Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Recap: Garden of Shadows by Virginia Andrews, Part 8

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

At last, the final recap of Garden of Shadows! This is where all the good stuff happens of course. Like CHRISTOPHER arrives at Foxworth Hall. When he does, Corinne descends the stairs in slow motion , and he goes all starry-eyed and Olivia worries that he might realise they're brother and sister. Ha! Hahahahahaha. When Creepy Butler John Amos shows Christopher to his room (while he smiles goofily at Corinne), Olivia takes pains to remind Corinne that he is her UNCLE (not her BROTHER, you know). Corinne is all "how could I forget, we look so alike!" and I suddenly realise Corinne falls for Christopher probably because she loves herself so much.

So Christopher brings sunshine and joy into Foxworth Hall for the first time in years, everyone loves him, yada yada yada. Corinne hangs off him like a weed, and while Olivia is wary of her not treating him with the reverence of an UNCLE, she is glad they both seem happy. Ha. Hahahahahahha.

One morning Christopher approaches Olivia and explains how they understand each other's pain and now that he's lost a mother and she's lost her sons, they can be each other's surrogate mother/son. And he wants to be a "real brother" to Corinne. Ha. Hahahahahahhaa.

Creepy Butler John Amos, meanwhile, follows Christopher around creepily and watches him with razor sharp eyes like the creep he is. He warns Olivia that trouble is brewing because everyone loves Christopher so much, especially Corinne. Olivia is all "but they are INNOCENT" (we'll hear another mother say that again in the not too distant future), and Creepy Butler John Amos is like, Corinne puts too much effort into her appearance, she brushes her hair with 100 strokes in her bedroom!! 

Olivia is like hold up WTF dude you watch her in her room? And Creepy Butler John Amos gets flustered and tries to say he is only doing what he needs to do to protect the family. Uggggh.

But it gets better! Creepy Butler John Amos reveals he followed C&C to the lake and discovered them swimming in their UNDERWEAR which was OBSCENE and LEWD. Olivia is a little shocked but brushes it off as the exuberance of youth combined with the hot summer. She yells at Creepy Butler John Amos for being, well, creepy, and I want to cheer except we all know where this is heading.

Summer ends and Christopher goes off to college and Corinne goes to boarding school that is only an hour away from where he is and Olivia is so pleased with this happy coincidence. Ha. Hahahahahaha.

C&C come back for Christmas and there's a big party and everything is perfect and everyone is happy, except Creepy Butler John Amos, who is still creepy and suspicious and who Olivia decides is just jealous of Christopher. Then C&C both go back to school and Olivia is delighted that Christopher is doing amazingly in his medical studies and also that he regularly keeps in touch with Corinne, and even VISITS her. Ha. Hahahahhahha.

It's summer again and C&C return to light up Foxworth Hall. They're closer than ever and finally Olivia starts to be a bit worried, but mainly because she's afraid they'll realise they're BROTHER and SISTER. Ha. Hahahahhahaa.

Fast forward the next year and Christopher graduates valedictorian and Corinne graduates high school. They drive home together with Olivia and Malcolm, stopping for the night in Atlantic City. Malcolm gets excited about showing them the city but C&C are both mysteriously tired and insist Olivia and Malcolm go out without them. Ha. Hahahahahha.

Back at Foxworth Hall, Olivia lets C&C sleep in because they're both so tiiiired still. She opens Christopher's mail though because she CARES so much, and when she sees he's been accepted to Harvard Medical School she excitedly runs to his room to tell him. But he's not there. He's not in Corinne's room either. Suddenly, Olivia hears a noise from THE SWAN ROOM. She sneaks up and opens the door and sees C&C in bed, doing the nasty nasty.

Olivia freaks out and closes the door, and Creepy Butler John Amos is suddenly there and opens the door again and sees C&C doing the nasty nasty. Creepy Butler John Amos bursts out with, and I quote, "SINNERS! FORNICATORS!" Olivia tries to pull him away and he is all I TOLD YOU SO YOU STUPID WOMAN THE DEVIL HAS COME FOR YOOOOU.

The happy family reconvenes in Malcolm's library, and Corinne tells everyone that she is in love with Christopher and they're getting married. Malcolm accuses them of incest and sin and Corinne is all, "it's not incestuous!" because apparently she doesn't know the meaning of the word. Christopher then says they've been in love since the day they met as if THAT'S going to make it better. Malcolm yells at him and Corinne tries to defend him by saying it was SHE who pursued him, like THAT'S going to make it better. She says they want to stay at Foxworth Hall and have their children there and Malcolm is like YOUR CHILDREN WILL HAVE FORKED TAILS AND HOOFED FEED. He tells them to leave his house and his next words to his daughter are too good not to quote: "Beguiler, Delilah, deceitful, lustful creature, cunningly beautiful, evil thing." Coz it wouldn't be Malcolm without a heavy dose of misogyny. 

Christopher looks to Olivia for help, but she is angry because he betrayed her. You see, she thought he was hanging around for her and cared about her but REALLY it was all about Corinne. "All men are alike," Olivia thinks. Because she matches Malcolm's hate for the opposite sex spite for spite. What a pair these two make. Olivia reiterates that they have sinned against God and will "breed horror", and C&C turn and walk out the door.

Moments later Malcolm collapses and has a stroke. This renders him incapable of most speech and movement (and also with a constant smile on his face) and Olivia has full power for perhaps the first time in her life. They all pray a lot and as Malcolm improves she takes pleasure in having him wheeled into the library to see all the business decisions she's making, probably because she knows he hates it. And even though she loves having the power she somehow resents him more than ever because now she no longer has a strong, powerful husband.

One day he begs her to hire a private detective to see how C&C are doing, like actually begs with tears and all. Olivia agrees and when the first report from the detective reveals that C&C have produced another perfect, beautiful, intelligent, blonde C - that'd be Christopher Jr - Olivia insists it must be ANOTHER Christopher and Corinne. The detective insists it is the right pair - he had seen PICTURES after all - and reveals Corinne is pregnant again. Olivia comforts herself that this child will be "different", and decides not to tell Malcolm anything until that's confirmed. Of course we know the next child is Cathy, who is pretty and perfect, and later the twins, who are doubly perfect. So Olivia never tells Malcolm anything. He, meanwhile, wastes away, barely talking, hanging on by a thread in the hope of salvation for his past sins. Olivia, meanwhile, describes her world as gray once again, right down to her clothes.

Then Olivia receives a pink, perfumed letter from none other than Corinne, containing the story of Christopher's death and the poverty the family is on the verge of. Olivia is heartbroken, because she loved Christopher despite everything, and seeks comfort in Creepy Butler John Amos, who of course  insists that this is a message from God. Turns out it's his idea to lock the kids away, to "prevent them from infecting the world". Olivia mulls it over and though she longs to be a grandmother, she decides she can't allow herself to love the "devils spawn".

Olivia tells Malcolm Corinne is coming home, but decides never to tell him about the kids because he would love them like he couldn't help loving Corinne, his mother or Alicia (yes, it was LOVE, right, Olivia). She tells Corinne that he can't know because he won't accept her back.

Corinne and her kids arrive and we get the arrival scene from Flowers in the Attic told from Olivia's perspective. She longs to love and hold the children, especially Christopher and Cathy, who look just like Christopher Sr and Corinne, but she won't let herself and instead says the nasty thing she says. "But they're innocent children!" Corinne insists, and Olivia is all like "bitch please." As Corinne talks about how wonderful her kids are, Olivia closes her ears and hardens her heart, and as she leaves the room, she catches Christopher smiling at Cathy like she once saw Christopher Sr smiling at Corinne. She vows she won't be so blind again, and her transition into the evil grandmother we know and love to hate is complete.

And we're done! Thanks to anyone who has been reading these recaps! I hope you've enjoyed them. Next up is the book that started it all: Flowers in the Attic.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mini Reviews: Four Romance Novellas And An Underwhelmed Book Blogger

I've been reading a lot of romance books lately. Perhaps not coincidentally, I haven't read many great books in recent times. Many of the books I've read have been mediocre at best. I don't know if it's the particular titles I've read or if the genre just isn't for me. Sure, they're entertaining enough in general, but I am often left feeling underwhelmed or even annoyed. That's certainly how I felt with these novellas:

Perfect Timing by Jane O'Reilly (Source: Netgalley)
Ruby has been crushing on her best friend for years but it's only now she's leaving the country he wakes up and realises he's in love with her too. Of course. I liked this book well enough but it might be saying something that I started reading it again a couple of weeks later, not because I loved it, but because I completely forgot I had read it. It wasn't bad but yeah, not all that memorable.
Rating: 3/5

Perfect 10 by Erin McCarthy (Source: Netgalley)
Katrina is a social media whiz who accidentally sends the details of her private hook ups (including ratings) to everyone in her address book. This has dire consequences for her job and her personal life - that is, until her ex best friend (who she had a one night stand with) gets in touch after seeing his score. This was OK, there were some cute parts but it was just all a little too convenient.
Rating: 3/5

Double Take by Leslie Kelly (Source: Netgalley)
Lindsey is a psychologist whose research into female orgasms makes her the laughing stock of her field, leading her to seek refuge on a small, quiet island town. The chief of police Mike is hiding from his own demons, and they're instantly attracted to each other but can't do anything about it because... they don't want people to gossip about them. Meh. I didn't buy it as a strong enough reason for them to not be together. I also really didn't buy that someone whose area of expertise is sexuality, and the female orgasm in particular, would be so self-conscious and repressed in her own sexuality. Underwhelming.
Rating: 2/5

The Private Affairs of Lady Jane Fielding by Viveka Portman (Source: Netgalley)
Lady Fielding and her husband are trying to have a son and heir when her husband is in an accident that means he can no longer have children. He has the perfect solution - his cousin will get Lady Fielding pregnant and they'll pretend the baby is his. I did not like this book at all. If it hadn't been so short I wouldn't have finished it - and it was a struggle as it was. I didn't like the characters or the plot, but worst of all was the writing - mayhap the writer verily thought she must needs use every olde worlde word in every sentence and it mayhap drove my verily batty.
Rating: 1/5

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Recap: Garden of Shadows By Virginia Andrews, Part 7

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Part 6

I'm ba-ack, and so is Creepy John Amos. He comes to do the service for Mal's funeral, a grey and thunderous day as all funerals are in V.C. Andrews. Olivia blames herself for Mal's death and so does Malcolm, but Corinne also blames herself, and Creepy John Amos comforts her. Creepy John Amos suggests Mal died as punishment for Malcolm, because he didn't appreciate him enough. Malcolm, of course, hates Creepy John Amos, which only makes Olivia like him more. She asks him to stay on at Foxworth Hall, and that is how Creepy John Amos becomes Creepy Butler John Amos.

Malcolm isn't happy, but he's even angrier when he hears Joel is touring Europe with an orchestra instead of going back to school, because music is for sissies. Malcolm says he'll disown him and Joel has zero fucks left to give, so he bids farewell to his parents and is gone. Olivia is happy he is doing his own thing, and when he becomes successful in Europe she's super proud. Good thing she has Creepy Butler John Amos to quench the closest thing she's felt to happiness in years, as he warns her that "pride cometh before a fall." Such a delight, that man. Only he's right because the next telegram Olivia receives tells her Joel has been lost in an avalanche.

John Amos organises the memorial service because Olivia and Malcolm are both a mess, and when the day arrives it's gray and gloomy, natch. Malcolm refuses to attend and Olivia confronts him about it, but Malcolm is in denial and doesn't believe Joel is dead because they haven't found a body. Olivia goes without him and after the funeral, Malcolm stays hidden in his library, only letting Creepy Butler John Amos in to see him. And that is how Malcolm becomes a born again religious hypocrite.

Corinne is at home and sad about her brothers but she is young and pretty and this is V.C. Andrews so of course she just wants to get back to a normal life. But even Malcolm isn't talking to her because of his religious inner journey. Creepy Butler John Amos tells her she's being selfish and Olivia agrees. Creepy Butler John Amos then reveals how he's told Malcolm God has taken his male seed away from him as vengeance for his sins. No wonder Malcolm has become a hermit in his own home.

When he finally emerges from his "meditation" in the library, Malcolm looks older and uglier, but I guess he deserves it. He and Olivia get on better thanks to their mutual gloominess and non-stop praying. Meanwhile, Corinne "blossoms" into a beautiful young woman and knows it. She flirts with everyone, even Creepy Butler John Amos. 

Soon Malcolm receives a letter from Alicia, his dad's widow whom he raped, telling him she is poor and dying of breast cancer and begging him to take the now 17-year-old Christopher in and send him to medical school. Olivia thinks it's all part of God's plan and Creepy Butler John Amos agrees. Malcolm doesn't want to take Christopher in but it doesn't take much for Olivia to change his mind, which highlights how much their dynamic has changed. Olivia's got the POWAR now.

Next time: Christopher arrives and we are on the home stretch! 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Top Ten Books About Friendship

1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Friendship is the core of this book and its sequels, and though it's been a few years since I read it, I remember loving it a lot. The movie is fun too!

2. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. This beautiful tale highlights unlikely friends and the extroardinary things they'll do for each other.

3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. Marchetta does all kinds of relationships so well. The group of friends in this book are one of my faves of all time, and it's also awesome to revisit them in the companion novel, The Piper's Son.

4. Wildlife by Fiona Wood. This is about losing friends as much as it is about gaining them, and it explores the nature of loss and what it means to be a friend through the different but interweaving stories of two awesome girls.

5. Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. This biography of a remarkable homeless man is told through the frame of Masters' growing friendship with Stuart, and their odd couple dynamic makes for some of the more humourous - and heartbreaking - parts of the book.

6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. A bunch of beauty queens get stranded on a desert island and slowly go from being rivals to best friends. It is a lot more hilarious and touching and a lot less cheesy than it sounds.

7. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. It IS all about bosom buddies and kindred spirits.

8. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Friendship literally saves the world.

9. Fury by Shirley Marr. Featuring friends who'd kill for each other. Giiiirl Power.

10. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It beautifully explores the healing power of friendship (and gardens).

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.