They're making this book into a movie. So, naturally, I had to read it.
The word that first comes to mind when thinking back over this book is messy. TThey're making this book into a movie. So, naturally, I had to read it.
The word that first comes to mind when thinking back over this book is messy. That's how I would describe it. It's entertaining in parts, annoying in others, and sends out a confusing mix of messages.
“I actually need your help. You see, your friends are hot. And you, darling, are the Duff.” “Is that even a word?” “Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend,” he clarified. “No offense, but that would be you.”
This above exchange takes place between our narrator - Bianca - and Hamilton's resident notorious manwhore, Wesley Rush. Bianca responds to the insult by doing what any self-respecting woman should do and throwing the nearest beverage into the douchebag's face. However, being a teenage girl with all the insecurities that go along with that, Bianca can't quite forget what Wesley called her.
Then she has issues at home. Her mother is away most of the time and her dad is a recovering alcoholic on the brink of a relapse. With all this happening, Bianca longs for a way to "escape". She needs something to take her out of this world, numb her mind and make her forget who she is for a little while... so she sleeps with none other than - you guessed it - Wesley Rush. I get it: the girl has serious issues. No judgement, we've all been there.
So here's where things get a bit messy. I know this will be especially enjoyable for girls in their teens - just as the author was when she wrote it. I remember the days when I would read this:
“On one side, I had Toby. Smart, cute, funny, polite, sensitive, and practical. Toby was perfect in every conceivable way. I mean, he was a little dorky, but that was what made him so adorable. I liked being with him, and he always put me first.”
“On the other side, there was Wesley. A jerk. An asshole. An arrogant, womanizing rich boy who put sex before everything else. Sure, he was incredibly hot, but he could annoy the hell out of me. He was irritatingly charming, and his cute little grin could really get under my skin. But he had a way of making my heart race and my head spin.”
...and my heart would race for jerkface too. Then, of course, Bianca had to compare Toby and Wesley to Linton and Heathcliff, which is really just very unfair.
I think this is one of those books that was evidently written by a teenager; an extremely talented teenager, I'll give her that (I couldn't have done it at 18/19) but a teenager nonetheless. Some annoying dialogue aside, the writing itself is decent, but there is something about this story, the relationships in it and the way it portrays feminism which is incredibly immature.
When I was in my mid-to-late teens, I had discovered feminism but wasn't quite sure what it meant in practice. After writing essays on Margaret Atwood novels, I'd decided I was a feminist but it took years and my time at college to fully understand it. While I was in high school, I hated double standards and yet was probably guilty of believing in some of them. Stereotypes had been drilled into my brain and I often forgot how stupid they were. I wanted to be a feminist; I wanted to write a great piece of feminist literature; and yet, I still succumbed to my own internalized misogyny. This book feels like it was written by someone with the same issues.
First example: Every girl drools over the hot guys except our narrator. I'm glad that later in the book she learns not to have disdain for them, but it doesn't change the fact that these girls are characterized by their constant thrusting of their breasts into the boys' faces.
Second example: Wesley tells Bianca she is a not a slut because she's just confused and we all make mistakes. I initially appreciated the way the author portrayed teen sexuality without turning it into a lesson... and then it became a lesson. Why can't she just enjoy sex and not be a slut?
Third example:“Brontë?” I asked, seeing the cover of his book. “Wuthering Heights? Isn’t that a little girly, Toby?” “Have you read it?” “Well, no,” I admitted. “I’ve read Jane Eyre, which was definitely full of early feminism. I’m not saying that’s a problem. Personally, I’m a total feminist, but it’s a little sketchy for a teenage boy.” Feminism is a girls-only club?
Fourth example: Bianca ditches her friends as soon as she starts shagging Wesley.
I'm still giving this three stars, though, because it is damn entertaining. The narrator is charming and just enough of a bitch to be likable in that way that makes you smirk knowingly to yourself while reading (we've all had those naughty/vindictive/jealous thoughts too). And when the author is on top girl power form, she comes out with wicked gems like this:
“I’m probably going to be a bitch most of the time. I guarantee I’ll find a reason to yell at you almost every day, and don’t be surprised if a few drinks get dumped on you from time to time. That’s just me, and you’re going to have to deal with it. Because I’m not changing for you or anyone else.”
And the truth is, despite myself, I couldn't help being pleased with how this turned out.
This is a middle grade novel about a book-lover called EMILY and "a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are reveal This is a middle grade novel about a book-lover called EMILY and "a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles."
This book came very highly recommended. I picked it, along with a few others, from Goodreads' top 100 romance novels. It has been recommended to me many times over the years, from people on Goodreads and from those I know in "real life". And it has an average rating of 4.40.
While I didn't loathe the book - and enjoyed some parts - the truth is that more than half of these 600+ pages were excruciatingly boring.
Simons takes some steps towards goodness, but then it is ruined by the prolonged, tedious nature of everything that happens. For example, Tatiana and Alexander's initial flirtations are exciting; it's easy to get caught up in the angst of young love and all the issues that lie between them being together. But the story moves at a snail pace, describing their frequent walks and bus rides in intricate detail. Everything I enjoyed soon soured and became dull.
Similarly, the tale of how people lived in Soviet Russia and the fear that came with Hitler's invasion was a great setting for this wartime love story. What a difficult time and place to try and deal with boyfriend problems. And yet, the story is once again bogged down by pages and pages describing the same things over and over: how many times do I need to hear about the food rationing? I get it: everybody's hungry. Let's move on. The bigger picture is fascinating, but the extent of the details and repetition is mind-numbing.
Also, as much as I'm a sucker for a touch of love angst now and then, I was never completely sold on the whole "forbidden love" aspect of this novel. I don't really know how I feel about the way Tatiana's sister - Dasha - was portrayed. If you've yet to read this book, Tatiana meets a handsome young soldier and they have an instant connection. Only it turns out that this soldier has been seeing and sleeping with her older sister. So, of course, Tatiana does the only right thing and refuses to be with him.
I could practically hear the author's thought process running through my mind as I was reading.
Step 1: Think up a situation that would create a "forbidden love" scenario. It has to be bad so readers will get all caught up in the angsting. The solution: hot soldier boy is already dating her sister!
Step 2: We all know that women who get it on with their sister's boyfriends have a very special level of hell reserved for them, so Dasha must be portrayed in a way that will make us forgive Tatiana for her relationship with Alexander. The solution: make Dasha a selfish, abusive, whiny little bitch!
I didn't like the way it was handled. I felt like Dasha was only a bitch to justify poor, innocent Tatiana's actions. And I also felt like it didn't make sense for Tatiana to sacrifice her relationship with Alexander when Dasha was evidently such an awful piece of work. Tatiana exhibits behaviour of a classic Mary Sue: self-sacrificing, innocent, supposedly plain and yet desired by every male in the book.
Everything about this novel seems overwrought. From the exaggerated innocence vs villainous qualities of the characters, to the constant rehashing of old details. You know when you finish a book and think "half of those pages would have sufficed"? This is one of those times.
In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine lIn this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.
I checked out the Penguin sampler of this and it seems it would suit people who like a heavy dose of boys, love and fashion in their thrillers. NothinI checked out the Penguin sampler of this and it seems it would suit people who like a heavy dose of boys, love and fashion in their thrillers. Nothing wrong with that, just knew it wasn't for me when I read this on page 3:
I wasn't just fascinated with his forearms, though, or his deep gray eyes, or the dimple in his right cheek. He was ridiculously attractive - not pretty, but good-looking in a chiseled way, his jawline an angle rather than a curve, not a strand of espresso-colored hair out of place - and to a lot of people that would be enough.
This description of Jack goes on for a few pages. And he has a British accent... of course....more
About this time last year, I got into reading a lot of erotica/erotic romance - ssh, don't judge me, the British winters are cold and lonely :P But IAbout this time last year, I got into reading a lot of erotica/erotic romance - ssh, don't judge me, the British winters are cold and lonely :P But I stopped pretty quickly because there was so much bad. Most of my reviews were 1 star rants and, let's face it, when you've read about one throbbing penis then you've read about them all.
So we parted ways. I read more YA, fantasy, sci-fi and contemporary, and I forgot about erotica... until I saw this book highly recommended in my Goodreads feed. What was this?An erotic romance filled with unique dynamics, diverse characters and more than a touch of the girly tingles? No way! But apparently yes.
The Companion Contract is surprising in the best of ways. For one thing, as much as I pride myself on being liberal and open-minded, I'm a bit of a puritan when it comes to relationships - by that, I mean that I like two characters (don't care about their gender) who have sex with each other, don't dally in that whole "love triangle" business, and don't go around shagging others outside of their relationship. It's not that I care if other people do this, just that it doesn't turn me on. I'm also not a big fan of threesomes.
However, this novel actually challenged the way I think about things. Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Companion Contract is how Ames clearly distinguishes between sexual activity and passion/romance. The protagonist and narrator, Amy Mendoza, is an American-born Japanese-Filipino porn star looking to get out of the business. She's had sex with countless men and women and never feels ashamed of her sexuality. She enjoys sex and doesn't have any qualms about getting down and dirty with men she's just met.
In this book, Amy is offered a job as a sober companion for a rock star recovering from a drug addiction. She's happy to do it because the guy - Miles - is hot, she likes having sex with hot men, and she gets paid to do it. They have a lot of sex, often kinky sex, and she enjoys it. But things get more complicated when she begins to develop a very different set of feelings for the albino man who hired her - Emmanuel.
I imagine this story might be hard to swallow for those who feel that love and sex are inextricably entwined, but I appreciated the way Ames managed to challenge my views. She also portrays all the difficulties female sex workers face in the industry without ever turning this into a lesson on the "dark truths" of porn work. It was surprisingly sensitive, thoughtful and interesting.
I also think there is much room for praise where the characters are concerned; firstly, because of their diversity - a Japanese-Filipino protagonist, a Colombian albino and a transgender woman, to name but a few - and secondly, because of the way the author never neglects their characterization. For example, I felt sure that Miles would be a throwaway character used to bring Amy and Emmanuel together, but he had a complex personality and history of his own.
Top off all this good writing and seriousness with a heavy dose of hot sex and you have a pretty damn impressive erotic novel. I think my only complaint is that the book is a little too long. There were a couple of scenes that could have been shortened, or simply cut all together. But still, definitely worth reading.