I knew the plot twist from the get-go because my sister had to read this book fo...moreYou can read more reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
I knew the plot twist from the get-go because my sister had to read this book for college and she was talking about her essay analysis in the car. Of course, then she was like, "Oh, you haven't read Fight Club? Here you go!" And my friends were like, "SHE TOLD YOU THE TWIST?! YOUR SISTER MUST DIE." I was like, "Someone has been reading too much Palahniuk... Chill, bro. Chill."
Because Palahniuk, in case you haven't figured it out yet, is kind of an asshole. I mean, he must be, because his characters all have the same voice and I'm starting to think that that voice must be Palahniuk. Just as Meg Cabot's books are always about some plucky down-to-earth heroine with a gift for the gab, who sounds suspiciously like Meg Cabot, his books are always about some garden-variety sociopath, who likes hurting people and setting things on fire, and basically delivering one big giant middle finger to the population at large because fuck da police.
After reading Fight Club, I guess I can say that FC is one of the better books in the batch. There are some interesting literary devices and messages in here, even if I don't agree with them at all. In some ways, knowing the spoilers was interesting because it allowed me to read the book with a new lens, looking for clues like a book-obsessed Sherlock Holmes.
Still considering? Picture a dinner party between Ayn Rand, Holden Caufield, and Hannibal Lecter, and all of them are hopped up on some kind of stimulant.
I am rating this book not on the quality of the writing but just on how engaging it was. I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Grandin speak and her lectu...moreI am rating this book not on the quality of the writing but just on how engaging it was. I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Grandin speak and her lectures were utterly fascinating. I just couldn't reach that level of interest with her book.
On a side note, this would be an interesting read paired with Eric Schlosser's book, Fast Food Nation, as both mention the psychology behind the conditions in slaughter houses - and have some very contrasting views regarding the subject.(less)
This is a pretty trippy book. It revolves loosely around a young, precocious girl named Sophie (at least for the first half — but I won't say anymore...moreThis is a pretty trippy book. It revolves loosely around a young, precocious girl named Sophie (at least for the first half — but I won't say anymore than that) who starts getting mysterious letters from a philosopher. He forces her to rethink things she has taken for granted about her world with a series of philosophy lessons that cover everything from Democritus to Darwin.
I liked the elements of magic realism in this book. Not knowing what is real and what isn't was a good accompaniment to the philosophy element. When Alberto Knox started talking about surrealism, I kind of smirked to myself and thought, “Oh, you mean like this book.” Actually, that's probably the most ingenious thing about Sophie's World. Everything that happens in this book is a demonstration of some principle of philosophy — for example, he uses the “DRINK ME” bottle from Alice and Wonderland as an example of “individualism” (drinking the bottle makes each blade of grass look like its own little universe), and so on.
Having dabbled in philosophy in college myself and been forced to read the awfulness that is Hume and Kant (determinism! Skepticism! Ahhh! I'm having flashbacks to finals week, when I had to write ten-page term papers!!) in GRAVE DETAIL, it was fun to revisit the subject matter in a more lighthearted way. Alberto Knox's dry wit and witty banter reminded me of my History of Psychology professor, which was one of my favorite classes in college. If my philosophy textbook had been this engaging, I'm sure my class would have been much more enjoyable. As a novel, it wasn't so great. Sophie was kind of boring, and I felt that the mystery behind Alberto was revealed too soon. The translation of my edition was excellent, but the dialog came out sounding stilted — and I'm not 100% sure whether this is because of the translation, or because the author actually intended this to be a “Dialogue” (like those between Socrates and Plato).
I have to admit that towards the end I began to get bored. Gaarder has this big twist that TOTALLY flips the novel on its head (literally — if you've read the book, you'll know what I mean), and then the book got even crazier. Seriously, Disney Characters? Capitalist-pig Ebeneezer Scrooge getting attacked by a little commie peasant girl? I got really confused, because I thought I had the book figured out and then Gaarder shakes his bearded head, slaps a detour sign (written in Norwegian) in front of me, and sends me into the borderless land of philosophy (which looks suspiciously like Wonderland, except everyone's wearing togas and making even less sense than usual). You want to understand the book? He seems to say. How can you have any hope of doing that when you don't even know who you are? I suppose it was a good ending for a philosophical lecture, but I wanted a novel — and a novel's ending.(less)
It's official: I have a literary crush on Nicholas Nickleby. I can't help it. He's just so damn likable. He's educated, kindhearted, witty (his dry, i...moreIt's official: I have a literary crush on Nicholas Nickleby. I can't help it. He's just so damn likable. He's educated, kindhearted, witty (his dry, ironic tone was so delightful--I love sarcasm, and Nicholas is fluent in it), and his devotion to his sister is amazing. But he's not without flaws; at first, he is painfully naive (although as the story progresses, he becomes more jaded and world-weary) and has a very quick temper that results in him beating up a couple people (but don't worry, they deserve it!). When he leaps to the defense of the children at Dotheboys and pummels the evil Mr. Squeers, I wanted to cheer! And when he attacks the lascivious Lord Mulberry Hawk for sexually harassing his little sister, I wanted to dance around my room to Auld Lang Syne!
But the rest of the cast is just amazing. I fell in love with Kate Nickleby, who has got to be one of the strongest female characters I have ever read in a Dickens novel. Even in the darkest of times, she never loses heart, or her sweetness. I admired the portrait painter, Miss La Creevy, who struck me as the type of grandmother who would bake her grandchildren cookies, but stab anyone who attempted to harm them with the very knitting needles she used to make their Christmas sweaters. Smike was so cute! I wanted to draw him as a Japanese chibi character with a little chappie hat. And Newman Noggs! At first I thought he was going to be one of the villains, but the only thing he was devious about was kindness! Oh, and how I loved/hated Mrs. Nickleby's absent-minded foolishness. Sometimes she made me laugh, as she reminded me of a senile Mrs. Bennett (from Pride and Prejudice) but how could she possibly be so blind to her daughter's suffering?
The villains are just as good, too. Mr. Squeers is the worst kind of villain, because he's able to convince himself that everything he's doing is for the best (he gives all of his children scarlet fever so that when the doctor comes to treat the injuries Nicholas gave him, they get added into the lower cost of treating children!!). And then there's Miss Squeers, who tries to abuse her power of being daughter of the schoolmaster to seduce Nicholas. Oh and Ralph--he's the most terrifying of all, because there are times when you suspect that he's not all bad. He's like Mr. Scrooge before his revelation: all he cares about is money, money, money, and whenever something appeals to his emotions it creates a cognitive dissonance that's so strong he attempts to freeze it out, or rationalize it.
I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!! I couldn't put it down for a moment. The pages just flew right on by, and I found myself constantly wondering what was going to happen next. It's amazing, really, that this book was written almost two hundred years ago, and yet it's still so accessible. I guess that just goes to show that while times may change, people don't, and you can still find characters like Nicholas Nickleby or, god forbid, Mr. Squeers, walking around at the Safeway.(less)
I love it when everyone hates a book except me; it makes me feel like I'm championing a c...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
I love it when everyone hates a book except me; it makes me feel like I'm championing a cause.
Big Girls Don't Cry is one of the lesser works by Fay Weldon, probably best known for her book The Life and Loves of a She Devil. I haven't read that book yet (but I really want to), and the general consensus seems to be that this is a lot darker and nastier and less funny than TLaLoaSD. Maybe I've got a sadistic sense of humor, but I found this book quite hilarious.
It's difficult to summarize the book, but it starts in the 1970s when women's lib was just taking root. A group of ladies band together to form a feminist publishing company. I KNOW RIGHT. HOW COOL IS THAT? They try to stick to their guns, but they're also human and to err is human so they basically sleep around, make mistakes, make enemies, slut shame, fail, pop out babies, play Suzy Homemaker and basically end up talking the talk and not walking the walk.
And then one of the ladies dies.
Fast forward ten years and the daughter of the lady who died is now a media mogul in her own right; she owns a feminist magazine, that is markedly more successful than the Medusa publishing group her mother was peripherally involved with, now on the verge of bankruptcy. She's pissed off about her mother's death and wants to know who to blame.
Revenge, when it comes, is both swift and sweet.
I really enjoyed this book. Which says a lot about me, really, considering how much of feminist lit has me rolling my eyes. It pisses me off that the status quo of fem lit seems to be that a) either you're a raving loon and/or drug addict who ends up committing adultery and/or suicide, or b) you're a macho manly man with boobs, and spend all your time bitching about your own gender.
This book raised a really good point: you can't be in power and claim to be the victim. You have to choose. The characters in this book made their choices, and sometimes those choices ended badly.
I haven't read a book so wickedly funny since Catch-22.
edit/07/16/13//: GUESS WHAT I'M UPLOADING TO CREATESPACE AND THE KINDLE STORE???
It ended up being 100 pages. I don't like to pad things out, 'cause if...moreedit/07/16/13//: GUESS WHAT I'M UPLOADING TO CREATESPACE AND THE KINDLE STORE???
It ended up being 100 pages. I don't like to pad things out, 'cause if the story (or book in this case) is done, it is done. Good news is, it will be $.99 instead of $1.99! Yayyy!
edit/07/16/13//: Added a summary! It is from the preface!
I finished writing it! I put a lot of effort into each story because I want this to be as helpful as possible since I know a lot of the people on my friends list are interested in publishing their books some day too.
It isn't a grammar guide so much as a list of things that I found helpful and wish I knew from the start.
As it turns out, my historical romance reviewing spree might be put on hold temporarily. I've been suspended from my online library for reading too mu...moreAs it turns out, my historical romance reviewing spree might be put on hold temporarily. I've been suspended from my online library for reading too much. Apparently there's a cap on how many books you can check out within X number of days, and I've gone over it. As you can imagine, I'm devastated. Oh, well. At least it gives me time to catch up.
Everything and the Moon is going to be tricky for me to review. On the one hand, it's a great story that borrows from Jane Austen's Persuasion. On the other hand, there were many things about this book that really irritated me and I filled up several pages of angry notes in my handy-dandy Tesco notebook venting out my hatred of Robert.
The story starts out in the sappy, light-hearted spirit of a Nicholas Sparks novel: two white people from different socioeconomic classes, who want to be with each other very, very much but their evil parents don't approve. Robert is the son of an earl, and Victoria is the daughter of a vicar. Victoria's dad disapproves from the start: he's afraid that the nobleman only plans to add her as another notch in his bedpost. The earl is no less displeased: he believes Victoria wants to steal his son's title and then spend all his money--the evil little temptress!
He tells Robert that if he does marry Victoria, he runs the risk of losing all his inheritance and says, snidely, that at the very least this will teach him whether Victoria really loves him for who he is or for his money. Victoria is not happy to learn this, and doesn't want to be the cause of their falling out. She pleads with him to talk to his father and get his permission in the match, which, of course, only drives the wedge of doubt planted by Robert's father in further. He says cautiously that he will do this but only after they elope.
However, on the night that the two are going to run away, Victoria's father catches her packing her bags. Fearing for her honor and livelihood, he ties her to the bed and locks her sister in the closet so neither of them stands a chance of getting Victoria free. Robert comes by the house and sees Victoria in bed and thinks she's blown him off. When Victoria goes to the Earl's house, he tells her that Robert's gone to London to take a wife since his attempt to seduce her failed. He then advises her to leave town before her reputation is sullied, which she does, tearfully.
All of this takes place in the first chapter.
Seven years later finds Victoria working as a governess for a lady with social aspirations. The boy is spoiled and snobbish, and takes great delight in being as horrible to Victoria as possible. He leads her into the hedge maze and then skives off once he's gotten her well and truly lost, leaving her alone. In the dark. Miserable and terrified.
Robert, invited because of his title as Earl, is playing coquette with a lightskirt, only to practically trip over Victoria. He's shocked when he recognizes her as the girl who broke his heart all those years ago, and annoyed to find out that she isn't nearly as torn up inside as he feels she should be. Worse--she seems to feel that she's the victim.
After making her life hell, attempting to force himself on her, treating her like a whore, embarrassing her in front of her employer, and tarnishing her reputation, Victoria only hates him more than ever. Robert wants her to be miserable--he also just wants her, if you know what I mean--so he decides to kill two birds with one stone, trick her into befriending him, seduce her, and then get her fired for being in a compromising position so that she'll have no choice but to be his mistress.
Oh--and this plan? It almost gets Victoria raped.
Eventually the idiot Robert learns out what really happened all those years ago and is understandably horrified to realize what a cad he's been. He hates his father more, though, and blames him for the bulk of it, in spite of his own terrible behavior. How does he decide to make things right again? By forcing her to marry him.
The next 75% of the novel consists of: -emotional abuse -staring at her through her window for hours -making disparaging remarks about how poor she is -damaging her reputation so no one else will want her -buying her inappropriately expensive gifts (including lingerie) -kidnapping her -trapping her inside a building -locking her inside her room -delivering self-serving ultimatums -victim-blaming (she's at fault for believing the "ridiculous" notion that he'd try to push her into having sex with him only to toss her aside because he said he LOVED her dammit!) -invading her personal space and her privacy -making her decisions for her -not letting her voice her own opinion -manipulating the people around her into helping him -etc. etc.
The fact that this is accompanied by nonstop petty squabbling masquerading as witty banter makes this no less tedious or annoying.
Victoria isn't entirely faultless, though. Not because of her confusion or her physical attraction to Robert because that, annoying though it is, is at least somewhat understandable. I mean, she did love him and now he's back, and she still has that image of who she wanted him to be superimposed over who he is now.
No, Victoria is guilty of "no means yes" syndrome. She tells him to respect her as a woman, even as she subconsciously puts herself in positions for him to take advantage of her. She tells him to respect her opinions and then sits back voicelessly. It comes across as rather hypocritical and disturbing. Especially this one scene where she sleeps with him for the first time because he looks sad. How does he react? Afterwards, he tells her that now she has to marry him because what if she's pregnant? No other man will take her then!
What a charmer. How could she possibly resist such an offer? *sarcasm*
Sorry if this comes off as bitter, but these kinds of relationships bother me a lot because they're so abusive. You don't need to hit somebody to be an abusive boyfriend. Emotional abuse and excessive manipulation can be just as bad. Their position is never equal, and Robert is constantly lording his title and her subservience over her.
So why does this get three stars, then? It's not badly written, and the story itself is quite entertaining. Beyond pissing me off at times, though, I didn't feel any real emotional connections with the characters. But the story was good. Julia Quinn is a good writer and I'm definitely planning to read more books by her (Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever is actually my next victim). Hopefully, they'll be less annoying.
Even though I finished this yesterday, I decided to sleep on the review because otherwise it would have consisted en...moreOh. My. God.
Even though I finished this yesterday, I decided to sleep on the review because otherwise it would have consisted entirely of incoherent babbling.
I used to eschew romance entirely. I was a horrendous literary snob, and believed historical-romances were nothing but silly bodice rippers for people to read at the hair salon or whatever. But then I befriended two lovely ladies named Myrika and Louisa, and their glowing accolades of regency romance--as well as the high GR ratings of the book--made me wonder if I was missing something.
Long story short: I was. They were right. I was wrong. Being a literary snob does not pay. Being a fangirl does.
(Well, not really.)
Lily Lawson flaunts convention like it's a silly hat. She drinks, hunts, and swears with the boys, leading her family to shun her and the ton to fix her with the Side-Eye of Disapproval. However, her light-hearted devil-may-care attitude masks a terrible secret: she lost her daughter years ago, to the man who first broke her heart.
Lord Alex Raiford (NOM NOM NOM) is still haunted by the death of the woman he thought he loved. When he sees Lily, who looks quite a bit like his departed Caroline, he has quite a shock. He makes up his mind to dislike her on the spot. His horror when he discovers that she is the sister of his bride-to-be is hilarious. Particularly when he tries so hard to mask his sexual attraction beneath a veneer of contempt.
Lily decides to break up the wedding between Alex and her sister, Penny, because she thinks he's a cold-hearted bastard who will turn her wallflower sister into a shrinking violet. She pretends to be engaged to the boy her sister actually loves as a scheme to get the two of them together.
When Alex kisses Lily in the kitchen in the middle of the night?
When Lily ties Alex to a bed to keep him from preventing the elopement?
I died again.
When Alex bets fifteen thousand pounds against her spending a night with him in his bed in a game of cards?
Kleypas toed the line between Byronic hero and emotionally abusive boyfriend. For a while, I was really worried that he was going to rape her--or her sister. But he didn't. Thank God. And despite his callous exterior, Alex genuinely comes to care for Lily. The way he treats her at the end just made me totally giddy because, hello? BOYFRIENDS DON'T HAVE TO SMACK YOU AROUND TO MAKE FOR A GOOD ROMANCE NOVEL.
Sexy sex scenes without abuse?
And the romance scenes are well-written. Extremely so. You can tell when an author isn't comfortable writing them because their style changes and they resort to florid prose and repetitive word use to dance around no-no words like "come," "nipple," "vagina," and "penis."
This was especially refreshing because I just read Teresa Medeiros, and I literally flinched at some of her... um, interesting alternatives. Like "lapping at her dew," or "crashing with her against the shore," or "plunging into her softness." Ugh.
Kleypas's style is consist throughout. She writes some pretty raunchy stuff, and it starts to get a little crazy towards the end, but it's well-written and in-character, so guess what? PWP?
(Don't worry, though, she doesn't sacrifice the plot. But there's a LOT of filler. Sexy filler.)
Thanks to certain Asians that shall not be named (*cough* Louisa *cough*) I've found myself on a regency jag. It's like reading Jane Austen fanfiction...moreThanks to certain Asians that shall not be named (*cough* Louisa *cough*) I've found myself on a regency jag. It's like reading Jane Austen fanfiction--and it's SO GREAT having something to ship again. Also, I'm quickly finding out that Lisa Kleypas is to romance as Derek Craven is to love-making. Thank goodness her books are available through my library. Otherwise, I'd be broke, because, like Betty White, I just can't say no.
At least, when it comes to books.
Derek Craven is a difficult man to like. I was indisposed towards him because of what he did to Lily in book #1 (pimping out to Lord Raiford as if she were a whore--and because of jealousy and spite, no less!), and his addictive personality. Some women love their literary bad boys. Me, personally, I've never been a fan. My book boyfriends run more towards Mr. Darcy and Mr. Tilney than Mr. Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester. Those so-called Byronic heroes make me want to pee myself.
And not in an I'm-so-aroused-way, but in a I-don't-ever-want-to-come-across-you-in-a-dark-alley way.
Which is ironic, because that is exactly how Sara chances upon Derek for the first time. In a dark alley. In the worst part of the ton. Why? Because she's a writer. She conducts "research" on the dregs of society to write Upton Sinclair-esque romances about poverty, prostitution, and pestilence. Naturally, they're best-sellers.
Derek is in the midst of some free cosmetic surgery courtesy of his spurned lover, Lady Ashby, when Sara encounters him. She--Lady Ashby--isn't going to stand being turned down by a commoner, and devolves into a mindless, psychotic fit of jealousy. Anyway, Sara happens to carry a pistol in her reticule and she shoots one of the attackers in the throat and sends the other one off.
Considering that Sara is your rather typical bluestocking spinster character with a case of Sexy Librarian Syndrome (once the glasses come off, blammo--instant sex goddess), it's a surprise that someone as, um, continental as Derek finds himself so attracted to her. But he is.
75% of the novel consists of heartwrenching will-they? won't-they? moments, designed to toy with the reader's emotions.
The last 25%, as with Then Came You, consists of nonstop sex, a belated climax (in more ways than one hurr hurr hurr), a resolution, and a sappy, fluffy-wuffy epilogue full of kisses to end all kisses, twu wuv, and the joys of fatherhood.
Unlike many people, I liked Then Came You better, and I think it's because Alex was a much more compelling character for me. His relationship with Lily was just so intense and drawn-out. It was kind of hard to top. By contrast, I felt that Sara was rather tepid in her affections, and I still don't really like-like Derek. He's kind of a poopy-head. Plus, that lactation fetish thing towards the end conjured up bad memories regarding certain erotica novels reviewed by certain goodreads reviewers regarding certain WHY-GOD-WHY topics.
Don't click on those links, btw, unless you, too, wish to be scarred for life. (Actually, you should--as long as you're not at work--she's one of my favorite reviewers on this site.)
Kill for Me is a difficult book to rate because it's really three stories in one.
1. Teenage sex traffickers.
2. A family feud spanning several generati...moreKill for Me is a difficult book to rate because it's really three stories in one.
1. Teenage sex traffickers.
2. A family feud spanning several generations rooted in incest, corruption, and violence.
3. A rape victim learning to find love and trust again.
523 pages is both too long and too short for such intensive storylines and the book both drags and races (dragraces? Haha). It just doesn't work.
For a romantic-suspense novel, this is also remarkably dark and violent and features the most effed-up family you'll likely see outside of a novel by Gillian Flynn or V.C. Andrews. My god. I think I'm going to have to give everyone in my family an extra hug tomorrow, just for not being psychotic. This definitely is not for the faint of heart.
I must say that Luke is supremely hot. Oh my god. He's Greek. And he's a cop. Mmmmmmm. The scenes between him and Susannah were flawless, and when he brought down The Box from the closet I nearly died. Take that, Christian Grey's Red Room of Pain!
I'd recommend this to people who like James Patterson and Iris Johansen.
The book starts out with a girl named Hillary tied up to a cot in a strange room. She doesn't remember anything about her past, only that she has terrible nightmares - and that the doctor who is taking care of her has questionable professionalism (gloves? who needs 'em? and so what if you enjoy inserting your patient's catheter just a little *too* much).
Dr. Dumbass and his wife clearly take lessons from Nurse Ratched in their bedside manner. At first I felt sorry for Hillary but she proved what a psycho she could be early on in the book, and I didn't trust her. I kind of stopped feeling sorry for her, too, although I've been told that the second book will make me feel differently. At least, in the first half. The second half will make me want to puke.
What a fun rollercoaster ride of fuckery that will turn out to be!
I'll be honest (well, aren't I always?) Reading HILLARY was not fun for me. I'm kind of a horror-phobe. I've never seen SAW, or any of those other new horror movies, and I don't like violent video games. However, a lot of my friends were reading this book and the author seemed nice and the book was free, and I thought I'd give it a try.
The first half of the book is, with the exception of one horrible scene, diet-WTF. I was confused, and annoyed with Hillary and Dr. Dumbass & co. Then, halfway through the book, things get NASTY. (Incidentally, my mom got me a hamburger for dinner. Um, no spoilers or anything, but while reading this book, I suggest becoming a vegetarian for the day.) Like, if Patrick Bateman from American Psycho was Jigsaw, and happened to live on Shutter Island with a whole bunch of live-in victims.
There are a number of errors I noticed while reading this book, by the way. For example, dialogue tags that are misplaced (one character is talking, but the dialogue tags make it look like there are two or three people in the convo), typos (Bellefluer instead of Bellefleur, etc.), and awkward sentence structure. Sometimes the word "yelled" or "screamed" would appear five or six times per page.
I received all three books in the author's trilogy during a promotion. I'll probably read books 2 and 3 eventually, but first I think I could use a break.
Note: I am friends with the author on Goodreads, and was gifted a copy by a mutual friend...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Note: I am friends with the author on Goodreads, and was gifted a copy by a mutual friend of ours for a fair and impartial review, but that has not impacted my rating.
Reading this book reminded me of the early psych studies. You know, the ones like Milgram's "obedience" studies, or Zimbardo's infamous "Stanford prison" experiment. The ones so cruel that they border on sadistic, and you're left wondering, "Just what the fuck was the purpose of that?" That's what reading this book is like.
It's difficult to give a summary without spoiling anything. The main character is a lower-middle-class cop in England named Joe McNeil. He's a bit of a wreck, and has been ever since his girlfriend, Kit, went missing. He's convinced she's still alive but everyone else, even her father, has given up hope. He's become a bit bent, getting into drugs, alcohol, and even fights, but because of his good record he's still kept around.
One day he's called to a gruesome murder scene. There's a young woman there who the paramedics pronounce dead, but as with Kit, McNeil is convinced that she is not. He gives her CPR and she comes back to life like a bruised Snow White- only this one isn't as pure as snow. She might very well be evil. She's certainly crazy. This is the enigmatic Nell, and she knows things.
Things like...whether Kit is still alive.
Things like...who really committed those murders.
Things like...whether Joe McNeil himself is in danger.
Part of the fun of reading this book is figuring out what the fuck is going on. I entertained about ten or twenty various theories while reading this book, all of them wrong (one was close, and I was proud of myself for even getting that far- but what can I say. I've read a lot of books. It's hard to completely take me off guard). Everything does make sense at the end, though. It's just hard to wrap your brain around it. I'm still a little confused....
One thing that really impressed me was the quality of this book. It's indie but reads really well- clean formatting, beautifully edited, great storyline. I'm sad this book doesn't have more reviews than it does; the author is quite talented, and I'm definitely interested in reading more of her stuff.
Thanks again, Jahy, for providing me with a copy. And thanks to Ms. Morton for writing such an engaging story!
The more 'well-read' I become, the more I really begin to learn that just because a book is significant, or culturally relevant, does not necessarily...moreThe more 'well-read' I become, the more I really begin to learn that just because a book is significant, or culturally relevant, does not necessarily mean that it is a good book.
You can read the rest of this review @ BookLikes HERE.(less)
Picture this. You're sitting alone, minding your own business, when suddenly, you feel a sinister tickle on your arm. Sometimes it's a hair. Sometimes...morePicture this. You're sitting alone, minding your own business, when suddenly, you feel a sinister tickle on your arm. Sometimes it's a hair. Sometimes--it's a bug.
Commence panicked flailing.
My parents always chided me with that maxim, "They're more afraid of you than you are of them."
Those things are fearless.
This book convinced me of what I already suspected. They also want me dead.
Wicked Plants is a field guide to all the plants that...moreYou are being conspired against.
Nature wants to turn you into mulch. Or worse.
Wicked Plants is a field guide to all the plants that secretly (or not-so-secretly) want to:
kill your little dog (or cat), too
kill your garden
land you in jail
make you really, really sick
break you out into a rash
stab you, prick you, cut you, or otherwise expose you to nasty sharp pointy things
explode in your face
attract evil insects to do their dirty work for them
They plan to accomplish this by:
tasting deceptively nummy
getting you high
being really really ridiculously good-looking
"Grownups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
"Grownups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them" (p.8).
This is one of those children's books I haven't gotten around to reading until now, although upon starting it I came to the immediate conclusion that, like The Velveteen Rabbit, Bambi, and the legions of other kiddie books responsible for scarring children everywhere under the ages of nine, that this is one of those disillusioning books that forces you to See How Things Are. That is, death is not something reserved for Disney villains and Hitler. It Could Happen to You.
(Cue crying toddlers.)
Our narrator is a man who is clearly still a child at heart. He dreamed of being an artist, but the grownups around him destroyed that dream, and so he became a pilot instead. Except he ends up crash-landing in the Sahara desert. Oops. While there, he encounters a strange little boy who calls himself The Little Prince, and who comes from somewhere beyond the stars.
As the two protagonists wander through the Sahara, the Little Prince recounts his travels from his home planet - replete with a flower, three volcanoes (one extinct), poppies, and insidious baobobs - to other little asteroids peopled by peculiar grownups with their own off-brand delusions. Each inhabitant is an exercise in philosophy and morality. For example, the businessman who is determined to number the stars with the intent of owning them all some day -
"And what good does it do you to own the stars?"
"It does me the good of making me rich."
"And what good does it do you to be rich?"
"It makes it possible for me to buy more stars if any are discovered."
"I myself own a flower ... which I water every day. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars..."
This allegory is not exactly subtle, though de Saint-Exupéry never actually gets preachy to the point where he could be considered to be beating the dead horse.
There is a fox, which I pictured as a Fennec fox, especially when the prince says that the narrator drew the ears too pointed.
The Little Prince wishes to befriend the fox, but the fox tells him that he cannot be friends with him because he has not yet been tamed.
Over the next few days, the fox becomes tamed, and the Little Prince realizes that the very same quality which has now made him stand out to the fox from the rest of mankind is the same quality that has made his dear beloved flower stand apart from the haughty roses he encounters on his journey.
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye" (70).
The Little Prince also deals with the idea of loss, as this revelation makes the prince realize how much he longs for his little asteroid. Despite the pain that accompanies loss, there is something about it that is sweet, too. Knowing that something can be taken away - that something is ephemeral - makes it a matter of consequence. It keeps us from taking it for granted.
It makes us appreciate the transient beauty that is inherent to existence.
"If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night" (84).
If mankind were not mortal, what motivation would they have to live - really live?
Right around page 65, the passages start to lose a bit of the whimsy and become poignant and bittersweet instead. That sent off little alarm bells - I started having post-traumatic flashbacks to Velveteen Rabbit - and yes, sure enough, the book takes a dive off the deep end of sorrow.
NOOOOOO - DON'T THROW THE BUNNY IN THE FURNACE.
...Okay. Okay, I feel a little better now that I've had a good, hard cry.
All that talk of taming is a trick, a prelude. Why? Because it applies to books, and the aspiration of every writer who writes them. When you begin a book, you have no emotional investment in the characters. They are a work of fiction, indistinguishable from the billions of other fictional characters that populate that fictional world. It is only when they tame you - when you become familiar with them, and even grow to love them in a way - that you begin to care. That you open yourself up to hurt. I allowed myself to be tamed by the narrator and the Little Prince - and they broke my heart.
"One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed..."
In my opinion, this is one of Diana Wynne Jones's best books. EVER.
Fantasy but not fantasy in the classical sense; romance but not again, not in the c...moreIn my opinion, this is one of Diana Wynne Jones's best books. EVER.
Fantasy but not fantasy in the classical sense; romance but not again, not in the classical sense, Fire and Hemlock is a modern retelling of Tam Lin; a Scottish ballad about a maiden (because where would any ballad be without the token fair maiden?) and a man who is the tithe of the faeries. They fall in love, but the Faerie Queen doesn't want to relinquish her hold on him. Unlike most fairy tales, it is up to the girl to keep the man from being sacrificed as a tithing. She features a strong heroine not uncommon in Tamora Pierce's books.
Reading this in middle school really made a strong impression on me. I remember being totally lost in the world--both in England and Polly's fictional (and yet all-too-real) Stow-on-the-Water. It was completely different from other novels I had read up to that point, because it didn't attempt to talk down to me or make me feel like a child, like Animoprhs did. The author never assumed that I wouldn't forget the characters' names and histories, and wove helpful but subtle reminders throughout the text just in case I did. Every time I read this book, I come across something new and it was only recently that I actually realized Fire and Hemlock had roots in Tam Lin.
In this rendition, Polly meets a cellist named Thomas (Tom Lynn) at a funeral being held on Halloween. The wrongness of this is foreshadowed by Polly's grandmother when she remarks about what a bad omen that is. Polly finds herself in a room full of stuffy rich people and realizes immediately that she does not belong but finds herself trapped. The game has become all too real. Luckily, Tom Lynn rescues her, escorting her out to a mysterious garden and, ultimately, letting her choose some photographs bequeathed to him in the will. Polly gets one of these photographs as a gift; it is called "Fire and Hemlock" (hence the title). It is interesting that she thinks of him as an old man for most of the book, because later one finds out that this is not the case; his glasses almost magically age him. Polly continues to visit Mr. Lynn partly to rebel against her grandmother and partly from boredom.
Gradually, over a period of years, Polly slowly finds herself falling in love with Thomas Lynn. What's fun is that she doesn't even realize it's happening, but she gets outrageously jealous when she thinks his landlady is is wife; and then again, when she finds out Mr. Lynn has gotten a girlfriend. But Laurel, Thomas's ex-wife, will not relinquish the hold on her former husband so easily. And then, when Polly's memories begin to fade away, and nobody else recalls her memories of Tom Lynn or her misadventures as a youth, she begins to wonder how likely it is to be the only sane one in a world full of crazies.
Ms. Jones writes excellent female characters who are strong and brave, and manage to live up to the foolishness of their ages without being overtly stupid. Lots of adventure stories and classics are mentioned in here (either directly, or indirectly--as Tom Lynn's fight with the giant could be seen as a nod to Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote). Her writing style is wordy but never clunky, and very much the picture of traditional story-telling. I never get tired of reading Fire and Hemlock. So if you like books about books, strong heroines, and retellings of classic fables, too, this book would probably be a great choice!(less)