The most important thing to note is that this isn't meant to be a novel with a story line. This is a journal, an experience really, of a man encounter...moreThe most important thing to note is that this isn't meant to be a novel with a story line. This is a journal, an experience really, of a man encountering nature and becoming amazed with it on a spiritual level. Muir's beautiful description of the landscape and his detail to specific tree types and animals were enchanting at first. He's fixated by the wild and believes in some ways humans are at odds with nature. Being it was written around 1869, I found his views on Native Americans a bit distasteful, but placed within its historical context, it made sense. Also, as beautiful as the writing was at times I would become bored reading another sentence about a beautiful tree, squirrel, or bird.
This is not a book for everyone. I appreciate the book for what it did in terms of the Naturalism genre, but it's not a particularly riveting read.
If you've ever wanted to read a book labeled "naturalist" or "naturalism" this would be the best place to start.
Life from a Lefty Moment: Reading this book reminded me of a vacation I took about two summers ago to San Francisco. Every time I read a passage I was constantly reminded of the San Francisco Botanical Garden. If you do end up getting your hands on this book, try reading it at a local park or a botanical garden. The sensory experience Muir gives you is much more difficult to comprehend if it's been a while since you've appreciated nature yourself.(less)
I'm always happy when I find a nonfiction book to share that has a strong voice and powerful narrative. Most of the time when you hear the word "Katri...moreI'm always happy when I find a nonfiction book to share that has a strong voice and powerful narrative. Most of the time when you hear the word "Katrina," you immediately think about New Orleans, but instead Trethewey wants you to know how this affected the lives of those outside of New Orleans in places like Mississippi. She not only talks about the destruction, but what led up to the hurricane, including one in '65 and the aftermath of those economically disadvantaged.
I felt outraged by the price jacking and such sorrow after reading about what Trethewey's brother accomplished right before Hurricane Katrina hit. There are some many historical notes mixed in with stories of amazing family members that were able to build their own little fortunes, which would later end due to a variety of circumstances.
Somehow, Trethewey did not prepare me for the emotional blows faced by the incarceration of her brother. As a reader I was so wrapped up in her family history, what they accomplished, and the economic disadvantages the poor faced before and after the hurricane, that his story shocked me- even though it was stated explicitly in the blurb. You're shown this story of hope, survival, and loss when you learn about what led to her brother's incarceration. It's tempting to wanting to trace the root and cause of the crime to Katrina as his life changed so much after the hurricane. I'm sure others may disagree, but I wonder what his life would have been like had Katrina not occurred.
She's never preachy and doesn't go out of her way to say this book is about racial injustice, as it's more about social justice and what happens when the poor are abandoned and forgotten. It's about how the scope and damage of Hurricane Katrina extended beyond New Orleans, and sadly how the scars of Katrina are still visible.
I would say this book is about moving past or beyond Katrina and trying to make sense out of what happened. The research and history into the Gulf Coast was richly done and the narrative structure along with random poems interspersed within gave this book the feel of a story, than a plain nonfiction book.
I think if you've been wanting to read an amazing nonfiction book and were not certain where to start, this book would be it. It's not exactly a topic that would seem to hold anyone's interest as a hurricane in itself is fairly boring, but when blended in with the various stories and lives of those on the Gulf Coast, then Katrina becomes more than a hurricane, but a time where you could clearly delineate the before and after and what it meant to those who experienced it. (less)
My problem with this book is that I kept falling asleep. I think this book has something of value to say and those that were able to read it without p...moreMy problem with this book is that I kept falling asleep. I think this book has something of value to say and those that were able to read it without passing out, mentioned the vocabulary and sentence structure was fascinating.
Others loved the stories.
There were tidbits about his life and the history of the West that engaged me, but I would pass out for 2-3 hours if not more. A colleague mentioned this may be the result of exhaustion on my part than the actual quality of the book.
I intend on tackling this book later down the year, but I had to give up for now as losing major chunks of time due to a power nap I wasn't planning on, made me frustrated as a reader. Especially since I've never fallen asleep reading a book before.
I shall update this review if I am able to read this book to the end. As of now, consider it shelved. (less)
This is a cute fun little book to read when you're in need of brain candy, but there are somethings that will possibly turn you off and that's mostly...moreThis is a cute fun little book to read when you're in need of brain candy, but there are somethings that will possibly turn you off and that's mostly Sophie's internal dialogue. I know Sophie is meant to be funny, but sometimes I found her private thoughts to be judgmental, which caused me to dislike her. She would say things that could possibly be seen as being not politically correct and offensive. For instance there's a line where Sophie thinks a male character is standing in front of a crowd like a "prissy teacher teaching underprivileged kids in the ghetto." I slightly paraphrased the quote as there's no telling what the final copy will look like, but it was lines like those that made me think, Sophie was a jerk herself.
There's even a line comparing Kate Middleton to other European royalty, calling her true royalty and basically inferring royalty from other European nations such as Spain are trashy. I've never really liked how the Western world is dismissive of Spanish royalty and that of other countries, as if the English monarchy was all that mattered. Granted, royalty poses its own unique problems, but I don't think Sophie needed to be so...mean.
I didn't mind when she was mean towards Eric or even the floozy secretary, but anyone else that received a catty or mean spirited comment from her, caused me to lessen my support for her. If she was so great, she wouldn't be so passive aggressive and rude when revealing her inner most thoughts.
Oddly, all the references to 90s and 80s moments in pop culture didn't work for me. It makes me worry this will cause the book to be dated within a few years. Strangely enough, some of the very pop culture references that I like to giggle about with friends made me blanch when mentioned in this novel. I kept thinking, "Oh my god, this book makes me feel so old!" I just don't think pop cultural references should make you feel old. They're suppose to be a fun trip down memory lane. It could just be me, but sadly references to old rap groups from the 90s didn't fill me with joy the way it normally would.
What did work for me was actually the 12 step program for love dependency. I think even if readers are not a fan of chick lit, but simply want some sort of guide on love addiction and how to acquire a healthy relationship, there are so many examples and rules presented, all of them thoughtful and logical that the book is worth getting for that aspect alone. It's like a self help book in disguise.
It's focus on not falling for every guy, respecting yourself more, learning not to force a relationship are just things I would want all of my girlfriends to be aware of, even if the situations are fictionalized.
The cast of characters who begin to attend love rehab are fun and eccentric to the absolutely absurd. I believe Princess was the only character I was never truly fond of, aside from Sophie's closest friend who annoyed me every now and then. There's one character named Prithi, that I think did an excellent job displaying the complexities of relationships in the US when meshed with cultural norms that don't coincide with today's dating scene.
It's difficult to gauge whether I really liked the ending. On the one hand it gives readers what they want within the romance/chick lit genre, but on the other hand, I sort of wish Piazza had taken a risk. It's a cute ending, as expected, but after all the therapy and self analysis Sophie goes through, you kinda hoped she'd follow a different route, even if it doesn't fit the conventions of this particular genre.
Overall, it's a cute book, but I hate to tell you that Sophie may lose a lot of potential fans along the way, for that reason alone I wouldn't recommend it to YA fans looking to jump into an adult novel. I wouldn't want Sophie to be the reason you swore off all chick lit and romance.(less)
What wins me over is the plot minus the romantic elements. The twists and the involvement of the Department of Defense, the introduction of Blake, and...moreWhat wins me over is the plot minus the romantic elements. The twists and the involvement of the Department of Defense, the introduction of Blake, and the logical extension of what would happen if super powered aliens and their quirky friends existed is interesting.
I believe my more savvy readers will easily figure out all the plot twists early on as usual. What keeps you going is that paranormal romance stories don't usually show the gritty side of overpowered supernatural beings and how our government would intercede. The Lux series describes how absolute power corrupts, but from a human perspective instead of the usual bad vampire/god/werewolf who wants world domination. That's compelling reading.
What isn't compelling is the treatment of women. With this book in particular I don't feel comfortable using terms like misogynist or anti feminist, because this book carelessly threw around the phrase "slut shaming" as to say, "See guys, I don't do that."
Sure, Armentrout doesn't slut shame.
She does, however, do something else that aggravated me so much I wanted to quit the series, even though I had the third book already on my kindle. All her main females are completely useless and incapable of making rationale decisions without the guidance of men. Or they're treated as if they will simply fall apart without a strong man protecting them.
There. I hate that.
The use of Dee as an incompetent women as characters like Daemon tried to convince us that she regularly said things like, "Please help me I'm a damsel in distress," ridiculousness irked me. Daemon kept insisting to Katy that they can't share any secrets with Dee or she'll fall apart and cry or perhaps get hurt.
She's a freaking alien Daemon. A strong one.
And Katy are you that easily convinced by whatever the strong sexy man alien says? Do you really think that by ignoring Dee you're being the good friend by ensuring she doesn't feel pain? She's a big girl. She can handle all your secrets and plot twists. I promise.
Ok, I feel a bit better now.
As for Katy, I don't get her attraction to Daemon. He's so childish towards Blake and calls him by any name but Blake. The first few times it was funny. Then it just got annoying. I also didn't like how she kept questioning her intuitive side and had to justify to Daemon that she was capable of protecting herself and wanted to learn. I didn't like how Katy was made to feel guilty for wanting to learn to protect herself, because naturally Daemon would protect her forever.
I suppose my frustration about Daemon and the story when it comes down to it is that Armentrout wants me to believe that Daemon is over protective and caring, perhaps even an Alpha Male. I on the other hand interpret his actions as selfish and disrespectful to the strength that the women in his life possess. They're not going to fall apart without his help, so anytime Armentrout does something to the female characters that makes them less than strong, and instead needy emotional creatures incapable of strength without the presence of a man be it a romantic interest or brother, it disappoints me.
I get it. It's not like Armentrout set out to make the women as weak as possible. I guess what I wanted was for Dee to call out Daemon on his behavior and for Katy to stand up to Daemon without feeling guilty or taking the blame for any negative incidents simply because she didn't take the advice of a man.
That's how it reads to me. It may be because I'm an older woman and not a teen. Perhaps younger women love this. Me? Not so much.
However, if you want to keep up with the series the plot twists and the plot itself (not Daemon or his possible relationship with Katy) it's interesting enough to keep going. I just am afraid the issues here will only get worse in the next book.(less)
Disappointment and a bit of boredom basically sums up my feelings towards Rapture. There were simply too many slow action scenes that lost my interest...moreDisappointment and a bit of boredom basically sums up my feelings towards Rapture. There were simply too many slow action scenes that lost my interest, too many unanswered questions, and while the ending was a bit interesting it didn't satisfy me completely.
Rapture from a theological point of view is a very interesting novel. Once you discover the reason behind the curse and the players involved, I would hazard a guess that someone that is at least somewhat familiar with Christian theology would wonder, "Does this mean we simply don't understand all of the bigger players in the bible?" Granted, Kate isn't out trying to convert the masses or bring upon a new revised Christian theology to the masses, but her vision of Heaven and Hell and how it operated was interesting.
This is probably where my main concern comes in. Who was responsible for the failures of Rapture? The packaging team behind the Fallen series or Lauren Kate? I sometimes felt Kate would attempt to do something serious with the novel, but then certain characters would act silly beyond silly ruining the mood. Anytime you felt Luce would face a challenge, some magical unknown ability would help Luce. She always had the right answers at the right time. Luce never really worked when challenges were presented to her and even when a dreadful task is given to her, it's still spun as a positive thing.
There are also characters who meet their final end and I had to wonder again, why those characters were chosen, as I felt no connection to them. I would bet a nice meal at Salt Grass Steakhouse, that many fans weren't too concerned about those characters either.
The series inability to stay consistent and answer basic questions from book 1 of all things leads to one big question. Are the failures of this book the result of book packaging or Lauren Kate? After reading the finale, I am tempted to say that those who plotted out the book for Kate are at fault. It seemed those who wanted this book to succeed went after the markers that were popular within the YA genre such as paranormal hot boy, another hot male contender (Cam), beautiful girl who doesn't realize it and is different, and the fuzzy good feelings of seeing someone for the first time and falling madly, desperately, crazily in love.
I'm not here to fault Kate for being involved in a book that was essentially plotted out for her as a check is a check and at the end of the day everyone needs to pay rent/mortgage and a whole host of other bills. What I am questioning is whether those involved in the process of packaging a novel should be in that business to begin with. What they did was make Kate appear to be a sloppy writer and unable to logically plot out a book from beginning to end. If the series was not filled with so many YA Paranormal Romance cliches, I would have felt comfortable to say Kate's at fault.
Yet, intuition tells me it wasn't her. It was the people responsible for designing the series. I don't mind the idea of a series being packaged for an author. It's like reality television. I know it's not real, but as long as it's done well I will watch it. The same applies here. If they gave Kate the tools to be successful and not fill the Fallen series with so many YA cliches and markers that they felt would guarantee sales, I think the book would have been more successful.
There will always be the hard core fans defending this book to the bitter end, but for those of us who at least wanted a strong decent finish, we weren't given the book we wanted or even one that made us slightly happy.
As for me dear readers, while I won't swear off from reading packaged books I will be more picky about buying a copy, should I ever find out the book is packaged in order to avoid another flop like this. As of now, book packaging seems to hurt both fans and writers equally, so it's probably not the best time to seek out books from the makers of Fallen anytime soon.(less)
Sometimes reviews really are subjective and based on personal tastes and preferences. While Twisted Summer has been one of those unique books that I c...moreSometimes reviews really are subjective and based on personal tastes and preferences. While Twisted Summer has been one of those unique books that I continue to think about after having read it, which many 3 star books I have reviewed can not claim, there were things about Twisted Summer that irked me, namely the characters.
The premise is an interesting one. Danni spends a weekend with her estranged Step-Uncle (her mother's stepbrother) as a punishment from her mother and from there this affair begins despite the fact that Danni has a girlfriend and the ick factor behind dating one's uncle, be it step-uncle or otherwise.
We should probably get the obvious out of the way. If you are in search of a sweet romance and likable characters, this book is not for you. Twisted Summer isn't dark in the horror movie Saw sense, however it does have darker elements akin to the film Cruel Intentions with its focus on selfish characters. Danni's brand of humor is what gives Twisted Summer its lighter feel as it attempts to tackle a darker subject with humor and through the naive immature perspective of Danni.
Does it work?
I don't know. This may just be one of those stories you take a chance on or sample the first few chapters to get a feel for the story.
I know what worked for me as a reader and what didn't. The humor didn't always win me over. Sometimes it was spot on for me and other times I thought Danni was trying to hard. She was much too silly at times about the situation at hand. I wanted her to be a bit more mature, which leads me to my second observation.
None of the characters were likable and I didn't think in a novel with darker elements that such a detail would matter to me. I think for me personally, it wasn't that anyone was especially mean or cruel (though Gabe is way creepy in certain scenes) it was just that these characters were not people I would associate with as they all have certain traits that turns me off and causes me to run the other way.
Morgan did a good job with making the "romance" a forbidden one. It's really creepy if you think about it. Yes, Gabe had not seen her in years, and true they are not related, but that's not what creeped me out. Imagine instead Danni was a sixth grader who had a wonderful teacher named Mr. Gabe. Nothing occurs between them in middle school. Danni is now 18 and had graduated from high school. A month later she hooks up with her former middle school teacher. It's the same thing. Gabe was an authority figure when she was younger, which makes their relationship an uncomfortable one.
Their initial sex scene borders on creepy with Gabe taking advantage of Danni and she eventually falls for him. (In fact, I would never say the sex scenes between Gabe and Danni were sexy. They literally were just sex scenes when juxtaposed with the few love scenes Danni had with Esme. There was a striking difference as to how Danni described her sexual encounters with Esme compared to scenes with Gabe.) Honestly, I think that was the point. Gabe is supposed to be creepy. I don't think I ever believed that Gabe really cared about her, even when they carried on an affair, while Danni still had a girlfriend.
For me what cemented Gabe's position as a creepy manipulative guy was when he told Danni he "only fucked her."
How is that even romantic?
But you see, that's the whole point. I think Morgan wants us to think he is creepy. She might want us to be conflicted, but she does such a good job at characterizing Gabe as someone who took advantage of Danni that it's hard to see a "sweet side" to him, but I'm sure there are people out there who will see this side to him.
All of the characters are horrid. Not in a badly written way- they're just horrible people. They all have major flaws and issues, which makes it difficult for me to like them. For instance, I should feel bad for Esme, Danni's girlfriend, as she's a victim, but she became so annoying and hateful herself that for a moment I didn't care. (That feeling drove me crazy as Esme was a victim and I hated the chick.) Danni's mother is a liar, manipulative, and has relationship issues. Danni obviously needs to go to counseling. Gabe needs counseling and an account to Match.Com with its filter set to women over the age of 25.
As much as I hated or disliked the various characters, what I did like is how they kept making me think after I finished the novel. I think the author should be given kudos as to how she created this highly dysfunctional family. When I was reading it, I never thought the family as dysfunctional; I thought they were just selfish or flawed, but once I let scenes play out in my mind again, I realized everyone would have been happier if they were simply more honest with themselves and those closest to them. However, one character in the end does help prove that the family was in need of counseling.
I can't say I was a Gabe/Danni supporter, but without giving the ending away, what I liked the most was the idea of hope. Hope that characters would finally be honest. Hope that after all the bad errors these characters have grown. It's what makes this story difficult to rate. I think while there were rough patches that I had difficulty connecting with, as characters were either overly selfish or immature, the ending made me think all of these flawed characters had the potential to change.
While not a truly dark tale, Twisted Summer had its moments. It's not an easy tale to swallow if you're a reader like me who wants to at least like one character, but it's an interesting enough tale- even if I was disappointed with the actions of Danni, Esme, and just about everyone in the novel. I'll probably give Morgan's books another chance as I'd be curious to see if the humor was simply me not getting "British humor" or if our funny bones simply don't mesh. I'd also be curious to see what a novel with likable characters would be like and how I'd react to her writing then.
For now Lucy V. Morgan is on neutral ground with me. I'll probably have to read another novel of hers before I can definitively say she is or isn't for me. As for Twisted Summer, I think she accomplished what she wanted too, unfortunately a bit too well as I really hated the characters sometimes.(less)