Up until about a week ago I hadn't even heard of this book. Then I saw that it had won both Best YA book and Best Book of 2011 on Goodreads as voted b...moreUp until about a week ago I hadn't even heard of this book. Then I saw that it had won both Best YA book and Best Book of 2011 on Goodreads as voted by the members. I was curious about this book that hadn't reached my radar yet and upon reading the reviews discovered that it was being hailed as the new Hunger Games (which is one of my all-time favourite books). A day or so later I happened to be in a bookshop (what are the chances? Okay, I jest, I am almost a permanent fixture in bookshops) and saw a copy of Divergent staring out at me from the shelves and I just had to have it.
This is a world sometime in the future and set in a city that I believe was once Chicago (as the now-abandoned Sears Tower is based there). Every person in this city belongs to one of five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (learning), Amity (kindness), Candor (honesty) or Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice Prior (or Tris as she becomes known) is a member of Abnegation and the book starts with the day that she and every other 16 year old from all factions undergo a test to see which faction they will belong to from then on: if they chose a faction other than the one that they were born into it means betraying their families and potentially never seeing them again). However, Tris's test doesn't turn out quite as she had expected as her results mean that she could choose one of 3 factions. She is told in confidence that this is because she is a Divergent but she must not tell anyone, even her family, as this is an extremely dangerous thing to be. On the day of the choosing ceremony, Tris abandons her family to join the Dauntless faction and that is where the adventure starts.
I thought the idea of this was brilliant and I was excited to find out about the factions and how Tris's choice to join Dauntless would affect her. However, the more I read the more disillusioned I became: I never felt that I got a proper sense of the city or why it was like that or why the factions had come about and I would have liked to have learnt more. Also, as the book moved along I became more and more frustrated at why each person would only fit into one of the factions; afterall I don't know anyone who is honest but can't be kind or intelligent with it or brave but can't be honest etc. I would expect that the majority of people would fit into more than one category - I certainly would; in fact I think I could fit into all of them (except Dauntless ironically - particularly after reading what they had to go through).
As well as some other minor annoyances, I did have one huge dislike too and that was the violence that went on for chapters and chapters. Each faction had to train its new recruits to pass an initiations (and those who fail are kicked out and become known as factionless and have to live on the streets), and despite knowing that the Dauntless faction was all about bravery, I found most of their training completely over the top and unsavoury to read. Fighting each other until someone passes out, throwing knives at each other, almost killing someone to test their mettle: I accept that some of this may have been necessary to show us what they recruits had to go through but for it to go on for so long and to be so brutal left a really bad taste in my mouth.
I would really have liked to know more about the other factions and how the city came to be like this but we got little information about anything outside the Dauntless compound until the end. Is this just in one city? Are there other cities exactly the same with their own compounds and set of factions? None of that was even addressed, never mind answered. I know this is the first book in a trilogy so maybe some of this will be answered in the future books, but even a little teaser or snippets of info would have been good.
Despite my little rants, I sort of enjoyed this book. I understand that it is the debut novel written by a 23 year old and that has to be commended. I hope that the books become tighter and more polished as the series continues and I am curious enough to want to read them to see what happens.
Verdict: Some major disappointments and it certainly is no Hunger Games (not in my mind at least). Aside from my ramblings though, it is still a fast-paced adventure story that sucked me right in for large amounts of it and should certainly appeal to the masses.
This book is truly magical. It hooked me from page one and did not let me go until I closed the final pages, and it was with a heavy heart that I said...moreThis book is truly magical. It hooked me from page one and did not let me go until I closed the final pages, and it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to this wonderful place and its small cast of characters.
Jack and Mabel arrive in Alaska in 1920 to make a new home for themselves and to get away from the terrible heartache of losing their only child at birth ten years before. Their sense of loss and grief is palpable and their sadness at realising that they are also losing each other is felt clearly through those opening pages. Just as things seem to be coming to a head, Jack and Mabel - in a rare moment of companionship - build a snowgirl together when the first snows of that winter arrive at their homestead. They dress it in mittens and a scarf and use the juice of berries to give some colour to its lips. The next morning, not only is their snowgirl gone, but there are little footprints leading away from the mound of snow and the couple start to be convinced that they have seen a little girl in a blue coat dashing between the trees in the snow, followed by a red fox.
What follows is a truly captivating and spell-binding tale of a little girl, who we come to find out is called Faina, and her place in the rebuilding of the lives of Jack and Mabel. As the elderly couple open their hearts once again, Mabel remembers a book that her father used to read to her when she was a child: a snow child that appears at the house of a childless couple and, despite many re-tellings and different endings over the years, always ends with the little girl melting back into the snow, and Mabel comes to dread the day that Faina will leave them too. Faina herself is not quite tamable and always slightly out of reach of the couple and it is through her that the reader is treated to such a feast of beauty and nature and landscape. Just wondferful.
Istill can't quite believe that this is a debut novel and beacuse of this, I cannot wait to see what else she comes up with in the future.
Verdict: Wow, just wow. My favourite book of 2011 and I am head over heels in love with it. (less)
I have been a huge fan of Lisa Gardner after discovering her books about 2 years ago, and I particularly like the Detective D.D. Warren series of whic...moreI have been a huge fan of Lisa Gardner after discovering her books about 2 years ago, and I particularly like the Detective D.D. Warren series of which Catch Me is the latest. Her books always start with an intriguing prologue that grabs you by the throat but actually gives away very little meaning that the rest of the book is up to you to work out. I still have a lot of Gardners’ books to read (yay!) so I can only speak for the ones that I have read so far, but what I have found (and liked) is that there is usually an ureliable narrator at the helm. In some cases this is deliberate (for reasons that become apparant later on) and in some cases (i.e. Catch Me) it is because the narrator can’t actually remember any more than she’s telling us so we are muddling through in the same way that she is.
Charlie Grant (or Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant as she insists upon being called) tracks down Boston Detective D.D. Warren on 17th January to ask for help: she thinks she only has 4 days left until she will be murdered. On the last two January 21sts her two best friends, Randi and Jackie, were murdered a year apart and Charlie thinks she will be next. As well as working on what appears to be a serial killer of paedophiles , D.D. is intrigued enough to check out Charlie’s story at the same time, and becomes more so when it appears that the two cases may be linked…
You don’t have to have read all (or indeed any) of this series to be able to get full enjoyment out of this book (I have read only the latest 4 which means I can now go back to D.D’s roots and see where she started out) but I do like the fact that I have seen her character develop. Once hard-nut workaholic D.D. is now mother to 10 week old Jack and living with partner Alex and for once actually looking forward to getting home after a shift. Old habbits die hard though and D.D. ins’t one to let a case go cold and her spidey-senses start tingling like mad towards the end of this one.
What I also liked about this particular book was that characters from some of her other series’ had cameos too; in fact quite a few of them did. Again, if you’re not familiar with Gardner’s books you wouldn’t even notice (and it wouldn’t spoil the book in any way) but for fans this was actually a real treat.
Verdict: One of my favourites. I ripped through it in no time at all and enjoyed every page. Highly recommended for crime fiction fans.
I have been a fan of Lisa Gardner’s books for a while now, but for some reason she doesn’t seem to be as well known in the UK as other crime writers....moreI have been a fan of Lisa Gardner’s books for a while now, but for some reason she doesn’t seem to be as well known in the UK as other crime writers. I hope that changes soon as her books really are great! I am especially loving this series starring Detective D.D. Warren who is one of Boston’s top homicide Detectives.
Love You More is a gripping thriller that opens with State Tropper Tessa Leoni being arrested for the murder of her husband and the disappearance of her 6 year old daughter. Tessa’s narrative takes the reader back and forth through her relationship with Brian and their last moments together and it becomes clear early on that she may not be a reliable narrator, as her story often changes, but why does she do this? The reason does become apparant nearer the end – and it’s a good one! Interspersing Tessa’s story is Detective D. D. Warren and her race to find missing six-year-old Sophie. D.D. is a great character – she’s fiesty, funny (without trying) and kick-ass; I love her. The switching between the two perspectives keeps the plot fast-paced and interesting too, espcially as you are wondering who to believe most of the time.
Verdict: As with all the previous books of Gardner that I have read, this one is equally as addictive and has twists and turns a-plenty.
These books aren't on sales in the UK shops (not that I have seen anyway). The first time I came across a Donna van Liere book was on a visit to the U...moreThese books aren't on sales in the UK shops (not that I have seen anyway). The first time I came across a Donna van Liere book was on a visit to the USA a few years ago in December; we were at a little village in New Jersey with my American family and browsing in a Christmas shop when I saw a pile of these little books on a table and I just had to have them - they looked so welcoming and delicious. I read the first three while in NYC over the next 2 days and I have read them several times since. I ordered this latest book online and read it this weekend and it still had the exact same magic of all the others.
Gretchen has moved to Grandon (the setting of all her books) with her two small children to be closer to her Mum. While unpacking she meets the very odd and reclusive Melissa, her new next-door-neighbour, who is determined to be unwelcoming and succeeds. Melissa had a horrible childhood with a drunk, uncaring mother and when she finds out that her mother has died, Melissa doesn't feel anything except relief and rebuffs Gretchens offer of help to clean out her mothers appartment. Once she gives in though, she finds a half fisnished note from her mother to herself that opens up a whole new world to her...
These books wouldn't be for everyone, I accept that. They are very sweet and some may find them too sweet. I just adore them though; they are full of hope and kindness and salvation and magic and they have the most gorgeous covers ever. I have loved every one of Donna van Liere's Christmas books and reading this latest one has made me want to go back to my shelf and read the others all over again.
Verdict: If you are feeling bah humbug at Christmas, these books cannot fail to cheer you up. Just lovely. (less)
We all have those authors whose books we have enjoyed so much that we practically count the days down until the next one is out. Linwood Barclay is on...moreWe all have those authors whose books we have enjoyed so much that we practically count the days down until the next one is out. Linwood Barclay is one of those authors. I had read three of his books previously and was so excited to receive this one too. While it was still up to it’s usual standards of in terms of pace and whodunnitness (hee hee) I have to admit that it is not my favourite of his books.
No surprises (form the title and the cover) that The Accident is based around a car accident in which Sheila Garber, young wife and mother, is found dead at the wheel of her car after a head-on collision with another car which killed two people. Grieving husband Glen can’t get his head around being told by the police that Sheila was found to be 7 times over the drink drive limit and also driving the wrong way up the off-ramp. In the days after Sheila’s death, Glen and Sheila’s 8 year old daughter, Kelly, goes to stay at her friends house for a sleepover but soon begs to come home in a hurry when she overhears her friends mum on the phone when she is hiding in her bedroom. Kelly has heard something that she shouldn’t and her friends mum wants her kept quiet. That night sparks a series of events that seem to involve Sheila (making him wonder if he knew his wife at all) and he starts to fear for his daughters safety…
As with all Barclay’s books, they race along at startling speed and rarely give you time to pause for breath; that’s what I love about them. He doesn’t write about serial killers or delve into the pyschology of a character, merely concentrates on plot and dishing out those twists when you least expect them. Being a huge crime and thriller fan I do find myself trying to work out (often successfully) “whodunnit” right from the off, and although I did guess something major that happened in this one very early on, I was also delivered another shocking surprise at the end that pleased me as I hadn’t seen that one coming.
Verdict: If you’re a fan of Barclay, you will love this. If you haven’t read his books yet, then you absolutely must but start with Too Close to Home or No Time for Goodbye.
Do you ever read a book and then look at other reviews afterwards and wonder if you read the same book? This is that book. Every single review out the...moreDo you ever read a book and then look at other reviews afterwards and wonder if you read the same book? This is that book. Every single review out there (that I can find) has raved and gushed and wept over The Language of Flowers it seems – except me. Firstly, I must make it clear that this is not a bad book at all and I actually did enjoy reading it, but I am left feeling somewhat confused as to what I may have missed that others didn’t as it didn’t have the same impact on me at all.
The Language of Flowers centres on Victoria, who after 18 years in the system being passed from one foster home and care home to the next is finally let out in to the world on her 18th birthday. Other reviewers have written glowing reports of the character of Victoria who is a troubled young thing and has been misunderstood all her life while I barely managed to connect with her at all. She was distrustful and melancholy which, baring in mind what she has been through are pretty normal reactions I would have thought, but I never managed that empathy that I think I was expected to have for her. The book alternated between Victoria’s current life – living in a park and then being hired to do casual work at a florsits – and her life when she was 10 years old and was almost adopted by Elizabeth until something catastrophic happened that put her back in the system (which we don’t find out about until the end).
A couple of points didn’t ring quite true with me: firstly, seemingly every single foster home that Victoria was ever placed with bullied or neglected her. Now I don’t know much about the foster system, but surely there must be some good people out there? People who care about their charges? Afterall, why foster if you only have intentions of starving or punishing a child? The second thing was when the adoption with Elizabeth was about to go through which I can’t really say any more about for fear of spoiling it for others, but if anyone has read it I would love to hear your thoughts on what happened that day as it left me a little bewildered.
My problem with this book is not that I didn’t like it because I did, but the confusion I feel reading other reviews is heighening my wonder at what I missed that others didn’t. For me it was a good book, but not a great book.
My Queen of Comfort Reads has done it again - I can always rely on Mrs Higgins Clark to whisk me away to somewhere on the US east coast (NYC in this c...moreMy Queen of Comfort Reads has done it again - I can always rely on Mrs Higgins Clark to whisk me away to somewhere on the US east coast (NYC in this case) and allow me to escape for a few hours with plots to solve and baddies to catch.
Alexandra (Zan) Moreland is in turmoil on what would have been the 5th birthday of her son Matthew who was kidnapped two years ago in broad daylight while out with his babysitter in Central Park. Despite no trace of Matthew ever being found, Zan has still not been able to give up hope that he is still alive somewhere. But just when she thinks things can't get any worse, a photo appears in the paper that appears to show her scatching her own child from his pushchair in the park. Not only that but purchases are being made from Zan's personal and business account for things she knows she didn't order.....or did she? As Zan starts to doubt her own sanity, someone is clearly at work attempting to destroy her. But why?
Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book (as always) I didn't find it one of her best. I think more could have been made of putting Zan in some danger as it was really all done remotely and even though Zan sometimes doubts her own sanity, we the reader are left in no doubt that it is not her who is doing this but someone else. I also had an inkling early on as to who the perp might be and I was right but to be honest I couldn't quite fathom out why they would go to such extreme lengths to destroy Zan (by taking her child): the reason didn't seem quite right to me.
Verdict: Another pacey thriller and fans of Higgins Clark will love this. If you haven't read any of her other books yet then I demand that you do! Recommended.