I'm sad to see this series end. Izzy was a lot of fun. I often forget that she makes me ache too. Lots of humor, vibrant characters, interesting cases...moreI'm sad to see this series end. Izzy was a lot of fun. I often forget that she makes me ache too. Lots of humor, vibrant characters, interesting cases. I definitely recommend the series.(less)
My main issue with this book is that it isn't the end--a fact I, gratefully, discovered before its somewhat cliffhanger ending. I realized I wasn't re...moreMy main issue with this book is that it isn't the end--a fact I, gratefully, discovered before its somewhat cliffhanger ending. I realized I wasn't reading this because I was enthralled with the Unwind world and couldn't get enough of it, but because I want a sense of closure. While there are unexpected plot twists here and some groundwork set for a finale, it felt less like a progressive setup and more like a delay to the grand conclusion. It didn't read as quickly as I would have liked and at times I was lost not having read Lev's detour, UnStrung. I don't think the book should rely so heavily on expecting the reader to have read it since it isn't part of the main series. Also, while Shusterman is a masterful storyteller, this is riddled with grammar errors that were a distraction. The only part of the novel I really enjoyed was Grace. I was hesitantly curious where Shusterman would take the series after Unwind, but I'm not sure I'm dedicated enough for another installment. I think I'll wait it out and see if reviews compel me to finish the series or not.(less)
Since I started this book, I can't stop thinking about it. I keep wondering what I would do if I were in Lou's place. How I would feel in Wil...more4.5 stars
Since I started this book, I can't stop thinking about it. I keep wondering what I would do if I were in Lou's place. How I would feel in Will's. How I would react if I were Mrs. Traynor, Nathan, Patrick, someone in Lou's family's watching her get pulled into this. The speculation is easy to do because Moyes masterfully crafted her characters so they feel like real people--not caricatures there to portray her controversial issue, but a story of real people dealing with a real issue.
I really liked Lou. Her sense of humor, her quirky way of dressing, her guarded nature were all very endearing. I liked the banter she had with Will and I loved watching both of them change and grow as they learned to appreciate the world from a perspective so different from their own. I definitely lean toward character-driven stories and this one is very well done.
(view spoiler)[On their last night on vacation, Moyes introduced the option for Will to grow exponentially as a person, to realize that life as a quadriplegic can be fulfilling, to realize that life isn't about the things we can or cannot do, nor is the choice to be happy. When Will said, "this could be a good life," I honestly thought the character development had led to him having a change of heart, at the least to give it a six months delay. I understand why Moyes didn't have him back down--it would have meant backing away from the controversial topic--but his rather cruel answer that Lou wasn't enough seemed to strip away any ground he had gained.
I would have liked a little more from that scene to believe in Will's continued determination when he was given enough to at least make him hesitate. If he had mentioned his health problems, his probability that he wouldn't live long anyway, his desire to end life when and how he wanted instead of by a sudden bout of pneumonia, then maybe my heart would have broken a little for him. As it is, my tears were all for poor Lou who opened her heart to someone who was going to break hers. All along as Will's plan was mentioned, I felt for him, but from then on, I struggled to sympathize with someone who seemed not to sympathize with anyone else. Update: At my book club discussion someone brought up that Moyes didn't want to give Will a voice because so often in these circumstances they aren't given one (as shown by the picture frame scene). I like that aspect of the novel, but by having this conversation with Lou, he is given a voice and doesn't use it. I would have rather either the scene not be there or he take his defense a few steps further. Having said that, I enjoyed that even though it seemed obvious I wasn't sure what the outcome of the novel would be.
The ending felt heavy handed to me. I get why Lou put on a brave face for Will, but it felt a bit like she wasn't allowed to disagree with his decision, that the discourse in the story could no longer be about how it affected her. When she didn't want him to see her blotchy face and his response was, "It's not your choice," I felt like I was being slapped with an ethics lesson and responded adversely. I did not feel sorry for or understanding of Will. In that moment I agreed with his sister that he was selfish. His assisted suicide might have been his choice, but Lou's reaction was hers. Her mode of saying goodbye was hers. Even the decision to let him see her cry-stained face or not was her choice, not his. That moment should have been about his family and Lou, about the memories he was leaving them, about comforting them and making them understand, not about what I the reader thought of the decision. I felt like I was being spoon-fed Moyes' approved reaction. All the characters there charted the same "it's Will's choice" line. I would have much rather his sister refuse to show up or Lou break down and beg him one last time, in those last moments with him, to please give her more time (bargaining is a stage of grief). Not only would the variety in reactions have been more realistic, but it would have opened up the discussion from Moyes's approved reaction to what the reader's ethical/appropriate/realistic response is to a loved one making such a choice. (hide spoiler)]
This would make a great book club discussion. There are themes in here beyond the central one, about family (I loved Lou's family), disability and caregiving (very well researched and Moyes brought up a lot of details of daily life I hadn't considered before), responsibility and commitment, what makes life valuable, education, patterns of wealth and poverty, etc. Despite feeling a little manipulated at the end, it is still an excellent read and I highly recommend it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Victoria was a complex character I enjoyed unravelling from the get go. On the one hand, I was often appalled at her lack of consideration fo...more3.5 stars
Victoria was a complex character I enjoyed unravelling from the get go. On the one hand, I was often appalled at her lack of consideration for other people and their personal property. She was cold and closed off and determined to fail. On the other hand, she felt so authentic for a child who had grown up in the system and some of her quirks hit home to me at that age. As the book progressed, I glimpsed the soft center she was trying to protect and her vulnerability felt very real to me.
I enjoyed the progression of the story with both her present endeavors as she turns 18 and is kicked out of the system (without an education or any skills to survive) as well as the interweaved memories of her one chance at a normal life. I was curious to discover what could have gone wrong to put her back in the system, but mostly I enjoyed Diffenbaugh's beautiful writing. I loved the concept of reviving the tradition of flowers as a way to communicate and was happy to see Diffenbaugh included a dictionary in the back. I referenced it quite often during the story. There were a few times I felt the story bordered on a corny flower doctor who could fix everyone's problems with the right floral arrangement, but it didn't take it too far. (Although I am tempted to dig up those poverty-bringing clematis vines off my property and plant a bunch of corn and wheat.)
I was sure the story was a solid 4 stars, but the second half of the novel felt off to me. The events felt like they had taken the story off course solely to complete the character and story arc. (view spoiler)[While I totally understand that Victoria would panic at the idea of having a baby and flee from her postpartum anxiety, I didn't really understand her motive for leaving Grant when she would have assumed him to be the better parent. I get that the thought of commitment scared her, to both Grand and a baby, but I would think that she would either commit to neither or to both. I felt a little lost as to what she was expecting or planning during that hiding out period. Nor did I completely buy into the steps to her leaving the baby and then coming back into her life. I can't pinpoint exactly what about it felt off to me, maybe that it was a little too good to be true (especially, increasingly Renata's generosity), but it felt forced to me.
[On a side note, reading this while I nurse my own infant, Victoria's postpartum period gave me a bit of anxiety. Leaving her baby for extended periods, setting her on the hard counter, driving her that far in a basket in the back seat. They seemed like very real things Victoria would do, but I wanted to reach into the story and pluck that poor baby from her night of abandonment. There were a few things that were off about the period too. Victoria's engorged breasts didn't seem to bother her until a whole day or more after she quit feeding. They would bother her within hours. I was also confused that Victoria bought several cans of formula and then went through then in a couple of days. While there is single-serving formula, cans will last awhile.]
I always knew Victoria would end up reconciling with Elizabeth, even before I knew what had separated them. I thought the ending could maybe redeem the awkward patch while Victoria was gone, but it felt a bit contrived too. (For example: the March 1 birthdate meant to parallel Hazel's beginnings to Victoria's. While Victoria's parents were unknown, Grant could have easily done a little research through Renata and found out the baby's birthdate.) I'm glad it ended the way it did, not just for Victoria but Grant and Elizabeth too. The story doesn't explore in great depths the damage done to Grant or Elizabeth through their lives, but they were broken souls too. It's why they connected with Victoria and saw something in her worth saving and why they were good for her. I wondered what would have happened to Victoria without them in her life. It's doubtful she would have ever ended up off the streets. (hide spoiler)]
In the acknowledgments it says Diffenbaugh drew from her own experience as a foster mother for this story. I'm glad to see her tackle the subject of foster care for older children, particularly those who are left without assistance into adulthood. I haven't read many books about foster care and it's nice to see an author dedicated to such a worthy cause. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Nothing of interest happens for the first several hundred pages (more like 400), which only led to me picking out all the pl...moreMaybe closer to 2.5 stars.
Nothing of interest happens for the first several hundred pages (more like 400), which only led to me picking out all the plot holes in this turn of events that didn't quite make sense to me:
*Wasn't what defined Tris as Divergent was her ability to resist the serums? Now there is no correlation to it and her reaction an anomaly? What exactly is Divergent then? Although I did like Tobias' comment about Tris having a stubborn gene.
*The genetics didn't make any sense, especially the Bureau's response. In order to breed out undesirable genes, people with those genes are locked in a city until those genes are bred out. That goes against logic, even Roth's when GPs are encouraged to breed with other GPs. The explanation on why a country would pursue such a destructive prejudice is weak, but stranger things have happened so I was willing to suspend my disbelief.
*I'm not even sure I really grasp the Bureau's relationship with the experiments, what they gained from them, and how it was supposed to help them in the battle against the fringe. Their reactions to the experiments were opposing, sometimes intervening and other times aiding in conflicting agendas. The only reason for the serum connection was to fuel Tris. It didn't make much sense otherwise.
I had more questions I'm sure, but those were the ones I bothered to write down and therefore remember. The questions only compounded during the climax. (view spoiler)[Why didn't the rebels go after the memory serum going out on the planes instead of risking the death serum? Why didn't David inoculate himself against the memory serum when he bothered with the death serum? Why was it all of a sudden so easy to get in and out of a locked city without notice? Evelyn's turnaround was improbable, but okay, I'll buy into it for Tobias' sake, but I'm not sure how that solved all the city's problems, the tension set up in Divergent, or the memory swipe in one establishment erase a nationwide prejudice, but the problems kind of all fizzled in the end. (hide spoiler)]
I appreciate what Roth did with the prejudices, showing how it affects individuals and society, but it wasn't enough to keep me interested for the first 400 pages. If Roth had sacrificed plot points for character development, I would have been okay with that, but not only was I having trouble remembering the secondary characters (and felt nothing at plot points that involved them), I was losing Tris and Tobias too. Tobias was one of my favorite male leads in Divergent, but here he was such a pansy. Part of that is Roth showing him crumble under prejudice and part was adding his voice without any distinction to Tris' voice. Writing distinct voices is very difficult to do, and I always appreciate when an author does it well, but if a story is to be told from two perspectives, it hurts the characters if it isn't done with at least some distinction. I almost wonder if it wouldn't have been better to write Insurgent completely from Tobias' perspective and then alternate this one once his voice was set. I really struggled to keep his character in check to the Tobias I knew, Tris too to a lesser extent.
While I found the climax and conclusion rushed without appropriate resolution, I actually liked THE SCENE. (I found Roth's explanation for it interesting and worth the read, after one finishes Allegiant.) The details were rushed, but it was sweet and touching, and I felt for the characters in the followup scenes. I might have even gotten choked up. I also liked the parallels to the beginning of Divergent in the final chapters. However, I think I was supposed to feel like I was holding on to the characters in the epilogue, but I didn't. It was the only scene in the book that I thought was too long. I would have preferred more wrap up to the world Roth created, from a withdrawn perspective (a different person/distance/time) than that drawn out scene. I'm not dissatisfied with the way the series ended, but I think it could have been stronger.
I took issue with this quote: "To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing--the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself."
I disagree. Forgiveness means giving up your weight. Forgiveness is more about giving yourself permission to stop burdening yourself than the release you give the other person. The weight Tris would have carried had nothing to do with forgiveness and more about future events.
And I liked this quote: There are many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through the pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
At the pool's edge I might be ugly, But when I speak strokes I am beautiful.
My biggest beef with novels in verse is the arbitrary line breaks, but this...moreAt the pool's edge I might be ugly, But when I speak strokes I am beautiful.
My biggest beef with novels in verse is the arbitrary line breaks, but this felt like real poetry, those line breaks serving a purpose. It's a short book--I read it in a few hours' time--but it tackles a lot of issues: abandonment, bullying, being the new girl, teenage insecurity, loyalty, first love, and swimming, which isn't an issue but I speak swimming so it resonates with me.
This was a fun read. While some of the plot points are a bit stretched, I really liked Charlotte and laughed at some of the dialogue. Plus, the ending...moreThis was a fun read. While some of the plot points are a bit stretched, I really liked Charlotte and laughed at some of the dialogue. Plus, the ending wasn't nearly as cheesy as Austenland. (less)
As with The Shadow of the Wind, I found the writing in Angel's Game beautiful, occasionally over the top, but it drew me in and had me wanting more. I...moreAs with The Shadow of the Wind, I found the writing in Angel's Game beautiful, occasionally over the top, but it drew me in and had me wanting more. I liked the complexity of the characters and was especially fond of Isabella. Her banter with David might have been my favorite part to read. Barcelona is the perfect setting for the gothic novel and a stronger presence than any of the characters.
The story isn't as good as Shadow of the Wind, but I didn't expect it to be. The climax in particular got to be a bit much and a little far fetched. What kept me reading, besides the writing, was curiosity about how to classify the novel. Is it a mystery with a clever villain always one step ahead of David, a psychological thriller with a mentally unstable narrator, or a supernatural tale that is in essence a religious allegory?
I kept waiting for Zafon to definitely answer that question, but he never does. At first I was a bit disappointed, but now that I've had time to reflect on the story, I'm okay with the open ending. However, I wish some of my questions had been addressed, especially about what exactly happened in several of the scenes. (view spoiler)[My biggest disappointment was never finding out what exactly happened to Cristina. I never felt connected with her as a character (not nearly as much as Isabella), but I still felt a little heartbroken at her death and wondered exactly David did experience. I wasn't crazy about everyone dying, but it left David alone to contemplate what happened without anyone else's perspective to ground him. He didn't get any more answers than we do and that was part of his penance.
I loved the hints that David was going crazy (such as the men in the alley getting beat up) and the creepiness of Mr. Corelli as the devil. I especially loved him pressing David for a stronger villain. My interpretation is that The Boss was the one behind the crimes, like the fire, but that he never got his hands dirty opting to work through people like David, twisting his mind to his will. So it's a little of all three: a mystery, a psychological thriller, and a religious allegory. (hide spoiler)].
Once I finished the book, I couldn't wait to discuss it and devoured other reviews, looking for others' interpretation of the novel. I didn't catch the tie-in to The Shadow of the Wind until then, and glad Isabella was the connecting link. I'm glad to see the story continues.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In some ways I liked this better than Edenbrooke. There is no twirling, which is probably why I liked Kate more than Marianne, and the castle on the m...moreIn some ways I liked this better than Edenbrooke. There is no twirling, which is probably why I liked Kate more than Marianne, and the castle on the moor was cool, but then Henry was a bit sappy for my taste so it washes out. I also found the story a bit predictable (not the worst thing in a romance) and lacking in Regency era propriety. It's little things like Sylvia stopping by Kate's house and going to her room uninvited, the hours or unsupervised time Henry and Kate have (some of it is from sneaking around but not all), the moments of dishonesty from a love interest, and Kate's mother's behavior (there is plenty of consequence for Eleanor's flirtiness but nobody seems scandalized by Mrs. Worthington's). Nothing too drastic, just enough to make it harder to believe the time period.
While I enjoyed the story as is, it could have been stronger with a bit of side character and plot development. Miss St. Claire and Sylvia both could have been better developed and become viable threats to Kate's happiness. There was some inner struggle with Kate about admiring Miss St. Claire and envying her, but she never develops into either a vicious or admirable character. With the rift developing between Sylvia there could have been some conflict since she is Henry's sister, but neither her relationship with Kate or Henry is developed. Mr. Brandon could have been a stronger divergence. Maria and Mrs. Worthington could have been disastrous, not merely pesky. Mrs. Delafield's plotting for her son's future could have also added a plot twist and turn there. Something to make me doubt that Kate was going to get what she wanted. I would have also liked a bit more of the gothic creepy factor.
It's a fun, quick read and it definitely had moments that made me smile. If you liked Edenbrooke, you'll like this one too. It follows the same formula.(less)
This is my second Kate Morton novel and while I didn't love it as much as The Forgotten Garden, I still really enjoyed it. If it weren't for The Forgo...moreThis is my second Kate Morton novel and while I didn't love it as much as The Forgotten Garden, I still really enjoyed it. If it weren't for The Forgotten Garden, I may have even figured out the ending sooner (I kept double-guessing myself), but I'm glad it surprised me.
(view spoiler)[While I got the abusive husband from the second Henry was introduced, I expected the twist to be that Vivien and/or Jimmy took of with the money. I loved how Morton eased my loyalty from Dolly as the main character to Vivien until I found myself wishing Vivien were the one who survived. Morton is very talented at weaving stories out of chronological order, dripping in clues and revelations along the way until by the end you've place in the last puzzle piece and can see the grand picture.
While I loved the slow development of the characters and mystery, and the back and forth in time, I was left with a few questions: if Jimmy saw Vivien on the beach, why was he surprised it was her and not Dolly when he came to visit? Henry spent all that time going after Dolly but why not Jimmy? Unless he always suspected it was Vivien and she was the only one he was interested in. Also, I never quite got why Laurel took such notice of the stamp so that it would set off her memory. (hide spoiler)]
It was a fun story and I enjoyed trying to piece it together.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
With my second book club reading The Spellman Files, I thought I'd be an overachiever and read the next installment in the series. I'm so glad I did....moreWith my second book club reading The Spellman Files, I thought I'd be an overachiever and read the next installment in the series. I'm so glad I did. I forgot how amusing those wacky Spellmans are. While I enjoyed the humor and characters in this one more, the mystery in the first was definitely better. (It kind of reminds me of my obsession with the TV Veronica Mars. The mystery in the first season was unmatched in the second, but I was so into the characters that it didn't matter.) And like VM, I often found myself sneaking in time with those characters. I even laughed at a few lines (and I hardly ever laugh out loud when reading). I can't wait for the next one in the series (here's hoping it's not as disappointing as the third season of VM). Once again, thanks for the recommend Lisa. (less)
I really thought I was going to give this one four stars. The suspense creeped me out, especially since I was home alone for much of this read. The be...moreI really thought I was going to give this one four stars. The suspense creeped me out, especially since I was home alone for much of this read. The best part of the book was not knowing whether or not Christine could trust Ben. I flip-flopped on trusting him myself from page to page and had my doubts about Dr. Nash's motives. I felt Christine's confusion and displacement, but the longer the journal entries got the more I doubted she could spent all day everyday rediscovering herself and then updating herself on yet another day in such lengthy, pensive passages. Short, clipped journal entries would have been more realistic than the lengthy novel feel, especially the descriptive passages that novels require but don't fit a journal. Even a transition from longer entries to short almost bullet lists would have worked for me.
Although I kept wanting to get back to the story to figure out who I could trust, the more into the novel I got, the more my doubts about implausibility grew until by the climax I wasn't connected to the story. I found the climax disappointing and a little too convenient. (view spoiler)[
My biggest questions had to do with legal responsibilities about mental patients. I didn't quite buy into someone with an obvious mental disability signing herself out of an institution to someone with no proof of identity. I also wondered about Dr. Nash's legal ability to take her on as a patient. I'd think she'd be legally incompetent of signing any sort of contract. And I wondered why and how Mike was working under Ben's name. I thought it would have been more plausible if nobody could figure out where Ben was teaching. I found it odd that it took a week from Christine's confession to Claire for it all to unfold. But most of all, I was disappointed with how Mike became too much of a villain and Ben too much of saint. I would have much rather Ben be the one who had beat Christine up and the book end with her thinking Ben was such a great husband for putting up with her, but we the reader know better. That makes me an awful person to be rooting for a creepy ending instead of a happy one, but Christine could have been happy in the end so I'm not completely awful, right?
(hide spoiler)] The climax might work for readers who are more attached to the story and not hoping for a different ending. I could totally see this ending in a movie. The book was suspenseful and minus the abundance of f words and some body discussions, I enjoyed the read. Even weeks after closing the book, I think about the awesome suspense Watson created. I find myself wanting to discuss it with other people who have read it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Although I love Jane Austen, generally chick lit love stories are not my thing. I think I'm too much of cynic to be pulled into a happily ever after s...moreAlthough I love Jane Austen, generally chick lit love stories are not my thing. I think I'm too much of cynic to be pulled into a happily ever after story without reservation. Having said, this is a really cute story and I'm not at all surprised it's such a hit with so many of my friends. While I held back on a lot of the lighter moments, it was Marianne's sense of rejection that caught me off guard to the point of tearing up a few times. Usually I don't buy into the plot twists and misundertandings that make up the fluff of love stories, and while I had my share of that, the misunderstood conversation was well done and I totally bought Marianne's heartache over it. I related more to her sadness than I did to her twirling. I'll even admit to staying up later than I should to read more of her story. Philip as a love interest didn't hurt. A fun, clean story. If you're into Regency romances, I'd recommend checking this one out.(less)
I almost rated this two stars because truthfully I didn't enjoy it, but I can't punish Hornby for being honest about Rob's mind and men in general. Ev...moreI almost rated this two stars because truthfully I didn't enjoy it, but I can't punish Hornby for being honest about Rob's mind and men in general. Every non-comittal, shallow, narcissistic tendency that I want to believe guys don't really possess, at least past their mid twenties, or at least the good ones, is awash in Rob well into his thirties. My first turn off was his second girlfriend, a poor girl who obviously liked him when all he cared about was how far he could get with her. I got her story right away and felt sad for her, but Rob only cared about how it affected him. He rubbed me the wrong way and it's hard to get into a story when you don't care what happens to the main character.
There were many times I almost gave up--not because the writing is bad. If it were, I could excuse away much of Rob's personality, but he's pretty well defined. There's this great juxtaposition in what Rob thinks and what others perceive about him, all done from Rob's limited perspective. I'm not sure if I kept going because I don't like to give up or because a good chunk of the book I read in the car when my only other option was War and Peace. Or maybe there was enough curiosity in me to find out how Rob turned out. I'm not sure, but regardless, I wasn't satisfied with how he did.
(view spoiler)[I feel like I was supposed to feel relief or satisfaction that Rob was able to work through his fear of rejection and commit to Laura, but I'm not sure he did. We meet Rob at a moment in history where he's so dependent on someone he can't imagine life without her. But what happens five or ten years down the road when he finds someone who excites him enough to finish a mix tape for them? When the mess of lies and distrust embedded in their relationship bubbles up? I think their relationship is doomed to fail eventually. If I'd gotten the sense he wanted to commit to Laura because he finally cared about someone's happiness more than himself, or at least as much, then yes, I would have rooted for them to stay together, but I got more of a sense of, eh, for the moment it's less work to stay together than apart. All the last chapters did was endear me to Laura, realize how much she got Rob, and fear for her eventual heartbreak when he didn't grow up enough to love her back. (hide spoiler)]
The story revolved around great music references and there are some amusing moments and great insight into the male psyche. Even though Rob annoyed me, I did laugh at (and sometimes with) him, and I keep thinking about him and what Hornby is saying about modern relationships and how guys really feel about them. Maybe Rob affected me more than I'd like to admit, and not just to get under my skin.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I kept picturing my mom reading this book because it is that old. While it is outdated (I skipped a lot of the sections that are no longer relevant),...moreI kept picturing my mom reading this book because it is that old. While it is outdated (I skipped a lot of the sections that are no longer relevant), there is a lot of good technical information in here about all the nitty gritty facts of childbirth. Between the exercises, visualization, and relaxation techniques, there's plenty in there to prepare you for exactly what you will encounter in a natural childbirth. My one anxiety with this method is how much it relies on the coach to get a mother through childbirth. Honestly, as long as my husband doesn't ask why I don't give up and get the epidural, I'll consider his input a success. And I don't really want anyone else there. So, I'm pretty much on my own. I can do this without a coach, right?(less)
I feel like this book sets women up to fail. It claims childbirth doesn't hurt, at all, and if it hurts you, well that's just because you've been cond...moreI feel like this book sets women up to fail. It claims childbirth doesn't hurt, at all, and if it hurts you, well that's just because you've been conditioned for birth to hurt. So you go into childbirth expecting all this new wave awesomeness and your body tenses up, a lot, and you start to stress because it kind of hurts and that's your fault and you must be doing something wrong. If you hurt, that's not natural but Western indoctrination. If you have the urge to push, that's not natural but Western indoctrination. But you have to read Mongan's book (and a take Hypno Birthing class) to learn the relaxation techniques for that easy, no-pain delivery that's supposed to come naturally.
The theory in there that if you relax and let your body work for you the experience will be much smoother is solid, but Mongan doesn't use a lot of technical information. She doesn't want to bog mothers down with terminology that will freak them out. So instead of prepping mothers with a lot of the science of childbirth, she glosses over a lot of the facts in favor of reminding you, often, that it isn't supposed to hurt. That may work for some women, to go into the experience with an ultra optimistic, happy thoughts mindset, but personally I'd rather know what I'm getting into. If you are like me, I'd also read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. A bit (or a lot) outdated, but it'll give you the nitty gritty facts about childbirth that Mongan glosses. I feel much better prepared about what to expect having read both.
Despite my turn offs with the tone, the relaxation techniques are helpful, although I can't stand the counting aspect to the breathing. I have major breathing anxiety (stemming from lung complications from needing to be induced with my first child) so the counting could just be me. I find it a lot more helpful to focus on deep long breaths than the actual length of those breaths. I found the CD with relaxation techniques particularly helpful in relieving any anxiety I feel about the whole experience. A good resource for natural childbirth, but go into the thing with open eyes, not rose-colored glasses.(less)
Eleanor broke my heart, enough that I found myself fighting back tears more than once. And more than once I snuck in chapters during non-designated-re...moreEleanor broke my heart, enough that I found myself fighting back tears more than once. And more than once I snuck in chapters during non-designated-reading times. I rarely do that. Eleanor and Park are very well-developed nerdy outcast characters you can't help but root for and while at times a little cheesy, Rowell does a good job of recreating the intensity of first love (which, let's be honest, might not be as realistic without the cheese). Great, quirky teen romance without the predictability of your typical designated-for-a-happy-ending romance.(less)
While I enjoyed much about this book (and would recommend it to most of my friends), I had trouble suspending my disbelief and at times caring about t...moreWhile I enjoyed much about this book (and would recommend it to most of my friends), I had trouble suspending my disbelief and at times caring about the characters. I also struggled for much of the beginning to find a reason to invest in this story above others in its genre. It felt too commercial and derivative for my tastes, as well as too doomed for me to invest in. Once the POVs switched up though, I found myself a little more curious about the outcome and by the end I could ignore my disbelief to follow the characters through the climax.
What I liked: The different points of view. I especially loved that I didn't know who I could trust, even when it was a POV. This was my favorite feature in the book. I couldn't figure out if Vosch was bad as first introduced or would be revealed as one of the good guys, if I could trust The Silencer, if anyone in the story would turn out to be not what they appeared.
I loved that it wasn't a typical alien invasion with a spaceship battle meant for the big screen. Instead it was a quiet strategy that plotted everyone against each other so you didn't know who to trust. And I loved that as a reader you were part of that uncertainty. The plot twists help keep me in suspense through most of the book. (view spoiler)[I only wish they would have explained what they did with the green light children on the bus and why they turned up green in the first place. (hide spoiler)]
What I didn't like: The romantic moment. Not only was it not developed enough beforehand so that I felt nothing at it, but I also at that point wasn't such a big fan of Cassie's. Distrust and jaded I get, but snarky and rude for the sake of being snarky and rude turned me off (although I'll admit she was well done and believable as a teenager). I had this Twilight-esque moment where I wondered why Mr. Perfect altered his whole human perspective because of a girl he didn't really know and I didn't find all that special at that moment.
As I already mentioned, my biggest issues was suspending my disbelief. While the aliens were smart in those first waves, the fifth wave was a stretch. (view spoiler)[Not sure why they would target only children (although children are much easier to indoctrinate), or why they would go through so much effort to train and arm them when they could do it better themselves. It made for a cool story and twist, but I didn't buy it. (hide spoiler)]
A few other things: When Cassie described the EMP, she said everyone looked out the window for the alien space ship. No. I promise if I'm ever unfortunate enough to experience an EMP, I will not be looking up in the sky for an alien spaceship. I'll be thinking about the Middle East, or maybe China or Russia. I'd even think about England or Canada before I think aliens. EMP, tidal wave, virus: not until that alien spaceship actually appeared in the sky would anyone even consider it an alien attack. And after that EMP, the standardization of terms for the aliens and attacks would dissolve, but the characters used too much of the same wording (particularly waves) and thought processes.
It was a fun, intense read and I'll probably read the next in the series. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book more than the build toward the climax where I resisted some of the plot points and pulled out of t...more3.5 stars
I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book more than the build toward the climax where I resisted some of the plot points and pulled out of the story. I worried it was building toward an emotionally manipulative tragedy that wouldn't feel realistic. Gratefully, it didn't turn out as I expected (view spoiler)[with Tom hanging, Lucy running off and dying in the unforgiving wilderness, and Hannah and Isabel falling apart (hide spoiler)]. The only thing that felt unrealistic to me toward the end was all the closure weaved through too much dialogue. Sometimes you don't get the chance to tell someone exactly how you feel and if you do, you don't want to, at least not nearly to the extent of explanation offered here. I think some of those scenes would have been better left as a longing or internal dialogue.
I'd heard from several people that this was a tear jerker, but I never committed to the characters enough to feel that level of sadness. My resistance was to Isabel. I could understand Tom's moral compass fighting with his loyalty to his wife (view spoiler)[although in that latter part I wish I'd seen a little more of the conflicted Tom from the first half than just Isabel's view of betrayal (hide spoiler)]. I certainly sympathized with Hannah's struggle as well as poor little Lucy's, almost everyone in the book, but not Isabel. With all that loss and hurt building up into twisted sense of right and survival, she could have been the most sympathetic character, but she was so narrow-minded and blinded in her anger, and even joy at Hannah's expense, that I found myself unable to like or even pity her. (view spoiler)[She redeemed herself somewhat by the end, but throughout I'd like to have been given something more to follow her logic and emotion, especially an attempt to understand Tom. (hide spoiler)]
The writing was beautiful and I reread some of the descriptions. I did have an issue the leap to present in what felt like random scenes that pulled me out of the story and had me scratching my head as to why the sudden switch in tense that shifted back again after that scene. But overall, I liked the story. It left a lot to contemplate in what is ultimately right when the initial wrong choice has affected so many lives. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)