Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Genre: Historical fiction, magical realism
4 stars.

On a snowy winter day in 1910, Ursula is born and dies before she can take her first breath. What follows is a tale of life after life, as Ursula gets chances to live again and again and again, taking radically different paths with each choice as history marches before her and carries her story in its wake.

Well written and engaging, I thoroughly enjoyed Atkinson’s look into the way our choices can change the course of our lives. Atkinson weaves mysteries throughout the book, some of which are answered by later story lines, some that are only hinted at, some that are never answered at all. We watch as Ursula navigates and renavigates decisive moments in her life, waiting as she dodges a mistake she made in a previous life. The characters in Ursula’s life are fleshed out through glimpses of their stories, and I found myself caring about the directions their lives took. I also enjoyed Atkinson’s visceral look into the poignant history of early 20th century Britain–exploring the intense toll both World Wars had on a population.

I found Ursula difficult to relate to, however, and her overall personality to be a bit grating and difficult to understand. I cared a lot more for her mother and her sister than I did for her. I felt that she was a character to be projected upon rather than possessing a distinct personality of her own.

I also felt like there was no real ending to the book. Ursula lives so many lives which go in a number of fascinating directions, but the story just seemed to stop, suddenly and with no real conclusion. Was Ursula’s final life supposed to be her best life? Had she finally reached her full potential as a human being and so she stopped being reborn?

Despite those questions, I highly enjoyed Atkinson’s book, the way she wove history through the story, and left her audience rooting for Ursula and the choices she makes in life.

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The Definitive Jane Austen Movie Adaptation Chart – Part 2

For Part 1, check out my previous post focusing on Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

To recap, these are my adaptations of choice–there are dozens of others, but I found these to be the most worth watching. If you think something else should have been on this list, feel free to comment below!

Persuasion

Best straight adaptations

2007 – Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones

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My Rating: 7/10
Faithfulness to Book: 6/10 Continue reading

Top 5 Wednesday: Non-Western Inspired Fantasy Books

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This week’s topic is books that were inspired by non-western locations, or else set in a non-western location. I decided to narrow it down to Fantasy books inspired by non-western settings as those are pretty few and far between (in English at least). But first, I have a number of thoughts on this topic.

Have you ever wondered why English literature is dominated by western thought? The answer is simple. Because English is a language of the west. So it really isn’t surprising, nor, I think, necessarily a negative thing. However, because the US is a melting pot of cultures and with how our world has expanded into a global community rather than just a national one, it is important to learn about cultures beyond what we know in the west. So, I am happy that authors of non-Western background have been gaining recognition in recent years. Continue reading

Monthly Recap – June

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june

Books Read: 4
Genres Read: Historical romance, magical realism, mystery/action/horror/sci-fi/fantasy, modern drama

This was a much slower month for me reading-wise as I started a new full time job a few weeks ago and have had less time in general to read. But I did still manage to get through four books, a few less than my usual 6-7. Continue reading

Top 5 Wednesday: Hate to Love Ships

Okay, who doesn’t love a good hate to love romance? I mean, the tension, the will they/won’t they can drive me through a book like nothing else. A truly good “hate to love” romance is not actually “hate to love.” It’s more of a passionate frustration, often driven by misunderstanding, between parties who are mutually stimulated/attracted (often intellectually) by the other. There’s just something so fun about this trope, and so satisfying, that it has been played upon again and again throughout the history of literature. “Hate to love” romances done well can truly explore a character’s growth and change, and I think that is why we can’t help but love this trope. Without further ado, here are my top 5 Hate to Love ships in books.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Okay, yes, I did start with Jane Austen again, but Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship is literally the best example of “hate to love” because it pioneered the trope. Almost everything that follows in literature is directly derived from Austen’s novel. Her satirical tone, her ease with language, not to mention the near perfect symmetrical structure of the novel single Austen out as a master of her craft. She truly understood her society as well as human nature in a way that makes her works so accessible today. Continue reading

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Magical realism
Rating: 4 stars.

I don’t quite know how to express my unexpected delight for this book. The prose was gorgeous, but also snarky in surprising ways, the characters were intensely complex and the growth they experienced compelling, and the way Stiefvater wove fantasy and reality together was incredibly seamless.

I also don’t quite know how to summarize this book. It is the story of the Soria family, but also of Pete and Tony and the other pilgrims who come to the Soria’s ranch in rural Colorado in search of a miracle. Ultimately, I think All the Crooked Saints is a story of facing the lies we believe about ourselves, driving them out, and replacing them with truth. Continue reading

Book Con 2017 Book Haul/TBR

Wow. I spent this past weekend at Book Con in NYC and as a first timer I was completely overwhelmed. But it was also SO MUCH FUN. I wasn’t expecting the sheer amount of people, of insanity, of waiting in line, or the plethora of FREE ARC’s I was privy too. Not only that, but the connections you make with other readers, with other aspiring authors, and, as a blogger, with publicists was beyond my wildest dreams. I drove down to NYC from Michigan with Sierra of Quest Reviews and Laura of Laura Luna Books and we had an absolute blast finding other people like us. So, there will be a more comprehensive post on Book Con sometime in the next week, but for now I wanted to focus on the incredible haul I acquired in the two days of Book Con.

 

books Continue reading