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Stephanie Spines

I like dem pages. Find me youtubin' http://www.youtube.com/user/stephandtimread

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald I re-read this for the first time since grade 11, but I remember it resonating with me then as well.I think that The Great Gatsby has just earned a spot on my favourites of all-time list.Fitzgerald's language is simply beautiful. It perfectly captures the spirit of the time and is simply luscious and beautiful. I found myself hanging on to Fitzgerald's words and wrapping myself up in them like a warm blanket.At it's core, this story seems to be an ironic telling of the American Dream and that those in pursuit of it and those who seem to have it are not infallable. Perhaps we have constructed some grandiose idea of wealth, but this story demonstrates the illusion of happiness, stability and virtue that exists even when one manages to achieve the endless pursuit. I suppose the illusion doesn't stop at the achievement of the American Dream but also includes the American Dream itself - hence the green light. Even though Gatsby had all the money in the world and could throw fancy soirees, there was still something missing for him. Something blinking far off in the distance that he could make out on the horizon but was just too far away to reach out and grab. And he will never find out what it is.The ending is quite sad and what I found so depressing and stark and hopeless was that hardly anybody showed up to Gatsby's funeral. Despite having all of these "friends" that turned up at his parties, nodboy could be bothered to attend his funeral. I guess Fitzgerald did this to illustrate that perhaps there are more important things in life than money and superficial friends.


Goliath - Tom Gauld The feels!Just leave Goliath alone!He didn't even want to be there!Don't throw th-Oh.The feels.--Seriously, though. This was brilliant. I'm an atheist that likes to read biblical retellings (as long as they aren't hyper-christian). Gauld definitely has a knack for evoking emotion using an incredible simple medium. The art in this illustrated novel is simple and almost childlike, which I think makes Goliath all the more endearing. Poor thing.

Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams

Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams - Gareth Roberts Fun Fun Fun!I feel like every Whovian needs to read this.The Doctor, Romana and K-9 embark on an adventure to save the universe from a maniacal power-trippy overlord complex type. I enjoyed Roberts' take on Adams' style but I saw the difference, and I particularly noticed points where perhaps Roberts decided to input his own writing style into the novel, just to make it his own, I suppose. i also thought that this could have done without the last 40 or so pages. It seemed to drag on a bit.I loved all of the characters. The Doctor just seems like one of those guys that you just have to love.

Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey: A Novel - Jasper Fforde This inventive dystopian novel set in a society that has a caste system based on which colours one can perceive and precisely how much of it one can perceive, was a fun read. It took a long time to get going, but once it did, I was along for the ride and was engaged. I liked the characters, particularly Jane. Fforde's writing style is very descriptive. There is a lot of exposition in this novel and I thought that had the world been any less dynamic and different from ours, it would have been overkill. But I enjoyed reading about the particularities of the world the Fforde builds because it was just so unique. Also, the vocab! I'm pretty sure I learned about 30 new words while reading this.

The Tales Of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling That was quick.I gave this an automatic 5 stars, because of reasons.Favourites include of course, The Tale of The Three Brothers and Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump. My muggle brain did succumb to her trick and I did think that it was the stump cackling.I really appreciated how Dumbledore's notes were written. I could hear his voice reading them to me. What a perfect execution.When I first received this as a gift, I really wanted the Deathly Hallows symbol to be sketched onto the top of a page, like in Hermione's original edition. This can be explained by the fact that this is not, in fact, the original edition bequeathed to her in Dumbledore's will, however, the touch would have been very much appreciated and giddiness-inducing.

Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood - Jay Rubin, Haruki Murakami What a beautiful novel.Haruki Murakami's prose is poetic and haunting and just so smooth. This book isn't action-packed or exciting per se, but I couldn't put it down. I found myself hanging on to each word and savouring them as they melted away in my mind. I loved all of the characters, even though I didn't relate to all of htem - they all had their place in the novel. I mean, Nagasawa as kind of a jerk, but I still loved him. Midori was so annoying but I loved her too - her quirkiness, honesty, frankness etc. She is one of those characters that you admire because of their ability to just speak unabashedly what is on their mind.The themes in this book were also interesting. Like many a review preceding mine has stated, this is a little separate from Murakami's other works. I had come, thus far, to love Murakami for his strange paranormal/supernatural elements and magical realism. This book was more autobiographical in nature and did not really have any of those things. It is, without a doubt though, Murakami's work, stamped with his signature enigmatic writing style. Present in this book, were some typical coming-of-age themes, like sex, love, loss etc... but my favourite theme is this concept of normality vs abnormality because I feel like Murakami executes something amazing here. Toru touches on it somewhere in the book where he mentions something about not liking 'normal' people. Naoko and Reiko reside in this isolated recovery institution, a place where 'abnormal' people go to become 'normal' again. One the other hand, people like Nagasawa, Hatsumi, and most notable, Midori, reside in the 'normal' world. But are they normal? Absolutely not. And Toru acts as this bridge or conduit that sort of connects the two worlds and you see him, throughout the book, being stretched between the two worlds and having holes poked through him as well.A brilliant, deep, poignant, haunting, poetic novel. The ending was brilliant, in my opinion and I love that it was left open-ended and confusing.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - This was a fun read! I really liked how it was a sneaky (maybe not so sneaky) ode to programming, books, and typography. I liked all of the characters and thought that they were well-developed. The first-person narration style wasn't really my thing but I still mostly enjoyed hearing Clay's inner thoughts and witty, sarcastic silent interjections. Penumbra! What a mysterious fellow. He is just who I like to imagine running old and dusty workshops. He was just missing some half-moon spectacles, I think. Kat was cool, I liked that she was pretty fierce and also obviously very intelligent. My favourite part of the book was when **SPOILER** the Googlers were trying to break the code. I thought this part of the story was written very cinematically, and I got really excited while they were trying to figure it out and even more-so when Kat put it to the "whole system". I was then thoroughly disappointed to find out that nothing was there but I had to say, I saw it coming. Also, since we are on the topic of spoilers, I felt so immersed and connected to the story when Clay cracked the mystery, finally. Gerritszoon! **SPOILERS OVER**So all-in-all, this was a great, fun, quick read. It lost a star for me, for the narration style as well as the fact that it took a while for me to really care about the mystery.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré I don't know why I have shyed away from writing reviews of this series after having re-read it for the first time since I was 12. I think its because I don't think I can adequately squeeze all my thoughts and feelings into a book review. Let me think about this some more, and I'll come back to this review. All I can say for sure right now is that this series remains my favourite series of all time. It resonated with me this time as much as it did the first time I read it and I felt so nostalgic reconnecting with all my favourite characters. This series is so whimsical and complex that I just fell in love all over again. Notable favourites are Luna Lovegood and Neville, Dumbledore of course, Lupin, Sirius and perhaps Tonks. Sigh. I am so sad that its over. Also worth noting is that I think HBP is my favourite book in the series. I'll come back to these reviews.

Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery

Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery - Bell Hooks Brilliant.As a long-time bell hooks fan, it took me a while to read this one. I was in search of a self-help style book and had tried a few out when I realized that none of them adequately reflected my experiences as a black woman. Why I hadn't turned to hooks sooner is beyond me. While the book doesn't PERFECTLY reflect my experience, since hooks is of African-American heritage and I myself am of Caribbean heritage, and since hooks was raised poor while I experienced a degree of class privilege, it is, one of the best self-help books I have ever read. Also, I'm not necessarily on the same page as hooks where religion and spirituality is concerned, but even still, these parts of the book resonated with me. If you are in any way lost in your life and particularly if you are a black woman, I would recommend this book to you.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) - Well contrary to popular opinion, I actually enjoyed this one! I definitely enjoyed it more than A Clash of Kings. I generally enjoyed following the characters in this book, despite missing my favourites Tyrion, Dany and Jon. I missed them but their absence didn't spoil the book. I enjoyed watching Cersei's decline and eventual fall from grace. I enjoyed watching Brienne's endlessly infuriating search for Sansa. I liked the parallels between the sisters' storylines - they are both living lives as somebody else, trying to shed their former selves in order to fully embody their new selves. I hated Sweetrobin, and want him to "fly". I know this book was where people started to like Jaime but I still don't really like him, while being appreciative of his disowning Cersei. What else?I am pretty confident that Brienne won't be dead, which is interesting. And poor Arya - why is she blind?! As for Catelyn, well, I'm interested to see how her new undead character develops, since she is pure resent and vengeance now. Sam's character is so likeable these days as well.All in all, I did like this book and look forward to the next one.

Survivor: A Novel

Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk Better than Pygmy, Snuff, Tell All, Damned, Haunted (except Guts). Worse than Fight Club, Choke and Invisible Monsters. Formulaic? Duh. Awesome? Yes!I have read most of Palahniuk's writing and I think this one, as noted above, is definitely in my top 5 favourites. It is classically Palahniuk in writing and narration but the story is a hilarious and dark satire. Fertility was an amazing character and I hated everything about her (including her name) from the get-go but that was likely the commentary Palahniuk was going for. I laughed out loud at the characters many times. Palahniuk has such a knack for that bone-dry, dark humour that just gets me every time and there are so many key quotes in this book that I cannot even count them. Also, true to Palahniuk style, throw in a little bit of stomach-churning gore and there you have it. Another Palahniuk winner.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Hmmm....As I was reading this book, I wasn't entirely sure what to think. I thought it was just about a weird, eccentric family and wrote it off as a boring story. Upon finishing it though, and upon reflecting, I realized really how haunting and chilling a story this really was.The way I see it, it is sort of an alternate fairy tale story. It feels very gothic, dark and sinister. To me, Merricat reads as much younger than 18 and that annoyed me a bit throughout the book. Upon reflection though, I wondered if she was written that way to raise questions about her mental stability. I mean, is she insane? Did she simply stop developing mentally after 12 years old, when that tragedy struck her family? Is she just really eccentric? Personally, I think she is just a bit insane. And Constance...Is she also insane? Is she actually terrified of Merricat? I'm really not sure. I was left wondering where this story was going to go without any real conflict until Cousin Charles shows up. Despite the unhealthiness of the family's habits (reclusiveness, etc.), the reader is really left hating Cousin Charles and his pushiness and greediness. He feels intrusive. I also really enjoyed the world built in this book. Though the book is a quick read at only 126 pages, it is a very immersive world. I think the narration is very descriptive and sometimes cinematic. Further, all of Constance's delicious food really ignites the senses of the reader.Interestingly, the story raises the classic "who is the real enemy?" question. I felt awful for the Blackwoods' experiences with the villagers. They are all so cruel. But then later on, you find out who the "real" enemy is in the story, but somehow it doesn't excuse the cruelty of the villagers. Anyways, this story was an amazing, haunting alternate gothic fairy tale. This was my first Shirley Jackson and I will be sure to pick up some more.

Scott Pilgrim (Volume 1): Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life v. 1

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life - Bryan Lee O'Malley Great start to a great series. Had me laughing out loud repeatedly and I love that it it set here in Toronto. I love Wallace!

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) - George R.R. Martin I just wrote an entire review that Goodreads decided to eat so forgive me if this one isn't everything it could be.WOW.I loved it. I found the first book enjoyable, albeit dense, and I found the second book simply a chore to get through. It took me a long time to decide to continue on witht he series but I am so glad that I did. The second book sets up the dominoes and this one knocks them all down. Relentlessly. This one makes all of that buildup from the second book so worth it. In fact, this one moves almost too quickly to keep up! I was never bored and it sure as hell didn't feel like I was reading such a gigantic book.So much changes in this book and so much happens that I feel like this review might spiral off into a long rambly nonsensical thing. My favourite chapters were of course Daenerys...I know a lot of people found her chapters boring in this book but as her and her dragons mature, she becomes more and more badass and more and more interesting. HELLO with the hankypanky stuff that went on with Jhiqui (is it?). And hell yeah to her for telling Mormont to make like a tree. Oh and lets not forget buying an army of Unsullied, if that is, you count torching the place as buying. Arya is still endearing as ever, albeit a bit more murdery and a bit more mangy. I also grew to enjoy Sansa's chapters more, feeling sorry for her more and more as things got worse and worse. I also liked Jaime's chapters, and grew to like him more once he lost the hand and once he rescued Tyrion. And hot damn! The Red Wedding! And double hot damn Catelyn's return from the grave. What the hell! Does she ever do anything right?!?! Bran's chapters I found pretty boring, as usual, and the same for Robb's to be honest, that is, until he got a sword through the heart. I also found Jon's kind of boring as well, but I did like Ygritte and her "you know nothing, Jon Snow". Kudos to him for the Wall!In general this was simply a pleasure to read. It holds nothing back and pulls every punch! George R.R Martin is proving that nobody is safe. It doesn't matter how much you like them. But that is what keeps us all coming back to the series, now, isn't it?Is it possible to write a short review of this book?

Ready Player One

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline *Actually 4.5 stars.This book was so much fun to read! The pace is probably the best feature about this book, never letting the reader get bored or disinterested. I loved the nerdy pop culture references, and they surely aren't for the non-nerdy types. If you're not into that kind of thing then I'm willing to bet you ten bucks that you'll just get annoyed and hate the book. I also really enjoyed the exposition in this book, a literary device that can really make or break a story. If you overdo it, it ends up heavy and boring. Cline executes it perfectly though, setting up the backstory just enough to draw you in. The only reason I gave this book 4.5 instead of 5 is that I found the dialogue choppy at times.Overall, great! An engrossing, fact-paced, high energy geek book!

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison Brilliant and painful. This was my first read by Toni Morrison, though I'm kind of embarassed to admit that.Toni Morrison is a master of prose. She paints a picture before your eyes of little Pecola, a girl described as ugly but also somehow tragically beautiful. It was so heartwrenching to watch Pecola suffer at no fault of her own and to see it all fall down at the end. I didn't find it "too graphic" as others did. It was just a sad story; A sad "reality".At the end of this day, this read is an amazingly powerful commentary on the impact of racism on young black women. Pecola was made out to be ugly by everybody around her, the same messages that society imparts feverishly on black women today from every angle. And it was this that caused Pecola to break. The need she felt, though a construction in itself, to fit into racist constructions of beauty ended up costing a huge price.Heartbreaking.