Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review #677 - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Part Four: Chapters 32-45)

This is Part Four of my review. Part Three can be found here

My Rating: N/A

These chapters deal with the struggles Scarlett faces now that the war has ended. Scarlett had expected her life and her finances to improve and instead they have worsened. 

When the Yankees, who are trying to get the Southerners off the land raise the taxes on Tara to an amount Scarlett cannot pay, she seeks Ashley's advice. He is unable to help her. 

During this time I felt that Ashley was the female character, and Scarlett the male. It is Scarlett who is financially supporting Ashley and his young family. Scarlett also states that she couldn't bear to see Ashley having to do manual labour, the work she undertakes herself. 

Some good does come of her conversation though as she realises that Tara is the most important part of her life. 

Looking for financial aid, Scarlett goes to see Rhett. When she discovers he is in prison, she thinks it will be easier to get the money from him. She ends up offering herself up to be his mistress, a role that she turned down in the past. This shows just how desperate she is to save Tara and how in her desperation to save Tara, she is willing to lose all the morals her upbringing afforded to her. 

After Rhett rejects her, Scarlett returns to her endlessly selfish ways buy lying to her sister's wealthy betrothed in order to con him into marrying her in exchange for him paying the exuberant taxes over Tara. 

It wasn't so much her actions that bothered me over this, it is the fact that she had absolutely no guilt over it.  

While Scarlett seems to adapt well to the new way of post-war life, entirely motivated by money, the rest of Atlanta are clinging to the old way of life, including Scarlett's new husband. 

This is none more evident that when Scarlett sees that wood is a much needed product in the post-war life of rebuilding that she decides to open a mill while the rest of the town is horrified that a woman is working especially when she continues to work throughout her pregnancy. 

Racial tensions are high with the introduction of the Ku Klux Klan. The story is told from the South's perspective and so the KKK is portrayed as more as protectors rather than the racist extremists we know them as today. 

As much as Scarlett hates the Yankees, she works with them which further angers the town. This further shows just how much more Scarlett values money over morals. 

Scarlett returns to Tara after her father's death where she has to deal with the consequences of betraying her sister. 

Scarlett again confronts Ashley, this time getting his wife Melanie to unknowingly aid her in emotionally blackmailing him to work for her at her mill. Ashley had plans to go North to work in a bank but Scarlett wanted him close to her. This selfish decision seems to break what was left of Ashley's spirit. 

Not long after giving birth to her daughter Ella, Scarlett is attacked by a free slave as she is travelling around alone as her actions have isolated her from everyone. 

Ashley and Frank unbeknownst to Scarlett are members of the KKK and after she is attacked, they seek revenge. 

When they return Scarlett is too worried about Ashley's gunshot wound that she fails to notice that Frank did not return. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review #683 - Torn by Cat Clarke


Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt.

Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares… 

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down. 

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever...

A compelling story of guilty secrets, troubled friendship and burgeoning love.

My Rating: 3/5

This book took me a considerably longer time to read than a book of this size would take on average and this was simply due to the fact that I read it over the Christmas period. 

The plot is what initially drew me into reading this book however I thought it was going to be more of a mystery novel than what was presented. 

The main theme of the book is guilt and it explores how differently people deal with it. 

The protagonist Alice was rather annoying. She let everyone just walk all over her and never stood up for herself. The relationship she commenced with her dead ex-friend's brother was all kinds of wrong. 

The other characters were all pretty stereotyped and I did not like any of them at all. 

The only thing that kept me reading this book once I started it was that I wanted to know if Alice would eventually do the right thing and tell someone the truth about what happened. 

Overall, I was rather disappointed by this book. I felt like so much was promised from the synopsis but the annoying characters and lack of plot development really let the book down. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Review #682 - Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey #4) by E.L. James


Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.  

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

My Rating: 3.5/5

I read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy in early 2016 and even though they were completely outside my comfort zone reads, I found that I surprisingly rather enjoyed them and so it was a no brainer that I would now delve into the story told from the perspective of the enigmatic Christian Grey. 

I loved the glimpses given into Christian's traumatic childhood as this really solidified some things that were hinted at throughout the previous books. 

I loved being inside Christian's mind but ultimately I preferred Ana as the narrator. I find Ana less irritating when she is the one narrating and also I think I prefer there being a filter between Christian and the reader as he comes across as more uptight and serious on his own. 

I don't think this book could really sustain itself on its own - it definitely is more of a companion to Fifty Shades of Grey in that it was written more to answer questions like 'I wonder what Christian was thinking at that moment?' and the insight into his childhood because other than that it is just basically Fifty Shades of Grey.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review #681 - Day 21 (The 100 #2) by Kass Morgan


No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

It's been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They're the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries...or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.

My Rating: 4/5

Like with the first book, the number of narrators bothered me, however this time I struggled to get over that annoyance as I felt like it continually disrupted the rhythm of the story. 

There are definitely stronger narrators than others which disrupted the flow even more. Clarke is definitely my favourite character and either Wells or Glass are my least favourite. 

Plotwise, not much really happened that developed the plot to any great extent. There were quite a few shocking revelations revealed that will make me read book 3 but at this stage I think I definitely prefer the TV show adaptation. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review #677 - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Part Three - Chapters 21-31)

This is part three of my review. Click here for part two. 

My Rating: N/A

This portion of the book sees Scarlett return to Tara and the reality of her new life and her new role as head of the family takes its toll on her. 

Whilst my indifference towards Scarlett only increased slightly during these chapters, my respect for her grew significantly. The way she really stood up when she was needed was really unexpected especially considering how sheltered and pampered her upbringing was. 

There was a scene where a Yankee broke into Tara and was stealing some of Scarlett's mother Ellen's possessions and Scarlett very calmly killed him. I think this really showed how much Scarlett has had to grow up because of the war. 

Melly or Melanie is a character that I am not sure how I feel about. I find her really weak and her need to please everybody gets annoying but she may just seem that way in contrast to Scarlett who is the most selfish person ever. 

The end of this portion of the book deals with the war ending and the amazing return of Ashley whom no one had expected to survive. 

Scarlett undoes all her newfound maturity by confronting Ashley again. Scarlett's obsession with him is the most annoying thing about her as she is so unable to see the truth. 

Another thing that bothers me a lot about Scarlett is the way she treats and interacts with her son Wade. There are long periods in this book where I forget she even has a son - and probably Scarlett forgets this fact too. 

Scarlett's sisters are also very annoying. They remind me of how Scarlett was at the beginning of the book. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review #680 - Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis


Dumped with relatives in a small Minnesota town for the summer, Sadie Lester is relying on her mountain bike to save her from total boredom. Then she meets Allie, a spiky-haired off-road mountain biker who's training for a major race. Allie leads Sadie and Joe, a cute fellow cyclist, up and down Mount Kato, and the three become close friends. But the exhilarating rush comes to a halt when they find a priest in the woods, badly beaten and near death. After calling for help, Allie disappears from their lives.

As they search for Allie and try to find out why she left so suddenly, Sadie and Joe discover more about Allie's past, including her connection to the priest. Only on the day of the big race does Sadie finally learn the complete, startling truth about Allie--and the terrible secret that forced her into hiding.

My Rating: 3/5

I decided to pick up this book because I felt like reading a contemporary novel, and the synopsis of this one intrigued me. 

The synopsis to me eluded to an entirely different plot, but I found I still enjoyed the one that was actually presented. 

I loved the setting in this novel. The woods that Sadie, Joe and Allie explore on an almost daily basis throughout almost seemed like a character itself at times, it was that well described. 

The only issue I had with this book is that to me Sadie and Joe seemed much younger than what they were supposed to be and I think this was largely due to their dialogue. It was for this reason that I didn't see the plot twist coming at all because of how dark it was. 

Mountain biking plays a huge role in this book and whilst I am usually a fan of sporting novels, mountain biking is not really a sport that interests me. I did enjoy the amount I learnt about it though. 

Overall, this was a really enthralling read. I was rather disappointed there was no real mystery element that the synopsis eluded to but the story was interesting enough anyway. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review #679 - The Dark Divine (The Dark Divine #1) by Bree Despain


Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

My Rating: 4/5

I went into this book knowing it was a paranormal romance book, but I did not know what the paranormal aspect was. 

Werewolves were the very last paranormal creatures that I had been expecting. The book felt very much almost like a contemporary novel at first and then the fantasy very slowly took over. 

I loved that the werewolves weren't just suddenly thrown at us. There was a whole story of the history of this unique breed of werewolf before it was completely revealed. 

The romance felt rather 'insta-love' in that I didn't feel like enough of their past was revealed to get the feeling that they were reconnecting rather than meeting for the first time. 

I loved the family dynamics in this book and how close they were all with one another. The father being a pastor who simply wanted to please not only his family the entire town added a whole other dynamic to this.

The twist at the end was completely unexpected and really sealed the book for me and persuaded me to pick up the sequel. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book Review #678 - Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


"Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
"Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

My Rating: 3.5/5

This is my second Laurie Halse Anderson book with the first being Speak

Both books are similar in that they deal with mental illness. With Speak it was selective mutism whereas Wintergirls dealt with anorexia and bulimia. 

I found the protagonist Lia very frustrating at times. I felt like she was full of excuses of why she is the way she is, when really she just needed to be honest with herself.
Anorexia is a subject I know nothing about and after reading this book I still don't feel like I know that much about it. 

I didn't like how this book always seemed to go off into different tangents. The hallucinations, although probably realistic due to Lia starving herself and her 'brain shrinking' but I thought they were a little over the top. 

Lia's sister Emma was my favourite character. She was the only character in the ENTIRE book who was seemingly not damaged in some way. 

I feel like I didn't really have the emotional understanding to completely love this book. I felt sorry for Lia but mostly I felt frustrated that she would do that to herself.