The Love That Split the World

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The Love That Split the World

People think Natalie Cleary might be crazy since she sees things no one else can. Are the people she sees ghosts, visions, or living nightmares? When Natalie falls in love with Beau Wilkes, she has to figure out if his odd arrival in her life is a sign that he might not be real. Now she has to solve the puzzle of how to keep her mystery love in her world.

The Love that Split the World was a quick read making it great for summer. While the plot behind the story may seem heavy (a girl is trying to make sense of a world that is literally changing before her eyes), Emily Henry managed to keep things light in the book.

The idea of having two timelines of life overlapping on earth was interesting. It was so unique! This theory is what really gave this book its rating. But then Henry added time travel, which never works for me. Going back in time and altering major events can kill a book. We invested all this time in a story, and now you’re going to go back and undo everything? Nope.

The love interest Beau Wilkes was flawless. That might sound like a good thing, but perfection is unrealistic and it made his character flat. The love was as superficial as Beau was– a love at first sight that was more of a teenage obsession than anything else.

I loved the cleverness behind the book, but the characters and relationships could have been developed a little more.

4bc64-3star
Title: The Love That Split the World
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: January 26, 2016
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The Art of Not Breathing

The Art of Not Breathing


The Art of Not Breathing has an intriguing plot line that’s part murder mystery part adventure story. Elsie Main’s twin brother drowned five years ago, but even though she was with him the day he died, she can’t remember exactly what happened. Her parents have forbidden her to go to the beach, but it’s only when she’s in the water that pieces of her memory return. Little by little she realizes that her family and friends have all been keeping secrets from her. Only if she dives deep (literally) will she be able to answer the question: What really happened the day Eddie died? 

Intriguing, right?

Well add in the fact that Elsie’s mom is an alcoholic, her dad hates the world, her brother is anorexic, her “boyfriend” randomly disappears, she’s bullied at school, and has self-esteem issues. Oh, and her dead twin brother, Eddie, talks to her in her mind. Ya. There’s a LOT of heavy subplot going on.

Things that seem important at the beginning of the book (Elsie hearing Eddie’s voice in her head) end up being trivial (he’s all but silent by the end). The fact that every character is dealing with their own drama made me wish that SOMEONE could have had their life together. It’s a little draining hearing how awful and unhappy everyone is all the time. 

I was so excited to explore the country of Ireland! But, the accents disappeared after the first chapter and the vague descriptions of the town and ocean made it sound like this story could just as easily have taken place in New England. Luckily, the only time I’ve ever been to New England was when I was a little kid. New England is just as foreign as Ireland, so The Art of Not Breathing was still a nice escape for me.

Title: The Art of Not Breathing
Author: Sarah Alexander
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Published: January 5, 2016
There is one particular quote in the book that I really take to heart:

“Go with your heart, not your head, because your head doesn’t know what it wants. It only thinks about the moral high ground. And if your heart isn’t happy, when you try to share it, you’ll make others unhappy too.”

Isn’t that beautiful?



Winter

Winter

As the final book in the Lunar Chronicles, I wanted to love this book.
Cinder was such a great and engaging opener to the series, but this end book just didn’t meet my expectations.

I think what made Winter a miss for me were the 50 million subplots throughout the book, most of which involved a romance of some sort. Every book in the Lunar Chronicles, builds off of the prior book adding a new subplot and a new set characters.
Cinder– Cinder & Prince Kai
Scarlet– Cinder & Prince Kai, Scarlet & Wolf
Cress– Cinder & Prince Kai, Scarlet & Wolf, Cress & Thorne
Winter– Cinder & Prince Kai, Scarlet & Wolf, Cress & Thorne, Winter & Jacin
That’s a lot of subplot! It made the story a little jerky to me because every other chapter followed a different group of characters. 
I’m glad that I read it though, because the basis behind the series is so clever. I loved being able to see traditional fairy tales get such a unique twist.


Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 
Published: November 10, 2015

Never Let Me Go/ On Such a Full Sea

Ever since The Hunger Games dystopian plots have taken over fiction titles…and not just YA.
Two books on my Goodreads list were Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee. Well, I went to the library and these two were both on the shelves, so I checked them out. I don’t purposefully try to read books that are similar in plot lines, so I was interested to see how these two books would compare.
I know. I know. Every book is different, and you shouldn’t compare one title to the next. But just because you shouldn’t doesn’t mean you don’t. 
I read Never Let Me Go first, so I’ll start here. 
Kazuo Ishiguro is an author that I read in high school. His book The Remains of the Day is considered a classic read, so naturally the English department had that on our required reading for the year. Never Let Me Go had a very similar tone to The Remains of the Day, which unfortunately was not my favorite book. 
Never Let Me Go follows a group of children that were raised in Halisham, a mysterious boarding school. As they grow from children to teens to young adults, the main characters Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy reflect on their time spent together in the secretive institution.
Ishiguro is a beautiful writer in terms of the language and his ability to create visually memorable scenes. He writes like a painter, putting emotion onto paper in a way that the reader feels his words. A wonderful writer, BUT his story is written like one long flashback. It was hard for me to get drawn into the story when the plot line kept getting interrupted by, “It reminded me of when” or, “I thought back to the year.” 
The jumping from present to past to the even further past and then back to the present was jarring for me. Just when I was digging into the scenario on hand, the year would change, the location would change, the personality of the characters would change and I’d have to refamiliarize myself with story. 
***SPOILER ALERT***
The ending was a little predictable. A group of children are in a private institution…no one is allowed to leave and no one is allowed in…when the children reach a certain age they are sent away and never come back. Come on, what do you think is going on? 
Science experiments? Organ Donations? Clones? It sounds all too familiar. 
Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Knopf
Published: March 14, 2006
Then there’s On Such a Full Sea.
This book involves a young girl, Fan, who leaves her city unit B-Mor in search of her boyfriend. She’s pregnant and when he goes missing, risks her life and her unborn baby’s life to find him. Fan meets a strange array of characters on her search, and when I say strange, I mean it feels like they are straight out of a beautiful but odd Cirque du Soleil performance. 
The book is futuristic, and Lee takes liberty to make it a bleak and crazy future. There were portions of the book that I had to reread because I’d think, “Wait, what just happened?” I felt like I was reading someone’s trippy dream journal because the plot jumps from one really weird situation to the next really weird situation. It had the hint of a Tim Burton movie, where each character is so unique and memorable, but everything is so dark. 
I did think that Fan was well written and Lee created unforgettable characters and situations. There are also some very beautiful passages from this book that are both wise and poetic:
“It’s not that we’re too fearful or comfortable, too cautious or reluctant, but that, as we have never experienced life outside these bounds…the reach of our thoughts has a near ceiling. Imagination might not be limitless. It’s still tethered to the universe of what we know, and as wild as our dreams might be, we can’t help but read them with the same grounded circumspection that guided our forebears when they mapped out our walls.”
“And too intense a longing, everyone knows, can lead to poor decisions, rash actions, hopes that become outsized and in turn deform reality.”
Three stars. Same rating…different reasons!
Title: On Such a Full Sea
Author: Chang-Rae Lee
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Published: December 2, 2014

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible is an eye-opening look at the life of missionary work in the Congo during the 1960’s. The poetic imagery that Barbara uses to recreate life in the Congo brings the story to life, but what really gives this book legs are her characters—a zealous preacher, his reluctant wife, and their four daughters.

I loved the first half of the book, because the characters were full of raw emotions and distinct voices and personalities. It’s normally a struggle for me when every chapter is from a different POV, but the story flowed so well with Barbara’s characters. In fact, the different voices balanced the hopes and fears of each character, so what could have been a depressing storyline turned into a all encompassing one.

The second half was harder for me to read. There was a distinct shift in the book, almost like I read two different books. All of a sudden years passed between each chapter, and I felt that I missed chunks of the story. It’s like a whole new group of actors replaced the original cast after the first season. Same names but not the same people. While I understand her reason for this time shift (to show how the Congo shaped each of characters’ lives), it was still a struggle for me.

Overall, it’s easy to see why this book is used in school English departments. From an educational standpoint, the book is full of history, character styled writing, and figurative language (seriously, the language is so rich, that Barbara paints pictures with her words). From my standpoint, I missed the characters I met and loved in the first half of the book!

Title: The Poisonwood Bible
Author: Barbara Kingsolver 
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classic 
Published: 1998


This book hit home on a very personal level. For anyone that has served a mission (regardless of religious faith), this book is a reflection of the emotions felt when away from home in an unfamiliar place. When I was 21, I chose to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For a year-and-a-half I lived in various cities in the mission Brasil, Goiânia sharing everything I knew and loved about two special books—The Bible and The Book of Mormon.

As a missionary we looked for ways to help in service, share our talents to uplift others, and of course invited everyone to follow Christ by being baptized by those who have the priesthood authority to do so.

I learned 6 major lessons from my mission experiences, some things Nathan Price could have learned:

1. There is beauty ALL around

Just because someplace is different from what you’re used to doesn’t mean it’s bad. Keep your eyes and your heart open at all times, or you may miss out on the beauty around you! Dirt roads often have the best scenery.

2. Education never ends

I was the only American in this entire city, meaning I either learned to speak Portuguese…or else! There is so much to learn in the world, so much we are able to learn, that we should take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new.

3. Live simply, happily, and with purpose

This was our “laundry room” —an outdoor sink with wires strung across for us to hang our clothes to air dry. There were no carpets, no a.c. units, and we walked to get anywhere. It was hard, but we knew why were doing it, so we were oh so happy!

4. Count your blessings

We walked all day, every day (with the occasional bus ride). Missionary shoes are proof of the physical demands of sharing the gospel. I’m so grateful that my body was healthy enough to walk and work on tar, concrete, and dirt roads, in the pouring monsoon seasons and the 100 degree summers.

5. Love = Service

You cannot serve someone and not end up loving them. The people of Brasil have a year-and-a-half of my service and a lifetime of my love. 

6. Enjoy the journey

Our work as missionaries was important, but my fondest memories of the mission include smiles and laughter. Life is a journey, so we need to make sure that we allow ourselves to enjoy it. This street translates to Lollipop Road 🙂
If you would like more information on what I did as a missionary, just send me an email: boofaireblog (at) gmail (dot) come