I loved this book; right from the very start it grabbed my attention and made me flip page after page, desiring to kn...moreI don't even know where to begin.
I loved this book; right from the very start it grabbed my attention and made me flip page after page, desiring to know more. What I loved about this book was the prose; the way Taylor uses language ... In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, she crafts her language such that it suits the scene. For example, the book begins slowly and mysteriously with plodding language: perfect for lovely, small and cold Prague. Then Taylor speeds up to short and terse phrases as the plot begins to move at high octane speed. I loved how real her world-building was: I could close my eyes and imagine myself in the places she described, smelling the scents, drinking in the sights; and all those little myths and legends that she created? Pure fantasy gold. Most of all, I loved how poignant Taylor was: there were times in the novel where I felt my heart being wrenched, break or connect so intimately with a character because of a combination of factors: the beautiful turn of phrase, depth of Taylor's characters, the creativity of the scene ... There were times where I thought I knew where the plot was heading, only to second guess myself a few pages later, and that's another thing I loved! The constant guessing, second guessing and triple guessing and oh my, by the time I reached the ending and read it, I think my heart all but exploded in a moment best described as: "OH MY GOSH THAT DID NOT HAPPEN NOOOOOO"
Who would I recommend this to? Anyone who's looking for a good read and who doesn't turn their nose up at the genre of fantasy. Trust me, I don't consider myself a huge fan of Young Adult, or fantasy romance, but believe me when I say this book threw all my expectations and skepticism of both genres out the window (Before I Fall by Lauren Olivier was the other one with all the tears it wrenched out of my gut). I'd definitely be keeping my eye on this series.(less)
I meant to give this a 3.5 stars but since there wasn't such an option available to me, I decided on 4.
What I loved about this book was that it surpri...moreI meant to give this a 3.5 stars but since there wasn't such an option available to me, I decided on 4.
What I loved about this book was that it surprised me. I've been a fan of Terry Pratchett for ages, and yet I have not ventured beyond his non-Discworld books. As such, I approached Dodger with a sense of apprehension, thinking that Pratchett might be writing out of his element for Dodger and that this may adversely impact the story; I have never been happier that I was wrong.
What I loved about Dodger was that Pratchett did a great job of bringing old London to life: the sights, sounds, smells, slangs, language; never once did I feel that something was out of place in the setting he created. I do know that Pratchett did alter a few timelines to enable the historical characters he wanted to appear together in Dodger, but hey, this is historical fantasy after all! I loved that the setting he created was somehow reminiscent of Ankh-Morpork of Discworld but was at the same time, uniquely different in some ways. The characters of Dodger are all masterfully fleshed out and relatable; I particularly loved Pratchett's handling of Dodger as a good-at-heart thief who nevertheless questions his actions and challenges his own system of beliefs throughout the novel. The secondary characters are also adeptly created e.g. Solomon, Charlie and engaging.
What I wasn't entirely happy about was that I felt that the plot dragged a bit in the beginning; this was exactly what I felt about Snuff so I subconciously knew that I had to push on with continuing to read Dodger to get to the good bits. I felt Pratchett was spending a bit too much time setting up characters and settings that it did begin to feel a bit rambling in places. Thankfully though, this didn't last too long because the plot was advancing well after a short patch of dullness. I also felt that the plot was somehow a little too simple; I could somewhat guess what was going to happen even before it happened which detracted from the full enjoyment of the plot. While Pratchett does continue writing fantastic one-liners and gems in Dodger, I felt that there wasn't as much as say, for the point of argument, Snuff; I also felt that there wasn't as much pondering or me being affected by the story as well.
All in all, I would recommend Dodger to anyone who wants a good read and wouldn't mind trying a hand at historical fantasy. Although I'd still prefer a Discworld novel anytime, I would definitely pick up the sequel to Dodger that Pratchett is planning on writing!(less)
Note: I would give this a 2 1/2 stars rating if there were such a thing, but as it is 3 stars would do.
Remember Me? has its classic Kinsella funny mom...moreNote: I would give this a 2 1/2 stars rating if there were such a thing, but as it is 3 stars would do.
Remember Me? has its classic Kinsella funny moments but surprisingly there's not as many as I'd hoped. That said though, there were moments in the book that made me laugh and gasp out loud accordingly. I also liked Lexi as a character; she was endearing as a bumbling amnesiac and I was curious as she tried to figure out what her life was before the accident. Also, when her full story came to light, I felt a rush of sympathy for her; the reveal was also done well by Kinsella.
I think I was a bit disappointed in this book because it didn't feel heartwarming for me? There weren't situations that pulled my heartstrings (unlike Twenties Girl) and for some reason that I can't quite place, I was never fully invested in Lexie. A thought occurs: could it be I was a bit miffed that Lexie had an extra-marital affair with Jon and I couldn't quite agree with it? Even after it was made clear that he was a better match for her and he brought out the best in her... Part of me wonders if there wasn't another way to draw the best out of Lexie as the story unfolded without resorting to Jon as a romantic interest; perhaps just using Jon as a good platonic friend to bounce off on or even someone else in Lexie's life (e.g. Amy) who has noticed a change in her since the accident. Then again, Kinsella has always written about romantic entanglements so perhaps this plot line was second nature to her?
Regardless, this book was an easy read and for anyone who's looking for a bit of a laugh and just light-heartedness, try picking this up! (less)
Part of me thinks that I loved this book because it reminds me of Cecilia Ahern's books hmm..
Regardless, after the disappointment that was Mini Shopah...morePart of me thinks that I loved this book because it reminds me of Cecilia Ahern's books hmm..
Regardless, after the disappointment that was Mini Shopaholic, this puts Kinsella back on my to-read list again. This was such a silly book but I couldn't help loving it because it had its fair share of moments that made my heart melt.
I loved Lara as a character; she is a bit naive but she has such a great heart that you can't help but empathetically cringe in embarassment with her when she mucks up and puts herself on the line either for herself or for the sake of Sadie. As for Sadie, I started off disliking her but as the story wore on and bits of her life story started to unravel, I began to understand her more and ended up rooting for her at the end.
Most of all, I loved the little poignant back stories that Kinsella wove for her main characters; they were such gems that after reading them my esteem for that particular character went up and I started investing more heavily in him/her. And as always, Kinsella does a great job at dropping such funny situations throughout the book that I swear my neighbours think they're living next to a lunatic who spent all afternoon alone going 'OHMYGOSH THAT"S SOO GOOD!!" and then bursting into manical laughter soon after. I also loved the journey of self-discovery that both Lara and Sadie went on; it's one of those books that I closed with a big grin on my face and a sense of satisfaction weighing on my chest.
Overall, if you're looking for a serious read, don't pick this up because you will be disappointed! If you are looking for a fun, light and silly read or if you love Ceclia Ahern's writing, be sure to pick it up and you'd walk away from its ending with a goofy smile on your face like I did! :)
The last shopaholic book I read was probably a while ago so much so I can't really remember how much I liked or disliked it. Nevertheless...
I think Mi...moreThe last shopaholic book I read was probably a while ago so much so I can't really remember how much I liked or disliked it. Nevertheless...
I think Mini Shoapholic is the weakest book in the series so far. I remember loving the first three books, and then feeling "meh" about the books after (present book excluded). What I loved about the first three books was Becky: she was totally dysfunctional but she was funny while messing up her entire life and digging a bigger hole for herself as the plot moved along. Plus she had such a great heart it was hard not to sympathize with her plight. Most of all though, she learnt her lesson, redeemed herself and became a better person by the end of the book.
Not so with this book.
Becky is still dysfunctional and still funny while messing up her life ... Except the charm is starting to wear thin. Why? Well for one Becky has always been a liar but in Mini Shoapholic I just felt that her lying was just way over the top (especially with her parents); it was like she was a pathological liar. And one can't help but wonder did she not learn that her parents love her unconditionally in the last few books? So why does she still feel the compulsive need to lie? Also, I felt that Becky was completely unfit as a mother; you would think that with a child she would have grown more mature about shopping and just living life in general. Not so: she's not only traipsing around with little Minnie (her daughter) in tow but she indulges her at every turn and she even fails to see that Minnie is completely spoilt. I'm sorry, I can't really reconcile with the fact that Minnie is totally normal and that she's just wild for her age; perhaps the bar of being labelled spoilt has been raised higher in this generation of kids but I'm pretty sure that when I was a kid you did NOT throw multiple tantrums and then not be labelled spoilt both by any adult in the vicinity and kids your age.
Furthermore the plot was weak. There wasn't really much of a plot other than a bunch of subplots thrown together with the most prominent of all being the surprise party Becky attempts to throw for Luke. I know Kinsella tried to throw a lot of road bumps into the party planning but really, I didn't get any sense of mounting urgency as the plot built because the stakes that were being raised weren't enough to make me care in the first place. In fact by the time I got to the party I was pleasantly surprised as to what the surprise really was (good on Kinsella for that) but I wasn't really interested in what was going to happen next. That said, I must commend Kinsella on how she wrote Elinor's character arc in this book; the changes and the decisions she made as a character were enough to melt my heart multiple times.
Overall, Mini Shopaholic is not as strong as its predecessors but I must admit, the series has been losing its luster ever since Becky got married. Perhaps Kinsella should finally put Becky as a character to rest and move on to other projects; Becky and her adventures have been great but she's had her day in the sun. (less)
I read this book because I've always been interested in retellings and because I've heard good reviews of this book ... I must say I was a bit disappo...moreI read this book because I've always been interested in retellings and because I've heard good reviews of this book ... I must say I was a bit disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Scarlet's voice and character: her voice was compelling and it's great to see a strong heroine that can not only hold her own against the brawny boys but actually rescue them from time to time! I also loved how both Scarlet and Robin are flawed; they are the gallant hero and heroine but they've both done things in the past that they're ashamed of and so they continually struggle with their inner demons and seek redemption as the story unfolds. In particular, I think Gaughen did a brilliant job of portraying Robin as a brave hero who both brings hope to the people who need it most and yet believes that he never does enough because he has to atone for his past sins. For that, I commend Gaughen for creating a new, more complex Robin as opposed to the other media portrayals of Robin as a courageous hero who was a goody-goody two shoes through and through and who never once doubted his inner moral compass.
What I thought was a bit of a letdown though was the plot. It unfolded smoothly enough but I just felt that things felt a bit dull and passive for about the first 2/3; it was only in the last 1/3 of the book that the stakes started to rise high enough for me to really care and think about what would happen next. That said, Gaughen did craft a few emotionally eloquent scenes that caused my heart to swell and feel really strongly about what the characters were going through.
In terms of the secrets Scarlet were trying so hard to hide from the band of Merry Men, it might just've been me but I swear I suspected what they were from the start of the book and I wasn't too far off. I felt a bit sore about that because I would've loved for my suspicions to have been proven wrong. Also, there was a love triangle between Robin, Scarlet and Little John but to be honest, I had a strong suspicion I knew who Scarlet would end up with right from the start because of (what I felt were) obvious hints in the book and I wasn't proven wrong at the end of the book as well.
The ending also felt a bit unsatisfying but there's been talk that there might be a sequel to Scarlet so perhaps that's the reason for it? Regardless, I walked away from the book feeling a bit unsatisfied because I thought there was a major loophole that was left unfinished and therefore left to hang like a shadow over the future of the Merry Men.
Overall, I would recommend this book to people who are interested in retellings. That said, I would also recommend not going into this book with high hopes (just like I did) just in case because you might be pretty disappointed.
This was okay, I preferred Clark's other books just because the murderer was revealed early in the plot and there just wasn't as much mystery/tension...moreThis was okay, I preferred Clark's other books just because the murderer was revealed early in the plot and there just wasn't as much mystery/tension as I'd like.(less)
After reading Mistress of the Game by Bagshawe and being quite disappointed by it, I was hesitant on giving this a try but since it was lying around m...moreAfter reading Mistress of the Game by Bagshawe and being quite disappointed by it, I was hesitant on giving this a try but since it was lying around my house with no other books on the horizon, I picked it up anyway.
I think the reason why I gave this a 3 stars as opposed to a 2 stars (like I did for Mistress of the Game) was because I wasn't subconsciously comparing Sheldon's characters and plot with Bagshawe's; something I couldn't help doing with Mistress of the Game since Bagshawe was writing a sequel to Sheldon's Master of the Game.
Also, Bagshawe's prose was a bit tighter in After the Darkness; I say a bit because there were still some parts where I was skipping bits of text. I also liked Grace's (the main character) growth throughout the novel if only because I went from feeling like she deserved her head bashed in at the start of the novel to respecting her strength and resilience at the end of the novel. The other characters were a bit two-dimensional but then working with characters in a fast-paced thriller like this, it's hard not to make them so. The plot was solid with twists in abundance although I was a bit miffed that I could spot some major plot twists a mile away before I got to them.
Regardless, After the Darkness is a page-turning novel for all the right reasons. I would recommend this over Mistress of the Game any day.(less)
To be honest, if this book was NOT a sequel to a book written by Sidney Sheldon, I would have probably given it a 3 stars instead of a 2. However, bec...moreTo be honest, if this book was NOT a sequel to a book written by Sidney Sheldon, I would have probably given it a 3 stars instead of a 2. However, because it is a sequel to one of the best books written by Sheldon and toys with fantastic characters that Sheldon created, I couldn't help but compare Bagshawe's with Sheldon's work and be disappointed with Bagshawe. Hence, the 2 stars.
If you haven't read Master of the Game, you should. Why? Because I read it years ago when I was a teenager and until today I will quote it as a must-read of the thriller genre. In fact, Master of the Game was one of the books that buoyed and fueled my transition from childhood reading to adult reading; that's how good it was. Sheldon's prose was powerful and tight, I remember being gripped by every word he wrote and continually turning the pages to find out what would happen next. Each member of the Blackwell family was strong and so enigmatic that their motivations and actions were so tangible that I got utterly caught up with their next tactical maneuvoure.
Not so Bagshawe's attempt at a sequel.
I really did try to like the novel if nothing for the sake of my good memories of Master of the Game but I couldn't. Bagshawe's prose was rambling and loose so much so I finished the book in one day because I was skipping chunks of text to keep my hold on the thread of the main plot. I felt as if Bagshawe wrote two times the amount that Sheldon would in setting up/explaining scenes and it left me quite annoyed because I couldn't really see the point? On that note, I think that's why although Bagshawe's and Sheldon's plot twists were technically on par in terms of creative genius, Bagshawe's didn't deliver as much impact and leave me reeling as Sheldon's did because I was spending way too much time navigating prose that was flapping all over the darn place!
I'd give credit where credit is due: the characters that Bagshawe created were real enough and if I hadn't had Sheldon's characters to compare to, I probably would've given this book a 3 stars based on the merits of the characters themselves. But as it is, Bagshawe's characters lacked the spark that Sheldon's did. The Blackwells crafted by Sheldon had a certain grit and depth to their personalities that made me invest heavily in their stories; Bagshawe's didn't. Again, I believe it might've been the prose that Bagshawe employed in describing them and their interactions?
All in all, I'm not sure whether I'd pick up another Bagshawe book, especially one that attempts to continue in the vein of Sidney Sheldon. If you want a Sidney Sheldon-esque book, you might probably be better off re-reading books by the man himself.
This is the first book of Picoult's that I've read and I must say that when I read the premise of the story written on the back of the book, I thought...moreThis is the first book of Picoult's that I've read and I must say that when I read the premise of the story written on the back of the book, I thought it was great and it built my anticipations for a great thought-provoking read ... and then Picoult failed to meet the mark.
Picoult did craft real characters with very real feelings and I did love the emotional roller coaster that the family went through. There were times I stopped reading because I could feel the emotions jump off the page at me. The dialogue was engaging and the twist at the end about Kate asking Anna to lodge the lawsuit? Brilliant!
So then where did Picoult miss the mark? Her prose. While her dialogue was great, there were times where Picoult was making so many metaphors that it got unnervingly annoying. I know Brian is a firefighter and a lover of star constellations so yes a few metaphors about the story and how it relates to fires and stars are fine but for heaven's sakes, Picoult overdid it so much so that I was skipping those chunks of text halfway into the book. Honestly the only reflections I thought were appropriate past the halfway point was from Anna's POV and considering there were more than one POV character that's sad.
Secondly, Picoult had subplots that not only didn't strengthen the main plot but just sunk the momentum of the main plot in some places. What plots were this? The whole Jesse feeling like he needed to set fire to everything. Yes I know the boy was neglected because of Kate's illness and therefore felt he needed to be a pyromaniac to get more attention but I really didn't see the point of the subplot! And the way it was resolved was ridiculous! Brian finds out Jesse is an arsonist, doesn't rat him out to the police and then suddenly Jesse decides to reform just with this act of forgiveness. Excuse me?! What happened to those years of neglect and cries of attention? Did they just fly out the window with a hug and a I'm sorry? No terse discussions between the parents and Jesse, no emotional pathway to healing, nothing? I'm sorry but that felt a bit unreal to me.
And don't even get me started on the Campbell and Julia Romano subplot. That was even more pointless than the Jesse subplot. I still don't see the relevance of it except to inject a bit of romance when there doesn't need to be any considering the moral dilemmas of the main story should be enough for the book to hold its own!
Picoult did a good job of handling the moral dilemmas of the main story ... Until she wrote the ending. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was what did it for me: as in me giving this book a 2 stars.
Yes I know real life isn't perfect and we can't just expect that Anna will get a happy ending but this is a work of fiction. In the world of storytelling people read books to escape real life so there really is no call for an author to build up to an ending that everyone's expecting and wanting because they know it's fiction and then pull the rug from under them going: aha! But that's not how real life works! I just think that's disregarding the amount of effort that the reader has invested into the story.
Also, honestly I felt that Picoult chose to write the easier ending. In her ending, nobody had to feel guilty about Anna dying because it was in a car accident and oh how convenient! Kate lives because Anna's kidney is now available! Also as a medical student I find it a bit insulting that after all the hoo-ha about Kate being too late to receive a transplant, she miraculously recovered and for so long. Yes I am aware that med miracles happen all the time but for someone who has been so sick for so long? Like Picoult says earlier in the book, other body organs would be so battered that Kate wouldn't be as healthy as she is at the end of the story!
Anyway in the other ending, Picoult would have much more to explore. Although Campbell presumes Anna will give the kidney there's still the unexplored possibilities that Kate may refuse the transplant and have the ethics board challenge the decision of her mother, Anna may be unpredictably selfish as her character and her decisions oscillate throughout the novel, Kate may die before the transplant could be completed anyway since she was that sick already. And the moral issues that would entail from any of those are ripe for exploring! Would the parents or Anna herself forgive themselves for Anna's decision not to give the kidney? If Anna hadn't launched the lawsuit maybe she could have given the kidney earlier and Kate wouldn't have died waiting for the kidney. In that case would Sara blame Brian for supporting Anna initially and drawing out the lawsuit and thereby be partially to blame for Kate's death? The grieving mind has a weird sense of logic. I honestly thought it was a shame that Picoult didn't choose any of those paths and apparently I'm not the only Goodreads reviewer who feels that way.
So all in all, I'm not entirely sure why everyone I know in my life loves Picoult when I honestly think there are other authors that grapple better with moral issues. I also think I may not read another Picoult book as well. (less)