Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt (No Spoilers)

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Storyline: The story starts out with a typical misfit character – ‘ Richard’ who is trying to find his place in the world as he just can’t relate to his family or his hometown in California. He decided to transfer to Hampden college and after much resistance he is slowly welcomed into the exclusive and somewhat ‘pretentious’ Ancient Greek clique.

The group of ‘friends’ get get caught up in a very sticky situation. Not one but TWO murders take place and the group of ‘friends’ are left dealing with the aftermath. As you would expect, such a heavy secret is hard to keep and the group are left crumbling from guilt, paranoia and anxiety.

My views?:  This is the first book I have read by Donna Tartt and I’m oh so impressed I might keep an eye out for more of her books – although from amazon reviews online some feel The Secret History  may actually be her best book to date – I won’t be deterred though I for one hope it only gets better. There really wasn’t a dull moment throughout. At some points I even found it was comparable to an episode of Jeremy Kyle / Eastenders –  with the few outrageously juicy scandals that were hinted / revealed. GO DONNA!!  I’m all for a good ‘fictional’ scandal or two! 😉

The language was beautiful, I usually like very straightforward, concise  and plain writing styles but this was an exception. I didn’t want it to end. This by far has to be one of the best books I have read for a while, I’ve been reading a few books that i’v e had to force myself to finish 😦  (I just hating starting books and not finishing them).

Any Meh parts ?

I did go through a small stage  of the book really disliking ALL of the characters… I  must say that was a little off putting ( I  wanted to expose them myself if i could). But it wasn’t for usual reasons  which others who’ve read the book mentioned i.e. of group being pretentious.  It was because i couldn’t help but judge the group for allowing themselves to get caught up in such a disgusting situation. At one stage I really wanted them all to get caught and smothered in prison … that put a little dampener on the book for a little while. But after I got over that and took more of an objective neutral stance to the characters I begun to enjoy the book again.

Overall This is the first book I have read by Donna Tartt and I’m oh so impressed I will have to keep an eye out for more of her books – (although from amazon reviews online some feel The Secret History  may actually be her best book to date – I won’t be deterred though I for one hope it only gets better).

Ratings: 4.5 Stars! 😀

What did you think of the book? Feel free to leave any comments or questions below!!

Where to purchase:

Amazon

For Other Reviews:

Goodreads

That Worn Book Smell

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Book Review: The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Well boo, I haven’t sat down long enough to get much reading done. I’ve very slowly been reading Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for absolutely ages but  I’m just over half way. I also blame trying to pack light, I do most of my reading whilst travelling but  lately I’ve tried to carry small bags which = no book. If it wasn’t for having The Rosie Project on my iPhone I wouldn’t have even finished that.

The title first caught my eye in WH Smith a little before I heard  and saw the amazing reviews. I’ve been trying to stay away for sensationalised books,  especially since my disappointment with Gone Girl…The Miniaturist and Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children… but after a while I must admit I did give in and I’m happy I did!

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Summary: Don Tillman is a genetics professor in his early 40s. He has decided it is time he should find a suitable wife. He hasn’t had much success with women in the past, (due to his social skills) but he’s hoping to find someone that is compatible with  his very particular needs. However he meets Rosie, and although she isn’t quite what he expected his ‘suitable’ partner to be, he’s happy.

I found myself reading this before bed.  I was able  log out of Netflix, close my Youtube browser and put aside my laptop. I must admit  I rarely read at home but once I was half way through I was completely engrossed in the storyline. The Rosie Project was a different perspective on Romance. Don’s autism gave me a clean and humorous view of relationships without the mushy heart wrenching feelings. Nevertheless it still remained very relatable.

It was such a  fun light read I’ve already begun reading the sequel.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Read other reviews on Goodreads.

Available From: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones,

Book Review: The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – NO SPOILERS

Summary : George and Sabine image (1)move from England to live in the Beautiful Island of Trinidad in the 1950s for work. Now it’s 2006 and Sabine is feeling resentful. She’s stuck in Trinidad in the sweltering heat and political corruption. Whilst clearing out their garage, George discovers a box of letters his wife had written to the former prime minister, Eric Williams. The letters have not been sent. However George feels betrayed, insecure and guilty upon learning of his wife’s unhappiness throughout their marriage. From here forward George begins to try and make things right for his wife. But is it a little too late?

The book is separated into 4 sections. The present day (2006), 1956  when they arrived to Trinidad, 1963 & 1970. I found this book really refreshing. I enjoyed it from the very first page and was determined to read the whole book. Some parts did drag a little because you aren’t sure what to expect. There wasn’t so much of a plot, more of just an exploration of their new life as expats. I loved that the book was set in Trinidad. Although the characters were much older than me and in perhaps a different life stage I was still able to relate to their situation and feelings. I was shocked by the amount of resentment  from Sabine and ‘love’ from George that was present in the relationship after all those years. I thought by your 70s your feelings would be more towards contentment rather than a continued insecurity and willing to please. And with George I thought the burning feeling he felt for his wife would have also simmered naturally.I’m not sure how realistic the portrayal of the characters in their seventies were. But it has lead me to question my perceptions of an older persons relationships. What if security, bliss and content isn’t at the end of the road? I have read a few goodreads reviews that have said the political movement was biased and portrayed negatively. Also a few shocked readers who believe this wasn’t worthy to be shortlisted for the Orange Prize. I don’t agree with either views.

  1.  Monique Roffey writes very beautifully. You can tell a lot of thought and effort goes into her writing.
  2. I believe Sabine’s perspective is just that. One person’s perspective. It hasn’t lead me to form any opinion about Trinidad & Tobago’s government and politics that I didn’t have prior to reading this book. I do not think those were the authors intentions.  However I can empathise with these critiques of superficiality and ignorance on Sabine’s part, if this book were set in my homeland (Jamaica), I would probably feel exactly the same too.

I will definitely be reading more from Monique Roffey when I get the chance, possibly Sun Dog. The book was a breath of fresh air and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance. I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone as there isn’t much of a plot… if any. . But for those who don’t mind books without a main plot and are interested in the Caribbean  or Caribbean history I would recommend.

Here is a kink to a  Podcast by Monique Roffey about the background of her novel, including her research and inspiration.

WARNING the Podcast does contain SPOILERS!!

Available from: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones Goodreads

Charity Read of the Month : Chocolat – Joanne Harris

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For the month of October my charity read will be Chocolat by Joanne Harris. I got my copy from Oxfam for £2 😀

This book has never appealed to me as it came out in 1999 and I was still very young. It was very popular at the time and I remember seeing it everywhere.  I had a sudden urge to read it recently after seeing a copy on ThePersianbabes‘s book shelf a few times. I don’t think we have the same taste in books, in the past I have read a books recommended by her such as Gone Girl and a few by Phillipa Gregory which I must say I didn’t really enjoy. However I’m willing to give this a try, to finally see what all the fuss was about when it was first released.

Available from: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones

Reviews : Goodreads

Book Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist 

Author: Jessie Burton 

 

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Another gift from a special someone. This book was brought to my attention in a book haul by Books and Quills a few months ago and i had to wait patiently for it to be released! I won’t lie… The cover illustration  of the miniature house  and the promised secrets of the miniaturist in the synopsis was what first drew me to this book. This is probably the first hardback I have acquired since the Harry Potter releases. I prefer my books to be as light as possible for my commutes, but I was way too excited to wait for the paperback edition.

Brief overview: Nella has recently moved from the countryside to join her new husband  (whom she barely knows) in the city of Amsterdam. Her  husband Johanne isn’t around much to begin their new relationship together and her  sister in law Marin  is very cold and unfriendly towards her.  To compensate for his absence both physically and emotionally, Johanne presents Nella with a  late wedding gift …a replica of their house. As the book progresses it is revealed why Nella’s husbands is so distant  and why Marin is so harsh towards Nella. Nella’s relationship with her husband (and to some extent with Marin) grows towards the end of the novel but it is for different reasons than you would expect.

I had high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint.  The reader goes on this new journey with Nella Oortman as she starts her new life in a big city.

Many online reviews I have read describe The Miniaturist as beautifully written. It isn’t exactly my idea of beautifully written but I do love the J.B’s effortless writing style, it’s very thoughtful , clean and precise… and anyways …personally I’d  much rather precise than ‘beautiful’.

Jessie Burton definitely keeps you in suspense throughout the book. I wasn’t impressed with how Nella dealt with the situations  that were occurring,  but considering her background and the time period I’m not sure I would have done things any differently. I would’ve appreciated if occasionally the story was written from different perspectives to give the reader a little more insight  into the other characters e.g. Johannes, Otto, Jack, Frans, The Miniaturist. However having Nella as the only protagonist added to the straightforwardness of the story. And as I’ve said before I sure do love a good  straightforward story!!!

I loved the main storyline, just  so scandalous!!  At times I do feel Nella’s emotions were not explored thoroughly, which made her appear quite naïve, weak and a tad simple.

Overall I assumed the miniaturist would have a greater role in the story … (I’m sure i’m not the only one ),  but nevertheless I enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

Reviews: Goodreads

The Telegraph: Review

Charity pick of the month! #1 – The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

I love finding new books in charity shops. Not only do I feel excited about the possibility of finding a gem …. I’m both contributing towards a good cause (recycling and donating) and getting a bargain.

 

My first charity read on the blog will be The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey.

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Did i choose the book or did the book choose me?? Continue reading

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Book Review ( No spoilers)

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Book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Synopisis:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather— were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Why I chose this book:

After watching  a few booktubers a little while back I decided to give this book a try.  I quickly added it to my birthday wishlist… and *tah dah* it was in my hands on June 8th 🙂

My Thoughts:

Ransom Rigg’s style of writing was very easy to follow which I very  much appreciated as I had so many  uni assignments and work  to complete at the time.

I thought the book was very unique and moreish. The book begins at a very good pace, introducing you to the characters and the settings. It’s not something I would usually read.  I remember getting half way through the book and asking myself why I was so surprised it was fantasy.   I’m not sure what I was expecting…  as the synopsis and other reviews I had read/ seen have strongly suggested an element of fantasy.

Unfortunately, I did not connect with the main character Jacob or any of the other characters.  I felt the whole misfit character was a little artificial and forced. Throughout the book  the author emotionally prepared us for the ending by emphasising how much Jacob  feels he does not connect with anyone in his life, (apart from his grandfather of course), therefore when I got to the end I wasn’t too surprised with Jacob’s decision. I also found Jacob’s relationship with his grandfathers ex-girlfriend quite disturbing. It just didn’t have to happen.

I doubt I will be reading the sequel. As much as I mildly enjoyed this book and read it to the very end,  I’m not a fan of fantasy style books and I did not connect with any of the characters. However I will be watching the film when it is released 🙂

Would I Recommend?: I would recommend this book to those  who  enjoy the YA fantasy genre and are looking for a light read.

Stars: 2.5 out 5. – It was ok

Buy:

Amazon

Book Depository

Reviews:

Goodreads