Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review | The Great Gatsby

Ugh, who doesn't love a good renown story of requited love gone wrong? Okay, like a good portion of those who have read this F. Scott Fitzgerald work, I did not read this by choice. Rather, I read it my junior year of high school, not going in with any expectations whatsoever. I wanted to remain open minded because I had not been impressed by the majority of books I had read prior to The Great Gatsby. Let me say openly and thankfully, this book revived my will to read.

This story centers around a man named Nick Carraway, cousin of Daisy Buchanan, who moves to Long Island during the Jazz Age. He quickly becomes overwhelmed with curiosity towards his wealthy neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who is known for throwing lavish parties and living out the American Dream. Throughout the novel, it is revealed that there is more to Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan than what is seen on the surface. After wading through all of the secrets, drama, and scandal that is The Great Gatsby; readers, along with Nick, discover Gatsby's never ending love for a woman stuck between a rock and a hard place. In the end, life is not what it seems, even when it appears to be the American Dream. 

Overall, I was very pleased with The Great Gatsby. It held promise in my eyes with a title like that. Flipping through the first few pages, I gained the sense of a beautifully disastrous story lurking about. I was partially right. This book comes off as glamorous and highly conscientious of the worlds elite, mainly those found in New York. An interesting topic. Plus the length was short, sweet, and simple. I liked it already.

I had a hunch that Nick Carraway would be a stand up guy but fairly normal in comparison to the other leading characters such as Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. I personally loved Gatsby. His grandeur way of living, although most of it was for the affection of Daisy, caught my affection as well. Lets' be real. Ya felt for the guy. Well, maybe not the beginning of the novel since that's where he appears the most reclusive, constantly seeking the approval of a woman stuck in her snobby ways with her other half, Tom Buchanan. What a guy. But of all the shady characters, my favorite had to be Jordan Baker. I like the back story behind her character that Fitzgerald explained once upon a conversation with Maxwell Perkins.

As much as I hated certain characters, I'm talking to you Myrtle, I admired the variety of Fitzgerald's fictional East and West Egg inhabitants. They grew on me. Now, I didn't particularly have cons when it came to this book. Instead I found that I was bored with the obvious symbolism. Actually, it bothered me quite a bit. The Dr. Eckleburg sign serving as a makeshift god looking down upon everyone, the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, the yellow car that screamed CAUTION, and so on and so forth. Truthfully, I blame school for that. I can't help but look for symbols or motifs and it was weird not being challenged in finding any since they were laid out like a road map.

The Great Gatsby was a quick read, timeless, and enjoyable the majority of the time although it doesn't end on such a high note. I appreciated the over anticipation of the American Dream throughout the book and how it ended worked for me. It was neither happy nor unbearable. It is not my favorite book and I've read other books more recently that surpass it but it will remain a classic in my mind! I recommend that everyone read this book at least once, or perhaps another one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review | The Time Keeper

I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven and was pleasantly surprised with Mitch Albom's writing abilities. Unfortunately, my previous reading experience led me astray, indefinitely. I read the first page of The Time Keeper and truly believed there would be a great story ahead. Wrong. I was completely wrong. I find it interesting that my peers found this book so inspirational and wonderful and la-di-da-di-da, because in all reality, I was frustrated with this book.

We're introduced to three people throughout the entirety of the book who carry the story: Dor, Victor, and Sara. Dor is from a different time period, much earlier than that of Victor and Sarah. Dor decides that it would be a good idea to measure time which backfires to a certain extent; he figures out how to measure time, inevitably to be punished for it. He is made to be Father Time. As Father Time, Dor watches over those who complain about not having enough time or take their time for granted. Enter Victor and Sara. Victor is this old, rich man who tries to cheat time because he is very ill and Sara is a teenage girl that feels she should give up on life with the lack of a father figure and boy troubles getting the best of her.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I liked the first page. Hell, the first two pages were promising! But with every page, my awe slowly withered down to shock. It wasn't a good kind of shock either. The main characters of this book were so far from any of Mitch Albom's other fictional characters, it hurt my soul. I kid you not.

To be honest, there wasn't that much good in this book so I'm going to skip this section and go straight for the jugular.

I had several problems with this novel. First of all, the character development was close to terrible. At first, I felt bad for Victor. Then poof, my sympathy and compassion disintegrated. His life and story were not expanded upon nearly enough and any inkling of a connection I had or potentially could have made, was ruined. Now, I wanted to like Victor but there was a huge disconnect with Sara. I flat out could not stand the character of Sara, which was probably due to the poor writing with her whiny and repetitive teenage perspective. There was no depth to her character, sadly making her come across as an annoying teenager, complaining about life and wishing it away when things didn't go her way. It lacked originality. Unless the name Dor constitutes as an original name but even then, his name hardly helped push the plot along. Freaking Dor.

I sound like I'm bashing this book. A perfectly fine book in theory, written by Mitch Albom, who has proven he has a knack for writing. I'll admit it: I am kind of bashing this book. It was just such a let down. Authors are seen as these perfection infested beings. They are supposed to write something worthy of resting upon a glistening pedestal way above any of us “average” people but here's the thing: Mitch Albom might have been aiming too high in order to stay on that pedestal when he wrote this book, his fifth to be exact.

Overall, this book seemed to have nothing but good intentions and honest life lessons about using our time wisely, but ironically, the time throughout the book didn't strike me as being used wisely. Plus, it was a really slow read. Mr. Albom tried to make it effortless, thought provoking, deep, and well written; it missed the mark. There was no spark. Without that spark, it's just another mediocre book lost in the void.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BookTube-A-Thon Failure

As many fellow readers, book enthusiasts, writers, bloggers, and booktubers know; BookTube-A-Thon has recently concluded. Unfortunately for me, I was that person who showed up late to the party but didn't have the fashionably late excuse to fall back on. I flat out had no idea the Readathon/BookTube event was even occurring until this magical social media site called Instagram informed me along with it's many inhabitants. Thank you fellow Instagram followers.

Since I was about three days behind everyone, I figured I could try and catch up--until I read that one of the challenges was to start and finish a series and I only had four days left. I had a pitiful "laugh out loud" moment. On the up hand, I did manage to read a book that covered two of the challenges which happened to be 1) Read a book with pictures in it, and 2) Read a book with red on the cover. In the end, I was impressed by everyone else and their progress along with my half ass ATTEMPT at participating ever so slightly. I'm making a mental note, physical note, and computer note to ensure that I fully participate next year.

In a new found effort to redeem myself, I have decided to partake in the Rainbow Readathon which runs from August 2nd to the 9th, so if you're interested, here's the run down:
Read a RED book
Read an ORANGE book
Read a YELLOW book
Read a GREEN book
Read a BLUE book
Read a PURPLE book

Here are my reads: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. I HAVE NOT CHOSEN A GREEN BOOK YET MY BAD. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. Now I'm kind of cheating with my purple book option because I want to read FOUR but it's technically blue or if ya want to get fancy, maybe indigo...but I'm reading it either way. 

Anyway, those are my reads for this awesome readathon created by thebookishgirl on Instagram. If you're like me and failed miserably with previous readthons, please feel free to join in on the fun and get some TBR books out of the way!

Read on