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Books Reviews

Review – Insurgent, yipee!

Insurgent book front
Wow I’ve just realised this post was still in draft format, I finished this book last summer and wrote the review on the 22nd of August! So publishing now, I can only assume I started to feel sick and gave up.

It took me a little longer than I thought it would to finish this book, which is not a reflection on the book at all but merely my own ability to focus! Insurgent is the second instalment of the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. It’s another young adult science fiction meets dystopia and personally I love that the book follows on from the first book Divergent pretty much seamlessly.

As always I won’t spoil the book by revealing the plot line for you, however I’ll give you a general overview and my thoughts on the book. Insurgent is easy reading, it’s written in a format which I think makes it viable for all kinds of adults (not just the young ones!). The book has plenty of good structure, keeping the main story line running along nicely. The main characters Beatrice (Tris) and Tobias (Four) along with the dystopia society of factions. Veronica has done a good job in terms of character development ready for the third instalment, as the story progresses you get a much better understanding of who they are. In fact I think even the characters learn who they are and who are are not for the first time. After all they have just been through a major societal shake up, lots of new relationships are formed and a deeper understanding of all the factions is seen.

Fighting for survival in a shattered world… the truth is her only hope.

The thrillingly dark sequel to No. 1 New York Times bestseller, DIVERGENT.

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever… because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Insurgent keeps you on edge, it’s cleverly written and leaves you with a longing to start reading the next and final book (which I may or may not have just ordered). Divergent was a great book, not all sequels live up to their second book but I can firmly say that Insurgent does indeed match Divergent. I’m actually quite surprised that this series has not had quite the same publicity as  The Hunger Games or Twilight because it’s on par.

As I mentioned above the second book follows pretty much immediately after the first, I am so glad the Veronica did not included the recapping most authors do. It was refreshing not to have to be bored by repeated content for readers who had not read the first book. The story line is actually quite complex, personally I did not find anything too weird or strange but then I enjoy sci-fi in general so perhaps that’s why.

I would highly recommend the book, go and read it now!

Books Reviews

Review – The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike Novel)

The SilkwormI had completely forgot the release date for The Silkworm when I was passing Waterstones back in June, however by chance I happened to be passing on the release day itself! So the latest book by J.K Rowling (Robert Galbraith) was just sitting there looking pretty in the window display and caught my eye.

 

After reading “The Cuckoo’s Calling” which I reviewed here I was eagerly anticipating the next crime novel featuring the great detective “Strike” and his personal assistant sidekick “Robin”.  I even thought the cover picture and name of the novel looked great, I was really excited to read it and started immediately while in Costa!

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .

J.K Rowling is a great writer, the book just like the last one is written well with a good format and easy reading style which is always a bonus. The two main characters (Strike and Robin) are great as always and throughout the book you start to see those characters develop, this is the best part of the book. The rest of the characters however I felt fell short of the last book, it did not seem to focus too much on them but more on their motive for novelist Owen Quine’s murder leaving the story lacking in depth. There are a few really interesting ones but you don’t get in deep enough to really enjoy it, they don’t even play a part in the final story which is such a shame. I don’t know why J.K Rowling picked the most boring character of all of them which he only actually interviews once properly.

In the previous (The Cuckoo’s Calling) I thought many times that I had guessed the murderer but I was surprised by the ending, which as far as I’m concerned is exactly what you want from a murder mystery story. In this book however I realised who was behind the murder quickly, it was pretty obvious because the murderer wasn’t spoken to after the one time but appeared throughout the story mentioned by others. The motive I had no idea though and found it to be quite pale in comparison to the bizarre twisted character of Owen Quine, who pretty much just came across as a total weirdo. I mean if you are going to make a character so strange, then it needs a really strange plot to go with it.

I also really did not enjoy the whole plot focusing on books, what a boring topic to pick! Yes I like reading books, but I don’t do that because I want to read a story about the publishing industry unless you are going to make it VERY interesting. There are so many other mysterious detective story lines you could pick! As a reader I want to be second guessing myself, I want to be hooked and want to read on to see if I was right or wrong.

I was really disappointed with this book, but I will read the next one which based on the ending I assume there will be another. The only redeeming factors are that you see a lot of main character development and the quality of the writing is good. If Rowling had picked a better story line and better characters the book would have been another hit. I did not get that same gripping feeling which I felt with the previous book, I could relate to the characters in The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Good Points:

  • Great writing style and easy to read, interesting use of language
  • Nice front cover
  • Really liked the main characters and the parts of the story about their development, which should mean a decent next book
  • Focused in London again (yay), but in winter (boo)

Bad Points:

  • All the other characters
  • The murderer and their motive

I would still recommend reading it, if just to keep yourself in line ready for the next one but what a shame it wasn’t as good as the last.

Books Reviews

Review – Divergent, oh man oh man

Divergent book image

I managed to read this book in two days, maybe not even that. I know this is going to be one of those books that some people love and others hate. I loved it, but then I enjoyed Twilight and The Hunger Games so go figure right?

The book is part one of three books written by Veronica Roth, the book was written during Veronica’s creative writing degree at Northwestern University but was quickly published by HarperCollins.

 

 

 

For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs.

Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead….

I honestly can not wait for the next book (Insurgent) to arrive! If you enjoyed reading Twilight and The Hunger Games books then go buy this now! I’ve always liked reading young adult books, even though I’m really not a young adult anymore but I think that any adult could enjoy this if you still like that style of writting.

It’s written in the typical young adult fiction style, typical storyline (string female and strong male characters, usual love attraction) but it’s really good. I love the environment and setting as it’s really quite unique like The Hunger Games was. I much prefer this trilogy so far compared to The Hunger Games and that’s quite a big statement, although I have seen others who prefer the latter. In this book the population are split by factions Amity (The Peaceful), Dauntless (The Brave), Abnegation (The Selfless), Erudite (The Intelligent) and Candour (The Honest), it makes for a really interesting read as you question which faction you might yourself be in.

The book is easy to read, possibly more aimed at girls unless you enjoy that type of book and it’s just great. I’m really looking forward to watching the film as I missed it when it was in the cinema.

The only thing I wish is that the book was a little longer, there is also a part which I think progresses too quickly. I won’t give away the storyline but things go from relativity calm to straight panic. I feel there could and should have been a little more build up. One thing that is really great is that the author really doesn’t mind killing of characters, you have no idea who is next because everyone’s a possibility.

All in, I think if you enjoy young adult books and you like things like Harry Potter, THG, Twilight then you will enjoy this book so let’s hope the other two are just as good!

Books Reviews

Review – Gone Girl, seems simple enough right?

I wanted to love this book, I really did. I really enjoy a good mystery and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has knitted together a great story. But and there is a but, which is such a shame I just did not like the ending. Gone Girl has great general review score on Amazon and as per normal I hunted it out in my local book store to check it in the flesh.

The book is a cleverly written thriller, it’s great really it is but I just found myself wondering where the rest of the story was after I finished reading. I was actually stumped that I had hit the last page, how could it end like that? Without giving you too much away in my opinion if the ending was a biscuit it would be a soggy crunch cream, great at first but soon as you dunk it all of its redeeming features are gone. Just like the girl, gone *sigh* which is such a shame as I believe that it could have been so much more clever at the end.

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Just looking at the Amazon reviews I can see that loads of people agree, the ending is dire. I don’t read the Amazon reviews by the way when I look for books as I find people spoil the story a lot in them. It’s almost infuriating as this book is so good other than the end, I was surprised at every corner. It was great, what was Gillian thinking! The ending just flops.

I also really did not like that the author filled the last pages with the first chapter of one of her other books, it was like poor advertising “Please purchase my other books, here’s the first chapter if you read it then you’ll want to know what is coming next then you’ll buy my book??? Please???”. Needless to say I did not read the first chapter of whatever book has been bunched in the final pages.

Still with all of that said, I think you should read this book because it’s great apart from the ending. Given that so many people have read it and rated it highly I’m sure maybe the ending is like Marmite you ever love it or hate it. Personally I don’t find it believable at all and it infuriates me but the rest of the book was good so I don’t regret reading it. I read this book on and off for fives days because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, it’s very much a can’t put down book but I do feel a little cheated.

Gone Girl isn’t conventional, Gillian focuses a lot on human relationships and particularly marriage. There is a lot of lying, lots of manipulation, you can’t take for granted that what you are being told as the reader is true which is very different to other thrillers I’ve read. It’s what makes the book so good, addictive because you don’t know all the facts, you don’t know if what you are being told is the truth and you are taken along as much as all the other characters through the story. If only the ending was better, this would be a great film!

So if you don’t mind taking a risk, a gamble with the ending then totally read this!

Gone Girl City Living Soul Rating:3
Books Reviews

Review – The Book Thief, an interesting insight into death

The Book ThiefI was very much looking forward to reading The Book Thief,  it is written by an Australian author Markus Zusak and most interestingly narrated by the character “Death”. It took me a little while to warm up to the narration as Death has a very different way of viewing the world to humans, which is reflected heavily in the narration.

The book has a lot to contend with and there are stories which cover Nazi Germany already, like the boy in the striped pajamas. But what sets this book apart from the rest is the narration. By the end of the book you begin to think that perhaps it is possible that Death does exist. That he does come to take your soul and also what that process might feel like.

As per normal here is the synopsis from the back of the book:

Here is a small fact, you are going to die.
1939 Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year old girl is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.
Some important information
This novel is narrated by Death
It’s a small story, about
a girl + an accordionist + some fanatical Germans + a Jewish fist fighter + and quite a lot of thievery.
Another thing you should know
Death will visit the book thief three times

 The Book Thief was published in 2005 which I was quite surprised about, but it was the best-selling debut literacy novel in 2007. It has won a variety of awards and was listed in The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks. Even though the book is narrated by Death, the characters stories are still covered fully and in a beautiful way. Before reading the book I had never really considered what Germany must have been like during the Nazi take over. As time went on I found that I was intrigued to find out what happened next, how the inhabitants of Himmel street pushed forward even in such poverty. It really is an astonishing book, great writing but with an unusual style but fitting the narrator perfectly. If you find unusual writing methods tiresome you may struggle for the first few chapters of this book, but continue on and eventually the writing is easily absorbed. I will admit that the first few chapters I was not convinced that I wanted to continue reading, as I really struggled with the narration but now I have finished it I’m glad I did!

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

I think I was initial drawn to The Book Thief because of the cover, a young girl dancing holding hands with Death. I took the book with me to Italy over the weekend and It was perfect those periods when you need to pass time. I won’t spoil the story for you here, but I do think it’s worth reading and I look forward to now watching the film. If you think you might like to read a book about how a street in Germany coped with tragic events without losing hope, read the book.

Books Reviews

The Husbands Secret – What a great book!

I had no idea what to expect from this book, I bought it for my mother some time ago when The Husbands Secret first came out back in August 2013. I can’t remember exactly why, perhaps it was a Christmas present but something about the front cover made me think she would like it. It was only recently that I decided to read it myself, I had no idea how good it was! I must have flown through this book, I think I read the first chapter then left it for a week or so due to being so busy. But once I was ready to start reading again I pretty much ignored my poor husband for a few evenings. Not that I think he minded, since it gave him guilt free gaming time plus the easter weekend helped too!

The husbands secret

Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband’s hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.

Curious, she opens it – and time stops.

John-Paul’s letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.

I think that The Husbands Secret’s target audience has to be women, it reminds me of Desperate Housewives an American TV series which followed the lives of a whole bunch of housewives. The book shows multiple viewpoints of storyline events from different characters which makes it interesting and keeps the story flowing well. The biggest couple the feature the most would be John-Paul and Cecilia but all the characters are just as important throughout. As per usual I will try and review this book without spoilers, so rather than telling you what will happen I will try and explain what I liked about the book.

I really love the story, the synopsis quoted above gives you some idea that there is this massive secret but the story is about much more than just the big reveal. If anything I think the book enlightens you to exactly how the real world is once you wipe away the “American dream” world, which it does while being funny and gripping. I enjoy books which have clever story lines, I like guessing what might be going on but I don’t want to be right first time. While I think I did guess the secret in this book early on, I had no idea of the true secrets that were held within and was genuinely surprised by the very end of the book. If you are like most of the population, you’ll find yourself judging characters in the book too soon only to find that perhaps their motives are different later on. The book is a puzzle and if you enjoy that kind of story then I highly recommend you read this, you won’t be disappointed.

There were points in the book that I found slow which is a shame, but it did not detract from the overall experience and I still think the overall reviews of this book online are justified. I purchased it on Amazon for £3.80 (Bargain!) and as you will see the reviews for it on there are great, with almost five stars and around 2,400 reviews you cannot go wrong.

Seeing as I enjoyed this book I think I may look at purchasing more from the Author Liane Moriarty although her other books have not been such a big hit as The Husbands Secret.

Anyway please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are on the book in the comments section!

Books Reviews Trending Topics

The Shock of the Fall

I actually finished this book a little while ago but things have been super busy around here! I wanted to review it before I finish my next one which I’m currently reading though! (The Husbands Secret). I’m going to attempt to review without giving any spoilers away as I think that ruins the enjoyment of the book.

The Shock of the Fall is by Nathan Filer and it was Costa Coffee’s book of the year for 2013, it’s also Nathan’s first novel. Interestingly he has a background as a mental health worker and uses this to his advantage throughout the book very successfully. I suppose I should start of by saying it’s not a long novel, I think I finished it from cover to end in about two days but I did read for 3-4 hours a day.

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

The style of the book jumps around so if you don’t like that kind of story then this book is not the one for you, but if you can handle a disjointed timeline I would totally recommend reading it. It’s written really well considering it’s Nathan’s first novel and I found it to be an engaging read which you could not put down. The book is also written almost like a diary, so again if you prefer a story with a high level of detail which is easier to navigate then this is not the book for you.

So here is the hard part, trying to tell you a snippet of the story without ruining it. The novel is all about the journey of a boy who has a brother named Simon, their story, their lives and sadly the death event. I’m sure you could possibly work most of that out from the synopsis quoted above but hopefully that gives you a little more information to decide whether you want to read it or not.

I purchased the book online from Amazon rather than in a store although I did as I usually do check the book out in the store beforehand. The Shock of the Fall isn’t going to break the bank, so even if the turns out you don’t enjoy it you can be happy in the knowledge that you did not spend too much money on it anyway. Amazon are selling it right now for £3.85 with free delivery in the UK a least.

When you consider the price, the good reviews and the fact it’s a short read so it isn’t going to take took much of your time then I would highly recommend you buy this book. It’s an easy read which you can fling in your bag and take with you to your next coffee shop visit, besides if you don’t enjoy it then someone you know will!

Books

The Cuckoo’s Calling and we like it

I’ll be the first to admit that I am by no means the best reader, I have not picked up a book for pure entertainment for at least ten years. I’ve been an audiobook fan for a while, but I find that does not require the same level of commitment and I used to combine listening with other tasks like cleaning.

I love watching films so when I suddenly had some of that free time I talked about in my last blog appear I decided would give reading another try.

 A few weeks back I popped into the local Waterstones to check out what books are popular at the moment, after my third visit I decided to buy “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K Rowling). It’s a crime fiction which is something I’ve always enjoyed back when I did read. I find looking for books a lot easier online than I do in a book store.

I don’t want to spoilt the ending for anyone reading this or thinking of reading this book so I’ll keep that in mind with my comments. The book is based on a model who falls to her death leaving behind the question of suicide or murder? In steps a private detective (Cormoran Strike) who’s job it is to answer the question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; I think that J.K Rowling is a great writer and she has kept you guessing about firstly whether there is a murder at all and then secondly if there is who it might be. I found the book to be easy to read which I like, but still very descriptive.I’m not one to enjoy books that use overly complex wording but may work up to that over time we will see!

It’s nice to see that the author has been able to successfully write a book that is outside of the Harry Potter world. I would not be surprised if the book get’s made into a film at a later date.

I finished the book yesterday and am now eagerly waiting for the next book which follows the private detective Cormoran Strike on his next journey. The books called “Silkworm” and it’s due to be released on the 19th of June 2014, so that will definitely be on my reading list.

Today I’ve started reading “The Shock of the fall” by Nathan Filer and I will be sure to keep you posted of whether I think that’s worth a read.