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Book Review: Auggie & Me

Title: Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

Author: R.J. Palacio

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In book Wonder, we read about a boy named Auggie, who was born with a facial deformity and starts attending a new school.

This book consists of three different chapters – Julian chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling. Julian chapter is told from a perspective of Julian, who bullied Auggie in book Wonder. Pluto chapter is told from a perspective of Christopher, Auggie’s best friend since early childhood. And the last chapter, Shingaling, is told from a perspective of Charlotte, who is now Auggie’s classmate.


This book is not a sequel to Wonder, it’s a companion novel with three different points of views on Auggie from Wonder. Each view has its own chapter within the book and can be read completely separately from other two.

First, it’s Julian chapter. Julian is a spoiled kid and he couldn’t accept Auggie and soon it’s clear why. He simply repeats the behavior patterns of his mother, who also had troubles accepting Auggie. She’s scared of Auggie and with her behavior, she’s encouraging her son to behave likewise. Julian (as his mother) always justifies his behavior, defending himself he’s only joking and that people shouldn’t felt so offended by his jokes. It was hard for me to read this story because Julian was mean and I didn’t like him at all. Not to mention his mother who was supporting, encouraging and justification Julian’s unacceptable behavior.

Next one is Pluto chapter, where we met Christopher, who is/was Auggie’s best friend from early childhood. They drifted away because of his moving to some other place. This story, more or less, represents Christopher’s memories of Auggie and how friendship with him affected his life. I felt that during growing up, Christopher started feeling ashamed of Auggie’s look. This aspect is the only thing that I found interesting in this chapter. It’s a reflection, how are we accepting social prejudices and how we submit to the opinion of others while growing up.

The story Shingaling, Charlotte’s chapter, is the longest but while reading it, I was surprised, there was almost no Auggie in it. Basically, it’s a story about growing up girl, her daily life, and problems in school. Maybe there was some secret connection of her story with Auggie’s but I couldn’t find it.

I enjoyed reading this book but it was far from what we got in Wonder. It seemed to me, that author just wanted to extend the success of it. At first, I was truly curious to read what other has to say about Auggie and how he affected their lives, but I think it was simply not best managed. Of all three stories, I enjoyed reading Julian’s chapter the most, even though I found characters unbearable. Because the other two stories are mainly just a description of the lives of two people, with occasional references to Auggie.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? If so, what are your thought about it? And what about the book Wonder?

 

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Book Review: The Taxidermist’s Daughter

Title: The Taxidermist’s Daughter

Author: Kate Mosse

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1921, Sussex. Connie lives with her father, who used to be a successful taxidermist with his own museum of stuffed animals. He had to close the museum after Connie’s accident when she was twelve years old. Connie doesn’t remember what happened at the night of the accident but since then, her father was not the same. They sold the museum and moved to Fishbourne Marshes.

Since then, her father seeks consolation in alcohol and Connie is the one who’s trying to continue the family business. However, taxidermy is no longer popular as it used to be and they’re having a hard time. Besides that, her father’s behavior is stranger every day and Connie is not sure anymore if it’s only alcohol to blame. Besides, she’s having a hard time also, getting into a strange condition where she remembers fragments of her accident which she can’t connect. Things get even worse when they find a body of a murdered woman near the house and her father goes missing.


Oh, Kate Mosse. How I used to love her books. I was obsessed with Languedoc Trilogy! She really can conjure the gothic obscure atmosphere in her books. She didn’t disappointed with this book either because she has chosen a truly perfect place for a mysterious storyline of this book – the misty marshes of England. Kate Mosse truly knows how to invoke a horror of the place, so reader can easily imagine being there.

This book was full of charming details, including the details of taxidermy. There were many descriptions of animals, particularly birds. Honestly, maybe this book would impress me even more if I would understand everything completely. But because I read this book in English, I was too lazy to check every word in a dictionary (there were too many unknown words).

The story itself was interesting. It was tense, despite the fact that I have soon found out, what’s going on and what’s behind the disappearance of men’s. Notwithstanding this, I still enjoyed reading. There are actually two stories in one plot, the one from present days and the one from the past. Which of course, connects at the end.

The characters were unremarkable. Connie is a nice young lady who takes care of her father and has found her solace in taxidermy. She was helpful and nice to everyone. But that was pretty much everything. There were many other characters – too many sometimes because I was often confused about all the names. Moreover, one of them were named after birds (ugh!).

Certainly, I expected more, especially more refined plotline. The writing style is superb and I could read Mosse’s writing every day. Descriptions of the landscape, the weather, all the details exceeded my expectations. But sometimes this just ain’t enough.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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Book Review: All the Bright Places

Title: All the Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

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Theodore Finch is fascinated by death and he’s constantly thinking about different ways to kill himself. One day, on the ledge of the school bell tower, he meets Violet. Violet’s having trouble dealing with her sister’s death, so she came on a ledge, seeing if she is brave enough to jump. Finch “saves” her and since then, he can’s stop thinking about her. Still, everybody in school thinks she saved him – because after all, he is a “weird one” in school.

Finch is more than happy when they work on a school project together, where they’re discovering natural wonders of their state. But they’re also discovering each other’s world and they become very close friends soon.


I read this book a few month ago but I was too lazy/busy to write a review. So, writing this, I did have some troubles about remembering what happened – ok, I remembered the story but the details were (almost) gone. Which says a lot about the book, no?

Considering, that this book deals with important topics, such as suicide, mental illnesses, bullying, I expected much more. In fact, I was disappointed. It’s well written and also quick to read, but that’s all.

It’s hard to point out, what exactly did bother me about this book. Perhaps poetical writing, in which author wants to disguise the seriousness of the situation. Maybe too mature Finch and Violet, who were exchanging Virginia Woolf’s quotes on daily basis (I highly doubt that any of my schoolmates knew who she was at that age) or their unreal world that they created. Don’t get me wrong, I know that people often create their own worlds when they’re dealing with mental illnesses but it just didn’t felt real here. It’s not like that (And I worked with people with mental illnesses. I know something about it.).

I’m only glad, that this book doesn’t only deal with depression but also bipolar disorder. However, I think that readers who are not familiar with this particular illness can not understand, why Finch behaves like that. It should be more pointed out why one day, he’s in heaven and all funny-happy and the next moment, he’s down and totally depressed.

At the same time, however, it’s all to revolved around the illness. Considering, that they both “recognized” the problems they had and they found a support in each other and that they could rely on each other, I still have troubles with understanding why they refused help.

And about the help and support… ignorance of the adults, as has been described in this book, just stunned me. I was speechless. And I couldn’t believe it. It felt just too phony to me. I know that some people have parents who don’t care. But seriously?!? His own mother didn’t saw what was happening with him? I found this absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable.

At the end, it seemed to me, that author didn’t want to encourage readers to seek help if they need it (or help someone else) but the message of the book is: nobody cares. There’s no help and each one has to deal with their own problems and in their own way. Things will be better after the death. WHICH IS WRONG!!!

Every life counts.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Did you read All the Bright places? What did you think about it? Like it or not? Please, share your opinion in comments below!

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Mini Book Haul

I had a birthday last month and this year my friends really surprised me because they only gave me books.

Usually, I also get some gifts that I don’t know what to do with them but this year, gifts were just perfect.

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Slade House by David Mitchell

I have this book on my TBR pile for so long and I started to read it immediately. I really enjoy reading it so far. Too bad I don’t have much time otherwise I would finish it a while ago.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Again, one of those books I wanted to read since it came out.

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

I haven’t heard much about this book but it’s one of those books that I have on my Goodreads to-read shelves for ages. And the cover is so pretty and colorful.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

This book was a total surprise. I never heard about it so I can’t wait to read it and see what’s about. I just heard it’s a fantasy book and it has good reviews on Goodreads.

I also received a gift card for a bookstore. So this week, when I had time to visit it, I bought two books. I already owned The Final Empire but when I saw that they had the second two, I immediately knew which books will I buy.

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The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages, both by Brandon Sanderson.

This is my mini book haul but I’m very pleased with all the books I got.

Did you read any of this books? 

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Book Review: The Letter for the King

Title: The Letter for the King

Author: Tonke Dragt18113445

Young Tiuri is getting ready for a grand ceremony where he will become a knight. He just has to pass the last test with three other boys and spend the night in silence and isolation. However, they are disrupted by knocking on the door and Tiuri breaks a rule and opens the door. He accepts the request of a stranger, to deliver a mysterious letter for the Black Knight with the White Shield. He leaves his friends and goes searching for Black Knight but when he finally finds him, he’s dying. Tiuri promises him he would deliver a letter to King Unauwen in a neighboring realm.

But soon, the Red Riders who also want a letter, start chasing him. Tiuri finds himself in an incredible adventure, full of intrigues, danger, and betrayals.


What a wonderful books this was!

This book is written for younger readers, which was rather obvious from the writing style but I really didn’t mind. Dialogues are simple, also situations are presented clearly and characters are very black and white. This is particularly obvious in situations where there could (should) be a violence. The author avoids the violent situations, despite the fact that reader is expecting some bloody situations. After all, this is a book about knights who want to destroy a kingdom and Tiuri.

While reading I often smiled at the naivete of the situations and their outcome – unravellings of the events are simple and always in a favor of the main protagonist. I’m really not used to it (yes, I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin!) because in adult fantasy books there’s a lot of deaths and the hero can’t only rely on his/her good instinct and belief that all people are good and will help him/her.

Like I already said, the characters are presented black and white. Where the author wants that reader would not trust the first impression, it’s clearly displayed that way. Characters are good or they’re evil. There really is nothing in between. There are the ones who help Tiuri and those who hinder his way.

Tiuri is clever and truly nice main character. At times a little naive but charming. His kindness and faith in people are incredible. This book as well shows an incredible friendship between him and Piak. It was truly amazing reading about such a bond.

I would say that this book is perfect for younger readers who want to get into fantasy books. For slightly older readers it may be a little too simple and easy. But if you have in mind for whom this book is intended, it still can be an amazing read. The writing style is beautiful despite being simple. It’s a book about good and evil, where it’s obvious that good will win at the end. But that really doesn’t spoil the pleasure of reading.

I just can’t wait for next book!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Book Review: Das Mädchen von Louisiana /The Girl from Louisiana

Title: Das Madchen von Louisiana

Author: Ernst Joseph Gorlich

The story is set in American South before Lincoln became president. Mr. Brand, the owner of a cotton plantation, has fallen from his horse and because of the accident, he died. Since his wife died a long time ago, his daughter Susanne inherits his wealth.

When Susanne returns from boarding school to her father’s funeral, their family lawyer immediately recommends she has to find her father’s testament. Without it, she can’t inherit plantation. Susanne’s mother was black but she as well didn’t know that because she’s so light-skinned. The only one who knew this was a lawyer because Mr. Brand told him.

To her horror, she can’t find testament and lawyer start to treat her like other slaves. Susanne ends up on the auction with other slaves and things from the plantation.


First of all, I want to point out that this book was originally written in the German language. I own it in Slovenian translation but I couldn’t find if an English translation exists. Probably not. But it truly is a beautiful book and I reread it many times since I was little.

The book takes place in that period of history when slaves were working on plantations and had absolutely no rights. They are treated like animals or objects. It also shows a difference between the mentality of South and North America. In the North, things are slowly changing and going for better, while the South still remains conservative and white people are still superior.

Soon, a fourteen years old Susanne discovers this. Initially, she’s shocked because of her father’s sudden death, then at the news that her mother was black and later when she’s completely astonished when she finds herself in the role of a slave. A girl, with a good education, which always got everything she desired, finds herself in chains and on auction, where she’s sold like a horse. She realizes how unfair white people treats slaves, what kind of injustices are happening and how are they treated by their masters. Her new life is difficult, her new mistress is evil and she’s lost in a new situation.

This book will break your heart. It breaks mine every time I read it. It’s a simple story for younger readers. But still, it’s an excellent display of particular period in our history, a time of discrimination and humiliation based on skin color. It also shows, how quickly life can around and how someone’s life can change in a second. It’s a short and bitter story, which I recommend to read if you have a chance.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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2017 Reading Goals

I know… I know… I’m late again. But because I haven’t read any book yet, I think it’s still time to write a post like this.

So, like every year, I set myself a few reading goals and challenges and hopefully (yes, I say this every year) I will manage to complete all of them (I have to mention, that I never do, ha).

Goodreads

Just like in the past years, I’ll be participating in Goodreads Reading Challenge. This year I want to read 50 books. I think this is the most reasonable number for me – it’s not too low but still not too high. capture

Bralnica

Like I already mentioned, Bralnica is Slovenian page for book lovers. Every year they prepare a reading challenge – it looks like a Bingo and you have to complete 25 different challenges. I like this challenge because it forces me to read all kind of different books.

My reading goals

  1. I want to read at least one classic per month.
  2. I want to complete a few series.
  3. I own a lot of books. Usually, I just buy them and they end up on my shelves, lonely and forgotten. So I decided that I’ll motivate myself a little bit. For every 5 books that I will read (I have to own them), I can reward myself with buying a new book. Otherwise, I will not buy any new books.

Those are my reading goals for 2017. Do you set yourself goals or you just go with the flow? :) I would love to hear your thoughts in comments!