Bookworm #3 – The Past Lives, Grey Areas and Sexual Tension Edition

15th November 2013 4 comments

When was the last time I did a Bookworm feature? I’ve actually been reading a few books – not enough in my opinion but I’ve been so busy with uni it’s been hard. So I’ll just do the favourites of the books that I’ve been reading these past few months.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Goodreads Link)

Life after Life - Kate Atkinson

Author: Kate Atkinson
Title: Life After Life
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Purchase: Book Depository, Amazon
Rating: 4/5
Summary:  What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely love the cover of the book – I’m glad that Australia got this edition rather than the other one because I think this one captures the essence of the book perfectly.

This book is simply amazing. It explores the concepts of ‘past lives’ and ‘renewal’, with a wonderful lead character and beautiful writing. We are introduced to Ursula, who was not even given the chance to be Christened with her name, when she dies. But she returns. And dies again. With each subsequent life, she lives longer and we begin to see a very special child. The initial retellings of Ursula’s life could have turned out monotonous, but Kate Atkinson manages to avoid that because you want to see what happens to Ursula in her next life – what small, but significant decision that would impact her life.

I loved the characters. And I definitely loved unity of the family relationships, I’m a sucker for those.

Vicious by Victoria Schwab (GoodReads Link)

Author: Victoria Schwab
Title: Vicious
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy
Purchase: Book Depository, Amazon
Rating:  – 5/5
Summary: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

My Thoughts:

STOP EVERYTHING AND READ THIS BOOK.

This is probably one of my favourite books of 2013. Incredibly clever, beautifully written with ambiguous morals – what is not to love about this book? I had nearly written this book off when I noticed the ‘Young Adult’ tag (not that I don’t read ‘YA’ books anymore, but I’m wary) –  I personally  don’t think it is actually YA.

The book’s structure is interesting – jumping from present and past tense. It surprisingly was not at all distracting and the transitions back and forth were extremely smooth – the book flowed very well. There was never a dull moment.

As I previously alluded – there are no ‘heroes’ in this book. No good vs bad. And this is what I absolutely loved about the book – it didn’t try and box characters into the stereotypes. Victoria Schwab did a superb job on the characters and fleshing them out. I loved Victor and his gang!

“Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human”

Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre (GoodReads Link)

Author: A.A. Aguirre
Title: Bronze Gods (Apparatus Infernum #1)
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Steampunk
Purchase: Book Depository, Amazon
Rating:  –  4.5/5
Summary: Hy Breasil is grimmer than it used to be.

Before the Architect closed the door, there were regular crossings, and a great war decimated both humans and Ferishers. The native fae who refused to treat with the invaders faded; their bodies withered and died, stranding them as hungry, angry spirits that haunt the countryside.

That means there’s always trouble brewing in Dorstaad.

Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work for the Criminal Investigation Department, keeping citizens safe from things that go bump in the night. He’s a hardboiled cynic with an uncanny sixth sense; she’s determined to justify her promotion as the first female detective in her division. Together, they’re trying to keep a black tide from drowning the city.

But when the second body surfaces, murdered with the same type of infernal device, the entire CID must face the truth. There’s a madman on the loose, twining magic and blood… and only Mikani and Ritsuko can unravel the intricate, lethal conspiracy before the Royale killer completes his macabre plan, unleashing old, forbidden magic on an unsuspecting populace. If the maniac succeeds, it could mean the end of everything…

My Thoughts:

Okay, I was taking a dig at the book when I labelled this the ‘sexual tension’ book. There is unresolved sexual tension however A.A. Aguirre creates two brilliant characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and root for!

Ritsuko and Mikani begin as co-workers and friends – I love watching their interaction. They somewhat remind me of Castle and Beckett from the ABC TV series, Castle; which would certainly explain why I loved their relationship so much. Just like the latter mentioned characters, their romance is a subtle and slow one – I’m eagerly waiting the next book to see if they will finally take the plunge.

But the book isn’t a romance one – there have been murders and Ritsuko and Mikani are forced to figure out who the murderer is (again, reminds me of Castle, haha!). The world-building is flawless and I loved the world very much. A combination of steampunk, noir and faeries? Count me in!

Bookworm #1

24th February 2013 4 comments

I rarely have time to read anymore because of uni/studying but I really want to make an effort for I love reading and writing has always been a passion of mine. So in an attempt to get myself reading more often these days, I’m going to try and track my reading progress through my blog 🙂 My goal each month is to read 2 books – and that is somewhat pushing it as I have loads of pharmacy articles to read and memorize. They honestly love piling those on us, urgh. I’m normally stuck reading those on my way to train instead of a book 🙁

So every fortnightly or monthly on a Sunday, I’ll be reviewing the books that I’ve read. I don’t foresee this going well but I’m going to do my best 😀

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (Goodreads Link)

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Author: Jojo Moyes
Title: The Girl You Left Behind
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Rating:  – 5/5
Summary:  What happened to the girl you left behind?

In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.

My Thoughts:

The summary piqued my interest, as it was a parallel book – something that after reading ‘Bitter Greens by Kate Forysth’ (my favourite book of 2012) I was very much interested in seeing as a narrative device.

It was a little slow at the beginning but right after the first chapter, I absolutely adored Sophie Lefevre. I mean a woman who disguises a pig as a baby right under the Kommandant while they were being accused of ‘harbouring livestock’ is my kind of woman. As Sophie’s tale drew on, I felt my heart ache at all the troubles she experienced. Set in the early 20th century, it deals with what small towns and what women in France had to deal with during WWII. I quickly devoured each word, until we reached a cliff-hanger and are met with another character, the female lead from the present, Liv.

Part 2 of the story was a little disorientating at first, for I had become invested in Sophie’s story. I had expected to not like Liv, a recent widower but her story was just as equally compelling as Sophie’s had been. Through her, and the painting, we are allowed glimpses of what happened to Sophie. But she doesn’t serve as just a vessel to continue Sophie’s story – no, I found the aching parallels between her life and Sophie’s very cleverly done.

As the story progressed, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting and hoping that both characters would receive their happily ever after. It was a utterly beautiful, compelling novel that I pretty much read in one day.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (GoodReads Link)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Author: Jojo Moyes
Title: Me Before You
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Rating:  – 5/5
Summary: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Quote: “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

My Thoughts:

After reading her previous book, I went looking for other books by the same author. My next book of choice was ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes.

Let me state beforehand that this isn’t a ‘chickflick’, despite what the cover looks like and the summary. It deals with a controversial matter which I won’t state what it is for it may spoil the book. It is a love story though that’s not the focus of the story. It’s more of a coming of age book, an inspirational book.

I found myself captured by this book as well. Lou, the main character, is funny and witty. Will, the male lead, is bitter and sarcastic though understandably due to his condition – he eventually does become quite loveable. I am glad that I didn’t read too much into the reviews or the ending, for I wouldn’t have read the book if I did. And that would have been completely stupid of me 🙂 Because the characters of this book, much like ‘The Girl You Left Behind’ left my heart aching, laughing and smiling. I absolutely loved this book and kept looking at how much I had to go because I didn’t want it to end.

The ending of the book inspired me, as much as it was bittersweet – it left me wanting to widen my horizons and go explore the world.

Questions

The questions are somewhat related to the issues brought up on the book – without spoiling too much 😉

 

  1. What was the last book you read?
  2. What is your most important item that you own and why?
  3. If you knew that your life was going to be changed and that your quality of life was going to be affected, what would you like to do beforehand?

 

Posted Under: 5-stars, books, on my bookshelf

Recent Posts