Posts tagged review
Posts tagged review
I wanted to post a few thoughts about the Catching Fire teaser trailer.
I’m really pleased that it has the same look as The Hunger Games because I thought the locations, scenery and colours used were really well suited to the series and Catching Fire looks like it will be similarly bleak looking.
The discussion between President Snow and Plutarch helps set up the pressures that Katniss is facing and explain why it is so important that she behaves how Snow wants her to. I’m pleased that the filmmakers are properly making something of this political aspect of the books and not avoiding their full potential.
Peeta isn’t in the trailer very much but Josh looks like he’s playing Peeta’s disappointment in Katniss’ feelings well. I loved Effie’s “Chins up. Smiles on.” Her outfit looks amazing, can’t wait to see more of her in this film. Also great to see more of Gale, looking forward to him having more to do.
The only thing I’m not keen on so far is Katniss’ “Go ahead” line when she steps in to stop Gale’s whipping. It doesn’t really fit with the nature of her actions in the book:
“No!” I cry, and spring forward. It’s too late to stop the arm from descending, and I instinctively know I won’t have the power to block it. Instead I throw myself between the whip and Gale.
I like the fact that her actions in this scene are rushed and not thought through because in so many other points she can be so calculated that it is glimpses like this of the real Katniss that make her so interesting. However, I cannot judge this whole scene without seeing how it is setup in the film. This is absolutely just an initial reaction.
It’s perfect that they don’t ruin the twist in this year’s Hunger Games because that’s a great moment in the plot and I hope that moment is suitably dramatic in the film.
Overall, very excited and gutted to have to wait until November!
Algernon and Jack have both invented characters so as to provide excuses for their bailing on family or social commitments and The Importance of Being Earnest tells the amusing demise of this scheme, as their attempts at concealment become ever more complicated.
Having never read or seen any Wilde before I didn’t know what to expect from reading this play and at only 67 pages I was intrigued as to what I might find. I was pleasantly surprised to find it very amusing, light-hearted and full of members of the gentility mocking themselves and the attitudes of their class, intentionally and unintentionally.
A very amusing read and now I would really love to see a performance of it!
Rating - **** 4 stars
The Host by Stephenie Meyer tells the story of Melanie Stryder whose body is inhabited by a soul, Wanda, after the earth has been invaded by alien souls. There is a small human resistance and Melanie was a part of that. Wanda is fighting for control of Melanie’s body but Melanie refuses to go down without a fight. To make matters more complicated, Melanie wants to get herself and her body back to her brother, Jamie, and boyfriend, Jared.
I read The Host 5 years ago and loved it. Even though, at the time, I was a Twilight fan (c’mon, admit it, most of us were at 15 or 16), I always thought The Host was better just because the story was so good. The complications of the love interests were really interesting because they are so unlike many novels because of the fact that two characters were inhabiting the same body. I really need to go back and reread it to see if it’s as good as I remember but still, the novel has an engaging story.
I’ve just been to see The Host as I was pleasantly surprised. I had been looking forward to seeing how they would portray the Melanie/Wanda dynamic and I thought Saoirse Ronan did a really good job. There was some sound casting decisions made and I thought the movie had an impressive cast overall who seemed to work well together.
I love that the movie isn’t overly dramatic. The people behind the film haven’t tried to embellish the story at all and have just let it be told without adding things that they think an audience wants like unnecessary violence or romance. Although, Saoirse Ronan does get a lot of kissing scenes with both Max Irons and Jake Abel, looks like she had a real tough time filming those…
The Host seems to have learned a few lessons from The Twilight Saga and for that, I am extremely grateful. For something which will be trying to pick up Meyer’s existing audience, it was considerably more understated than I thought it would be.
Go see it. I think you might be surprised.
The final instalment of The Infernal Devices is finally out! Clockwork Princess finds the Shadowhunters of the London Institute trying to defeat Mortmain once more. Meanwhile, Tessa Gray is also trying to discover the truth behind what exactly she is.
Like all of Clare’s novels, it’s action-packed, full of romance and drama and un-put-downable. It starts brilliantly and draws you in straight away, carrying on the story from Clockwork Prince. The novel is never boring and is always continuing the extremely complicated, heart-breaking love triangle or leading up to some dramatic fight scenes.
One of Clare’s little tricks is the links between The Mortal Instruments characters and those in The Infernal Devices. I love the added details like the creation of the Herondale star. She manages to add in things that you never realised you wanted to hear about!
Clockwork Princess has a lot to tie up from the first two instalments and I think it does it really well. Generally all the questions are answered that readers might have. In that way it’s a satisfying end to the trilogy. It was always going to be difficult to end but as always, Clare had something up her sleeve. I really like the end of the novel itself but I have to say, I’m not a massive fan of the Epilogue. Epilogues are always controversial though so it’s not surprising that this is the case. I just feel like maybe it tries to do a bit too much and give us too many answers when the actual end of the book seems to finish in quite a good place.
I really enjoyed Clockwork Princess. I think The Infernal Devices series draws you in more as you read each novel and it has a satisfying conclusion with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
I can’t wait to read about what everyone else thought of the end!
This is arguably Wilkie Collins’ most famous novel and is one of the earliest detective novels. It is also part of a trend of sensation novels that appeared during the 1860s which told scandalous tales with such shocking events as adultery and murder *gasp*. Sorry, hope you’ve recovered from the shocking nature of these novels. Yes? Then we’ll continue.
The Moonstone charts the story of a large and very valuable jewel which has been stolen in India and brought to England. The jewel is a very important one and many people are trying to recover it. The main storyline of the novel is that of the jewel’s disappearance from a large family home the night it arrives. The story is told from multiple perspectives which is always a device I really enjoy but that’s down to personal taste. It is done particularly well here as the narrators all comment on one another and seem to think that they are the best person to tell it. You are constantly aware that the narrator is putting their own spin on things.
This will sound odd but what I didn’t particularly enjoy about The Moonstone was its plot. In terms of a mystery I just wasn’t hooked. I had a reasonable amount of curiosity as to who had stolen the jewel but I think that was just out of the practicality of the fact that I had invested so much time in reading it already. I personally don’t find a mystery about a robbery as interesting as mysteries that involve family secrets for example, or something along those lines. For this reason, I would highly recommend The Woman in White, another of Collins’ novels that genuinely held my interest and has a really great plot.
So I definitely enjoyed the writing style and the multiple perspectives but I wasn’t rushing on to find out whodunnit.
Rating - *** 3 stars.
Yes, this does officially have one of the weirdest titles. And yes, the author does have one of the weirdest names. Very odd, but hopefully you can get past that because this is a great book!
Following the death of two close friends of his, Kinky Friedman, amateur detectective, suspects the two deaths may be linked and gets his group of friends together to try and solve the case.
I have to admit, I didn’t find the plot thrilling but you have to read this book just for the writing style. Kinky Friedman is a really funny, engaging writer and I found myself laughing out loud a few times. Friedman is the writer AND the protagonist of this story. As a protagonist he’s really easy to understand and empathise with and his odd habits will amuse and entertain you. As will his relationship with his cat. Not in a weird way. He just describes him brilliantly and may be my favourite character!
A witty, entertaining novel, Rating - **** 4 stars.
Get Shorty follows Chili Palmer, a loan shark, who is told to collect the debt of Leo Devoe. Following him to Hollywood, Chili gets in with a movie producer. In a novel where reality becomes silver-screen material, Chili somehow finds himself at the heart of the movie making industry
I really enjoyed Get Shorty. It is not what I would normally read and considering how I’ve felt about the past few crime books I’ve read recently (The Long Goodbye, LA Confidential), I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this. It really surprised me because it actually has a plot that you can follow without having to remember dozens of names and who’s done what to whom. The character of Chili is well-developed and easy to like or at least enjoy reading about.
The main aspect of this novel that stood out is the constant undeniable tension between what is real and what is fake. The novel goes down the road of meta-fiction when the plot of the novel becomes the plot of a movie Chili is pitching to Hollywood producers. In an ironic and witty way, Leonard is commenting on his own novel when he has Chili suggest improvements and adjustments to the story. It blurs the line between character and author as you’re not quite sure who is actually writing this story.
Get Shorty has one of my new favourite last lines -
Fuckin endings, man, they weren’t as easy as they looked.
The abrupt ending is great and I love Leonard’s irony and willingness to play around with his own story.
I definitely would recommend this! Rating - **** 4 stars
Hmmm. If I’m honest, I’ve been putting off this review because I can’t really make my mind up about this book. It’s the first book I studied for my American crime fiction module I’m taking at the moment, so we’re reading it as an example of classic crime fiction and then moving onto more modern examples.
The novel follows private investigator Philip Marlowe as he tries to help his new-found friend, the alcoholic Terry Lennox, get out of various sticky situations. Lennox’s wife is found dead and Lennox later commits suicide, leaving Marlowe to clear Lennox’s name as he is sure he did not kill his wife. The story continues with many twists and turns and I’m 99% sure you won’t guess who the real villain is.
Why am I not so keen then? I just wasn’t hooked at all. It’s hard to pinpoint what it was but I didn’t really care about Philip Marlowe even though he’s supposed to be the moral exemplar in a corrupt world. I think that might have been the problem. The novel hinges on the premise that Marlowe befriends Lennox when Lennox is so drunk he can’t get into his car. He brings him back to the apartment and tries to sober him up. I just could not see the majority of normal people actually doing this. It is hard to believe the lengths Marlowe goes to in the rest of the novel for a man he hardly knew. It is purely because I find Marlowe’s extreme generosity in this instance hard to believe that I couldn’t get behind the rest of the plot because it pretty much all rests on that.
Overall, not too keen. If you’re a fan of crime fiction anyway, it could be your thing but I think there are other better crime novels out there.
Rating - ** 2 stars
LA Confidential is the third novel in Ellroy’s ‘LA Quartet’ but you don’t necessarily have to read them in order. I haven’t read any of the others. Set in the 1950s the novel is set in LA and focuses on the LAPD trying to solve a few major crimes. This is a novel where I genuinely couldn’t give you a particularly helpful plot outline as there are many subplots which eventually all link up by the end! It begins with six prisoners being violently assaulted by police officers in the cells on an event that is called Bloody Christmas. This event shows us the corruption in the LAPD and from there, the secrets, deals, and violence does not let up.
I found the beginning of the book particularly difficult to get into as there is quite a lot of 50s American crime-related slang which, as I mentioned in My Week Ahead in Books post this week, I’m not exactly familiar with. 50 pages in though and things are starting to become clearer. The narrative starts to reveal itself and it is easier to work out what the plotlines are and who the main players are in this police department.
LA Confidential is jam-packed with action and dialogue. Boring is not a label you could attach to this book. The prose is clipped and to the point, making it feel fast-paced and adding to the theme of chaos in the novel. It presents us with a warts and all picture of LA as a city.
For my tastes personally, there was a lot of action and dialogue, leaving you wishing you had a moment to think on all that you’ve learned. That was Ellroy’s point, I get it. I just would say that there would definitely be some people who wouldn’t enjoy his distinctive style, especially if you are not used to reading such novels (like myself.)
I just had my lecture on Ellroy today and we were told that Ellroy wanted readers to feel ‘reamed, steamed and dry-cleaned’ upon finishing one of his novels. Well, I did. Job done!
If you’re into crime novels, go for it. The plot does work itself out well and I’d be very impressed if anyone could guess the ending.
Rating - *** 3 and a half stars.
Dickens’ last completed novel is a long one, as you might expect. This is often quite daunting and I imagine it’s what scares many people off his novels. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have started with this point. ANYWAY what I’m trying to say is yes, it’s rather lengthy and wordy and everything you might expect from Dickens, but it’s also rather good.
The storyline is one that just unfolds and unfolds into its expansive, all-encompassing glory. The first 200 pages or so are slighty daunting as there do seem to be a lot of characters at first and it’s hard to ascertain exactly who are the important ones. Well, it turns out they all are. Everyone has their role to play in this novel. There are characters from all areas of society and many are connected, as is revealed as the novel progresses.
What I always really enjoy is Dickens’ character descriptions. They are just priceless and always entertaining. He really had a way with words, sounds obvious I know but sometimes you need to note the basics.
The story is about John Harmon, whose father’s will leaves him his inheritance with the condition that he marries Bella Wilfer. He doesn’t know her and so decides to assume another identity in order to get to know her and decide how he feels about her. Very sensible, if you ask me. He does this by faking his death so when Harmon ‘dies’, Bella, who believed she was going to marry into a rich family, is devastated at the luxurious lifestyle she has missed out on. I really enjoyed watching Bella’s transformation throughout the novel and I love the fact that Dickens thinks about how these events affected Bella and not just Harmon who is the protagonist. The novel really allows every character to have a story and feel realistically developed.
It is a great story. It takes a while to get into but I really did find myself hooked.
Review - **** 4 stars.
The Woman in White was serialised in 1859-1860 and tells a mystery that you’ll want to get to the end of (in a good way, you’ll have to know what happens!). Walter Hartwright meets a woman in white on the street and little does he know the effect she will have on his life. It’s hard to summarise the story because of the way it unfolds and becomes more and more complicated. I remember when I first began reading I wondered how this story would play out over nearly 500 pages. But as they say, the plot thickens and you will wonder how on earth this story can have any semblance of an ending.
The story is told through the words of nearly everyone involved in the plot throughout the novel. This is one of its strengths because you hear events that happen from different points of view which is a great way of increasing suspense.
I don’t normally read mysteries or thrillers so was unsure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. I got completely caught up in the story and it’s one that you find yourself thinking about when you’re not reading it.
I would advise you to read this if you like gothic or mystery novels as the style of writing is of the sort found in novels such as Wuthering Heights. Highly recommended, much better than I thought it would be.
Rating - **** 4 stars
Having watched the Great Expectations miniseries that was on the BBC last Christmas, I then read the book and now love it. So I was intrigued to see another adaptation. The film has a lot of great names in it, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane and Helena Bonham Carter to name a few. Ralph Fiennes makes a great Magwitch, his death was really emotional. (It was strange to be rooting for Fiennes, to me he’s Voldemort.) As much as I hate to say it, I was a little bit disappointed with Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. I thought she would be a perfect Miss Havisham but actually I didn’t really believe in her tragedy enough. I think this could also be a fault of the script, I’m not sure she always had enough to work with maybe? The lead, Jeremy Irvine made a great Pip and I especially liked his relationship with Joe in this film which is really brought to the forefront.
It is a fairly long film, and at times it feels like it. The pacing isn’t quite right, the story seemed to work better in the 3 hour-long slots that a miniseries could give it. The second half of the film is better but that is mostly because of the way the plot unfolds, all the best scenes are in the second half where there are lots of revelations. With the amount of content there is, it is slightly rushed.
A scene they did really well was when Pip returns to Satis House when he hears Estella is to marry. Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger are great in the scene and Pip’s declaration is emotional but not over-played.
If you love Great Expectations then you will like this film, simply for the chance to relive the story. I had forgotten lots of small plot points and it made me want to reread the book. However if you haven’t seen an adaptation yet, I would recommend the 2011 BBC version.
As I have said previously in my discussion of Jane Austen, I’m more of a Bronte girl myself. I’ve read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and have wanted to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall for a long time. It didn’t disappoint, I enjoyed it as much as I hoped.
Helen Graham’s arrival at Wildfell Hall causes rumours to abound amongst her neighbours as she arrives with her son and no word as to her previous situation. The story which follows raises intriguing questions about whether it’s necessary to know someone’s background. Perhaps in this instance, things would’ve been less complicated if Helen had just told everyone what had happened to her but it would have made for a much less exciting story.
This is one of the few classics I’ve read where I’ve come to it without having seen an adaptation or known the story which made a really nice change! Helen has a great story to tell and Anne Bronte just tells it so well. A host of interesting characters surround Helen and make for a great read.
I would only say that the ending is ever so slightly drawn out at a point where you can mostly guess what will happen. This is only a small criticism, it really won’t affect your overall enjoyment! Have a read if you like the other Brontes, I know they’re three different writers but in my experience, if you like one of their works, you’ll like the others’.
Rating - **** 4 stars.
This is the second Jane Austen novel I have read and I much preferred it to Pride and Prejudice. Sorry to the Austen lovers but I’m more of a Bronte girl myself. Mansfield Park though was more interesting and less simplistic than P & P. Maybe I knew Darcy and Elizabeth’s story too well but Fanny Price’s tale interested me more.
The novel opens with the decision being made that Fanny Price will go and live with her wealthy relations, the Bertrams, at Mansfield Park. Never made to feel a full member of the family, Fanny is quiet, obedient and very moralistic. The main reason why I liked Mansfield Park was the characters. However, Fanny Price is most definitely not a twenty-first century kind of heroine. She never can be, I do understand this, but her heightened morals and general wet blanket-ness (yes, that’s definitely a word) were a little frustrating. I accept that this reaction to Fanny is merely personal preference but for me the other characters in the novel were more interesting. Henry, Mary and Maria for example were much more fun to read about. Mrs. Norris - I don’t think I’ve hated a character so much in a long time. Her attitude to Fanny and her constant put-downs are infuriating! I may not have liked Fanny too much but Mrs. Norris is so poisonous I found myself wanting to jump to Fanny’s defence.
I’m currently writing an essay on this novel so I am learning to appreciate its greater purpose and what it has to say on society, behaviour and social change. However as a read purely for entertainment, I think it can also be enjoyable, with well-developed characters who you’ll root for or want to shout at!
Rating - *** 3 stars.
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is nearly 40 years old yet it changed the scenery for vampire fiction and continues to influence the modern vampire texts which are being written today. It’s questionable whether a phenomenon like Twilight could have existed today without this text. It is one of the first texts to provide the vampire’s perspective on events and so create a sympathy in the reader for what was previously a cause for horror.
The novel centres on Louis who tells the story of how he was turned by Lestat and the consequences which followed. Louis is an easy character to relate to and someone whose story you’ll want to hear. The novel was not what I expected and had a fair few twists and turns. Interesting, well-developed characters help to raise this novel’s game to something worthy of people’s praise. The realtionship between Louis, Lestat and Claudia is creepy yet fascinating. I particularly liked Claudia, the child vampire who is turned and gradually realises she will stay a child for eternity while having a woman’s knowledge. There was something really tragic about her even if she was also slightly deranged…
I really liked this novel, not sure whether I would read the whole Vampire Chronicles but this first installment is well worth a read.
Rating **** - 4 stars.