Book Review, Books

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky book review books diary of difference goodreads novel high school childhood

★★★★★

We all are, or have once been wallflowers. The shy creatures of the universe, strangled in a problematic world where everything is so confusing and hard. We have all once swam in those deep waters, where the finish line is the act of growing up, and we all coped with it in different ways. Charlie is struggling with the same things we were, when in high school. The friendships, or lack of them, the crushes, the secret thoughts. The exams, the pressure, the misunderstandings with our parents. Our goals, hopes and dreams, our visions of what we will become.

It is an emotional, but very realistic story, about one kid, and all the things he learns while growing up. By learning things the hard way, by listening, by watching things happen to his friends and family, by just being a wallflower.

The author has written this book in a way where Charlie is writing letters to his secret friend, telling him about his daily adventures. I loved this way, because the letters give a sense of confidentiality, of honesty, or pure thoughts with nothing to hide.

Charlie is a shy guy, who has trouble making friends, socialising, and lacks a lot of common sense. To me,  this game me vibes of an autistic kid, or an anxious child suffering from PTSD, which hits all the marks. I don’t know, however, whether or not this was the author’s purpose. It was written in 1998, so I can assume these subjects might have been taboo, as people weren’t as open minded as today.

To me, Charlie was a relatable character. Even though clearly going through a lot more than just a normal kid, in this book, he copes with problems we have all coped. And the part I loved about Charlie the most is – he is honest, so brutally honest, and doesn’t try to hide things he understands or trying to understand. He sees things we don’t tend to see, and he feels things in a way I would want to feel them.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

He suddenly meets a group of friends, that accept him as he is. And he can be as weird and crazy as he wants, no one bothers. These friendships – my dear reader – are something we all wish for, and some of us are so lucky to have them.

I truly believe that this book is definitely something I would give to my kid to read, or to my small siblings. I wish I had read this 10 years ago, when I would relate more, and when all the high-school topics were relevant. But even now, I can still remember the exact way Charlie felt in some situations. I wish I had read the book and acted differently on some of mine.

”Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.”

Charlie will teach us a lot about high school little traumas, high-school crushes and true love, friendships and betrayals, seeing the family in a different way, and acting on things instead of doing nothing. With Charlie, I went back to high-school, and remembered all the good things and the bad. I ALMOST shed a few tears for all the memories and times I will never have. Now, I raise a glass, and say cheers for all the good memories and friendships made.

“And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. How many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. And I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope they feel it’s enough. And I really do because they’ve made me happy. And I’m only one person.”

Spend a little time, and pick up this book. It is a short and sweet read, and it is a book that everyone should have on their shelves.

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Book Review, Books

My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber [BOOK REVIEW]

my name is anna - lizzy barber books books review blog diary of difference diaryofdifference

★★★★★

Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?

My name is Anna is one of those books that captures your attention from the moment you look at its cover. Then, it drags you into a story, makes you bite your nails throughout, lifts you up in the air with the amazing writing and than smashes you back into the ground with the incredible twist at the end. Exactly what you want and need from a thriller.

The story is being told by two girls:

  • Anna, a girl raised with a religious mother, where everything is forbidden and everything is a sin. And when on her 18th Birthday, Anna decides to disobey her mum and go to a theme park, she feels like she has been here before. And then random events lead to her realising that she was taken away when she was a little girl. And her real name is not Anna at all…

  • Rosie, a girl whose big sister has been missing for fifteen years. And when the media is ready to let the story go after the fifteen years anniversary, Rosie is determined to do whatever it takes to discover the truth of what actually happened on that day at the theme park.

The first thing I noticed in this book, that makes it different than all the stories about the kidnapping is – that the plot is being revealed in the first chapters. I was not expecting to immediately know that Anna and Rosie are sisters and Anna was kidnapped as a girl, but this was stated in the first chapters in the book. I personally thought that this would be the big twist, but the twist came to be so much better than that.

I loved how you could relate to both girls, for different reasons, and how even though they were sisters, how one little moment changed their lives completely. How Anna was raised with different beliefs than Rosie, and how they grew up to be so different, but the same…

This was a great story that give you thoughts about ‘’what could’ve been…’’ and it makes you wonder – if certain things didn’t happen, would our lives be the same?

The end for me, was particularly meaningful. The last moments, the realisation, the conclusion, the story that ended, or the one that never begun, all the things we could’ve been, but are not, and all the things that we wish we could have changed, but we can’t.

If you, like me, are into kidnapping stories, amazing twists and thriller stories that take your breath away, this will definitely be the perfect book for you. This will be a hit at the beginning of 2019, and it will hit the top shelves. I know it hits my favourite shelf – for sure!

A huge thanks to Penguin Random House UK, for providing me with a hardback copy, in exchange for an honest review of this book. The opinions in this review are entirely my own, and completely unbiased.

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Book Review, Books

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare [BOOK REVIEW]

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare [BOOK REVIEW] books blog blogging diary of difference diaryofdifference★★★★★

I have already read this book back in 2014. This time, I decided to go with the whole series, as I stopped reading them for some reason.

City of Bones is the first book from The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare. This is a book that is really distinctive for the fact that it takes you to a whole new world instantly, and you immediately feel comfortable with it.

The story starts when Clary and her friend Simon are in a night club, and a boy is being attacked. When Clary calls out for help, it seems that only she can see the attackers. And immediately, within a few pages, we are introduced to a paranormal world that is not visible to mundanes, and we discover all sorts of creatures: angels, demons, fae, vampires, werewolves…

And when Clary discovers that her mother, who used to be a part of a society, and kept it all hidden from her goes missing – she is determined to find her, save her, and find out about her past.

I liked the fact that we have a world so wonderfully constructed, and so thoughtfully created, that drags you in immediately. I usually am the person that  struggles with new worlds and incredible amounts of creatures, but this was a great exception.

Book Cover (1)

The characters were well-developed, and I was impressed by how the author managed to present some of today’s taboo topics in this novel. I find it really courageous. I straight-out don’t like Simon. Like, at all… He is a wonderful friend, and Clary means a lot to him, but he was just so dull the whole book.

I liked Clary, and I loved how she slowly discovered everything, but I wasn’t really that involved with her.

On the other side, I loved Jace. He is such a hottie. Sarcastic little cutsie thing! I also adored his honesty. It is something that not everyone has these days…

‘’He’s not a liar at all. Not about important things. He’ll tell you horrible truths, but he won’t lie.’’ She paused before she added quietly, ‘’That’s why it’s certainly better not to ask him anything unless you know you can stand to hear the answer.’’

I liked Luke’s story, and he had an amazing cliff-hanger around the end of the book. But Magnus is one of the people I wanted to see more of, and I wish there two places were swapped.

Isabelle and Alec – I really loved them. We didn’t get to see too much of them, but they were both really important in some of the crucial moments in this book.

All in all, I really loved the story. And I am a bit sad that the couple I was shipping for can’t be together, but it is what it is. I am going to put a Lannister reference here, and if you have read the book, you will understand: ‘’Oh, the things we do for love…’’

‘’To love is to destroy, and to be loved is to be the one destroyed.’’

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Books, Down The TBR Hole Tag

Down The TBR Hole #2

down the tbr hole book books blog diary of difference

Hi Lovelies!

The second edition of the Down the TBR Hole. On my previous attempt, I have managed to clear 3 out of 10, and I am eager to see how this one will go.

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

  • Order on ascending date added.

  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.

  •  Read the synopsis of the books.

  • Decide: keep it or should it go

Here’s the next patch:

#1

#2

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol and Origin are the only books I haven’t read from the Robert Langdon Series. I am eager to finish what I have started.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

As my previous comment, with already two books on my TBR from Dan Brown, I will remove Digital Fortress from my TBR for now.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A classic I have always been trying to get my hands on, and a must-read book. Staying!

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

Приказни од Мјаукедонија by Igor Dzambazov

This is a Macedonian book by one of the most popular show-men in our country. As I have no chance of getting this book in my hands right now, I will pass.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

I have wanted to read Sophie’s World since childhood, and I love philosophy. This one is staying, and I will actually push this to be one of my reads in early 2019.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacton

I actually don’t know what this book is doing here, or why I have put it. Needless to say more?

Verdict:  REMOVE ✖

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I am half-way through the second season of the TV Show, and I know that 90% of the times books are better than movies, so I will give this one a go.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

I have put this on my wishlist 5 years ago. Now I realise why. Unfortunately (or luckily), this is not my taste anymore. I think I’ve grown up.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

All I want for Christmas by Amy Silver

I don’t remember adding this book to my list. It seems like a great read, and I love Christmas books. I thought I should keep it in case we run out of new Christmas books, but who are we kidding… As I don’t own this at the moment, I will let it go.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

The Nanny by Melissa Nathan

I love Nanny books, this subject has a great meaning to me. I am not sure if I will read this in a near future, or ever read it, but I will keep it in my TBR for now.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

flower-divider-flower-dividers-clip-art-flowers-line-divider-stock-vector-illustration-of-elegant

This time it seems to be 5 staying and 5 going. I think I am getting better at this. My TBR already looks smaller (who are we kidding? :D). Let me know if you have read any of these, and if you want me to keep or remove any of these books from my list! I look forward to see what you think!

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Books, interviews

Interview With Author – Sean Gibson

Interview with an author

 Hello All!

I have to admit – this is one of my most precious interviews! Sean Gibson, the author of The Camelot Shadow is probably the funniest and most interesting writer I have met. If you haven’t had a chance to pick this book yet – please do! You can see my review here. He has also written The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple and The Strange Task Before Me: Being an Excerpt from the Journal of William J. Upton (Camelot Shadow #0.5).

 

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Just last Tuesday—it was all very sudden. I’m kidding, of course. I realized I wanted to be a writer when I discovered Bob Salvatore’s Dark Elf Trilogy 25 years ago (I’m dating myself with that revelation, I suppose, though at least if I’m dating myself, I know I won’t get turned down…well, I probably won’t get turned down; I do have SOME standards, though, so it’s entirely possible I might reject me).

I’d always been an avid reader, but that was the first time I was consciously aware of books shaping my worldview and inspiring me to think about my approach to life in a different way. I thought it would be pretty fantastic if I could someday do for a reader what Salvatore did for me (and what numerous other writers have done since): entertain, inspire, and provoke thought.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

Ritually sacrificing stuffed bunnies and ripe mangoes to the goddess Buhlschitt in exchange for inspiration. Isn’t that how everyone gets ideas?

What are you currently working on?

I’m just finishing the first draft of a book tentatively titled THE PART ABOUT THE DRAGON WAS (MOSTLY) TRUE (though I suspect the title will change). It’s a prequel of sorts to THE CHRONICLE OF HELOISE & GRIMPLE, albeit written as a cohesive narrative as opposed to a serialized adventure as its predecessor was. It’s a fantasy homage/parody that’s part Hobbit, part Behind the Music with the joke cadence of a Tina Fey show.

 

Where did you get your idea for The Camelot Shadow?

The scene that opens Chapter 1—an older man, sitting in a well-worn leather chair in a magnificent library late at night, a book in his lap and a glass of Scotch by his side—popped into my head unbidden one night when I was trying to fall asleep. I was in college at the time and far more concerned with midterms and naked quad streaking than writing books, so I didn’t do anything about it immediately. Every so often, though, I would think about that scene. The details were so clear in my head—I could practically smell the chair leather and feel the vellum pages within the books. Eventually, I started asking myself who the man was, why he was so melancholy, how he’d amassed all those wonderful books, and why it seemed as though this quiet moment was just the calm before the storm. As I answered those questions, I realized I had a story I had to tell.

It’s funny—when I finished writing the book, I was convinced that was it. I’d told those characters’ tale and it was onto the next thing. But, after a while, I started thinking about them again—what happened after the story ended, and even what had come before. I missed hanging out in that world and writing in that ornate Victorianish style. What can I say? I like my prose like I like my Little Mermaid villains—over the top and incredibly purple.

So, having released a prequel short (THE STRANGE TASK BEFORE ME: BEING AN EXCERPT FROM THE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM J. UPTON), I’ve begun plotting a couple of sequels. It’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of these characters—well, except for those who met rather final fates in THE CAMELOT SHADOW. 

What does your writing process look like?

 Mostly it involves trying not to get carsick while typing in the backseat of a stranger’s car, as I chronicle here: 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

  I like to slip in an occasional joke or phrase that only a couple of close friends will catch. A few characters in THE CAMELOT SHADOW are named for close friends, too. And sometimes I’ll work in a Ghostbusters quote, which sharp-eyed GB obsessives will catch. Oh, and if you take the first letter of every sentence in THE CAMELOT SHADOW, you will discover a riddle that, if you can solve it, will lead you to an ancient pirate treasure worth eleventy-billion dollars.

What is your favorite book of all times?

Let me complicate a very straightforward question by saying that I’m ruling ineligible for my response any book that’s part of a series. “That seems unduly draconian, Big Nose,” you might opine, and you would certainly be justified in holding that opinion, both about my exclusion of series books and the proportions of my proboscis. That said, the reason for that exclusion is that I find it impossible to judge a book in a series solely on its own merit; it is inextricably bound up with and linked to the events that happen in the other books in the series, events that inform your response to the book upon first read and shade your memory and perception of it after you’ve read subsequent volumes. For example, I would probably say that GOBLET OF FIRE is my favorite Harry Potter book, but perhaps my love for that book is, at least in part, a result of the buildup to it in the preceding three books and knowing the impact that Voldemort’s return at the story’s end will have on future tales.

(Should I have marked that as a spoiler? I feel like that one’s pretty fair game at this point. Voldemort always comes back, people.)

With that in mind, then, I’ll limit the pool of potential candidates to stand-alone books, and while it’s still an exceedingly difficult choice, if forced to select a single tome, I would say Bram Stoker’s DRACULA.

I first encountered DRACULA as a precocious second grader. While I wouldn’t recommend that most 8-year-olds read a book that’s likely to give them nightmares, if not force them into years of therapy (or, at least, force them to look up every other word), I was hooked from the get-go by a book whose style and plot resonated from page one. For whatever reason, the ornate language, shiver-inducing slow-burn buildup, and terrifying prospect of one of fiction’s most fascinating villains appealed to me so much that, 10 years later, I would make Victorian lit the primary focus of my collegiate career as an English literature major (though, to be fair, the subsequently read works of Dickens and Conan Doyle played a significant role in that decision).

Sure, the book is laden with Victorian melodrama and weird psychosexual shenanigans, but I love that stuff (well, the Victorian melodrama, at least). I’d be hard pressed to think of another single book that pulled me so fully and completely into its world and left me breathless at its conclusion.

 

What is your favorite fictional character and why?

That’s a little bit like asking which is my favorite piece of macaroni in a bowl of macaroni and cheese—I have whole mouthfuls of favorite fictional characters (which is a weird thing to say, maybe). If I was forced to answer the question lest I be denied mac and cheese in perpetuity, I would say Drizzt Do’Urden from R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf books. Dark elves are typically evil, sadistic, and very unlikely to bake cookies for new neighbors. Drizzt, however, has a good heart, and he fights his way to the surface world in an effort to live a life that’s true to his values. What I love most about Drizzt isn’t that he’s noble, brave, and very good at killing orcs (though I do enjoy all of those things)—it’s that he’s always asking questions about the world around him and is unflinching in examining his own actions and beliefs in the service of becoming a better person. I aspire to have Drizzt’s courage and commitment to self-improvement and facing the uncomfortable truths we all have to confront within ourselves from time to time.

Sean, thank you very much for deciding to do this interview with me. It was really an honor and I greatly appreciate it!