Monthly Archives: September 2014

Book #120 – Clariel

2014-09-25 19.58.56I have been anticipating the release of this book since about 2009, when I realised that Nix intended on writing more Old Kingdom stories.
Last year, I was lucky enough to obtain a sneaklet of the first two chapters of the book, at another Garth Nix event, which I posted about here. The official publication date of Clariel is October 2nd, but I was lucky enough to be able to pick up a copy at a book signing event in Dublin, so I had Clariel in my hands on September 25th, and had finished it by September 26th. This was probably my most anticipated book of the year, and so it’s probably also the fastest I’ve reviewed a book all year, too.

Clariel – Garth Nix

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

2014-09-25 18.31.20Unusually for a review, since I normally have ebooks, I’ve got a few points about the actual print edition of this book. It’s a HotKey trade paperback, meaning that there’s been a change in publisher from the first three Old Kingdom books, which were published by Harper Collins. That’s not the worst in the world, because the cover design for this edition was based on the original Sabriel cover design, even down to the spot-laminated Charter Marks. It’s very cool-looking, although the charter marks aren’t on the back cover, and they don’t reach the top or bottom of the front cover. Even still, though, it’s a very good-looking book.
I was very surprised that the first edition is a trade paperback – it’s taller than either my Lirael or Abhorsen first-edition hardbacks, and taller by far than Sabriel or Across the Wall, both of which I have in paperback. I appreciate the continuity in cover design, though, even if there are minor differences in height and format.
2014-09-27 22.37.35

As for the story itself – I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clariel, as most people know well, tells the origin story of a, quite frankly terrifying, character from the Old Kingdom trilogy, one which was hinted (by Mogget) to have quite the backstory. The book starts off with seventeen(not sixteen, as the blurb says)-year-old Clariel in the royal city of Belisaere, six hundred years before the Old Kingdom trilogy. It’s a bustling, thriving, really different city to what we’ve seen in the Old Kingdom – before the Interregnum and the fall of the Regency, without broken Charter Stones all around the land and in a Kingdom where a Dead thing hasn’t been seen in years, it’s a hugely different (and hugely interesting) look at the Old Kingdom, with a, quite frankly, disagreeable protagonist.
Clariel is headstrong, independent, possibly asexual, and really interesting to read about, but she’s also a really cantankerous and disagreeable teenage girl. Having been forced to move away from my home when I was a teenager, I can understand this, and it makes her all the more real to relate to.

Living in Belisaere quickly becomes dangerous for Clariel, and we get to see more of the Old Kingdom again as Clariel begins on the path which will lead her to becoming the character we’ve met before. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say more than that.

I loved the extension of the world in Clariel, and I loved the character of Clariel, too. I really enjoyed learning more about Free Magic, about the Abhorsens and about what Belisaere was like as a thriving city, before the ruin of the Interregnum.
My only disappointment with the book was that it didn’t go far enough – we saw only one episode in Clariel’s life, and although it’s clear where she’s going (since we know the endpoint), I really would have liked to see how Clariel continued along the path she took the first steps on in this novel.

It’s for this reason that I don’t feel like I can give Clariel the same all-star rating that the Old Kingdom trilogy gets from me. Yes, it’s definitely one of my favourite books this year, and yes I thoroughly recommend it. From any other author I’d be giving it a rave review, but I think in this instance that I was just a tiny bit disappointed in Nix. I know it’s not any fun to tell the whole story, you have to let the reader guess some things, but I would’ve liked to see Clariel take one or two more steps along the path we know she takes.
I also have a complaint about the sub-title of the book, but enumerating that would be really too much of a spoiler. Suffice it to say that something I would’ve expected to come to pass from what I had read thus far did not do so, and I was a little surprised.

Still a wonderful book, and a gorgeous look at the earlier years of the Old Kingdom.
Four Stars
****

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Book #96 – Lexicon

lexicon-pb-u110I picked this book up, together with The Girl with all the Gifts, a few months ago, and read it while I was home over the summer – the blurb intrigued me so much that day that I bought it, even though I had gone in with the intention of picking up a fantasy book. Still, though, I don’t regret my decision!

Lexicon – Max Barry

 

Sticks and stones break bones.

Words kill.

They recruited Emily from the streets. They said it was because she’s good with words.

They’ll live to regret it.

Wil survived something he shouldn’t have. But he doesn’t remember it.

Now they’re after him and he doesn’t know why.

There’s a word, they say. It shouldn’t have got out. But it did.

And they want it back…

I knew very little about this book before I went into it. I saw it in the shop, I picked it up, I read it a few weeks later. I found the premise hugely original – the idea that words could be used like a sort of hypnosis, taking the art of coercion to new levels.

Lexicon was the sort of book which unfolds as you read it, with nothing being revealed until it has to be. There were a few little twists which I saw coming, and others which I didn’t – the best kind of book, I think.
Lexicon was at once both a sweeping examination of the human condition and a smaller love story, entwined together, jumping between time spans and sweeping me up into the story of the master word, what it did, and how much people were willing to do to get to it.
I devoured this book in only two days, and would happily recommend it.

Four stars
****

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Book #73 – The Shining Girls

51DDOYzuh3LAround Christmas, the Shining Girls was one of those books which was plastered on posters in and around all the train stations I was going through on a daily basis, so it made it onto my to-read list.
It took me a few months to get hold of it, though, and a few more to actually get to reading it. I started it, then got distracted by other books and took several weeks to come back and actually put in the time to finish it. According to my Goodreads account, I started reading The Shining Girls on May 23, but didn’t finish it until June 27. Considering it normally takes me three to four days to read a book, that fact is telling.

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE HUNTS THE KILLER WHO SHOULDN’T EXIST.

The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.
Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.
At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.
Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .

I enjoyed the Shining Girls. It’s a weird and twisty crime novel, hugely complicated by the fact that the serial killer possesses a house which allows him to time travel – but also forces him to time travel, not letting him rest until he completes the circle of killing his ‘Shining Girls’, scattered through time, with a chain of links between them. Kirby Mazrachi, together with a cranky, compelling, sports reporter Dan Velasquez, start to investigate not only her own attack, but the others which seem to be – impossibly – connected.

I had several problems, though, with this book. The first, and most obvious, to me, was that it was slow to start. As I mentioned above, I started this book, then abandoned it in favour of many other books, and only came back to it a month later when I started to feel guilty. The beginning was in no way compelling, and didn’t suck me in at all, which I find really disappointing in a book.
As well as this, I found the biggest plot device of the book – the house which opens onto different eras – to be really weak, and never properly fleshed out. I’m okay with things not being explained, as long as it’s implied that there’s solid world-building behind it. I really didn’t feel like that in this book.
And lastly, I found the characters a little grating as well, and not very believable. Kirby, understandably, is fixated on finding the guy who tried to kill her, but that’s pretty much her only character trait. Dan was really interesting, and I liked him a lot, but the central character of any murder novel, the killer, Harper, has very little going on. With a manic house and several murders strewn across years, from Depression-era Chicago to the modern-day, he should have been a complex and compelling character, but he was just a one-dimensional obsessive with a few trinkets and a limp.

For all my complaints, it was a relatively inoffensive book – while not in any way compelling, it was interesting, and I did read the whole thing, despite having abandoned it. I enjoyed the shining girls being strewn across times and places, and the intricacies of travelling between times to kill them. I did enjoy this book, it was by no means bad, but it could have been great, and I felt like it failed a little to live up to its potential.

Three Stars
***

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Books #93-95 – The Infernal Devices

InfernalDevicesAlthough this was the second trilogy of Cassandra Clare/Shadowhunter books I read, I’m reviewing it first, mostly because The Mortal Instruments is actually a hexalogy, so I’ll review all six books once I’ve read them all (although I’m not sure how you can justify a hexalogy, since everything was resolved in the first trilogy of books. But I’m getting off topic).
The Infernal Devices is a trilogy of books by Cassandra Clare which is set in Victorian London, and is set in her alternate reality where ‘Shadowhunters’, demon hunters blessed by the angels, fight to keep the world safe.
As I’ve said, these were actually the fourth, fifth, and sixth Shadowhunter books that I’ve read, so I was pretty familiar with the lore. Plus, I went through a period of angel/nephilim interest when it was really big in YA fiction, so I’m pretty familiar with angelic lore. I did actually chuckle a little at the fact that the Shadowhunters’ powers came from the angel Raziel, who was the main villain in LA Weatherly’s Angel trilogy. But that, again, is off topic.
So, review proper!

Clockwork Angel
Clockwork Prince
Clockwork Princess – Cassandra Clare

As I’ve mentioned, The Infernal Devices is a Victorian steampunk trilogy with added demon hunting. In that way, it’s a little more interesting than the first three Mortal Instruments – you know, automatons which can’t be killed just tick a box for me. As well as that, I really enjoy books which are set in older English times, in which the characters are far more concerned with propriety than nowadays, so that was a thumbs up for me.
I was looking forward to a fast-moving, action-driven trilogy with some character drama thrown in along the way, and I wasn’t disappointed.

What did disappoint me, though (and I know this doesn’t make sense without having reviewed the Mortal Instruments, but I don’t want to split the six books in case they are all properly interconnected) was that the character archetypes just seemed so… already done.
I understand that most stories need an archetype, but the Infernal Devices set up the exact same three main characters as the Mortal Instruments – the girl who’s new to the world and apparently impossible to ignore, the boy with the tortured past who blows hot and cold, and the gentle, reliable, sweet and surprisingly powerful alternative. And then the love triangle between the three of them. It was just so… already done.

That was the main reason which turned two four-star books into two three-star books, for me. It felt a lot like I was reading another story about the characters from the first three Clare books I had read. And, you know, if I wanted to read three more books about them, I would have gone straight on to read City of Lost Souls. I understand that, as the ancestors of the characters in The Mortal Instruments, it would be expected that they would be somewhat similar, but still, it was disappointing.

For the first two books of the trilogy, while the action of the story really intrigued me, and I was totally caught up in the wonder of who and what Tessa was, how she had gotten her powers, what was going to happen to the automaton army, Tessa’s brother’s situation and all the rest of it, I was just disappointed in the love triangle to the fore of the character drama. I felt it had been done.

By the third book, though, the triangle was resolved in a way which I hadn’t expected, and I was actually really pleased with how it worked out.

On its own, this trilogy would’ve been a solid four stars the whole way through, and I would’ve happily recommended it. But, having read it immediately after I started The Mortal Instruments, it suffered much the way Trudi Canavan did, for me, in that I felt like I was reading a re-hashing of the same story for the most part. Unlike Canavan, though, Clare managed to save the end of the trilogy by coming to a totally different resolution which I thoroughly enjoyed – it even squeezed a few tears out of me – not that that’s hard. So, a solidly enjoyable trilogy, with a surprisingly good third installment which pushed the resolution far ahead of its preceding two books.

Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince
Three Stars
***

Clockwork Princess
Four Stars
****

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Books #98 and #100 – Just One Day/Just One Year

1003489_459333330828702_1494189768_nGayle Forman’s If I Stay is one of my favourite books, basically, ever, and Where She Went isn’t far behind, so her new duology of books was always going to be on my must-read list. Sinéad bought them before I did, so I waited until I was home to get my hands on them.

Over the first week, I think, that I was home, I read them both, and enjoyed them both immensely.

Just One Day
Just One Year – Gayle Forman

Far more than If I Stay, these two books are two sides of the same coin.

Just One Day

Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

and Just One Year

Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began….

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

These books are not a novel and a sequel, not at all. They’re two novels which are inextricably linked, and really, they should be read together.
I thoroughly enjoyed both novels – the romance was ‘meant to be’ without being cheesy, and the struggles they went through in the year following their magical one day felt real – the little coincidences between them were sweet, and the cast of supporting characters felt, if not quite three-dimensional, at least two-dimensional. The two books together paint one story of two people trying very hard to achieve the impossible, and find the other half of their heart, even when it seems like a ridiculously crazy thing to do.

Without ruining anything of the story, which I would happily recommend, the ending (of both books) felt a little like a lingering chord which hasn’t been resolved. You know where things are going, and certainly all the elements are there for you to make your own conclusions, but it feels a little cut off. I wasn’t particularly disappointed in this – it wasn’t left as a mystery or anything, just that we left our characters at the beginning of something new, something which could be left to the imagination. Lots of reviews, however, were pretty disappointed that there wasn’t something more concrete for them to hold on to.

I realised why this was today, actually, when I was looking for links for the GoodReads profiles of the two books. It turns out there’s a third installment – or, rather, a book number 2.5. Just One Night is an e-novella which was released last May.
I hadn’t realised this until today and, to be honest, I’m a little disgusted with it. I know lots of books have novellas which fit into the story, which add to or flesh out minor plot points. That’s nothing unusual.
However, what happened here is that the major resolution of both books has been siphoned off into a 40-page novella which costs, on Amazon, £2.48. That’s compared to £2.62 for Just One Day (weighing in at a hefty 385 pages) and £2.99 for Just One Year (shorter at 337 pages). I’m actually disgusted at this – I can’t believe such a cynical ploy. It’s really tainted my enjoyment of both books and, although I won’t change my rating for either book, I’m certainly hesitant to recommend either. I thought the ending was an artistic choice, a writing decision to let the reader imagine how things work out for Willem and Allyson, but from here, today, it looks more like a deliberate, cynical decision to tempt readers into shelling out for what should have been the conclusion to one or both books. I’m seriously disappointed.

Just One Day / Just One Year
Four Stars
****

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Books #97 and #101-104 The Sisterhood Series

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Full Series The Sisterhood series is one of those series of books which both my sisters and I all ready – so much so, that I’m not actually sure which books belong to whom in the series. The first four sisterhood books were a complete arc, four books, four girls, four summers, and they resolved (or so I thought) the YA series which I was so fond of (although I always felt that Lena got shafted with the same storyline four times). So I was surprised when, last year, having discovered GoodReads, I realised that there was a fifth sisterhood book. It’s set ten years after the fourth one, and it promised some drastic changes…

In any case, I’m starting at the end, when I should start at the beginning!
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

Girls in Pants
Forever in Blue
Sisterhood Everlasting – all by Ann Brashares.

The Sisterhood series follows four very different girls, who are the best of friends since birth. Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget were all born within seventeen days of each other, their mothers meeting at an aerobics class. The summer they all turned sixteen, the first they would ever spend apart, they found a pair of magic pants, which fit all four of them – from Tibby’s short stature to Lena’s classic Greek beauty, Carmen’s Latina ass to Bridget’s athletic build – not just fit them, but made them all look beautiful. Clearly a sign, the pants were what would hold the four of them together over their summer, passed between the girls like a magic bonding, a tangible sign of their sisterhood.
Over the first four sisterhood books, all of which are classed as YA fiction, we see the girls grow up, fall in love, have sex, make friends, lose friends, lose family members, gain family members, start college, find their callings, and stick closely to their September sisters.
The fourth book was published in 2007, when I was sixteen (although I was probably seventeen by the time I read it), and I considered the series done, a happy reminder of something my sisters and I shared, sitting in Sinéad’s bookcase. I enjoyed them all, although I considered Forever in Blue the weakest of the four, and would happily recommend them to anyone. I even had the first film on DVD, although I never managed to watch the second.

So I was surprised when, last year, I realised that there’s a fifth Sisterhood book. Called Sisterhood Everlasting, it’s set ten years after the fourth book, and the Septembers have grown apart. Living different lives, they’re called back together by Tibby sending them tickets to a holiday on the Greek island of Santorini, which played such a big part in their sisterhood before. But on their trip, the girls don’t realise that their lives will change forever.

Because it had been so long since I’d read the first four books, and I was home anyway, I read books 1-4 while I was home in Ireland during August. Sisterhood Everlasting, then, I had on my Kindle, and read on the plane home.

I’m not gonna go too much into the story of it, because I’m not keen on spoilers. Looking back completely neutrally, as far as plot and character development go, I should probably have given it a lower rating than I did. A few of the girls seem stuck in the same ruts that they’ve been in for the last thirteen years (for the LOVE OF GOD, Lena and Kostos) and poor Carmen gets shafted once again when it comes to romance, plus Bridget seems to be the same kind of madcap girl she was when she was sixteen, prone to running away as soon as things get tough. But, that said, perhaps people don’t really change that much from when they’re teenagers to when they’re nearly thirty – I’m not nearly thirty yet, so I am no authority on the subject.

At the time, I really enjoyed Sisterhood Everlasting. Looking back now, I could certainly pick holes in it, and make criticisms, but as an experience, catching up again with the Septembers (although very shortly after the last time I had read the first four books), learning what they had been through in the ten-year interim (turns out, not much…) and going through a tumultuous time when they found their sisterhood again, I thoroughly enjoyed it (and cried buckets).
As a standalone novel, perhaps Sisterhood Everlasting wouldn’t have gained such a high rating from me, but it certainly was a lovely, poignant, and beautiful addendum to a series which I thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger, and did again when I read it last month. Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending the Sisterhood to any of my friends, or my sisters (although they’ve obviously already read them).

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants
Four Stars
****

Forever in Blue
Three Stars
***

Sisterhood Everlasting
Four Stars
****

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Liebster Awards

liebster2-pagespeed-ce-fzvb3mebe_Because I am a terrible person, I was nominated for a Liebster award by the ever so kind Cumuloquoise last month, but I never actually got around to doing the challenge.

Then yesterday, I was nominated for another liebster award by the equally lovely Chilly Milly. So to assuage my feelings of guilt, I have two sets of questions to answer, and five blogs to nominate to pass on the award, but at least I’m actually doing it!

So the basic premise of the Liebster award is that it works like a sort of chain letter, allowing people to discover new blogs, with not very many followers, and acknowledging bloggers! You answer the questions set by your nominator, and set your own questions for your nominees.

The Rules are These:

  • You have to link back to the person who nominated you.
  • You must answer all 11 questions given to you by the person who nominated you.
  • After completing the questions, you must nominate at least 5 bloggers with under 200 followers and give them 11 questions of your choice.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the person who nominated you.
  • You must let your nominees know that they have been nominated and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.

So, question set number one comes from Cumuloquoise:

  1. Why did you decide to blog in the first place? I started blogging because I liked to write, because my diary didn’t have enough space in it, because I won a free domain and wanted to do something with it, and because I’m basically a massive narcissist and wanted to talk about my life. Very admirable reasons, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
  2. Name three of your pastimes or hobbies. My primary hobby is playing music – I’ve played since I was a very little girl, and still play in the Concert Band in my university. Unfortunately, they’re >still< on summer break, so it’s been a while since I’ve actually played anything. Hobby number two would be reading – I spent a fair whack of time commuting to college every day, which gives me ample time to read (although that does occasionally cause me to miss stops). Does blogging count as a hobby? I do that. If not, swimming – a lapsed hobby, which I’m planning to get back into this month.
  3. If you could interview anyone right now, who would it be and why? Awh man, uh, Hargreaves, to ask why his impact assessments are so rubbish (nerdy research interview ftw.)
  4. If you could interview anyone who has already died, who would it be and why? Interview questions are difficult. Errrrrrrr – Edward VIII, to ask him whether he knew the consequences of wanting to abdicate, and if he did, whether he would’ve done it anyways. Mostly because I watched The King’s Speech two weeks ago.
  5. Recommend a movie. And thus, you see what film I recommend – The King’s Speech. Very excellent.
  6. Recommend a book. Sabriel, by Garth Nix, or more widely his Old Kingdom trilogy. Still one of my favourite trilogies, and I am desperately awaiting the launch of Clariel.
  7. Recommend an album. Absolution by Muse – one of my favourite Muse albums!
  8. Recommend a Youtuber. MysteryGuitarMan, although I temper my recommendation with the fact that I don’t actually follow any youtubers.
  9. If you could cosplay as any character, who would it be and why? I think Sabriel! Who WOULDN’T want to be able to bring back the dead? But I don’t think I ever will – embroidered costume would be far too difficult.
  10. Who is your celebrity crush? Jennifer Lawrence, like half the world, for being amazing. Although, in terms of straight crush, currently Andrew Scott.
  11. What’s your favourite fandom? The Avatar/Legend of Korra fandom. Incredible series, with so much dedication and amazing skill behind it, and a fandom which is generally very friendly, enthusiastic and welcoming!

And question set number two from Chilly Milly:

  1. If you could convey a message to the people of your fellow generation, what would you say? Probably something along the lines of ‘Don’t listen to me, I don’t know any more than you do’.
  2. Of morals and principles, what is something you stand by steadfastly?
  3. What is it that you detest the most?
  4. What are some of your greatest literary loves? I don’t know if this is characters, authors, or books. So! Characters: Sabriel, Lirael, Mogget, Ethan Roberts, Arkarian, Rochelle Thallimar, Hanno Hath, Pinpin Hath, Mumpo Inch, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger. Also Mia Hall and Adam Wilde. Authors: Garth Nix, Marianne Curley, William Nicholson, Gayle Forman, Dorothy Koomson, Lauren Oliver, Jaclyn Moriarty, Malorie Blackman. Books: the Old Kingdom trilogy, the Guardians of Time trilogy, the Wind on Fire trilogy, My Best Friend’s Girl, My Sister’s Keeper, If I Stay, Where She Went, the Brookfield/Ashbury books, the Redwall books,  Harry Potter, Noughts and Crosses (all books), The Night Watch (series)… I could go on, here.
  5. When in need of an escape, where do you seek solace? My bedroom, generally. I don’t often feel the need to escape, but I find most things can be solved by sleep (the human equivalent of turning it off and on again).
  6. What is your opinion on the ways social media has influenced our modern day society? Social media has blurred the line between what’s public and what’s private – the relative merit or demerit of that is up to individuals. Personally, as someone who lives in a different country to half her family and all her college friends, I find it’s a magnificent tool for keeping in touch, and keeping up to date on the lives of those you might have an interest in their wellbeing without actually bothering to actively seek them out and ask them.
  7. What is a quote that you love most? Does the Walker choose the Path, or the Path the Walker? – The Book of the Dead, from Sabriel, by Garth Nix.
  8. If you could make one irrefutable change in the world today, what would it be? I’d bring Ireland and England much closer together. Purely selfish, but God, it would make my life much nicer.
  9. What is your favorite sound in the world? The voices of my sisters and my boyfriend.
  10. What is a characteristic you praise the most in a person? Hard work and determination. Even without success, trying at something is always worth praise.
  11. What is a painting that captures your heart and soul the most? Cliché, but The Starry Night, by van Gogh.

My nominees are as follows:

Emily Rose, Makeup & Beauty by Amy, Dapper, Irish and Butch, The Book Spa and Chitownbooks

And my questions are thus (assume, for any where appropriate, that it is followed by ‘and why’):

  1.  What’s your favourite colour?
  2. If you could invite anybody (alive or dead) to dinner with your family, who would it be?
  3. Who’s your favourite author?
  4. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  5. What’s your favourite book cover?
  6. What are your top 3 most-visited websites?
  7. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  8. What are your three desert-island must-haves [you can’t have a mirror, and assume survival is already provided for]?
  9. What is one thing you wish you knew more about?
  10. If you didn’t do what you do now (school/college/work-wise) what would you do instead?
  11. What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?

 

That’s it! Have fun!

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Book #4 – The Husband’s Secret

secretReaching back all the way into the ether, to book #4 of this year, a Christmas present from a good friend of mine, we come to The Husband’s Secret.

Having seen it in bookshops in the leadup to Christmas, the evocative butterfly in the jar on the front, combined with the tantalizing tagline, led me to putting it on my ‘I Want’ list, and I was fortunate enough to receive. The first Liane Moriarty book that I had read, to the best of my knowledge, it certainly won’t be the last.

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

From Goodreads:

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. A little scandalous, a little unbelievable at times, certainly pushing the boundaries of coincidence, but throughout the day or two it took me to read it, I was certainly taken on a ride through the lives of three Australian women.
I read a lot of books of this flavour, the Picoults, the Chamberlains, the Susan Lewis – women’s fiction with a twist of the melodramatic, a huge, life-changing event and the moral dilemmas which follow.
This book was certainly not the best of that bent that I’ve ever read – certainly Picoult at her peak and Chamberlain at her best would blow Moriarty out of the water, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. It was certainly more interesting than some of Picoult’s earlier offerings, which hadn’t quite developed the intense saturation of issues which keeps me so gripped.

The Husband’s Secret isn’t a book which would make it on to my favourites list, and maybe not even a book which I would read again, but I would happily recommend it to another, in that it was a solidly written book with a salacious twist of scandal and moral dilemma in it. I found the characters difficult to like at times, and felt that the ending was a little ~too~ unbelievable, particularly the nugget of information thrown in at the end, but still happily give this book a solid rating.

Three Stars
***

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