This might be one of those rare instances where I actually prefer a movie to a book, even though I really enjoyed the book, too. The issue with this i...moreThis might be one of those rare instances where I actually prefer a movie to a book, even though I really enjoyed the book, too. The issue with this is I'm not 100% sure of my objectivity. Then again, can a review actually ever be objective when the feelings of the reader surely must influence it? I think reviewer Emily May once asked this question, too. (It may have been on her Gone Girl review). My answer to that question is no, a reviewer can never be 100% objective. And you know what? I'm not going to even attempt it in this book review. I may never attempt it again. Maybe it's better to just state your feelings. After all, Reader-Response theory is perfectly valid... and maybe my favorite school of critique.
Now that I've gotten thoroughly off-topic...
I didn't enter this book blind, which is something I prefer to do when reading. I had already seen the absolutely adorable film version of Austenland which stars my doppleganger Keri Russel and who I will always have a bias for her because don't we always like people who look like us? (Or is this just me?) In the film version, Jane is this adorable, obsessed Darcy-lover and when she arrives to Pembrook Park she is absolutely enchanted. But the book differed a bit in her attitude...
Jane Hayes is in her thirties, single and has a slew of failed relationships that she could put on her resume, but probably won't because why relive the embarrassment? She has a secret love for Mr. Darcy, particularly the Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice and always compares her boyfriends to Darcy, to the point where she will break up with them if they so much as snort... because Mr. Darcy would just never snort.
When a wealthy relative passes away, she leaves behind a trip for Jane: to go to Pembrook Park for three weeks where she will experience Regency life and perhaps have a fake unexpected romance with one of the actors playing the gentleman.
Now see... in the movie, Jane pays for this trip herself and is all excited to go. She is not embarrassed about her obsessed. She doesn't hide her DVDs - although she does keep people out of her room and I don't blame her because LOL @ the MRS. DARCY on the walls, like what? - she is sweet and shy and very much looking for romance in all the wrong places. She goes to Pembrook Park in the hopes that she will overcome her obsession and absolutely loves everything about it from the get-go.
Book Jane is a bit less likeable. She hides her DVDs in her plants, like that's a smart place to hide them, and she is judgmental and critical, often thinking herself the prettiest and smartest of the ladies at Pembrook Park. She does go to the estate in the hopes of overcoming her obsession, but she is less than impressed and even disgusted at certain things. I found reading her to be a very different experience to watching her, and I much preferred the latter.
Looking at my rating, I guess this would probably be a three-star read and one day I may come back and lower that score. But as it stands, I am definitely probably being influenced by the movie and that's why I gave it four stars. I would recommend this book for someone who wants a clean, light beach read that guarantees them a happy ending. The romance in this is sweet and the book is a bit like candy in that way. Very enjoyable, very soft -- I'm thinking a cotton candy comparison is the most appropriate. So, pick it up if that's what you're interested in. (less)
This book did the one thing I absolutely cannot stand books to do. It's a cheap ploy and it honest...more-enter all the expletives-
I'm so very disappointed.
This book did the one thing I absolutely cannot stand books to do. It's a cheap ploy and it honestly made me want to cry, hence the low rating. Other books that have done this to me almost always get one star ratings, but I'm giving this two stars because of how honestly good the story is.
This could have easily been a five star read, if not for the aforementioned ploy. If the author had only gone a different route, then I would have loved this until the end. Maybe I'll raise the rating to three stars, but I'm not sure how much merit I want to give to cheap tricks. Maybe I'll lower it to one star, but I don't want to disregard the rest of the story.
What is this ploy I'm mentioning? Well... I'm not going to tell you. Truth is, what bothers me may not bother you. I've seen heaps of four and five star ratings of this book from my friends here on Goodreads, which means that this clearly didn't bother them like it bothered me. I don't want to ruin something that could be a great experience for you simply because I find it to be a poor writing technique.
So, give it a read. Get to the ploy, the trick, the cheap technique. Tell me what you think.(less)
I think that there's a lot in a reader's life that affects the rating of a book. When they read it, the mood they were in, how their day had been, wha...moreI think that there's a lot in a reader's life that affects the rating of a book. When they read it, the mood they were in, how their day had been, what they had been reading previously, what they plan on reading next, etc. In this case, the stars aligned for my reading experience of Gayle Forman's "If I Stay," because I found it to be a nearly perfect book.
I did listen to this, rather than read it, so that my have affected my experience of it, but I honestly feel as if this is the perfect book to listen to. The reader was phenomenal, and the narration is just meant to be read aloud. The short, poetic sentences that Ms. Forman has woven together flow into each other beautifully. There were never any awkward wordings or sentence flaws that threw me out of the story.
I loved all of the characters in this story, especially the parents. When you're listening to a book instead of reading it, different things become important for you to enjoy your experience. For me, the things that became important were the character dynamics, their relationships and their dialogue. All three were excellent. Mia is a conservative teenage girl who loves her alternative family, her alternative boyfriend and her cello. Being able to hear the story from her point of view, considering she was "strangest" of them all, was really interesting. What it was like to grow up with such liberal parents and off road ways of thinking, what it is like having become someone so very different from her parents, but then falling in love with someone so very like them.
What it's like losing your parents and younger brother in one moment.
This book got to me. I did okay throughout the most of it, but the ending, where she's choosing to stay or go... I couldn't handle it. The tears were streaming down my face. I wouldn't say I was sobbing but there was a continuous trail of tears. The author wanted a reaction and she got one. Kudos to her for being able to weave a story so heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time.(less)
I feel like I was deceived before even opening this book.
I was reassured that this book is dark, very dark, and I was excited to read a YA novel that...moreI feel like I was deceived before even opening this book.
I was reassured that this book is dark, very dark, and I was excited to read a YA novel that isn't afraid to test the boundaries of creepy, scary and evil. It's one of the reasons I can really appreciate Kresley Cole's YA novels. I like dark things because they show the nature of reality. I've been told often that I'm an idealist, but that's only partly true. I like to consider myself an idealistic realist which I am positively, kind of sure is a real thing.
That being said, this book really isn't very dark at all. Part of my disappointing reading experience lies with me: I was just too excited for this dark and disturbing world that Bracken created. But I didn't find it dark. I didn't find it disturbing. I found her world to be implausible and riddled with inaccuracies.
I'm not a psychologist by any means, but I am reasonably sure that if you separate children from each other based on their sex then when they finally live co-ed again there is going to be a decent amount of sexual awakening, awkwardness and inappropriate come-ons. There was none of this. I really think that Bracken missed out by not exploring the sexual side more. She could have made that part really dark and disturbing, but, other than a brief moment of intimidation in the beginning, the kids get over their meeting very fast... and fall in love even faster.
I was trying to let Ruby and Liam's relationship slide because they had been barred from the opposite sex for so long, but the more I thought about it, the more the relationship seemed impossible. I could easily believe Liam capable of falling in love with someone in two weeks. He's a perfect setup: positive, idealistic, good natured, laid-back... But Ruby is a different story. She is reserved and wary. Of course, these traits are due to her traumatic past, but they are still traits she possesses and I did not believe that she lost her inherent wariness of people in two weeks over a boy.
There was a big problem with the government in this novel. People protect their young. It is an instinctual trait that we all share. No "normal" and "sane" person wants to see a child get hurt. I cannot fathom an entire world turning on their children because they have turned into "monsters". I can believe the rehab part of it, but not the torture chamber aspects. It just doesn't make any sense and the more I think about it, the more I feel like it was just a hodgepodge of "what-if" scenarios thrown together to create another YA dystopia.
I gave this two stars because the ending flew by for me, which means there is a lot of good-storytelling abilities. Personally, I will not be picking up the sequel and hope that others have a better reading experience than I did. You may enjoy this if: you're looking for a quick read, you love sensitive and kind heroes, and/or you love reading about road trips. (less)
First things first: I listened to this narrated by Colin Firth and he has a sexy voice. I feel like it's pertinent to note this.
I described The End of...moreFirst things first: I listened to this narrated by Colin Firth and he has a sexy voice. I feel like it's pertinent to note this.
I described The End of the Affair like this: It's about a crazy man lusting after his crazy ex-lover under the watch of a crazy god in a crazy world.
If I do say so myself, I believe my synopsis nailed it.
The writing was gorgeous, pensive and fluid. The characters were tainted, innocent, corrupt and complicated. This is the kind of book where the synopsis sounds crazy (a man wanting to stalk his ex-lover?), but the writing makes it almost philosophical. Morris, the narrator, is a jealous man; jealous to such a degree that I don't think I have ever met anyone so jealous. When Morris meets Henry again, the husband of his ex-lover Sarah, he finds that Henry has been suspecting his wife of an affair. Our narrator then hires a private investigator to stalk both Sarah and Henry, becoming inextricably linked into their lives again, falling deeper and deeper into their relationship and his own jealousy.
Throughout the book, there are many references to God and how the characters don't believe in Him. They are so adamant about it, so absolutely certain that it doesn't sound certain at all. Sometimes things happen -- these things that happen everyday can be seen through the lens of rationality or faith; meetings can be coincidence or fate; healings can be psychological or supernatural; love can be a simple mixture of neurons and synapses or magic. What is comes down to is that it is about how much you're willing to see, in both directions. Morris wasn't willing to see anything. Morris, quite frankly, was blind.
Recommended for fans of The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God.(less)
Okay, well... I am going to write a review when I reach volume 14 since that will be the halfway point of the series, but something happened in this v...moreOkay, well... I am going to write a review when I reach volume 14 since that will be the halfway point of the series, but something happened in this volume that I need to get off my chest. So, get ready for my rant, ladies and gents, because I do not know what to feel right now. Warning: spoilers will be told without spoiler tags. Read at your own risk.
So, let's talk about that rape scene, yeah?
Okay, look. So far, as a series, this is easily a four or five star manga. I'm impressed. But as a volume, this gets one star. One star for you! I've suffered through twelve volumes of soap opera relationships and I'm at my limit here. The history is awesome. The characters are awesome. But this whole "I love you and can't be with you and therefore can't have sex with you even though I'm your concubine thing"? This needs to cease and desist. I'm sick of it. At this point, I want to ram the heroine over the head with a baseball bat. I get that she's seventeen, but she's been in this world for two years. I was hoping for a bit more character development from her, especially in, you know, relationships.
And yes, Mursili is from a time where men take what they want - including women; a time where men can rape women and they can still fall in love later because it's not considered a crime; a time that is vastly different from my own. Okay, I get that. But this is on the mangaka. Why the hell did you decide to have Mursili try to rape (or actually rape? I couldn't really tell?) 12 volumes into the manga. Why did she decide to make a previously good natured and gentle character* go berserk in the bedroom once the reader has already accepted him? The heck is her motive here? Because for me, no matter how sorry he is, this character** is now ruined forever. Is it supposed to be one of those "Oh, I am at my limit and must have you!" things that seems to be so popular in porn? This series is not a hentai, so... that's a bit out of touch, really. And also it's bull shit because men can control themselves. I honestly do not even know what happened here.
I really don't know what to think. I get that it's the time period and that it's the situation, but I live in this time period and rape is heinous. The mangaka knows this because she lives in the same time period as me. She has gone through such lengths to make Mursili a sympathetic and likable character, so what is happening, exactly? Is she trying to remind us of the time period, of the type of laws that existed between men and women? Could it not have been done in another manner? Could she not have introduced this side of the character about ten volumes previously? Am I the only one really disturbed by this?
Oy. Well, I'll continue reading. The story, regardless of the whiny heroine and rapist hero, is still really good.
* Well... let's be real. He has tried to seduce her multiple times, but she keeps rejecting him for reasons, but this was the first time he'd ever been, well, like that.
**And I mean character. I've noticed that some people who've read this manga seem to want to relate the real Mursili to the one who is in the manga and were sad that he had two wives -- and the fact that he had two wives apparently means he's a "bastard". For one, two wives during this time is rather impressive, but I have to wonder how many concubines the guy had, ha. For two, this is a story, not real history and not real life.