• Books

    Essays in Love or On Love

    Essays in Love / On loveAlain de Botton’s book of essays on love and romance written in novel prose about an unnamed narrator in the beginning to the end of a romance. When I started the book, I found out that it is on Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. That was a pleasant surprise, and it is nicely unconventional to be put in on the list. While is technically fiction, it really is a book of essays in an unconventional format. I have read de Botton’s The Art of Travel and found his subdued, analytical writing style and subtle humor very comfortable to read. The book works for me completely because I am a romantic and philosophical. I found myself relating to it such as Number 17 in False Notes discusses a lover’s view of their partner compared to the family/parents view of them, and I think this is very true and honest especially in my case. In family, I seem to be viewed as this other person compared to the world. It also has the aforementioned humor which involves diagrams, equations, and other sly random funny bits. I liked this, but then again, I think the style, essays, and romanticism worked for me personally that may not interest others.

  • Books

    The Host

    Stephenie Meyer of the Twilight series new adult sci-fi/romance. It was a bit slow in the first couple of chapters (and in the middle even), but then it paced itself eventually, and I really liked it by the end. Meyer is starting to become such a feel good novelist in my eyes. She has that talent of making supernatural and fantasy series so character driven and compelling in a way that most aren’t. While still being predictable at times, I was thoroughly engaged with the characters and the plot as usual. There is a really absorbing love triangle (or should I say square?) in the book that exceeds the one in Twilight in my humble opinion. It’s more complicated and strange. The book can be philosophical as well. It has themes of identity and humanity.

    Meyer’s books can be so reassuring. While they can be violent and have twisted turns and drama, the ending always ends up optimistic and many of the “bad” characters end up becoming sympathetic. There is a definite gray area in this book, but without being too convoluted. Many loose ends are tied up by the end of her novels, and the ones that do not are open to sequels. I now can say I look forward to any of Meyer’s books.

    On a final note, I am pleased to say that even though this hard cover is 619 pages, I read it in seven hours. Go me. I would love to read even faster.

  • Books

    Outlander

    This book is 627 pages long, but I listened to the audiobook. It was narrated and read by Davina Porter; unabridged and 32 hours and 30 minutes long on 28 discs. I have been acquiring audiobooks for knitting purposes, and I had heard about this one in particular from Audiobook Knitters group on Ravelry. I am very glad I did listen to the audiobook. Though it took me a bit to adjust to the narrator, I was continually engaged with the story and the characters by her narration and the evident good storytelling.

    I only knew a little bit about the story going in. I usually just jump into book, only vaguely knowing what they are about. It is better that way because then I can judge and interpret the story as the author presents it. For Outlander, I knew that it was a historical romance of sorts. It was violent in parts which is appropriate for the era, but it was darker than I thought it would be especially at the end. The book surprised me with its flawed but interesting characters, dark moments, and its ability to be engaging while being very long. It is incredibly well researched; I learned a lot about the time period, Scotland and clans while reading it. Diana Gabaldon was apparently a scientist and professor before becoming a writer which explains how in depth the book and research is.

    At the beginning of the audiobook, it was not easy to warm to Davina Porter’s voice because the majority of the characters are male and I felt I was listening to a one woman play rather than muti-character story. I was impatient and wanted to read the books, but then I got more use to her voice and the characters. She is an excellent narrator. Her delivery at parts makes me smile, and I admire her choice in reading styles. It must have taken weeks to make this audiobook, and I’m aware she has done the others in the series as well. I would really like to listen to her narration more. Her British voice is the voice of Claire in my mind. I can see her so much more clearly with Ms Porter’s vocal interpretation. It is unlikely that I will listen to the others in the series because the books are all long, each ranging from 33-47 hours. I’d prefer to read it if that were the case. I’m too impatient for resolution. Abridged versions are not an option as I prefer unabridged, and I’m aware those are read by another narrator.

    In conclusion, now I have another series to follow. I will review as I go along, and I am looking forward to the other books.

  • Books

    New Moon and Eclipse

    The second and third book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. So far, my favourite is still the first book though I did like Eclipse and the ending of New Moon. I read both of these on my laptop which is the first time I’ve read such complete novels on the computer. If it were any other books, I would be adverse to try it. These books were short and not too intense for the eyes. There are major spoilers under the cut.

  • Books

    Twilight

    I was aware that this book was popular, but I did not know how so nor did I know what the series was about until my friend showed me the trailer for the movie slated for December 2008. The more I learned about the series, the more I intrigued I became and convinced I would like it. The book’s paperback version is 475 pages, but I finished it in only a few hours. The fast pace of the book is driven largely by its dialogue driven and suspenseful content. Things happen very quickly, and it really is not hard at all to see why this book is so immensely popular especially for females. It has the air of chicklit about it, but better because it is fantasy romance. I don’t read many modern romance centred novels, but I know many popular and classic fantasy series do not have the central, compelling relationship of Edward/Bella. Their relationship is a classic story of forbidden love except he’s a vampire and they are teenagers in love for the first time. I think Meyer is adept at writing a teen girl’s feelings and attraction. While the book is not that full of twisted plots or self-absorbed by its own mythology, it is really good book to escape with.

    This book is fun. Sure the characters (e.g. Edward) are sometimes too perfect, and there is nothing truly distinct about the writing or prose. It has that ability to take you on a ride with Bella in her romance and adventures with these vampires. The relationship is so physically tenuous due to him being a blood sucker, and the fact these are YA books written by a devout Mormon makes the sexual tension rather high in these books. It adds onto the suspense and the fascination with their relationship in the books. The escapist nature of the books makes it immensely rereadable. I say this as someone who does not really re read often or who loves the vampires subgenres. As for the characters, I liked them all for the most part. I give Bella a lot of slack for talking about Edward’s beauty every other page while being self-deprecating. She is 17 after all. It is impossible to dislike Edward; he has been designed to be the perfect romantic and courageous leading immortal male. I also liked the other Cullens (vampires) and will look forward to getting to know them more. In fact, I have already started New Moon, the second in the series.

    As for the movie, the LA Times has a great article and behind the scenes clip of the movie. It really is going to be one my most anticipated films of 2008. The buzz around it is crazy enough; doubtlessly, they will adapt the sequels.