“Pat Peoples has a theory that his life is actually a movie produced by God, and that his God-given mission in life is to become emotionally literate,“Pat Peoples has a theory that his life is actually a movie produced by God, and that his God-given mission in life is to become emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending - which, for Pat, means the return of his estranged wife Nikki, from whom he's currently having some 'apart time'. It might not come as any surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility. When Pat leaves hospital and goes to live with his parents, however, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends now have families; his beloved football team keep losing; his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. And he's being haunted by Kenny G. There is a silver lining, however, in the form of tragically widowed, physically fit and clinically depressed Tiffany, who offers to act as a go-between for Pat and his wife, if Pat will just agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition . . .”
The Silver Linings Playbook was a surprising read for me in a couple of ways. Firstly, the story was nothing like I expected it to be, but it also surprised me because it was such an easy read, despite dealing with such a difficult topic.
The main character, Pat, appeared very child-like to me throughout the novel, not understanding aspects of daily life or what was happening to him. However, that added a further sense of reality to the novel, making it more real and the character more believable.
I do think that because of the strong presence of American Football within the novel, and the main character being male (the novel being told through his eyes), the it was more of a ‘man’s novel’, but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable read. Definitely a read for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time!...more
I was fairly convinced that I would enjoy this book - it sounded like exactly my kind of read - but I didn't expect to love it quite as much as I did!I was fairly convinced that I would enjoy this book - it sounded like exactly my kind of read - but I didn't expect to love it quite as much as I did! Maria didn't waste time in getting the reader into the story - we're thrown pretty much straight into the action. Avry begins the story by telling us a little about the origins of 'the plague', an incurable disease that has wiped out more than a third of the world population (although a world that we are not familiar with), and then introduces us to what she is. Avry is a healer, and the plot of the novel gets going almost immediately as she heals a sick child and throws herself into instant danger by doing so. Soon after, Kerrick is introduced into the plot and the plot begins to thicken.
It has been quite a while since I've read a book with a plot that is so well-constructed. The novel was very consistent and by the end of the novel, there were no loose ends left untied (apart from those that lead us into the second in the series, of course), which shows a great deal of skill on the author's part. And the premise of the novel and plot itself was intoxicating - I can't think of a better word to describe it - it was an instantly addictive story (the second part to which I will wait for very impatiently). The plot was perfectly-paced - fast enough that the reader is not allowed to get bored with what is happening, but slow enough so that the events are allowed to play out properly, and nothing is rushed unnecessarily. The events are also equally as exciting and intriguing and I can't wait to see how the plot develops further as the series continues.
The characters were also fantastically well-developed. Avry was a wonderful female protagonist. What I find with a lot of modern fantasy fiction (as in, books published within the last 5 or 6 years), is that the female protagonists can be quite shallow, not well-developed, whiny and even irritating, but Avry was not at all like that! She was a very believable character - amiable, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, and could quite easily have been a description of a living person. This is not just true of Avry, but of most characters in the book. I did feel that Tohon's character was perhaps a little over the top, but then again I've never met anyone as villainous as him! He was an intriguing character none-the-less, and caused me to love Avry, Kerrick and the rest of their team even more.
Kerrick is another wonderful character in the novel. Although when we first meet him, he is a brooding, bossy and apparently unsympathetic character, we soon learn that this is just a protective facade. Kerrick has things in his past that he'd far sooner forget than face up to, but after meeting Avry, he is forced to begin facing the pain in his past, and to try overcoming it in favour of finally breaking the icy shell he formed around his heart in order to survive. The relationship between Kerrick and Avry is also entirely believable. Avry's initial reaction and attitude towards Kerrick is an entirely natural and expected one - rather than falling immediately head-over-heels for her rescuer/captor, she severely dislikes him. The relationship subtly develops however, so that by the end of the novel, their romance is realistic and much anticipated, rather than the alternative of being overwhelming (or sickening, as is the possibility with the romances in some other novels in the same genre).
I absolutely adored this novel, and I think it's definitely going to have to go down somewhere in my list of top ten favourite books that I've read in 2011! I recommend it to all fans of fantasy, but also implore other readers to pick it up too - I think you may be surprised by what you find!
[like the review? There are plenty more where that came from on my blog]...more
“At the moment of his supreme triumph, a man of science dodges an assassin’s bullet and loses everything that truly matters in his life. Now only a mi“At the moment of his supreme triumph, a man of science dodges an assassin’s bullet and loses everything that truly matters in his life. Now only a miracle can save Dr Tom Carter’s dying daughter: the blood of salvation shed twenty centuries ago. In the volatile heart of the Middle East, amid the devastating secrets of an ancient brotherhood awaiting a new messiah, Tom Carter must search for answers to the mysteries that have challenged humankind since the death and resurrection of the greatest Healer who every walked the Earth. Because suddenly Carter’s life, the life of his little girl, and the fate of the world hang in the balance… After two thousand years, the wait is over…”
The Messiah Code was recommended to me by a rather well-read friend, but I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect of the story, and because of the involvement of religion, I did expect to find it somewhat tedious (sorry Jenny). How wrong I was!
I was immediately gripped when I began the first chapter (although I can’t say the prologue held the same effect), and felt sympathy for the main characters from the word go. The tragedy that occurs in the first chapter had me in tears, so from that moment I knew I would enjoy the novel immensely; any immediate emotional involvement with the characters similar to this novel, tells you the author has done a good job. The continuity of these emotional attachments was flawless as I genuinely felt for the main character (Tom Carter), his daughter (Holly) and his friends and colleagues throughout the remainder of the novel.
The Brotherhood however, provoked entirely different emotions. I was irritated by them and their extremist religion from the start, and grew to hate them more as the novel progressed, but also became aware of an interest in understanding their way of thinking. Maria’s (Nemesis) character was, for me, the hardest to understand. She was the Brotherhood’s passionate and attention-craving assassin, who is rightly first portrayed as evil and mentally unstable. However, as the novel progresses and we learn more about her past, it becomes an internal struggle to fight off the feeling of sympathy for her.
I was very impressed by The Messiah Code and Cordy’s ability as an author. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and would definitely recommend it to others. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It was recommended to me (and leant to me) by a family friend.
At first I didn't think I'd like it. Although the writing aI really enjoyed this book. It was recommended to me (and leant to me) by a family friend.
At first I didn't think I'd like it. Although the writing and the descriptions were very successful at provoking the right imagery, it was a very grizzly thing to have to imagine, in parts at least. However, with the introduction of Marianne Engel, the novel took a turn for the better and became an intricately woven masterpiece composed of numerous sub-plots (all of which fit perfectly with the main story), fantastical characters and strong character relationships. This all came together to make the perfect novel.
I would highly recommend reading this novel and will definitely be re-reading this one myself as well!...more
This is one of the few books that is considered a real classic in the YA literary world. I have heard so many people – bloggers, university tutors, feThis is one of the few books that is considered a real classic in the YA literary world. I have heard so many people – bloggers, university tutors, fellow booksellers and authors – talk about it over the past few years, and for some reason unknown to myself, it has still taken me until now to finally pick it up and read it.
First off, I want to say that I'm really glad I picked up the edition of the book that I did. There are two editions that are easily available from bookshops in the UK – this one, which is the Penguin Modern Classics version and is shelved in adult fiction, and another that is published by Puffin (children's imprint of Penguin) and is shelved in teenage. I was initially planning on getting the teenage edition of the book, but then I saw the cover to this and knew it had to be this one that I read. I'm really glad I made that decision. I try not to let the cover of a book matter too much – because, afterall, it's the words that count – but this cover, for me at least, is perfect. As soon as I started reading I was thinking how perfect the cover image was. And this set the tone for the rest of the book.
Another reason that the cover is so perfect on this edition is because of the character on the front. The book is full of characters, and all of them have plenty of character to go around. Each of the boys in the main character, Ponyboy's, gang is distinct not just because he describes each of them in turn at the beginning of the book, but because of the way they act and speak, and because of their individual personalities. Slowly but surely, I fell for every single one of these characters – even those who are not nice people. They all meant something, and I guess that is kind of the point. And it wasn't even just Ponyboy's gang of friends, but those that they interacted with – good and bad. The Socs, the other greaser gangs and the people they met along the way were all so real that I couldn't help but be sucked into their world.
And the story itself was so absorbing. It was probably because I was so deeply involved with the characters by the time things really started to kick off, but I felt everything that happened to them so keenly. It was a real emotional ride. Gritty, nerve-wracking, emotional, intense and wild are all words that perfectly describe The Outsiders.
As a fan of YA fiction, I am disappointed that I hadn't read this before today, but I guess it's better to be late than never to arrive. If, like me, you are yet to introduce yourself to the world of The Outsiders, you should definitely follow suit and get yourself a copy. It might be a short book, but what it lacks in length, it surely makes up for in power.
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I first heard about this book when a blogger friend of mine reviewed it, and rated it pLike this review? I have more! Check out my blog, Pen to Paper.
I first heard about this book when a blogger friend of mine reviewed it, and rated it pretty highly. The first thing that grabbed me about the book was the cover - but not just because it's so pretty - because it also looked like just the kind of book I needed to read at the time. Reading the synopsis confirmed that. When I finally started reading it, I knew I'd made the right decision.
I fell in love with this story from the very first chapter - the writing is warm, friendly and easy to read, and it drew me immediately into Tess' story. However, what really made this love at first read were the characters - Tess and her two best friends, Ellie and Adam. They all came across as instantly real and loveable, and I couldn't help but want to hang out with them - luckily, by reading the book, that's exactly what I got to do! I really enjoyed the friendship that the three of them had - their personalities seemed both to fit and balance each other out nicely. Adam definitely made me laugh, but he's not just the joker of the trio, as he proved with a certain locker-related revenge stunt he pulled, defending Tess. Ellie was equally supportive, and it really warmed my heart to see three teens who would do so much for one another.
Of course, the friendship between Tess, Ellie and Adam is all very well and good, but what I also wanted and couldn't wait for, was the arrival of the infamous Onslow boys! Fortunately, I didn't have long to wait! They are a lot older than the trio of friends we've already met, being in their early twenties, but the two groups get on brilliantly straight away, and they almost become one big group. Almost, but not quite. There were always going to be a few bumps in the road, and one of them is Angela Vickers, the not-so-pleasant girlfriend of Toby Morrison, the Onslow boy that Tess can't tear her eyes away from. Could it be possible that, despite the beautiful girlfriend, Toby feels the same way about Tess? Does it matter, when there's a girlfriend in the picture? I hoped all the way through that something would happen so that Tess and Toby could get closer. The chemistry between the two of them throughout the book was intoxicating, especially when certain creases had been ironed out, and I honestly couldn't help but feel the same nervous butterflies that Tess did every time they were together.
I really enjoyed the way that Tess' character evolved because of Toby and the Onslow boys. She started off as quite a shy character, not wanting to draw attention to herself, happy to let her friends be the bright lights beside her, and describing herself as a wallflower. She was quite content with that. But once she, Ellie and Adam get a job at the Onslow hotel for the summer, and they meet the Onslow boys, (after some gentle persuasion from Ellie) Tess started to come out of her shell, which was awesome to see. Obviously change wasn't going to come without its drama, but this made things more interesting, and Tess just grew all the more because of this drama. I don't want to give any more away about the character relationships, though, because the twists and turns that they take are what makes this book so good!
I found the setting for the story particularly interesting - not just because it's set in Australia (a place that I don't often read about) - but also because it's set during the 1990s. I thought having a contemporary romance set twenty years ago was a really interesting idea, but I'm not quite so sure that it's one I fully understand the motive behind. There didn't seem to be much point to this, and I think the story would have remained essentially the same had it been set now. I suppose it was interesting imagining the story set during the decade in which I was born and grew up, though, and it was definitely a choice that makes the novel unique.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel - it had everything a YA contemporary romance needs; a well-rounded, loveable group of characters (with a couple of exceptions, to provide conflict and drama), a beautiful, summery setting, a smoking-hot group of boys and some seriously steamy chemistry! It was the breath of fresh air that I needed. If you're a fan of YA contemporary, or romance, you definitely need to pick this up - it'll have you laughing and blushing all at once, and it'll definitely warm your heart! A fabulous and fun read, perfect for the coming summer months!...more
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a beautifully moving and captivating novel that truly allows the reader to consider what it means to be human. TheNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a beautifully moving and captivating novel that truly allows the reader to consider what it means to be human. The novel's main character, Kathy (now 31), is the readers' guide through this dark and terrifying alternate England, allowing one into her mind and displaying her most intimate thoughts and emotions as she reminisces about her abnormal childhood and the events that followed. As the reader watches the events of Kathy's life unfold through her eyes, one slowly begins to see the horrific truth behind these events, and to see their dreadful purpose. Ishiguro slowly and subtly reveals the depth of horror within the plot through beautifully composed chapters, following the thoughts and experiences of innocent and unfortunate Kathy and her friends. Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are elegantly constructed characters who become so real and human to the reader, that they continue the flawless poignancy of the novel with seeming ease.
A gripping read from the first page to the very last; this novel will stay with me for a very long time!...more
I have never been a fan of Austen. I have tried many times in the past to read her works, but have never succeeded in getting very far with any of theI have never been a fan of Austen. I have tried many times in the past to read her works, but have never succeeded in getting very far with any of them. However, both Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice are on my reading list for university this year, and so I had no choice but to try again.
When I started Persuasion, I was still convinced of my earlier opinion of Austen's novels. It wasn't until I got a good way into the book, that I started to feel a little more 'at home' with the novel, its style and topics - once I'd passed this point, I began to enjoy the novel a little more than I expected to. Although I found a lot of the characters irritating (particularly Sir Walter, who irritated me most when he spoke of the apparent number of ugly women in Bath and how difficult it was to see), I still managed to like some of the characters, which was also unexpected, considering my previous encounters with Austen.
I have rated Persuasion 3.5 stars - not because I particularly liked the novel, but because it was a lot more enjoyable than I had expected when I started it, and because by the end of the book, I wanted a happy ending for Captain Wentworth and Anne - a happy ending which was gratefully received!...more
The Giver, up until recently, has not been a book that I've heard spoken about all that much. It was recommended to me about a year ago by a fellow boThe Giver, up until recently, has not been a book that I've heard spoken about all that much. It was recommended to me about a year ago by a fellow bookseller-from-across-the-pond, who is also a BookTuber. I don't quite understand why it doesn't seem to be as well known – it was originally published in 1993 and has even been published as an essential modern classic in the UK – it's also seriously epic. Only since it was released as a movie has it really seemed to come into the common consciousness, and even then it's not mentioned nearly as much as other book adaptations like The Hunger Games or Divergent. It certainly deserves to be.
The Giver is set in an idealistic community of 'sameness' – there is no colour, no class system, no one goes hungry and everyone is assigned a job that best fits them and the needs of the community as a whole. And it works. There is no war, no hunger, no apparent disease. Everyone gets on well and their society is ordered and peaceful. But it is also sadly lacking. Lacking in proper feeling, real joy, love and appreciation. Yes, they appear to want for nothing, but does that make them truly happy? And then there are the darker secrets that lie buried beneath the shiny facade ...
Jonas, our protagonist, is chosen on his twelfth birthday to be the next Receiver of Memory – the member of the community who is granted the 'honour' of containing within themselves all the memories of the past. It is their sole responsibility to retain these memories and put them to use when advising the other members of the community. I was immediately suspicious of the 'honour' that this would really give, and it soon became clear that not everything was as 'perfect' as it might appear in Jonas's world.
I really enjoyed The Giver. The narrative immediately sucked me in and the story moves forward at such a pace that I never lost interest for a moment. I was constantly wondering what would be around the next corner, what memory Jonas would receive next, and what the consequences would be. I'm even more intrigued now, having finished the book, about what is going to happen next. I also loved the characters – they breathed life into every page and, despite Jonas's world being so different from the world we know, it made everything feel all the more real. As the story went on, I felt more sympathetic towards the members of the community, gradually realising what they were missing and just how ignorant they were. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Jonas is going to do in order to save them.
If you've not yet read The Giver, I seriously suggest that you pick it up right away. This is a book that certainly deserves the title of 'modern classic' and one that I can see being enjoyed by many more generations to come. A seriously awesome read.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Just when I thought the Winter trilogy could not possibly get any more exciting,Like this review? I have more on my blog, Pen to Paper.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Just when I thought the Winter trilogy could not possibly get any more exciting, I read the final instalment... and it blew me away! The beginning of the novel drops us straight back in where A Witch in Love left off. Anna is with her Grandmother, Elizabeth, who just happens to be one of the five chairs of the Ealdwitan, the British witches' equivalent of parliament. Since Seth in the second book, Anna has been working on her witchcraft, learning to control her powers properly, and then how to put them to good use. She's also working on the riddle of her mother's disappearance, trying to find out why her mother wanted her hidden, and what is so special about her that other witches seem to be willing to do anything to find her.
I loved the mystery that was spread throughout the novel, and of course, the discoveries that these brought along with them. When I read the first book in this trilogy, I had not expected anything like this to be happening in the final book, so it was a really pleasant surprise to be so drawn in. I enjoyed this book even more than book two, because the mysteries went even deeper than before, but there was at least some kind of resolution to the puzzles that Anna faced, and they were not at all what I was expecting. I also loved the amount of action in this final instalment. There was a fair amount in A Witch in Love, but this book just blew my mind with how fast-paced and exciting it was, especially towards the end with the final struggle that Anna and her friends had to face. Even though the book is not particularly short (topping 400 pages), I read two thirds of it in one sitting, because it was so gripping that I literally did not want to put it down. If I did, even for a moment, I was thinking about what had just happened and what Anna might do next! While I was reading it, the story utterly consumed me.
Then of course, we have the romantic element to the story. If you've read the second book, A Witch in Love, then you may be surprised when I say that I really liked the romantic side of this book. No, it's not a particularly prominent part of the book (the mystery surrounding Anna's mother and her powers is most prominent for the majority), but I was intrigued to see what was going to happen. Part of me was cheering for Seth, praying he would come back, and part of me wanted the other love interest to take over - I could not decide who I wanted to win Anna's affection. In the end, I was happy with how it turned out (how could I not be?), and I was satisfied with how the book ended. There's even a little hint of mystery left at the end to keep me wandering what is going to happen to Anna past the pages of the novel. I know I'm going to be imagining her story, despite the trilogy having ended.
When I read A Witch in Winter last year, I enjoyed it, but in all honesty, I didn't think I'd end up rating it as a trilogy that would stick in my mind as others have. But now, having read the final two books back-to-back, I think I'm going to have to change my mind. This trilogy will definitely stay with me for a while - Anna will stay with me for a while - and I can't wait to see what Ruth Warburton will come up with next! She has definitely won me over!
The Winter trilogy is perfect for fans of Young Adult fantasy, magic, mystery, huge battles and romances that defy all odds. It's definitely a trilogy I recommend! ...more
Matt Haig is one of those rare authors where I will pick up any book he has written without the need to even read the synopsis. What the book is aboutMatt Haig is one of those rare authors where I will pick up any book he has written without the need to even read the synopsis. What the book is about is not so much of a concern to me any more – I know it is Matt Haig, and therefore I trust that I will love it. That was exactly what happened with Echo Boy. I loved his last book, The Humans, so much that I didn't even read the synopsis before I bought it, and I still didn't look at it before I started reading. I trust Matt to write an amazing story, and this book cemented that trust further.
Echo Boy is set just over a hundred years in the future, where global warming has made some areas of the planet too hot and hostile to inhabit. Some areas are flooded, completely submerged under water – areas like the north of Britain, for example, where Audrey lives with her parents, in a house on stilts. Thanks to the invention of these 'floating' buildings and magrails (a bit like tram rails, but much better, where you can travel from London to New New York – the original was destroyed by the extreme weather conditions – in less than an hour in a good magcar) it is still possible to live in some of these places. Audrey Castle, niece of Alex Castle (one of the most powerful people in the world, owning even the police force), daughter of Leo Castle (one of the most prominent anti-Echo protestors, and Alex Castle's brother) lives with her parents in a 'floating' home above the water in the north of England. But Audrey's world is about to be turned upside-down, and she will have to face things far more frightening than she ever imagined. But what she finds the most frightening is not what she expected.
Echo Boy is one of the most imaginative books I have ever read. It is punctuated throughout by Matt Haig's awesome command of the English language and by his seemingly limitless wit. I have not come across many authors who are as great a wordsmith as he is. The story is beautifully written; emotive, so descriptive that I can easily picture the strange futuristic world in my mind, and incredibly compelling. But the imagination behind the story is especially striking. The picture of the future world in which this story takes place is incredibly vivid; there are cars that travels at thousands of miles per hour, info-lenses that give details of the world around you (and can even take pictures of what you see), pods that allow you to travel anywhere in space and history, and (this is my favourite) low fat foods are known to be bad for you and chocolate is an acceptable breakfast choice. Everything about the world feels alien and strange, and yet it also feels incredibly real. It feels alive. And this goes for the story too. Although I saw some things coming (and these were really just the logical way for the book to go), I still enjoyed seeing them happen, and I was still kept engaged in the story. I loved every moment of it.
Not only did the world feel real, so did the characters. Audrey was incredibly real, and I found myself thinking about her even when I wasn't reading the book at the time. The same goes for Daniel, the Echo boy who seems to be more than just a little different. There are good guys and bad guys, but not all of them are as clear-cut as you might think, and I had fun trying to work out which side some of the characters were on. The characters really bought this book to life.
Sometimes it can be hard to write a review for a book I really love. I feel pressured to get across just how much I loved it and exactly why I feel the way I do; to make other people want to read it too. There are some books that I love so much that I worry my review does not do them justice. This is one of them. All of Matt Haig's books belong to this category. If I had to choose just one author who really stands up above the rest, for me, it would be Matt. For oh, so many reasons.
Echo Boy is yet another of Matt Haig's masterpieces. It is compelling, it is imaginative and it is intelligent. And above all it is beautiful. If you are going to choose just one book to read this summer, or even this year, I implore you to make it one by Matt Haig. You can thank me later. Another beautiful Haig masterpiece.
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Well, where to start?! I suppose Alexia would want me to bLike this review? There are plenty more where this one came from! Follow me at Pen to Paper!
Well, where to start?! I suppose Alexia would want me to begin at the beginning, so that is where I shall begin. At first I found this novel a little difficult to adjust to - it is written in a style not all too different from that of the great, British authors of the 19th century, and so, to begin with, takes a little more concentration. After only the first chapter though, I found myself settling into the style, and eventually I came to really enjoy it. The novel is written in a sophisticated and elegant manner, that suits the time period, characters and plot extremely well. The novel manages to keep up this sophistication throughout, but leaves room for the wit and humour of the author to shine through effectively - and the novel is definitely witty and humorous! This is mostly thanks to the protagonist, the brilliantly intelligent and strong-willed Alexia Tarabotti. I don't think I have loved a character this much since I was first introduced to Sookie Stackhouse, from Charlaine Harris' True Blood series - and this is a great compliment indeed! Alexia is so fiercely intelligent, and well - fierce - that she can talk most of the other characters in the novel into submission if need be, mostly eliminating the need for a thump with that trusty parasol of hers (although the thumps she does deliver are particularly satisfying, have no doubt!). As you can see, the written style of the novel has rubbed off on my own writing of this review - this is how effective and oddly compelling it is!
The novel not only has sophistication, wit and humour, but action, suspense, thrills and romance too! Buckets full of it! The plot is a complicated and satisfying one that leaves no detail, no matter how small, unexplored - this includes the ever-so important dress sense of each character (an untidy cravat is an almost inexcusable offence!). The details of the novel make the novel particularly, and adorably quirky - Lord Akeldama's outrageous dress sense, Ivy's truly terrifying hats, and of course, that poor, abused treacle tart (what a waste!).
Soulless is an absolute delight full of the most wonderful, fantastical treasures, that will almost certainly leave you wanting more! I highly recommend this series to anyone with an interest in general fantasy, urban fantasy, romance and steampunk! ...more
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The Hunger Games is a novel (and series) I’ve been meaning to read for a whileLike this review? I have more! Come visit and follow me at Pen to Paper
The Hunger Games is a novel (and series) I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. First a good friend of mine recommended it to me when she read it months ago, raving about it and telling me just how good it was, but even though this friend and I nearly always agree on books, I still didn’t pick it up. I think it may have been the horrific premise of the novel that put me off – 24 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 being thrown into an arena and being forced to fight to the death, the winner being the last one standing? It sounded gruesome and upsetting, especially for a book that is categorised as teenage fiction.
I have recently been coerced into reading the novel though, when another of my friends (who I go to University with) and my little brother – both of whom are obviously dangerously persuasive (or at least dangerously if they ever decided to use this attribute for anything other than convincing me to read a book). Anyway, I was finally bullied swayed into reading it. I’m glad I was.
I’ll admit that around the first 30% of novel didn’t really live up to the expectations I’d already built around the book, but then again, it was the introduction to the dystopian world that the Hunger Games series is set in, and also the introduction to the characters and protagonist Katniss (which is a ridiculous name, but as were most of the other character’s names, although I have since fallen for the name Rue). Once the Hunger Games began in the novel though, I was completely gripped – I didn’t want to stop reading, it was so exciting! We are thrown immediately into the action, and I’ll admit, my heart was pounding as soon as Katniss set off.
Katniss’s character was quite good, although I did find myself wishing that she’d stop to think about what she was doing every once in a while, particularly with regard to Peeta, who I loved. It was obvious to me that everything he did was for her, but she seemed to have her mind stuck in the games, and seemed to refuse, despite the evidence, that he did actually like and want to protect her. Other than that, I thought she was a wonderful character – she’s brave, intelligent, loyal and strong-minded – and despite her flaws, I know I wouldn’t want her to be perfect – she just wouldn’t be a believable character if she was!
Although the book is categorized as YA/Teen, I definitely don’t think it should be confined to just this – it makes a great read for adults too. The plot is truly exciting and once in the Games themselves, fast-paced and action-packed. I loved that Katniss or Peeta did not lose their sense of identity just because they were in the arena and fighting to the death – we still see Katniss empathise with the other contestants and even become protective of a couple of them. Towards the end of the games we see the novel take another terrifying twist, that I definitely didn’t see coming, so the book definitely keeps the reader on their toes, as well as the characters! The end of the novel is left hanging on such a cliffhanger, that it’s going to be impossible for me to resist the second book for too long!
This is a must read for anyone marginally interested in Dystopian fiction, Fantasy or YA. I do also recommend it to others though – I think, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!...more
The last time I read anything by Matthew Quick was when I read The Silver Linings Playbook, just after it came out. I remember thinking that, althoughThe last time I read anything by Matthew Quick was when I read The Silver Linings Playbook, just after it came out. I remember thinking that, although I thought Silver Linings was okay, I probably wouldn't pick up any more of his books (even though I did like Silver Linings ... but I have to confess that I loved the film a whole lot more). I'm so grateful that I decided to ignore this original thought and go ahead and read Sorta Like a Rockstar – it turned out to be all kinds of awesome.
The first thing that really struck me about this book was the voice. The book is told from main character, Amber Appleton's point of view, and her voice is probably one of the strongest I've read in a long while. Not only do you get to know Amber through what she does and her story, but you also get to know her on a much deeper level, because you can hear her speaking the words aloud in your head. And I love her character; she's sassy, humorous, witty and (as Amber herself would say) a pretty cool cat. She proves herself to be a loving, caring, open person, and I seriously admire her (or dig that, as Amber would say). I quickly fell in love with Amber – she'd definitely be on my 'fictional characters I'd like to meet in real life' list (and yes, this is a real thing).
But there are plenty of other reasons for loving this book. The host of other characters is another good one. Amber is well-known among the smaller communities in her hometown. She goes to a Korean Catholic Church 'on the other side of the Ghetto', where she helps Father Chee teach the local Korean women to speak English through the power of R&B; she cooks breakfast and dinner for her friend Ricky and his mother, Donna; visits a Haiku-writing Vietnam veteran; and she hangs out with the old people at the local retirement home. In all of these places she is well-loved, and the people she sees are beautiful. They become even more beautiful when Amber finds her already troubled world is falling apart around her, and her friends rally around to help her get through it.
You know a story is a powerful one when not only do you smile and laugh, but you cry (both from sadness and happiness) as well. This book was such an emotional rollercoaster for me. I have been known to cry easily at books that are sad, but it's rare that I get all teary-eyed when it's happy too – it has to be an incredibly special moment for me to get just as teary at happiness as sadness. But this book threw so many emotions around that I didn't know what had hit me until I was already in tears!
Sorta Like a Rockstar is a very special book. Not only is the writing superb (both Matthew's and Ambers – I loved Amber's 'Doggie Haikus'!), but the story is powerful and moving, and I was gripped all the way through. It's one of those rare books that manages to be both heartfelt and moving, yet quirky and funny too. This is a must read!
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I have to admit that I was looking forward to this book so much, and therefore hLike this review? I have more! Head on over to my blog, Pen to Paper!!
I have to admit that I was looking forward to this book so much, and therefore had such high expectations of it, that the beginning of this book was a bit of a disappointment to me. I can't entirely pin down why - Celaena's character was exactly as I had imagined she would be, which was great, but I had also expected a little more from the plot, right from the beginning (notably, some more action - Celaena is a female assassin, afterall). However, there was really only talk of past actions or violence, and little actually present, and all the characters really did at the beginning was throw a few remarks at one another, and move from one place to another. Also - and I don't know why this bothered me like it did, but there was just a little bit too much of an insta-attraction (not insta-love, thankfully!), from all sides, despite each characters' initial mistrust of the other, and belief that they should hate, and not oddly lust, after one another. There was way too much of "I should hate him and all he stands for, but I can't help but notice how rugged and handsome he is", and "she could kill me without blinking, but she's so strangely beautiful!". A little of this is okay - even good, perhaps - but there was a little too much of it for my liking, and this did carry on further into the book. Fortunately, this wasn't an irritation at all, later on in the novel, and the more the story developed, the more I found myself enjoying the character relationships.
Once the book got going properly, and Celaena had arrived in Rifthold - where the tournament that takes place later in the novel is held - I really started to enjoy the book. And once the pace had really picked up, and the plot was even further developed, I found myself suddenly emotionally invested in Celaena, and those around her, when I hadn't originally thought I would be.
Another thing I loved about the plot was that extra details and clues to later revelations in the story were revealed so slowly and subtly, that I felt as though it was developing at a natural rate (despite the increased pace), rather than being forced along. Saying that however, I thought that, at times, the passage of time could have been dealt with a little better. For example, I found several points in the novel, where something along the lines of "And this is how things continued for several long weeks". This felt a little awkward to me, and I felt that just a paragraph separator of some kind, and then perhaps a reflection from Celaena (such as "she chouldn't believe it had already been several weeks since...") would have been better. Occasionally things like this stuck out really badly, when the narrative had previously been moving really fluently - it just made it feel a bit disjointed at times. But the ending! Oh my... it's been a long time since I have read such an exciting ending. When I say I was literally on the edge of my seat, I was actually hanging off the edge! The ending was more than enough to make up for the lack of action at the beginning - I adored it! I will absolutely not give anything away, but I can't wait for the sequel, to find out what happens next!
As for the characters, Celaena was such a wonderful character; she was strong, feisty, intelligent, head strong, and as independent as she could be, under her circumstances, and so much more! I found that I was really invested in her character by the time that I was half way through - I cheered at every triumph, and found my heart rate go up when she was in danger! Also, despite previous annoyances, I also began to care about her relationships with both Chaol (the Captain of the Guard), and Dorian (the Prince). I even ended up admiring their characters, even though I didn't particularly like either of them to begin with; Chaol just seemed like a soldier brute, and Dorian was an arrogant twit at the best of times. As I learnt more about their characters, though, and saw them interact with each other more, I found myself falling for them. Then there was Nehemia, the Princess of Eyllwe! I'm not going to mention too much, for fear of spoilers, but I will say that she was definitely a contender for my favourite character! The King of Adarlan was another great character, though not for the same reasons as the others - he scared the absolute hell out of me - and that's what makes him so good! If a character genuinely frightens you, you know you've got a great book. There's a rather large revelation at the end, to do with him, but there are no spoilers here! I just can't wait to see exactly what it is that he has up his sleeve. He certainly knows a lot more than he is letting on!
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I was going to, when I started it. There's so much more I want to say about it, but can't because I don't want to give anything away. It's packed with brilliant, intelligent and witty characters, corrupted rulers, dark and good magic (I hope the King won't hunt me down for using the forbidden word!!) alike. The world-building is incredible, and the plot promises something even greater from the sequel. I think I rate this one 4.5 stars - it would have been only 4 stars, but the final 80 pages were incredible, and so the beginning only loses half a star! This is not one to be missed!
Recommended for all fans of the fantasy genre, alternative worlds, magic, and definitely for fans of strong female characters!...more
It's been so long since I read Monument 14 that I was worried I wouldn't remember the story well enough to enjoy Sky on Fire. That worry was soon putIt's been so long since I read Monument 14 that I was worried I wouldn't remember the story well enough to enjoy Sky on Fire. That worry was soon put to rest, though. The first couple of pages is a letter that Alex writes to 'whoever finds this', that basically recapped everything that had happened (or the most important bits, anyway) in the previous book. So by the time I reached the first proper chapter, I felt up to speed and ready to continue with the story.
The first thing I think needs saying about this trilogy is that it is so fast-paced, there's never any worry of getting bored, and that is especially true of Sky on Fire. The chapters alternate between Dean and Alex's points of view, which gives us both sides of the story, as the group split up at the end of book one. Both sides of the story were really interesting and nerve-wracking all the way through, and I was constantly desperate to know what happened next. So it's safe to say that it was both gripping and compelling from the very first chapter right through to the last, and I need to know what happens next, in the final book, Savage Drift.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was how the relationships between the characters evolved as the story progressed. There were unexpected romances blossoming, unbreakable loyalties, friction and even unconditional love. It's safe to say that the situation the characters found themselves in bought out both the best and the worst in them, but in the end, it was clear that the best side of them won – even those with O type blood. There were obstacles to overcome, and despite the dreary outlook, they somehow managed to keep going. It's an incredible story of human resistance and survival against the odds.
There was one thing that meant that this book didn't receive the full five stars from me (although it is a very high four). Without giving anything away, there are events in the book that are quite extreme, and some of the 'good guy' characters do things that may not be considered so good. Although I'm fine with these things happening, because I do think they fit the story, I do wish that the characters' reactions to them had been a little more appropriate. Yes, okay, it's the end of the world and bad things have been happening for a while now ... but it's still only been two weeks. You don't become 'conditioned' to these things that quickly – if at all. They do have a little trouble with the things they do, but nowhere near what I would consider a normal reaction – especially for a teenager! That's my only real complaint about the story though. Otherwise I thought it was incredibly gripping and believable.
If you've not already read Monument 14 yet, and you enjoy post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction, and even thrillers, I seriously think you should consider giving this trilogy a go. And if you've read Monument 14 and liked it, or if you thought it was just okay, you should pick up Sky on Fire. Just as fast-paced as book one, but even more gripping, thanks to the alternating points of view, it was definitely an edge-of-your-seat read. Loved it....more
“When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is tra“When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire - to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.”
This is the first Japanese novel I’ve read, and in all honesty, I had no idea what to expect from it. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story is based around Toru Watanabe as he remembers his years in college and the relationships he formed whilst there. Murakami shows a fantastic talent for storytelling and keeps the reader gripped throughout, and all the while he keeps the readers’ sympathy for the main character intact. By the end of the novel, I truly felt as though I fully understood Watanabe, and I genuinely sympathised with him over the loss of so many loved ones, and the solitude that those losses bought him.
The ending was a little bizarre, and I have to admit that I didn’t understand the final paragraph at all, but over all this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and one that I recommend....more
What a fantastic second instalment to the Delirium trilogy! I'd been looking forward to reading this one for so long that I could barely contain my excitement when it finally arrived! The end of Delirium was such a cliffhanger, and there are so many new, and previously unanswered questions spinning around, that I couldn't wait to read more about Lena's world. Pandemonium definitely doesn't disappoint.
I suppose the first thing I'll mention is the chapter structure. It's split between 'then' chapters, from Lena's first few months in the wilds, and the 'now' chapters that will eventually lead up to the end of the book, and lead into the final book in the trilogy. This structure paints a really broad picture of Lena's story since we last saw her. Not only do we get to see how she adapted to her new life in the wilds, but we also get to see how the resistance develops, and what Lena's part in that is. It makes the novel so much more dynamic and gives it much more depth.
I also really loved being able to watch Lena's character develop. She becomes more hardened, but that's because she has to. But even though she's living with people with a very different mindset to the 'valids' and 'zombies' on the other side of the fence, and their ideas are more appealing, she still has her own mind, and eventually knows what she wants (or so she thinks...). It's always good to see that a character is well-developed enough, to be able to change and evolve as their situation alters. It makes the character more real.
I love the direction that the end of the novel has taken the series, ready for the final instalment. However, it was left on such a monumental cliffhanger, that it's going to be difficult to wait a whole year to find out what happens next. There is going to need to be some major distraction involved here! If you loved Delirium, then I've no doubt that you'll also love this. And if you haven't yet read Delirium - what are you doing?! Get a copy and read it now! It needs to be read! I recommend this to all lovers of YA fiction, dystopian fiction (and to a certain extent, lovers of Fantasy), but really I would urge anyone to give it a go - it's a really unique series, that's definitely worth the read!...more
I have the signed limited edition slipcased hardback of this book, so not sure if it has extras that the paperback doesn't have. But it's a truly beauI have the signed limited edition slipcased hardback of this book, so not sure if it has extras that the paperback doesn't have. But it's a truly beautiful looking, interesting and thought-provoking poem, and the rest of the book (introduction, afterwards and bits and pieces about how the animation and this graphic novel were made) is a real bonus that gives the poem that extra special something. All in all, this graphic novel is really worth the money and I will be showing it to everyone who comes to my house! Really love it. (And the fact that it's signed isn't bad either!)...more
I wanted to approach this book with an open mind (having never read any Christian Fiction before), but I will admit that although I had my intentions,I wanted to approach this book with an open mind (having never read any Christian Fiction before), but I will admit that although I had my intentions, I was still skeptical. However, before I knew it I'd passed page 100 and found myself fully involved with the story. I found the characters mostly amiable, and I found them convincing enough to want things to work out at the end. Although too idealistic in some ways, I enjoyed Gentry and Cameron's relationship and found it to be convincing most of the time; it even managed to give me goosebumps near the end of the novel.
Although the Christian theme is something that I am unfamiliar with, and although I do not share the religious views of the author, I didn't find the religious theme to be too overwhelming and was still able to enjoy the story. I'm not sure I would read anything else by this author, but I did enjoy Freefall and would recommend it to a friend....more
There were a couple of parts that I wished were quicker, but on the whole I adored this. It was a close call, next to Messenger, but I think this wasThere were a couple of parts that I wished were quicker, but on the whole I adored this. It was a close call, next to Messenger, but I think this was my favourite of the quartet. And what an ending!! 4.5 stars
This is the 10th novel in her best-selling Sookie Stackhouse series, and the novels are just getting more and moreCharlaine Harris has done it again!
This is the 10th novel in her best-selling Sookie Stackhouse series, and the novels are just getting more and more exciting as the story progresses. In Dead in the Family, we see the relationship between Sookie and Eric deepen further, and learn more about the Viking Vampire's past when we meet his maker, the Roman Vampire Appius Livius Ocella. And as though that wasn't enough, Sookie also has to deal with Were politics and trouble from even more unfriendly fairies, which makes for extremely exciting reading!
The only issue I have with this novel is that I have to wait again for the next one!...more
I absolutely adored this! Although the narration, for me, was a little difficult to get into at first, it soon started to flow more naturally and I waI absolutely adored this! Although the narration, for me, was a little difficult to get into at first, it soon started to flow more naturally and I was able to get engrossed in the story of Jack and his Ma. It was a truly touching story, uniquely told by Donoghue, whose voice really bought Jack's character to life. Although the topic of the novel was disturbing, it didn't often come across in this way, but rather came across as being sweet through Jack's naivety and charm.
I adored this novel, and I will definitely be looking out for more by this author in the future!...more
Pretty much every book I read goes through a little test that I call the 50 Page Test. Basically, if I'm not enjoying a book by the time I get to pagePretty much every book I read goes through a little test that I call the 50 Page Test. Basically, if I'm not enjoying a book by the time I get to page 50, I don't usually continue reading it. Unfortunately, Be More Chill did not pass.
I'm not sure that I can fully explain why I didn't want to carry on with this book. I just have feelings about it that are quite vague and very strong at the same time. I found the characters very annoying, but I can't exactly pinpoint why ... the main character was bizarre and the girl he likes comes across as stuck-up. I'm also not sure about the plot ... and I haven't even got to the part where he gets the 'squip' – the computer chip in a pill that tells him how to be popular and get the girl.
I'm sure that there are many people who love the written style of this book – I can see that it has its own unique style – and people that really relate to the character and his story, but I'm unfortunately not one of them. I wasn't finding it funny or entertaining and I just couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to the characters.
However, I am still willing to give this author's others books a go at some point in the future. ...more
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I'm not usually the biggest reader of horror or ghost stories. In all honesty, theyLike this review? I have more! Come and follow me at Pen to Paper.
I'm not usually the biggest reader of horror or ghost stories. In all honesty, they tend to cause my imagination to run away with itself - I'm usually very easily disturbed, and I don't mind admitting that. I thought I'd give this one a go though, especially as it had come recommended, just over a year and a half ago, when I first bought it, and again more recently. It didn't seem as though it would be too bad - and it wasn't, really. I'm not sure whether or not that makes it a fairly insubstantial as a ghost story though - surely they, by their very nature, are supposed to be truly unsettling. Despite my somewhat (occasionally) cowardly nature (when it comes to this kind of thing), I wasn't as unsettled as I thought I would be. The only truly frightening thing about the story was the idea that these ghosts might exist, and that they could have some form of power over a living person. This isn't a new idea, though, nor was it a particularly frightening one in this book. Yes, the 'small hand' does try leading the protagonist, Adam, closer to water, or into a garden etc, but it is not an overwhelming force. It is not entirely, as the synopsis calls it, 'sinister' or particularly 'threatening' - in my opinion at least.
The most frightening thing about this novel, I think, was the White House itself. Like in a Gothic novel, the house almost became a character in its own right. And character is certainly what it had. It was a mysterious, enigmatic, haunting and derelict place, and it created a truly chilling atmosphere - the scariest scene in the book, for me, being when Adam finally goes into the house.
I'd have liked to learn more about Adam's character, really - he was definitely intriguing - and I'd definitely like to learn more about his profession as an antiquarian bookseller. I think a general fiction novel involving his character would be something I'd be more interested in reading over this version of his story. He felt like a rounded enough character to have a sense of history and a place in life, so I think it would work.
Having said all of this about the novel, it was fairly good as a quick, one day read, but had it been a full-length novel, I think it would have dragged on for too long. Nothing was really too much of a surprise to me - the outcome of the novel being somewhat predictable (although, I'll admit, not entirely) - I just wasn't shocked by much of it.
I'm not sure I'd rush to read any more of Susan Hill's ghost stories, but then again, this kind of thing is not my preferred genre. But if ghost stories are your thing, then I'd definitely urge you to give it a shot!...more
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When I received this book to review from Bloomsbury, I knew it would be entirely diffLike this review? I have more! Come and follow me at Pen to Paper
When I received this book to review from Bloomsbury, I knew it would be entirely different from anything I've read before - poetry and prose alike. In the press release that I received with the book, one of the first things it says about the book is: "The line between poetry and fiction blurs in this startlingly original book. Crossan deftly tackles subjects of immigration and bullying through her narrator Kasienka". When I read this, I'll admit that I may have been a little skeptical, as you may be, now knowing that the book is a collection of poems - but this skepticism was unnecessary; I absolutely loved it, and I implore you to try it!
This book definitely has a lot to say, not just about the issues it deals with, but also about popular literary forms. I always feel as though poetry has certain labels attached to it, particularly with teenagers - I find that a lot of teens associate it with school and academic study, but not as something that they would read for pleasure. Crossan shows though, that poetry can not only be understandable and non-threatening, but also fun to read and as poignant as any novel. The poems flowed really well from one into another, so the story didn't feel broken or disjointed at any stage, but it was still easy to dip in and out of the book as I needed to.
Kasienka was a wonderful narrator - she made the poetry feel less like verse and more like a series of diary entries or a stream of consciousness. Through the intimacy of the poetic form, the reader is allowed further into Kasienka's thoughts, and given a deeper understanding of her feelings, than I think could have been communicated through prose. It was wonderful being able to watch her life evolve, moving from poem to poem, and being able to experience this with her. The poetry evokes such power emotions, that by the end of the collection, it's easy to believe in her story of pain, struggle and unshaken optimism and courage. As someone who has grown up in and lived in Britain all my life, it gave me an opportunity to see life in this country from a different perspective, and begin to understand what it must be like for a young person moving into Britain and being forced to try to adapt. Kasienka shows such courage and strength of character, despite her awful situation, that she becomes a great figure of inspiration by the end of the collection.
Although for me this is not a particularly important aspect of a book, I feel it must be mentioned; the book's cover art is, in my opinion, really attractive. Having worked in a bookshop for two years now, I have learned to recognise the styles of some of the major children's illustrators, so I was excited to receive a book like this, illustrated by the wonderful Oliver Jeffers, whose book Lost and Found is one of the prettiest picture books I've seen in a long time. As I said, I don't feel that the cover art is usually an important part of the book, but I feel Oliver Jeffers is one worth mentioning.
Overall, I was surprised, after my initial expectations, by just how much I enjoyed reading this. It was beautiful, poignant, compelling and potent, and I think it will stay in my mind for quite some time yet. If you don't believe that a collection of poems could be this powerful, then definitely get yourself a copy and read it for yourself. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised....more
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This review is going to be a difficult one to write, I think. It may be a good ideaLike this review? I have more! Come and follow me at Pen to Paper.
This review is going to be a difficult one to write, I think. It may be a good idea for readers of this review to keep reminding themselves of the four star rating that I have given the book. This may get confusing.
I do want everyone reading this to remember that I did like this book. It was compelling, poignant, and gripping throughout. It had deeply affected me by the time I was finished, and it is something that will stay in my mind for a very long time. It's not something that I would usually have chosen to read myself, but I'm still glad that I've read it. It was however, a fairly distressing read.
The story is narrated mostly by Skunk, an eleven year old girl who begins and ends the story. The novel begins with her reflecting on what had happened to her, and how her and her neighbours had arrived at the states they are all in now. This is pretty much the entire premise for the novel. Knowing what had happened to Skunk from the very beginning was the cause for the novel's initial grip on me - I had to know what had happened to her. By the time I'd met the Oswalds and Rick 'Broken' Buckley, I was completely gripped and had to know what happened. What made the novel even more compelling was the way in which the reader gets to know each of the characters intimately. Even though the novel is essentially narrated by a 'future Skunk', and not by any other character, Skunk's narration almost becomes omniscient. Sporadically throughout the novel, we are shown the thoughts of the other characters - so not only are we shown what they are doing, but the thought processes behind each action or decision.
The whole idea behind the novel is a disturbing but intriguing one. I liked the idea that one thoughtless, animalistic action could cause so much destruction. It was interesting to see just how the effects of this incident spread and grew out of control as the novel developed, and how these effects eventually became a tragedy by the end of the story. Also, that all of this happened in a seemingly normal British town, on an apparently normal British street, makes the novel even more disturbing, as it brings it a lot closer to home!
I have heard many others say that they would not be able to say that they enjoyed the novel as such, but that it was a really great read, and one that they are extremely glad to have read. I think this sums the novel up perfectly for me. It's not something I would have chosen for myself, but having had it recommended to me, I am grateful to have come across it and experienced it. I would recommend reading this, but this is by no means a light read....more