The Light Between Oceans book review

Hello, readers!

I’ve completed two novels and am currently halfway through my third book of 2015! I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging lately because I was studying for the GRE, took the GRE, and last Friday I sent in my application for Grad school… Keep your fingers crossed for me! You know, I think it is highly amusing when you’re watching a t.v. show and it seems as if the characters are going through the same thing you are. For example, I am three episodes away from finishing the last season of Gilmore Girls; I just watched the episode where Rory is anxious to hear back from a fellowship she applied for, while Paris gets accepted into every school she applied for. Rory didn’t get accepted for the fellowship… so I’m hoping and praying that my fate matches Paris’s instead of Rory’s.

Needless to say, I’ve been stressed out since December when it hit me that I’m actually about to start the application process and not just spending time studying quantitative problems that I will never use in my life.

Anyway, I’m finally able to take the time to write book reviews again. I also started another reading challenge for 2015. I have decided to focus on book series that I’ve been meaning to finish, like The Lord of The Rings trilogy and some YA series like Delirium and Matched.

Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman was an audio book that I purchased on my Audible account. I’m not a huge fan of audio books but I occasionally will get one if I’ve had enough of the radio. I’m so glad I picked up this novel.

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Below is the synopsis of The Light Between Oceans from Goodreads:

“After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
M.L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.
The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.”

I found this novel to be a fascinating read (or rather listen.) The writing style is very descriptive, but not as far as Tolkien descriptive, rather more classical writing than dialogue writing. The setting of the novel mainly exists at Janus Rock. Isolated, quiet, and a place of responsibility, Janus Rock- a tiny island near Australia- reminds me of the type of symbolic setting similar to the settings in Jane Eyre.

We meet Tom, the husband and protagonist #1, around the time that he returns from WWI. There is a scene where we are shown his first “good deed” after the war, and it is very important later on in the novel. A woman named Hannah is being harassed and Tom saves her. This is the first of many times that he does things with the mindset of doing good deeds, and he does so because he is trying to atone for the things he did during war. Deeply affected by the war (I suspect PTSD), Tom finds comfort and solitude when he becomes the new lighthouse keeper.

Protagonist #2, Isabel, is the wife of Tom and definitely the more imaginative and flighty of the two. She’s kind-hearted and adventurous, but has trouble feeling completely content with the isolation that Janus Rock offers.

We are led to believe that the main conflict of the story is Isabel’s struggle to have a baby, and how her miscarriages affect the marriage and bond between Tom and Isabel. In actuality, the main conflict is about what the RIGHT thing to do is in certain situations and the nature of people in their choices.
-Tom believes that no matter how much he loves Isabel and Lucy, the right thing to do is to come clean about everything and to set things right, no matter how devastating it would be to himself and Isabel.
-Isabel believes this is a prayer answered in an unusual way, and that even though it’s sad that they found out Lucy’s dad was dead in the boat and that her biological mother is alive, the right thing to do is to “move forward”. Let the breaks stay clean and give Lucy a second chance/give them a second chance.

There is also an underlying message about the aftermath of war (particularly on society) and how any race can be deemed unworthy or at any point a soldier can be seen from heroic to psychotic. The power of influence is strong but can easily be misguided. I found this message fascinating because of everything that has been and still is going on with conflict in the Middle East. In The Light Between Oceans, any German person was criticized and ostracized because of the war, and that includes Lucy’s biological father (but that’s all I’m saying on that subject.)

The last two chapters are tragically beautiful. Stedman paints a portrait of forgiveness, of resentment, of growth and of undying love. Circle. Lucy-Grace (you’ll have to read to see why her name changes!) visits Tom years later with her newborn and she tells him that she understands why they did what he and Isabel did. Compassion.

I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars! I inhaled heartache but exhaled unconditional love while reading this novel. If you like Jane Eyre or Girl with The Pearl Earring, this novel is for you.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” Author Set To Release Second Novel 55 Years Later

Wow! If you read “To Kill A Mockingbird” this is definitely exciting news! We shall see how this book is compared to the classic.

CBS Philly

By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The author of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird is releasing a second book — five-and-a-half decades after her classic novel was published.

It’s called Go Set a Watchman. It was written by Harper Lee before the 1960 novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. In a press release, Lee, 88, says her editor in the mid-1950’s preferred the flashbacks of a young Scout, and asked her to write a book from the view of the girl.

Go Set a Watchman features several of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Some 20-years later, Scout, as an adult, returns from New York to her small, southern hometown where she struggles with her father’s view of society and her own feelings about the place where she was born.

“To have a book in which somebody’s reflecting on how events in their past and their childhood shaped…

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Recently on Goodreads…

I forgot to share this with everyone!

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There was a Q&A session with author Sarah Addison Allen for her upcoming book “First Frost”! I asked her what motivates her to add an element of magic into her novels, and if it was just something she wanted to add or were they all based of off personal experiences that she thought were magical and wanted to put them in her books. Needless to say, I was so excited to see her response! I have read “Sugar Queen” and “The Girl Who Chased the Moon” by Allen, and both were written so lovely and whimsically. I am going to read “Garden Spells” so that I can read “First Frost” when it comes out!
If you enjoy reading books that have magical realism, or if you like books that have some sweet Southern charm, Sarah Addison Allen’s books are for you!

Juliet Immortal

Hi fellow readers!

I finished “Juliet Immortal” by Stacey Jay last month. I bought it as an e-book for my Barnes and Noble app… a few years back. I figured it was finally time to try it out.

Summary:

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn’t take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn’t anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she’s fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she’s forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

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Likes:

The writing style is like velvet. It was so easy to read through this novel and my attention was focused throughout. I personally have a very hard time with some novels because of the writing style. If it is too choppy, I lose that cinematic quality (almost like I can see a movie playing in my mind) and I cannot fully grasp the novel’s world. Also, the narration was sometimes written in train of thought, which I like.

I read other reviews and there seemed to be more negative feedback on the altered fate of Romeo and Juliet. However, I found it interesting how Jay twisted the original tragedy into one that became intertwined with the fantasy world of sort-of vampires and sort-of angels that are matchmakers, AND that Romeo and Juliet are against each other!

When writing an alternative story to a previously existing one, I think repetitiveness is relevant so that the reader does not forget the comparison. “Juliet Immortal” has enough repetition that I never lost track of the comparisons, but not overbearing to where it became too incessant.

Both Romeo and Juliet have spent countless times going back and forth between “limbo” and then going back to Earth and inhabiting other bodies to fulfill their immortal duties. They have contact with their leaders… until this trip to Earth. They are now known as Ariel and Dylan who are high school students in California. Here is where things are different in this trip: neither Dylan nor Ariel can contact their superiors. The reason is not revealed until closer toward the end of the novel, but it leaves enough suspense for the reader to wonder what will happen to them if they are truly stranded on Earth in these bodies that are only supposed to be temporarily inhabited.

The relationship between Ariel and Ben. Which leads me to the Dislikes…

Dislikes:

The relationship between Ariel and Ben. Why? There was hardly any relationship building between the two. That is one of my biggest pet peeves about novels, is if there is lack of character development or relationship development. Basically, toward the end of the novel, there is a scene in a barn with Ariel and Ben where they spend the entire night sharing things about themselves- their fears, dreams, past, present- and I got hooked. For about a second. THAT scene should have been in the beginning, maybe after a few dates or something. It boils down to the fact that Ariel and Ben’s relationship is not developed enough to be believable. Everything else is great, but lack of development really made it hard for me to like their relationship.

Gemma, Ariel’s best friend. She ironically is a refreshing change to the timidness and insecurity that is Ariel, but still Gemma is such a rotten brat and so rude to Ariel that she’s one of those characters who I loved to hate.

If you enjoyed reading “Shiver” by Maggie Stiefvater or “Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick, Goodreads suggests “Juliet Immortal.” I have read “Shiver” and I absolutely adore that series, but the relationship between Grace and Sam is so deeply developed that the reader feels like they are in the middle of it. I would still suggest “Juliet Immortal” if you liked “Shiver” or “Hush” and enjoy Young Adult fantasy/paranormal books, despite my dislikes!

Seeing as the end of December is getting closer and closer, I’m afraid that I won’t complete my Reading Challenge, but we shall still see how many books I can finish until then!

The Selection by: Kiera Cass

Hey everyone!

It’s been awhile, I know. I have been reading more books, studying for the GRE, and writing my novel! I was in the mindset to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I haven’t really been keeping up with talking to anyone else who is doing it… Also, I just don’t know when I’ll honestly be able to dedicate time to writing because every day is different and I’m not always sure I can sit down and write for a long period of time. At least I’m writing my novel in general, right?

I recently finished “The Selection” by: Kiera Cass. I have seen on Facebook and GoodReads that her most recent book in the series, “The Heir”, will be coming out soon. I’m not sure if I will finish this series, not necessarily because I don’t like the first book, but I am just not a “finish the whole series” kind of reader. I have to be seriously into the series to want to completely read all of the books.

the selection

“The Selection” by Kiera Cass follows the journey of America Singer, who is (you guessed it) a singer. The world that she lives in is post-apocalyptic, and the country is now called Illéa. The government is now a monarchy and marriage can go only one of two ways: a princess of Illéa will be married to a royal from the other country on Earth- which was once called China and is still pretty much China but with more words added to the title- and a prince of Illéa must be married to a young woman from one of the castes within Illéa. This arrangement is to keep peace between the other country as well as within their own country. *Enter Prince Maxon*

Prince Maxon is of age to get married, and so The Selection begins. A competition is held in the palace for 35 girls from all different castes to compete with each other in becoming the next Princess of Illéa. A fight for the royal crown! Who wouldn’t want to become a Princess?!

America Singer doesn’t. She is perfectly content with living in the artsy fifth caste so long as she can help provide for her family, still receive job offers to sing at events, and be with her one true love, Aspen (who, by the way, is from the sixth caste. Thus, making the relationship halfway forbidden.) However, each girl who gets chosen to be a part of The Selection, will also be giving their families a chance to receive more money and possibly move up in the caste system. Who else but to push America into this competition is none other than her mother. Although it isn’t her mother’s nagging or even her father’s sad contemplation over entering, it is Aspen’s begging that finally leads America to enter into the competition. Why would Aspen ask her to do such a thing? Read the book and find out! No surprise that America gets selected, Aspen breaks up with her shortly before she discovers that she got chosen, and then she spends almost her entire time at the palace warring in her head whether to forget Aspen completely or never give up on him and try to get out of the competition as fast as possible. (Poor Prince Maxon didn’t even have a chance to begin with.)

The rest of the novel is pretty much an overview of how America sees The Selection going, and her growing feelings, friendship feelings, toward Maxon. They quickly bond and right away he begins to develop feelings for her, but she is fighting to stay true to the one guy she’s ever been with. America makes some friends, she also inevitably makes a few enemies, and then at the end of the novel Prince Maxon decides to go ahead and narrow the number of girls down to what is called the “Elite.”

Overall, I enjoyed this book for what it is: a true, YA novel about royalty, young love, and being true to yourself. The glitz and the glamour may not have impressed America, but it sure got my attention! Like most novels, The Selection had pros and cons. The most prominent flaw that I noticed was the lack of history about how Illéa and the rest of the world came to be. Oh sure, Cass explains it but the history was not fully developed to truly make sense. I believe that as a writer, you either need to go full story on the history of whatever world you create, or summarize fully to get the point across that there has been change, and do not go into further explanation. The history did not feel complete enough for readers to understand where Illéa was at and it ended up just confusing me. There are rebels, North and South, who attack the palace on more than one occasion, but their history is not fully developed either that I didn’t really sense danger during the scenes with them in it. Despite the novel expressing a lot of concern with the rebels causing havoc in the palace and disturbing the girls, they were flat characters at best. All that is known the most about them is that the Southern rebels are the more dangerous group. Another flaw is the lack of technology. This is not a tale of “the world reverts back to Stone Age thinking” but rather just a world changed after a horrendous war yet still thriving more than ever. So… where is technology? I understand that not all of the castes would have technology, especially castes 6 and below, but I don’t see why the upper castes and the royal family are without it. I also get that in most princess novels everything seems to still be Victorian age or whatnot but, this is not the case. That may just be a personal dissatisfaction with the novel, but not enough for me to put it down without finishing it.

I think Cass should have incorporated more input from the other girls in The Selection. 95% of the information and “drama” that went on was all from America, and while she is the main character, she is the least dramatic and most indifferent of all 35 girls! A competition with 35 girls who are trying to politely stomp on necks for the crown  would not be as subtle as the book portrays it to be. It just wouldn’t! America does make up for almost all of the good in the novel. She truly is a character to admire because she stays true to herself no matter what goes on in her life, she is always looking out for others, and she’s not materialistic. At all. In fact, she’s way too tomboy to be in The Selection and that is what makes it fun. Her maids for the time being are constantly surprised at her kindess, her lack of love for fashion, and hidden feelings for Prince Maxon. The one girl who doesn’t try at all to change herself to impress the royal family ends up in a warm spot in their hearts. Especially Prince Maxon’s.

Out of 5 stars, I’d give this novel 3.5 stars. If you like The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot and/or Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, you will enjoy The Selection series!

I’m still trying to complete my 2014 Reading Challenge, despite the end of 2014 getting closer and closer. I’ll blog next time when I finish the next book!