Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Thrice the Binded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

As part of my 'I want to read more during the week' thing, I decided to read another Flavia de Luce mystery since I really enjoy this series. Thrice the Binded Cat Hath Mew’d (a quote from Shakespeare) is the eighth book in the series and has Flavia coming home to England.

After an exciting time in Canada, Flavia’s looking forward to home and expects a somewhat warm welcome. Instead, she finds out that her father is ill and in the hospital. Trying to distract herself, Flavia offers to run an errand and ends up finding a body. Talk about finding the perfect distraction for her - obviously Flavia starts investigating.

I really felt that Flavia returned to form in this book. She was a little twee in the last book, but she was purely endearing in this one. I think it’s because she’s back in familiar surroundings. She’s also struggling to make sense of all the changes and I think it makes her growth a lot more natural. Perhaps Flavia is just so British she can’t go anywhere else.

The mystery itself was decent. There were quite a few twists and turns, but the ending made sense (even though I couldn’t manage to figure out who the killer was). I also thought it balanced pretty nicely with Flavia’s home life, although I feel like a kid (with Flavia) because I have no idea what all the adults are saying.

Got to warn you, though, the ending is pretty heartbreaking. Flavia does get her moment of triumph and I’m happy for her, but the last part is just sad. No spoilers but I really wish that things turned out differently for her and I really want to read the next book now.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Track Faults and Other Glitches by Nicholas Yong

I haven’t been reading much Singapore books (or SEAsian books for that matter) but this short story collection was really great and I'm really grateful to the person who recommended this to me.

Track Faults and Other Glitches is a collection of collection of stories set in Singapore. The stories are:

- The Ministry of Zombie Advancement: A very fun, unique tale about zombies in Singapore. The zombies in Singapore concept reminded me of Land of the Meat Munchers, and I realised that it was by the same author! No wonder I liked this.

- You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly: About seeing superheroes at work. The ending was ambiguous which makes it interesting to speculate about.

- Wake Me Up When It’s 2116: Not a good idea to read this in the train because I was tearing up by the end of it! It’s about progress and human life and reminds me of some of Bradbury’s short stories (which are also referenced here). This is one of my favourite stories in the collection.

- Track Fault: Another one of my favourite stories in this book, this deals with an MRT train that goes missing. Warning: there are no answers to this mystery but the story is so good!

- Haru & Hui Ling: These are actually two stories but they are two parts of one whole. It’s about the bond between dogs and their human families but also about love and loss.

- Three Nights in Camp: an NS ghost story. Kinda ambivalent on this one, but I think it’s because I haven’t gone through NS.

- A Dream Within A Dream: this is about a guy in a coma and I actually thought it was a little confusing but it still tugged at my heartstrings. I don’t know what’s going on, but the story made me feel.

- Polling Day: One of the weaker stories in my collection, in my opinion. It follows a reporter as he finds out that the opposition has won all contest seats. Very timely, given the recent election in Malaysia but I didn’t really get the story.

- The Uncle in the Kopitiam: The last story in the collection, this is a story within a story, reaching back to the folklore of Singapore. I really enjoyed the twist and I like this story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection! It was really well-written and extremely fun to read. Each story has a message, but the message doesn’t overpower the story like some local short stories do. I am totally hoping to find more stories like this!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

I requested this book as soon as I saw it because I’m always up for a good mystery. I didn’t realise that this was part of a series, but I had no problem following along.

The Dark Angel starts in Italy when a corpse is found to have a handphone. And even weirder, Professor Angelo received a text from the corpse when he excavated it. Back in England, forensic archaeologist Ruth is struggling with her personal relationships. So when she gets an invitation from Angelo to come to Italy to consult, she brings her daughter and friend along for a holiday.

I have to admit, the mystery took a backseat to the relationships in The Dark Angel. Perhaps it’s because I’m jumping into the series midway, but I felt that the complicated relationships between the characters (particularly Ruth and Nelson) were more prominent than the mystery of the corpse. I’m not complaining since I enjoyed reading about it, but it was a bit of a surprise.

The mystery itself was pretty interesting and very much tied to the town where the corpse was found. I’ve never been to Italy (sadly) so I don’t know how accurate all the descriptions were, but I really felt the small town and it’s inhabitants very strongly.

There was only one thing that threw me off a little: the book switches between several POV characters, mostly Ruth and Nelson, although some characters get their time in the spotlight too. The switch could be a bit abrupt since it takes place within the chapter (I’m more used to having one chapter per POV) but it wasn’t a problem once I got used to the style.

Overall, I enjoyed this mystery. I enjoyed the setting and the characters in it. And perhaps because of the characters, I am interested in going back to read the first book in this series and finding out how it all started.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

As soon as I heard about Devoted, I knew I had to read it and that I would either love it or hate it - turns out I loved it (and it's a very intense book).

Devoted revolves around Rachel, a girl “devoted to God.” She’s a member of Calvary Christian Church, which is obviously part of the Quiverfull movement (and if you know me, you know I can’t stand them). She tries to be a Godly girl, but the rules chafe at her, and one day, she makes contact with one of the girls that ran away. And suddenly, the world looks a lot wider.

First, I should mention that although I’m a Christian, I cannot stand the groups that pervert the name of God. I don’t even think they should be allowed to call themselves Christian, and the Quiverfull movement, with its legalistic and sexist theology, is one of them.

Which is why my heart broke when I read about Rachel. Rachel is curious and loves books and I hate how all the legalism almost breaks her soul. Christianity is freeing, not a jail and the ‘Church’ she went to made me rage. I absolutely rooted for her to get away and for her to re-establish her relationship with God.

Another thing I loved about this book was its portrayal of Christianity, which I found very fair. The author doesn’t paint all Christians as people who go to Calvary Christian, and even though some who left that ‘Church’ turned away from God, that wasn’t the only way that you could leave. Most of the time, religion in YA books is shown as either totally good or totally bad, so I appreciated this level of nuance, which mimics real life.

If you’re into moving books with nuance and characters that will steal your heart, you need to read this. I found this to be a deeply moving book and while parts of it broke my heart, I am glad that I had the chance to read it.