“Landline” by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

(Author: Rainbow Rowell) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

The first Rainbow Rowell book I read was Fangirl, then came Eleanor and Parkand finally Landline. To be honest, with each book my interest has been slowly decreasing. After I read Fangirl I was very excited to read Rowell’s other books, despite having some problems with Fangirl as well.

Come to think of it, all of Rowell’s books sort of remind me of the John Hughes movies, only sad and depressing. I’m just going to leave this here. You think about what happens to Andie Walsh after she goes to college.

Landline is a book about a woman, Georgie, who decides to stay in LA to work on Christmas week, while her husband, Neal, and two kids, Alice and Noomi, go to Omaha to spend Christmas with Neal’s mom. Georgie’s decision opens a gap between her and her husband and also reminds her of the first fight she and Neal had, some fifteen years ago. She goes on a spiritual journey both in her past and her present, trying to fix her mistakes and her relationship with Neal with has been getting worse and worse through the years.

For me Landline is a very ambiguous book. It presents many valid points about the nature of relationships and the notion of family, but it does it in a very strange and sometimes not very likable fashion. I think Rowell always makes her characters realistic to the point of being unlikable. I do not know if this is intentional – maybe she thinks people in real life are assholes, but I can almost never get attached to any of her characters. They are all so diverse, there always has to be a nerd, a diva, a gay person, a bitch, a nice person, an extremely shy person. She tries to get each and every type of personality in her books, and I do not find it as original as it is meant to be, or very interesting, to be honest.

Georgie is extremely selfish and obnoxious. She is in fact so self obsessed that it takes her ten years of marriage to realize that she is a total bitch to her caring husband. Then all of a sudden she decides she has to fix her marriage, which seems to actually work in the book, and would actually probably never work in real life. You cannot be an asswipe for ten years and get forgiven because you do one small gesture for your family.

Neal is equally strange and unrealistic. He almost NEVER laughs, does not smile, acts like a super mean person, and in spite of all that he is actually super sweet and a stay-at-home dad. Like such a person exists.

The rest of the characters are extremely superficial: Heather is the cool sister, Noomi(a name which annoyed me throughout the whole book) is a cat, Alice is only shown as a little brat, Georgie’s mom is a disgusting cougar, Seth is a seemingly gay non-gay person – Georgie’s meterosexual best friend slash once-upon-a-time-crush.

Also, the story seems highly unresolved. The whole time an “It’s a Wonderful Life” reference is being shoved down our throats but if I had to compare it to anything, it would actually be “A Christmas Carol”, in all honesty. And so, as the author works with that story, she seems to forget that the book should exist beyond the parallel with “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The reason for Georgie to stay in LA at the first place – her new show – is absolutely forgotten. The landline plot is never really explained. Neal’s POV remains a complete mystery to me. There was so much more I wanted to find out, aside from the things Rowell decided were relevant.

On the other hand, I found the book very wise, actually. Once you get over the crappy story, there is a lot of truth in the book, whether we would like to hear it or not. There were some quotes I found a bit sad, as they reminded me of a past relationship of mine.

“Just because you love someone,” she said, “that doesn’t mean your lives will fit together.”

And also this one:

“We were going to break up anyway,” he said. She frowned some more. “I mean,” Neal said, “we’d been talking about trying again. But then I met you. And I figured that if I felt the way I feel about you, maybe that was pretty solid evidence that she and I should break up.””

The sentence that I put in bold script is exactly the same thing that I have said once. It just hit a spot when I read it in the book.

Finally,

“Then we’ll get along fine,” she said, “because I’m extra good at wanting things. I want things until I feel sort of sick about them. I want enough for two normal people, at least.”

Ever felt like this? I have.

“Life in Outer Space” by Melissa Keil

Life in Outer Space

(Author: Melissa Keil) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Technically, I’m being a bit generous with the 4 stars. Actual rating: 3.5 stars

If Rainbow Rowell wrote happier novels from the boy POV… you’d have Life in Outer Space. And to be honest, this is the better version. I have a strange infatuation with Rowell’s novels. It’s a sort of a love/hate relationship. I appreciate the story and the atmosphere, but the characters are mostly crap, especially the strange girls who for the life of them cannot adapt to living in the real world. I get it, I’m a book and movie geek too, but I don’t find the world so so so scary as to hide in my room forever.

Life in Outer Space is a cute little novel about a total geek named Sam, who has a fun group of friends and is living the glam geek life, until Camilla Carter comes into his life and turns it upside down.

As far as the story goes, it was enjoyable and fun. I liked the Camilla/Sam moments a lot. But overall the entire novel seemed like something’s missing. That’s my biggest problem with it, really. Right now, a few hours after I’ve finished Life in Outer Space, I don’t feel like I’ve been completely immersed in a full-blown world which could suck me in so deep as to not want to leave. I don’t even know how to explain this feeling. It’s sort of like being unresolved.

Not to mention that a big segment of the book was focused on dealing with the Mike problem which was then handled in a couple of pages and was totally laughable.

The thing I liked the most about this book was Camilla Carter. Usually I’m not a fan of these perfect girls that are been thrown at us in every book a la John Green, but there was just something about Camilla and how she was not really a hipster bitch. I absolutely loved the fact that she played World of Warcraft… Wait… maybe that’s it, I like her so much because I can find her easy to relate to. He-he.

“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist

(Author: Jessie Burton) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

1. Cover love!
2. IS THIS HOW IT REALLY ENDED?

Let me back up here.
I stumbled upon this book and I thought the concept was interesting, even though I’m not a fan of historical books. I recently got a hold of it and I was in a hurry to read it.

Summary: Nella is a girl of almost 18 years whose father dies and she is forced to marry a rich merchant, Johannes Brandt, from Amsterdam and leave her village. Upon arrival, however, she realizes that her new husbands household, consisting of his spinster sister Marin, an unfriendly maid, named Cornelia, and a black manservant, called Otto. Nella’s husband is often away on trips and she is left to her own devices in the hostile house, her only solace being the miniature figurines a mysterious miniaturist sends to her. Soon after, however, her life and the lives of the entire Brandt family are turned upside down and now Nella has to learn to stand up for herself and protect the people that she loves.

Characters

Nella is at first portrayed as very shy and obedient, but in a way I found endearing as much as it was sad. All of her attempts to win over her husband were pitifully sweet. I couldn’t help feel sorry for her and I really hoped that she and Johannes will find their way to one another. I thought that this was going to be a “Pride and Prejudice” sort of thing, and boy was I wrong.
In the second part of the book we see Nella grown up, less shy and timid, much more decisive. I liked her like this and I was glad she managed to develop instead of staying a little girl who needs help to do everything.

Johannes was the character through which the author was trying to preach her philosophy. At first I thought he was charming and despite the fact that he was being described as such until the end, he lost his charm for me near the beginning. I think he is actually a spoiled rich man who has too much money and time on his hands. He was absolutely selfish and blatantly so. His pathetic attempts to be nice to his wife were painful to read about and proving how inconsiderate he is of anyone but his own self.

Marin and the Meermans were very shallow and underdeveloped. The author shows one side of them, the one they show to the world, and then heavily underlines the fact that all three of them have hidden identities and then just barely scrapes the surface of those and shows the result of their actions without explaining the actions themselves. It’s one thing to leave it to the reader to understand a character when you’ve showed them through different perspective and another to expect the reader to guess what was going on without any explanation whatsoever.
For example:
What happened to Agnes in the court?
What drove Agnes to her behaviour?
What was Agnes and Frans’ coversation after the dinner in the Brandt house all about?
What happened to Marin and Frans and Otto?

The Miniaturist : this is this book’s unforgivable negligence. It’s called The Miniaturist, and yet one, the miniaturist is barely there, two, nothing is said about her, she is yet another flat character, three, how exactly can one explain her near supernatural ability to “predict” things with her figurines? Are you really going to tell me she managed to spy on 50 different families to gather enough information about all of them? It just sounds silly and stupid. I think the author had a stroke of genius for this character to a certain degree and then she didn’t know what to do with it later. EXTRAORDINARY DISAPPOINTMENT.

Philosophy

Jesse Burton manages to make some great points in this book. She points out many things that might have been a problem in the 17th century and sadly, however, haven’t changed much throughout the ages. Among those are racism, attitude toward homosexuality, the greed and vanity of society, and the one I liked the best: feminism.

I read this book just a couple of weeks, if not less, after Emma Watson’s fantastic speech for the UN. THe Miniaturist paints a world where no matter how good a woman is at what she does, she can never be equally praised as a man can be. The sad truth is, even today, when we consider ourselves so developed, a woman can still do the same job as a man, she can even do it better, and she is never likely to get the same money for it. I wish people would try and think about such things before declaring themselves “intelligent” and “progressive”.

Finale. SPOILERS!!!

The second part of this book is a letdown. It quickly turns from the subject of the miniaturist and Nella’s hardships, to a family drama of the sort I really and truly hate. I was in suspense for so long, I was going through this book as fast as humanly possible, and for what? So that I can get a page and a half of the miniaturist’s father telling Nella that the miniaturist didn’t come from an egg.

Nothing was really explained in this book.

Most of all, what was the significance of the miniaturist at all? What was the significance of the fact that she was also called Petronella?

I feel that’s the bit that makes the book as shallow and pointless as it is. Since the miniaturist signifies the theme of the book, as unexplained as the miniaturist is, so is the story. What is this story even about? Is it redemption? Because nobody was redeemed of any sin. Is it forgiveness? If so, who was the forgiven, who was the forgiving? Was it love? I found none. Was the miniaturist supposed to be the thing that made Nella grow up? I can’t possibly see this as being true. Nella doesn’t grow up because someone sends her figurines but because she is the only person that can care for this family. So where exactly was this novel supposed to lead.

I’m really frustrated right now. I am left with more questions then there were answers in this book. Who, what, why, when, how??? All of those can be asked about each and every character, up to a point when you realize that it’s highly probable that there was never a great idea in this book. There was a concept and the author failed in trying to make a good story out of it.

“Life of Pi” by Yann Martel

Life of Pi

(Author: Yann Martel) + (Year: 2006) + (Goodreads)


Review:

“As an aside, story of sole survivor, Mr. Piscine Molitor Patel, Indian citizen, is an astounding story of courage and endurance in the face of extraordinarily difficult and tragic circumstances. In the experience of this investigator, his story is unparalleled in the history of shipwrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”

life-of-pi-quotes-8

Yann Martel tried to get “Life of Pi” published in the UK numerous times, to no avail. The book was later published Canada and became very successful worldwide. Then came the issue of the movie. It was considered “unfilmable”. No one wanted to undertake the task. Until Ang Lee created his 2012 masterpiece. Now, the “Life of Pi” movie was absolutely brilliant, in my opinion. It was a feast for the senses, visually astounding. It was claimed that the book is “unfilmable” – I think it’s quite the opposite. The book without the movie is not was powerful. There are so many things that are described in the book but if you are not familiar with them you cannot grasp the beauty of it.

tumblr_nhqmnjd7to1sfcxreo1_500

Richard Parker: every one of us knows how a tiger looks, right? But can you, in all honesty manage to imagine how a tiger looks through this sort of a journey? His might and glory is beautifully woven into the narrative of the book, but can you imagine him at his weakest, at his greatest moments of distress and wonder?

114ddaf548c19ad2aee27112f836c722

This.scene.
I was completely underwhelmed by the description in the book. Maybe the reason is that I first saw the movie and I expected the true glory of Lee’s creation to be mirrored in the book.

Overall, I liked the language, aside from the scenes where Pi actually speaks while on the boat. For unknown to me reasons his speeches are lavish and pompous and make him look very foolish.
I was once again deeply disturbed by the other story – it is the one thing about “Life of Pi” that will never leave me. I know that maybe I’m supposed to be touched by the adventure with the Bengal tiger, but I can’t help imagining that event and the absolute and utter horror of it. The shipwreck has nothing to the rest of the story. I was chilled to the bone by the narrative in the book, even though I already knew what was going to happen.
My feelings are mixed, because I like the story, in general, but at some moments I didn’t feel sorry for the character, actually, I felt nothing at all, I just had to read on. That’s why I’m giving it the three stars.

“The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)

(Author: Robert Jordan) + (Year: 1990) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Where do I even begin with this?

I met a friend of a friend and we got talking about Game of Thrones, the show. Then about the books. And then he was all “But have you read “The Wheel of Time” series?” Which I had not. So he gave me the first book, telling me that it was “the best fantasy ever!” I was not that excited, to be honest. I expected major disappointment. Which was great, because therefore the book could not have let me down in any way.
But it went further, I actually loved it!

I can’t call this the best fantasy ever simply because I don’t find it that original. That, however, does not mean that it was not exciting and interesting. I didn’t know this about myself, but I seem to be a fan of the fantasy genre. Again, that might be the result of the fact that I haven’t read a disappointing fantasy book to this moment.

But anyway…
The Wheel of Time for me is the lovechild of one of my favourite books ever,Lord of the Rings, and The Sword of Truth series(although that is not completely true, considering that The Sword of Truth started in 1994 and The Wheel of Time in 1990. I just didn’t read them in the order they were published, so I can’t help but feel that The Wheel of Time reminds me of The Sword of Truth and not the other way around). Anyone who’s read both of those could make a parallel with The Wheel of Time and they would not be wrong. Therefore excuse the comparisons in the review, they are going to be very helpful, in my opinion.

The Eye of the World depicts a world of magic which exists on the balance between the forces of good and evil. Three young men, Rand, Mat and Perrin, are forced to leave their hometown and journey across their country, ridden with the forces of evil, to find shelter in the city of Tar Valon. They are accompanied by Aes Sedai Moiraine, her Warder Lan, Rand’s love interest Egwene, Gleeman Tom Merrilin and later another girl from their village, Nynaeve. They encounter many threats, meet friends and foes and fight darkness every step of the way.

First of all, without trying to spoil, the fact that the book from the beginning revolves around one of the boys more than the other two points to his significance, so I wouldn’t believe anyone was fooled about who the Trollocks and Shai’tan were after.

Second, the author claims that he intentionally created the village of Elmond’s Field in the image of the Shire. OK. But the entire world in the book is eerily like the one in LoTR:
– The Mountains of Dhoom/Mount Doom
– Aragorn/Lan
– Trollocks/Orcs
– Myrddraal/Uruk Hai
– Ways/Moria

etc. etc. etc.

If you loved The Lord of the Rings, I think you would appreciate the atmosphere.

Third: The Sword of Truth.

532b2ffec46a4252d3d453941eb9c021 Richard [Rand, Mat and Perrin], in turn of events, meets a mystery woman, Kahlan [Moiraine], who takes him from the town he has always lived in and drags him to the world of magic, where he is in a constant battle with the servants of darkness, in the face of rulers, emperors, Sisters of the Dark[Black Ajah], evil’s puppets [Darkfriends] and so on.

b68e4b05ab09eecebdab8f3a6cd53513

Kahlan [Moiraine], also turns out to be part of an ancient order, the Confessors [Aes Sedai], and is both loved and feared across the land.

120340-legend-of-the-seeker-cara-dark-look

*yep, BAMF right there*
Later on Richard [our three friends] meets Cara [also Moiraine], who is a part of the Mord-Sith [also Aes Sedai], and is at first cruel and vicious, but then becomes a friend of Richard’s and also his protector. Richard[one of the three boys] later learns that he is not actually the son of the man who raised him, but the reincarnation of sorts, of the Seeker of Truth[keeping this spoiler-free, I’m not going to say what the said boy is in the Wheel of Time, except that he is special]. There is also the grandfatherly figure, in LotS he is an actual grandfather, not so in The Wheel of Time, Zedd[Tom].

tumblr_lcadfqhjbq1qb9guy We also have the villain of our story, I’m going to use Darken Rahl here, even though he isn’t alive for long in the books, and his counterpart in The Wheel of Time, Shai’tan.
I could go on and on.

I guess, knowing that The Wheel of Time came out first, Goodkind was a big fan of Jordan’s books.

Religion

It seems to me this book was heavily influenced by both Buddhism and Christianity. There is the one Creator, and then there is evil incarnate. The wheel of time itself is a popular concept in some religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Jordan seems to rely on that type of eastern religions to create the concept of right and wrong in the book.
On the other side, The Children of the Light remind me of religious fanatics, notably the ones that we can find in the history of Christianity: crazed enough to burn people at the stake, create the Inquisition and so on.

On the whole this is a very enjoyable book. That’s the bit I love the most about fantasy and YA books, they try to define good and evil in a way which is both smart and interesting. They create fictional worlds in which people possess strong spirit and will to fight for their cause and while saving the world, they show us the values which we should strive to achieve.