Posts Tagged ‘England’

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Remember in my last post how I mentioned that I’ll look over the book summary once when I first purchase the book and then never look at it again?  Well, that came back to bite me this time because I started reading this book and got really freakin’ confused.

Never Let Me Go” is told in the first person perspective of Kathy.  The book actually starts with Kathy as an adult, reflecting back on her childhood and teen years and her relationships.  She is raised in a boarding school in the English countryside and from a young age, she bonds with two other students – Ruth and Tommy.  Kathy is usually the one who stands back and observes, while Ruth is a little more on the outgoing side.  Tommy is known to have a horrible temper and is teased by many of his classmates.  Kathy befriends him because she realizes there is more to Tommy underneath the bursts of anger and frustration.

At their school, Hailsham, the students are taught normal school subjects but are also pushed to be creative and athletic.  The students know that they are special from others outside of Hailsham, but they aren’t exactly sure how since they are totally isolated.  As teens, more pieces start to fall into place about what makes Hailsham students different and how they can cope in the outside world once they leave the school.  At this time, Ruth and Tommy start to date, leaving Kathy as the third wheel, but she still acts as a confidant to both.  Together, they go through the journey to adulthood while piecing together parts of their past that, at the time, were things that happened in passing that only now start to make sense and will determine the rest of their lives.

Okay, like I said above, this book TOTALLY confused the heck out of me.  I actually had to look up some spoilers because I thought I was just an idiot and didn’t understand what was going on.  If you want to know the real story, you need to go out and read this book yourself.  It would give way too much away if I told you, and what’s the fun in that?

Although the book was confusing and maybe a little bit “too deep” for me (I don’t like to think too much), I did like it, but didn’t love it.  It was something different for me.  I liked that it was told from Kathy’s perspective, but I found it really confusing when Kathy would mention something, then say that she has to tell another story first, then will go off track again before she finally gets back to the story she originally wanted to tell.  By the time that whole song and dance was done, I usually forgot what the original story was.

This weekend when I was in the middle of this book, I was watching E! News and something was mentioned about Keira Knightley’s new movie being shot called “Never Let Me Go“, so I thought to myself, “Hmm, wonder if it’s the same as this book…” and turns out, it is.  The movie starring Keira Knightley as Ruth and Carey Mulligan as Kathy and some dude I don’t know as Tommy is apparently out in theaters in limited release.  (Pssst: Pittsburghers – it’s showing at the Cinemagic Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill and the Waterfront.)  I have a feeling that this story in movie format will be even more confusing as the book, but maybe it will be told in a different order.  Don’t know.  I’ll have to check it out when it gets to Netflix.

Has anyone else read this or seen the movie yet?  Thoughts?

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I was pretty quick with this one – it JUST got released on September 21st.  As much as I wanted to start reading it the day it was delivered to my Kindle (since I pre-ordered it), I had to finish the other book I was reading first so I didn’t start this one till Saturday night.  I don’t have the attention span or good enough memory to read two books at once.

I’m not going to rehash the entire five-book series before “Mini Shopaholic” because if you’re reading this, you’ve most likely read at least one of the books already.

The last time we saw Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood), she was expecting a baby.  Fast forward several years, Becky and Luke have a darling 2-year old girl named Minnie.  Unfortunately, Minnie has gotten her mother’s genes when it comes to loving material things and being stubborn.  Luke begins to worry when Minnie gets kicked out of her FOURTH Santa’s Grotto (apparently that’s what they call the Santa visiting displays in England) that perhaps she is out of control and has a behavior problem.  They look into nanny services that are known to have structure and teach the children multiple languages and martial arts and well, that doesn’t turn out so well.

Becky is also determined to do something special for Luke – throw him a surprise party.  Luke isn’t fond of birthdays.  When Becky brings up this idea for their family and friends, they are skeptical that she would actually follow through and be able to keep it a surprise.  As Becky is planning, she goes a little crazy with the ideas and of course, gets in over her head.  Then, an unexpected guest comes in to offer their help….

Along the way, Becky is trying REALLY hard to control her spending.  At Christmastime, she promises Luke that she will wear each of her items of clothing three times before she is allowed to buy herself something new… which would last her until October of the next year.  While she’s trying not to spend for herself, she feels that it’s okay to spend on Minnie and take it out of her “pocket money” account, which she doesn’t really have yet because she’s only 2.  Luke’s suspicions about Becky’s spending are heightened even more than usual as she’s trying to hide the birthday party planning and he thinks she’s gotten herself into spending trouble (again).

As much as I like reading this series for entertainment value, sometimes I think Becky’s a total idiot and want to shake her shoulders and yell at her, “Haven’t you learned your lesson yet???”  The book was a VERY quick and easy read and took me less than two days to read.  One really stupid thing bothered me: all of the dates mentioned in the book were between 2005 and 2006.  There was one reference to a variety of Google products including Google Chrome, Google Wave, Google Voice, etc.  Um, those things weren’t around that long ago.  I guess none of the editors caught that one.

If you’ve read the rest of the series, you must read this one.  I also suspect that there will be another addition to the series after this one based upon how the book ended, but I won’t give you any more hints than that!

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Do you like reading historical romance fiction (is that a genre??)?  I do!  If you like the novels by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, etc, then I think you might like this book.

The Apothecary’s Daughter” is based in England during the Regency era.  Lilly Haswell helps her father, Charles, run his apothecary shop in Bedsley Priors; her mother left the family when Lilly was a young girl.  Lilly’s estranged aunt and uncle suddenly come to visit, hoping to “adopt” Lilly’s brother Charlie as an heir to their estate, but then they find out about Charlie’s disabilities (based upon my limited medical knowledge, it seems like he may be Autistic) and decide that he will not work for their plans.  Instead, they offer to bring Lilly to London to teach her lady-like things and to hopefully marry her off to a rich young man.  In those days, women were not allowed to be apothecaries and her knowledge of Latin, medical terminology, and science was not seen as a good thing, so she had to try to keep that secret.

Lilly is enjoying her time in London, going to parties and meeting potential suitors, until she gets a letter from a friend of her father’s asking her to come home because her father is “not himself”.  When she arrives home, the apothecary shop is in shambles and her father is a mess.  Lilly decides to stay with her father and tries to help him recover from his mystery illness and she brings the shop back to life.

Throughout the story, Lilly has gotten herself involved with several men.  I won’t go into too much detail about that because that’s one of the items that kept my attention… I wasn’t sure who she would end up with at the end.  Lilly also struggles with new laws for apothecaries that go into effect which cause huge problems for the Haswell Apothecary.  I know that I’m leaving out a ton of little things, but again, I hate giving out too many details because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who goes out and reads it.

I really like books like this; I think it’s fun to think about what it would be like back in those days (and then think how lucky I am to be alive in this century!) and in other countries.  Although I reference Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte above, this book is not written the way those books are (from what I can remember from when I read them back in high school).  The book is written in a way that is very easy to read with no fancy old-fashioned language to have to decipher.  I also noticed when reading reviews that this book was sometimes classified as Christian fiction, but I didn’t notice any major Christian undertones like I’ve seen in other books.  It just seemed like a good romantic fiction.

Julie Klassen has authored several other books that seem to go along the same theme of Regency England.  Haven’t read any of them yet but may put them on my list!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
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