Top 10 (Tuesday) Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

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One of the mixed blessings that comes with studying Literature is that you are introduced to books you would have otherwise never have even picked up. While I don’t have a whole lot of time to read books that are on my own personal to read list, I do get to read books that most likely never would have made it to my list. Over the Spring semester I took Modern Fiction (because I haven’t said that enough times) and I loved just about every book that we read. My point is, nearly every book on this list was read for a class and not really because I was wandering through Half Price, picked up a book, and thought ‘hm this looks good’, but I am so glad I read each one. For once these are actually going to be in order, so I’m going to start with ten.

10. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
I’ve been assigned this story for six different courses, one even in high school, but I still really enjoy it. I may complain about having to read it one more time, but I still love it. It’s a great psychological (quasi) thriller with tons of feminist subtext to it that I never really saw until this past semester in American Lit.

9. “The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston
Another story that was assigned in my American Lit course. It’s actually a really sweet story at its core even though the middle is pretty sad, but the level of sadness is what makes it such a beautifully written story.

8. Dubliners by James Joyce
Dubliners is a collection of short stories written by James Joyce that are a bit strange because none of them really have much of an ending, but the crux of each is a character having some sort of epiphany. Joyce has a really interesting writing style which is a mix of stream of consciousness and character study. Each story is just as interesting as the last. Absolutely worth a read.

7. Passing by Nella Larsen
Passing is not only really well written but also about a really interesting subject that isn’t really talked about. During the late 20’s/early 30’s in the States, as long as you had a single ancestor who was of color you were considered “negro” and were therefore held at a lower status. Because of this some people of mixed race would “pass” as white so they could intermingle within white society without dealing with any racism. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with either side of society and caused a lot of problems. Now you know (and knowing is half the battle) and now that you have the back story you have no excuse not read this novella ;).

6. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates is one of my absolute favorites (even if she was frustratingly prolific). Her prose is absolutely poetic and her characters are so real in their pain and misplacement in the world. This particular story is actually based loosely on Bob Dylan and the sixties, as well as the more universal ideas of young girls trying to grow up before they’re actually ready to.

5. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe
This was my first time reading Virginia Woolfe and I loved it! Her writing is wonderful. Mrs. Dalloway is a stream of consciousness story which takes place over the span of a single day, and was actually written in response to James Joyce’s Ulysses which is written in the same style.

4. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
“The Metamorphosis” is one of those classics that you can’t really get away with not reading if you decide to study Literature. The story is quite surrealistic and more questions are raised than they are answered, but it really is a good story. And even if it goes right over your head, at least you will be able to say that you’ve read it.

3. Sula by Toni Morrison
I have included Sula so many times on these lists already I am surprised you haven’t picked up a copy yet =P

2. The Sound & The Fury by William Faulkner
The Sound & the Fury is not a book for the faint of heart, the casual reader, or anyone without some kind of passion for Faulkner. Faulkner utilizes stream of consciousness to write this novel and it is told from four separate points of view, which doesn’t help the confusion. BUT if you do happen to get through it and understand what you just read, it is completely worth it. I cried. Multiple times.

1. The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger is such an amazing book, I think I can honestly say it changed some part of my life. When I finished reading it I was so absolutely frustrated because the meaning was right there on the brink of my brain. I was so close to that “ah!” moment of understanding but I couldn’t get it pinned down just right for the moment to happen. Finally, after working on it for a final paper I figured it all out! But if I told you then that would be spoilers 😉


A Call for Betterment

As a student of literature I have learned many things. I have learned that literature and the act of writing is more than just telling a story, it is more than entertainment, it is more than words upon a page, it is the recording of the fluidity of human nature, human psychology, humanity in its entirety. I have learned that literature goes beyond race, nationality, gender, sexuality, because to create literature is to create a record of a human being and how that human being functions within the world they find themselves in. I have learned that to study literature is more than reading a work created by a human living in a realm since past, it is to study, capture, and further understand what it is to be human. I have learned that we are a strange, complicated, and tightly wound group of individuals who yearn and search for something, anything greater than ourselves, because as humans we are all missing something small and entirely significant within the labyrinth that is our inner selves and all we want in our short, fragile lives is to fill that missing space and that, my dear, is why literature exists; because not a single on of us has the answer and though some may come close, it will only fill the space until we find it riddled with holes, holes which will never be filled quickly enough for our insatiable need for fulfillment to be satisfied. Writers write not as a solution but as a path that maybe, someday might just lead to some sort of semblance to the solution for someone else’s empty spaces. Writers write to fill in the gaps of silence between spaces. Gaps that will never seem to be filled.

What gap am I attempting to fill with these words, scribbled frantically across a page when there are books to be read and assignments to be finished? I am trying to fill in the gaps that it seems we have, in our contemporary collapse of advancement, allowed to fall by the way side. Where is the beauty writers once strived for? Where are the perfect combinations of perfect syllables and perfect images that once left a reader perfectly breathless, unable to continue without first catching her breath, allowing the dizzying spin of life to sink in and calm enough before moving on along the page? Where are the final words that leave her clawing for air, questioning her existence and everything which surrounds it? Don’t just tell her a story to pass the time, tell her an epic tale which will lead her down the path to something more, something greater, something that will force her to search her soul for that missing piece. For numb is not an answer but the fingers you hide your eyes behind and just because you cannot see them does not mean that your gaps and your holes and your empty spaces are not still growing. And one of these days, while you are busy hiding, your empty spaces will swallow you whole and numb is all you will be capable of being because numb will be all that is left.

This is a call for betterment. Betterment of the literature we place into the hands of our daughters and our sons. We must learn not to settle for less than or for numb, but for beauty and fear, for something more, something that rattles us to the core and sets us back down upon that path to find pieces that will some how fill these spaces within. For even if we are unsuccessful, at least we tried and at least we have begun the path for another to continue. For I do not have the answers and neither do you, but maybe, if every one of us puts all of our terrified, fragile, collapsing cards out on the table we can piece together some sort of path, with all its twists and turns and traps and digressions, that just might, maybe, someday fill someone else’s spaces.


Top 10 (Tuesday) Books That Should Be in Your Beach Bag

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I’m honestly not a beach kinda girl. I have my mother’s Scottish heritage to thank for that. I don’t spend a lot of time on the beach nor do I spend a lot of time filling beach bags or thinking up what to read as I lounge on the beach. On top of improper summer ideals, I’m spending my summer in school this year, so I’m afraid I’m not the best person to ask about books and beaches, but I did come up with a list of books that for some reason make me think of summer and beaches, or at least good books to tune out the rest of the world to for a little while.

1. White Oleander by Janet Fitch

I don’t think I can ever say enough times how much I love White Oleander. The crux of the story takes place during the summer, which might be why I relate it to this season. That and the fact that oleanders bloom during the summer.

Read my review of White Oleander here.

2. Mermaid Summer by Lucy Cores

Apparently this book is hard to come by. I can’t even remember how I came across it but I read it back when I was at Easter Seals and I loved it. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did since on the surface it’s primarily a romance novel, though at it’s core The Mermaid Summer is about a small beach town that is torn apart and is a wonderful character study at heart.

3. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

I honestly think I only relate this book with summer because the cover has water on it. Either way, this is another character study which is beautifully written. It is terribly depressing and even I found moments reading it where I started wondering if anything good was going to workout for this girl, but if you can stick with it there is a remarkably beautiful ending waiting for you.

Read my review of She’s Come Undone here.

4. Failure to Zigzag by Jane Vandenburgh

Failure to Zigzag is one of those books that I am shocked never really became popular. It is beautifully written and a wonderful character study (can you tell I have a general “type”?). The narration borders on stream of consciousness which I recently learned to love this past semester in Modern Fiction. I’ve been wanting to reread this one for a while.

5. Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Perfume is a dark book but so good (oh look, another “type”). It is told from the perspective of Grenouille who is an odd sort of serial killer. I say odd because his motives for killing the women are…interesting. You’ll have to read the book to see what I mean, but it is sosososo good! Not even Alan Rickman and Ben Whishaw could do this book justice.

6. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I’ve talked about Chocolat many times. It is amazing. A perfect example of magical realism, which is perfect for summer, if you ask me.

Read my review of Chocolat here.

7. The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris

The sequel to Chocolat and the magical realism is in no amount of shortage, don’t worry! If you’ve read Chocolat and not The Girl with No Shadow you are doing yourself a disservice.

Read my review of The Girl with No Shadow here.

8. Sula by Toni Morrison

I talked about Sula in the friendship list, but summer and friendship kind of go hand-in-hand.

9. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber is a series of fractured fairy tales by Angela Carter. Some have more feminist overtones than others, but either way, this is a good book if you’re moving around a lot and need something you can divide your attention through out and not miss much, which is good for vacations….yeah, that’s why I said that.

10. The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger is very existentialist and will leave you a bit lost at the end. The end especially is strange, but Camus writes with such beauty that it more than makes up for the strangeness. Also, the first part ends on a beach, so…look! Beach! I told you I wasn’t very good at this.


Top 10 (Tuesday) Books About Friendship

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It has been SO long since I’ve done a top 10! Forgive me, I have a (very) bad habit of disappearing for months at a time. Let’s just say I’m still figuring out how to deal with this whole “life” thing. ANYWAYS, this week’s list theme is books about friendship. I swear to you when I first jotted this down I thought up at least five right away and then when I sat down to write out the list today I could think up a grand total of one. So I ended up standing in front of my bookcase for a long time looking through all my books trying to think of some, which was actually harder than it would seem. I don’t read many books about friendship it seems. Every time I thought I had found one I realized that it was really more of a romance than a friendship, which is weird since I avoid anything too romance heavy. SO, I came up with six in the end. Here they are:

1. Sula by Toni Morrison
I actually wrote on this book a lot over this past semester for Modern Fiction and I don’t think I will ever tire of it. I know that some argue the book to be a lesbian novel, but I disagree. The friendship between Sula and Nel is so tight that I can understand some reading it to be a lesbian relationship, but since I have a friend who is basically a sister to me I completely relate to the deep level of friendship between the two characters. Also, is it strange that I totally want a The Princess and the Frog-esque animated film of Sula?

2. the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Do I really have to explain myself with this one? The entire series is about friendship and sticking together to overcome trials in life. Done.

3. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein
Another easy one. I really love the hobbits’ loyalty to Frodo. Even in the face of danger.

4. Passing by Nella Larsen
I hesitated to put this book on the list because it’s not about a positive friendship. Irene and Clare’s friendship isn’t the tightest nor the healthiest, but it is a friendship none-the-less. In a strange way the two are more “frenimies” than anything else. It counts!

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Though the main relationships of the story are familial, with the exception of Dill, I really feel that Boo Radley builds a sort of friendship with the children, or at least Scout. Even though they don’t really come into contact with each other until the end of the book, the two form a strange sort of bond from the beginning which builds into friendship. I like that idea; that two people can become friends over a shared experience. Also, the fact that Scout is so unafraid of Boo, not because she’s brave (even though she is) but because she doesn’t see anything to fear in him, she sees that he is human just like everyone else. I like that.

6. The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris
I wish I could add this book to every list I create. This is another book where the friendship isn’t really a friendship, but the idea of friendship is still very important throughout. Even though Zozie’s intentions are not good, it is the “friendship” that she forms with Vianne and Anouk that forms much of the novel. It is also interesting to see how friendships can shape individuals, which is a strong theme within this novel. Read my review of this book here.



Top 10 (Tuesday) Favorite Authors in X Genre

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I don’t really stick within any one genre of books, but I do love poetry, which is why today I’ll give you a list of my top ten favorite poets (as usual, in no particular order).

1. Emily Dickinson

Through the Dark Sod — as Education —
The Lily passes sure —
Feels her white foot — no trepidation —
Her faith — no fear —

Afterward — in the Meadow —
Swinging her Beryl Bell —
The Mold-life — all forgotten — now —
In Ecstasy — and Dell —

2. John Keats

24. On first looking into Chapman’s Homer
MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

3. Rumi

Birdsong brings relief
to my longing
I’m just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!
Please universal soul, practice
some song or something through me!

4. “obit”

Come out here with me
I’ve been swung from delirious expectation
to the only certain expectation
so I’ve put on this suit,
What’s the occasion?
It is celebration and it is farewell,
Speech, Speech!
But I have no words I stand still enough
for a moth to come and smell my tie
(here I recognize that in the lowest low
everything comes revered and holy).
Watch me before I go,
notice the shape of my eyes
and name the old watered color behind me,
stare a while, grip my thoughts
by a concerned look
clench them and feel their shape.
Shake my hand before I go,
please smile because
we have shared so much good
and brush the dirt off my arms
and maybe blow a strand of hair from my shoulder,
then come out here with me
down just a few steps out the door
so you can watch the street
and hear leaves of grass shake with the weight of the dew.
Wave, a simply fine gesture.
And I’ve been swung to and fro.

5. T.S. Eliot

excerpt from The Waste Land
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.”

—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

Öd’ und leer das Meer.

6. William Blake

Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire;
Where my sunflower wishes to go.

7. Jane Hirshfield

This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.

It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.

Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.

Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.

IT spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.

The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.

Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.

8. “epistolary ships”

Dearest,
Our bodies may not be meant for Wild Hunts and blood
carnivals. We may never be able to hold poison under our
tongues, gorge ourselves on pomegranate seeds with impunity, or
tattoo our skin with spells and curses.
We may be swallowed by nuclear winters that will splinter our
bones, radiations spreading in our veins as cold as ice.
What will become of our flesh, love, when it changes and
transmutes? What shall become of us, glass-like and glowing
green in the night, I do not know.
But there is clarity in only one thing:

Winter is savage, but so are we.

Send my regards to the Erl King,
MJ.

9. John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“The breath goes now,” and some say, “No,”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of the earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we, by a love so much refined
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion.
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two:
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do;

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like the other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

10. “the dust dances too”

an avalanche
a whisper
a storm, passing
between
us.

P.S. – something is up with my polyvore clipper. It won’t clip anything. So unfortunately, there will be no image to top this one off.


Top 10 (Tuesday) Bookish Confessions



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This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a rewind and since I missed the Bookish Confessions week I’m making up for lost times!

1. I’m a slow reader
I read slow. I admit it. It’s the reason why so much time passes between my reviews. It’s also the reason why I could never keep up with assigned reading in school.

2. I love tattered books
I do, they’re my favorite. I love used books more than new books and the more loved they are the better.

3. I have a difficult time reading before I go to bed
Even though I am a slow reader, I’m a very easily consumed reader with very little control over how long I read. I’m not one of those people who can read a chapter and go to bed. I always end up reading more chapters until I realize that I only have a few hours of sleep left.
4. I have a habit of writing in my books

Ever since my first Literature class I haven’t been able to read a book without somehow marking in it. I can restrain myself when I borrow books, but if it’s mine all mine I underline passages, make notes in places, doodle little hearts next to sections that I fall in love with. It’s one of the reasons I’m so hesitant to make the switch to an e-reader.

5. I study Literature because I love Literature
I know, this one sounds a bit weird, but I keep running into other Lit majors who are such because they either want to become teachers or because they want to be writers. I don’t run into many who are Lit majors because they honestly want to study literature. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but yeah, I study literature because I love the act of studying literature.

6. In high school I couldn’t finish a book
This one might seem as a contradiction to the last one but I really couldn’t finish a book all through high school. I’d only get a few chapters in. Not only was this because I am a slow reader, it was also because I just didn’t have enough attention to do so. This is the reason why I don’t have very deep knowledge of any of the classics. I know of them, and enough to get by, but couldn’t pass a quiz on it.

7. I prefer Shakespeare’s comedies to his dramas
Not much to say about this one. I just enjoy do.

8. I am extremely picky about the covers of my books
I will dig through books until I find the prettiest one. I’ll even avoid buying a book until I can find a pretty cover.

9. I hold graphic novels to the same level as books
I do, I love graphic novels. The stories are just as good as those in books and they have great art work along side them.

10. I can’t listen to audiobooks
I zone out and miss large sections, then I have to rewind, then I zone out and miss the section again. It’s just not worth it, it already takes me long enough to get through a book without having to re-listen to it a million times.


Top 10 (Tuesday) “Older” Books You Don’t Want People To Forget About



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This list turned into more of a rant on under appreciated books, but non the less, in no particular order:

1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
I realize that House of Leaves has pretty loyal cult following, but this book is so great and so different from other books that it would sadden me to see it pass by widely unheard of.

2. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
As depressing as this book is, it is so good and so wonderfully written. Definitely one that shouldn’t be forgotten.

3. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
I love this book, it has been my favorite since high school. Janet Fitch’s writing is like milk and honey and is actually a large part of why I tend to write the way that I do. I wish more authors would write with the magic that she does.

4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Judging from the reviews on good reads, I feel that this book was largely misunderstood. It seems that most who picked up this book became fixated on the fairy tale fracturing and less on David’s story. I adore this book and hope that others’ negative views of it won’t cause The Book of Lost Things to become lost (pun emphatically intended).

5. Ray Bradbury
Even though this isn’t a book, I feel like Ray Bradbury’s work in general needs more love that it tends to get.

6. Chocolat & The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris
These two books are beautiful and amazing. The way in which Harris writes makes even the most mundane things seem magical, not to mention the stories themselves fill the senses with beauty and magic and wanderlust.

7. Poetry
Again, not a book, but I feel that poetry is horribly lacking in the literary field right now. There needs to be a resurgence, if you ask me.

8. Failure to Zigzag by Jane Vandenburgh
This book is so wonderful that I am constantly shocked by how unheard of it is. It is beautifully written and needs to be shared with the world.

9. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman
With Harry Potter coming out around the same time, the His Dark Materials trilogy undeservedly fell on the wayside and deserves more attention than it got.

10. Books with Depth
So many people are looking fast or easy reads, I feel like books with any real depth to them are being widely passed over. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me on this one, but I just feel that the books that are popular now don’t really hold a candle to the depth and beauty books of the past held.


The Book of Lost Things

by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things is the story of a young boy named David growing up in London on the brink of the second World War. The story begins with the loss of David’s mother and the struggle he has with his father falling for a nurse named Rose. After a while of dating, Rose becomes pregnant, driving David’s father to marry her. To escape the war David and his father move into Rose’s family home in the country.

Once at Rose’s, David begins to experience strange things, beginning with hearing the books in his room talk. Soon he begins to have black outs, during which he sees glimpses of another world. One night he hears his dead mother’s voice calling to him from a hole in the garden wall. As he is investigating the hole, a fighter jet comes hurtling towards the garden. Just as the jet crashes into the ground, David crawls in through the hole in the wall.

David comes out on the other side through a hole in a tree that enters into the world that he had seen when he would black out. The first person he meets is a woodsman who tells David not only of the horrors of the land, but also about a king who owns a book called the The Book of Lost Things that just might be able to get David back home. So, the two set out to find the king. On the way David grows from a scared, naive boy to a young man who realizes what it really means to care for someone and that life isn’t always fair, but that doesn’t mean that you can blame those around you for it.

The Book of Lost Things is a beautifully written book with fairy tales woven perfectly throughout it. John Connolly is a master story teller whose characters are wonderfully written, each with their own number of vices as well as their virtues. I like that David begins as a bit of a brat, even if he has his reasons. I also like that he acknowledges his flaws and eventually learns from them. I like that there are no true villains and no true heroes, for even the heroes have their pitfalls. I loved the characterization of Rumpelstiltskin, or, in this realm, the Crooked Man. I loved his mythos and I loved his motives. I loved that he was simply a creature trying to survive, even if it was in such a horrible way.

I loved Connolly’s integration of fairy tales, and especially the way that the children’s understanding of the stories changed the world. I also loved that Connolly’s changes to certain fairy tales had their reasons, he didn’t just change them for the hell of it. As well, I loved Connolly’s voice through out the book. He pulled off that fairy tale voice without going over the top or getting to that point of the “okay, we get it” feeling. The part that I really appreciated, though (and this might just be a nerdy thing specific to my obsessive interest in fairy tales and folk tales), was the inclusion in the back of the book of the origins of the fairy tales and what each fairy tale’s presence represents.

The Book of Lost Things is a wonderfully written story and an exciting read, which was a nice change of pace from the more real-life style books that I have been reading as of late. I actually got to a point where I couldn’t read it during my lunch anymore because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop once I started. This is definitely one of those books that left me wondering why more people haven’t heard of it. So my recommendation is to read it and if you’ve already read it then recommend it to your friends, your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, the person sitting next to you on the bus, whoever you can. I want this book to be as popular as Twilight! Lord knows, we need some actual literature to seep its way throughout society’s kindles/bookshelves/library cards.


The Girl With No Shadow

by Joanne Harris

The Girl With No Shadow (called Lollipop Shoes overseas) is a sequel to the popular novel Chocolat. This is possibly the first book that I’ve come across where the sequel is just as good, if not better than, the first. Once again we are graced with Joanne Harris’ amazing talent for storytelling as well as her outstanding handle of the English language. However, what makes this novel so much better than the first is the depth and conflict not just between the characters but within them as well.

The Girl With No Shadow brings us back into the lives of Vianne and Anouk Rocher, however, things have changed since we last saw them; Vianne is now terrified of her powers and forbids Anouk from using them as well. She has moved them, and new addition, Rosette, to Montmarte, where Vianne, now Yanne Charbonneau, is determined to live a normal life by any means necessary.

In enters Zazi, a witch con artist who wants Vianne’s identity and her talented daughter to complete the picture. With the use of glamours and cantrips she pulls impressionable Anouk, who is frustrated with her mother’s new found normality, into her clutches and begins training her in a new kind of magic.

What sets this book apart from the last is the amped up level of mysteries that have been worked into the story line. Who is Zazi? What made her who she is? What happened to frighten Vianne into abandoning her care-free lifestyle? What is the truth behind Vianne’s birth? Will Zazi succeed at winning Vianne’s life and will she get Anouk as an added bonus? Harris succeeds in not only answering each of these questions, but then bringing up a handful more in the process.

Another difference is the addition of a new voice. This book is told from three perspectives rather than two; Vianne’s, Zazi’s, and Anouk’s. At first I felt like Anouk’s point of view was more of a hindrance and didn’t add a whole lot of weight to the story, but as the book progressed I was pleasantly proved wrong. Anouk acts as a go between for Vianne and Zazi. Through Anouk, you see how Vianne’s new life truly affects her world and at the same time Zazi’s mastery of manipulation.

The book is beautifully writen, amazingly told and so much more fun than the first. If you loved Chocolat and have been itching to hear more from Vianne and Anouk, definitely check out The Girl With No Shadow