Review: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

valley-amazementI absolutely loved parts of this book, but then parts of it bored me to tears. Parts were well detailed, other parts seemed like hours and hours of wasted details, and yet others seemed lacking in details. I also felt strongly that Tan just invented a few parts of the novel to add more drama and those parts,for me, took away a great deal from the book.

I don’t begrudge Tan for making the book almost 600 pages long. However, I think the 600 pages had many parts that were missing and many that were not needed…the different storylines, although connected, just felt so out of balance.

The whole *****SPOILER**** man in the country basically holding the wives hostage and escaping over a mountainside just seemed so out of tune with the rest of the novel. Then we finally have this novel ending in a mad rush to tie everything together and reunite certain characters. We spend hundreds of pages with the finer details of what some of the women went though to have one of the main focal character summarize her life in a couple of pages saying how bad it was to virtual strangers…again, it just didn’t ring true with me.

As a massive Tan fan, this one left me feeling a bit flat…even more so because I genuinely started out loving it and loved so many parts of it…but at the end of the day, I can’t give it more than a mediocre rating…something I don’t like doing to a beloved author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Reveiw: The Bees by Laline Paull

TheBeesI was excited to get this one. The story line really intrigued me. I love bees.

After reading this one….well…..I’m not sure if it’s suppose to be a YA novel or not. If not….well….it should be (although, there are a few points that felt like a Disney movie…you know when you’re watching a movie with your kid and you both find a part funny….the kid…well who knows why, but you, the adult, get the hidden meanings in a joke)….I can’t really say that I enjoyed “The Bees”. I didn’t hate it….I just didn’t enjoy it. The writing style (to me) seemed very simplified. Although it has over 300 pages, it seemed like it was a very simple story. The main character never seemed to develop. By that, she seemed very naive and childlike….and by the end of the novel, even though she was much older….well, she still seemed very childlike and naive.

I would also like to point out that I’ve always imagined bees as being very intelligent and social insects. This book, in my opinion, portrayed them in one of two ways….blind and brainwashed, always following without question or as complete back-stabbing, evil, vindictive assholes. No in-between….and honestly, there isn’t much to cheer about with either type.

I’m not at all sure that I learned anything new about bees in this novel either….of course, it’s not a documentary on bees…I mean, seriously, even I didn’t believe that bees could talk or anything….it’s just I kinda hoped that I would learn more about these fascinating insects….instead what we have is a story about a bee that changed her bee busy hats on a daily basis…one day she was this, the next day she was something else….often changing back and forth, supposedly from one group to another….

So I feel silly saying it, but the way the main bee jumped about and how one-dimensional the characters were made it a very unbelievable book for me….yea yea yea….I *do* realise that this isn’t suppose to be real…but still…..I like to pretend sometimes and this book just made it impossible to do so…..

and whilst you’re laughing at that last bit, I want you to think back to “Charlotte’s Web”….yea….that’s right….go on and tell me Wilber wasn’t real!!!!!! Go on then!!!!!!!! Pssssffftttttttttt….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now The Bees by Laline Paull

Review ~ Carthage, by Joyce Carol Oates

18750474Have you a read a book where the words, the soul of it, the understanding, just completely resonated with you, and yet continually challenged your thinking?  How about a book, despite the fact that the narrative isn’t a free flowing, easy-on-the brain journey, yet keeps you engrossed and reading way past your bedtime.  Or perhaps even a book that leaves you speechless, but yet leaves you wanting to get up on the roof and sing its praises.    Yeah…  Those books are very rare indeed.    I am one of the lucky ones that have found a book that embodies all of the above experiences.   Carthage, the latest novel from Joyce Carol Oates, exceeded anything that I could have imagined.

Now, I am Oates virgin.   I of course had hear of her, but had never read any of her books.   Oates was one of those authors that I put into the “I must read something of theirs one day”.   When Carthage was released, I finally bit the bullet.   I wasn’t too sure what to expect; Oates is an extremely successful author and there was definitely an air of apprehensive mystery around her – in my opinion.   When I finally got my copy in the post, I was so excited and instantly began to read, or more accurately, devour.

Those that are knowledgeable in Ancient Greek history, will recognize that Carthage is the name of an ancient civilization, way back in the day.  So instantly, you have this connotation of potential tragedy brewing.   This of course, is before we even get to the names of some of the characters!  Zeno (a Greek philosopher who was known for his paradoxes) and his daughters, Cressida and Juliet (the main protagonists from Shakespeare’s tragedies Troilus and Cressida and Romeo and Juliet, respectively).  Now, I’ve seen other authors try and replicate their novels after tragic plays etc…, but Oates does it so subtly, yet delivers such a punch, that it doesn’t feel like a parody at all.   You feel the tragedy and the irony in such a profound way and indeed in such a contemporary fashion.

The plot focuses on the search for Cressida who has gone missing.  The blame is soon put onto Juliet’s ex-boyfriend, Brett, an injured soldier, recently returned from Iraq.   A fairly simple plot one may assume.   Well, yes, it is.  However, what makes it so complicated, and yet so fascinating, is the peppering of differing perspectives, and “truths” that Oates spreads throughout.   Where one character has a deep perspective on events, another character sees it in a completely different light; the reader is teased and led down the proverbial garden path, on more than occasion.

I really can’t say much else in case I inadvertently spoil it for someone, so all I’ll say is that you should go out and read, no scrap that, EXPERIENCE, this tour de force of a novel.    After reading this, I am going to have to buy some other novels by Oates.   Any suggestions, dear readers?

Well, I am going to go and sit in a book slump…..