A cute little book that got added to my reading list because of the recent tv adaptation (which I've yet to see), and also because it's a fairly quick...moreA cute little book that got added to my reading list because of the recent tv adaptation (which I've yet to see), and also because it's a fairly quick little read that happens to be set at Christmastime.
There's a good 'don't judge people on their appearances' message in here, and lots of funny bits too. There even seemed, to me, to be a subtle poke at David Cameron, stuck in there for parents and adult readers perhaps, but then I realised this was published before he became PM, so that couldn't be possible and is just one of those happy coincidences.
Found the ending a little abruptly Happy Ending, and the somewhat Dahl-like caricatures (a comparison reinforced by the Quentin Blake illustrations) of Mother and sister suddenly gaining more depth and personality a little jarring and out of sync with the tone that'd previously been set. I think that's really what stopped me giving this four stars. I understand the book is a Happy Ending kind of book, but I still felt it didn't quite fit.
Still, I liked it well enough that I certainly be reading some more Walliams books in the future.(less)
I cracked, and in a state of already sleep deprived insomnia I somehow ended up reading this. I guess it's a kind of pick-the-scab, watch-the-car-cras...moreI cracked, and in a state of already sleep deprived insomnia I somehow ended up reading this. I guess it's a kind of pick-the-scab, watch-the-car-crash kind of book. I succumbed to reading Twilight too, so I'm not wholly surprised.
I might've been tempted just to read MotU and bypass this, but there's only a horridly formatted PDF available, with awkward pictures, which I'm not going near. Got to draw a line somewhere. This way, however, allowed me to have a fun guessing game of 'which Twilight character is this meant to be?' - other than the obvious Anabella/Chredward. I was thinking that Kate was meant to be Alice (good friend, loves giving make overs and buying clothes), but turned out she's meant to be Rosalie and Mia is Alice...ok. Jake/José, that was too easy, as was Elliot/Emmett (once I realised Kate was Rose and not Alice). A somewhat fun switcheroo making Mrs. (whatever) Grey the Dr. like Carlisle, instead of the Mr. (which I guess makes him Esme in this version). And, of course, all the Grey siblings are adopted. Her parents are still, quite obviously, her parents. I also started to wonder if the other characters had basically been named after the Twilight actors - Taylor for Taylor Lautner, and there was a Dr. Greene that popped up at one point (Ashley Greene) but I'm really not that bothered to examine that too deeply.
I kind of skim read this too, skipped a few chapters to be honest, and read it while in that part-asleep-but-can't-quite-sleep-yet state so it's not really like I gave it my full attention.
Honestly, it wasn't what I was expecting. I knew enough to think it'd be 'contract, sign, red room of pain, weird sexing happens'...but it's not. I actually quite like that this version of Bella has more substance than actual Bella. As Christian's Dom/BDSM preferences as clearly a replacement for Edwards vampirism then it's 'nice' that Ana doesn't just go 'YES PLEASE, MAKE ME LIKE YOU NOW' which is what Bella does when she knows what Edward is ('I want to die now and become a vampire like you! Kill me please!'), but rather goes 'this is messed up and wrong, become more like me instead!'. So, points for that. Also points for no anal (because that's where your 50 shades of brown come from, and I don't find that right), no pubic shaving (which I was expecting, so a pleasant surprise), and period sex just happening as no big deal (because it's not, so it's nice to see that). But that's all the points it gets.
The rest is not so great and, frankly, worrying at times. Ana's schizophrenic/personality disorder with her 'inner goddess' and her subconscious chittering away to her constantly just gets annoying. Christian being an absolute caricature of Edward is worrying. The creepy stalker Edward is taken to the extremes here and that could be funny if this was meant to be a pastiche. But it's not, so that's just worrying.
I've got myself in to this so I'm clearly going to 'read' the other two books (glad it's not more) to see where this ends up. But honestly, I have so many mental questions about why people like these books. I don't get why anyone would be attracted to someone that creepy, when you know they're creepy (Ana is always mentally going on about Christian's 'stalker tendencies' like they're something amusing, but slightly naughty, that a child has done - they're not); clearly 'Dr. Flynn' is a useless therapist if they haven't actually tried to resolve any of his issues. So many questions too about why people want a Christian-alike. I'm not even sure why people read erotica (it's not a genre I'm familiar with) - is it because it's meant to be a romance, but with all the adult stuff in like you'd actually have in your adult life? I can understand reading a book for that reason. Or is it just to get your jollies and because it's, essentially, porn-y. That I can also get too, if it's written well. In this, however, I honestly got a little bored of reading the near-constant sex. It really did nothing for me, possibly because it's just variations of basically the same scene. Inner goddess does something, stuff happens, Anabella shatters. Repeat.
I really don't get how this is going to be a film, but anyway. Onwards, to more bonking.(less)
I don't know why on page 160 you've written 'can't decipher' in red, when the picture of the letter clearly reads 'Not mine Ilb' w...moreDear HarperCollins,
I don't know why on page 160 you've written 'can't decipher' in red, when the picture of the letter clearly reads 'Not mine Ilb' which is quite obviously 'Ilb' for 'Ilbereth' and the other clear visual clue is that it's written in his hand. It's very simple, and therefore totally bewildering why whomever produced this book was, for some reason, unable to decipher it. Or why all the other people who, presumably, cast their eyes over it to try and read it also couldn't get it. Very Odd.
Yours in bafflement, Fran
That minor perplexment aside, this is a lovely hardback. I always love reading the Father Christmas letters, and it's nice that there was parts in this edition that I'd never read before. I don't know if this is the most complete edition there's ever been, but it does imply that it is.
I like how the letters are often surprisingly dark, with their tales of goblin wars - and particularly towards the end when the letters are during WWII, the 'last' goblin war gets very dark indeed. There are, of course, plenty of entertaining parts - the stories of PBs accidents and adventures.
You can see how Tolkien must've been a very loving father, to have gone to such effort, care, and detail to produce these letters every year (often the letter writing seems to start as early as October!) and the verbal stories that must've accompanied them too (one can only imagine). However, one can also clearly get a sense of how self critical Tolkien must've been. A picture is never included without some apology about it not being very good, or a critical remark from PB (which is actually just Tolkien taking a dig at himself).
I don't know how popular this title is in comparison with other Tolkien works, but if you've never read it, or overlooked it, then do pick it up (especially around Christmastime) because it's worth it.
It's been quite a while since I read this, but it's as good and enjoyable as I remember it being when I first found a copy at the library and read it....moreIt's been quite a while since I read this, but it's as good and enjoyable as I remember it being when I first found a copy at the library and read it. Which must've been back in the 90s, not long after it came out. Enjoying my first read is what made me buy a copy when I found it in a charity shop. Not sure how many times I've read it since.
I think it holds up very well, and doesn't feel too dated at all - even with it's imagined history of the Earth being damaged by pollution and then (somehow) 'saved' by robots in the early to mid 1990s. The themes of damaging the world we live in are still very relevant, as are the issues of Government, power, manipulation, and equality that are covered in this book.
It's a super quick, but engaging read, and it's a story that's always stuck with me for some reason. I'm sure it won't be the last time I read it.
I realised, when writing this, that I've read two books in one day where the ending is (entirely coincidentally) the same. In both this and Mr Stink, the main character ends the book by (view spoiler)[writing the first lines of the book, as if they were the ones that wrote the book all along (hide spoiler)]. Funny!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I love this book, and I suspect I'll be reading it this time next year too. I wanted to have it fresh in my head so when I go see the film I can appro...moreI love this book, and I suspect I'll be reading it this time next year too. I wanted to have it fresh in my head so when I go see the film I can appropriate purist grumbles about the changes. But I'd happily read this again without the excuse of an upcoming film loosely based on this text.
I first read The Hobbit when I was 8. And by read, I do mean read - not read to me. I bought my own copy (this 1991 Grafton edition), which I still have, because it was important to have MY OWN copy rather than borrowing one of the other editions in the house. I then went on to read The Lord of the Rings (also myowncopies) and have been a Tolkien addict ever since.
I didn't appreciate it when I was young and first read The Hobbit, but I now really love how Tolkien doesn't do things how you might expect. Our protagonist doesn't slay the dragon, in fact it's a bloke we've not met and never really get to know at all. The dragon that's been made such a big deal of is out of the picture after 2/3rds of the book. The noble King turns out to be rather stubborn and arrogant and makes bad choices at the end and the whole thing climaxes in a surprise battle. Brilliant. I guess it's really a testament to itself that people still enjoy reading this as much as when it was first published, and that it still continues to inspire so much.
This is a difficult book to review without there being spoilers flying everywhere. If you're looking at reviews of this book without having read it -...moreThis is a difficult book to review without there being spoilers flying everywhere. If you're looking at reviews of this book without having read it - don't. Look away now, don't read anything about it, just read it. I knew nothing when I picked this up, and it really was best.
All not-read-it-yet's gone? Good.
(view spoiler)[Firstly: Amy is a total mentalist! I kept thinking that for the whole of the latter part of the book. Which is, secondly, a total mindfuck. Gillian Flynn totally trolls you. 'You like Nick? You won't now!', 'You're sympathising with Amy? How sweet, now you're not!', 'You're back to sympathising with Nick? Not for much longer!', 'You feel sorry for that poor kid having them for parents? OK, we can agree on that one.'
The first 50%, with Nick in 'real time' and Amy in diary flash back kind of dragged for me. I had some issues with the pacing of this book, and this is one of them. There was just a bit too much for me before the 'switch/bitch' second half kicked in, and then the second half seemed rather rushed. However, because I didn't know anything I was totally believing 'diary Amy' and was surprised when it suddenly flipped and 'real' Amy came out. I think this worked because we were given the believable diary entries and not the 'did I just get poisoned with antifreeze?' ones that the cops refer to later. This is the book that should be used as an example of unreliable narrators - even Nick withholds from us in the first 50%, although he does keep thinking about all his lies, so it's not entirely shocking when his 'mistress' crops up. I'm not sure I'll ever read a 1st person narrative again without being slightly suspicious.
The pacing of the last part of the book bothered me too. We get a fortnight at a fairly slow plod, and then suddenly we've skipped 12 days and it all goes bam, bam, bam from there onwards. I get why the jump was needed (so we didn't see all of Amy's Desi-related plan tediously unfold day by day) but it really did feel hurried towards the end when compared to the start. I think the issue really lies with the first half being too flabby. Perhaps, on a re-read, the first half is more fun when you can pick things up with the knowledge you didn't have the first time you read it. However, that doesn't make it a non-issue as it shouldn't have that problem in the first place. This is, for me, mainly what stopped it being a 5-star read. I mean, I had quite a break at about 20/25% in when I read a few graphic novels on the side - a book that moves at an even pace doesn't need me to take a break.
That, and these couple of details that bothered me, but are good examples of how self absorbed the pair are: Bleecker, the cat, is literally only mentioned when he's interacting with either of them for some reason - or, once, when he becomes a detail in Amy's plot (I did like that call back of how Amy topped up his kibble, and earlier we'd read Nick assuming it was a cop - the other callback with the tips was fun too). If these were my thoughts, there'd be bits about my cat in there all the time. Also an example of this, I suppose, is the one chapter (Nick, Five Days Gone: 2) when suddenly it's mentioned that the house is on a flight path. Not mentioned before, never mentioned after. That really, really bothered me (as did the issue of whether Bleecker was safely back in the house at the start). In another book, I'd think it was sloppy writing, but in this one it seems again to be another case of 'wasn't relevant to either Nick or Amy's thoughts so didn't get mentioned'. Although I would've thought that it might've copped up during the parts where the house and area was described (the airport itself was never even mentioned!), so maybe it is slightly sloppy.
I kept thinking, near the end, that Amy's story would just fall apart when the cops started scrutinising it. But that was explained fairly well, so I didn't mind too much. I didn't mind the ending at all (although I wouldn't say I liked it), I literally couldn't see any way Nick could easily and happily get out of Amy's trap, so it was fitting. But, in my head, Boney carries on investigating the unsolved case because it bothers her, and eventually something cracks and she works it out - saving their poor, poor child who has to grow up with a mentalist mother and a trapped, but also quite fucked up, father. Either that, or Amy and Nick just eventually kill each other. Also, in my head, I imagine the child is sent away to boarding school a soon as he's old enough because Amy just can't be bothered to be a mother. Boarding school would be a mercy for that child.
There are two quotes from this book that I like. The first nicely sums up the mental state of both Nick and Amy. Tanner: 'You two are the most fucked-up people I have ever met, and I specialise in fucked-up people.' The second shows how different things could have been had they never met. Nick: 'Amy's story could have gone a millon other ways, but she met me, and bad things happened.' Which is true, but given Amy's sociopathic history I suspect she'd've ended up in some version of this story. Nick, however, might have led an entirely quiet and pleasant life. It's not that I like Nick in this narrative, it's just that I can't see being the person Amy turned him in to had he not met her. Whereas Amy, she's just an all out mentalist who was going to fuck up anyone she crossed paths with. I blame the parents.
Forgive me for how rambling this has been, but I only finished this last night and my thoughts are still a rather sprawling. But that's the thing about a good book (/film/tv show), you keep thinking about it and it sticks with you - this will certainly stick with me. Eventually, I might even re-read this book (another mark of a good book). (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I read the first half of this in bed one morning. I started on it and couldn't stop until I was forced to get out of bed because of the call of nature...moreI read the first half of this in bed one morning. I started on it and couldn't stop until I was forced to get out of bed because of the call of nature.
There's some Quantum Leap style similarities, it is a fantasy, and there is a 'but what happened next?' type ending with unresolved questions - but it's not actually about that. That's just the plot device.
This is really about morality, empathy, friendship, the choices we make as people, human nature, our genetic make-up, control (what we can, and what we can't), diversity, relationships (in all forms), and love (of course) - to name a few things.
A has to be empathetic towards the people A is inhabiting for the day, for the body and life they have custody of, and try not to drastically change their lives or harm the body. But A makes mistakes, like we all do, and A learns that the things (and mostly the people) that we love can make us selfish. Which is fine, and human, because nobody is selfless.
I feel we have to be empathetic towards A too. I can only imagine how lonely it'd feel to be a new person every day and never be able to make any lasting connections or relationships. It's understandable that A wants to try, wants to know what it feels like for everyone else, even though A understands there will be collateral damage. Like I said, nobody is selfless.
I liked the fact that the people we meet each day are so diverse. It's another part of the theme of empathy in the book. I understand how some people might feel it's hitting you over the head with diversity, but I do feel that's part of the point. We're not all the same; sometimes the differences are external and obvious (gender, skin colour, nationality, weight), but other times they're internal and things we'll only know if they're shared (sexual preference/identity/orientation, likes/dislikes, our feelings - all the things that make me me and not you).
A has lived life in a way that we can't, and because of that A has learned to be more empathetic, more understanding, more tolerant than perhaps we can because we're just stuck inside our own heads and there's a limit to our scope of understanding (I would absolutely love to be inside someone else's head for the day). But it also means that A has no real understanding of how relationships work, how commitment works, how it feels to grow up with someone, and how it feels to get to know someone over time. All A gets is snapshots of these feelings. A window into what A can never have. So it's no wonder that A does what A does - wouldn't you?
I can understand how some people might find this book preachy and get annoyed with it, but it just worked for me. And that's fine if I like it and you don't, we don't all like the same things. After all, that we're all different is what makes the world interesting.(less)
This series did improve somewhat from Torn onwards. For example, the author mercifully decides to forget about Rhys/Michael being romantically interes...moreThis series did improve somewhat from Torn onwards. For example, the author mercifully decides to forget about Rhys/Michael being romantically interested with Wendy and sidelines his character and pairs him back up with Rhiannon (thankfully, it was all slightly incestuous feeling in the first book). Tove is also clearly made a friend (even though the (view spoiler)[arranged marriage (hide spoiler)] can be seen coming from as soon as he's introduced in Switched) and it's nice that Wendy actually has a male friend who's not in the slightest bit interested in her romantically (and isn't her 'brother').
These aren't the best books you're ever going to read. Sometimes the writing is baffling ('The room was circular with rounded walls', couldn't stop boggling at that one), but it's solid brainless fluff; if that's the sort of thing you're looking for. It's entirely forgettable; I once actually forgot what book I was reading when I was reading it! I also found Wendy's name oddly unsuited to her, and kept forgetting that too.
The main thing that these books have going for them, however, is that she is a fairly strong female lead. The books pass the Bechdel test (there are more than 2 female characters and they talk, to each other, about things other than boys (powers, family, history, as well has clothes, hair, and make-up, and (obviously) boys too)). Wendy starts off kind of bratty and not totally being able to stand up for herself in Switched, but by the end of the series the 'bratty' has become 'feisty' and she has developed her powers to be self sufficient and not needing a man to come to her rescue. So she actually gets to save the boys, which is always fun.
So, mostly forgettable, but some 'not bad' things in them. Not the worst I've ever read, but no where near the best either (I'm sticking with 2 stars throughout as I feel it's the closest to 'meh'). They certainly improve as they go, but can also be a bit messy as the author seems to have changed her mind about things as she went along rather than having a clearly mapped out plot to start with.
Additional: After I finished reading these I discovered that the published versions (i.e. not the self-published versions) have additional material: short stories at the end of each, and tweaks for each book (which can only be a good thing). These tweaks seem to include a whole new character in Ascend, Mia (which was confusing when I read the short story at the end of Ascend). My friend had sent me the self-published versions to read, so I tracked down the published versions to read the extras (which were inconsequential). So, Mia turns out to be a hastily inserted love interest for Finn, and Tove is turned gay! So that means that the 'all the guys' thing *is* correct now as he was just closeted all along. Ugh. Honestly. Makes me wonder what other changes there were to the text, but I'm really not going to read them again just to find that out!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Don't judge me too harshly; I just needed something brainless to read at this point in my life as things have been busy/stressful. And brainless it ce...moreDon't judge me too harshly; I just needed something brainless to read at this point in my life as things have been busy/stressful. And brainless it certainly is, so it fitted the bill nicely. I liked that Wendy is kind of feisty and actually gets to fight her own battles (although she does still always seem to end up being ultimately 'rescued' by some male, but it's something positive at least), but I didn't like how bratty she was (that was just annoying). I also got annoyed with how ALL THE MEN FOLK are enamoured of her. I get that this is a teenage romance, but seriously - all the men? Couldn't at least one've been not interested or perhaps at least gay? Still, I have to say I would've eaten this shit up as a teenager. Who didn't wish that they were adopted and fantasise about turning out to be a magical special person? So, I can see how Amanda Hocking was successful with this, but ask me to recount the plot in 6 months to a year and I doubt I'll be able to remember. It's quite forgettable. To the point where I keep forgetting the main characters name! (I really don't think the name suits the character anyway.) So, yeah, I'll be reading the rest to see where this goes, but mostly because I still need brainless distractions.(less)
Finally finished! I had to have a long break between chapters two and three, but then I just determinedly ploughed through the last section; I was not...moreFinally finished! I had to have a long break between chapters two and three, but then I just determinedly ploughed through the last section; I was not going to be beaten by this book. It's staying as 1 star, I'm afraid I just can't bring myself to bump it up to 2. Can't really put my finger on exactly why I didn't like it - some combination of unbelievability coupled with over the top prose. I can cope with a daft dystopia when the writing is suitably glib too, but with this trying to be all serious it just annoyed me. That's probably it, the pretension of the whole piece. I strongly dislike pretentiousness. All the dialogue read, to me, like a play. So I can imagine how this would be much improved upon when it is a play, or indeed a film.
I wasn't expecting this result. It always been a book/author that I'd expected to enjoy. But it turned out not to be. Oh well.(less)
After seeing this in the Friends House bookshop, and in Meeting House libraries, for years I finally decided to borrow it from my Meeting House librar...moreAfter seeing this in the Friends House bookshop, and in Meeting House libraries, for years I finally decided to borrow it from my Meeting House library. I'm looking forward to reading Forged in the Fire, the next book in the series, which I can also borrow from the MH library. I was also pleased to discover that there's a 3rd book in the series due out next month. Serendipity.
I believe this is the 1662 law mentioned in the book, if you wish to read it: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/repo... If you search the same site for 'quaker 1662' you also come up with a lot of other historical references and reports that may be of interest.
I found it to be a good blend of fictional story and Quaker history, although I would like to know more about Quakers in Shropshire in the 1660s (1662 being a mere 10 years after the 'official' founding of Quakerism). I wasn't quite convinced by the fact that they met in a public room in an ale-house, as most Quakers of that time were still meeting in private houses, fields, or barns (such as the Eaton Bellamy is described), but I guess this was used as a story-telling device so that their Meetings could be broken up more publicly and forcibly (and therefore more dramatically). Nor was I sure that there would have been quite so many Quakers in the area at that time, but I have no knowledge of Quaker history in Shropshire for that time so I trust the author did her research.
There was lots of Quaker history to like though. The mention of Elders (which did exist then, although not in a formalised way as they do now), the descriptions of plain speech and dress, and the wonderful explanations of hat customs and oath taking. Overall I thought the Quaker aspect was well researched and well presented.
Looking forward to the next book. This has also made me keen to track down more fiction featuring Quakers to read. I'll have to see what else I can find in Meeting House libraries!(less)