Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


Originally published on  November 11, 2013.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 492 pages.
Read from July 24 to August 27, 2013.

I read this novel for a book club and for whatever reason I thought that this was a holocaust survivor story so it was a nice surprise to find out that it was about American bomber planes and the Japanese as I had not read any biographical content on this part of the war.

I have to admit there was something about Laura’s writing that took me a bit to get used to. I found the first few chapters long and way too drawn out and it took me a little bit to get used to her sentence structure for whatever reason. With that being said, I became very involved and captivated with the story and the characters after the first few chapters. I also appreciated the amount of effort that Laura took in collaborating this remarkable story. It must have been such an honour and a pleasure to interview Louie.

I honestly still can’t get my head around the amount suffering Louie and his comrades were subjected to after being captured by the Japanese. How does someone go on in those conditions? The resilience displayed by Louie and his friends still amaze me. What I don’t understand is how a someone can cause that much pain and discomfort to another human being. I am glad that near the end Laura included some of the perspectives of the tormentors, specifically the Bird, not that it validates at all what they did but it is despicable to me the things that some people can convince themselves of. I recall feeling as vengeful and angry as Louie did in the novel though I don’t know if I found the same peace as Louie at the end. I want people to be punished for their crimes and I don’t feel like the Bird ever was.

I really appreciated that the book continued on after Louie finally made it back home to his family. So many war related stories stop once they’ve reached the safety of home but while one battle has ended another one begins. So I’m very thankful that Laura was able to provide insight into the PSTD that these men experienced and how they were able to overcome that final battle.

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Filed under 3 Star, Biographies/True Stories/Memoirs, Read 2013, TNBBC

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


4/5 stars.
Paperback, 184 pages.
Read from September 8 to 9, 2015.

Bradbury has been scaring book-lovers everywhere with this novel since its first publication in 1954. I decided to re-read this book as my first encounter with it would have been more than 10 years ago. I remember the book leaving me with horrifying impression, it’s one that I’ve never really forgotten. I’m glad that I re-read this book as an adult though as I was able to appreciate some of the more tragic elements as well.

Guy Montag is a fireman. Not the kind that puts out fires and saves lives but the opposite; Montag purposely starts fires. In futuristic plot of this novel, the job of a fireman is to burn the homes down of people who own books with the purpose of destroying the books and teaching the owners of the books a lesson. Montag has never questioned his job, in fact he actually enjoys it to a degree.

In this futuristic world, books themselves are seen as a danger and a disruption to the society that Bradbury has depicted, the premise behind this ideology is that people are happier this way. Sadly, it means that people have become willfully ignorant. They’re wrapped up on medications to keep them happy and let them sleep, or  they’re lost in their ‘TV families”. TV has become so advanced that people can actually interact with the actors as they come to life in their living rooms. This new “blissfully” ignorant  population has been trained to not feel the desire to learn, or to really feel anything. The attitude of the people in this society is summed up with a by Montag’s Fire Captain, Beatty:

 “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs…. Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”

Montag’s world is turned upside down when he meets Clarisse, his 17-year-old neighbour. While their interactions are brief, it’s clear that Clarisse is eccentric and odd. She has an innate curiosity that Montag hasn’t ever witnessed before and she poses question to Montag that he has never ever considered. After Clarisse and her family mysteriously “disappear’ Montage begins to question his whole existence. He cannot accept his current circumstances and he breaks under the overwhelming amount of unanswered questions. Montag sets out to overthrow the current regime of government, regardless of the substantial sacrifices it will take.

As a teenager, I recall hating Mildred. I felt she was a despicable character. However as an adult, while I didn’t like her any less, I could at least empathize with her to some extent and understand some of the decisions she made. What was heartbreaking to read, was how hard Montag tried to reach out to her and have a real connection but sadly, Mildred is shell of person. She doesn’t know what it’s like to really feel or connect with anyone.

I recall struggling a bit with the writing as a teenager, thinking that maybe my age was the barrier but I found some similar issues reading this novel again. The writing style is choppy and so to the point that if you skim for a second, you’ll miss something important. I had to go a n re-read a few paragraphs for this reason.

If you haven’t read this book, you should. It’s a an eye-opening science fiction about the importance of knowledge.

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Filed under 4 Star, Classic, Re-read, Read 2015, Uncategorized

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


As today is Remembrance Day, I thought it would be good idea to re-post a review of this book. This book is set building up to and during WWII and it’s stark reminder of the sacrifices and humanity on both sides of war. Please take a moment today to remember those that have died and to thank those who are still serving.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 544 pages.
Read from September 07 to 17, 2014.

This book has created a lot of buzz since its publication and it’s well deserved. All The Light We Cannot See is a remarkable and one-of-a-kind story that takes place during WWII. Specifically during D-Day and the occupation of France. You follow the stories of Werner Pfennig, a young orphan German boy, and Marie-Laure, a young blind girl both before, during and just after the war. The novel is about humanity and what it means to be human when we are faced with unforgiving challenges and circumstances.

Marie-Laure is just six years old when she goes blind. While her mother is no longer alive, her doting father, who is the master of locks a the Museum of Natural History in Paris,  is extremely committed to her care. He begins to build small wooden models of the area that Marie lives in so that she can learn to find her way around. While initially terrified, through her father’s encouragement and persistence, Marie becomes a very independent and capable child despite her blindness.

Werner is spending his childhood in an orphanage with his sister Jutta as their father died in a coal mine. Werner is a curious and intelligent boy and he is constantly asking questions about the way the world works. He quickly becomes enthralled with the radio that he and Jutta listen to and when it breaks he becomes determined to fix it. Before long, Werner becomes the go to person for any type of radio repair in town. As he grows, so does his cravings for knowledge, but what sort of life could a boy, even a gifted one, have coming from an orphanage? The emergence of Hitler’s youth seemed to provide an answer to that question. While Werner is gifted he is oblivious to the cause that he wants to join. Jutta on the other hand is not as ignorant and she learns to read between the lines of what is being dispatched on the radio and the whisperings of other adults. She tries to warn Werner, but he doesn’t understand. All he can see is his one opportunity to become something more than an orphan.

As the war breaks out, you start to see how the story lines of these two very different characters are going to come together to one amazing and potent conclusion.

I loved Marie-Laure’s story. Her character is so enduring and real. However, this side of the war has been told many times so the inclusion of Werner’s story, that almost mirrors Marie’s, is what I found truly captivating. You often only get to hear about that horrors that Germany inflicted during this time, which is more than understandable, but it’s easy to forget that there were many innocent and young people in Germany that suffered too as a result of the actions that the adults took around them.

The story of Werner and Marie show that despite the horrors that surrounded the war, there were many cases of honor, love, resilience and strength that emerged as well. Within Werner and Marie, the author is able to capture the many facets of being human and that it’s our decisions and actions to do what’s right, regardless of whatever challenges stand in our way, that define and shape who we are and have the power to leave lasting impressions on those that that we meet and effect.

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Filed under 4 Star, Historical Fiction