My life next door

Sometimes, you need to read something light-hearted and fun and sometimes you need to read something with a little more depth to it. I felt the need to read something light not too long ago and picked up a book I was certain would make me smile. It did, but I had no idea what more it would give me. So much more. My life next door is a love story, but apparently, not only.

Samantha Reed is a seventeen year old girl who lives with her sister Tracy and her mother, who happens to be the state senator and a very strict woman. From the moment the Garretts moved in next door, years ago, both Samantha and Tracy were strictly forbidden to be around them. But Samantha has always been fascinated by that huge, crazy family of ten people; she has watched them from her little balcony for years. But everything changes one summer night when Jase Garrett climbs up to her balcony to introduce himself. They fall in love, with Samantha spending a lot of time at the Garretts house while working hard to keep her relationship away from her mother’s knowledge. But then the most unexpected thing of all happens, something so huge and so horrible in all aspects that Samantha finds herself standing in a crossroad. To be the person she’s grown up to be, or to be the person she actually wants to be?

It is a sweet love story between Samantha and Jase, their two worlds so different even though they live next door, and yet they get along great together. The story talks a lot about their relationship, the different aspects and how they stumble forward as the quite uncertain seventeen year olds they are. But it’s not all about that. All I knew was that something was going to happen, but I had no idea what that was until I read it. And all of a sudden, it wasn’t just a love story anymore. It was a moral story. It was a story about right and wrong and how to act in a situation where practically every move you make will hurt someone else. To figure out the best way, for everybody, to keep moving forward.

I have to say, I wasn’t really prepared for that, only for something, but not what actually happened. And somehow, even though I wanted to read it because I just wanted something light-hearted that made me smile, that moral question halfway through the book gave a lot to the story. It made me think very much on how I would’ve acted in a situation like the one Samantha found herself in. And that’s one of those things that makes a book good, something that sticks and makes you ask yourself “What would I do? How would I react?”

The things that bothered me with the book though, weren’t the story itself. It was the characters and the writing. I felt that some of the characters were weak and didn’t have any depth, or in some cases, not enough depth. There was really only one character that I really liked, someone who wasn’t in the main spot but still grew a lot during the story and gave much to the book. It’s quite sad that neither Samantha nor Jase was as strong as I would’ve liked them, but at least one character really stood out and felt like a living person through and through.

The writing in itself was also something that bothered me from time to time. I read one of those one-sentence reviews on the back cover that said the language was beautiful, so I had high expectations. It didn’t live up to that. Some parts felt rushed and sometimes I had to reread a sentence more than once to figure out what it meant, because I just couldn’t figure it out. There were also moments when I felt I wanted more, again, more depth. It was plain, from time to time. Even. Good, but not great. I also missed something, but I’m not really sure what that was. Just something, that little bit of extra. That thing that made you feel like you where there. The smell, the warmth of the sun, the feeling of being in the story and not the one holding the book.

All in all though, Huntley Fitzpatrick has written a good, thought-provoking book. It could’ve been better, but it could also have been worse. It will be one of those books that I will have standing in my bookcase and I will look at it from time to time and I will smile because it was a good read. But I don’t think I will long to read it over and over. It won’t be a book to go back to, but a book to take out sometime, when I’m bored.

Paper Towns

I’ve heard a lot of John Green and his books and I thought it was time for me to read one and see for myself what all the fuss was about. I chose Paper Towns, with a pretty clear view of the story, or at least so I thought. It’s funny how I always seem to believe a book is about one thing when it really is about something completely different. Paper Towns was no exception.

Now, Paper Towns is about Quentin, also called Q, who’s in love with the girl next door, the super awesome Margo Roth Spiegelman. They were friends when growing up but quite suddenly (after a dead-guy-on-the-playground incident) Margo stopped talking to Q and they grew apart. Now they’re just a few weeks away from graduation when Margo suddenly knocks on Q’s window in the middle of the night, asking if he can help her on a revenge mission she’s on. It turns out that Q is in for the night of his life and he feels very excited for the prospect of seen Margo the morning after in school. But when he shows up, she’s not there. At all. It turns out that Margo is missing but Q soon learns that she has left clues to be found. Clues for him to find her. Q invites his friends to help him on the search and they’re soon roaming around Orlando, trying to catch they’re not entirely sure wants to be caught.

I, for some reason, thought that Margo had been kidnapped or something of the like, so I was a little surprised when I started reading and soon figured out that that was not the case. Instead, Margo is more of a free-spirit kind of girl and I had some problems understanding her for the bigger part of the book. It wasn’t until the end that I saw her clearly and understood why she did the things she did.

It was the first time I read something by John Green and his way of writing bothered me for some reason. It was light and fast flowing and I laughed from time to time, but sometimes everything was just a bundle of words and things the characters said. I got confused more than once and found myself feeling dizzy and confused because I could just not figure out who said what. I’m sure a lot of people like the way Green write, but I didn’t like it, it was be too blurry and obscure, not all the time, but too much of the time.

More than once did I think “This is a weird book and not in a good way”. Maybe that was because I thought it would be different, but nevertheless, it was weird. And not in a good way. I didn’t entirely like Q and Margo was strange for the bigger part of the book and some of the other characters were just too much. Though it had some bright spots, I laughed and it was actually funny or I pondered on something someone said and all of a sudden I saw things in daily life in a whole new way. The end lit up the whole story and really got me to think. So it wasn’t a bad book, not really. It just wasn’t what I expected and it just wasn’t really a book for me.

The Republic of Thieves

I have regretted things in my life, but never have I regretted picking up that copy of The lies of Locke Lamora. I remember the first time I heard about it and I remember the first time I held it in my hands and I very, very clearly remember reading the words “This is the first book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence” and my first thought was “Oh no, I’ve stumbled over another book series.” I’ve eaten those words five times over since I read that first book.

The third book in the series of the Gentleman Bastards is The Republic of Thieves. After just about getting out of Tal Verrar with their lives still intact (well, Jean’s anyway), Locke and Jean takes to sea once again. In the beginning of the third book they’ve settled down in Lashain while Locke waits for the poison to finally kill him and Jean is off scouring the city for a physiker who can save his terminal friend. It turns out, no one can. Locke has all but given up hope and even Jean is losing his when they receive a surprise visit from a stranger who says she can save Locke. And she only has one condition for doing so. That they go with her to Karthain and work for the Bondsmagi in what’s called the five-year game. It's nothing they can turn down, so off they go to the one place they've always wanted to avoid. Surprises await Locke in Karthain, surprises that bring back both pleasant and unpleasant memories from his past.

Scott Lynch is a master in writing delicately, every word, every sentence, every moment in his books is well thought through and, if you look close enough, everything is hidden messages and secrets for future stories. From the very first book, there’s been a strange female character which you’ve known by name and in brief, fluttering moments, but no more. This was the book where the story about Locke and his love for the mysterious Sabetha was revealed, and in quite some fashion too. I was eager to get to know her, to learn who she was and what had happened between her and Locke to cast such a dark light over him. She turned out to be much more than I ever thought and a really wonderful character, one I’m glad Lynch let the reader in on.

The Gentleman Bastards books are written in a very specific way. First you have the now-story and then you have the Interlude, which lights up the past, things from when Locke was a child still living in Shades’ Hill, his life with Chains and his development from picking pockets to being a full feathered false facer. I love the Interludes; they illuminate dark corners and give so much to the story. You get to know things from past and present in one big wave of exhilarating schemes and crazy games. The Interludes in The Republic of Thieves was no disappointment.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve never regretted reading the Lies of Locke Lamora, it, and the following two Gentleman Basterds books remains my favourite reads of all time. There are no books like them, no stories even close to them. They are amazing in every aspect and I could praise Scott Lynch for an hour or two and that still wouldn’t be enough. What I will say, though, is that these books, these stories, these characters, have a very welcome way of sucking me right in and not letting go of me. A sentence is all that it takes, and then I’m lost from the outside world and all that exists is Locke and Jean and their next game, the next opponent, the next obstacle. I cannot wait for the fourth book, I will long for every hour of every day until I finally have it in my hands. And I know it will be worth it.