Monday, September 30, 2013

Bullying Under Attack - a Teen Ink Book

Bullying Under Attack is an anthology written by teenagers about teenagers. They're bullied or they bully. Or they watch. Either way, they write about their experiences (or sometimes express it in verse).

In this book, there are active bullies, passive bullies and victims. Passive bullies are bystanders who see what's going on but don't intervene.

Personally, I found this book to be a little repetitive. After a while, I could see that all the victims fit a mold, all the bullies fit a mold, and all the bystanders fit a mold. I'd actually like to hear the account of an unrepentant bully - it would be really eye opening for me. And since I'm not very good at appreciating poetry (Robert Frost and Wilfred Owen is as much as I can handle), I found the poetry to be overwrought and too emotional at times (to be even more blunt, it feels like angst from a teenage blog). But, I'm admittedly challenged when it comes to appreciating poetry, so don't take my word for it.

And while it may sound strange, I have no idea which category I fit into. I went to an all girls school for ten years and I didn't see anything. For example, I only realised we had cliques about two years after we graduated, and I just realised that we had popular and non-popular girls. Up till now, I always thought we were all friends (so I had some close friends and some not so close friends).

So to me, school is a place where you close ranks around one another. Now that I think about it, if a girl was disliked, she was disliked by the whole cohort (but we would still invite her to class events and such. At least, from what I saw, the dislike was only manifested in complaining - we were, at the very least, civil (if not friendly) in person.

I would say that for just getting me to realise this, Bullying Under Attack has already evoked some change in me. And me criticising the book aside, doesn't that mean that it's already achieved its aim?

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

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

I first learnt about this book from the Cuddlebuggery Book Blog, and while it sounded really really interesting (seriously, read their review if you're not sure) I couldn't find it here in Japan. So when I got back to Singapore (and crammed about two library trips into three weeks), this was one of the books I made sure I borrowed.

Stormdancer is a Japan-inspired steampunk novel and it's excellent! It follows Yukiko, a girl from the Kitsune (fox) clan - her father has been tasked to find a griffin by the shogun. But she's the one that ended up bonding with Buuru (the griffin) and that starts her on a whole new task. Along the way, she meets a green-eyed samurai, a guildsman called Kin and a whole host of characters.

Yukiko was an awesome character! She's really brave and her growing bond with Buruu was so adorable to read. I love the great pair she and Buruu made, and as they relationship grew closer, their personalities become to show more.

And surprisingly, I actually picked a side when it came to the love triangle between Yukiko, the green-eyed samurai guy and Kin. I'm team Kin all the way! (Although that's because samurai boy is a really shallow character.)

The only annoying thing in this book is the repetition of some words. If you know Japanese, then the repetition of words written in romaji and then English a little annoying. But if you know absolutely no Japanese, you'll probably think of this as adding flavour. And anyway, to me, this book isn't based on Japan, just inspired by it, so I was more relaxed about how "authentic" or "accurate" it is (for example, it's as 'authentic' as Ink by Amanda Sun, but just less rage inducing because it's a fantasy world.)

But all in all, this is a really excellent book deserving of the hype it got! I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Blind Justice by Anne Perry

You heard the phrase 'Justice is Blind' right? That's supposed to mean that no matter what your status in life, Justice will only focus on the facts and whether you're guilty or not. Of course, in real life, who you are is going to impact how the jury/judge sees you.

In Blind Justice, Oliver Rathbone is a judge that is presiding over a controversial court case. He's certain that the defendant is guilty, but it seems as though he's going to get away. And then, he realises that he can influence the case - and he does so. The rest of the novel is how he is arrested for being biased, and how his friends Hester and Monk have to try and clear his name.

What I found interesting were the characters. Oliver seems to hold a torch for Hester, who is in love with Monk (and vice versa). In fact, I only realised that this was part of a mystery series (starring Monk) when I looked at the Goodreads page - I would have thought that either Oliver or Hester was the protagonist of this book. Still, all three characters were well-written, and even though there were references to the past that I didn't understand, I wasn't totally lost when it came to character relationships either.

As for the mystery aspect, well, I didn't think that there was much of a mystery. I mean, there is a murder and there is a solution to the murder, but it didn't seem to be the priority of the book. The book seemed to be more about whether we should encourage justice to go on the path we think is right or to let it take its natural course (even if that means a guilty man may go free). It was an interesting moral dilemma, so even though the mystery was lacking, I didn't mind at all.

I found this to be an interesting book. It didn't seem like a normal mystery - I thought it was historical fiction, but I really did like the characters and I'd like to go back to read more of this series.

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Snow by Tracy Lynn

The book says "a retelling of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' ", so it's obviously a fairy-tale retelling. It's actually part of a series called 'Once Upon A Time', and I used to find them everywhere in bookstores. I bought Snow because I really really liked the story, and my family does like to wait while I re-read entire books.

In this retelling, Snow (White - but she's called Snow) is Duchess Jessica. The evil queen is still a step-mother and the absent father is a distant, absent father. At first, the step-mother (Duchess Anne), is actually pretty nice, but she grows crueler as the years go by - till one day, Snow has to flee for her life. That's when she meets the Lonely Ones, and well, I don't really need to tell you how the story goes don't I?

What I loved about this story are its characters. It's a really short tale (I can finish it in 15-20 minutes), but Snow is an awesome character. She's quite a tomboy, and has a heart of gold. My other favourite character is Allan, the fiddler/mirror (mirror frame). The 'dwarfs' of Lonely Ones were also interesting - I really wish the book was longer because I would have liked much fuller character sketches of them. It feels like the dynamics between them and Snow could last a book!

As for the magic, well, the book tries to meld magic with science. Maybe I should say 'psuedo-science', since it's a bunch of scientific-sounding talk with little scientific base (I think. At least, that's how it sounds to me). And anyway, the characters do call them "spells" and such.

This is a good retelling which, although it doesn't deviate much from the original story, still manages to somehow feel fresh. I suppose it shows that even plot can become archetypal, and have many variations of the same.

Note: This book was read for the Fairy-Tales retold reading challenge.

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber called this "one of my most romantic Christmas stories". Well, I don't know if it's a Christmas story, but it sure is romantic! And despite the fact that it's called a Christmas story, I found that it can be read anytime - it just happens that the story takes place over a Christmas.

Starry Night stars Carrie Slayton, a reporter for the society page of the Sun-Times. But, she wants to cover serious investigative topics, and in a bid to prove her worth, she undertakes a task to interview the illusive author Finn Dalton. Of course she manages to meet him - and she falls in love! So what will she do? Will she write the piece or not?

While the book isn't very long, Debbie Macomber packed a lot of emotion into it. The two leads (after they fell in love), really pined for one another - which lead to some rather romantic gestures (flying to meet someone is sooooo romantic in my opinion)

My strongest impression when reading this book was the it was like a Harlequin book but without any explicit scenes (thankfully). In fact, I think my younger sister, who likes romance books, the Little Black Dress series and Debbie Macomber would probably love this book!

This isn't a deep, thoughtful book. It's a light and enjoyable read.

Disclaimer: I got this galley from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

To be honest, I picked up this book because Jane Austen mentioned it. And satirized it in her book Northhanger Abbey (You should read that book if you haven't read it yet!). It's a long long book and it was written a long long time ago, which means some people would think it boring straightaway.

But once you get used to the writing style, it's actually not that bad.

The book is about Emily, a poor heiress. She fell in love with this guy called Valencourt, but since her father died, her aunt dis-approved of him. And then she was carried away by her new uncle to a remote castle in Italy (to use Singlish 'and den she kenna carry by the uncle to some ulu place lor' - Maybe I should do a Singlish summary?). The rest of the book is about her trying to run away from her evil uncle, and when that happened, about her romance with Valancourt (that took up the last of the four volumes).

I'm not sure why the last volume existed. Sure, it cleared up a few mysteries, but it could have been done by some fantastical plot twist at the end (I mean, the plot twist was already fantastical enough).

For me, the trick to enjoying this book was to learn to live with long long sentences. (If you want an example of the long sentences, just look at my Teaser Tuesday). For someone used to slightly shorter sentences (and having read a few books that keep emphasizing a 'clean' writing style), this got a bit tiring to read at times. The other thing I had to get used to were all the sonnets. It seemed like as soon as Emily was moved by something, she composed a sonnet. For me, it broke up the flow of the text, and well, if it came during a particularly exciting section, it dragged the book a little.

Still, it's something that I enjoyed much more than I expected!

Note: This book was read for the Tea and Books reading challenge.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose under Fire was a book that alternately brought shivers down my spines and exclamations of joy. You see, it's a book about World War II, and it follows Rose, a transport pilot who ended up in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, a Nazi Camp.

The book is written as a series of journal entries, and the first few entries cover her life as a transport pilot and how she wants to be a fighter pilot. (It also had a section on how she wanted to be a fighter pilot like the men - something I thought it was really cool) It then introduced the idea of taran (also known as aerial ramming), which is tipping over an unmaned plan. AND THEN A HUGE PLOT TWIST CAME. She went missing. I totally didn't expect that, and the book made it happen in a really sudden way. Later, we find out that she was actually captured by Nazi forces and she writes down what happened to her in an attempt to come to terms with what happened (that's most of the story, so no, I didn't give any spoilers).

The part that sent shivers down my spine would be about the Rabbits - these are a group of girls who were subjected to medical "experiments" - which is another way of saying torture. I shivered whenever they talked about what happened to them because it's just scary.

But then again, when you read of how the camp comes together to protect the Rabbits and Rose, you can't help but shout for joy. Rose is a very engaging narrator and I was behind her all the way - never once did I feel annoyed or wish she behaved differently.

If you're interested in World War II, or just a book with a lead you can really root for, you should give this book a try.

Disclaimer: I got a free galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ostrich by Matt Greene

Ostrich was.... interesting. I liked it, but then again, I didn't quite see the point of it. I guess it's about growing up, but it's really really slow and nothing much happens.

You see, Ostrich is about Alex, a precocious pre-teen who's getting ready for a really important exam. The book opens with him getting brain surgery, but after that, not much is made of it (at least, in my own opinion). I would suppose that most of the plot revolves around his relationship with his parents - and his fear that they are going to split-up. Unfortunately, the ending wasn't very exciting because I thought that the story was settled even before the book was finished.

Most of the time, I liked Alex. He seemed like a fairly level-headed boy, if prone to flights of fancy. But I wasn't very found of his friend Chloe. I understand that she's supposed to be scared by her parents divorce and all that, but I found her unlikable for some reason.

And while I mostly liked this book, I have to warn you all that this is not suitable for younger children. While the protagonist is rather young, his father seems to like cracking dirty jokes with him (about what's he's done with Chloe, if she's frigid and all that) and there's a section early in the book where he talks about penile size, and another chapter where he analyses Internet porn. I suppose the author wanted to be realistic, and it may be that I'm a sheltered girl but I really don't need or want to read about subjects like this.

To be honest, I'm not sure what I think about it. At it's best, the book was funny and the voice of Alex felt very real. At it's worst, it just seemed crass and full of juvenile humour. I suppose it's up to you on whether you want to take a chance on it.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

This is a really famous book, which may have influenced how I read it. For some reason, I had this thought in my brain throughout: 'wasn't this book the one that sparked the debate about what chick-lit is?' Which means that my review will probably talk about this debate too.

Anyway, Freedom is about Walter and Patty, a married couple who struggle through their marriage (in the later half anyway). Patty is needy and Walter adores her. But when she finds out her adored son is dating the older girl next door, she has a breakdown. Walter and his son are at loggerheads too. And well, it all sounds like another Taiwanese drama. Only that for some reason, I didn't like any of the characters.

While I quite liked the novel, I didn't think that Patty's voice was authentic. It felt like a guy trying to be a girl. And not just that - it felt a little pretentious. Actually, the style of the whole book felt a little pretentious. It may just be me, but whenever people want to write literary books, they tend to come off as pretentious.

So, is this book chick-lit? I'm not sure where I read this accusation, but I think it went something like 'when women write about the home and family, it's chick-lit. When men write about it, it's literature'. Well, I wouldn't consider this book chick-lit, but that's because of the it tries too hard not to be. In terms of content - yes, it's definitely chick-lit. It deals with a theme that appears in many many novels (some of which are considered chick-lit) - love, finding love again, and love (family love).

And while the comparison may be unfair, this is how I see it: Jane Austen (women writer writing about love), her books = literature. Jonathan Franzen (male author writing about love), Freedom = Not literature. It's good writing, but it's not as deep as Austen, and I doubt I'd read it more than one or two times. But if you disagree with me, well, that just brings up the question, what is literature?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Little Pony: Pony Tales Volume 1

Apologies for the later-than-usual post. Today's my Chinese birthday (and my dad's birthday) so we were celebrating. 

I saw a My Little Pony comic on NetGalley previously, read it, and assumed that was all. Now I find out that there's another comic! So of course I requested it!

This comic was a little different from the other one in that it was split into six different stories, with each story focusing on one pony. (On Wikipedia, this is called the micro-series comic book). Twilight's was about books (and friendship), Rainbow Dash about flying, Rarity about relaxing (and friendship), Fluttershy about art, Pinkie Pie about clowns, and Applejack about the Apple farm (and working together). If you want a more detailed synopsis, you can find it at the Wikipedia page

While I liked this comic, I thought the stories were too disparate. Yes, there was friendship in some of the stories, but only one pony is the star per story. That kind of goes against the "friendship is magic" part for me. I'd like to see all ponies playing a fairly active role in each story. 

Other than that, this comic was a really fun read. I think the stories stayed true to the pony's personalities, and they were all fairly interesting. If you're a fan of My Little Pony, you'll want to read this book.

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

I love this image :D 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not Pretty Enough by Jamie Admans


I'm here with another blog tour! This time it's the Not Pretty Enough blog tour by Oops! I read a book again. So on to the review!

Not Pretty Enough follows Chessie as she tries to get the attention of who she thinks is the love of her life - the freakishly tall Lloyd. Chessie's reasoning is because her chest is huge, she understands what it's like to be different. Never mind that Llyod is popular and she's not.

And well, she does get his attention - but not in the way she wants. She tries to dye her hair but it becomes green. She draws a picture of him in IT and it gets shared to every computer in class. She even pretends to be abused because it gets his sympathy.

To be honest, I don't understand Chessie. I have never been that type of girl that chases after guys, yes, even when I was younger and was just bossing people around. I would never go to the lengths that she goes. But, I liked Chessie. She has good friends and family, and she does realise how silly she is (although she chooses to continue). Plus she has guts to do all her harebrained schemes.

My favourite part of the book was the ending. I wish I could tell you all the ending, but that would be spoiler-ish! Although I cringed quite a lot while reading Chessie's schemes put into action (they were really embarrassing!), the ending was awesome! And I think it's fairly unique, especially considering that this is a romance-centric novel.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book as part of a blog tour in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

The Twins is a story about Viola and Issy, a pair of "inseparable" twins that were torn apart by an "innocent mistake" (to quote the blurb). The novel starts with them in their twenties, as Issy tries to hold it all together and Viola is in the hospital. It then jumps between the past and the present as the book slowly reveals what this horrendous mistake worse.

Personally, I found this book confusing. I understand that they wanted to reveal the story behind the deep dark secret a little by little, but it ended up feeling like there wasn't much of a story. Plus, the secret wasn't that much of a deep dark secret (although I guess I was expecting something like a Sarah Rayne book when I was thinking 'deep dark secret')

I think the book should have just focused on one aspect. Either the sister's relationship or the present or the past. Right now, the book had a lot of things going on, but it felt very fragmentary and well, I think it wasn't thoroughly explored. Perhaps it's the effect of the multiple narrative voices - it can make a book feel well-rounded, or it can be so dizzying that all you feel is the surface.

This is probably a very deep book about friendship and sisterhood. I did enjoy some parts - especially their childhood, as they dealt with their mother getting a boyfriend (and generally moving from being an unconventional mother to a more conventional one). I really wanted to know more about that. If the book focused on that and then ended with a glimpse into the future as them in their twenties, I'd probably have felt the impact of their actions a lot more. As it is, there was a lot of buildup, and when I finally found out what their mistake was, my reaction was "meh", could be worse.

Disclaimer: I got a free galley from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Eternal Dreams: The Curse of Memories by Christopher Compton

Note: Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. My family got attacked by snatch-thieves and lost all our passports.

If you're six (in)famous friends, on your last trip together, what would you do if you find a creepy castle with equipment to go into a dream world? Well, if you're that infamous, then one of you is sure to suggest trying the machines out, and you'll all get stuck in a dream world that the six of you created.

And that is the introduction to Eternal Dreams. Once the six friends (Kail, Kanoa, Osias, Thalia, Adora and Cora) are in this dream world, they can't get out. What I liked about the introduction was that it gave us a pretty good overview of how the group functioned.

By the way, if you'e thinking that the title sounds like a video game, that's because their dream world is very close to a video game. From the description of the changes that all six (save Adora) undergo, they seem to resemble video game characters (like the Warrior, the Mage, etc) with the associated superpowers. I think the only ones that didn't realise this would be the characters themselves.

Within the dream-world, the goal is to get back to reality. Well, five of them want to go back - to Kanoa, this place is the perfect place for him. But since his friends want to go back, he doesn't have much of a choice. To get back, they have to defeat the evil queen and her henchment.

This book is narrated by Kail, the guy who's supposed to be the chosen one and has pretty serious trust issues. It makes the book interesting, especially as he flashes between the past (pretty intense flashbacks) and the game world. I enjoyed reading about how he struggles to trust others and become a good leader. So in a way, I guess this book is about Kail's personal growth.

And just to warn you, this book is the first in a series. I enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to reading the rest!

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from Virtualbookworm blog tours in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Single Woman by Mandy Hale

Since I saw the book Real Men Don't Text on NetGalley, I figured that The Single Woman would be a good complementary book to read. But like Real Men Don't Text, I thought it was interesting but not great.

The Single Woman is divided into eight parts and an epilogue, talking about why it's ok to be single and how to live your single life to the fullest. The author uses experiences from her life and the life of others to illustrate her points. In between, there are one page quotes (from whatever chapter we're in) to emphasize a point.

For some reason, this book felt like a collection of blog posts to me. There's nothing wrong with blog posts, but it just felt like that. I thought there were a few subjects that could have had much more detail and discussion, but since everything was about the same length, it ended up feeling rather shallow. I would much rather the book picked a few key topics rather than try to cover everything under the sun.

In fact, the book started to feel more like a general 'life-advice' sort of book. It went beyond the whole 'living the single life' into a 'how to have a good life sort of book'. Now that I'm keeping an eye on the content page, I see that it's structured to address the single women, but as I was reading this book, there were times when I thought "this is for everyone, no matter single or attached."

Which leads me to one point that I don't agree with. I don't think that being single means you have more time to make a difference (and vice versa). It may be that an attached woman who is very efficient can make more of a difference than a single woman.

To sum, while this is a good book, it's not the must read book for anyone who's single.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

This is a really really old and long book, but hey, it was satirized in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and that's a good enough reason for me to read it! This week's teaser is:

"If anything could have made Emily smile in these moments, it would have been this speech of her aunt, delivered in a voice very little below a scream, and with a vehemence of gesticulation and of countenance, that turned the whole into burlesque. Emily saw, that her misfortunes did not admit of real consolation, and, contemming the common-place terms of superficial comfort, she was silent; while Madame Montoni, jealous of her own consequence, mistook this for the silence of indifference, or of contempt, and reproached her with want of duty and feeling." (Page 367)

Well, I can't say these sentences are very economical, but they are very descriptive!

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. To participate, you have to share a two-sentence teaser from a book you're reading, along with it's title and author.

What is your Teaser Tuesday?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Real Men Don't Text by Ruth and Michael Dean

Ok, I admit it, the title intrigued me. After all, just a few days before, I was telling my friend "real men say 'I love you'." Over text message (of course). So obviously this book was going to attract my attention.

The main message of this book is: if a guy is interested, he'll call you. Texting means he's not sincere. And under no circumstances will you ever text first. Yup, I think that's about it. The authors used their own experience and the stories of others to talk about the type of woman one should be.

What did I think of this book? Well, I don't quite know. Keep in mind that I've been single forever and am used to the fact, then this book becomes rather irrelevant to me doesn't it? Plus, I love messaging people! I tend to use messages as a way to deepen my friendships - and this is especially true after I moved to Japan. So I can't really take the authors stand and insist that all messages are not as sincere as phone calls.

So I guess my stand goes like this: the content matters more than the medium. I'm pretty sure phone calls can be insincere, and I'm sure there are messages that can be sincere. Sometimes, if the time difference is too great, the only way to keep in touch will be through messages.

In a nutshell, this is an interesting book, and I like the authors story of how they met. It's really sweet. I'm still trying to decide whether to take their advice :p

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

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

NOTE: I planned to continue the regular posting schedule, but my grandma fell ill and we had to send her to the hospital.

As soon as I got back to Singapore, I went to the library (yes, that is me). While browsing through the Youth section, I found The Madman's Daughter. If I remember correctly, there were quite a few reviews about it some time back. So I figured it was a good book to take a chance on.

Fortunately, I was not let down. The Madman's Daughter is about Juliet Moreau, a girl who has fallen from society and become a maid. Her life is hard and miserable and after a professor at the university she works for tries to rape her, she gets fired and somehow finds her way to her father (whom she didn't know she was alive). The first few chapters were full of amazing coincidences - like her finding Montgomery, her father's assistant.

The real story starts when she's on her father's island, and she slowly finds out the secret behind the strange islanders. The secret didn't take long to be unveiled, and most of the plot was about how she dealt with the knowledge.

And of course, there is the obligatory love triangle. The man she loved though, was so obvious that even if she didn't know it, the reader would. But I must admit, I really did enjoyed the plot twist brought about by the love triangle - I think it's fantastic that the author worked this relationship into the plot (normally it feels like there's a 'save the world' plot (aka the main story) and then the 'which guy do I choose' plot).

All-in-all, this is a pretty good book. I hear it's a series, so if I ever see it in Japan, I'll probably buy and read the second book.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sia by Josh Grayson

If you were to lose all your memories, would you change into a different person? Would the you that didn't have past baggage be a nicer person or a meaner one? In Sia's case, she turned into a nice person.

Sia opens with the titular protagonist waking up with nothing but an iPod in her hand. Thankfully, another homeless person called Carol helps her out till she is found. And really, the contrast between her life as a homeless person and her life as Sia Holloway, the daughter of an ex-model and a Hollywood producer could not be more different. Unfortunately, Sia also finds out that she's not only popular, but mean. And now she's uncomfortable with it.

The novel is about Sia trying to find herself, and I thought that by getting rid of her memories (by giving her fugue amnesia) was a clever move on the author's part. It let her get rid of past baggage (how else can a person change so easily?) and genuinely become a whole new person. Otherwise, the mean-girl-turned-good story would be much less convincing.

What I would really have liked to have known, but never did find out, was why Sia lost her memories. I thought that it was going to be a plot point, but it never really developed. Her lack of memories does play an important role in the book, but not in the "I'm hiding a terrible secret" kind of way. I suppose that does make a refreshing change, but it's still a loose end.

All in all, this is a gripping book that takes a look at the issue of identity. I read it in one sitting (luckily I didn't burn my lunch) because well, I liked Sia, I like the characters and this book just pulled me in.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Art Of Falling by Kathryn Craft

On Monday, I read Wintergirls (link leads to review), and now, I read The Art OF Falling. The Art of Falling also touches on eating disorders, but unlike Wintergirls, the protagonists refuses to admit she has a disorder - she sees herself as eating healthily.

The book starts off when Penelope falls forteen stories and survives. She ended up blocking the fall from her memory. The book, really, is how she copes with having to leave the dance world, and the events leading up to the fall.

Personally, I found the story interesting, but I didn't like Penelope very much. Yes, I can understand why she's closed off and slightly bitter about things, but she comes across as very self-centered to me. She does change for the better within the book, but first impressions don't leave so easily.

I guess for some reason, I just didn't connect with this book. That's a bit strange to me, because I do like dance (watching that is, I did do ballet before and well, I can't dance at all). But somehow, I never felt fully drawn into the world of ballet. I suppose Penelope's refusal to talk about how she was different made the story less compelling to me. Plus, the novel is on her journey, so not that much emphasis is placed on ballet itself. It's a pity, because I really could have loved this novel.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - The Madma's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

I came back to Singapore on Sunday (two days ago), and yesterday, I headed for my favourite library to borrow books! Among others, I got The Madman's Daughter. So far, it's an interesting book. My teaser this week comes from page 166 to 167:

"I'd forgotten what I loved about the piano. The precision of the notes and the mathematical intricacy of the notes and measures. It was like a complicated equation that you work out with your heard instead of pencil and paper."

Ok, it's not two sentences, but it's a lovely quote!

Remember, Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. To participate, all you have to do is to share a two sentence teaser from a book you're reading as well as the title and author.

What is your Teaser Tuesday?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Note: I've gone back to Singapore! While I will try to keep to the normal posting schedule, please excuse me if I miss a day here and there. 

Wintergirls was a hard to read book. The subject matter is one that, although has not affected me, has affected someone I know. One of my friends in Secondary School once "disappeared" for a term. The first day she disappeared, the whispers had already gone round that she was gone due to an eating disorder. While we were an all girls school where the word "diet" was heard everyday, most of us loved food so much we couldn't think of giving it up.

But yet, we do have a sort of pressure to maintain a certain weight. A blog post from XOJane that made the rounds on Facebook was called "Fat For An Asian:" The Pressure To Be Naturally Perfect. And seriously, I understand the pressure now. The average BMI for girls in my university is 19.

So Lia in Wintergirls, while she is a hard character to like, is a character that I understand. To her, losing weight is a goal, and the thinner she is, the stronger she feels. And so, while she loves her little step-sister, she's just driven by this compulsion to stop eating, and to hide her disorder for fear that she'll be made to eat again. And add that to the fact that her best friend died from bulimia, and you can see why she's haunted by her friend.

The only part of this book that I didn't really like would be the style. I think the author wants to do something like a stream-of-consciousness, but it just feels self-conscious to me. The book worked best when it was just told from first-person, without the stylistic devices. I think that for this book, a simple style would have made the horror of Lia's reality even more stark and the impact greater. Dramatising the book kind of clouded that.

Overall though, it's a thought-provoking book and faces issues that many of us struggle with.