When I bought this book, I had never heard of Kazuo Ishiguro. It just happened that one day, when I went to my local bookshop, they had ju...moreRating: 8/10
When I bought this book, I had never heard of Kazuo Ishiguro. It just happened that one day, when I went to my local bookshop, they had just brought some new books in and this one was one of them. I read the description on the back cover, decided to buy it and when I got home put it away on my bookshelf. It stayed up there for quite some time (except for that one time when I decided to give it a try, opened the book up, saw the tiny font and decided to leave it) and the main reason I decided to finally read it was because my brother read it while we were on holiday in England and actually enjoyed it very much (and read it much faster than he thought he would).
Never Let Me Go tells the story of three people whose lives are closely interconnected: Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. As children, all three were students at an exclusive boarding school called Hailsham, a place of certain notoriety and mysterious rules, where every student is encouraged to be creative and is constantly reminded of how special he/she is. Told from Kathy's viewpoint, we get to experience everyone - and especially Ruth and Tommy - through her own eyes. All the story is a narration, with Kathy telling her story in chronological order - starting with their being students at Hailsham and ending with her being where she is at the moment.
The whole world described in this book is rather surreal. And what makes it even more surreal is the way in which it is described by Kathy. Her tone - as well as that can be inferred from the story - is just normal; as if she's just recounting something acceptable and non-condemnable. The story doesn't start out as very engaging. It's just a narration of sorts, referring to the three characters' childhood years. And then, you start to notice that word popping up, too often for it to be insignificant. "Donor". You start to wonder if what you are thinking could possible be the case and if so, then what kind of a sick book is this. And you read on and on, wanting to make sure that you have understood correctly.
Never in the book is exactly what happens and what everything means mentioned in a straightforward way. The author kind-of beats around the bush and lets your mind do the talking and the figuring out, which was one of the things I loved the most about this book. Another thing I loved were the characters. Even though I wasn't a big fan of Ruth and the way she behaved towards everyone else (and especially Kathy), all characters were excellently developed and with great depth.
All in all, if you have not read Never Let Me Go, I urge you to do so. Even if it looks like too much of a heavy read, I assure you it's not. And I don't think you will regret giving it a try.
String Bridge tells the story of Melody, an Australian musician, who came to Greece to sing and ended up getting married to a Greek music...moreRating: 7/10
String Bridge tells the story of Melody, an Australian musician, who came to Greece to sing and ended up getting married to a Greek music promoter, Alex. But life in Athens is not what she expected it to be. She is not doing any gigs, but instead has sort-of settled into the roles of businesswoman, mother and wife. Over the years, she has come to miss that feeling she got when she was creating and performing and it has instead been substituted by the dreary monotone of doing the same - unenjoyable - thing, day after day. Her relationship with Alex seems to have lost its spark, with Alex not wanting Melody to have anything to do with performing music of her own and Melody having that nagging feeling that Alex may be cheating on her.
In this book, we get to see how Melody deals with all these things that seem to have come upon her. And the way with which she does that is realistic. During the course of the book, Melody encounters the everyday, small scale problems everyone has to deal with, but she also comes to deal with other, much bigger events. There was one in particular that I found to be so devastating, I was actually wondering at the time: "Oh, Jessica, how could you have done this??".
As a character, I couldn't always sympathise with Melody, because I did feel she overreacted a few times. I suppose it's just a different kind of temperament, that I am just not accustomed to. But she was real, strong, not afraid to chase after her dreams. Alex, on the other hand, took a bit of getting used to. His attitude changed considerably in different parts of the book, but that didn't make him a bad character; just one who seemed to have made some not necessarily wrong, but rather misguided choices.
All in all, String Bridge is one of those books that is not all that easy to put down. While I was reading it, I just had to keep going just to find out what the author had prepared for the characters next. Jessica Bell's writing is very good and rather lyrical, but it all fit together with Melody's musical personality! And seeing as Jessica is just as talented as her character, there is also an soundtrack to accompany the book, entitled "Melody Hill - On The Other Side", links to which you can find below.
Originally posted at funny wool, where you will also find links to purchase the book, ebook and soundtrack.(less)
Fake Me A Match is a cute little book. And it's the first book I've read in ages that has that rather large font size that you get in chil...moreRating: 6/10
Fake Me A Match is a cute little book. And it's the first book I've read in ages that has that rather large font size that you get in children's books! Maybe because this is a children's book! Anyways, I am going off topic here.
I chose to read this book not because I had really been wanting to read it, but because I was participating in a readathon (and I was also reading The Historian at the time), so I decided that something short, cute and easy to read was just the thing to refresh my mind after too much historical information about Dracula,
Fake Me A Match is the story of Avery. Avery lives with her mum, who is going to get married to a guy, who also has a daughter, Blake. So Avery is absolutely sure that she and Blake will end up being BFFs. But then Blake starts to get chummy with Avery's ex-BFF, Sophie, and she doesn't know what she's doing wrong. Avery is also on the student council and is put in charge of the eighth grade charity project, where they're going to raise money by playing matchmaker. Things start to get complicated when Avery, knowing that Blake fancies Sam, decides to tamper with the "matchmaking programme" and set the two of them up. But, of course, things go wrong and Avery ends up pairing herself with Sam. And then she realises that she actually likes Sam and that Sam also likes her back. It does get a little complicated, doesn't it??
This is a book that is aimed at younger readers and it shows. The language isn't dumbed down in any way, but it is a lot simple. Lauren Barnholdt really has done an excellent job of getting into the young teenager's mind and depicts their mannerisms, thoughts and worries in a lovely and very sweet way. Character development is okay, despite the fact that I really could not stand Avery. To me, she came of as a bit of a whiny little girl who is overenthusiastic about everything and ended up getting on my nerves. As for Blake, she wasn't really very nice for the most part of the book. Sam, on the other hand, was a lovely character. We first meet him through Avery's preconceptions about him, but through their charity project and their dog-training sessions, we get to see what he's really like. I love it when the boy in the book is a good boy!
All in all, Fake Me A Match is a great book for younger readers, but might not be very appealing to older ones. I suppose that what this book really is is a light fluffy read (just like chick lit) for young teenagers. Definitely a book to check out if you like that kind of thing! (I am definitely going to try reading one of her titles for older readers, because I really liked her writing style!)
Before I got round to reading Fury, I remember that I used to see it everywhere for a while. Reviews, IMM posts (lots of IMM posts) etc. A...moreRating: 8/10
Before I got round to reading Fury, I remember that I used to see it everywhere for a while. Reviews, IMM posts (lots of IMM posts) etc. And then it was on Galley Grab. Since Galley Grab is pretty much the only way I can get to read books before their release that is available to people outside the UK and the US (along with NetGalley, of course), I grabbed it. And was I glad I did! (By the way, is it only me who didn't get a September Galley Grab email?)
Anyway, I had read a few reviews of Fury before I started reading it myself and their main characteristic was that they were very mixed. I tend to like it when reviews/ratings are mixed, because then I don't feel the pressure of having to like a certain book, or feeling as if I missed something when I didn't like a book that everyone seems to. In the case of Fury, I am very happy to say that I am on the side of the people who enjoyed it.
Fury is the story of a group of teenagers, with the main characters, according to the description, being Em and Chase. When I was reading the book, I was under the impression that Em was the main character... Things are definitely happening to Chase, too, but the focus wasn't on him enough to classify him as a main character (in my opinion).
The actual storyline itself rather surprised me. The title should have given me a clue as to what it was about, but never did I think of the Furies (Erinyes) of Greek Mythology. (It was pretty obvious, but I probably just couldn't see it.) The fact remains that weird things are happening in Em's hometown of Ascension, starting with a teenage girl who decided to try and end her life by jumping off a bridge and continuing with the appearance of three mysterious girls, who no-one knows where they came from. And they always seem to appear whenever something weird is actually happening; they're never too far away.
I found the writing in this book to be superb! The choice of words and the sentence building was so good, that I kept reading and reading and reading, without realising how many pages I had actually read, and I ended up finishing Fury in just a few hours. (Which is really good considering I was reading from my computer screen.) The characters were well developed, though not particularly nice. Each one of them, excepting a couple of "secondary characters", had some sort of irritating quality. Em, for example, was very selfish, a little immature and quite self-delusional, but, by the end, you could see that her heart was in the right place (most of the time).
Some of the things that happened in this book shocked me. In the sense that I really was not expecting them to happen. And that they were also rather sudden in happening, with limited build-up to the event. But I suppose that is what the author was trying to do; present us with events we didn't think would happen and shock us.
All in all, Fury is a book that I am definitely going to be buying when it comes out in paperback and one that I think is worth reading. If you want to look up some different opinions about this book, then just check its Goodreads page. Looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy!
I really don't know where to start talking about Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is just that; epic! I enjoyed it so, so much that I starte...moreRating: 10/10
I really don't know where to start talking about Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is just that; epic! I enjoyed it so, so much that I started getting sad towards the end of the book, because then the characters would be gone and I would never be able to read about them again. That is sometimes the pity with stand-alone novels. But it's always nice to read a stand-alone novel, as so many books nowadays - especially new books, that are just being written now - seem to come out in trilogies or even multi(morethan3)book series.
In this book, we follow Roger and Amy while they travel through America (from the West Coast to the East Coast) in Amy's car. Amy is supposed to be driving her Mum's car from California to Connecticut, but she refuses to do the actual driving, because of the accident in which dad died. So, Amy's mum manages to rope Roger (the son of an old friend) into it, who is also supposed to be travelling east at the same time. Amy and Roger are supposed to be following a rather tight driving plan (courtesy of Amy's mother). But, of course, they decide to deviate from it and follow their own course on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the United States.
When we first meet Amy in this book, we can see that she has sort-of "put her life on pause". She's avoiding her best friend and she is living in her house all by herself, while also trying to make herself scarce while the real estate person shows potential buyers around. As the story begins, Amy has just finished school and is getting ready to join her mum in Connecticut (where her mother has decided to have a fresh start). She only gets to meet Roger for the first time (after many, many years) on the day they're starting their trip across America, which is not something she's really looking forward to (Roger or the trip).
One of my favourite things about this book is the way Amy and Roger interact with other, as well as the way each of them grows up a little during this short trip. Amy is reluctant to get to know Roger at first, until she realises what a lovely, down to earth guy he is. She starts off by being confined in a small space (that she has created for herself), but Roger's being there is pivotal in helping her escape from her self-imposed prison. Though Amy is the one with the major "baggage" which she has to face (a recently deceased father and a brother who used to be as high as a kite and is now in rehab), Roger has some growing up to do, too.
Another amazing thing about this book - and I admire Morgan Matson for taking all the time to do it - were the playlists Amy and Roger made during their trip. There is a huge variety of songs on those playlists and it's obvious that the author has put great thought into putting them together. I haven't tried to listen to a whole playlist yet, but I have listened to certain songs and they do seem to fit in with the whole road-trip feel!
All in all, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a book you must definitely read! I'm pretty sure that fans of contemporary fiction are going to love it, but I also think that it will definitely appeal to people who are looking for something enjoyable, but, at the same time, not all that fluffy.
And, oh my gosh, but isn't that cover just so, so pretty?? (end of gushing)
Angle of Incidence was a book that I wasn't sure what to expect of. The description was informative enough to make me want to read it, but...moreRating: 6/10
Angle of Incidence was a book that I wasn't sure what to expect of. The description was informative enough to make me want to read it, but not much more than that. So, when I started reading it, I was pleasantly surprised by both the story and character development, as well as the writing. I have read a few self-published books and what is most prominent about them was their rather obvious lack of proper revisions. While the writing was not perfect, it was definitely a lot better than other self published books I've read.
The story itself is good, despite the fact that it is about a pretty popular issue; marital problems. In this case, we have Gwen and Rob, a couple who have been together for years and they are - at the beginning of the novel - expecting their first child. But then, something happens and Gwen loses the baby, leading her to become a shadow of her former self, who can't even open up to her husband and share a little of her pain and anger. And as if losing a baby wasn't enough, new secrets begin to come to light, leaving Gwen betrayed and hurt, despite the fact that she also has secrets of her own she's never told anyone about.
The characters in this story were very well developed, despite the fact that sometimes what they said or did, did sound a little over the top. Gwen, for example, is an ok character. She has a good heart and is capable and strong, but her grief over her lost child sounded a little too over the top to me (I do not mean that losing a child should be easy to get over, just that the choice of words to describe what Gwen was going through at the time needn't have been so strong). Another thing that annoyed me a little about Gwen was the fact that she went on and on about how Rob betrayed her (through not telling her his secret), but then again, she hadn't told him hers. So it made her sound a little selfish and cruel and two-faced. Rob was a little better. He was trying to make the most of a bad situation foisted upon him and has no idea what to do to help his wife get out of the pit of despair and denial she has pushed herself into.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. One thing I especially liked in this book were the little photography related definitions at the beginning of each chapter, each one of which was chosen specifically for a certain chapter because of what was going on in it. I thought that was a lovely touch, especially since Gwen is a professional photographer. (Though having said that, I did notice that a few of them kept being repeated. Maybe it would have been better if each definition was only used once.)
I do realise that most of you probably won't be able to read the Greek I have put up there, but I thought I might as well show off a littl...moreRating: 8/10
I do realise that most of you probably won't be able to read the Greek I have put up there, but I thought I might as well show off a little bit and put a teensy weensy bit of Greek on my blog!
Just because I am extremely smart, I decided to read a book, that was first published in Greek, in English. If it were the other way around and you were telling me to read a Greek translation of an English book, I wouldn't do it easily or happily, because the majority of books that I have read in Greek have either been very bad translations of foreign books or boring Greek ones. (Do not get me started on some of the things Greek writers choose to write about. Plus, most times I find their language to be a little too show-off-y.)
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture is one of those books that I have been hearing about for years and years. Though I am not a big fan of reading fiction in Greek, I do not mind reading books that deal with philosophy or mathematical logic in Greek. I think that is probably because of the fact that I went to a Greek school, so everything I know about maths and logic (and all that jazz), I know in the Greek way; I am more familiar with the terms, which means that it helps me to better understand what is going on. The thing is that we never had a copy of this book at home (that I know of, at least). I did know my Grandpa had one when I went to England this year and I promised myself I would read it this summer.
Before reading this book, I had only vaguely heard of Goldbach's Conjecture, but had never really bothered to find out what exactly this Conjecture was all about. Now, I consider myself a little more educated with the matter. The story focuses on the narrator's Uncle Petros, a recluse of sorts, who is considered to be a bit of a weirdo even by his own brothers, because he never showed any interest in anything except for his ''beloved" mathematics. The real story behind Uncle Petros' withdrawal from society was the fact that he had become obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture.
The book consists of three chapters (yes, three), each one surrounding a different time in the narrator's and Uncle Petros' lives. We learn of Uncle Petros' story through the narrator, who is an aspiring mathematician and turns to his Uncle Petros for advice and guidance. His story is truly intriguing and it shows how something (even in the form of a short mathematical equation) can take over your whole life. It is also rather sad at times, because you can't help but feel sorry either for the narrator or for Uncle Petros himself, depending on which part you are reading.
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture is not a book for everyone. I am not trying to sound snobbish, but I know for fact that not many people like reading books about maths and mathematical logic. And it's completely understandable. Which is why there is going to be no urging to read this book. It is very well written and very interesting, but because of the fact that is it very mathematically oriented, it's not for everyone. But, if you are interested in reading a book about maths, this is an excellent book to read.
As most (if not all) of you will know, The Reader was made into a film in 2008, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, which was hugely...moreRating: 8/10
As most (if not all) of you will know, The Reader was made into a film in 2008, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, which was hugely successful and which resulted in a Oscar for Kate Winslet. The film is really well made and the performances from Winslet, Fiennes and David Kross (who plays the young Michael) are exceptional.
So, in this case, I did things the other way around; I watched the film before I read the book. I know many people do not like doing that, but I don't really mind doing things in the wrong order. Sometimes, I even prefer it (as in the case of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, where I am sure that had I read the book before watching the film, I wouldn't have enjoyed the book as much as I did). The Reader was somewhere in the middle and by that I mean that it didn't really make much difference that I watched the film first, because the book was so easy to read. The story was rather short and very well written, but the translation was also one of the best translations I have ever read. It felt to me as if the book had actually been written in English.
In this book, we follow the story of Michael, a young boy who meets an older woman named Hanna and embarks on a love affair with her, despite their large difference in age. The story is split into three parts; in the first, we learn about the actual affair at the time it is happening; in the second, Michael is at university and is witnessing Hanna's trial firsthand; and the third is set many, many years later, but I'm not going to tell you what it's about, just in case you haven't read the book or seen the film, but are planning to.
Excellent portrayal of characters, lovely descriptions of places and circumstances. You can understand the motives between each person's decisions and, though they might seem a little extreme, you can see there is some amount of logic behind them. The Reader is a very sad story in general, but it is definitely one worth reading.
Before I saw February in the pile of books my Grandma had put together for me, I hadn't seen or heard of it before. The cover is not what...moreRating: 8/10
Before I saw February in the pile of books my Grandma had put together for me, I hadn't seen or heard of it before. The cover is not what you might call eye-catching, but because it was in the pile, I decided to read the description on the back cover, where I realised that the cover is pretty irrelevant to the story; it doesn't even give an inkling of what it's about. (Which is really a pity, because the book is worth reading)
The book follows Helen, the widow of Cal, a man who was working on the oil rig Ocean Ranger on the night that everything went wrong and 84 men died. Apparently, the Ocean Ranger accident was a real event, something which I did not know about before I read the book. While I was reading the story, I thought it was an event that was made up to be used as a backdrop for the novel, but when I finished the book and got round to reading the acknowledgements (something which I do, even though I think most people tend not to), I found out that it was a real event. (You can find out more about it HERE.)
Throughout the story, we go back and forth, to different times in the past and in the present, which allows us to understand Helen's grief, despite the fact that not everything is told in chronological order. The book doesn't solely focus on Helen's grief and her journey in dealing with it. It also follows Helen and Cal's children's lives (though not necessarily directly), so as to show the impact that particular accident had upon their lives; John, who was the eldest and the only boy, Cathy and Lulu, the two middle girls, and Gabrielle, who was born after her father died. And there is one important subplot, which is supposed to be the trigger for the telling of the story and though which the main characters come to deal with their grief.
Despite the fact that it deals quite a bit with grief and dealing (over a rather large period of time), this book is not too heavy to read. The writing is very good and the way in which it is written (with all the jumps in time) just helped pull me into the story and made me want to read on and on so that I could find out what was going to happen next. The characters were easy to relate to and understand and faced real problems in real ways. Definitely a book worth reading.
Candide is another book I can't find myself to rate. I will be honest here and say that the only reason I decided to read this one was so t...moreRating: N/A
Candide is another book I can't find myself to rate. I will be honest here and say that the only reason I decided to read this one was so that I can say that sometime in my life I read Voltaire! But when I got round to reading the first couple of pages, I realised that the names of some of the characters reminded me of something; that I had heard of them before. (I still can't remember where...!)
Candide is essentially a satire; a story full of irony, sarcasm, exaggeration and parody, that is meant to sound funny, but it usually has an underlying message - to offer constructive criticism using wit as a weapon (thank you Wikipedia). That is exactly what Candide is and I can understand why the book is also known as Optimism. Candide is the main character and he seems to be as backbone-less as can be. He just seems to accept everything that he is told, regardless of who the person telling him is. Essentially, he does not seem to have any free will of his own, or any particular skills; he goes through life by listening to others. And he is very shallow.
So, the other characters are essential to the progression of the story, as Candide on his own wouldn't have done much. As for the story itself, before reading it, you cannot imagine how many bad things happen to the characters in this book! Abductions, killings, rape, theft, just to name a few. But even still, Candide does not let all the bad events make him less happy about life. He lives by the motto that 'everything bad happens for a reason'. Which I suppose is a very good motto to live by, but not when absolutely nothing good ever happens to you.
The philosophy that this book is based on is brilliantly presented by Voltaire. It is rather obvious that he thinks the philosophy is ridiculous, and throughout the book, he shows us just that. But even though it is rather philosophical, it doesn't get tiring when you're reading it, which I find great when I'm reading anything about philosophy.
I am going to be completely honest here: this book is a bit of a cheat, but nonetheless, I am including it in my 100 Books In A Year Challe...moreRating: N/A
I am going to be completely honest here: this book is a bit of a cheat, but nonetheless, I am including it in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge, as it is a book and I did read it. But, because of the fact that it is so short (and because it features 3 short stories), I am making this a mini-review, as I can't say anything about it without spoiling it for anyone who wants to read it.
Having read The Great Gatsby a few months ago and really enjoyed F. Scott Fitzgerald's style of writing, I decided to try reading Babylon Revisited when I noticed my grandparents had a copy of it on their bookshelves. Plus, at the time, I really felt like reading something that would not take me too long to finish.
All three stories were unique. They were in no way connected and each dealt with a completely different kind of issue. My main problem was the fact that they just stopped, quite suddenly. I found that to be especially prominent in the first story (which was also the longest). I was reading it, got to a point where the chapter finished, turned the page expecting to carry on with the story and saw that the story had finished. So, it left me hanging a little.
Other than that, the writing was very good. But I did enjoy The Great Gatsby a lot more than Babylon Revisited. I'm looking forward to reading something else by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (I'll have to have a look through all our old books - I have no idea what might be hidden in there!)