Thursday, 29 August 2013

August Haul

I didn't buy much in terms of individual novels but I absolutely burnt a hole through my wallet this month.



I bought two series:

  • A Song of Fire and Ice - George R. R Martin; yes, definitely jumping on the bandwagon with this but so far I'm at the first book so far.

  • Uglies - Scott Westerfield; the earliest dystopian type novel I remember reading. It's definitely worth a read, especially if you think the recent dystopian novels are good i.e. Hunger Games and Divergent.


And the long awaited addition to Philippa Gregory's The Cousin's War series:

  • The White Princess - Philippa Gregory; review here.


I am definitely being kept busy with Uni so far so I haven't invested time in reading. The one novel I really want to read next is Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper but I shall wait until I am financially able to buy it.

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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Rosebush - Michele Jaffe


Plot:
Sometimes the truth is a very thorny thing.

Jane is found unconscious in a rosebush after being hit by car. She can't remember anything about the incident and the police think it's just the usual hit and run. That is, until Jane's memory comes back about the night before.

It turns out there's a lot more than what everyone wants to believe.

Review:

I found Rosebush to be one of the most enjoyable novels I've read in awhile. It met with most of my expectations and I wouldn't mind reading it again.

The romance in the novel was much like any typical teen love story. The popular girl dating the popular boy, and they're perfect together. Well minus some hiccups. In comes a gorgeous male nurse and a hot friend who has the same interest as the protagonist. Add all these factors together and you get - chaos. It's not really believable but I didn't mind it too much considering there was a lot of character revelations from the interactions that occurred between the characters.

I think none of the major characters really stuck with me. Even Jane wasn't enough to have me connect with her. Only Bonnie made a mark not because of who she was but because of the message she brought across. Most of the characters were just easy to despise. That's about it.

However, that doesn't distract from the plot. I started out thinking it was a simple teenage novel with a mysterious twist to it. Instead, I got layers that held up a colossal structure. There's so much more to the supposed hit and run, so many things that add to one chilling truth. Many of the characters have great depths to them that it makes for an engaging read. It's also got quite a lot of messages for young readers, ranging from family and friend issues to trust and jealously. Basically the issues that a lot of adolescents have to face on an everyday basis.

Also, the thriller aspect was every bit what it should be. There was suspense, mystery and twists. I never suspected a thing, just assumptions that changed from time to time. When the culprit was revealed I was like wow, okay. I see. It was surprising and sort of scary at the same time.

I'm glad I followed my instincts and read this. Already, I have been drawn back into the story after skimming the ending again. It's not very memorable but that's good for me because that means I can read it again whilst developing new thoughts. Definitely give it a read.

Rating: 4/5

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Thursday, 22 August 2013

The White Princess - Philippa Gregory


Plot:

Daughter to King Edward IV, Elizabeth of York is betrothed to Henry Tudor and finds herself being Queen once Henry takes the crown from Richard III. Elizabeth cannot find a place in court whilst Henry's mother, Margaret Beaufort controls everything. She resents Henry for killing her lover, Richard. Then news comes that a boy is mustering an army in neighbouring countries and claims to be Richard, Duke of York, coming for his rightful throne.

Elizabeth must decide where her loyalties lie - with the husband she was forced to marry or the house of York and the boy who says he is her younger brother.

Review:

The fifth instalment of The Cousins' War series depicts the life of Elizabeth of York, as Queen of England and the beginning of the Tudor era. As a massive fan of Philippa Gregory and her historical novels, I just had to get myself a copy. The White Princess is probably the only novel that I won't be raving about, unfortunately. It's got her writing style and thorough research so that it seems realistic enough but the plot and characters were just a drag.

I was looking forward to reading through Elizabeth's perspective, after encountering her in prior novels and sensing how intelligent and charming she was. However, I got nothing of the sorts in this novel. I am disappointed as to how Elizabeth seems so passive throughout the entire novel, making it almost weary to read if not for Gregory's great writing. The women in her previous novels all had strong and independent positions, paving their own ways and using their wit to create plans to benefit for themselves and their family. I don't get that with Elizabeth. She is merely just a vehicle used to tell the story, a figure that everyone knows but hardly does anything. I suppose Gregory couldn't change history, even if it is fictional, but the novel portrays Elizabeth as a character in the shadows watching or hearing from others about what is going on. She is never in the thick of things, which leaves her seem weak and almost boring.

Gregory does play on the fact that Elizabeth was rumoured to be Richard III's lover and adds elements of that into the novel. It is merely memories for Elizabeth but if Gregory had included maybe a chapter of their times together before transitioning into Henry VII's reign it would've raised the excitement of Elizabeth just a little. She would've had more character if I had witnessed the passion she felt for Richard as opposed to constantly just thinking about it and telling readers how much she aches for him. It would allow for her romantic affair with him to be a little more realistic, instead of sounding like a one-sided love.

I do love, though, how Gregory sticks to the portrayal of Margaret Beaufort from The Red Queen in this novel. Margaret Beaufort will forever be an ambitious and annoying lady, who believes God has chosen her son to be King. She has the same characteristics that made her  the antihero, both here and in her own novel. Also, how Henry VII was portrayed was fascinating. It seemed so realistic how his fears and suspicions ate at him and that England would not recognise him considering he had been exile for so long, and never received any comfort from people he knew. It was easy to feel sympathy but also a hatred towards him for his harsh manners. Out of all the characters, I think King Henry VII and Margaret, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, was most realistic. Maggie for her gentle and caring image and Henry VII for his ruthless manner, which I expect a king to have in order to get where he is.

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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Killer In My Eyes - Giorgio Faletti

Plot:

Mayor Marsalis' son has been found dead in his apartment. The killer's left him naked and in a position identical to Linus, a character from the comic-strip Peanuts. Ex-cop Jordan is called in to investigate the death and soon there are a string of other deaths replicated in the same way. Along with Italian investigator Maureen Martini, Jordan must find the murderer before other characters are killed.

Review:
There are two concepts that I am absolutely astounded by in the novel, enough to think Faletti is an actual genius:
One, the idea of  moulding a well-known cartoon strip into something so sinister. I would like to award Faletti with an award for creativity because I would never have thought that Snoopy and his friends could play a part in a murder mystery And two, the reason for the title, which I really can't explain cause then it just ruins the novel. To put it simply, sometimes you just have to see it to believe it.
Like his other novels, Faletti's able to introduce a number of characters that somehow interlink with each other (sometimes by a bit too much coincidence) without making the plot confusing. The characters are there for a reason, whether to help solve the mystery or help the development of a character. They're not fleeting and suddenly forgotten, they're introduced and stay till the end. Faletti is able to develop his characters quite well despite the limited timespan the novel is set in. There are certain attachments that can be made with the characters and surprisingly, I felt it with the minor characters more than the protagonist. I love the fact that everyone is flawed in this novel. Everyone including our hero. Even the victims who  you are suppose to feel sympathy for actually leave much more of a bitter feeling.
While reading a Faletti novel there is a lot of deducing that will happen and sometimes I'm so certain it'll be this person, but with The Killer In My Eyes no matter how much I thought about it nothing seemed plausible. So when the major revealing happened I was surprised but also a bit confused. You know the whole, where did this come from, which (thankfully) the plot explains later on. It was unexpected in the fact that you just never pinpoint that character in the first place. I guess that is a successful aspect in writing a crime novel, the unexpected moments are always the best.
This is the third novel I've read from Faletti and I have to say I held high expectations. I've always admired his talent in springing the surprise at the last minute, making the mysteries so much more thrilling. The same happens in The Killer In My Eyes but for some reason it just didn't create the same reaction I had with his previous works (see reviews for his other novels here). That's not to say it was bad, it just wasn't his best. I still thoroughly enjoyed it though, majority of it was great. For a tiny portion it was a bit slow paced but I guess it needed to start building the intense again instead of just being on a high the entire time.
Most of the time if an author sticks with a particular genre their novels just seem like a carbon copy of each other, just with different character names and setting. With Faletti everything is different and that's what I love about his style of writing. It's always something new that has you completely engaged. Grab a copy and settle down because you'll be sucked into the story before you know it.
Rating: 4/5

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July Haul

July was probably the month I went crazy with my purchases for this year. Blame it on All-Books-4-Less for having $3 sales!

I found myself reading a lot more young adult novels, gravitating towards romance/finding yourself novels including:

  • Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher; I bought it even though I've read it before. I felt like it stuck more the second time, even though it felt like the protagonist acted more like an antagonist.

  • How To Save A Life - Sara Zarr; review here.

  • Night Road - Kristin Hannah; I've been meaning to review this so some quick thoughts: it's definitely emotionally impacting but the pace is a bit too hurried.

  • Alice - Judith Hermann; a collection of short stories about Alice and the deaths she encounters in her life, which should be eye-opening and thought provoking but didn't really mean much to me.


I picked up a couple of thriller/crime novels as well:

  • The Killer In My Eyes - Giorgio Faletti; review will be up soon!

  • The Invisible Ones - Stef Peney; the blurb makes it seem promising but I haven't gotten around to reading it just yet.


And then there was the hybrid:

  • Rosebush - Michele Jaffe; this was definitely my favourite out of everything I picked up. It was intriguing, engaging and I was pretty much hooked. 


I flew through a lot in July but with uni already starting I suppose I needed to read in advance. I'm not sure what I want to read this month so I'm going to ask for suggestions. Leave a comment below!

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