Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Bingo: A Room with a View

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster is about an English girl, Lucy, in the upper-middle-class in the first decade of the 20th-century. She takes a trip to Italy with her mother's cousin, Charlotte, as her chaperone. But as Lucy discovers love, passion, and beauty on her trip, she finds herself torn between this intense, new-found world and her safe and comfortable social conventions. I've grown up watching the 1985 version of A Room with a View, which I love, but for some reason I never picked up the book and read it. Until now!

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: I'm captivated by the beauty of Forster's language. Maybe some of it is because I've been having classic literature withdrawal lately, but his prose feels like poetry. It's funny, too, how Forster's version of Italy appears so captivating even when the characters are bored or something gruesome is happening. I find it interesting that no one really likes the other characters in the first half of the book. I can definitely see more evidence of it here than in the movie. One person who appears to advantage in the book is Cecil, if only because the reader can see that he tries to phrase his opinions in a less offensive way and to see other points-of-view. He's making an effort. He is the same snooty character, however, that one can never really like. George is as wonderful as ever, and the main difference in him is that he communicates a little more with Lucy. He also seems to be depressed rather than just thoughtful, which changes his character somewhat for me. Freddy's "bone hobby" is actually studies in anatomy. Who knew? I'm enjoying the extra character information in my reading. My favorite parts so far have been the author's descriptions of music and of Lucy when she plays the piano. She comes alive! I wonder if Forster was a big fan of music or if he just found this to be a perfect way to convey Lucy's full character?

(picture taken from Goodreads)

This is my favorite version of the cover that I've seen so far. It's artistic, beautiful, and it displays a few significant themes from the novel. The cover pictured at the beginning of this post is from the copy that I read.

Conclusion: As you know, the beauty of Forster's writing grabbed me from the beginning of this book, and it held throughout! The passion conveyed in the words of the author and the actions of the characters was amazingly profound. It makes the reader want to live, and to do so with extreme depth and clarity. I found the characters very fascinating and unique. Lucy was not perfect. She was the protagonist, but she was very conflicted and somewhat selfish throughout the book. George was my favorite, of course. He lived freely and threw himself into everything he did in such a compelling way--even the characters who didn't like him were fascinated by him. Mr. Beebe was the most confusing character to me, I guess. It's hard to even explain why, but you'll see if you read it. He was a bit of a riddle. The ending was perfect for every character, but it was not exactly what I expected, because it varied from the movie slightly. This made things interesting! And it proved to some extent that authors usually know what's best for their characters. And why not? They've spent so much more time together than we have!

Recommendation: This book is fantastic for those who like classics that challenge social ideals. If you are a fan of John Galsworthy or Elizabeth Gaskell, you will like this novel by E.M. Forster.

A Room with a View is one of my "TBR Pile" choices for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge! It also would have worked in the "Classic" box, but I'm saving that for a book I'm currently reading! I loved this book, and I hope you enjoyed the review! Please subscribe to the blog or keep checking back for more reviews and maybe some other fun things!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Bingo: A World Without Princes

A World Without Princes is the second book in The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani. Some of you may remember the first book from my review here. In this sequel, Agatha finds herself unhappy with what is supposed to be her perfect life. Through a series of uncontrollable events, the girls find themselves thrust back into the fairytale world. But everything has changed, and the darkest threats to happiness might be those people and things they trusted the most.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: I'm surprised by how Chainani starts this one, but that is partially because I forgot how he detailed the ending of the first book. He also likes to take risks and do unusual things with his characters, which he continues here. Agatha is still my favorite character, although she seems less sure of what she wants this time around. Her inner self is at war. Unlike last time, I have no idea what the future has in store for Sophie or Tedros, and I'm eager to see what will happen. I don't like the new evolution of the storybook world, so I hope the girls (or others) bring it crumbling down or re-instate the old ways.

Conclusion: Agatha's whining and indecisiveness bothered me in this book. She was so sure and pure-of-heart in the first one--her inability to take action in this one was a bit frustrating. Tedros was, as always, bothersome in his lack of self-assurance, but he continued to be loyal to his friends and ideals. Sophie was the most confusing one this time. Is she good; is she evil? Who knows? And Evelyn Sader was Chainani's most brilliant creation yet, although I still can't help but hate her. I think it was the fact that she tampered with the books in the school library! Speaking of which, there's a giant turtle librarian! I loved it. I probably would have ended the storyline of the series with this book (or maybe even the first one). I love Chainani's originality, but I'm curious why you never see books with just one sequel. And it's frustrating being left hanging! I had finality with the first book since I thought it was a stand-alone...albeit a tentative, barely constructed finality. The author's specialties seem to lie with the cliffhangers and the edgy, unique characters. I'm extremely fascinated to see how it will finally end.

Recommendation: This book will only make sense within its series, so I recommend reading it if you liked the first one.

The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes is my fourth "New Release" choice for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge. How are everyone else's challenges going? Don't forget to comment and subscribe for further updates on the challenge! Who knows, maybe I'll get that blackout after all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green is about a girl named Margo who is unhappy with her life, her town, her friends, etc. She disappears one day, and her neighbor (Quentin), who has had a crush on her since childhood, starts a search to find out where she is and what happened to her. Quentin is actually the main character, but he is so focused on getting "inside Margo's mind" during his search that the reader learns just as much about her as one does about him.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: This is a little strange so far. Basically, there's this little girl who sees a dead body and gets really weird about it. Rather than running away, her initial reaction is to close the dead man's eyes (she doesn't, but she wanted to). Then she starts this whole investigation to find out what happened and gets spooked when talking to her friend about it. The funny thing is, the main character is just as strange in the opposite way, because he just sees the dead body, talks to his parents (who are therapists) about it, and then moves on as if nothing significant had happened. And yet, his reaction feels more normal than hers. Maybe it's just the general attitude in which this book starts that is throwing me off, because Green has already switched gears and left the beginning years behind, and I'm only twenty-three pages in. Quentin is now in high school, and he seems to live a fairly normal life outside of the major social circles. I really have no idea where this book will take me, so I'm just along for the ride at the moment.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

This is the cover on the paperback edition, which I actually think is a bit more fun. Lots of books have pictures of girls on the front, right? This one makes it special.

Conclusion: John Green has a talent for taking something basic and making it special. This book becomes something you don't expect. It starts out a little quirky, and you assume it's going to be about Q's (Quentin's) strengthened friendships or the point where he decides to let Margo go, but it's not. So, the ending wasn't what I expected or even really what I wanted, but I like how it ended overall. I don't really want to read more about Quentin and Margo, but I wouldn't mind a spin-off, maybe about Radar or Margo's little sister.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Club / Book Bingo: The Giver

The Giver is the first in a YA science fiction quartet by Lois Lowry. I first read this book in upper elementary school, and I had no idea that Lowry ended up writing more books set in this world! It's about a futuristic community in which no one experiences deep pain or difficulty. They also can't see color or really experience love, and the environment has been controlled to be flat and the same all of the time. There are very strict rules to be followed, and people are assigned spouses and children after written requests to a committee. The main character, Jonas, has reached the age of job assignment (12-years-old), and he is made Receiver of Memories. What follows is happiness and sadness, joy and pain as he learns the past and present truths of his community.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

This book never gets old! It's so beautiful and emotionally wrenching at the same time. I remember, the first time I read it, becoming more and more horrified at the prospect of living in this futuristic world where nothing really means anything. This time, the passing on of memories bit by bit is what really struck me. When Jonas experiences snow for the first time, I can feel what it would be like never to have seen or felt snow before that moment. Lowry has a gift for detail, accomplishing quite a lot in a short amount of space, and I relish in the constant discoveries Jonas makes throughout the book.

This is my Re-Read choice for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge! I loved re-visiting this book--re-read something that you love today! Don't forget to check back and subscribe!