Sunday, March 22

Book Review: Gone Girl

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Pages: Ebook 450

Summary: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

My Rating: 9.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book:


This review will contain spoilers.

Wow. Just wow. That was my initial thoughts on this book and how it all played out. The author did a fantastic job at creating Amy, an incredibly well done, manipulative character. I was shocked at just how the author managed to make Amy so convincing in the first section of the book. Even knowing Amy was a nut job, as I read the book (again, just in that first section) I did find myself liking her more than Nick. As for Nick, he's a jackass, I never thought he murdered his wife, but I always thought he was a jackass. Once I finished the book a spineless, stupid jackass, but if you want to find out the reasons behind that, you'll have to read the book for yourself. As for Amy, She was, despite being a sociopath, an enjoyable character to read - I wouldn't say she was likeable, not once her true identity was revealed. But, she was a character who had me entranced and I couldn't put the book down because I had to know what would happen with the plot and what she'd do next.

What I liked about the book the most, was how detailed the author was on how, what and why Amy did what she did. It was outstanding how well everything played out. This is what makes the book such a fantastic read - the detail behind the story, behind who Amy is and how she did it, what she did, was because of the careful amount of time and detail the author put into the story.

The ending! What an ending! I was not expecting that. The last few chapters, practically had me screaming at the characters. Jaw-dropping twist, that's all I'll say to that.

Overall, this was a fantastic read, originally I didn't get the hype behind it, I thought it would be like other books in its genre, and while in some aspects it is, it far exceeds the other books in the genre, because of the all the details I mentioned above.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, even if you know the general plot twist in the story, how clever the author made it, how detailed made it all worth it.

What to read next: Sharp Objects, Dark Places, Girl on the Train

Challenges: 100+ Books, 2015 Category Challenge, 2015 Cloak and Dagger Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR ChallengeNew Author Challenge


Saturday, March 21

Book Review: Station Eleven

Title: Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Pages: EBook 314

Summary:
Day One
The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.

Week Two
Civilization has crumbled.

Year Twenty
A band of actors and musicians, called the Travelling Symphony, move through the territories of a changed world, performing concerts and Shakespeare at the settlements that have formed. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and it threatens the world every hopeful survivor has tried to rebuild.

Moving backward and forward in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: celebrated actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan, a bystander warned about the flu just in time; Arthur's first wife, Miranda; Arthur's oldest friend, Clark; Kirsten, an actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed "prophet."

My Rating: 10/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book was incredibly well written, with elegant writing and a well told story and flow that carried on throughout the book.

The writing alone pulled me into this book, and would have kept me invested but the characters were also incredibly well done. In fact, the one character that truly captured me and pulled me into this book, what caused the turning point for a great read, to I can't put this book down, was Jeevan. There was the one scene which was rather humours, just as the flu started to break out, and during that scene something about him grabbed my attention and after that, I had to know what would happened to him. Other characters also became favourites of mine, including Clark - but why he's my favourite and the one scene that I enjoyed is a bit of a spoiler, but it was a well written moment in the book and one of the ones that stick out as memorable.

I enjoyed the moments during the aftermath of the plague, but I also enjoyed Arthur's story. I was a little unsure about his history, but eventually, I found I did enjoy that aspect of the book. I think that in the end, it helped set up a lot of important plot pieces for later in the book.

There were a few aspects of the book I liked less, and a few pieces I guessed, such as information about the prophet. And while I think he was an important character in the book, I felt his development anf story was the weakest of all the characters. There were some interesting bits with him, but he had the least amount of appeal and structure around him as the other characters had. I also had questions on how the post-flu world was managing and why they were doing certain things over others, but that was also part of the fun of reading the book. Overall this was an incredibly enjoyable book - and it is a book I'd highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes! Read this book. I didn't think I'd like the book, but trust me when I say, the description of the book does not do it justice, it was a fantastic read and well worth picking up. It's not the usual science fiction apocalyptic story either, so if you're veering away because of that, try the book out, it isn't at all what I expected.

What to read next: MaddAddam Trilogy

Challenges: 100+ Books, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Book Challenge

Sunday, March 8

Book Review: The Lifeboat

Title: The Lifeboat

Author: Charlotte Rogan

Pages: 274

Summary: Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life. In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying Grace and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize has exceeded capacity. For any to live, some must die As the castaways battle the elements and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started off interesting, and captured me fairly quickly, at times it was hard to put down, while the ending was somewhat disappointing, the overall book, was a good read.

I didn't exactly like the ending - the last two chapters of the book, didn't have the same feel to it, and I was disappointed how the book ended - especially the one characters fate, it didn't work for me and it was one of those, "wait, what, why?" moments. As for the rest of the book, it was incredibly well written. I wouldn't call it a engaging book, but I definitely was captured by it.

I enjoyed the way the author chose to tell the story, the narrator is somewhat unreliable, but that is what I like about the book - is that because she's such an unreliable character you're not sure how much of her story is the truth or is she lying to herself and the readers.

I loved the parts while they were on the lifeboat. They were raw, horrific and showed humanity at its best and worse. This part of the book really makes you think how you'd react in the situation and I think the author wrote it wonderfully. Overall, a surprisingly good read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I think this would be a perfect read for a book club, as it would bring up a lot of interesting discussion points

What to read next: Life of Pi, there's another book I thought would be the perfect companion to this, and I forgot the title, but that one!

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Friend of My Youth

Title: Friend of My Youth

Author: Alice Munro

Pages: 244

Summary: These 10 stories bring to life characters in a remarkable variety of times and places. Men and Women recall the events, the long-buried yearnings and dreams, the sometimes puzzling choices that have made them what they are. The nature of adultery and humour and love is laid bare

Contents
Friend of my Youth
Five Points
Menesteung
Hold Me Fast, Don't Let Me Pass
Oranges and Apples
Pictures of the Ice
Goodness and Mercy
Oh, What Avails
Differently
Wigtime

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this collection, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed her other short story collections. While I enjoyed some stories more than others, I usually have a couple the really stick out for me, and while a few did, it wasn't in the same way her stories usually jump out at me.

One of my favourites of the collection was the title story "Friend of my Youth", which I enjoyed a lot. Five Points and Differently also were good reads. All of the stories were well written, the characters well developed like they always are, but there was just that extra magic I usually experience from the author, that extra spark that was missing from this collection.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, while it isn't my favourite of her collections, it's still incredibly well written.

What to read next: More of Alice Munro's books.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, The Ultimate Canadian Reading Challenge



Sunday, March 1

Book Review: Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns

Title: Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns

Author: Lauren Weisberger

Pages: EBook 326

Summary: Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine—a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing—not her husband, nor her beloved career—is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago—and directly into the path of the devil herself...

My Rating: 2/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I picked this book up, because I wanted something light, and fluffy, after reading some more, heavy, intense books, not to mention I did enjoy the first book, and this one was sitting on my "shelf" for some time now. Well , be careful what you wish for because fluffy, is what I got.

I didn't like this book one bit. I enjoyed the first one, it was fun, funny and Andy (sorry, Andrea) was written to be likeable. This book not such much, forget any character development from the first book, or anything that happened in the first book, because by the end of this book, everything is exactly the same as it was at the beginning of the first book - save the fact she's ten years older and has a child.

Her character seemed to have lost all development she had in the first - and she somehow got dumber. She's a woman in a committed, sexual, relationship, about to be married, who is nauseous, throwing up, tired all the time and she thinks she has, an STD? Seriously? I really wish I had given up after that, but because I paid for the book I saw it through. I found the "PTSD like symptoms" Andy was having with the mention of Miranda's name, pathetic and unbelievable. Her boss treated her like crap, people have crappy mean bosses - deal with it. The fact ten years later she still has issues, just didn't work for me.

The only saving grace of this book was Miranda, who yes is not the nicest person there, but she at least made the book interesting. And she was barely in it.

Overall, this was not a good book. I should have read the other reviews before purchasing it, as I wouldn't have bothered with it.

Would I recommend it to read: No, wouldn't. The first one was good, this was a train wreck.

What to read next: Anything.

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Monkey Beach

Title: Monkey Beach

Author: Eden Robinson

Pages: EBook 230

Summary: Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different.

Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can't escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her. She recounts her enchanted yet scarred life as she journeys in her speedboat up the frigid waters of the Douglas Channel. She is searching for her brother, dead by drowning, and in her own way running as fast as she can toward danger. Circling her brother's tragic death are the remarkable characters that make up her family: Lisamarie's parents, struggling to join their Haisla heritage with Western ways; Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist and devoted Elvis fan; and the headstrong Ma-ma-oo (Haisla for "grandmother"), a guardian of tradition.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book was a slow moving, coming of age book, but it was a good, slow moving book. I enjoyed the fact the author took the time to explore Lisa's past and how it affected her to be the person she was.

The spiritual/magical realism side of things was an interesting touch. I would have like to understand it more and I wish it was explored more. The author tied into the story wonderfully and it complimented the story, particularly Lisa's development nicely, I just wanted more on it. Especially considering it was such an important part of who Lisa was and how it connected her to the other characters.

I loved the writing, it pulled me in and flowed wonderfully throughout the book. One of my main draws into the story, was the writing alone. There were times, where I didn't enjoy the plot as much, a few bits of Lisa's past that I felt I had to push through, but the writing, made it worth it.

I can't say I liked or disliked the characters. All were well written, well developed. They all had their demons, secrets and overall, I found them all to compliment and come together well. Yet, I don't think I can say they was a character that stood out, and I don't feel they stuck with me.

The ending was well done, it was ambiguous and left a lot open - but a lot of the book was like that, there were a few things I questioned in this book, that were hinted at, but nothing ever was laid out in the open if it was true or not. But, despite this, I think it was a fitting ending, and despite not knowing all the answers, I think it was the best part of the book - for once I liked the unknown for the ending.

Good read overall.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, well written story, very good choice if you enjoy coming of age stories

What to read next: The Diviners

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge, The Ultimate Canadian Reading Challenge

Book Review: Knots and Crosses

Title: Knots and Crosses

Author: Ian Rankin

Pages: EBook 206

Summary: And in Edinburgh of all places. I mean, you never think of that sort of thing happening in Edinburgh, do you...?' 'That sort of thing' is the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls. And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disenchanted wife, is one of many policemen hunting the killer. And then the messages begin to arrive: knotted string and matchstick crosses - taunting Rebus with pieces of a puzzle only he can solve.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book was a fun, gripping read from start to finish. It has all the elements I enjoy in a thriller/mystery book and an excellent protagonist to go with it.

I like Rebus as a character, he's raw and gritty, but he's still an enjoyable character to read about. He's realistic, he has multiple dimensions, and overall, compared to similar books in the genre, he stands out. I think it's why I enjoy this book and series so much. Because there's a very realistic protagonist, who is well rounded and compliments the plot. He can be an ass at times, but I think it is fitting for the mood and setting of the book.

This was definitely one of those, gripping reads, especially near the end. I ended up becoming immersed in the book, griping it, as I read on to find out what would happen next. And I think the author set up the scene, and ended it exceptionally well. I was hopping a certain reporter, would get a different ending, he was also a character who was well written, but he was also the type of character you wanted to be hit by a bus.

The story itself was well done, I liked it a lot and I enjoyed trying to piece together the mystery, although near the middle of the book, it began to drag on a little bit, I wanted the story to push forward a little faster than it did during that part, but all in all a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this had me clenching the ereader, well written and great a character to go with it, what else could you want from a thriller?

What to read next: Hide and Seek, the next book in the series

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Cloak and Dagger Challenge,  EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Read Scotland Challenge

Saturday, February 28

Book Review: The Reader

Title: The Reader

Author: Bernhard Schlink

Pages: 218

Summary: Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. She enthrals him with her passion, but puzzles him with her odd silences. Then she inexplicably disappears.

When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student and Hanna is on trial for a hideous crime. But as he watches her refuse to defend herself, Michael gradually realizes that his former lover may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I started this book expecting something entirely different than what I got, while I didn't enjoy the first half as much, the book ended up being a good read.

The first half of the book was okay, it wasn't what I was expecting and I found the "relationship" between the two characters was rather forced and not what I expected it to be. In fact I found the first part of the book to be rather bland - and the characterization lacking in anything to push the book along. And the so called "eroticism" was very, bland - I wasn't expecting anything overly explicit, but the book is said to be erotic - and nothing like that was in this.

The second half of the book, during the trial was well done. While, I didn't care much about Michael, I found Hanna to be an endearing, character - I really enjoyed her story, and the history about her past, I loved the mystery side of things, not knowing for sure her actual actions - it was very well written in that aspect. Michael, just didn't work for me as a character, he was there, retold the story, but he just didn't work for me in any section.

I did enjoy the ending, bittersweet as it was, I think it was a very fitting ending for the book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it covers a few "heavy" topics, but the second half of the book, was incredibly well done it made for a good read.

What to read next: Atonement and there is one other book I'm trying to remember, similar circumstances where a woman is on trial, and I can't remember the name or author - but that one! (Narrowed that right down, didn't I?)

Challenges: 100+ Books, 2015 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge