Novel Reactions: kaddish.com

After the first few chapters of kaddish.com, I did not know how to feel. I’d expected the book to tell the story of Larry’s misadventures over the 11-month mourning period for his father. So after the first part ended, and Larry came home, and that was that, I’d felt short-changed. I couldn’t make sense of it. Suddenly, Larry was Reb Shuli, teaching at the school. How? His (re)conversion from atheism felt rushed. What? Like it’s hard to convert your heart?

Eh, anyway, I read on. I’ve always been a fan of Nathan Englander’s writing, and I began to think that perhaps it may have been too easy or predictable for the story to have only been set over that period of time. Of course. We needed to make it all the way to a midlife crisis and see that some actions do have lasting consequences. And we needed to make up for our mistakes. What lengths do we go to make amends, and when do we call it a day?

Only remember, … if you don’t find what you need over there, in this life it’s permissible to forgive oneself too.

Nathan Englander, kaddish.com

No need to answer. I’ll just leave that here. Also, I haven’t come across a quote I liked that much in a while. I needed that.

Although the synopsis on the book jacket was a little misleading (i.e. the story was not about the 11-month mourning period, but then again, who told me it would be anyway?), the rest of the story flowed well. I liked the story. It was also funny in a different way… in an ‘omg no, don’t do that!’ kind of way. Man, what a character.

Novel Reactions: Magpie Murders

It’s been more than a month since I last finished a book. I’ve been swamped with work and (re)socialization that I’d always been too tired to commit to a book. The past week, however, I’d been (sick and) stuck at home with nothing better to do but read (Netflix/the computer screen slowed down my recovery), so I dug up Magpie Murders from my box of unread books. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if I would even be able to finish the book:

  1. I had never been interested in reading whodunnits (please don’t ask why I have the book); and
  2. The book was two inches thick, and I didn’t know if I could commit.

Surprisingly, I had made good progress after one day of reading. By the end of day two, I was a little more than halfway through Magpie Murders that I knew I could finish the book. I picked up the book again over the weekend and basically inhaled the second half of the book. I was pleasantly surprised at myself.

Then again, the pleasantries end there. It might be because I simply am still not interested in whodunnits, but I felt just okay with the book after I’d finished with it. Yes, I sped through it, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Thinking about it that way, I am a little disappointed because I have another murder mystery (The Word is Murder) in my tbr, and now I am somewhat less excited to read it. I have to say, though, Magpie Murders was easy to keep picking back up, unlike other books that my mood reader self has not had the energy to finish lately. It was a great book to read after my unintended hiatus, and I feel a little better knowing that Anthony Horowitz also wrote The Word is Murder; I’ll at least be able to finish that book, for sure.

Now I’m thinking that maybe I just need to give whodunnits another chance. Perhaps, but not so soon. I’ll pick up The Word is Murder in due time. For now, no real complaints; I’d just prefer to read something different afterwards is all.

Novel Reactions: The Saturday Night Ghost Club

I found The Saturday Night Ghost Club when I was browsing in bookstores in Toronto. At first, I was hesitant to buy this book. Ghost Club? No, thanks. I already know I don’t like horror, but I was intrigued: The Saturday Night Ghost Club was set in Niagara Falls—how quintessential Canada can you get? (See: A Taste of CanLit)

And what a great decision it was. This book was a short yet powerful read, and, frankly, I would have finished the book within a day if it were not for a cute dog trying to get my attention. (Yes, there are things other than mobile phones that distract your typical millennial population, too.)

Well, fine. I also voluntarily paused halfway through because I kept feeling like something really bad was going to happen, and I wanted to delay the impending doom as much as possible. Funnily enough, although I was suspicious that something was wrong, I didn’t get that something right! Nice try, brain; the story’s twists and turns weren’t that obvious.

I’d say Craig Davidson kept me on my toes for all ~250 pages of the book. He also managed to break my heart and then mend it in the same number of pages. What a ride.

Novel Reactions: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I think I’ve just found my new favorite Murakami book: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I’d been holding off on reading it for a while now because (1) I tend to feel overwhelmed whenever I read Murakami’s books; and (2) the book is 607 pages. But due to a self-imposed deadline (see Until Next Time, Books without Borders), I pushed myself to read and finish the book, so that I can pass it on.

And what a worthwhile read it was. I admit that I didn’t immediately get attached to the main character, but he grew on me. The world of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is very typical of Murakami (sort of out of this world), but it wasn’t as crazy as his other worlds. I think the length of the book (again, 607 pages!!!) allowed for this intricate world building. Additionally, the pace was well set, and the story did not feel long nor rushed at all.

I was also a bit hesitant to read this book at first because it’s about a man looking for his lost cat. …But that only starts off the plot, and there is really a lot more to the story. There was one character whose role I couldn’t quite grasp, and, in result, I didn’t like this character as much. That’s my only “eh” comment, and I’m thinking it might also be a personal preference kind of thing.

Story and world-wise, this book has made it to the top of my Murakami list. (In case you’re curious, the other two in my top three are Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.)

Novel Reactions: 99 Percent Mine

I am more or less a mood reader. I switch off to lighter romantic reads when I’m on vacation or when I’m too pooped from numerous sad endings. So this is where 99 Percent Mine comes in: I needed a source of entertainment during a time when Netflix wasn’t a good option.

The story is simple, and it was enough to keep me entertained. So… it served its purpose, but will I recommend it to anyone? Nah. I’m not a fan.

The story isn’t that special. The main girl (Darcy) is in love with her childhood friend (Tom), who is also her brother’s (Jamie’s) best friend. Additionally, the childhood friend is pretty much family and is doing the siblings a favor. (Said favor is renovating their grandmother’s cottage.)

Darcy and Tom are obviously going to get together, and it’s not the predictability that put me off. (My guilty pleasure is reading/watching romantic comedies; I always know they end well.)

Here, in more detail than people who hate spoilers will like, are my reasons for feeling meh:

  1. The main characters are not likable. Darcy is incredibly selfish. She has zero self-control and cannot accept responsibility for her actions. She thinks she’s all that (not in the way that she would brag about her work but in the way that she would always try to protect Tom). Also, Tom is not even that great. He’s placed on too high a pedestal, but he’s really just there as a brooding, juicy piece of meat.
  2. It seems like the writer needed an excuse to bring the two in extremely close quarters, so for some reason, Tom (childhood friend/contractor) camps out at the project site while Darcy lives somewhere there. Excuse me? How ridiculous is that? I get that it’s fiction, and writers can invent things, but at least let these things make sense! A lot of safety precautions have to be taken at construction sites. People cannot just come and go as they please, and contractors do not just let their inexperienced clients do manual labor on their sites. I am baffled.
  3. How can a new business owner with so much to prove skip town for two months and then take credit for all of the work done in their absence? Yes, everyone needs to take a personal day or two (been there) at some point, but to take two months without consequences? Given Tom’s background, I expected more hustle from him. I get that this is supposed to be for dramatic effect, but it would have given off the same effect and still have been more acceptable if this disappearance was cut short.

I’ve read better romantic novels. I came in looking for a fun read—to be entertained without having to think too much (basically, I needed an alternative to tv shows). It was just ok, I guess. Actually, no, it wasn’t very satisfying. Perhaps I should have read something else.