So..deep breath. I finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy. To be honest, I think I read the second and third books too quickly. I wanted to devour...moreSo..deep breath. I finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy. To be honest, I think I read the second and third books too quickly. I wanted to devour them, to drink in every last word and event, and I wish it wasn't over.
In this third book, there are two main sections, Katniss getting used to a completely new life in a different district, and Katniss fighting back at the Capitol and President Snow in order to obtain her freedom. I can see why the film-makers decided to make two movies for 'Mockingjay'. There are some important things going on and I don't think you can skimp on the details.
This book was so heart-wrenching. I guess it had to be, to invest us readers and stop us giving up reading. So many deaths, so much hurt and horror. Dreadful things happen, things that Katniss can't fix, but has to come to terms with somehow. It is so difficult to write this review because I don't want to include spoilers. I can say, though, that I had really got to like the characters who died. I even kept hoping a certain one would come back - that they would just be injured and come back hurt, but alive. However, the book is not a movie. The rule doesn't exist on the page where, on TV, if you don't see a character actually expire, then they're still alive.
I almost cried at the end; not at the fuzzy epilogue which showed hope for the future. The part just before it, when it feels like Katniss has been through too much. I was on the bus, though, and didn't allow myself a tear.
If I haven't said it enough through each book's review, please read this trilogy. It is so important and worth your time. It's such a ride for the emotions. I'm actually kind of glad with how Katniss' "love life" turns out, if you could call it that. She never shows much conviction either way, but I think it worked out for the best.(less)
I think it is always difficult to review the second book in a trilogy. Of course, I can't give away too much without spoiling the story, and there has...moreI think it is always difficult to review the second book in a trilogy. Of course, I can't give away too much without spoiling the story, and there hasn't been a big triumphant conclusion yet. I wouldn't say this book was better than 'The Hunger Games'. I think it was on a par, but probably leans more towards four-and-a-half stars than the first book.
The story of 'Catching Fire' follows our protagonist Katniss Everdeen, who is not dead. Now that is not a spoiler. The trilogy wouldn't exist if she was dead, right? She has already done something to make the Capitol and President Snow angry. Now she unintentionally starts a chain reaction - she is the spark to set off the whole country in rebelling. Let's leave it at that for the story.
As for the writing, it is still as fantastic as in the first book. There are enough surprises to keep us guessing, and challenges Katniss must face to prove her strength of character and resilience. Katniss still doesn't really know where her heart lies, but the underlying message written in is that she's really too young to be thinking about a relationship anyway, and she doesn't HAVE to make a decision just yet. Anyway there is too much going on which is risking her life and the lives of the people she cares about.
If you haven't already, please give this trilogy a go. I just can't wait until I've finished the third book so I can watch the movies.(less)
This is the second book in George R. R. Martin's saga, 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. I finished reading the first book in January and felt I needed a brea...moreThis is the second book in George R. R. Martin's saga, 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. I finished reading the first book in January and felt I needed a break before I started this one. As excellent as the writing is, and the way the story fills your head and absorbs you completely, they still take a lot of energy and concentration. I feel like my brain has been literarily stolen for the past three and a half weeks.
This book is aptly named. Without giving too much away, there is a major rift in the seven kingdoms. The Starks, three Baratheons and a Greyjoy all fight over the throne, whilst a Targaryen plots to steal it out from underneath them, and a wildling vows to crush them all. This book is all about sides - whose side you're on, and whether you'll pledge fealty to another side to save from being killed. It's all about whose banner you're flying, which house you're a member of. It's a dangerous thing for a family member to support the opposition until you have proven yourself. You don't want to be on the wrong side, but it is terribly tricky in a divided Westeros. People we'd learned to like are turning on us, throwing our trust back in our faces. New enemies are sprouting from the woodwork, and we learn to feel empathy and connection with the unlikeliest characters.
I think my favourite storyline is the one we see when we read from Tyrion Lannister's point of view. He's not the most interesting, but I love his wit and perception of all the ambitious monsters he is surrounded by. He can't treat them with revulsion or rebel against their authority because he is a Lannister. There is no ignoring his house and birth, and the Lannisters are pretty important. Even though his family despise him, he carries on trying to do the right thing for his honour as a Lannister lion.
This novel is FULL of battles. Things are really coming to a head, with each side coming to blows with each other. There is a red woman who defeats Lords in their castles with shadows. The ward of an important family strikes when they are weakest and leaves their home broken and sorrowful. Everyone feels self-important, trying to do the best thing to beat the others to the ground.
If I'm honest, I did get somewhat tired of the battles. I just thought, could they not be battling all the time? Some of them were different, yes, and they didn't all involve long descriptions of how the battleground was laid out or which party of men were going to attack where. Some battles were told through the eyes of people who could do nothing to affect the outcome of that battle, an innocent bystander. Martin writes all of his characters, big and small, filled with passion and cause and potential. We get pulled along in their emotions and impulses, and we develop close relationships with them, as a reader. There is not much writing better than that. Martin is such an excellent novelist that I would have given this book five stars if it were not for the endless battles; but I know that books like this require a huge amount of conflict after we've established the world. Just like J. R. R. Tolkien's 'The Two Towers', which is the more boring of the trilogy(less)
Kate Morton has written a fair few books, and they all seem to have gardens on their front covers. I was vaguely aware of this author, and found this...moreKate Morton has written a fair few books, and they all seem to have gardens on their front covers. I was vaguely aware of this author, and found this as a recommended read in the summer sale on Amazon.
The plot follows Laurel, daughter of Dorothy. Laurel is in her sixties, and she has three sisters and a brother, part of a large happy family that grew up in a farmhouse in the country. Laurel has reason to dig up the past - she saw her mother kill a man when Laurel was only sixteen, and now that her mother is slowly dying, she wants to find out the truth before it's too late. The story, as well as following Laurel's hunt for answers in 2011, also takes part the early part of World War II, giving us an insight into Dorothy before she was married.
Kate Morton does write well. She writes descriptively, in a detailed manner, without becoming boring. She shares enough detail to get you interested before leaving you hanging, waiting for more. Morton writes about the war time in what feels like an accurate way. She writes knowingly about love and the tribulations of the heart, and her love story does not feel trite.
However, I had a big issue with this novel. I don't think I have ever been a fan of war-time stories, no matter which war is depicted. It seems like the 1940s are also not a time period I have any interest in, which is the same for any period after the 1920s. So that was my own personal preference. The other thing that bugged me while I was reading, was the big emphasis on solving the family mystery. Laurel is only able to share the knowledge with one of her siblings, and takes time off from her acting career in order to solve it all. She goes through things in the attic, finds old photos, asks her mother directly when she is well enough to answer lucidly, and even goes to the places Dorothy spent time in to gather clues. I like mysteries, but I don't think I like family mysteries. It wasn't something that intrigued me well enough. I almost didn't care why their mother killed a man; but I kept reading, to find out what happened, as I am wont to do.
The novel was slightly gripping towards the end as all the details started to come together as a fuller picture, but the revealing twist at the end was lacklustre, for me. I can't say I will be actively seeking out another Kate Morton novel because this just isn't my preferred genre, I think.(less)
'The Shining Girls' is a novel so different that I knew I had to read it. I have always loved time travel stories, despite being let down by Bee Ridgw...more'The Shining Girls' is a novel so different that I knew I had to read it. I have always loved time travel stories, despite being let down by Bee Ridgway's novel. This one has a definite twist. Instead of the romance of 'The Time Traveller's Wife', this one is a crime thriller.
Harper Curtis is a psychopath, killing people even before he finds out how to time travel. Just for the sake of it. He's not normal - he ran his brother over and would cut the legs off chicks as a child. He is running away from the police in his present (1929), completely smashes up one leg, before he finds the House. Who knows where the house came from? It is lavishly decorated, and on the bedroom wall is a collage of sorts. Girls' names have been written there, trophies pinned next to them. The names shimmer and distort. Somehow Harper realises that these are the names of the girls he must kill - the shining, glowing girls, with fire inside.
One of Harper's victims gets away. He's sloppy and, he realises, he should've waited for another time in her life to visit and kill her. Kirby Mazrachi lives, despite being nearly disembowelled, her neck cut open. She makes the newspaper with her heroic survival.
In Kirby's present (1992), she is supposed to be earning a degree but cannot stay away from finding out who tried to kill her - after all, the police have had no luck. She becomes an intern at The Sun Times newspaper, supporting a former crime reporter whilst using her connections to find out what she can.
This was an incredibly gripping read. I don't read crime thrillers often, but this was enjoyable and I'm glad I did. I loved the insight into Harper's twisted mind, how he justifies himself and rationalises his actions as necessary. At first we feel kind of sorry for him when things don't go his way, and we get caught up in his discovery of the House. Soon enough, though, we get pulled sharply into Kirby's desperate search for her attacker. I just could not stop reading. My long bus journeys to and from work help with that!
I happily give this four stars as it was a fantastic ride but not perfect and not the best thing I've ever read. Nonetheless make sure you give this a go, it is so different and rewarding.(less)
'Kiss Me First' is the second book I've read on my Kindle - hurrah! - because I was in the middle of moving house and didn't have a single book at my...more'Kiss Me First' is the second book I've read on my Kindle - hurrah! - because I was in the middle of moving house and didn't have a single book at my disposal. I read it in three days. I actually bought this one in the summer in an Amazon sale for 99p, and it's probably the most modern thing I've read in a long time. I don't usually read books that were published in the last two years.
Anyway on with the story. Leila tells us the tale of herself, and somebody she's impersonating online. Leila is an overweight, antisocial computer whiz, whose only friend was her mother. Her mum had MS (multiple sclerosis) and Leila was her carer, needing extra help before she died. After that, she moved to a grotty flat above an Indian restaurant in Rotherhithe, and started participating on a website called Red Pill - a reference to The Matrix, where the blue pill sends you back to ignorance, and the red pill takes you into the reality most choose to ignore. The website is a philosophical, and ethical debate forum. Leila is a rational thinker, and shares her thoughts articulately and confidently, winning praise from her fellow forumites.
Soon the owner of the website, Adrian, takes note of her astute responses, and tells her he is very impressed with what she brings to the discussion. Not long after that, Adrian asks to meet her in London for a chat about a project he wants to propose to her. Leila is terribly excited to meet the famous Adrian, who has intelligent podcasts and is well-respected in the philosophical community. When they meet, he gives it to her straight: he wants her to help a lady called Tess to commit suicide, by impersonating her online so that her family and friends will not be hurt by her disappearance. Leila knows almost immediately that she is going to say yes, because she believes very strongly that it is each person's choice to decide whether they live or die, to have self-ownership. Leila and Tess communicate via email and then Skype, so that Leila can gather every detail possible in order to mimic her flawlessly.
Throughout the book, Leila is telling us her story from the wilderness of a hippy camp in Spain, where she believes Tess went before committing suicide. She asks around to try to find out what happened to her, the obsession taking over.
This was an extremely exciting novel. I could not stop reading it, gripped by what might happen next in this riveting story. I have never heard of a book like this before, covering this subject-material. Lottie Moggach writes well, with only a few editorial typos noticed in this Kindle version. We traverse an emotional and mental ride we traverse through Leila's consciousness. I can confidently give this book five stars because I was not disappointed by it in any way. It was concluded to my satisfaction, and it was written in such an intelligent way, with astute observations of human nature and the personality of rational people like Leila. Please read this novel if you can, it was unputdownable and, as I said, terribly satisfying.(less)
Goodness me, where do I start? This was a whopper of a book to begin the year with. Although to be more precise, it was the book I ended 2013 with. I...moreGoodness me, where do I start? This was a whopper of a book to begin the year with. Although to be more precise, it was the book I ended 2013 with. I started reading it on 5th December, so it was with me for a long time.
Now I'm going to do my best not to include big spoilers. I should let you know that I read this book because of the HBO TV show. That's not how I like to do things if I can help it, but everyone was raving about the books (after seeing the show), and when my boyfriend bought the books I decided to join in, even if it took me three years.
This book is not for the faint-hearted. My copy was 807 pages, followed by the appendix. The appendix can be pretty helpful. It is a list of all the important people in the main houses in the story. They are the Baratheons, Starks, Lannisters, Arryns, Tullys, Tyrells, Greyjoys, Martells, and Targaryens. Now just from that list of family names you can tell how many characters we meet in the novel.
The book follows several stories, but they are all relevant to one another. They are all part of the medieval-type land of Westeros. Robert Baratheon is king, a drunken, fat brute. He has been friends with Lord Eddard Stark since they were young men, and we meet all of Lord Stark's family. We also meet the Lannisters, as the king is married to Cersei Lannister. The Lannisters are known as the rich ones - "A Lannister always pays his debts", is the common saying. They are also vicious and backstabbing. The other important ones in the story are the Targaryens, the blood of the dragons. The Targaryens have not had dragons for hundreds of years, but they still breed brother with sister to keep their bloodline pure. They are also the outcasts of the kingdom, as their father was the previous king, and they fled when he died. In exile, they plan to regain the throne.
There really is a game of thrones going on. There is a heap of plotting going on against other families, battles, people poisoning each other, treason, and downright cruelty. However, George R. R. Martin does not just show us the brutality of these people's lives. We get to know them very intimately through chapters being from different people's points of view. We get to know their thoughts and feelings, their wishes and fears. We grow to love, or hate them as the novel progresses. We see the good in people, the small pleasures in life, and the pure hope.
Having watched the TV show beforehand was both a positive and a negative - but less of a negative than I expected. The negative was that I already had images of characters and the sounds of their voices and the look of their mannerisms stuck in my head, and I could not shake them out. The TV show is so true to the book that it's like reading the episodes. Of course, the positives are that a book can give you so much more depth into the characters, not just looking at them from the outside. It was also very comforting to read a story I knew. It was like being led gently by the hand by all the familiar characters into a world I already knew I loved. It also helped immensely to make sense of the many characters we are introduced to. I already knew some of the names and could put them to faces/ranks/families/allegiances.
I don't think you need me to tell you - you've got to read this book. It doesn't matter if you've seen the TV show or not. You won't be sorry. The only thing I'm dreading about reading the rest of the series is that I know what happens up to series 3!(less)
I absolutely loved the first four books of the Earthsea series when I read them last summer. I became completely absorbed in the world of Earthsea and...moreI absolutely loved the first four books of the Earthsea series when I read them last summer. I became completely absorbed in the world of Earthsea and its characters. After reading that quartet, I experienced what is referred to as the 'book hangover'. I bought 'The Other Wind' because I knew that it was a book which followed on from the great fantasy stories I had involved myself in. I know that Ursula Le Guin wrote several short stories as well, but I was looking forward to another full-length novel.
Without too many spoilers... Alder is a simple sorcerer; he can mend with his hands and an unseen power. His wife dies tragically and he grieves for her, but then he starts to dream of the Wall - that place all the dead go to, full of dust, dirt, dead grass and zombie-like souls floating around ignoring each other. In these dreams, Alder is at the Wall and his dead wife Lily is calling to him and kisses him over the wall. She says to him, "free me!". Thus begins the mystery and intrigue of the novel.
At first, Alder is told to go to Gont to see Sparrowhawk. Sparrowhawk was always my favourite character because he is the chief character in all four books of the Earthsea quartet. I grew to appreciate him and his demeanour. He is only in this novel briefly to listen to Alder and then advise him to go to Havnor to see the king.
In Havnor, when Alder arrives, King Lebannen is also trying to decide what to do with a Kargish princess newly arrived from Hur-at-hur in the east, but he treats Alder as a special guest. Then cue a lot of talking with Lebannen's respected council. They talk and talk and talk about what they are going to do. Then a dragon arrives who is also a woman. They realise they have a problem with the dragons as well, who do not want to keep their oath of staying out of humans' business.
It sounds like there is a lot going on, but the pace is very slow. I did enjoy this about Ursula Le Guin's writing in the quartet, but unfortunately the strength of the narrative in this novel did not seem enough to pull the reader through easily. The action dwindled into nothing. About 90% of the book is filled with talking about what they are going to do, travelling somewhere else, and then talking with different people about what they are going to do. When they actually do something, it takes about 3 pages and I almost blinked and missed it. I had to go back and read it again to try to figure out what the author meant by her few brief paragraphs of action. Not much is explicitly mentioned or referred to that helps me to guess what happened. Then it was the end of the book and I felt terribly dissatisfied, as much as I tried not to. What a shame. I give this book three stars because I enjoy the characters and the writing-style.(less)