Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

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Title: The Girls

Author: Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Rating: 5/5

I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.

I started reading this book at 1 AM and had to stop because the first couple of pages creeped me out so I decided to continue reading tomorrow, in daylight. Turns out, most of the book isn’t that scary, even though it’s inspired by the real life cult of Charles Manson and the murders his followers commited. The story deals with Evie’s life, meeting Russel’s followers, how easily she accepted their way of life and how much their influence changed her life. It’s easy to understand Evie, her insecurity and how much she wants to be part of something – anything.

I waited to be told what was good about me. I wondered later if this was why there were so many more women than men at the ranch. All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you—the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.

That was part of being a girl—you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

The writing is beautiful; Cline writes normal scenes from teenage life with hints of horrible things that happen later. The book is full of creepy tension that reminds you, however calm the story may be at the moment, it’s not going to stay like that. Parts of the book are written from the perspective of middle aged Evie who is, decades later, remembering the time she spent with Suzanne and other girls.

I fielded Sasha’s questions about what they had been like in real life, those people who had become totems of themselves. Guy had been less interesting to the media, just a man doing what men had always done, but the girls were made mythic. Donna was the unattractive one, slow and rough, often cast as a pity case. The hungry harshness in her face. Helen, the former Camp Fire Girl, tan and pigtailed and pretty—she was the fetish object, the pinup murderess. But Suzanne got the worst of it. Depraved. Evil. Her sneaky beauty didn’t photograph well. She looked feral and meager, like she might have existed only to kill.

When I was reading the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that this is based on real events. That’s the reason parts of the book scared me so much – it’s fiction, but there are people who’s lives were very similar to this.

This is one of my favorite books of 2016 and I can’t wait to see what Emma Cline writes next.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Buy Right Now

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Ten books you’d buy right this second if someone handed you a fully loaded gift card!

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I read this book and loved it, but I don’t own it, So this would be one of the first I’d buy (and the sequel too!). I want to reread those two before the third book comes out.


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The Persian Boy by Mary Renault

This is the second book in Alexander the Great trilogy, one of my favorite trilogies ever. Mary Renault is the perfect writer for anybody that enjoys reading about ancient Greece and I think this book is her best work.


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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’m a big fan of The Grisha trilogy, but I still haven’t read this one… maybe I should wait until the rest of the books are out. But I probably won’t – I’ll probably buy it as soon as possible.


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Saga Vol 5. by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples 

The first four volumes of this crazy space opera graphic novel were incredible, hopefully the series continues that way.


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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This is the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, it seems like the kind of epic fantasy I’d love.


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The Norton Anthology of Poetry by Margaret Ferguson, Jon Stallworthy, Mary Jo Salter

This is 2000 pages long and very expensive, but it contains 1800 poems and I really, really want it. I’m getting back into reading poetry so this would be perfect for me.


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Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

This is one of those books that I’ve heard so much about, I just want to read it to finally see for myself if all the hype is worth it. But I doubt I’ll get around to it anytime soon.


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Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling

The seventh (and last) book in the Nightrunner series. I remember reading the series and being absolutely in love with Seregil, Alec and their adventures, but for some reason I still haven’t read the last book.



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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Is there anyone other than me who hasn’t read this? The second book is out too and I haven’t even read the first one. Catching up to my to-read list is getting more and more difficult.


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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Yet another series on my list… Everybody seems to love this. It’s a young adult (or maybe new adult?) fantasy that I think I’d love too. Hopefully I’ll find out soon enough.


This was a seriously difficult list to compile. The fact is, if I could, I’d buy every book on my GR to-read list😀

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Series: Harry Potter #8 

Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Rating: 5/5

WARNING: SPOILERS!!!

Seriously, there are so many spoilers here and if haven’t read (or seen) the play they won’t make much sense but they will still ruin everything for you.

It’s finally here! It’s been years since ‘All was well’ and now this little book is here to tell us that, actually, er, all wasn’t well.

The beginning of this story overlaps with the Deathly Hallows epilogue. The kids are off to school, it’s Albus’s first year and on the train he meets his new best friend – Scorpius Malfoy. Awesome, right? And then Albus gets sorted into Slytherin (my house, btw), everyone is shocked and suddenly it’s the beginning of the second year. After showing a couple of moments from the second and third years, the story fast-forwards to the fourth year where most of the action takes place.

And the action is crazy, fun, and confusing as fuck. There’s a time-turner and Albus and Scorpius use it to try to save Cedric’s life, but they fail and Ron is married to Padma and Rose doesn’t exist, so they try again and Scorpius is by himself in oops-Voldemort-won version of the world, so he tries to change things again but Voldemort has a daughter (wtf!!!) and EVERYONE goes back in time, Harry channels his inner Voldemort, everyone is friends and there’s a happy ending. Hey, I warned you about the spoilers!

Albus and Scorpius’s friendship is the BEST part of this story. Neither of them are copies of their parents (thank god for that). I wish we got more scenes with Lily, Rose and James, but I guess there was no time for that. Revisiting the old characters was bittersweet. It’s nice to know what happens later, but part of me wanted to believe that ‘All was well.’ meant all was well forever, not all was well up until this moment. It was strange picturing Harry, Ron and Hermione as adults – my brain kept switching between older versions we see in the seventh movie and the actors who play them in Cursed Child.

I understand why some people say this story is basically a fanfic – there are so many moments that are a wish fulfillment for so many HP fans. So many characters are back! Snape is back and I know lots of people won’t be happy that he’s a hero in the story, but who cares, I loved his part. Draco and Harry are on the same side! There’s even a line that says they looked at each other as friends for the first time – this is something that so many people wanted since those two met in the first book. There are moments that I never expected to be in HP books:

DRACO: Hermione Granger, I’m being bossed around by Hermione Granger. (She turns towards him. He smiles.) And I’m mildly enjoying it.

Rowling said that she’s done with Harry after this play, and I don’t know if I should be happy or sad about that. I don’t want it to stop, but if it continues, I don’t wanna be disappointed.

I would love to watch the Cursed Child on stage. I have no idea how some of the scenes can even work on stage (all of the spells, polyjuice potion etc). Hopefully somebody will make a movie out of this book too.

 

War and Peace: Book vs. 2016 Miniseries

 

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At a glittering society party in St Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants, to soldiers and Napoleon himself.

I already talked about how much I love the book in my review of War and Peace so now I’m on a mission to watch every adaptation I can find. The first one is the 2016 BBC miniseries in six parts. It stars Paul Dano as Pierre, Lily James as Natasha and James Norton as Andrei.

It’s difficult to adapt a book as big as War and Peace. Some characters have to be forgotten, some storylines never happen and the pace of the story is much faster. I’m glad I read the book first, knowing more details about the characters made the show more enjoyable to me.

Paul Dano is perfect in the role of Pierre Bezukhov; from the first scene he’s clumsy, intelligent, passionate, gentle; his friendship with Andrei is one of my favorite parts of the story. Pierre’s awkwardness is easy to identify with and I never felt that more than while reading about his engagement to Helene. Andrei was more sympathetic in the show, not knowing all of his thoughts helped me there. His relationship with Natasha happens quite quickly, like all other relationships in the story except Pierre and Natasha. Lily James plays Natasha beautifully. It’s still difficult to believe that in the first episode she’s 13 years old, but it’s not easy to find an actress who can convincingly go from 13 to 28 in a span of six episodes.

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Something I don’t quite understand is why did the relationship between Anatole and Helene go from ‘there’s a rumor that Anatole is in love with his sister’ to an actual incestous relationship in the show? That was not necessary at all, it just makes the characters seem worse than they actually are. But Helene and Anatole are still some of my favorite character and Tuppence Middleton and Callum Turner were great in their roles.

The epilogue in the show is much more idealistic than in the book. I like that change, it’s nice that there’s a version of the story with a really happy ending. I wish the show was longer – 10 episodes would have been great. More time for supporting characters (Dolokhov especially), more time to show character development in a way that doesn’t seem too quick and more time for me to enjoy the story. I can’t ever get enough of period dramas.

 

Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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Title: War and Peace

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Widely considered the greatest novel ever written in any language, War and Peace has as its backdrop Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and at its heart three of the most memorable characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, a quixotic young man in search of spiritual joy; Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, a cynical intellectual transformed by the suffering of war; and the bewitching and impulsive Natasha Rostov, daughter of a count. As they seek fulfillment, fall in love, make mistakes, and become scarred by battle in different ways, these characters and their stories interweave with those of a huge cast, from aristocrats to peasants, from soldiers to Napoleon himself.

Rating: 5/5

Well that was absolutely brilliant.

I have to admit I started reading War and Peace a couple of times before but couldn’t make myself interested in it, so I just left it for another time. This time I stuck with it and it was so worth it. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

I didn’t really know anything about this story before reading it, and I’m glad I didn’t. With books as famous as this one, it’s so easy to be accidentaly spoiled, but somehow, luckily, I never came across any spoilers (that I remember). I’m not usually intimidated by books, especially not because of their size, but I was a little intimidated by War and Peace. But after reading it, I’d say it’s one of the most approachable classics I’ve read. Tolstoy tells the story of Pierre, Natasha, Andrei and many other characters, mixes them up with his observations on history, war, free will and it’s never, ever boring.

At first the number of characters made things a bit difficult; figuring out who’s related to whom reminded me of reading Game of Thrones. In retrospect, one of those family trees would have helped – if only I thought of that earlier. The characters are amazing, Tolstoy made me fall in love with all of them, good or bad. Pierre is one of my favorite characters in literature ever.

Books as long as this one usually have lots of unnecessary details, but in the case of War and Peace, I wish there were more details. I want to read more about Dolokhov’s family, more about the lives of Anatole and Helene and every word of every conversation that was quickly skipped over in the book.

The story is a mix of fact and fiction. It’s yet another book that makes me want to learn more history so I can properly criticise it. I’d recommend this to everybody and I’m gonna reread this book many, many times.

Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Series: Charlie Bucket #1

Author: Roald Dahl

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Rating 4/5

“I, Willy Wonka, have decided to allow five children – just five, mind you, and no more – to visit my factory this year.”

I should have read this when I was ten years old – I would have absolutely adored it.

But I just read it for the first time at the age of 25 and it’s true: children’s classics can be enjoyed by readers of any age. It’s a tiny little book, but it’s a big story: there’s the good boy with a wish that comes true and changes his life, there are the spoiled kids who get punished, but there’s also poverty and slavery, lots of commentary on bad children and worse parents and, depending on the way you look at it, Willy Wonka is both a hero and a villain. Like every other good children’s book, it fools you with a happy cover and then it gets dark.

This is my first time reading a Roald Dahl book, so I will definitely check out some of his other work. There are two movies I know of that are based on this book and I’m curious to see how well they adapted the story.

Review: The War of the Worlds

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Title: The War of the Worlds

Author: H.G. Wells

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common near London. At first, naive locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag – only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole of human civilization is under threat, as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroy all in their path with black gas and burning rays, and feast on the warm blood of trapped, still-living human prey. The forces of the Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they at first appear.

Rating 4/5

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”

This is one of the most famous science fiction books ever and I’ve finally read it. It’s a story about an army of Martians invading Earth and humanity’s inability to deal with that.

Sci-fi books written in the 19th century have a very different feeling about them than sci-fi books now. There’s a lot of flowery language, lots of amazing descriptions that make you ‘see’ everything, there seems to be much more emphasis on the way people react to what’s happening to them so action isn’t really front-and-center. Humans are under the attack but Wells still reminds us that humans aren’t exactly the most innocent of species – he compares Martians’ treatment of humans with the way humans treat animals and each other.

The ending was a surprise, but I loved it even though it felt very rushed. This book has had a huge influence on science fiction, so if you’re a fan of sci-fi, you should definitely read it .

“This isn’t a war,” said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants.”

“Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.”

This or That Book Tag!

 

QuirkyVictorian opened up this one to anybody who wants to do it, so I’m doing it😀

The Rules

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks).
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you!
  • Choose one of the options.
  • Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

The Questions:

1. Reading on the couch or on the bed? – 90% of the time I read on my bed

2. Male main character or female main character? – I don’t mind ether but I think I generally read more books with main female characters.

3. Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading? – Sweet snacks always

4. Trilogies or quartets? – I finished a quartet a few days ago (The Raven Cycle) so if I have to pick, I’m gonna pick quartets.

5. First person point of view or third person point of view? – I’ve read too many first person povs (especially in ya books). It’s so easy to get annoyed at the main character if the book is written that way. So I’m gonna pick third person pov.

6. Reading at night or in the morning? – At night! I read whenever I feel like it, but I don’t remember the last time I went to sleep without reading something first.

7. Libraries or bookstores? – I love both, but libraries feel more welcoming because I don’t have to think about the price of books.

8. Books that make you laugh or make you cry? – Books that can do both are the best.

9. Black book covers or white book covers?– I don’t care, but I have one book where edges of all pages are black and I really like that.

10.  Character driven or plot driven stories? – Both, but right now I’m gonna say character driven.

I’m writing this in a hurry, so I’m tagging whoever wants to do it😀

Review: The Closing of the Net

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Title: The Closing of the Net

Author: Monica Horten

How are political decisions influencing the future direction of internet communication? As the interests of powerful businesses become more embedded in the online world, so these corporations seek greater exemption from liability. They are manipulating governments and policy-makers, blocking and filtering content, and retaining and storing personal data at the cost of individual access and privacy.
In this compelling account, Monica Horten confronts the deepening cooperation between large companies and the State. She looks at a number of case studies related to privacy, net neutrality, filtering and copyright. Corrupt political manoeuvrings, she argues, suggest that the original vision of a free and democratic internet is rapidly being eclipsed by a closed, market-led, heavily monitored online ecosystem. And the results are chilling.
The Closing of the Net boldly tackles the deep and divisive controversies surrounding individual rights today. The book will prove essential reading for anyone concerned with present and future internet policy and its effects on our freedoms.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Rating: 4/5

Very informative and very well researched book about politics and the internet. It discuses the free and open internet that we are so used to and asks if it’s actually going to stay that way.

Internet is a huge part of our lives and it’s easy to take it for granted. There are so many battles fought over the internet that many internet users aren’t aware of. This book forces you to think about everything that happens ‘behind the scenes’: who makes the decisions and why? How do those decisions affect regular users? Who has more control: governments or tech companies? The author talks about privacy, net neutrality, piracy and other issues. There are plenty of examples too. Still, maybe it’s my wishful thinking but I don’t believe the internet will lose all freedom.

The book is focused on issues in United States and Europe, so now I would like to learn more about similar issues in the rest of the world. I recommend this book to anybody who’s interested in the future of the internet.

Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

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Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Series: Sherlock Holmes #5

Author:  Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville family’s home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?

Rating 4/5

This book spent a very long time on my to-read shelf but I have finally gotten around to reading it. I knew what it’s about because it’s a famous story and BBC Sherlock has an episode (a great episode) inspired by this book. Sometimes when I wait a long time to read a book that so many people love, my expectations get too high and it’s difficult for the book to live up to them. The Hound of the Baskervilles is pretty amazing, but I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t know anything about it.

This might be the only Sherlock story that has a bit of horror feel to it, there are some very creepy descriptions of the hound, most of the book takes place in a house in the middle of nowhere and the atmosphere of the book reminds me of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. The story is narrated by Watson. As always, he does his best to help Sherlock out and I always feel sorry for him when he’s really proud of some deduction he made and then Sherlock goes “Nope, you’re wrong, here’s what actually happened”. I like that Watson had more to do in this story. Sherlock is, of course, incredible, one of my favorite literary characters ever and reading his deductions never gets boring.

One of these days I’ll read the rest of the books in the series too😀