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A collection of Book Reviews

I’ve been silent for a while on the blog, and that is because I’ve been busy at university. But thankfully, now I am on my semester break and am looking forward to relaxing and reading those books I don’t have to read for my course.
However, the books I read this semester for class were ones that wouldn’t have been on my top of the reading list, but I thought I would get back into wrtiing on the blog by firstly writing the book reviews for the six books I read this semester.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: (From back book cover, the blurb): Depicting the gradual disintegration of the Compson family through four fractured narratives. The novel explores intense, passionate family relationships where there is no love, only self-centredness. The heart of the novel is about lovelessness.
If you like classics then you have most likely heard of this novel. The style of the novel is hard to read with the objective characters and distortion of chronologic order. However on the bases of the story it is a good read once you get past its difficulties, and it is no wonder it is a classic in American literature.

The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: (From back book cover, the blurb): Against the backdrop of the nineteenth-century Dublin, a boy becomes a man; his mind testing its powers, obsessions taking hold and loosening again, the bonds of family, tradition, nation and religion transforming from supports into shackles; until the young man devotes himself to the celebration of beauty and reaches for independence and the life of an artist.
The story is a journey of a boy becoming a man in the world, trying to find his place. Splendidly written and particular note of the written style with its the lack of quotation marks.

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: (From Goodreads): Dark allegory describes the narrator’s journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad’s finest, most enigmatic story.
An intense plot and a telling frame story narrative that is easy to read that questions the underlying darkness of human nature. A classic read for anyone who enjoys a story surrounding the psychology of human nature and issues of colonisation.

The Crying Lot of 49 by Thomas Pynchon: (From back book cover, the blurb)Oedipa Mass discovers that she has been made executrix of a former lover’s estate. The performance of her duties sets her on a strange trail of detection in which bizarre characters crowd in to help or confuse her. But gradually death, drugs, madness and marriage combine to leave Oedipa in isolation on the threshold of revelation.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf: Woolf writing in a stream of self-consciousness as the narrative traces the lives and interactions of seven friends in an exploratory and sensuous narrative. Anyone could like this novel, as it is not difficult to read or follow the plot. It is written in an engaging experiencing and I really have nothing to dislike about this novel.

Speedboat by Renata Adler: The novel follows the young American journalist, Jen Fain, in the coming age of New York 1970s. In sporadic episodes the narrator reveals bleak observations, in an unconventional writing style, interjecting thoughts and opinions on a range of topics. The only thing that places a damper on reading this novel is there is no set chronology of when the events happen. But, otherwise I found it a great and enjoyable read.


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Hades by Candice Fox: A Book Review

(From Goodreads) Twenty years ago, two children were kidnapped and left for dead.
Raised by a master criminal, they grew up to become cops. Very unusual cops . . .
Homicide detective Frank Bennett has an intriguing new partner. Dark, beautiful, coldly efficient, Eden Archer is one of the most enigmatic colleagues Frank has ever worked with—that includes her brother Eric, who’s also on the Sydney Metro police force. All of them are tested to the core when a local man discovers a graveyard of large steel toolboxes lying at the bottom of the harbor. Each box contains a grisly trove of human body parts.
For Frank, the madman’s clues are a tantalizing puzzle. For Eden and Eric, the case holds chilling links to a scarred childhood—and a murderous mentor named Hades. But the true evil goes beyond the bloody handiwork of a serial killer

A riveting and twisted crime novel that keeps you gripped to the end. I liked reading this story, maybe because it is set in Australia. The characters were bizarre and interesting at the same time. The backstory of Eden and Eric, takes on a whole new level in the crime fiction world, that helps this debut book stand out from other crime novels.

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Book Review: Sister by Rosamund Lupton


(From Goodreads) Nothing can break the bond between sisters …When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice’s fiancé and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

A gripping plot, and compelling well-written story takes place in London, when Beatrice receives phone call that her younger sister has gone missing.
The story touches on many elements of medicine and crime – but the most interesting is the description of the two sister’s bond that is clearly seen throughout the story. It is heart wrenchingly sad at some moments, and Lupton pulls at the emotion and psychological strings of the reader. One of the higlights of the book is, Beatrice is writing a letter to her sister, and the use of second-person personal pronoun, ‘you’, links the reader to the story, as if we take the place of the sister, – making it as if you are part of the story.

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Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

(From Goodreads)Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her borther’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Who did massacre the Day family?

Just as interesting and dark as the previous stories of Flynn’s her second novel takes matters of a crime in the past and present point of view. It’s a well-paced page-turner, beautifully wrought, that would leave you shocked, disturbed and intrigued at once. Flynn is excellent at creating unpleasant characters and disturbing situations, and Dark Places is full of them. If you plan to read at night, make sure you have the light on.


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Book Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (Book 2, The Bone Season)

mime order

(From Goodreads) Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…
As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Shannon jumps into the story with action, interest and questions of how Paige is going to survive that keeps the readers hooked. Paige’s new life is in Scion, as the secrets and darkness that surrounds her are revealed as Shannon’s characters shift, backstab and fall in ways that are as fascinating as the twists and turns of the plot.
The Mime Order is the second book in a new fantasy series.

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Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

sharp objects

(From Goodreads) WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart. Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg. Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable

Gillian Flynn has recently became a favourite author of mine, ever since I read her amazing Gone Girl. And so I’ve gone back to her first ever published book, and I am pleased to say it was a brilliant piece of work, dark, twisted and disturbing.
The book is engaging, as we follow Camille, through her move back home to her town, where she is to get the inside scoop on the murders of two preteen girls – both strangled and had their teeth removed. We follow Camille on her quest to obtain as much information as possible about the crimes – and we also learn much more than we bargained for. The town is filled with dark secrets and the least of all is the twisted dynamic of Camille’s own family.
If you like characters that unreliable, flawed and with dark and disturbing qualities then this is a book for you.

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Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


(From Goodreads) Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I loved the idea that the whole story is based on the surrounding circumstances of a train ride, where Rachel happens to see something that she shouldn’t have. This whole idea is terrifyingly good; because everyone has in one time of their life caught a train and looked outside the window. As Rachel catches the train every day from Ashbury to London and returns in the afternoon, we learn that she has a disconcerting obsession with a couple “Jason and Jess”, whose house she passes on her train commute. And as she gazes out of the window she witnesses something that she shouldn’t have. These blend of every normal activity, catching the train and then with the mysterious element is one thing that I like about the book. It’s a good premise for a thriller. Who hasn’t gazed from a train window and imagined the lives of others?

Your sympathies and suspicions shift as the story develops. Rachel’s alcoholism is a plot device and not an illness, as it keeps the story going forward and thickening with drama, because you know she knows something but she can’t recall it because she has no memory of that night when she had been drinking. You are pulled into the story, as Rachel tries to put her fractured pieces of her mind back together and the conclusion is a twist that should leave you waiting for Hawkins next novel, because it was such a great ending.
The book explores power, betrayal, relationships, while ratcheting tension.
Overall it was a great book.

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