Review: The Lunar Chronicles: Scarlet by Marrisa Meyer

scarletVerdict:
Title: The Lunar Chronicles: Scarlet
Author: Marrisa Meyer
Publish Date: 7 February 2013
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 464
Genre: YA, Dystopia, fantasy, fairy-tale
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

Scarlet is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles by newcomer Marissa Meyer. After finishing Cinder I was eagerly looking forward to reading Scarlet and I sure wasn’t disappointed. The funny thing is, before reading Cinder, I thought the Lunar stories were going to be completely separate from one another. Cinder would have her resolution in the first novel of the series, and then Little Red would come along with her own story. Gladly I was wrong about this! Continue reading

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Review: The Draft – Stories from the Warwick MA in Writing by Various

the draftVerdict:
Title: The Draft – Stories from the Warwick MA in Writing
Author: Various
Publish Date: 1 May 2011
Publisher: Ball Bearing Press
Pages: 252
Genre: anthology, short stories
Source: NAWE, ARC

Twenty-seven writers bring together an extraordinary anthology, demonstrating that fantasy fiction can still be conceived by the imagination.

In this anthology holds a collection of twenty-seven short stories, with three hopefully being transformed into novels, from this years talented literates of the Writing MA at Warwick. The book has been blessed by the contributing writers; with their dilute curiosity and passion for the written word, they interpret to the reader hours of bitter-sweet joy. They have all began from distinctive backgrounds, from various places all across the world, and have paved fresh walks of life for themselves, culminating in dynamic inspiration for some of their stories. This gives us an insight into their heritage and their existence as they contemplate us as humans and our capabilities in this wondrous universe. Continue reading

Quick Review: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

vanishVerdict:
Title: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
Publish Date: 17 May 2007
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 288
Genre: drama, mystery, 1930s
Source: bought, finished copy

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face.

Esme has been labelled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she’s still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

(Amazon.com)

Why read this book?

  • The chapters use complex changing narratives with perceptions from various characters: Esme and Kitty both as children and in the present and Iris in the present.  The book reads like poetry, such beauty is described in an elegant style, especially in Esme’s chapters.
  • Esme was a unique child who did not conform to societies wishes in the 1930s and that is why she ended up locked in a mental asylum for the majority of her life. The Vanishing of Esme Lennox centres around this family secret and the difficulties it has caused through the generations.
  • Past civilisation and psychological mysteries is pretty fascinating and this book displayed a balance of both.
  • The journey through the story was very moving and it was definitely the devastating revelations and treatment towards Esme that will make you rage at this book.

Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

the moon and moreVerdict:
Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publish Date: 4 June 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448
Genre: Ya, romance, drama
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

Standing in a sandbox as grumpy holidaymakers throw abuse at you and middle aged women eye up your boyfriend; there has to be more to life, right?  Emaline is fed up with her monotone existence working with her family at their holiday beach resort in the small town of Colby. Her world is too predictable and she wants to have a summer well spent before University begins.

While some would admire the simplicity of her life – she lives by the beach, has lifelong friends and a gorgeous popular boyfriend – Emaline is still after the moon and more.

Luckily that’s when ambitious aspiring New York filmmaker Theo strolls into town, bringing his rowdy documentary boss with him, and acting as Emaline’s saviour to a boring summer ahead. Well, not exactly…

Despite having the perfect ingredients in allowing Emaline the chance to break free from her boring life and make an impact on the world, the book fails to really transport Emaline out of her comfort zone. Yes, the Emaline/Theo relationship does give her the chance to see the world through new eyes, but her idea of adventure ends stale as most of the ‘world’ is still confined within Colby.

Is this Sarah Dessen’s attempt at sending early messages to us that the reality is we will never leave the nest and see the world? The synopsis of The Moon and More works for us young adults because it holds this connective emotion that the world is filled with opportunities and we can grab onto them and God, run. Sadly the novel doesn’t fulfil this expectation.

Alas, what was most capturing about this novel (when you strip away Emaline’s sparking relationship with Luke) was the exploration between a father and daughter relationship. Emaline’s estranged father waltzes back into her life and it’s adamantly made clear that her wanting to escape Colby is influenced by her father. She adores him because he is a mystery to her. A part of her that should have been around and yet was nowhere in site when she was growing up. Just like how her father filled Emaline with disappointment when it came to choosing a College, he disappoints her right until the end. Emaline’s big dreams resembles her father big promises, both have little impact when it comes to putting these thoughts into actions.

Emaline was a character I wanted to see more fight and empowerment from. After basically aiding the whole neighbourhood in some shape or form she even ends up helping Thao’s boss, who she absolutely despised, as she was the Queen of all pushovers. With this in mind I thought maybe the climax would be her finally exploding at her father. But, no, even then the fizz she felt dissolved and she let him a way with everything he had done. Any other angry confused teenager would have shouted at him until their throat was raw.

The Moon and More might be trying to portray a reality of the expectations teenagers should have, but this is not really what you want to hear when you are like Emaline and want to escape. I would rather have read a book about a girl who at least attempted to have an adventure and failed, rather than a girl who didn’t try at all.

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

greatgatsbyVerdict:
Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publish Date: 4 April 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 208
Genre: drama, classic
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

One of the most anticipated movie releases of 2013 was The Great Gatsby. Being the imagination idealist that I am, I was determined to read the book before I watched the Leo DiCaprio starring adaptation on the big screen. I’m glad I stuck to my guns. Why? Because I am hoping that the movie will be better than the book.

The 1920s is an era sugar-coated in superficial beauty. You can’t help but picture a wave of long gowns, cropped hair and sparkling jewellery flickering from females as they stampede into a grand mansion ready for an extravagant party to begin. In other words: it is the American Dream. This is the scene that Fitzgerald provides us with. Was that what the roaring 20s were really like? I can’t tell for certain, but the irony is that Fitzgerald has fashioned this blissful vibe for us in The Great Gatsby, rather than us knowing the history from the fiction.

Our protagonist, Nick Carraway, is a Yale graduate who moves to the fictional town of West Egg in Long Island. Here he is reacquainted with his cousin Daisy Buchanan and he becomes friends with her ex-lover and his new next door neighbour, the mysterious Jay Gatsby.

I had attempted to read this book years ago but sadly was unable to hold my interest, mostly because it was a dull stream of consciousness from our narrator himself. Although, this time I was able to move forward from the tenth page as the novel eventually kicked into focus by introducing a group of characters to us.

For me the book lacked a lot of substance. Not an awful lot happened within the novel and I think it would have been a much more thrilling read if the book focused more on analysing Gatsby and his impressive parties. From popular culture (and of course the title) it is locked into your mind that the book will all be about this fascination over Gatsby. Yet, I believe that too little time was invested into developing the charm of this character. It is as though the fantastic idea is there, but it does not flare out onto the page with everything it is worth. Gatsby could have been great, but he lacked insight that I think DiCaptio may be able to pull off in the move.

Fitzgerald deployed a very unique voice to Carraway, one which I am pretty surprised has not been cloned relentlessly by recent authors. His thoughts and emotions were extremely poetic and I’m sure Fitzgerald’s views are expressed thorough him. The drawback was that I felt distanced to the novel as most of the characters (one in particular) weren’t very nice.

It is no wonder that The Great Gatsby remains a classic, more because of the themes it displays rather than the content. The Great Gatsby was the symbol of how the American Dream is not what it is cracked up to be. It shows that we don’t really know the people we are around and the people we love. Also, the book connects with nostalgic teenagers as it tackles social class structures as well as what it means to be young and reckless.

I am glad to have finally read The Great Gatsby, but it was not what I was expecting and it didn’t live up to the hype.