The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue book coverThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is V.E. Schwab’s latest novel. I dare say it may well be her masterpiece, though of course I hope, as I do for all artists, that the best is still to come. Perhaps this will be only one of her masterpieces. It is beautifully written and intriguing through the final page.

Addie LaRue makes a deal with a god. The result is that she will seemingly live forever. The cost being that no one remembers her, while she remembers everything. They don’t simply forget her as time goes by, they forget her shortly after she is out of sight. Thus her journey, the parts we get to see, spans over 300 years. We get a plethora of events through parallel stories. One semi-recent, the other spanning Addie’s three centuries to bring her to the end of this story.

One of the aspects that drew me to this book was that of time. I love stories that manipulate time or change it in some way. This one doesn’t manipulate time, but it does amazing things with it. We see Addie’s tragedies and triumphs as she defiantly refuses to give in to her twisted consequence of her deal. No one may remember her, but she lives and explores and watches the years go by reveling in what tomorrow may bring. She has an unending fascination that repels the evils of the world.

Another aspect I found incredible was how time is used to examine the way we build relationships. Also, how memories fade or change, or simply disappear. How memory can impact our relationships with our friends, family, and loved ones. Living forever may mean losing everyone you know eventually, but living forever without being able to build any real relationships is something else entirely. Another reason her ability to enjoy every moment is admirable. We see Addie’s life and wonder what will happen within the confines of her curse, and we see the many relationships and encounters only she can remember.

I love stories that stay with you, and I believe this one does. The conceptual circumstances of Addie alone were compelling for me and I’m sure they will fascinate many. Though the story may mean something different for each reader. We bring our own histories with us when we read a story. We view the pages through a lens unique to only us. But I dare to call this story timeless (pun intended). There is a foundation within it where anyone can find ground to bring parts of their own lives along. To build alongside and weave throughout the pages. When there is room for growth or reflection within characters such as Addie, it is nearly impossible to forget her.

Happy Reading.

New Year, Same Me

I think most of us are glad that 2020 is now officially in the past and we are all hopeful for what a new year may bring. Of course, things don’t magically get better with the start of a new year or a new day, but the hope that it will bring good things is the important thing and it is exactly what we need to hold on to, because that hope and our will to bring good things into the world is really all that is needed to make it so.

I’m hit or miss with new year resolutions and, though I have goals I want to achieve, I am not really making a resolution this year. I am not going to pretend that I am going to reinvent myself simply because I am happy with who I am and I only need to focus on little changes. Little, continuous improvements. Little victories is a little more optimistic way to put it. I know for certain that at least one big event will be happening this year and I am beyond excited about it. I will be sharing this news in a few months (sorry for the tease).

Another, slightly big event is that I will be completing my second graduate degree some time later this year. My classes will consume a fair amount of time I would otherwise spend reading or playing video games (both help me procrastinate with my writing but they are beneficial in many ways). Though I have renewed my goal to read at least 50 books this year. I ended last year with 53.

With all the other time this year, I plan to focus on my health, home projects, and maybe even a little writing. Last year, I set a fairly lofty goal with my writing and I accomplished a little less than half of it. This year, I am taking a different approach and simply going to see what happens.

At the end of 2019, I made a post about some things I would like to do in 2020. I started last year pretty spot on until everything shut down in March and I stayed isolated as much as possible due to the pandemic (that is still ongoing). Like most plans, mine went awry fairly quickly due to these extenuating circumstances and the unexpected need to sustain positive vibes in an altogether difficult year.

So, this year I am not making any specific plans. I am just going to do my best with what I can. Hopefully find more energy to accomplish most of what I want to do and definitely spend less energy worrying about things outside of my control. I am sending you good vibes and I wish you a happy new year. I hope you accomplish great things (or at least what will be great for you). I will be trying to do the same.

Ready Player Two

Ready Player Two Book COver

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how there could be a sequel to Ready Player One, but Ernest Cline wrote one and I read it. Ready Player Two was released a few months ago and the story picks up the week or so after the ending of the first book. I went into this book with little expectations because unfortunately I saw several comments stating this sequel wasn’t too great, but of course I wanted to form my own opinion, which I am posting here (spoiler free). I have mixed feelings about this story but I did enjoy it and I read it quickly.

First, the beginning was a bit slow. Starting with what I consider two prologues explaining a little of the aftermath of book one and then going into the setup for what becomes the main storyline of this book, I felt it took a while for the action to get going. I also felt like this longer setup really altered one of the main characters and made them less likeable, or perhaps made me re-evaluate this character because I don’t remember them acting or being this way in the first book. I may need to revisit the first book to see if this is the case, which may alter my enjoyment of the first novel which I really thought was great (hence my uncertainty about a sequel).

Once the story gets going though, it reads like the first book with exciting events happening at a quick pace. This book is, not surprisingly, chock full of more 1980s pop culture references. I admit there were a few areas where my interest in the particular pop culture wasn’t too high and it made the events of those scenes less enjoyable, but it was still engaging and I’m sure those who are fans would get a kick out of it just like I enjoyed other scenes encased in pop-culture worlds inside the OASIS I would love to visit. The downside of these references is the blatant absence of any pop culture outside of the 1980s. I understand the main creators of the OASIS were obsessed with their own era, but this book is supposed to take place in the 2050s or 2060s. There are a few references to more modern pop culture in this book which may be why the lack of any other non-1980 references is so apparent. Also, the few, modern pop culture references are kind of jabs at a specific storyline that basically is the plot structure of this very book, which is either ironic or slightly disappointing.

A few characters that are introduced kind of become sideline characters when I was hoping they would become more prominent, but this story centers around those of the previous book. Again, the overall story I enjoyed and I liked a few places Cline went with the story because they were unexpected and daring considering the content and the modern times we live in, but some of the topics he chose to focus on are the reason I have mixed feelings.

One reason I am recommending the book despite the mixed feelings is that the story keeps you interested and wanting to know what happens next. There is very little I would call predictable and there are a few things I could discuss in more detail but would bring in a few spoiler-related content, so I will refrain and have these conversations individually. After seeing the less-exciting comments about the book, I was afraid that this sequel was riding on the success of the first book and movie of that book. I am happy to say that it does stand on its own. I understand why some fans would not like this sequel though I think many will like it. There are merits for all arguments for both sides. It is impossible to please everyone.

I think if you liked Ready Player One, then you are probably going to read Ready Player Two regardless of what I or anyone else says, which is a great thing in itself and I encourage that. Perhaps you are reading this recommendation after having read this book to avoid potential spoilers much like I refrained from reading any reviews for the same reason. I hope you enjoy or enjoyed the book, or at least felt like you got something out of it that you weren’t expecting.

Happy Reading.

The Best of Gene Wolfe

The Best of Gene Wolfe Book CoverI began The Best of Gene Wolfe a few months ago thinking a book of short stories was the perfect way to keep reading habits while attending a graduate program. I enjoy short story collections and it was a great way to fit in some reading between coursework. This was also a great way to experience more of Wolfe’s work.

I first read Gene Wolfe at the beginning of the year when I read his series The Book of the New Sun, which may be his best known work. His writing is oddly compelling and you get the sense of an entire universe just beyond the words on the page. His writing is unique though I have compared it to writers such as Philip K Dick insofar as his stories leave you with things to think about. His writing, though science/speculative fiction, is incomparable from any I have read (unless I discover a new author whose work can be considered near Wolfe’s).

There are 31 stories in this collection taking up roughly 480 pages. A few run longer at around 40 pages, but most are about 10-15 pages. I enjoyed most of these stories. Some I absolutely loved while others I found a bit underwhelming. My favorite by far is “The Fifth Head of Cerberus” which was reminiscent of the New Sun series.

Each story contains an afterword, just a paragraph, where Gene discusses the story you just read and something about it like how he came up with the idea or how the story influenced his career. One I remember was simply him discussing a view alongside a road and that was one of the main prompts for the story. These afterwords are fun because they are little commentaries by the author that often add a little bit to the story itself even if it ends up being unrelated to the subject matter.

Overall, I enjoyed the collection and I actually read through it a little quicker than I typically do for short story collections of this length. Since this gave me more insight into Wolfe’s work, I feel I can say with more certainty that I am a fan and will continue to read more. If you have yet to discover Wolfe, this may be a great way to determine if you like his style.

Happy Reading.

My Favorite Books This Year (2020)

2020 has been a wild, scary year, but as always, books remain a great way to escape, learn, grow, and find enjoyment. I decided to put a quick “year in review” together of what I read and enjoyed. A few of these items I’m glad to say were on my list of series to read at the beginning of the year. There is just under 3 weeks left of the year, which is plenty of time to read a few more (which I will be doing), but I figured I had plenty to put into a list.

Murderbot Series

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
I started the year off going through the first several installments of The Murderbot Diaries. The newest released in May this year, Network Effect, and the next comes out this coming April titled Fugitive Telemetry. This series is simply fantastic and I am glad I now have it on my shelf.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew QuickThe Silver Linings Playbook book cover
One of my more recent reads, I really enjoyed this one and go into detail about my thoughts on book versus movie on my post about the book.

Talking to StrangersTalking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s newest book delves into how we perceive those we do not know and how a few recent events escalated the way they did. Touching on some dark material while illuminating on how we interact to others subconsciously, this book is a great insight into how we move through society and, unfortunately, how we fall into situations of miscommunication.

The Inheritance GamesThe Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The great start to a mystery I happily compare to Knives Out, one of my favorite films of yesteryear. Filled with intrigue and questionable family dynamics, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De ZoetThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
This was one that has been on my shelf for some time. I picked it up after enjoying Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas novel and wanted to read more of his work. I was surprised with this one, but pleasantly so. The story was much different than expected though the prose was beautiful and enticing.

Every Tool's A HammerEvery Tool’s A Hammer by Adam Savage
An enlightening look into the life of a main Mythbuster, this book was a great insight into building and what goes into creating some of the iconic films we all know and many love. I learned a lot about craft and making things and I really enjoyed Adam’s passion for what he does (even when things don’t turn out quite like he wanted). It was great to get to know more about him.

All The Light We Cannot SeeAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This book came as a recommendation and it was a beautiful book to read. The story was interesting as it covered some of the magical, invisible experiences of our world while centered around young characters trying to make it through World War II.

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
A series on my list and an author I had yet to read. This series opened me to Wolfe’s work and I am a fan. I enjoyed this four book series and am about to finish a collection of short stories. I wish I would have read him sooner, but I am glad to have found his work regardless. His prose is not for everyone and I liken many of his stories to a veil with an entire universe hiding beneath. I intend to read more, and I will not be surprised if he becomes one of my favorite authors.

Books of the New Sun