Book Review – The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff

December 12, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 1 Comment

I received this book free from a Giveaway, Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Very Picture of You by Isabel WolffThe Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
Published by Bantam on October 4th 2011
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: a Giveaway, Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: A Vintage Affair, Shadows Over Paradise

four-stars

Where the eye sees the brushstroke, the heart sees the truth.

From Isabel Wolff, the internationally bestselling author of A Vintage Affair, comes a beguiling novel about artistic inspirations, family secrets, and the courage to turn one’s life into a masterpiece.

At thirty-five, Gabriella Graham—“Ella” to her family and friends—has already made a name for herself as a successful portrait artist in London. She can capture the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalize it on canvas. This gift has earned Ella commissions from royals and regular folks alike.

But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait.

From session to session, Ella begins to see Nate in a different light, which gives rise to conflicted feelings. In fact, through the various people she paints—an elderly client reflecting on her life, another woman dreading the prospect of turning forty, a young cyclist (from a photograph) who met a tragic end—Ella realizes that there is so much more to a person’s life than what is seen on the surface, a notion made even clearer when an unexpected email arrives from the other side of the world. And as her portraits of Nate and the others progress, they begin to reveal less about their subjects than the artist herself.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in Isabel Wolff’s vibrant and textured story, these words are brilliantly crafted to convey the humor, mystery, and beauty that exists within each of us.

‘I felt like Tantalus, neck-deep in water that he could never drink, grasping at fruit that was always just out of reach.’

Ella is an extremely successful portrait artist who has just been asked by her sister Chloe to do a portrait of her future brother-in-law, Nate, whom she despises. Early on in Nate and Chloe’s relationship, Ella overheard Nate speaking to someone and it appeared that he was not having an honest relationship with Chloe and that forever changed her opinion of him. After only their first sitting where she begins Nate’s portrait, her feelings have drastically changed towards him and Ella doesn’t know how to stop them, even if she wanted to.

Ella is also dealing with recent revelations regarding the father who left her and her mother when Ella was only five years old. Her mother always told her how he abandoned them after she caught him with another woman and that he made the decision to leave his family in order to be with her. Ella never had a reason to doubt her mother but when she discovers that may not be an accurate accounting of what actually happened she is more confused than ever.

This was a very interesting read and I enjoyed it immensely. Once the story began to unfold I had an idea of how it would all unveil; however, Isabel Wolff wrapped up all of the loose ends fabulously. I feared that it would be your ‘typical’ type of ending but I was left completely satisfied. I loved the details of Ella’s painting sessions: the particulars of the colors she uses, how she mixes them and the steps she takes to create the portrait of the person she’s painting.

‘Then came the moment when I put in the very last thing I ever add to a portrait – the light in the eyes. That’s when I feel like Pygmalion, having life breathed into his statue; because it’s that little flick of white in each pupil that finally – ping! – brings a portrait alive.’

I also enjoyed the closeness she develops with the people she paints and the stories she learns about them and how it’s woven into the story. It reminded me quite a lot of Isabel Wolff’s other novel that I’ve read, A Vintage Affair, and how the main character becomes immersed in one of her customer’s lives. (Also a fabulous read)

There were parts of this novel that I had a hard time liking at first, primarily the feelings that Ella develops for her sister’s fiancée. Strangely unfitting and not exactly understandable… her infatuation with him occurred a bit too quickly for it to be plausible in my opinion. Fortunately though, it was well written and by the end I was mollified with the outcome.

I also had difficulty liking her mother who was a major character in the story. Despite her tale of what had happened between her and Ella’s father, the fact that she withheld so much information for so long and even after she told it there still seemed to be something missing and I believed her to still be lying throughout the entire story. It’s hard to really care for a character if you feel that they are being deceitful. I loved the side-story of Grace and Mike that was the part of the story that touched me the most.

This is now the second book I’ve read by Isabel Wolff and it certainly won’t be the last.

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Follow Friday (1)

December 9, 2011 Bonnie Follow Friday 10 Comments

Parajunkee and Alison Can Read host ‘Follow Friday’ which helps everyone get their blog out there for others to love. If you want your blog to get more follower love, click the picture below or continue reading below to find out more about it!

Here are the general rules:
1. Follow the ‘Follow My Book Blog Friday’ Hosts.
2. Follow our Featured Bloggers
3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
4. Grab the button and place it in a post. This post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. 
6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers.
7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
8. If your new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

This weeks featured question:

Q: ‘Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?’

A: I have far too many books that I adore that I’d love for people to read, so I’ll just stick with one of my most recent favorites.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd and illustrated by Jim Kay. 
 
This story was truly memorable and definitely made a lasting impact on me. The story may be amazing; however, the illustrations manage to make it even more so. Even if you just pick this book up to glance through the pictures alone is an experience.
 
Read my review of A Monster Calls here.
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Audiobook Review – The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

December 8, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. LeeThe Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on January 13th 2009
Length: 10 hours and 46 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-stars

Exotic Hong Kong takes center stage in this sumptuous novel, set in the 1940s and '50s. It's a city teeming with people, sights, sounds, and smells, and it's home to a group of foreign nationals who enjoy the good life among the local moneyed set, in a tight-knit social enclave distanced from the culture at large. Comfortable, clever, and even a bit dazzling, they revel in their fancy dinners and fun parties. But their sheltered lives take an abrupt turn after the Japanese occupation, and though their reactions are varied -- denial, resistance, submission -- the toll it takes on all is soon laid bare.

Enter Claire Pendleton from London. Months after her husband is transferred to Hong Kong in 1951, she accepts a position as a piano teacher to the daughter of a wealthy couple, the Chens. Claire begins to see the appeal of the sweltering city and is soon taken in by the Chen's driver, the curiously underutilized Will Truesdale. A handsome charmer with a mysterious limp, Will appears to be the perfect companion for Claire, who's often left to her own devices. But a further examination leaves her with more questions than answers.

An intricately woven tale of lives changed by historical events, Lee's debut brings this hothouse flower of a city alive with passion, and imagines characters both unforgettable and tragic.

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.

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Book Review – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

December 8, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 2 Comments

Book Review – The Woman in Black by Susan HillThe Woman In Black by Susan Hill
Published by Vintage on chttp://www.amazon.com/Woman-Black-Ghost-Story-Vintage-ebook/dp/B004J4WKLK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384118367&sr=1-1&keywords=the+woman+in+black
Genres: Ghosties, Gothic, Horror
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

The classic ghost story by Susan Hill: a chilling tale about a menacing spectre haunting a small English town.

Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford—a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway—to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow’s house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images—a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black. Psychologically terrifying and deliciously eerie, The Woman in Black is a remarkable thriller of the first rate.

’Yes, I had a story, a true story, a story of haunting and evil, fear and confusion, horror and tragedy.’

Storyline

Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor from London who has been asked by his employer to attend the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow in Crythin Gifford. He must also visit her residence in order to collect any important paperwork that she may have been left behind. Arthur sees the woman in black at Mrs. Drablow’s funeral and again at her residence at Eel Marsh House. She doesn’t appear to be a malevolent spirit so Arthur doesn’t worry too much and decides to spend the night at the house so that he can quickly finish his work and return to London. But that night, Arthur begins to hear unexplainable sounds and worries that he may have underestimated the woman in black.

‘…piercing through the surface of my dreams, came the terrified whinnying of the pony and the crying and calling of that child over and over, while I stood, helpless in the mist, my feet held fast, my body pulled back, and while behind me, though I could not see, only sense her dark presence, hovered the woman.’

Thoughts

I quite enjoyed this quick little read and am glad I finally got around to reading it. I love ghost stories even though I tend to scare quite easily… and this book was no exception. The writing was beautiful and vividly creepy and definitely manages to get under your skin even though the real scary parts don’t even start till the latter half of the book. The descriptions were spot on and the whole book is simply eerie even though, in thinking back to it, nothing real huge actually happens. The ghost doesn’t come alive and smother him in his sleep or glue the windows shut or anything absurd like that. Nevertheless I was frightened enough to have to ask my boyfriend to walk upstairs with me to our darkened bedroom after I was finished. He still makes fun of me for that. Lol

Enjoying it as much as I did, I still didn’t give it 5 stars and the only reason for that was because of the ending. It left a bit to be desired for me and was a bit too abrupt for my liking.

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Book Tour Review – Fury by Shirley Marr

December 4, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 6 Comments

Book Tour Review – Fury by Shirley MarrFury by Shirley Marr
Published by Black Dog Books on May 1st 2010
Pages: 280
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Tour
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in...

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

Thank you to the Midnight Garden for hosting this tour and giving me the opportunity to read this! I’ve been trying to that get my hands on for quite some time and I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of this blog tour.

’East Rivermoore built a wall to keep the world out. But what if the real danger came from within? Before the seven o’clock news started to call us monsters, I wondered whether deep inside I wanted myself to be one anyways.’

Storyline
Eliza Boans is a rich snob and spoiled brat… and she’ll be the first to agree with you. She leads a pampered life as the ‘leader’ of her group of friends and is given anything she could ever want by her rich but always absent mother. She’s just confessed to murder but isn’t regretful about it in the least… but did she actually do it?

’I reckon if you looked inside me you’d find a cabinet filled with cracked china dolls.’

Thoughts
This was a fabulous debut novel that I’m so glad I finally got the opportunity to read. I absolutely loved how this book was written. There’s this big mystery about the death of an unknown individual; the unknown individual that Eliza already admitted to killing. Snippets from the past are interspersed with current happenings and it was so exciting and thrilling I simply could not stop reading (I stayed up till 2am just to finish.)

The characters may not have been immediately likable (as they’re spoiled rich girls who say ‘like’ far too often) but if you look past their glossy exterior you realize that there’s more than meets the eye. Neil was my favorite character. According to Shirley Marr herself, Neil was originally meant to be a minor character but ended up becoming more. Fabulous decision, he was a great addition to the storyline.

I loved the hilarious names given to the characters and the multiple references to popular classics and especially to Jane Austen characters. (Jane Ayre, When the story fully came together and all was revealed, I was pleasantly surprised by the ending that I didn’t see coming. Heartbreaking though; I admit I shed a tear or two. The ending was left a bit frayed at the edges with all questions not given straight-forward answers. Whether this was meant to be left up to interpretation or whatnot, I would have liked to know what ending up happening with the girls.

This novel may be extremely hard to get a hold of, but I would highly recommend doing so regardless. It was well worth it and I simply cannot wait to read future novels by Miss Marr!!

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Book Review – The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis, #1) by Sandy Williams

December 3, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 1 Comment

Book Review – The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis, #1) by Sandy WilliamsThe Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
Published by Ace on October 25th 2011
Pages: 320
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Shades of Treason

four-half-stars

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

I was ridiculously hooked to this book from the very first page. Great characters, exciting storyline, and more important an original storyline.

McKenzie is a hot commodity in the faerie war. She’s a shadow reader who is able to track faeries that fissure out. She’s been assisting the faerie King since she was 16; it’s now been 10 years. For those past 10 years McKenzie has also been pining over Kyol, the king’s swordsman, who is forbidden from being with a human. They share kisses and private moments but they’ve never gone further as Kyol’s loyalty to the King keeps him from doing so. McKenzie herself has been loyal to the King for the last 10 years and when she is abducted by the faerie rebels and discovers pertinent information that’s been kept from her for all these years her loyalties begin to divide.

The emotional bonding with a captor or an abuser known as Stockholm syndrome was referred to in this story after McKenzie began having feelings for Aren. I felt that the fact that she could have had Stockholm syndrome would have been better left implied rather than stated so bluntly. Also, do victims even realize they have Stockholm syndrome? McKenzie kept referring to it almost like it’s a third person. Open for discussion on that because I’m really not sure.

’Damn this Stockholm syndrome. There’s got to be some cure for it.’

Other than that, I really didn’t have any problems with this story.

I’m sure we all know by now how much I despise love triangles and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. This one wasn’t the worst by far; I believe it was one of the most well-handled love triangles I’ve read to date.

I loved the originality of the story. I feared that this would end up being a variation of the Iron Fey series, just with adult alterations. I ended up being quite wrong in that assumption, quite wrong and pleasantly surprised. I also loved how it wasn’t your typical badass heroine stories where she’s unbelievably powerful, super-hot, and can kick everyone’s ass. This was not the case. McKenzie may have had a super awesome power that came in handy and made her super important to a large number of people, but she was still vulnerable and real. At first I was kind of irritated at the fact that she seemed to be a major weenie, but it made the story and McKenzie more realistic in my opinion.

I look forward to the next book in the series coming out. The author already released the name of the next book in the series… ‘The Shattered Dark’. Sounds fabulous! I can’t wait! 😀

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Book Review – Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer

December 1, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob MayerAgnes and the Hitman by Bob Mayer, Jennifer Crusie
Published by St. Martin's Press on August 26, 2008
Pages: 430
Genres: Chick-Lit, Funny-ha-ha, Mystery, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

Take one food writer named Cranky Agnes, add a hitman named Shane, mix them together with a Southern mob wedding, a missing necklace, two annoyed flamingos, and a dog named Rhett and you've got a recipe for a sexy, hilarious novel about the disastrous side of true love…

Agnes Crandall's life goes awry when a dognapper invades her kitchen one night, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that she's staked her entire net worth on. Then a hero climbs through her bedroom window. His name is Shane, no last name, just Shane, and he has his own problems: he's got a big hit scheduled, a rival trying to take him out, and an ex-mobster uncle asking him to protect some little kid named Agnes. When he finds out that Agnes isn't so little, his uncle has forgotten to mention a missing five million bucks he might have lost in Agnes's house, and his last hit was a miss, Shane's life isn't looking so good, either. Then a bunch of lowlifes come looking for the money, a string of hit men show up for Agnes, and some wedding guests gather with intent to throw more than rice. Agnes and Shane have their hands full with greed, florists, treachery, flamingos, mayhem, mothers of the bride, and--most dangerous of all--each other. Agnes and the Hitman is the perfect combination of sugar and spice, sweet and salty--a novel of delicious proportions.

The Storyline
Agnes is not your normal chick-lit heroine. The fact that she’s known as ‘Cranky Agnes’ could give you an idea. The fact that she’s used a frying pan in more ways than just cooking (I’ll give you a hint, one guy now has a metal plate in his head) could also give you another idea. There’s also an incident with a meat fork but I won’t spoil the fun for you. Or maybe it’s the mental conversations she has with her therapist.

”Fuck you,” Agnes said, bent over the edge of the cake.
Angry language, Agnes.
Fuck you, too, Dr. Garvin.

I think it’s a combination of everything, actually.

Agnes leads a quiet, simple, life as a food writer engaged to a quiet, simple man named Taylor. Her quiet, simple life takes a sharp 180° the day that she’s held at gunpoint for her dog. Yes, she’s held at gunpoint because they’re trying to steal her dog. Her life is soon thrown into even more upheaval when a hitman, Shane, is sent to protect her. People keep coming after Agnes, trying to steal her dog, trying to kill her, but who’s sending them? What follows is a rollercoaster ride that’s entirely way too much fun.

“Somebody might be coming to the house who might be dangerous.”
“Really?” Agnes said. “Because that almost never happens here. With advance notice. Should I get my frying pan?”

Final Thoughts
Agnes is going down as one of my favorite book characters of all time, definitely. She’s a single girl, who loves to cook for her friends, she’s preparing to hold a wedding at her house, and she’s a food writer… I mean, at face value she’s just a normal girl. Agnes cannot be taken at face value and that’s what I loved most, the fact that I was completely surprised at how crazy and lovable she was all at the same time.

This book was downright hilarious, was extremely enjoyable, the characters were all amazing (I especially loved Shane), and… why exactly have I never read anything by this author before? Will definitely be correcting this, pronto.

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Short and Sweet Review – Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

November 29, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short and Sweet Review – Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCallUnder the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Published by Tu Books on September 15, 2011
Pages: 225
Genres: Contemporary, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

When Lupita sees Mami crying over a pesky mesquite growing in her rose garden, she knows something is wrong. Through the kitchen window, she overhears that Mami has cancer. After an operation, things seem to return to normal for Lupita and her family, and they go on with their lives, going back and forth between attending school, working, and living in the United States and visiting family and friends in Mexico. However, when Mami’s cancer returns, Papi doesn’t know whether he should accompany Mami during her long convalescence at an out of town cancer clinic or stay home to care for Lupita and her seven brothers and sisters. Suddenly, being a high school student, dealing with difficult friends, starring in the school play, even writing, become less important to Lupita than doing whatever it takes to save Mami’s life.

‘Under the Mesquite’ tells the story of Lupita and her Mexican American family. Lupita struggles with finding her own identity in a new place after her family moves from Mexico to the United States. To make matters worse she has discovered that her mother has cancer and will undergo surgery to hopefully give her more time on this Earth. Desperate to help in any way she can, Lupita takes care of her 7 younger siblings so that her father can take care of her mother. Unable to handle the stress of the situation, Lupita resorts to writing ‘seeking refuse in the healing power of words.’

I picked this book up after finding out that it’s written in free-verse; I’ve been a sucker for any type of book written in that format recently. Getting a few of these types of books under my belt, I’ve never felt that books have suffered from being written in that format. Unfortunately, this was the case here for me. This was an emotional story that could have been extremely heart-wrenching, but I didn’t feel this emotion come through sufficiently for me. It was an emotional-disconnect for me and it should have been the exact opposite.

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Book Review – The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

November 27, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 2 Comments

Book Review – The Lover’s Dictionary by David LevithanThe Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
on January 21, 2011
Pages: 229
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Every Day, The Lover's Dictionary

five-stars

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

corrode, v.
‘I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.’

This was a delightfully unique story of a relationship’s major occurrences told by short entries in dictionary format. I gave major points for the originality of the entire concept of the story; I’ve never read anything like it before. The writing was beautiful and the story bittersweet and poignant.

dispel, v.
‘It was the way you said, “I have something to tell you.” I could feel the magic drain from the room.’

The story was told from the point of view of the male in the relationship who remains unnamed throughout the entire story. It was also an extremely quick story and could easily be read in a single sitting but I ended up reading it bits and pieces at a time. I went into this story thinking that this would be a traditional story that followed a standard timeline; however, it seemed that the dictionary entries flip flopped around in time and you don’t end up getting the ‘bigger picture’ until the end when you can sit back and contemplate the entries. This was troublesome for me at first and I had a hard time understanding it, but by the end I was completely sold; the author’s execution of the story was brilliant.

ineffable, adj.
‘These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there, there will never be enough.’

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Book Review – The Collector by John Fowles

November 23, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 9 Comments

Book Review – The Collector by John FowlesThe Collector by John Fowles
Published by Vintage on October 21st 1998 (first published 1963)
Pages: 305
Genres: Classics, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Mystery
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

’I am one in a row of specimens. It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I’m meant to be dead, pinned, always the same, always beautiful. He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but it’s the dead me he wants. He wants me living-but-dead.’

The Collector is the story of Frederick Clegg, an extremely odd and lonely man who also collects butterflies. He’s obsessed with a middle-class art student named Miranda Grey and as he continues admiring her from a distance a plan slowly starts developing in his mind that he would like to have her; like one of his butterflies. He makes preparations by buying a house out in the country, purchasing assorted objects and things he knows she will need, convinced that if he can only capture her and keep her that she will slowly grow to love him.

The first part of the novel was told from Frederick’s point of view and it was rather alarming at his thought process. In his mind, there is nothing morally wrong with what he intends to do (and what he actually ends up doing). He recognizes that Miranda is a human being as he takes care of her and provides her everything a human would possibly need, but she’s inevitably nothing more than an object or a collectible item to him. He doesn’t mean to harm her at first; however, it’s evident that as time progresses, he enjoys having power over her and almost finds humor in her attempts to escape.

The second part of the novel was told from Miranda’s point of view through diary entries that she hides underneath her mattress. She writes about G.P. often, a man she met and who ended up having a huge impact on her thoughts and ideals. To Miranda, G.P. was everything she wanted to be and his opinions and thoughts became a set of ‘rules’ for her. At first I had a hard time determining the relevancy of these recollections, but it essentially just became another disturbing piece of the story to see how influential G.P. and his ‘rules’ really were to Miranda.

’He’s made me believe them; it’s the thought of him that makes me feel guilty when I break the rules.’

It was almost expected, however still just as shocking when it becomes glaringly obvious that Miranda slowly begins to take pity on her captor. She starts feeling bad for the harsh things she says to him and she also unconsciously prevents herself from doing him excessive harm during an escape attempt as she feels that if she does she’s descending to his level…It was as if she had simply accepted her situation, and that was the most heartbreaking part.

’And yes, he had more dignity than I did then and I felt small, mean. Always sneering at him, jabbing him, hating him and showing it. It was funny, we sat in silence facing each other and I had a feeling I’ve had once or twice before, of the most peculiar closeness to him—not love or attraction or sympathy in any way. But linked destiny. Like being shipwrecked on an island—a raft—together. In every way not wanting to be together. But together.’

The third and fourth parts of the novel were the most disturbing parts of the entire book. Suffice it to say, it gave me goosebumps. It was not the ending I had anticipated, but I still felt that the author was successful in creating the everlasting effect I believe he intended. Obviously, you understand the severity of Ferdinand’s actions; however, not until the end do you fully understand just how abnormal he really is. This was certainly not a happy book, but one that I’m glad to have read and one that I will likely not forget.

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