Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

(608 pages)

"I stuck my finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape. 'Shoot,' I muttered when the paper sliced my finger. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut. It all happened very quickly then. 'No!' Edward roared ...Dazed and disorientated, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm - and into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires." 
For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of an evil vampire but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realise their troubles may just be beginning ... 

I thought that this was a wonderfully written book with the relationships jumping off the page. Although seemingly Bella couldn't cope without her relationship with Edward, I think that every teenage girl has felt this type of angst at some point or another. 
The main attraction for me is the intensity of al the relationships whether it be between Edward & Bella, Bella & Jacob, Bella & Charlie or the complex Culens. Once this is combined with the emotional turmoils brought on be the emergence of Jacob's alter ego and the threat of the Volturi leaves us with an amazing almost cliffhanger and wanting more... 
Eclipse here I come :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

(464 pages)
5 stars

When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town. But in spite of her awkward manner and low expectations, she finds that her new classmates are drawn to this pale, dark-haired new girl in town. But not, it seems, the Cullen family. These five adopted brothers and sisters obviously prefer their own company and will make no exception for Bella. Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her, but she feels a strange attraction to him, although his hostility makes her feel almost physically ill. He seems determined to push her away until, that is, he saves her life from an out of control car. Bella will soon discover that there is a very good reason for Edward's coldness. He, and his family, are vampires and he knows how dangerous it is for others to get too close.

I only started reading this because I had heard there was a movie being made of it, and I prefer reading a book before I see the movie. I was expecting soppy mush, but that is not what I got, meaning that I was pleasantly surprised.
Whilst there was a lot of romance, and a bit of soppiness, there was also a significant amount of teenage angs and vampireyness (the part i was looking forward to). A nice slow moving wenthralling novel, with an intriguing collection of characters, built up gradually to an explosive crescendo foloowing the arrival of James and his 'coven'. I convince myself I knew how it was going to end, but I was wring, which again made me happy.
I enjoyed it so much I went and bought the rest of the series and I am now reading part 2 - New Moon.
A must for all romantics with a taste for the vampiric :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

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(324 pages)

For years, Nadezhda and Vera, two Ukrainian sisters, raised in England by their refugee parents, have had as little as possible to do with each other - and they have their reasons. But now they find they'd better learn how to get along, because since their mother's death their aging father has been sliding into his second childhood, and an alarming new woman has just entered his life. Valentina, a bosomy young synthetic blonde from the Ukraine, seems to think their father is much richer than he is, and she is keen that he leave this world with as little money to his name as possible. If Nadazhda and Vera don't stop her, no one will. But separating their addled and annoyingly lecherous dad from his new love will prove to be no easy feat - Valentina is a ruthless pro and the two sisters swiftly realize that they are mere amateurs when it comes to ruthlessness. As Hurricane Valentina turns the family house upside down, old secrets come falling out, including the most deeply buried one of them all, from the War, the one that explains much about why Nadazhda and Vera are so different. In the meantime, oblivious to it all, their father carries on with the great work of his dotage, a grand history of the tractor.
This was definitely amusing, although not hilarious. The relationships between the characters were interesting, and the eastern european eccentricites were really entertaining. I really hated the wife (Valentina), but she was probably one of the funniest characters in the book. I felt really badly for the dad by the end, although alls well that ends well. One i would certainly recommend, but not an essential read.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

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(272 pages)

'I watched my father run forward in his snowshoes the way one sometimes does in dreams, unable to make the legs move fast enough. I ran to the place where he knelt. I looked down into the sleeping bag. A tiny face gazed up at me, the eyes wide despite their many folds. The baby was wrapped in a bloody towel, and its lips were blue.'
The events of a December afternoon on which a father and his daughter find an abandoned infant in the snow will forever alter twelve-year-old Nicky Dillon's understanding of the world which she is about to enter and the adults who inhabit it: a father who has taken great pains to remove himself from society in order to put behind him an unthinkable tragedy; a young woman who must live with the consequences of the terrible choices she has made; and a detective whose cleverness is superseded only by his sense of justice. Written from the point of view of thirty-year-old Nicky as she recalls the vivid images of that fateful December, hers is a tale of love and courage, of tragedy and redemption, and of the ways in which the human heart always seeks to heal itself.

I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time, but I had been nervous about starting it as a couple of other books by Anita Shreve I had't enjoyed at all. I have to say that this was a really good and well told story.
It moved along at a very slow pace, and not very much happened, but this allowed for masses of character development which was fantastic. The story of the aftermath of finding the baby in the woods was built up along side the back story of the family tragedy.
It was really well done, and the development of the story led to an extremely believable conclusion.
It has certainly made me want to read other books by this author!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lucy the Giant by Sherri L Smith

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(224 pages)

Distraught over the death of a stray dog she's adopted, and worn out after a lost childhood spent deflecting jabs at her towering height and picking up after her alcoholic, unemployed father, 15-year-old Lucy ("the Giant") escapes from her Sitka, Alaska, home north to Kodiak, and temporarily reinvents herself as an adult. Lucy, now known as Barbara, winds up on a crabbing boat, with a motley crew that is destined to help her along the painful path to self-discovery.Fast-paced and poignant, Sherri L. Smith's first young adult novel will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in her or his own world. Readers will root for Lucy, never doubting that she will come out ahead... eventually. Her struggles--both physical and emotional--are authentic and beautifully portrayed. Smith's descriptions of the grueling yet rewarding work on the Bering Sea are vivid, and reflect nicely the inner work of her protagonist. We hope this is only the first of many novels from this gifted new author.

I had to read this book as soon as I read the Blurb for it. Having been the subject of bullying at school I wanted to see how writers for young adults in the 21st century handled and I was certainly NOT disappointed!
Lucy is the kind of person that I wish I could have been. Yes she is picked on and thats really horrid, but she has an amazing sense of strength and chose the time to push herself to improve her life. She had had enough of being pitied and depended upon by an alcoholic parent and made a tough choice and lived a hard gruelling life, which eventually gave here a marvellous family and an amazing set of friends.
The tone of the book and the voice of Lucy are really strong and I really couldn't weait to find out what happened next. Whilst Iwish the ending had been different, I understand that not everything can end in perfection.
I recommend this to people who want to look inside the heart of an amazind character without all the frills of a perfect life, and I really cannot wait to read more stuff by this author. Fabulous :D

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde

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(285 pages)

'The problem was Megan had just taken the second half of her ecstasy when her father called with the news'. Nineteen-year-old university student Megan Thompson is beautiful, cool, clever and sexy - the kind of girl boys fall in love with. She's mostly steered clear of family life since the death of her younger brother. That is until the day she hears her mother, Diana, has been found floating face down in their swimming pool. Diana, as Director of the Center for Reproductive Choice, was a national figure who inspired passions and made enemies. Detective Huck Berlin is brought in to investigate the case when it becomes clear that Diana was murdered. Several people have quarrelled with Diana on that fateful day, not least Frank, her husband of twenty years, and her wayward child. Now, father and daughter are thrown together in an unexpected twist of family life. Set in a small town in Colorado, The Abortionist's Daughter is an utterly compelling novel of family secrets, dark passion and, ultimately, catharsis for those whose lives have become so strangely entwined.

I thought that this was a really well written book, and whilst it could simply have gone down the road of a bog-standard 'whodunnit' it took an entirely different direction. The identity of the murderer was not the central issue in the story, instead there were fabulous character developments with lots of family history and relationships being explored. The only thing that irritated me is that there were plenty of mentions of and a couple of arguments about Ben, but he simply wasn't explored enough. For 285 pages it was amazing how compact the story was without losing anything too serious. Great!!!
Overall I really did enjoy this and am so glad that I finally got around to reading it :) Recommended to all those who like Jodi Picoult style books, especially if you are after a faster read!!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

(323 pages)


Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.
He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.
Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.
Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.
But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.
He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy.

I really cannot speak highly enough of this book. Admittedly it doesn't have all the sensationalism and extreme violence of the other Lecter books, but as the beginning to a series it is fabulous. When reading the other books about Hannibal, there are plenty of gaps in the backstory, leaving the reader with masses of questions, the most predominant being "why?".
Hannibal Rising attempts and succeeds in filling in these gaps by describing in sometimes horrific detail, the early life experiences if Hannibal Lecter. The reader is still left with a sense of shock and horror, even though the gaps are filled (not entirely however).
I absolutely loved how the story of what actually happeneng in the hunting lodge built up gradually and the consequences involved.
Way to go Mr. Harris!