Thursday, November 29, 2012

Walled Secrets: A Book Review on The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

When a young child is left alone in Australia with no memory of who she is, she is taken in by a new family to be raised as their own. When her father decides on her 21st birthday to finally tell her the truth, Nell's life is then left forever altered. Determined to discover her true origins, Nell eventually travels to England armed with a rare book of illustrated fairy tales to guide her search for her family. But things have a habit of swiftly changing and Nell is unable to continue her search for the truth. As a result, Nell's granddaughter Cassandra is left with the clues that Nell had put together and out of love and respect for her grandmother, she takes up the search where Nell left off. What she finds is a decades long mystery that revolves around family ties, fairy stories and the fate of a little girl left left alone on a dock nearly a century ago.

When I first read Kate Morton's book The House at Riverton earlier this summer, I was floored by the incredible world I'd encountered in the novel. I'm not one for choosing fiction works with a more historical slant to them so my affection for the book came as a bit of a surprise. True to my word, I said I'd read The Forgotten Garden next as it's next in line according to publication dates. Again, Morton creates a rich history, encompassing not only a wide array of characters but a stretch of time that spans nearly a century. But the awful truth is that The Forgotten Garden left me feeling grumpy and melancholy in the end.

It's a good story. The mystery is enough to leave the reader willing to stick to finishing the novel, hoping for a good outcome, but in the end there was too much sadness for me to truly feel that this was a brilliant read. Instead, by the time I finished this book I wanted to wring the necks of a lot of the characters and I even found myself snapping at real people when I was disturbed from my reading. My apologies to those I snapped at, by the way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A World of Pure Creation: A Book Review on "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde

In an alternate version of 1985 Great Britain, Thursday Next is working as a literary detective with The Special Operations Network. When she's approached with the opportunity to investigate the theft of the original manuscript of Charles Dickens' "Martin Chuzzlewit", she learns that the thief at large, a man named Acheron Hades, can manipulate people inside their own minds, change his appearance at will and walk around unnoticed by video cameras. Thursday realizes her importance in this case lies with the fact that as a former student of Hades when the man worked at her University, she is one of the few left who could positively identify the culprit. But Hades is up to no amount of good and the web of deceit encompasses more than anyone realizes. It's up to Thursday Next to pursue Hades at all costs, especially when the man manages to steal Jane Eyre from the pages of her own story, and Thursday won't stop until everything has been put to right at Thornfield once again.

Okay. I read this book a LONG time ago. There, I said it. After a recent excursion to my local bookstore led to my acquiring The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to go back and reread The Eyre Affair, the first book I'd ever read by Fforde. And wow, it is still as absorbing and impressive as it was when I first read it a good number of years ago. So, naturally I suppose, I put The Last Dragonslayer down and immersed myself in the world of Thursday Next. Then for good measure, I pulled out the rest of the books in this series, which currently amounts to six books including this one, and I have plans to read them through again over the holiday with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie at my side. And it will be a very grand time, indeed.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The End Came and Went: My Thoughts on the first half of Doctor Who Series 7


This post contains spoilers for the first 5 episodes of Doctor Who Series 7. Do NOT read if you haven't already watched each of these episodes and you actually mean to WATCH them. You have been warned! Or you can just read this post for the fun of it because you don't care about SPOILERS.

So after the impressive first episode, "Asylum of the Daleks", opened Series 7 of Doctor Who, I was looking forward to the rest of the final episodes to feature the Ponds. I've since viewed each of them at least twice and I still come to the same conclusion.

It was all a bit MEH, really.

Not to say that the stories featured in these episodes didn't have their merits. It just felt like these were stories that could have been told at any point in the last two series. For the final five episodes of the Ponds, it didn't feel like enough in the end.

And why am I judging these episodes based on their handling of these companions?

Well, everyone KNOWS that they're leaving. The stories feature Amy and Rory attempting to reconcile their 'normal' lives with the existence they have with the Doctor. They're dropping hints about the upcoming break to come. They are talking about the fact that the Doctor has gone off to travel on his own without Amy and Rory and the effect this has on him. And then of course there is the fact that the season has been split in half, with this first part ending with a goodbye to the Ponds. So when you know the ending that's to come, don't you look at what comes before it and analyze the episodes according to that connection?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Legends and Myths: A Book Review on The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Sargent leads an interesting life. While Blue has no psychic ability of her own, she lives in a house filled with talented seers, each with their special power. Her life is filled with predictions, cautions and card readings, things that she is always a witness to but can never do. So when it comes time for her to spend the night, as she does every year, waiting at a church to take down the names of the soon-to-be dead as they walk past, Blue finds herself in a different kind of predicament. Because this year she sees a boy and the fact that she sees him can only mean one of two things, either she's his true love or she's the one that killed him.

I have been reading Maggie Stiefvater's books for a while. I don't remember how I found Shiver back in 2010 but I do recall it was a recent release when I bought it. Then I managed to find the releases from her Books of Faerie series and voila!, I've been buying each of her works ever since. And the plus about my own copy of The Raven Boys? It's signed and doodled by the author herself, a lovely perk to pre-ordering the book from Fountain Bookstore. I don't normally pre-order my books since I don't have the patience for it. I'd rather go on the day of the book release and buy it in a store instead of wait for it to arrive in the mail. But this was definitely a good reason for me to try out a pre-order for once. Moving on now, time for the review.