Category Archives: Uncategorized

Review: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a typical Hugo fashion, there were intervening chapters with naught to do with the story. I don’t know if I’m exaggerating since I’ve really only read this and Les Miserables but it feels like it’s his style along with overly romanticising everybody and add to that, the swooning fall-in-love trope. Not that I mind the last bit very much except that the lady is lacking in character somewhat. Dear Esmeralda…

She fainted here!
She fainted there!
She fainted everywhere!

description

I expected an intelligent gypsy girl to have more Gumption!

On the other hand, I actually felt sorry for the villain, Claude Frollo, **evil laughs**
I feel his lack of nurture and therefore, inability / incapability to deal with emotions which no one had ever previously stirred in his heart. He was a nut-job obviously but as all of us are defined by the world around us, so was he.

And for the Disney movie lovers… pssst, do NOT ever read this book with the most tragic ending Ever! You have Disney to thank for that ;p

View all my reviews

Review: One

One
One by Sarah Crossan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve just had to wipe off the dry tear stains on my glasses after a session of sob-cry over this book last night! I thought I’d wipe my glasses dry but was obviously not seeing clearly enough (still over teary eyes) to dry them off completely. I knew the book wasn’t going to end with HEA but you know, I always have hope against all hopelessness. Nevertheless, I still do love the ending despite my swollen eyes this morning.

This is my very first Sarah Crossan‘s and truthfully, I haven’t heard of her previously. It has very interesting concepts both in story’s premise and structure. I’m not even sure what you call this structure, narrative poetry? Is there such a thing? In any case, it is amazing! To be able to tell a story with so little words and still send strong messages; Crossan is a maestro of words. Poetry really isn’t my usual cup of tea so I can’t comment on how well they’re formed except that they spoke to me and that’s all that really matters.

One is told from the perspective of Grace, one of the conjoined twin. Grace and Tippi are 15 and due to circumstances, will no longer be homeschooled but will have to attend school outside their home. We hear Grace’s thoughts of her family and as they go out in public, her and Tippi’s response to others’ reaction to them. In essence, this book really is like all YA novels as main protagonists face coming-of-age issues but with one distinguishing feature (conjoined twins).

This is a book that will stay with me a very long time. As someone in her late 30s though, I do find that I contemplate being the girls’ mother than being one of the conjoined twins! Even if we do not hear very much of their mother, she sounded to be a very good mother to them and I could only aspire to be like her (to my own little terrors). I’m going to look for Crossan’s other books and look forward to seeing her at Sydney Writer’s Festival next month!

View all my reviews

Review: The Immortal Bind

The Immortal Bind
The Immortal Bind by Traci Harding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been following Traci Harding for nigh on 20 years; I can’t believe it! I still felt like I’ve only just read her first book, The Ancient Future just the other week. I have always felt drawn to her books because the inner-romantic me loved that idea of love across time; of soulmates finding each other again and again over their karmic cycles. 20 years on, I’m still enamoured by this idea and still loved the stories weaved around this theme by Traci Harding.

Unlike her previous works, this book is stand-alone and was apparently a revised work of her earlier movie transcript. Her usual theme of karma and love across times, however, did not change. In The Immortal Bind, Sara and Jon currently living on opposite sides of the world from each other, found themselves enchanted by a pair of antique bejewelled chairs. Through these mediums, they relived their past lives and the curse that followed them through time. To break the curse and be free to be with each other this lifetime, amends must be made.

As Jon & Sara relive their past lives; for the readers, it’s like reading tragic love stories over and over again. On the one hand, it’s lovely to read of young love a number of times but on the other hand, a little frustrating. However, as their lives crossed many times periods in a variety of settings, The Immortal Bind definitely kept the readers interested as we come across different cultures. The only downside is that we do not really get in-depth pictures of each culture/time setting.

This book actually reminds me a little of Barbara Erskine’s epic books. I mean that literally her books are twice the size of The Immortal Bind. If this is your first read of Traci Harding’s, aside from her other books, I’d also recommend Erskine’s. If you are a fan of Barbara Erskine, please do give Harding a chance! The Immortal Bind is a story of love reaching across time but more than that, it is a story of self and lesson in selflessness… for how can you love when you are selfish?

Thank you Harper Collins Publishers Australia for providing paperback copy in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Review: The Orphan Sky

The Orphan Sky
The Orphan Sky by Ella Leya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gem of a find when searching for a book to fit a reading challenge! Who would have thought that I’d find a book set almost completely in Azerbaijan?! The author herself was born there and emigrated to the US in late 80s. This book, therefore, seems to be set at the time when she would herself been a teen in Azerbaijan. The main protagonist, Leila, is a piano prodigy and it seems the author herself was a talented musician in her own right. It’s very interesting to know that the way of life reflected in this book most probably reflects the author’s own.

description

This novel opens with Leila in her 30s seeking closure of some sort. The story follows as she traced the events in her youth which brought her to her current dilemma. It is a coming of age story as well as a love story from which a parallel to a mythical tale of the Maiden Tower (an actual mysterious monument in Azerbaijan). In her mid-teens, Leila was a good girl; focused on her future as a pianist and firm in her belief of Communism. She was instructed to ‘spy’ upon a shop owner suspected as an American mole. What she found, however, was a talented boy with an arty soul that complemented her own. The way of true love, however, is never straight…

Despite my frustration of Leila’s naivety (how could she again trust that snake who she knew manipulated her earlier downfall?!), I felt that is a true reflection of her rearing; she’s had everything handed to her previously so it feels like she hasn’t any resources of her own! The Orphan Sky is a blend of legendary love in the modern world; a story full of treachery and heartbreak yet there is always hope.

View all my reviews

Review: The House of Silk

The House of Silk
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a new mystery for Sherlock Holmes and it is told by his trusted companion, Dr. John Watson. The author’s note at the back of the book said that he was approached by the trustee to write this. Dr. Watson has reached a ripe old age and is writing down some last memories he had of Sherlock Holmes; ones which he previously could not have published. As Holmes and many other protagonists had passed away and Watson’s plan to have this manuscript locked away until he also has passed, it was deemed safe to set this out on paper.

Watson has been married for about a year when he found himself visiting his old friend, Holmes, on Baker Street and of course, once again involved in his adventure. What began as a request of help from a frightened man turned sinister when his stalker was found dead. However, as always, things are never as they seem especially with Sherlock Holmes at its centre. They sought Mycroft’s assistance for information and they received advice to stay away. Because it’s Sherlock Holmes, a mystery can never stay a mystery! He plunged directly into the whirlpool and by a conspiracy of the highest degree, he found himself in prison accused of murder. With his usual resilience, bountiful resources, and great bolt of energy, Sherlock Holmes once again proved himself to be the greatest detective of the time.

Overall, I thought this book to be fairly successful in emulating Dr. John Watson’s original story telling. The language (which the author also has acknowledged at the end of the book) was modernised a little so as “not to put-off” today’s readers. The mysteries themselves, I think, was worthy of Doyle’s own though one particular perversion probably was not publish-able back then. I have no doubt that such things may have existed though I’m not sure if Doyle would ever have thought to write such things. Other than that, a great adaptation of Sherlock Holmes & his sidekick, Dr. John Watson.

View all my reviews

Review: Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you think Rebels of the Sands was amazing, wait ’til you read this Mind-Blowing sequel! Oh My Goodness! This was a yarn that kept pulling at your heart string at every stitch and The Ending… boy, it’s a ‘rug-pulled-out-from-under-me’ moment. This book is Epic and is easily my favourite book of the year (I know it’s only mid Feb but I do think there’s very little chance of it being topped up – YES, it is that good!). Alwyn Hamilton has done an absolutely fantastic job; Traitor to the Throne is a tightly knit tale despite all the twists and turns, she’s got it all under control. I’m exhilarated and exhausted, at the same time; it feels like I’ve just been through a sandstorm. The sand story gets everywhere…

Note: I bought this book as soon as I saw it at the store. I rarely ever gush about books like this so that alone should tell you just how FABULOUS this book is. For now, I need to be left alone, a book hangover of the worst kind; here’s to hoping that no one needs anything from me at work today 😥

View all my reviews

Review: Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop

Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop
Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop by Amy Witting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I purchased this book, I bought it because:
1. I like the sound of the title, and
2. the cover fits a task for a reading challenge.
I didn’t realise that this was a follow-up to a book, I for Isobel which I’ve actually read a few years ago though I only vaguely remembered. I read it but I did NOT understand it which is why it remains “un-rated” on my shelf despite being read. Hence, I started reading Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop with trepidation. I don’t know whether I’ve grown up a little in the past few years or what but I actually enjoyed this book. Hence, the 4-stars’ rating.

The novel opens with Isobel’s struggles as an aspiring writer. She’s just taken her first determined step to commit herself as a writer. She’s quit her steady but dead-ending job, having to leave home because of this and found herself in a boarding house without having much left for food. This first part of the book was rather confusing though that is because Isobel herself is confused… this was made obvious when the state of her health was revealed and she suddenly found herself in a sanatorium. It is here, through her interactions with others and certain friendships or even enmities, that she began to accept herself and in doing so, flourish.

“Is it possible to cause so much misery to another human being, simply by being oneself? she wondered, feeling a reflection of that misery. No help for it; she must continue to be herself.”

As always, reading is subjective and what I learnt from this book is probably different from others. I did find this book to be very reflective and rather thought-provoking. With a diverse set of characters to complement and/or as foils to Isobel, Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop is an engaging read. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the earlier book as this book can well stand on its own.

View all my reviews