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

Book Review: The Buddha in the Attic

Title: The Buddha in the Attic

Author: Julie Otsuka

Pages: 129

Summary: In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

My Rating: 9.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved this book, from the first page to the end, I was pulled in and didn't want to put this book down until I devoured it.

This book isn't the traditional type of novel, it's prosy, I'd say it's closer to a long narrative poem than a novel. While there are characters, they are all nameless, faceless, yet their story is told, in a beautiful, flowing narrative. From their first moments on the ship to their lives in California, they author tells their story and I found it to be beautifully well done.

You do get a full story, as the reader, you can feel the power and emotion of the characters who are speaking as one, telling their story, and while it wasn't exactly what I expected from this book, I think they way the author chose to tell the story was incredibly well done. I loved how well it flowed, how lovely the writing was, I couldn't put this book down, reading it in a sitting - truly a spectacular book

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It's very different than a traditional novel, and if you're looking for characters and plot, this isn't the exactly the book for you, but it is so worth reading.

What to read next: Ru by Kim Thuy, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Authors Challenge

Book Review: Among Others

Title: Among Others

Author: Jo Walton

Pages: EBook 224

Summary: Startling, unusual, and yet irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off...

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book quickly became one of those books that was impossible to put down. With an interesting story and a character who you can't help but fall in love with, this book has become a favourite of mine.

One of my favourite aspects of the book was Mori. She was an incredible character, who I enjoyed reading about. She was well written with excellent character development, I loved her narrative and I found that she was relatable. I think is why I enjoyed the story as much as I did, as I didn't want to let this character go.

I also loved the amount of books mentioned/talked about in this. It has caused my own TBR list to grow immensely, and I think the author did a fantastic job at incorporating the amount of books into the story, without disrupting the story's flow. Over a hundred books were mentioned in this novel, but it flowed into the story naturally, I was impressed that the author managed to do this so well.

The magical realism aspect of the book was interesting and tied into the story as a whole well, but I wish it was explored more. I wanted to know more about the "magical" side of things, especially during the end of the book, how it worked, the history behind it.

As for the ending, I found it to be the weakest part of the book. The ending felt rushed, and abrupt - after such a fantastic read, the ending left me unsatisfied. It was still a great read, one I'd highly recommend, but I want more from the ending.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this was a gem of a read. Very sweet, and it will make your reading list, a lot bigger with the amount of books mentioned in it.

What to read next: The book has a massive list of books that are mentioned in it, so choose one!

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

Tuesday, February 10

Book Review: Hunting Ground

Title: Hunting Ground

Author: Patricia Briggs

Pages: 286

Summary: Anna Latham didn't know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son — and enforcer — of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either...

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything...

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed this book, I didn't enjoy it as much as the first. The story was well done, and had some interesting pieces of it, but the whole story behind the Alpha and Omega and how that influences each other and the other wolves, always felt to be poorly explained. I still feel I missing a big chunk of information, to fully understand how it all works. In fact a lot of aspects of the wolves, such as their magic, has little explanation, and while I don't think it needs pages and pages of explanation, I think there needs to be something, to give the reader a better understanding on the wolves.

The characters were well done, and are well plotted out. Anna's growth is gradual, but she is definitely growing as a character, very different than the Anna first seen in the short story. I'm interested in seeing her in the next book.

Overall, a good read, but it just missed the mark for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's an interesting series and has a few fun elements to it that I enjoy and I think other urban fantasy fans would enjoy it as well.

What to read next: Fair Game - which is the third book in the series, Bitten

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

Sunday, February 8

Book Review: Power Politics

Title: Power Politics

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 56

Summary: Margaret Atwood's Power Politics first appeared in 1971, startling its audience with its vital dance of woman and man. It still startles, and is just as iconoclastic as ever.

These poems occupy all at once the intimate, the political, and the mythic. Here Atwood makes us realize that we may think our own personal dichotomies are unique, but really they are multiple, universal. Clear, direct, wry, unrelenting -- Atwood's poetic powers are honed to perfection in this important early work.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I read through this entire collection a couple of times, and individual poems within the collection four or five times, others more than that. I enjoyed this collection quite a lot, there were some very profound and complex poems in this collection. They all have a theme of a power struggle, although I'm unsure if it was a power struggle between two people or the poems was referring to the power struggle one has with them self. I think there were a few of the poems in this collection, that were referring to someone's inner struggle with themselves. Some of the poems, just seemed to have that feel to it, a very intimate, but personal struggle with one's self. All of the poems, are filled with Atwood's usually style of writing, shocking, blunt, but beautifully written. I was immediately drawn in, and immediately re-read the collection.

Overall an excellent collection of poetry, and one that will likely disappoint fans of the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, but I'd probably only recommend it to those who love Poetry or fellow Atwood fans like myself.

What to read next: More of Atwood's poetry, although I'm not sure where to start.

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

Book Review: A Week in Winter

Title: A Week in Winter

Author: Maeve Binchy

Pages: EBook 238

Summary: The Sheedy sisters had lived in Stone House for as long as anyone could remember. Set high on the cliffs on the west coast of Ireland, overlooking the windswept Atlantic ocean, it was falling into disrepair - until one woman, with a past she needed to forget, breathed new life into the place. Now a hotel, with a big, warm kitchen and log fires, it provides a welcome few can resist.

Winnie is generally able to make the best of things, until she finds herself on the holiday from hell. John arrived on an impulse after he missed a flight at Shannon. And then there's Henry and Nicola, burdened with a terrible secret, who are hoping the break at Stone House will help them find a way to face the future . . .

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book has Binchy's traditional warmth and sleepy Irish community, which I always enjoy. And I loved the idea behind the little bed and breakfast and how it helped the people who went to it, but there was just that extra spark that seemed to be missing from it.

While the book is a novel, it does feel more like a bunch of interconnected short stories, or novellas, than a novel, which I've seen Binchy do before in her previous books. They did mention, briefly the other characters in each section, but sometimes, you wanted to know a little more about each one. I did like the different perspectives each character had on the others, sometimes certain characters appeared more friendly or harsher when they had their cameos in other's stories. But, each story, was just short of being finished, and a lot more was left open. Perhaps the intention of the book was to have some of these characters to make appearances in later books, which sadly won't happen if that is the case, but I didn't like that much being left open ended.

As usual, I love her writing, and the characters. They are all well rounded and create a very wonderful community, you almost want to jump down to Ireland and experience the bread and breakfast for yourself.

Overall, it was a good read, but not my favourite of the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's a good read, classic Binchy, while I didn't love it, it still had a lot of characters and good pieces to it, that would make a fantastic read.

What to read next: Quentins, Evening Class

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge