Friday, 9 November 2018

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights
by Philip Pullman

Summary: When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights...

Well... This book was, in a word, disappointing.

I've been hearing so much hype about the book from pretty much everyone for years and years, and I don't know if that was part of the problem or if it's just one of those book series I'd have liked more had I grown up reading it.

But yeah, it was pretty thoroughly underwhelming.

I won't deny that it was well written or that it had an interesting cast of characters and elements of the story that were appealing (loved the daemons, for example) but overall I found it to be a bit on the boring side most of the time.

I am going to stick with the series, because I hate leaving them unfinished once I start, but the book didn't really leave me craving more or particularly caring about what happens to the characters after the first book ended.

I didn't feel invested in it and I'm hoping that maybe the second book will make me get what all the fuss was about.

My overall opinion of this first book can be summed up in three letters: meh.

It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the spectacular read it was made out to be by everyone that spoke to me about it. I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of 5.


Thursday, 8 November 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

by Courtney Summers

Summary: Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

I'm not sure how to even begin to review this book. Given the subject matter, to describe it as good or great or whatever -- it just doesn't feel like the right words. But I don't have the right words.

Basically, this was one of those books that cracks you right open. It makes you care and it makes you hurt.

I loved the format of it, the way it did the Then vs Now thing in a different way than I've read before. And I really cared about the characters a lot, especially Sadie. I always love Courtney's characters and these were no exception -- she writes them raw and rough around the edges, and thoroughly impossible not to care about because she makes them feel so human.

The ending of the story bothered me. But I think maybe it was supposed to bother me. In real life, cases like this do haunt you. They do keep you up at night wondering about the what's and the why's and the how's. And this book was like that too -- it left me wondering, and it haunted me a bit. It was more realistic for that, so I can appreciate it even though it was frustrating.

To sum up: this is one of the best books I've read this year (and I've read quite a few good ones), I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5. It proved, once again, why Courtney Summers is on my insta-buy list.


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: Reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant to write her story, no one is more astounded than Monique herself.

Determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career, Monique listens in fascination. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s - and, of course, the seven husbands along the way - Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. But as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
This book is definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far. It's one of my favourite books in general really, and I could tell that was going to be the case very quickly (like, do you ever get a little bit into a book and just know that it's going to be one of the ones that sticks with you? that was me with this one).

I sat down thinking "I'll just read a chapter, just to see what it's like" (because I'm already juggling way too many Currently Reading books) and ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting because I was just so caught up in the story and entranced by the characters.

Also, it made me cry multiple times (about five times), which not only hasn't happened in quite a while, but it doesn't happen often at all but this one really got under my skin and made me care.

I loved the cast of characters, they were complex and flawed and I adored that. I think the characters were what made the book for me really. 

The book had a really diverse cast too. There were multiple gay characters, lesbian, and bisexual characters. And there was racial diversity too with the main characters being a mixed race woman with a black father and white mother, and a Cuban American woman. I will note though, none of it is own voices and being white I can't really speak for the groups being represented to say whether or not the representation was flawed or not.

Another thing I want to mention that I haven't really seen talked about much in any of the reviews is that there is an element of the Bury Your Gays trope in the book. Personally, the way it was written felt like it was nuanced and handled pretty well -- but it is A Thing in the book that I wanted to acknowledge because I know for some people it will be a deal breaker, and others would just like to go into it prepared rather than being surprised by it.

But yes... I really did love this book, a lot. It's one of the ones that I desperately want to be adapted into a mini-series (I say mini-series, because I feel like that would do more justice to the story than a movie could), partly because I want more of the story in any form I can get it, partly because it was so easy to visualize the story while reading it. 

I'd rate the book 5 out of 5 stars.



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