That was... odd. Weird. Uncomfortable. Utterly not what I thought I was getting: a book about ballet daRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
That was... odd. Weird. Uncomfortable. Utterly not what I thought I was getting: a book about ballet dancers at an exclusive academy. This made me think quite often of last year's movie Black Swanexcept the whole thing where ballet is not the focus at all: the sexualized teacher-student relationship, the unhealthy obsession with food and thinness, the messed-up family dynamic at home. This is not a dance book at all: this is a book masquerading as dance book, and probably even masquerading as YA as far as I'm concerned. Now, at a second glance, having read this, even the title seems like a double entendre - and not one I like.
Georgia's fixation on her ballet instructor is as unsettling as it is perplexing. Georgia is supposedly a 14-year old girl, or a Grade 9 at the academy at which she studies. Interestingly, Various Positions reads nothing like a 14-year-old girl: far too mature-sounding (especially as Georgia is very, very naive), far too educated, this reads like the thoughts of a twentysomething. Basically: Georgia expresses herself beyond the capabilties of her years: it feels false, and it was quite jarring to read about (view spoiler)[ a 14-year-old ballerina googling sex phrases and then studying the poses of pornstars. While it totally could, and probably has happened, it didn't read like the perspective of a bareeeely teenaged kid. (hide spoiler)] I don't have an issue with the sexual aspect, or even the fact that there is a lot of focus sex within the book: sex is natural, part of every teen's life. What I do mind is how Georgia relates to all of the above. It's not believable, nor I think, accurate. I also have large issues with the message sent about girls that do have sex.
There are absolutely no healthy relationships between the characters of Various Positions. None - strained? Check. Full-out dysfunctional? Check. Secretive/mysterious? Check. Shady? Checkcheckcheck. Siblings, parents, friends: all Georgia's interactions are limited by her immaturity and her selfishness. Georgia cares about Georgia, and dance and how Georgia looks while dancing. She has zero friends: the closest she comes is a charter "named" Laura. Named is in quotes because all through the novel, she is never called anything by the narrator other than her audition number from the first chapter - Sixty. Georgia's interpersonal skills are so underdeveloped she frequently and alarmingly misinterprets many actions of many, many characters throughout the book. From a man on the subway, to her dad, to her teacher, Georgia is too naive to understand basic human interaction. Georgia's parents might lend an interesting perspective on her fixation on her teacher: as Georgia slowly realizes the similar patterns between her parents history and her current situation, her delusions/justifications become intensified and more urgent. It's also easy to point out Georgia has a strained relationship with father/father-figures, as her own dad is controlling, demeaning, distant father - an attitude mirrored in Roderick's approach to Georgia at the school. I just wish either Georgia had been aged up a bit, or all the sexual undertones and themes could've been toned down. It just really didn't work for such a young protagonist (view spoiler)[or was Georgia the antagonist? He was kind of a jerk, but he is the victim here. Or his career is. Either way: no (hide spoiler)].
The other ballerinas, though largely ignored so much as to be set pieces, are a piece of work. From an unhealthy and uncomfortable focus on weight - one girl, one of the few to receive their own name, is outcast and shunned because she has thicker thighs! - made it hard for me to like anyone from this 300+ page book. The repeated and recurring label of "sex girls" versus virgins/prudes to distinguish within the group also set me off a bit; here to Georgia, to Roderick, ballet is art, utterly asexual and anyone that dares own her femininity is a "sex girl" and deserving of any and all bad things sure to come her way.
This is just an odd read. Two stars for now, but it could possibly go lower the longer I think about this and just why I was so disquieted while reading. Those looking for a light YA read about ballet, look elsewere. I've added Bunheads as an alternative option in my search for a good ballet book; Various Positions missed the mark. I've had a hate-on for this for several paragraphs so I will say this: not all is bad or uncomfortable in Various Positions. The writing itself is deceptively easy to sink in; though not much happens at all throughout, this is never a boring read. I'm sad that this ended up to be such a disappointment, but this wasn't the book I thought I was getting, and I disliked the book it was. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I just. . . loved this. While the beginning had me seeing echoes of the start of the film Stick It, it's easy and impossible not to4 out of 5 stars!
I just. . . loved this. While the beginning had me seeing echoes of the start of the film Stick It, it's easy and impossible not to be won over by this cute baking/hockey teenaged love story. I had fun reading it, I wanted to read it when I wasn't, and I feel comfortable - nay excited! - recommending it to others. If those are not the signs of a good book, I don't know what are. This is exactly the kind of adorable, heart-felt book centered around baking that I wanted to read last year. What I got instead was Christina Mandelski's The Sweetest Thing, and, well, to be nice let's just say it far from delivered on the promise of its title. Sports, baking, school, family - main character Hudson Avery is a well-rounded, personable, real, dimensional character and one I enjoyed reading even for more than three hundred fifty pages. Author Sarah Ockler has greatly impressed me with this, the first novel of hers I've read, and with another of hers sitting to be read in my "already-bought" TBR pile I'm eager to start Twenty Boy Summer.
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first, nice, easy, and best of all: quick. Why quick? I have very little to complain about from this book. There's so much to love from Bittersweet: from Hudson's rounded and faceted personality to Dani's take-no-crap attitude to the delicious-sounding cupcake recipes, I either missed things I ought've been annoyed by (possible) or they just never existed (most likely). First: I found it to be a tad lengthy. I enjoy a well-told and long story, but I felt Hudson's last twenty pages or so could've used some condensing. I flew through this book and only felt that the end suffered from a need for shortening: the rest is well-developed and timed. Second: Hudson's mom, Beth, expects too much from her daughter with little to no input from the daughter. I don't mind the "pull together for the family" spiel, it's understandable and actually happening all across the country, but I did mind Beth's attitude towards Hudson. Hudson is very mature and helpful: runs a side business, babysits her brother, pays some bills, goes to school, etc., but none of that factors into her mom's decision-making. It's aggravating, especially since the book is all from Hudson's perspective. The frustration of Hudson never being heard or listened to permeates for the duration, and it was one of the few things about this book I disliked. The good news is that it doesn't happen all the time, only sporadically, so it didn't really intrude on my reading enjoyment.
Hudson herself is great. She's so not perfect I want all the authors of Mary Sues to take note. Hudson is flawed human being: complicated, confused, FUNNY (when getting kissed: "I was 92% hygienically unprepared"), strong, and most of all, real. I really liked Hudson's humor: she doesn't take herself too serious and her self-deprecating style isn't so jaded as to be worrying. She's not the prettiest, or the most popular, or even the most intelligent: she's a normal, talented girl. Actualized and vibrant, Hudson is a happy harbinger for the personalities of the rest of the characters within Bittersweet. She has dreams and desires, hopes and wishes and a real-life she feels stuck in. Basically, Hudson is a typical teen: easy to relate to, easy to root for. Let me tell you, this girl is also funny. Her voice is so authentic and real, she comes across like several awkward friends of mine - I loved the freshness and authenticity consistently present. I thought the family drama behind Hudson's story was both compelling and also real. Contrasting her individual desires for freedom and escape against family duty, Hudson's struggles through the book are mundane but universal. Sarah Ockler truly did a noteworthy job with the characterization of the people within this book. The author absolutely and repeatedly nails the emotions and feelings of so many teens with Hudson's understandable reactions and thoughts.
Another thing about this I loved: the secondary and even tertiary characters are real, and believable, rounded personalities. Even the jerk of the novel is shown to have more than one side - and not all of them bad. He's human and understandable, even if I wanted him gone long before the book ended. Dani, Hudson's best friend, is a fireball but a real friend. She calls Hudson on her shit and isn't afraid to do her own thing without her BFF. I really enjoyed the realistic nature of the friendship between the two girls; the up and down trajectory is authentic and isn't just for plotting. Ms. Ockler also pulled off a feat in YA: there was a love triangle present, however slight. I for once, wasn't alienated by it. It helps the situation that both boys have their own appeal supposedly (Team Blackthorn FTW), and that Hudson's less undecided/wishywashy and more figuring things out without being obnoxious about the attention. On a side note, I did find "Bug's" intelligence/precociousness to be a leeetle far-fetched for an 8-year-old, but hey, minor quibbles.
For all its cute romance, great characters, teenage dating and cupcake confectionery fun, Bittersweet is not without depth or emotion. Some of the curveballs Hudson and her family have to deal with will resonate with readers: the hard economy, the desires vs. duty theme Hudson explores, the broken family so common and still so problematic. Hudson's identification with Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthrone's The Scarlet Letter is a nice reminder of how Hudson - and a lot of teens - feel isolated, and alone within a group they should belong. Hudson is a special case because she is shunned by a select group - serious ice skaters - but that feeling of aloneness, of not being listened to (coughBethcough) is one a lot of teens will accept without thought.
Bittersweet is not just sweet and fun to read, it's completely evocative in tone. It's set in upper New York and Hudson is an outdoors kind of person. This is a novel that makes snow sound fun, exciting, new, full of possibilities and this is not actually true. I may live out west in Arizona, but I know snow. I live in Flagstaff, which in 2010 was the city with the most snowfall in the entire contiguous United States. At one time, we had more than Anchorage, Alaska. So yeah, I know snow and I love it for the first month it's here. Sarah Ockler, however, with her magnificent setting and through her lovely descriptive writing, has me craving a blizzard out here in Arizona. Right now. I wish there'd been one while I was reading this. This is the perfect read for a snowy day, and a cup of tea in front of the fireplace. With a cupcake, of course. So nicely done on the timing front - I say buy this one ASAP while it's still cold outside.
Bottom line: Look no further if you want a book with cute but not saccharine romance, angst without melodrama, and a cast of varied and interesting characters. It's cute without beating the reader over the head with its own adorability. And Josh is hot. ...more
Wow. I am impressed and so sad that this adventure in reading is over. I completely loved and inhaled Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Having read and thorWow. I am impressed and so sad that this adventure in reading is over. I completely loved and inhaled Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed two of David Levitan's novels several years ago in college (Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility), I knew I loved and appreciated his unique style. What I absolutely didn't expect was just how well his individual and unique flair would meld so seamlessly with John Green's own style. I now totally, totally get all the John Green-love and fully participate within it. This is going to be one of my favorites for the year, hands down. ...more
I am not sure if it is me or the books I had for today, bot both this and another selection (the superanturalish Fractured Light) both failed to inteI am not sure if it is me or the books I had for today, bot both this and another selection (the superanturalish Fractured Light) both failed to interest me at all. I only read 100 pages before I knew I'd go no further with this particular novel, just like the one I attempted before this. Spin isn't bad per se, there's just not enough special about it to warrant my time and reading. ...more
First-person perspective young-adult novels and I have a tricky but pretty reliable relationship etchedRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
First-person perspective young-adult novels and I have a tricky but pretty reliable relationship etched out: if they are handled well and maturely I can legitimately love them, but if the author doesn't have the panache to pass their voice as a believable teen it's a lost cause with no hope. Happily for me, Jessica Martinez shines in her debut novel in the voice, mind and world of Carmen Bianchi, world-class violinist. Believable without trying too hard, without sounding too-mature for her years, Carmen is a great character in a more-than-good-but-not-great novel. Carmen shines in this vehicle, elevating a somewhat overused general plot, infusing it with personality and vitality. This is definitely a case of a character making the book better than it should be, on its own.
Carmen is a great character because she's real and grounded. She's anal, insecure, sarcastic, funny, kind and a complete pushover. I liked the multi-faceted and even conflicting aspects of her personality: by no means is this "Medusa-haired" heroine a Mary Sue. Like many teen girls, she constantly searches for approval, to be thought "normal" - usual teen emotions that keep her relatable amid the Grammys, and $1.2 million dollar instruments. She's unabashedly great at said violin as well: winner of a Grammy and world acclaim, she should be arrogant, cocky. . . but she remains herself throughout. I did find a couple of her actions to be pretty annoying and downright silly (her assumptions about Jeremy's email are immediate and judgmental) but I don't have to love everything the character does to love the character herself. She's just so human in an outrageous, extremely pressured position. Under ridiculous strain of her stage-mom's expectations and transferred dreams, Carmen has little to no control over her life. Day-to-day or even what her dreams are is dictated by her mother with "an iron fist with a french manicure." Carmen, sadly, though world-class and immensely talented, never plays for herself or her own pleasure. She plays for her mother to vicariously live a failed career, for a teacher to extend his own impact on the musical world and that is sadly representative for Carmen's entire life. As music is so personal with an almost tangible impact upon Carmen, it's incredibly easy to commiserate and mourn with her as her joy in violin is turned into something else.
Other characters sadly lack the vivacity and life of Carmen. Her taciturn Ukrainian teacher Yuri is particularly easy to visualize but lacks any dimensions or personality outside of "gruff old man." I found Carmen's mother, always referred by Carmen with her given name of Diana (which I also very telling of their relationship) to be a depressingly one-dimensional antagonist. She seems to have no love or empathy in her for her daughter or her largely unseen husband Clark - focusely solely on her daughter's career as a surrogate for her curtailed one earlier. Diana's motivations for pushing Carmen would be much more understandable, even palatable, if they were for Carmen (wanting her to be happy, great at what she loves, follow her dreams) instead of trying to mold her into Diana II. Jeremy King, he of the not-so-subtle-last-name also failed to impress me the first half of the novel. Though I didn't jump on Carmen's hate bandwagon he makes a pretty bad, then pretty bland impression. I never saw his supposedly irresistible charisma - hell, I barely saw any personality from him! He was more of a drain on Carmen than a support, in my opinion, and I would've liked a nicer, kinder character infinitely better. He's supposedly Carmen's love interest I didn't really feel the chemistry between the two until they were pretty much de facto paired up. They truly work together and the novel is most evoactive when either Jeremy or Carmen play the violin. The descriptions and personal reactions to music are beyond compare in this novel: they stand as my favorite parts of the entire book.
The finale of the novel took me by surprise, while being absolutely fulfilling. Not the big reveal/betrayal, but the action stemming from the event. Carmen took me by complete surprise, but did what ultimately feels right for her. Regardless of how you feel about her decision, at least this time, for once, it was HER decision. Not her mother's, not Yuri's, not the doctor's and not even Jeremy's. . . purely and wholly Carmen. The ending is rather open-ended for a conclusion to a standalone novel, but I loved how the author left it. The world seems limitless, with anything possible for Carmen....more
Really a 3.5 out of 5. Occasionally moving, but with a hard-to-like protagonist.
A compelling story of love, death, and family sadly hampered by its mReally a 3.5 out of 5. Occasionally moving, but with a hard-to-like protagonist.
A compelling story of love, death, and family sadly hampered by its main character, I found Saving June to be a mostly enjoyable, fairly easy read for a day. Hannah Harrington's first novel is an alternately riveting, amusing and frustrating foray into the mind and life of teenage angst-machine Harper Scott. It is not that the novel doesn't have plenty of potential to play with: the characters are fully dimensional and flawed, and the plot is emotionally moving and compelling to read. Where the book mostly lost me was with the main character herself and her broody/rude love interest Jake. Instead of focusing on Harper's sister June's suicide and the reasons for/repercussions of her death I was constantly distracted and irritated by the two characters and their constant bickering/will they-won't they/hatefest/lovein.
Actually a 2.5 out of 5. I wish I could rate this higher but unfortunately...
I'm sad to announce that I didn't really enjoy this novel nearly as muchActually a 2.5 out of 5. I wish I could rate this higher but unfortunately...
I'm sad to announce that I didn't really enjoy this novel nearly as much as I had anticipated. Sheridan Wells is a 16 year-old cake decorating savant, with a mysteriously missing mother, and a charming best friend that helps her to search for her mother. This is a novel that will make you hungry; either the frequent descriptions of Sheridan's fondant creations or her father's restaurant repertoire will get you, one way or the other.
I only wish the characters had gotten under my skin and into my head the way the food did. I never felt truly connected or concerned for most of these characters; only two, a bit player named Lori and a love interest named Jack had me invested in his future in the story at all. I just felt that the book, on the whole, was lackluster: I didn't have much to takeaway from my time spent in Michigan with these characters.
What an utter waste of time. The consolidated three hours it took for me to complete this tome of one-dimensional, unlikeable characters is 180 minuteWhat an utter waste of time. The consolidated three hours it took for me to complete this tome of one-dimensional, unlikeable characters is 180 minutes I'd like back.
There are seven characters; none of which seemed remotely convincing or valid. Most were vapid and so distasteful I wanted them to be caught out on their nefarious deeds. One character, Liz, was especially heinous and off-putting. I loathed that character. Any time the narrative was about Liz was a nadir for the book; just unrepentantly selfish, awful and unsympathetic.
This is certainly a misfire from an author who usually writes warmhearted, lovable characters with interesting and personal storylines. Nothing really clicked or felt more than average in scope or detail; the love affairs aren't steamy, the revelations aren't that shocking, and the last quarter of the novel lacks any real resolution for ANY of the characters. A very frustrating, pointless read....more
While I've read more than my fair share of Elin Hilderbrand's breezy, easy summer novels (Barefoot, The Castaways, A Summer Affair, The Island, SummerWhile I've read more than my fair share of Elin Hilderbrand's breezy, easy summer novels (Barefoot, The Castaways, A Summer Affair, The Island, Summer People, Nantucket Nights) this was by far the most emotional and affecting yet. Usually, along with Jennifer Crusie, Hilderbrand is my go-to gal for a light, beachy, often romantic read I can finish in a couple hours. This novel was a slight change in tone from the previous novels I'd read, because those books too dealt with heavy, tough issues, this seems like a much more personal novel, especially when Meredith reflects on her relationship with her late father.
The book beginning finds Meredith, the titular "silver girl" of the book, grieving for the life she believed she had for the last thirty years. Her "economic whiz" of a husband Freddy had "commited financial genocide" with a Ponzi scheme of $50billion, cheating thousands (including most of their friends) of their hard-earned cash. Knowing nothing of his heinous crime but disbelieved and blamed by all of America, Meredith can only turn to a friend she'd spurned years earlier because of Freddy. Read the rest of this (mild spoilers) review RIGHT HERE!...more
Sarah Dessen writes young-adult novels very well, with feeling and veracity and What Happened to Goodbye is on par with all her previous efforts (that Sarah Dessen writes young-adult novels very well, with feeling and veracity and What Happened to Goodbye is on par with all her previous efforts (that I have read). Mclean is our main character, an independent and self-sufficient teenager that lives solely with her father after her mother cheated on their marriage. Since her mother and father's acrimonious divorce, Mclean has moved towns multiple times with her restaurant-fixing father, often adopting (and subsequently shedding) different versions of herself to play for each town. Dessen utterly nails the inner emotions and silent turmoil this troubled girl is experiencing: Mclean is a study in withdrawal and hidden pain.
Familiar character types appear: the stalwart best friend, the intriguing love interest, the resented parent figure (this time the mother) but each with unique twists and traits to distinguish from both each other and past Dessen characters. Deb, the squirrely and unpopular yet utterly awesome best friend Mclean meets at her new school was constantly surprising me with different, random aspects of her personality. Portrayed as a bookish, uber-nerd, the revelation that Deb is a "metal screamo drummer" and tattoo enthusiast only increased my affection for this varied cast. Dessen's plots may tend a bit towards formulaic and recycled, but it is her fresh, fun characters that draw me back time and time again. Incorporating past figures (oh hey Jason from The Truth About Forever - glad to see you've matured up a bit! and Gervais from Lock and Key!) and new soon-to-be-loved ones like Deb and Opal.
The Truth About Forever introduces us to another of Dessen's dependable, relatable main characters: Macy Queen. Macy is a sweet, down-to-earth, easy-tThe Truth About Forever introduces us to another of Dessen's dependable, relatable main characters: Macy Queen. Macy is a sweet, down-to-earth, easy-to-identify-with kind of girl. She's obedient and good-natured. After the death of her beloved father before her eyes, Macy shuts down emotionally, becoming an almost passive observer in her own life. Dessen does an excellent job of showing the grief and the pain Macy endures daily, silently unwilling to burden her grieving mother. Grief is an isolating emotion, one that is individual and unique to every person, and Dessen excels at making Macy's pain feel engulfing and tangible to the reader. Her sorrow over her father haunts every page when the numerous differences of Macy's life Before and Macy's life After are remarked upon. Another strength of the book was the relationship between Macy and her sister Caroline. While her mother buries herself in work instead of her daughter, and her friends are nowhere to be found, it is Macy's overly-dramatic but truly caring sister that fends for and defends her younger sister. Caroline was a breezy of funny air in a novel that was sadder than I had thought it would be. I often looked forward to her critiques of Wes' heart-in-hand creations and snickered every time she did so. Complicating Macy's extreme emotional vulnerability is her cold fish of a boyfriend, Jason. Brainy, and so rigid it's a wonder he can tie his shows, Jason is one of the more repellant characters in all three novels by Dessen that I have read. His utter lack of empathy for his girlfriend of a year and a half after losing her father was infuriating. Because he was so removed, so distant, I actually welcomed the Dreaded YA Triangle when it was introduced with the character of Wes because it meant Jason might get the heave-ho. Macy's struggles to connect with people, and with herself after so long, are real and human. Her connection with Wes, because it is based completely on friendship as they're both in compromised relationships with others, flourishes and is allowed to grow naturally into a genuine and caring love. Macy grows as a character; she acts out, tests her mother and finally, truly lets her guard down months after it was needed. Through the tumultuous and emotional turns of the book, Macy changes from a passive wallflower into a determined and passionate young woman. The evolution of her character was authentic and rewarding; leaving behind her crippling grief but not her father, Macy begins to be able to move on with her life. I loved the ending of this novel; I thought it tied together very well and satisfactorily. ...more
Lock and Key is my first YA coming-of-age book by Sarah Dessen, who's been talked up to me for years. Happily all the hype I've heard was almost dead-Lock and Key is my first YA coming-of-age book by Sarah Dessen, who's been talked up to me for years. Happily all the hype I've heard was almost dead-on, and I ended up thoroughly enjoying this foray into the life of troubled teen Ruby Cooper. Very much a character-driven novel, rather than plot-orientated, I was immediately caught up in the story. Ruby, with her troubled past and uncertain future, is not perfect. She doesn't even try to be, which is refreshing. I liked her all the more for knowing who she was and accepting herself as is. She's difficult, independent, and supremely stubborn. It was very easy, for me, to relate and identify with Ruby. She's human, and fallible. Dessen does a great job in using a truly credible voice for a teenage girl with an emotionally and physically abusive mother. Ruby's mother, abusive and emotionally unavailable, does her best to recreate Ruby in her own image; they even share the same name. She routinely uproots her daughter, making real connections or long-lasting friendships nearly impossible. Ruby's mother, under the guise of teaching her "independence" is actually demonstrating the worst kind of neglect. She doesn't seem to truly care at all for Ruby, she just wants to make sure that Ruby has no one to count on outside of family. Interestingly, Ruby Elder never actually makes an appearance in the pages of the book. Entirely symbolic of her attitude toward her younger daughter, she is only mentioned, remembered or explained in absentia. She operates entirely off the page, abandoning Ruby long before Ruby even processes what she has done. A plethora of background characters give the book its lightness, the fun and the humor. Ruby's elder sister Cora's husband Jamie is unreservedly chipper, optimistic and family-orientated, unlike the Cooper siblings. He inevitably brought a smile or a chuckle when I read his lines. Nate was a charming and nuanced character that had excellent chemistry with Ruby. The relationship felt natural and through its ups and downs, a very realistic portrayal of teenage romance. I will say, however, that the storyline with Harriet/Reggie/the KeyChains left me a little cold. I was never truly invested in them, or their unrequited love. In a book where everything seemed grounded and plausible, it seemed a bit trite and forced. We already had a troubled love connection storyline, and it seemed superfluous, adding unnecessary drama and tension. But that is one minor complaint in the face of many more virtues. Another slight problem I had was Ruby's transformation from Seriously Troubled Teen to just Regular Slightly Difficult Teen. After the big reveal with Cora about their mother and her numerous deceptions to keep the sisters apart, Ruby changed so abruptly and easily, I just could not buy it. That is not to say that I didn't love this book (I did) or that I don't plan on rereading it (I do) or recommending it (I will); just that like Ruby, it wasn't perfect. It was enjoyable, compusively readable, if not ground-breaking. I certainly liked Dessen's style from this book to encourage me to check out more of her work. ...more
All admissions forward: I won this ARC in a goodreads giveaway. This is a polarizing novel. The content of the story is dark, depressing even, and theAll admissions forward: I won this ARC in a goodreads giveaway. This is a polarizing novel. The content of the story is dark, depressing even, and the characters are more of the same. It's told in a very dry, almost apathetic voice; the prose is tight and direct. The author does a great job of reinforcing the intransigence of Kate and Colin with the style of her writing. Like the plot and the characters, there is nothing frivolous or lush about the writing. I very much liked how the story was told as opposed to the story itself. The beginning starts off innocuous and fairly normal, but quickly escalates into a picture of a suburban nightmare. I was reminded a bit of Richard Yates' brilliant and disturbing Revolutionary Road, as both stories feature a young couple that meets, marries quickly, has two children and must deal with the disillusionment that follows the achieving "the American dream". Kate and Colin are both selfish, difficult people. Both assume the other should make life better for them, rather than taking any imitative on their own terms to seek happiness. I have a greater antipathy towards Kate rather than her husband because she is the main character and the evolution of her nature is truly sad, and often enraging. Her attitude toward her husband and eventually her two daughters is often out-of-control and unfathomable. I never connected to Kate, even during flashbacks to a kinder, less complicated Kate. Colin is more removed/distant from the story than his wife; we never see a chapter from his point of view or get in his head like we do Kate's. In fact, he is almost a nonentity, he moves around his family like a satellite orbiting a planet for most of the novel. This is done on purpose, I feel, to give an illustration of how lonely and bereft Kate often feels with Colin as her partner. I'm not sure if I liked this novel, whereas I lovedRevolutionary Road, but it definitely managed to get inside my head. To dislike characters that intensely means that they at least have struck a chord within the audience, and that is a feat to be applauded. It was a brilliantly done novel, it truly showed the deterioration of a once-happy marriage and all that implies, but just so bleak and uncompromising I cannot see myself recommending it to a friend to read. ...more
Lovely. Simply lovely. Just as charming as the first in the duology, The Last Little Blue Envelope is 200+ pages of humor, unrequited love, European lLovely. Simply lovely. Just as charming as the first in the duology, The Last Little Blue Envelope is 200+ pages of humor, unrequited love, European landmarks, beloved familiar characters, intriguing new characters with awesome coattails, and a fulfilling and imaginative ending to a well-written and thoroughly engaging series. I loved this book. It's as simple as that. It was highly highly enjoyable and easy to read. This seems to be the rare sequel that does not disappoint fans of the original. I actually enjoyed the 'new' group dynamic with the additions of Ellis and Oliver. Not only was a completely unexpected side of Keith shown but the interactions between all of them were amusing, awkward and sometimes infuriating. Ellis in particular was very amusing. Ginny evolves a lot of the course of the novel; not having a set of instructions from her aunt, she must make decisions on her own, figure out a puzzle without half the pieces and do so with three other people depending on her. She's more mature and very real; Ginny reminds me of a lot of girls that I know and it's nice to read a protagonist so grounded and familiar. Or one so well-written you feel an actual attachment for her and her uncle, the awesome Richard. I've added the Scarlett series by this author because I loved this series so much. I can only hope Gin gets another book later on. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
This novel was both very charming and very refreshing; it's a delight to read. It's not a great work of literature, but it excels at what it is: escapThis novel was both very charming and very refreshing; it's a delight to read. It's not a great work of literature, but it excels at what it is: escapism. Pure fantasy, or perhaps pure day dreams come true; after all, who hasn't wished to backpack across Europe with no ties and be responsible for nothing? Yet Ginny's circumstances aren't perfect, and the desire to read the next envelope, to see what is driving this whole escapade, is really what moves the story along. More than the love interest in London, more than the crazy tattoo artist in Edinburgh (though these characters, and more are rich and diverse), it is the why of the thirteen envelopes that catches hold of your imagination and won't let go. Ginny is not obviously deficient in any way. She's smart, she has friends, and is not too morbidly obsessed with her favorite Aunt's departure. So the reader has to winder why Peg thought this solo adventure in Europe was necessary and what the lesson is for Ginny in the end. All in all, witty and engaging and pure escapism. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
A fairly amusing, fairly predictable story. Not to say I did not enjoy it, but it was not groundbreaking or earth shattering. Full of humor, the bestA fairly amusing, fairly predictable story. Not to say I did not enjoy it, but it was not groundbreaking or earth shattering. Full of humor, the best part of the story are the characters. Not necessarily even the main character, but Florence, Fenn, and even Bev were a welcome breeze of energy and sarcasm. It lagged for a bit around the middle and the pacing felt a bit rushed towards the end of the book. I felt like unnecessary characters were introduced (though charming) that did not relate to the plot or advance the story in any way. However, I enjoyed the outcome for everyone involved so I did not mind too much. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Continuing the trend started in the first two books, this was a quick, delightful read. Parts are laugh out loud funny, but it's not lacking in seriouContinuing the trend started in the first two books, this was a quick, delightful read. Parts are laugh out loud funny, but it's not lacking in seriousness or emotional pull. Jessica is just as confused, maddening, confusing, spoiled, intelligent, dumb, loving as she has been. What she has done is mature a bit, stand up for herself a bit and learn a lot about herself, her relationship with Marcus and even her thought-to-be-unassailable relationship with Hope. Jessica grows and matures as a character a lot during the events contained in the book, which is probably why it's the best of the three. Her family, especially Bethany, is revealed to be more than the paint-thin personalities they've been portrayed as in the past. By making Jessica's family more realistic, more approachable, as actual people than black-and-white enemies, McCafferty's Darling series benefits greatly. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Jessica Darling is just as entertaining, sarcastic and believable in McCafferty's second book in the eponymous series. The same funny, ignorant, goofyJessica Darling is just as entertaining, sarcastic and believable in McCafferty's second book in the eponymous series. The same funny, ignorant, goofy Pineville (or Pinevile) characters return to torment Jessica into remembering how much she hates her hometown, misses Hope, can't stand her family and how much she can't wait to escape New Jersey. A satisfying and fun read. The pages flow by with McCafferty's warmth as a writer shining through, making this an easy, enjoyable novel. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Clever, highly enjoyable and easy to read. That is an easy to way to sum up this book. What's harder to express is the humor, the wit and the sheer waClever, highly enjoyable and easy to read. That is an easy to way to sum up this book. What's harder to express is the humor, the wit and the sheer warmth of McCafferty's novel. Her Jessica is real, sarcastic, bratty, and above all, believable. I enjoyed this novel very much, and look forward to the next as well as the rest of the Jessica (Notso) Darling series. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
This was an interesting book. It is formatted in a unique way, while ingenious and creative, is also distracting and confusing at first. Once you've f This was an interesting book. It is formatted in a unique way, while ingenious and creative, is also distracting and confusing at first. Once you've figured out what Dunant is attempting to achieve with her chapters/options, her writing takes over. That is a good thing. One of Dunant's strongest talents is her prose and her evocative style of writing. The characters are solid, if a little lacking depth. The only exception to this is Anna Franklin, the main character. In her search for herself, she is trying to define who she is, what she wants apart from her 7-year old daughter, Lily. It is an engaging book, and one worth reading, if the multiple possible plotlines don't make the reader see red. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
This was not Jennifer Crusie's best effort. It seemed weak throughout, lacking a compelling plot or a truly sympathetic main character. Kate is pricklThis was not Jennifer Crusie's best effort. It seemed weak throughout, lacking a compelling plot or a truly sympathetic main character. Kate is prickly enough to venture into diva territory, and I find the idea of a woman hunting for a boyfriend/husband pretty repellant. The men seemed to embody at least one standard cliche of males and bachelors in general, and no one seemed to have chemistry, much less even like each other very much. It's a pretty mindless, predictable tale with not nearly enough of Cruise's usual amount of humor and wit. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more