The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon (Narrated By Alana Kerr)
It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the clairvoyants commit treason simply by breathing.
My first audio-book review, eh?
It was one of my new year’s resolutions to listen to more audio-books as I’d not listen to one since The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader in Primary school.
Sometimes, though not very often I decide to read books based on book trailers. Obviously, I don’t let a poor trailer put me off a book, but I let this one persuade me. The woman who overvoice’s the trailer is the narrator on the audio-book and as one of the main reasons I don’t listen to many audio-books is my inability to listen to an automated American voice for more than 5 minutes but this is beautifully narrated. Alana Kerr reads as though she is Paige - her Irish lit and ability to change accents to alter the characters is believably brilliant.
This was a good story and good company while walking to school but I didn’t think that it was anything extraordinary. Paige is from the same dynasty as Tris Prior and Katniss Everdeen, strong women opposing the revolution. She’s nothing new. She’s self-assured and confident in both her powers as a dreamwalker and herself.
This is first installment in a 7 books series and I can see the intense plot line across the series especially now Paige’s world has been established. The descriptions and world building was handled awkwardly. Opposed to showing us the world as Paige discovered it, the information and descriptions were dumped on us and became awkward to digest and understand Paige’s situation.
With perseverance, The Bone Season is able to share its story and I would recommend it especially as an audio-book but it’s nothing extraordinary. I’m looking forward to the next book ‘The Mine Order’ hopefully this is a series which gets better with each book because then book 7 is going to be unbelievable.
“Knowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can’t get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always.”
Allegiant – Veronica Roth
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent
Allegiant, the final in the Divergent trilogy.
Firstly, I wasn’t sure if I would read this as I’d heard bad things, people saying the didn’t like it and I can see why. It’s a page turner, painfully so but so are its predecessors and it has now become expected of Roth - so she does deliver on that front.
However, if you’re attached to this series (as in completely obsessed live and breathe it) well there’s no point warning you as you’ve probably already read Allegiant. However, on the off chance you’re looking to read this, it’s a conclusion to the series. I had issues with the ending - I didn’t mind the concluding climax (if you’ve read it you’ll know who and what I mean) but the ‘happily ever after 2 years later’ was it really needed?
The narratives flip between Tris and Tobias yet there’s no rhyme or reason to who narrates what point which does lead to some confusion, halfway through a chapter when you suddenly have no idea who’s perspective it’s from and definitely not a style to introduce in a final book - either do it from the start or not at all. Tobias’ narrative is not the same as in ‘Free Four’ where he’s dark and mysterious, exactly as Tris sees him. He’s a little whiney and moany in Allegiant with constant references to locations that remind him of the many places where Tris almost died (which is most of the city). He’s lost his brooding mystery and Byronic qualities that made him attractive. Fine show us his softer side, all broken and damaged but don’t milk it.
It was an ending, I’ll give Roth that but it certainly wasn’t the one Divergent deserved. If I was to recommend Roth I would highly recommend Divergent, Insurgent if you want but Allegiant has an
‘if you must’ recommendation from me. I’m sorry for the negative review; maybe I just had high expectations.
Regeneration - Pat Barker
Regeneration, one in Pat Barker’s series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight. Yet the novel is much more. Written in sparse prose that is shockingly clear — the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing — it combines real-life characters and events with fictional ones in a work that examines the insanity of war like no other. Barker also weaves in issues of class and politics in this compactly powerful book. Other books in the series include The Eye in the Door and the Booker Award winner The Ghost Road.
There is something I enjoy about fictionalised reality - whether an exaggerated journal (Isherwood) or a fictional story based on accounts (1913: The Year Before The Storm). There are possibly five main characters and Barker takes the time to explore each thoroughly. Dr Rivers, an anthropologist is perhaps the most explored as he cares for each of his patients, all delightfully vivid characters with ranging degrees of depth including Siegfried Sassoon, Billy Prior, Wilfred Owen and Burns. This novel is largely based on accounts and reports from Craiglockhart Hospital and from the time meaning it is largely based on fact. However, it is important to remember that this novel is a work of fiction and does not serve as a biography despite its biographical aspects. I think that makes this novel more engaging - you care for the characters because you know they were real, this is their lives and this really happened to them - at least for the most part. There are certain parts, especially Owen’s plans to have a pig farm which are incredibly heart breaking though I must admit that my favourite part was when Owen and Sassoon were editing what would become ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ which in itself is a superb poem. Anyone with an interest in WW1, fictionalised reality or the WW1 poets contexts, this a superb novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the other two books which make up the Regeneration trilogy.
“The sky darkened, the air grew colder, but he didn’t mind. It didn’t occur to him to move. This was the right place. This was where he had wanted to be.”
My Best Books Of 2013:
2013 has held some of the best reading materials for me. I have never read as much as I have this last year. So I’ll share my best. One from each month which means some books had some tough competition:
January: The Not Dead – Simon Armitage
April: Hamlet – William Shakespeare
May: The Funny Side – Wendy Cope (the only book I read in exam time)
September: I didn’t read any books this month, start of term was busy.
October: Ketchup Clouds – Annabel Pitcher
November: Stargirl:Pink - Jerry Spinelli
December: Virgin Suicides – Jeffery Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides – Jeffery Eugenides
The haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, The Virgin Suicides, now a major film, is Jeffrey Eugenides’ classic debut novel.
The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshiped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters’ breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear.
Wow. I can tell you know that this book with need re-reading. There’s so much depth and detail that I’m sure I’ve missed something which takes me onto the writing, which is incandescent. Eugenides’ poetic style and deep metaphors make the prose read as though a poem. Deep and clear.
This is a book I don’t think can be spoiled, there’s no conventional why and who, which I know means this is not a book for everybody.
But I can promise that this is not like any other book you will read. Firstly, from a style point of view it’s narrated in first person plural and the narrators themselves remain almost totally anonymous as they quite literally stalk these girls. Secondly, I am still mystified as to how Eugenides manages to not make the narrators seem creepy or leave the reader with an unsettling chill. It is almost dreamlike; coasting the reader through the various smells and colours of the period described transporting both reader and narrator to standing opposite the Libson house. So clearly described I could draw it, if I could draw that is. Nothing can compare with Eugenides writing and living images.
“She held herself very straight, like Audrey Hepburn, whom all women idolize and men never think about.”
The Absolutist - John Boyce
A masterfully told tale of passion, jealousy, heroism and betrayal set in the gruesome trenches of World War I.
It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War.
But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will—from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.
The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they’ve turned the last page.
John Boyce is known for his crushing stories and heart breaking narratives. He’s a brilliant writer, but that’s a given. The time line jumps from the war, where both Will and Tristan are fighting and suffering the immediate hypocrisy of the British trenches to the heart breaking after effects where Tristan has to recount the suffering pain.
It’s a brilliant read every page, perhaps not an urgent page turner but its consistency enables you to understand each character and understand their depth which can often be neglected by fast paced page turners. The novel focuses on the characters of the war rather than the horrors of the war itself.
Boyce is an author who you expect will make you cry, and he does. You feel a part of the story as Tristan recounts his painful and suffering both from the war, before and after.
The end, well, it all makes sense. It’s painful and almost unbearable but you’ll have to read to get to that bit. But, it’s worth reading just to get there.
The Perks Of Wallflower quotation ‘We accept the love we think we deserve’ is never better placed, because Tristan does not deserve what he gets.
One day, I’ll torture myself by re-reading this fantastic story but for novel I’ll keep the tear-jerking memory of the heart-broken Tristan Sadler and his story to myself.
“One single syllable of intimacy and the world is put to rights.”
I Capture The Castle - Dodie Smith
Cassandra Mortmain is no ordinary teenager. She belongs to an extraordinary family including a father suffering from writer’s block and a lute-playing stepmother, Topaz, who communes with nature near the wild, tumble-down castle that is their home. Cassandra’s diary reveals how their lives are changed forever two American brothers arrive to lay claim, not only to their home, but also their hearts.
Firstly, I’m sorry for the wait. I’ve had A Level English coursework and do you know how difficult it is to find a good orange book that’s not a penguin classic (it felt like cheating the cover system). I started about five or six before I found this one. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while but found it with a lovely orange cover in the school library.
So here we go, ‘I Capture The Castle’.
Dodie Smith’s less known classic (everyone knows 101 Dalmatians - the one with loads of spotty dogs, yep that’s it). I liked ‘I Capture the Castle’ it’s a nice book. You know sometimes when you just stumble across a nice book. The characters are all unique, albeit a little one dimensional but pleasantly so, they don’t have buried dark and haunting pasts which in some ways made this book a nice relief, fresh. The writing it’s beautiful, simplistic as it’s 1st person and aimed at children but all the characters are beautifully described by Cassandra’s narrative. And over the course of the book, I did develop a soft spot for Stephen who was wonderfully caring and compassionate, even if he would be a little annoying in reality.
Cassandra’s optimism is remarkable and perhaps naïve about life, unaware of some of harsh adjustments which definitely lay in her future.
“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”
Stargirl:Pink - Jerry Spinelli
From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, hallways hum “Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Until they are not. Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her - normal.
Stargirl reminded me of Fahrenheit 451’s Clarisse McClellan. Both show their unique individuality, outrageous self-confidence and non-conformity even if her antics make her an outcast. It’s a brilliant book which celebrates individualism, there aren’t enough books celebrating this. Stargirl’s confidence is infectious both to the people in the school somewhere inside you feel her confidence inside you.
Leo, the voice of the book, shares his enthusiasm and fascination surrounding Stargirl with the readers. In part, by seeing Stargirl through Leo’s eyes, makes her more mysterious and more marvellous than she otherwise would seem.
The novel also demonstrates how horrible teenagers can be to each other, especially in accepting and rejecting others, while exploring the part social conventions play in our lives. However, this is done in an interesting and engaging way.
Also, just to say, I have a soft-spot for Cinnamon. He is so adorable and I can see why Stargirl loved him.
Stargirl is not a long book and it’s not difficult to read. It’s a unique and fresh book, with an utterly new narrative that creates a rather compelling novel and a rather charming memorable heroine.
“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”
Ketchup Clouds - Annabel Pitcher
Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.
Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.
Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.
I liked how you knew the plot of the book, it’s the story of Zoe and how she killed someone. It’s written on the front cover. But of course it’s not the black and white. She’s not called Zoe, and it takes us until the last pages to know who she actually kills. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this though in parts I did find Zoe a slightly annoying in parts. I liked how throughout the story Zoe’s formality when progressing through the story going from Mr Harris to Stu, it was a small detail which could easily be overlooked or left out but it gave a level of detail which just added a little something to the book. I loved how the story was written in letter form. There’s something the stories written in letters that interesting, almost like they’re writing to you and have blocked out all of the thousands of other readers. It’s a sense of intimacy that you struggle to get in any form of writing.
As a book it was real, something which is increasingly common in modern young adult fiction at the moment. You could go to school with Zoe, and you could fancy the same boys at the party and it’s all believable. Brilliant and unique.
“That’s not how you’re going to live, Bird Girl. Not on my account. Spread those strong wings of yours. Fly.”
Perfume: The Story Of A Murder – Patrick Süskind
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift: an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs.
But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin.
Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.
This a strange book. That’s undeniable. The story of Grenouille is disturbing and not for the faint hearted however it is brilliant. The descriptions of the scents surrounding Grenouille are so vividly explained they transport the reader to the scene. It’s the most powerful use of atmospheric description. Most people have a preconceived idea what characters look like but few offer a preconceived smell in a book or on film. It’s a skill that the films can’t master and only a few books dare to.
This is not a book about a murder; even if it is ‘The Story Of A Murder’ it’s about scent and life and extreme passion and need.
You are forced to be repulsed by Grenouille and his actions but as a character he’s fascinating. His motives are so clearly mapped they are almost plausible.
It would be so easy to let this book slip into a gothic horror or a murder mystery but instead it stands alone. It’s not a horror but with an almost Dickensian charm it’s funny and quirky.
I also like the idea of a German novelist writing about 18th Century France, it’s just a bit different. Well to me at least.
And then the reason I chose the book. And I almost hate to admit it but that’s what this challenge is all about. The cover. It’s beautiful. It’s a piece of Gothic art and stands well above the rest. I couldn’t think of a better cover for this amazing story.
The perfect start to The Rainbow Read.
“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
I am taking this as a chance to read the epics that had no place in Read 100 so naturally this challenge will take more time per book.
The colours in question will be:
So 14 books in total.
Wish me luck.
1) A Single Man - the start of my love of Isherwood and 1930s literature
2) All Quiet On The Western Front - unbelievable
3) The Catcher In The Rye - a classic
4) Looking For Alaska - my entrance to Nerdfighteria & The Fault In Our Stars - the best of Green
5) The Starboard Sea - an instant favourite
6) The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - a modern classic, timeless
7) Breakfast At Tiffany’s - beautiful
8) The Book Thief - touching and heartbreaking
9) Tell Me The Truth About Love - perfect pocketable poetry
10) Brideshead Revisited - a perfectly executed enchanting tale