universe exists inside Room. He is so sweet, incredibly smart, and fiercely protective of his mom. To Ma, Jack has always been her savior, having him made everything she endured worth it, and she does everything she can to give him as much of a childhood as she she is able to in Room. She knows though that it’s not enough, and so together they set ahead to escape to outside, a new concept that Jack doesn’t even understand or always fully believe in.

“Just because you’ve never met them doesn’t mean they’re not real. There’s more things on earth than you ever dreamed about.” – Ma

In Room, we see the terrible ordeal of a young woman who was stolen and kept in captivity for seven years, but it is shown to us through the eyes of her five year old son, fathered by her captor. I absolutely loved reading through Jack’s eyes, even though at times it was heartbreaking. His innocence shone through in every part of this book, especially the darker moments. There would be times when as the reader you realized and understood things that were happening that Jack just didn’t comprehend. The way this was written was brilliantly executed, it tackled incredibly complex and dark subject matter even though the narrator didn’t fully understand it.

This book is brutally real, nothing is glossed over or sugar coated. It is an amazing story of growth and the relationship between a mother and her child. I can’t think of a single person that I wouldn’t recommend this to. It was dark and beautiful <3

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

DivergentSeries:  Divergent #1
Genre:
  Young Adult
Published:  April, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.”


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5/5
Format:  Hardcover
Started:  December 7, 2013
Finished:  December 8, 2013 (@ 4:30 am <3 I couldn’t put this book down, I literally read all night)
Wine Pairing: 
Kraken on the rocks

When I started this book, I was a little nervous. I had heard the rave reviews as well as many that made it out to be the downfall of dystopian fiction, that or just another version of the hunger games. But as I read, I learned all about a world where people gathered together trying to improve their situation, though their efforts were twisted into something ugly over time. A plain girl fights ferociously for her right to find her place in her family’s world as well as her own. Some reviews said that classifying people into characteristics as factions was shallow, but personally I don’t really think that they understood the concept, or maybe they did and they just simply thought that it was shallow. They way I understood it, the factions didn’t classify people into what they were, they represented the things that different groups of people felt were ultimately the downfall of society. Abnegation is not a group of selfless people – where that’s all that they are and it sums them up in that one word, it’s a group who aim to be selfless because they feel that selfishness is the greatest sin to be fought. Tris begins this story as a nervous timid girl who is desperately trying to fit in and do what is expected of her. But as her story develops we get to watch her shed the ideology that she feels she needs to fit into, and come to realize who she has been all along with confidence.

“I guess I am what I’ve always been. Not Dauntless, not Abnegation, not faction less. Divergent.”

If anyone out there cannot relate and find truth in this story I would be shocked. The characters are well developed and I absolutely loved to watch them grow from the beginning to the end. If it wasn’t 4:30 in the morning I’d be grabbing Insurgent off my bookshelf already 😛 I guess I can wait for tomorrow though.