One Day Review – ‘What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?’

 

 

 

Hi readers,

 

I just finished reading One Day by David Nicholls and having no plans for the next hour, I thought I’d write my review so that I could have it ready for putting up after I’ve done the third Looking Glass Wars book. I always get this odd feeling when I finish a book. I guess other people get it too, its a mixture of things and there’s no easy way to describe it because it depends on my experience with the book.

 

I always feel a sense of completion at finishing reading though, even if I didn’t get the ending or a didn’t like the book as a whole. Sometimes I feel annoyed that the book has ended because I was enjoying it so much or else the ending turned out to be an anti-climax, where more should have happened to bring closure. A part of me feels sad that I now have to leave those characters when they have become my friends and I won’t be wondering through the fictional settings any more. But there is a small part of me that knows I can return whenever I want as I only have to pick up the book again to be be back in that story.

 

I have a bad habit with the books I really really like. I’ll try and draw out the last set of chapters, so that it feels like the story is longer and I can spend more time enjoying it before I close the back cover. Then I’ll spend a few minutes thinking about the book, before moving on to the next. I’ve never been a fan of books that have won prizes and/or been famous, I guess because I tend to stick with one genre and don’t expand out to look at others. However, my main reason for this is because I’ve never been keen on fiction books that have a ‘real life’ theme to them. I read to escape from the stresses of life and find it hard to get into books that focus on ‘normal’ peoples’ lives.

 

Saying that though, I do sometimes come across these genre of books that I do actual like. Maybe its because I can connect with the characters and the stories are so well written that I easily get into them and find it difficult to stop reading. One Day is just that. I had heard of the book before I picked it up and people had told me how good it was. It just took me awhile to buy and read it as I was unsure if I’d like it. I try not to pick up a book and judge it there and then. I try and set my thoughts aside and read the first half, before deciding on it. I was hooked on One Day straight a way because I liked the idea behind it and I wanted to see how Nicholls had been able to write it.

 

Parts of this book are also very quotable and some great lines are said. So to stop this post looking like a mass of text, I’ve searched around for some of my favourite quotes with picture/photo backgrounds to go along side my words. It also means I won’t have to type out the bulk of the quotes I want to share and look at in detail.

 

 

 

Firstly, the cover for One Day -as above- is really eye catching and simple. It conveys the book’s subject of two people and the passage of time. I really like the cover because even though the faces are in silhouette you get the impression that they are good looking people, also that they are just about to kiss. I prefer original art work to book covers then stills from the movies based on them. I think this is because sometimes the adoptions can influence how the book is read and the covers just don’t like as good!


One day is the story of two people, Emma and Dexter, across twenty years, who try and meet up or make contact on the same day of the year- 15th July, St. Swithin’s day. The story starts with them in bed having meet after their graduation from university. They discuss what they could do with the rest of their lives and how they might make a difference in the world. After they part as friends, agreeing to stay in connect. From that point onwards every chapter is set one year on and we catch up with what they have been doing and we get to see the development of their friendship/relationship.

 

I could go on about all the different events that happen, but I feel like I’d be giving too much away and spoiling some of the twists. The effects of the events are handled really well and it doesn’t feel like they have been placed as obstacles before the characters, more like they have just happened through the process of life. One thing I really wasn’t expecting as I draw towards the ending was the sudden turn of fate that happens. It was always clear that the characters would end up together at some point, as the main plot is built around this idea. However, the unexpected ending really hits home the cruelness of life, also it fits in with the themes in the book and so doesn’t actual seem out of place on reflection.

 

The plot is very character driven and fitted around their actions. This works well because it feels very realist and reflects the choices that people make every day. The plot has a very real life feel to it with different events happening to each character. These events are a mixture of happy moments, sad/tragic times, personal triumphs, dreams coming alive and missed opportunities. It makes the reader question “what if?” in places too as the characters miss chances to get together or go down certain paths. I think everyone can connect with this and it allows the reader to question their own lives and missed things.

 

In some ways, it feels like there isn’t an actually plot to this book, because we are just following two people living out their lives. This creates a natural story because it doesn’t seem like you are reading fiction. It feels more like someone’s memories and the dating of the chapters adds to this. There is also the appearance of historic events in the background, which make it more realistic and gives the characters talking points. Most readers should know of these events as the readership is aimed at young adults.

 

 

 

The narrative of the story is third person and switches points of view from Emma to Dexter throughout the chapters. At times the tense also switches from past to present and back again. The shifts are done really well and there is no jarring or sudden jumps between the points of view. Often this is because Nicholls has his current character thinking about the other and so the changing narrative feels natural.

 

The characters are excellently written and remain three dimensional throughout. They go through a lot of development, which is important to keep up with the ever changing time span. They also reflect on their younger selves questioning their liking, disliking or support of things and how that has changed as they’ve got older. All the characters are very like able and  easy to connect with. You also become a emotionally attached to them and because of the way the story is written, you start to feel like Em and Dex are your best friends and you feel everything along side them. This draws you in and you feel gripped to carry on reading to see what happens.

 

The background characters connect with Dex and Em because they are either family, friends or co-workers. Each of these character’s stories become part of Dex or Em’s stories and pop in and out of their lives, the same way people naturally do. All of these characters are just as complex and three dimensional. Some even have development and reappear as events unfold. This adds another layer to the reality of the novel and really shows how useful background characters can be.

 

There a lot of themes, but the main ones are friendship, family, relationships, death/lost and love. These are mixed in with the sub-themes of alcoholism, drugs, music, politics, literature and travel. All together these  themes don’t overwhelm the narrative,which is a massive achievement because it would be so easy to become stuck down with so much going on! I think as they are spread out and kept in the background because of the year leaps, they become more like hints or suggestions. This works though because it just adds to the depths of the characters and gets the reader thinking.

 

To go with everything else contained in this novel is a whirlwind of settings. You would easily become lost if the chapters didn’t declare where the characters where. Really, it seems they go all over the world, but the bulk of the story takes place in the greater London area. It really does help having a central setting and it was also refreshing for me to read a British novel! We start in Edinburgh and do circle back to it later on, then move to Bombay, Greece, France and a range of UK places. We see fleeting glimpses of most of these places in letters or conversation, so the narrative doesn’t district too much. However, enough description is given to each place to bring it alive and they do appear to be suitable backgrounds to the characters throughout their lives.

   

 

 

It’s easy to see why this book has won awards and so many positive reviews. It captures not only twenty years of British history, but twenty years in the lives of two people, who are destined to be together but are kept apart by fate. I was unexpectedly gripped and got carried away by this novel and it really is a story that will make you smile, laugh and cry. It’s beautifully told,easy to read and you become unable to put it down. It’s also one of those books makes you want to  re-read it straight a way!

 

One Day became a movie in 2011. Though I’ve not seen it, I know that Nicholls wrote the screenplay and adapted his book to the big screen. Luckily, he’s also a screenwriter and had previously written; Starters For 10 and When Did You Last See Your Father? He has co-wrote other movies, adapted classics to the TV screen and wrote a number of scripts for different British dramas. I look forward to seeing the movie at some point as I believe it is a really good adaptation of the book.

 

The last thing I love about One Day is that I could easily relate to the first half of the novel. Having graduated myself, currently not working and wondering what to do next, I found that I was able to sympathises with Em because I’m in her position. I felt that some of the quotes about living inspired me and made me want to actually get out there and start doing more things. I would so recommend this book to graduates and people who are in a limbo about their lives.

 

Overall, I love this book and can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it! I think its set to be a modern classic and for Lit students to studied it. So much can be got out of this book and there is so much to explore  within the lines and between them. It’s odd how a book that is packed with so much, could work as well as it does, but the plot and narrative are excellent. The characters really do become your best friends because you feel so involved with their lives that by the time its all over you feel like you’ve lost them. I’d recommended this book to anyone because no matter what you enjoy reading, you’ll love this!

 Movie - one day Wallpaper

 

 

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The Secret Garden review – ‘Might I have a bit of earth?’

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett has to be one of the most memorable classics of childrens’ literature. For me it is also one of my guilty pleasures in books and movies. I can’t recall how old I was when I first read the book and saw the 1993 movie of it. (For that I must have been more then 6. So I would say about 10 or 12 years old.) I fell in love with the story straight away. I think the same reasons why I liked it so much back then are still the same reasons why I am into it today.

I recently finished reading it on my Kindle and that’s why I am keen to write about now. At one point I owned a copy of the above edition. (Knowing me I’ve still got it somewhere!) I think it did become very tried out due to me re-reading it so many times though! And I really think that of all the books and stories in general that I often return to, The Secret Garden is high up on the list. So, why is a lover of horror, supernatural and vampire stories so attracted to a children’s book? Well, some would say there are supernatural elements in it, but its the story of finding the garden, the setting, the development of the characters, the dialogue used and the magic of nature that attracts me.

Burnett was an English-American playwright and author. She was born 24th November 1849 in Cheetham, near Manchester and is best known for her children’s stories. She moved to America in 1852 aged 19 and begin writing and publishing stories in magazines. During the 1880s she travelled to England frequently and in 1890s moved to Great Maytham Hall in Kent. It was here, during her return some years later, that she had the idea for The Secret Garden due to her love for gardening and the series of walled and rose gardens at the Hall. Most of the writing happened during a visit to Buile Hill Park in Salford. It was published in serial format in The American Magazine 1910 and then published in 1911 as a book. She moved back to the USA in 1907 and settled in Long Island where she died on 29th October 1924. The Secret Garden was the 5th to last book she wrote.

Of course, living in England I should be familiar with the places that Burnett is connected to. I first thought that she had got the idea, written and set the novel close to me, but on researching this I found out that the places were further away then I had realised. Kent is far away from me as it’s down near London, but Buile Hill Park in Salford is about 40 minutes and the Yorkshire dales might be two hours away, but somehow they feel a lot closer!

I really like the book cover of my edition because it fits with the title and the robin looks so attractive. I’ve always had a love of nature and maybe it was seeing this as a child that started my love for robins? Your eye is also drawn to the doorway behind the bird, which must be the entrance to the garden. Even the title gets you thinking and interested to find out more. Where is this secret garden? What’s in it? Who finds it? What’s it’s history? And it’s because you need to have those questions answered that you pick it up.

The story starts in India and the introduction to the main character 10 year old Mary Lennox. She is selfish, self-absorbed, sour, a loner, angry, rude, use to getting her own way and unloved. She doesn’t know how to respect, give care, be compassionate and show love to others. Everything revolves around her and she believes herself to be at the centre of the universe around her. Her British, wealthy parents don’t want her, so she has been raised by servants, who have been told to keep her quiet and happy, which is the reason behind her behaviour. When a cholera epidemic hits and kills nearly all the household, Mary is rescued and sent to live with her only relative, her uncle Archibald Craven in Yorkshire, England.

His house Misselthwaite Manor is set on Missle Moor far from anywhere else. She crosses the moor at night and so doesn’t view them until the morning. The name of the moor is fictional, but Thwaite is an actual village in the Dales and is probably the setting of the Manor. The moor is first described by Medlock- Craven’s house keeper, who goes to collect Mary and bring her to the Manor;

‘Its just miles and miles and miles of wild land that nothing grows on but heather and gorse and broom, and nothing lives on but wild ponies and sheep….It’s a wild dreary enough place to my mind, though there’s plenty that likes it.’

I prefer Matha’s – Medlock’s maid who also becomes Mary’s- describtion of the moor a few pages later;

‘I just love it. It’s none bare. Its’ covered wi’ growin’ thing as smell sweet. It’s fair lovely in spring an’ summer when th’ gorse an’ broom an’ heather’s in flower. It smells o’ honey an’ there’s such a lot o’ fresh air-an’ th’ sky looks so high an’ th’ bees an’ skylarks making such a nice noise hummin’ an’ singin’.

Moors have always had the supernatural connected to them in some way, but they also have the magic of nature too. I find them interesting and beautiful places. The moors aren’t the actual setting of the story though they are connect. There is symbolism between the moor and the characters though. For example, the cold, bleakness, un-interesting nature of the moors in winter is symbolic of Medlock’s and Craven’s attitudes towards Mary. The changes between the winter and spring season could be said to be symbolic of the changes in Mary and her cousin Collin. As like the plants starting to become active, the children’s minds and bodies do as well. My favourite symbolism has to be between the moor and the character Dickon, (he is Matha’s younger brother) because he represents the wild spirit of the moor and nature.

The description of Misselthwaite Manor is minimal, but you get the impression that this massive house reflects the look of the moor. It is a dark, gloomy, empty and a half abandoned place. I guess some what spooky and mysterious would also fit also and during Mary’s secret wanderings of the house the supernatural element is touch upon. Nothing else comes of this, though you do learn that Mary has no fear of things. The house could symbolise the lack of love and the loneliness that Mary has come accustomed too. Since there is nothing for Mary to do inside and the fact that Medlock doesn’t want her poking around, she is sent outside to ‘play’ by Matha. However, because of her up bringing, she doesn’t know how to play and finds the Manor’s gardens boring.

Mary is told the tale of the secret garden and the reader receives some answers to the questions raised at the beginning. The garden was created by Mrs Craven, who loved roses, but she fell off a swing/ tree Branch and was injured. She died and Mr Craven couldn’t get over her death, so he had the garden closed forever and forbid anyone to enter it. This is also the reason why he can’t stand to spent the spring and summer months at the manor, as these seasons remind him of his wife. The loss of a Lady at the manor can be seen in the state of the place as well. Mrs Craven wouldn’t have let the place get so dull and gloomy! This does stir something in Mary and she becomes interested in finding the garden.

Thus she is led to talking to an old gardener, Ben Weatherstaff and his friendly robin. At first Mary appears her normal self, but as she starts talking to the robin and putting human qualities onto the bird, she starts to become a different child. In away, Weatherstaff takes the role of grandfather like figure to Mary. He is wise and she does learn things from him. However, he is also a loner and does become bitter and anger later on. As for the robin, he has a very important role to play in the novel. He leads Mary to the garden because it is his home and he also helps her find the key. I love the character of the robin, because he is well written and acts just like a cheeky, friendly robin would do! He symbolises freedom as all birds do in novels, but it is also because he can enter the secret garden when no one else can. He becomes Mary’s first friend and does turn the novel around at this point.

So, Mary gets into the garden, but because she doesn’t know anything about plants and believes the garden is dead. There’s no one around to ask or help her, that is until my favourite character, Dickon, appears. I think its his animal charmer nature and the fact he has the spirit of the moor inside of him, that makes me like him so. He shows Mary that the garden isn’t dead and they begin to tidy it up and plant new flowers. One thing that I do love at this point is that they decided to let the garden stay wild and not try to re-tame it and make it fancy as it once most have been. You also get to meet all of Dickon’s animal friends, who each have their own story about how he found them. Many were baby animals that he saved and we see this with the newly born lamb that appears later on. These animals have developed a bond with him and see him as one of them. I also like how he can talk to the robin, because Dickon brings a voice to him to confirm his friendship with Mary.

Just as the garden has given up it’s secret, the house does too and one night, Mary finally follows the crying noises she has been hearing and discovers her cousin, Collin. She is already changing into a much more caring and less selfish girl. The fresh air and having the garden to look after have given her mind and body fuel that wasn’t there before. It is interesting when she meets Collin for a number of reasons;

Firstly, because the reader can see that Mary is mirrored in Collin. He is just like her in manner and nature, but he is also mentally unstable due to his depression, his belief of dying and getting a hunch back like his father. Secondly, because they didn’t know about each other. Thirdly, there is a sense that Mary will be the salvation of him and help change him. Mary tells him about the garden and he becomes interested in finding it. However, she is worried he won’t be able to keep it a secret and so doesn’t let him into the fact that she’s all ready been inside. Fourthly, we learn more about Mrs and Mr Craven through him. Mrs Craven died soon after having Collin, who was born too early and it is hinted at that her fall in the garden might have had something to do with this. Collin hates her for dying and doesn’t like the portrait of her that hangs opposite his bed. Also, he has no relationship with his father because Collin is blamed for his mother’s death and looks too much like her.

There are only three parts in the novel where we get to meet Craven. The first is when Mary goes to him and asked for her bit of earth. Like Medlock, he seems dis-interested in her and lost in his own affairs. He hasn’t got the time to deal with her and like his own son, doesn’t want anything to do with her. He does agree to give Mary her garden though and her worries about stealing it are put to an end. This also shows how her character is developing, because before she would have just taken the garden she believed it was her right to do so. Giving the garden to Mary doesn’t allow Craven to escape his past though and he leaves the manor to travel around the world.

All the children build a friendship and Mary tells Collin about the garden. When he visits the place, his mind becomes awakened and he realises that he is not as ill as he has been led to believe. He also starts to believe in magic and uses it to explain things. These are mostly connect with Nature and God because it is suggested when Dickon’s mother appears. Collin starts to appear like a healthy boy again, though he decides to keep it a secret from the adults as he wants to surprise his father. This soon does happen as his father has a strange dream about his wife calling to him from the garden. For some reason, his mind has been taking in the countryside scenery of the country he is currently in and he begins to feel more alive. He arrives home and on trying to see his son is direct to the garden. He is shocked when Collins runs into him just outside the walk way to the secret garden and he realises how wrong he was about his son.

There are lots of themes in this novel, the main ones are; nature, family, growth, change, secrets and magic. I don’t think there is much of a reason for me to go into them because I’ve touched upon them in talking about the characters and the plot.The writing is simple and aimed at children, however given its publishing date, the language is old fashioned. This doesn’t effect the overall reading experience and for me it just adds to the setting of the story. I love the Yorkshire dialogue that is used throughout because it creates a realistic feel to the characters and their words. In some places this can be hard to understand though, but most of the time the speech is then explained. I think it because even more enjoyable when Mary and Collin start to speak it because you can see a real change in their attitude towards other people.

Overall, there are many reasons why I love The Secret Garden. I can easily see why it is a classic children’s book and I hope this continues. The story brings nature to life in a different way, through the eyes of children looking upon it for the first time, which is where the magic comes in. It is wonderfully written and very easy to talk about as well!

The movie

The other thing that really got me loving the secret garden was the 1993 movie adaption of the novel. Okay, so maybe its not the best movie, but it does get the themes and points across well. You can sit down and just watch it as a family. The children actors are quite good and emotions come off strongly. Of course it is different from the novel in places, but this doesn’t effect the plot that much. There isn’t as much Yorkshire dialect in it as I wise there had been, but I guess there was a worry that some of the characters might not have been understand! There are some wonderful scenes of the moor and gardens coming to life which adds to the magical tone of the movie. I think I like it because it is very enjoyable and you can loose yourself in the joys of creation.

Images from :

http://leahstps.wordpress.com/
http://www.northyorkshirestay.co.uk/NorthYorkMoors.html
http://www.illustrationcupboard.com/gallery_book_illustrations.aspx?bId=480
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/the-secret-garden
http://distractionsoflola.tumblr.com/post/942844289/the-secret-garden-1993

The Black Dagger Brotherhood- Lover Reborn Review: ‘Can his heart let go?’

I waited ages for this book to come out and then another age to actually read it! It’s the 10th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series by J R Ward. At the time I also believed it to be the last one, but then I found out at the end and also on line that there’ll shall be another one! I’ll admit though that the size of the novel and the 572 pages did seem a bit daunting at first. However, I then became lost in Ward’s Caldwell, NY with her vampire warriors and I forgot all about it.

 

The first book in the series is Dark Lover and this sets out the main plot in all the other books. There is a vampire member (or soon to be) of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Which is an elite band of warriors who serve the vampire king and fight to defend vampire civilians against their enemies the Lessers. The vampire meets his true love and that’s either another vampire, or a half vampire or a human. They’ll try to get together but things/others get in the way or/and they start believing that the other one doesn’t actual want them. Often there’s some kind of falling out and then a resolving at the end where they do get together. There are also a number of subplots such as the war with the Lessers, the war with another band of warriors, random events that happen to members of the BDB. So it falls very nicely into the supernatural romance genre.

 

All the books have a third person narrative and can be split into two different points of view (POV); that of the BDB members and that of the Lessers/rouge vampires. The main narrative comes from the points of view of the hero and heroine. The sub narratives switch often. The first sub followers individual members of the BDB and creates something of a snap shot of what’s happening in their lives as a back drop to the main plot. The second sub is individual members of their enemies and gives a good look into plans/happenings within this area. In writing from so many characters’ view points readers will worry that they’ll become lost and forget who’s who, but Ward has actually pulled it off very nicely. She’s done this in a number of ways; firstly by giving each vampire his own book. Which means that we get the full story of each vampire in depth without having to get him mixed up with anyone else. Though the vampires basically go through the same romantic events, Ward has made them so different from each other that they all stand out. After I read the first three I was able to recognise each vampire by only a few words.

 

Secondly, Ward uses the second sub narrtive of the enemies to balance the novel out. Yes, it can get a bit triedsome having to read what a lesser character is secretly ploting when all you want to do is see if the lovers are going to make up. However, its nice to be taken out of that story sometimes and allowed to see what else is happening in the world. Thirdly, somehow the subplots and different POV don’t distract from the actual action. The narrative is written in such a style that the main plot doesn’t become drowned out by subplots and readers aren’t easily lost amongst plots and characters.

 

With this being the tenth book I’m finding it hard to talk about it individually, but I’ll properly go into more depth about it later. It’s easy to talk about the books as a whole series because they have so much in common and follow a linear larger plot. I really love this series and yes it does have something to with the whole vampire thing and the fact that it’s horror/supernatural/romance genre. But it’s also because of how Ward writes. Her use of narrative language, description and dialogue appeals to me greatly. But before I launch into that, let’s look at Ward’s vampires!

 

These vampires stand out because they are not your stereotypical vamps, though they do have some connects to typical vamps. Firstly, these vamps like to live in family groups and they can have children, though at a massive threat to the lives of the females and the young. Secondly, they can’t go out in the sunlight and I can’t actually remember if the reasoning behind this is stated (I read the first book three years ago and have read so much since then!) They are fine with religious symbols, garlic and stakes. They don’t sleep in coffins and they can’t turn into animals. They can only feed on a vampire who’s the opposite sex to them. The blood gives them nutrition, strength and allow them to heal faster. They can also eat and drink real food though. They have supernatural healing abilities which means that they can come back from near death injuries. They can also create a mist in which to hide from enemies, hide their homes or hide fighting scenes from the public. They also embrace technology; they have phones and computers, defensive tech, TVs, music, a range of cars and the latest med tech. They have a large range of weapon choice, but they all use guns and daggers. They also have their own language with the common words often appearing in the novels. Ward has a glossary at the back/front of the books which appears to get longer every time! But also you get use to these words and have to look up the translations less. They mate for life and have marriages, though a female can sometimes take on two males if she wants, but males get very over-protective of their females! They also have a Goddess who they pray too. The BDB vamps are warriors and take the description as such. They are often described as being very tall, muscular guys, seeming to fit the Greek warrior image more than that of stereotypical vamps. The other vampires do take on a more typical vamp image though.

 

The characters in the novels are all well written. My favourite happens to be Rhage the star of the second book which I read first and so got me into the BDB. Ward brings each character to life through their background stories- which can often be very sad-their descriptions and dialogue. All the main characters have a lot of depth to them and the reader gets to see them develop throughout their individual books. Afterwards or before their books they take something of a background check and though some things are touched upon the main develop is left in their own stories. This works well because you get interested in each character, you want to find out more about them and how their current behaviour has come about. Plus they don’t just disappear once their stories have been told.

 

I really like the heroines. All the women in these novels are strong, independent and capable of controlling their males. They have interesting back stories too and seem very realistic. Ward has also made such that they are matched up to their perfect lovers. And this comes across well as the characters easily compliment and complete each other. The development of the heroines mostly centres on their discovering and coming to understand love. Whilst the males often have to overcome their past or issues they currently have.

 

The other characters in the novels and yeah there’s a lot of them all feel realistic and well developed even if they are only background characters like the servants. This just brings the story more to life though and gives it added depth. It does work having characters like this because the reader is aware of them all the time without really knowing it. Plus also we don’t have to question what a character is doing there because we understand it from the narrative.

 

Ward uses a language relating to the New York setting of the novels. At times this slips into something of gangster style. Which I’ve to admit I’m not so keen on as I don’t think it adds anything to the novels. Swear words are common place and the vocabulary is adult, though it is a simple language that she uses throughout. The pace and flow of the language is great and it allows fast reading whilst soaking everything up. There’s no sudden jumping to different scenes as everything just flows nicely on. The dialogue she gives her characters is also very good. It feels real and you can image the characters actually saying those words. Ward gets a lot of emotions across in her dialogue, whilst still staying to the point. Some of the characters have accents, which does work fine because it’s only a handful of them and not everyone single one!

 

So finally, Lover Reborn is the story of Tohrment and No’One. Tohr’s character has long been established and readers have followed his recent tragic events. Now though he’s about to find love again with the most unlikeliest vampire! However, it does turn out that they are well suited for each other and they are able to rediscover love once more. Once they’ve gone through all the trials though! The subplot to this is one that started in the previous book that of the other band of warrior vampires. These guys are old fashioned, shunning technology and preferring to have very basic lives. They want to take over the BDB and plan to use the recent Lesser attacks to swing the civilian vampires into choosing them. The other subplot is that of an angel- Lassiter- trying to get back into Heaven by getting Tohr and No’One together. This novel’s main theme is all about letting go of the dead and learning to live and love again. I’m pleased to say like the other books it does have a happy ending!

 

Overall, I love this series and I’m so happy that there’s another book coming out! The novels are so well written, the characters good and entertaining, the plots work well and also sometimes they can keep you wondering about how it’s going to work out happy in the end, which is what I like. They work well as modern vampires too and Ward has made them unique enough. The language and dialogue is great and flows nicely. Ward has written some other singular books and also another series which is about angels. I’ve those books, but haven’t read them yet.

 

Next time I’m going to look at another series; The Lords Of The Underworld by Gena Showalter.

Images from;

 

www.weltbild.de

www.ebay.com

Fifty Shades Of Grey Review: ‘Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks’

Well, I’ve done it. Done what I said I wasn’t going to do when the madness started this summer. I’ve officially read Fifty Shades of Grey. Why? I hear some people cry. Well, it’s for two reasons. Firstly, so I can now discuss the book knowing I’ve read it and have a complete opinion about it. Secondly, from a writer’s point of view I wanted to know why this book was so popular, why people were saying what they were about and if I could gain anything from writing in a same vein. As a writer, it’s important to read the ‘now’ popular books because the publishing industry often likes to publish similar styled books on the back of one that is currently very popular. Once they know that this is the kind of thing people are reading, they are eager to look for more. There’s nothing wrong with that and I should point out that I am happy for E L James. She has managed to do what published and unpublished writers can only dream of and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, and before people start thinking this is going to be a ‘good review’ of the book, I should point out that it’s not going to be. My inner reader and writer have a massive disliking for this novel and I want explain why I’ve so many issues with this book. (This may turn into a massive rant, but it shall be a very backed up rant!) I plan to try to keep my language suitable for all readers, but you should know right now that it’s not going to be possible with this genre of book. However, I shall try and use different words that mean the same thing, which Blogger.com and readers shouldn’t take offence to. Also the FS memes was an idea suggested by a friend and though I wanted this post to be serious the book makes it impossible to do so. Also some of the memes express my views really well.

The origins of books are often questioned. Authors sometimes say they have no clear idea where their books came from, others say they seeking answers to a certain question, exploring the possibilities of a person or event. FS came from Fan Fiction…Twilight Fan Fiction….Now I’ve nothing against FF, I’ve never felt the need to write any myself, though I’ve often wondered about characters in that frame of mind, but who hasn’t done that in some form? As far as I know, none of the characters I’ve written in my novels are based on characters from another piece of work. That’s not how my mind thinks when I write. Need I get into the whole Twilight thing?? I don’t want to, but I just know it’s going to have to pop up again. So, I best get this out of the way too. I hate Twilight with a passion. Good for Meyers for written a very popular book, but once again that’s where it ends. I feel like she has almost shamed vampires by what she’s written. Moving on!

James then rewrote FS after people started saying it was good and changed a few things….mmmmm..I’ve never read the original FF and you can’t actually get a hold of it anymore because she took it all down. Did she do this in a bid to get more books to sell or because she was worried about being found out that all she had done was changed the names from that of the Twilight cast? There’s a lot of stuff going around about all this background stuff and truthfully, I don’t care. The book was discovered and published…though I’m sure it only got published because of the increasing popularity on the Internet because honestly, I don’t know how it managed it….

50 shades of grey - blue

All through summer, the only thing I heard was people talking about this book. How good it was and how amazing the characters where, how it made them feel ‘free’ and more passionate. Well, good points to a book that makes people feel that way…but even before I’d read anything about it or picked it up, I knew it was terrible and just a passing fashion. I mean how is it possible for a book based on Twilight, from a first time writer, to take over the world? Well…having now read it I can explain my theory. Before I even get into reviewing it, I shall admit to a shocking thing; within the first few chapters I became addicted. Not because of how it was written, the plot, the characters, my connections to it or because it stirred some deep feelings inside of me, I like the rest of the world had to discover what made Christian Grey tick. And now I know the answer to that, I can’t believe I got so into this book!

First off this book smacks of Twilight so much. The main characters; Christian and Ana read just like Edward and Bella did. They are one dimensional, have a limited vocabulary, never fully develop and follow the stereotypes of innocent and evil characters. You’d think that James would have made some attempt to change her characters and allow then to develop when she rewrote it….but nope. The plot is also the same! Girl meets boy, but she can’t have boy and believes he doesn’t like her. She tries to convince him that he should like her and it turns out that he has liked her all along. Then girl can’t cope with his demands and ends it. There are probably a lot of books that also have this plot story at their core and they are probably a lot better! Okay, one thing at a time.

So, Ana. She’s 21, a new grad from college, wants to go into the publishing industry, she has a love of British Literature and Twinges English Breakfast Tea. Believable so far right? Okay….she’s also a virgin, never had thoughts about sex, never touched herself, never fancied a boy real or fictional. Still believable? Yeah, maybe in the 1800’s! But this is the twenty-first century and I don’t believe a single word of this! Maybe, if this could have been explained like with her being religious and it being within her faith to behaviour like that or if there had been some trauma relating to this. But no. We are made to believe that Ana is a complete innocent who has no interested in boys. We are also made to believe that she is like Tess from Tess of the d’urbervilles.I’ve not read it, but I can see some similarities because they are both young, innocent women who get used by ‘evil’ men. She also claims to be clumsy -remind you of anyone?-but that hardly comes across in the second half of the book. Why are all innocent girls made out to be clumsy? I don’t know, but she really didn’t need to be and it just didn’t work for the heroine she is trying to be. Ana then falls for the guy of her dreams completely out of the blue and I’ll get on to him in a few. But she’s never experience wanting or love before, so how does she know what this is? And why has it taken her so long? Then we get the whole cliché of her wanting something she can’t have and if she’d just stayed away like her instincts, friends, family, even the man himself had said, this book would have been so much shorter and better for it too! But no, she like any innocent girl has to go and get mixed up with a guy who’s past is dark and leads to his ‘odd behaviour.’ And she puts up with his demands, she agrees to things when she’s clearly not ready, she wants to impress and change him because she’s so in love with him! Then after everything, she is pushed too far and finally sees sense! Problem is she’s too involved and we know that in book two she’s going to go right back to him!

Christian is 27, multi-millionaire, owner of his own company, has everything a person could dream of, loves classic music, playing the piano and gliding. Somewhat believable….not believable is his dark and mysterious background, which is the real draw of the novel, as I pointed out before. He was adopted into what he says is a ‘perfect family’. He’s never seen with a woman, though he attracts them all the time. (He surrounds himself with blonds too.) He’s made out to be a Greek God and untouchable, like he’s the most sexist thing to walk the planet….seriously??? I felt nothing, no attraction, no sympathy, no connection. (Beside from my deep feelings of rage at badly written characters). We learn he was abused until he was four years old, though how much he remembers about this and his birth mother I would really question. When he was fifteen he got seduced by an older married woman, a ‘Mrs Robinson stereotype’ as it comes across. This is where he turned ‘bad’, though he says something along the lines of it saved him, because he got involved in BDSM. I’m going to get to that in a minute. He comes across as being very controlling, all ways wanting his own way, bipolar with his mood swings, aggressive and very set in his ways. A man to be avoided! What really, really bugs me about him though is that fact that he really steals Ana’s innocence. (If you suspend your disbelieve about that and god, you’ll have to do that for other things as well!) All the love/sex scenes they have echo rape and violence to women, he introduces her to BDSM when she clearly has no interest and is scared of it. He doesn’t take the time to get to know her personally, preferring to stalk her and he struggles to communicate. We know he’s not going to change, no matter what he says!

As for the other characters in the book? I could go on about them too, but we’ve a lot to get through, so briefly. They are all just as badly written! I couldn’t connect with any of them and they were all so boring. I had a major problem with all the single males who Ana knows because they all fancy her. Why do writers think it’s okay to do this? So Ana might believe she’s not pretty, but why have a bunch of guys we don’t carry about pop up throughout and try to date her? We know she wasn’t interested in the past, so why do they carry on when they must know this too? It’s really not needed. The whole thing of them being there to make Christian jealous? What’s the point?! He all ways gets what he wants and he’s so not going to let any of them stand in his way! Ana’s attitude towards her best friend and housemate is annoying. Understandable though because I got annoyed with Kate too! She’s perfect, someone Ana wants to be like, but she has more sense. Or does she? She stays away from Christian only to get with his adopted brother! We don’t know anything about this guy, why should we be bothered about their relationship? And why does Ana act like they’re having the perfect relationship when she can’t possibly know? Parents bug me in this book too. I giggled at the advice Ana’s mother give her because it sounded so unrealistic and didn’t suit the mum’s character. We learn a lot about Ana’s parents and hardly anything about Christian’s. These characters are just there being useless and trying to make other characters seem real. Oddly, I did manage to connect with one character and that’s Tyler. I really felt for him having to be at the call of a spoilt, control freak. Clearly, he gets paid well and has dedicated his life to his job. I was interested about how he was always in the background and could pop up without anyone noticing….Is he a ninja? What he says also interests me, it’s clear he likes Christian a lot and worries about him. He’s happy that Ana is on the scene and maybe he hopes Christian will settle down and become more calm? I’d like to find out more about his character.

Now, I’ve already pointed out the core plot of the novel, but I’ll look at it in more detail now. It starts off with Ana having to go and interview Christian for the student magazine, because Kate has the flu. It’s not really love at first sight, but they both feel an odd attraction to each other. Then the rest of the book is spent with them trying to have a relationship, whilst Ana gets Christian to talk about his past. And yeah, that’s about it…there’s no second or background plots and once you know Christian’s secrets, there’s no real reason to carry on reading. It’s written in a first person narrative, so we always have Ana’s point of view. Reasoning behind this? So, that female readers can connect with her and we can remain in the dark about the actions of the other characters. Maybe, if this book had been written in third person or we had a spilt narrative between Ana and Christian, it would have more depth than the cardboard it feels like. Ana’s voice bugs me; it’s too full of conflicting emotion, too full of her whining about things and repetitive statements. Also we get her thoughts all of the time! I can’t recall another first person narrative-there probably is one- where though technically we are in the character’s head all of the time, we get what the character is thinking in an italics. Why? To make her more expressive? To make her words stand out more and readers to take notice? To me it wasn’t needed and you could more or less pick it up from the actual narrative.

The pace of the plot is actually very fast and you do get into the novel quickly. Problem is it lacks a constant flow to the different scenes and jumps the linear time frame all the time. Granted we don’t need to know what the characters are doing word for word all the time, no story does that, but the writing is very jaggy in the movement. Generally, this doesn’t impact on the reading, but to me I like the words to flow probably. Major thing that also bugged me was how Ana keeps referring to her ‘sub- conscious ‘ and her ‘inner-Goddess’. Yeah…have you ever talked to your sub-conscious and actually heard it whisper things to you? Seriously? It’s called a sub-conscious for a reason! Because most of the time we’re not aware of it! Why does James make us believe that Ana has such a deep connection with her inner self and mind? To be honest it’s really not needed, we can see through the narrative and her thoughts what’s going on, why make this inner-Goddess character act like Jimmy Cricket? Ana doesn’t even follow it’s advice anyway. I guess her turning into a donkey and becoming trapped inside a whale would have been an interesting plot development!

This book falls into the romance/erotica genre and has been classed by most as ‘mommy porn.’ Everyone knows that this book contains a lot of detailed sex scenes, nearly all involving BDMS in some way. Once Ana and Christian get together, it never ends and the plot gets lost. I’m fine with these kinds of scenes in books. It’s a normal fact of life and it’s what people do. Also it can tell a lot about the characters and link to their backgrounds without the use of words. From my own experience and reading a lot of supernatural romance books, I know that writing these scenes can be a hard task. You want to convey to the reader what’s going on and what the characters’ feelings/thoughts are in a very short space. However, you can go into too much needless detail and leave nothing up to the readers’ imaginations in the search for finding the perfect way to describe the scene. That’s what I really feel about these scenes in FS. It feels unrealistic and clumsy, there’s no real passion between the characters and the description of the ‘after effects’ are blown out of proportion.

Now the BDMS. James says she did a lot of research, but has she ever experienced anything to do with this? I’ve read a few reviews which contain people who take a part in this views on the book. Even without having done this though, I feel these scenes were wrong. In a way she seems to have got the wrong idea about what BDMS is. She uses some unsafe techniques, e.g. The cable ties that Christian uses to tie Ana’s hands together. Really unsafe as it can cut off blood flow and also feel really unpleasant. And Christian’s playroom is extreme and packed with everything, making it seem unrealistic. And what is up with that contract and not being able to tell anyone? James is really pushing this. Ana should be able to talk to someone about things, having never experienced anything she could do with some actual advice instead of just the internet! And we all know how crazy things can get on there! It just seems that Christian throws her into the deep end of all of this and Ana goes along with it because she’s in love with him. I didn’t get that thrilled by any of this, maybe because it was badly written or unrealistic. James said that she didn’t want to show violence to women, but once again it feels like this is the case. She’s using BDMS to symbolise the relationship between Ana and Christian. He’s in complete control of her life, she can’t escape and he can do whatever he wants to her. For me though, the worse part of this is that James uses Christian’s dark past to explain why he got into BDMS. So, do only bad, traumatised, dark, mysterious men and innocent virgin girls practise this? No! These people are completely normal! They just enjoy a wider experience. I could go on with my unhappiness about this, but I’m not going too. Go to Wiki read about this stuff and then make up your own mind.

The audience of the book is married, (housewives) women who lack sex lives or feel bored and want to fantasise. That’s how it’s managed to spread so much, because it looks at women’s fantasies and appeals to them. It’s spread to other women of all ages and even some men. Actually I think that the Kindle has helped make it more available to people who’d not want to be seen in public reading it. I read the book on the bus a few times though and didn’t notice anyone glaring or trying to speak to me. Then again I’m not embarrassed by what I read. There really has become some stigma about being seen or admitting to have read this book now. Frankly, I don’t think it matters, there has been banned books before and there’ll be banned books in the future. People have a wide range of tastes and there’s nothing wrong with that.

And now we finally get on to the language used within the book. (Prepare for another full blown rant.) This book is so badly written it’s laughable. Just try reading aloud a page or so to yourself or someone else if you like and listen to how the language sounds. Yeah, it might use an adult vocabulary, with a handful of random words that a few people wouldn’t know, a ton of swear words, technical terms and odd phrases. But it’s so repetitive and to prove this I’ll paste and copy some of a table that someone actually spent time doing and posted online;

Word Count:
“Oh My” – 79
“Jeez” – 82
“Murmur” – 68
“Murmurs” – 139
“Whisper” – 96
“Whispers” – 103
“Fifty” – 16
“Lip” – 71
“Subconscious” – 82

Now granted that all books repeat words throughout and most authors go and find similar or same meaning words to use. But that doesn’t happen here and what we’ve got is a very fix vocabulary. Okay so using the same words might make the reading faster, but it gets so boring. I got annoyed that Ana was always biting her lip and that they were constantly talking in low voices to each other. Also Ana’s favourite phrase is ‘Oh my.’ What is she? Straight out of the 1800’s again? The fact that she never seems to have anything else to say is tiresome.

Speaking of which the dialogue is so bad. I know that writing dialogue is mega hard. Making speech sound real in written words is near impossible. You can’t capture the true meanings, the feeling behind the words and what’s left unsaid, which actually happens in real speech. It’s possible to have good and close to speech dialogue though. Epic fail for this book! It’s so unrealistic and it’s trying too hard. I’ve no sense of the characters’ voices which I should get from their words. It feels bogged down with words that could easily be cut and its mega repetitive. Slightly good thing? The use of the emails and texts. At first I liked how James used this as she made the formatting of their communication very clear. But god, she dragged it out so much and over used it that I just become so bored and wanted to put Ana and Christian in an empty room and make them have a deep talk. I get that they can only truly expresses themselves though technology. It’s the way the world is now, people find it a lot easier to say things to people and connect. Fair enough, but a relationship can’t carry on with people only expressing themselves in this way!

About half way through the book, Ana suddenly comes up with this nickname for Christian ‘Fifty Shades.’ From then on this is used and parried up with different things. When I first read it I laughed and thought that James had suddenly came across the novel’s title and then wanted try out a few different ways of putting it. Highly possible, but it also has connects with Christian’s character being mysterious and Ana unable to fully classify him. It also makes the BDSM a ‘grey area’ though and I really disapproved of this.

My major issue with the language is that it has a lot of British idioms. Why when this book is set in the USA and has no connect with Britain, beside from Ana’s love of British Lit and tea? Well, James is British and as far as I know has never been to America. She used Google Earth to get the settings and backdrops. Okay, not that much of a problem as lots of writers do this and set their books or have scenes which involve different places where they might not have been. But not being able to describe things to the reader probably makes the settings unreal. At times I questioned if the setting was Britain or America and a reader should never have to do that. It also reflected on the characters as well and their dialogue. I don’t understand why she just couldn’t have set the book in Britain. Did she think she wouldn’t get as much of an audience? Did she believe that the American setting fitted more perfectly for her characters’ backgrounds, or was she really trying to write Twilight? Frankly, if this book had been set in Britain and honestly, I can see no real reason why it wouldn’t work, I think it might have been a bit better. At least we’d have lost of the confusing idioms!

There are two other books; FS Darker and FS Freed and I shall not be reading them. I’ve no urge to sit through another 500 odd pages (twice!) of this. Oh and they are making it a movie! Three movies actually! Please, I want to be spared from this…Twilight was bad enough! But I do sort of want to know how they are going to do it….make an X-rated version straight to DVD and have a 16+ version at the cinema? If I ever see it I’m going to laugh all the way through it which is what I did with the book.

With that I’m going to wrap things up. At the end of the day I really didn’t like this novel, it didn’t work on a whole number of levels, what with the writing being so bad and the characters being so unrealistic. The idea is a good one though, but I wish it had taken a different view or been constructed with more knowledge. I’m happy that James got somewhere and I’ve nothing against her, it just bugs me how such trash can be published and become popular! I know everyone’s got different tastes and are not all book critics, that’s fine, but please let’s just make this a phrase and get back to reading better novels.

Images from:

www.fanpop.com

http://www.webring.org/hub/altlibrarianwebr?

http://www.quickmeme.com/50-shades-of-grey—blue/?upcoming

http://whatcanilearntoday.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/did-50-shades-of-grey-start-out-as-twilight-fan-fiction/

http://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/50-shades-of-grey

http://www.fanpop.com/spots/fifty-shades-trilogy/images/31680051/title/collection-50-shades-memes-fanart

http://chzscience.wordpress.com/tag/50-shades-of-grey/

http://failblog.cheezburger.com/tag/50-shades-of-grey

http://www.picstopin.com/600/50-shades-of-grey-dont-see-what-all-the-fuss-is-about/http:%7%7Cp*twimg*com%7CAxSdksVCQAEtAAk*jpg/

http://www.cheezburger.com/

Word count from: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/340987215?