Silver Linings Playbook

img_5051Book: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Date Read: August 8 to 13, 2017

Rating: 5 (of 5) stars

I very much enjoyed this book. It has been awhile since I initially read it, so please forgive me for bouncing some of my commentary off of input and opinions of others. At this point, I think that’s the really the best way for me to frame my thoughts in this instance. Browsing through the top reviews on Goodreads, it seems that one of the most popular descriptions used is “fun,” which I find… interesting. I suppose I can see it, a bit. There are definitely some fun elements in the book, but that would not be my first inclination. Easy read? Sure. Funny? Definitely. But not quite haha funny, more dark comedy funny. Someone else called it “the adult Perks of Being a Wallflower.” I’m definitely more on board with that description, but still not quite there.

If I am going to boil this down into a simple statement, I will say that this book is depressingly hopeful. That doesn’t sound quite right though. Hopefully depressing? No, that’s not it either. Depressing and hopeful? I’m having a hard time hitting on the exact right words. I suppose part of that is that I think Quick did an incredible job of making these characters real.

The majority of this book contains really depressing material. Pat is obviously a mess, but is trying to put things back together with the outlook of a hopeless optimist. It’s pretty obvious to the reader that his expectations are unrealistic, but such is life. I love that we get to see two sides of his therapist– not just as a doctor, but as a real person! It’s like when you’re in elementary school, and it never occurs to anyone that teachers do anything other than live at school. Tiffany, too, is a mess, but not quite in the same way as Pat. At moments, she seems more self aware, but perhaps too far into the spectrum of pessimism. But she’s not quite a pessimist either, as we can see in her passion for the dance competition. The plot was good, a bit predictable as to where it was heading, but there were sufficient twists along the way to keep things interesting.

I suppose I should wrap this up before I give too much away. The ending was fitting for the story. I can understand why some readers were a bit frustrated with it, seemingly a bit anti-climactic. However, I think that fits with the realness of the characters. Life does not generally wrap things up nicely like in the movies. Throughout the the book, Pat tells us about the movie of his life. The ending is the final reminder that this is not, in fact, a movie. This is Pat’s real life.

Boris’s thoughts: “Good for long stretches on the couch. 4 paws!”

Ísland (Iceland) Fairy Tales

img_7408Book: Iceland Fairy Tales by Anonymous

Date Read: July 11, 2018

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

I first saw this little book at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík. While I decided to pass on it then, it kept nudging at me each time that I saw it. I thought I had left without it, but when my flight home was pushed back an additional 2 days, I ended up back in Reykjavík at a gift shop I had not yet visited. There it was, and I decided that I would take it as a sign that the book needed to come home with me.

Although clearly intended as a book for tourists, it was a nice little introduction to Icelandic folklore. There were definitely some familiar elements in some of the stories, but more emphasis on ogres, trolls, and similar creatures. After experiencing some of Iceland, I understand why there is a history of these kinds of beliefs. I can easily imagine trolls or elves hiding in the nooks and crannies of the Icelandic landscape. Despite some issues with editing (and perhaps poor translating), it was a quick little read that left me satisfied with the content. I also found other books that I am hoping will give me a more in depth picture of the country’s mythological history.

Boris’s thoughts: “I’m glad your home, but I’m not talking to you yet. 2 paws. I guess.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

img_6295Book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Date Read: November 28 to December 4, 2015

Rating: 3 (of 5) stars

I wanted to love this book. I really wanted to love this book. I felt like there was potential for a good story here, but it fell way short of my expectations.

I have read a lot of comments on the book that the pictures were the best part… But I can only partially agree with that. The pictures were interesting. I like the concept of incorporating the pictures into the story. However, beyond the introduction of the characters in the earlier portions of the book, the inclusion really seemed forced – as if the author just added in little bits of unnecessary information just so that a picture could be inserted. Once the plot started to actually move, the pictures didn’t really seem to fit anymore.

Before going any further, I am issuing a major SPOILER ALERT. I try not to give away too much when I write reviews, but the nature of this next point makes it impossible. Plot holes. Plot holes left and right. If you want skip the potential spoilers, just go to the bottom of the numbered list.

1. How can Emma make a light underwater at the shipwreck, but not be able to make one in the rain?
2. How can Bronwyn carry a large metal door to use as a shield, and also swim in open water? Okay, so she has super-human strength… but she still needs to stay afloat!
3. The children are stuck in a loop. Only peculiars can enter loops. Why do some of the children have doubts that Jacob is peculiar after he has entered a loop?
4. If only peculiars can enter loops, why can wights enter loops? It explicitly says that wights are common, but also that they can (presumably) live for thousands of years. So which is it?
5. Why are the children in the loop only safe if they stay on the island? Because of the dangers off the island when the loop was created? If duplicates of those dangers still exist inside the loop, why don’t duplicates of the children also exist inside the loop?
6. I don’t even want to start with the time travel issues. So if the loop closes and the children are now in 1940, does that change the course of history for the “real” world? Are there now parallel universes operating? And that’s only the tip of the potential time travel iceberg!

And my final issue? The ending of the book was written in a way that almost requires a sequel. While I don’t mean to say that sequels are a bad thing, I think there is a difference between potential (somewhere for the story to go from here) and need (little or no resolution). I can also understand that sometimes an author just has more to say, and they plan for a book or idea to be a series. However, in this case, this timing seems off. The original book was published in 2011, and the next two released in quick succession in 2014 and 2015. That just seems like poor planning if this was always intended to be a trilogy. It feels more like the author decided that he wanted to make sure he could write a second book in case it became popular, but he didn’t really have an idea of what he could actually write about. But let’s just throw in a sort of cliffhanger, just in case.

Despite all my negative comments, I did not hate this book. I do not regret reading this book. Do I intend to continue reading the series? No.

As a final note, despite being disappointed by this book, I decided to watch the movie. Although I’m often skeptical of book to film adaptations, I will typically watch them. This one was interesting. It was true to the general story, but many of the details were adjusted. While this would normally frustrate me, I appreciated it this case. The adapters took some liberties and closed (or left out) some of those annoying plot holes! They even fixed the ending! I felt much more satisfied at the end of the film than I was expecting.

Boris’s Thoughts: “I suppose I can be on board with a book that has a bird lady in the title. 3 paws.”