Book Corner: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Welcome to Book Corner where we will all sit down with cups of tea and I will serve you fresh baked cookies and tell you about a book I think you absolutely should read. And after you can come back, (or stay if you’ve already read it) and tell me all of your thoughts and opinions you have to share.

“We laughed and laughed, together and separately, out loud and silently, we were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored, to build a new world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged, it was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about my life at all.”

I recently saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the theaters. It was every bit as beautiful and heartbreaking as I expected it to be. Unfortunately, it also changed what the story was about and took away what I loved about the book.

“Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are.”

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is about a journey. Eleven year old Oscar is a witty, sweet and insightful kid suffering a loss that’s hard for anyone who hasn’t been there to imagine. But because of this loss he goes on a treasure hunt of sorts that leads him all around New York City talking to dozens of people with the last name of Black. He learns their stories and through them he learns who he is.

“..Literature was the only religion her father practiced, when a book fell on the floor he kissed it, when he was done with a book he tried to give it away to someone who would love it..”

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”

all italicized quotes credited to Jonathan Safran Foer in his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!”

Books I’ve Read Recently, and Why You* Should Read Them, Too


(weheartit)


Looking For Alaska – John Green. It’s a coming of age novel. It’s The Perks of Being a Wall Flower meets something else (ha, clever, right? oh…) mixed with a little bit of tragedy. It’s about life. And there you are.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Biggs. There are photographs to accompany this novel, strange ones. If you’ve ever loved reading not so happily-ever-after fairy tales and enjoy the idea of alternate worlds or monsters coming to get you if you have special talents this book is for you.


Every You, Every Me – David Levithan. Another book with photographs and this book needs them. In fact, this novel was written from photographs the photographer provided Levithan as he wrote. The photographer didn’t know anything about the story and the story was crafted from whatever Levithan was given next. It’s about love and loss and what you do when someone you love needs the right kind of help.


Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater. Maggie is an ACE at setting in this novel. It’s beautiful and dreamy and dark and just plain old damn. There’s killer sea horses, a girl who only has her brothers left and a boy who learned to love a monster. Also there are November Cakes. I want to make them soon.

13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson. So, I’ve been following Maureen Johnson on Twitter for the past month yet I’ve never read any of her books. I loved this one because it involves a scavenger hunt of sorts, directed by a dead relative (I think Maureen Johnson was reading my Nana Sprinkles thoughts, to be honest. Even though this novel has been published for far longer than Nana Sprinkles has been an idea…) and it takes place all around Europe. These are all things that I enjoy. Especially when Rome is involved.

(*You who is open minded in your reading endeavors or favors Young Adult fiction or believes there shouldn’t be line, because you can’t tell me how old I should be to read a certain book)

<3

God-Shaped Hole

If you’re looking for a novel that reminds you to live, God-Shaped Hole is the novel to read. Don’t be turned off my the title, it isn’t religious and preachy. It’s a novel about love, real true love, the kind the hurts. It’s a novel about California. It’s a novel about residents in LA who feel the burn of the desert, who are creators needing to escape but unable to really truly find a way out.
Jacob has no idea the personal ad he writes as a joke to appease coworkers is about to change everything. Beatrice takes a risk and calls the number in the ad, she isn’t really sure why especially since she doesn’t normally look at the personal ads. Their lives are suddenly, intensely, woven together in ways that cannot be undone.
One thing I liked about God-Shaped Hole is the amount of words and phrases that I wanted to highlight to quote later. That doesn’t happen to me often in novels. It certainly doesn’t happen multiple times in the same novel. I wanted to mark up all of the pages to post quotes on Melanie Kristy for the next year. I felt the love between the characters and I felt the heartbreak. I could smell the Los Angeles air.
My friend Paulette told me about this novel just last week. From her description, I had to have it. She told me it was about a girl who makes jewelry and a boy who writes. They feel like outsides in California and they plan to leave it. With those few sentences, I couldn’t wait to read more. I ordered Tiffanie DeBartolo’s other novel, How To Kill A Rockstar and her movie Dreams for an Insomniac  from Amazon (because I love paying $4 – $5 for used books and movies) and I can’t wait to read and watch those, too.
If anyone else out there has read God-Shaped Hole, please let me know. I hadn’t heard from it until last week, but it’s one of those books I talked about in my Confessions of a Serial Reader post; one I cannot wait to share with everyone, even if they’re not interested.

Sisterhood Everlasting

I am fascinated by the idea of sisterhood, so much that my freshman year of college I started my own with a pair of red Chuck Taylor high tops and a few faraway friends. We passed our sneakers around monthly, writing in a journal and taking pictures. We all had a band in common and a shared love for The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, a series of books by Ann Brashares.

The books were about four girls who grew up together. At the start of the first book they were about to spend their summers apart for the first time. And so upon finding a thrift store pair of jeans that miraculously fit all four differently shaped girls they decided to use those pants to keep them together in spirit while they were apart.

Maybe it does sound corny, but don’t you have tokens of friendship that remind you of who you are or who you were? There are parts to each friendship that make it unique, whether it’s a pair of pants or journals that as passed back and forth or a mini garden gnome wanting to travel. These are the aspects of friendship that attracted me to this series originally, when I was much younger. What kept me reading were the personalities, the fact that I could find something to relate to in each main character, sharing their memories and having another book to look forward to.

When the series ended on book four with the summer after the girls’ freshman year of college, I was sad but satisfied. I had the books to reread and there were two movies. The first one is one of my favourites, one of those movies I watch when I’m looking for comfort (and pretty Santorini landscapes) and I keep going back to it year after year.

But now there is a fifth book. Jump ten years later, and into the adult section of your bookstore, and you find another book full of stories of these same characters. Sisterhood Everlasting is devastating and it is beautiful.

Yet again I found myself identifying with different parts of each character and I was enveloped in the idea of sisterhood. The novel deals with the question “what happened to sisterhood when we start to grow up?” At the end of the forth novel, the pants are lost in Greece forever. The girls entertain the thought that maybe their friendship was lost with that pair of pants. But ultimately, friendship is not about a pair of unwashed jeans. It’s about the ties you make with the people you love and it’s about remembering that love and your past and the connection between friends despite all what the “real world” has to throw at you.

The Weird Sisters & A Lover’s Dictionary

(weheartit)

Two Book Recs because I finished both of these today and they were totally worth my time, energy and money. I tend to buy books often, scooping them off the shelves of Borders and paying with coupons. Love it.

The Weird Sisters – Eleanor Brown

1. There are tons of Shakespeare references in here, but you don’t have to get them in order to enjoy the book. There are three main characters, their father likes to speak in quotes from Shakespeare .
2. The concept of coming back home. Being stuck in a small down. Wanting to escape for adventure. I can relate on many, many levels.
3. The POV was unique, it was in third person covering all three sisters yet at the same time referring to them as “we” and “us” but only in an overall general sense.
4. They all loved books. Come on, now. Why else wouldn’t I love that?
5. The writing style was simple but lyrical. It was very pretty to read.
6. Oh, and the book itself it pretty and shimmery.

A Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel – David Levithan

1. I like David Levithan, and I try to read anything he comes out with. He co-wrote Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist which is amazing as both a book and a movie.
2. Love is the general theme. We all know how much I love love.
3. Words! This entire story is broken into sections and evolve around words. It’s truly a collection of ways that words have been woven into the love in this story.
4. It’s a short and quick read, but it’s still funny and deep and honest. In the way that fiction can be honest.
5. ineffable, adj. These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.

Read any good books lately?

<3.Melanie.Kristy

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

(credit)

I might have two bookshelves worth of unread books at home, but when I’m longing for something familiar, something I know that I love, I often resort to rereading my favourites. In light of the recent release of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 in theaters, I’ve decided to start from the very beginning and read the Harry Potter books, something I haven’t done in a couple years. I used to reread the series every summer and around winter time so it feels rather fitting to start out the Philosopher’s Stone in late November.

It’s been a busy few weeks for me. This is evident by the fact that it took me two weeks to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (I’m calling it by the original title because the version of the first book that I have is a paper back a friend bought me in England).

What I love about the Philosopher’s Stone is that it’s very simple and rather innocent. There are no real feelings of impending doom that are evident in later books. Sure we get the foreshadowing about Voldemort, and in the end of the book we have our first real experience of what Voldmort can do, but it isn’t yet apparant that there are going to be more books, that Harry is going to go through more than what’s happening in this very book.

There’s a whole lot of innocence in the Philosopher’s Stone that can be attributed to the age of the characters and also to Harry’s first experiences with magic. I  like that we learn them as Harry does. I’m also enjoying recognizing names and facts that are mentioned in this book that come up in later books.

The first time I started to read Harry Potter, I got stuck about thirty pages in. In truth, I was bored. I felt like I was reading a book that may not be going anywhere. I gave up and it wasn’t until a year or so later (about eight years ago now) that I gave it a second try. Let me tell you. Harry Potter is definitely worth the second try.

<3.Melanie.Kristy

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I’m not going to spend a lot of time reviewing this movie because honestly I think that if you’re reading this, you’ve already seen it, or you’re going to see it. Your mind is already made up. Instead I’m just going spend my time expressing my opinion, and I’d love to hear yours.

This was absolutely my favourite Harry Potter movie. Hands down, without a doubt. When I finished reading Deathly Hallows, I knew it was my new favourite. And I feel that was about this movie, also. It was brilliant. The scenes were breathtaking. I cried and laughed and squealed/ clapped excitedly upon the sight of certain characters (Snape, Luna, Dobby…). I found the acting intense, the scenes were everything

Some things I missed from the books that I know aren’t 100% necessary to the movie:

* The Lupin/ Tonks storyline. Also the scene with Harry and Lupin fighting

* Kreacher doing all he could to help Harry, Ron and Hermione (The book made me feel very fond of Kreacher, I would have liked to see that)

* More explanation on the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, especially since he’s mentioned a few times in relation to Dumbledore (for example when Hermione points out that he’s in the book Rita Skeeter wrote). Maybe that’s coming in the second movie.

* Why didn’t they explain that saying Voldemort triggers snatchers to know where you are? I was fine with them not explaining that, except that Harry goes from saying Voldemort to calling him “You-Know-Who” which is completely uncharacteristic of Harry and that wasn’t explained. I feel they could have fixed this without explaining the trigger by Harry just saying “he”. We all know who he is.

Did you see Deathly Hallows? Do you intend to? What are your thoughts?

<3.Melanie.Kristy

The Frenzy

By Francesca Lia Block

When Liv was thirteen years old her mother came home with a wolf she shot. Liv’s immediate anger could not be controlled, she lashed out then ran into the woods and since that day she hasn’t felt the same. Four years later, Liv is dating the love of her life, but pretending to date her gay best friend into in order to limit questions and appease her family. Everything seems like it’s for a show. She’s on Lexapro and pops Xanax when she feels the need to calm anxiety that will lead to a burst of anger that she fears will cause her to freak out like she did when she was thirteen. But things start to change that she can’t ignore, there have been murders in the woods, she’s seen a few faces that she doesn’t recognise staring at her and now Pace, her best friend, isn’t acting like himself.  When Liv finally finds out who she really is, her world isn’t made simpler, in fact the complexities are enough to tear her apart.

 

When I finished reading The Frenzy, my first real thought was, “Finally, a complete story.” I hate to even have those thoughts, I’ve been so loyal to Francesca Lia Block the entire time I’ve been reading her that it pains me to even think her incapable of writing something amazing. Her prose is always amazing, and her words are lush with description. She writes about food you wish you were eating, songs you were you were listening to and places you wish you could go to while you read. Unfortunately I have felt like some of her latest works were lacking; they felt incomplete or just too short.

 

So I went into reading The Frenzy prepared to be disappointed. I admit to having read a couple of reviews on Amazon before I received my own copy. Some reviews claimed the novel too short and seriously lacking. I’m happy to report that I did not find the novel either of those things (except seriously lacking in food creative descriptions!). Sure, it was short. At 276 pages, The Frenzy is smaller than “normal” sized novels, and the words don’t take up as much of the page. But at the same time, it is much longer than Waters & The Wild and Pretty Dead (probably combined, though that’s only an estimate). What’s important is that, despite the “shortness” of the novel, when you finish it feels complete. Sure it was a little predictable, but reading a Francesca Lia Block novel isn’t always about what happens. It’s about how you get there and how her words make you feel like you are part of something much larger than the world around you.

 

If you want to read the first fifty pages of The Frenzy, click below. Let me know what you think!


Browse Inside this book
Get this for your site

The Fall

First I have to admit that I have a huge celebrity crush on Lee Pace. I realize that most of you don’t even know who this beautiful man is. I first discovered him on Pushing Daisies (which remains to this day as one of my favourite television shows) and proceeded to find him in other movies. And with that I discovered The Fall, a gem of a movie that I cannot stop recommending to others.
The Fall’s title in Spain is El Sueno de Alexandria, which means Alexandria’s Dream. Partially set in Los Angeles in a fantastical, “once upon a time” time period (or, really the 1920′s…) , and partially set in a fantasy land drawn from Roy’s imagination, The Fall covers elements of love, betrayal, epic journeys and giving up.
Roy was a stunt double in a “picture” in order to gain back the interest of the woman he was in love with. His epic stunt involved jumping from a train bridge onto a horse, but he never made it that far. Instead he fell and finds himself in a hospital without being able to feel his toes.
Alexandria is a Romanian immigrant child whose broken arm (from falling from an orange tree) lands her in the same hospital as Roy. It is her curiosity that brings her to Roy who begins to tell her an epic tale of five heroes in search of a common enemy they all want to destroy.
As the story progresses, the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred for Alexandria who confesses to Roy that she hopes she never gets better so she can always spend time with him.
I love this story. I love the emotion and the connection. I love the colours and the characters. Catinca Untaru —who plays Alexandria is adorable, Lee Pace is very easy on the eyes and together they make an unusual yet beautiful pair.

Notes from Underground.

At home, to begin with, I mainly used to read. I wished to stifle with external sensations all that was ceaselessly boiling up inside me. And among external sensations the only one possible for me was reading. Reading was, of course, a great help- it stirred, delighted, and tormented me. But at times it bored me terribly. I still wanted to move about, and so I’d suddenly sink into some murky, subterranean, vile debauch- not a great, but a measly little debauch. There were measly little passions in me, sharp, burning, because of my permanent, morbid irritability. I was given to hysterical outbursts, with tears and convulsions. Apart from reading I had nowhere to turn- that is, there was nothing I could then respect in my surroundings, nothing I would be drawn to. What’s more, anguish kept boiling up; a hysterical thrist for contradictions, contrasts, would appear, and so I’d set out on debauchery. It is not at all to justify myself that I’ve been doing all this talking… But no! that’s a lie! I precisely wanted to justify myself. I make this little note for myself, gentlemen. I don’t want to lie. I’ve given my word.

Fyodor Dostoevsky – Notes from Underground

I spent my weekend reading this novel first in Borders then on a bench by the beach in a park in Plymouth. There were some statements that I could completely relate to, and (most) others I couldn’t. But still I could identify other people in those statements. I found the narrator’s character ridiculous and amusing at the same time.

I have a degree in English and I’ve taken many literature classes, but despite that I’m not one to normally go out and seek a classic novel to read. I tend to have a hard time focussing and picking up on the intent of the novel. I’d like to, however, make this some sort of regular feature here and in my life.  I always want to know what makes a classic just that, and why many other people think it is so amazing. So feel free to suggest ones, I’ll let you know if I’ve already read them. But I’m much more inclined to read a classic that has been suggested to me.

Have you read Notes from Underground? What did you think about it?