Fast-Talking Friday

roryreading roryreading2 roryreading3
Happy Friday, y’all!

So…have you binge-watched all of Gilmore Girls on Netflix yet?

I probably should be ashamed about how many times I’ve seen every single Gilmore Girls episode.

But I’m not ashamed at all.

My mom did not have to raise me on her own (quick fact for those who know nothing about the show: Lorelai had Rory when she was a teenager, raised her as a single parent, they have a very close bond). But I consider my mom to be my best friend. We get along swimmingly, if you will. And we love watching this show together. We can now quote them…it might be sad to others (and my brother and dad groan out loud when they walk in to see it on the TV), but I’m not apologetic at all 😉

So! This Rory Gilmore is a book reader. An avid one. And someone painstakingly took note of every single book mentioned or pictured on screen (my mom and I tried to take note of every job Kirk has ever had, but we got tired of that pretty quick…). ALL 339 OF THEM.

There are book clubs dedicated to this list. I have personally checked, and I’ve read a total of 38 out of 339. That’s a measly 11%, and a lot of them I cringe to think to read (in one episode, Rory’s grandfather mentions the complete collection of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. He says it took him six years to read. Ouch.), but it’s an awesome thing that someone awesome put together.

Here’s the link! I don’t know who originally put it together, sadly! Otherwise I’d give them a huge shoutout! Can anyone help me out on the origins?

Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

How many had you read? Is one of your all-time favorites on there?

Let me know! And go watch the series on Netflix!

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& Review: Us by David Nicholls

Us by David Nicholls.  Fiction. Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Us by David Nicholls.
Fiction. Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Book Itself: Oh man, it’s my favorite things, everybody! Simple and Graphic! This one takes it to the extreme – the title (which, might I point out is a mere two words – simple, simple, simple!), the silhouettes of the characters, the red red background. I like it.

My Review: ‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’

‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ah, the Petersons. What a set of messed up hooligans. Here is the central issue with why everyone just can’t quite get along: Douglas is a hapless scientist, who just wants everyone to like him. Connie is artistic, dreamy, messy, and doesn’t like to be shown the concrete of things all the time. Albie, their son, takes after Connie. Plus, he’s a teenager, so he’s got that not going for him.

Everyone annoys each other here, and they all ganged up to annoy me as a reader.

Now, Nicholls also wrote One Day, a heartbreaking, interestingly formatted novel about two people who just can’t stay apart. It was made into a meh movie with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess (that guy from Across the Universe). Nicholls was great with that one.

And in this one…I hated everyone. Which bums me out to say, but…every single one of the Petersons is awful. At first I thought it was just Connie and Albie. They were downright terrible to Douglas! And they were pretty awful people. I could give a little leeway to Albie because he was a Teenage Character going through a “Phase” (you know, the stereotypical one where one hates ones parents, although in this case he only really hates Douglas). But Connie…she looks down on her husband with derision throughout the entire novel. Any expression of affection is done in a pitying way. Even during flashbacks, where we supposedly see the days they were the most happiest, she’s a stuck up woman who thinks Douglas is merely cute and clever. Whereas Douglas is just besotted, and perpetually in a can’t-believe-a-woman-this-beautiful-could-be-into-me state of mind.

When Douglas messes up, Connie and Albie join in on shaking their heads, locking their doors, shutting him out. At no point in the novel did I sympathize with either of them. Why would Douglas want to keep these kind of poisonous relationships around, is what I actually thought at one point. Bad, I know.

And then I didn’t like Douglas. Because he’s just so darn affable. He wants so very badly to make this all right (when he’s done actually very little to deserve such derision), that he steps over the line of sympathy. At just the moment I was about to give up on him (and, perhaps, the book), he does start to build up a spine. He rallies. He goes after something. Which had me cheering for him again. Okay, I thought. I could get behind this character. I could want him to be happy again, even if its with these nasty people. But even that’s not enough. Because Douglas is like a sad puppy. And when someone shows that they don’t like him again, he goes back to being a doormat. The ending is a sad, flat note on a family that already had a dismal outlook.

Now, Nicholls can write a scene. There was some pretty prose in there, the idea is fantastic. The sumptuous (that’s your word of the day, everyone: sumptuous) depictions of European cities and the museums and the art (you’ll have to look up a couple paintings to understand what the heck they’re talking about when they describe them) are awesome. It’s a vacation-y read. But I like to be able to root for, maybe even relate to my characters. And maybe I’m just not at a place in my life right now where I can appreciate this particular circumstance, even in print, fictional form, but this book was about as far away from my cup of tea as a plate of chicken gizzards (ew).

My Grade: C-

Festive Friday

People finish their Christmas shopping early now! (And make me feel ashamed that I’ve just maybe thought of a few things that might be cool for a couple people) I had people coming up to the cash register in September saying, with a satisfied sigh “And now Chrsitmas shopping is done!” WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE AND WHY ARE YOU SO ON TOP OF THINGS?!

Anyway, I love the holidays 🙂 to be more specific, I love from about mid-September to about mid-January. There’s so much to celebrate, personally in my life as well as holidays. I love Halloween, I love Thanksgiving, I love Christmas. I LOVE fall/winter weather, and if I could, I’d live year round in coats, boots, and scarves.

I also love to give gifts. Isn’t that one of the love languages? I’m referring to that book The 5 Love Languages, in which the author details five ways in which people tend to show affection. Mine is definitely gifts. Whether I make them, bake them, or pay some money for them, I love surprising people with gifts, and making them happy during times like birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, anniversaries, etc.

Note: I looked it up, and the love language is GETTING gifts. While I no doubt love that, I like giving them more (and I’m keeping the above paragraph even though I got the language wrong 😉 )

So! I thought I’d compile some fun things you can buy for the bookworm on your list! I know I’m only giving you a month’s notice, so if you’re like those crazy efficient people above, 1: I hate you a little and 2: maybe the bookworm on your list just needs one more thing? 😉

Book-Related Gifts for the Book-Related Person in Your Life (A Gift Guide for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/whatever)

1.) Homemade bookmarks

I did not make these ones. The link below did

I did not make these ones. The link below did

A couple Christmases ago, my best friend made me a couple of these cute little monster bookmarks. They’re adorable! I made them for Halloween for my coworkers this year, so they’re definitely transferable holiday-wise (make them for your kids’ classmates on Valentine’s Day! I knocked out a couple dozen of them in two or three nights after work – totally doable).
I followed this link: Page Corner Bookmarks
You can also print out photos of your kids (or yourself as a child) to give to your partner/parent as a fun bookmark: link here
Cost: depending on your scrapbook paper reserves (we’re crazy scrapbookers at my house), $15-$30. You’ll need colored cardstock, holiday-specific paper, scissors, and a glue stick. I found that a large hole punch made the eyes super easy to cut out, which I found at my local craft store for $10.

2.) Book-scented candles

By etsy seller Frostbeard

By etsy seller Frostbeard

These are definitely going to a couple of bookworms on my list (and maybe one for myself?)
They’ve been on my Pinterest board for months, and I just love the idea! Soy (so they burn clean!) candles in scents like “Old Books” (Timber, White Tea, Newsprint, Must), “Bookstore” (Timber, driftwood, hazelnut cappuccino and a hint of leather), and “Oxford Library” (Oakmoss, amber, sandalwood, with hints of tobacco and leather). They also have wonderful nerdy candles: every Harry Potter house, “Dumbledore’s Office,” “Pumpkin Juice,” “Butterbeer,” as well as “The Shire,” “Sherlock’s Office,” and “Winterfell” All of this comes from the etsy seller’s page.
Here’s the link!: Frostbeard’s etsy page
Cost: $15 per 8 ounce jar. And if you buy several, you get some money off ($3 off if you buy 4, $10 if you buy 10, etc). You can also get a tea light sampler with 6 different scents for $14!

3.) Book Picking service
Have you heard of those subscription boxes, where you get a selection of makeup samples, or healthy snacks, or even dog and cat toys and treats every month for a small fee? Well, they have a book one, too! Fill out a quiz, tell them about yourself (or the person you’re buying for), and you’ll get a book in the mail tailored to your preferences! It’s a tad expensive if you choose to get a book every month, but the site has tons of options (hardcover, paperback, both, as well as getting the books Monthly, Bi-Monthly, and Quarterly).
Link for books sent to your door: Just the Right Book
Cost: $85 for a quarterly delivery of paperback books, up to $385 for a monthly delivery of hardcover books.

4.) Publish the writer in your life
Do you have a friend who desperately wants to write and publish a book of their own? Is your child a short story-writing fiend? I stumbled upon this website last year (just after my first National Novel Writing Month, actually!) and it’s a site that allows you to publish a manuscript for not that much money! The site also features a cover creator to make the book shine. You can pay to have a professional from the site make one for you, too. I know I’d probably bawl my eyes out if someone did this for some of my stories.
Link to publish your book: Createspace
Cost: You can get a single copy of a small paperback for $3. Amazon will sell copies if you wish, on their website, and send you royalties every time one is sold.

5.) Other book-related paraphernalia
These plates: $12-$40 3,000 Classic novels, saved on a flash drive…shaped like a book. ($30)

Found at gonereading..com

Found at gonereading.com

From innovations.com.au

From innovations.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book scarves: $42 each                   Printable book jackets with cheeky titles (free printables!)

By etsy seller storiarts

By etsy seller storiarts

From embowman.com

From embowman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book pillows!!                                                     Foldable book art (pre-made or do-it-yourself)

artfolds-joy

via thinkgeek.com

via thinkgeek.com

6.) Bookmarks/stocking stuffers

Bookmark that keeps track of your last line        Witty, unobtrusive bookmarks

lastlinebookmark

talkativebookmarks

 

& Review: The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero. Fiction. Publisher: Doubleday

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero. Fiction. Publisher: Doubleday

The Book Itself: A complex cover! And one that does not make 100% sense until you finish the book (the eye is particularly chilling post-read). I love that it is in black and white, and just macabre enough. And the names around the edge! I can’t tell you why that’s cool (because spoilers), but trust me: it is.

My Review: When twentysomething A., the unexpected European relative of the Wells family, and his companion, Niamh, a mute teenage girl with shockingly dyed hair, inherit the beautiful but eerie estate of Axton House, deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never even knew he had a “second cousin, twice removed” in America, much less that the eccentric gentleman had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together, A. and Niamh quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and a cushy lifestyle. Axton House is haunted, they know it, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the secrets they slowly but surely uncover. Why all the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze and what does the basement vault keep? And what of the rumors in town about a mysterious gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?

What a topsy-turvy book! Told entirely through journal entries, letters, transcriptions of video and audio recordings, and ciphers (secret codes!!), it’s definitely a unique book that had me staying up late to figure out where it was all going to lead.

At first I found it hard to buy in. Everything seemed to happen so randomly. Nothing seemed to fit together! A. and Niamh perplexed and annoyed me. What was up with them? How did they even get to living together? Why is she mute? Is she really mute? Or does she just choose not to speak? And how old is she??

See, lots of questions.

But let me tell you, those last one hundred pages really made up for any confusion I had.

Not that these pages listed out my answers nice and neat for me. On the contrary: those last hundred pages took everything I thought might happen and tore it apart, turned it on its head, and made the book into something else entirely.

You get breadcrumbs of clues, you try to piece something together but nothing ever quite fits. Because the truth behind the story is stranger than fiction. There are otherworldly things, the transference of dreams, madmen, massacres, and a swift ending that leaves you reeling.

It’s like a giant, messed up version of the Clue board game. And I mean, it’s quite messed up. Not for the younger audiences, not for the faint of heart.

Now that I’ve given you complete gobble-dy gook of a review! Let’s try to convey something that makes sense: this is an awesome book. It makes up for the price of admission, which is sheer confusion for the bulk of it, being fed just enough clues to keep you interested, making you feel like you might figure it out soon. It’s masterfully plotted and the mystery is well-crafted (if you can suspend your disbelief enough to allow for some magical/mystical factors. “Supernatural enhancements,” if you will to what is otherwise a mystery novel set in modern day ;-)).

The characters are a tad grating. A. is always “A.” You never get a name. I spent most of the book thinking Niamh was pronounced “NY-am” before the end, where I learn it’s actually pronounced “NEEV.” She’s always a bit of a mystery. Ironically, the biggest mystery left unsolved at the end of this thing is the main characters, and what exactly they’re up to. It’s one of the biggest thing that grates at the end of an otherwise awesome story.

But please, please go along for the ride. If anything else, it’ll be something you haven’t seen before.

My Grade: B+

Crack the Code: No, I did not just smack my hand down on my keyboard! Within the book is a specific kind of code, used to encode one of the clues to the book’s overall mystery. It’s called a Playfair Cipher, and if you’ve read this book (and even if you haven’t and just want a challenge), try to decode my message here (and try not to be a Cheater McCheaterson and plug it into some kind of decoding website!). The code will give you your next instructions 😉

KMRMYTTNNLVAGBIOIPBKDQRAGQERWTTRBGTWPBQIBIQWF
RNAZKFPBFBHBHDOLBPQIREKPSFBYTBBXPBNUUGTBBFBWQL
CKWNPRBOWGQIFBARYFMYSFEAQWGLIVQLCKTAYAMCABDV

I hope I did that right! 😛

Feud Friday

ebookvsbook

Photo credit: theawkwardyeti.com

Oh man. It’s here. The literary elephant in the room.

Which is better…

E-READER VS. BOOK

eReaders…able to store thousands of books in its electrical covers, built in back light, small, compact, and travelable, yet without the satisfaction of turning a page, sniffing that old-page smell, gifting it to a friend.

Books…smelly (mostly in a good way), make you feel pretty dang smart, easy on the eyes (as long as there’s enough light to read), look great on a bookshelf, yet cumbersome to go on vacation with stacks of them, expensive when freshly released, and what if you don’t want to keep them when you’re finished reading?

Where exactly, do you stand?

And where, exactly, do stand?

Well, ever take an English AP class? Remember that when writing your essay, you could choose to be for the proposed topic, against it, or play both sides and just say hey, they both have their merits?

I’m totally that middle-grounder. That cheater. Because I love ’em both.

When gifted an eReader for Christmas one year, I was hesitant. I was all prepared to be the Book Purist. “You can’t beat a real book!” “eReader’s can never capture the smell of a book!” “I like the feel of a real book in my hands.”

But nothing beats packing for a trip, hitting a couple buttons on your wishlist, and not having to pack a pile of (heavy) hardbacks into your carry-on or checked baggage.

It’s actually pretty awesome to have a whole library in my hands, swathed in its travel case on long trips, available to me at the push of a button. Tired of the latest funny memoir of an SNL alum? Cool, I can just switch on over to my complete set of Game of Thrones and pick up where I left off in book two (there’s a lot of names, okay?!)

(Plus, it’s way easy to get digital ARC’s with an eReader and an active blog)

And yet, bookstores are my favorite places. New books cross my path every day. Someone buys something I haven’t seen before and I make a mental note. Often, those mental notes have to spill over onto a Post-It, because I can’t possibly keep them all in my head! Putting a new book on my to-read shelf makes me smile. Eagerly anticipating a book’s release, then getting to go home with it after months of waiting?! Priceless.

Because books are often cheaper as an e-version.

Because a book never depletes a battery.

Because if I hate the way a font looks or the size is too small, I can change that with the press of a button.

Because I collect bookmarks from every place I’ve ever traveled to, and using on in the pages of a book makes me happy.

I truly use them both equally. After reading a few books on my eReader, I need to give my eyes a break and give my hands something to hold; I need to take something off the to-read shelf.

Wow. What a cutthroat debate that was, huh? I am clearly an argumentative person 😉

Your thoughts? What do you prefer?

& Review: Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson. Fiction. Publisher: The Friday Project

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson. Fiction. Publisher: The Friday Project

The Book Itself: As this book isn’t out until February, I can only give you my opinions on the ebook cover art (otherwise I could give you insight into jacket material or endpage art or page quality, etc.) The sad tree lady makes sense in the context of a certain character. The art is pretty, the integration of the words interesting. I like the pastel colors, too!

My Review: Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight …

On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.

Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death in an earthquake, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realise that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his dad, is slipping away from him.

If you took any kind of English class in college (probably not the Medieval ones, I’m thinking Modern Novel or something), you have probably heard the term “Magical Realism.” And you have probably read something that was three parts confusing, one part words that made a little sense.

I have learned to take magical realism with a bunch of grains of salt. And they are not all created equal. I feel like some authors make a convoluted story, slap a bunch of magical, weird things in there and go “look! I made a magical realism!”

This book came highly recommended from a former coworker of mine (actually a manager from the bookstore who has gone on to manage a different bookstore). She gushed about it, so I looked into getting an ARC and managed to snag an electronic copy.

Boy howdy was this magical realism. But at least it had a strong backbone of actual fiction and character story, so I’ll give it a break there.

My issues with magical realism aren’t the fantasy of it – I love sci-fi/fantasy! Half the books I review here are from that genre! But the logic of it…or lack thereof. Magical realism plops magic into a regular world, and then doesn’t explain its origins or even it’s conclusion. In Of Things Gone Astray, you never learn why or how people lose these things (front walls of houses, piano keys, relationship to your father, relationship to your son, your sense of direction, etc.) And for a lot of people here, how they ultimately deal with the lost thing isn’t included. They lose a thing, they mourn…and that’s it. And most people don’t even end up happy! It’s like in the movie Love Actually, where half those British people don’t get what they want or deserve, and you’re like “This is supposed to be a happy Christmas movie?!”

When I touched base with the person who recommended it, she pointed out that half the fun was figuring out what was purely symbolism (let’s just say one person slowly turns into a tree…), and what was literally meant.”Oh, I took that to mean he/she was in a mental institution,” and “Oh, he definitely had Alzheimer’s” our Facebook messages flew. So these people’s losses represent something greater in each of them. I got that they probably symbolized something, but I wasn’t reading it as if each lost thing were literally another situation entirely. Make sense?

Of course not.

So while I’m still wrapping my brain around magical realism (and heck, I have a degree in English Literature), this book did keep me gripped. Even though there weren’t explanations, even conclusions to some stories, the characters had nice growth, their stories of loss eliciting a range of emotions: sadness and heartbreak as well as joy and fun (Peter’s conversations with his precocious daughter are completely adorable).

So read it, but try not to analyze it like I do. It’ll itch your brain 😉

My Grade: B

Reminds me a little of…

theuncoupling

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer

An entire town of women magically lose their libidos when the school puts on Lysistrata (the play about women withholding sex).

Foodie Friday

‘Tis the Season for…cookbooks?

So…I recently took my very first cooking class. I learned a lot of awesome things: how to season, truss, and cook a chicken, how to fry eggplant and smother it in homemade marinara sauce so that you forget eggplant parmesan is actually vegetables, and poached pears in wine for a couple hours before topping with ice cream for dessert.

And it was the first time I’d done any of those things.

Starbursts + fruit roll ups = Christmas cupcakes!

Starbursts + fruit roll ups = Christmas cupcakes!

Here’s the deal: I LOVE to bake. Absolutely love it. I’ve made (maybe not mastered, but certainly made some pretty dang good) macaroons. I found that chocolate chip cookie recipe that turns out wonderful, fluffy, symmetrical cookies every time. Cupcakes were my jam for a while. For Christmas, I made packages out of unwrapped Starburst candies, with fruit roll up ribbons.

But I was never a cook. I never learned to test the doneness of a turkey in the oven, make a stew, season basically ANYTHING (this is not the fault of anyone in my family. Everyone is a great cook. But I never asked to be taught, and I always provided the dessert, of course!)

So now all I want to do is read and try recipes from cookbooks! (Just ignore the fact that a lot of these are baking books…old habits die hard)

huckleberry2

huckleberry3

Huckleberry: Recipes, Stories, and Secrets from Our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan

Recipes straight from a California bakery, the cover art – a cutaway loaf of bread with tantalizing fruit oozing in a spiral from the inside – is delicious looking enough. But wait for it…THE PAGES ARE POLKA DOTTED!

thesecretrecipes

The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel

This is the person who invented the cronut. Need I say more?

I do? Okay, the cronut (croissant donut, for those who are scratching their heads) is amazing. A local bakery here in Oregon makes them, and I think they’re spectacular. This book is rather hush-hugh, but I have heard word that the infamous recipe will be included. Plus, what a cool title!?

eattheyear

Eat the Year: 366 Fun and Fabulous Food Holidays to Celebrate Every Day by Steff Deschenes

Ever hear of those weird holidays? “National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day” (Jan. 22nd) “National Clean Your Refrigerator Day” (November 15th, get ready!) well this book corrals all the food ones so you can say you celebrated a national holiday every day! It’d be even more awesome if they included a little recipe for each day, but the lists are pretty cool. It would make an awesome gift for a foodie or someone you know who loves to entertain!

seriously delish

Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

It’s a cutesy title, but the blog is full of yummy looking recipes and witty banter, so I’ll roll with it. When I opened this one and saw that a category was called “Salads, Soups & Vegetable-Like Things (ugh if we must)” I was hooked. I treated myself one week after a rough day at work. Looking forward to my oatmeal dripping with fruits and yummy cinnamon soon 😉

The blog in question is How Sweet Eats.

thehipgirlsguidetothekitchen

The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen by Kate Payne

This one’s just so you can point to it and say “look, I’m ‘hip!'”

Just kidding. Kind of. But it’s got tons of practical tips on how to not waste food, how to buy seasonally, which recipes you should get really really good at making, and how to just be more comfortable in the kitchen. And I don’t think it’s just for the cooking newbie like me. I feel like seasoned wannabe chefs could learn from the meal planning tips and advice? One such person would have to tell me for sure 🙂

So how about it? Any cookbooks you’ve read recently that you absolutely love – every recipe you’ve tried turned out beautifully and deliciously? Want me to include some of my baking recipes on this here book blog (uhh, what goes better than a good book and a delicious cupcake?!)?

TALK TO ME ABOUT FOOOOOD! 🙂

 

 

 

& Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Fiction. Publisher: Knopf

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
Fiction. Publisher: Knopf

The Book Itself: A pretty, real-life photo of a starry night (sand light pollution) and tents set up in the field. After reading the book, I’m unclear whether this is supposed to be a scene from the book, and if so, which one? But it makes for a pretty, if rather unremarkable book cover, with tie-ins to the story within.

My Review: “One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.”

A gorgeously written book. And not one that necessarily relies on flowery description. While the whole Georgia Flu end-of-the-world thing lends its own degree of tension, some of the most impactful, heartbreaking moments were very human, day-to-day occurrences. My personal favorite:

“But the first man who walked in under low gray skies seemed less dangerous than stunned. He was dirty, of indeterminate age, dressed in layers of clothes, and he hadn’t shaved in a long time…
‘I was in the hotel,’ he said finally. ‘I followed your footprints in the snow.’ There were tears on his face.
‘Okay,’ someone said, ‘but why are you crying?’
‘I’d thought I was the only one,’ he said.”

UGH. Right in the gut.

There are a lot of characters to be tracked in this book. Their storylines intertwine very well, but at times I was left desiring a little more from a character’s background, or a summarization of their fate. Most of them can be traced back to the night before the Georgia Flu really took off running. A famous actor dies onstage, the man training to be an EMT jumps up to save him, the actor’s first, eccentric wife, the young girl playing a part in the play during the time of its interruption…all of them play integral parts in the novel. They touch an object, you can be sure that object will come back later, and with feeling.

Kirsten – the young girl grown up to be traveling actor in a troupe bent on entertaining colonies and towns sprung up in the aftermath of the Flu – is perhaps the fuzziest. What happens between her crying backstage as a child, and her trudging along after a dusty caravan is mainly never touched. You are to understand that it is too horrific to retell, even for her to recall. On the one hand, in a story that seems to try to wrap up all loose ends, more or less, this seems like a rather large end to not tie. On the other, it seems very appropriate: the Georgia Flu is horrific. It should be too painful to go through again, even in memory. As a curious reader, I’m left going “but what happened?!” As a person thinking about what I’d do, I’m thinking I’d be curled up in a ball in the corner if I were her. She’s toughing it out better than I would.

The book gets its title from a series of comic books the famous actor’s first ex-wife (Miranda) draws. I loved this aspect of it. First of all, Station Eleven is the floating world-on-a-spaceship that the hero of the comic inhabits after life on his Earth ends. Can you say metaphor? World ending theme aside, there’s isolation, creativity in the face of tragedy, heroism…awesome (says the analysis beat into me by my degree in English literature).

The comics become a wonderful glue that hold certain characters together. And in a poetic  moment, they save one person’s life and end anothers (oooh, intrigue!)

It’s a long ride, and the conclusion was a little softer than I expected. No drawn out showdown, no greater cataclysm (although what bigger cataclysm can you have AFTER the world as you know it has ended?). I thought the information from each character was carefully measured, and carried such a great impact. A great book. Definitely deserves all the hype its been getting.

My Grade: B