Okay, I’ve been on a lucky streak of reading amazingly good books these past two months. Up until September my reading choices were just kinda…meh. I mean there were some good ones in there. But nothing that gave me the classic Book Hangover I’m so fond of.
I’m still behind with the reading challenge, but I’ll get on track. Honestly, I won’t be doing this again. I’ll write a blog post about it later, but I hate feeling restricted to what I want to read.
THESE books though…I’ve flown through them like a reader on crack. The upside to me being poor and friendless in Berlin is that I have so much more reading time. Win!
(Also, how amazing is my new blog layout for these book round-ups??!!!)
THE ORENDA – JOSEPH BOYDEN
In the remote winter landscape a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of a young Iroquois girl violently re-ignites a deep rift between two tribes. The girl’s captor, Bird, is one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. Years have passed since the murder of his family, and yet they are never far from his mind. In the girl, Snow Falls, he recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter, but as he fights for her heart and allegiance, small battles erupt into bigger wars as both tribes face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.
Traveling with the Huron is Christophe, a charismatic missionary who has found his calling among the tribe and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to this new world, with its natural beauty and riches.
I’m foregoing the three-line review on this one to gush about The Orenda. I’ve read SO many books about Canada’s abused aboriginals, but this one wins. There are no boring histories or details. The writing is beautiful (and violent at times), the story is action-packed, and you’ll be overcome with confused emotions of hatred towards the narrow-minded missionaries combined with pity. I cried often; I had such a great sense of loss after finishing this book. Cultural genocide indeed. This book will stay with me for a very, very long time.
☆☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “A Mystery or Thriller.” Also a strong contender for my favourite book this year.
ELEANOR & PARK – RAINBOW ROWELL
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Eleanor & Park is possibly the sweetest love story I’ve ever read. The characters are delightful; the plot is high energy. Of course there’s some tragedy, because what’s a teenage love story without one? You will swoon, and cry, and miss your mixed tape collection.
☆☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
LORD OF THE FLIES – WILLIAM GOLDING
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first, it seems as though it’s all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious & life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic & death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket & homework & adventure stories—& another world is revealed beneath, primitive & terrible.
Can you believe this is my first time reading Lord of the Flies? This book was initially hard to get into, but once you’re in, you’re hooked. Some of the island details were confusing as heck. I’d also like to say that this is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read.
☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “A Book You Were Supposed to Read in School but Didn’t.”
THE ENCHANTED – RENE DENFIELD
The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.
The Enchanted is really, really, really not what you think it is. The style here is so sharp and unique. Be warned: this book will leave you walking around in a gloom. This is the kind of talented writing that makes you sympathize with murderers.
☆☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “A Book Based Entirely On Its Cover.”
I CAPTURE THE CASTLE – DODIE SMITH
Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.
Again, not the book I thought it was going to be. Cassandra is an extraordinary character, and I Capture the Castle is the kind of book that’ll make you wish you lived in an old English castle in the early 1900s. (I am definitely a sucker for books written like journals, though.)
☆☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “A Book With a Love Triangle.”
THE HARE WITH THE AMBER EYES – EDWARD DE WAAL
The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth-century Paris and Vienna society. Yet by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox.
The renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection.
The Hare With the Amber Eyes was my least favourite of the batch, but it’s still a good read. The whole process of unearthing this insanely interesting family’s history is fascinating. However, it’s tedious if you don’t give a fig about art history. I found the obsession with material goods hard to swallow as well. Privilege check.
☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “A Book With a Colour in the Title.”
Would you believe I’m actually emotional just thinking about these books? Haha. Read on!