Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing.

There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order.

The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. 

This is a book that I have been trying to read for years. I've started reading it a whole bunch of times but kept giving up on it. Everyone seems to gush about it, including people whose judgement I trust. I saw so many positive reviews of it that I bought the whole trilogy before I had even read the first one... Now that I've finally finished it, I can honestly say that I just don't get it.

I don't get what it is about this book that people love so much, because personally, I found it extremely boring at worst and average at best (and the "at worst" part made up the majority of the book). It took until the last 60 or so pages for it to kind of hook me but even then, it was just interesting in comparison to how uninteresting the rest of the book was and not actually what I'd consider good.

Gemma annoyed me sometimes and the rest of the time I was pretty indifferent to her, I think there was only a handful of pages where I could genuinely say that I liked her character. And the other characters...well, I appreciate that they're flawed and their relationships aren't perfect, it made it more realistic but I just didn't like any of them enough to actually care what happened to them.

Kartik was probably the most interesting character to me, but his presence in the book was minimal (maybe that's why he was the most interesting--he wasn't really given much chance to bore me).

I didn't like the plot much at all...I can't really pin point why, it just felt like something was missing, there was no spark. I never felt swept up in this world, it was just bland when it really shouldn't have been. Nothing hooked me or kept me interested, nothing surprised me and too many twists were easy to guess almost as soon as they were introduced and then we'd have to wade through pages and pages of the characters not having a clue.

Basically, the book left me very underwhelmed. I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of 5...it may have been lower, but I think the high expectations played a part in how disappointing the book was--when everyone seems to love a book while you're struggling to find things you even like about it, it makes reading it more frustrating.

I think this may just be one of those times where an author just isn't my cup of tea. I think Libba Bray is fabulous (from what I've seen of her online), but something about her books just doesn't click with me. I may give the rest of the series a chance, purely because I own them already, but I'm not really optimistic about them at this point.


Monday, 21 July 2014

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.
So this is the first Sophie Kinsella book I've ever read and it probably won't be the last, because while I didn't love the book, I enjoyed it enough to be interested in checking out some of her other books.

Poppy was annoying a lot of the time and there were parts of the story that were just utterly ridiculous (like a couch conveniently being dragged loudly across the floor of an office building at the exact moment Poppy was trying to get someones attention, for example) but she grew on me and it wasn't too hard to overlook the silly things after a while.

Also, a lot of the humour in the book kind of straddled the line between actually funny and the kind of thing that is supposed to be funny but instead makes you cringe from secondhand embarrassment (something I hate in books and movies).

And this review is leaning more towards the negative side, but I did genuinely enjoy the book, it did make me laugh a few times and I finished it with a smile. Sam was lovely, he was definitely the highlight of the book for me and Poppy was most likable in her scenes with him.

I guess that's all I have to say about this one. Sophie Kinsella is one of those authors that I hear loads of good things about and this book, to me, wasn't really as amazing as people make her books out to be but it was a fun read. I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5 (would have probably been 4, if I'd reviewed it right after reading but because I left it a while, I've realised that it was kind of forgettable).


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (2)

On the Blog

Wednesday: Julie's starting to catch up on some very overdue reviews, starting with some 2012 releases


Book Haul
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber (ebook via library)

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie (ebook via library) 
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (ebook via library)
I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre (egalley via Netgalley)
As Long as You Love Me by Ann Aguirre (egalley via Netgalley)
Dare To Kiss by S.B. Alexander (egalley via Netgalley)
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (paperback via publisher)
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (2 hardcovers via publisher)
Heart Breaths by K.K. Hendin (ebook purchased for Kindle)
Perfect Pitch by Mindy Klasky (ebook free on Amazon)
Fastball by V.K. Sykes (ebook free on Amazon)

Books Read

 I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

As Long as You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Upcoming Reads

I have no idea! New Adult reading week didn't turn out quite as I wanted. I got restless and impatient and didn't know what I wanted to read. Then yesterday, I got a new bed delivered and rearranged my pseudo-room and got to put a bunch of books I've had lying around on display and randomly picked up Brazen after everything settled. I read the first 120 pages or so, napped, did some family stuff, watched a baseball game, then went to just read a few chapters before showering and finishing up this post...then suddenly it was 3:30 in the morning and I'd read the whole thing and cried. So, hopefully the little slump I had will be broken!

Anything you guys are hoping I'll read?



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