This book was immensely well written. Plot wise, it was intricate and interesting and really just pulled me in. I loved the most that the story spanne...moreThis book was immensely well written. Plot wise, it was intricate and interesting and really just pulled me in. I loved the most that the story spanned so many generations and had such a huge cast of characters. The main location, Barcelona, drew me in deeply. I would love to go visit Barcelona now, although it's far removed from those of both the Civil War and of the protagonists time (around 1970's I'd say).
But, aside from all that, this book didn't leave me feeling that special something I had excepted. I loved it, but only intellectually. Perhaps I wasn't as caught up with the characters because it took me so long to finish reading it (thank you school). It wasn't a bad book. In fact, it was a very well written a thorough book. Thus only the 4 stars. (less)
I tend to stay away from time travel stories ever since I read The Time Traveler's Wife. Don't know why, but that book rather ruined the whole phenome...moreI tend to stay away from time travel stories ever since I read The Time Traveler's Wife. Don't know why, but that book rather ruined the whole phenomena for me.
Thankfully, this book has rekindled my fire!
The Rose Garden is part romance, part time travel mystery, part historical adventures and part pure whimsical magic. And somehow Kearsley managed to wrap them all together into a really well written piece of art!
Eva's sister has just died, and in order to 'bring her where she belongs' she returns to their childhood summer spot of the Cornish wilds of England. But while dealing with her grief there, she manages to slip between the veils of time about 300 years into the past. While drifting in between with no logic that she can grasp, Eva ends up falling in love with a smuggler who is living in the house back in the early 1700's. She's torn between staying with him and staying in her time, but realizes that there is ultimately nothing keeping her in the present.
Or is there? She has very good friends and perhaps a love interest there as well. Not to mention a really great future in her career. And yet is love worth leaving your own time for?
The things that got me the most in the book were the heart-wrenching details of love (hopeless romantic here) and the nifty sci-fi time travel bits. At first I wanted to figure out the logic of it all as well, and was planning on writing a pretty scathing review tearing the logic to shreds, but by the end of the story it all made perfect sense.
Now, as a California girl, I'd love to go visit this rough and tumble coast and see it's magic firsthand. Definitely dropping by one day!(less)
I love fairytale adaptions. I find them to be some of the most creative work out there. Mainly because within the rigid structure of what everyone see...moreI love fairytale adaptions. I find them to be some of the most creative work out there. Mainly because within the rigid structure of what everyone see's as the main "tale" there are a lot of plot twists and interesting turns that an author can build into a story. Mostly this makes for better tales. Occasionally, such as in this case, it just leaves the reader a bit annoyed, somewhat pleased the story is finally over and perhaps a bit joyous at the transpired events.
For me, I felt most of the latter with this adaption. It's unfortunate, but compared to the gist of the other works in this genre that I've read, this one is really badly written. There were a lot of gaping plot holes which made me re-read passages to figure out what happened to the action (in a type of manner that suggest the author had to cut page length down) and then there was the whole incredulity factor.
I realize that the author took a bit of freedom with the 'historical' aspect of the tale, but talking about curing irons just made me consider electrical ones... I have no clue how they would look like back then. (Just know how regular iron's looked, and those had to be regulated extremely carefully least they burn a hole in the masters clothing! I wouldn't want to see an inexperienced maid come near all those wigs... or the real hair!)
Anyway, aside from all the issues I had, it was a nice, flouncy, kinda silly romance. I did enjoy how the story tied up again from beginning to end, but there just seemed to be an elemental bit missing.
Still, since the third in this series came recommended by a friend, I'll continue with number two and then see about number three. Perhaps the author learned in the meantime? :)(less)
I cannot bring myself to finish this book. 20% left and it's not giving up; it's saving my sanity.
There are probably spoilers in this review. Read at...moreI cannot bring myself to finish this book. 20% left and it's not giving up; it's saving my sanity.
There are probably spoilers in this review. Read at your own caution. (I say probably because it's hard to tell what's the actual story.)
I don't know what this author was thinking... It couldn't have been much, though. What started out as a 3.5 star rating (a pretty premise to grow into 5 stars, I believe) quickly became apparent that it was going to fail. The only interesting part of this book was the beginning. After that things become boring, drawn out, immature, predictable... Must I go on?
Just to give an example of why I disliked it so much: characterization. One of the key elements of a great book are characters that feel real. They don't need to be real (see witches, ogres, dogs, aliens, whathaveyou) but they need to be clear, understandable, and somehow make us connect with them. Saying that your protagonist is sixteen and them proceeding to have him act, talk and even think like someone half that age does not work. If the author had said ten it would have been more believable.
Another thing, an adult, even if stuck in a time loop for the last 60 years, would never, not as the caretaker and headmistress, tell a boy whom she wants on her side "if you go no, don't bother coming back." Someone that protective, world-smart and eager to have all possible help would never EVER give such an ultimatum. Ever. It doesn't fit in her character AT ALL.
There are plenty more examples, but I'd have to go back into the book and I am loathe to touch it again.
On another note, the storyline becomes something entirely differen after the first 20% of the story. All of a sudden it's X-men, ancient beings caught in child bodies style! (a new twist onthe whole ancient vampire? It was creepy enough when Edward and Bella got together... The frequency with which the author points out that these children still have child minds in child bodies no matter how many decades they're old makes the relationships here so much freakier!)
The only thing that made this story somewhat interesting to read were the photographs... Although they were of sub poor resolution/quality that identifying what was mentioned in the text was mostly guesswork.
This book isnt worth reading. Perhaps if you are eight or ten years old and aren't too picky then it could maybe be forced down. Anyone with half a brain will want more, though. Lots more. (less)
Okay, I've come to the conclusion that this is not a book for me. I'm just not interested in the USSR or in politics of that time. I find it boring an...moreOkay, I've come to the conclusion that this is not a book for me. I'm just not interested in the USSR or in politics of that time. I find it boring and mundane and really very oppressive and annoying. Perhaps someone else who likes these subjects can find this book to be good.
I did enjoy the writing style... although the subject matter at hand bored me, the book wasn't terribly written. Just not my cup of tea. *shrugs*(less)
Somehow I liked the movie more. Perhaps it was because I saw it first (although years ago) but I think also because it was just easier to understand t...moreSomehow I liked the movie more. Perhaps it was because I saw it first (although years ago) but I think also because it was just easier to understand the story and to laugh at the audacious things that go on.
Thats not to say that this book was bad. Far from it! Had I read this back when I was 10/12 I think it easily could have been up there with favorites such as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Right now it was cute and enjoyable but not with much substance. The film would entertain more.
Recommended for: children of 10-14 years of age. Much easier to identify with then. Watch the movie if you want the story line otherwise.(less)
I think it's very odd that I couldn't get into this book. A lot of the main elements are exactly suited to what interests me: heroine, Ireland, gettin...moreI think it's very odd that I couldn't get into this book. A lot of the main elements are exactly suited to what interests me: heroine, Ireland, gettingback at the bad guy... But something is off with this novel. *shrugs*
Part of it was that the author was constantly foreshadowing and alluding to some terrible disaster on the horizon. That just annoyed me, especially because the 'bad thing' never actually seemed to get closer!
Anyway, instead of wasting my time reading something lame and uninteresting and a bit annoying I'll move on to greener pastures. (less)
I love Orwell's writing. Even his writings about writing. Or maybe especially those!
I was lucky enough to have my English teacher give us the essay S...moreI love Orwell's writing. Even his writings about writing. Or maybe especially those!
I was lucky enough to have my English teacher give us the essay Shooting An Elephant to read as an 'intro' to his works, back in 2009. (I had already read Animal Farm and 1984 years back, so it wasn't anything new to me). I still want to read the rest of the stories in this collection. I found it in a local bookstore... but it's like 2,800 HUF, which is just too much for me right now after I spent a small fortune on my school textbooks!!
Still, the story was amazing! I really loved the imagery (I can still picture the elephant trampling everything now) and I just adore Orwell's writing style. He has a way with words that few authors have. (less)
There is something about a circus that makes people want to go visit it. Something draws us in... the promise of spect...moreReview from read in October 2011
There is something about a circus that makes people want to go visit it. Something draws us in... the promise of spectacle, of wonders, of tricks and feats beyond our imagination. Knowing that for just a few hours we will not only be entertained, but perhaps even have a chance to interact and create a memory that will make the illusion endure our whole lives.
The Night Circus is not just any Circus, though. It's called the Circus of Dreams and is built up on magic. And yet, the way that Morgenstern wove the plot, it's almost believable that this circus might just come to your city when it's least unexpected. The magical realism has never felt as real to me, and yet I know that the magic created in this book just can't be real. If it was, then I've committed the most grievous act every against myself: not believing.
But I digress. This novel is fantastic. It is beyond fantastic. While reading, I fell in love with so many of the descriptions and the delectable depictions that so often I wanted to grab colored pencils, or paints or construction paper and scissors and glue and just make something which would draw out these wonderful dreams from the novel and into my surroundings. I might yet still do it; I was too busy using every single moment available to me with consuming this book.
If I had my duthers, I really think that this novel would feature well as a film. Terribly well, with the right visionary. Say, a Tim Burton production. Or Terry Gilliam (the director of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). If any of these scenes, this plot, this act within acts and plays within plays and magic all around and all that set on the magnificent venue that is this circus, for me, that would be the visual moment of a lifetime.
I don't know how much else I can praise this book. I am loathe to go into details. Needless to say, the whole experience was exquisite. Although I do not have the time, I will definitely make it just to read this book once more.
After I hang up some paper animals, some twinkling stars, and perhaps knit a red scarf or two.(less)
Ugh, I stayed up way too late reading again. How will I do this when actual school starts?!
But I feel like this book was worth it. I feel like I've r...moreUgh, I stayed up way too late reading again. How will I do this when actual school starts?!
But I feel like this book was worth it. I feel like I've read a lot of books in the genre of the civil rights movement, but this one touched me. At first I was just feeling like it was just another tale of growing up, finding love (forbidden or not) and family trials. Yet, I think Bezellia's story will stay with me for a while.
Near the end I was really rooting for a different outcome.. But the political situation being what it was back then, it was obviously impossible. Still, I feel that the author did the best she could with the time period she picked and her characters she chose. I like how the story wasn't primarily focused on race and on the movement, but just incorporated these things as though they were normal. Which, for those days, they were just another part of daily life; both on a remote antebellum mansion and in the slums. I feel like I could identify with Bezellia's character, although we don't really share much else in common.
The only reason I'm not giving this book five stars is because it was "outstanding" enough for me. Usually I can pinpoint what is lacking, but here I am not too certain. It was a good story. At some parts aspired even to great. But some part of it just didn't amaze me. Shame, since I feel like I learned so much. (less)
I didn't like this book very much at all. Mainly this was due to two issues: this was picked by my book club before I had read the book preceeding thi...moreI didn't like this book very much at all. Mainly this was due to two issues: this was picked by my book club before I had read the book preceeding this one (Shanghai Girls) and I really did not identify with the main main character, Joy, at all. (Her mother, the secondary main character, was much more sympathetic to me).
Let me explain:
So this book starts out right after a huge family altercation where Joy (19 years old, of Chinese heritage, but born and raised in the U.S.) finds out that her mother is actually her aunt, and her aunt her birth mother and her father no relation at all and her birth father is an artist from Shanghai. On top of that, she blames herself for her 'fathers' suicide, doesn't feel loved at all (since her mother gave her away to her aunt) and is completely brainwashed by the pro-Communist Chinese group from her university. So what does she do? Runs away to Communist China to "help build the motherland" or something like that.
So far, not really a problem. It gets to be a problem once I started to figure out how incredibly stubborn, pig-headed and naive Joy is. I grew up in America too, but I'd like to think I got 150% more out of that than she did. Obviously the only thing that registered in her 19 years in L.A.'s Chinatown are working on movie sets and loathing her family. I really do not understand how she could have become so brainwashed, that Communism is the be all and end all of her (and China's) problems and then once she saw the squalor and poverty and stupidity going on in China, that she STILL believed in it. Most people in America are taught to think and see for themselves... but somehow NONE of that stuck by her.
Anyway, so she runs off to Shanghai, finds her father, goes with him that same day into the countryside to "teach the people about art", when in fact he is really escaping punnishment for his political views. Joy has absolutely no clue about any of this, so for her it's just like a fun trip on one of her Aunt's movie set's, complete with real peasent huts and chickens. Pearl, Joy's mother (birth aunt) follows Joy into the closed and blocked off country, essentially giving up any chance to leave China again (although she lost almost everything fleeing 20 years prior).
Joy falls in love with a boy from the village (view spoiler)[and believes that it's the coolest thing ever to marry him, live in his dirt-poor 2-room 10-family members shack (where her mother-in-law rules, and all mother-in-laws have been brought up to hair the daughters that their sons marry). She realizes that that's not what she wanted right after her wedding night, but accepts this fate as her punnishment for her father's suicide. (hide spoiler)]
Right. Scene set for disaster.
Aside from all the family drama (which really runs this book) I got an eye opener about Communist China and the terrible things that Mao did there. While first reading, I was thinking "well, it's not so bad what Mao is doing. It seems like the pesants are happier... more careful about politics, but happier and not pressured under the ruling thumb of the feudal system anymore". And then I lived with Joy through his stupid plans of "making China produce more and more and more". He had the farmers plant 5 times as many seeds in a plot as there is space... something that the farmers know doesn't work, but they follow blindly anyway. They "launch Sputniks" which are these 24 hour races to complete an 'amazing' task: usually ending up with only 1/8th of the actual harvest in, more ruined clothing than useful, and less productivity. In order to meet time goals, the people let everything else fall behind. And then when winter comes they wonder why there is no more food and tens of thounds of people die everywhere.
By the end of this book I was so angry with what went on in Communist China. Are the pesants that ignorant and believing in their little bubble that they don't realize that the path they followed only leads to death? They are all such sheep... up until the very end, when they're literally eating dirt just to have something in their stomachs and then die.
Now I understand my high school history teacher when she said that Mao was responsible for more deaths than there ever were in WWII or during the whole Cold War. This book left me feeling sick and disturbed and to top it all off there was an annoying main character.
I'm actually surprised that I gave the book 3 stars at all, but I guess I didn't hate the book as much as I make it sound here. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This novel is very different. At first I was put off by the writing style: first person, from brother Eli's perspective. His character voice sounded l...moreThis novel is very different. At first I was put off by the writing style: first person, from brother Eli's perspective. His character voice sounded like that of a naive child or an imbecile. I felt like snaking him on the head a couple of times and requesting after the health of his common sense. And yet, as the story progressed I found myself relishing his viewpoint rather than laothing it.
The amusing thing is that Eli Sisters is not at all naive or innocent. He and his brother Charlie are some of the most famous killers of the west (at least in Oregon and California) and this line of work has gotten them to meet all sorts of horrible, shady and backstabbing characters. And as we walk around the streets of gold rush San Francisco or other towns along the way to/from there the reader steadily begins to notice how preceptive Eli really is. There is a depth of character to him that brings this book alive.
As to the actual story, it was incredulous at times, but what I really enjoyed how it brough the gold rush era of California alive again, for me. The outrageous prices, the men who go crazy hunting for gold (one prospector convinced himself that brewing mud was coffee) and the whole atmosphere of living by the seat of your pants. The author did an amazing job of bring the atmosphere alive, especially while writing the book in first person.
So, all in all, I really enjoyed this book. It had an elemantary story layout that was easy to follow yet also had surprises in store. The characters were authentic and alive and quirky in the only way that reality delivers them. The writing was well done. I'd say that this is a book that even young adults could easily read, andmaybe even learn some morals from, although a few of the subject matters are definitely for adults alone. (less)
What a powerful novel! I just finished reading it and I am still reeling from the shock of the last 20%!
The setting is the late 1700's in southern Am...moreWhat a powerful novel! I just finished reading it and I am still reeling from the shock of the last 20%!
The setting is the late 1700's in southern America, the plantation home of a white family and their black servants. Rather typical, and known, and yet there is something different here: one of the main characters is a white girl, who's parents died on passage from Ireland and is sold into indentured servitude.
To be a white girl and to grow up with black slaves as your family is hard. We're taken with Lavinia through the years as we see life through her eyes. The other main character is a black slave, Belle, who is the daughter of the white Captain; the plantation owner.
Together, we see them make mistakes, watch the retribution of bad advice and feel very acutely with them how cruel their society is.
But this book isn't just another Uncle Tom's Cabin. There are deeper connections and a more twisted plot and family history you couldn't ask for. The line drawn between 'nigra' and white seems to get more blurred the longer the story goes on, and by the time we make a full circle (since the story visits the prologue again at the end) we're hoping that God (or someone) will intervene and make something positive out of all this abuse, death and cruelty.
Although I have read a lot of books that deal with black slavery in the southern States, this one touched me more than any other. It reminds me a lot of how I felt after I read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, over 10 years ago. A bit hopeless, a bit happy at the ending, and very emphatic with the characters.
I'm so glad that my book club picked this book to read! It was definitely horrible and appalling at times, but the family spirit and the love that emanates from it more than makes up for the cruelty found in some parts.(less)