Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DNF: Moonlight and Oranges

Moonlight and Oranges, by Elise Stephens.

A timeless tale of young romance.

Lorona Connelly is ready for a change from her carefully planned, bookish life. When sparks fly at a costume party, she embraces a chance for romance with the handsome Kestrin Feather. However, she quickly realizes that even love and destiny may not be enough to overcome the reality of an overprotective mother-in-law and Kestrin's long, tarnished history of relationships.

When Lorona's curiosity leads her to Kestrin's journal, doubt plagues them both with insecurities and threatens the relationship. Can true love overcome the odds, or was their whirlwind romance just a frivolous crush? Author Elise Stephens shares a journey of young love, fate, and wounded trust in the story of Lorona and Kestrin, a couple who must learn to overcome their fears to share a life together. 

I got this as an Amazon freebie, and I'd forgotten what the story was even about by the time I started reading it (assuming I ever read the blurb at all).  I think it was the title that intrigued me, because honestly, the blurb doesn't catch my interest.  No wonder, then, that I ended up not getting through more than 16% of the book!  (Since this is a DNF--Did Not Finish--  I feel obliged to mention that the book wasn't bad-- just not enough to my tastes to warrant spending more time reading it.)

More particular observations:

--  The odd names!  Lorona?  Kestrin?  The best friend also have names that, though not bizarre, are far from common:  Yuki and Kahlil.  (A very multi-cultural group, I guess.  Yuki is Japanese-- or is she just of Japanese heritage?-- and Kahlil is from a Middle Easter family, while the red-haired, green-eyed Lorona is apparently the daughter of a Mexican mother?  I'm not sure, but she does speak Spanish... As for Kestrin, I'm not sure what he's supposed to be.  What "heritage" does the surname "Feather" suggest? ;o))

--  "Her large eyes and long neck made him think of an intelligent swan."  *GUFFAW*  How flattering!  Maybe I'm just jealous, because I don't have a swan-like neck... Why can't a heroine ever have a short neck-- just once?  (g) "He ran a fingertip delicately down the side of her neck, noting with satisfaction that it was of completely average length and not the least bit swan-like.  Swans.  He shuddered involuntarily.  Those freaks of nature had always given him the creeps..."

--  "He'd brought this innocent girl with glasses into a drunken, rowdy crowd and already he'd lost track of her."  Heh.  Yeah, innocent girls are easily spotted, what with their glasses and all.  (Glasses stereotypes irritate me greatly.)

--  "She took off her glasses and clipped them to her shirt.  She obviously didn't need them to see.  Without the lenses, her eyes were startlingly bright green, framed with thick lashes."  UGH.  Well, we couldn't have a heroine who needs glasses to see, because that's just gross.  No woman in glasses can be really desirable to a man, right?  (*grr*)  And let me just say that I hate the old cliche of "oh! I never noticed until now how *insert eye-color of your choice* your eyes were-- not until you took off those glasses!"  It's amazing how hard it seems to be for people to gauge eye color through clear lenses.  *grump grump grump*

--  I am not "into" the trope of the (ahem) "experienced" lady's man who is suddenly captivated (or even "tamed") by some lucky, awkward, completely inexperienced girl.  Magically, she's The One who can finally make him want to settle down!  OMG, that's so romantic!!  *eyeroll*  (And yet I love Jane Eyre... but I never think of Mr. Rochester as having been an old-fashioned version of a "player", so it's not really the same thing.)

--  Already, you can tell that Kestrin and his mother have a relationship that one can only describe as "messed up".  ;o)

--  It felt somewhat confusing.  The frequent switching between Lorona's and Kestrin's points of view might have had something to do with it, but I think it's more than that.  There are characters talking about things, at times, and instead of it feeling like the story's gradually being revealed, it felt instead like something had been left out... Just unsatisfying.  (Maybe it would've improved later in the book... but based on some reviews I've read, I'm doubtful.) 


--  So.  He proposes to her, and they barely know each other at all-- just that they're mutually attracted, share a bizarre orange/orange juice craving (that borders on a fetish), and he has been having some weird "visions of the future"-style dreams that he thinks show the two of them together... and that's enough information for them to make one of life's most important decisions?

--  "'The reason I've always had short, burnout flings with others is they meant nothing to me and I can't bear to hold close something that's meaningless.'  He paused.  'But I think, no, I know that I could hold you forever.'"  Er... So that's it?  That's your big explanation for why you've been a mimbo (male bimbo, duh) all this time?  It never occurred to you that you could, I don't know, abstain until you found the right woman?  No, of course not.  That would be unrealistic...  Unlike your fortune-telling dreams, which are totally realistic...

--  UGH, and she falls for him, based on that line.  Basically, it's "Yeah, so I've been having casual, meaningless sex with lots of girls because they weren't The One, and I like totally abhor the notion of getting really intimate (know what I mean?) with someone who's not My Destined Bride.  But I'm like definitely sure you ARE The (Lucky) One, so... What do you say?  Wanna get hitched?"-- and with that, she kisses him and (soon afterward) agrees to be his Lucky One.  (I mean, how could she resist, right?)

--  There may be a valuable lesson about trust and faithfulness in marriage, later on in the book, but at the point I read to, it felt like a really dubious message to send to impressionable young readers.  True, there will always be a need for trust and faith when you get married, no matter how long you've know each other beforehand, but I'm not thrilled with the romanticizing of slap-dash marriage.  Why encourage young people to idealize rushing headlong into marriage?  It just makes no sense, in the huge majority of cases.  

In conclusion:  Not my cup of orange juice.  ;o)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nightmare Abbey

Nightmare Abbey, by Thomas Love Peacock

"Published in the same year as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Thomas Love Peacock's Nightmare Abbey is not just a burlesque of the Gothic novel, but a sustained critique of what he regarded as 'the darkness and misanthropy of modern literature.' His witty satire on 'the spirit of the age' can best be understood through an awareness of its complex intertextual relations with other works of Romantic literature."
--Nicholas A. Joukovsky

Well, that about sums it up-- a witty, satirical "send up" of the Gothic novel.  I found Nightmare Abbey amusing in spots, but unfortunately, dense and (honestly) dull in others, which interrupts the flow.  Where it's good, though, it's very good-- and many of the most biting criticisms feel just as relevant today as they must have done when it was written.

Do I recommend it?  It's probably not for the general public, but to the right sort of person, it would be a delight.  It's short, but it took me (what felt like) a long time to plod through it, and I'd have liked it better if certain of the trudgier parts had been left out.

Some tidbits:

--  Odd names abound, some amusing (Mr. Toobad, Mr. Glowry), some rather blandly attempting at humor (Mr. Listless), and some just odd (Scythrop). 

--  There are words in this novella that are not in some (most?) dictionaries.  Or, put another way, dude liked weird words.  ;o)  ("Jeremitaylorically", anyone?)

--  "Laughter is pleasant, but the exertion is too much for me."

--  "But I must say, modern books are very consolatory and congenial to my feelings.  There is, as it were, a delightful northeast wind, an intellectual blight breathing through them; a delicious misanthropy and discontent, that demonstrates the nullity of virtue and energy, and puts me in good humour with myself and my sofa."

--  Mermaids are the orangutangs of the sea.  Apparently.

--  "He was sitting at his table by the light of a solitary candle, with a pen in one hand, and a muffineer in the other, with which he occasionally sprinkled salt on the wick, to make it burn blue."  (Ooh, I want blue flame, too!  Must learn this salt-sprinkling trick... ;o))

--  "She had a lively sense of all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and the vivid pictures which her imagination presented to her of the numberless scenes of injustice and misery which are being acted at every moment in every part of the inhabited world, gave an habitual seriousness to her physiognomy, that made it seem as if a smile had never once hovered on her lips."

--  "'Fatout,' said the Honourable Mr Listless, 'did I ever see a ghost?'   'Jamais, monsieur, never.'"

--  I love the interactions between Fatout and Listless.  I need a Fatout to remember everything for me, too...

--  "'The Reverend Mr Larynx has been called off on duty, to marry or bury (I don't know which) some unfortunate person or persons, at Claydyke: but man is born to trouble!"

--  The "accurate description of a pensive attitude" (at the end of chapter 13)-- !