I grabbed this one based on Buggy's stellar review, but, sadly, I didn't love it quite as much.
The premise was pretty interesting - joining the charac...moreI grabbed this one based on Buggy's stellar review, but, sadly, I didn't love it quite as much.
The premise was pretty interesting - joining the character's lives for one day (the same date) each year - and the execution was pretty good. Still, I felt like I was reading a different book to all the readers/reviewers who were quoted en masse inside the front cover.
It didn't quite engage me - it was OK, but it never managed to grab me - and I was looking forward to my next book (even though I hadn't yet chosen one) well before I finished this one. I must admit that the present tense didn't help (the last two books have cemented for me that I really don't much care for that style). You might fare better than me if you don't have that issue.
But what really cemented it for me was my reaction to 'the event' that happened near the end. I know what I was supposed to feel, but it just wasn't there. At all. In fact, the only thing I was thinking when it happened, was "predictable". I was disappointed that the author wasn't a bit more original.
I must say at this juncture that I am not averse to those sorts of events in my novels, it's just that it cemented the vague underlying feeling of pointlessness that I was already experiencing. Also, I find I have enough to be depressed about in my own life that I don't need any help from the books I read.
Couple that with the fact that the hero's character was pretty unsympathetic, and my reaction to this book was underwhelming.
I remember when the film Candy was released in 2006, receiving critical acclaim and rave reviews for the performances of the late, great Heat...more4.5 stars
I remember when the film Candy was released in 2006, receiving critical acclaim and rave reviews for the performances of the late, great Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish in the leading roles. Despite my interest, for some reason I never got around to seeing it. And it wasn’t until recently reading my friend Buggy’s review here on GoodReads that I discovered the film was an adaptation of a novel.
My interest once again piqued, I promptly obtained both the book and the film, then did something I would never normally recommend, and watched the film first – instant gratification and all that. I wasn’t disappointed. The performances were wonderful and the story was compelling in its tragedy. But at the end, I did pause to wonder whether I might have ruined the experience of the novel. I needn’t have worried.
The film and the novel are significantly different. While there are a couple of shared scenes, there is obviously much missing from the film and it has taken quite a significant creative/poetic license and made some major changes in the storyline. It also has a very different feel about it than the novel. In fact, in many regards I am glad I watched the film first. There was no opportunity for me to have had expectations unmet, and so there was no disappointment. I enjoyed them both as two separate entities.
But, this is a book review site, so I will leave further commentary regarding the film for another time and place. Apart from the differences in plot and vibe, the biggest surprise for me with the book is how beautifully it was written:
It’s like there’s a mystical connection between heroine and bad luck, with some kind of built-in momentum factor. It’s like you’re cruising along in a beautiful car on a pleasant country road with the breeze in your hair and the smell of eucalypts all around you. The horizon is always up ahead, unfolding towards you, and at first you don’t notice the gradual descent, or the way the atmosphere thickens. Bit by bit the gradient gets steeper, and before you realise you have no brakes, you’re going pretty fucking fast.
So what did we do, once the descent began? We learned how to drive well, under hazardous conditions. We had each other to egg each other on. There was neither room nor need for passengers. Maybe we were also thinking that one day our car would sprout wings and fly. I saw that happen in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s good to live in hope.
There was a time, after that Indian summer of our falling in love – after we’d gone through the money Candy’s grandmother had left her, after we’d done a few scams and had a pretty good run for six months or a year – when we knew it would be good to slow down or stop and see where we were. It’s funny how difficult that would turn out to be. It would be almost a decade before the car finally came to a silent stop on an empty stretch of road a long way down from where we’d started. Almost a decade before we’d hear the clicking of metal under the bonnet and the buzzing of cicadas in the trees all around us.
It’s really quite compelling to read such an ugly topic described in such beautiful prose. In no way does the author glamorise the tragedy of addiction – quite the opposite – but the writing makes the experience tolerable and by turns darkly funny and achingly poignant.
Candy reads like an autobiography, penned by an unnamed narrator, who could be any lost soul on any street corner in the world. The author takes us into the heart and mind of an addict, and exposes in raw, gritty detail the futility, waste and despair. This does not feel like a fictional account, it is far too vividly and emotionally detailed. Their journey is harrowing, confronting and just so damn tragic that it is disturbing to read.
It's a powerful novel that can make you reconsider your views and perceptions. Candy is such a novel, and I imagine it will continue to invade my thoughts for some time to come.
Thank you, Buggy, for inspiring me to read this one. (less)
I love Megan Hart’s writing - Broken is hands-down one of my all-time-favourite books. So, probably like other readers (and for sentimental r...more4.5 stars
I love Megan Hart’s writing - Broken is hands-down one of my all-time-favourite books. So, probably like other readers (and for sentimental reasons), I was a little perturbed to see her moving away from the erotica for which I know and love her.
But then I got to thinking. What is it that I love about this her books? The answer, most certainly, is not the sex scenes. In fact, though they undoubtedly well-written, that’s probably the very least of it. What I love about this author is that she writes confronting, challenging, thought-provoking stories with gritty realism that really make you think.
That she could do that so well within the erotica genre only serves to highlight her unique talent. I seldom step away from the romance genre these days (with fantasy being the notable exception). Why should or would I? They’re the books that resonate with me, that hold my interest. They’re the stories that focus on the characters and relationships, rather than the action and events. People over plot.
And while Precious and Fragile Things is not a romance, and definitely not erotica, it delivered what I love in spades. A study of characters and relationships in circumstances that were fascinating, complex and confronting. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.
Megan Hart can write in whatever genre she wants. I’ll definitely still be reading.
She has a way of writing with completely bare-arsed and ballsy realism. Hers are not always comfortable stories and they don’t view the world through a soft-focus lens. She tells it like it really is and allows you to so easily put yourself in shoes of her characters. She takes readers to the kinds of places that are supposed to be kept hidden from polite company. She makes you think about things… admit things. Challenges your moral compass.
The last thing this book needs is another review, so I will just share some brief thoughts.
I’m struggling a little to determine a rating for this book...more The last thing this book needs is another review, so I will just share some brief thoughts.
I’m struggling a little to determine a rating for this book, and I find myself thinking of concept vs. execution. I liked the concept of the plot and structure of this book, but I found the execution lacking.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is told from the alternate viewpoints of Henry and his wife, Clare. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no distinction between their voices. By necessity, each passage identified who was narrating, otherwise it would have been very difficult to determine.
I am also intrigued as to the title of the novel. I had expected this novel would explore the character of Clare and provide insight into the effects of loving someone who disappears in time without notice or reason. As it was, the title character was singularly underdeveloped. We never got to really know Clare. She was defined by her love for Henry and, to a lesser extent, her art. That was it. We received no exploration of her emotions or state of mind, no insight or understanding of her character at all, and certainly no growth.
In fact, on reflection, most of the secondary characters were stereotypical cardboard cut-outs. Henry was the only character we really got to know in any detail, and even then, great chunks were missing and inconsistencies were not explored. Most significantly, we never got to see Henry fall in love with Clare after he first meets her. It just was.
Which probably leads me to another concern I had with the execution. Everything was told, not shown, so it was difficult to feel any real connection to the characters.
So, while I really did like the story being told, I also felt that this book was a missed opportunity. What could have been a powerfully moving novel, became interesting in an almost detached way. The ending was sad, but my emotions were engaged as a result of my own imagination rather than solely through the experience provided by the book.
3.5 stars, but it could have been so much better. I haven't yet seen the film, but this is one of the few occasions where I imagine the movie might just beat the book. (less)
Seven years ago, a 19 year-old girl was abducted, imprisoned in a room measuring 11 feet by eleven feet (3.35m x 3.35m) and used by her abductor for s...moreSeven years ago, a 19 year-old girl was abducted, imprisoned in a room measuring 11 feet by eleven feet (3.35m x 3.35m) and used by her abductor for sex.
Two years into her captivity, she gives birth to Jack. Room is the story of Ma and Jack's life in Room, as told by Jack, who has just 'celebrated' his fifth birthday.
Herein lies my problem with this book. I have a child the exact same age as Jack, having just celebrated turning five. I know a great many four and five year old children through my child's kindergarten/pre-school. Granted, all of these children have been raised in a normal, healthy and free environment, exposed to the world in all it's confusion and splendor. The only person who could consider Jack's upbring normal is Jack himself.
While reading Room, a comparison of Jack's voice and my immediate knowledge of other kids that age is inevitable. And Room suffers for that comparison. It is obvious when reading that this book was written by an adult attempting or pretending to be a child, and I very much doubt that was the author's intention. It does not feel authentic or genuine.
Jack has accelerated reading abilities, and I can completely understand and believe this given the limited to no exposure he has to other activities or distractions, and the 24/7 one-on-one time he shares with his Ma. But a child with this level of comprehension would not speak the way Jack does. The other children I know at this age cannot recognise more than a couple of words, and even they speak at a more advanced and mature level than Jack.
Even were I to accept that Jack's voice is authentic given the circumstances of his birth and life to date, having never left Room and seen nothing of the outside world except on TV, Jack is often inconsistent in his cognitive abilities.
It could be that when read without such proximity for comparison, the issues I had may be unidentifiable or insignificant to others.
There is no doubt that Room is a thought-provoking novel. With such confronting subject matter, it is not written in a way that is unnecessarily emotional or sentimental. This allows you to consider the circumstances portrayed in the novel with your head, not just your heart, and I found myself doing this quite a lot.
The author shows great imagination in how Ma and Jack spent their time in Room with such limited resources, recycling everything they could and using it for toys and activities. I'm afraid in this I would suffer in comparison with Ma. Ma has done an amazing job in making the best possible life for Jack, and shows incredible devotion to a child conceived in such horrific circumstances.
I found the narrative difficult in the beginning, and the pace as slow as the time no doubt passes in Room, but hang in there, because the pace does pick up when Ma is forced to reveal to Jack that the things he sees on TV are actually real, and that there is a world and life outside Room.
If you don't have intimate knowledge of how four and five year old children think and speak, and you want a novel that will get keep you thinking after the last page is turned, Room may just be what you're looking for.(less)
This was a GoodReads First Reads win, with thanks to the publisher, Scribe Publications.
When Mary accepts a temporary position as housekeeper at a Dow...moreThis was a GoodReads First Reads win, with thanks to the publisher, Scribe Publications.
When Mary accepts a temporary position as housekeeper at a Downe, a famous Merino stud, she expects to find a grand and gracious homestead. What she finds instead is a shabby and neglected house occupied by a handsome but taciturn and silent father and son, and the mysterious Clio - the wife and mother of whom they never speak and who never leaves her room.
While Mary endeavors to turn the house back into a home, she forms an unlikely and at times uncomfortable friendship with Clio, gradually learning the family’s dark and achingly tragic secrets.
The story is told in a beautifully desolate, sometimes meandering style, which mirrors and echoes the remote landscape in which Mary finds herself, and hauntingly represents the mood of the homestead.
This is a slow burning novel which reveals the tragic past and hopeless future with a pervading sense of moodiness. The characters are well drawn and the details, from meal preparation to the machinations of managing the stud, sufficient to provide an excellent sense of place without bogging down the narrative.
A Darker Music is above all an atmospheric novel that provides an excellent portrayal, in both words and style, of the sensation and harsh reality of living on a sheep station in remote Western Australia, and a confronting depiction of an irredeemably damaged family. (less)
I’ve waited days before attempting to write a review for Forbidden, and even now I'm still not sure I know what to say.
Forbidden is a book that begs d...moreI’ve waited days before attempting to write a review for Forbidden, and even now I'm still not sure I know what to say.
Forbidden is a book that begs discussion, and one that has potential to polarise readers for the subject matter alone. I knew basically that this was a book about an incestuous relationship between a brother and sister, but I didn’t know the circumstances – and that make all the difference.
Incest is – or should be – one of those absolutes – black/white, right/wrong. But Forbidden will have you wading through all the shades of grey.
Forbidden is NOT a romance, and I must respectfully but vehemently disagree with all the readers who are sighing over Lochan and Maya’s love. Lochan and Maya’s story is tragic in all regards, and their relationship was a product of their extreme and unhappy circumstances.
That’s not to say that I didn’t believe their feelings were genuine. I did. Or that I thought what they were doing was ‘disgusting’. I didn’t. I wanted them to find their happy-ever-after, either together or separately. They deserved it.
I read VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series in my very early teens, but that was a totally different ball game. Forbidden is NOT a young-adult book. It even says so on the back cover.
It’s not just that the subject matter was confronting and highly emotionally charged, but even more that I don’t believe ‘young adults’ have the life experience to truly comprehend the impact of the circumstances that Lochan and Maya faced from a tender age and how that affected them.
Heck, before I had kids, even as an adult I didn’t realise how hard it can actually be - how challenging and emotionally draining - until I experienced it. And Lochan and Maya have been doing it (and more) since they were 12 and 13. No way can a teen really understand what that means.
And the story. The story is just tragic, right up to the powerful end.
Forbidden had me doing the ugliest crying I’ve done in quite some time. It was vocal, and it was messy, and I stayed up hours later than I should have to read it.
Lately, I seem to finish a book and by the time I start the next one, I’ve forgotten what the last one was about. That won’t happen with Forbidden. This is a book that will be remembered for some time to come.
But.... Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m glad I read it. In fact, I kind of wish I hadn’t. Ultimately, I found Forbidden to be futilely depressing, and that’s not a feeling that I find I want to experience unnecessarily.
(Oh, and the first-person present tense didn’t help, either.) (less)
This should probably be a 2 star rating for the story, but the quality of the writing just edges it up to 3.
Unfortunately, Deeper was a massive disapp...moreThis should probably be a 2 star rating for the story, but the quality of the writing just edges it up to 3.
Unfortunately, Deeper was a massive disappointment for me. Broken was one of my top reads for 2010, and created some pretty high expectations of this author’s work. I had heard that Deeper was fairly controversial, and I can usually appreciate that in a book. The reviews are polarised, and it seems to invoke a love/hate response in readers, so at the very least, I was expecting to have strong feelings about the book. Ummm... No.
There was nothing about this book that made me care enough to have a strong reaction, either positive or negative. On the whole I found it (or, to be more accurate, my experience) to be decidedly mediocre, which was the complete opposite of what I was expecting. Any positives were counterbalanced by negatives, so I just ended up feeling a bit ‘meh’ about the whole experience.
Firstly, I was already aware of what I expected to be a big spoiler in that the hero was (view spoiler)[a (corporeal) ghost (hide spoiler)]. Well given that was announced on the back cover and was made pretty clear by the end of the first chapter, there was no big twist or reveal in play. I have seen this author be pretty darn clever in her writing, so I was looking forward to seeing how she handled that (even knowing it in advance), only to find out that there was no secret to reveal. (view spoiler)[ And while I’m on this point, I’ve got to say that I did find the whole thing, particularly the sex with someone who doesn’t eat, breath, sleep, have a pulse or ejaculate, a little... weird (hide spoiler)]
Secondly, these would have to be among the most unsympathetic, uninspiring characters to have ever graced the author’s pages. If I cared a whit about the characters I probably would have forgiven the fact that the story took three quarters of the book to actually progress to any extent. As it was, I read chapters about ‘Then’ that too closely resembled a YA novel about teenage angst, with chapters from ‘Now’ populated with the same characters that I didn’t particularly like, who had no depth. By the time there was actually some significant movement in the story, I was almost beyond caring.
The author does write with some amazing insight and detail, and more of that was on display here, but it seems to me now that maybe she only excels with fractured relationships. This book really only captured my interest in the last third when we finally got a little bit of angst and heartbreak going after pages of nothingness. What I will say, is that the emotions had more impact because of the contrast and the pages and pages of mundaneness preceding them.
If I was able to connect with the main characters on some level, then this might have been quite a powerful way of unfolding the story and adding layers at the end. Part of me can observe that and appreciate it in theory, but that was unfortunately not my reality. So while the writing was lovely, as I expected, and I did like one of the secondary characters quite a lot, I wasn’t engaged until the end of the story – and by then, it was too little, too late.
I wasn’t completely sold on the romance when they were younger, told in the ‘Then’ chapters; and the ‘Now’ chapters focused almost exclusively on their (repetitive) sexual relationship, which meant that my emotions were never fully engaged. This is not a romance, erotic or otherwise, but it did have the potential to be a wonderful love story, and there are certainly many readers who feel that it achieved that mark. Unfortunately, I am not among their number.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I have heard many complaints about the ‘wall-banger’ ending. I didn’t have any issues with the ending - it was one of the few times these characters actually got it right! And a special heads-up for those of you who don’t tolerate cheating in your books – although it wasn’t one of my complaints, it might be one of yours. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)