Saturday, 31 August 2013

Purity by Jackson Pearce

Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

This book was one that I picked up on a whim looking for a light read. Whilst it gave me what I was looking for, it also went a lot deeper than I expected.

I recently read Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce and didn't enjoy it all that much. After reading this book, I think that her writing style is more suited to contemporary novels. Her characters were well rounded and realistic and the book was short and sweet.

Purity is very short so there isn't really much to judge on plot; it moved at a steady pace and was very easy to follow. The main character, Shelby, is likable, and although she can sometimes be a little annoying, her decisions are generally well thought through and she doesn't jump into things.

The main problem that I had with this book is that the premise is a little strange. Shelby has to keep these three promises - and whilst it was all very sad and I could believe that she would stick to them so faithfully - I found the actual promises a little weird. I also felt that Shelby interpreted them completely wrong at times, which meant everything she did came with a long, complicated thought process.

I liked this book, but it wasn't something that I would read again. 3/5 stars.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

The 20s is one of my favourite time periods, so I was really excited for this book. But, at the same time, I was a bit reluctant to embark on such a long journey; if you didn't already know, this book is HUGE.

The first 100 pages or so were slow, and I was thinking of returning it to the library without finishing it. After all, 100 pages was barely a fraction of the way through a book this long. But I decided to persevere after a few weeks' break from it, and I was so glad when I did.

I have decided that all of Libba Bray's books take a good 100 pages to get to the real plot, and this book fit that formula exactly. All of a sudden every chapter was bursting with new plot twists and the characters began to make rash decisions and I loved it! Every page was exciting and I couldn't wait for more.

What I really loved about this book was how Libba Bray manages to so accurately capture the atmosphere of the 20s whilst putting a supernatural twist on everything. The paranormal elements made the era seem even more magical and really bring to life a world which is so different from our own.

I was again impressed by Libba Bray's ability to create some of the most endearing and realistic characters than I have ever read about. Evie is spoilt and selfish, but throughout the book, she puts it to good use, and uses her precocious nature to get her own way. It's humorous and really brings her to life. There are too many side characters to name them all, but there wasn't one who I didn't like. My favourite was probably Theta, who is one of those tragic characters you can't help but be drawn to.

This book was amazing and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you enjoy the 20s. 5/5 stars!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlGreg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

I had really high expectations for this book and, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it, they were not quite met.

The writing style is quirky and hilarious and never failed to make me laugh every time I picked this book up. I liked the different styles of writing such as the script format and felt that they helped carry the story well.

The characters are a little bland and it's hard to say who I liked and who I didn't because there wasn't too much description of anyone. The main character, Greg, is very funny and I liked his constant sarcasm, but I didn't take to anyone else. Earl was boring and didn't really add anything to the story, and we barely see anything of Rachel.

I also didn't think there was much of a plot either. The story seems to cut and jump all over the place and it's hard to keep track of what's happening at points. The ending was simple and to be expected.

3/5 stars. Nothing special, but enjoyable!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)

So I left again, and I am sincerely sorry. Here's a review of the new J.K. Rowling book to make up for it!

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

I absolutely loved this book. If J.K. Rowling hasn't already shown that she can write, then she's smashed any doubt out of the picture with her new crime novel.

The picture that Galbraith/Rowling (what are you supposed to say?!!) paints of London is gritty and realistic, complete with a portrait of celebrity life that captures both the bad and the good. Cormoran Strike is appealingly disastrous and his quirky assistant Robin is perfect in so many ways that you can't help but like her. Throughout the book the chemistry between Strike and Robin grows and makes every page come to life just a little bit more.

The plot isn't too fast paced and the case itself takes a good hundred pages to form; that said, there was something going on at all times, with every detail linking together in some way. At about three quarters of the way through the book, I though that there were too many loose ends and that at least one of them would get left by the wayside, but everything tied together nicely.

Although I was telling myself all the way through that it must be her or it must be him or go for the least obvious one! That's what Christie would do!, I have to come clean and admit, albeit rather shamefacedly, that I didn't guess the ending. Which made it just that little bit better.

5/5 stars. So entertaining! I cannot wait for the next one.