Posts By Emily Flury

Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsGirl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is an exciting thriller about what you might notice when you are looking out the train window on your daily work commute. Girl on The Train is a book that has a similar feel, at least at first, to the Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Whether right or wrong, Rachel, the observant commuter, inserts herself into the lives of the people who live outside her train window. Rachel begins watching this couple because she sees how perfect and loving they are towards each other. But, the more she watches what is going on outside her window, the more she notices the cracks in the façade.

The novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has been talked about and praised since its publication for its style, intrigue, and social commentary. When this book was published in February of 2015, it was immediately compared to Gone Girl. The reasons it is being compared is because both books have strong female characters, and both books include multiple points of view, which is a very intriguing and unique method when mysteries are involved. Just as there was a lot of hype surrounding Gone Girl, there is a lot of hype with this book. I liked Girl on The Train a lot, but it is not Gone Girl. It does not strive to make any strong social statements and perhaps it is better for it. Unlike Gone Girl where a lot of what we see is the façade, the flaws of Rachel make this a really exciting story. Not only do we see what it might be like for someone with an addiction (Rachel is an alcoholic), but we also learn that we can’t necessarily trust the main character’s point of view. As Rachel attempts to piece together her alcohol soaked memories of what she has seen, we are right there with her trying to make our way through the fog. I found myself becoming just as frustrated as Rachel became as she struggled to solve the mystery with only bits and pieces of a memory to deal with.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

screenshot_02Life of Pi is a fiction novel that was written by Yann Martel. One of Martel’s most famous works, Life of Pi, which was published in 2001, is about an Indian boy, Pi, growing up and navigating his way through life first as a boy in India, second as a teenager drifting out to sea for 227 days and third as a survivor. Pi states in the beginning that his is a story that speaks on the existence of God. The novel shows how one might survive on a lifeboat with only himself, his beliefs in God and a Bengal Tiger to depend on.

There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and even more when the movie came out. Because of that, I was hesitant to give it a try. When Forrest Gump came out, my mom, brother and I went to see it and really liked it, so we told my dad that it was a great movie that he would really like. When he finally watched it at home on VHS, he was a bit let down because of all of the anticipation. But, everyone knows that Forrest Gump really is a good movie. When I finally got around to reading this book and then watching the movie, I was surprised to find that I was not all that disappointed. With the exception of one aspect of the novel, there was a lot that I liked about the book. The descriptions in the book were very intense so much so that some parts were difficult to get through. The emotions described by Pi were palpable to the point where I was almost in tears when the tiger walked into the jungle.

UnknownAn interesting part of the story, to me, was that, even though I didn’t know how Pi had survived, I knew that he had indeed survived. It was the same feeling I got from reading Unbroken. I knew that the Olympic runner had survived but kept reading because I couldn’t imagine how it was possible. Whereas the book Unbroken is non-fiction account of what happened to Louis Zamperini, this book is a work of fiction. It is a work of fiction made to seem like a non-fiction account of Pi surviving at sea for 227 days. There were a number of occasions in the book where the narrator assured us that the story was true and that the account given was accurate. This was not at all the case, of course. In college, we watched an Oliver North film about the “desparecidos” of El Salvador called Salvador. The movie came across as a non-fiction account of what had happened and even included script at the end of the movie explaining what happened in the country after the story ended. While many atrocities did occur in El Salvador during the period, the movie was actually fiction, which I felt cheated us from learning about really happened, and I felt tricked. I don’t like feeling tricked and that’s why I only really like this book and don’t love it.

One More Thing By B. J. Novak

One More Thing is a collection of stories and musings by comedian, actor, producer and now writer, B.J. Novak. B.J. Novak first gained notoriety for his work as writer and actor on The Office. The only major theme throughout the stories is that they have a common overlying purpose, which is to entertain. His stories mention heaven, revenge, romance, sexbots, literature, Tony Robbins, Kellogg’s and Kate Moss. Some stories are many pages and some last only a page.

I am a fan of The Office and I have always enjoyed B.J. Novak’s approach to comedy. I would describe it as being dry without being too British. One of my favorite B.J. Novak moments is when he uncovered for America the Cadbury Conspiracy on the Conan O’Brien show. I think he is great because his jokes aren’t really jokes they seem to mainly be observations on the real life. I learned from reading more about Novak’s life that he comes from a very creative and talented family, and he is a very intelligent person as he graduated with honors from Harvard. After reading this book, I am confident that his success on The Office was not a fluke and that he will continue to humor us for years to come.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Book and Movie Review)

Insurgent is the second novel in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. The second novel shows what life is like for Tris and the other survivors now that their faction system is falling apart. Whereas before the factions were created so that everyone could coincide peacefully utilizing their natural talents, now one faction is trying to take all of the power and control the others. Tris and Four along with some others are known as divergent because they don’t fit in to just one faction. The divergent are hunted down in this novel because the faction that wants to rule over the others discovers that they can’t be controlled. Tris leads the movement to try and stop the controlling faction.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I didn’t quite experience that same enjoyment with the second novel. The first novel was exciting because here was this new society and their unique traditions. Tris was doing her best to navigate her way through the training in the faction that she had chosen, which was different then the one she had grown up in. In this novel, all of the intrigue of the new exciting faction is gone and we are left with the aftermath. I feel like the reason I liked this novel less than the first is the same reason that I liked the third Hunger Games novel least of all. It was too different from the first two novels that included the excitement and intrigue of the actual games. I am hopeful that the third novel will provide the reader with similar enjoyment as the first novel.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by John Safran Foer

Reposting this 2012 review because the Kindle Edition is on the the Kindle Deals of the day and on sale for $2.99 today only.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an intense novel about a boy who has lost his father in one of the twin towers on 9/11. The majority of the novel is made up of the inner workings of this boy’s mind as he attempts to navigate through life carrying the burden of the tragedy of his father’s death. Oscar is a very smart boy and there are times where you would think that his thoughts belong more to an adult, but there are also times when his fragility and youth are revealed. While the boy is the main narrator, there are times when the boy’s grandmother and grandfather reveal their thoughts through the form of a letter.

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood pulled off the most audacious rescue in History by Tony Mendez is his first-hand account of the rescue of six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis.  As the lead operative on the project, Tony recounts how he hatched the plan, carried out preparation and executed the plan so that everyone would be brought home safely.  This spy story is set apart from others because this rescue was successful in part because Hollywood was used to make the mission a success.

In this recounting, Mendez tells how he got involved in the CIA, how he climbed the ranks, and how he thought of and was able to execute his plan. In Iran, the people were angry at the United States because they had allowed their former leader to be extradited into their country.  A group of people decided to storm the U.S. Embassy and take everyone hostage.  Six people were able to sneak away from the embassy and therefore escape becoming hostages.  This mission is also known as the “Canadian Caper” because not only were the six Americans passed off as Canadians, but also they were kept hidden at the houses of the Canadian ambassador and a Canadian Immigration Officer in Iran and they escaped from Iran to Canada.  Because all of the other ideas to get the Americans out wouldn’t work, Mendez had to be creative in coming up with a way to get the Americans out.  He decided to form a fake production company out in Hollywood, find a real script, a real cast, publish real advertisements and then use the movie as an excuse to visit and then leave Iran.

Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno is the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown. The first two books in the series were made into successful movies starring Tom Hanks. In this book, Robert Langdon is once again called on for his vast knowledge of symbols and iconography so that he might once again follow the clues and solve a dark mystery. Never knowing whom to trust, Langdon relies heavily on what he knows about specifically Dante and his masterpiece, Inferno, in order to hurry and beat a mastermind at his own game. While the first two books (Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code) in the series take place in Europe, the third book, The Lost Symbol, occurs mainly in Washington D.C. and New England. The third book was supposed to be made into a movie also but was supposedly passed over because its story resembled too closely that of National Treasure. In this book, Inferno, Langdon spends all of his time once again in Europe. Just like in his other books, there are many twists and turns and Langdon’s quest take him to a number of different famous and historic locations in Italy and a few other countries in Europe. Whereas The Da Vinci Code fed on our interest in conspiracies, this book addresses our ever growing population problem and our fears about epidemics becoming more widespread as our world has become more and more globally connected. The movie for this book is set to come out in the fall of 2016 and will once again star Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon.

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth Is Missing is Emma Healey’s first novel about an older woman suffering from dementia. The story is from Maud’s point of view and gives the audience an idea of what life might be like to have one’s mind slowly deteriorate due to dementia. To help illustrate the point even more, Maud spends most of her time obsessing about the disappearance of her friend, Elizabeth. She finds it extremely difficult to follow the clues when she can’t remember what the clues are or even what they mean when she finds them.

There is very little background information about this book and its author, Emma Healey. Emma Healey finished her master’s in England in 2011 and published her first novel, Elizabeth Is Missing, in 2014. I learned that due to the death and decline of her own grandmothers that Emma was inspired to write about dementia in fiction. When I mentioned this book to others, no one had heard of it, instead everyone referred to the book Still Alice, which was made into a movie last year and starred Julianne Moore. While I have not read the book or seen the movie, I have read that Still Alice is also the first person perspective of someone in a decline due to dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s Disease. Because I enjoyed Elizabeth Is Missing, I might see if I can get my hands on Still Alice as well.

I feel like this book especially appealed to me because my own grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, and so I already understood what it was like to be a family member of someone with dementia. What captivated me about this book is that it gave me some insight into what my grandmother might have been feeling. The confusion that becomes second nature to someone with dementia is heart breaking. To think that someone with my mental capacity today could get to the point where someone doesn’t remember what they were doing only five minutes before or even the faces of her own children is frightening. I would like to say that the novel gave me a greater compassion and apathy for people suffering from dementia. The novel also has caused me to ponder what I would do if I were Maud’s daughter, Helen. My first reaction is that Maud is a person who plain and simple needs to be in 24-hour care for her own safety. While at the beginning of the novel, Maud doesn’t seem so badly off, as the story progresses, her dementia progresses and it is apparent that she can no longer be trusted to take care of herself. Through interactions between Maud and her daughter, it is apparent that making the decision to have your mother live in a nursing care facility is neither plain nor simple.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

This is Where I Leave You is a novel by Jonathan Tropper mainly about how life is always a bit more complicated than we imagine it will be. This book is mainly a comedy but it certainly does have its share of tragedy and drama as well. The novel is set-up to be a classic dramedy with many funny moments mixed in with some sad and pensive moments. This is how life goes, right?

The book follows the main character, Judd, as he deals with his marriage falling apart due to infidelity, the death of his father and having to live with his family for a week to observe the Jewish practice of Shiva. While my life is not as dramatic and funny as the lives of the family members in this book, I found myself relating to the characters on some level, which made the book rather relatable to me as well.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is a memoir written by Cheryl Strayed that recounts her 1,100 mile hike and explains how her life had gotten her to that point. As Cheryl gets ready for her trip, takes her first steps on the trail, treks through desert and snow and reaches her destination, she thinks back on her life and sifts through what is a very traumatic past. A book where the main lesson is acceptance, Wild definitely challenged my perspectives on life and made me think through my approach.For me, it is hard to believe and grasp that there are people out there who have lives as traumatic as Cheryl’s. Since reading the book and watching the movie, I have also viewed an interview between Cheryl and Oprah about the book and the thing that I was reflecting on while watching the interview was how incredible it is that the story is actually the way that it happened. Often I watch movies and get bored with how much bad stuff happens to the unfortunate main character, and I think enough is enough. Towards the end of the book, I was thinking something similar in that I just wanted Cheryl’s journey to be over because enough is enough. From the interview, I have realized that life really is like that sometimes for some people where trauma after trauma can break a person and then help to build that person back up. Oprah asks Cheryl why she only sent herself $20 at each stop on the trail and her response, which seemed to be beyond Oprah’s understanding, was that $20 sent to a handful of posts along the trail was all that she could afford.