Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Discussions #3

*Pre-post disclaimer/apology: So, the books on this list are all books I read a while back. My intent with these was to get the post up ASAP but clearly, that didn't happen. Eventually, I just decided to go ahead and post it as-is. Not sure if I'm going to continue to do my written reviews this way. I might begin writing individual reviews instead. Anyway, enjoy the reviews!*

Hey, y'all! I'm back again for another Book Discussions post! In these posts, I do discussions for every single book I read. This was going to be just for stand-alones, but I realized that (even though I wish I could) I can't marathon every series that I read. So single books within series will be included within these as well. If I read 2+ books of a series back-to-back, they'll get their own posts. I plan on including 6-7 books per post, so new discussion posts will be up after every 6-7 books I read, give or take a few.  These discussions will be entirely spoiler-free and fairly short.

Also, I try to write these discussions within a day of finishing the book. so even if it's been a few months since I've read a book, the discussions were completed when the book was still fresh in my mind. So here we go!

Murder After Hours
(originally titled The Hollow)
by Agatha Christie

Read: January 4th, 2015

This is one of the books in Agatha Christie's Poirot series, a series centered around a brilliant detective named Hercule Poirot. In this book, a weekend in the country turns into the scene of the murder, and of course, Poirot is on the case.

I read somewhere that Agatha Christie said that her biggest mistake with this book was introducing Poirot into it. And I kinda agree. This had a very different feel for me than other Poirot novels. I almost didn't care about who committed the crime, which was very odd. Typically, with the Poirot novels, I don't really care too much about the characters except Poirot. However, that was exactly the opposite. Often, Poirot's presence or absence wasn't important, and I was more concerned with how the characters would end up once everything was said and done. And while I don't necessarily have a problem with this, it just all makes it not seem like a Poirot novel, which is what I set out to read. I chose to read this Poirot novel because it sounded like it would have a very Clue-esque vibe (dinner party at a mansion, person is murdered, everyone starts blaming everyone) and the book definitely didn't have that at all. Overall, it just didn't read like a Poirot novel, and that was its biggest problem for me.

Overall, I gave Murder After Hours 7 stars out of 10.

by Janine Carbone

Read: February 7th, 2015

*I received a free ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

I only had a couple complaints, so I'll talk about all of the positives before touching on those. First off, I really enjoyed the way that the flashbacks were mixed in with the main plot. I thought that it was really intriguing and it kept me guessing as to what had happened in Faith's past. I also really enjoyed Faith as a character. As a college student who spends most of my time in my apartment, there were several aspects of her personality that I really connected with.

I thought that the second half of the book was especially thrilling. I was constantly wondering what was about to happen or when something big would happen, and when crazy stuff did start happening, I couldn't put the book down. In fact, I found myself accidentally skipping entire lines because I was trying to read faster than my brain could actually comprehend, because I was just so curious about what was going to happen. That being said, however, I did think that there were a few predictable aspects. I figured out several things about the stalker long before they were revealed in the book

The only real problems that I had happened within the first 50 pages. I felt like there was a little too much telling vs. showing when it came to describing things. This ended up creating the only other real issue that I had with the book: the beginning of the romance. I thought that the beginning stages of the romance were very rushed. We see the very beginning and then jump forward in time twice in very quick succession. For me, this made the relationship seem slightly hard to believe at the beginning. Although it's made very clear that we have jumped forward a significant amount of time, it's hard to think of it as a serious relationship when they met ~20 pages earlier. I really wish that this portion of the romance was fleshed out a little bit more, because I think it would have added a little bit more to the book. I understand why this was a little rushed through, because all of the important events occur after this, but I think it could have been a little more fleshed out without ruining the pacing.

Overall, I thought that this was a really exciting, fast-paced read. If you're looking for a quick and exciting psychological thriller that's deeper than average, I would definitely recommend Wildflower!

I ended up giving Wildflower 7 stars out of 10.

by Gretchen McNeil

Read: February 24th, 2015

I had my eye on this one for a while, but didn't have very high hopes for it. Ten is basically a re-telling of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which is my personal favorite stand-alone novel of all time... which is why I didn't have very high hopes for it.

Because I've read And Then There Were None, I did expect some things that I think would have been a surprise to anyone who hadn't read And Then There Were None. And I think that the changes made to the original story were cleverly done. Even though I wasn't surprised by any of the twists, I didn't figure out who the killer was until just a little bit before it was revealed. I was fairly convinced that it was someone else. So I applaud Gretchen McNeil for that.

Now on to the not-so-great. Until the deaths started happening, almost everything was really cringey. I know that a good chunk of it was purposeful to highlight how obnoxious many of the characters are, but there was definitely some dialogue that I thought was completely stupid. It reminded me why I don't usually read books that deal with teens who are actually in high school. I'll read about teenagers all day long, but when they get into a normal high school setting they just tend to get obnoxious. On top of this, the writing overall was just meh. I usually don't tend to notice how good or bad writing is, but I definitely noticed in this book. It wasn't down-right awful, but it definitely wasn't written amazingly. It was also pretty heavy on the foreshadowing. A little more subtlety would have helped tremendously.

Despite the cringey moments, Ten was very fast-paced, and I ended up finishing it in one day because I was just too curious to see what was going to happen. So, I ended up giving Ten 7.5 stars out of 10.

Evil Under The Sun
by Agatha Christie

Read: February 26th, 2015

Once again, this is a part of Agatha Christie's Poirot series. In this book, Hercule Poirot is vacationing on an island. And one morning, one of the guests, a beautiful actress, is found murdered.

I was surprisingly really disappointed in this book. I typically spend the entirety of a Poirot book just sitting and pointing the finger at everyone. I get really invested in trying to figure out who did it. But in this, I found myself just not caring. Sure, I had suspicions and hunches, but none that I particularly cared about or felt adamant about. I dunno, I just had an overwhelming sense of meh with this book. It gets slight bonus points for the fact that the mystery was intricately crafted, but that's usual of Poirot books, so it wasn't as if I wasn't expecting that.

I ended up giving Evil Under The Sun 5.5 stars out of 10. Like I said, that bonus .5 is for the intricacy of the mystery.

The Body Electric
by Beth Revis

Read: March 7th, 2015

Beth Revis has solidified her spot among my favorite authors with The Body Electric. I've talked a bit about how much I appreciate excellent world-building, and how important world-building is to my enjoyment of a book... and Beth Revis gives me pretty much everything I could ever want. The technology is super cool. I feel like this would be a good read for someone wanting to get into sci-fi, because the technology is explained in enough detail to make sense and be interesting, but Revis doesn't bore you with long explanations about how everything works... which wouldn't actually be boring to me, but I was happy with the explanations we got.

Also, it takes place within the same universe as Revis' Across The Universe trilogy. However, since this takes place in the future of the Across The Universe world, and is set on Earth rather than space, that doesn't really have a huge effect on this book because the technology and world are very different from the trilogy. There are, however, a couple Easter eggs that Across The Universe fans will appreciate.

However, there was one aspect that kept gnawing at me and slightly bothered me (not a spoiler-- promise!). So, right from the beginning, the Secessionary War is mentioned. There are a lot of things about the war that are discussed. We see how life is after the war, we learn about some events during the war, but it's never really explained how the war started or what was being fought for. Obviously, "secessionary" speaks for itself, but who was seceding? How did it start? This never got answered, and that really bothered me because it was the only hole in the world-build.

I do feel like the blurb about this slightly misconstrues some of the things in this book, namely the Reveries. The blurb makes it sound like reveries are something only Ella can do because she has special powers, but that's not the case. It's actually a technology that other people can and do use. However, special abilities do make an appearance in this book, so I'm not too bothered by it, because I don't think anyone would be put off by that difference. Just go into it expecting sci-fi/dystopian, not paranormal/dystopian.

Overall, I liked the story. The majority of it was pretty fast-paced, and full of twists and turns. With about 100 pages in, I had been considering it a 9 star book. I was really loving it, and there were definitely some twists and turns that I didn't see coming, but there were a couple things that were unsurprising. However, those last 100 pages... WHOA. So many plot twists. So much craziness. Mind blown. I could not put the book down. It was just utter craziness and I loved it.

I decided to give The Body Electric 9.5 stars out of 10. Not quite perfection, but so amazing.

The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss

I have to admit, it took me a little while to get invested in the story. Right from the start, the writing was beautiful, but I wasn't quite sure what was going on yet, and there hadn't yet been any excitement, so until we got into Kvothe's story, I wasn't incredibly invested. However, once his story began, I was hooked. 

I will warn everyone going into this that it's not exactly a fast-paced book, because it is a story of Kvothe's life, rather than just a small snippet of an exciting part of his life. However, I typically enjoy slower novels more than most people. I appreciate, pay attention to, and care about world building more than the average reader, which is probably why I have such a deep love of high fantasy and dystopian novels. And in this book, we get incredible world building. One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me was learning about the system of magic within this world. It, just like everything else in this world, is really well fleshed out and just so incredibly detailed.

I also really like Kvothe as a character. He's really strong and determined. He knows what he wants, and he'll do whatever he has to in order to reach his goal. Although he does have the character flaw of being somewhat arrogant, that just makes him a bit more endearing to me, because although I don't express it like he does, I definitely have an arrogant streak.

Even though this is a large book, and it did take me a while to read it, and it was a slower book, it never felt like a task. There was a section that was a little slower, but it wasn't a huge section (I'll discuss further in the spoilers) and so it really didn't bother me, especially since the following section was my favorite part of the book.

So, overall, I just absolutely loved this book. I can absolutely understand why it has a 4.5 average on Goodreads. The writing was amazing, as was everything else about this book. 10 stars out of 10. I'm officially obsessed.

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