Torment by Lauren Kate

Hell on earth. That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous. What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

"Lois Lane is falling, accelerating at initially 32 feet per second. Superman swoops down to save her by reaching out two arms of steel. Ms Lane, who now is traveling at approximately 120 miles per hour, hits them and is immediately sliced into three equal pieces. (...) Frankly, if he really loved her, he would have let her hit the pavement. It'd have been a more merciful death." Sheldon Cooper, the Big Bang Theory, season 1, episode 2.

Go look for consistancy in a movie where a man can fly. Or book.

The mechanis of Daniel and Luce's flying aside, this was both better than Fallen... and worse. The writing has certainly improved, the descriptions are lush and tangible, and we finally have some pretty nice supporting characters. We even have a semblance of a plot!

God, I'm pathetic.

After the events in Sword & Cross, Daniel drops off Luce at Shorelin academy, a prep school for Nephilim, supposedly to protect her. Luce, of course, doesn't like his vague explenations and constantly gets herself in trouble. She also starts to suspect that there is more to things than Daniel lets on, and when his lame responses don't satisfy her, she goes off to find the truth herself.

Right. This is a very promising premise - Luce questioning her status quo and her 'love' for Daniel is something I've been waiting for ever since the first book. It could allow for a lot of character development and growth, and it could bring the romance in the book to a more mature level. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen because every single time Luce rebels against the restrictions set against her, Daniel swoops in to kiss her brains out... and she totally forgets everything!

Case in point: Early in the book, Luce is on a party with the rest of her class, dancing and having fun and finally feeling better after, you know, all Hell broke loose. Suddenly, Daniel clamps his hand over her mouth and draggs her away to take her on a 'romantic' flight, talks about how her dance card is full for eternity, and then picks a fight with her because she bleached her hair.

Excuse me, are you the love of her life or her parole officer?

Usually around this point, I mock the Mery Sue, but believe it or not, Luce would have been a good character if it weren't for Daniel. Yes, he's protective of her, but at times that protectiveness borders on abuse. Every one of Luce's attempts to do something creative or eccentric or unusual are met with immediate rebuttal, as if bleaching her hair would somehow kill her. And don't give me this crap about not telling her for her own sake: seriously man, she almost never listened to you in Sword & Cross - do you honestly think that would change? I don't know what's worse - that Daniel is a stick-up-the-arse control freak, or the fact that the book expects us to accept the systematic psychological abuse of the main character as loving devotion.

On the other hand, it's hard to sympathise with Luce - she compares herself to Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre, yet lets Daniel control her constantly. I'd dearly like to see Luce tell Daniel off, or actually leave him intending to never see him again. I mean there is a reason why Jane Eyre is such an iconic character - she had the guts to walk away when her moral integrity and sense of self-worth are endangered.

Plotwise, the book is only slightly better than "Fallen" - mostly it's Luce trying to be herself, flesh out and understand the past, but whenever she does anything to asses her independance and individuality, Daniel comes in, gets all hot and heavy with her, picks a fight and then flies away, sending Luce stumbling back into the state of perpetual depression that she was in "Fallen". And this not only stops us from having a decent main character - it stops us from having a plot too. The entire purpose of this book was Luce finding something that the reader had pretty much deduced in the first hundred pages or so.

In fact, the main driving force behind the plot isn't Luce, it's the Announcers. You know, the creepy shadows from the first book? There is this rare moment where a teacher uses The Republic (the Analogue of the Cave, in particular), to illustrate how their role is both to be useful and deceitful. I'm still trying to figure out whether to be impressed or disgusted that Plato got involved in this.

So, all in all, it's an ok read. If you're a fan of the series, great, but I didn't like it. Much like the first book, the plot drags, we have an artificial fight scene to substitute climax, and while Luce's quest to understand her past lives does seem logical, the situation begs the question: When the toilet breaks, do you call for help first, or do you stare at it until you figure out the problem? 

Just trying to get my priorities straight, is all. Two out of five.


Love and Friendship

Read as a part of Styletto Storytime's 2011 Classics challenge...

Love and Friendship
by Jane Austen

When a noble youth arrives unannounced to request the hand of the matchless Laura, it seems their future is one of contentment and bliss - that is until his family learn of the marriage and, one by one, they reject the new bride. So begins the series of unspeakable events that Laura must confront and overcome, by way of the occasional fainting fit and bout of delirium.

Tragedy and comedy here go hand in hand as a very foolish young heroine is placed at the centre of Jane Austen's early satire on drawing-room society. Written as a series of letters, 'Love and Friendship' is a delicious romp through the highs and lows of a young girl's lot in life and a precursor of Austen's later works of genius. It is accompanied by 'The Three Sisters', another expertly crafted epistolary novel, and the brilliant 'A Collection of Letters' which has been described by Fay Weldon as 'five just about perfect short stories'

I love Jane Austen, and, as an odd coincidence, I currently happen to study in Bath (mostly because no other uni wanted me). And here in Bath, they make a big point of the fact that this is where Jane Austen lived for a portion of her life. That means, of course, that her novels can be found everywhere, that there is a whole museum dedicated to her, and that there is Regency memorabilia offered in nearly every souvenir shop. I don't get it, since she didn't particularly like the city, but I mostly bear with it, because I love her novels, and I love it when more people are acquainted with them. As far as quality literature goes, she is one of my favorite authors.

That said.... oh, Jane! What have you done to deserve this?

The one thing that horrifies me more than sloppy fanfiction passed off as books ("Pride and Prejudice, the Wild and Wanton Edition" *shudder*) is to have a writer's desk raided after their death and have every scribble exhumed to be published. I detest seeing journals and letters published. It's so... intrusive. Knowing how much hard work goes into a book, and knowing how quickly writing style changes with the years, I knew that these short novels would be a lot different than her later works.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, because while the novels were, indeed, very different in quality, they showed that even as a teenager, Austen was just as observant as she was in later years. Her satiric wit was just as sharp, and the short novel "Love and Friendship" bordered on a parody. So, in that aspect it was a very entertaining read.

But did those works really need to be published? I know that on a scholaric point of view, they probably have some importance, but to me, it's just like the rest of the memorabilia sold around here - entertaining in a way, but not attributing with much. Three out of five.
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Mr. Darcy's Diary

Well, the community is launched, and I propose we start moderately. That is to say, I won't post a review of a famous book (yet), but rather, adress one that has been bugging me for a while. Without further ado, I present to you:

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange

The only place where Darcy can share his innermost feelings was at the pages of his private journal... Torn between his sense of duty to his family name and his growing passion for Elizabeth Bennet, all he can do is to struggle not to fall in love.

That pretty much sums it up.

Oh, how I wish and wish and wish that Austen enthusiasts would just stop burying the market with their clumsy attempts at fanfiction. “Mr. Darcy’s Diary” isn’t a sequel (which Austen in her eighteenth century wisdom never provided) to the all time classic “Pride and Prejudice”, it is just an account of the events of the book told from Fitzwilliam Darcy’s point of view. Such a book holds a lot of promise – for a recap of a favorite story, for some scenes that we might have wanted to see, and most of all, a little insight on the character that made generation after generation of women swoon.


By my earlier exclamations, you may have noticed that there is nothing of the such.  There are a few moments that made me smile from time to time, but they are few and far in between.


My main problem with the book is its narrative style. “Diary” is a style attempted and used a lot in recent years, especially after Stephenie Meyer popularized the first person point of view in “Twilight”. It’s a tricky one, because when the events are put down, they have already happened and the ending is always slightly betrayed by the character’s personal observations at the beginning, or his style of writing. Not that spoilers ought to be a problem here, since you wouldn’t pick up a book called “Mr. Darcy’s Diary” if you haven’t read “Pride and Prejudice” first, but the book has some major problems with its style and formatting. Whole dialogues are transcribed word by word, when every person who has ever written a diary will know how one tends to use the easier ‘he said, she said’ when telling an especially sticky conversation. I felt like the author was attempting to write Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, which I myself have attempted, and then cut it up and put some dates to the pieces and called it a diary.


That’s not how it’s done.


Basically, my problem is with the storytelling in this little piece, but it doesn’t mean that the character development in it doesn’t deserve a few words. You might wonder how you can mess up characters in fanfiction when they’re ready made, but take it from someone who’s been doing it for three years now – you can.

Mr. Darcy is one of the most loved literary characters of all time - his pride and arrogance are often referred to as his worst traits, but they are also what makes him such a famous hero. Darcy in this book, however, is quite the opposite - he's whiny, annoying, and somehow feels constantly compelled to explain himself. Also, I couldn't help but notice that Mr. Darcy, for a man of his time, takes an exceeding interest in women's clothing and conversations about sauces, yet is completely uninterested in the political situation in Europe.

All in all, I didn't particularly like this book. It was long, tedious, and the narrator came off as whiny and conceited rather than the character you'd know and love. I'd give it one out of five.

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