Friday, March 26, 2010

The Great Gatsby by: F. Scott Fitzgerald


The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby's youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated with the display of enormous wealth in which Gatsby revels, finds himself swept up in the lavish lifestyle of Long Island society during the Jazz Age.

The decades surrounding the roaring 20s have always fascinated me, which is part of the reason I love Fitzgerald's work so much. They're always very character-driven. Less about the plot and more about the people. While I don't always love that style of writing, I think Fitzgerald makes it work.

His details are often spot on, able to put you right in that  moment, so you can hear the parties and the music. His settings always appropriate, and often a character in itself.

I've wanted to read The Great Gatsby for a while now, and I'm glad I was finally able to. The characters you might have been rooting for at the beginning are the ones you hate at the end, and there's a sad sort of complexity to Gatsby's character that just makes the reader feel sorry for you. I know I did.

The ending threw me, I loved it. It was not what I was expecting at all.

If you're a fan of the 20s, then this is a great novel to read. It breathes the decade, and the characters are enough to draw you in.

My rating: 7/10

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Contest Over At Blog With Bite

There's an awesome new contest at Blog with Bite, all information can be found here. A copy of Evolve is up for grabs. It's a new anthology with 23 new vampire tales from writers like Kelley Armstrong and Tanya Huff.

Rules and Regulations include:

Must be 13 or older

Must be US or Canadian resident (Mailing address)

Please no PO Boxes

You must be a follower of Blog with Bite

Contest Ends March 30th Midnight CST

And there are ways you can get extra enteries, such as by blogging! Be sure to check it out!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hush, Hush by: Becca Fitzpatrick


For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

After reading all the reviews of this novel, I had pretty high expectations for this novel. While it was far from a horrible read, it wasn't as good as I've heard. It was plenty entertaining, taking me only two days to read it. The dialogue was well written, and the scenes were pretty clear and detailed.

A couple things I had problem with was her punctuation in parts. Most of the ellipsis only got in the way of reading, stopping the flow of the story. And some of her em-dashes just seemed out of place.

Some of the ideas from the story have definitely been written before. The way the plot was delivered seemed pretty reminiscent of a lot of YA books out there I've read. I think this novel would've been better at a college setting. Almost all of the characters seemed older than sixteen, aside from the while Marcie Miller thing, and I think that was just thrown in to give the book more of a high school feel.

There were a couple characters I didn't really think needed to be in the story, like her mother. Her mom just seemed to be someone to add to climatic moments. Sort of a, "Man this horrible thing is happening, but it's going to be even worse if I don't get home before my mother does." Their relationship wasn't as developed as it could've been, so it left me just wanting the mother out of the story completely. Hopefully that is something Fitzpatrick works on in later books in the series.

I also think the change in Elliot's character was just odd. It seemed weird to portray him one way and then completely flip it over. I know what she was going for, but I don't think it was presented in the best way possible. It seemed like two different characters.

I liked that she waited to reveal what Patch was to Nora until later in the story, instead of throwing it out in the first fifty pages. The delay really made me want to keep reading more until I got to the point when Nora finds out. The pacing was pretty good. I do think there may have been too much happening, I kind of wanted more scenes to be built on, instead of continuous action happening throughout the novel. It was like one thing happened, and then something else happened, and then something else happened. It seemed a bit forced and rushed. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is the writing was paced well and such, but the action scenes were rushed and forced.

The relationship between Patch and Nora was pretty cliche. But I loved the end. I thought it was definitely sweet as hell. And Patch was a pretty original character. I liked the way he was written. Definitely something I enjoyed about the story. I also really liked Vee. She added to the story.

What really drew me to the novel was the aspect of fallen angels and all that. I think she delivered it pretty good. It kind of seemed like there was going to be this epic fight between the fallen and the regular angels, but that didn't happen. So I wouldn't say that Nora is caught between an "ancient battle". I don't know. The inside jacket just made it seem like I was going to be reading a different story than the one I read.

So, I haven't decided if the characters and the storyline about the angels is enough to make me read the novels next in the series. I might, I might not. There's plus sides and negative sides to the story. But I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking to kill a few hours, it's an entertaining enough story.

Overall rating: 7/10

Cover: I love the cover. It's gorgeous.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Disappeared by: Kim Echlin


A love story set against the background of the Cambodian killing fields, Echlin’s novel is a Romeo and Juliet for our time. Sixteen-year-old Anne, raised by her widowed father, attends a proper young ladies’ school in Montreal. But Anne has a secret – she sneaks into blues clubs with her tutor, and one night, she meets Serey, a sexy Cambodian musician who plays the songs of his people as well as blues and rock.

Serey was in Canada when the Cambodian government fell, and his father begged him not to come home. The sheltered girl and the accidental refugee fall passionately in love; between them “everything was animal sensation and music.” They play the role of a gorgeous, exotic couple until the borders reopen, and Serey’s yearning for home and his family pulls him away.

Eleven years later, Anne flies to Phnom Penh to search for Serey in the chaos left by war and famine, following in the footsteps of the biblical heroine Ruth, who declared, “Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” Her love is undaunted by the obstacles she faces – from a merciless government to a people so desperate and downtrodden they’ll do anything to survive.


This book was just a random pick I made. I saw it on the shelves, liked the description and gorgeous cover, and bought it.

In a way, I'm glad I did. The book wasn't a huge epic tale, the messages and points of the novel were given subtly at times and bold at times. Set in a war-torn country, it's definitely got a gruesome and sorrowful backdrop. The words the author uses paint a clear picture in the reader's heads.

The characters weren't as developed as I think they could have been. I wanted more. I wanted the boundary to be pushed and a line to be crossed. In some parts, they just didn't feel real to me.

But the writing was beautiful. It was poetic and flowed very well. Some of it was breathtaking, some horrifying.

The conclusion wasn't as strong as I think it could've been. I know what she was going for, and I think it could've been persented a little better. It was still touching, though.

All in all, this is a book to be read by those who enjoy novels that are meant to show the terrors and horrible things that happen in countries like Cambodia. The writing alone is enough to keep the novel standing on its own two feet, but the backdrop gives it a little extra something.

Overall rating: 7/10

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shutter Island by: Dennis Lehane


The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple-murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades—with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

I ordered this book a while ago to read before seeing the movie, and I just got around to finishing it up.

I loved this book. Right from the start it's a mystery that captures the reader, especially with the isolated environment. His details about the Hospital and its surroundings are amazing, very well written. As were the characters. I loved the little backgrounds into Teddy's past with himself and Dolores. They not only added depth to the character, but they were very well written. Teddy was, all around, a really well written main character.

This read like a good ol' mystery at first, but soon turns into a totally mind boggling story. It's definitely a psychological thriller.

I can't say a lot without giving something away, and that would definitely take away from the experience of reading the novel. But the combination of a great setting, awesome characters, and a plot that just twists and turns in the greatest of ways, makes for a great novel. Definitely one I'll be reading again, only to see if I can catch clues and hints that I missed the first time around.

Wonderful read. I'll definitely be checking out more by Dennis Lehane. Hopefully the movie does the novel justice!

My rating: 10/10