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The Lost Entwife has commented on (178) products.

Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger Saga) by V C Andrews
Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger Saga)

The Lost Entwife, January 7, 2015

First, let me get a few things straight. I don't know in what universe this book would have been acceptable to read at 12 years old, but I think part of the horror of this book is the thought that 12 year old kids were reading it. I mean, if you were a pretty knowledgeable 12 year old who could handle graphic sexual abuse, incest, physical abuse, and mental abuse and be able to put the book down and go along your way unaffected, then... I guess more power to that 12 year old you. But let me tell you know, as a 38 year old woman, this book affected me and I only picked it up because I'd purchased it a while back for a read-along and thought.. what the heck, I'm in the mood for a story and this looks interesting.

So the premise is this: there is a mother, a father, and four children - they've been nicknamed The Dresden Dolls for their looks. A tragic accident happens and the mother and children make their way to the mother's parents home - where horrible things are waiting. Namely - the children are locked into a room (and an attic) and are made to follow a set of rules put forth by a fanatical grandmother and there they wait... and wait... and wait.

When I say all sorts of things happen in this book that would have massively disturbed a 12-year-old me, I mean there are things that happen. Religious abuse is rampant throughout the book. So is parental abuse. The children turn to each other for comfort and while it was disturbing, it also makes sense because who else would they have turned to? The horror in this book is not the slash blood and gore type of horror - it's a subtle horror that plays with your mind and makes you start to doubt common-sense ideas. I found myself justifying things and then immediately giving myself a mental smack to remind myself that the stuff I was justifying is not justifiable in any sort of healthy environment.

I don't think I'll continue this series, as curious as I am to see if the kids make out okay. That said, I had no idea that a book like this existed and I'm so very, very glad I wasn't forbidden to read it as a kid because I, like many others have said, would have eagerly sought it out.
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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Lost Entwife, January 7, 2015

I'm in two camps when it comes to Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. First, I absolutely, "five-star" loved this book due to its setting and the description of Lincoln/Omaha area - in fact, Rowell's heart is definitely in Nebraska and that's why I'm drawn to her storytelling as much as I am. On the other hand, there were several elements of Fangirl that I really struggled with. So I'm going to flesh out each of these camps and leave it to you to decide if you want to pick this one up.

First, the good stuff. Rowell completely incorporates the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus into her storytelling. The descriptions of downtown Lincoln, of campus and the buildings (Yes, we do have Love Library and yes there is a strange breeze down in its depths), the dorms (I've eaten in Selleck many a time - both this year as well as back in the 90's), and the atmosphere (it's Nebraska, there are a lot of white people on campus). But she does't stop there. Cather (Willa Cather, notable Nebraska author) is a celebrated name on campus and also one of the dorm names - and Rainbow makes her the protagonist of Fangirl. Then there's Abel (also a dorm on campus), the long-distance "boyfriend" to Cather. Sprinkled throughout the pages of Fangirl is, ultimately, an ode to the school and to life in Lincoln, NE - and being a student at UNL currently, one who is frequently in Andrews Hall (getting an M.A. in English Lit will do that to you), I felt like I was roaming the campus while away from it on Christmas break. The only glaring thing that was missing was the presence of the Cornhuskers, although there is a nod to gameday in the pages which I appreciated. (Seriously, even East Campus gets some love here!)

If you've never been to Lincoln, NE or seen the UNL campus, Rowell nails it, basically. Except for the walking to Valentino's thing - I don't know of one within walking distance of City Campus (well, there's a small one, but no buffet there anymore). Oh! And the cheeseburger pizza? It's a thing here. But where were the Runza references?

So, now that I've gone through all of that, let's talk about the actual story. First of all, flat out, I'm going to say I hated the fanfic parts. I wasn't interested in the story there, the resemblance to Harry Potter and Twilight (or a mix of the two) was really strong and I just wasn't interested in reading it. This means that there were huge sections of the book that I just skimmed pretty much. I did appreciate, however, the distinction made to Cather about writing from her own experience and writing using the "borrowing" of another authors world and characters. I don't read fan-fiction, not because I have a moral issue with it, but because I don't think anyone can truly capture what it is to live in the world except for the author who created it.

As for Cather, as a character, she seemed just... weak to me. I get that Rowell was trying to show two sides of the same coin with the twin girls and the fall-out from a mother who abandoned them, but that story really struggled under the weight of the romance and the fan-fiction and the plethora of Simon Snow references. I got, very early on, that Cather was a Simon Snow fan, but still all the way through the book the proof of that kept being described. Instead, I wanted to see the mental health issues being addressed, because every member of that family had them. I wanted to see more of a support system being built and, with access to a place like UNL, see even some of the benefits of being a student being worked into the story (there is a great counseling center right on campus as well as numerous groups that can provide support). Instead, we got just a taste of how the bad stuff can get out of control and then a quick, band-aid fix that really didn't provide much closure.

I think, primarily, I kept reading this book because it reminded me of my now-home. I loved seeing places I adore referenced in the pages of a book and knowing that there are so many people out there also reading about that place. Lincoln doesn't get enough credit - it's a great little city and the UNL campus is a beautiful one. I just wish the rest of the story had held up to scrutiny.
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The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian

The Lost Entwife, December 19, 2014

I picked up a copy of Andy Weir's The Martian when it was released because, frankly, I absolutely adore survival stories. I blame my love of them totally on Swiss Family Robinson and The Myserious Island. I also have a major fascination with space (and the ocean) - basically anything that represents places that have been left completely unexplored and have the potential for so much.

However, once I'd purchased The Martian, I found myself diving into required reading for my first semester of graduate school so, alas, it had to be put on the back burner. My father read it, and laughed out loud several times - also, he took the time to update me on the spectacularly hilarious, crass opening line. It's a doozy, folks. But it's perfect because it sets the story up remarkably well.

Mark Watney is the perfect character for a story like this. He's filled with humor and just the right blend of sarcasm and hope. The book, similarly, was also filled with a perfect blend of science, implausible plausibility (oxymoron? it works though), and outright funny moments. It deals with everything from human waste, immature behavior that comes as a result of massive responsibility, and a message of hope for the working together of the humans of the world. What I also loved was that the book dealt SOLELY with the survival aspect. There was no extended story about everything that happens after, it revolves completely around the obstacles Watney faces and how it all works out in the end.

I very much recommend this book for science lovers, adventure lovers, and people who just enjoy a good laugh at some pretty crude jokes. My dad and I both loved it and I enjoyed chatting with him about it once I'd finished.
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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park

The Lost Entwife, December 17, 2014

Have you ever put off reading a book because you know that there is no way it can be as perfect as it is, unread, in your head? That's been the case for me with Eleanor and Park. I've read Rowell before (Attachments) and I've purchased Fangirl, and I want to read it, but first I knew I needed to pick up E&P. So, as I sit here coming off of a brutal first semester of graduate school and many, many books read that have challenged me, I knew I needed to pick something up that would make me laugh, a bit. Make me cry, a bit. And, basically, remind me of what it's like to live life and be young, a bit.

I definitely got that with Eleanor and Park. This is what I loved the most about this book - although Eleanor does not fit the mold of most female YA protagonists, there's not a big deal made over that, really. Rowell is realistic. Eleanor, at one point, realizes she's not that "nice" girl that you bring home to your parents. She's Eleanor. And the best part of that realization is when Park affirms that's what he sees in her - that she's not something that is the same old same old, she's something different.

The same goes for Park. I loved seeing him break out and grow throughout the year (and man, 1986 - what a great year for a book to be set - I was 10 years old in 1986 and loved life). I loved seeing his family dynamics change, the love (and lust) his parents had for each other, the stereotypes they also had to break through and the growth they had. You know what else I loved? Having parents up front and center in a young adult book. And not just any parents, a wide variety of the sort - from absent fathers, to brutal step-fathers, to worn-down mothers, to functional marriages with their own problems and, hey, even grandparents. I loved seeing the mean guys actually step up and show humanity in instances, and seeing family step in to protect and care for one of their own.

Basically, Eleanor and Park reminded me of life. Messy, full of big moments and not-so-big moments, that can break your heart or fill it so full you don't even know how to breathe. I wish I had been given this book as a teenager (and that it had existed to be given to me). And I love, love, love Rowell for choosing Omaha to set it in - a place that was home to me in 1986. Now, I can't wait to crack open Fangirl.
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Reuben and Rachel : Or, Tales of Old Times
Reuben and Rachel : Or, Tales of Old Times

The Lost Entwife, September 7, 2014

If you are anything like me, Susanna Rowson is not a name you've stumbled across at any point in your life. I've read a lot of books, but I tend, generally, to avoid early American novelists because, well, the puritan thing really gets to me. However, now I'm in a class that has me studying four of those novelists and Rowson was first up on the list. I got a taste of her in reading CHARLOTTE TEMPLE, but REUBEN AND RACHEL really took that taste and made it into a full-fledged meal, including dessert. If you are at all interested in exploring this author, let this review serve as a guideline to help you through the book.

First, have a pen and paper handy. No, make that a pencil and paper, because you will be erasing things. This is important because, ultimately, REUBEN AND RACHEL is a multi-generational saga that will expand on a family tree way too intricate for you to keep track of in your head. And, to make matters worse, the story will begin somewhere in the middle of that family tree, trace itself back through a series of letters, and then continue forward in a way that reminded me of a full-speed locomotive.

Now that you are prepared, let's talk about the two volumes of this story. The first volume is mostly historical. There's not a lot of action, there is some, but it's nothing compared to the second. Mostly, you need to remember that Rowson was playing with a very important historical figure here (Christopher Columbus) and teasing out his relationship with Ferdinand and Isabella. This leads into a very convoluted story that explores the exploitation of people in Peru, the glorification of Columbus into a sort of Christ-like figure, and finally, the worship of Isabella as she reappears in the names of various women in Columbus's genealogy throughout the book.

That said, once you get through the letters and move onto the the actual saga, things get interested. Provided you keep track of where you are (again, the pencil and paper help for notes - get used to pinging and ponging back and forth across the Atlantic), the story moves at a good pace. Just don't expect the title characters to show up for a while.

On page 194, just a mere page away from the start of Volume 2, REUBEN AND RACHEL make their appearance. It's incredible what you've gone through at this point. There's incest, murder, various deaths due to other natural reasons, chains, arrests, rape, accusations... the list goes on and on. So it was a relief to finally get to the title characters, as you can imagine. Little did I know.

Volume 2 flies by, folks. Seriously, hang on to your seat and keep that pencil and paper handy because all sorts of men will fly in and out of Rachel's life. If you get invested into stories like I do, you will find yourself gasping out loud and angry and righteously incensed at the mistreatment of Reuben and Rachel from the various people in their lives but that is what Rowson wants! Remember that! There are even moments when she interjects her own voice to bring you around to her way of thinking.

This is a book that spawns hours of conversation in a classroom so keep that in mind when you pick it up. Choose it for a book club or read it in partnership with a friend so you can have someone to discuss it with. I promise, REUBEN AND RACHEL will hold your interest just as much as any modern thriller would. Just give yourself time to invest yourself in it.
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