Saturday, 22 December 2012

Love In The Time Of Cholera/El Amor En El Tiempo Del Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Since I read this a good couple of years ago, in fact in the summer of 2010, I can't really remember having much of an opinion on it concerning whether I liked the idea of the book or not. Its definitely different; very different from other books I've read. I will say that one thing I know I was definitely grateful for and found interesting to read was that of the perspective of an 70/80+ year old man who spent his life waiting for one woman whom he fell in love with at a young age. He waited all of his life, while constituting street whores for Fermina Daza until she became "back on the market again" fifty-one years, nine months and four days later exactly.

This book is about, though I hate to say it, unrequited and eternal love. I don't agree that the majority of this book really is about genuine true love- rather it is better suited to be classed as being about lust, obsession and infatuation.  

There are many things I hated about the leading character, Florentino Ariza, like how he was the cause of death to a few of his short term 'lovers' yet showed no remorse or regret what so ever, or like how he also was sleeping with the 13 year old school girl he was supposed to be baby sitting.  Come on, just think about how perverse that is- an OAP doing things like that to a little girl who then, through heart break, kills herself! It's just wrong. On the contrary, however, I do admire his determination, persistence, strong willingness and endurance but that is ALL I admire about this character. There simply are no other redeeming qualities about Florentino Ariza what so ever.

In conclusion, and in spite of the above reasons, I would recommend this as I think it is a deep and interesting book to read. It displays a great contrast to other books that contain typical 'Love' stories and allows the reader to consider love in many different forms other than the most common representations of it. Also, if you are interested in reading about equality and how women were treat and thought of during the turn of the 18th century, then definitely give it a try. Whether this book is enjoyable enough to consider reading it is really a question of what you as the reader expect of a great prose. If you think the main ingredient to a great story is a likable heroic main character then AVOID this book at all costs.

Readability factor -4.5*
Enjoyablilty factor- 3.5*

Motion Picture Soundtrack: 
(Credits: Todo de Shakira y Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
*Pienso En Ti
*La Despedida
*Hay Amores


Atonement by Ian McEwen

Hmmm... Where to start with Atonement. This book is so emotionally impacting on the reader, I feel that McEwen very cleverly did an amazing job on making the structure provide effective enough shocks and surprises without needing the book to be hugely action packed or quick paced. I like that McEwen didn't rush through book but took his time illustrating a beautifully detailed picture, in the mind of the reader, of the characters thought process and their surroundings. 

"...the damp patch on the gravel had evaporated. Now there was nothing left of the dumb show by the fountain beyond what survived in memory....The truth had become as ghostly as invention"

Despite this being written from a third person narrative, the author was successful in including a lot of familiar psychological thoughts. Like for example when Briony considers her existence and the existence of others and wonders whether their actions are real or if they just live through her imagination. 

“Was everyone else really as alive as she was? For example, did her sister really matter to herself, was she as valuable to herself as Briony was?” 

This, I think, is the pivotal point that primarily leads Briony to commit her crime and stick with that decision as she mulls over the water fountain scene she'd just recently witnessed involving her newly cast "characters".

In Parts One and Two of the book, I hated Briony. Although many argue she was just a little girl who didn't know the extent of what she was doing, which she really was, I still despised her. Excuse my unemphatic way of thinking but I really thought she was a pathetic annoying bratty little girl who loved being the center of attention and only thought about herself. I still think this, given the account of the older Briony, however *SPOILER ALERT* as this is a book within a book, we really don't know if this publication of the young Briony was purposely written by older Briony so that we dislike her, as a way of the narrators atonement OR if the older Briony was just being brutally honest about herself.  

I really could go on forever and ever discussing Atonement, but since this is just supposed to be a quick and snappy review, I have to say that Atonement is definitely an interesting and mind blowing emotionally impacting read. 

Based on it's enjoyability factor I'd give it a 4*.


Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Wowowowoww. I LOVED the first book but loved this one even more!! Super hot character Tobias- what a dream. I love how Roth has developed the characters from fresh new comers to Dauntless unaware of the revolution of their world to heroes and heroins, especially Tris. Also, during the development of Tris's character through this book, I feel like 1/3 of the way through she kind of lost the plot and was slightly suicidal. That was quite sad but interesting. Of course, near the end she was okay; a brave, perceptive, smart and courageous soul. 

If you loved Divergent, it's definitely a good idea to follow the journey through on to the second book of the series. I found it to be even better than the first one, in fact so much so that I read it in one and a half days; I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It is a lot more fast paced and you really get to see a different side to all of the characters involved, especially Tobias as he and Tris' relationship is put through strains caused by dishonesty and unloyalty. These two are both deeply challenged with the return of Tobias' long lost mother and loathed abusive father.

I'd love to know what other people think about these books and others so please feel welcome to post comments and let me know what YOU think.

Recommend for a 5* read. 


Divergent by Veronica Roth

*Synopsis taken from Goodreads*

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

This book for me was so addictive! It was just what I needed to have on my lap to occupy me on one of those boring unproductive Sunday afternoons. Its a classic YA dystopian novel giving us an insight into what it would be like living in a different kind of world, a one that is enclosed into 7 different societies who live accordingly, to their personal beliefs and values in life. This made me wonder myself, what aspects of my life are most important to me and what type of faction I would choose to spend the rest of my life living in had I been a character in the story. Turns out, I'd be an Amity/Dauntless type'a girl. Oh! I digress...

Before reading this book, I was a little hesitant after reading so many different reviews all comparing it to the hunger games. Yes the book is narrated from a first person narrative and takes place in a possibly post apocalyptic 'broken planet' society, however, without going into too much detail, that is where the similarities end. 

The pace of the action was perfect. This book, which is part of a series of 3, is so addictive. It wasn't too over the top but also wasn't slow. I definitely recommend this for a 5* read to lovers of YA literature, Fantasy, Dystopian, Utopian and some Romance on the side. 

Also, the book cover is so pretty!



Friday, 21 December 2012

THG by Suzanne Collins *first review shortened*

A tiny review to shorten the reeaaaaally long one I written a few months ago.

 First ever dystopian book to have read. I loved the reality of this book; the poverty, anguish and way of living brought it to life. The wealthy and poor districts reflected our own world- the distinction between first and third world countries. Fabulously conceptual with a well thought out and researched plot, themes and ideas. Lastly, Katniss has to be my all time favourite female protogonistic kick ass heroin and Gale? *swooooon*


The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

So boring!!! What the heck. By the end of the book, I still didn't truly understand the sole purpose/point and concept of the novel and finished it unsatisfied. I feel with a little more explanation of the whole idea, regulations and laws of the society, it would be clearer to understand. 
To me, Atwood wrote this a little too vaguely for my taste and didn't thoroughly explain enough leaving me as the reader having to guess at things I shouldn't have.

 Really, I don't know what to say because I do think this whole book is very conceptual and interesting however the way it is written made me want to have it finished it asap. Perhaps i'll revisit this book in the future when I might be able to identify with the protagonist a little more and may come back here with a different opinion. 


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Lesbian Victorians for the win! I loved all the twists, turns and revelations in this book and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I like everything about Waters style of writing. The language she uses paints an accurate picture with her articulate visual descriptions and character depictions; there is something Dickens-esque about that. 

I also adored how Waters used a mixed narrative point-of-view to reveal undiscovered and shocking feelings and personality traits that the characters have. One other thing that I admire about the structure of this book is how it can trigger you to have so many mixed feelings and opinions solely on one character given the narrative from each of the main different individuals.

 I loved reading this last year and definitely think its time for a re-read. I'm not sure what Waters other books are like but this one was great. Also, is it me or is Gentlemen cunningly evil and scheming yet so devilishly attractive? Hurray for sexy evil-minded antagonists!

If you LOVE revelations, surprises,  the unexpected, twists and turns, ups and downs then I definitely recommend this book. Well done Waters, loved it! 5* Read. 


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I had to read this for my first year of A level English Literature; it was the first ever book I read by one of the Bronte sisters. I absolutely LOVED it. It was one of those prose for me, that kept making me want to read more and more and more to see where the development of Jane's relationship with Rochester would end up and follow the unimaginable journey of Jane herself. After reading the book, I traveled seventy two miles south of where I live to York where the Bronte sisters were born and raised, and visited the Bronte parsonage which made me realize how authentic the Bronte's books were. The settings of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre I imagined to be exactly like the location the Bronte's were brought up in; high in the moors with beautiful scenery and countryside.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Having it be the first ever Austen book that I read, I found it a little difficult to actually become swept into the story because it took me some time getting used to Austen's writing style which at first overwhelmed me a little after being used to reading work by the Brontes. There are huge long paragraphs in the book which have absolutely no significance and are utterly uninformative; these kept leaving me unsatisfied and wanting for action, character dialogue and expecting some event to soon take place which didn't. I also found myself slogging through it without really being able to enjoy it; I'm not sure if this was due to me being in a hurry to finish it for my Eng Lit course and couldn't fully digest it's content.
Also, I found that there were far too many different characters that none of them were really that well developed, relevant or had much personality or purpose. Especially Mary! *yaaaawn* what a goddamn boring pointless character. Instead, most of the content in the book, unlike work by Dickens, seemed to be about pompous shallow and naive aristocratic nonsense.

 On the contrary, Austen was definitely an exception for women and writers of her time, and I would definitely like to read this book and other Austen books like Persuasion in the future when I will be able to fully take them in without having to rush to finish them.

Conclusively, I would not recommend the book but the film adaptation by Joe Wright- it is far more enjoyable. I am usually the opposite and much prefer the book to its motion picture, however Matthew Macfayden makes the dreamy Mr Darcy easy on the eye.

Guys, fear not the Austen, embrace the Austen. This is P&P for dummies! 

And now you don't have to waste time reading it. Sorry for the spoilers ;)


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Why doesn't everyone rate this with a five sparkly stars?! It's a holy hot feast of Gothic Victorian literature all compounded into this one haunting novel. One of my favourite ever books! 

I love how Emily Bronte wrote the characters to be so flawed with selfishness and were manipulative (Cathy in particular) and were overwhelmed and motivated by jealousy or envy (Cathy, Heathcliff, Hindley, Linton, Isabella & even Nelly!) yet I still managed to be rooting for Cathy and Heathcliff at the same time. I know not all people are like this, in fact the main reason some people dislike this book is because they think all the characters are horrid and lack likable qualities however that is the reason I love it so much. For me, its refreshing and a lot more interesting to read about characters who share realistic human personality traits and unusual behavioural patterns. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Heathcliff has to be one of my all time favourite fictional males; I adore Heathcliff! wow.

Hugely recommend for a 5* read. The only thing I didn't enjoy was Nelly's continued account of the story post Catherine's death, which grew a little more slow paced and tedious at times however that could just by my biased view caused by the short absence of Heathcliff. Still a somehow beautiful and haunting tale.

Wuthering Heights song. Awesome. Kate Bush is British music royalty!


Monday, 3 December 2012

Transformation Writing: A part of Jane Eyre written from Bertha's perspective.

Creeping and clawing, creeping and clawing. Clawing at the floorboard until my fingernails bleed. Cursing at nothing, I don’t know why but it feels satisfying. The invisible ticking of a clock makes black spiralling shapes before my eyes; the shadows  dissolve the dust motes and form into darkness. Second, minutes, hours, days, months and years elapse as I lie in my dampened pit amongst crushed beetles and dead spiders, and feign slumber until my warden is helpless falling into a constant restful breathing.

That’s when I make my move. My escape. The fire by which she is hunched does nothing for me for I am the fire. It is inside and I feel it burning through my veins. I had thought once, long ago, that my heart had been frozen by hard feelings, but red possesses me now.

Blindly I begin to make my way down a corridor; which corridor I have no inkling. It is a stagger, or a limp, from my numb and wasted limbs. Here it is lighter, the atmosphere is warm and I grow angry. My blood is coursing, coursing with a desire for vengeance.

HA HA! Here it is I am sure. The chamber we used to share. The smooth oak door is brazen, and smells of many layers of polish, a distinct smell, the same as I recall. I feel for the door handle, for its carved detail and intricate patterns which take me back to how long? I don’ t know, but it is the same and feels like an episode of déjà vu; tracing the bumps and curves with my fingers tips and searching for the faces that used to appear in the wood grains. I wonder if they’ll appear for me now.
 I do not know what will happen or what I shall do once I am on the other side of the door. Perhaps I shall smother him? If he is awake I shall advance upon him. Pounce and brawl, like a tigress.

The brass knob turns slowly under my control and I ease just enough pressure on it to allow me to creep in. I hide behind the wall that obscures the entrance to the room from our bed and listen out for his breathing. It is steady and calm, it’s sound causes poison, venom, acid, to lick up the raw walls of my throat and fizz on my sharp worded tongue. Finally I will get what I have wanted, my victory, my justice, my vengeance. An eye for an eye, so it is said. I need not forget where I am and get lost in fantasies of things which I long for, to be free as a bird. This must not fail. Flat against the wall feels tense so I slide myself around the corner and there he is: my husband.

His lids are closed, smooth shut over those brooding balls I still remember. I used to stand and watch, as I do now, his body lolled across our bed, soft peaceful and at ease. Sleep does him justice and compliments his features, adds a youth and innocence making him look almost handsome. Observing him now is like catching Medusa in the eye, I become stone.
My attention is drawn to the blood on my fingers, from earlier today or yesterday. It has dried, black like ink. Can I really endure having more blood on my hands?
Another persons blood, that is.

+ + +

Watching him now, the flashbacks suddenly flood in. The night of our honeymoon in Jamaica. Memories of that first night I had thought I was free. Edward’s ignorance and foolishness along with his powerless nature had put him within reach of a promising plot. I would sit in the darkest corner of the room, watching him sleep by candle light. Sleeping soundly, his hopeful and unsuspecting face. I would let out a laugh or a bark at how obviously simple my plan would take place. For me to be left a widow by my husbands tragic accidental death; a blaze that took him out of my life. I pictured the death certificate that would read: “Cause of death- House Fire”
 I watched him stir and twist in the bed sheets as I did so. HAHA. Watched him squirm helplessly like a worm in mud or a fish on dry land. I watched the faces. Touched the patterns, the wood work from the side panels.

Again, images flood my mind; being shipped to England. Stepping out into an icy shower, my heavy gown becoming sodden on the hem. That moment turned my life into black and white. Drained it of colour.

I so long to be free of men. Free of being controlled. The world was created  for men; none of it makes sense to me. No more facades to play the lady I was not. I am not. I am a woman in my own right.
I step closer, cringing at the creaky floorboards beneath me, until I kneel at the bedside candle, a small breadth apart from him. The wick is almost out, and I best make the most of my time; my chance while I still have one. The flame flickers, I impel towards it. We are still married. Husband and wife. Suppose I accidentally expose the flame to the linen and break the shackles? My shackles.
I reach forward and grasp at the hot melting wax, letting it drip on my pale gross feet.
Before I know it, the whole bed frame is a blaze. Hypnotized I struggle to back away without taking my eyes off it. The heat is searing and I am seething.  I ease shut the door just as I had when entering. That is it. It hits me like an arrow, and I let out an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
My sharp animal instincts sense a disturbance. A shuffling coming from another room. I run back like a mad woman, back to my hiding place, and sleep in my patch of grit and dirt until dawn and freedom.

~ By Alisha Jackson