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A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I forced myself to finish this book only so I could truthfully say, "The whole thing was awful."
It was a painful read for two main reasons: the reasoning of all the events is poor and the protagonist is given no emotions. The latter feeds into the meaninglessness of events as they happen - why would I care what's happening if the protagonist doesn't? I think that Ibbotson was going for her having very deep emotions that aren't seen easily, but she doesn't tell the reader about them, doesn't divulge in the layers beneath the surface. So although many authors have the opposite problem of telling too much about their characters and not showing enough through action, Ibbotson creates a machine who only does and rarely feels.
When I Fall in Love by Lynn Kurland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Depending on what you're looking for in a book, When I Fall in Love could be your five star hit or your one star torture. Personally, I am torn between the two extremes. For the first hundred pages, this book gave me great joy. I laughed almost the whole way through whether it was at dialogue, characters, or writing style. I have never read a romance genre book before, and in juxtaposition to all the textbooks and dense literature I've been reading in college, this book was a breath of fresh air. It was silly, romantic, and I read it out loud with some friends of mine just so we could laugh together.
But the characters are completely unrealistic, and that's what I think caused me put this book on permanent reading hiatus. At first, it was comical to hear how perfect every person was. Even the minor characters were unnecessarily embellished upon with flowery words and dramatic language. The book is more about the pursuit of a perfect romance world rather than true conflict and human struggle. I had no connection to the characters. I could care less if they died, married, or separated, and so I had no reason to keep reading. Even now, I look back on the book with mixed fondness and misery. I give it three stars for entertainment but lack of depth.