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Book Review: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Title: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Author: Romain Puertolas19347251

This is a story about Fakir from India, who comes to France, where he wants to buy a bed of nails in IKEA. He only has a fake one hundred euro banknote in his pocket and this is the only money he has. The first victim of his fraud is a taxi driver but he’s not the only one. However, things get complicated in Ikea and fakir lands on the fantastic journey through European countries, where he meets new friends and, of course, enemies.


This book was published in our country a few years ago if I’m not mistaken and I heard it’s entertaining and worth of reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t have same feelings while reading it.

First, something about the plot. I think that author exaggerated in every possible way. Yes, fakir journey was fantastic but more in a sci-fi way. Everything was so contrived that I had troubles following the plot. Ignoring this fact, this is a book about a man who was living as a fraud all his life and then, one journey and people he meets, change his life and his views. Quite a cliche, which is not exactly my thing.

But most of all, I was disturbed by writing style. Just like among the people, even among the books, there are two categories. The first category includes those who are funny and know how to tell jokes, but they are also spontaneous and enjoyable. In the second category are those who want to be funny, so they tell memorized jokes, which is unnatural and anything but funny. And this book belongs in the second category.

Furthermore, I found the book very racist. The author very directly exposes the European superiority of race and civilization and humiliates others by joking about them. Certain things must be read in context, and therefore I will not write about it here because it would take too long. But while reading I also keep noticing “innocent” jokes which should be funny (?!?). Just a few examples: five black people were automatically named Jackson Five, Roms are named Gipsy Kings, Roms women were more than once called prostitutes (once only on the basis of their clothing styles). These are the things that upset me and are also a reason why I wouldn’t recommend this book.

After reading I was surprised that this book was so successful and popular. I know that I may have a different sense of humor than most, but I still think that people should know where is the line between good and bad taste.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read this book? What were your thoughts about it? I would love to hear your opinion in comments!

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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: 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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Book Review: Fly on the Wall

Title: Fly on the Wall: How one girl saw everything

Author: E. Lockhartmuha

Gretchen Yee is attending Manhattan School of Art and Music but she feels like she can’t fit in. Everyone else is standing out, they are different and special and she’s just a completely normal teenage girl. Even in a classroom, she’s not standing out, her teacher thinks she shouldn’t drawing just comics.

She’s in love with Titus but is too shy to do anything. And even her best friend Katya is preoccupied with other things and doesn’t have time for her anymore recently.

So one day, Gretchen wishes she could be a fly on the wall in boy’s locker room. She could learn more about boys, what they really like and how do they think.


I read this book for one of my reading challenges. It really surprised me, in a good way. I thought it would be just another typical YA book, cheesy and full of cliches. But it was nicely written and full of humor.

As a synopsis tells, it’s about a girl named Gretchen who turns into a fly in boy’s locker room. She’s stuck there and has to spend a few days trapped there. Observing through the eyes of a fly was fantastic. It was funny and felt real. Above all, I truly identified with the fly because I would felt exactly the same in her skin.

The story remains realistic all the way and reader actually believes what’s written. Even when she has transformed into a fly, I believed it and never wondered why did it happen.

If I thought this book would be just another one of many similar teenager books, and that it will not stand out, I was wrong. The author perfectly demonstrates how it is to be a teenager and how young people (and older maybe) feel in their skin. Even more, she shows us, that boys are not different at all! Describing all the details of boy’s bodies, their hairiness (or lack of hair), pimples on their asses – it was fun to read about it. I really think it’s great for young girls who doesn’t have experiences with boys, that they can learn, boys are not just some “confident gods” as many thinks but they also have flaws and their own insecurities.

The process from shy and unnoticeable Gretchen to Gretchen the Fly, who is observing the most intimate parts of guys without shame and with a lot of pleasure and who becomes a real naughty girl, is amazing and unique. And why not? Why should only guys look at girls in a sexual way? Why shouldn’t girls also objectify guys and wondering what’s hiding in their pants? After all, it’s normal we all have the same thoughts. But it’s pity that only boys can act that way but it’s inappropriate if girls are talking about it. But it’s different in this book which I support completely.

All the characters are typical high school teenagers, with whom the reader can identify easily. But Gretchen really stands out because she’s just an average, sweet and nicely confused girl.

I’m happy I get a chance to read this book. It was short but entertaining read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? Please, comment below.

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Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie693208

Fourteen years old Arnold Spirit, also known as Junor, is growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junor is an artistic guy who likes drawing and drawing also helps him facing every day’s problems. His life is not wonderful but it gets even more complicated when Junor starts to attend a school outside the reservation. Attendance of High School, where he is the only non-white person is challenging, especially because he doesn’t feel accepted. Not only he’s not accepted by his new friends, but because of his retraining, he also becomes a target in a reservation.


I could say that this book really let me down. I heard amazing things about it, I saw that it also won a few prizes and I was so happy when I saw it in my local library (it was not translated, I read it in English).

Even while reading, I struggled with it. It was a slow read which really surprised me because it’s such a short book, full of illustrations.

I liked the idea of a book – a young Indian boy from the reservation is facing his origin while trying to cross the boundaries of his world. No one from his reservation has attended school outside the reservation before, let alone a school where all people would be white. Junior is aware that he would end up like all the other Indians if he doesn’t step forward and educates somewhere else. Despite the problems that this would bring him.

Arnold seemed a funny and nice guy, slightly lost in this world which is logical, according to his age and the period in his life. I really liked, how the author tried to show off Junior’s artistic side with “his” illustrations. Comics did really variate reading and they were the funniest part of the book. All the other characters were a little bit strange, each in his own way.

The story mainly focuses on Junior’s searching his place in the world – he doesn’t feel well in a reservation, he’s feeling guilty because he turned back to his tribe. But in the same time, he also doesn’t feel good outside the reservation, because he’s aware that he doesn’t belong there either and that people don’t accept him. Even though he’s more than successful by finding new friends.

Presentation of Indians in this book seemed grotesque to me. I admit, I don’t know much about the situations in reservations or about Indians in general. But yet, I had a feeling that it was too much humiliation in this book. Resorting to alcohol and consequently to violence, poverty and complete resignation, yes, it was shown through the humor, but it still left a bittersweet taste. But not the one it should. It all seemed too unreal and as a big joke.

I also found this book overambitious. The author included too many serious topics that were not developed further. Bullying, alcoholism, bulimia, first love, rejection, poverty are just one of them. Those were all the topics that have somehow lingered in the air.

A person can achieve everything he wants as only he has a desire and will to change things – I understood that this was the main topic in this book. However, I got a feeling that book gives a false hope for younger readers. Junior comes to a new school and things are going great for him. Everything is (almost) perfect suddenly. Yes, he may still have some problems but still he’s suddenly successful in everything (finding friends, popular girlfriend, success in school). It just seemed too perfect.

And, what I most blame the author for is that because everything was going so well for Junior, he just entangled a few totally unnecessary events (deaths) in the story. Why? Just to break a monotony? And that story continued like nothing happened? Nonsense.

I really felt this book a cliche story and too American. You know…. If you dream and you dare, you will also succeed.

Rating: 2/5 stars

What did you think about this book? I would love to hear your opinions in comments!

 

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Book Review: The Dinner

Title: The Dinner

Author: Herman Koch15797938

Two couples meet in a fancy restaurant. Serge, a candidate for a prime minister and his wife Babette, and his younger brother Paul with his wife Claire. However, they didn’t come to chat and enjoy good food. They came to talk about their children – Serge and Babette’s son Rick and Paul and Clair’s son Michel. Both children are 15 years old and committed a crime and their parents are discussing consequences.

As dinner develops from appetizer through the starter, main curse and dessert, it also intensifies the tension of conversation and the tension between their relations.


It took me more time to read this book, as I thought it will. Due to the fact that I heard nothing but good about this book and how intense and dark it is and that it should be a really quick read, I was surprised that it didn’t do such an impression on me.

I liked, how a structure of the dinner somehow makes a structure of a story. It starts with an aperitif where everybody is just chatting about movies and unimportant stuff but through every next course things complicates and tenses. The story focuses not only on a parent’s problem but also involves scenes from a restaurant which is really entertaining.

I didn’t like any of characters in this book. No one – neither both couples nor their sons, not the waiter or the girls working in a restaurant. All the characters are dislikable and I couldn’t identify or connect with them.

The main narrator in the story is Paul, who is the least likable of them all. Right from the start he seemed like an uptight man, full of himself, although he attempts to give a different impression. His contempt of his brother was at first funny but later I was tired of it. Generally, Paul seemed very “self-righteous” and that type of a guy who has everything worked out and thinks that only his principles are correct, all his actions are justified and that no one can judge him because he has everything figured out. It also seemed to me, that he’s jealous of everyone around him (including his wife in some cases) but especially of his brother. Paul doesn’t have anything nice to say about Serge, so during his narration through the story, I received negative opinion about Serge, although, in the end, he turned out to be the most normal of all (don’t be mistaken, he’s not a sympathetic man). They’re both bragging, though each in their own way. Serge, who is successful politician, is using his name for benefits and pretends to be something he’s not in public. Paul is trying to pretend that he doesn’t care for this things and that he’s pitying his brother because of this behavior. However, he does the same, just not so publicly.

Paul and Claire are constantly creating the image of a happy family but after Michel’s crime that image begin to fall into pieces. But still they don’t want to give up and their goal is to save a happy family farce. And this is also a basis of a story – how far will they go to protect this image? How far can parents go to protect their children? What is right and what’s wrong? Are there actions who can be forgiven because they were done by certain people (for example here, when the crime was committed by children)? Through the story, a reader is confronted with moral questions to which he must answer by himself. There are no clear answers because we all have different perspectives on various situations.

Despite the fact, I love books who are examining reader’s conscience, this book left me cold. Maybe because of dislikable characters and the fact I couldn’t identify with their story and I was actually judging them more and more with every page. Maybe this was a reason, why in this case, things seemed really clear to me and all their actions morally contentious. They all shown their hypocrisy, except Serge, who surprised me with his action (don’t worry, I will not spoil anything) but I’m also not sure if his action was made with so good intentions as I think.

And, I’m curious, would I look on a story differently, if I would have my own children?

Rating: 2/5 stars

Did you read The Dinner? I would love to hear your thoughts about this book! Did you liked it or not? Do we share the same opinions or not? If you read it, we can also discuss the moral questions from the book in comments below!

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Book review: Love Letters to the Dead

Title: Love Letters to the Dead

Author: Ava Dellaira181400471

Laurel is high school student and one day they get an assignment to write a letter to a dead person. However, she never wrote it for a school work, but she started writing letters in her diary. She’s writing them to famous people who died too soon, just like her sister May.

In her letters, she describes her life in new high school, new friends, first love and her sister May, which she can’t forgive for leaving her. Through letters she learns a lot about herself and in particular, she can write about secrets from her past that she never told anyone and strongly affected her. Just like her older sister May, who Laurel misses so much and don’t understand why she’s gone and left behind only pain of mourning and broken family.


Meh. I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half was completely boring and I was thinking about quitting. What disturbed me most, was writing style which is completely childish and immature. There were moments when I thought that letters were written by an eleven-year-old girl and not a high school student. The sentences are so simple and idiotic but they are good reflection of Laurel character – she’s a childish, dumb and terribly boring person who’s main goal in life is (obviously) to be a cool person.

It all begins with new school year when Laurel starts attempting high school. She picked one, where nobody knows her and a family tragedy. Because she’s a new kid, nobody notices her but she desperately wants to fit in. And she’s doing this in a very strange way if you ask me. For example, all students are buying some specific cookies for lunch and she starts throwing away her lunch so she can also buy them. For some reason, she’s accepted by two girls who are not popular kids but they’re cool. And she also falls in love in such a boy – Sky is a mysterious kid, who’s not popular but everyone thinks about him as a cool guy (and I’m not joking here – as long as you’re cool everything will be ok, obviously). And for some reason, he noticed her right away although she’s far from being cool. And then begins the story about plain Jane discovering the joys of high school life, from drinking, smoking and making out. Doing everything, just to be cool.

But her dead sister’s shadow is following her everywhere. Laurel’s older sister May had varied life, she was beautiful, popular, smart and, above all, she was cool. Recently, I read quite a few books, which, in my opinion, exposes excessive idealization of older siblings or best friends which make me very annoyed. Ok, I agree that it’s not unusual that younger siblings are idolizing older because, after all, it’s logical they’re searching for a role model, but exaggeration is bothering me. And it bothered me strongly in this book also. It felt like Laurel doesn’t have her own life or personality. She always tried to be just like May and she’s still doing this after her death. And instead of figuring out who she is, she’s trying to be someone else. All the time she’s writing about May and how beautiful/perfect she was but yet I didn’t have a feeling that she’s mourning her death. I felt like she just wants to be like May was and grieves for someone who enabled her to do cool stuff. Which is a shame because I thought this would be a book about mourning and accepting someone’s death.

But at the same time, Laurel was angry when they compared her with May. When she finds out that Sky liked May, she’s angry with him, because she thinks she’s in love with her just because she’s so similar to May. Seriously?!? She’s constantly trying to be just like her, she wears her clothes, listening to same music as May, but suddenly she doesn’t like being compared to her? She was also furious when she found out, her new friends knew from beginning, she’s a sister of a dead girl. She didn’t want to tell them because she was afraid they would treat her differently but at the end, she got mad because they knew and treated her normally. It’s difficult if you don’t know what you want. And Laurel definitely doesn’t know what she wants, which indicates her immature character and writing style. At times, however, she begins to philosophize in letters which made me confused because it was really not her style – like she would suddenly become a mature, grown up women.

The second half of the book was better since things started to complicate and reading becomes more interesting. Besides notes about everyday life, Laurel starts to uncovering dark secrets from her past and starts writing about them.

Nevertheless, this book was not so good that I would recommend it on. Perhaps younger girls could relate more with Laurel and her “writing” but I really couldn’t enjoy in this book.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? Do you agree with me or you think this book was good/amazing? I would love to hear your thoughts about it!