This book was so saccharine it gave me a metaphorical toothache. I gave up halfway through because I couldn't take anymore of it. The plot solely cons...moreThis book was so saccharine it gave me a metaphorical toothache. I gave up halfway through because I couldn't take anymore of it. The plot solely consists of an unrealistic relationship between two high school students who sit there mooning about each other and who say things like, “I don't like you Park. Sometimes I think I live for you," or "It was the nicest thing she could imagine. It made her want to have his babies and give him both of her kidneys," and you can't forget, "Nothing before you counts and I can't even imagine an after.
Ugh, I'm too jaded for this book or maybe too old. (less)
This is the book that the movie 21 was based on. It’s a true account of MIT student...moreThe original review can be found here at my blog The Literary Snob.
This is the book that the movie 21 was based on. It’s a true account of MIT students who created a team in order to count cards and win millions of dollars from the Vegas casinos. I tend to enjoy biographies about interesting situations, but this one fell flat for me. The writing wasn’t very good and half way through the book I was regretting the fact that I’d picked it up. I think that this book failed not because the story failed (the story itself is pretty interesting) but because the author wasn’t up to snuff. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads and gave it the meh tag.(less)
**spoiler alert** This review was originally published at my blog here.
So I first heard about this book when Entertainment Weekly had a little blurb a...more**spoiler alert** This review was originally published at my blog here.
So I first heard about this book when Entertainment Weekly had a little blurb about how fans of Downton Abbey would fall in love with The House at Tyneford. Having now read the book, I don’t think it was fair to compare this book to Downton Abbey. I absolutely love Downton Abbey, which led me to go into this book with very high expectations. In the end, The House at Tyneford was a disappointment.
The book is set during WW2. The main character is an upper class Jew from Vienna who was sent away by her parents to work as a parlormaid in an English countryside manor, before it was too late to escape. There she meets the heir to the estate while he was home on vacation from Cambridge and I bet you can guess where that leads. The beginning of the story was more Downton-esque but that tone quickly evaporates as the story continues and slowly declines in quality.
If you had asked me what I was going to rate the book at mid-point in the novel I would’ve said around 4/5 but by the time I finished the novel my rating has dropped to a 2.5/5 (rounded up to a 3 on Goodreads). The problem I have with this book is two-fold.
First, I find myself morally annoyed (outraged seems too harsh) with the ending. Basically a quick summary of what goes down is that Elise (the Jewish maid) falls in love with the heir (Kit) and they become pseudo-engaged. Kit ends up dying during the Dunkirk evacuation. Elise and Kit’s father end up falling in love and getting married. The end. I personally find the scenario of a woman falling in love and marrying her dead fiance’s father bizarre and unsettling. Now I admit, I let moments like this severely bias my opinion on books (a perfect example is Lolita which I know is beautifully written but I couldn’t stomach it due to the pedophilia). The House at Tyneford, doesn’t go as far as Lolita and I’m not morally outraged, but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.
And my second qualm with the book was that the last quarter of it was slow and tedious to read. The book just seemed to lose its steam, and by the end it felt like the story was limping to the finish line. I really felt very little desire to finish the book, but since I was so close and my Goodreads account keeps on informing me that I’m behind on my 50 book goal for 2012 I pushed myself to finish.
To wrap up this review, yes the Downton Abbey comparison did lead me to have very high expectations for this book. But I think I would have still been disappointed with the book even if I hadn’t read the comparison. I don’t mind unhappy or bittersweet endings in books (actually I sometimes prefer those endings over the “and they lived happily ever after” endings) but this book ended on a sour note for me. I would not recommend it.
So a couple of weeks ago I posted my thoughts midway through The Night Circus. If I rememb...moreThe original review was posted on my blog The Literary Snob.
So a couple of weeks ago I posted my thoughts midway through The Night Circus. If I remember correctly I stated something along the lines that reading the book was like looking at a slightly crooked line, at first glance it seems fine but the longer you look at it the more you feel like something isn’t right. Well in the second half of the book the flaws became painfully obvious.
The book centers around a mysterious circus which is a platform for a competition between two magicians. The book jumps from differing points-of-views and storylines all weaves together to make up the conclusion of the book.
The first adjective that pops into my mind when I think back on this book is that it was saccharine. There’s a moment in the book where Morgenstern is describing the sweets available at the circus is great detail and suddenly the elegant description sours into sickly sweetness. I felt like I’d just tasted something that was too sweet and it literally turned my stomach as if I’d just eaten too many of the sweets she was describing. Here’s the deal, Morgenstern created a very interesting setting for the book that’s very rich in detail (maybe too rich). The circus is glittering and attractive but when you look beneath the surface of the setting you find that the rest of the book is merely gilded. The plot is shaky at best and the characterization is non-existent.
There are times when you’re reading a book and you’re unsure of where you’re going but you trust the author to get you to the end safe and sound. This is not one of those books. It becomes apparent by the middle of the book that the plot was hurriedly developed and under-thought. By the end I had no trust in the author and she met my expectations sadly with a poor ending that seemed thrown together. The centerpiece of the plot, the magicians’ competition, came off as if the author hadn’t fully thought it out and was herself confused as to the rules and details.The characters are also flat and lacking personality or depth.
Personally, by the end of the book I lost patience with the book and was immensely glad that I was able to finish it. There was definitely a point about two-thirds in where I almost abandoned the book. It’s a shame that such a magical and attractive setting was used so poorly. I don’t recommend it and in Goodreads I gave it 2 stars.(less)