12:40 PM

New Location

Posted by Ashley

Probably should have posted this sooner, but I've moved over to WordPress!

8:52 PM

Bookshelf Giveaway!

Posted by Ashley

Win a free bookshelf! Check it out here!

I was really hoping to enjoy this one. Seeing that it had four sequels and was marketed as being more true to the original novel, it certainly seemed promising. However, I found that I had a difficult time staying interested in this one.

I almost gave up at the beginning - most of the other reviews I've read have said they enjoyed the beginning, but I thought that was almost the worst part. It seemed like the first 50 pages were nothing but illustrations (and explanations) of how perfectly happy they were, how much "respect and admiration" they had for the Gardiners, and how much respect and admiration Darcy had for Mr. Bennet, and that they respected and admired each other and how happy all of this made them...and it just kept going on with nothing really happening. At first it was cute, but then it just became irritating.

The rest of the book was a bit more entertaining, but I found it hard to keep track of which children were whose (especially since they liked to name them after each other). Collins also skips huge chunks of time without much explanation (although I'm sure we can trust they were supremely happy and had respect and admiration for each other the whole time). I also found it strange that through the middle of the book, we hear more about the children of other characters - I found myself realizing that Elizabeth and Darcy's children would be in their teens and I knew absolutely nothing about them. They came into play near the end, but for most of the book I wouldn't have known they had children at all if I hadn't read the pages telling of their births.

If you're desperate for a P&P fix or want to try something with less unlikely drama and situations than other sequels have, you might want to give this a try, maybe you'll like it more than I did. Overall though, I found it pretty forgettable. Let's just say I have no inclination to read the other four books.

5:52 PM

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Posted by Ashley

This is more of a three and a half star book, but one worth rounding up to four rather than down to three. Chick-lit isn't really my thing, but I like to read a good one every now and again for a quick read that I can just enjoy without having to think too much. And of course, this one has to do with Austen, so I decided to give it a shot.

To sum it up, it was really cute. I know that's not a literary term, but it really says it all. The narrator was easy to relate to, especially in terms of her feelings about Pembrook Park - a little embarrassed to be playing dress up, but still wanting to get lost in the fantasy anyways. It was fairly predictable, although it did have a couple nice little twists at the end. I think I smiled all the way through the last couple of chapters, which is always a good sign. I probably looked like a grinning idiot to everyone else at the lunch table at work, oh well! If you want something fluffy and fun, I would highly recommend this one.

5:50 PM

The Book Theif by Markus Zusak

Posted by Ashley

I've been hearing and reading great things about this book for a long time, and I finally decided to pick it up. I probably set my expectations a little too high, because I was expecting something absolutely incredible. While reading it, I kept wondering what was so fantastic about it. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely a great read, and very worth reading. Not quite a five-star book in my opinion though.

The concept is great, and Zusak carries it out well. I also liked the use of foreshadowing, which was really almost more like telling you what will happen - but not quite all of it. Death gives away part of the ending fairly early on, but the rest of it is still a shock. I finished this in the back room at work on my lunch break, and it was all I could do to keep from sobbing - part of me wanted to put it down right there so I could finish it at home and have a good cry with it, but I couldn't bring myself to since I was so close to finishing. I did reread the last couple of sections when I got home though, but the second reading is never quite as emotional as the first. Ah well.

Overall, a book I would highly recommend - but not the best of the best.

This was one of those books that was really tough to put down. It was a quick read that kept me interested and engaged throughout, and I can't really think of a place where it slowed down.

The author does a fantastic job of intertwining and juxtaposing two very different, yet also very similar stories. Adele Cassidy's story is echoed throughout the novel by Elizabeth's own relationship with her mother, and again by her relationship with her two daughters. Although Elizabeth and her mother did not react to the struggles of motherhood as severely as Adele, it is becomes easier for the reader to sympathize with Adele, and to see her as something other than a monster.

Although the ending was poignant, it left a few holes to be filled - most notably, how Elizabeth and Mark saved their marriage. Did they go to therapy? Does he know about her infidelity? Did she tell him about her rape, and if so, did it help him to understand her hatred of his bedroom behavior and/or was she able to get past that experience as a compromise? I know it's a somewhat trivial thing to wonder - they clearly worked out their problems for the time being at least, I just couldn't help but wonder how they worked through them successfully. And of course we do know what he did about his job, and that she was able to go back to some semblance of her career. But anyways, enough of my rambling about what I'd like to know about a fictional relationship :)

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a page-turner, and one with substance that really made me think. I found it easy to relate to the characters, even without having (yet) the experience of being a mother.

*Review of ARC

12:49 AM

Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan

Posted by Ashley

Love Marriage was certainly a solid first novel. Ganeshananthan explores not only the life of a young Sri Lankan woman living in America, but also the lives of several generations of her family and the history of her country.

One thing I enjoyed about this novel was the structure. Ganeshananthan focuses each section on a certain character and their ancestors, so that the reader discovers much more about them. All of this background (which is detailed, but not overwhelming) builds up to great character development. Her attention to detail and ability to create such a diverse cast of characters is impressive. Each section is like a vignette, and to see how they all tie together to become part of who the narrator is is fantastic.

This novel also taught me a great deal about Sri Lanka and the customs of its people. I knew very little about the country before picking it up, and I enjoyed learning so much. The descriptions of marriage and funeral rituals were especially well-written and interesting.

I did feel a bit let down by the ending of the novel. I anticipated something much more climactic. I was also a little thrown off by a section close to the end where the narrator (Yalini) tells the reader about her body image, etc...I felt like it came too late in the novel. Her character was already so well developed, and there was very little sense that she was so obsessive about some of things she mentions in this section - it was like a curveball that forced me to reevaluate what I knew of her as a character. If this section was moved up to an earlier point in the novel it would make much more sense structurally and in terms of character development.

Overall, a very intriguing and informative read. I would definitely recommend it.

*Review of ARC