I gave it a fair shot. I was listening to the audio and was about 4 hours in. That's just over a third.I hate doing this, but I'm marking this one DNF
I gave it a fair shot. I was listening to the audio and was about 4 hours in. That's just over a third.
Here's my reasons:
1) Ridiculously slow pacing. I'm a third in. Something should have happened by now, even if its just the idea of what's too come. 2) The Women - The women in this book are ridiculous. They have no substance, no value. They are completely defined by their performance in bed. He says he loved his wife but other than how good she was in bed, I have yet to hear what it is he loved about her. 3) Sex for the sake of sex. - I don't care if there is sex in novels. People have sex. It's normal. However, Sex for the sake of sex, when it isn't actually necessary, or is drawn out, is no better than violence for the sake of violence. It's a cheap tactic to get people to be shocked by your book. It's like watching a slasher film. Yeah sure it's fun sometimes, but no one will take it seriously. For something that is described as "literary" is reads an awful lot like erotica. 4) Jake - Jake annoys the hell out of me. I can't put my finger on it exactly but I just can't connect with him. Characters (to me) are the most important aspect of the book so I find this lack of connection disappointing.
Finally I will say this, double points to Glenn Duncan for the amount of different ways he's come up with to say testicles - balls, plums, gonads, I heard them all in my 4 hours on the Last Werewolf. *rolls eyes*
Maybe I'll try this again one day in print, but at the moment it seems highly unlikely. ...more
The Red Phone Box story cycle is one of the most imaginative and unique stories I have read in aThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
The Red Phone Box story cycle is one of the most imaginative and unique stories I have read in a long time.
I can only begin to imagine how much time and hard work went into assembling this collection. I’ve had some experience with anthologies myself and I know how difficult it can be to organize a project around so many different contributor’s – each with their own schedule and deadlines. But what Salomé Jones has done with Red Phone Box is on a whole different level. This isn’t just a random selection of stories. Instead this book is made up of various pieces of a larger puzzle. And each piece carries the distinct style of it’s author. Jones has arranged the stories in such a way that the story unfolds slowly for the reader, the mystery building bit by bit.
Some of the stories were incredibly interesting. I particularly enjoyed the story of Amber, Stuart and Jon and how each installment left you wondering what was real and what was imaginary. And I liked how the characters Amber/Stuart/Jon interacted with would pop up in other stories. It kept me alert, constantly looking for clues or hints dropped by the various contributors. You never knew exactly where each story was going to take you – only that the mysterious Red Phone Box was going to show up at some point.
However, while some of the stories were fascinating, others left me wanting more. The characters would come out of nowhere, or the plot would be jerky or just plain confusing and sometimes the style itself just didn’t work for me. I found myself either loving a story or wanting to skim through it. There wasn’t a lot of middle ground, which made some parts of the anthology feel disjointed. Had some of the rogher stories been smoothed out a bit more I think this collection could have been truly great, but ultimately it fell just a little short of that goal.
At it’s heart Red Phone Box is a very atmospheric and dark story. Image Doctor Who and the TARDIS but much darker and more disturbing. It’s a great concept and will keep you on your toes. If you’re looking for a more unusal read or one that will allow you to flex your puzzle solving skills, this is the book for you. But if you prefer more straightforward narratives you may want to pass....more
Mara Dyer was a pretty average girl. That is until she survived a freak accident, that killed three of her closest friends. Now she's suffering from post traumatic stress and amnesia. She can't remember what happened that night and what she does remember comes to her in horrible visions. It gets so bad that her family decided to move to a whole other state to get her away from the memories. Despite the move, however, Mara is still haunted by visions and strange things seem to happen where ever she goes. She begins to wonder if she'll ever feel normal again.
Let me start of by saying this is one creepy creepy book. I started reading it before going to bed and then couldn't put it down, and even though I knew I should go to sleep and get some rest every time I tried all I could think about was the craziness that is Mara Dyer. It ended up being 3:30 am when I finally finished the book and even then, despite my exhaustion, I needed to leave the lamp on. This book will rattle you.
There are a lot of things I want to tell you about but I just can't because it would give too much away and the less you know about this book before you begin the more exciting it's going to be. So instead I'm just going to talk about Mara and Noah. Before the accident Mara seems like your average teenage girl, a little curious, a little insecure. Just trying to figure herself out. After the accident she's a little pouty (which you just can't blame her for) but she has a whole new level of determination. You've got to admire that in a character who has been through hell and back.
And then there's Noah. Bad boy, rebel without a cause. There's been a couple of reviews that have called him a douchebag. I don't know if I'd go that far. He certainly does think highly of himself and can get a little annoying but I don't think he was overly mean. I hesitate to call him swoon-worthy but he is definitely an excellent lead male character and he really cares about Mara, which is always a plus in my book.
My only complaint is that sometimes things seemed to happen a little to easily. At over 400 pages you wouldn't expect a lot of easy resolution. At least I don't. If I'm reading something that's over 400 pages I want depth, I want layers and mysteries. There were also a couple of loose ends and unanswered questions, but this book is set to have a sequel so I'm assuming they'll get answered there. My final verdict: a suspenseful and creepy read, that will have you up all night but is easy and fun to read....more
Half Blood Blues is a heart wrenching story of survival, betrayal and how the choices we makThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Half Blood Blues is a heart wrenching story of survival, betrayal and how the choices we make affect us for the rest of our life.
Half Blood Blues, along with The Sisters Brothers are two books that have received a lot of buzz this award season. Both have received short list nominations for the Giller and Booker prizes. It doesn't get much better than that. In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I read The Sisters Brothers earlier this year and fully enjoyed it. And as a result I went into Half Blood Blues, unsure if it could match it the quality and creativty. Now I can honestly say I don't know which book I prefer more. They're both so good!
But I'm getting off topic. Half Blood Blues is one of those books that feels so gritty and raw with emotion that you become deeply attached to the characters and to the story. They consume you. It's authentic and dark. There are no “good guys” or “villians” - characters are whole people and Edugyan doesn't shy away from showcasing darker side of human nature.
The most brilliant example of this is Sidney Griffith. In my opinion Sid is one of those great literary characters that only come around every now and again. He's not perfect man. Far from it – I could write a list a mile long of all the things he's done or characteristics he should change. But he's someone you connect with, someone you can relate to. Despite all his flaws, you find yourself pulling for him. It was almost a protective feeling I had for Sid – like I wanted to shield him from the world and tell him it was going to be ok from here on out, but at the same time I also knew he was going to be okay.
Writing and characters aside, however, the most amazing part of this book is the ending. And I don't just mean that it is a well put together ending. When I got near the end of this book I didn't want to know what happened. Without giving too much away, there comes a point where Sid is presented with a particular choice. Both options have their benefits but both also have their consequences. Some many argue strongly for one side or another but really it's a choice that could go either way. I found there was a part of me that didn't want to know what Sid chose. Whatever choice he would end up making would defining who he was as a person and I almost didn't want to know, I wanted it to be ambiguous, because in real life isn't always going to be ambiguous? I still think he chose well and Edugyan ended on a strong note, but there's still that little part of me that wishes I had stopped reading right before reaching the end.
Half Blood Blues blew me away. It is a beautifully written book - Esi Edugyan writes with a strong voice and forms amazing, complex characters. The story broke my heart and by the end of it all it felt like I had lived it right along with them. It's an amazing read, more than worthy of all the attention and recognition it's been receiving. ...more
I am the first to admit that I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan. She is by far my favourite writer and I could read her work over and over again. So I f I am the first to admit that I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan. She is by far my favourite writer and I could read her work over and over again. So I finally read Surfacing, after having it recommended to me a number of times,and though I went in with high expectations I found that the book wasn't as good as I had hoped. True to Atwood style the novel was beautifully written. Despite any reservations I may have, it was nothing if not poetic. Her description of the Canadian wilderness was incredibly vivid and made me want to hop in my car and drive a few hours north to get back in touch with my roots. The elements of survival and the fear over wilderness destruction were particularly well pronounced and made parts of the novel incredibly gripping and lifelike. Nevertheless, I just had some trouble really getting into the novel. One of the main reasons I had trouble getting into the novel was the characters. I found them all quite despicable and there were points where I didn't seem to care what happened to them, except for Joe whom I found too...innocent, for lack of a better word, to dislike. It is completely possible that I was reading the characters too much at face value but the fact of the matter is I just didn't like them. My opinion of the main character changed however at the point of her transformation. This in my opinion was the turning point of the book! Too bad it didn't happen until the book was almost over. My final thoughts on this book was that it was a little dated. In a way this made it an interesting read. It was first published in 1972 and its references to the Quebecois and Americans made me take a second to think about what was happening in Canada/America at the time. This was an incredibly dynamic time, with Trudeau trying to handle the separation movement in Quebec, the assassinations of R.F.K and Martin Luther King JR, and the juxtaposition of Nixon's elections and the hippie movement. It was interesting to read in Surfacing how this atmosphere could affect average Canadians, who though removed from the events were still affected by them. On the other hand the book being dated was also a bit of a drawback, as some of the references were hard to place or are no longer relevant/effective. This is a chance every book takes, however, when being read in a time period different from when it was written. All in all I didn't think this was Atwood's best work but I still found it an interesting and at times engaging read. Her writing is beautiful and it is an important piece of Canadian literature, that should be enjoyed by all who have an interest in Canadian history and identity...more
I am so tired of hearing books compared to Gone Girl. Seriously. It’s getting to the point that aThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I am so tired of hearing books compared to Gone Girl. Seriously. It’s getting to the point that as soon as I hear that book mentioned I back away slowly before anybody sees me. So fear not. I will not be referring to Gone Girl in this review. This book is not “like” Gone Girl or “better” than Gone Girl or anything like that. Instead, Night Film is a stand out unique and frightening novel that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go, despite it’s 600+ pages.
We follow the mystery of Ashley Cordova’s death with journalist Scott McGrath. I have to admit that right off the bat I didn’t like Scott McGrath as a person. As a character he’s very complex. But as a person? I just wanted to kick him sometimes. Especially when he talked about the women in his life. But I enjoyed that he wasn’t the most likeable protagonist. It kept things interesting and kept you more invested in the mystery than the players.
And what a crazy mystery is was! Night Film is nothing like you would expect. It’s dark, twisted and will keep you on the edge of your seat. As you fall further and further into the mystery of “who is Cordova?” and “what happened to Ashley?” you soon learn that nothing is as it seems and nobody can be trusted. I love a mystery that can keep me on my toes and doesn’t fall back on traditional conventions or twists to keep the story moving. Night Film is a wholly original tale and it is guaranteed to surprise you.
In addition to the mystery, one thing that really impressed me about Night Film was the amount of planning and research that must have gone into this book. Pessl leaves no detail out, no rock unturned. Even Cordova’s films. All completely fictional but she clearly has full plots and characters mapped out for each one. I don’t know how she kept everything straight, but she did.
One final thing that really sets Night Film apart is the multimedia angle. The book is full of pictures, websites, newspaper articles etc. And there’s even an app you can get for more information. I was worried all these extras would seem gimmicky, but they had the opposite effect. They really made me feel like I was the one investigating the Cordova family. The unique format gave the whole book a really modern feel that might appeal to younger or more reluctant readers.
Recommendation: Don’t be intimidated by its large size. Night Film is a dark and haunting read that stays with you. If you like mysteries, thrillers or spooky stories of any kind this is the book for you....more
The Valley of Amazement is the story of Violet Minturn, a half Chinese, half American girl livingThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
The Valley of Amazement is the story of Violet Minturn, a half Chinese, half American girl living in Shanghai in the early twentieth century. The story follows her from when she was a small girl in her mother’s courtesan house, to becoming a courtesan herself, to married life and beyond. It is a rich and detailed tale and is really a testament to Amy Tan’s skill as a storyteller.
From the first few pages I felt transported into the world of Chinese courtesans. It’s a snippet of history I know very little about but it is definitely a fascinating one. Though at first glance many may dismiss their profession as high class prostitution, it was also interesting to see the ways these women wielded some power over men. Especially in a time when women had almost no power at all. No matter how bad Violet’s situation got she carried on. All the women in this book did. The men on the other hand were a different story. There were times I become enraged by their actions in the story and I had to remind myself they were a) from a different time period and b) fictional to keep myself from throwing the book across the room. (The exception to this being Edward who I will adore forever).
Though the setting is beautifully articulated it is the characters who really make this story shine. Not just major characters like Violet and her mother Lulu, but minor ones as well like her mother’s business partner Golden Dove and an old friend named Danner. I found myself growing attached to so many of the characters and didn’t want to stop reading because I missed them when I was away from the book.
A lot of coverage of this book (including the synopsis above) focuses in on the relationship between mothers and daughters. That is a huge theme throughout the story. Both the relationship between Violet and her mother, Lulu and Violet and her own child. They have a challenging relationship. But what I found myself focusing on the most was the tumultuous relationship Violet has with her father. His lack of presence from a young age is something that shapes Violet’s personal identity right from the get go and as pieces of him keep popping up throughout her life she is constantly forced to revisit her feelings towards this man she barely knows and who didn’t want her because she was a girl.
Be warned, however, this is a long book. If you’re the kind of person that wants to know every detail of a story, you will love The Valley of Amazement. But if you’re the kind of reader that prefers fast paced, plot driven novels, you may find this a bit too dry.
I personally found The Valley of Amazement to be a fascinating, rich novel about a period of history that isn’t often talked about. The story will shock, surprise and amaze you as you follow Violet and Lulu’s struggles to survive on their own and be a stronger person than they were before. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha or family sagas like The Pillars of the Earth and the House of the Spirits, The Valley of Amazement will appeal to you....more
Laurie Halse Anderson has a reputation for writing books about tough subjects. And it’s well earnThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Laurie Halse Anderson has a reputation for writing books about tough subjects. And it’s well earned. Her books have always been raw, emotional and above all honest. The Impossible Knife of Memory is no exception.
This is the story of Hayley Kincaid. A young girl living with her father. Her father, an army veteran, is suffering from pretty severe post-traumatic stress disorder and as a result has a whole host of other problems as well (unemployment, alcoholism etc.) The book explores Hayley’s attempts to balance taking care of her father with having a normal life – high school, friends, boyfriend the whole deal.
I absolutely adored Hayley. She reminded me a lot of the kind of female character Courtney Summers is known for. Complicated, often quite sarcastic and not at all the perfect model of beauty and intelligence that we often see in Young Adult. Hayley is quite intelligent but she hates school, in fact she’s flunking quite a few of her classes. She’s surly and sometimes down right rude. But as you get to know her, you realize that she underneath her defensive barrier she’s actually fiercely loyal and even a little sentimental. She’s a complicated character and because of those complications it feels like she’s a real person. Like someone I would want to get to know if she would let me.
I blogged months ago about Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, and how it was the book that changed my life. I read Speak back in high school and I found so much of myself within the pages. Now years later, reading The Impossible Knife of Memory I found myself transported right back to how Speak made me feel. I could relate to so much of what Hayley was thinking and the motivation behind her actions. And I don’t think I will be the only one – anyone who has ever lived with someone suffering from not only PTSD, but any sort of addiction is sure to feel a sense of camaraderie with Hayley.
I think Laurie Halse Anderson has conveyed something important here about how hard it is to give up on someone – not because you’re scared, or weak or threatened but because you don’t want to give up on them. Because they’re someone you love and want the best for and you can see how their demons (be they memories from the war, alcoholism, depression or whatever) are tearing them apart from the inside despite their best efforts. But I think that this book also conveys how important it is to ask for help. That no one should have to face this kind of situation alone. I liked how Laurie Halse Anderson developed Hayley’s relationship with Finn, and to a lesser extent her step mother Trish. Originally they were people Hayley tried to push away, but as she grew as a character she learned that it was ok to lean on them when she needed to.
The Impossible Knife of Memory sheds light on the reality that is PTSD and it is important topic to discuss, especially with ongoing conflict in the Middle East. But this novel also touches on family, bravery, love and growing up. There is a dark comedic edge as well that made me smile consistently, despite it’s serious themes. It’s a layered and important novel that will appeal to new and old Laurie Halse Anderson fans alike....more
In the not to un-seeable future technology has evolved. Robots are everywhere. They're in our homes, in our cars, they head up our national defence. So what happens when we push the technological advances too far? When artificial intelligence becomes more than just artificial? In a quiet and seemingly normal lab one night those questions become more important than ever before, with the creation of Archos. A computer that can think and act for himself. And what he thinks is that there is only room for one species on this planet.
Beginning at Zero Hour the Robot-Human war has begun. Cars start running people down in the street, toys come to life, robots that use to clean your house are now out for your blood. It's a terrifying world but pockets of resistance do arise. In Afghanistan, in London, in Tokyo, in America. Told as a series of radio signals, witness statements, first hands accounts and the like Robopocalypse is a haunting chronicle of these fighters and their fight to save humanity.
The author of Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson has a doctorate in robotics and boy oh boy does his knowledge shine through in this book. Every detail is meticulous. It was complex enough that you knew this wasn't our current day technology, but easy to understand, so that you always knew just what was going on and how the technology had developed to this point. By writing this book as a series of accounts, Wilson kept the pacing steady and was able to build the excitement and dread in a slow, but strong, manner. There were so many chapters where I knew something horrible was about to happen but I had no idea what. While reading one particular chapter about a young girl named Mathilda Perez I remember clasping my hands over my eyes and having to peer through my fingers I was so nervous about what the robot was going to do next.
The characters themselves are something to do admired. These were not just your average run of the mill war heroes. These were everyday people, backs against the wall that chose to fight back. Sure, they committed amazing heroic acts, that I know I wouldn't be able to do (I'd be frozen from fear) but they were so human. They were scared, they fought amongst each other, they were selfish. But at the end of the day they worked together. They chose to look past their differences and joined forces. It was nice to see the progression from your average, horribly flawed human being, to people working to together to save us all.
Robopocalypse is an amazing piece of literary science fiction. It is well though out and detail and it will have you hanging on to every word. It's also sure to give you a good scare. In our current time we're already so dependent on technology. I don't know where I would be without my computer, phone, car etc. This book made me stop and think what I would do if I suddenly didn't have those things any more and was forced to venture out and survive completely on my own, in a hostile environment. And if that weren't enough, we're always looking for the next big technological break through. So maybe the lesson of Robopocalypse is this: let's not push technology to much, because at some point it may start to push back....more
Every so often a book comes along that is so amazing that you want walk around thrusting itThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Every so often a book comes along that is so amazing that you want walk around thrusting it into everyone's hands. The Night Circus is one of those books. I want to go around and convince everyone they should read this book – friends, family members, complete strangers on the subway.
The story is one of two young magicians – Celia and Marco. As children their eccentric guardians binded them together in a life long duel. As they aged, unbeknownst to them, their duel encompassed all that they did and all those that they knew. Their stage was the Night Circus. A mysterious and magical circus that traveled the world and only opened after dark. Everything has been set up perfectly but their was one thing their guardians could have never expected. - that Celia and Marco would fall head over heels in love.
Everything about this book is absolutely beautiful. There is no place that sounds more magical and more enchanting than the Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern has really drawn on all your senses when crafting this beautiful setting. It really feels like you are right in the middle of the circus. If you close your eyes you can picture the gorgeous black tents, the smell of the concessions, the sense of awe that would radiate through the crowds.
In addition the setting it is also completely effortless to fall in love with the characters. Just like the circus themselves they all exude magic and mystery. Celia is particular is my favourite. As the circus illusionist and a true magician there is never a dull moment. She has an absolutely charming personality and she is the definition of a pure character – guided by love and dedicated to the Circus and all who reside within it. I found the relationship between her and Marco inspiring. All odds were against them and it thrived despite everything their guardians did to stop it.
This is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read. I got so swept up in the story and the characters and the setting that I missed my subway stop...twice. Erin Morgenstern`s skillful writing will transport you to a world you never imagined existed. Sure you've been to the circus before, but there's never been a circus like this one. The magic and mystery isn't just brought into the circus, it's woven into every tent, every piece of popcorn every spark of the bonfire....more
The more I read this series the more I love Alma Katsu’s writing. She is a mystery/paranormal/historical fictionOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
The more I read this series the more I love Alma Katsu’s writing. She is a mystery/paranormal/historical fiction mastermind. She’s got three genres going on here and doesn’t drop the ball once.
The Reckoning reunited us with Lanny and Luke a few months after The Taker ends. They’ve settled into a life together and Lanny is learning to let go of her past, to really let herself be free. This plan hits a snag however when the building keeping Adair prisoner is demolished and he is finalley freed, ready to seek vengeance on Lanny.
Despite being horribly evil Adair is easily my favourite character of this series. He’s just so…bad. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page when he’s in the scene. So you can imagine I was happy to see him return in The Reckoning. Not only does he return – you get to know his character in some very new and personal ways. It was really interesting to get a look inside the mind of the Devil himself.
The Reckoning also goes back and fills in the gaps. It tells the reader, in amazing detail, what Lanore goes through all those years that Adair was buried in the wall. She travelled all over the world and Alma Katsu devotes equal attention to all the different locations she visited. From Moracco, to Italy, to Barcelona – it is so easy to get swept up in the epic nature of this story.
Final recommendation: if you haven’t picked up this series yet, go out and find a copy of book one, The Taker, immediately. If you’ve already read (and loved) The Taker you will not be disappointed by The Reckoning. It is a sequel that is every bit as good as the first....more
I am not a werewolf person. Not for any particular reason, I have just found throughout the yearsThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I am not a werewolf person. Not for any particular reason, I have just found throughout the years that the typical werewolf stories don’t work for me. This is why I never finished the Mercy Falls series beyond Shiver. But Sinner isn’t a typical werewolf story. In fact it’s barely a werewolf story at all. Which is perhaps a big reason why it managed to hook me when so many others have not.
Sinner is a spin off from Maggie Stiefvater’s previously released Mercy Falls series. It tells the story of Cole and Isabel, two secondary characters from the original series. Cole and Isabel are two incredibly damaged individuals. Cole is a recovering addict, former rock star werewolf and Isabel is the child of a broken home, in love with a werewolf and just about as angry as possible all of the time.
Sinner is not a complicated story plot-wise: Rock star-turned-werewolf Cole returns to LA to win back the girl he loves (Isabel) and stage a comeback for his career. But it is an extremely complex story emotionally. Cole and Isabel are such damaged characters. Cole has more demons than you can count and circumstances have made Isabel one of the angriest girls you’ll ever meet. They’ve both lost a piece of themselves and amid the tangle of relationships and fame they are trying to find that piece again. Sinner is a story of their struggle to get back to who they were as much as to get back to one another.
Since they both had a clear story to tell, Stiefvater’s use of dual narratives added depth to the novel. It gives the reader a distinct perspective into both characters. Each had a unique voice and nothing they did felt convenient or calculated, it was simply a natural extension of their character. I found the depiction of Cole as a recovering addict in particular to be very honest. He truly wants to stay on the straight and narrow path but his demons haunt him whenever and wherever he goes. Addiction is not something to be defeated once, it’s something you continually struggle with. What also rang true of his character was that he pinned all his hopes and recovery on Isabel rather than himself – a good way to avoid personal responsibility so you can have someone else to blame when/if it all goes wrong.
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t a big fan of Shiver, but Sinner felt different. It was written in the beautiful and poetic prose that I have come to love in Stiefvater’s newest series, The Raven Boys. She has a way of getting right to the heart of things. Because Cole and Isabel are so troubled once you peel back the surface this is a story with sharp edges and the writing style reflects that.
Whether you’re a Mercy Falls fan or not is irrelevant. Whether you’re a werewolf fan or not is irrelevant. If you like stories about complex individuals with high emotional stakes, Sinner is a must read....more
Where to begin when talking about One Night in Winter? It is a dark and intriguing tale of secretThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Where to begin when talking about One Night in Winter? It is a dark and intriguing tale of secrets, paranoia and love all stemming from a single event – the death of two teenagers during the Victory Parade. Had these been the children of lesser known families their deaths may have been unremarkable. But instead they were the children of some of the most well known and important people in 1945 Moscow. The investigation into their death – ‘The Children’s Case’ – quickly escalates into an even more suspenseful case of suspected political sabotage, secrets, lies and forbidden love affairs.
It is obvious that One Night in Winter is written by a historian. This novel is so rich in historical detail I truly felt as though I had been transported back to Soviet Russia. Many of the characters are real historical figures – including Stalin himself – and I loved getting this little (albeit fictional) glance into what their lives were like. When I was in university I read Simon Sebag Montefiore’s biography of Stalin but it was very factual and took a long time to get through. This book was the perfect comprise. I got to learn all about a fascinating period of history wrapped up in a high stakes novel of political intrigue.
The theme of paranoia is built into every scene, every character, every bit of dialogue. At one point well reading I remarked that “Soviet Russians must make the best chess players because they’re always thinking five moves ahead just to stay alive.” Every seemingly innocent or helpful statement can be misconstrued. It’s easy to talk about paranoia abstractly but One Night Winter illustrates how fast it can get away from you and what the costs of that paranoia can be. One character compares secrets to mine fields. You never know when one is going to blow up on you. I can not think of a more perfect way to sum up the fate of the teenagers in this novel.
My one complaint about this novel is that I didn’t quite find it as emotionally stirring as I had expected. While the first half of this novel focuses on the teenagers (and their creation of the Fatal Romantics club) the second half focuses on more specific love affairs. They are just as gripping as the interrogations and produce some fantastic lines, such as “Every love story is a requiem.” and “Heartbreak is an agonizing disease that you’re delighted to have.” But nevertheless I never felt emotionally invested in what was going to happen to them. I wanted to feel more for these characters then I did. It’s possible this was done on purpose (emotions being a bourgeois sentiment and all) but it didn’t quite work for me. It’s something I would love to discuss in a book club setting.
Overall, One Night in Winter is a fascinating glimpse into the life of Soviet Russia and the difficulties that people faced on a day to day basis. It’s an unpredictable story, so despite its somewhat cold sentiments you can’t help but keep turning the pages, wondering what spin Stalin and his officers can come up with next....more
A gruesome and disturbing horror story, The Night Strangers will stay with you long after you've finished it.
The novel is made up of two intertwining horror stories. That of Chip's internal struggle with the guilt over the plane crash and that of the mysterious group of "herbalists" and their obsession with Chip and Emily's twin daughters. Personally, I was particularly drawn to Chip's struggle. There were times I was literally on the edge of my seat, biting my nails down to the quick.
I found the herbalists story a little more difficult to follow and the characterization felt a bit off. More than a few times it was difficult to keep the motivations of the members straight and there was a lot of arguing amongst the group that I found rather distracting. Furthermore, I had trouble connection the two stories together. I think both would have worked independently of one another so it seemed strange that they were both smushed together.
For the most part this is a really well organized and well paced horror story. It's one I recommend if you're in the mood for a spooky and unique read. No mater where or when you read it, The Night Strangers is sure to leave you with goosebumps from beginning to end.
Notes on the Audio An excellent audio performance from both Alison Fraser and Mark Bramhall. Mark has that perfect deep yet soft voice that is a must for any sort of horror story. It just added that extra level of suspense to an already creepy novel. I really loved Alison's narration as well. Often times I find, when narrators are required to perform both adults and children, there is always one that is lacking. Alison, however, perfectly captured both the adult female voices and those of the twin girls. I would happily listen to both of these narrators again....more
When I was younger my family had a cottage out near Westport Ontario. On the road to the cottageThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
When I was younger my family had a cottage out near Westport Ontario. On the road to the cottage there was a house that had a large cage out in it’s side yard. My mom used to regale us with stories of the bear they kept there. His name was Tony and they used to stop by in the summer to see him and feed him treats. I was too young to have ever met Tony the Bear but I’ve heard so many stories I feel like he was a part of my life too. So all throughout reading All the Broken Things I secretly imagined “Bear,” the young cub Bo trains, was inspired by Tony, which made me fall even more in love with the book then I would have anyway.
But even if you don’t have a random pet bear story from your childhood I think you’ll love this book. It’s a heart warming story about a boy trying to survive despite the odds. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Bo. When he was younger he came over to Canada with his parents from Vietnam, unfortunately his father didn’t make the trip. Now in Canada he has to balance the regular pressures of being a kid with an alcoholic (and slightly agoraphobic) mother and his little sister, Orange, who was born with some pretty serious birth defects because of Agent Orange. His coping mechanism for all these? To get into almost daily fights with another boy from school.
Bo is a fighter both literally and figuratively. He does what he needs to in order to survive. When a local carnival man, Gerry, see’s him fight he asks Bo to come wrestle bears for him. Now I think most kids would run in the opposite direction from an offer like that, but Bo see’s it for the opportunity it is – not just to make money, but also to have a place where he belongs. His situation gets a lot worse before it gets better but he keeps fighting all the way through. And you’re sure to become one of the many fans cheering him on from the stands.
I think most readers will also adore Bear. Throughout the course of the novel you see her grow from a cub to her full size, but no matter her size she will charm the pants off you. It was occasionally easy to forget it wasn’t a dog Bo was leading around Toronto. She was so loyal and obedient it was amazing. But she was more than just a pet. She had a strong personality of her own and that could make her unpredictable. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time – half worried something horrible was going to happen to Bear and half worried she was going to do something horrible. You’ll just have to read for yourself to find out if either scenario came true.
I had a few small issues with the novel. I thought the choice of Orange for the sister’s name felt a little off. Early on the reader is told that it is short for Orange Blossom. A nice name but given that her deformities were caused by Agent Orange it seemed a little too on the nose for me. I also struggled a bit with “Teacher” – Bo’s teacher and one of the church members who sponsored their immigration. At times she seemed super involved with their lives and at other times she became incredibly distant. Of all the characters she was the only one who felt inconsistent.
Small nit picky things aside All the Broken Things is a beautiful, unique and slightly bizarre book. It tackles a lot of issues – from family, to freedom and survival, to the effects of Agent Orange and the roll Canada played in it. It’s an interesting and thought provoking novel that I think would work great for book clubs. The story is quite layered so there would be a lot of pick a part and discuss (and if you’re not in a book club feel free to tweet me and we can discuss!) All the Broken Things is an original coming of age story about a boy and his bear against the world and I highly recommend you check it out....more
My full review for Half Bad will be appearing in Volume 3 of Inaccurate Realities but short version is I really enjoyed it. Particularly the way SallyMy full review for Half Bad will be appearing in Volume 3 of Inaccurate Realities but short version is I really enjoyed it. Particularly the way Sally Green examined the idea of nature veruss nurture. Are we born bad? Or does society shape us?...more
The Death of the Family tie in may have been one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. Gave me the shivers. But it also made me incredibly pThe Death of the Family tie in may have been one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. Gave me the shivers. But it also made me incredibly proud of Harley. This may be my favourite volume yet. ...more
After reading, and loving, The Gypsy King earlier this year I couldn’t wait to get my hands on AThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
After reading, and loving, The Gypsy King earlier this year I couldn’t wait to get my hands on A Fool’s Errand and continue the adventure.
I am a sucker for the quest-style fantasy novel – Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland. All of them. I love the journey. Particularly the way characters grow throughout. But I also think this style of fantasy novel provides a broader view of the world and the people in it. Authors spend so much time world building in this genre it’s a shame when they can’t show it off and let the reader explore as well. A Fool’s Errand is so rich with detail you can tell just how much thought and planning Fergus has put in it. It’s not just a city or village you’re immersed in. It’s an entire kingdom.
Another huge draw for this series is the romance between Persephone and Azriel. It doesn’t distract from the central plot but is still totally swoon worthy. I love the kind of relationship where the couple is so similar they’re constantly butting heads. It makes for more than a few laughs. I also loved that no matter what they were going through, no matter how many doubts they had at the romantic side of the partnership, they could always depend on one another. They weren’t just in love, they were friends and comrades. They shared a common goal and they respected each other. This kind of healthy partnership is one I would like to see more often in Young Adult novels.
My one real complaint about The Gypsy King was that we didn’t know anything substantial about the Regent or his motivations. Just that he was a gigantic, evil creep. But the Fool’s Errand definitely expanded his character. Chapters would alternate between Persephone and Azriel’s voyage, and the Regent’s evil plans back at the castle. His conversations with an imprisoned servant really helped draw out some of the intricacies of his character and if anything made him even more terrifying.
The characters continue to be the strongest elements of this series. Everyone has such large, beautiful personalities, good and bad. I was extremely happy to find that we got more time with Rachel and the Gypsies. Out of all the groups we meet along the way, they remain my favourites. But I also loved that we got to know Finn better as well. Though he’s physically weak, he is such a strong, beautiful person and I found myself getting very attached to him.
A Fool’s Errand is an action packed, funny and addictive read. It draws you in from the first page and keeps you hanging on with every twist and turn. Fantasy fans – you need to read this series!...more
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. ButThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. But this is no standard love story. They live in Iran where homosexuality is strictly forbidden. I think there is an opportunity for this book to be a huge eye opener. We hear about the gay rights movement all the time in North America and I stand proudly behind it. But when you read about people who are actually risking their lives to be together and who have such little freedom when it comes to marriage/relationships, it really puts things in perspective.
If You Could Be Mine has an important message of finding yourself and not completely losing yourself in another person. When Nasrin announces she’s engaged (to a man) Sahar makes the radical decision to undergo sex reassignment surgery so that she will legally be able to be with her. Talk about making a decision for all the wrong reasons. If You Could Be Mine does an excellent job examining the lives of transsexual/transgendered peopled in Iran. In fact there was more on sex reassignment than there was on homosexuality, which I wasn’t expecting. I think Sara Farizan does an excellent job showcasing the process and challenges of sex reassignment surgery – the therapy, the hormones, the doctors appointments. She also shows that it is not a simple or an easy choice, it’s not a switch you can flip on and off and most importantly it’s not a mental illness. I feel like I’m rambling a bit but honestly this book does an excellent job being honest and respectful about a procedure that isn’t talked about all that often.
My one complaint is that this book feels a bit short. Everything happens very quickly. There isn’t a lot of time spent on the setting, so even though it is Iran and there are cultural distinctions, I never felt completely immersed. I also think more time could have been spent on character development. I really didn’t like Nasrin for most of the novel, yet she was so special to Sahar. I think more time could have been spent on the nuances of their relationship for us to really feel Sahar’s heart-break. That all being said, this is a début novel. It’s still very strongly written and Farizan is clearly very talented. I expect that her books will continue to get better and better the more she writes!
Recommendation: If You Could Be Mine is one of those unique, diverse books which the market so desperately needs. It’s a touching and heart wrenching story of love and self discovery which will leave breathless....more
I’ve been hearing more and more about East of West as the months go on so when the first trade paperback was available I figured it was about time for me to check it out.
East of West in a nutshell is the story of the four horseman of the apocalypse. Well actually it’s about three of the Horsemen (War, Famine and Conquest) trying to track down the fourth (Death). But it’s also about this group called “the Chosen.” The world leaders of the future, who are purposely working together to bring about the end of the world. And it’s about Death’s missions to retrieve what was taken from him and be reunited with his wife.
Ok so there’s no “in a nutshell” for this series.
As you’ve probably determined, there’s a lot going on. But the action is very slow going, there’s a lot of set up, a lot of characters to be introduced and a lot of relationships and back handed deals to be explored. At first I wished it would just tell me what everyone was after but as I kept reading I began to appreciate the deliberate style, as it meant there was a surprise around every corner.
Death is the character that most of this book centres around. He takes the form of a wild west cowboy in a futuristic world and he is pissed! There is a lot of violence committed because of him or at his hands. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising -he is death after all. (But seriously - violence!!)
He’s also a very real and interesting character - which was a nice surprise. He has very clear goals and motivations and the love he feels for his wife is downright moving. I appreciated that Hickman didn’t make this character clichéd or boring. You can tell from these first five issues, he not going to be what you expected.
There is some really fascinating world building in this book - a futuristic world blended with the Wild wild west. And it’s complexities are communicated through some very crisp, very detailed artwork. Dragotta is very talented and though I loved all his work throughout this book, I was particularly a sucker for the full page spreads that would appear throughout. Such as this one:
It is both complex and straight forward all at the same time. These first four issues are excellent set up and they have me curious about what’s to come. This is a dark and gritty book and if that’s your style you’re going to love it. However the slow pacing makes me feel like buying the monthly issues could get tedious and frustrating while you wait for something big to happen. This one might be better in trade paperback form. ...more
Days that End in Y is technically the third book in a series, chronicling the experiences of oneThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Days that End in Y is technically the third book in a series, chronicling the experiences of one girl, Clarissa. I haven’t read the other two books in the series. It’s not necessary to understand what’s going on in this book. BUT if you’re anything like me, you’re going to love these characters so much. And you will want to read the whole series in order to have more time with them.
More than anything I loved the way this novel explored the relationship between Clarissa and her parents. For most of her life it has just been Clarissa and her mom. They are quite close and it was nice to see a fictional parent so actively involved in the life of their child. But I also liked that they didn’t have a perfect wonderful relationship the whole time (because let’s face it – that’s not realistic either and perfect can be boring to read about). There is some very real strain put on their home life, when her mother’s fiance moves in with them. I think that Vikki VanSickle did a great job showing how that transition would be difficult, even if you like the person moving in with you.
Clarissa also faces an interesting situation when she decides to seek out her father for the first time in her life. I think this is where I related to Clarissa the most. And I think a lot of kids will too. An absentee parent – or a parent that isn’t around quite as often – is sadly a pretty common situation these days. And it leaves kids with a lot of questions. I think Clarissa’s mother should have been more upfront about the situation but again Vikki did a great job showing how a family would handle this kind of problem. The whole thing felt very realistic.
Since this is YA Pride, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Benji. Benji isn’t present “on page” for a lot of this book, but never the less you can tell how important he is to Clarissa. Clarissa and Benji are both at an age where they’re starting to figure things out about themselves. And for Benji that means coming out. His fear and apprehension about finally saying it out loud was touching and made me want to find him and sit with him and tell him everything was going to be fine.
Recommendation: Days That End in Y deals with a lot of sensitive topics but it does so honestly. It treats these topics seriously, but it’s also a funny book and a really enjoyable read. Clarissa and Benji are fabulous characters, the setting is relatable. All around a highly recommended middle grade story!...more
A Canadian novel, named after a Radiohead song with fantastic and incredibly realistic charactersThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
A Canadian novel, named after a Radiohead song with fantastic and incredibly realistic characters? What’s not to love about Creeps?
Creeps is the story of Wayne Pumphrey – fifteen years old, a bit small for his age and more than a little self conscious. Unfortunately for Wayne, being different doesn’t win you any favours in high school and he is targeted by a group of particularly nasty bullies.
I thought Darren Hynes’s depection of being bullied was incredibly realistic. Bullying comes in a lot of varieities and Wayne experiences quite a few of them – from emotional to physical. Some parts were difficult to read – such as any of the more violent episodes – but I appreciated that Hynes didn’t shy away from those scenes. These things DO happen and Creeps is honest about it.
Thankfully there’s Marjorie. A quirky, fascinating girl who – though often bullied herself – sticks up for Wayne one day. From there they form an unlikely but fantastic friendship. It was a difficult friendship and at times you didn’t think it would last but they are both incredibly strong and admirable people. I loved that Marjorie was quirky and out there, but didn’t fall into the whole Manic Pixie Dream Girl archtype. She was a fully developed character who was just as flawed and complicated as Wayne. I also liked that she gave Wayne hope. That she was a ray of light that he didn’t have to wait for. So many YA books about bullying seem to subcribe to the “it gets better” message. And while that is important, I believe it’s just important to show that there can be amazing things DURING your teen years as well.
I also think Hynes did a good job depicting how adults and other students react to bullying. From Wayne’s father thinking he could just talk it out with the bully’s parents to the oblivious high school principal. The principal in particular really angered me. I think a lot of the time teachers/principals don’t want to believe bullying is happening in their school. Or that certain kids are actually bullies. And that kind of behaviour can make a horrible situation even more desperate. And because of this I think Creeps is also a great book for adults to read – particularly parents or those who work with teens on a regular basis. I think it could be a bit of an eye opener.
Finally, I loved the setting of this book. Set in Labrador it’s hard to imagine a more remote location. If we’re being honest I don’t know that much about the area so it was nice to get a glimpse into life there. There aren’t enough books set in Northern Canada and I think that’s something that really sets Creeps apart.
Recommendation: Creeps is an authentic and emotional look at what it’s like to be bullied. This is a book that a lot of people are going to be able to relate to, even if they weren’t bullied as heavily as Wayne. Definitely an essential read for high schoolers and those who work with teens....more
I admit that going into The Jewel I had my doubts. It was described as The Selection meets The HaThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I admit that going into The Jewel I had my doubts. It was described as The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale. One of those books is one of my favourite novels of all time and one of them is a series that I abandoned halfway through. One of those books is an interesting commentary on sexism and body politics. The other is a dystopian-esque version of The Bachelor. My fear was that The Jewel would be closer to the latter. But I decided to give it a shot just in case.
Ultimately, however I should have listened to my original doubts. Though The Jewel does share some similarities with The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s mainly the forced surrogacy and the dystopian society. It doesn’t share one of the most important elements—the social and political commentary on our current society. Instead it has more in common with the sea of Young Adult dystopian novels we’ve seen in the wake of The Hunger Games and Divergent. It has a great premise but it’s execution is shaky.
The basic premise is that almost all women are unable to conceive, so the girls that can are shuttled off to covenant-like houses, until it’s time for them to go to The Auction. The Auction is exactly what it sounds like, rich women bid over which girl they want to carry their child. I think I can pinpoint this part of the novel as the point where my scepticism began. The Auction is when the reader is told just how special, Violet, the protagonist, is. Out of the hundred girls being auctioned she’s in the top five. Everyone wants her. There’s even a bidding war over her.
All of which would be fine, except that as the novel progresses there’s very little evidence that supports her ranking. She admits to being quite clumsy and that she was never very good at remembering the wealthy households that run their society. All of which make her more relatable to a reader, I suppose, but don’t support her high rank. Her rank seems entirely based upon her ability to play the cello and her aptitude for something called the Auguries.
The Auguries are a set of magical abilities that only the surrogates have. There are three of them, one allows the user to change the colour of something, one allows you to change the size and one allow you to change the shape. I’m willing to accept the convenience that the only girls who can have children also have the magical ability to tailor-make those children. However, when Violet is informed that’s what she expected to do with the Auguries, it comes as a total surprise. Surely that would have been part of their training in the covenants? How else could they guarantee that they would disfigure or harm the babies?
I will say that Ewing did an excellent job describing the physical world around Violet. Her new life in The Jewel easily sprung to life in my mind and I would have liked to explore that world a bit further. I can’t say for sure whether that’s enough to make me continue with this series. There is definitely some interesting directions it could go in, but based on what’s happened so far, I’m not sure that it will....more
The Martian is one of those books that once you get into it it is impossible to put it down. EverThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
The Martian is one of those books that once you get into it it is impossible to put it down. Everything else will seem less important than this question – “What is going to happen to Mark Watney?”
It is one intense read. Mark Watney has been (accidentally) left behind on Mars. The very first line of the book is “I’m pretty much fucked” and I can’t imagine a more accurate description of his situation. But despite the initial hopelessness of his situation Mark Watney keeps fighting to survive, keeps fighting to beat the odds. Watney was the ship’s botanist and engineer and those skills come in handy. He’s quite clever and he’s able to employ quite a bit of “back of the napkin” math to solve problems I couldn’t even begin to process. And every time I let your guard down even a little bit and allowed myself to believe he might make it, Mars would throw a new curve ball his way.
Part of the reason why you become so obsessed with what happens to this poor astronaut is Mark Watney himself. Personally, if I was stuck on Mars, I would probably curl up into a ball and cry my eyes out. But Mark Watney rises to the occasion. It’s impossible not to cheer for him. He’s clever – able to think up bizarre solutions to even the most intense problems. Think of him as a kind of space MacGyver. But he also has a great sense of humour. He is able to make jokes about his situation as easily as he makes them about his colleagues’ taste in music and television. The Martian is not the story of any old astronaut in space, it is Watney’s story and he is a very likeable guy.
Also it needs to be stated that I am not a science person. Not in the slightest. I even worked the system in high school so I could sub out Grade 11 science for “Hospitality” because it technically counts as a technology credit. My point is that I could have cared less about physics, biology and most of all chemistry. But The Martian made me care. There is a lot of science in this book – from rocket science to growing potatoes on Mars – but it was presented clearly and made me want to learn more. If there had been books like this on my shelf in high school I probably would have stayed in science.
The Martian is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Andy Weir has clearly done his research. Even though we haven’t reached this level of space exploration it seemed completely plausible. And he balances all this detail with so many twists and turns it will keep your heart racing. “Suspenseful” doesn’t even begin to describe it. ...more
Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be what’s hot right now and I personally think that’s fantastic. IThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be what’s hot right now and I personally think that’s fantastic. I think it’s even more fantastic however when I get to read a totally original fairy tale like The School for Good and Evil. Soman Chainani’s book is a brand new fairy tale – instead of remixing old stories, it explains to readers where the stories come from.
Agatha and Sophie are both fantastic characters. They’re both complex. At times you love them, at times they drive you insane (especially Sophie) but they are always compelling. At its heart The School For Good and Evil is the story of their friendship – of all friendships – and the trials and tribulations that go with it. No relationship is a walk in the park, they require work, but true friendships are the ones that push through.
The School For Good and Evil makes you question the idea of good and evil being polar opposites and makes you consider the grey area in between. It’s a longer middle grade read, but you won’t care because you’ll be so wrapped up in the story. I personally can’t wait to see what Agatha and Sophie get up to next in A World Without Princes....more
I love the amount of fantasy titles that are on my radar this year. The Gypsy King is my second aThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I love the amount of fantasy titles that are on my radar this year. The Gypsy King is my second and it’s still January! I sat down with high expectations for this novel and I was overall really pleased with the fun, adventure filled story I got lost in.
I particularly liked Persephone as a heroine. Having grown up a slave, she was a little rough around the edges and developed a thick skin. But despite her unfortunate circumstances she still had a lighter, pleasant side. She’s quick with a laugh or a sarcastic comment. She also talks to and names all the animals she encounters. As an animal lover myself, I am instantly drawn to those who love them too.
I thought Persephone was at her best when she was interacting with Azriel. I loved the back and forth between them. There is a romance present but there’s so many other things going on, their relationship is placed on the back burner. I think this is a positive because it gave them more time to get to know one another and to grow alongside each other. They’re incredibly cute and they absolutely make me laugh. The one drawback was that I didn’t appreciate her all too frequent lies to him. This made their relationship seem a little one sided and at times I wanted her to get over herself.
But while I really enjoyed the protagonists of this story, I have mixed feeling about the villain - the Regent Mordecai. He was creeptastic. Don’t get me wrong. He was truly a horrible human being and his presence could give you goosebumps. But at times he felt a little two dimensional. He reminded me a lot of Jafar, from Aladdin. We know he’s bad, we know he wants power and control but we don’t know how and why he became so ruthless. I love complex villains and the Regent just didn’t do it for me.
I also found that some things felt a little too…convenient. I don’t mind the odd coincidence but when they start cropping up on a regular basis it takes me out of the story. In The Gypsy King animals are always showing up exactly at the moment when needed. Or a character happened to be a perfect pool of water right beside where she fell in the mud etc.
Like many first books, The Gypsy King, left me with a lot of questions. I want to know more about the kingdom, the Gypsy lifestyle, the circumstances that left to the genocide of their people. I don’t think the answers were missing from this book. It’s already 400 pages, there would have been no way to smoothly include all that surplus information. But these type of questions have made me really, really excited to read book two and get absorbed within this world again.
Recommendation: A fun fantasy adventure, with an excellent pair of protagonists but a few notable flaws. Recommended for those looking for a light hearted read that is still packed with adventure....more
Crazy Rich Asians is like Dallas meets Downton Abbey in Asia. I can think of no better descriptioThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Crazy Rich Asians is like Dallas meets Downton Abbey in Asia. I can think of no better description.
Nick’s best friend is getting married back in Singapore and he see’s this as the perfect opportunity to spend a summer with his girlfriend – Rachel – in Asia. And for her to finally meet his family. What he doesn’t tell her is that his friend’s wedding is the social event of the year, and that family he wants her to meet? They’re rich. Supremely rich. Crazy rich. It’s a fantastic premise and one that lives up to all your expectations – it’s hilarious, it’s smart, it’s well plotted and it offers some interesting insight and commentary into the lives of the super rich.
Crazy Rich Asians is dramatic. I compared it to Dallas and Downton Abbey above. And those comparisons are totally apt – this book is full of twists and surprises but more importantly it’s filled with drama and scandal! It had me hanging onto every page waiting to see what this crazy group of people would do next. No one could be trusted and you were always waiting to see who would stab who in the back. This scandal is also what gives the book its comedic edge. Crazy Rich Asians is a satire and you can’t help but giggle at some of the over the top schemes that are carried out. Especially those of Nick’s mother and cousins.
Crazy Rich Asians is chock full of interesting characters – some loveable, some intensely despicable. Normally when a book has such a huge cast of character I have trouble keeping them straight. When I read War and Peace I had to keep a special bookmark on hand with all the characters names and who they were so I could keep them straight in my head. But this didn’t seem to be a problem while reading Crazy Rich Asians. Everyone had such distinct personalities. I may not be able to recite everyone by name but I do remember who they are and how to connected to the larger plot.
There is so much detail throughout this story. Kevin Kwan truly did a fantastic job of bringing Singapore to life on the page. From the architecture, to the food, to the clothes. It was brilliant. This was a whole different world to me. I’ve never been to Asia but after reading this book I am dying to take a trip over there. Particularly for the food. They ate so much food in this book and it all sounded fantastic. I also loved the footnotes. Scattered throughout the book they were used to explain slang, or menu items or just general customs. The footnotes were my favourite part of the book. They were funny and insightful and expertly placed – I never felt like I had to pause the story just to read them.
Recommendation: Crazy Rich Asians is a funny and smart summer read. It’s definitely one you’ll want to throw in your beach bag or read out by the lake. Highly recommended....more