Wednesday, 12 February 2014

This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl - Esther Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl (2014)

5 stars

I preordered this book as soon as John Green mentioned it in a video and at first I was wary about reading it, but after reading it I don't think this book will ever leave me.

This book is a compilation of words by and about Esther Earl, a girl famous in some internet circles for inspiring so many before she died of thyroid cancer at the age of sixteen in 2010. I don't pretend to know Esther, I joined the nerdfighter community a few months after she had already left it and I personally hate it when people pretend that they knew a person after they've died, but I think that many people who read this book, myself included, can't help but feel a connection to her. Her original works of fiction are at the end of the book and I found myself not wanting that portion to stop, it didn't feel like I was reading a story written by a 15 year old, but someone who had spent a mountain of time working on their own book. Reading a book about someone who knows they are dying is incredibly hard, but I would recommend this book to anyone because I think everyone can be touched by her words and her story.

The introductions are by John Green, author and Esther's friend, and Lori and Wayne Earl, Esther's parents. The first section of the book is about thirty pages of photos and childhood stories about Esther and her family written by her parents, then there is a brief summary of her medical journey. The main part of the book is a mixture of exerpts from Esther's journal and blog, entries by her parents from the CaringBridge page and exerpts from Skype conversations between her and her internet friends. The next to last section is letters from all her friends and family members from last year about how Esther touched their lives, and her father's eulogy from her funeral. The last fifty pages are original works of fiction that Esther had started but never got to finish.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Hollow City - Ransom Riggs (2014)

3 stars

My Aunty lent me this book as soon as she finished it because I had lent her the first one after I'd read it and although I enjoyed this book, I got the distinct feeling that the next one will be a lot better.

This book is told in the same way as the previous novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, from the perspective of Jacob and interspersed with many peculiar pictures from history that Ransom has collected himself or borrowed from other collectors. I enjoyed this book less than the first one I think because they were so focused on getting to one place the entire time that I thought it was a bit tedious at times, but I really enjoyed it whenever they ran into other peculiars and I'm excited to see how many more they will pick up in the next book. My favourite character was Bronwyn, I like how maternal and loving she is even though with her ability you think she'd be the opposite. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy with a bit of historical context.

The book starts with Jacob and the other peculiars rowing from their island to the mainland and then after realizing how many wights are after them hiding for a night. They then discover a loop that is full of peculiar animals that say that their Ymbryne, Miss Wren, is still alive and trying to help the other Ymbryne's in London. They also inform the children that Miss Peregrine only has two more days to get to another Ymbryne and change back before she'll never be able to again. They then leave the loop and head towards London and they eventually get there with the help of some Gypsies, but then they must find one of Miss Wren's pigeons to help them find her. They eventually catch a pigeon and get it to lead them into the loop in which Miss Wren is hiding and once there they find Miss Wren with a handful of other peculiar's she's saved. Once Miss Wren has convinced Miss Peregrine to turn back, it turns out to be her brother, a wight who also has the ability to turn into a bird just like his sister, and he informs them that he has them surrounded and has captured all the other peculiars that have sheltered them on the way and is going to steal their second souls which contain their abilities. As they are taking them on a train to wherever they are keeping all the peculiars and Ymbrynes Jacob and Emma manage to escape with the help of Addison, a peculiar dog they met in Miss Wren's loop, and Jacob learns that he can not only see the hollows but can control them and they head off to save the others.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (2012)

2.5 stars

I ordered this book because I kept hearing things about it, and after I saw that it was one of the highest selling books of last year I decided to buy it. I have learned my lesson that although a book may be popular it may be because it's crazy.

The only word I can think of to describe this book is crazy. For the first part it seemed like a simple missing person's case but as soon as the second part started it turned into a novel about two psychopaths. It is told from two different perspectives, Nick's and Amy's, although in the first part of the novel Amy's perspective is told through diary entries. It is a well written book, I just really did not enjoy reading from two such crazy and sickening perspectives for so long - because it's a considerably long novel - and just going to bed with that in my head did not do well for my dreams. I didn't really have a favourite character in this novel considering all the main characters were pretty crazy, I wanted to like Desi or Nick because Neil Patrick Harris and Ben Affleck are playing them in the movie adaptation that is going to come out this year, but I really couldn't. I would recommend this book to any people who like crime/thriller novels with a good twist.

Nick returns home on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary to find his wife missing, the police soon start to expect him when evidence that he swears is all circumstantial or not actually his starts to pile against him. It is soon found out that he has been having an affair with one of his students for over a year and the public turns against him, it is then that he starts to suspect his wife may have been pulling the strings. We learn that Amy is in fact still alive and has some serious psychological issues, she has been planning her husband's demise for over a year before she disappeared and had planted all the evidence and worked out how to lure him to incriminating locations without her being there. Nick then works out that all the people who Amy had said had stalked her or wronged her in the past had fallen prey to Amy's crazy personality and system of cruel justice. Amy is then robbed of all the cash she had to live on and she goes to one of her ex boyfriends, Desi (who is also crazy), and although she only wanted money she ended up living in one of his houses without being able to leave. She decides to go back to Nick so she drugs Desi and kills him and then returns home and tells them that he was the one who kidnapped her and raped her, although Nick and one officer still know that it was Amy all along and she should be in prison they don't have any evidence to prove it. Amy decides to write a book so the entire public knows her version of things, so Nick does the same but before he can publish it Amy gets pregnant with Nick's baby and he drops all his plans so he can look after the child.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell (2013)

4 stars

After loving both of Rainbow's other books and reading the pretense of this book I had to get it and it was such a wonderful read.

I don't know whether this book is better for me because I am a fangirl and I understand absolutely everything that Cath mentions when she's thinking about such matters, but I thought this book was wonderful. Once again Rainbow has a really cool concept, writing a book within a book, as well as fanfiction based on the fictional book, I can only imagine how much time it took to think of all that content. I always find her characters relatable in ways that many authors don't often delve into and this book is no exception, in fact I thought Cath, the main character in this book was so much like me (and I'm sure many other girls who spend a large amount of time online) that at some points it was really freaky. One of my favourite parts was where she described herself as "an eighteen-year old nerd who knew eff-all about boys or parties" and I felt as if she was describing me. All the anxiety, antisocial tendencies and love for nerdy guys makes me relate to this book and love it all the more, and I don't know whether she did that purposefully but I'm sure that it will make many other girls love it for the same reason. My favourite character in this book was Reagan, she was a great balance of sarcasm and love that it made me wish she was in it a bit more. I would recommend this book to any person who likes young adult love stories, or any fangirls.

Cath and Wren are twins who are moving to university, they've always been obsessed with a book series called Simon Snow and although Cath doesn't really want to go, Wren tells her she should and that they can't be roommates. Cath finds it hard with all the new scenarios but she soon finds friends in her roommate Reagan, Reagan's boyfriend Levi and a boy from her writing class and although Wren thinks she's stupid for still clinging to her love of Simon Snow and continuing her fanfiction on him Cath manages without her. One night when Levi comes to her room and Reagan is out with another guy, Cath helps him study for a test by reading him the book he has been assigned for the class as he has trouble focusing when reading. They end up kissing and then fall asleep together then the next morning when Reagan comes in he leaves and Reagan tells Cath that he's not her boyfriend, he's her best friend and ex-boyfriend from high school. Cath then decides to go to a party at his house that he invites her to that night and Reagan helps her get ready but when they get there they walk in on him kissing another girl and they walk straight out and Cath asks Reagan not to mention it again. She finally calls Levi when her dad is admitted to hospital and she needs a ride home, she then explains to him why she'd been ignoring him and he leaves when she asks him to. When she returns to school Levi convinces her to give him another chance and everything starts to go better for Cath until her sister is admitted to hospital because she needs to get her sotmach pumped. She reconciles with her Wren and her Dad sets Wren rules to follow so she won't end up like this again and when the final Simon Snow book comes out Cath and Wren go to the midnight release with Levi and Reagan and they cry together. The book ends with Cath reading the last book out loud to Levi.

The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon (2013)

3.5 stars

I saw this book in a discount book shop for eight dollars and after watching Carrie Hope Fletcher say wonderful things about it I couldn't pass it up, and I'm really glad I didn't.

I read so much stuff about people calling this series the new Harry Potter, but I think it's unfair to compare anything to Harry Potter as it will always recieve such harsh criticism that way. This series doesn't really have many similarities to it anyway, one is about wizardry and the other clairvoyants, the only similarity is just coincidental as both are a seven book fantasy series written by a british female. Andy Serkis has a production company that has also picked up the movie rights to this book, so it also might become a movie. I really enjoyed this book, even though it was a bit confusing for the first half trying to get used to all the new words and extra confusing for the first chapter before I discovered the glossary in the back. I really like intricate fantasy worlds so I'm looking forward to more books in this series and I'm really excited to see all the new things that can happen in seven books of this world. My favourite character in this book was Warden, not because he was the love interest, but because I thought that learning more about his character and reading the dialogue that Paige had with him was some of the best and most interesting parts of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy worlds and big intricate series.

Paige Mahoney is a dreamwalker, a particularly rare type of clairvoyant who works for an association of other clairvoyants in a world where being found to be a clairvoyant is a sentence to death or a lifetime of torture. After accidentally using her gift to kill two guards on a train, she is captured and taken to Sheol I, a society run by otherworldly clairvoyant creatures known as Rephaites. She learns that once every ten years, the Bone Season takes place in Sheol I where they take all clairvoyant prisoners from the government and train them using any methods necessarily to become soldiers for them against the Emite, a vicious race that only Rephaite or well trained clairvoyants can defeat. Paige is taken by Warden Arcturus Mesarthim, who she learns is the blood consort (engaged to basically the queen of the Rephaite) and has never a human pupil before. She soon makes some friends and learns that escape is nearly impossible without Rephaite help and two years ago when the Rephaite did help, one human betrayed their escape plan and everyone was slaughtered except the Rephaite who helped, who were severly tortured as an example. Paige soon learns that Warden was one of the Rephs who tried to help the last time and he helps her escape, successfully, this time.