Buddy read – Bird Box by Josh Malerman

December 2015 – Janelle’s choice

Bird Box

by Josh Malerman

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Published May 2014

Genres: Fiction / Horror / Thriller

“How far can a person hear?

Rowing blindfolded is even harder than Malorie had imagined. Many times already, the rowboat has run into the banks and got stuck for a period of several minutes. In that time she was besieged by visions of unseen hands reaching for the blindfolds that cover the children’s eyes. Fingers coming up and out of the water, from the mud where the river meets the earth. The children did not scream, they did not whine. They are too patient for that.

But how far can a person hear?”

Something is happening out there. The news is reporting an increasing number of frightening incidents of murder and suicide from all over the world. People have started shielding their faces with their hands when they are outside. Others are nailing blackout curtains or cardboard to their windows to keep out the light. There are rumours that the people who killed themselves, or others, saw something before they died, but nobody knows what that something is.

When the story opens, the world has been this way for four years already. Malorie lives alone with her children, the children who were born inside her house and have never laid eyes on the outside world. And Malorie is about to make their escape. Together, they will set out to flee this place. Blindfolded. With only their other senses to guide them, and to keep them safe from whatever it is that they must not see.

 

Mel says…

When Janelle recommended Bird Box for our December joint read, I had no idea what it was about and had never heard of the author, Josh Malerman. But for the sake of keeping things interesting, I put in a request at the local library and waited patiently for my copy to arrive.

Upon beginning this book, I was hooked by about, hmm…page 5.

The way that Malerman has written this book is perfect for the thrills and suspense that he so perfectly executes. Each chapter alternates between the past and present, with each so easily flowing into one another. I found myself asking eager questions about certain characters and events, and just as if Malerman had read my mind, these questions were soon answered within a few pages.

If you are like me and a tad afraid of the dark, imagine living in a world where you can no longer go outdoors with your eyes open, as there are things?/creatures?/stuff? that if seen, you will go insane and kill yourself and possibly others. So to live, you must always be blindfolded outdoors, have your windows covered over, so not to get a glance of whatever the heck is lurking outside. Creepy, am I right?

Bird Box is a must read for anyone who loves a good page turner. If it wasn’t for Janelle insisting that we read the second half of this book together, at one of our famous reading parties (more on that later), then I would have devoured Bird Box in a day. Definitely a library book that I will be purchasing for my own collection.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

It was everything I ever hoped and dreamed.

I have been waiting SO LONG to read this book. And then my sister had to go and have a pregnancy-related reading aversion. AND THEN she had to go on a month-long overseas holiday. And still I waited. Because I knew this would be the perfect book to read together!

I almost don’t know what to say about it, because I don’t think I can do it justice. If you love horror or thrillers or both, then you must read this book. If you don’t like either of those genres at all, then this is probably not the book for you, because it is an all-out horror/thriller/suspense-FEST!

The thing that first reeled me in with this book was the concept of a monster or threat that you can’t see. You don’t know what it is, you can’t even look at it….but you know it will kill you. I could see the movie version of the book playing in my head while I read this, in which half of the movie is just a black screen and we’re forced to rely on our hearing and touch to keep us safe from the evil thing that is, quite possibly, right behind us at any given moment.

AAARRGGHH! What was that?! Something just brushed my shoulder! What was it? Get away! Get awaaaaaay!!

Mel wasn’t impressed when we started the book and then I made her stop halfway until we could have a reading party, so we could read alongside each other and gasp in shock at the same moments. But I don’t care! It was so much fun! I want to read it again!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Easy Holiday Reading – Mel’s List

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As we are now in the midst of holiday time, whether you need some easy beach reading (for our local Aussie fans), or you are looking for a cosy, heartwarming book that you can snuggle up and stay warm with, LBoB have a few recommendations for easy readers.

Heartwarming – Thanks for the Memories

Author – Cecelia Ahern

Who doesn’t love a good Cecelia Ahern novel!? Honestly, P.S. I Love You?! Haven’t heard of it? Then you can’t be a true fan of chic-lit. Sorry!

But seriously, Cecelia Ahern delivers another classic chic-lit book with Thanks for the Memories. I got this book from one of our local book fairs and it sat on my bookshelf for about a year before I picked it up. Shame on me! This book has a bit of everything. Romance – check. Heartwarming – check. Intrigue – check.

It follows the story of Joyce, who is the main character that events tend to revolve around. Joyce’s tale starts off with heartbreak and as time progresses, we sit back and watch how each individual in her life plays a special part in putting the pieces of the broken heart back into place.

I mostly enjoyed reading about Joyce’s relationship with her elderly father. It was so heartwarming to read about the special bond between father and daughter and how, in his odd, old fashioned ways, he is the glue that puts his daughter back together.

Then, there is a the biggest mystery of all. Why does Joyce have such a connection with the complete stranger, Justin Hitchcock? How does she know so much about him and why does his daily habits start transferring to Joyce’s own life? To have this question answered, you will just have to read the book yourself!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Intriguing – The Husband’s Secret

Author – Liane Moriarty

The Husband’s Secret follows three different women, on their quest to find their own truths. Truths that appear to not exist throughout the start of the novel, but as you turn the pages, these truths start to appear. They slowly reveal themselves to be dark, ugly and raw.

Liane Moriarty addresses the age old question of ‘what if?’. ‘What if Cecilia never went into the attic that day?’ ‘What if Felicity had never lost all that weight?’ and ‘What if Janie hadn’t forgotten about her Doctors appointment on that dreaded afternoon?’.

This novel made my mind start ticking over events in my own life that once seemed minuscule, but evaluating them now seems that these ‘miniscule’ decisions or events could have shaped the course of my life; much like the characters in this book. This is a great read for anyone who likes a bit of intrigue with their chic lit.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Self Discovery – Alice in La La Land

Author – Sophie Lee

This book jumped out at me because of its pretty cover art. It is a simple design, but it is what drew me to purchase the book in the first instance. The synopsis described a book about an Australian girl called Alice, who follows her acting dreams to Hollywood, to only find that life in LA isn’t as glamorous as it looks from the outside.

At first, I enjoyed the simple writing and easy reading of Alice’s story, but then I soon realised that the plot was not getting any deeper and the story itself soon annoyed me.

The story itself is all about Alice’s self discovery, with assistance from others, but don’t expect to be rooting for Alice to achieve her dreams because I couldn’t even bring myself to liking her all that much. She was very blasé about her acting pursuits and although the plot was based around her journey to finding a big time role in Hollywood, she was never dedicating herself to the task at hand, which I think Sophie Lee needed to expand on Alice’s character development to explain why this was so.

If you are looking for a book to read whilst lazying on the beach, then this one is for you. It is an easy and quick read and is perfect for days where you don’t want an in-depth story that makes you think.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

The end of the Harry Potter era

Janelle says…

I’m surprised that neither of us has really mentioned Harry Potter here yet. It has been such a major part of both of our reading lives. The old HP definitely deserves some word time, and so I remembered this post which I wrote for a now-deceased blog, back when the final Harry Potter movie was about to be released, waaaaaay back in 2011. Harry Potter was mentioned on a podcast I was listening to today, so many years on from its prime, and it made me wonder whether we’ll ever see a literary phenomenon like this again in our lifetimes. Read this post, and you’ll see what I mean.

This post also introduces you to our infamous “reading parties”, of which I’m sure you’ll hear more in the future. Enjoy!

*****

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My Harry Potter books sit on the sacred top shelf of my bookcase, reserved only for my most favourite and precious books, sitting next to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and my beloved special edition of the Chronicles of Narnia (and the kind-of-scary-looking Harry Potter doll, who looks nothing like the real thing and therefore is named “Larry Trotter”).

So yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan, and it seemed fitting to write a little something in honour of the release of the final movie. While I was reading the seventh and last Harry Potter book on the day of its release, I remember saying “It’s the end of an era!“. And it really was. But I also remember saying “At least there are still some movies to come“. Now it’s really all over.

I haven’t yet seen the final movie. But I’m pretty confident it will be a fitting end to the movie series. I’m often not very happy at all with the resulting movies when good books decide to make the transition to screen. But the Harry Potter movies have been a happy exception for me.

Reading about “the end” in the newspaper, I was taken back to my own Harry Potter memories, mainly to do with the release of the last book in the series – The Deathly Hallows.

At the time of the book’s release I was lucky to be working with quite an outrageous, diverse group of people, the majority of whom were mad Potter fans. We decided to start a pool at work, to see who could guess how the series would end (or get the closest to it). The prize – the Gryffindor cup! (really just a plastic wine glass, painted with gold metallic paint and decorated). And you know, glory as well. I think my guess was something to do with Harry dying, but getting to be with his parents in death so really it was a happy ending, or something like that. I lost, but it was fun to bring Pottermania to the workplace nonetheless, and somehow I don’t see any other phenomenon extending in to the office in the near future.

My sister is a huge fan like myself, and really, can be credited with introducing me to the land of Potter. Consuming the books and later, seeing the movies, was something we had in common and would talk endlessly about. When the final book was about to be released we pre-ordered it, and then both took the release day off work (as planned leave, not sickies, relax!). There we were, at the mall at 7:30am or some ridiculous time in the morning, standing in the queue and talking excitedly about the possibilities for the ending of the series, that would soon enough be revealed when we got our hands on the sacred text. We stood in that line for hours, it stretched from the carpark all the way in to the middle of the mall, and up on to the centre stage where you would hand over your pre-order receipt and be presented with your prize. I think I nearly squealed when I was handed the purple enviro-bag with my hardcover Deathly Hallows inside.

We then took our books back to my place, find ourselves a comfy spot on the couch, opened to the first page and began reading in silence. Have you ever sat with someone in silence, reading the same thing? It really is a much stranger experience than it sounds. Our reading was interrupted regularly with gasps as one of us would reach some surprising moment in the story, followed by a narrow-eyed glance from the other one, and then giggles. Occasionally, something along the lines of this-

Oh my God! Have you read page 34 yet?!

Not yet, I’m about to turn on to that page. What’s going to happen? Wait for me!

No way! I’m not waiting, it’s too exciting!

Then we’d do the thing we did to each other as kids to annoy one other while we were reading – in the silence, one would start muttering the text under their breath so it was barely audible, just to throw the other one off, then we’d burst in to laughter.

By dinner time, we were both only about 3/4 of the way through the book, and it was time for her to go home. It had been such a great day, even though not much had been spoken between us since we had opened our books, it was still really fun to share that day with her and probably one of my favourite memories with my sister.

My husband knew to leave me alone for the rest of the night. As long as I had my nose buried in that book, no one and nothing else existed really (sorry darling). So I lay in my spot on the couch and read the book until I was finished, at times exclaiming “Nooo!” and “What?!” out loud. I remember bawling my eyes out in the last chapter, and then when I finally read over the last sentence and closed the cover, I sadly dragged myself in to the room where my husband was, teary-eyed, whining “I can’t believe it’s over“.

But at least I still had the rest of the movies to look forward to.

Harry Potter will always remain on my top shelf, and will always be one of those series that I go back to over and over again. In fact, I might start on them again once I’ve finished my current book!

I look forward to the time when Mia is finally old enough for me to say “Let’s start a new bedtime book, Mia. How about this one, it’s one of Mummy’s all-time favourites – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You’re going to love it!

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