Aside

Book Review| Me Before You – JoJo Moyes


Me-Before-You-book-cover-Jan-12-p122.jpg
Published: Dec. 31, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
369 pages
Goodreads Rating:  4.30
My Rating: 5.0

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I really only picked this up because the movie was coming out and I’d enjoyed other JoJo Moyes books in the past. Once I saw the trailer for the movie, I was a little put off. I still have yet to see the movie, but Emilia Clarke’s acting in the minute-long trailer just seemed very over the top.

I needed a good romantic book to help get me through the beginning of my husband being away due to his military career. I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD

what i liked

Louisa’s Family Dynamic

Louisa’s family is very typical of a lot of families. There is a lot of love, and some repressed anger. There are secrets and intense moments of truth. Louisa’s parents, as much as they want to support her, need her to support them. It says a lot that somebody living in the United States can relate to the Clark family’s financial problems; we all know how one bad economy can affect the world.

This family was very authentic in everything they did. From the parents choosing a favorite child (even if they won’t admit it), to Louisa and Treena’s constant back-and-forth, this was one of the few literary families that didn’t feel too happy, too sad, or too melodramatic.

The Traynor Family (or,more specifically, Mrs. Traynor)
If there is anybody misunderstood in this book, I think it’s Mrs. Traynor. She loves her son the way most mothers love their sons; completely, if not a little too much. There is a constant feel of tension between the two, as if she has babied him all his life and he resents her for it. I picture the two of them at his college graduation, and she’s licking her thumb to wipe a smudge of dirt off of him or to tame a cowlick.

She is used to being the matriach, the person in charge of the family.With Will taking that power from her, I think she felt very lost. For the first time in a long time, she has no control over what is going on with her family. I think that’s why she was harsh and cold towards Louisa.

Will & Louisa

I mean, obviously. Their relationship was absolutely amazing. Starting off with an awkward meeting and continuing on until Louisa decides she is done dealing with Will’s nonsense. I think I really connected with this relationship because it wasn’t an immediate attraction. It took most of the book for the two of them to realize their feelings for each other. The wole wedding scene was so frustrating for me because all I wanted was for them to kiss and reveal their feelings. Unfortunately they were both too afraid and unsure of the other that nothing happened.

did like

The Ending

This isn’t entirely true. I liked the way the book ends. I think it’s great because it isn’t a typical happy ending. The thing I didn’t like was how quick it ended. I wish that there had been more time between the island scene and the Switzerland scene. It felt like so much was left unsaid between them and, as somebody who loves to talk and talk and talk about their feelings, it killed me.

Louisa’s Reaction on the Island

My god, girl. First, how the hell are you going to leave a man who can’t walk ON A BEACH with a lot of SAND?! IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I get being hurt and upset and whatever, but poor, poor Will. Or, as my Spanish I class taught me, p-p-p-pobre Cenicienta. I have never felt such sadness for a character before. He depends on Louisa for so much, and he knows how much this will hurt her, but he can’t lie to her or lead her on. He knows his mind and he knows his heart. All I can picture is this poor man confined to a wheelchair, watching the woman he loves walk away from him as he tries to talk to her about this. He’s calling out for her and she’s just ignoring him. It’s not as if he can run to her, scoop her into his arms and tell her how wrong he was.

I completely understand the hurt and pain Louisa is feeling here, but my empathy lies more with Will at this point.

The Beginning

It’s not that I didn’t like the beginning so much as it just didn’t suck me in. Until Will became a larger part of the story, I felt like I was slowly trudging along. I’m not exactly sure why I could not get into it at first. Maybe it was just the whole angry, despondent feel of the book after Louisa lost her job and can’t find a new one. I am very glad I pushed through the beginning because this book literally brought tears to my eyes. final thoughts

Concerning the Controversy

I am not in any way shape or form trying to say how people should feel. When the movie first came out, a lot of people were angry and called it something along the lines of, “suicide porn.” People were angry because they felt the book and the movie showed that handicapped people were better off just killing themselves. I don’t think that was what JoJo Moyes was trying to convey at all.

As somebody who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I have come to realize that you can’t save everyone. Sometimes people are beyond help, some people don’t want help, and sometimes people don’t realize help is out there. To me, Will did not want the kind of help Louisa and his family wanted to give him. I am a huge proponent of assisted suicide. If a person is in their right state of mind, is in pain or is terminally ill, who are we to deny them the dignity of death before they lose themselves?

All in all, I loved this book. I might give it a 4.5 rather than the full 5, but it’s still a book I would recommend.

Advertisements

Book Review| A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

book reviewImage

Before you roll your eyes and stop reading this, hear me out! This was the first romance novel I have ever read. I received it from my Quarterly Book Box (along with Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A,S, King and The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin, as well as other goodies, some seen here). I was the person who hated going into the Romance section, always rolling my eyes at the absolutely ridiculous titles. Even this title is too corny for me, but I decided to give it a try. I really do enjoy books with romance, but a lot of romance novels I can’t take seriously. Here’s a good quote from How to Seduce an Angel in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde: “Deep inside, it felt like someone had kicked her in the taco and was pinching her ovaries for good measure.”  Taco?? TACO?! I rest my case.
But the good (smart) folk at Quarterly added a little blurb of reason as to why they chose this romance novel, and they said it was the first one they had read that they actually enjoyed. So I figured, “Hey, why not.” (The letter also mentioned how MacLean’s females are well written, not the wispy “fall for anything” type, which also pulled me towards it).

The synopsis from Goodreads
A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.
A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.
Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them… even her heart.

Spoilers Ahead!
This isn’t a book to read if you’re looking for some mind blowing, life-changing story. This is a book to read when you’re feeling lonely and missing your significant other (or lack of one). Penelope was already such a sad character after her broken engagement eight years prior; so when she’s forced into another unhappy marriage, her sadness only grows. Michael Bourne is a man she knew as a child who she hadn’t talked to in at least 10 years. She knows Michael is only marrying her to reclaim the land he lost in a card game, but she knows she can use this marriage to her own advantage by using his reputation to secure good wives for her younger sisters. The two of them go in expecting unhappiness, but Penelope is so full of hope that he may love her, she has a tendency to forget that Michael (now known simply as Bourne) is no longer the young boy who used to make her laugh. He’s now one of four leaders of an underground casino known as The Fallen Angel, and has no interest in a wife. As time goes on, the two of them grow attracted to each other, first physically, then emotionally.

As I read, all I could do was feel so sorry for Penelope, who was such a fearsome woman who deserved nothing but love. And damn Michael! He was so caught up with being this rough-and-tumble tough guy that he couldn’t see how much he loved Penelope and how much she loves him. When he finally does figure it out, Penelope is so used to him using her for the sake of making their “love story” seem real, she has no idea whether she should believe him or not. Eventually, she realizes the only way to get through to him is to just stand up for herself and tell him how it is, no matter how much he may not want to hear it.

Their relationship may not be the healthiest (in fact, I wanted her to slap him more than I wanted her to kiss him), but for a lonely military wife, this book helped fend off the loneliness. It was a fun read, and it sucked me in from the first chapter. I would recommend it for those who need a good romantic story.

Rating: 3/5

Do you have any favorite romance novels?

Book Review| Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Image

My husband’s job can be very boring at times. As he was looking through the bookshelf the other day, he told me we had a lot of girl books, and I immediately took that as, “You should totally go buy me some books!” I decided to grab some classics, and Fahrenheit 451 was one I kind of grabbed for myself. I’d heard about it and knew a little of what it was about. Since it’s a classic, I’d rather not go into Likes or Dislikes. Instead, I’d rather just go over some parts of the book that really stood out to me.

*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*

Emotion While Reading:
Image

It was like looking through this horrible, Hellish, absolutely believable future. Even now, people are beginning to care less and less about the world around them. People will forgo the news for Facebook; we’ll “Like” a picture but we won’t actively do anything; we’ll watch atrocities happen and then ignore them because they didn’t happen to us. We’ll give a “Oh my goodness, something needs to be done!” and go right back to Farmville. It may not be at the intensity that Bradbury wrote it as, but it’s definitely there.

Clarisse: Perfectly normal in our standards, Clarisse and her family are odd in the future standards, mainly because they actually care about each other. They sit around and talk, laugh, keep the television off when most people are glued to the damn thing. She is the complete embodiment of the past (our present) and how life should be. She questions their society constantly, wondering if it was always like this.  Clarisse is terrified of people her age because of how absolutely reckless they are. She was the feather Guy needed to break the camel’s back, breaking him out of his false happiness.

Their Society: Honestly, it’s us. If you took all of the shallow, I-Don’t-Care kids from high school and put them in a city, it would be the scene for Fahrenheit 451. Nobody has any substance to them. They sit in a room and watch pretty colors and loud music and ignore each other and how true is that? We own surround sound to make movies louder, we sit around with faces stuck in iPhones or iPads. We watch wars and then watch Kim K. get married. We’re switching from CNN to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to Family Guy. We have really just stopped caring about everything but our social media. It makes me wonder if they showed the bomb on TV? Was it a live feed if they did? I highly doubt that they did, since the whole point of their society was to keep everyone dumb and happy.

Mildred: Poor Millie. She was a complete victim of her time; all she wanted was to be happy. But, as with all stories of faux happiness, she found herself absolutely bored with life. She will go to such extremes to try and remedy her boredom, from driving 200 MPH to trying to commit suicide. Mildred had fully convinced herself that she was happy with her “Family”, when what she truly yearned for was actual happiness. Imagine Mildred in our time:  Would she have been a mother? Would she have worked? Who knows what kind of life she would have had.

Mildred’s Friends & Guy’s Poetry Reading: After seeing a woman burn with her books, Guy is becoming increasingly fed up with the world he lives in. So when Mildred’s awful friends come over, spewing about everything and nothing, he breaks. He can’t stand it any more. His outburst was so beautiful because of how god damn justified it was. After he reads from his books and brings one of Millie’s friends to tears, Guy then just rips into them. It was just so profound because it was the first time anyone had told them to deal with the consequences of their actions and they couldn’t handle it.

The War: The fact that Guy really only knows that there’s a war happening and literally nothing else is kind of depressing and, once again, not surprising. There are people out there who still don’t know what the Iraq War was about. People only feign interest in the news. The news outlets are always biased and show the most ridiculous stories rather than actual news. We hear about Justin Beiber more than we do about the decimation of the honey bee. We hear about what Jennifer Lawrence eats more than we hear about what’s going on in the rest of the world that actually fucking matters. But nobody cares because it isn’t happening to them.

Rating: 4/5

Definitely a good read, and if you have to read it for school, it’s better than a lot of other options they give.

Book Review| Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Image

When my husband and I lived in Virginia, I had my dream come true: I got a full time job at Barnes and Noble. My husband is a sailor in the USN, so I was only able to keep that job for a year. After leaving, a few of us fellow bookies decided to keep in touch and, just recently, decided to start a book club. Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall was the first book of the Literary Ladies book club, and it did not disappoint!

The Synopsis from Goodreads

The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.
When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.
As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart.

This was probably one of the few books I’ve read this year that I absolutely could not put down! We had an anonymous poll for which book we’d read this March, and I’ll admit: I didn’t vote for this one. I am so very glad it won because this was such a beautiful story, and I fell in love with the characters.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Emotions While Reading:
Image

What I Liked Loved

Starla Jane Claudelle – Firstly, her name is just the best name I have ever heard for a character without it being unbelievable. I can just picture a poor, pregnant, 17-year-old Southern girl with big dreams realize she’s having a baby girl and think the best name she could give would be Starla. She is a wonderful little ball of fire who hates backing down from a fight, and always ends up seeing right into the core of everyone she meets. My mother’s cousin has a daughter who is so similar to Starla (her name is Ireland, so they have that “different-name” in common, too!), it may have something to do with why I absolutely adored her.

Eula – To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Eula’s at first. I thought she was a little crazy, what with having a random white baby in the car and then her more-than-abusive husband. I did not know what the story was going to hold for Eula. As soon as that pan hit Wallace’s head, I knew I was going to like this woman. She did for Starla what no other adult had: she protected her. Starla’s father was off working, her mother was gone, and her grandmother was one of the people she needed to be protected from; Starla had to begin protecting herself at a young age. Even when Eula came into her life, Starla was busy protecting Eula for a good while. Once Eula was able to finally come into herself, she was able to show Starla the same love and protection Starla had been showing her. (And honestly, I really wanted Eula to tell Lulu off).

The Characters Met Along the Way – From Mrs. Cyrena to the Jenkins Brothers to the boy Starla met at the fair, the cast of Whistling Past the Graveyard was just perfect. Each character was essential to the story, and nobody felt awkwardly crammed in or just forgotten. Mrs. Cyrena was another favorite of mine, simply because of her compassion for others. When Starla was sick and Eula had $4 to her name, Mrs. Cyrena took them in and allowed these three strangers (including baby James) into her home, knowing how much trouble they could get in for having two white children in their home. When Eula & Mrs. Cyrena decided to allow Starla to go to the carnival, I think I fell in love right then. Poor Starla never had anyone care about her happiness before, and here are two women who have known her for less than a month and could already see the goodness in her. Even the Jenkins brothers were well-written characters. We all have “those people” in town; the white trash, racist, hillbilly folk that just make you ashamed of being from the same town as them. People who are mean just because they can be. Isn’t it funny how this book was set in the 1960s, 50 years ago, and we still have the same problems?

Every Character Grew – The amount of character development in this book was almost too much for my emotional state. When Starla’s father finally does come save her (from her awful egg donor of a mother), the amount of love he has for his daughter really shines through. It’s the first time we’re really introduced to him, but I could see then that the only reason he was not home with her was because he believed he was doing the right thing by having his mother (Mamie) raise Starla. He then quits his job, finds an apartment for them both and begins to raise her on his “own” (own in quotations because Eula did stick around, of course). Eula’s own character growth was glorious and lovely and all I wanted was for her to live happily ever after and I’m glad that she kind of did.

What I Disliked Didn’t Love

Another “Dead Beat” Mom – So many books I’ve read lately have single fathers, with the mother either dying from childbirth, leaving the daughter, or just disappearing completely. While I am all for being different and breaking the mold, we do realize that the majority of single-parent families have the mother as the head of household, right? Women mainly win custody cases because they show up and actually want the custody. When men do show up and try to get custody, most of the times they do.  It would just be nice to have a book where the mother and daughter had a coming-together of sorts. We women have enough nonsense to worry about without having to worry about books making us out to be creatures who will flee at the mere sight of responsibility.

My Rating:
5/5 

If you’re looking for your next good read, I highly recommend this be it! I swear, you will not regret reading this book!