Let’s talk books, yeah?
I just wanted to go over some of the books I recently read.
Just some book background: I read a lot of YA. And by a lot, I mean that’s almost all I read. I’m trying to diversify my tastes, but I just met a friend (hi Chelsey!) who’s also a lover of YA and so we just keep exchanging books back and forth. So my reviews/commentary on books will focus a lot on YA, cause that’s what I read a lot of.
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
I just finished Richelle Mead’s Shadow Kiss which is the third in the Vampire Academy series. For Rose Hathaway, everything seems out of kilter. Ever since she made her first Strigoi kills, a dark shadow has been creeping over her. Looming in the background, too, is another realization: If she follows her forbidden love for guardian Dimitri Belikov, she might lose her best friend forever. And these sleep-shaking worries couldn’t have come at a worse time. The immortal unloving are prowling everywhere, famished for vengeance against her. An adrenaline-laced episode of the teen pop favorite Vampire Academy. From Goodreads.
While I didn’t love this one as much as the 2nd one (I gave the 2nd one 4/5 stars), things definitely got more heated in this book. First a disclaimer, I find Rose, the protagonist, extremely annoying. She’s loud, whiny, a self-proclaimed smartypants and expects the world to fall down at her feet. She epitomizes the teenage angst that I suppose many people associate with YA, which is one of the reasons why I would be embarrassed of reading it. But now I don’t care. The writing is also something if a weak spot. Mead isn’t the best writer out there, and there are lots of instances of typesetting errors and others, which take away from the clarity of the writing. I also didn’t enjoy the excessive swearing, which at times, just felt like it was inserted to add to the ‘angst’.
You might be wondering, well if you dislike so much, why are you reading the book? I don’t know, although I still keep reading! The stories are engaging (the second being my favourite so far) and the characters (other than Rose) amusing to follow. The romance didn’t take long to start in the first one, but did pick up speed, although it has been resting in a “I-love-you-but-I-know-I-can’t-have-you” place for the main couple. But things finally pick up in this one, romance wise, although the ending makes the couple are torn apart (again).
One of the things I liked the most about this book was the relationship between Lissa and Rose, which has always seemed sort of complicated to me. Mead had alluded to the complications of Rose living her life out for Lissa before, but this is the book where we are really hit with the consequences of this choice as Rose keeps taking a backseat to keep Lissa safe and happy.
Overall: 3.5/5 stars
Insatiable by Meg Cabot
I recently reread this as it came out in paperback, and in anticipation of the sequel: Overbite.
Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.
But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.
Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die. (Not that you’re going to believe her. No one ever does.)
But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It’s a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.
The problem is, Lucien’s already dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.
And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.
Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future. . . .
If she even has one. From Goodreads.
Fans of Meg Cabot will recognize her humour and writing style in this vampire love story, which is loosely based on Stoker’s Dracula. There’s lots of comedic moments, especially in forms of Twilight parodies, even though you wouldn’t expect it. Meena is a strong protagonist, like all of Cabot’s protagonist and makes you root for her from start to finish.
The hot, brooding vampire- Lucien- isn’t my favourite character. He’s sort of an Edward and falls into the “I love you so much and so I won’t hurt you, even though I’m a vampire/fallen angel/demon” camp found in so many YA novels lately. And while this isn’t YA, Lucien isn’t my favourite lead. In fact, I’m not even sure if he is the lead, since a Palatine Guard by the name of Alaric Wulf, barges into the story. Alaric is hilarious; him and Meena (and Jon, Meena’s brother) are constantly fighting, even though Alaric can’t fight his attraction for her.
The ending seems a bit downplayed, only to turn creepy right near the end. Cabot leaves off on such a note, which will make fans eager for the sequel. I, for one, can’t wait!
Overall: 4.5/5 stars
The Help by Katheyn Stockett
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. From Goodreads.
The Help came to me with high praises and recommendations and I eagerly began it, planning to be blown away. I wasn’t. The story was interesting and so was the setup. The characters, while stock and stereotypical, did manage to hold my attention for most of the book. But I just didn’t feel it.
I found Miss. Skeeter’s character to be flat and boring. I kept waiting to connect with her, on some level, but I couldn’t. What was more, I kept waiting for her to grow and evolve, to connect with The Help, but she didn’t. She continued to march along the project, for her own cause and there was no ‘aha!’ moment or wow climax.
With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Abileen and Minny’s chapters. They were both easy to relate to and sympathise with, with their voices strong and passionate. Their stories and how they interacted with the women they served was also an interesting part of the story, yet I felt that more could have been added.
All in all, I walked away from this story wanting more. More story, more passion (from Miss Skeeter), more detail.
Overall: 3.5/5 stars
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
A sensation across Europe—millions of copies sold. A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue. It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder. It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves. It’s a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of them forced to face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives. From Goodreads.
Again, Larsson came heavily recommended, especially since the iconic Penguin cover was everywhere! On the bus, on websites, in forums, etc. The story didn’t initially interest me, but when I saw a girl in my Publishing class reading the sequel, she recommended it to me. I put it on hold, not knowing when I would get it. Then, when I was in Chapters one day, it was on sale for $13 so I bought it.
This review isn’t a positive one, so I’ll keep it short. I didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand what the hype and the drama was about. I came to this book after a lot of hype, so maybe it was the timing of when I started, which is definitely a factor in how one can interpret things. I had heard so many amazing things that my expectations were that high.
But as I began and kept reading, I found myself constantly flipping to the back, where I was told “Millions of copies had been sold!”. So I kept pushing myself: it has to get better.
Classmates assured me it would pick up soon and also warned me about the violence. I kept reading, hoping it would get better. Soon, I found myself in the middle of the massive book block that the book is, annoyed that the main hero and heroine still hadn’t met up and the mystery was still under wraps. The book does take a long time to start, what with a long back story of both characters, and an equally long court case, but there is no payoff.
The ending wasn’t surprising, it was something that I expected by the time I (finally) got to the end. The writing was poor and lacked clarity. And the violence? Gratuitous and disgusting.
I don’t personally think books should have ratings, but this one that could have benefited from one. There are only a few scenes, but they are enough to jar you and leave you horrified. I understand that there is a back story here, with Larsson and the gang rape he saw, but a lot of the violence and swearing in this book served no purpose.
Thanks for reading!