Monday, May 25, 2009

Sophocles: Antigone


Let's awkwardly turn to another book that I read last month.

It's not a romance, not a fiction (well, not really), not a non-fiction, not a contemporary, not... many things, it is not, however, it is a book from my 101 books in 1001 days challenge. Hooray! (point for Alice.)

A brief background of the story (this is going to get even more awkward), starting with Oedipus.

Antigone is the daughter and sister of Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother. It goes like this - Oedipus was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. His father, King Laius, heard and was horrified (rightfully so) and ordered for him to be left to die. His mother, Jocasta, gave him to a servant because she couldn't bear to kill her son, and the servant carried Oedipus to the next county, or kingdom, (or what-not) where he became the adopted son of the king and queen there.

Oedipus is unaware that the parents who raised him are not his biological parents and when he hears of his own fate, he is horrified (rightfully so) and runs away from "home."

While running away, he comes across an old man at a crossroads. They get into a fight and Oedipus kills the old man (aka Laius).

Times passes, and he solves a riddle from the sphinx that has been tormenting his homeland. It's solved, the sphinx is gone, and he wins the prize, which is the hand of the queen of the land, Jocasta.

They marry (ew!) and have four kids (double ew!): Eteocles, Polyneices, Ismene, and our star, Antigone.

Oedipus finds out what he's done, is horrified (duh) and flees the country. He later gouges out his eyes. Jocasta hangs herself.

And Eteocles and Polyneices fight - and kill - each other. Ismene and Antigone are horrified and unhappy (once again, this isn't rocket science).

In Antigone, Jocasta's brother, Creon, is king of the land. He orders Polyneices' body to remained unburied because he was a traitor to the country, however, Antigone desires a proper burial her brother.

Creon has declared anyone who buries Polyneices to be a traitor, a crime that will be harshly punished, but Antigone does it anyway. She is taken before Creon where she argues her point of view and her loyalty to the law of the gods, not to Creon.

She later hangs himself and Haemon, fiance of Antigone and Creon's son, argues with dad. Then he stabs himself. Creon's wife, upon hearing of Haemon's suicide, kills herself as well.

Creon is left, "humbled" and horrified by what has happened (rightfully so).

Not the happiest of stories, this Greek Tragedy was great in that Antigone, who previously seemed an unlikely candidate to be a heroine, proves herself worthy. She is aware of what she does and does not believe in, and most importantly, is able to act in a manner that reflects her beliefs. She is willing to take the consequences of her actions - not shying away from Creon when she is brought before him - and she argues with him (you go girl!).

The cons of this story: written in play form (kind of a pain), almost everyone commits suicide (did someone say Hamlet?), it is full of negativity, and I still don't understand the role of the chorus. I feel like they have more purpose than to provide with background info and current mood. (What's an antistrophe and strophe?)

It was fun to read something besides romance and I enjoyed the story.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lisa Kleypas: Smooth Talking Stranger

Smooth Talking Stranger: B-
Ella Varner & Jack Travis

Ella Varner grew up with a troublesome mother and an insecure sister, but she has managed to come out of it reasonably sane, with a good (if vegan) boyfriend, Dane, and a job as an advice columnist. All of this gets turned upside down when her sister disappears and sticks Ella with her newborn, Luke. Determined to find Luke's father, Ella tracks down a likely suspect—millionaire playboy Jack Travis. The encounter results in Travis and Ella unexpectedly engaged in an irrepressible attraction. Meanwhile, Ella grows fond of baby Luke and fears what will happen when Tara returns. As Ella grapples with conflicting desires, she learns some important lessons about love and trust... (amazon)

Here is another installment of a Travis man, Jack Travis, and though the book had great potential, as do all the Travis men, it fell short of the greatness I was expecting.

I normally love love Lisa Kleypas' books because she is able to develop the characters and really portray the growth of the hero and heroine's relationship. The journey is as wonderful as the end, since we all know endings to romance novels are happy. Even knowing that the hero and heroine will end up together, LK makes it exciting.

This one, however, was a combination of unpleasantness, on several different levels.

1, the hero and heroine have chemistry (as Jack is hot hot!) but they don't really develop their relationship because...

2, Ella is taking care of the damned baby. I have nothing against babies, however, the fact that LK is sticking babies into romance stories left and right is starting to irritate me. Taking care of a child is a HUGE responsibiilty and needs to be of the utmost priority. But in this story, Ella is thrown into her new role as a mother around the same time she meets Jack. Things are crazy, no doubt about it, but with duties as a new mother, where is the time for romance? For love? I'm sure it happens in reality, but not in the way LK portrayed it. There needed to be more details, more development, especially because the story is not only handling a love story, it's handling a story about a mother and child. She did neither story justice.

3, Um, the ending? What was that? It was rushed and lame. And rushed.
Kind of like: "Ohhh, we have twenty pages left, so I love you Jack!"
"Oh yea, I forgot to tell you that I love you, too."

4, Lack of development of Ella. She obviously grows up in a very dysfunctional family. So... I can kind of assume how she became the woman she is, but I don't want to assume. I want you write your beautiful prose, LK, and tell me, dang it!

5, Excess sex scenes. ...which, for me, without relationship development, is like too much icing. Unsatisfying and uncool to swallow.

It was decently fun to read and Jack is hot hot, but don't expect a stunner out of this one.

hi bloggers!

Greetings, earthlings!

I know, I know. I'm sucking at updating. I don't know what's wrong with me... wait, there are many reasons, but we are not going to get into that now.

What's been going on in my life?


I'm almost done with higher education. HOORAY!
I'm starting to read more - the past five months have been reading suicide. (I think I read four books, total.)
I read Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.... andohgoshIdon'twanttosaythisandadmitit but I was disappointed. Yes, disappointed. Not up-to-par to her other works. Sadness!

The other books I'm waiting for:
LK's third (fourth?) book in the Hathaways series with Poppy and the *mysterious* Harry (?) Rutledge; Elizabeth Hoyt's fourth and last in the "Legend of the Four (?) Soldiers" series, To Beguile a Beast (talk about tortured hero!)... and that's it.

First, I realize that I SUCK at remembering stuff. I used to be so good, especially with my beloved romance novels. What happened?! (I think it's my age. Sigh! LOL)

Second, I know I said I wouldn't read any more romances, but after these two, I'm done! Well, I bet I'll keep reading LK's... dang it, it's like an addiction.

Third, I will try my very, very best to update at least three times a week. (we're starting out small and working to greatness.) I'm thinking Mon-Wed-Fri. And, if you haven't noticed, I time-stamp so that all my entries are at 10:02 am. 10:02 is a good time, I say.

Fourth, I have followers! (What does that mean? I'm still not familiar with eblogger....) But HOORAY! Someone kind of wants to read all of the douchebaggy and jerkish things I have to say! Thanks, you guys :)

Fifth, I need to erase my nail polish. It's cracking. Goshdarnit.

With that, I bid you a wonderful Friday and a book review, which will, amazingly, be in exactly an hour. Hooray!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Emily Giffin: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed: C+
Chick-lit, women's fiction

An unexpected love affair threatens a long-lived friendship in this soap opera–like debut from Atlanta ex-lawyer Giffin. Since elementary school, Rachel and Darcy have been best friends, with Darcy always outshining Rachel. While single Rachel is the self-confessed good girl, an attorney trapped at a suffocating New York law firm, Darcy is the complete opposite, a stereotypical outgoing publicist, planning a wedding with the handsome Dex. After Rachel's 30th birthday party, she knocks back one drink too many and winds up in bed with Dex. Instead of feeling guilty about sleeping with her best friend's fiancĂ©, Rachel realizes that Dex is the only man she's really loved, and that she's always resented manipulative Darcy. Rachel and Dex spend a few weekends in the city together "working" while Darcy's off with friends at a Hamptons beach share, but finally Rachel realizes she'll have to give Dex an ultimatum... (Publisher's Weekly)

Here is a book that I loathed to read. Really, really loathed. There are many reasons as to why I would have never even touched this novel.

1. I hate reading about cheaters
2. Rachel, the heroine, cheats with her best friend's fiance.
3. I hate cheaters.

"But Alice," my book buddy Nancy said to me, "just try it."

And so, I did, with mixed feelings. And all through the book, I read with mixed feelings.

This book is not a romance. It, however, is a book about friendship, about relationships, and about self and on discovering who you are.

The gist of the story is this: Rachel turns thirty. She has a party, with of course, her best friend, Darcy, who is gorgeous and everything Rachel is not. Rachel is smart and intelligent, but more Plain Jane than anything else.

So she turns thirty. She gets pretty drunk. She and Darcy's fiance, Dex, are on their way home when step after another, they get to her place, and they do the unthinkable.

What was so hard for me to read about this book was not that they cheat once and own up to their mistakes.

It's that they repeatedly sleep with each other - and the "mistake" turns into a full-fledged affair. A secret affair. It's the fact that they both knew what they were doing, and yet they did the wrong thing.. over and over and over again.

Gritty. Dirty. Ugly.



Griffin explains why the affair happens: that Rachel had always had feelings for Dex but never felt she was good enough, how Dex really loved Rachel, too, but got caught up with Darcy, how Darcy is selfish and pretty-much spoiled...

..and it's through this affair that Rachel is finally able to say, "Darcy, I love you because you're my best friend, but I love myself and I care about what I want, too." - and hence the affair. Rachel wants it and she wants Dex.

But, good citizens of the earth, we cannot all have what we want. And no matter what anyone tells me, getting involved with a man who is already in a relationship is wrong on so many different levels. Have more respect for yourself: if I was Rachel and Dex claims to love me, why can't he love me enough to leave Darcy? Why does our relationship - our love - have to be something clandestine?

It's not a healthy way to start - or be in a relationship, and I don't care what your heart tells you. Listen to your rational brain!

However, I will give Emily Giffin credit in that... the book sucks you in. I read it, partially cringing, partially intrigued - in the same way a fatal car accident is (minus someone dying). And it did give me much to think about.

What would I have done if I was in Rachel's position?
What would I do if I was in love with my sister's (with whom I'm very close with) or best friend's fiance?

As much as I would love to jump up and yell, NO, I WOULD NEVER DO WHAT RACHEL DID!, I cannot be 100% sure.

All I can hope is that I wouldn't do what Rachel did: I hope I would be woman enough to find myself - and respect myself - to walk away and do what is right to myself, no matter how delectable the boy is.

In conclusion: read if you want to think about these issues. But don't read if you want a snuggle, feel-good romance. It's definitely not that.

A B+ for writing style - she really is marvelous at telling the story, but D for the overall content of story.