Today’s review: Animal Farm Author: George Orwell Publisher: Penguin Released: 1945 Number of pages: 95 Genre: Classic, Fantasy, Dystopia Series: Standalone As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of … Continue reading
Today’s Review: The Handmaid’s Tale Author: Margaret Atwood Publisher: Vintage Released: 1985 Number of Pages: 324 Genre: Classic, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Feminist Literature Series: Standalone Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the … Continue reading
Check out my good friend Karli’s review of ‘I’ll Be Gone In The Dark’- a thrilling and horrifying true crime story following a case that shook America.
Non – Fiction crime lovers will love this book, I myself while it was very well written and researched I struggled to read it. The book is written by Michelle McNamara a true crime enthusiast with her own website dedicated to it becomes obsessed with a case that happened over 30 decades ago in California in the 70’s that case being of the Golden State Killer as she names him but known to the Police/Detectives involved as the EAR (East Area Rapist) the book delves in to each horrific murder/rape, the investigation the evidence which they had very little of as the EAR left very little to track. I guess also knowing that unfortunately Michelle dies accidentally of a prescription drug overdose in her sleep most of the novel is just her notes that she left behind which meant she never got to catch him. So In conclusion I think…
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Today’s review: Orange Is The New Black Season 6 Rating certificate: MA 15+ Creator: Jenji Kohan Released July 27, 2018 (Aus) Where to watch: Netflix *WARNING: Possible plot spoilers. Proceed with caution. Don’t say I didn’t warn you* The inmates … Continue reading
Today’s review: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Number of Pages: 552
Genre: YA Fiction, Historical Fiction
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbours.
On a train in the middle of a blizzard, a young boy is dying. Liesel Meminger can only sit by and watch as her little brother slowly coughs his final breaths from his weakened body. Outside, the German hills and forests are blanketed with snow. A deep cold is set in, just in time for the war. In his final moments, Death descends from above to collect little Werner Meminger’s soul, now departed. At this moment, Liesel’s world shatters.
At the train station in the town of Molching, Liesel meets her new foster mother for the first time. Headstrong and disgruntled, Rosa Hubermann is as intimidating as she is reluctantly kind. But it is her foster father, Hans Hubermann, who begins to breathe just a little life into Liesel’s broken soul once again.
In Molching, Liesel goes to school, learns to read, and makes an unlikely friend in Rudy Steiner, a gangly boy with dreams of becoming a runner as fast as Jesse Owens. Together, they grow. Liesel emerges from her shell of trauma. The sky reflects the kaleidoscope of feeling that spreads across Germany under the shadow of Hitler’s growing power.
As time passes, Liesel becomes dissatisfied with her reading materials. She has learned so many words. Now she wants more. After a visit to the grand house of Molching’s mayor, Liesel discovers a forest of knowledge simply going to waste under the ghostly presence of Isla Hermann, the mayor’s wife. Danger creeps back into Liesel’s life as she takes the plunge through the open library window. She steals her first book.
Over time, Liesel’s book thievery and general inquisitiveness earn her a fond reputation. Then, the fallout of the war arrives on her foster parents’ doorstep carrying a battered suitcase. And Liesel’s book thievery becomes more important than ever.
I waited a very long time to read this book, and I did so for a good reason; so. much. hype.
I remember when this book came out, and when the movie was made in 2013, it was widely acclaimed both by people I knew and across the internet. I decided I wanted to wait until the excitement had all died down so that I could read and review Markus Zusak’s fifth book without the pressure of passionate fans.
I will start off positively by saying that, overall, I liked it. It was decent. The story, whilst very slow in pace, has an ambient, calming, tranquil nature to it for the most part, despite its setting of Germany during World War II. It goes without saying, Rudy and Hans were my absolute favourite characters. The breathed a different sort of life into the scenes they occupied. I loved Rudy for his rugged, boyish charm. He’s the kind of friend who teases and insults you out of pure love. Hans is gentle, his presence reassuring. He’s the kind of person who could make you instantly feel safe under his gaze. For the most part, I liked Liesel as well. In terms of standing out, she wasn’t too special of a protagonist. She was mostly outshone by some of her peers, particularly Rudy. Her persistence with “learning her words” was endearing, and it was clear she cared a lot for Rudy and Hans. With other characters, however, she seemed rather emotionally disconnected. Most of the time, the reader only gets what Liesel sees of Rosa, not so much how she feels about her.
I responded well to the narrator’s focus primarily on Liesel and her little world within a world on Himmel Street. It was refreshing to see a take on WWII from the perspective of just a few ordinary folks in an ordinary town. Even so, the devastation left in the wake of the fighting and the iron grip of the Nazi reign is an ever-present anxiety that lurks in the darkest corners of everyone’s minds.
Whilst some aspects of the story are strong, such as the supporting characters and the atmospheric aspects of the story, there are a few issues I must address (please don’t hate me). Firstly, Death’s little inputs. At first, I thought these little nuggets of information and expressions of thought were quirky and unique. As the narrative progressed, however, the more I questioned what the actual point of them was. Most of the time, they did nothing to progress the story, or develop character, or to leave some kind of emotional impact. But they did absolutely none of that. By about halfway though the book, I found myself skipping over them completely, without experiencing any detraction from the actual narrative (I went back over and re-read them just to see if they made a difference, and they didn’t).
Furthermore, can someone please tell Zusak that not everything has to be a simile or metaphor to be profound? For example, “pinecones littered the ground like cookies?” Excuse me? What? I don’t know what type of cookies you’re eating, Mr Zusak, but maybe you should switch to a different recipe maybe? I understand the attempt to capture the nature of adolescence, but the point in time when this analogy was written, Liesel couldn’t even be considered a young child anymore. She was closer to fourteen, and I know that when I was fourteen, I wasn’t perceiving pinecones as cookies.
With Death as the narrator, the reader perceives a sense of ominous foreshadowing throughout the duration of the story; you just know it isn’t going to end well. Whilst Death hints at the deaths of some characters, however, I found that partially revealing the death scenes in a ‘flash forward’ scene actually detracted most of the shock, horror, and sadness I felt when it came to the actual book’s conclusion. Initially, I teared up when I learned who wouldn’t make it, but when I finished the book, I couldn’t recall those earlier sensations in the same way as the first revelation. To me, this detracted from the impact of the story’s consequences, and left the book on a rather anti-climatic note.
Markus Zusak’s novel gives us a satisfactory, melancholic insight into the realities of war, and the far-reaching consequences it brings for the ‘little people’. The Book Thief is ambling, enjoyable, and full of love. If a little childish and in dire need of a re-edit.
It has been three whole years since my last post on this blog… THREE. YEARS.
All I can say is, I’m sorry!
Life had gotten so busy throughout Year 12; I barely had enough time to sleep let alone consistently read enough books to publish worthy blog posts!
Now, however, I feel that I must get back to writing for pleasure more often, otherwise I fear I’ll forget what forged my love for it in the first place.
So as catch-ups go, I have quite a lot to share with you all! Firstly, I graduated high school! Hooray! Then, I got into university! Double hooray!!
Now, I’m a third year Bachelor of Media/ Bachelor of Arts student at Adelaide University. I’m majoring in Creative Writing, and I’ve been managing to keep up a 6.5 GPA for the last 3 years. I am entering my second semester, and I’m aiming to graduate at the end of next year, unless I totally crash and burn between now and then (which, let’s be honest, might actually be a likely occurrence knowing me heh).
I will be re-formatting this blog a little bit to become more in-line with my current interests. Book reviews will still be the main feature here, but I will be expanding to include film reviews, and I may even branch into music review. Fandom Fridays will be archived as I don’t believe I will continue that segment. As for short stories, I will try my best to add to my online collection. I will also upload any poetry or personal musings that I think up, so I will change the name of the ‘Short Stories’ segment to ‘Original Work’.
I will aim to upload weekly, most likely posting towards the end of the week or on weekends. I may not get a book review up every week though, as uni work still comes first! If I don’t review a book one week, I will upload some original work or a film review instead!
I suppose that’s it for now, I guess all I have left to say is hello! I’m glad to be back! Feel free to leave me any suggestions for books/movies, or just come say hi, I’ve missed you all!
Today’s review: Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
Author: Agatha Christie
Released: 1975 (originally written in the 1940s during the Blitz)
Number of pages: 224
Genre: Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller/ Classic
Series: Hercule Poirot (#39)
The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara , Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd Carrington. So Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the aging detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?
The novel features Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in their final appearances in Christie’s works. It is a country house novel, with all the characters and the murder set in one house. Not only does the novel return the characters to the setting of her first, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but it reunites Poirot and Hastings, who last appeared together in Dumb Witness in 1937. It was adapted for television in 2013.
It seems that age and a life of crime and thrills has finally caught up with the great Hercule Poirot. Reduced to a wheelchair and grievously ill, Poirot returns to the guest house at Styles, wherein he solved his first murder with Captain Arthur Hastings, apparently in order to rejuvenate his health. Hastings arrives to visit Poirot upon his request, and would for the next few weeks share accommodation with his daughter Judith Hastings, her boss Doctor Franklin and his unwell wife Barbara, the wealthy Sir William Boyd Carrington, the reserved and secretive Elizabeth Cole, the quiet and observant Norton, the intelligent Nurse Craven, the handsome and dangerous Mr Allerton, and the meek Colonel Luttrell and his overbearing wife Daisy.
It soon becomes obvious to Hastings, however, that Poirot’s visit to Styles is more than a mere health retreat. Once alone, Poirot tells Hastings that one of the guests is a five-times murderer… and they are planning to kill again. With very little clue as to who it could be, Hastings begins to observe all of the guests at Styles, acquainting himself with each of them and learning what he can about their connections to the other guests. Tensions begin to arise when Judith begins to become overly familiar with Allerton, a man to whom Hastings took an instant disliking. Boyd Carrington’s unrequited feelings for Barbara Franklin and her fluctuating moods and state of health begin to create a rift between her and her husband. Daisy Luttrell’s command over her meek and submissive husband makes for an uncomfortable experience for all parties. All the guests tiptoe around each other and interact with carefully-selected words and all the while from his wheelchair or his bed, Hercule Poirot’s “little grey cells” are hard at work, making connections, doing everything he can to stay on-par with X, Styles’ mystery murderer.
It is here, during his final days, that Poirot is faced with the greatest challenge of his career as he uses all of his power and experience to bring down, in his mind, the perfect murderer. His only hope is that he can do so before another body drops…
If I were to say that I absolutely loved Agatha Christie more than anything else, that would be an understatement. As an avid reader of her Poirot and Marple series’ for years (Poirot being my favourite), Curtain was both brilliant and heart-wrenching. The story was wrought with memories, with frequent references to The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first murder that Poirot and Hastings ever solved together. It was clear that memories of the past is a major theme of this novel, as reflected in the story’s solemn conclusion.
This book was also great for Hastings’ character development. In almost all of the previous Poirot novels, there is particular focus, of course, on Poirot’s methods and actions, with Hastings being a mere observer and re-counter of events as they occur. Seeing as Poirot is essentially out of the picture for much of this book due to his inability to move, Hastings is given a chance to grow and develop as a character. We are given much more insight into his own thoughts and feelings, and his own thought-out observations of certain situations. We get much more information about his relationship with his daughter, who, the reader discovers, is almost nothing like her father in nature. That said, it is sweet to learn of his protective nature of his youngest daughter, even if his love for her clouds his judgement (quite significantly) at times.
Agatha Christie’s Curtain is a compelling and rather saddening trip down memory lane as we follow the great Belgian Detective Hercule Poirot on one last riveting, edge-of-your-seat, whodunnit mystery. Rich in high class, scandals, and tense undertones, it makes for a perfect lazy weekend read, but fair warning, Poirot fans may want to get the tissues ready.
Today’s review: Angels and Demons
Author: Dan Brown Cover of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons
Publisher: Pocket Books
Number of pages: 713
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller/ Crime/ Historical
Series: Robert Langdon (#1)
When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyse a mysterious symbol—seared into the chest of a murdered physicist—he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati … the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy—the Catholic Church.
Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.
Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair … a clandestine location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.
For hundreds of years, the Illuminati disappeared from the face of the Earth; little more than a distant memory to a world that has since advanced beyond a fear of science and become one that embraces it. Leading the crusade towards a secular, technology-savvy future is the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) who have been secretly experimenting with a new, all-powerful form of pure dark energy- antimatter. If used in the right hands, one drop of antimatter is said to be powerful enough to supply the entire earth with power for a month and contains the energy equivalent to a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb. The Catholic Church, as they have done with all areas of science since the times of Galileo, has spoken out against the research that CERN has been carrying out for years, determined to halt the inevitable march of progress and brand science as an evil practice that will eventually lead to the destruction of the human race.
Tensions continued to rise between CERN and the Church until one night, one side reached breaking point. One night, Harvard symbologist Professor Robert Langdon received a fax containing information on the Illuminati that he had been searching for his whole life. The fax contained only one disturbing image: the murdered body of one of CERN’s top physicists, Leonardo Vetra, and on his chest was branded the infamous and long-forgotten symbol for a brotherhood thought long extinct: the Illuminati. Langdon is whisked to CERN’s headquarters in Geneva where he meets the director of CERN, Maximilan Koehler, and bio-entanglement physicist Vittoria Vetra, the adopted daughter of the dead physicist. Vittoria suspects that Vetra was killed for his work on antimatter technology, and her fears are rendered true when they discover in Vetra’s secret lab that a canister containing one of his samples of antimatter has been stolen. Before panic even begins to settle in however, Langdon and Vittoria are summoned to the Vatican City in Rome where the Swiss Guard await with news of four cardinals kidnapped by an ancient brotherhood on the eve of the Papal Conclave. The ominous video of the hostages could only have been sent by the Illuminati, and this becomes clear when the brotherhood display their weapon of choice: the antimatter canister.
Soon, Langdon and Vittoria find themselves thrust deep into a long and bloody battle between religion and science, chasing clues left through history down the Path of Illumination and towards the infamous Illuminati lair. Time is working against them to deduce the various locations of the kidnapped cardinals before they are murdered and branded in the name of science, and to track down the antimatter canister before it is set to explode at midnight, aiming to have Vatican City “consumed by light”.
It’s universally accepted that a book will always be better than its movie adaptation, but I’m afraid to say, Angels and Demons might be one of the few exceptions to this rule. I haven’t read may Dan Brown novels. Hell, I haven’t even read The Da Vinci Code. The first book of his I read was Inferno, which I have to say was, although a little over-dramatic at some points, overall pretty good. I suppose the same could be said for this book for the most part but unfortunately, I watched the movie first and whilst I was made aware that the movie made A LOT of changes, I’ve gotta say that those changes might have been for the better.
Don’t get me wrong though, no matter how cheesy or far-fetched some of the events get in Brown’s books, I still really love me a good puzzle-solving story. The thrill of the chase is always so exhilarating and this is something I definitely felt in Angels and Demons. The imagery Brown creates of the various sites around Rome and the Vatican is rich in historical context and makes for a very authentic feel; I loved learning the history behind the artwork and architecture at the same time as I enjoyed the action. For the most part, the novel was pretty fast-paced, considering that it’s written in “real time”, basically taking place over the course of a day. The action was tense and exciting, and the speed at which Langdon could make historical connections with the clues he uncovered made for a very engaging read for the most part. There were some parts that slowed down the action however, and in hindsight didn’t really seem all that necessary, for example the discussion about the reasons for Vetra’s work could have been achieved with less words and could have lost some the unnecessary questions that were only there to break up the huge slabs of speech.
I enjoyed Langdon’s humour and the information he was able to provide from his own experience, and overall he was a fairly engaging narrator, but there were some points where he came off as a bit of an idiot. He was unable to read and calculate some situations properly and I got a little bit annoyed at him sometimes because he would seem to ask questions he already knew the answers to. I really liked Vittoria Vetra’s character though. I liked her independence and intelligence, and her ability to read and take control of a situation with a level head came in handy throughout most of the novel. I didn’t, however, like the unnecessary amount of focus diverted towards her “mysterious eyes” or her “perfect breasts” or her “toned legs”. Like yes, those details are good for Langdon’s first perception of her character, but the recurring focus on her physical features wasn’t needed. This didn’t happen with any of the male characters. The sexual chemistry between the characters implicated later in the book also never felt authentic. In the context of the story, and keeping in mind that they’d only known each other for A DAY, it never felt right. Their relationship could have been kept purely platonic and the story would not have been affected in any way. The apparent “romance” was slap-dash at best and given no time to develop.
For the most part, many of the decisions made and the directions taken within the novel were well-justified, but near the end, some of the action sequences were pretty far-fetched to the point where some parts were just silly. I found this to be the same case with Inferno; it goes from a very clever puzzle-solving mystery to something similar to an over-the-top action movie. One part had me going “oh come on, really?” I think the film adaptation’s producers realised that these parts were just a bit too silly as well, because they certainly toned down the climax near the end and turned it into something a bit closer to believable. I just think it’s funny, thinking of the producers sitting there reading the book like “Dan please… calm down…”
Overall, I found the book quite enjoyable, and it was when the mystery began to get more complex and the tension began to build that Brown’s eye for the finer details of mystery really came alive. For the most part, it’s a very fast-paced book with stabs of witty humour here and there to keep the reader entertained. I’m glad I’ve read this before Da Vinci Code, because I feel that I would have been more critical in comparing the two, but as it is, it’s a great novel for those looking for a nice little mystery to get the mind working.
PS This post is Illuminati confirmed 😉
Hi guys!!! Sorry I haven’t updated in so long, school’s been really hectic right now, but I’ve just come back to thank you all so much because, you guessed it…
A STUDY IN DAYDREAMS HAS HIT 100 FOLLOWERS!!!
Now I wonder what gave that away…
Thank you all so much for supporting me by following me. My blog has been a great medium for me to improve my writing skills, and I hope that it’s served as some entertainment for you. I hope to be back in the habit of updating regularly soon, and I apologise for this semi-hiatus.
Thank you all so much again, and I hope to be back with you all soon!
Christie 🙂 xx
WWW Wednesdays is an event hosted by Sam at SamAnneElizabeth that asks three questions:
What are you currently reading?
I have just started reading Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons for my English class assignment. The only other Brown book I’ve read before is Inferno, which was absolutely fantastic, so I have high hopes for this one. So far, the book differs quite significantly from the movie (which was a good movie until the ending ruined it), but both are equally as engaging at this point. I’m deliberately leaving The Da Vinci Code until later, because I know that book is Brown’s best and I feel as though it would be unfair to compare it to the rest of the series, which doesn’t quite meet Code‘s standards.
What did you finish reading?
The last book I was reading, I didn’t actually finish. I’ve taken a break from it and I hope to return to it later. I was reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre. I had also been reading this for English, but seeing as I hadn’t read any previous books in the series, I found it hard to follow and there was just so much jargon that would obviously make more sense if I had read the other books. When I have the time, I will return to it, because it is regarded as a modern classic in the crime genre and there’s no way I’m missing out on reading that.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Most of my books will be crime-oriented for the time being, as my focus for English this year is the crime and mystery genre. Next, I’m hoping to look at something like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, or a classic Agatha Christie murder mystery.
What have you guys been reading? Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments!
-Christie 🙂 xx