Book: From This Day Forward

"From This Day Forward"

When a couple gets married, it isn’t just their lives that are thrown into chaos.

For Nicholas and Nala’s wedding, there’s the mother of the bride who is forced to face her failed marriage; the mother of the groom, who revists the past–and an old love; the bride’s best friend who has lost the only boy she thinks she will ever love and with him, all her happiness; the bride’s cousin who fooled around with her boyfriend’s best friend (who inconveniently turns out to be the groom); and the groom’s sister who cannot understand her brother’s choice of a future wife.

Surrounding the bride and groom’s happiness are the heartache, joys, hopes, dreams, and realizations of the people who care about them. It makes you think: does everybody get a chance at happily ever after?

I have an answer to that question. No. Not everybody deserves a chance at happily ever after. Most especialy, not this book.

Okay, so I’m not a chic-lit person. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying Fairy Tale Fail for what it is. This book though–I had to stop midway just so I could debate with myself whether I should continue or just give the book up. I decided to finish the book, if only because it’s not very long.

Notice how I keep saying book and not novel? Because it’s not a novel. It’s not even a novella. It’s a collection of essays and half-assed poems pretending to be a novel that wants to say something. But it doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t even resolve any of its conflicts.

I am truly very annoyed at this book.

No one forced me to buy it and read it, you say? Yes, that is correct. But I bought the book because I wanted to write about it. Because I wanted to promote Filipino works on my blog–which is why I’ve incorporated the Filipino Friday theme into my blog.

I could’ve kept quiet, I know. I could’ve just kept mum about my thoughts about the book. But wouldn’t that be a disservice? I’ve never shied away from writing down my disdain for foreign works, why should a local product get special treatment?

Also, if anyone from Summit Books is reading this, I want them to know that someone in cyberspace is very unhappy with the book they produced.

I don’t have anything against the writer. I didn’t enjoy her Every Girl’s Guide series, but I could argue for those books. I cannot deny that they are novellas, and that they have actual stories with development and characters who go somewhere. From This Day Forward has characters and stories, yes, but neither one goes anywhere. Instead of a story, we just get glimpses of lives lead. Without movement. Static.

Spoiler alert: Save for the married couple, no one gets a happy ending. Especially not the reader.

Summit Books, please be more discriminating with the books you produce. There is a reason why a lot of readers don’t pick up local books. Don’t be part of the reason.

All of these said and done, people over at Good Reads seem to really like the book.

Book: Fairy Tale Fail

"Fairy Tale Fail"

Ellie thought she knew what she wanted in a guy: someone dependable, and someone she could bring home to her parents. In other words, a good guy to complete here happily-ever-after fairy tale. When her good guy boyfriend all of a sudden dumps her in the place she least expected–saying that she is ‘a failure at relationships’–Ellie feels she has to fight harder to make her fairy tale come true.

But when hot and mysterious Lucas, whom Ellie secretly calls Rock Star, enters her life and starts challenging everything she believes in, she has to face the truth about her goals and dreams. Will Ellie find the fairy tale she’s always dreamed of? And more importantly, who will fill the swashbuckling shoes of Prince Charming to give her story the happy ending she so deserves?

As far as chic-lits go, this one’s pretty predictable–and, oddly enough, it adds to the charm of the book.

Main character Ellie is easily relatable because she’s not infallible. Supposed good guy Don immediately reads like the bad guy. And Rock Star Lucas, while crossed out of the Prince Charming list right from the get go, is obviously the guy our heroine ends up with. In other books, I would probably complain about them being too clear cut. With Fairy Tale Fail though, I say it works.

Why?

Number one, the book isn’t that long. I think it’s a rule for the pocketbooks published by Summit Books to actually fit in pockets. Going deeper into the characters and having them develop more will mean a longer (and thicker) book. And for a story as flimsy as Fairy Tale Fail, a dive into character progression might prove to be the book’s unraveling.

And, come on, you’re not going to pick this book up to be intellectually stimulated.

Fairy Tale Fail is a book for romantics, for those who are looking for a short respite from the harshness of reality. I’m not saying that makes up for the fact that the book offers nothing new in the world of chick literature. What I’m saying is, you’re really not supposed to expect anything more from a book this thin, in a genre that’s already seen so many iterations of the same story.

When you pick this book up, you don’t expect a classic. And sometimes, that’s the kind of book you need to help you relax.

I don’t know though if I share sentiments with other bloggers, but we can find out:
The Blair Book Project
Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac
One More Page

Book: Love Story

"Love Story"

He is Oliver Barrett IV, a rich jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law.

She is Jenny Cavilleri, a wisecracking working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe.

Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny immediately attract, sharing a love that defies everything…yet will end too soon. Here is a love that will linger in your heart, now and forever.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

It’s a touching response to when you’re the one apologizing; but I don’t actually believe that that statement is true. As human beings, making mistakes is part of every day life, and there are times when you simply don’t know that you’ve hurt the one you love. I think saying sorry is important. It may not say that you’ll never hurt them again, but it does say that you feel bad for having done so. Not saying sorry might actually cause more problems for your relationship than the actual mistake.

In Love Story though, author Erich Segal does make you believe in that powerful love that allows you to say “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That is, until you put down the book and all bets are off.

It’s a very popular book, if the blurb on the cover can be believed. “More than 21 million copies sold.” That says a lot of people bought it, so they must have liked it. Right?

I did. Well, I did while I was reading the book. Thinking about the book and the story though, I couldn’t find reasons to like Oliver or Jenny. No, they were not made perfect–the author gave them flaws. They fight, and they can annoy each other. And they love each other. They’re supposed to be real people. Except they don’t feel real. Not after you put down the book anyway.

Truth be told, I’ve been putting off writing about this book for months. Why? Because every time I read it, I feel the love. Of the characters. For the book. But whenever I actually sit down and try to put into words why I like it, I can’t think of anything to put down. I can give you a list of things I didn’t like easy, but not the reasons why the book moved me.

With Love Story, I guess the heart really is stronger than the mind. Much like the characters’ love for each other, we can find a million faults with it–but, in the end, what’s important is that you loved. And with that, I recommend Erich Segal’s Love Story to anyone looking to read about love.

And then afterwards, if you find your way back here, tell me what you thought about the story.

Book: The Red House

"The Red House"

After his mother’s death, Richard, a newly remarried hospital consultant, decides to build bridges with his estranged sister, inviting Angela and her family for a week in a rented house on the Welsh border. Four adults and four children, a single family and all of them strangers. Seven days of shared meals, log fires, card games and wet walks.

But in the quiet and stillness of the valley, ghosts begin to rise up. The parents Richard thought he had. The parents Angela thought she had. Past and present lovers. Friends, enemies, victimes, saviors. And watching over all of them from high on the dark hill, Karen, Angela’s stillborn daughter.

The Red House is about the extraordinariness of the ordinary, weaving the words and thoughts of the eight characters together with those fainter, stranger voices — of books and letters and music, of the dead who once inhabited these rooms, of the ageing house itself and the landscape in which it sits.

If the synopsis sounds promising to you, don’t set expectations.

After The Curious Incident of the Dog at the Night Time and, to a lesser extent, A Spot of Bother, I was becoming a bit of a Mark Haddon fan. Which prompted me to buy The Red House without a second thought. I didn’t even read the synopsis prior to buying. That was a mistake on my part.

Writing that down though, I do think I would have still bought the book even after reading the synopsis. Written the way it’s written, the book sounded interesting. Fantastically horrifying.

Except it’s not. Not for me, anyway.

The Red House is written as if it were notes taken by an astute observer. A fly on the wall, if you will. The fly sees and hears everything, but it’s not exactly a storyteller. It’s a reporter, and it tells you all the events. It’s up to you to pick up the story as you want it told.

It could be love story, a love rediscovered. It could be the story of a person’s sexual awakening. It’s a story about grief, and about the memories we recreate to suit the history we want to have. Or maybe a story about a family who’s barely hanging on together–a family that is further broken apart by honesty.

The Red House could be any story. But whatever story you choose it to be might not be the story the author intended.

Reading the book, there’s a sense of something–a message, maybe–that the author wants to impart: about family, about relationships, about memories. Goodness knows what he really wanted to say. What I got from the book was this though: you like what you like, and even when you don’t like something, you make up stuff that would explain why you do.

Midway through reading the book, I was trying to find things to like. And while I do like the characters, I realized that it wasn’t enough. And no amount of good will from Haddon’s first two novels would’ve been enough to make me say that this book was great. Because, honestly, it wasn’t. Not for me.

It took a lot of self-control to even finish the book.

That’s not to say that it is a bad book. Somewhere out there are people who thinks the world of this book. I’m not one of them.

A reason could be the author’s chosen mode of storytelling. Being omniscient, while empowering, can also be very boring. And blow-by-blow accounts of what characters chose to do, however likeable they are, can be very tedious.

Then, there’s the promise of the supernatural. Karen’s “ghost” appears a number of times. But the author doesn’t seem to be sure as to what the ghost really is. Is she an actual spirit, come to haunt the family that never gave her a chance to live? Or is she a imagined figment of a mind bordering on illness? Her appearances will leave you conflicted and confused.

Things pick up during the last third of the book. By then though, I’ve lost all hopes of ever liking the book. I finished the book out of duty, not love. And that’s not a feeling I want when reading a book to take a break. So no, there will be no recommendations for this book coming from me.

What others have to say though, is entirely up to them:
So Misguided
Sarah Reads Too Much
The Nervous Breakdown
YouTube Review: incrdiblydeadlyviper

Book: An Abundance of Katherines

"An Abundance of Katherines"

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an over-weight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and may finally win him the girl.

Ever since I read Paper Towns, I’ve been on a mission to find the next best John Green novel. I was a little disappointed with Looking for Alaska, so I approached An Abundance of Katherines with caution. A lot of caution. And I must say, it’s not as bad as Looking for Alaska was for me–but it still isn’t the next best John Green novel I’ve been looking for.

From the three John Green novels I’ve read, I’ve already noticed a pattern. Your male lead’s a geek with a weird characteristic and he’s antisocial. Or, at the least, he hasn’t a lot of friends. The best friend is almost always overweight, and is the funny guy–but he’ll show some heart and insight later on. And the leading ladies? They’re beautiful girls who should be popular, and are popular, but they’re not content with what they have. They’re Belles, in a way. And by Belles, I mean Disney’s version of the female lead in Beauty and the Beast.

Now, most of you know how I feel about formula. Not a fan. And I know the books are different enough to warrant being published as different books, but it’s really hard for me to enjoy something when I know what’s going to happen next.

Okay, maybe not all the time. But most of the time, that’s how I feel.

And after An Abundance of Katherines, I think I lost hope that I’ll ever find the next best John Green novel. Except, I already bought another John Green novel before I read An Abundance of Katherines. And while I’m not a fan of formulaic stories, I can’t really discount the fact that John Green writes very well. And so now I turn to Will Grayson, Will Grayson for Green salvation.

As you can see, this is barely a reaction post. But some people have already shared their opinions of the book online, why don’t we check those out?
The Garden of Books
Pretty Books
Books Devoured