Review// Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: August 4, 2002
Book Length: 162 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….

In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close. The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it’s different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

My Review:

When I think of Coraline, I think of Octobers as a child flipping through television stations and finding that it was playing. For a children’s movie, it always felt so sinister – the blank, button-eyed stare of the ‘Other Mother’ still imprinted in my mind. Now that I’ve read it, I still have the same impression, except now, I understand a deeper meaning behind the story that I never thought about as a kid.

Like many fictional children before her, curious Coraline daydreams of a different life – a life away from home where she feels bored and neglected by her preoccupied parents. Enter the secret corridor in her house which she discovers and is immediately enthralled by. When Coraline steps through the door, she is in an alternate reality of her own life and one that, at first, seems so much better. Through the door, her ‘Other Parents’ pay attention to her, people actually call her Coraline instead of Caroline, and her father’s disgusting dinners are a thing of the past. Everything seems perfect… a little too perfect. Her Other Mother wants her to stay there with her, never to return to her original world, so she can love and care for Coraline forever. Once Coraline rebels against the idea, the Other Mother’s true colours as an evil, manipulative entity are shown and it is Coraline’s job to save herself, her family, and other children she meets along the way who have all fallen victim to Other Mother’s trap.

The way I see it, the life beyond the door represented the exact flip of Coraline’s reality: in her real life, she knew her parents loved her, but they were poor showing it and kind of unintentionally treated her like a nuisance; in life beyond the door, her Other Parents showed her affection, but it was hollow and based upon manipulation. People who are manipulative are often blind to what it is they are doing and how that affects other people – cue the reason that in the other world, the Other Mother and everyone else who was successfully manipulated by her had buttons for eyes, much like puppets. I found it so interesting that the Other Mother was trying to give Coraline buttons for eyes, because in my opinion that felt like a fitting final step for someone who wants to rid you of the ability to see them for the monster they really are.

The dark fantasy-style of writing works perfectly for this book because Coraline herself is grappled by the dark fantasy presented though the alternate version of her life. Just as it is the perfect October movie, it is the perfect October book, and one that I would definitely revisit time and time again.

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Review// Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life & Love From Dear Sugar

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Author: Cheryl Strayed
Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-fiction
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Book Length:  304 pages 
Publisher: Vintage
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

My Review:

It’s hard to think of the perfect thing to say that would accurately convey what this book has done to me but the one thing that I know for certain is that it was life-altering. I’m better for having read this, and that, to me, is what all the best books do—they make you feel changed for the better.

This book is a compilation of advice columns answered by a woman who goes by the name, ‘Sugar’. It is what the title says it is—advice on life and love—but for almost the whole book, I wondered why it was called Tiny Beautiful Things. It’s not until I finished that I understood that it is sometimes the tiny, beautiful, seemingly-meaningless things about life that you don’t think matter that much in the moment which are the things you look back on as some of the most profound of your life.

The letters written to Sugar over the course of this book come from people of all ages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and the like—people who are lost, confused, lonely, desperate, and scared, looking for someone to give them answers. Sugar isn’t some all-knowing fortune teller with a crystal ball who can see into your future, and she doesn’t claim to be; she is a real human being like you or I who has also been lost, confused, lonely, desperate, and scared. That is what makes her advice so good.  That is why thousands of people write to her—because even if she hasn’t been in their particular situation, she makes them feel understood by bringing up her own experiences and never saying that they are wrong for feeling what they do. And feeling understood feels really, really good, especially when you are going through tough situations that make you feel alone, as many of these people were. Even though I can’t say I have experienced half of the exact things that the people who wrote to her were going through, I can say that I have experienced the same emotions, which made the stories feel relatable regardless.

This was eye-opening and, at times, a heavy and emotional read. I really cannot recommend it enough, and I will be giving it a reread in the future for sure.


What would you tell your twentysomething self if you could talk to her now?

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.


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Disney Channel Halloween Movies Tag

Yay, a Halloween-inspired tag! Thank you to Rendz of Reading With Rendz for tagging me to do this; I was really excited because Disney Channel Halloween movies are my life this time of year. (And no, I don’t care how old I get, I will always love the classic Disney Channel movies – Halloween or not – of my childhood. No shame whatsoever).

Rules:

  1. Tag the creator (bookprincessreviews) of the DHM Tag.
  2. Thank the person who tagged who.
  3. Answer the questions.
  4. Tag five more people.

Halloweentown: Where is your favorite place to go for Halloween or a place you want to go?

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Can I literally say Halloweentown or is that cheating? The first Halloweentown movie is my favourite one they play on Disney Channel during this season. Normally I would be terrified to go where all of those creatures live, but that movie made them seem friendly and I was always so jealous of those kids. Really hoping I’m not too old for a distant relative to show up on Halloween night and tell me I’m a witch…

Under Wraps: What’s something that used to be scary to you and then you realized it wasn’t just the mummy in this movie?

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The dark used to be very scary to me and I’ve learned to not be as afraid of it, buuut sometimes I still can be! My issue is that I really like to read about/ watch things that freak me out, so if I do it too close to bed time I am in for a long, sleepless night.

Tower of Terror: What is the scariest place you’ve ever been?

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I went to one of those amusement parks around Halloween time that has mazes where people dressed in scary costumes jump out at you, and where people come at you with chainsaws. You can imagine I did not sleep well that night. But, like I said, I enjoy things that freak me out… even if I am tortured by the thoughts of it later.

Twitches: If you could be any supernatural creature, what would you be?

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I would want to be a witch for sure!!! I was that girl whose costume was a witch like 5 times in a row in elementary school.

Don’t Look Under the Bed: Were you scared of monsters when you were a kid? When did it stop?

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Yes. I used to practically suffocate under blankets before I allowed my feet to dangle off my bed for fear that a monster would grab my foot. I don’t even know when it stopped, but I’m gonna guess it was a lot more recently that I would prefer to admit.

Phantom of the Megaplex: Do you watch scary movies? If so, what is your favorite or the one you got most afraid of?

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I do! Does it count if I’m covering my eyes (more than) half the time though?! I liked IT – I’ve only watched the remake – and Poltergeist, and I remember watching The Strangers when it came out and being terrified. Going to a remote cabin in the woods??? Noooooope. Count me out.

The Scream Team: Who would be on your dream team if you went on a ghost/supernatural creature hunt?

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Rhysand from the ACOTAR series. I feel like he would be a good protector, and like he’s a High Fae so he has some cool powers I think may be helpful. (I’m only on the second book, no one spoil him for me!!!) Also, I liked Rendz’s idea of bringing along a hot guy to hide behind so I am totally stealing that.

Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire: Have you ever witnessed something/someone that could only be explained by the paranormal? If yes, what/who?

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I’m going to sound crazy, but when I was a kid my bed used to be close to my window and one night I heard a little kid calling for their dad over and over in the exact same tone (sounded like a broken record) at like 11PM. First of all, no little kid lived next door, and second, I don’t think one would be outside by themselves at 11PM on a school night in the dead of winter. The second I called for my own dad, the voice stopped. Pretty sure I slept with the covers aaaaalll the way up to my nose that night.

This tag was so fun! I tag: 

Shalini

Becky

Catherine

Angelica

Kristin

As always, if you don’t want to do the tag or have done it already, no pressure to do it! And if I didn’t tag you but you want to do it, feel free to say I tagged you so I can see your answers 🙂

Happy reading,

Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Tag: Three Day Lyrical Challenge | Day 3

Thank you Sara for the tag! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, please do 🙂 I’m kind of sad that this is the last day of the challenge, I had a lot of fun writing for this one.


The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Share one of your favorite song/lyrics one at a time for three days.
  3. Nominate three other bloggers each day.

The Best Day
Taylor Swift

I really enjoy Taylor Swift in general, but her older music is where it’s at for me. This song makes me really emotional every single time I listen to it. It’s told in a narrative of her growing up and having the best days with her mom. My mom and I have always been very close, so listening to it makes me think about my own experiences with her. I had actually never watched the music video before writing this post, and let me tell you it’s a good thing this is the last day of this challenge because I think I did some major water damage to my computer. Totally worth it though, because this song is beautiful.

I’m five years old
It’s getting cold
I’ve got my big coat on
I hear your laugh
And look up smiling at you
I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch
And the tractor rides
Look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs
And fall asleep on the way home
I don’t know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you’re not scared of anything at all
Don’t know if Snow White’s house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today
I’m thirteen now
And don’t know how
My friends could be so mean
I come home crying
And you hold me tight
And grab the keys
And we drive and drive
Until we find a town far enough away
And we talk and window shop
‘Till I forgotten all their names
I don’t know who I’m gonna talk to now at school
But I know I’m laughing
On the car ride home with you
Don’t know how long it’s gonna take to feel okay
But I know I had the best day with you today
I have an excellent father
His strength is making me stronger
God smiles on my little brother
Inside and out he’s better than I am
I grew up in a pretty house
And I’ve got space to run and hide
And I had the best days with you
There is a video I found
From back when I was three
You set up a paint set in the kitchen
And you’re talking to me
It’s the age of princesses and pirate ships
And the seven dwarfs
And Daddy’s smart
And you’re the prettiest lady in the whole wide world
And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side
Even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
Staying back and watching me shine
And, I didn’t know if you knew
So I’m taking this chance to say
That I had the best day with you today.

Tagging: Bibi | Lily | Celine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Tag: Three Day Lyrical Challenge | Day 2

Before I get into Day 2, I just want to say a huge thank you to Sara for tagging me in this challenge. It’s really nice to talk about something other than books on my blog and hopefully connect with other people on some other hobbies of mine.


The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Share one of your favorite song/lyrics one at a time for three days.
  3. Nominate three other bloggers each day.

Drops of Jupiter
Train

You know what the most special thing about this song is to me? It never gets old. I could listen to it on repeat for 24 hours and still come out loving it. When I first heard it, I never really thought much about the meaning behind the lyrics – they kind of don’t make sense if you are trying to conjure up on your own what the narrative was meant to be. However, I had heard many years ago that the lead singer, Pat Monahan, wrote this in memory of his late mother who died from cancer. In an interview, he said, “Loss of the most important person in my life was heavy on my mind, and the thought of ‘what if no one ever really leaves? What if she’s here but different. The idea was, she’s back here in the atmosphere.”

It is sometimes through loss that we find the strength to discover ourselves, and I think that is the message he was trying to convey with this song. To believe that those you love never really leave, but that they are back here in the atmosphere is such a beautiful mentality to have when trying to cope with a significant loss, and it makes me appreciate the song even more.

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s a-time to change, hey, hey
Since the return of her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey
Hey, hey
But tell me
did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way
to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
Tell me
did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were
looking for yourself out there?
Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo
Reminds me that there’s a-room to grow, hey, hey, yeah
Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
I’m afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol’ Jane, told a story about a man
who is too afraid to fly so he never did land
But tell me
did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were
looking for yourself out there
Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you’re wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze-dried romance
Five-hour phone conversation
The best soy latte that you ever had, and me
But tell me
did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?
And tell me
did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
And tell me
did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were
looking for yourself
Na-na, na-na, na-na
Na-na, na-na, na-na
And did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?
Na-na, na-na, na-na
Na-na, na-na, na-na
And did you fall from a shooting star?
fall from a shooting star?
Na-na, na-na, na-na
Na-na, na-na, na-na
And are you lonely looking for yourself out there?

Tagging: Dezzy | Eli | Lori

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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