Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Gone Girl

gone-girlAwh man. Awh man. THIS BOOK.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

I was recommended this book a few weeks ago by Dave. He knows I read a lot, although I’m sure he despairs of the majority of awful YA fiction I read, but generally I’ll take any recommendation from him quite seriously. Except the Time Traveller’s Wife. THAT BOOK. I have many ranty feelings about it. That’s a post for another day.

Anyways. Gone Girl.
Amy and Nick are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. It’s the morning of. Pancakes are made. Loving greetings exchanged. Presents are being wrapped, dinner reservations made, and when Nick comes home from work, he finds Amy… not there.

As the police investigate, it becomes clear that Nick is hiding something – lying, evading questions, acting inappropriately and certainly marital relations were at an all time low. Interspersed with excerpts from his missing wife’s diary, it becomes clear that things are not how they seem. But is he a killer?

Well, this is the question which the book throws at you. But it’s not the only question. There are approximately a million more. And then some more after that. And the book flies through twists and turns and punches and holds nothing back so that reading it is an exercise in containing your shouted reactions, because the people on the train would look at you funny.

The best word I can come up with to describe this book is twisty. It’s dark, and it’s twisted, and the story is twisted, and the plot flies through a myriad of twists until you don’t know what’s up and what’s down and what’s true and what’s false any more.

It is incredible. It is a masterpiece. I’ve already gotten Flynn’s other two novels, and I’m hoping they’re just as good.

FIVE STARS. MAYBE EVEN SIX.
*****(*)

Thoroughly recommended. You should definitely read this book.
Also, I’m now re-evaluating all of my relationships, friends and family to wonder if I know them as well as I think I do. That is what this book did to me!

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The Declaration

Once again, a book which I came to know about through Sinéad.
It doesn’t hurt that we have similar taste in pretty much everything (except maths, blehhh), so we can easily recommend things to each other.

The Declaration, Gemma Malley

The year is 2140. Scientists have invented a drug called Longevity, which cures all diseases and effectively evades death.
Naturally, with the absence of death, a population crisis was not long behind, leading to the signing of The Declaration, which outlaws procreation unless you Opt Out.

Anna is a Surplus – a child who should never have been born, surplus to requirements and forced to Know Her Place and learn at Grange Hall how to serve the Legals who are allowed to exist. She hates her parents for creating her and condemning her to this stolen life.

That is, until Peter appears at Grange Hall and tells her that her parents love her, and want her, and that she can escape with him and live a life beyond the constraints of being a Surplus.

And, naturally, adventures ensue.

It’s your typical dystopian fantasy – very similar to Uglies or Delirum. Teenage girl thinks ‘this is how the world should be’ until mysterious stranger shows up, changes world view, and incites escape attempt.

I still enjoyed it, though. The thing about dystopia is that the different reasons for how the world is the way it is can be as interesting as the human interest story at the forefront of the novel. The worldbuilding is just as important as the primary action/escape. And The Declaration succeeds in this. I’m curious about the declaration, who signed it, when it came in, how people accepted it, what other countries have done, how the rebels exist, how they continue to live, what drives people to still procreate, and all of these interesting little things.

I finished The Declaration in a little under a day and will read the second and third books in the trilogy shortly. It’s nothing mind-bending, and hasn’t stuck in my head like other books I’ve read recently, but it’s certainly worth the read, and I’ll finish the trilogy without much complaint if it stays at the same standard.
Four Stars!
****

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Truly, Madly, Deadly

Once again, a book recommended by Sinéad, I started Truly, Madly, Deadly one night at about eleven, and finished it that morning at about three.

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

The tagline on this book reads ‘She thought it was an accident. She was wrong’.

Basically, Sawyer Dodd, all-around amazing girl with the all-around amazing boyfriend, has suffered a tragic loss. Her all-star boyfriend Kevin has just been killed in a single car drink-driving accident.

Devastated by the loss, naturally, she can’t help but feel a little relieved because, you see, Kevin was not as wholesome as he appeared.
But when a note appears in Sawyer’s locker with a newspaper clipping and the message ‘you’re welcome’, well. That’s when things get spooky.

Because, you see, someone is now following Sawyer’s movements, and it seems she can do nothing without being seen. And when more inexplicable ‘things’ start happening, paranoia naturally sets in.

Is it the lonely guy? The police officer? The principal? The friendly transfer student?

Sawyer doesn’t know. And neither do we. But I sure enjoyed finding out. This book crashed through high-octane stalking and wound up in a thrilling finish that left me a little shell-shocked and thoroughly satisfied.

Of course, with mysteries like this, you can’t give too much away, so I’ll just say read it. It’s definitely worth the time.

I’m sure I had some complaints, but I can’t remember them right now.
I’ll give it four stars, anyways.
****

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Fairy Tales

Land of stories: The Enchantress Returns, Chris Colfer
&
The School for Good and Evil, Soman Chainani

These two books are grouped together because they both deal with twists on the classic fairy tale.
In The Land of Stories (which is the second in a trilogy, by the way, the first is mentioned in this post, in which I gave it two stars), twins Alex and Conner are magically transported back to the Land of Stories, which is Fairy Tale World, only it’s been, like, ten years since the classic fairy tales happened, and everyone has grown up. Not to ruin the story of the first one, but basically they have adventures, and there are revelations, and it’s all a rollicking good time. I have the exact same issue with this as the first book, though. It’s just not done as well as it could have been. I mean, the idea is a cracking one, but clearly he’s not the only person to have had it. The entire tv show Once Upon a Time is based on fairy tale characters after their fairy tale has ended. But it’s just not pulled off as well as it could have been, plus the ending of this book had me staring at the page going ‘WHAT? NONO, that would never happen.’
Two stars for this, too.
**

In The School for Good and Evil, two girls from a nice village beyond the forest are taken to a set of twin schools, one for good and one for evil. Except the girl who does good things for everyone, dresses in pink and is generally the very epitome of a fairytale princess gets put in the school for evil, and her friend who dresses in black, hates people and generally is incredibly misanthropic gets put in the school for good.
Then they both get put into their lessons, like beautification/uglification, other heroic and princessly skills.
They both try to get into the ‘correct’ school (or is it the correct one?) and get home, all the while investigating the mystery of the school master and the magical silver pen which I forget the name of… look, I’m not doing a really good job of selling this, but I actually really enjoyed this book.
It was a far more interesting twist on the fairy tale than I would have thought it would be, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My only complaints were that it was very obviously a children’s book, and that’s not really a complaint, because I knew that, and that it ended quite abruptly. I would have liked a little follow up to the climax!
Three stars!
***

In comparison to each other, I think Chainani is the clear winner here. A much better book, much stronger, much more enjoyable, easier to read and generally just much better. If you have to pick one, read The School for Good and Evil. But if you have time, sure read all three, they were entertaining enough!

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Sonatina

Although I brought my clarinet home with me the last time I came back to London, which was six weeks ago, I haven’t really been playing all that much. Each time I’ve been practising, I’ve picked a different book up, and seen which movements I know how to play. While I can sight-read most of them, it’s much easier when you have the melody in your head and the memory in your fingers because you’ve played it before.
This piece was one of my grade 8 exam pieces, and is one of very few of the books of music that I can (or could) play proficiently the entire way through. Most of the time I can only play one or two movements of any particular work, but I can play this entire sonatina.

I had forgotten, however, how bloody tiring it is to play an entire sonatina. It’s only eight and a half minutes long, or something like that, but the breathwork and fingerwork involved in getting through the whole thing (plus incessant squinting to see the accidentals) meant that by the time I was finished, I was decidedly tired, and I didn’t sound half as good as this recording.
Still, though, I did enjoy it, and will work on polishing it up to performance standard over the coming weeks and months.

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Earth, Wind and Fire

It’s the 21st night of September. There’s no way I wasn’t going to post this.
Such a catchy tune!

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