Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Fortune Hunter Review

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So this book took me forever. I have been so unmotivated to read. I have looked at my GoodReads challenge and been like, I’m good, I’m far enough ahead that I don’t have to rush. This book ate up some time and it’s not even that long of a book. A while ago, I read The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin and I think I liked it more than The Fortune Hunter.

First of all, I love that these characters were based off of real characters. And I know that this book is heavily fictionalized. The author says so in the interview at the end of the book. I also found that Goodwin was ‘obsessed’ with Sissy from an early age. And looking into the Empress of Austria, I understand why. She was interesting character. The Empress relates very well to Hungarians and speaks Hungarian very well. The first one make me love her and the second makes me admire her because Hungarian is hard. They even mentioned that in the book. But she was, I want to say, eccentric. She put meat on her face when she slept so she would be young, she hung her hair when she slept. She was, in my head, very vain. In the book, she was very against having her picture taken and the way she describes it, I get it. This book almost makes me want to know more about her. And what’s more interesting is that one of my kids from Hungary posted an event that’s in her honor. I don’t know all the details because I am not fluent in Hungarian but it’s definitely something about her.

Bay is lame. Let’s talk about him for a second. In real life, he was associated with Sissy (the Empresses’ nickname) for much longer and he did actually marry Charlotte. In the book and I’m sure in real life, he was known as a ladies man and was looking for a fortune. Which makes him not honorable. At the beginning of the book I grew to like him and then he had that tryst with the Empress and I’m like I want to hurt your manhood and then I grew to not mind him at the end of the book. I wish I had a set opinion of him for all of the book. I don’t always say that but with him I do. Like make me like him all the way through the book or hate him and then make me hate Charlotte at the end because she was with him. Tell me what I think in this case. Sometimes I want that.

Charlotte got a little feistier at the end. She spent a long time being, or being close to being, a good English lady. But that was also a product of who she was around. Charlotte got a lot bolder, in my opinion, after she started hanging out with the American. The American I felt was very stereotypical but I didn’t mind. Like he was lippy in a way that was okay and natural for him. I almost wish that Charlotte had ended up with him. But back to Charlotte. She had a lot of development through the book. Bay did too but I liked her development more. I always like watching girls become more independent.

One thing that bothered me is that they used the word stuff at the beginning of the book and it took me out of the book. I hate when that happens. I felt like stuff is not a word they would have used weather they did or not. I am still obsessing over it. Sometimes I do that.

Overall, it’s not a bad book. For what I was looking for, it was weak. I wanted something a little bit….stronger. Like I get the reason how this book was written. It was because of the manners of the time. But this book did take me a long time to read. Like 3 weeks. It’s been a long time coming. I’m excited to pick up another book and something that will keep my attention and I keep reading at a decent pace.

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Disney Book Tag

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Okay. Last post was a downer. I get it. I’m working on me. So let’s get back to books. Because that’s safe. Reading has been slow lately because I’ve been sick and in a slump. So I decided to do the Disney book tag because I appreciate Disney.

1. The Little Mermaid – a character who is out of their element, a “fish out of water.”

Evelina by Fanny Burney. This is a ‘manners’ book from long ago so yes Evelina was set up, on purpose to be a fish out of water at first. It’s just how these books were set up.

2. Cinderella – a character who goes through a major transformation

Eragon from the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. You look at who Eragon was at the beginning of the book and then look at the end of the last book, there’s not a whole lot of similarities. In any sense.

3. Snow White – a book with an eclectic cast of characters

This might be a weird answer but Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  That’s because the author talks a lot of the people who were in his life.

4. Sleeping Beauty – a book that put you to sleep

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud. I can’t even remember what this book was about.

5. The Lion King – a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

Jane Eyre. That’s Jane’s whole life.

6. Beauty and the Beast – A beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I was scared that I was going to like it more than Jane Eyre and I didn’t want to. And it’s not even that big of a book.

7. Aladdin – a character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse

Andras from The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. He got his wish for this perfect woman. Then happened WWII.

8. Mulan – a character who pretends to be someone or something they are not

Caelena from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I can’t say too much else without giving away certain things.

9. Toy Story – a book with characters you wish would come to life

Outlander series. Jamie and the Ians. I was just watching the series last night and swooned over the actor that plays Ian. But I have been obsessed with this series for a long time.

10. Disney Descendants – your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character 

I liked Tom from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was a horrible person but super villain-y.

Not a Book Review. Life.

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I have gone back and forth on this post. After the last personal post, I told myself I wouldn’t do a personal post again because I got some criticism from people that made me upset. I figured why should I share my life if I get what I got. But then thinking, I shouldn’t be scared to share my life on my blog. I shouldn’t let the criticism get to me especially when it’s from someone who doesn’t know the whole story. There are people who have followed me since before I became a book blog. I didn’t hold back before and although I probably will here back more now, I’ll see how it works having personal stuff back on the blog. And this post will be pretty personal because just journaling isn’t enough sometimes.

It’s one thing to come back from living in a foreign country. Everyone reacts a little different. Some people transition just fine, some go through PTSD. It depends on what went on when they were overseas, what’s gone on back home, personality. It depends on a lot of things. If I came back last summer to a perfect situation, I think I would have transitioned fine. But it was not perfect. First I came back to a family that didn’t know how to react to me or help me. Then I also came home to a not great situation with the friend who was like my sister. She was going through a lot, more than me, and I couldn’t support her. So until 2 weeks ago, we’ve been going back and forth. In her grief she said things that I took way to personally and still haunt me. I told her minor things that were wrong when there was more going on to shield her. Two weeks ago or so, she said enough and we’re through. Forever. I think it’s a good thing that we have parted ways, in a way. There was a lot of anxiety and hurt on both sides. But forever is a long time.

In December, what prompted that last personal post, my sister-in-law left my brother. There’s a lot of details that I’m not going into with that. Just know that it has not been a great situation. They have been together almost 18 years, almost 2/3 of my life, and she was like a sister to me and now the respect and love is not there anymore. This one didn’t hit me hard, it hit everyone hard because they didn’t let anyone know what was going on.

So within too short of a time I have lost two women who were like family. One I will take a lot of the responsibility for because there were things I should have done differently. But hindsight is 20/20. The other wasn’t my fault. I looked around and realized that the other people who were in my life previously had not asked how I was holding up. They saw and knew of what was going on and still did not want to know. I admit some blame on some relationships going south because I won’t let anyone close anymore. But it’s hard to want people close to you when you hurt and you feel like you’re the only one trying. Again, that’s not with everyone that was in my life, but it’s with some.

What do I have now? I have no close friends I can rely on. Though my family is close, I cannot adequately convey to them what has all gone on and get what I need from them. I have trust issues. I hurt. I’m in various stages of grief. I have the want to start new somewhere but am scared to leave. I have a hard time doing a lot reading. I hit a reading slump. I have read a lot so that doesn’t worry me. Reading’s been the one thing that has made me feel understood.

Since I’ve come home, have I been selfish and self-centered and hard to deal with and unfair and done a lot of harm to a lot relationships? Yes. Do I have anxiety? Hell yes. It’s not fun. Am I still going through re-entry? Sorta. Coming back to your culture gets easier but you still have moments. Have I shared too much in this post? Probably. Are there things I will have wish I had added in this post? Most likely. I realize I have not been a lot of good things in the past two years. I get that. I realize that. I’m trying to work on that.

Now will every blog from now be like this? No. I just wanted people to know what was going on. It’s a lot. So if I haven’t seem normal, there’s a reason. I will never be the old me who was always joking around. I mean, I’ll joke around but it won’t be the same.

 

The Romanov Sisters Review

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This post is something I haven’t ever done on this blog. I’m going to review a non-fiction book. I don’t do read non-fiction like biographies as much because it takes more concentration than I have most of the time. But I found a copy of The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport on day. The Romanovs are people that I’m vaguely interested in. I read this book in little portions because that’s how I could handle it. I generally read this book between books. It made it a lot more manageable for me. For reference, right now, this isn’t going to be a fun post. It’s going to be one of those that talk a lot about historical events and people.

The author says in her notes at the beginning that there’s not going to be anything about the women who said they were Anastasia. I’d read books about them though I realize why they aren’t in this book. That would be a lot more work/research for Rappaport and it would make the book a lot longer. And the imposters were mainly Anastasia imposters and this is a book about all the sisters. This book didn’t include a lot of the last 2 weeks, the deaths and disposal of the family because she already wrote a book about it and that disappointed me because that was the interesting part for me. Yes, I know. I’m a little morbid because I wanted to know more about their deaths.

In my head, there is a stereotype of royal families. In my head, they’re raised to be in the eye of public. They have an element of socialness like they like to be around people to a degree but also like to keep things private. I feel like, after reading this book, that the Romanovs were extremely private. I don’t know if this is true for all royal families or not. For example, the parents kept their romance quiet at the beginning. Also, it felt to me, that they ran from everything public like public outings. But that might be a Russian thing? Or something that has developed with media? I’m not sure but it does make sense to me that the Russian people were discontent with the royal family if they seemed to be not around. I mean if I never saw the Obamas or heard what they were doing, I’d be frustrated too. But I do have to give props to Queen Victoria (Alexandra’s grandmother) for calling how Russia was going to be in trouble. That does make me think that what was going on in Russia and the discontent was noticeable. And if it was noticeable than why wasn’t anything done by the Romanovs? Were they self-involved to the point they couldn’t see what was going on in their own country? I did wonder how the Romanovs would deal with the paparazzi today. But at the same time, they were in the public eye. Everyone knew that the older two girls worked as nurses. Everyone knew about and talked about how there were four princesses and then finally a boy and breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone talked about Olga’s marriage possibilities. So there was some time in the public eye.

Let’s talk about Alexandra. She was in the book a lot. More than I thought she would be in a book about the girls. But as a parent, she would be. I admired that she aspired for her daughters to be more than wives. But at the same time, she was overprotective not giving her daughters the skills to survive as single women. Am I expecting too much from the time period and from a woman who was sick a lot? And for her being sickly, she had huge babies. If I had five kids I hope they’re not as big as those kids. I found it interesting that Nicholas and Alexandra never seemed to freak out over having 4 daughters before a son. The son was the one that carries on the family profession. Being heir is a very male dominated thing and they didn’t freak. Maybe cause the rest of the country did. And Russia’s a big country. But looking at Alexy, he was the center of their world when he came. Especially Alexandra’s. But as a mother, that’s normal. And I do think she repressed her family some. I think how she wanted her daughters to be something more than wives led her to her not letting explore some. In my head it makes sense. I know that how I worded it isn’t great.

Sometimes I forget that politics and religion aren’t or weren’t always two separate things. There are countries today that they go hand in hand and they did in Russia at this time. (I don’t know how it is now.) I don’t want to get into my opinion about it but Mysticism and the occult and superstitions were huge things at this time. And I wonder if that was because of the education level of the masses. Not that educated people can’t be into Mysticism, occult or superstitious but I feel like what people believe is affected by their education. And how much of that revolution was directly to what people believed and were convinced were true? There’s a lot of questions. Too many for this blog.

Let’s talk a little about the book itself. I liked that the chapters were mostly under 20 pages. It made life a little more enjoyable. I liked the pictures. I know that sounds young of me but it’s nice to put the faces to the people. And the size of the book was actually surprising. If you took away all the endnotes and stuff, it’s under 400 pages. That was nice because there was so much that the author could have done I’m sure to make it longer. And any mention of Kiev makes me think about The Fiddler on the Roof. I hated them talking about the new and old time. Some people it’s a big time but to me it’s not. If something was never said and they went with the one time, I wouldn’t have known any better. But there was the different times and the what not. It was a lot. And Rappaport writes dates like a European.

Overall it’s a good book. There’s a lot of information and it can be tedious but that’s how these books are typically.

Dorothy Must Die Review

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If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I have this super weird relationship with The Wizard of Oz. I probably dramatize it a little but there definitely has been fear of the 1939 movie version of the book and a generally creeped out-ness of the 1992 television movie of Baum’s life. I’m sure a lot of this is just in my head now but it doesn’t help my random obsession with reading retellings/watching movies. The most recent is Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. There will be spoilers in this review because I go off on little rants.

I’m not quite sure I understand the love for this book. I’ve read a few reviews and people love this book. It’s an interesting concept. It brings up good points but I feel like the writing could have been a little bit better. There were times that I felt like nothing was really happening. I knew that there were things going on and I should be paying more attention to them but I didn’t. At times I felt like there were things going on but they weren’t fleshed out right. It was weird to me. I don’t know it was about the writing but it just got to me.

There’s two things that I feel like we have to pay attention to on a moral scale. There’s the obvious good versus evil and then there’s the conventional versus the unconventional. You have the wicked witches versus the good witches and neither are what you think they should be. I feel like this book does a good job of creating gray. There isn’t a clear black or white. Not everything is what you think or have grown up believing, not everyone can be trusted and that’s a big point in the book. Amy is told that time after time. And I feel like this is important for young people to remember. Not everyone is to be trusted. They bring up the PermaSmiles a decent amount. That’s a good example of the gray. It could be misleading if it didn’t look so creepy. Overall, there’s a question of what’s right or wrong or good or evil. Then you have the conventional versus the unconventional. We see Dorothy as the girl she was when Judy Garland played her. Perfect hair and the gingham dress. Then you put that up against Amy’s pink hair. It’s not conventional. Then you start to think about who should really be the hero. This book does a very good job of making you think of where you stand. It also makes you think if it’s a generational thing. The original book was set in, I think, the late 1800’s or maybe the very early 1900’s. Dorothy would have had been a model of that era when she went to Oz and if Amy was supposed to be a model of now, pink hair and how she acted wouldn’t have been a big thing.

And since we’re talking about appearance, let’s talk more about that. I wonder if Paige was going to over-sex the world and then pulled back. You look at the description of Dorothy and Amy’s training uniform and you’re convinced that it is going to be over-sexed and then there’s nothing else. I also thought it was weird how they talked about Dorothy’s hands being old like. Like couldn’t magic control that? And yet the Tin Man is in love with her. And talking about the original group, I thought that there would be more of the lion and the scarecrow. I mean they were a big part of the book but not there very much. They also didn’t talk about Dorothy controlling the clock either. It was mentioned when it was convenient.

Let’s talk about Glamora. I’m not sure what her deal is. I don’t trust her. Am I right in thinking so or is she supposed to be amazing. I don’t get it. And of course she cries diamonds. It’s her curse. I shouldn’t be surprised. And when she cried I didn’t feel emotion. I didn’t feel emotion a lot in this book. Leading me to wonder about the author’s writing skills because I didn’t feel anything when Gert died either and neither did Amy or any other character except Glamora. And Amy was supposed to be close with her.

I also did not like Amy and Nox’s relationship. This goes back to not feeling the emotion. Like you could tell that they were flirting but there was no chemistry. One or both of them are to put some effort in flirting or kiss the other right? I mean, I assume but who am I to know. I can’t flirt. I have hair Tourettes when a good looking guy starts talking to me. Yes, this was recently proven. I didn’t want to flirt badly. It just happened. Anyway, back to the book. I feel like none of these characters had real emotions. They couldn’t flirt badly if they wanted to. Wait. They did.

One last thing about the appearance thing. We have to talk about Pete/Ozma briefly. If I remember right, Ozma in the original book was disguised as a boy and didn’t know it and in this book she did. I feel like I should have figured out what was going on there. There had to be some tie to the books with that.

When you look at the title of the book and read the synopsis you get an idea of what’s supposed to happen. It’s not a surprise that there’s going to be some destroying. I read a review where someone was upset that the plot twist was on the back of the book. I mean seriously? You didn’t read the whole book expecting that information to be handed to Amy at some point? I don’t even want to call that information a plot twist because I knew what was going on the whole book. I was surprised when I realized that she didn’t know earlier in the book because I read it and knew that Amy had to destroy the three friends first. Again, it’s said on the back of the book and it’s freaking common sense. Be smarter than the y.a. book.

I know that I’ve been tearing into this book quite a bit. But it depends on how you read it. If you want something easy, you want something that’s Wizard of Oz inspired then this is the book you want to pick up. I just can’t read this book without pointing at the holes.

The Mermaid of Brooklyn Review

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Ugh. I hate when books don’t work out. Let me explain. I tried reading The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn. It did not work out. I stumbled upon this book and the first thing I thought was MERMAIDS! If you haven’t been around for a while, you would know at one point, I had a blog rant that went on for days a few years ago. Blame it on that documentary. Then I read the synopsis. That brought on the thought that it was a really interesting premise. Then I tried to read it. I couldn’t do it.

Now let me say something. I have had some emotional stuff go on and it has led to me physically hurt with emotion so maybe in the future, when I don’t hurt as much, I’ll try this book again. I feel like I’ve been blaming my emotional drama a lot lately but it’s true. It’s affecting my life. It’s going to be a long time, if ever, if I trust people fully again or be emotionally okay. But with the book, I got to about half way through this book and I couldn’t even any more. How am I supposed to relate to the main character? I am single, no really close friends (I do better with books), no children and not living in Brooklyn. The main character is married, has a few friends, has 2 friends and lives in Brooklyn. I know that’s no excuse but the author made her unobtainable for me. I know what it’s like to have others kids around that annoy you but that’s not the same with your own kids annoying you. But that’s a big thing for the character.

There was only one real note I took during the half of book I did read. I wrote that I didn’t mind the writing but there seemed like there was some disconnect and would probably be better as a movie/television series than a book. I just couldn’t get through this book. I mean have a mermaid in your head that makes you more bold is one thing but crap. I understand I don’t have any idea what’s like to be in that situation so I don’t know how you would get through it. I just didn’t like the character. That’s what this boils down to.