Sunday, November 23, 2014

{2014 TBR Pile Challenge Review} THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides

ISBN #: 978-0374203059
Page Count: 416
Copyright: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Limited Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the caf├ęs on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.
As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

Kathy's Review:
(Copied, with her permission, from her personal blog, Grown Up Book Reports)

I loved Eugenides’ work on Middlesex, and so I selected The Marriage Plot, a Pulitzer winner, for my 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge. This book is about smart people. Smart young people. Smart young people in love.

We begin with Madeline, a graduating senior at Brown University, majoring in English with a heavy focus on the Victorian writers, masters of the “marriage plot” novels, in which the story’s central focus is the marriage of its female protagonist. See: Jane Austen, et. al.

Rounding out this trio of young smart people in love is Leonard, Madeline’s boyfriend, who battles manic depression – kicked off after Madeline breaks up with him. And Mitchell, a student of religion, pines after Madeline, believing they should be together.

Crammed full of literary references only a diploma-holding Master of English Lit will understand or appreciate, this book falls short for me — at least in comparison to Middlesex. I found it fairly boring. I had little compassion for Madeline, in whom I felt greatly disappointed. As a character, Madeline lacks anything of substance that I could support as a female. I could empathize with Leonard’s depression and his inability to “snap out of it.” Madeline doesn’t seem to know how to deal with him, and treats it like something he can just decide not to be anymore. Mitchell seems to be some sort of hero in this story, and certainly his travails in Europe, India in particular, make him the most likeable of the three. That, and the fact that he doesn’t take advantage of Madeline when he has the opportunity to do so early on.

Eugenides writes about smart people and smart things but his writing itself is still accessible for the Average Joe. We may not get all the references, and there’s probably metaphorical stuff happening before our eyes that is basically invisible because we’re not smart enough to see it, we can still get through the story and have some basic understanding of the main plot, character development, and resolution. Why it went down the way it went down. If you’re part of the elite club that gets references to Barthes, and doesn’t mind boring characters having boring relationships, then have at it. I’ll stick to Middlesex.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

{Review} WILLIAM'S TALE (The Colony, Book 3.5) by Regina Morris

File Size: 365 KB
Page Count: 141
Copyright: June 29, 2014
Publisher: Silkhaven Publishing, LLC; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

While guarding the President at a school event, a vampire COLONY agent, William, meets the woman of his dreams – a human woman who is a teacher at the school. First impressions being what they are, he finds her sexy and opinionated – unfortunately, her dance card appears to be full and he’s unsure how to woo her when he can’t even take her out to dinner, without her being the meal.

Jackie discovers a hidden agenda in the President’s school visit and believes William to be a mockery of the American dream of equality for all. Can a past Freedom Rider and racial activist form the 1960s, now turned vampire, prove to the love of his life that he’s not a political puppet?

Mandy's Review:

This is a quick trip into the past of two COLONY members, William and Jackie. It starts in present-day with Alex helping Jackie and William make costumes for a school production. During their time together, Alex asks how the two of them got together. Jackie smiles and begins the tale ... Through a bumpy start and a lot of misunderstandings, William and Jackie hit it off and become a couple. It helped that Jackie's life was put in danger and William could play hero to the damsel in distress.

While this novella was an enjoyable trip down memory lane, there are a couple things I'd like to point out. First, the novella is called William's Tale but Jackie's telling the story but the story's a split first-person where we know what both William and Jackie are thinking. It's just a little odd. I probably would've given the story a different title, but kept the writing style the same.

The second thing I'd like to mention ... This is my fourth story that I've read of Ms. Morris'. I would just like to caution her on publishing her works in a hurry. Throughout all four stories, I've noticed errors that could have been taken care of with some editing (not spellcheck). They are minimal but they're enough to throw a reader off track when they're in a reading groove. Overall, though, if you're into paranormal romances with a focus on vampires then the Colony series would be right up your alley.

*An ecopy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 21, 2014

{Meme} First Line Friday

First lines of novels can capture your attention, give you a clue to the character's past or present, set the stage for the entire novel, or more. First lines are extremely important and have a great responsibility. With that in mind, we'd like to welcome you to First Line Friday.

When sharing the first line of the novel you're currently reading, please be sure to let us know the title and author. If you want to notate your thoughts and/or questions about the first line of your novel, please do!

As a side note: This used to be a regular meme on Rampant Reads last year. The blog could not be found online by Literary R&R. If this meme is already active via another blog, please let us know. We don't want to step on anyone's toes. Thanks all!

Here are our first lines for this week:

In one way, at least, our lives really are like movies.

I really hate to post just the first sentence this time around because it's the first two paragraphs that are really fundamental to setting up this novel. So much so that I'll likely be putting them in my review next week. - Mandy

Lupe's book this week
Haden's syndrome is the name given to a set of continuing physical and mental conditions and disabilities initially brought on by "the Great Flu", the influenza-like global pandemic that resulted in the deaths of more than 400 million people worldwide, either through the initial flu-like symptoms, the secondary stage of meningitis-like cerebral and spinal inflammation, or through complications arising due to the third stage of the disease, which typically cause complete paralysis of the voluntary nervous system, resulting in "lock in" for its victims.

Charlene's book this week
Though several residents of the Ang Mo Kio Housing Development Board block of flats heard a loud crash sometime after midnight early Friday morning, none of them made their way downstairs to investigate.

Be sure to sign up on our Linky List so those viewing this post can visit your blog to view your first lines!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

{Surprise US Giveaway} Amazon Kindle

With Black Friday and the Christmas holidays coming up, e-books should be going on sale. So we figured now's the perfect time for us to host a giveaway for an Amazon Kindle.

The giveaway will remain open until Sunday, November 23rd. Monday morning a winner will be randomly selected. The difference with this giveaway is that we will not be contacting the winner. Instead, we want to surprise the winner by mailing out the Kindle to the winner in time for it to arrive by Thanksgiving.

Good luck everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

{Review} ENDURING SERVICE (The Colony, Book 3) by Regina Morris

ASIN #: B00J4LX6P2
File Size: 1780 KB
Page Count: 247
Copyright: March 19, 2014
Publisher: Silkhaven Publishing, LLC; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Colony Agent Sulie Metcalf, the President’s private physician, has been in love with the same human man for nearly thirty years. She refuses to allow herself the joy of true love because her feelings are unrequited by her human boss, Jonathan Dixon. As Dixon’s retirement looms near, and his memories of Sulie and the last thirty years of his life are about to be erased, does she confront her fear of intimacy and take a leap of faith before it’s too late?

Dixon has decided to retire and enjoy what time he has left. When his best friend Sulie, a vampire team member, is kidnapped during a medical emergency, Dixon realizes that retirement means giving up everything, and everyone, he’s known for the last three decades. Will he risk his life, and his heart, to save her?

Mandy's Review:

Dixon and Sulie have loved each other for quite a while now. Both, though, are scared to tell the other how they feel; Sulie because she thinks Dixon wouldn't want to be with a vampire and Dixon because he thinks Sulie wouldn't want an older, wrinkled old human. Even though the entire Colony is aware of Sulie's love for Dixon, they've all agreed not to tell him. Sulie, however, become so despondent over thinking Dixon doesn't love her that she has Raymond, the head of their family and Sulie's brother, add her to a vampire matchmaking service in order to find her a husband so she can try to move on. That one act initiates a chain of events that nobody anticipates.

While the Colony is searching for Sulie, Kate (Sterling's wife) is in an accident and has their twins a few weeks early. Fortunately, both boys are fine. This may seem like an unrelated incident, but it's not. Kate's birthing the boys creates an element needed for the survival of someone important to the Colony.

Enduring Service is more action-packed than the other two Colony novels. The romance aspect is almost nil, which works well with this story. For this series, Enduring Service is the best of the three I've read so far. The reader is familiar with the Colony and each of its members' abilities and personalities by the time they read this novel. There are some dialogue issues that I have with this series, but overall is interesting enough to recommend to all you vampire romance lovers out there.

*An ecopy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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