Doomsday Book

Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the library and his spectacles promptly steamed up.

It might just be my age, but some books just feel like they were written a while ago (like up to twenty years while ago, not two-hundred years ago), and somehow they feel different. Maybe more about the story than about the production, or maybe it’s just the terrible covers. I’m done with this get-off-my-lawn-moment. I wasn’t wrong about Doomsday Book, though.

Because it was published in 1992, but plays in 2054 and the fourteenth century because yes, time travel! This was a recommendation related to time travel, and even though the place of recommendation is a bit dodgy sometimes, I’m so glad I read this. As mentioned before, it feels different, comfortable on a certain level. It was also just written in such a way that you have to keep on reading. There are hints scattered throughout, but you won’t know what went wrong to the historian sent back in time and getting ill while people in the present are getting sick as well!

The world-building creates accessible visuals (and again, that feeling of reading this during lunch break at high school), the characters know their place and the use of ‘special’ words is just enough to not get annoying.

There’s two more books in these series (of course it’s a series), but for now my time travel needs are satisfied. One warning: the visuals aren’t always attractive. As I said: sickness and illness.

Doomsday Book, Connie Willis, Bantam Books 1992

Ink and Bone

“Hold still and stop fighting me,” his father said, and slapped him hard enough to leave a mark.

Maybe I’m just a little bit too demanding. There’s little wrong with this story, it ticks plenty of boxes and it’s a fun, light read. It just didn’t sweep me off my feet, being a tad too traditional in tropes and plots. The world-building, though. Libraries!

This is a world in which books and librarians are viewed quite differently from ours. It’s Big Brother through books, originals should only be owned by the Great Library and everyone’s got a journal which is basically your testament (to be added to the same library after your passing). In this world, it’s an honour to be part of the Great Library, so guess where the unlikely (“”) hero shows up.

He’s part of a group of aspirant librarians, but during his time in Alexandria he discovers that not everything is as rosy as it should be. Conspiracies and plots and maybe the good guys are really the bad guys and vice versa, adventure!

With a few twitches, all that could have been less fantasy-by-numbers, but of course there’s a sequel: maybe everything leading up to that will flourish in the second book. If you’re fine with fine, gritty world-building and another male protagonist, this story will do you very well.

Ink and Bone: the Great Library, Rachel Caine, Penguin Group 2015

Coco

109 min.

Is de kerstvakantie compleet zonder een animatiefilm? Voor hen die dat ook voelen: Coco nu op Netflix te vinden.

coco_2017The Book of Life deed het al een paar jaar geleden: Dia de Muertos gebruiken. Deze keer komt Miguel in het land der doden terecht omdat hij zijn familie probeert te ontsnappen (zij haten muziek, hij wilt alleen maar muziek maken), en ontdekt daar dingen over zichzelf en zijn familie. Zoals dat gaat.

Het ziet er allemaal weer heel mooi uit (zeker aan de dode kant), en enkele keren lijkt het zelfs meer dan het standaard plastic randje dat elke grote animatiestudio zo graag schijnt te gebruiken. Waarom heb ik alleen weer het gevoel dat Disney waar voor je geld wilt leveren, en de film weer net iets te lang is? Op deze manier wordt het tempo uit het verhaal gehaald, waardoor het meer een gevalletje ‘Oh wat mooi’ wordt in plaats van ‘Oh wat emotioneel/spannend/gaaf’.

Aan de andere kant; ruimte voor een plaspauze – zeker als je het met jongere kinderen en/of veel drankjes kijkt – is nooit weg.

Coco, Disney 2017

 

Run, Hide, Repeat

I was running along the Upper Blandford Road this morning, watching the little islands emerge from the morning mist, when I came upon a fisherman stacking lobster traps by his shed.

Truth again turns out to be stranger than fiction in this story that might make you repeatedly check if it really isn’t a dramatised/fictionalised version of events. That also means that pretty much everything I will put down here could be considered as spoilers, but at the same time you could look up the author and possibly learn the entire story without ever opening the book. Hm.

During a big part of her childhood, Pauline, her mother and her brother are on the run. She’s told why in her early twenties, but that doesn’t exactly put a halt to the running. There’s two large twists (do you call it twists when it happens in real life?) in this story, and Dakin writes with the right amount of insecurity (is it me, is this really happening?) to – as a reader – keep doubting things as well, even when rationale starts popping up.

This way it continues to feel like a slightly laughable and surreal story, instead of paint-by-numbers memoir of someone growing up in seventies Canada. The Mounties don’t even show up until the end.

So, you could read this one for several reasons. If you like memoirs, if you like truth-is-stranger-than-fiction, if you like a detective element without any detectives involved, if you want a slice of life view of seventies Canada.

Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood, Pauline Dakin, Viking 2017

So this is …

Christmas, and I hope you ha- oh wait, too late for that. So this was 2018, and what have I done?

I read 82 books, seven of those having been published in 2018 (I want to thank CloudLibrary and Ottawa Library for making these accessible so quickly). And I started and finished a series: The Dark Tower. Best of 2018? First title that pops up is Pachinko, but also Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I read pretty diversely again this year, and continue to try to solely pick female authors.

From the  33 movies I reviewed, twelve were from this year (thanks, Pathé Unlimited pass), and seven were to be found on Netflix. I definitely feel like I watched better movies at the beginning of the year, and the majority of the reviewed ones are more ‘independent’ than blockbuster as well. So if those are your thing, scroll a bit.

I only reviewed eight TV shows, even though those usually get the most hits, so there’s a new year’s resolution for ye. Of those reviewed I’d absolutely recommend Happy Valley.

For the blog I hope to keep up my weekly posts, and maybe hit a record number of followers. Threehunderd? I should first check how many I’ve got. Either way, have a wonderful 2019 full of reading and watching!

 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Whenever I woke up, night or day, I’d shuffle through the bright marble foyer of my building and go up the block and around the corner where there was a bodega that never closed.

This novel is an one woman on the ledge balancing act. The ledge here being ‘Is she terribly annoying or horribly sad?’. If it would have been a male protagonist, I would have given up on the book, but it’s not very often that women are allowed to be all of the above.

So what’s going on? The main character decides to sleep a year away, aided by a bucket load of medicine freely provided from possibly the worst psychiatrist in recent history. She seemingly has it all (money, looks), but none of it seem to satisfy or fill her in any way. There’s an ugly relationship with a so called friend, a permanent neglect from a man, orphan-hood. Basically, there’s no positivity and very little light in this life.

So, why read it? Because women can be absolute trash/go through periods of being absolute trash as well, and it’s not shown often enough. Because it’s an almost surreal trip through someone’s mind, and when there’s someone around living through worse things than you do, it definitely lights up your situation. Because it’s just kind of weird in an enthralling way, and that doesn’t happen (to me) often enough.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh, Penguin Press 2018