As I'm more of a post-punk person, what I knew of Laura Jane Grace, and Against Me!, was on the periphery of my musical circle. At best I knew they weAs I'm more of a post-punk person, what I knew of Laura Jane Grace, and Against Me!, was on the periphery of my musical circle. At best I knew they were a punk band from Florida. However, when Laura came out in 2012, suddenly she was everywhere. Not just in the music world but also in main stream news. (I remember one commenter on a news piece about Laura's struggles being trans said, "Well, he doesn't look he would be trans." I asked, "what the fuck does that even mean, 'doesn't look like'?" I also pointed out the commenter mis-gendered Laura and of course, I heard crickets.)
Since then, I've been following Laura on and off through the years to see how she was doing and I recall her smiles were so big it was hard not to fall a bit in love with her. So when I was on my way to the checkout desk at my local library and saw this book on the "NEW" shelf, I grabbed it. I've made 2017 the year I was going to read anything not written by white cis people as much as possible and I wanted to know more about Laura's story.
The book is very Dickensian in nature, "In the beginning, I was born and then this is what happens." I almost gave up after 50 pages as the writing is sometimes halted, it felt forced. But once Laura gets into her late teen years, as Against Me! starts to coalesce, she really gets going. I loved the diary entries and I wish there were more of those and less "story" fillers. I get why these bits of writing exist, but the filler writing has a different voice than the diary entries and that is why often the overall story feels stilted.
Also, more pictures please.
One more thing -- several readers pointed out Laura's story seemed to be shifting -- in that it was written to simultaneously give the story of Against Me!'s rise to fame as well as the build-up and resolution of Laura's struggle. I too agree with this sentiment. I get she was using her experiences in the music industry as a parallel of her own life but the way it was written, both come out not fully realised.
Overall, I really liked this book. Laura's story, albeit heartbreaking, in the beginning comes full circle as in the end, as just as in the beginning, she is born. Laura was more open about her struggles in the end, especially the epilogue, which I think came to pass as she became more comfortable with telling her story. I just wish the book as a whole was edited for voice consistency.
I would highly recommend this book, even with its faults, to anyone looking for a good biography and / or has an interest in music and / oris looking for an honest read.
(I read Laura burned her diaries when the book was finished / published and a part of mourned. As a prolific diarist myself, even if I was a total bitch in my earlier life, those are the touch stones of what makes me, me. But I understand why -- the death of Thomas meant the birth of Laura, her true self.)...more
Syrie James has made a living by writing and complementing works of Austen and the Brontë’s, which is great for her and great for us. I’ve recently st Syrie James has made a living by writing and complementing works of Austen and the Brontë’s, which is great for her and great for us. I’ve recently started reading James, beginning with The Lost Manuscripts of Jane Austen, and have really enjoyed the book and her work. The story was fresh, the romance, not really needed, was subtle. The pacing is good. There was constant moving forward of the plot. The writing was a bit sloppy at times but overall it was well written. While the primary time period was contemporary, James seemed to have a grasp of the machinations of the Regency period, which pleased me. (Nothing like sloppy research to ruin a good book, no matter how well written.) So when Jane Austen’s First Love became available at the library, I checked it out with working knowledge it would follow the same formula described above and be a delightful read.
Jane Austen’s First Love is not that book.
Let’s start with the characters — first, we must admit, we know nothing of how Jane Austen was as what is known is based on gossip, James Edward Austen-Leigh’s sketchy biography, and the few letters not burned to a crisp by Cassandra. With this, James had carte blanc in fleshing out Jane’s personality. She failed. James portrayed Austen as this 15 year old chatterbox, worried about fitting in with her peers and stressing about boys – essentially James distilled Lydia Bennet as Austen’s personality. There were some bright moments — she made Austen fearless which seems reasonable given what we can glean from Austen’s books, if we assume Austen injected herself into some of her heroines. There was, very scant times, when James’ Austen rejected what society had planned for her. But overall it was Austen’s pining for Edward Taylor that threw the story off for me.
Secondly, the Jane / Edward romance? No chemistry!
For this book , I read far more than my usual 50 page allotment to see if a book is worthwhile to continue and this one I got to page 165! But as I read, I realised I was reading it not because I so much enjoyed it BUT because it fulfilled Jane Austen paraliterature criteria. The book isn’t so bad as much as it has a tendency to be flat and the plot isn’t moving forward and there seems to be little action with the characters themselves. Jane Austen’s First Love reminds me a lot of the Lord of the Rings trilogy where in LotR, ther were hundreds of pages of “we’re walking and we’re walking,” without really any action happening which begins to get tedious and nervewrecking. DO SOMETHING, I screamed at the book (internally) at least. Jane Austen’s First Love strikes me as a book people are either really going to love, Jane Austen has a romance!, or something people are going to be put off by. I am giving this 3/5 stars because the book did fulfil some of my criteria but overall I found it flat and wanting.
I will end this with saying I’m not dissuaded by reading more Syrie James – The Lost Manuscripts of Jane Austen was really good and one meh book does not mean to reject an autor completely....more
Such high hopes for this book! I really, really wanted to like it but I made it 1/4 of the way through and nothing was really happening. Sure, peopleSuch high hopes for this book! I really, really wanted to like it but I made it 1/4 of the way through and nothing was really happening. Sure, people did things but the story itself wasn't pushing forward. There is lots of beautiful language, the book is atmospheric, but it was like a pretty cake with mediocre filling. Basically, meh....more
Not much really new here if you've read any bio of Coco Chanel. While the brief history of perfumeria is interesting, it's not enough tif you're familNot much really new here if you've read any bio of Coco Chanel. While the brief history of perfumeria is interesting, it's not enough tif you're familiar with Chanel's life. However, I would recommend this to those interested in Chanel's life but unsure where to start since the book is well-researched....more
I'm just going to input my notes rather than some kind of cohesive review:
* The story, which takes place mainly in Sienna, Italy, is so atmospheric anI'm just going to input my notes rather than some kind of cohesive review:
* The story, which takes place mainly in Sienna, Italy, is so atmospheric and descriptive, I feel as if I know the city by heart * I enjoyed the hidden summaries that were preceded by, "So let me get this straight..." as the book sometimes got a bit off course and those hidden summaries righted you on the path again. With that being said, it should be obvious at times the book got a bit messy. * The romance was kind of predictable which since this is a metaliterature of Romeo and Juliet, we shouldn't be surprised but honestly? I wanted the author to give us something a bit more challenging. * Thoroughly research of the Middle Ages. * Juliet, who doesn't know Italian, was able to read an Italian manuscript -- her knowledge of Italian comes and goes as the story progresses and gets a bit annoying * Thought the story was more of a three rather than a four but after the book had finished, I found myself missing the characters and wondering what they were up to -- so obviously, the book left an impression on me and that my friend, is the mark of a well executed work. (Unless it's a terrible story but just work with me here.)...more
Thrilled I didn't buy this and disappointed as I had been waiting for this book for ages. Essentially I'm going to echo other views: Nothing new here,Thrilled I didn't buy this and disappointed as I had been waiting for this book for ages. Essentially I'm going to echo other views: Nothing new here, there is no magic formula, and the only "secret" seems to be shapewear. Lots and lots and lots of shapewear. Moses advocates for layering the damn things and nope, I'm not pouring myself into layers of shapewear when I wear my usual uniform: jeans and a tshirt. Good fitting clothes help tremendously in making you look gorgeous without the need of shapewear, which Moses does kind of point to with a huff but quickly away from. Her "15 Top Pieces" is a rehash of every fashion site, curvey or not, that comes out with the same list at least 2x a year. She is styling for a middle aged lady - there doesn't seem to be anything even remotely youthful for those who are not into dowdy clothes. I'm not necessarily a young chicken myself but c'mon! I'm not the ladies who lunch crowd and this doesn't even closely fit the bill.
What was even more disappointing was half of the photos seemed to be culled from Google images and were of model models -- you know, the size and unders. Selling a book that purports to be about body positivity and "living your best life" while using photos of model models sends a confused message. (And honestly? I know she's using the models to illustrate the different types of body types and clothes, but they all looked the same.) ...more
I'm a fan of Jane Austen pastiches so naturally I had to read this book. Did I enjoy it? I'd rate it between 2.5 to 3 stars and I upped it to 3 on gooI'm a fan of Jane Austen pastiches so naturally I had to read this book. Did I enjoy it? I'd rate it between 2.5 to 3 stars and I upped it to 3 on good behaviour.
The plot was well set up - special archives librarian goes on trip to England and discovers a lost manuscript of Jane Austen's while simultaneously falling in love with someone not her boyfriend. Love that is not her boyfriend is prickly and can't stand her. She can't stand him. Does this sound familiar? (It should. It's the set up to Pride and Prejudice.)
But the character's background and coincidences became a little too perfect. Obviously her best friend owns a bookstore. Obviously she likes book so she's a librarian. Obviously she once started a degree at Oxford and had to leave and lo and behold, one of her mentors is one of the most renowned Jane Austen experts. Obviously the boyfriend that is not her boyfriend does benevolent works that redeems him in her eyes (Hello obvious Mr. Darcy!).
When things started to get a little perfect and the only conflict seemed to be with the character and her erstwhile boyfriend -- you know, the one she didn't fall in love with? -- I start to get bored. C'mon author, gives us more of the character's flaws and paint us a character who has difficulty whatever but don't bore your readers with your Mary Sues!
The meat of the book is the book within the book, the "missing" Jane Austen manuscript, is the byproduct of James' imagination. The thing is that it's almost always impossible to write as if you were another author. Sure, I could see the setup of the "missing manuscript" be something that Austen would crank out but something was off about that story. The explanation we're given is that it's one of Austen's earlier works and hence why the story struggles on a bit. But eh. Something doesn't feel right.
Would I recommend this book? It's an Austen pastiche and even with the clunky "missing manuscript" story, with the whole of the book wrapped around like a Pride and Prejudice retelling, I would add it to a "you might want to but don't necessarily need to" list. ...more
Arc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'm giving this book 2/5 and a "meh" rating as I've read this story before by Giffin who seArc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'm giving this book 2/5 and a "meh" rating as I've read this story before by Giffin who seems only capable of having the two same characters do similiar things except in different bodies and locations. She's also a big fan of alternating points of view of the same situation which gets tiresome when overly used which Giffin apparently is a fan of. The writing seems formulaic and tropey. I just couldn't get into the story or believe in it or even give an eff to what happens to them (or the conflict of the story).
I would not not recommend this book -- Giffin is popular with those who want a bit meatier chick lit because, and I will give her this, she tackles often difficult topics and puts them in palatable chunks, so obviously there is a need for her writing style. But, as I said in the beginning, the flaws on her part and the eye rolling on my part did not justify finishing this book....more
Arc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
At first I was skeptical about this title - I could not really get a sense of or connect wiArc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
At first I was skeptical about this title - I could not really get a sense of or connect with Claire. While it was expected she would be a flawed character, (Because if she wasn't, what would be the point of this book?) and she would have her conflicts and resolutions, it seemed to be slow going. But as the book progressed and shaped, Owens uncanny ability to explain even the mundanity of our lives (Clair flopping face first into the bed while she talked with Luke was near perfect example! How could the description of something we do almost every day feel on point -- it's perhaps we don't think about how our everyday things can have some sparkle or playfulness to them when we look at them from afar) with such clarity, I felt as if I was Claire and this was my life.
In a way, it was.
I picked up this book because the premise of Claire quitting her job to find herself, or find a position she loved, was exactly where I was at in my life at the time of this reading. As the writing and development of the book became stronger, Claire's actions / thoughts / feelings were mirroring my own about the lives we choose. Coupled with how the book was shaped, as vignettes, and the situations Claire found herself in, the slow going and the jumpy first bits seemed worth getting through to get to the height of the book.
I also enjoyed that her relationship with Luke was not the centerpoint of the novel and she wasn't keen on getting married let alone having kids. I also liked that when Luke kept bringing up how he wanted to eventually get married ("we're engaged to be engaged"), Claire doesn't seem in any hurry to make that happen. She liked her life just fine except for that pesky finding a job she loved bit.
One thing I do have to nitpick is many reviewers preference their review that this is a story about a mid-late 20s character. I don't think this is necessarily true -- Claire and Luke meet after university and have been together for nearly a decade. Claire also makes mention that she's been either in jobs or schooling for nearly 20 years of her adult life. If we make the reasonable assumption she started working at 16, this would put her at 36. Considering the pressure she gets from her parents and some of her friends about settling down and having kids, this makes her age in her mid-early to mid-late 30s (32 - 36). Also, Claire makes a lot of commentary about not being able to fit in with the younger crowd as she's now the older lady in the group when she goes out for drinks with the interns and new staffers at her temp job.
In the end, highly recommended to readers who like women's fiction, strong women characters, and unconventional storytelling....more