Sunday, May 31

Book Review: Four the Traitor

Title: Four: The Traitor

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 45

Summary: "The Traitor" takes place two years after "The Son" and runs parallel with the early events in Divergent. In this robust story, readers follow Tobias as he uncovers the details of an Erudite plan that could threaten the faction system, and makes plans of his own to keep Abnegation safe. At the same time, Tobias is getting to know a new transfer initiate: Tris Prior.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This had me itching to re-read the entire series. The book runs parallel to Divergent and it was interesting to read about the other side of the story of the two characters and his insights. This had some of the strongest development I saw from Four, and like some of the earlier short stories, it helps answer a lot of important questions and missing pieces from the plot in the novels.

I'm glad I read the four short stories, as it added something extra to the story and series as a whole, and a few pieces that never felt right, fell into place. Well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, you should read Divergent before this one, as the stories are parallel, Divergent explains events in this one better.

What to read next: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

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

Book Review: Four: The Son

Title: Four: The Son

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: 65

Summary: In "The Son," Tobias struggles to find a place in the hierarchy of the Dauntless. He also begins to suspect that a foul plan may be brewing within the Dauntless leadership and discovers a truth about his past that could greatly affect his future.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was one of the more slower of the short stories, but wow did it have a lot of information in it. Some of it I predicted, although I'm not sure if it's because I remembered it from the novels or if I figured it out on my own - it's been a long time since I read the books. Either way, this short story has a lot of vital information in it that is threaded throughout the rest of the series, and it's sets the tone for Four's development into who he is when we first meet him in the novels and the rest of the series.

Would I recommend it to read: Like with the rest of the short stories, I would.

What to read next: Four: The Traitor

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

Monday, May 18

Book Review: Four: The Initiate

Title: Four: The Initiate

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 40

Summary: "The Initiate" provides readers with a glimpse into Tobias's Dauntless initiation experience, including an epic game of late-night Dare; his first tattoo; the beginning of his passion for training new initiates; and his nascent understanding of the danger of being Divergent.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were some nice parallels between Four's days of fitting into Dauntless and Tris, which I liked and thought was rather clever - and I think that helps me understand their relationship later on in the series and why they connected the way they do. I think that's the best part of the these short stories is that there are a lot of little pieces, some very subtle, that help pull out plot pieces, both major and minor from the series. Some of which I never really appreciated and others I always felt, were slightly awkward in how they fitted in the book. Now they are less so because of the short stories.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes

What to read next: Four: The Son

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

Saturday, May 16

Book Review: The Transfer - A Divergent Story

Title: The Transfer - A Divergent Story

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 55

Summary: In "The Transfer," readers witness Tobias's aptitude test, Choosing Day, and the moment he is given the infamous nickname "Four."

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: It was a well done short story through Four/Tobias eyes, and it added to his character and helped me appreciate him more. I liked the insight to the background of his character as well as other details throughout the series as a whole. While I think this may have been my least favourite of the short stories staring Four, I do think this was one of the more important ones, and it helped set up the entire series and has some interesting hidden jems for the rest of the series, that I never thought about before

Would I recommend it to read: I would - it helps add to the character's development as well as the story as a whole, and I think any fan of the series would love these little shorts

What to read next: Four: The Initiate

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

Book Review: The Book of Negroes

Title: The Book of Negroes

Author: Lawrence Hill

Pages: Ebook 367

Summary: Readers will follow the story of Aminata, an unforgettable heroine who cut a swath through an 18th-century world hostile to her colour and her sex. Abducted as an eleven-year-old child from her village in West Africa and put to work on an indigo plantation on the sea islands of South Carolina, Aminata survives by using midwifery skills learned at her mother’s side, and by drawing on a strength of character inherited from both parents. Eventually, she has the chance to register her name in the “Book of Negroes,” a historic British military ledger allowing 3,000 Black Loyalists passage on ships sailing from Manhattan to Nova Scotia.

This remarkable novel transports the reader from an African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from a soured refuge in Nova Scotia to the coast of Sierra Leone, in a back-to-Africa odyssey of 1,200 former slaves. Bringing vividly to life one of the strongest female characters in recent fiction, Lawrence Hill’s remarkable novel has become a Canadian classic

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: It's hard to know where to start with the book. It was intense, graphic, horrifying at times. But it was also such a powerful story, it was hard to put down.

The writing was superb, the author create Aminata's voice wonderfully. Her character felt very real and I couldn't help but fall into the book and become lost in it. While the alternating time jumps took a while getting used to, it did help break up the story, especially considering some of the scenes in the book. Which was my least favourite part of it. There's no way the book would be the book it is without everything that's in it, but there are some horrifying moments in the book.

Words are hard to come by to fully explain the book, it's one of those books you need to read and experience for yourself. The writing was lovely, the characters stick with you, the story is one t hat should be read by all. What an incredible read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although it is rather intense and graphic at times, it's also a very lovely and powerful read, and one I'd highly recommend.

What to read next: The Help,

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

Book Review: Girl on the Trian

Title: Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Pages: 318

Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and evening, rattling over the same junctions, flashing past the same townhouses. The train stops at the same signal every day, and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess, as she calls them, seem so happy. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden. Soon after, Rachel sees the woman she calls Jess on the news. Jess has disappeared. Through the ensuing police investigation, Rachel is drawn deeper into the lives of the couple she learns are really Megan and Scott Hipwell. As she befriends Scott, Rachel pieces together what really happened the day Megan disappeared. But when Megan's body is found, Rachel finds the chief suspect in the case. Plunged into a world of betrayals, secrets and deceptions, Rachel must confront the facts about her own past and her own failed marriage.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started off slow for me, and while it did pick up and ended up being an okay read for me, it wasn't what I was expecting.

The first half of the book was something I felt I had to slog through. Not a lot happened, and while it was a good time to set up the characters and story, I felt it the author took too long to do this, and it caused me to dislike all three of the narrators. Rachel especially was a character that was hard to like and read about. She was a mess throughout the book, and I never could understand her or some of her actions. While there were some issues she had, I found it hard to be sympathetic towards her with her drinking problems. There was some good development with her by the end, but even by then she wasn't a likeable character for me. I think she was well written as an unreliable character - actually it's safe to say all the women (and narrators) in the book were not the most likeable but were incredibly well written as unreliable characters. It made for a fun read because of the three character and never knowing who to trust.

I did like the ending, although it was somewhat predictable, I think the author did a good job with it. While the book wasn't the read non-stop start to finish, it was still a good book, it just wasn't the type of thriller I was expecting.

Would I recommend it to read: I think I would. It wasn't what I expected, slower than other thrillers out there, but a fairly good book over all, if you enjoy the genre, you'd likely enjoy the book - but it didn't live up to the hype.

What to read next: Gone Girl

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Cloak and Dagger ChallengeNew Book Challenge

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon

Title: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keys

Pages: 287

Summary: Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a wonderful book, very emotional at times but it was an incredible read. I'd never have read this book, if it weren't for a online book group I belong to, and I'm glad I got a chance to read it. Not only was it well written, but it was also an incredible story.

I liked Charlie from the start, I think the author did an excellent job at creating his voice and creating the character. He was instantly likeable and I loved following him on his journey. I also loved how the author transitioned Charlie's transformation throughout the book. I think he did an incredible and detailed job at developing that aspect of the book.

The book was an emotional one, as Charlie led a difficult life, and how people treated him was heart wrenching. With that being said, the author did a fantastic job at bring the harsh realities people with mental disabilities like Charlie has to light and how they're viewed in society. While the book was written decades ago, a lot of the points and issues the author rises can be applied to today.

Overall, this was an incredible read, and I'd highly recommend it.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes! It was an excellent book, which I think everyone should read.

What to read next: There's a short story version of the book, which would be worth reading.

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

Sunday, May 3

Book Review: Trains and Lovers

Title: Trains and Lovers

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Pages: Ebook 169

Summary: beloved and bestselling Alexander McCall Smith: a story that explores the nature of love--and trains--through a series of intertwined romantic tales.

The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails...there's something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. Which is just what happens to the 4 strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives. A young, keen-eyed Scotsman recounts how he turned a friendship with a young woman co-worker into a romance by spotting an anachronistic train in an 18th-century painting. An Australian woman shares how her parents fell in love and spent their life together running a railroad siding in the remote Australian Outback. A middle-aged American arts patron sees 2 young men saying goodbye in the station and recalls his youthful crush on another man. And a young Englishman describes how exiting his train at the wrong station allowed him to meet an intriguing woman whom he impulsively invited to dinner--and into his life. Here is Alexander McCall Smith at his most enchanting

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the concept of the book a lot, and I think the author did a good job on how he brought all the characters and their stories together.

Although it read like a short story collection, I wouldn't exactly call it that in the traditional sense, but like with all short story collections, I enjoyed some characters stories over others. All of the stories were incredibly well developed and told, especially considering how short each of the characters stories were. But, despite that, each character had a very personal, tale that had a profound effect on their lives - all of which is connected by trains.

I would have liked the book to be longer, as I wanted to know more about some of the characters and their stories, in fact, I would have loved to see some of them in fully length novel.

Overall, it was an enjoyable, quick read - and a very perfect choice, if you commute by train.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a good, quick read, not quite a short story collection, but it has that feel to it.

What to read next: More by the author

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