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Seeking Mansfield

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*I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

2.5/5 stars (I rounded it up to 3).

This book started off with a good premise that I was genuinely absorbed in.
I love modern retellings of Classics so this book was right up my alley. The book is told from 2 perspectives (Finley & Oliver’s) chapter by chapter.

The book overall felt so stilted and almost unfinished. The initial chemistry between Finley and Oliver was there but then it just petered out. As a reader, I was never really given an explanation as to Oliver’s (alleged) deep love for Finley until at least halfway through. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really him loving her but was more-so him wanting to be Finn’s knight in shining armor. He says multiple times throughout the book that he wanted Finn to think for herself and give her own opinions, all the while pushing his own perspective. Also, a  lot could have been resolved had they both just spoken to one another like normal people.

On top of that, Harlan seemed like a genuinely caring character and his fatal flaw and subsequent actions were kind of out of left field. I actually thought that this book was going in a different direction where Finn realizes that this “stranger” who is only in Chicago for a small while is the breath of fresh air she needs. I like that they didn’t have “instalove” and she actually disliked him after first meeting him. But they both sort of won each other over unintentionally.

*Spoilers Ahead*
The one huge thing that I disliked was that after the play being shown, the book felt like a roller coaster ride and I swear I got whiplash from how quickly Harlan changed from a supportive boyfriend to being clingy and attention hungry. It just made no sense.
He was truly there for Finley when she needed him & it was because of his support that she was able to confront her mother’s past abuses towards her. But somehow, especially in Oliver’s point of view, he was still the bad guy for doing so? Because Finley was apparently (not verbatim) too “pure and innocent” to confront someone that hurt her physically and gave her PTSD that she still suffers from?
Please shoot me a message if you can make any sense of that.
And for him to go from “I actually don’t drink but that’s just my tabloid persona” to “I will get drunk off my behind and hook up with this girl because I was upset once” was just mind boggling. Another thing that confused me was how he was somehow made out to be the villain for helping Finley out with her Mansfield pre-interview. He knew he had the right connections to help his girlfriend out and was only trying to help her.

Another thing I massively disliked was the Oliver + Emma storyline. I actually felt bad for Emma because Oliver kept pining over Finley like a lovesick puppy, and it felt like he was using Emma at times. Not only that, but the bizarre scene where he overhears Harlan admit to his sister, Emma, that he only tried to win over Finn for a bet might as well have not been included because it went nowhere. I understand that they were trying to show that he wasn’t actually a good guy but it just felt so disjointed and randomly threw in for the sake of extra drama.

The worst part was when Harlan cheats on Finley with Juliette, Oliver’s sister. That honestly came out of nowhere and left the reader going “surely this must be an editing error?” I have several points with this 1)The character of Juliette was laughably bad. She was more like a cartoon villain than an actual person. Even terrible people have 1 redeeming quality but other than snark and insulting Finley whenever she got the chance, she had no other personality trait. A cardboard cutout would have been a better choice than her character. 2) Even after hooking up with Harlan, she has zero remorse. She actually accuses Finley of stealing him from her, despite the fact that she was in a relationship at the time.  3)And her “punishment” for that level of betrayal was something that belonged on a Teenage Sitcom, honestly.

And Nora. Oh boy. If it was possible to have someone be completely callous and somehow worse than Juliette, she was that character. This woman was more like the evil stepmother in Cinderella than a fleshed out character who was (possibly) a lawyer? She was just completely vindictive towards a 17-year-old kid and it kind of blew me away that not one person in that family (especially Oliver who was supposed to be so astute and observant) noticed her vitriol towards Finley OR the few times they did notice her snarkiness, they just turned a blind eye to it?
And somehow Finley still picks Oliver over Harley. Why?
*End of Spoilers*

Overall, I’d say it was a quick and easy read (the only reason it took me as long as it did was because of work) but I think it definitely could have used some tweaks to make it flow better. And while I do understand that this was a modern retelling, Harlan deserved better than he got for his character.

Much Love and Literature,

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads.com

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before was just the unexpected feel-good book I needed to read. I started this with trepidation since I’d read some not-so-favorable reviews about it but honestly, it was such an adorable book that I had a hard time putting it down.

The family dynamics were really different in this and refreshing, even. Yes, the 3 sisters fought and had their struggles, but it was never over the top or completely unrealistic.

And I loved Peter and really disliked Josh. Peter was the unexpected hero of the story to me. His charm had me actually smiling while reading the book, and I can honestly say that I wanted him and Lara Jean to actually end up together way more than Josh. Josh just seemed selfish to me. Like he wanted to have his cake and eat it too.
His relationship with Margot and then the confusion with Lara Jean (especially given ~the big reveal~ with him and Margot)  just never sat well with me.

Even the character of the younger sister, Kitty, was precocious without being annoying or dumbed down.

I know that this is a fairly short review but I’d easily give this a 4 out of 5 stars. This is a perfect lazy Sunday or Summer Beachtime read and I’m looking forward to reading P.S. I Still Love You soon.

My favorite heart melting quote from this had to be: “Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”
Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Much Love and Literature,

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The Collector by John Fowles

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I was given this book from a friend and am so grateful for it (because books are the way to my heart, honestly).

With that being said, let me just say that I tried to like this book. I really did. But I could not bring myself to truly enjoy the book despite its content.

I’ve read macabre books (such as Strings) before so I’m no stranger to psychological horror. (Side note: Possible review for Strings coming soon since it really shook me).

The Collector started off slow but really picked up pace about a chapter in and I didn’t want to put it down. The narrator, Frederick Clegg, was clearly not just unreliable but a madman and a stalker to boot. Reading about his descent into further madness & eventual kidnapping of Miranda was shocking but still kept me turning the pages. Said unreliability was shown where he was so adamant that he would never assault her yet he took what he claimed to be “artsy” photographs of her. There was never any outright brutality (thank goodness) but it was heavily implied. I was rooting for Miranda to knock Clegg unconscious and escape somehow, especially in the first half.

The 2nd half was where the book lost me and I really struggled to continue reading.
While I felt a lot of pity for the character of Miranda, the writing style that Fowles switched to halfway through was both confusing and an outright struggle to read. I’m normally a speed-reader but the lack of proper quotations had me re-reading portions a few times just to understand who said what.

*Spoilers Ahead*

While I did sympathize with Miranda, I didn’t like her character at all. She was arrogant, selfish, and constantly patronized anyone she crossed paths with. (Needless to say, Clegg deserved any and all attitude and fighting he received from Miranda. I also liked her strength in that she didn’t give him the satisfaction of calling him by his name but referred to him as Caliban instead. And his utter mediocrity and banality were referred to as “calibanity” to further insult him).
I did feel a bit of pity for her in terms of her on and off again lover, G.P. He reflected her own arrogance in that he would constantly serve to remind her that he was so much more ~world-weary~ only because he was considerably older than her. They almost seemed like a good fit in that sense.
But, again, the writing and her annoying tone-of-voice completely threw me off.

The one redeeming factor was the tiny last portion where it switched the narrator back to Clegg. It sucked me in once again, and the tension and uncomfortable environment created when he chickened out of bringing a doctor to Miranda was almost palpable.

One would think that he felt an iota of guilt over being the reason that Miranda died (which was painful to read) but once he read her secret diary, he felt nothing which proved exactly how unstable he was. The last sentence where he begins plotting another kidnapping had my mouth just drop open. I didn’t expect that at all.
*End of Spoilers*

I would have to ultimately give this book a 2 out of 5 stars. Had it strictly been in Clegg’s perspective, this could have possibly received a higher rating. But the frustration and annoyance while reading the 2nd half was just not worth it. Even if you are into psychological thrillers, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this. A real life thriller I would recommend is Who Killed My Daughter by Lois Duncan. It’s tragic, heartbreaking reading about Lois’ loss, and will keep you guessing beyond the last page as to who did it.

 

Much Love and Literature,

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