I’m a huge Libba Bray fan and I remember being so excited to get my hands on this when it first released. Long story short, I don’t think I got past p...moreI’m a huge Libba Bray fan and I remember being so excited to get my hands on this when it first released. Long story short, I don’t think I got past page 10 before I DNF’d. Hearing that the audiobook was way better I figured it deserved another shot. Libba Bray herself narrates this audiobook and manages to do a different voice for each and every one of the characters. The accents were gimmicky and nowhere near authentic but they were incredibly entertaining. The audio is over 14 hours long though and it unfortunately grew a bit tiresome and added to the overall ridiculousness of the whole thing after a while.
The big thing with Beauty Queens are the ‘messages’ which tackle the unrealistic standards that all girls face (not just pageant girls) but it did oftentimes feel overdone and exaggerated. Add to that, the messages were simply too obvious and came off as preachy more than anything. In addition there was the massive amount of satire this book was steeped in. While all together the story was rather admittedly a bit over the top and incredibly goofy at times, it did have some entertaining moments. At least until the boat full of testosterone reality TV show pirates showed up. They upped the level of ridiculous for me and officially lost me. And if I was barely avoiding another DNF before, the introduction of the evil corporation trying to kill the beauty queen contestants would have been the nail in the coffin if I wasn’t already close to being finished. There was a lot of sighing and a lot of eye-rolling. Maybe I just wasn’t in a super funny mood? No clue. I realize that this is meant to be a fun and entertaining book not meant to be taken seriously at all, but it was simply too excessive for my liking.
Beauty Queens is an eclectic combination of one of those cringe-worthy parody movies, a satirical Lord of the Flies and an Austin Powers movie. I agree with the message the book aimed to prove, but I like when messages are a bit more subtle and a little less hammer to the head.(less)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars A copy of The Tao of Pooh was provided to me by Tantor Media for review purposes.
"...the basic Taoism that we are concerned wit...moreMy rating: 5 of 5 stars A copy of The Tao of Pooh was provided to me by Tantor Media for review purposes.
"...the basic Taoism that we are concerned with here is simply a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life. From the Taoist point of view, the natural result of this harmonious way of living is happiness."
There are some things that I've accepted that my brain is just not built to understand. Calculus and Economics are a couple of examples. But the one shining example is Philosophy. My freshman year of college I signed up for Philosophy 101 but I knew right from the start I was going to have difficulty. Most people would have stuck it out and studied super hard, but I? Timed it just right and booked it out of there when the teacher's back was turned to the class. Yes. I am a coward. So suffice it to say, Philosophy and I don't have a good track record. But if my Philosophy professor spoke of Philosophy (and maybe incorporated some Pooh-isms into his lecture) as Benjamin Hoff does in 'The Tao of Pooh' I think I would have lasted more than 10 minutes.
'You'd be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.'
The Tao of Pooh discusses many Taoist principals by relating them to the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh symbolizes the Taoist ideal of a still and calm mind and his ability to accomplish tasks "effortlessly" and is a true personification of the Taoist foundation. At heart 'The Tao of Pooh' manages to be a simplified and practical introduction into the ideals of Taoism and how to go about incorporating them into your daily lives in order to change things for the better.
'You can't save time. You can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely or foolishly.'
While I had already read this book years past, the narrator of this audiobook was perfection and truly made this book even more spectacular. I had the pleasure of listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner on audio (narrated by Peter Dennis) and I must say that Simon Vance did an incredible job with the different voices of Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the rest of the gang from The Hundred Acre Wood. This production was nominated for an Audie in the Solo Narration—Male category and is in my opinion completely deserving of the nomination.
'The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.'
While 'The Tao of Pooh' may not be the most profound study in Philosophy or Taoism, it makes it clear and concise and thoroughly enlightening. (less)
I did like this one surprisingly. I say surprisingly because this is ultimately a documentary of what...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
I did like this one surprisingly. I say surprisingly because this is ultimately a documentary of what happened in 'World War Z' and had great potential of being boring. I thought it was a nice change up in writing style. Considering the fact that all of these personal statements, made by different individuals involved, were conducted after the war was 'over' it didn't have the excitement or in the moment terror that I always love in a zombie novel. Despite the fact that I didn't enjoy the political aspects, they were nonetheless extremely interesting as they were detailed and very thorough. Everything was covered quite comprehensively in this book; it could be an actual testimonial of a real zombie war.
I had attempted to read this book before but failed to get very far; I found it hard to read something written in such a way. The audiobook was completely different for me. The audiobook added more to the story than was present in the ‘print’ story. Each individual making their statement regarding what happened was spoken by a different individual rather than the narrator alone using different voice inflections. This was my favorite part and what made it even more real for me.
Definitely a winner for any zombie lover out there. (less)
‘We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more fr...moreMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
‘We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.’
After the United States government is overturned, a fundamentalist Christian regime is established that call themselves the Republic of Gilead. All women’s rights are declared invalid: the right to vote, to have a job, to read or make any decisions on their own. With the ongoing war that followed the demolition of the government, infertility has become a massive problem as most women lack the capabilities now. Women are selected to be handmaid’s and their sole purpose is to provide offspring for the elite members of society. The Handmaid’s Tale is a memoir of sorts of one woman that was selected to be a handmaid.
‘I found myself asking why no one did anything to prevent it happening; surely people would protest, people would try to stop them?’
What a shocking, distressing and jaw-dropping read. The vital aspect of a good dystopian read is whether or not the transformed world is believable and realistic because that’s what truly brings it to life. The Handmaid’s Tale was disturbingly realistic simply due to the ease in which everything was transformed. Women got up, took care of their children and went to work like any other in this day and age. Except one morning, they got up and were told they were no longer able to work. They went to the store and were told they were no longer to make purchases of their own. And all this happened overnight. My first response was to consider how unlikely that is, but rights can be given and they can be taken away just as easily, even in the span of a single night. It’s quite the imaginable nightmare.
‘But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.’
The main character, Offred, is a woman clearly lacking in spirit after all the horrors she has suffered. The numbness is a bandaid of sorts to help her continue each day yet her anger and outrage remains clear as well as her perseverance to survive. Her day to day accountings are interspersed with memories of the past, when she had a job, and a husband, and a child of her own. That was the most tragic aspect of this story. It’s not the fact that women were basically walking wombs and their only purpose was to provide children for another but that these women had memories of life before. They knew of how different life can be and they had those memories to haunt them.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an incredibly visceral possibility of a potential future that only shows just how fragile women’s rights can be.(less)
This was a fantastic audiobook. I don't actually think I would have liked this half as much if I had read it (I had actually tried and couldn't get in...moreThis was a fantastic audiobook. I don't actually think I would have liked this half as much if I had read it (I had actually tried and couldn't get into it but the audiobook had me hooked.) (less)
Having missed this in my childhood education it's always...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
Another on my list of Banned/Challenged books.
Having missed this in my childhood education it's always been one that I've heard so many things about but have never been able to experience. I have to say that I'm quite glad I didn't read this until later in life because I don't believe I'd be able to appreciate it or understand it half as much as I would have in my early teens. I remember hearing about this book when I was younger and thinking that it was literally about animals.
I was amazed at how easy a read it was (although I stopped about halfway and started listening to it on audiobook) yet how complex the topic really was. At the start of the book their rebellion against their owners was a beautiful thing and their strength was remarkable.
"The animals were happy as they had never conceived it possible to be. Every mouthful of food was an acute positive pleasure, now that it was truly their own food, produced by themselves and for themselves, not doled out to them by a grudging master."
Unfortunately, as time progressed, social classes were established. I found myself so wrapped up in this book that when the pigs that ruled and had all the privileges would change rules at random to suit their needs I was groaning and pitying these other animals who suffered because of it. The ending was inevitable and despite the fact that I saw it coming it still left me gasping. An incredible that was well worth the read; a novel I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
"ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS"(less)
Another on my list of Banned/Challenged books. And another book that I apparently failed to be given a...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
Another on my list of Banned/Challenged books. And another book that I apparently failed to be given as a reading requirement when I was younger.
I don’t have much to say about this series as I know the vast majority of you have already read this, but I will say that I was most definitely thrown by the story as I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. ‘Wow’ was the most used word while reading/listening to this book, for sure.
The setting of this story is in a mental institution and you’d never think that you’d find yourself laughing, but you do. Patrick McMurphy really makes this story what it is, he was such an influential character: funny and rebellious and being in a mental institution certainly doesn't stop him from doing whatever he damn well pleases. The one part that cracked me up (as wrong as the situation was) was following one of his electro-shock therapy treatments:
’…he just laughed and told me Hell, all they was doin’ was chargin’ his battery for him, free for nothing. “When I get out of here the first woman that takes on ol’ Red McMurphy the ten-thousand-watt psychopath, she’s gonna light up like a pinball machine and pay off in silver dollars!”’
As the story progressed I got so caught up in loving these men that I practically forgot that they were all in a mental institution… and because my mind glazed over this fact, by the end, my heart broke for them. This is a really powerful tale that I’m glad I finally read.(less)
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars A copy of Clockwork Princess was provided to me by Simon Audio for review purposes.
'Life was an uncertain thing, and there we...moreMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars A copy of Clockwork Princess was provided to me by Simon Audio for review purposes.
'Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one's mind that the memory might be taken out later, like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew.'
This was one of the most fantastic audiobooks I've listened to. Audiobooks are naturally so reliant on the perfect narrator that it could make a fantastic book a complete disaster. English actor Daniel Sharman was perfection with his various voice inflections for different characters. It certainly made the almost 16.5 hours of listening zoom by in a flash. Unfortunately. :)
It's always difficult reading a series ender, there are always such high expectations. I can only imagine the strain on the author to come up with a satisfying ending, especially when there are 'teams' involved. For me, it could have gone either way because I was a fan of both boys. :) On top of that you have to wrap up all the questions that were introduced throughout the previous books and give them their needed endings. Out of all the series I have finished though this is quite possibly one of the best wrap-ups I've read to date.
'It was a near incomprehensible tangle, the three of them, but there was one certainty, and that there was no lack of love between them.'
I straight up despise love triangles, however, the reason behind that usually lies in the fact that the 'love' doesn't make sense, seems unnecessarily dramatic and isn't realistic in the least bit. This is one love triangle that is nothing like what I hate about them. Not unnecessarily dramatic, incredibly realistic, made me completely commiserate with Tessa instead of questioning how its possible that she love BOTH boys, and was a complete and utter heartbreak for everyone involved (including the reader). This managed to be so incredibly well-done throughout the story and was even given, as impossible as it may seem, a satisfying and understandable ending.
When I finally got to this epilogue that everyone kept talking about I was more anxious than anything. I can say that it was well done, that I almost cried and it was an ending I didn't exactly see coming. I'm not sure if it was really vital to the story as a whole and if it would have been best to leave it out entirely but I can definitely see why it was included. This is likely where I'd go on a crazed spoilery rant, so anyone interested in hearing what I have to say, I'm up for a chat. :)
Various other things I loved about this story and series... I loved the beautiful literary quotes strewn throughout and even the characters obvious love for literature was wonderful to see. I also loved the lack of perfection and 'happily ever afters'. Each character went through their own hard times and it made the characters really come to life. I believe the previous installments had equally beautiful writing with various quotes that left me breathless but it was so very evident to me in Clockwork Princess. I could have done Goodreads updates with beautiful lines every few pages. This was a truly beautifully written novel and a fantastic conclusion to an exceptional series. (less)
One of the great classics of the 20th century... well, a statement like that will definitely get anyon...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
One of the great classics of the 20th century... well, a statement like that will definitely get anyone interested in reading it. Many of you read this in school, but naturally I missed out on this one as well. This one is not only on the BBC Book List but the 1001 books to read before you die.
’For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.’
I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald; it was by far the best part of the book. I had a major disconnect with the characters as I found them to be quite shallow and pretentious. The whole story seemed off for me; but I think that was just the overall oddness of the characters themselves.
My impression going into this book was that it was to be a great love story… how Gatsby loved Daisy but the war came between them. Daisy, becoming tired of waiting for Gatsby to return, marries Tom who’s a loaf of a man that cheats on her quite openly.
Now I understand this is a book not set in the 20th century and women were supposed to all be stay out home mothers who took care of the house and the children and kept their mouths shut so I naturally didn’t expect her to get fed up with his cheating and hit him over the head with a dinner plate, but I really did expect more. By the end it all felt a tad anticlimactic and there was a resounding ‘So… what was the point?’ floating through my head.
All in all, I’m glad to have read it so I can now say that I’ve read it, but that it’s definitely not going down as one of my faves. (less)
I really missed out on a gem with this series; I know I would have loved this when I was younger. I still enjoyed it very much though. I decided to ac...moreI really missed out on a gem with this series; I know I would have loved this when I was younger. I still enjoyed it very much though. I decided to actually listen to this on audiobook and loved it! Narrated by Kate Winslet she did an absolutely amazing job with it. :)(less)
I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I had hoped. The story was riveting; however, the characters were...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I had hoped. The story was riveting; however, the characters were tremendously shallow, hard to understand, and extremely hard to like.
The Storyline The story switches points of view between 1953 and 1942 when World War II has struck Hong Kong.
In 1953, Claire and Martin Pendleton, a recently married English couple, have moved to Hong Kong. Claire becomes a piano teacher teaching a young girl named Locket. Her parents, the Chens, employ Will Truesdale as their driver whom Claire eventually begins to have an affair with.
In 1942, Trudy Liang, a Eurasian, and Will Truesdale, an Englishman, are lovers. WWII strikes Hong Kong, Will ends up in a POW camp, and Trudy forms some treacherous alliances in order to keep him alive and as safe as possible.
Thoughts The women in this story were borderline impossible to like. Claire’s ‘habit’ of stealing various items from the Chen household was the most strange and it was never really explained. There would just be occasional references to her dropping things into her purse… maybe it was explained, I may have simply missed it.
Everyone seemed to be enthralled with Trudy and I couldn’t understand why. She was charming in an overly obnoxious way and seemed to have quite a big head.
‘People have always expected me to be bad and thoughtless and shallow, and I do my best to accommodate their expectations. I sink to their expectations, one might say. I think it’s the ultimate suggestibility of most of us. We are social beings. We live in a social world with other people and so we wish to be as they see us, even if it is detrimental to ourselves.’
As the story progresses you get the whole story of what she ended up doing because of her love for Will and you can’t help but dislike her a little less, except not really. I had an emotional disconnect with this story and despite Trudy’s protestations of love for Will, I couldn’t see it. Essentially, I found Trudy’s actions to be more selfish than not, that all she did was to protect herself.
Bit of a disappointment from what I had anticipated.(less)