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Fiction

Short Reviews

It has been awhile since I posted a book review. From December till early February, I have read a few books.

Books read Dec 2013 - Feb 2014

Mocking Jay cover-catching-fire

I finished the second and third installments of the Hunger Game series and found they are equally engaging. In Mockingjay, Katniss is officially installed as the Mockingjay, the symbol of rebel against the Capitol. The Capitol wants revenge and so staged another Hunger Games of all Hunger Games. The gathering of past years champions into the arena. The book ended in an unexpected twist and we will always know that Katniss, our heroine, will survive  through it all. The third installments saw Katniss and Co. went underground with District 13. It was the ultimate ending for Katniss, she has to make the hard choice between Gale and Preeta, who will Katniss ended up with? Overall I find the Hunger Game series engaging. I love strong heroine and welcome the lack of melodrama in the love triangle. Catching Fire takes a bold step towards the dark side, more violence and horrible creatures; which I would be keen to see how it would be portrayed in the big screen.

three and a half stars

After the Hunger Game series, I read two consecutive Japanese novels.

The thiefI picked up The Thief because of the several reviews on the blogging community that piqued my interest. This Winner of the 2010 Kenzaburo Oe Prize is different because it tells a story from a pickpocket perspective. Once I watched a pickpocket documentary of the  UK London underground and found many modus operandi intriguing. As you must have a fingers that are ambidextrous to be able to pick someone’s pocket. Things became complicated when pickpocket Nishimura (you don’t know his name until it’s 25% of the book) is embroiled with the gangsters who decided to use his skill to pinch some documents off from some key person. Otherwise, face death. The book was ok for me but I especially like the pick pocket interaction with the little boy whose mother could neglect and sell him off in a heartbeat. I can’t help but feel sorry for the boy and glad that the thief felt the same. :) Ultimately, every character in this book is tragic. I probably read this in a wrong time, despite the rave reviews about the book, I found it to be quite bland.

three stars

RevengeRevenge: Eleven Dark Tales is a short story collection in which one story has a different story but a link in character or an incident to the previous short story. The collection of stories were dark and odd. A house full of kiwis, a man who is a curator for a museum of torture devices etc. Unfortunately the short stories sort of blur into one, and after two and a half months, I find myself trying very hard to remember what I read and couldn’t. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I even bother reading short stories or novels? because only a handful stuck in my mind, the rest, perhaps are just pure waste of time…..

two and half stars

the-fault-in-our-stars-book-coverThis ubiquitous novel appears in every blog and every shelf in the bookstore. I tend to stay away from lovey dovey novels but I was curious enough to pick The Fault is in our Stars up. This book is about to be made into a movie this year. So if you haven’t read it, you still have a chance to catch up. It’s about the romance of two cancer-ridden youth. Hazel and Augustus. Hazel was obsessed with a book which ended without a proper ending. Augustus is this good looking boy who had cancer of the bones. Hazel swore not to love anyone because she doesn’t want to hurt anyone when she dies but love Augustus she did.

The book has some great philosophical take on death, love and being alive. It makes you want to seize the day and become a better person. I think it’s passage like this that makes most readers go Awww… and bump it up into the best seller chart!

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labour has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” Augustus to Hazel.

Young love-struck, cancer couple. Heart breaking dialogues and great scripts. All proven Hollywood success recipe. I am sure it will do well in the movie department but my main take away is that we do not have to be loved widely, but it’s a privilege to be able to love deeply by that one person. “It’s triumphant. It’s heroic and you don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choice”. You will love Augustus.

three and a half stars

Hold Tightand then I did a spring cleaning and decided to read books that I think I would most likely bin it after that. Sounds weird but I’m referring to light read and books that I won’t keep at home. Since Dan Brown it’s been close to a decade I haven’t pick an American crime or thriller writer. The likes of Lee Child, James Pattersons and Harlan Coben. So when I read Hold Tight I was slightly surprised that I was swept away by the plot and the many characters that seemingly doesn’t relate to one another as the chapters unveiled.

Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d become spying, overprotective parent. But their sixteen-year-old son, Adam Baye has been unusually distant and aloof lately, and after the recent suicide of his classmate and closed friend, Spencer Hill, who taking drugs on his school’s roof in the night to death, they can’t help but worry. They install a spy program on Adam’s computer and within days they are jolted by a strange message to their son from a correspondent known only as CeeJay8115: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”

On the side plot there were two murders, The Baye’s neighbour Susan and Dante Loriman had a son Lucas who needs a kidney transplant and his father is not the right match. The Baye’s daughter Jill has a friend called Yasmin is being bullied at school because her teacher (Joe Lewiston) commented on her facial hair in front of the class. There were like 4 or 5 story threads going and it is quite a wonder how Coben managed to hold everything together and finally tie them all up at the end. Although the psychopath character is so typical in American thrillers (such as the Da Vincci Code), the plots are far fetched, action packed, it all makes it quite an entertaining read. I welcome the diversion to read a thriller from an American writer in this occasion.

three and a half stars

That’s all from me. What have you read recently?

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About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books.

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Short Reviews

  1. I read The Thief for the same reason and felt about the same on it. It was fine, but not much more than fine.

    Posted by Jenny @ Reading the End | March 6, 2014, 1:04 am
  2. The only one of these that I’ve read is The Thief and I liked it more than you, but I just read the second of his novels to be translated into English – called Evil and the Mask – and I didn’t like that one much at all.

    Posted by bernadetteinoz | March 6, 2014, 1:05 am
    • Hi Bernadette,
      I skimmed through your review (I don’t seem to be able to have time to do anything properly these days) and it’s a shame you didn’t like it. Better luck on other books! Still very touched that despite me not posting that frequently, you are still here. Big thanks!

      Posted by JoV | March 7, 2014, 12:06 am
  3. Glad to see you posting again :)

    Posted by Sam (Tiny Library) | March 6, 2014, 8:13 pm
  4. Welcome back to blogging! It’s nice to hear from you again!

    Posted by olduvai | March 9, 2014, 10:30 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Mockingjay
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City


JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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