I have always loved the idea of using Spanish Films and literature to help me improve my ability with the language and so when AADL added audiobooks in other languages into the collection, I felt as though I had won the jackpot. I first checked out Novelas Ejemplares by Cervantes and quickly found that it was not plot driven enough to keep my attention. Also with the more antiquated language, it required intense concentration and was not really conducive to listening to during a commute. However El leόn, la bruja, y el ropero is fabulous! The narrator is very talented and a pleasure to listen to, the plot is engaging, and since it is written for a younger audience, it is much easier to follow. It has been the perfect audiobook this past week with the colder weather. It is also a bonus that the story is familiar because I can tune it out when something on the road requires my attention, and then jump back into the story whenever I am able.
I picked up this book a few months ago on the recommendation of a family member. I made it through the first chapter and really enjoyed it, but life got busy and I returned the book knowing that I would check it out again. Faced with a long commute, I decided to give the audiobook a try. Again the story is good, so good that I am still listening to it despite the terrible, terrible narrator. Maybe others would not find him so bad but he is incredibly distracting to me. The way that he reads lines manipulates each characters so that they come across as annoying. For example, when I read the book I felt like the older sister Kendra was a fairly likable character. However, E. B. Stevens (the narrator) inserts a lot (and I mean a lot) of sighs. This makes her sound like an insufferable, whiny teenager. It is incredibly distracting and really draws my attention away from the storyline. Likewise there is a character in the book who is supposed to have an exotic accent that is unrecognizable. Again the narrator misses the mark. He just speaks with a staccato-like pace.
All of this to say, the story is good. So if an audiobook is the only way to go, I think it would be worth it and you may not be as distracted by E. B. Stevens' reading choices as I am. But if you have a choice to read or listen to the story, I would choose to read it.
I'll just say right up front that I have mixed emotions when it comes to this book. It was a quick read and definitely had some very entertaining moments. I think my difficulty relating to the book stems from the fact that I am the complete opposite of Ree. I am not a girly girl. I don't wear much makeup and I often dress for comfort and not for looks, so most of her endeavors to be perfectly made up were lost on me (and most of the time they seemed to be lost on her husband too). Her redemption was her hindsight, when she communicates to the reader how ridiculous some of her choices at the time seem to her now I find her very endearing.
The romance between her and Marlboro Man (her nickname for her husband) seems pretty incredible. Ree was all of 2 weeks out of a long term relationship when she met the man of her dreams and things seemed to just fall into place. Now I am not saying this can’t happen, or what they have isn't a lasting and deep love for one another. Their story just lacked the realistic struggles that I would imagine they faced during their first year or two together and she mentions that they talk, but never really says what they talk about. She does however go into detailed descriptions of their make outs. It just seemed shallow.
All of this being said, many people have fallen in love with this city girl turned rancher's wife and there is a good reason for that. Despite me thinking that Ree and I might not get along so well if we were to meet in person, I like her. Despite getting annoyed at the frequency of her descriptions of make out sessions, I kept reading because I wanted to hear more of her story. So if you are looking at this book and wondering if it is worthwhile, go ahead and check it out. It might not have been my favorite book, but I don't regret reading it.
This was a fun read and definitely contributed to a larger conversation of the stereotypes involved in fairytales. There were a few great twists and the plot was pretty solid. I did have a hard time following the authors descriptions at times and I was fairly disappointed that the value of physical appearance seemed to be reinforced with the events of the novel. The book began with such a promising start, showing that a person's character trumped their physical appearance and then I felt like Chainani gave into societal pressures to have beautiful, good heroines. Don't even get me started on the plot line of Tedros. However, despite my bristling at that, it was an entertaining book and I will most likely read the second one too (A World without Princes). It did a wonderful job of showing how, even in a fairytale, things are not always black and white.
I really enjoyed this book. Within the first 20 pages I felt like I was invested in the characters and the plot. As the time travel element was added, I was enjoying the book and was not thrown by the fantastical element of it which surprised me since on paper, the whole concept seems a little ridiculous. Like the reviewer below said, it is not as heavy a subject matter as some of Rowell's other writings, but the study of the familial relationships were interesting. Also, while books addressing heavy topics are great to read, sometimes I crave something lighter. This book definitely satisfied that craving.