Archive | December, 2012

Teaser Tuesday & Merry Christmas

25 Dec

Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a lovely day. I received a few new books which i can’t wait to start. Anyway, I haven’t had a chance to do a review, so today is just a Teaser Tuesday, which is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: Paint it Black by Janet Fitch
Page: I’m currently up to page 84. My spoiler is from page 141

The ultimate high-school come-on. Shitweed nursed and carried like a condom in a kid’s back pocket.”

Paint it Black - Janet Fitch

Paint it Black – Janet Fitch

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Teaser Tuesday

18 Dec

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: 1984 by George Orwell
Page: I’m currently up to page 237. My spoiler is from page 302

In no chess problem since the beginning of the world has black ever won. Did it not symbolise the eternal, unvarying triumph of Good over Evil?

1984 - George Orwell

1984 – George Orwell

 

#7 The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

17 Dec
The Bronze Horseman - Front Cover

The Bronze Horseman – Front Cover

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my copy of this book, so have taken this image from Google Books. This is the same edition of the book that I read.

Goodreads rating: 4.39 (11,100+ ratings)

My rating: 7/10

Why it’s on the list: Earlier this year, I went into Dymocks on the corner of Hunter & Pitt Street in the CBD and they had their top 50 books (or something like that), and you could buy 3 for the price of 2. I ended up buying this, Freedom, and something else I can’t remember.

First published: April 2nd, 2001 by HarperCollins

Genre: Romance, Drama, Historical Fiction

Set during WWII, originally in Leningrad, Russia, is a story of love and loss in a time of war. The Bronze Horseman starts on 22nd June 1942, the day that Russia enters the war, and main character Tatiana Metanova meets the mysterious Red Army officer Alexander Belov. Just shy of 17, Tatiana is naive and innocent when it comes to love, dating and sex. Unlike her older sister, Dasha, who ends up dating Alexander.

The war in Russia continues, and many people close to Tatiana die due to starvation or injuries. The main challenges she faces are, obviously, war and hunger, but also the struggle of suppressing her feelings for Alexander, and eventually the obstacles that keep them apart.

loved this book, and found it hard to put down. The first half, about Tatiana’s life in Leningrad, was long but so interesting to me. I love anything set in the world wars (particularly Europe in WWII), and the suffering her family endured was terrible. Later in the book, Tatiana and Alexander are finally having a life together, and this part dragged on for me. Basically there was a whole few hundred pages of Wake up. Have sex. Eat. Have sex. Swim. Have sex. Eat. Have sex. Tatiana do household duties. Have sex. which can get a bit tedious.

However once they are then separated again, you realise how much you miss their boring days of sex, eating and sleeping, and how badly you wish they could go back to that time in their lives. There are lots of hurdles, changes and issues that arise for Tatiana and Alexander, and the ending of this book is sad. However, there are 2 more books in the series, which are on my List.

A great thing about the edition I read, was that it had 2 maps in the cover. One of Russia and surrounding countries, with all the cities that are mentioned/visited in the book. And one of Leningrad, so you could see where Tatiana’s family lived, where she worked, and could track what was happening during the war. I’m a big fan of maps in books that have a lot to do with the geography of a place, so I definitely found this useful.

I highly recommend this book. You really get drawn in, and I personally really loved Tatiana’s character. Not so much Alexander’s, because I personally think he’s a bit of a pig, but she is lovely.

-H-

WWW Wednesday

12 Dec

W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Currently I’m reading 1984 by George Orwell. I’m up to page 120 and am really enjoying it so far.

What did you recently finish reading? 

The last book I finished was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. You can read my review here.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next to be read will be The Opal Desert by Di Morrissey. I received this last christmas I think, and haven’t got around to reading it yet.

Would love to read some other WWW Wednesdays, so please share! 

Teaser Tuesday

11 Dec
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.
Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

The next moment, it was hard to say by whose act, she was in his arms. At the beginning he had no feeling except sheer incredulity. – page 126

This is from 1984 by George Orwell. I’m only up to page 100 though.

#6 Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

10 Dec
Murder on the Orient Express - Front Cover

Murder on the Orient Express – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 4.04 (53,800+ ratings)

My rating: 6.5/10

Why it’s on the list: Like Death on the Nile, this was the 3rd of my brother’s favourite Agatha Christie books.

First published: January 4th, 1934 by Collins Crime Club

Genre: Mystery/Crime

Another Poirot novel, Murder on the Orient Express is set on a train (unsurprisingly). Stout Belgian detective Hercule Poirot boards an unusually packed train, with a variety of other passengers from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. A Count and a Countess, a princess, some maids, a car salesman and a Colonel are just a few of the characters who make up the remainder of the first and second class carriage along with Poirot.

After another passenger is murdered, and some pieces of evidence are left behind, Poirot is called upon by the Orient’s owner to investigate the murder. The train is stuck thanks to the snow, and Poirot determines that no one could have got on or off the train, which means one or more of the passengers is the murderer.

Carriage Layout

Carriage Layout

I liked the layout of the book, which had separate ‘parts’, and when each passenger was giving evidence, they were in different chapters, for example, ‘McQueen’s evidence’, which made it easier to follow and also gave you more of an insight into the characters. The edition of the book that I read also had a diagram of the first and second class carriage so that you could see where people were in relation to the victim. I ended up referring to the diagram quite a bit as I was reading the evidence.

I won’t tell you anymore, as I really don’t like reviews that give away important plot points, however I will say that I was disappointed with the ending of this mystery. As usual, I had my suspects, and as usual, I was wrong. But that’s not what annoyed me. The ‘cop-out’ nature of the solution irritated me, and it was too far-fetched in my mind. Unlike other Poirot novels (eg. Death on the Nilewhich seem more realistic and likely, and are clever murders.

I do love Poirot though, and I do recommend this book to any Agatha Christie fan/mystery lover just because you must read the book to believe it!

Past reviews

“The great Belgian detective’s guesses are more than shrewd; they are positively miraculous. Although both the murder plot and the solution verge upon the impossible, Agatha Christie has contrived to make them appear quite convincing for the time being, and what more than that can a mystery addict desire?”The New York Times Book Review, March 4th 1934

Bits & pieces

  • Christie herself was involved in a similar incident in December 1931 while returning from a visit to her husband’s archaeological dig at Nineveh. The Orient Express train she was on was stuck for twenty-four hours, due to rainfall, flooding and sections of the track being washed away. Her authorised biography quotes in full a letter to her husband detailing the event. The letter includes descriptions of some passengers on the train, who influenced the plot and characters of the book, particularly an American lady, Mrs. Hilton, who was the inspiration for Mrs. Hubbard. [Source]
  • In Sex And The City Season 5 episode “The Big Journey”, Carrie and Samantha take a trip from New York to San Francisco in a cross-country train. Carrie booked a first class deluxe suit in the train, but when they arrive they are surprised to see how small it is. Samantha then quips, “I’m starting to understand why there was a murder on the orient express.” [Source]
  • There is a history of criminals copying crimes from Agatha’s books (whether the criminals knew or not). There was a murder very similar to Murder on the Orient Express committed in West Germany in 1981. [Source]
  • Her last public appearance was at the 1974 premiere of Murder on the Orient Express. [Source]
  • The Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul has an Agatha Christie Room where, it claims, she wrote Murder on the Orient Express. [Source]

Notable quotes

“If ever a man deserved what he got, Ratchett or Cassetti is the man. I’m rejoiced at his end. Such a man wasn’t fit to live!” – Mr Macqueen

“She is cold. She has not emotions. She would not stab a man; she would sue him in the law courts.”  – Miss Debenham

“There is a large American on the train,” said M. Bouc, pursuing his idea – “a common-looking man with terrible clothes. He chews the gum which I believe is not done in good circles. You know whom I mean?” – M. Bouc

“No,” said Mr. Bouc thoughtfully. “This is the act of a man driven almost crazy with a frenzied hate – it suggests more that Latin temperament. Or else it suggests, as our friend the chef de train insisted, a woman.” M. Bouc

“I like to see an angry Englishman,” said Poirot. “They are very amusing. The more emotional they feel the less command they have of language.”  – Poirot

“If you confront anyone who has lied with the truth, they usually admit it – often out of sheer surprise. It is only necessary to guess right to produce your effect.”Poirot

“If you will forgive me for being personal – I do not like your face, M. Ratchett.” – Poirot

#5 Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

5 Dec

The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 3 of 3

Mockingjay - Front Cover

Mockingjay – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 4.04 (660,000+ ratings)

My rating: 3.5/10

Why it’s on the list: I read the first book because I wanted to read it before seeing the movie, and because I can’t start a series without finishing it, this had to be read.

First published: August 24th, 2010 by Scholastic

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci Fi, Young Adult

I strongly disliked this book (hate is too strong of a word to use). I really loved the first book, thought the second book was average, and this one, was terrible. I’m going to write this review assuming you’ve read the first two books, however, I’m not going to give away any spoilers like I’ve read in other blogs.

The third instalment in The Hunger Games trilogy follows ‘heroine’ Katniss Everdeen as she becomes the ‘Mockingjay’ – the symbol of rebellion of the districts against the Capitol.

Katniss, who is meant to be the hero of the story, comes across as egotistical, a coward, and selfish. A decision she makes at the very end of the book is weak and childish, and completely ruins her character for me. She seems to enjoy seeking revenge, and is horrible to those who love and care about her.

Gale, her best friend and on/off love interest, is kind and protective of her, yet she constantly pushes him away, and then needs him again. The lack of empathy shown towards brainwashed friend Peeta is unattractive. In my opinion, there is no redeeming qualities about her at all.

Mockingjay tackles some serious issues such as severe poverty, oppression, and the effects of war. Although I believe it does a good job of conveying these themes in a believable way, I found the story dragged on, and on, and on, and on. Then there was a quick burst of action, and then nothing. The book ended, and I was disappointed.

I will still see the movie once it’s out, which is due to be separated into two parts (much like the last Harry Potter and Twilight books were when being adapted for movies). It is beyond me how they will split it into two movies, there is simply not enough action or interesting plot to make two movies. Unlike Harry Potter and Twilight, which actually had so many events in the last books that they would have done injustice to the book to make 1 film.

If you’ve read the first two books, then I’d say you really should read this to close the story off. If you’ve only read the first book, I’d highly recommend not bothering with #2 or #3. 

Bits & pieces

  • Collins says that if she had to go into the Hunger Games, her strategy would be “hiding” (source).
  • Collins was one of the 100 Most Influential People for 2010, according to Time magazine
  • The first printing was for 350,000 copies. Well over 750,000 are now in print.

Past reviews

“the themes of the series, including physical hardships, loyalty in extreme circumstances and traversing morally ambiguous terrain, are continued at an even larger scale.” In the book, Katniss must deal with betrayal and violence against people. At the same time, while she was symbolically touching thousands of lives, she must also lead those people into war. – The Baltimore Sun

Notable quotes

If we burn, you burn with us.― Katniss, to the Capitol[src]

Why can’t I just let him go? Slip him a pill, pull the trigger? Is it because I care too much about Peeta or too much about letting Snow win? Have I turned him into a piece in my private Games? – Katniss

“Never underestimate the power of a brilliant stylist,” – Peeta

I killed you…And you. And you. – Katniss 

It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart. – Finnick Odair

-H-

#4 Fall of Giants – Ken Follett

3 Dec

The Century Trilogy – Book 1 of 3

Fall of Giants - Front Cover

Fall of Giants – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 4.14 (35,000+ ratings)

My rating: 9/10

Why it’s on the list: About  5 or so months ago I was looking for book recommendations (Around the same time I started The List), and a good friend of mine recommended it to me. When she first sent me the synopsis I said no straight away, because it sounded long, rambling and boring. But once I saw another summary I decided to read it, and I’m so glad I did.

First published: September 28th, 2010 by Pan Macmillan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Epic

Fall of Giants follows five interrelated families from America, Germany, Russia, Wales & England and is set between 1911 and 1924, and covers huge events including WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage. It is full of love, scandalous sex, betrayal, war, loss, hatred, family ties, loyalty (both to family and country) and aristocracy.

When I first bought this book, I couldn’t believe how HUGE it seemed. But thankfully, it’s broken up into chapters that have small ‘mini-chapters’ within it, which makes it much easier to tackle. The story is so easy to get lost in, and the great thing about it is that you can totally relate to the people and their stories, even though it was set almost 100 years ago.

Cast of Characters - Fall of Giants

Cast of Characters – Fall of Giants

I found myself much more interested in the fate of the English, Welsh and Russian families than the German or the American, however they really are all interrelated and woven within each other that you can’t have one family’s story without the rest of them. Although the chapters jumped from one country to another, it was really easy to keep track of the families thanks to the handy index at the beginning, listing all the families, their acquaintances, and real historical figures from the time, as you can see in the photo to the left.

Every night when I’d read in bed, I felt like I was losing myself in a totally different world, and once I’d finished the book I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends. I think whenever you feel like you’re going to miss a book and its characters, you’ve found a gem.

Bits & pieces

  • Fall of Giants was checked by eight historians. [Source]

-H-

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