Anti-heroine & Action in the Cas Russell Series by S. L. Huang

The series so far (2020) consists of Zero Sum Game #1, Null Set #2, Critical Point #3

Pages: 336, 312 and 368

Genre: thriller/mystery type of book with some science fiction aspects, mostly in people with ‘superpowers’ (used for more bad than good)

It’s truly going into the pile (in my head) of favourite books.

Synopsis

For the first book as to not spoil anything;

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars, four stars, four stars

I was looking for a character like Cas when I started this series, which I think is the clue to liking it. What you’re dealing with is mob/cartel level of action and bloodbath, where the side characters are everything from cops turned ‘personal investigators’ to trained assassins and sharpshooters. Not to mention the whole ‘evil organization’ thing going on, which turns out to actually have a whole epic scheme going on. The bad reviews I’ve seen has made me angry in that they’re mostly people who hate the cold calculated voice that Cas brings to this, but surely they’re warned that this isn’t some young adult book and that she’s grown up with this level of violence, even as the lack of knowledge of her background becomes a bigger and bigger plot point.

Cas is deadly, supernaturally so, with some question-marks at the end of that remark. The more science fiction and supervillains with powers parts comes through in the second and third book more, but I liked it. The math parts I expected to be bad from the synopsis, but they were an interesting part of her abilities, and plays a good role in the books. As the math lover I am, I would’ve wanted even more of it, but it’s like drizzled in there so that it can be ignored by those who would want to. It adds a bit of magic, almost.

The level of action, the mystery of Cas’ past, the level of gray area of morality (turning completely black at some points), the bad guys with a conscience – it all really made me love this series. The ‘superpowers’ are original, the writing funny in a dry way. It has everything I was looking for in a fast-paced, but exciting read. But then I do love the character of Rio as well, the emotionless being he seems to be. I mean who can’t be interested after a sentence like this –

“Ms. Russell,” said Dawna delicately, “I am not sure you are fully aware of Mr. Sonrio’s skills. His ability to be effective—it borders on the unrealistic. He has destroyed entire governments. Leveled armies. Found and obliterated terrorist cells the intelligence agencies of several continents were chasing their tails trying to pursue. He has altered the course of nations. A lone man.” Her voice was calm, factual, and very serious. Huh. So that was what Rio did in his spare time. I’d had no idea he was that impressive. I’m not going to lie: I was jealous.

Book Haul #2

I rarely buy books, compared to a lot of book blogs. But finally I’ve gathered enough recent buys. Also I just bullet-pointed the interesting parts to me of those synopsis because some make them way too long.

These shallow graves by Jennifer Donnelly

  • Mystery; main character’s dad is murdered and she investigates

A brief history of time by Stephen King

  • Physics <3<3

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

  • I love Murakami’s writing usually
  • Magical realism ❤
  • Set in Tokyo
  • I cannot decipher everything that the synopsis says happen in this book, only that it follows a lot of people, including a writer, a cult, a private investigator, a bodyguard and a women’s shelter?? Is that right? Sounds like Murakami

The body in pain by Elaine Scarry

  • One of my goals of 2019 was to find out how to describe pain, which might sound strange, but makes sense I promise. This was the place to start, according to a lot of sources.

Ebooks:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

  • Set in Dublin
  • Murder investigation following a detective
  • Promising lots of mystery

Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide To Witchcraft And Demon Hunting #1) by Sherry D. Ficklin

  • Main character out for revenge on mother’s murder
  • Killing demons
  • High school graduation a big thing??
  • Hinting at main character turning darker

A very large expanse of sea by Tahereh Mafi

  • Main character is a muslim girl who’s sixteen living in the US after 9/11 dealing with harassment

NetGalley:

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen

  • About Audrey Hepburn during the Nazi occupation in Netherlands, which I’ve never considered
  • Parents was pro-nazi from what I see from the synopsis
  • Story of how she suceeded as a ballerina

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

  • Rewritten fairy tales

Have you read any of these books? Or bought any other books you’re excited about?

The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown | Book Review

Pages: 336

Genre: young adult, lgbt characters

About the book

Sydney loses her dad abruptly in a car crash. He was a therapist, helping a lot of people. But with the job came keeping a lot of secrets. After the funeral June, a popular girl Sydney has never talked much to, starts to show interest and they become friends. Their sudden bond doesn’t make much sense to Sydney or anyone else. It’s a story about grief and how differently people deal with it, about friendship and relationships, and discovering who you are and what your limits are.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four

I started out this book with high hopes and immediately loathing how slow it felt.. So far I’ve liked Savannah’s poetry, but while the writing in this book is direct and easy to follow, I didn’t like it overall. The book starts with a huge a loss. And if you’ve ever lost someone, you know that pain and emptiness – this book doesn’t described it particularly elegantly or extraordinarily – resulting in how a beginning that felt really bland. It wasn’t before I was halfway through the book that it started to really pick up.

When Savannah Brown stepped up the action, the writing, characters and mystery really came together. This book describes my first experience being drunk nearly perfectly, and I was laughing out loud. Probably because Sydney also likes to have much control, at least over herself. It’s in passages between characters where I really feel how Savannah is my age and a recent teenager. The questioning of sexuality. The use of technology and phones. It was all really well done.

It’s one of those books that is so difficult to pitch to someone without spoiling the plot, as it has mystery-vibes to it as Sydney tries to figure out who’s harassing her and what happened to her dad. I completely recommed it though! Be prepared to perhaps cry (like I did towards the end).


SPOILERS BELOW

Some particularly interesting parts:

  • The inclusion of a webside similar to the recently banned r/watchpeopledie was unexpected, obviously this protagonist becomes obsessed with the macabre as a coping strategy and she walks the reader through her thoughts around that, as well.
  • The relatable moment of an introvert being like “is she this touchy feely with everyone or am I special?” – it’s an issue.
  • The back and forth of whether Sydney’s view of June was something she had created in her head, on a pedestal, or if their relationship was much more real than that
  • Olivia seems like a very shitty friend?? Like I get that there’s some unreliable narration through Sydney’s eyes, but come on. She feels so realistic.
  • The out of body moment Sydney has when she watches the video of her dad was one of the better written parts and while it was harrowing to the character, it was really a moment I’ll remember in this book
  • A very satisfying, but still realistic ending!

Favourite quotes

“This was when I realized why, exactly, I got along with June, and why it was so easy to trust her: she didn’t treat grief like a problem to be solved, but a constant to be endured.”

“I’m worried that I’ve made you out in my head to be something that you’re not.’ June was silent for a moment, then said, in a small voice, ‘I’m worried I did the same thing for you. […} Like looking out of a window of a house I was locked inside.”

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

Pages: 370

Genre: contemporary mystery, set in a college

Synopsis

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent. 

Audiobook review

The narrator is good, except for how he’s trying to do the female voices. Every heard one narrator dub tv series? It’s hilariously bad. Also there’s a lot of characters in the friend-group to meet all at once at the beginning, so I actually picked up the text version the second chapter and went back to really understand who each of them is, because there’s no good separator in the audiobook (except for bad female voices). I would recommend physically reading this one, I was packing for a trip and wanted to get throught it.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

I picked this book up because of its college/university setting and saw it recommended for those who liked “The secret history” by Donna Tartt. That book is much better than this one, in a lot of ways. They both do have a “dark academia” vibe – which I recently learned was a thing and I love it. I wanted to give it an extra star for that alone, but then I saw that ending and thought hell no, I was bored through too many parts of this book.

I’m happy I read the book, because it had its entertaining points as the characters uncover dark things about the others and themselves. It’s very centered on the characters and who’s friends and enemies as they all attend the same class. So it’s dark and dramatic, which also comes through in the greek plays they perform. The theater parts were very nice details, going through the whole book and giving it more texture and depth. You can see how the characters are pushed to excell and that they know that themselves, before they start to unravel from guilt. Still, I didn’t feel the characters was given enough space to show how supposedly three-dimensional they was. Instead the author seemed to make them do things out of character, playing on “well, you don’t know when they’re acting or not” which sure is an explanation, but doesn’t help on feeling that connection for the reader.

I both loved and hated the writing at points. On one hand it has some really pretty lines, like “Dense forest surrounded it on all sides except one, the north shore, where the trees were thinner and a strip of sandy white beach shimmered like diamond dust in the moonlight.” On the other hand, so much annoyed me. Mostly the author’s choices, like the ending or having Richard be described as a person everyone hated, which then made us miss out on later feeling sorry for him. The characters in this book doesn’t feel like villains because there were no sense of feeling sorry for Richard, because his character was so violent. The bolder choice would’ve been to make him sympathic. I just felt like a lot of depth was missing, there were hilariously little moral dilemmas for the reader watching this play out. I get that it’s part thriller and part mystery, but as I didn’t think who killed him was such a big mystery, a more cohesive and focused history or plot would’ve been better.

What I felt reading this book: mostly entertained and intrigued, annoyed at writing choices. And I was laughing at myself for chosing to read this hours before a weekend of partying with classmates. It was a nice weeked, but I did think of this book as we were driving into the snow-filled forest.

Head On by John Scalzi

Genre: Sci-fi

Pages: 335

Look at this great, minimalistic cover! It’s so perfect. Well, maybe the person should’ve been a threep (robot). 

ho

Synopsis

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

tre

I was drawn in by the interesting plot, especially as it’s techonological development to combat illness. What I got was an fbi agent Shane discovering bodies, getting into accidents, Shane and his partner Vann trying to connect it all together and find the motives. In the middle it seems very messy, and not in a good way.

Everything is happening around the two fbi agents, mostly not caused by their actions. They are two pieces in a game where I have barely been introduced to the world, let alone who or what could be behind the murders. I can’t bring myself to care when someone dies that early on, even if it’s to kickstart the need for Shane’s investigation in this story. For the Hilketa player I was almost half into the book before I felt bad for him, with some details on how much pain he must’ve been in.

I think this would work very well as a tv series, where you get to see the threeps and Hilketa game from the start. For the most part I think so because you can watch and judge the other people in the story, try to find the murderer yourself, where here you don’t really get details on characters. The book included things like how Shane’s treated differently because he’s a Haden, both at work and in private, what being an Haden means and some of how the sport Hilketa works. But it’s a lot of information that needs to go out just for the reader to understand what the fbi agents are doing. For example that statistics in Hilketa is displayed in this one public way, and changing that can be illegal because here is the information it gives on players, so it’s a lead. Trying to do that without information dumps (which I think was well done!), along with introducing characters connected to it, and that there’s more than one murder. It’s a lot and while I found it surprisingly easy to follow, it made the investigation, and such the story, slower and less focused on characters.

This is the standalone follow-up to a book called Lock In, which I haven’t read. I would’ve like to know more about how the locked in syndrome and Haden people started out, with the development of the threeps. I looked it up and it seems like the short book Unlocked contains all the backstory, so I would like to read that too. It’s free here, and while the writing or plot doesn’t give you insight in Head On, if you’re interested it seems to be a smart 60-pages read before the other books.

I would recommend this book to people who are excited about the concept, but be aware that it’s a mix of sci-fi and fbi murder investigation. The feeling this book gave me: excitement about the sci-fi aspects with the robots and medical technology, but strange annoyance at the murder investigation.

 

Thank you to Tor Books for receiving a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson | Review

Pages: 420

Genre: young adult, mystery

Synopsis

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

fem

I really hoped this would be a fantastic book, because Maureen Johnson seems like a brilliant person and I already know she’s a good author, so I’ll say upfront I went into this with all the expectations. This book is the most perfect young adult murder mystery I’ve ever read, and I read a lot as a child. Possibly not as many as the main character Stevie, but I’m not planning on going to a boarding school to solve a murder either.

the characters

The characters are very different and all supposedly gifted, though the book could’ve showed more of their abilities. But they seem like complex people, and their different personalities is shown well. Everyone from Stevie’s parents who are supporting a much hated politician (senator?), to the teachers and classmates like Janelle who build awesome machines and wear lemon baby-blue dresses. Or Ellie who lies there clothed in bathtubs, talking about Paris and art, instantly accepting Stevie’s interest. Stevie also has her distinct voice, and the social insecurities (especially in friendships) were relatable. Almost forgot to mention the author Nate among all the cool ladies. He comes with quotes like this:

“It’s two thousand pages and nothing happens. It’s all terrible. I wrote the first book and then I forgot how to write. It used to be that I would sit and write and I would go into some other world—I could see it all. I was totally in another place. But the second it became something I had to do, something in me broke. It’s like I used to know the way to some magical land and I lost the map. I hate myself.”

Nate was unable to bring himself to lie. “I feel kind of better,” he said to Stevie. “I think you’re even more screwed than I am.”

the plot and story

It amazed me how overall relatable to the current time and teenagers this book felt. Let’s just say I’ve highlighted a lot of quotes, amazed at the accuracy. Another thing I loved was the plot, which I can’t say much about without spoiling the book. The murder mystery and boarding school parts are really good, and I love seeing Stevie trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle. As well as the teachers treating them like teenagers, like not allowing access when the police is involved, which other books seem to get wrong.

some negative opinions

Here’s the things I’ve had a problem with in past similiar books and didn’t disappear in this one: past police interviews. They’re so dry, they need to be that to seem semi-realistic. I don’t want to read more than two pages of them, and only if someone turns into a dragon midways.

Also there’s paralell stories with Stevie in one and another girl at Ellingham Acadamy from the past, who was murdered early on. The stories didn’t overlap enough to really be interesting, it was a lot of tension between the characters in the past, but I didn’t know enough of them to care. They simply slowed down the plotline of Stevie. I realized more towards the ending that they surely will or already have presented some crucial clue to the murder mysteries, but I couldn’t bring myself to care in the moment.

Which leads me to my final negative point, that it ends in the middle of it all. I think that was better than making it one very long book, for marketing reasons and because it’s young adult. But this one just came out, I’ll have to wait at least a year for any kind of resolution, perhaps even longer as I now realize it’s a trilogy. Well, I’m already captured by this story.

all in all

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good murder mystery, especially if young adult and at a boarding school sounds good to you. I grew up on mysteries like Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars, and this book really brought me back there.  

more favourite quotes

“She felt like someone walking out onto the branch of a tree, feeling it bounce and give under each step. And she loved the feeling.”

“I have no idea. The guy looks like he came out of a 3-D printer.”

“Stevie distinctly felt part of her soul die. She hoped it wasn’t an important part.”

“reading books in class because there was nothing new to be learned, so the time might as well be spent doing something useful.”

“Hayes said sorry. Hayes always said sorry. He said it was a joke, but . . . you don’t get to say that, you know? You don’t get to frighten people and threaten them and say you’re only kidding. Because you’re not.”

All Fall Down by Ally Carter | Review

Pages: 250

Genre: young adult – mystery

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Synopsis

Grace is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She isn’t crazy. 2. Her mother was murdered. 3. Someday she’s going to find the man with the scar, and then she is going to make him pay.

My thoughts 

tre

“All Fall Down” is overall a good young adult book with lots of action, likeable and mysterious characters and plot twists. While I didn’t find it as entertaining as the Heist society, or the mysteries as well though out as those of the Gallagher girls, it’s a nice beginning of a new series by Ally Carter.

The plot gets a slow, hesitant applause from me. A girl who no one believe when she says someone killed her mother? Sure. Living at a embassy? Better. Spying? Great concept. The characters? Mixed feelings. Predictability? Halfway into the book I could guess the ending, even if I was only partly right.

The flow of the book wasn’t like it should have been either. Some places the writing got messy because suddenly a lot of action needed to happen simultaneously. It’s especially a problem towards the ending. I have read worse, but it throws you off, especially for younger readers.

“Keep your chin up. Eventually, you will meet someone who cares about your opinion. I’m so sorry I’m not her.” 

That quote describes Grace pretty well. I’ve always liked Ally Carter’s previous characters and Grace is no exception. She’s a sarcastic, brave, spontanious, witty and a paranoid person. Really, she jumps off brick walls into different countries. What is there not to like? However, she’s also troubled, in a way that added something to the story. First I thought she got panick attacks, which she does in a way, but it’s more like flashbacks. I don’t know if that was the best way to tell this story, but it works? Kind of. Something else I miss is the relationship between the characters. There are so much potential there. COME ON, they’re embassy kids. From all over the world, all different kids stuck in the same situation. The diversity, stories, cultures and friendships that could have been exchanged. But you really don’t get to hear a lot from them. Mostly it’s because Grace is stuck in her own head, which I can understand, but I feel like they haven’t got enough time together. Perhaps in the next book. Right now the other kids seem more like ghosts who follows her, but only because they’re bored.

There are also a few very cheesy elements in this book, like the fine line between peace and war. Could really this bunch of kids, actually teenagers – they just act like kids, start a war by running around? The adults seem to think so, but they don’t do anything about it. Except for those cheesy conversations and “don’t worry about it”. I’m not buying it.

I want to say I just felt a little too old for this book, but my eleven-year-old self would definitely like this book. It’s well-written in places, in others it seems unfinished. The plot is built on too many assumptions for it to feel remotely real. Teenagers, even if they act like kids, aren’t that far off from the rest of the world as this book make it seem. Especially not if they’ve grown up around dimplomats, I would believe. Still, I’ll read the next book when it comes out.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Pages: 559
Genre: fiction, contemporary

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Lessons I learned from this book:

  • The characters are pretentious fucks and very lovable
  • Do not study greek; way too dramatic, too many dead people
  • To be like Richard – always do your homework, no matter how many life-changing secrets was revealed that week
  • The line between romanticizing and actual love is difficult. Both can kill
  • If they strike you as a cult and people talk about them as a cult, you probably should be on guard at least
  • Being the drug-selling jock is better than the rich and self-aware snob because at least you’ve learned how to run a business
  • Twins in books are always freaky, even if I love these ones dearly

Synopsis

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

My thoughts 

fem

First reaction when finishing this book was simply; no. This book was depressing and overwhelming, making me question every action the characters had taken throughout the book as well as everything else in life (wow it’s turned me dramatic), but it was fucking great. I would recommend it to everyone. Maybe not everyone, I can think of a couple persons who would look at me in horror afterwards. Don’t know what that says about me, but there’s something so special about it; even past the brilliant writing, the murder and the fabulous bonding and group dynamic.

You can read this book two ways, the way I see it. Either as the murder mystery it is, in similar fashion (although this book is older) as “How to get away with murder”, the tv series. It has elements in common when it comes to both structure, it’s a murder mystery in reverse in the sense of it starting with the murder and backtracking from there, as well as both revolves around a group of college kids. The other way too read it would be to dive into it head first AKA seeing it from the character’s perspective, interested in the big philosophy the ancient greek’s are known for for varying reasons. You quickly realize it’s not as much about who killed someone, but why. It’s certainly a question that affects everyone lives, making or breaking their destinies.

There’s lots of characters introduced throughout the book, but the story mainly revolves around the five greek students and their peculiar and charming professor Julian Morrow. He refuses to teach bigger classes, keeps the program closed off from the rest of the school and gets away with it – because that’s how good he is at the subject. No wonder there are rumors about the group, strange and nerdy as they are where they wander around together, occasionally speaking greek or other strange languages, discussing philosophy or other matters of great importance in their world. Mostly they just get drunk off their asses and travels to their mansion of a hideaway out in the country. It’s a good mix.

We hear the story from Richard Papen’s point of view as his poor, pretentious self manages to half-trick half-impress his way into this class and group. He’s the most relatable thing about the book as he struggles with loneliness and distance; it’s just the way he sees the world, constantly watching and thinking, but at least he’s found others like him. The distance he tells the story with terrifies me, even with considering if it’s something he’s picked up after the incidents that shaped his life (I think not). But certainly it makes an interesting fit when it comes to how this story is told, through the eyes of someone so in love with them all, but also more self-aware.

Beauty is terror, according to this book, but it’s also a thing of quite the obsession. At least to Richard Papen. As all of them, he’s messed up, but the aesthetic beauty he values so highly really colors the story and how the characters are perceived. Not that they’re all glorified, more described as the greek gods they study, above everyone else, but certainly with human flaws and a mundane realness as we see them study and frustrate over homework. Just look at how Richard describes his first meeting with the group that would become his friends;

“I was confused by this sudden glare of attention; it was as if the characters in a favorite painting, absorbed in their own concerns, had looked up out of the canvas and spoken to me.”

He wants to figure the world out through studying the greek philisophers as much as he wants to figure out people by studying them. Meeting people who are as guarded and secretive as himself intrigues him, being what creates this story.

I laughed out loud multiple times throughout this book, which is weird because it’s not meant to be humoring. Still, in the way it takes surreal events and makes them real and genuine, there’s something so surprising when you snap out of it and realize what just happened. What you just accepted without questioning because it sounded so natural when told by Richard Papen. What a peculiar mind these guys have, and it was lovely to live through it for a while, even if I’ll stay the hell out of ancient greek studies. I wondered how the book would end, and I still can’t really say formulate what I think about it. If you’ve read the book, please let me know your thoughts.

 

– favourite quotes – 

“I liked the idea of living in a city—any city, especially a strange one—liked the thought of traffic and crowds, of working in a bookstore, waiting tables in a coffee shop, who knew what kind of odd, solitary life I might slip into? Meals alone, walking the dogs in the evenings; and nobody knowing who I was.”

Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”

“In short: I felt my existence was tainted, in some subtle but essential way.”

“He refused to see anything about any of us except our most engaging qualities, which he cultivated and magnified to the exclusion of all our tedious and less desirable ones.”

“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell. “