Sunday, 12 October 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.


Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Taken from Goodreads

                                                                    

Review: (Contains slight spoilers)


My first Rainbow Rowell book. I've heard nothing but praise for all her works but always hesitated in buying any. I caved in with Eleanor & Park, off all her books this seemed the one I would most enjoy. I did for the most part. 


Set in 1986, Rainbow Rowell explores the lives of two sixteen year olds; they're school life, home life and first love. 

Eleanor is the typical misfit girl in that she wears strange clothes, repeatedly described as not pretty and has next to no social skills. Her family are neglectful near abusive, since her Rickie her mother's boyfriend- now husband forced Eleanor out of the house once before for several months. Now living back at home she is constantly on the edge not to do anything that could set him off again. She is torn by wanting nothing more than to get away from where she is, but knowing that she has no-where to go.
Park is half Korean, slightly outcast by his race but has several social friends that allow him to get by enough at school. His family are more or less perfect, expect for his mother's perfectionism and his farther's nagging. 

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus, after reluctantly giving her a seat, over time they form a friendship over their love for; music and graphic novels.

It wasn't that this was a bad book or that I hated it, it just wasn't amazing. Maybe I had pinned high expectations since so many people loved it. For the most part the book is dialogue  between Eleanor and Park, at first when they are in the early stages of forming a friendship I really liked it. I liked that fact that Park let her borrow his comic books and that he made her tapes of the music he liked because she had never heard it. I liked reading about them discussing music and graphic novels. It felt natural.  

The decent into the romance between them felt a little rushed, probably due to the fact the book isn't very long. Them falling in love didn't feel so natural, I would have liked a more gradual buildup to it.  I also didn't have a great feel for the characters, they were nice enough but I didn't love them either. I felt like the whole thing was rather predictable, the ending especially. Maybe I just didn't get into the spirit of the whole romance thing.
 I am sort of on the fence with this one, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it. It was just okay. If you love any other Rainbow Rowell novel then you will probably love this one too. If like me, you haven't read any I wouldn't start with this one. I'm going to read her other books because I like her writing. I'll start with Landline and maybe I'll revisit Eleanor & Park in a year or so and see if my opinion changes.

Rating: 3.5 stars



                                                                             

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray


Synopsis:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turn







Review:
I had, for a long time put off buying this book because I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. After several bad experiences reading YA novels this this year, I had been considering giving up- for the meantime at least on the genre. But then a friend of mine had a copy and let me borrow it, problem solved. It was just my luck then after deciding not to purchase it myself, I ending up loving it. 
Firstly I must address Libba Bray's beautiful writing style, her words flow in beautiful, descriptive prose. From painting vivid pictures of the bustling markets of India, to the Gothic boarding school in England I was totally immersed in our main protagonist; Gemma Doyle's world. The characters are everything I want in a novel; complex, layered, realistic, some are likable and some are not. Neither the less, this is such a beautifully written book that it just makes me so happy.
The book begins in India, and we are introduced to Gemma Doyle and her mother. Gemma longs to go to England like her brother, but for reasons unknown to her- her mother forbids it. Then after her mother's sudden death, Gemma Doyle is sent back to England to Spence; A well established, respected boarding school. It is there that Gemma begins to unravel her mother's mysterious past and the curious history surrounding around Spence and it's previous inhabitants.  

This was an brilliantly fast paced yet not rushed novel that I devoured in two days, Gemma was instantly likable for me, and I was fascinated by the mystery and suspense that Libba Bray builds. This was probably my first exposure to  YA Historical fiction and I loved it, there are two other books to the Gemma Doyle trilogy (Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing) that I will definitely read. If you like Historical fantasy, then I would recommend this book to you. Even if you don't, take a chance and try it like I did. It was not a disappointment.

Rating: 5 Stars. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

September Bookhaul:






















Sunshine- Robin McKinley
The Sweet Far Thing- Libba Bray
Cruel Beauty- Rosamund Hodge
A Great and Terrible Beauty- Libba Bray
I, Lucifer- Glen Duncan
Rebel Angels- Libba Bray
The Collector- John Fowles
Station Eleven- Emily St. John Mandel
The Gargoyle- Andrew Davidson
The Superiors- Lena Hillbrand.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: The Glass Casket: McCormick Templeman

Synopsis:

Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.
Only this time, its appetite is insatiable

Posted from Goodreads


Review:

So I got this one as an e-book because even from the synopsis on Goodreads I could tell this one was gonna be a bit strange and I wasn't too prepared to order it in paper form. However after finding out how gorgeous the cover is I wish I had.
Anyway this is a fantasy/paranormal/fairy tale-retelling YA book that intrigued me from the start.
It follows the narrative of a girl called Rowan, who lives in this little cut off village with her father after her mother died many years previous.
Rowan's village is being attacked by a mysterious creature/beast that has started killing off various inhabitants and when the arrival of 3 strangers in town- things begin to get strange fast. Especially when Rowan meets a otherworldly beautiful girl her age with similarities to herself that she can't explain.

The first half of the book is very slow to get going, there's a lot of focus on the setting and dialogue between characters. Because of the lack of anything really happening, it get's very confusing. And when things do start happening, it just gets more and more bizarre. However the more I read, the more I was intrigued especially halfway through were the writing really picks up and the plot begins to get more exciting.
It's an odd book and an even odder retelling of Snow White (sort of) but I quite like odd and at least it was different. I haven't read anything quite like this and it was really refreshing. The characters took awhile to grow on me, especially Rowan who until towards the end I didn't really get. The second half of the book definitely saves it from being a disaster. I felt like it was more focused, more detailed and more dramatic.

Overall I really enjoyed it, I think I might actually by it properly and then revisit it a few months down the line.
If you’re looking for something a bit different and you enjoy fantasy and paranormal fiction then give The Glass Casket a chance.


Rating: 3.5

Currently Reading:

The Darkest Minds- Alexandra Bracken.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review: Gone Girl- Gillian Flyyn

Synopsis:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?


Posted from Goodreads



Review:

Yes I know, I'm late to the party as I have only just read this book after months and months of people talking about it. What can I say I jump on bandwagons really late.
So yeah, Gone Girl. Another book I have read this month and have no clue how to review it. I actually finished this book a few days ago but I needed a couple of days to let it sit so I could form a structured opinion on it.
The book follows the story of Nick, whom comes home one day to find his wife Amy missing and the house wreaked. What follows is an unraveling story of two peoples lives and their many secrets.
It's not the sort of book I can say much about unless you wanna be spoiled. The book is told in two perspectives, one Nick's and the other Amy. Hence the two sides to every story thing.
It's very clever, the writing style makes for a pretty good thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. I finished it in two days because I wanted to know what happened.

Is it the best book I've ever read?
No.
But it I would recommended people to give it ago, it's the sort of book you can spend a good deal of time discussing with others because it raises a lot of opinions and theories. That's all I can say in the non-spoiler section of this review.

Rating: 3.5.

Now then, in more detail. Spoilers under the cut.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

June/July Bookhaul!


















A Girl Is a Half Formed Thing - Eimear Mcbride
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
The Glass Casket - McCormick Templeman
Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
The Bronze Horseman - Paulina Simons
Nothing But The Night - John Edward Williams
Smuggler's Kiss - Marie-Louise Jensen
The Forgiven - Lawrence Osborne
Scar Night - Allan Campbell
A Viking's Love - Karolyn Cairns
Entreat Me - Grace Draven



Monday, 7 July 2014

Review: We Were Liars- E. Lockhart

Synopsis:
We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

Taken from Goodreads






Review:

I picked this book up on a whim, not knowing anything about it I wasn't sure what I'd be getting from it. The story follows a girl named Cadence Sinclair and her cousins who each year meet up on this island that their family own for the summer. 
From the start you are already suspecting not everything is what it seems, the whole thing is cased in mystery and suspense. You follow a succession of summers at the island with Cadence, her cousins Mirren, Johnny and his friend Gat. 
That's all I can really say without giving anything away. 
I found it difficult to connect with this book, I did not like the characters and so felt no compassion for them at all. Cadence is not a compelling protagonist and the more and more I read the more I did not care for her or anyone else. The writing structure was odd but not unbearable. The more you read the more you are getting built up for a"Big Revel" at the end. The revelation of what happened during this one summer that the book revolves around just made me angry. I suppose after that I really lost all interest. 
The "Twist" towards the end to me was;
A) Not shocking.
B) Slightly predictable. 
It does however leave you with a few opinions on what actually happened because E. Lockhart does not give a explanation so several questions are left unanswered. 
I know many people have read this book and really loved it and that's great but for me it just didn't wow me. I found it mediocre, that being said I would recommend people to read it if this sort of mystery is your cup of tea. 
Rating: A so-so read.
3 stars

Review: Taming the Beast- Emily Maguire

Synopsis:  Sarah Clark's life is irrevocably changed at the age of 14 when her English teacher, Mr Carr, seduces her after class. Their affair is illegal, erotic, passionate and dangerous – a vicious meeting of minds and bodies. But when Mr Carr's wife discovers the affair, he has to choose between them and moves to another city with his family.

Sarah is devastated and from that day on her life is defined by a series of meaningless, self-abasing sexual encounters, hoping with each man that she will experience the same delicious feelings she had with Mr Carr.

Seven years later Daniel Carr walks back into Sarah's life and she is drawn once again into the destructive relationship. Is Sarah strong enough to "tame the beast"?

Posted from Goodreads


Review:

I really don't know how to review this book, I even struggled to give it a rating. I will try and break my thoughts down into something coherent.
I have read several Teacher/Student novels before but none quite like this, I have read dark disturbing novels before but somehow this one left a really nasty taste in my mouth.
It wasn't that it was bad, I actually think it was well written but maybe that was the problem- it was too realistic. The main characters (Sarah & Mr Carr) are fundamentally utterly unlikable and as a result I didn't care much for their well being, which is just as well because they don't seem to care for theirs either. The novel starts when Sarah is 14 and she is introduced to her new English teacher Mr Carr. Sarah has a passion for English literature and so does Mr Carr. After their introduction things get icky really quickly. 

Their relationship from the start is destructive and abusive and the effect leaves Sarah permanently altered.When the two characters are reunited 7 years down the line,they rekindle their relationship. Sarah is more than happy to revert back into this violent and oppressive relationship with Mr Carr. 

This is not a romance, it is not erotic or passionate. But I believe Emily Maguire does not want you to think this, it is not the type of relationship you can condone. These two people are messed up, they are destructive to one another and everyone around them. In a way you could say they deserve one another.

So yeah, I cannot form a real opinion on this book. It makes you take a step back and really think about what you have just read, which I suppose is a good thing. But when trying to review it is a problem. 
It is a feat of a novel for the emotions and opinions it brings up however I did not really enjoy reading, mainly because it left me feeling really gross. It's raw and disturbing and not for everyone.

Rating: 4 stars. 
Just because it left me feeling really unsure of my thoughts, not many books do that. 

Books read so far this year. Reviews to come: