A Moth To The Flame by Debbie Sands

I knew Amy. Lots of people I grew up with could say that but did anyone know her struggles?

5/5 stars.
ebook, 162 pages.
Read from September 14 to 15, 2016.

I knew Amy. Not as well as I would have liked or for very long, but we grew up in the same town and had solid year together in the Studio Theatre class in our high school, the very one mentioned in this book. Her death hit the community and anyone that ever knew her hard. Perhaps this review is a little biased because of that connection but I am thankful that Debbie shared Amy’s story and her struggles.

2016-09-15-07-01-58
Amy as I remember her in 2003 – Studio Theatre – Foothills Composite High School -Okotoks, AB

Amy passed away in the summer of 2012. She was shot through a garage door with a bullet that never should have been shot and was not ever intended for her. She was 27 years old. Amy was eccentric, fun, independent, beautiful and confident. I’ll never forget some of fun times we had or the few inside jokes we created together. I remember envying her. However, few would have ever known the struggles that she dealt with and the problems it would cause in her adult life. Even more, few would have known about the struggles Amy’s family went through in trying to help her.

Amy had borderline personality disorder (BPD). A mental health condition that is characterized by overt and unstable emotions as well as abnormal behavior and relationships with others. Sufferers often have an unstable sense of self and extreme sense of abandonment that can often lead to dangerous behaviors.

Amy’s condition drove her to abuse drugs and mix with a crowd of people that ended up resulting her death. The book details the intimate struggles that her family had to endure while trying to deal with Amy. I cannot fathom the amount of pain and how trying it would have been trying to manage Amy. Her family loved her dearly but at the same time did not want to be enforcers to her behavior. They knew she was troubled but it wasn’t until after Amy’s death that they came to determine that she had BPD. The book spares no details and gives the deep down trauma of living with BPD and what it does to loved ones. While the book was heartbreaking to read, it is also immensely insightful.

I had the pleasure of working with Debbie on during a Dewdney theatre production of The Importance of Being Ernest around 2005. Debbie made a stellar Lady Bracknell and she never ever showed any signs of the potential turmoil that was effecting her private life. I am so glad that she wrote this book. Not only has she shed light for all that loved Amy but she is spreading awareness of about BPD. I hope that the writing process has been a healing one for her. No mother, or family for that matter, should ever have to endure what she went through. It was very brave of her to publish this book.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone with BPD or has a loved one with BPD. Or for those who have had mental illness effect them or someone that the have loved. And especially for anyone that loved or knew Amy.

 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

“On what slender threads do life and fortune hang.”

I like big books and I cannot lie and this big book is an action-packed classic.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 1276 pages.
Read from July 19 to September 02, 2016.

Everyone has one. A big book that has been recommended to you a million times that is just sitting around collecting dust. You believe that those recommending the book are sincere, but every time you look at it you find yourself overwhelmed with its barbaric size. Well I am here to say, that it is time to bite the bullet and give that big book some love. It is worth it. My big book was this one, The Count of Monte Cristo, and after countless glances at it from across my living room, to getting tired of not being able to check it off as read when it comes up on reading lists, I gave it go. Sadly, my hard copy of this book is in Canada so I had to settle for the ebook, which, given its size was probably for the best.

Edmund is a young and ambitious man. He has been promoted to Captain of a ship and is going to marry his love, Mercedes. However, as ambition goes, there are always those that are jealous. On the night of his wedding, Edmund is arrested for a crime he did not commit and thrown in jail without a trial. Behind a gaunt prison wall, Edmund spends his youth. He befriends a man Faria in the cell beside him who teaches Edmund everything he knows. The two of them plan to escape together. However, when things do not go as planned, Faria insists that he go on alone and that he go and find the massive stash of treasure that he has hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo. After escaping and finding that these riches are real, Edmund changes his identity to discover and plot revenge on those that had wronged him so cruelly.

Did you know that this story is based on true events? Dumas took the idea from the a book complied by French police-archivist Jacques Peuchet. Peuchet tells the story of a shoemaker, Pierre Picaud, living in Nimes in 1807 who was engaged to marry a rich woman and his three jealous friends accuse him of being spy for England. Picaud was placed under house arrest and had to be a servant for a very rich man. When this said rich man died, he left all of his money to the Picaud, whom he had come to love as a son.  Picaud then spent the next few years plotting revenge against his accusers. One of his old friends had even married Picaud’s ex-fianceé.

This first half of this book is a solid 5-stars. I couldn’t put it down. However the last half wavered for me. I had to re-read some sections to follow some of the many new characters that were introduced and I found some of the content a bit dry compared to the action that I was reading before hand. However, the ending was worth it. When it all comes together, it is clear why this books is a long standing classic.

This is a timeless read. So I encourage you, if this is one of the big books that you have not tackled yet, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

I could talk about the recent US presidential election but books seem a little less surreal now. Even for one by Murakami.

Because the world is a hard and peculiar place. We all wear masks to survive.

3/5 stars.
Read from September 16 to 18, 2016.
Mass Market Paperback, 244 pages.

I think this is probably the shortest Murakami novel I have seen so far. Murakami is notorious for writing thick tomes so this was nice surprise. I picked up this novel at the Hong Kong Book Fair a few months back. That was quite the event. I don’t think I have ever been in a venue that held so many books. It was awesome. While this novel isn’t the best that Murakami has to offer, it was still an intriguing read.

Mari sits in a cafe drinking coffee and reading a book. It is the middle of the night and yet this is an all too familiar occurrence for her. She can’t sleep and she doesn’t want to be at home. So she wanders and finds a place to read. Her sister, the pretty one, Eri, has been asleep. Not in a coma, but asleep. She gets up to eat, shower and sleep and yet somehow no one ever sees her do it. Mari has never been close to her sister. Mari is plain, yet smart and practical, but her sister gets most of the attention from others because she is beautiful. One evening, Mari is joined by Takahashi, an acquaintance of her sister’s. This sets off a peculiar string of events involving a hotel manager who is escaping her past, a beaten Chinese prostitute, and her cold perpetrator. With every character in this book, they are pretending to be something that they are not for the sake of their own survival.

The whole novel unravels over the period of one night. Each chapter is a different hour of the same evening that switches back and forth between Mari’s scenarios and the peculiar setting of her sleeping sister Eri. I don’t fully comprehend everything that was happening to Eri but the chapters were tense and interesting.

Eri, I believe, is asleep because she is tired of being a person that is not truly her, but the expectation that everyone thinks she should be. Eri confides in Takahashi that she wishes she was closer to Mari, a fact that surprises Mari when she hears it. Both of the sisters are going through similar struggles, yet each of their own personal facades keeps them from each other.

This book is a quick surreal read that brinks on the mystery genre. If you’re looking for a book to devour in one sitting that you will find yourself thinking about long after reading, check out this book.