Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

TheMagiciansHarry Potter sets exceptionally high standards for all magician stories from here on out. It’s unfair to compare anything to Harry Potter but along with that, all the hype I’d been hearing about this novel set high expectations, and the novel sourly let me down.

The Magicians is about an 18-year-old boy from Brooklyn, Quentin Coldwater, who gets accepted into a secret, elite magic school called Brakebills. Quentin learns magic is very difficult and tedious. The learning process is intense and demanding.

Timeline

**Slight Spoilers ahead**  The novel spans Quentin’s entire 4 years at Brakebills as well as the year after. Large periods of time are summarized or skipped over.

Very little happened while Quentin was at school. He made friends, he learned magic (which was shockingly boring to hear about), and he lacked a plan for after graduation.

It wasn’t until Quentin and his friends graduated (3/4 of the way into the novel) that the plot takes an interesting twist. But by that time it was too late. I was already bored.

I certainly don’t need loads of action to enjoy a story but the main characters in The Magicians had no long-term goals or ambitions to keep me interested.

As a reader, this timeline made me feel very out of touch with the characters.

2 Stars

I didn’t connect with the characters. The plot was uneventful and I had no idea where the characters were headed or what they wanted.

My Favorite Books of 2015

Here is my favorite blog post of the year, a list of my favorite books read in 2015. Although the publishing dates range from 2001 to 2014, they all found their way to the top of my reading list last year and I’m very glad they did! 

2002 Yann Martel Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This novel is inspiring, imaginative, unique, and fulfilling. It’s a story I want so badly to be true that sometimes I ignore the label of fiction it possesses.

Journey. Expedition. Adventure. None of these words quite capture the magic felt while cruising the Pacific’s current with Pi Patel, a zoo-keeper’s son who finds himself stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of an ocean with a murderous bengal tiger.

Without cramming Life of Pi‘s theme into a single word or phrase, it is about… Humanity. Peace. Storytelling. Faith. And how we interprets these things. What we choose to believe and how we push away the improbable as impossible.

I recommend it to anyone who wants to be inspired by imagination. 

dry coverDry by Augusten Burroughs

One of the best pieces of creative nonfiction I have ever read. Burroughs’ brilliant storytelling mixes pure truth with dirty humor in this memoir about his struggle with alcoholism.

I recommend it to lovers of creative nonfiction, people who want to understand what creative nonfiction is all about; and anyone interested in getting a first-person perspective of an alcoholic. 

goon imageA Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

There is an argument surrounding A Visit From the Goon Squad whether it is a novel or a collection of linked short stories. That gray area is a main reason I loved this story. It jumps in time, switches character perspective, and leaves you slightly dazed and confused.

I recommend it to readers and writers who want to think about time and those who enjoy blurred boundaries. 

 

RedeploymentRedeployment by Phil Klay

This collection of short stories surrounding political, emotional, and humanity issues of the Iraq War is must-read! Klay’s writing is concise, dense, and relevant to our time. While some stories may draw you to tears, others may outrage you into action.

I recommend it to every American

Kite_runnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is one of the most powerful stories I have ever read. Like Redeployment it is a story of our times, portraying an insiders view of Iraq in the years before America declared war. But don’t mistake this novel for a war story, it is a story of human nature through and through. The story is one I will not easily forget.

I recommend it to thoughtful readers who are curious about human nature and why we do the things we do. 

ordinary-graceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Set in the Minnesota summer of 1961, Ordinary Grace is an enriching story about real life and untimely death. It is filled with memorable, flawed characters; written in a clear, comforting voice; and set in a world that feels far away yet so close to the heart.

I recommend it to readers looking for an honest, realistic, heart-felt story. Also to anyone looking for an exceptional audio book!

DWCityThe Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City is a story about the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and the notorious mass murderer, Dr. H. H. Holmes. While so many historical nonfiction authors are not, Erik Larson is a story teller, making the story very entertaining. The story drops teasers like a suspense novel, builds character like literary fiction, and weaves multiple story lines better than most novels in any genre.

I recommend it to fiction lovers who crave a little history.

elegies of the brokenheartedElegies of the Brokenhearted by Christie Hodgen

Through detailed looks at side characters, we get a gradual picture of the main character’s life. Elegies is a story of unique structure that will make you take a close look at the people in your life and the impact left lingering long after they disappear.

I recommend it to readers and writers who crave something other than the lovable main character in the typical obstacle-based plot. 

Book to Movie Adaptations

Below are a few book-to-movie adaptations I’ve recently read and/or watched.

into the wildInto The Wild – I have not read the book but the movie blew me away. The main character chose a way of life that many of us only dream about.

2002 Yann Martel Life of PiLife of Pi LOVED the book! Disappointed by the movie.

imagesHunger Games Trilogy I love both the books and the movies. I think the film adaptions have done a great job at capturing the world of Panem and the cast is exceptional! I recently reread the Hunger Games series in preparation for the release of the final movie adaptation. **SPOILER**  The only part I didn’t like about the movie adaptation was the prologue at the very end. The characters seemed much too happy. The ending of the book holds much more wonder and darkness.

Kite_runnerThe Kite Runner I fell in love with The Kite Runner novel this year. The characters spoke to me; their actions infuriated and inspired me. Its a novel that will stay with me for a long time. I have been avoiding the movie adaptation because I hold the novel so high, there is no way the movie will meet my expectations. (Or am I being too pessimistic?) If you’ve seen the movie and read the book, please comment with what you thought.

great gatsbyThe Great Gatsby – As one of My Favorite Books of All Time I made sure to see the 2013 movie adaptation in theaters. I thought it was a great adaptation with an excellent cast and superb staging/scenery.

Wayward-PinesPines I watched the ABC TV series, Wayward Pines, this summer and LOVED it! It was one of my favorite TV shows of the year and I’m glad to hear they are coming out with a second season, even though they created the first assuming it would be the one and only.  After watching the show, I read the Blake Crouch novel it was based on and was sourly disappointed. The novel was poorly written and contained large sections that I found irrelevant to the story. See my full review here.

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