Friday, April 17, 2015

Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon: The Autobiography of Jane Eyre

I bet you were surprised to see this! Those of you who've been following my blog for a long time know that I love to review book to movie adaptations and I did that here for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The problem was my life got so busy that I never got the chance to finish my Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon. In fact, I only had two more adaptions left to review before it was completed. Since I hate to leave a project unfinished here I am!! I set aside some of my time during my spring break to watch another adaption for review and for your enjoyment.

A little bit of housekeeping before I continue on with the review. As I was looking back at all the Watch-a-thon posts I did, I realized how obnoxious it was to have to dig through my archive to find the next review in the series. In order to fix that, I put links at the bottom of my Watch-a-thon posts that direct you to the previous and the next posts. This bit of formatting is really helpful for the Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon because those posts are scattered all over. Now that I got that out of the way, my next installment in the Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon is...

The Autobiography of Jane Eyre  

In the same vein as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a webseries on YouTube that provides a modernized take on the classic novel, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The story is told in a series of vlogs created by Jane, who uses these videos as sort of a digital diary. They provide her with a sense of security during this significant transition in her life. In this version, Jane graduated from college with a nursing degree, but discovered that it wasn't the field of work she really wanted to get into. Instead, she finds an ad on Craigslist asking for a live in tutor for a young girl and Jane is chosen for the job. She ends up caring for the intellectually precocious Adele, the daughter of the slightly mysterious Mr. Rochester, the CEO of the company, Thornfield Exports, which sells aluminum.

Here is a link to the webseries' informational page, which includes the cast and production team's information:  

Before I start discussing my opinions about the series, I just have to let you know this post will be full of spoilers. If you haven't watched the series and would like to, please stop reading and do so now. I'll even be awesome enough to insert the first episode below.

Now that I've given the requisite spoiler warning, it's time to have an honest talk about the series. It first premiered sometime after The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ended, when people began to realize that there was now a place on YouTube for creators to adapt classic stories. This particular series ran from 2013-2014, which in retrospect was kind of a long release schedule. I distinctly remember while watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries that I would love it if Pemberley Digital adapted Jane Eyre, but somebody else got to the idea first. Like the first webseries, I made sure to religiously watch the episodes as they came out, but I always had lukewarm feelings about the videos. They were nice, but not quite what I'd imagined or hoped for. I still wonder to this day whether Jane Eyre would have gotten a better webseries adaption had Pemberley Digital latched onto the idea first. I'm getting ahead of myself here.

In order to avoid predictability, and to admittedly be a bit lazier in my organization, I've decided not to separate everything into a pro/con list. I'll reveal my opinions as they unfolded during my re-watching session.
What I feel like every time I binge watch a series online
The first opinion that manifested when I started the first episode of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre was the fact that Jane in her vlog gives an overt nod to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which I really didn't appreciate. I get that the series should acknowledge the ways in which it was inspired by Lizzie Bennet, but that is something the production company should have done on their website and tumblr, not within the video. Granted Lizzie and Jane technically exist in our world today and could feasibly be considered real life peers. I just think it takes away some of the legitimacy from Jane's story. That's just me being picky and I don't think it bothered anyone else.

Another facet of this webseries is the fact that it was more of a low budget production. Much of the money used to fund it was gained from an indiegogo campaign and that aspect of the series gives it some distinct advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that the production has a truer vlog format that feels authentic. Jane actually takes the camera with her on trips away from Rochester's home, as opposed to the continued formal setting of Lizzie's vlogs. (I apologize for all the Lizzie Bennet Diaries comparisons). The format also makes the series seem more confessional in nature, which I think greatly reflects the actual narration in Bronte's work. The problem with the format/budget is the sound quality is often quite terrible and you have to turn on closed captions just to get the whole conversation. Not to mention the weather effects layered onto the original audio overpower it. 

Continuing on the discussion of the format of the webseries, you do miss the visual representation of all of Jane's childhood, which is a significant portion of the novel. I do think they did a pretty good job of addressing Jane's past despite that lack. Peppered throughout the vlog, Jane makes references to her past: her time with the Reeds, school, and Helen. Episode 8 is when viewers are first given a nice glimpse into Jane's childhood when she discusses her friendship with Helen. She meets Helen at school and they become fast friends. They bond over reading, particularly The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, the bullying they face at school, and a passion for photography. While the vlog does appropriately address the roles religion plays in each of their lives, Helen does play a primary influence in the construction of Jane's morals. Helen in this version dies from cancer at a young age, leaving Jane without a true friend. The bulk of Jane's background is told in Episode 32 in a "Draw My Life" video, which nicely ties in with the video trends in the YouTube community. I just wished this video had been scheduled earlier in the series in order for viewers to get a better conception of her whole character sooner. 

Another problem I ran into, particularly when I sat down to marathon the series, was the pacing of the videos. With such a limited time span per video and for the whole series in general I felt like the episodes needed more action or information built into them. I found that you could easily skip a number of episodes and it wouldn't impact your understanding of Jane's narrative. Additionally, each episode should make you want to watch the next and often the content of the videos plodded along so slowly that I had to take breaks. 

Additionally, I'm not quite sure if the transmedia portion of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre was as successful as it could have been. All of the characters had Twitter accounts that you could use to interact with them and Jane had a tumblr and instagram account. All did create the nice effect of making it seem like the characters were actually real people, but I don't think the accounts were as active as they could have been. I also felt like the Thornfield Exports YouTube channel was underutilized. I almost wish they had stuck with the Twitter accounts and focused their efforts on that, making it important for viewers to follow characters on social media in order to find out more about the story. 

Now before I talk about the relative success of the modernization, I'd like to take a break from the formal aspects of the series and talk about the characters.

As a whole, I really enjoyed Alysson Hall's portrayal of Jane Eyre. She perfectly captured the insecurities that typify Jane's character and the struggles she encounters working for Mr. Rochester. Her performance really is dynamic, with one exception. Often I felt like Alysson lacked some of the ability to portray authentic emotions, at least near the beginning of the vlog (Alysson seems to get more comfortable and capable as the series goes on). Rather than express Jane's emotion through her face, Alysson would frequently take long pauses in the delivery of her dialogue, which got kind of infuriating because it ruined the pacing of the episode, making an ideally 4 minute long video into a 6 minute video. 

That being said Alysson and Adam J. Wright, the actor that plays Rochester, do have really great chemistry on camera, which is important in any adaption of Jane Eyre. Not to mention there were some fantastic episodes that focus on Jane's self-introspection. My favorite has to be Episode 46, right after Rochester reveals his feelings to her and proposes. While the episode partly focuses on the poem, Having a Coke with You, which I detest by the way...sorry, it deals with Jane's reservations about marriage. While she admits she does love Rochester, she's hesitant about the idea of marriage at such a young age, not to mention they haven't been romantically involved for any length of time. After that, the series deals with Jane's reservations about the way Rochester treats her now. She hates all of the expensive gifts that he buys her and she wishes he would just treat her like the normal person he fell in love with, not like a princess or a possession. Alysson's Jane feels truer to the novel's representation than many of the other Janes presented in films trying to stick to the source material.

 I also found that Adam J. Wright's portrayal was a nice modernization of the Byronic Hero characteristics intrinsic to Mr. Rochester. He achieves a balance between a surly and rude attitude while injecting great moments of humor and tenderness. As I said before, he and Jane are believable as a couple. Their conversations have some enjoyable back and forth wit combat, which is something I always look forward to in a good Jane Eyre adaption. As much as I would like to, I can't overlook the fact that he is a little too young to be playing Mr. Rochester, but then again I don't think it would be appropriate to have a much older Rochester in a modern adaption. I guess that's something about the series I won't be able to reconcile. The only glaring limit I can find with his portrayal is the culminating episode where Jane finds out about his wife. While Wright's delivery is full of emotion and his words are captivating, you can definitely tell he is reading from a script, which is distracting. Instead of frequently engaging with Jane or the camera, he's too busy looking in his lap. I don't know how much I can blame him for that because the video is almost 30 minutes long and he has the majority of the dialogue. Memorizing all those lines for a one shot video with few jumpcuts has to be a monumental challenge. There is one more glaring problem with Rochester, but I'll get to that in a second when I talk about the success of the modernization. (fans of the series probably already know what I'm going to talk about).

In this adaption, Mrs. Fairfax and Grace Poole are collapsed into this incarnation of Grace Poole, played by Patricia Trinh. She is the CFO of Thornfield Exports and manages to balance taking care of Rochester's company as well as his home life. I often wonder why they chose to stick with the Grace Poole persona rather than Mrs. Fairfax. Her housekeeper character would have lended itself well to this modernization, not to mention the fact that other adaptions often hint at the fact that Fairfax knows about the existence of Rochester's first wife. This is just me being picky again and there really isn't anything off-putting about her performance.

Adele's character is also a little more dynamic, but not without its faults. The series addresses the fact that Adele hates that Rochester is always away and the intense loneliness that she feels as a result. This series chooses to emphasize her intelligence, which leads to endless moments of Adele just spouting random facts rather than engaging in meaningful dialogue.

Mrs. Reed's death and Jane's cousins, here called Johanna and Liz, are also included, which helps to round out Jane's character. Her time spend there gives her some closure to her past. While a nice portrayal of the sister's distaste for one another, I just couldn't stand all of the bickering in the episodes with them and I was glad when the series finally moved on. 

Jane, Mary, Simon, and Diana celebrating all the holidays Jane missed
 In comparison to the rest of adaptions I've reviewed so far, the best part of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre has to be the time Jane spends with Diana, Mary, and Simon-James Rivers, While other adaptions tend to cut down her life with the Rivers, this series fleshes out the characters, making them so likable that you almost wish Jane would forget Rochester and stay with them, even Simon to an extent. As far as their backgrounds are concerned, Diana is an anthropologist, Mary is a dance teacher, and Simon is a doctor currently working on his residency, but wants to work overseas in impoverished countries. All of them unabashedly care for Jane's well-being and are ridiculously supportive. While I love the majority of this section, my favorite part has to be when Jane shows Mary her vlogs during the time she was employed at Rochester's. It's so great because Mary's reactions perfectly reflect those in the fandom at each respective moment. 

Susanna making fun of the gifts Rochester buys Jane (including the tiara she's wearing)

If I'm going to be honest, my favorite part of the series has to be Susanna, the maid in the Rochester home. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that fact that my favorite character in the series isn't actually a character in the original novel. I can't tell if that's my own problem or a problem in the way the series portrayed its characters. Anyway, Susanna is the hilarious, bitingly sarcastic character, who cleans up after everyone and knows the majority of their secrets (there is an extra video on the The Autobiography of Jane Eyre's Production YouTube channel that features Susanna revealing some of those secrets and I love it so much). Initially, she keeps her distance from the inhabitants of the house by pretending not to speak english, but then she becomes Jane's outspoken voice of reason. She warns Jane not to get involved with Rochester and points out how his excessive gift giving is problematic. The series would have been so much duller without her.

Now it's time to discuss the modernization of the story. This is probably where I find the most faults with the series. The characters are fleshed out nicely, they have believable back-stories, but some of the most important scenes in the novel really don't lend themselves well to modernization. In reality, Jane Eyre is such a difficult story to remove from its time period that I do have to give the creators credit for the work they accomplished. The first scene that really wasn't successful for me had to be when Rochester and Jane first meet on the road. In the book, Rochester's horse slips on a patch of ice and he falls off, injuring his leg in the process. Here Jane is in the middle of the road and Rochester almost hits her speeding in his car. For whatever reason, Rochester's abrupt stop is said to injure his leg, which is really kind of hard to believe. If anything, Jane should have been injured. Maybe it would have worked better had Rochester been riding a motorcycle? 

There are also bits in the series where some of the original text is incorporated in the dialogue, which I don't mind. The only gripe I have is that Jane calls Mr. Rochester "Sir" and every time is more awkward than the last. When Jane gets ready to leave to see the dying Mrs. Reed, I also find it really hard to believe that Jane hasn't been paid the whole time she's been there. Such a situation is plausible in the novel, but in modern society even babysitters, tutors, and nannies get regularly paid. Even within the confines of the story, Grace doesn't seem like the type of person that would neglect to pay Jane's wages. 

But none of that really matters. I bet you all are wondering how the series dealt with the madwoman in the attic aka Rochester's first wife, Bertha. Well...again it wasn't wholly believable, but a valiant try nevertheless. In this version, Rochester's wife, Beth, is suffering from mental illness and drug addiction. Rather than keep her hospitalized, he decides to build a ward in the house for her where she can be constantly taken care of by doctors and nurses. He loves her too much to abandon her to her negligent family, but at the same time he loves Jane. It's not too bad a concept, but it still doesn't feel like an explanation that would be believable in the modern world. Beth ends up dying from a drug overdose and Rochester's injuries are sustained in a car accident after Beth's family, who are shareholders in Thornfield Exports, take apart the company.

If you consider all of that, The Autobiography of Jane Eyre isn't such a bad modernization, but sadly the ending spoiled the series for many in the fandom. Another significant part of Jane Eyre is the reunion scene between Jane and Rochester at the end. The reunion scene sets the tone for the ending of the story and that particular scene can often make or break an adaption. In this webseries, there was some sort of disagreement between the creators and the actor that plays Rochester. He ended up leaving the production before finishing the ending. As a result, the viewers are denied that pivotal scene. Another actor stands in for Rochester, but we only see his body. He doesn't speak and we never see his face. Instead, in the reunion scene, Jane leaves the camera in the other room and the audio is blurred out, so the audience can see the backs of the actors, but can't hear any of their conversation. There is such a build-up to this moment and then you just feel disappointed and let down. Not to mention I wish the production team had been a bit more vocal about the problem. So many fans in the comments were angrily wondering what happened and unless you checked the production's tumblr, you had no idea. I honestly can feel let down all I want to, but this ending couldn't have been helped or foreseen. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if they had just let the new actor completely stand in for Rochester. 

Oh well, at least the production doesn't end on a low note. The last episode provides clips of Jane's new life, with dialogue overlaid about her state of mind, She reflects on her growth as a person over the past year and the love, friends, and fulfillment she's found. The vlog concludes with Jane stating, "Dear viewer, I made a home." A fitting and touching statement to end this journey of self-exploration because at the heart of it all, Jane Eyre isn't about her romance with Mr. Rochester, it's about a woman finding her identity and her place within this complicated society.

Now that was one long review! I hope you enjoyed it and I'd love to know your thoughts if you've watched the series as well. I only have one more adaption left to cover in my Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon and I honestly can't wait to review it for you. I'll give you a hint: It may very well be my favorite Jane Eyre adaption.  
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Penny's Music Recommendations: April 2015

Hello Readers! I bet you're a bit surprised by the title. I kind of surprised myself with the idea to be honest. Since I first created this blog, I completely intended on making a book blog and that's what I've been doing, For a while now I've updated you on the left sidebar about my current favorite song. I figured it would be a cool way to let you know what I'm listening to while drafting these posts. Today I was thinking about more monthly series I could do to make sure I don't neglect this blog and I thought why not tell you about some of the awesome music I've been listening to...I mean this is my blog and I can write about more than just books, so I am!

I've always had a passion for music (who doesn't really?) and I've been a DJ and News Director at my college radio station for about two years now. I love to share my favorite music on air, so why not do it through writing. I'll be publishing my recommendations sometime during the middle of each month, that way you are guaranteed to have something to read between my TBR and Wrap-Up posts. Okay, enough introductory statements! Time for some music.

  •   The City by The 1975

I know I'm probably one of last people to hear of The 1975, but I love them and want to recommend them anyway. They are an English band that is technically classified as indie rock, but some of their songs like The City have a more pop rock, synth sound to them, which I'm really into right now. The lead singer's accent does make the lyrics a little bit hard to understand, but I don't care and neither should you. The song is just so damn catchy.  
  • Weight of Living Pt.1 by Bastille

Many people have heard the incredibly popular song, Pompeii, by Bastille, but I wonder how many of you have actually stopped to listen to their entire album. If not, you're really missing out on a great band. Weight of Living Pt 1. was a song that immediately caught my attention the first time I heard it. Why you ask? Here, these lyrics to the song should clue you in: "Your Albatross, let it go, let it go,/ Your albatross shoot it down, shoot it down/ When you just can't shake/The heavy weight of living" That dear readers is a fantastic reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, one of the few pieces of Romantic poetry that I enjoy. Also if you're an English major and miss this connection you ought to be ashamed of yourself just a little. If you don't care about this awesome literary reference then I'll just tell you this is another great indie rock song. 

  • Jet Pack Blues by Fall Out Boy
I don't think I've mentioned this on my blog before, but for those wondering, I'm a huge Fall Out Boy fan. When I first heard their music in middle school, I fell in love. Their songs were the soundtrack to my teenage angst filled life in high school and I haven't stopped loving them. They were my first and even my most recent concert and I wouldn't have it any other way. I do have one confession though. I've never really enjoyed Fall Out Boy's slower, more ballad like, songs. I didn't like Golden from their Infinity on High album and I couldn't get into What a Catch Donnie from Folie a Deux, but that might have been because that song basically announced the band's hiatus, which was crushing news at the time. In a shocking turn of events, Jet Pack Blues is probably my favorite song off of their newest album, American Beauty/American Psycho. I just love this section of the song: "She’s in a long black coat tonight/Waiting for me in the downpour outside/She’s singing “Baby come home” in a melody of tears/While the rhythm of the rain keeps time" Those last two lines though!!! Just give it a listen and if you don't like it, try listening to a few other more upbeat songs from the album.

  • Fall Into These Arms by New Politics

Last summer I attended Monumentor, the awesome concert tour that combined two of my all time favorite bands: Fall Out Boy and Paramore. Those were the bands everybody turned out to see, but New Politics opened  and unfortunately at that time I had no idea who they were. I hadn't heard a single one of their songs and when I was at the concert I thought they were pretty good, nothing that special, with the exception of the lead singer's awesome break dancing on stage. When I got home, I was kind of curious about the band and looked into their songs, since their concert set was kind of small. I immediately liked the majority of their album, Bad Girl in Harlem, and I'd highly recommend it. Fun fact: They are originally from Copenhagen. Fall into These Arms is probably one of the catchiest songs I've heard about a one night stand. I'll just leave it at that.     

  • Always Take You Back by Night Terrors of 1927

From one music lover to another, I have a friendly tip. In the Google play store under the music tab, they have a section that features free tracks in a range of genres from up and coming artists. While the music is utter crap half the time, you can find some gems every once in while and this song was one of them. I'd never heard of Night Terrors of 1927 until I saw them in the Google Play store about a week ago and now I can't stop listening to them. I would tell you a bit more about the band to try to convince you to listen to the song, but there is so little info about them online. Their tumblr site isn't that helpful and I couldn't find a Wikipedia page (which somebody should fix). It has a bit of an indie rock vibe to it, so definitely listen if you like that.
  • When You Were Mine by Night Terrors of 1927 (ft Tegan and Sara)

This is the second song I discovered from Night Terrors of 1927 after I heard Always Take You Back and I can't decide which one I love more. It has all the awesomeness of the first song combined with the greatness that is Tegan and Sara, another musical duo that I listen to constantly. Give it a chance. I promise it will get stuck in your head. 
  • Dangerous Times by Wildlife

I always discover bands in the weirdest, random ways. I watching the movie Playing It Cool, which wasn't too terrible a romantic comedy, when I heard this really great song in the background. I actually paused the movie to google the lyrics and the result was Lightning Tent by Wildlife, a Canadian indie rock group. Since I liked the song so much I was curious about what the rest of the album would sound like. Turns out I love their entire On The Heart album and I just chose Dangerous Times for this list because its one of the more upbeat songs on the album. I can't recommend this band enough.

I didn't intend for this to become a predominantly indie rock list when I sat down to write it. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed some of my recommendations and if not, there is always next month! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April 2015 TBR

As everyone that has ever been a college student has said at one point: "I should be doing homework right now."
"Oh Well." Truer words have never been spoken

In an effort to productively procrastinate, I think it's time to look forward to the hypothetical free-time I'm going to have and choose some of the books I'd like to read. I'm optimistic-ish. Since March was a terrible reading month, some of these books will be repeats from last month's post.

  • Sanctum by Madeleine Roux and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

  • These are the two books I really wanted to read so badly last month and the ones I'm determined to finish in April. My weirdly placed spring break is almost here and I'm confident I can squeeze some reading time in after my internship hours. Random piece of advice: If you love having an abundance of free-time, don't go to a small liberal arts college. No matter how much you try, you always get sucked into so many clubs and activities. Now back to books.

    • The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
    This really isn't a surprise is it? The Assassin's Blade is a bind-up of all the Throne of Glass series novellas, which I wanted to read the moment I finished Heir of Fire. The problem is I know that after I finish this, I'll have to wait months for the next book. I'm always happy when publishing companies actually release physical copies of the novellas all together. Otherwise I probably wouldn't even read them, which is kind of a sad thought.
    • Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross             
    To be honest, the only reason I was interested in this book at all was the fact that the book blurb reminded me so much of the tv show, Once Upon A Time, which I'm ridiculously addicted to. Basically it centers around a girl named Mira, who returns to her birthplace and encounters fairytales come to life. Like so many other people, I grew up watching Disney movies and despite the regressive gender stereotypes, which are slowly getting better, I can't let go of my love for them. 

    As much as I'd like to include more, this seems like a realistic goal. What books are you reading during April and do any of these sound interesting to you? For those operating on a normal academic schedule, I hope you enjoy the rest of your spring break. Best Wishes!                         

    Thursday, April 2, 2015

    March 2015 Wrap-Up

    The beginning of April is upon us. NOOOOOO!!! That was a little melodramatic and I'm quite sleep deprived, but I wanted to at least get this blog post out to you before April is magically over. Currently, I'm in the midst of prefinals week hell. Yep, I swore. That's what it feels like and there is no way I can accurately reflect my frame of mind using any other term. My college is weird because it operates on a pregnancy schedule and by that I mean we have three terms (semesters) instead of the usual two that other colleges have. So while most of you are off enjoying your spring break and just in general loving the month of March, I am churning out paper after paper in a month without any breaks. A week from now, I'll have written about 25 pages worth of essays. (Sidenote for those currently in college. Do you ever think about how you could have written a full length novel, which could have made you a New York Times Bestselling Author in all the time you spent writing essays for college courses. Nope, just me?

    Anyway, this intro had a point which I should get to. Since March is always the worst month of my college career, I didn't get a chance to do enough fun reading. I wanted to. I was just forced to read other books and plays that I probably wouldn't have read if given the chance, with the exception of Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie, which I read in my Race and American Identity course. All of you should read at least one Alexie book, really. I feel like Native American literature doesn't quite get the attention it deserves. So without any further blathering, here are the two books I managed to read during the month of March.
    • Hourglass by Myra McEntire 


    Never before has this gif been more appropriate. Really. I just wish I'd finished this book last month because I didn't want to start off this post with a negative review. Oh well. Maybe I would be happier if the YA genre didn't churn out these sorry cliched excuses for books. Ok, I need to hold back the rage here for just a second to properly address the book. So Hourglass is one of those books that lures you in from the start. I mean look at that cover! Whoever made this cover should be given an award because they have done the impossible: polished up a turd so well that it looks like a diamond. The same goes for whoever wrote the synopsis. Brava! I'm sorry, I didn't stop the snarky rage. 

    Anyway, the story claims to be about Emerson Cole, a girl that can somehow see ghosts ever since her parents' accident and death. (I should have figured she would be a terrible character because having the name Emerson basically guarantees you'll be insufferable). She currently lives with her brother and his wife, who care about her for some inexplicable reason. To help with her ability, her brother reaches out to the organization, Hourglass, who sends over Michael to help Emerson live with her unique ability. Rather than get an awesome book where Emerson slowly comes to terms with her ability and learns more about the secretive Hourglass organization, we get 50-60 pages of insta-love. No real plotline mind you just pages of Emerson pinning over Michael, who could be a sexy lamp and it wouldn't make much of a difference. Actually I lied. A sexy lamp wouldn't be threateningly overprotective. You know that cliched YA bad boy love interest line: "I'm so sorry I'm being such an insensitive, illogical douchebag, I just love you so much babe that I gotta protect you from ever getting hurt." I may have paraphrased that just a little. 

    What happens after those useless insta-love pages is a whirlwind of out of left field plot devices that Emerson accepts right off the bat. I would tell you all of them, but for some reason I don't feel like spoiling the book. You also can't forget the stock characters and plot devices that are used here which include, but are not limited to, the amazing female best friend who the main character belittles/insults in her inner monologues and then promptly forgets about once the insta-love gets going, the completely ridiculous villain reveal featuring a character that was only in about two scenes the whole entire book, a main character that is incredibly selfish and insufferable, but everyone in the book apparently loves, and of course a complete lack of world building. This isn't a dystopian novel, but time travel is involved and nothing is consistently explained/established. I also can't overlook the rampant misuse of mental illness, particularly at the end when it seems like she emphasizes her mental instability just to get her brother to let her visit Michael, by which time her problems are solved with a makeout session. In a world where plenty of people are struggling to advocate for those suffering with mental illness problems, this book certainly can't be helping. 

    Needless to say I'm not recommending this book and I hope you ignore Hourglass in favor of a much better book.

    A Note from future Penny: Now that I look back on this review, which I wrote right after I finished the book, I may have been just a bit too vitriolic. That being said I'd don't have the time nor the will to edit a review of a book I definitely didn't like. I think I'll just keep this as an example of what happens when I read a book so stuffed with predictable cliches. I bet I'm not the only one who rages when a book completely fails to meet expectations. I'd love to hear about the books you've ranted about in disappointment. 
    • Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas


    Honestly this series!!
    All of my fellow nerdfighters out there should get the reference
    I'm just finding it hard to remember what my life was like before this series. It's been a really really long time since I've been this happy about a series and I'm finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that I have to wait months for the next book. Oh well. At least I still have all the novellas left to read. Heir of Fire continues to follow the awesome female protagonist, Celaena Sardothien, who has just been sent to Wendlyn by the King of Adarlan at the advice of Chaol, who wants to protect Celaena from the corruption of the king while putting her in touch with part of her identity she has been neglecting. (How can I explain any of this without giving away spoilers. I think what I've said should be sufficient, but if not please, PLEASE read the synopsis for the previous books in the series). For the most part, this book was just as action packed as the previous ones, with the exception of Celaena's training near the middle of the book, which got to be a bit repetitive and tedious to read. I'm also having a hard time trying to accept all of these love interests going on, which probably contributed to my decision not to give the book 5 stars. I just don't see the point of love triangles or love squares or any other shape you can think of. I would rather the main character form complex relationships with other characters that don't need a romantic tinge to them. Speaking of other characters, this book also introduces a number of really great side characters with engaging story arcs, particularly Manon's. I knew from the last book that the witches in the realm were going to get involved somehow and I'm excited to read what happens. I really don't know how I'm going to be able to wait until September for the sequel. If you haven't read this series, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW! GO! GO! If you did read and enjoy this book, what other ones would you recommend that are similar in style? I love to read about them in the comments.

    Sadly, that's all I read this month. Hopefully April will bring some desperately needed free-time. Unless I'm too swamped with homework this weekend, I'll be posting my April TBR. The books I didn't read this month will most likely carry forward into the next as well. Now I have two latin quizzes that I desperately need to study for, so have a fabulous night!