In Just One Day, Allyson and Willem meet for one memorable day before getting separated. In Just One Year, the tw...moreMy Black Sheep Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars
In Just One Day, Allyson and Willem meet for one memorable day before getting separated. In Just One Year, the two spend the following year searching for one another before finally succeeding. But did they get their happily ever after?
All be warned: there will be spoilers.
I wasn’t a huge fan of this series in general but was so thrown by the ending (or lack of ending) in book two that I knew I had to pick this up regardless. Allyson and Willem never generated any warm fuzzies for me but I still wanted to see what happened to the two of them in the end. After finishing Just One Night I have to say, they (author? publisher? whoever made the call to publish this.) should have left well enough alone. The two get their happily ever after, but Just One Night only manages to showcase Allyson’s creepy stalker obsession with Willem (I’m sorry, but who travels the globe searching for a guy she spent a single day with?) and Willem’s creepy foot fetish. I’m not joking. Did he obsess about her feet in the other books? Because if he did I must have blocked that shit out because, ew? For only 43 pages there were an obscene amount of foot comments. Here are several examples:
‘Allyson is sitting on the sofa, her sandals off, neatly placed under the coffee table. (The sight of her bare feet. What this is doing to Willem’s blood pressure. She might as well have taken off all her clothes.)’
‘It all feels like a dream and yet as natural as breathing. This is what you do. Put Allyson’s feet into your lap.’
‘They are on the stairs and she is under him and he’s got that wrist of hers in his mouth (finally!) but it’s not enough, he wants all of her (the feet!) [...]‘
“...Allyson is sitting next to him, and with everyone jammed at the table, she is right up close. And then she slips off her sandals under the table and sort of nuzzles her foot against his. He loses his appetite, for food anyway.”
In addition to the creepy foot comments there was one ‘memorable’ scene in particular where Allyson was behind Willem on the bike he was riding and she decides to make out with his back, I guess since his mouth wasn’t available.
‘She can nuzzle against his back and lick his vertebra if she wants to. (She does, so she does.)’
‘Willem is just desperate for it to end. He is so full of wanting that it is painful and Allyson keeps lifting his shirt and licking his back, which she shouldn’t do while he’s riding a bike because he might pass out. (But she shouldn’t stop, either.)’
This is the fourth Gayle Forman book I’ve read yet was the poorest showcasing of her writing skills. The point of view was often unclear and would switch up at random without any section breaks resulting in a strange disjointed feel to this short tale. Plus, I’m not sure what was up with the strange sentences she decided belonged in parenthesis for no apparent reason.
Just One Night was intended to give fans the happily ever after that was lacking in Just One Year but it just didn’t do it for me. It failed to create emotional resonance I would have expected for two people that spent the past year searching for one another. Maybe it’s because I can’t look past the creepy feet comments or the fact that it seemed to be about nothing more than the two sleeping with each other. Maybe it’s because I never cared for their story or either one of their characters but I didn’t feel there was anything truly romantic about this love story.(less)
“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”
Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly befor...more“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”
Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly before the two are due to leave for home, Claire becomes ill and ends up in a coma in the hospital. Ross becomes completely overcome with grief, unable to come to terms with what is happening and ends up in an accident and blacks out. He wakes up in the year 1333.
‘I marvel at the fact that I haven’t broken out in hives. Apparently, not only has my eyesight improved, but my allergy to horses hasn’t transferred to this time period, either.’
I blame Outlander on my time-travel obsession. I also blame Outlander for my high expectations when it comes to time-travel. I’m able to count on one hand the amount of time-travel books that managed to work for me. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. There weren’t any special stones or portals that sent Ross back in time, instead he was run off the road while riding his bicycle by a semi and tumbled down a hill. He woke up in another time in completely different clothes with renewed eyesight and a curious lack of his typical allergies. Instead of going back in time as himself, he went back in time and took over the life of one of his ancestors (à la Assassin’s Creed, just replacing the Animus with a grassy hill). It worked yet it didn’t and was cause for some serious confusion later as the story develops.
The historical aspects of this novel were well-done and felt very authentic but the incorporation of time-travel bits and a modern man in a medieval world felt clunky and strange. The biggest issue I had was with Ross, the main character, and his complete lack of a spine throughout the entirety of the novel.
‘I’d signed up for a fencing class during my freshman year of college, but during the first session my impulse whenever my opponent thrust his rapier at me was to roll up in a ball on the floor and cover my head with my hands. I quickly switched to bowling class.’
He improved somewhat as the novel progressed, but he was an irritating character from the beginning which made it difficult considering the entire story was told from his point of view. We’re given past glimpses into his childhood that were clearly meant to provide reason behind his meek and submissive personality but it still didn’t work for me. The time period did succeed in maturing him and turning him into a ‘manly man’ but even then there were passages that were clearly meant to show his character development that were slightly ridiculous.
‘Somewhere a lamb, trapped in the ruins, bleats. I slow, keening my ears, and finally see it, its pink nose pressed between the bars of a wooden fence that has been pushed over. The small building next to it is still on fire. Adam sees it, too. He glances at me, shrugs in pity and goes on. A gap opens up between us and I dark after him, the lamb forgotten.’
If this was intended to show his growing manliness it was a big fail. The character was a total coward, completely spineless and while he was a little less cowardly by the end he failed to generate any sympathy from me and his plights.
The romance(s) were a big hot mess. We’re first introduced to Ross and Claire who are on their honeymoon yet Claire is constantly making fun of him, all in the name of playful teasing of course, and their spark couldn’t light a campfire if their life depended on it. When Claire becomes ill, Ross is distraught while contemplating life without her but it felt more like he was distraught about just being alone and didn’t have anything specifically to do with Claire. He wakes up in 1333, already resigned to the fact that he’s going to lose Claire and it immediately became oh! I have a wife here and another chance to love. The icing on the cake is the simple justification at the end, explaining everything with a pretty bow on top. It was a bit too perfect for my liking.
In the Time of Kings is a historical fiction romance with a time-travel twist but was lacking in both characterization and romance. The historical fiction bits strongly showcased the authors abilities and will appeal to fans of the genre.(less)
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It...more“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
Anne of Green Gables was written in 1908 yet the magic of this childhood classic continues to charm readers over 100 years later. Even at 28 years old, Anne managed to charm me. Yes, this is actually my first real read of Anne of Green Gables. I read The Secret Garden and Little House on the Prairie but somehow managed to miss out on the story of Anne, a spunky, chatterbox of a redhead with a knack for getting into trouble. I have no doubt I would have adored her then as I still managed to do so now.
Anne’s story is a simple one but full of heart. She was living in an orphanage for many years before she was finally put on a train and sent to Prince Edward Island where she was requested to assist Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a brother and sister that lived on a farm in Avonlea. Immediately upon her arrival, she finds out that the duo had actually required a boy and that she wasn’t needed and would be sent back to the orphanage. She becomes determined to win them over so as to not be sent back, and succeed she did. Matthew was instantly enamored by this interesting child but Marilla was much more stubborn.
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
Anne is clearly the protagonist of the novel, however, I found myself paying a lot of attention to Marilla and the transformation that she undergoes throughout the novel because of Anne’s presence. Anne grows up and matures as any child is expected to do but Marilla is truly the one that changes, and definitely for the best. Marilla is a stern woman who sets out to teach Anne how to be a proper young lady and not to be so fanciful all the time yet it’s that fanciful nature of hers that slowly breaks down Marilla’s harsh demeanor. It’s a gradual breakdown but by the end of the novel she is able to admit to her love of Anne, how proud she is of her and how happy she is that she came into their lives. It was truly touching to not only see the benefit to Anne because Marilla and Matthew chose to take her in but how she in turn equally changed their lives.
Details of Montgomery’s early life reveal that she was the inspiration for her character Anne. Montgomery’s mother died when she was just 21 months old from tuberculosis and her father sent her away to live with her elderly grandparents who resided in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Their manner of raising her was strict, such as Marilla’s manner was at first, yet their demeanor never lightened in the time she lived with them. The story of Anne is clearly how Montgomery wished things could have been for her yet despite her difficult childhood, one good thing clearly came out of it for Anne would have never existed without her experiences.
Big thanks to the girls over at The Midnight Garden for hosting this read-along as it was well past time I got to know Anne Shirley.(less)