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The Color Master

Top 5 Book Recommendations from 2015

On the fourth day of Bookmas…

I have discovered a lot of new authors and books this year – a bookish success!  So I thought, since the year is rounding to a close, that I would recommend my top five favourite reads from 2015.

1.) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I read Ender’s Game for August’s book club, and I can honestly say that it is the best piece of science fiction I have ever read.  I recommend to anyone with an interest in space and science fiction, or someone looking for a YA novel that doesn’t revolve around romance.  My review can be found here.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes2.) Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

This non-fiction memoir from mortician Caitlin Doughty is a real eye-opener, not just about the work involved in preparing and cremating bodies, but in how society deals with death in general.  I recommend this to readers who have a morbid curiosity for these topics, but also to people interested in death from a sociological or psychological perspective.  My review can be found here.

3.) If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay really surprised me when I read it back in July; it had a great emotional impact on me, and I found myself sobbing on the bus as I read it!  It isn’t so unusual for books to bring a tear to my eye, but something about this one really touched a nerve – I was particularly moved by Mia’s relationship with her family and boyfriend.  I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good cry and an easy read.  Read my review here.

4.) The Color Master by Aimee Bender

It isn’t often I read a short story collection all the way through – I usually pick and choose the stories I want to read, and skip over the rest.  The Color Master changed that.  One of my favourite genres is magic realism (to read and to write), and most of Aimee Bender’s unusual stories are within this category.  My review of Tiger Mending, one of my favourite short stories in the collection, can be found here.

5.) The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

I read The Bunker Diary early in the year, and it was the last book I studied in my degree before completing it (sad face).  It is an intense and disturbing psychological thriller.  It isn’t a light-hearted book but it sure is powerful, and I recommend it to any YA readers who like gripping, edge-of-the-seat reads.  Read my review here, posted as a guest post on The Geek Undergraduate.

Have you read any of the books recommended above?  Do you have any of your own recommendations from 2015?

Emma

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December 28, 2015
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Short Story Review: Tiger Mending by Aimee Bender

Tiger Mending

Title: Tiger Mending (from The Color Master short story collection)

Author: Aimee Bender

Genre: Short story

‘That’s the thing with handmade items.  They still have the person’s mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone.’

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Caution: spoilers ahead!

I didn’t realise The Color Master wasn’t a novel until I got home and started reading (I really should be more observant).  My only previous experience of Aimee Bender was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which was both very original and just a little disappointing, though there was certainly enough there to make me want to read more of her work.  But The Color Master certainly didn’t disappoint, and I was absolutely blown away by many of the stories in the collection.  Even so, however unusual it is for me to review a single short story, I want to specifically talk about Tiger Mending, as it made quite the impression on me.

Tiger Mending is about a girl who is asked by her sister to travel to Malaysia for a secret project – to sew up injured tigers who seem to be tearing themselves open mysteriously, again and again.  As her sister is so distraught by the situation, the girl decides to find out what is happening to the tigers.  I had so many questions, and hurried through the rest of the story for answers.  Who or what was hurting the tigers?  Poachers?  Barbed wire fencing?  What could possibly tear them open in such a savage way?

I finished the story and closed the book, feeling quite disturbed.  My questions had been answered, though they didn’t sit well with me.  The wounds the tigers had were self-inflicted; they were hurting themselves, again and again.  The pain, it seemed, was not enough for them to learn to stop.  Each time they were hurt, they crawled back to be sewn together once more.  An endless cycle.  When she finds out this information, the girl, always so dependent on her older sister, leaves the next day and flies home.  I thought this was very interesting – the older sister found flying alone very frightening, and it would have taken a lot of strength for the girl to leave her.  I interpreted it as her breaking the cycle of dependence she had in her own life.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this intriguing short story.  Are there other ways the story can be interpreted?

Emma

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July 1, 2015
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