Margaret Lea has lived a life full of books. She works in her father's bookstore, reads books at night, and writes biographies in b"It was November."
Margaret Lea has lived a life full of books. She works in her father's bookstore, reads books at night, and writes biographies in between. One night she arrives home to find a letter from England's most famous novelist, Vida Winter, asking Margaret to write her biography. Margaret heads out to meet Miss Winter, little does she know what she will discover about the author's past, a past full of secrets and ghosts.
The first part of this book started really slow for me. It seemed that the author was trying to be edgy and controversial, but by the middle I was hooked and really wanted to know what was going on with the twins and how it fit into Miss Winter's life. The book is extremely atmospheric, like any good Gothic novel should be. There were many twists and turns in the story, and you never knew what was going to happen next. It was very easy to get lost in the book.
However, I still get the feeling that the author was trying too hard. The solving of "The Girl in the Mist" did not ring true to me. It seemed to come out of left field and was never adequately explained to me. I also felt the ends were very neatly tied up for the rest of the story. I don't know what it was, but when compared to other Gothic stories this one just didn't have that something that makes a great story.
I would recommend this book to those looking for a dark, atmospheric read, but don't mind some loose ends. ...more
First sentence: "I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now -- which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years."
Sym WatesFirst sentence: "I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now -- which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years."
Sym Wates is a scholar of all things Antarctica. Ever since her Uncle Victor brought her her first book on Antarctica she has been hooked. When her friends want to talk about snogging and clothes, Sym wants to talk about Antarctica and Titus Oates, a casualty of the first British expedition to the South Pole. So when Uncle Victor gives Sym the chance of a lifetime to visit Antarctica, she cannot believe her good fortune. Things are not always what they seem and Sym finds herself in a frozen nightmare with a man who is consumed by his own delusions.
I really struggled with whether this book deserves 2 stars or 3 stars. On the one hand I found the characters to be totally unbelievable. Sym's naivete was just too much at times. (view spoiler)[ Oh my mom was not happy with me going to Paris over the weekend but she is suddenly ok with me going to Antarctica for 3 weeks. What luck! That's really weird that Victor just destroyed his SIM card. Oh this hot guy has barely spoken two words to me and now all of the sudden he is snogging my face off! It must be fate! And my uncle keeps dropping hints that me and my boy toy should be sneaking off for some "private time." That does not seem like a very uncle thing to do, but maybe he's just cooler than other uncles. (hide spoiler)] Victor's single-minded pursuit of Symmes' hole seemed very off and weird to me. It was just really difficult to even start to understand the characters, much less relate to them. Also why why why is the cover model blonde? Sym spends so much of the first part of the book lamenting her mousy hair, why is she a blonde bombshell on the cover?
On the other hand, the writing is brilliant in this book. The descriptions of the Antarctic wasteland are breathtaking and the setting is its own character. The author has brilliant turn of phrase and there are many magical realism elements to the story. I loved the literary device of Titus, Sym's imaginary friend. Not only did he serve to make Sym's inner monologue interesting, but also was able to sneak some history into the book. Though the book does not make me want to visit Antarctica anytime soon, it did serve to pique my curiosity about the historic expeditions and I will probably read more about it at some point. The book is at its heart a story of survival and growth.
I would recommend this book to those who like adventure stories and those who don't mind a little unrealism in their books. It was a good enough book and there was quite a bit of suspense, I just wish the characters were a bit more relatable and realistic.
First sentence: "A week ago my grandmother gave me a dry-eyed hug at the San Francisco airport and told me again that if I valued my life at all, I shFirst sentence: "A week ago my grandmother gave me a dry-eyed hug at the San Francisco airport and told me again that if I valued my life at all, I should not get in touch with anyone I knew until we could be sure my enemies were no longer looking for me."
Maya Vidal has lived a charmed life in Berkley, CA with her grandparents. Even though both her parents abandoned her as a child, Maya has a magical existence under the watchful eye of her Chilean grandmother and the indulging gaze of her astronomer grandfather. However, after Popo's death, Maya finds her life spiraling out of control and becomes involved in illicit activities. Eventually these activities mean Maya has to flee the country for a remote island off the coast of her grandmother's native Chile. On this island, Maya will meet a wide variety of characters, each of which will help her rediscover the joy of living and the truth about her past.
This book was awesome. Allende always does a great job creating excellent, three-dimensional characters that you would want to know in real life. You never really feel there are peripheral characters, because everyone has their unique personality and develops and grows as the story progresses. Maya's growth throughout the story is expertly done. You feel that you really get to know her and what she is going through. It is realistic in that things are not suddenly all right and she does have set backs in her journey before she finally achieves healing. I liked the way this book gave Maya's history in bits and pieces throughout her journal. Although I don't usually like this style of writing, I think it made things more realistic when showing Maya's growth. Things are not written about until she feels like she can revisit that part of her past.
The book does a great job of interweaving the Chilean setting and the history of Chile with the story. The island is definitely a character in its own right. The history of the military dictatorship plays a large role in the story, but I will not say more on that front for fear of spoilers. The emotional weight of the book is another great thing about the story. Allende is brilliant in the way she can convey to the reader what the characters are feeling, even to the point of them choking up over sad scenes or finding their heart pounding during the suspenseful parts. I just loved how everything came together in this book.
This is definitely my favorite Isabel Allende novel. I highly recommend it to fans of Allende and Latin American literature. I also thing this book could have wide crossover appeal with teens. The main character is 19 and many of her struggles would resonate with teens I think. It is definitely a great book and if you have not read any of Allende's works it is a great place to start.
I don't know if there's anybody who doesn't know what One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is about, but I will give a general synopsis anyway. It is the story of a mental ward that has run like clockwork for years thanks mostly to the tyrannical rule of Nurse Ratched. Everyone knows their place in the machine. Then Randle P. McMurphy shows up and shakes things up by challenging Ratched's authority and getting the patients riled up. His rebelliousness against the system leads to many problems and begs the question who will win in the end?
I watched and enjoyed the movie a few years ago in psych club. I've been wanting to read the book for awhile. The story is basically the same in both formats, but of course the book is more fleshed out (and by more fleshed out I mean lots more nudity). It was especially nice in the book to learn more of Chief Bromden's story. Though the book is mostly about McMurphy, Bromden is the narrator and it was great seeing things through his eyes and learning his history. The book is an interesting peak at the dark side of the mental health system and is a statement on how society rewards conformity and punishes those who do not conform.
I liked the book well-enough. I thought it dragged in places. Many of the scenes seemed to repeat themselves, but this just might be due to the fact that life in the institution was monotonous and the author was trying to illustrate that. The book is quite sexist and racist, but it was written in the early 1960s so its to be expected. Books are very much a product of their times. I would have liked to have learned the more backstory on the patients. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has seen the movie and wants to get more of a feel of the story.
First sentence: "To the table or to bed, you must come when you are bid."
Tita knows that she will never marry. In the De La Garza family, tradition diFirst sentence: "To the table or to bed, you must come when you are bid."
Tita knows that she will never marry. In the De La Garza family, tradition dictates that the youngest daughter will remain unwed in order to care for the mother in her old age. Tita never cared until she meets Pedro at her family's Christmas party and understands what love is and feels the bitterness that comes from watching all those around you find love when it is denied to you. Tita pours her bitterness and frustration into the recipes she makes for her family, leading to sometimes comical and often heartbreaking results. Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, this novel in the form of Tita's cookbook tells the story of family, food, love, and grief.
I like magical realism in books, so I had been wanting to pick this one up for awhile since it has been held up as a great example of the genre. Though I do not think it deserves that title (Isabel Allende's works are much better), I did enjoy the book well enough. It left me giggling and craving Mexican food. The author did a very good job of making the characters life-like. The book had a very fairy tale feel to it, which made it fun to read. I enjoyed how the food played a part in the story. It was a fun book and I am glad I read it.
One thing I disliked about the book was the characters. Other than Gertrudis and John Brown, I felt annoyed at all the characters and felt that they had few redeeming qualities. They all drove me crazy. Like many reviewers, I also wished Tita would make a different choice at the end of the novel, but I also saw the ending coming from a mile away so I'm not that upset about it.
I recommend this book to those that enjoy magical realism and Latin American novels. However, if you are new to the magical realism genre, I would recommend you start with The House of the Spirits or Esperanza's Box of Saints as better examples of the genre. Most magical realism is more subtle than what is contained in this book.
Rory Dawn lives with her mother on the outskirts of Reno in the 1980s. On the Calle, the only way you getMama always hid her mouth when she laughed.
Rory Dawn lives with her mother on the outskirts of Reno in the 1980s. On the Calle, the only way you get out of poverty is in a pine box and no one expects different from Rory. A battered copy of the Girl Scout Handbook has Rory thinking of the world beyond the trailers of the Calle.
I had such high expectations for this book. It won ALA's Alex Award and the description sounded interesting and like something I could relate to. I also loved the cover being the library nerd that I am. Unfortunately the book did not live up to my expectations.
I liked the first part of the book. Rory was an interesting character and I was drawn into her story and her mother's story, but the last half of the book seemed to lose direction. The story jumped around in time and it was hard to keep track of the progression. The ending was sudden and unsatisfying. I would have liked a bit more information on Rory's life afterwards.
I liked that the narrative was intermixed with snippets from the Girl Scout Handbook and various newspaper clippings. They added a bit to the story. I did feel like I connected with Rory and really wanted to know more about her life. She was stuck in a bad situation, but was an inspiring character. I really wish that her story could have been told in a better way.
I picked this book up because I needed a religious fiction book for one of my reading challenges and I have heard so many people rave about it I thougI picked this book up because I needed a religious fiction book for one of my reading challenges and I have heard so many people rave about it I thought I would try it. It was an interesting book to be sure. I enjoyed the different perspective on God that most religious people take offense to. Not that I ever lost sight of the fact that this is a fiction book not the new definitive word on God. It was definitely worth reading just to see what all the fuss was about.
All that being said, this is not the best book I have ever read, its not even that good. The author definitely has an agenda in telling this story and doesn't even try to disguise it. There was an insane amount of dialogue telling everything and very little showing in the story. The dialogue made very little sense most of the time too, full of non sequiturs and constant repeating of things as if that will make it make sense. This is one man's understanding of spirituality and God and it seems as though he doesn't know how to really explain it. The story seems to go around in circles. It also irritates me that the author had to put a characterization of himself in the story. The book could have done with a huge editorial overhaul (the author even says,in the author interview at the end of the audiobook, that most publishers were willing to publish the book with some changes but he refused and started his own publishing company for it).
In conclusion, the story was ok. The originality was excellent. The writing and the lack of editing really kills it. (Some notes on the audiobook: the quality left much to be desired it was very tinny and had this annoying echo effect. The narrator was good but the audiobook itself could have used some work).
I have been struggling with how to review this book for about a week now. On the one hand it was a very creative and ambitious way to tell a story, haI have been struggling with how to review this book for about a week now. On the one hand it was a very creative and ambitious way to tell a story, having it narrated by death and peppered with magical realism elements. On the other hand, this same creative story-telling made the book so dense and hard to get into that I ended up taking several week-long breaks from it.
Now don't get me wrong I actually did like the book for the most part. The writing was beautiful and the story of Lisel, her family and friends was beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking. And it was definitely worth listening to. The narrator they picked for the audiobook was spot on as Death and that really added to my enjoyment of the book.
I enjoy when author's do creative things in storytelling, but in this book it seemed to bog down the story for me. (view spoiler)[ Also the whole Death jumping ahead in the story made it a tough read for me. One of my many breaks from the book came after learning that Rudy was going to die. (hide spoiler)] I think that maybe listening to this book on audio did me a disservice and that I might have had less trouble with the format of the story (the asides, the breakdown of the chapters, etc.) if I had read the book. This is a book that I recommend most everybody to read, but in my opinion it is not the end all and be all of young adult historical fiction. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
First Sentence: Dear Lucy Silchester, You have an appointment for Monday 30 May.
I love Cecelia Ahern! This book does not disappoint. Lucy SilchesterFirst Sentence: Dear Lucy Silchester, You have an appointment for Monday 30 May.
I love Cecelia Ahern! This book does not disappoint. Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her Life. Life is an actual person that shows Lucy how not to neglect the things that matter. Lucy has fallen into some bad habits such as telling little lies that turn into big lies and have left her in a bad spot. Life shows her the way with lots of laughs and a little bit of romance along the way.
The book is compulsively readable. I felt like sometimes someone was looking over my shoulder and writing parts of my life. It made me laugh out loud quite a bit. All the characters felt like very real people and there were quite a few I am convinced I know. It was a very fun read and I recommend it to anyone who loves Ahern's work.
This is another ghost story book I picked up for my annual October ghost reads. I enjoyed it for the most part, though most of the stories are what IThis is another ghost story book I picked up for my annual October ghost reads. I enjoyed it for the most part, though most of the stories are what I would consider magical realism than straight up ghost stories. The writing was beautiful though. For ghost stories, the characters were well-developed and the settings were described very well. It was great reading about places I have been. I would recommend it to anyone looking for good southern ghost stories. ...more
First sentence: "The attack came in the hour before dawn."
Many people know of Boudica, the Warrior Queen, who fought against the Roman invasion of BrFirst sentence: "The attack came in the hour before dawn."
Many people know of Boudica, the Warrior Queen, who fought against the Roman invasion of Britain. But what was her early life like? What did she like to do as a child? Who was her first love? How did she become a warrior? In this novel, Manda Scott provides a fictional account of what life might have been like for the young girl, Breaca, who would later be known as Boudica, the Bringer of Victory.
I liked this book. It was nice to read about a time period that I know little about. Breaca and her brother Ban (who also plays a large role in the novel) are very compelling young people to read about as they each find their way in life, ways that are very different from what they wanted out of life. The book does a good job of bringing the Eceni people to life and their culture of dreamers and warriors. The settings are gorgeous and the author does very well in putting the reader there with the characters. The fantasy/religious elements are done very well. I did not have the problem that some readers did in separating what was a dream or vision from what was really happening in the book. I think the author was brilliant in having two main characters, one on the Roman side of the story and one on the Briton side of the story. It was good to see things from both sides.
The book was very long. There were times that I had to push myself through it. Especially towards the end of the book, scenes were repeated so that we saw them from Breaca's point of view in one chapter and then the next chapter was the same scene from Ban's point of view. It seems like there could have been a better way to handle that. I also found the relationship/romance/friendship between Caradoc and Breaca to be so subtle as to be almost nonexistent (view spoiler)[ so much so that when they ended up in bed together I was very much like, "Wait, what?" (hide spoiler)]. It was very confusing because the other relationships in the book were much better handled.
The book was very good though and I highly recommend it to those interested in ancient British history, particularly around the time of the Roman invasion. It is also a good coming-of-age story about accepting that sometimes life puts you in places you did not want for yourself.
Alphabet challenge: D Paranormal Scavenger Hunt: Bear Royal Era Challenge: 551 BC - AD 1100 (Book takes place in AD 33)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I picked this book up because I have loved all of Cecelia Ahern's novels, I had not read any of her short stories. After this book, I think I will stiI picked this book up because I have loved all of Cecelia Ahern's novels, I had not read any of her short stories. After this book, I think I will stick with her novels from now on. Its not that the stories were horrible, they were just short (yes I know that is the definition of a short story). The stories felt rushed and were confusing. It was hard to tell what was going on, especially in the first story. The second one was much better but still a bit hard to read. I don't usually read short stories, this is true, but I have read some good ones in my time and these came off as a novel writer trying to write short stories. That being said the subjects of the stories did pique my interest and I would not have minded learning more about the characters in longer stories or even novels. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book was pretty good. I liked going through the narrator's journey of reinventing herself: going from Rose Mae, the spitfire to**spoiler alert** This book was pretty good. I liked going through the narrator's journey of reinventing herself: going from Rose Mae, the spitfire to Ro Grandee, the quiet, battered wife to Ivy Wheeler, the runaway and back again. It made for an interesting read. The book was not that well written though and it seemed to go all over the place searching for an overlying theme. The Backseat Saints in the title only make one or two appearances and I am not sure why they are there as they do very little to move the story along. The story itself takes so many twists and turns that its hard to keep up, going from first-person to third-person narration at random intervals that makes it difficult to follow. At the end of the book, it was hard to find anything that tied the story all together other than it happened to the same person. The story was good, it just seems like it could have been edited better....more