Monday, 19 August 2013

Book Review: Into The Grey

Author: Celine Kiernan
Series: -
UK Publisher: Walker 
Published: 2011
Format: Paperback (review copy)

I think the fire changed us – me and Dom. I think that’s how the boy was able to see us. Though he’d been there for every summer of our childhood, we’d only been stupid boys until then. Stupid, happy, ignorant boys. And what in hell would he have had in common with two stupid boys? But after the fire we were different. We were maybe a little bit like him. And so he saw us, at last, and he thought he’d found a home…

I picked up this book on the pretence of it being a haunting ghost story; it definitely fulfilled it's promise on that front, but it was just so much more than that. Rather than focussing on the ghost story itself, I believe that this book depicts the deterioration of Patrick Finnerty as his twin brother Dominick is being slowly taken away from him by the ghost of a young boy.

Kiernan beautifully depicts in her writing the strong bond between these two twin brothers, and this makes their separation all the more tragic. You see the trauma and the confusion that Pat is having to go through, and his slow descension into despair at the hurt that he is living with alone without the rest of his family to help him. The development on this front is absolutely fantastic, as you can clearly see Pat losing his grip on everything that he knows, and this isn't something that suddenly appears; it happens through a series of events and the loss of not knowing what to do next.

With regards to the ghost story itself, some of the scenes were so incredibly haunting, that I found myself quite afraid as to what was going to happen. The tension and suspense elements of this book were timed to perfection; it wasn't over baring or too obvious and I found myself getting rather creeped out by a lot of it.

Not having read a lot of books of this genre before, I was pleasantly surprised, and would mark this as a book to start off with if you're unfamiliar with ghost stories. This is one of those books that leaves you wanting more, and it has definitely encouraged me to delve deeper into the realms of the unknown.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Book Review: Down The Rabbit Hole

Author: Juan Pablo Villalobos
Series: -
UK Publisher: -
Published: 2010
Format: eBook

Tochtli lives in a palace. He loves hats, samurai, guillotines and dictionaries, and what he wants more than anything right now is a new pet for his private zoo: a pygmy hippopotamus from Liberia. But Tochtli is a child whose father is a drug baron on the verge of taking over a powerful cartel, and Tochtli is growing up in a luxury hideout that he shares with hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants and the odd corrupt politician or two.

Upon picking this up I wasn't too sure what it was about; all that I knew was that it was on the kindle daily deal for 99p, and that was enough to make me pick it up after hearing Jean from Bookish Thoughts speak about it on her YouTube channel, coincidentally posted on the same day. 

The plot line definitely threw me at first - you are shown the world through the 7 year old eyes of Tochtli, who seems to be living in a fantasy world of zoo animal pets, rooms full of gems and his collection of marvellous hats. It isn't until this fantastical way of thinking doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon that you realise, this isn't a child's imagination but a child's real life situation in the middle of a drug dealing family. 

You generally wouldn't think twice about seeing a film or reading a book about drugs and drug dealers, as for the most part they star an adult part which for some reason doesn't seem strange to us as we watch it. However, seeing it from a 7 year olds perspective is extremely shocking; to have a child witness the acts of violence and betrayal surrounding the scene is not something that I would think anyone would want their prospective child to grow up around, and this to me seems to be the main motive of the story.

Tochtli, having grown up in this bad environment, has been severely corrupted and is quite a self proclaimed precocious child as he knows a lot of things that other boys of his age wouldn't even have the knowledge to imagine. This leads me to think about the idea of nature versus nurture; would Tochtli have been the same if he hadn't grown up in this setting? Would he have had different beliefs and ideals? Or is there a capacity for evil in your genes when you are born? These are questions that I don't believe anyone will truly know the answers to, but this book definitely brings those questions to light and makes you think about them more.

Upon the completion of this book, I was a bit dumbfounded as to how to respond and how to judge it; for the first time in my life I didn't have an initial gut reaction to a book, which is good in itself as it means that the book truly did affect me and it provoked some real thought. I'm still not entirely sure what I think of it, but from what I can deduce now, it wasn't so much about the plot line as it was about human nature and seeing things from a different perspective, which doesn't necessarily make it a good read, but definitely makes it an interesting one.


Friday, 16 August 2013

Friday Reads: 16th August 2013

My reading habits have been absolutely abysmal over the past few weeks, and this is largely due to the fact that for the first time in my life I have actually been extremely busy - I know it's hard to believe. From tonight onwards I plan to stay in, save some money and actually read to my hearts content and catch up with some reviews. 

Into The Grey by Celine Kiernan
This book is a ghost story, and being only 70 pages in I am finding this very creepy already. I am not massive fan of horror as a genre with regards to film, but I have never (other than Carrie by Stephen King - but that was ages ago) read a horror book let alone a ghost one, and I am quite intrigued as to how it will develop and make me feel when reading it.

So far, I can feel the tension building and there was one point in the book where I could vividly imagine what happened, and it actually made me shiver. I'm very excited to see where this one takes me.

Starters by Lissa Price
This book sounds as though it's another YA dystopian novel; teenagers renting their bodies to old people so they can feel young again. I just hope it isn't another typical book of that type full of unnecessary "insta-love" triangles and the like, because to be quite frank, I am getting extremely bored of reading about the same things in different plots.

I am not going to let this negative prejudice deter me from enjoying this book however, if it is in fact enjoyable. Each and every book should be read from a blank slate and the plot line does sound amazing. We'll see.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bookish Alphabet: A

This will hopefully be a little weekly segment where I highlight a book beginning with every letter of the alphabet; it could be one I've read, one that's been on my TBR for a while or one that I am looking forward to the release of. 

About A Boy by Nick Hornby
When I first started this book I wasn't quite sure what to make of it; the plot wasn't really very interesting, it just didn't seem to be going anywhere spectacular and I started to find it quite boring. It wasn't until a little further on in the book that I realised it wasn't about the storyline; it was about the deeper meaning of growing up in both adult and child senses of the word. 

About A Boy was the first book I read that focussed on emotions and life changes rather than on an overly complicated plot line, and this was a little bit disconcerting as I wasn't sure how to interpret it as a reader. After my initial confusion I found it extremely refreshing to read - the idea that Will (the adult) and Marcus (the child) still had the same amount of growing up to do was really intriguing to read about, and the character development that Hornby described throughout the book for both of them was extremely well written and believable. 

After hearing that Nick Hornby's other works like High Fidelity and Fever Pitch are better reading than this one makes me extremely excited to try some more books by him, as I was found this to be a surprisingly good read for me.