Review// Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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Author: Lisa Genova
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: July 6, 2007
Book Length: 292 pages 
Publisher: iUniverse
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…

My Review:

Occhiolism (n) – the awareness of the of the smallness of your perspective in the grandness of the vast scope of the Universe.

I like books that widen my perspective—books that make me aware of how small the world—my world—is in the grand scheme of things. That is what this book did to me.

It was heartbreaking to read about Alice’s condition worsening and her going from giving talks at Harvard to not even recognizing her own children. I think a lot of people have the misconception that Alzheimer’s is something that only happens to the elderly, but this really opens your eyes to the fact that it happen even to younger, well-educated, successful people that you wouldn’t typically associate the disease with.

I liked how the book focused on the familial relationship and how her husband and children coped through the progression of the Alzheimer’s alongside Alice. At times I grew frustrated with her husband especially, because it felt like she had almost become a burden in his life rather than someone he loved and wanted to care for. However, I also couldn’t even imagine someone with whom I had built over 25 years of life with developing something so slowly deteriorating, so I did begin to understand his character and sympathize as time went on. I think the Alzheimer’s actually made her family closer, which is sad but also a reality that many families do face. That’s what I particularly liked about this – it felt honest and real. Alice’s life still had meaning and value even though she couldn’t remember much of it by the end. Her value was derived not by what she was able to remember, but by everything she gave of herself throughout her life to others to remember her by.

Although I didn’t cry, this book made me emotional on several occasions as I got to feel like I really knew Alice and grew to love her. I really enjoyed reading this book and it will remain close to my heart forever.

“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment.”

– Catherine

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Review// A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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Author: Jennifer Egan
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Book Length: 341 pages 
Publisher: Anchor Books
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

My Review:

There’s this memory that I have from grade 9 geography class that will stick with me for the rest of my life: we were watching a nature documentary, and this one scene of a waterfall flowing through rocks was on the television screen as the narrative voice of a woman said, “tiiiime paaasses” – elongating the vowels just like that. This one girl in my class thought the voiceover was hilarious, so she kept repeating ‘tiiiime paaasses’ over and over and giggling as only a 14-year-old girl can in her vivacious way. In that moment I remember thinking that as funny as it all seemed, that voice was right—time passes. And although I knew it at the time, the way you always do when you realize you’re living in a moment you know will turn to a lifelong memory, time really does seem to have passed so quickly since then. That’s what this book is about: the passage of time.

This book focuses on a web of people who are all connected in some way – the story is told from the perspective of a different person per chapter, and at different time periods in their lives. I loved that, for example, you would read about the childhood of one character, and then in the next chapter narrated by a different person, the child that was in the previous chapter was now referenced as an adult. I found this to be a very unique writing style and it made the characters feel so real to me. Sometimes it wasn’t until a few pages into a new chapter that I would realize who was narrating and what their connection was to the others, and I kind of enjoyed the mystery of having to piece them and the time periods all together.

I felt like this book did a great job of mirroring reality.  Not everything is always going to be sunshine and rainbows—some of it is—but not all. Since the chapters presented such a well-rounded perspective of these characters, you got to see their lives from all angles—good and bad— and I really enjoyed that.  The choices you make when you’re young will affect your future; the people you associate yourself with will shape you as a person; sometimes people grow apart; and sometimes people change, sometimes they don’t, but no matter what, time doesn’t stop for anybody.

This is my favourite read of the year so far. I would highly recommend it if you enjoy character development, books that make you think about life, and/or are looking for a unique reading experience.

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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The Emoji Challenge Tag

I saw this tag over on Sara’s blog and thought it looked fun so I decided to give it a go!

From her post, I learned that she speaks 3 languages – English, Spanish, & Portuguese 🙂

Rules:

  • tag the creators @bookprincessreviews
  • share one thing you learned about the person who tagged you
  • for each prompt, you can use a maximum of three emojis
  • tag at least two other bloggers you want to get to know better

[1] What country do you live in?

🇨🇦

[2] What was your dream job growing up?

🕵🏻‍♀️

[3] How many siblings do you have (if any)?

👩🏼👨🏼

[4] What are your top three favourite activities?

🎧💃📚

[5] What is something you’re very good at?

🎨

[6] What is something you’d like to become better at?

☯️✌️

[7] How many languages do you speak?

🇬🇧 👌🇮🇹

[8] What is something you could talk about for hours? (non-book related if possible)

👻👽⁉️

[9] What’s your favourite book genre?

1️⃣👩🏻💭

[10] What is your favourite season of the year?

🌸🌱🌹

[11] If you had to describe yourself as an animal, what animal would you be?

🐈

I tag Books By The Cup & Suziey, but if you want to give this a go and I didn’t tag you, I would still love to see your answers!

Catherine


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An Open Letter to Myself on my One Year Blogging Anniversary

Dear me,

You did it – you’ve been blogging for a whole year. I know that when you started this, it was because you love to read, and you wanted an outlet to share all of your thoughts about one of your favourite hobbies, but I also know that you probably didn’t anticipate lasting this long so I’m really proud of you. Although ‘this is one for the books’, it’s also become one for the life lessons, new friendships, and everything in between. This is a space where you can talk about whatever you want, and I like that you never shied away from that, even when it made you vulnerable and nervous to be so open.

In the past year especially, you have been growing into such a strong and beautiful person even though you don’t see that a lot of the time. Between you and me, I think the one year ago you who started this blog would be really proud of the person you are now, and if you could see yourself through her eyes, I bet your perception of yourself would be a lot different. Reading has helped you through so much, and I’m glad you could find a community of people like you to share that passion with. When you first started one year ago, I don’t think you understood how impactful your blog would be on your personal life. You have made some amazing friends, both online and off, and read some of the most eye-opening and life changing books this past year which have enriched your life in ways you may not even be fully aware of yet.

If your experiences last year are any indication of what’s to come, I’m excited to look back this time next year at all of the new adventures you went on because of all the great books waiting to be discovered by you right now in this very moment. I know that these days it’s become difficult to finish books as fast as you used to, and sometimes even to pick one up at all, but my wish for you is that in the next year, as you get to know yourself more deeply, that you get to read even more books that change your life for the better. Happy one year of blogging; I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things and books in store for you next.

Always & Forever,
Catherine

“One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”


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Review// The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Author: Cormac McCarthy
Series: Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: September 26, 2006
Book Length: 241 pages 
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Review: 4/5

My Review:

In a post-apocalyptic world where a man and his son struggle to survive, The Road offers a horrifying glimpse into what life is like for the little civilization that is left.

This book follows the man and child as they are walking along the road in search of food, shelter, and supplies to continue their journey. Admittedly, it wasn’t until about the 40% mark that things started to get interesting for me. Up until that point, it didn’t seem like the two were faced with very many dangers aside from the unfortunate living conditions that made it difficult to get through each day. This danger eventually came in the form of people whom the boy referred to as “bad guys” that seemed to be capturing, severing and eating other humans. As they ventured off the road from abandoned house to abandoned house searching for what they needed, I was always curious as to what, if anything, may be lurking in the shadows next.

Although the man and the boy do not speak to each other very much, the conversations they did have pulled at my heart strings. It was evident that in this new world, people were forced to harden in order to maintain any chance of going on, but the true softness of humanity could still be found in the voice of the child. Society had become very ‘every man for himself’, yet it was the boy who always found it in his heart to ask his father to extend a hand and share their food or bring other potential ‘good guys’ along on their journey.

This is undoubtedly a book about survival, but not so much about the act itself as it is about the survival of the defining qualities of human nature: compassion, hope, humility, kindness, and optimism—even when it seems too difficult to carry on.

What’s the bravest thing you ever did?
He spat into the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said.

-Catherine

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