Book Review: Jewels of the Sun (Nora Roberts)

Jewels

Plot: Determining to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish Folk and discovers hope for the future of the magical past.

Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although he’s devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his stormy eyes–and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her–while they create a passionate history of their own..

Rating: 6.5/10

I always think that I have read all that there is to read with Roberts. I think of her work in four categories – her JD Robb work I haven’t really touched, her thriller mysteries which I devour,  her romance trilogies such as this, which I really thought I had covered them all, and her Mills and Boon novels which I really rarely, rarely venture in to.

So when I the Gallaher family series naturally I had to investigate. There is a clear distinction between  Nora Roberts writing Irish stories and real Irish writers writing Irish stories. They can’t be grouped together and Roberts really writes perfectly nice books about them but it is clear she doesn’t have the cultural grasp of the nation as the authentic ones do. Her characters are nearly cartoonish with their cultural habits and they are all, always, the “black Irish”. But anyway, I’m not here to bash one of my favorite authors, that is just the impression I wanted to share with you.

Jude Murray – who names their child Jude? – is unsure of who she is when she lands in Ireland. Since we’ve all been there I won’t really blame her. She meets the incredibly attractive and remarkable single bar owner, Aidan Gallagher. She’s clearly immediately what he’s been waiting for his whole life, and he finds her neurosis and anal personality endearing and not irritating as shit. (Because this is a totally legitimate love story). But there is more – Jude is living with the town ghost, who has been cursed to stay as a ghost in eternity because she spurned a proud Prince Fairy’s advances when she was a married woman. Men and their fragile egos aren’t made for positions of power. So there are some conversations with ghosts and fairies and sad souls all in the midst of Jude and Aidan falling in love, and we are kept entertained and a little flabbergasted throughout the book.

Despite all my mean spirited thoughts, I actually did like this book. It is innocent, empty fun and you don’t have to think way too much about it. Despite the cartoonish cultural attachments, I enjoy Aidan. He’s obviously written to be a hero and he’s good at that. Jude is my favorite of the three female characters in the trilogy – Darcy is a gold digger and Brenna was written as this fiercely independent woman who really wasn’t a fiercely independent woman. Jude might be neurotic and insecure but she’s the most believable of the three female leads. The entire trilogy didn’t need the ghost element – it is certainly not the main focus of these romance novels, and it mostly feels pushed in to breathe some life into the often lagging plot.

Anyone looking anywhere for some real characters or even just a love story that feels legitimate will probably not like this. If you are in the midst of stressful exams like I was, this might just get you through the week and prevent you of beating your zoology professor to death.

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Book Review: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

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Plot: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”
–penguinrandomhouse.com 

I started to write this already at the halfway mark of the book, so as to not forget any of my thoughts. I can tell you that I am going to pretend I am British for another week now (the same inevitably happens when I watch Downton Abbey). I had the best time working through Pride and Prejudice and can really not think of a time this year when I felt so content reading any book.

This is finally a successful attempt at reading Pride and Prejudice – the first time I picked it up I only managed to get through half of the book. I have no idea why, perhaps I just wasn’t as inclined as I was this time around. I watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies AGAIN the other day, and I love the 2005 adaption of this novel with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden. The plot speaks to me on many levels – the unerring feminism of Elizabeth Bennet, the courage of Jane Austen to write about Elizabeth Bennet, the love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I can tell you now that I find difficult people so much more appealing than the Mr. Bingleys of the world. Their loyalty is ultimately more rewarding and unyielding. Pride can be attractive in any person. Mr. Darcy is a difficult man, but truly appealing. It is fun to find a character that isn’t written in the typical hero fashion – he’s so ornery and stubborn and proud.

The differences between the movies and the original work are perhaps not significant but the book is naturally more illustrative to the characters. Mr. Wickham is even slimier than his onscreen presence shows, Mr. Collins is a phenomenal, pompous and amazingly irritating pain in the ass.  Mrs. Bennet is truly an embarrassment to her offspring. Her antics are mortifying and she has a cold disregard to Elizabeth that is not shown often in a film adaption. She never ceased her ambition to have her daughters favorably married. Whatever true care she felt for each of them was very much overshadowed by her need to see her daughters settled with men of high fortunes. It was embarrassing.

There is only one section that felt tiresome eventually. The section where Lydia runs of with Wickham is pivotal in the romance of Elizabeth and Darcy, but it really took an extraordinary amount of pages to get through. The conclusion of Pride and Prejudice is the most delightful British ending you can hope for. Feelings are expressed in the utmost British way – please tell me they are still like this! – and the overpowering sweetness of Darcy’s happiness when Elizabeth expresses her love and admiration is lovely. I really did enjoy how sweet he became eventually when he was around her, and that the strength of his feelings could make him do such introspection and radical personal change.

The theme of the book is clear the very descriptive title, but there are also themes of family, learning to look deeper into a person and not expressing yourself in anger – Elizabeth’s family had quite the shock when she professed to love the man she had been so against the majority of the time she’d known him.

Pride and Prejudice really isn’t a quick and easy read, and it takes time to get yourself acquainted with the author’s writing. It is high English, and it was a good exercise for me as a predominantly Afrikaans speaking person to read through it. You also really need to be in the mood to read this book, it isn’t going to be pleasing or successful if you want a fast read.

I am giving this a 9.5/10. It is a very high rating, yes, but I found it very deserving of the classic cult status and many adaptions it has gone through. I really enjoyed it so much! One of my favorite books this year!

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Book Review: Island of Glass (Nora Roberts)

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Book #3 in The Guardians trilogy

Plot:

The final Guardians Trilogy novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Bay of Sighs and Stars of Fortune.

As the hunt for the Star of Ice leads the six guardians to Ireland, Doyle, the immortal, must face his tragic past. Three centuries ago, he closed off his heart, yet his warrior spirit is still drawn to the wild. And there’s no one more familiar with the wild than Riley—and the wolf within her…

An archaeologist, Riley is no stranger to the coast of Clare, but now she finds herself on unsure footing, targeted by the dark goddess who wants more than the stars, more than the blood of the guardians. While searching through Irish history for clues that will lead them to the final star and the mysterious Island of Glass, Riley must fight her practical nature and admit her sudden attraction to Doyle is more than just a fling. For it is his strength that will sustain her and give her the power to run towards love—and save them all…

Rating: 8/10

Concluding the Guardian’s trilogy, Island of Glass was packed with drama and bravery and heroics. Did I like it? YES. This series swept me up and kept me entertained for the entire two weeks I read it in. It is rare nowadays for me to drop everything and push to get through three books in two weeks, but I had to know. Island of Glass focuses on the last two remaining characters that haven’t resolved their feels yet for each other (hey, this is still a Nora Roberts series). The immortal Doyle and the lycan Riley deal with their growing attraction for each other and the fact that Nerezza wants them all dead, and the stars in her possession.

The last book is similar to the first two in writing and execution. The end left me happy – I won’t give it away but everyone is given everything they would ever want. Riley remains my favorite female character with her academics and abrasive nature. Doyle and Riley make a perfect couple, and their road to each other was the best across the series. I really liked Doyle – cantankerous people are always better to read about than affable sweethearts. His outbursts and clear insight to what lies ahead made him valuable to their mission, and through all of that he showed that he still cared for the lot of them.

The ending of the book was slightly drawn out – catching the last star and then meeting the goddesses and then still having to defeat Nerezza. In my opinion the book would have been stronger if they had done all of that in one huge fight.

I’m likely to reread this series quite soon. I enjoyed it very much and is some of the better fantasy novels Nora Roberts has produced.

 

Book Review: Bay of Sighs (Nora Roberts)

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Book #2 in The Guardians trilogy

Plot:

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The second novel in the Guardians Trilogy from the bestselling author of Stars of Fortune.

Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star.

Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground…

And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human.

Rating: 8/10

I wasn’t too excited for this part of the trilogy. Since she came in to the first novel, I thought Annika was a bit not all right in the head. I also couldn’t relate to her. I could relate to Sasha with all her stress levels and Riley as the brash academic, but this bubbly, sweet 2and excited mermaid just didn’t exhibit any signs of who I identify as.
I still don’t think she would have worked well as a standalone novel (whereas Sasha and Riley were both developed well enough to succeed at that) . Annika won’t be my favorite character of Nora Roberts anytime soon, but she managed to not irritate as much as I thought.

I still maintain that this is some of the freshest ideas Roberts has produced in ages. I enjoyed this book very much, maybe a bit less than the first, but really still very much. I liked Sawyer’s character; he seems like an affable adventurer, something which is always a plus in my book. His banter with Riley amused me to no end as it is a wealth of popular culture references.

Bay of Sighs also had some shocking moments – I mean, when in the history of ever has a Roberts character been captured and tortured? I was horrified and feared for both their safety. Malmon turns into something disgusting, his inner character shining finally showing on the outside. It was decidedly creepy and I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of Nerezza, ever. Or even on her right side, now that I think of it.

Bay of Sighs progressed with the same easy rhythm as Stars of Fortune. Naturally we end up with idealistic relationship expectations everywhere and dashing scenes of courage and bravery. You guessed it, they find the second star and that makes their nemesis pissed. I also like how they hide the stars from Nerezza, it is ingenuity combined with powers from two characters.

Definitely worth a read if you read the first book/are a Roberts fan or like some fantasy mixed with your romance.

Book Review: After You (JoJoMoyes) – CONTAINS SPOILERS –

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Plot: How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future…

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

Rating: 8/10

The events of After You take place after Will Traynor’s assisted suicide in Me Before You. Louisa Clark, his handler and eventual love interest, is dealing with the aftermath of his death. Society is no different than usual and judges her for her actions, thinking that she benefited from his death and perhaps should have done more to have stopped him. But they aren’t on ground zero with Louisa. They don’t know how hard she finds it to cope and to live to up to the expectations she can feel from beyond Will’s grave to live an extraordinary life. An accident makes her parents wonder whether she was planning to commit suicide as well, and despite her best assurances she still attends a support group for bereaved people to ease her parents’ mind. Slowly, life starts to normalize and even look more positive, but the appearance of someone who she thought impossible usurps her life once again. Can she fix herself one more time? Move on from Will?

On the new character front Sam appears, and I can now list him as a book boyfriend. I loved him. I knew from the get go that this couldn’t be the guy Jake was referring to. I knew somehow somewhere there was a gap in communication, and serve Louisa right for thinking the worst. Sam was decent, trustworthy, dependable, really hot and not without scars. Someone perfectly whole wouldn’t have been a good choice for Lou. She’s seen too much and gone through a lot of heartbreak. I was ready to write all the angry letters to JoJoMoyes during the last few chapters in the book, but it would have been for nothing as the end result really pleased me.

The biggest shocker of the book is the existence of Lily, Will’s daughter. I immediately pitied Lily. Her mother was clearly horrible at parenting, she had no foundation and everything she needed to turn into a stable kid was removed at her mother’s whim. Discovering that she had a father that became quadriplegic and chose to end his own life couldn’t have been a joy, and realizing that the family he left behind was neither whole nor perfect sure was a shocker too. I called most of the eventual developments on this character, but that doesn’t mean that I am not happy she ended up with Mrs. Traynor. They both needed something to get them through life, and they are perfect to depend on each other.

Lou’s family is still a driving force in her life. Her brilliant sister, saddled with a young boy so early. Her mother discovering her feminism and her father’s objection to it causes some hilarity but is also a reminder of how life must look for women who spent their entire lives looking after their children. I really liked that these characters remained in the book as it was such a central part to Lou’s character.

I really liked the pace and development of each character. After You certainly is more conventionally romance than Me Before You was. I was reminded of how I thought Marian Keyes would be if she chose to write about normal things. JoJoMoyes has the ability to get you unhealthily involved. I was so stressed about every character in that book. Her support characters are as well developed as her main characters, and she writes them with empathy and humor. You can’t help root as hard for Lou’s mother who is refusing to shave her legs as you are rooting for Lou, worry about Jake, think about Donna and most of all, wonder about the wellbeing of the Traynor family.

I was a huge fan of this book. It made me sad when it ended. I would have loved a third instalment. I checked but I seem to be unlucky in that regard. I recommend naturally that you read the first novel first (the movie doesn’t do it justice) and then read this one. Both are compelling reads that will touch your heart.

PS: Can I please have a Sam?

Book Review: The Power Of Six (Pittacus Lore)

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The Lorien Legacies #2

Plot:

I’ve seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he’s a mystery. But to me . . . he’s one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I’m ready to fight.

Rating: 7/10

Before I start this review I have to say that I am really pleased that I am reading new books this year. I’m really a problem child when it comes to reading new books. I love to read my favorite novels on a loop, and while that isn’t an unforgivable crime, it certainly limits the amount of literature you get exposed to.

The Power of Six is the second book in the Lorien Legacies, which co-written by James Frey and Jobie Hughes. I noticed and appreciated that it doesn’t have that thing where the book doesn’t make sense because it received input from too many people. The pacing of the books are good, the content interesting and quite unique in the overpopulated genre where people most often than not “borrow” a few ideas. The characters aren’t as annoying as one might expect teenager characters to be, and the books lack melodrama.

The Power of Six introduces Marina, who is the Sixth Garde that was sent down to earth in a hope to preserve the Lorien race after an attack by the Mogadorians. Her Cepan, Maria, has lost all courage and is content to live in a quiet nunnery in Spain. This results in Marina not being trained or informed properly by her Cepan of her heritage, and she becomes increasingly desperate to escape. Her Legacies are also developing and she has trouble hiding them all the time. A little bit of light at the end of the tunnel occurs when she meets Ella, an orphan who quickly becomes a form of a confidante.

Meanwhile Four, Sam, Seven and Bernie Kosar is still on the run from the FBI after the destruction of their high school in Paradise. Here an irritating little love triangle develops and Four starts to pay more attention to Seven than which would be appropriate considering his good friend likes her and he is already in a relationship. It is a part of the story I really didn’t find enjoyable. I’d really hoped that they would omit love triangles, but I guess that is too much to ask.

For the girls here, I like Seven’s proactive attitude but I do not appreciate her playing with the emotions of both boys. Marina has amazing powers and I thoroughly enjoyed that, but she had a bit of an apathetic attitude that got grating quickly. Ella has to be mentioned because (spoiler): she is number 10. Her gift is by far the most impressive thus far.

The boys: Four (or John Smith) is a pretty cool character and I enjoy him, though he can be too impulsive and selfish at times. I am a huge fan of Sam and he does great work representing the human race. The later inclusion of Number 9 was unexpected but decent too, and I think the next book, which focuses primarily on him if I look just at the title.

A real problem I had with the book is the constant switching between characters without any indication except a font change. It happened more than once that I was confused about why everything was different. I also feel that the fighting scenes really get out of hand. It takes pages to resolve something and I get bored at the third strange animal attacking a character. Ugh.

Overall I enjoyed The Power Of Six. The different Legacies keep me quite entertained, they are really ingenious and fun! I hope the third book continues to interest me. They are fast paced novels that aren’t too intense. I’m planning to get to book three after I finish my current book, so you’ll definitely end up knowing what I thought of it!

Have you read the The Power of Six? Tell me all about it!

Book Review: Chasing Harry Winston (Lauren Weisberger)

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Plot: Meet Emmy, Leigh, and Adriana. Best friends since college, each has seen her share of career foils and romantic foibles over the past decade. Now, as they approach thirty, they’re looking toward their future…but despite all the success and luxuries they’ve attained—they’re not quite sure they like what they see.

When they are each alone for one reason or another on Valentine’s Day, the trio makes a pact. Within one year, each woman will change the thing that most challenges her. For Emmy, whose boyfriend of five years just left her for a personal trainer, it will be to find romance—or a fling—in every foreign country she visits. For Leigh, a book editor with a dream boyfriend and dream apartment, no change seems necessary—until she starts to notice a brilliant and brooding man named Jesse. And for commitment-phobic, drop-dead-gorgeous Adriana, her goal is to have an engagement ring and a house in Scarsdale. Each woman starts the first day of the year with the best of intentions—which is exactly why the pact goes immediately, and exceptionally, awry.

Filled with delicious insider details, Chasing Harry Winston whisks readers into the heart of an elite world, where friendships will be tested to the point of breaking, and showcases Weisberger’s best storytelling efforts to date

Rating: 5/10

This had to be one of the most grating books I’ve ever read. If you don’t remember, I felt like the other novel of Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada) was essentially full of white girl problems where the character felt she was being treated badly because work was tough and people didn’t automatically just like, like her. While Chasing Harry Winston doesn’t directly deal with Privileged College children that expect stellar treatment everywhere they go in life, it deals once again with the type of people I suspect the author knows and understands way too well because she is one of them. Emma, Leigh and Adriana are all three insufferable for legion of reasons. Adriana was the worst of the three – a privileged trust fund baby that hasn’t had to work for anything in her life, which is spoiled and is weak of character and completely lacking of morals. I rarely consider myself a prude, but with the amount of men Adriana has slept with she seems to be the ambassador for the local brothel. I found her way too annoying – her constant attention seeking, her sleeping around and her lack of any direction was just too much in one character to deal with. I felt that the character was written in a way to represent Sofia Vergara’s character on Modern Family – anyone share that notion?

Emma was more frustrating than she was intolerable. She’s just one of those women who are so stuck on relationships becoming married that she’s a shadow being without any real personality and that makes me furious. I appreciated that she took note of the fact that she should immediately think marriage when meeting a man, but it was extremely ridiculous that she felt ashamed with only sleeping with three men in her life – again, I must be a prude here to dare think that three sexual partners are sufficient (a bit more than).

Leigh was probably the character I identified the most with – she’s so happy to just be by herself and constantly worrying whether it is a crime, and living a stress ridden life that most people think is perfect but is actually just a lot of managing crises after crisis. Although, she really should have dumped Russell’s ass early on – while he seems to be a nice man he’s obviously a walkover and not the man for her. I’ve been where she was – in a relationship because everyone wanted her to be in one, which is about as healthy to your mental well being as tuberculosis is to your physical well being.

Something that made me see red was the constant use of the “dear” and “sweetheart” –I use “dear” only to friends when I’m being a little sarcastic and really only in emails in work where I am forced to be polite. These three characters? DEAR DEARDEAR SWEETHEART. Every conversation contains these endearments and really, who even addresses people they know like that? What is wrong with you?

This book lacks originality – the story has been used ten million times and nothing new – people who need to change: one woman is too commitment heavy, the other too commitment phobic and the last is seemingly perfect but really not. This is a standard story for any half-baked author who wants to push chicklit onto the market and if you’ve read it once, you’ve read it a hundred times.

The ending very slightly redeemed the book. It wasn’t an original ending by any means– like I said, if you read it once, you’ve read it a hundred times. Everyone ends up being more themselves than they were, more accepting of their own worth and heading forwards into life. Emma discovers that she can truly walk away, Leigh finds the courage to do something that she should have done ages ago and Adriana finally gets a job. It’s worth something that Adriana didn’t end up marrying Toby, but gosh, still one of the most disgusting characters I’ve read about in a while.

I was obviously riled enough at this book to write this entire review out, so there’s something. The print was also exceptionally tiny on my copy – so the book was actually quite long. However, reading it went quick, so I can probably mention one thing good that it is a fast paced read. Anyway, it was an exceptional waste of time. Have you read it? What did you think?

Book Review: The Collaborator (Margaret Leroy)

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Plot:

1940, Guernsey…

Vivienne de la Mare waits nervously for the bombs to come. Instead comes occupation. Nothing is safe anymore. But was anything truly safe before?

The façade of the perfect wife, with her husband fighting on the frontline, cracks under the strain of the lie. Her new life is one where the enemy lives next door. Small acts of kindness from one Nazi soldier feels like a betrayal. A forbidden friendship in a frightening world. But how can you hate your enemy when you know his name, when he makes you feel alive, when everything else is dying around you?

Vivienne is fighting her own private war. On one side, the safe, secret, loving world she could build with her captain; on the other, virtuous loneliness and danger. It’s time for Vivienne to choose: collaboration or resistance…

Rating: 8/10

A two word review of The Collaborator would be “thought-provoking”. Set in the Crown Dependency Island Guernsey during WWII, The Collaborator raises some interesting questions. Can we really call someone our enemy without them having personally slighted us? When they appear to be kind and thoughtful and ready to help out? When they are your enemy based on a war that is not occurring in front of your eyes but somewhere far away?

Leroy goes all out by writing her male lead as a German soldier, the most reviled characters of WWII. She refrained from writing Gunther as SS, because there would be no redeeming qualities in such a person and her book would have flopped. Gunther is merely a man that is fighting for his country and actually grateful to live on the small island and not to further Hitler’s mad plans around the world. He misses his old life, and Vivienne and Gunther are able to create some fragile contentment in their lives for a while. As the war continues Vivienne finds it more difficult to remain impassive about it and questions how much Gunther is also turning a blind eye too. Can the two exit the war unscathed?

Leroy wrote this book with an underlying tension. The feeling is so dreary and tense. It brings the reader to ground level and makes you question your beliefs about a lot of things – religion, the Germans in a time where everyone hated the Germans. Vivienne starts to crack as the soldier’s wife – she knew her husband cheated on her before the war, he made her feel inadequate and he was already emotionally removed from her when he left to go to war. Can we blame her for cracking? Do we dare? Max and Gunther, part of the German army, are seemingly good men fighting for their country’s honor. They aren’t evil bastards running death camps, they are soldiers working on a small island doing as they are instructed. They face harsh punishment and certain death if they rebel. Some in their group aren’t as kind as these two, which leads to some complications later on as one would expect.

What I consider a huge improvement from the previous Leroy novel I read, The Lake House, is that Vivienne actually cares for and considers her children a great deal. Millie and Blanche are a few years apart and both pose a different challenge to Vivienne – Millie is young and requires a lot of care, while Blanche is on the verge of the rest of her life and struggling to remain a young teenager when the world around her is crumbling and harsh. On top of these troubles is Vivienne’s elderly mother-in-law, who can be extremely forgetful and dangerously attentive at times. So can we really judge her for seeking her comfort with a kind, understanding German soldier? I couldn’t.

The book has some surprises in store – the awakening of Vivienne’s determination to do something for the prisoners of war, the twisting at unexpected times and the very sad and bleak end. I’m not usually one for such a depressing end, but it suited the tone of the book – war is a cruelty that changes people and destroys lives.

The Collaborator probably wouldn’t be enjoyed by everyone. I liked it though – it kept me in such suspense most of the time and I kept thinking about it while I wasn’t reading it, a sure sign that a book is a good read.

December 2016: Watched, Read, Loved

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Happy 2017 everyone! I pretty much disappeared from the blog in December. I needed a break. I often am way too harsh on myself about blogging – wanting desperately to post five times a week. It is important to remind myself though that blogging is supposed to be fun and for times where I actually have the time. So I gave it a bit of a break and I am back feeling all refreshed!

It was also quite a sad December globally with the deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher. It seemed like 2016 kept knocking everyone down and I am really glad it ended. Let’s hope for a peaceful and fantastic 2017.

Series Watched:

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Vampire Diaries Season 5: I am currently stalling with this season. It is a pretty rotten season and by far the worst of all the seasons so far. I need to finish it up but definitely not feeling all the bullshit of the season.

Alias season 1 and 2: EEK! I am having so much fun! It is so much fun! I can’t wait to review this.

Movies Watched:

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Rogue One: A Star Wars movie. It was good, great excitement and all. I did like The Force Awakens better though.

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Memento: This was my second last blindspot for 2016. It is mind tingling and interesting, well directed and acted. Definitely worthy of watching, despite me taking ages to get it done!

Annie: I put this on for my mother to watch. It was okay – very singy and full of children but not overly offensive. It’s definitely a film that parents can watch with their children without wanting to cry because it is so boring.

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Twilight: I had such a weak moment! Want to review them all at some stage again.

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Scream 1, 2 and 3: this was so much fun. I’m planning to do the fourth one soon. Great entertainment!

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A Nightmare on Elm Street: Same here. I am having way too much fun with these old school thrillers.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  second time watching this and I loved it way too much.

DUFF poster

The DUFF: I am racking up the watches on this film. I showed it to my mom and my bestie on separate occasions and they both really enjoyed it. Why so much hate against this film? I know it is completely different from the book, but the additions worked really well.

The Departed: The Departed is a film my bestie has told me to watch or be disowned. So I watched it with her just to make sure she had the evidence and everything 😀 did I like it? Yeah. Excellent performances and directing all around. I got a bit exhausted with the length of it, and that is about the only thing I didn’t like.

Me Before You (2016): after reading the thought provoking book I was quite amped for the film. I pushed it back when the reviews didn’t garner the most promising reviews I pushed it back. Bestie and I watched it on our visit, and it was okay. Not really bad, but Me Before You doesn’t carry as much emotional baggage as the book does.

cruel-intentions

Cruel Intentions: What a deranged film. I enjoyed it, but wow, deranged. Not something to watch with your parents, if you weren’t already aware.

oceans

Ocean’s Eleven:  I really liked this! Heist films done right is a treat for the soul man. Clooney and Pitt together? There can’t be a better idea out there.

seven

Seven:  I got to see a young Brad Pitt as the excitable and young cop and Morgan Freeman as the intelligent, calm cop. It’s quite dark and deals with a demented serial killer. It had a dark and depressing atmosphere.

Books Read:

Dawson’s Creek – this is a compilation of short stories based on the series. I’d love to watch the series at some stage, but the book isn’t worth reviewing.

The Collaborator – Margaret Leroy – I can’t wait to post this! I really loved the book, and was so unhappy when I finished it.

The Martian – Andy Weir. The Martian was my favorite film of 2015, and I really wanted to get my hands on the novel. However, I’m struggling at this stage to get through it as it contains some unnecessary jargon in my opinion.

What were you up to in December? Tell me!

Book review: I am Number Four (Pittacus Lore)

i_am_number_four_cover

Plot: Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books–but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next

Rating: 8/10

This book was part of my #BookShopDisaster last month, where I lost my head completely and just piled in the books. I didn’t really know what the book was about when I bought it, and the most I knew was that it was 1) Dystopian and that 2) a movie had been made and everyone hated it. Neither of those were good signs, but I lacked reason and bought the book anyway.

It paid off – my venture into Pittacus Lore’s world was successful and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is really well written, the characters are likable, and if I have to hazard a guess I’d say that the book was published at the beginning of the Dystopian craze – the ideas are original, the mythology have actual names (not just a Capital Something) and we get to enjoy a well thought out plot line. The author obviously spent active time developing his characters and building their existence, something that really doesn’t happen all that often with Dystopian novels.

The characters are all likeable – Henry and John and Sam and even the love interest Sarah. I really, really appreciated that there wasn’t some really drawn out, grinding love triangle. I also liked Sarah, she’s shockingly stable and tolerable for a teenage female book-character. We can laugh a little at Sam and Sarah’s meek acceptance that aliens exist, but it was all good fun and would have sucked anyway if they had run away screaming in terror. I really loved little Bernie Kosar, he’s the sweetest and the author obviously had an appreciation for animals. I also liked everything about Lorien and the Legacies, and the war with the Mogodorians.

There is quite a bit that happens in one book – information is constantly supplied. It could have been draining and frustrating, but it was more enjoyable and seemed like a natural progression. I thought the final fight at the school was way too drawn out – it kept running and running and running. I must also say that that was about the only thing that didn’t work out 100% in the entire novel, which makes it as a crime not so severe.

I will definitely be looking at the rest of the series and might for interest sake watch the movie just to grasp everyone’s outrage. Recommended for people that still have time for Dystopia – it really was quite good.