This story is truly heartbreaking...the way women are treated is disgusting...if things like that happened here in America we'd all be sharpening our...moreThis story is truly heartbreaking...the way women are treated is disgusting...if things like that happened here in America we'd all be sharpening our shovels. It is really eye-opening to read this and see and understand how lucky we are to live in such a forward-thinking society.
The way Hosseini writes is magnificent, he captures the thoughts and feelings of women so accurately. I couldn't be more impressed, its like he really was a woman living in Afghanistan. Some of the things he wrote absolutely blew my mind. For example: She held her breath, and, in her head, counted seconds. She pretended that for each second that she didn't breathe, God would grant her another day with Jalil. That was such an insightful passage to me, because I used to always do silly little superstitious things like that...like, if I was expecting a call, closing my eyes and counting to 50 thinking that when I was done the phone would ring. It just made me feel that much more connected to Miriam.
Miriam's story is probably the most gut-wrenching awful thing I have ever read. I loved the way she was so closed off to Laila at first. After everything she had gone through, how could she not be? I really appreciated how he made her a real character in ways like that, instead of an unrealistic robot.
I wouldn't describe the end of the book as happy, but at least Laila has a little bit of hope for a happy life....as much as is possible in that culture. It really was an eye-opening novel about the horrors of life for women there.
I definitely recommend reading this book. It isn't a fun read, or a happy one. But it is important...necessary even. It is a tribute to Khaled Hosseini's ability to capture a terrible reality, and a testament to the strength of the women living in it.(less)
This book has faults. The story was pretty far fetched at times-but I suppose in kind of an endearing "fairy tale" way (which is funny, since a great...moreThis book has faults. The story was pretty far fetched at times-but I suppose in kind of an endearing "fairy tale" way (which is funny, since a great deal of the book is extremely horrible and depressing), and the main character didn't really have any flaws.
Well, I take that back. Fiona, the main character, was in love with Joe. That is a fault, in my eyes. They grew up together, were in love, and had big plans to get rich together. Well, through a horrible chain of events, they ended up on opposite continents. I'm not saying that what happened was really Joe's fault - the whole thing was so pathetic, I was mad at him at first but really just ended up being sorry for him - but I am not a member of Joe's fan club. He is alright, I just think Fiona is better then him. I forgave Donnelly for making Fiona so perfect - because really, she earned it. Bless her heart, she really got run through the mill in the story.
Okay...now for the two main reasons I loved the book beyond all reason:
1. Nicholas Soames. He is officially one of my favorite characters of all time. He DID have his flaws (spoiled rich kid), but bless his heart, he did not live an easy life. I fell in love with him, and so did Fiona (in a friendly way). Their close friendship and devotion to each other is one of the main reasons I forgive Fiona for being perfect. I cannot say enough that I love this guy. From the very second he walked into the story, I knew it was getting five stars. I felt such an emotional connection to him, I have never wanted to be friends with a character so much. Ever. He melted (and then broke) my heart.
2. The book made me feel. Just a few words into Page 1, Donnelly put me into the story...she just makes you feel like you are right there. Once I was in, she never let up. I was a part of that story from beginning to end, and that is a gift. No matter what problems the plot might have, you cannot ignore an author - or a story - that so fully captures you. Her descriptions and words are gorgeous. Also...I cried like a baby at one point (obviously I'm not going to tell you why, but when you read the book - then we'll talk). I mean...I put the book down for a few minutes and just sobbed. A book hasn't done that to me in...I don't know how long. I felt silly, but I couldn't help it. The story broke my heart.
There was a happy ending though, no worries. Don't let my crying put you off.
This is a great story, it is a long one...but I really think it is worth the time. It, in many ways, isn't very original...but there are plenty of twists you won't see coming. It is a strange combination of Gaskell's North and South, Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, and heck...I'll even through in the musical Rent. (Ha! If that isn't an intriguing combination, I don't know what is.) (less)
Jennifer Donnelly does it again! She is definitely at the top of my favorite authors list.
One of the main things that kept me from being 100% in love...moreJennifer Donnelly does it again! She is definitely at the top of my favorite authors list.
One of the main things that kept me from being 100% in love with Tea Rose was Joe Bristow. His character was very well portrayed, don't get me wrong--I just didn't have much use for the guy. He did a couple of things in this book that really pissed me off. Then I finally realized...Donnelly is just so bloody brilliant with characterization that Joe was just being a man! Stupid, bull-headed and...wrong! He could have been a real person. Once I made that revelation, I liked him better, not his fault after all :) Plus...he did a couple of really cool things in this book. He decided to run for Parliament and he didn't even think he had a shot at winning-he just wanted to corner his opposition into making promises to help the poor that Joe was dead set on making sure they followed through with post-election. I thought that was so amazing and selfless.
"Sid" was the tortured hero. Here again is Donnelly's talent shining through. Normally, these types of characters have to be taken with a grain of salt. Not Sid. She takes you straight into his head and you see what he is going through. We saw him in the background of Tea Rose, and he comes forward in this and steals the show. He is one of the most truly portrayed characters I have ever read about. Every single thought she puts in his head was a MILLION percent dead-on.
The plots of these books are very edge-of-your-seat/hard to read at times/beautiful on their own...but when you put in her gorgeous lyrical writing and unparalleled talent for creating real and magnificent characters...she can't be beat.(less)
This book is just...a collosal achievement. The Thornbirds is just "eh" for me, her take on P&P made me really appreciate her as a skilled author...moreThis book is just...a collosal achievement. The Thornbirds is just "eh" for me, her take on P&P made me really appreciate her as a skilled author and storyteller...but THIS book makes me revere and idolize her as one of the best authors in existance.
This is an almost 1000 page book about the ancient Roman senate, and I was addicted to every single word. How awesome is that? I was terrified to start it, when I glanced over the almost 300 page glossary, all I could think was "man, what if I'm not smart enough to read this?" I shouldn't have worried! All you have to do is trustingly place yourself in McCullough's hands, and her book will entertain as well as inform. She made this story so captivating that I was on the edge of my seat more than once-over such things as a massive grain shortage and the passing of a bill to grant basic Roman citizens (the 'Head Count') land.
These people with their 3 and 4 word ridiculous names will quickly become real people, and by the end you'll feel like you've been reading about them for years.
This book was recommended by a good friend of mine, and she hasn't steered me wrong yet. This book will break your heart. First it will make you sick,...moreThis book was recommended by a good friend of mine, and she hasn't steered me wrong yet. This book will break your heart. First it will make you sick, then make you mad, then you will fall in love...then you will repeatedly feel like you've been run over by tanks. For the past three days, I have been hard put to set this down, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
It was kinda surreal reading it, because the story of Quanah Parker is pretty well known to me, I learned about him in various Oklahoma history classes growing up, and the mall I grew up going to is even in the city Cynthia Ann and Quanah are buried, and the mall is on the Quanah Parker by-pass.
Going into a book about the Indians' dying way of live will of course be sad, but the utter hopelessness and heartbreak of this ending left me upset and even vaguely unsatisfied. I'm not saying that as a fault of the book-it is what actually happened.
Anyway, even after having my heart broken at the end...I have to say it was worth it, this is a BEAUTIFULLY written story, and I will undoubtedly be picking it up again someday.(less)
I can handle reading a lot of fantasy violence and torture, because, no matter how connected to the characters I am-I know on some level as I’m readin...moreI can handle reading a lot of fantasy violence and torture, because, no matter how connected to the characters I am-I know on some level as I’m reading that it did NOT happen. So, when I picked up Skeletons I knew that would be different, and I was right. Even the smallest acts of cruelty in this book twisted my guts because I know that what the Jews went through during the Holocaust is absolute reality. Just thinking about it makes me feel sick. So, in a way, this book was the opposite of fantasy-seeing how the various characters in their different situations dealt with the war is what connected me to them. There was a German family fleeing from the Russians and a Scottish POW traveling with them, a young Jewish woman in a work camp, and a Jewish man disguising himself (usually) as a German soldier. I feel like I went on a real journey with these characters and the end of the story was brilliant and heartbreaking, as a true war novel should be.(less)
This book really surprised me! I can't believe I haven't heard of it before. I read a recommendation for it on the Fantastic Fiction website by Sandra...moreThis book really surprised me! I can't believe I haven't heard of it before. I read a recommendation for it on the Fantastic Fiction website by Sandra Brown and decided it looked pretty good. It deserves to be much more widely read.
It is a story of a family in 1920s Missouri. The mother passed away and left 20 year old Julie (well, I think she was 15 when her mom died, but 20 when the story takes place) to tend to everyone. Every single person in the family is lovable and adds to the story, their family dynamic is fantastic and is the basis of the book. There are seperate murder and rape plots happening, and even though rape is gruesome and always makes me feel sick no matter what context its in, those plots somehow didn't take away from the relaxing and gentle vibes of the overall story. I will say that I did NOT guess who was behind it all. During the story, you get to see the father taken in by a ridiculous woman and her daughter and how the kids are all desperate to be rid of her, and Julie falls in love. Its a very sweet historical fiction novel, and I plan on doing my part to make more people read it! I am about to start on the next book in her Jazz Age series.(less)
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King has been on my radar for quite a long time. A good friend on Goodreads first recommended it to me years ago....moreThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King has been on my radar for quite a long time. A good friend on Goodreads first recommended it to me years ago. When it popped up on a post written by Angie, I knew it was time. What I didn’t know was that I’d spend the entire book kicking myself for not having introduced myself to Mary Russell years ago when I first had the chance.
You guys, this is definitely a case of reading the right book at the right time. With the right mood. And the right lunar alignment. And probably even the right socks. Every single thing about The Beekeeper’s Apprentice made me fall deeper under its spell (I even put off watching the new episode of Bones to finish a chapter. That is unheard of in the life of Allison, y’all. Bones waits on no man). It might just be in the running for my favorite book of the year.
Mary Russell has the somewhat dangerous habit of reading while walking. When she literally trips over what appears to be just an eccentric old man – she has no idea that she has just changed her entire life. That crazy old dude? Sherlock Holmes, you guys. IT IS SHERLOCK HOLMES. When she shocks him right off the bat by showing impressive intelligence, he takes her under his wing. He is pretty stoked to have a companion worthy of his time.
Their first meeting basically charmed the pants off me. They both have that kind of almost stupidly incredible intelligence that leaves them alienated from normal life. Able to converse easily from the get go, I could not love the interactions between these two more if I tried. Give me a minute here you guys, because I HAVE TO CAPSLOCK MY ENTHUSIASM OVER HOW AWESOME THESE CHARACTERS ARE! AHHHHHHHHH!
Holmes is constantly forgetting that Mary (or as he calls her, Russell) is a female (probably because she prefers to dress in man clothes) – and his bewilderment every single time he is reminded of it somehow is so charming. I want to pat him on his cute little 60 year old cheeks. Ahem. Anyway…
As the book progresses, things just keep getting better and better. Both characters keep developing – and they develop together. By the end of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, it is hard to imagine how they could have ever lived without each other. (I don’t mean that in a particularly romantic way – I mean that they are just so compatible in every single aspect of life.)
Even though the characters are what really make the book, the mysteries are very satisfying and interesting. Some things are wrapped up fairly quickly, but the big kahuna develops slowly and with masterful suspense. Leaving just enough clues to have readers following along on the edge of their seats, Laurie King leads Holmes and Russell on one heck of a merry chase. I love a good puzzle you guys, and that is definitely what you get with this one.
Basically, every single aspect of this book is phenomenal. You’d have to be crazy not to want to read it! I have never been so thrilled at the prospect of 11 more delicious books in a series to read. Am I going to start on the next book the instant I finish writing this review? You bet I am.
To Sum it Up:
-Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes together = dynamite. magic. ALL THE GOOD THINGS. -There are plenty of mysteries to keep them occupied – the biggest of which had me guessing until the end. -This is a 12 book series, so when you read this and fall as in love with the characters as I did, you have plenty to look forward to!(less)
All the different facets of this novel add up to make one of the best stories I have ever read. From the very first pag...moreLyrical. Captivating. Haunting.
All the different facets of this novel add up to make one of the best stories I have ever read. From the very first page, Mattie Gokey's zeal for words makes the pages of the book turn themselves. Weaved throughout Maggie's fictional struggles is the real life story of the death of Grace Brown, as seen through Mattie's brief (and fictional, of course) interaction with her, and letters that she left behind (the letters are real, by the way).
This is not an idyllic coming of age story full of flowers and happy, skipping children. It is a story of racism, hatred, marital infedelity and a family left imbittered by the death of their mother from breast cancer.
Jennifer Donnelly doesn't sacrifice real life to make the story more pleasant. Childbirth is described with horrifying detail, sickness and starving children are common threads to the story, and marriage isn't viewed as the grand ideal. In fact...there IS no grand ideal. Just a community of people surviving as best as they can.
Mattie's love for books and writing is one of the best parts of the story. My favorite part of the novel is a scene where Mattie sees her teacher's library for the first time-more books then she has ever seen or heard of that inspires her into a passionate speech about writing.
Well, it seems to me that there are books that tell stories, and then there are books that tell truths...The first kind, they show you life like you want it to be. With villains getting what they deserve and the hero seeing what a fool he's been and marrying the heroine and happy endings and all that. Like Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. But the second kind, they show you life more like it is. Like in Huckleberry Finn where Huck's pa is a no-good drunk and Jim suffers so. The first kind makes you cheerful and contented, but the second kind shakes you up...
Why don't they tell the truth? Why don't they tell how a pigpen looks after the sow's eaten her children? Or how it is for a girl when her baby won't come out? Or that cancer has a smell to it? All those books...I bet not one of them will tell you what cancer smells like...
I don't mean to be coarse. I just...I don't know why I should care what happens to people in a drawing room in London or Paris or anywhere else when no one in those places cares what happens to people in Eagle Bay."
Her teacher then tells her Make them care, Mattie, and don't you ever be sorry.
I like to think that is what Mattie will end up doing, after the end of the story. Through the reading of the losses Grace Brown suffers before her death, Mattie realizes where her destiny really lies. (less)
Check out that cover y'all. I think it is really pretty. I read the ebook version, but if I ever come across a used copy I'll have to grab it to add t...moreCheck out that cover y'all. I think it is really pretty. I read the ebook version, but if I ever come across a used copy I'll have to grab it to add to my shelves.
Okay, I am super wary of P&P sequels/variations. Most of them are just a sorry excuse to write sex scenes between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Seriously - I can't stand those. Luckily, this is not one of them. This book asks the question: what if Mr. Bennet had died after Darcy's first proposal, before Elizabeth's trip with her aunt and uncle...before Lydia had a chance to run away with Mr. Wickham? How would things have been different?
Well, lots of things are different. Many, many changes occur in this book from the original Pride and Prejudice plot. Luckily, I loved the changes! There is a ton of character development that I found incredibly insightful. I also thought it to be very respectful of the original characters. Mr. Darcy's stiff behavior is explained through a series of stories about his childhood, we get a lot more face time with his sister, and the Bennet women are put into situations where we see sides of them not available in the original work.
Elizabeth is a governess for a family that initially seems to accept her as an extension of the family. She loves her charge (thank goodness there isn't any convoluted bratty child side story)...and through a series of events comes to be a visitor of the Pemberley estate with the family. There are a lot of absolutely brilliantly written scenes between her and Mr. Darcy. The tension between them was so high that it was all I could do not to skip ahead to read the final scenes. Their chemistry was absolutely dead on.
I opened this book, slightly nervous, unsure of what I would find. Fast-forward a few hours (and a few ignored phone calls and a skipped meal) and I'm closing the book wishing there was a sequel! If you're a Pride and Prejudice fan unafraid to try something different than the original, absolutely pick this up. You'll love it!(less)
I have been excited about reading A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn since first hearing about it. Since she is already responsible for creati...moreI have been excited about reading A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn since first hearing about it. Since she is already responsible for creating two of my all-time favorite characters, I had high expectations for what she could accomplish with a story set in 1920s Kenya. Overall? It was pretty darn good.
Unfortunately, A Spear of Summer Grass and I didn’t get off to the best start. Delilah Drummond is NOT a likable gal in the beginning. Trying to relate to her? Forget about it. The beginning of the book shows her involved in one scandal too many and being more or less banished from Paris to Kenya until things die down. The first thing I fell in love with was the setting – Deanna Raybourn makes Kenya glorious and the Fairlight plantation where Delilah is staying really comes to life.