Book to film: The Martian

I have been meaning to make a post about this for months, but what with procrastination, forgetfulness, and lots of other things to do, I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. Well I’m here now and hopefully I can do this justice, even though I’ll admit that I have already forgotten most of the points I wanted to say. Man, what I way to start a post – I bet you’re really psyched to read this now. I promise I’ll do better.

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.

Already I even feel I’ve been hard done by because that cover looks incredible and I wish the UK had supply of that cover. Instead I had one of Matt Damon’s face – now I’m not saying anything is wrong with his face, but I prefer book covers that are about the book and not the film adaptation. Just saying.

Anyway, a phenomenal book, even if I hadn’t immediately been inclined to pick it up. In all honesty the only reason I bought this book was because everyone and their mothers were telling me how amazing it is, so I gave it to my Mum for Christmas then stole it after she’d finished it (I know, I’m such a good daughter).

This book is all about Mark Watney and how he was stranded on Mars, and that’s probably all I really want to say about it in the spoiler-free section. All I will add is that the fantastic reviews are fantastic for a reason, as it really is all about the brilliant character that is Mark Watney who, despite his situation, is a hilarious commentator with such well-thought out witty dialogue that you’ll be laughing throughout. A five stars from me without fail.

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Now, onto the discussion about the book to film adaptation. This will contain some spoilers on what the film misses out and, therefore, some scenes that happen in the book, so approach with caution.

If I hadn’t read the book, watching The Martian would have been a great experience – and, admittedly, it still was good fun. However the film misses out some really big scenes that I remember from the book, and half of you is enjoying the film whilst the other half is fuming that they’ve missed out a bit. Obviously they can’t cram in everything that happens in the book into the film, so that’s understandable, but I still felt bitter. Can’t help that.

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Just for those who didn’t read the above warning SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

There were big action scenes and explanations missed out that I think needed more time devoted to. For example when Mark makes the long trip to get the radioactive substance and test his solar panels, they kind of just breeze over that and don’t really talk about the solar panels that much. All the mini trips he made were left out, and all of a sudden he’s got his way to communicate with earth and now he’s off on the final long trip to be rescued. And let’s talk about that trip – it was remarkably easy. He was supposed to crash, roll around in his make-shift caravan, and we all are supposed to think he’s dead for a heart-stopping minute. The film made it look all too easy, which I personally think is just plain rude to Watney and his efforts.

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The next thing that upset me was that, despite the film being all about him, it still felt like there wasn’t enough Mark Watney. The huge punch lines in the book and Mark’s fantastic dialogue didn’t feel emphasised enough or focussed on. It definitely felt like the film was concerned most with the plot, whereas the book is all about the characters. Even the secondary characters, like those on earth and his crew-mates, weren’t really fleshed out enough. They were just…secondary characters, and not important. I wanted to hear all about Johannson and Beck and all the others whose names I’ve now forgotten (I’m sorry). I wanted to hear more about the love story between Mark Watney and his potatoes, because really that’s what the book is all about. (I’m joking, but then again I’m not).

It’s going to happen with pretty much any book that’s made into a film – there are bits that you adored in the book which were missed out, or sections that you felt deserved at least twenty minutes and instead got about twenty seconds. It’s difficult watching a book you love being turned into a film which you like, but not as much as the book. Just remember that we’re all going through the same thing and together we’ll make it through.

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March Wrap Up

It seems every month I have an excuse ready as to why I haven’t read so many books, but that just seems ridiculous – why should I apologise for reading less books one month to another? We all have lives outside of reading (as simple as they may or may not be) and it seems stupid to keep explaining why my life that doesn’t involve reading is taking priority, as much as I wish it didn’t sometimes. Despite all that, I think I did pretty well this month with maybe a few more Kindle reads than anticipated. I’ve got a busy few months ahead, what with exams and essays, but by June my university work will be over for another year and all I’ll have to do during the Summer is work at my job, try to get an internship, and do reading for my dissertation. Yeah, life isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

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First up this month is a book I’ve already sort-of reviewed, and that is A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab. I literally finished it in one day, which happened on the first day of this month. Five stars without hesitation, a fantastic sequel and yet another book series that I would do almost anything to have the final book right now.

Next up is a book by an author who is always a one-click buy for me, and that is Jennifer L Armentrout’s The Power. I mean, come on, it’s a sequel in a spin-off series that’s all about the Greek Gods and Goddesses. I’m a Classics student who is currently planning a dissertation about ancient greek mythology – these books are my jam. Speaking of, that’s a pretty odd phrase – do people all have particular jams they like so much that this saying was born? Anyway, back to mythology – these books are so readable and you finish them without even realising how much you’ve already read. Action and adventure and drama on every page, no filler scenes whatsoever to bulk out the books. I’d recommend her books in a heartbeat to anyone who likes a bit of fantasy in a more YA setting with funny dialogue, lovable characters, and fast-paced reading. Her Lux series starting with Obsidian was one of the first I bought when I received my Kindle, and I’ve been buying all of her books since. Yes, it won’t win any literary prizes anytime soon, but they’re fun and enjoyable and isn’t that what we want to read?

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I wanted a short read next, so I picked up The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman, which was definitely short and sweet exactly. This is the point in the month where I think I was so fed up of doing reading for uni, that I just wanted some Kindle reads to breeze through and not have to focus on them. You’ve been warned, let the kindle read marathon begin.

There’s Beautiful Lies and Beautiful love by Kendall Ryan, which I actually gave one star to – very trashy book that brought mindless reading to it, but there was an offer on them to purchase. Then Fisher’s Light by Tara Sivec which I’d seen so many reviews for, but I only rated it two stars; it was a nice story I guess, but I couldn’t connect at all with the characters so I ended up just not caring at all about what happened. Then there’s Sparrow, which I rated half a star more than Fisher’s Light, by L.J Shen and the description I wrote in my little reading journal is ‘Not so fluffy, interesting idea, not such an obvious end’. I think that says it all really. Then we finally have Wall of Winnipeg by Mariana Zapata, which I rated three stars (highest rating so far) and I’m glad as it was in the top rankings for ebooks. Again, I have an illuminating description of ‘lovely read and thankfully long’ – clearly I’ve been upset too many times by kindle books being so short just so they can sell multiple books which really could easily be condensed into one.

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Then I finally picked up an actual book again, and it was The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry which was the book featured in last month’s Owlcrate. I gave it three and a half stars, which now looking back on all of those ebooks I think was maybe a bit too harsh. Let’s say 3.45 so it can be rounded up. I think it’s because it took me a while to get into so I spent a long time reading it, but it did really pick up the pace at about 65% of the way through. An, as far as I can tell, original idea and a fantastic debut novel. There was a ‘story’ element to it, in so far as many stories were told (good explaining there, Eleanor), and I loved that aspect far too much. There also seems to be a theme in what I liked this month with books, as another big ‘plus’ point for me was that I didn’t guess the ending or the twist or, well, anything really. Lovely writing and a beautiful note from the author – definite recommend for anyone looking out for new authors of a sci-fi nature with a love story that literally transcends time.

Next up is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, read on audible, and once again I loved it. Stephen Fry is by far the best narrator of the series without a doubt.I finished it alongside another Kindle buy, I’m afraid, and that was The Promise by Kristen Ashley who has a knack for writing long, drama-packed books and has a very typical style and format which just works for a quick flick with fun characters and witty passages.

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And finally for this month, I finished it with a proof copy of On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Such a cute book, very much like Andrew Kaufman with the magical elements, but had really fantastic moralising undertones. She has beautiful intentions with this fairytale-esque story with not over-emphasised discussions on sexuality and emotional manipulation – I wrote a mini review of it on my Instagram, but there should be a full review on another website which I’ll let you know about soon.

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All in all, not a bad month. Six book-books for me, including The Power and the Harry Potter audible book, my reasoning for The Power being that it was long, great, and I always just buy her books on Kindle for price reasons. Then six ebooks on top of that, although they weren’t all so great. So for my reading challenge I’m on 17/50 and 26 in total! Although my Goodreads tells me that for book-books I’m on 18, but to be honest I can’t think what I’ve missed out. Oh well, that just sums me up really – good at reading, bad at maths. Here’s to March.

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A Darker Shade of Magic/A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab

An actual book review! Man it’s been a while – so to make up for that, I’m doing a two-for-one sort of deal. I had been meaning to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic for almost a year after all the brilliant reviews it received. Then, when I finally do pick it up, I finish it in under two days, head straight back out to buy the sequel A Gathering of Shadows, and finish that within 24 hours. It so shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that this is going to be a very positive review.

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Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

For spoiler reasons, I won’t post a blurb of the second book.

The first book I read by V.E Schwab was Vicious (read review here) and I loved it, so it’s surprising it took me this long to pick up this series. The world Schwab has created is enchanting and, with no better word for it, magical. Set throughout parallel worlds, all in London, we meet Kell who can travel between all three of these Londons which he has nicknamed: Red London, White London, and Grey London. We know that there used to be a Black London, but that’s all you do know going in. Grey London is supposedly the London of our world, as in the reality, without magicians and abilities and all of those marvellous things.

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Schwab’s imagination knows no bounds, and the way she’s conjured up this world (or worlds) as well as weaving an intricate plot, not to mention the fantastic characters, is just incredible. She is definitely the kind of author I want to be one day, and not just because she writes fantastic fantasy.

Kell is one of those characters that you feel inclined to love, although it isn’t until about halfway when you realise that you do actually love and adore him. He’s the definite hero of the book, and his heroine/ally/antagonist/the best person ever is Delilah Bard, the magnificent (otherwise known as Lila). A cross-dressing thief with dreams of being a pirate, I’m not quite sure how you can’t like the guarded, wary Lila. She is everything you want in an heroine, from her stubbornness to her determination to tackle everything head on. She isn’t helpless, she isn’t vulnerable, and she most certainly doesn’t need saving.

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Then there comes the charming, wonderful Rhy that you can’t help but adore. Man, I just want to live in Red London and meet these people before setting sail with Lila. It’s just a book (well, both of them) that sucks you in until, before you know it, you’ve finished it and are going crazy on the internet trying to discover when the next one is coming out. My only critique might be the few Americanisms that pop out at you which, for an English reader expecting to be firmly grounded in parallel Londons, it’s distracting.

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So, if like me, you like fantasy and a book including cross-dressing, pirates, thieves, magicians, and parallel worlds sounds appealing, then this is the one for you. Also, if you know when the third one comes out, hit me up.

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Audible review

It shouldn’t be news to you (unless you’re new, in which case hi, welcome, and don’t hate me for what I’m about to say) that I haven’t read Harry Potter. Many reasons, the main one being that my brother read them and when I was younger I was determined to be nothing like him. Many years later brings us to present day where every weekend I work in a bookshop with people who, no surprise, have read the Harry Potter books and look ready to kill me whenever I mention that I haven’t. Then, one probably-not-beautiful-or-sunny-and-most-likely-rainy day, one of my colleagues recommended Audible. As the first month was free and you received a credit to buy a book, I thought ‘why not’ and signed up.

I should add at this point that this isn’t sponsored, but I would so be up for being sponsored. Publishers, I’m looking at you.

Audible is pretty simple. Using your amazon account, you can download it onto your phone or tablet, or any device you want it on really, and buy as many audiobooks as you want. Each month you get one ‘credit’ with which you can purchase any audiobook, and as they vary in prices this can be very very handy. With my experience so far, I’d say they have the best customer support I’ve found in a long long time. I emailed asking about prices, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to afford £7.99 a month as a student, and immediately they dropped the price for me.

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As you may have already guessed by now, which my credit I chose to purchase the first Harry Potter which is read by the magnificent Stephen Fry and, let me tell you, this is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. You have not lived until you’ve had Stephen Fry reading to you with his incredible talent at voices. His Hagrid? Oh man.

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Now that I walk to university, I’m unable to read on my journey which has actually cut out a huge chunk of my reading time. I did try to read whilst walking one day and, admittedly, I managed not to fall over on the way there (although I did trip several times), but on the way back it started raining and there was chaos. Now with Audible, I’m able to listen to the book and I’m surprised at how much I love it. I’m already on the second Harry Potter book with this month’s credit, and with both books being over eight hours long it truly is fantastic. I walk for about an hour and ten minutes every day, so it’s a solid amount of ‘reading’ time. Every now and then I’ll also listen for a while before I go to sleep because, let me tell you, having someone read you before you sleep is something that shouldn’t be restricted to children.

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So I would highly recommend Audble, whether you walk to work/uni/school or whether you drive or whether you just want someone to read to you. It’s truly a delight I wish I’d invested in sooner, and a must for those days when you want to read but you also just want to close your eyes.

Oh, and yes, I am enjoying Harry Potter and I’ll talk more about that another time, don’t worry.

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February Wrap Up

I had anticipated a very bad wrap up for this month considering university work, but I’m happy to say that I did good this month (well, for me).

So we start off the month with an easygoing Kindle flick called Legend which I thought was perfectly enjoyable, thank you very much. A solid three stars from me. Then I hit perhaps my earliest reading slump out of all my years due to the book Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott. Now maybe that’s a bit mean and I’m sure plenty of people will like this book, but it just really was not for me. Admittedly there were parts that I enjoyed, which is why I gave it two stars, but the supposedly strong female heroine of the novel was pretty wishy-washy in my opinion. For those of you who don’t know, this is a historical romance (fiction) which is about the woman who is in Leonardo Da Vinci’s first portrait. I have read almost no historical fiction, so going in I was excited to see if I liked this, but found that I didn’t like it at all. I would have far preferred to see more of Leonardo himself in the book and the character Sancha, who was far more interesting than the main character. There was a great piece of imagery in the prologue of ‘excuse me, I am a mountain tiger’ with the comment on the juxtaposition of ‘excuse me’ to that of the unfaltering ‘mountain tiger’. It intrigued me, and I wish that it would have held that edge throughout. I may also be a little bit biased as well, due to the fact that I didn’t particularly like the cover of this book at all but did like the hardback book underneath which had a small embossed tiger on it. Much nicer.

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After that I decided that I was going to read something that’s been on my ‘to be read’ shelf for a long long long time, and that was The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I had only read one other of his books, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which I enjoyed but didn’t think it was brilliant. Yet every time I mentioned this to someone, particularly customers buying his books, I was almost hit on several occasions by outraged fans of his, on account of the fact that I didn’t start with his Chaos Walking trilogy. Welp, I started it, and did enjoy it but found it all a bit confusing and overwhelming to start with. You’re thrown into the middle of everything, with no clue what’s going on or what’s happening or anything really, and the main character is just as stumped as you are. You turn a few pages and think ‘huh?’ so turn a few more, think ‘I’m even more confused’, a few more ‘what the eff?’ and so it goes on.

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Next up is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells thanks to the inclusion of it in the February Owlcrate (which you can find a review of below this post), and I was glad to read a proper Sci-Fi classic for a change. I probably should have been able to finish it in a day, but I admit it did take two. And of course I listened to the audiobook of the first Harry Potter book this month, and finished it around this point in the month – and it was great fun. Loved Stephen Fry’s narration of it, especially impressed with all of his different voices, and I’m starting the second one immediately. After that I entered the biggest reading marathon of my life, and that was when I finally bought a copy of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab. I mean, wow. Once again, I love fantasy – and it’s because I can read books that include cross-dressing, pirates, magicians, thieves, and all of it set across parallel Londons. There’s nothing like reading about a place where you live and know about – I absolutely loved it. So much so that I went out the next day as soon as I finished it and bought the sequel, which I finished yesterday on the 1st of March so I’m not counting it in this wrap up. Still, brilliant, brilliant, absolutely smashing. Read it. Five stars without fail.

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So, drumroll please…that means that I read five ‘proper’ books this month (yes I’m counting the audiobook, that took over eight hours of my time) and six in total. That means my overall total is 11/50 for my reading challenge and fourteen overall, which I’m incredibly proud of.

Owlcrate review

In my post about best bookish gifts I mentioned the wonder that is book subscription boxes, specifically Owlcrate. Created by Korrina and Robert, this is one of the first book subscription services I caught wind of and I’m so glad I did. For months I followed them on instagram, jealous of everyone posting all the wonderful things that they received every month. Still I told myself that, as a student, I needed to spend my money on my university books and food and all those important things – but it was November that I cracked. As soon as they said the word ‘myth’ I was there, desperate for a bookish box that revolved around the theme of myths (come on, I’m a Classics student, give me a break).

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So my wonderful parents indulged me with the November box for Christmas, then I happened to get the December box, but forced myself to not get the January box as my money was running low, then talk of Valentines hit and as soon as I saw ‘Sci-Fi Love’ as a theme – well, you know what happened. Now I know I’m not particularly artistic photo-wise (if that’s what you’re after, then I’d definitely recommend hitting up Instagram as those photos make me salivate almost as much as chocolate makes does), but I tried.

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I mean, seriously, how cute is that? Reminds me of that wonderful binary solo in ‘The Humans are Dead’ by Flight of the Conchords who, if you haven’t already heard of, you should definitely look up.

Back to Owlcrate, the first item included was a beautiful wooden engraved Tardis by vector engraving, which made the Whovian within me squeal. Memories of watching David Tennent and Billie Piper every week all rushed back – a perfect item for the Sci-Fi theme.

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Next up we have a classic Tote Bag – and now with the 5p bag charge in England, this couldn’t have come at a better time. It features all of the couples that are found in the Lunar Chronicles series, which I take as a sign to spend some more money so I can start that series. After all, I now have the bag.

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Now as you may or may not know, Owlcrate sends out one recently released YA book every month, so imagine my complete glee to find that there were two books in this month. Definitely worth my money (or so I convince myself as I eat baked beans on toast for dinner). A beautiful copy of The Time Machine by the legendary H.G Wells, from the company ‘Rock Paper Books’, which has now become a new favourite for me. That is one huge plus for me concerning Owlcrate – the independent businesses they feature deserve the attention they get, and I always find something new that I desperately want in my life.

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Then, finally, we get to the book of the month, The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry. A book I haven’t yet heard of, but can’t wait to read. It even came with a gorgeous little signed sticker and the most uplifting note I’ve ever had from the author, which now holds pride of place on my wall.

Overall, a fantastic box with so many beautiful things and you can see the amount of thought and care that goes into it. Unfortunately for my bank account, it has only made me more hooked on the service and with March’s theme being ‘Writers block’, I think we can safely say that I’m going to be giving up nice food for another few weeks just to feed my addiction.

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So, if you’re after a bookish treat for yourself, or even for a friend as you can give them as gifts, then I would highly recommend you check out Owlcrate. If you’re still not 100% sure, then check out their website (link included earlier) and you can have a little look at their story and past boxes – one of which you can buy with a 20% discount! (Go on, I know you want to)

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Sometimes you can forget just how much power a book can have – at least, that’s how I felt after reading A Little life. A story about love, friendship, and life – which sounds completely vague, but it’s hard to go into detail without breaking down into tears. I finished this book on the first day of this year and finally I can post a review.

When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome – but that will define his life forever.

 

 

Hanya Yanagihara made the Man Booker nominations with this novel, and it’s easy to see why. From the very first page she offers up beautiful descriptions and some great lines, but what drives this story is the extraordinary character development. The book follows a group of four friends: Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm. We follow them through their lives, starting when they’re in their early twenties, and it’s difficult not to care about them when you spend over 700 hundred pages with them. Even now when someone mentions the name Willem or starts humming ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles, my heart hurts.

Willem is the handsome, wannabe actor that you fall in love with, JB the outspoken artist who will offend you yet still manage to charm his way in, Malcolm the uncertain architect, and finally Jude, who is the real mystery. You watch them as they make their way through the spectacle that is life, dealing with jealousy, success, relationships, and more. Jude is the only character who is entirely closed off, with an unspeakable past which will have you guessing – and, let me tell you, when you find out the details you’ll wish you could turn back the pages and not know. You want them all to have their happy ending, and you never know whether or not Hanya is going to give it to you.

There are few bits that might irritate you – such as the lack of insight to any female character whatsoever. There are a few secondary characters that happen to be female, but they are not at all necessary for the main story. As much as this irritates me, it’s hard to dislike being so completely immersed in the lives of these four men. I would have liked to see some stronger female characters, as every female character in the book is normally partnered up with a man who has a much bigger role – it definitely shows when I can’t remember a single female character name now, but I still can name Harold, Ezra, Richard, and more. You get the idea.

Harrowing, desperate, utterly heart-breaking – just a few words I’d use to describe this whirlwind of emotions. It’s painful, but brilliantly so. The book tears you down just to put you back together again, only to tear you down even more than the first time. It brought me to tears, made me smile, made me laugh, made me want to put it in the freezer and run far, far away where it can’t hurt me. You’ll want to scream at these characters, hug them, laugh with them and, yes, sometimes punch them in the nose. I’d forgotten how much a book could make you feel and can safely say that this was an experience unlike any other, I can’t recommend it enough. I would advise though that you carve out time for this book and make sure that you’re in a very happy, stable state when you start it because you’re going to need strength to get through it all.