Mediocre mystery/romance. No suspense, and no sense of danger. Just purposely withheld information that sort of fills in holes at the end. Plus, thereMediocre mystery/romance. No suspense, and no sense of danger. Just purposely withheld information that sort of fills in holes at the end. Plus, there is a lot of whacky psychology like psychics, extreme family dysfunction and unrealistic brain trauma. Easy read, though, which is all I've been able to handle. ...more
When Goodreads posted the nominees for all of its "Best of 2015" categories, I was shocked and dismayed that I hadn't read any of the books listed inWhen Goodreads posted the nominees for all of its "Best of 2015" categories, I was shocked and dismayed that I hadn't read any of the books listed in literature and fiction. Because when people ask what kind of books I like to read, I tell them, "Fiction and literature." I promptly got online and reserved every nominated book from my library and The Royal We was the first to come to my hold shelf.
First of all, this is a pretty fluffy piece of fiction and literature. I know this because I have been unable to read anything with even a hint of seriousness or depth for months and I breezed through this. As the famous wedding kiss cover suggests, The Royal We is about a handsome and dutiful prince falling in love with a pretty commoner at college. I know. It sounds like a Disney movie. But, the writing is WAY above disney level and the characters are so much more than a Hillary Duff/Zac Efron (I don't think this Disney romance exists but you know what I mean) ensemble. Although the story line is not likely to be discussed by many English Lit classes anytime soon, it does have merit. It could happen. Ummm...it did happen?
So, this is when I need to confess that I am a hypocrite. Once it was clear that this was a fictionalized version of the Prince William/Kate Middleton relationship, I had to pause and reflect about why I was enjoying it so much. Because I kind of condemned another book that did a similar thing. I reviewed American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield 7 years ago and blasted the author for taking such license with obviously recognizable characters: George and Laura Bush. I'm not particular fans of the Bushes but it seemed unfair at best and libelous at worst to write characters that were clearly recognizable figures, write salacious details about their relationship and lifestyle and then say, "No foul! It's all fiction!"
I had no such reaction to The Royal We. Maybe the details were less scandalous, or perhaps the ocean that separates us desensitized me from their right to privacy and truth that much more but I thought this was a fun, thoughtful book. It's better than chick-lit because the writing is good and the characters and their choices are more complicated and nuanced but it's still something that could easily and happily be read on a beach. As glamorous and famous as the royal couple are, I sure don't envy them their lives. Even if it's only fiction, Cocks highlighted in her book just how tiresome and confusing it would be to be in a relationship with royalty. She had a picture perfect couple for inspiration and writes about a real couple, and not the oft-told fairytale. It would never get my vote for best fiction but it's an enjoyable book. ...more
I really like this series. The cases are dark and disturbing but Cormoran and Robin are such interesting characters that I want more of them. Wish I dI really like this series. The cases are dark and disturbing but Cormoran and Robin are such interesting characters that I want more of them. Wish I didn't have to wait a year for the next book....more
As a lover of fiction, I am quite fascinated by the length of time and distance required to produce compelling perspectives of historical events in aAs a lover of fiction, I am quite fascinated by the length of time and distance required to produce compelling perspectives of historical events in a story driven format. I remember reading Suite Francaise years ago and being flabbergasted and impressed that the author was able to write THAT while simultaneously experiencing it. I think it would be incredibly difficult to be reasonable and write with structure instead of pure emotion. It seems that kind of immediate access to fiction is more rare.
Perhaps 20-25 years is a good length of time because Girl at War nails what I appreciate about fiction. I grew up looking at maps that included a country called Yugoslavia. During the 1990s, when then news reported horrors of ethnic cleansing and genocide during The Yugoslavian War, or the breakup of Yugoslavia into Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, Kosovo, and Sprska, it all seemed too difficult to follow. Why were these people killing each other? Sara Novic doesn't use her novel to explain the whys but her protagonist, Ana, and her quiet suffering led me to search out more. Even after a bit of research, it is incredibly difficult to grasp that so much prejudice, cruelty and hate can exist within such a small border.
But, I digress. Girl at War really is about a girl who lived through a war. It might seem insensitive of me to write this, but at the conclusion of this novel, I found myself thinking, "Ana only experienced a few weeks of terror and confusion at 10 years old and her life was still so messed up." I won't spoil the plot about those horrible weeks but she was loved by many before and after and it was frighting to think about how much damage fear and violence can inflict upon our psyches. I think about the millions of boys and girls who lives currently are surrounded by war and wonder how they will cope? What are we doing to each other? Considering the current refuge crisis as a result of civil wars in Syria, the seemingly never ending conflicts in the Middle East, the hate between Israel and Palestine, the violence in Mexico, the power grabs in the Ukraine, unstable tribal areas in Africa and so many more that for some reason or another, don't merit a mention in the news, the world is creating a generation of people who are affected. And, of course, none of this horror is new. It's the cyclical story of mankind since the story of mankind has been told. One difference is poignantly noted by Ana, "As a side effect of modern warfare, we had the peculiar privilege of watching the destruction of our country on television"
This simply written, accessible, not-too-long novel, had me thinking about all of this. Girl at War by Sara Novic is incredibly timely and an important work of fiction about war and all of its damage. ...more
I would have loved it had there been a bit more nuance to these characters. The angst. conflict and motivation to make the decisions they made and beI would have loved it had there been a bit more nuance to these characters. The angst. conflict and motivation to make the decisions they made and be the kind of mother/father/sister/brother they were was well developed but only their most lonely, most embarrassing, most traumatic moments were written. Enough time passed with reflection and memory that there had to be some good mixed in to survive that long...to love that much. I was told by the author that Lydia loved her mother, that Marilyn loved James, that Nath loved Lydia but why? Were they ever funny or a good listener? What made them so loyal to each other for so long in spite of the dysfunction and lack of healthy communication
This is such a sad book but also very thought provoking. I thought about the expectations I place upon my own children, both verbal and non-verbal and wondered if it's too much. Not enough. What are the things they have never told me? ...more
Although I didn't particularly enjoy the writing and felt it could have been edited and presented in a way that showcased his truly amazing story bettAlthough I didn't particularly enjoy the writing and felt it could have been edited and presented in a way that showcased his truly amazing story better, this is an excellent choice for a book club because it provokes a lot of discussion....more
I remember being in sixth grade and a friend smuggling her dad's copy of Stephen King's It into her bedroom so she could read to me a particularly gru I remember being in sixth grade and a friend smuggling her dad's copy of Stephen King's It into her bedroom so she could read to me a particularly gruesome and terrifying part (my memory only remembers something coming up out of a city sewage gate) and making the decision then, "No. This feeling is optional. I will avoid this book and books like it forever."
Horror books are easy for me to avoid but when I read post apocalyptical books, I frequently wonder why I'm reading it and if I'm not just scaring myself on purpose. There are so many lately and I'm not even sure what led me to this book but it starts so innocently: an actor playing King Lear in Toronto having a heart attack and a former paparazzo now trying to be a paramedic with a bad girlfriend rushes up on stage to try and save him with CPR. It was just the kind of introduction that sucked me in...interesting characters doing something interesting but not out-of-this-world-so and before I knew it, everyone was dying of the flu and the survival meant luck and traveling in bands foraging for food in a dreary new world order with no order at all and in my soul, it was as uncomfortable as a scary clown monster coming up out of a sewer. More so, really, because I happen to think a pandemic (Or nuclear showdown. Or major natural disaster) are a little more likely to be my horrible than an "It."
Nevertheless, I did read it and now I can't stop thinking about it. Because, as devastating as a pandemic that wipes out 99% of the population could ever possibly be, something comes after. It's not the end of the story. At least, our imaginations always allow this to be the case because there's no point in thinking or writing about the alternative (never mind. I can imagine words stopping mid page and hundreds of blank pages following it unto the back cover ends the theoretical nothingness. It would probably win an award). Although my mind likes to organize this story into the pre-outbreak, outbreak, and post-outbreak periods, the author, Emily St. John Mandel presents her world and characters non-linearly. It's quite artful how she threads all of these stories and characters together. If there is a main character, it has to be the actor Arthur Leander playing King Lear even though we know by the first few pages that he dies from a heart attack and not the flu. His location, his friends, his fame, his colleagues, his failed relationships...even the part he was playing when he died all eventually matter to this story and then when, why and how is what compelled me to keep reading through my nervous discomfort. It also helped that the setting of the book frequently returns to the more comfortable pre-outbreak time.
There were times when I thought it would help to be from the midwest or familiar with the Toronto area and a lover of Shakespeare because his plays get significant weight but I enjoyed this book a lot even though I have never lived or traveled in this area, have only read Romeo and Juliet (which isn't mentioned at all) and don't particularly like to think about my world without any of its comforts that we take for granted. It is descriptive without being obnoxious about it, disturbing without being ridiculous and cautiously hopefully without being unrealistic. Mostly, I'd love to discuss this with someone and that's always a sign of a good book. Recommended. ...more