Category Archives: ficiton

In a Dark, Dark Wood

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dark dark wood

“In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house. And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room. And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard. And in the dark, dark cupboard there was a dark, dark shelf. And on the dark, dark shelf there was a dark, dark box. And in the dark, dark box there was…”(Alvin Schwartz).

Sometime not completely unexpected but surprising nonetheless.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is Ruth Ware’s first novel. In the beginning, this novel reminded me so much of Agatha Christie’s Endless Night. There’s a house in the middle of the woods cursed by the townspeople for it’s very existence. A young woman about to be married, in this case throwing a hen party, and suffering through a series of “tricks” that will test her psychological stamina.

I loved how Ware created the creepy and suspenseful ambience in the novel. The house was terrifying. Full of windows that give the characters the feeling that they are a spectacle meant to be watched. Actors on the stage of a play they haven’t been given the lines for.

The main character, Nora, is a writer who left her hometown under mysterious circumstances and has yet gotten over it. She’s suddenly invited to her high school best friend’s hen party out of the blue and on a whim decides to go. Once there, she and the rest of the hen party, are in for quite a surprise.

This novel did pack some twists and turns but I have to say that I was a little let down by the big reveal. The foreshadowing in the beginning of the novel was amazing but kind of faltered in the middle and never was quite able to match the suspense of the beginning.

I did like how Ware used her red herring in the novel. It definitely threw me off the scent for a while.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. I liked a nod to the Classic Mystery genre, and one of Agatha Chritie’s lesser known novels. I’m excited to see what Ware’s next book will be and whether she will continue in the mystery genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

 

Career of Evil

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Career of Evil is the third installment in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. The first, The Cuckoo’s Calling, introduced us to both Strike and Robin and focused much of it’s efforts on how to plot of the novel brought the two characters together. The second Strike novel, The Silkworm, was extraordinarily plot driven. And this newest novel is a mix of the two. Career of Evil lets us get to know more about these characters that we’ve come to love. We learn about both Strike’s and Robin’s past and how their pasts lead them to each other and the life that each has chosen.

Strike and Robin remind me so much of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. They have a similar rapport with each other, outside of crime solving. Out of the three, this novel is by far my favorite. I feel like these two characters have been through so much together but know so very little about each other. And as a consequence, we the reader, don’t know much about either’s past.

This novel shines a light on the past of each and how it drew them to where they are. As we already know, Strike’s mother was a groupie and his father a famous rock star. The crime in this case directly goes back to Strike’s past and is the perpetrator’s way of getting revenge on Strike. The three main suspects represent each phase of Strike’s life and all of them have a good reason to want revenge. Robin’s past, although not directly related to the case, ultimately leads to her involvement in it.

I loved seeing both Robin and Strike evolve in this novel. The characters have so much depth to them. The closer I got to the end the sadder I became. I didn’t want this novel to have an ending. I would happily continue reading about Strike and Robin.

As with the other two novels, this one has all of the danger and perhaps a bit more romance. I loved the focus on each character as they get to know each other better, faults and all. This novel has a lot of miscommunication, especially between Robin and Strike. They see and hear what they want, and that may not be at all what the other person means. It leads to many tense moments in the novel and to the novel’s conclusion, which isn’t so much about the plot but more about resolving the conflict between characters.

Rating: 5/5 Can’t wait to see what’s next for this crime solving duo.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

Rivers of London

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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch reads like a hybrid between a Doctor Who episode and a police procedural. In a way it’s not surprising since Ben Aaronovitch has written two serials for Doctor Who about Daleks.

Rivers of London is the first book in a series by Aaronovitch about police detective/wizard Peter Grant. It doesn’t take the novel long to reveal it’s magic elements to the reader. The first element introduced is the ghost Nicholas Wallpenny. Grant sees Wallpenny while investigating another crime and Wallpennt gives Peter details about the crime. The crime itself has it’s supernatural elements as well. A man seems to appear and disappear without ever being caught on camera.

As Peter delves deeper into the mystery he is confronted by the head wizard in the police department, Nightingale, and asked to join as his apprentice. Grant then becomes the first English apprentice wizard in over 70 years. As the apprentice, Peter must practice and hone his magical abilities as well as solve two seemingly unconnected cases.

In one case he must find an entity that is possessing people and forcing them to kill, and in the other Peter must make peace between the gods of the River Thames. As the novel unfolds the connection between the cases becomes clearer.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the protagonist, Peter Grant, and the way he interacts with those around him. I did, however, find this novel a bit hard to follow in terms of the plot. It read very much like a TV show, abrupt cuts and all. But whereas in a TV show you have visuals that connect these scenes together, in the book it left me a bit lost.

Even with a few plot holes, I would love to read the other books in the series and see what’s next for Peter Grant and Nightingale.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

It’s All in the Initials

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Midnight-Riot

Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book where there author has my same initials. This was by far the most difficult book for me to find. In the end, I could only find two authors who shared by exact initials, B.A. I found so many who were A.B. I considered it for awhile but decided that I wanted to continue with the challenge. While browsing a bookstore I found Ben Aaronovitch and his novel Rivers of London, also known as Midnight Riot. 

From the back, this novel is about Peter Grant, a young police detective who finds himself as the apprentice to a wizard working for the London police. While learning magic, Peter becomes entangled in a strange series of crimes somehow based on the Punch and Judy puppets .

I must say that I’m extremely intrigued as to how all of these elements are going to fit together. I can’t wait to meet this Peter Grant and see how he solves this series of bizarre crimes.

Stay tuned for the full review of Rivers of London. Happy reading!

The Handmaid’s Tale

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Since I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood I’ve seen this book everywhere, maybe in part because it’s banned books week. I just saw The Handmaid’s Tale on a pin of the 50 scariest books of all time. And I must say it fits on that list. It’s not a horror novel or a work of supernatural terror. This novel is unsettling. It’s prophetic. It’s terrifying because it could possibly happen and has been happening, in varying degrees, around the world.

The Handmaid’s Tale centers on a woman known only as Offred, literally meaning belonging to Fred. Through Offred we learn that the United States government has been overthrown by a totalitarian Christian theocracy. This Christian theocracy, known as the Sons of Jacob launches a revolution in the U.S. where they kill the president and Congress and manage to suspend the Constitution under the pretext that they are trying to restore order in the chaos they created. Quickly this group takes away all of women’s rights through use of their credit and debit cards, which to me is terrifying because it could be so easily done. After taking away women’s rights each woman is assigned a specific task in this new society. Offred becomes a handmaid, which is a nice way of saying baby machine. That’s her entire purpose in this new regime is to produce offspring for Commanders and their wives to rebuild the population.

The women in this new regime literally have everything ripped away from them. They no longer even have their own names. They belong to a man and that’s their role. They are no longer able to read or write because the male commanders feel that this would give them too much power.

In an interesting scene between Offred and her commander, he explains that the theocracy felt this new society would be better. But better never encompasses everyone.

I really enjoyed Offred’s narration. You can feel her isolation, her longing, and her fear. You are totally encapsulated in her world. You see, feel, and hear everything she does. But with her narration you have to realize that she is human. All that she sees and reports may be tainted by her own thinking. Especially at the end you realize how much Offred took control of the narrative, perhaps even chaining a thing or two.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a truly breathtaking work of fiction. It makes me want to go out and read more Margaret Atwood. If you’re looking for a dystopian novel to read, or a book for banned books week, give this one a try. It’s truly terrifying in it’s implications.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Going In Another Direction

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Going In Another Direction

I’m going in the complete opposite direction from my last book selection and am now reading a book that I think will make me cry. For me this was a hard book to choose, like the last category, a book that will make you laugh, because how do you know it will make you cry if you haven’t read it yet? So I chose to go with a novel by an author I’ve read before that made me cry.

I’ve decided on Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden. I read Firefly Lane, also by Hannah, and am not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby towards the end. It has a similar plot to Beaches, the movie with Bette Midler, which also made me cry. Though I do find that the older I get the easier I cry. As a child, my brother and I used to make fun of my mom for crying in movies. But now I’m just as bad. Once I start crying during commercials there will be no turning back.

On another note, I’m excited about the plot of this book. it’s a bit like a Kate Morton novel, where one of the characters has a mysterious past. In this case, it’s the mother who I think is going to be from Leningrad. The novel, according to the back, will intertwine fairy tales and real history to create a spellbinding story. I honestly can’t wait to delve in.

Are you an easy cryer? What books have made you cry?

Stay tuned for the verdict and happy reading!

Everything Is Illuminated

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Everything Is Illuminated

Book Battle 2015 continues with a novel by an author under 30, and that novel is Everything Is Illuminated. I saw the trailer for this novel, well the movie adaptation, years ago and thought that it would be entertaining but for some reason never went out to see it. And in a way I’m glad I didn’t because now I get to read the book first and then watch the movie. As if I needed more impetus to read but then it never hurts.

The author of Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer, published the book in 2002 when he was 25, pretty impressive. The basic premise is the main character, who has the same name as the author, goes to Ukraine in search of a lady named Augustine that saved his grandfather’s life from the Nazi’s during WWII. Now I’m not sure exactly if this is autobiographical or a literary convention the author is using but I will keep you updated on what I find out. Based solely on the book’s jacket, I think this is going to be one wild ride of a read. I admit the jacket design had me a bit confused, it’s an inversion of itself black and white lettering on one side and white with black lettering on the other. Going from back to front you also have to flip the book upside down to read each flap. Typical for me, I started on the wrong side and when I went to open the book all the text was upside down. Though the design did pique my interest, well played jacket designer.

I’m pretty pumped to begin the next phase of the Book Battle and can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in Everything Is Illuminated. Happy reading fellow Book Battlers!