Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Les Misérables

Published in: 1862
Pages: 1804
Edition read: E-book

Book description:
A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, “Les Miserables” is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830.

My review:
Welcome to the LOOOOONNNGEST book I’ve ever read. This behemoth took me about 4 months to get through, which actually isn’t too bad, and it wasn’t too terrible to read. It was mildly interesting, I learnt about the 1830 July Revolution and the battle of Waterloo, so that was something. There was boring details about long-dead politics that I could care less about, and unfortunately some world-building chapters (Like the one detailing the French sewer system. I am now well versed on this topic, whether I wanted to be or not); but overall, the story wasn’t as dull as I expected it would be. There was even a happy ending, eventually. After lots of misery. I mean, don’t get attached to a character because they will die. Hugo is the George R R Martin of the 1800’s.

One of the things this book does well, is that it has a huge cast of characters, but it is easy to keep track of them all. A lot of books have people that sound exactly the same, have the same names, have multiple nicknames, are just too hard to keep track of- and then they turn up and you’re like “whodafuck are you again?”. This book though, the characters were easy to follow, their names didn’t change every paragraph, if they did change it was well spelled out, and most importantly, everyone was very individual. It was refreshing, as instead of figuring out who characters were again, I instead was able to concentrate on the storyline.

Overall, giant-assed book, took forever to get through, but not as bad as I had thought it would be.

Final review:
Les Mis rating:
6.5/10.
Would I re-read it?
Nah. Look, I’m glad I read it, but I won’t be eagerly reading this again.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who has seen the movie adaptation, fans of classic literature or history.

Link:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12065814-les-mis-rables
As it is over 100 years old, you can legally download it for free at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/135

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)

Published in: 2013
Pages: 343
Edition read: Paperback
Series: Book 1 in the Blackcoat Rebellion

Book description:
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

My review:
This was a surprising read. I expected angsty teen drama, silly love triangles, and one-dimensional characters. Instead I got an addictive read about a post-apocalyptic America that was ‘brought out of the darkness by one enterprising president’ who turned out to be psychotic because hey, they are killing people they deem unproductive members of society. It was quite easy to picture the orange potato that currently runs the USA as being this president.

Anyways. The mystery of the rebellion, who Lila really was, what on earth is happening with Daxton, and the yummy Knox (although there is also the yummy Benji) was a page-turner that had me wanting more. The dystopian world is quite simple but clearly defined, the characters were interesting and well-developed, the story itself was really good and you couldn’t help but be outraged at the Hart’s, and at Daxton, and want him dead.

Final review:
Pawn rating:
8/10
Would I re-read it? Yes!
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of dystopian teen fiction like Divergent, the 5th Wave, the Hunger Games, etc.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18626914-pawn
Author’s website: http://www.aimeecarter.com/blackcoat-rebellion.html
Book depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Pawn-Aimee-Carter/9780373210558

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

Published in: 2007
Pages: 336
Edition read: E-book

Book description:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

My review:
I read this book on Anzac day and have been putting off reviewing it for nearly a month now. I think it’s time. This was a hard review to do… this is such a hot topic right now.

I’ve been aware of this book since it was released and made a huge impression on the reading community back in 07/08, but never really got around to reading it. Tbh, I thought it sounded a bit too grim to read. Who on earth sends people a mixtape telling them that they were the reason they killed themselves? That’s just sick.

Then the TV show was created and released a few months back, and I knew I had to read the book. The book is better than the TV show, for anyone interested. For starters, the book occurs over one night, instead of the bloody months it takes TV Clay to get through the tapes. The book is more emotional, better, quicker to read (3 hours, as opposed to the 13 hours it takes to watch the show). Books are always better.

I also hate how people are now interpreting the show- we have had so many discussions at work about the show and everyone just gets angry because unless you have been a victim of bullying, have experienced depression or other mental illnesses, or been/known suicidal people, you just don’t understand.

But try telling people that and they get all opinionated and shit (If she’s depressed, why doesn’t she just smile? If she has no friends, why doesn’t she just go make some?) Seriously, people just don’t understand, and it infuriates me (I work with people who were never bullied at school. Seriously. They didn’t think it actually happened in real life.)

But that aside. I’m glad I read this book but it was hard. You need to understand how hard it is to get through a book like this, because it’s sad as hell and terrible but addictive to read. It’s not a book you read lightly, you have to go in realising that there is no happy ending.

Final review:
Thirteen Reasons Why rating: 8/10. It was a really hard book to get through, but I am glad I did
Would I re-read it? No. This is a ‘once and done’ kinda book- you read it, but it’s not something you read over and over again. Just like the TV show isn’t something you watch over and over again, because it’s hard to get through.
Who would I recommend it to? OK. This was one of those discussions/arguments I had with my coworkers.
I would NOT RECOMMEND this book to anyone who is bullied, depressed, or especially suicidal. No way in hell. Why? Because this book highlights a successful suicide. You do not give that to anyone who might be suicidal, because it’s like saying “see, she succeeded. This is what you can do”. So hell no, do not give this to your suicidal teen friend/daughter/son/whatever.

I would recommend this to anyone who has seen the show. Books are better. Otherwise, I honestly cannot recommend this to anyone because this is something you have to be ready to read…

Link:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29844228-thirteen-reasons-why

 

This was probably one of the hardest books to review because I have so many opinions about it and it’s so hard to not rant about how horrible people can be, or how annoyed I’ve gotten over the last month with my co-workers who say shit and just don’t understand because their highschool experience was nothing like this. I think the main takeaway is that your actions have consequences, and should you ever think someone is being bullied, or may be suicidal, you need to tell people. You need to seek help. Don’t ignore it.

Also, highschool does end. While Hanna was having the worst time of her life and thinking there was no end, there is. It’s hard, I know that the highschool years seem to stretch on forever and just getting through one hour is hard enough… but it does end. It gets better. Bullies fade away, people forget scandals and gossip, you come out the other side stronger. Suicide is never the answer.

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)

Published in: 1997
Pages: 525
Edition read: Paperback
Series: Book 1 in the Jack Reacher series

Book description:
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

My review:
I was perusing Dad’s bookshelf and saw he had a few of the Jack Reacher novels, which I had been meaning to read one day- and thought to myself, why not today? Lucky for me, Dad had the first book in the series, so I was able to jump in at the beginning- I used to be able to pick up a book mid-series and get into it, but these days it’s book 1 or nothing.

This book was… look, it wasn’t bad, it was definitely readable (but definitely not believable), and the mystery of the money, that was blatantly obvious. I didn’t really like the character of Jack, he annoyed me, he killed casually and unnecessarily, he was in love with Roscoe but not in love with her? It was all very… first novel.

That being said, it wasn’t the worst first novel I’ve read, it was enjoyable and had a lot going on. I think the thing that may have annoyed me most about this was that Jack is a 6ft5 guy in the book… and I kept seeing the movie version of him, played by Tom Cruise. Who is 5ft7. I’m a head taller than the guy, for crying out loud. Do you know how frustrating it is to read a book and see Tom Cruise playing the main character, and have that main character meant to be over 6ft?

Final review:
Killing Floor rating: 6/10
Would I re-read it? Maybe. It wouldn’t be at the top of my to-re-read list though.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of action mysteries.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/900486.Killing_Floor
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_Floor_(novel)
Author’s website: http://www.leechild.com/books/killing-floor.php
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/Killing-Floor-Jack-Reacher-Book-ebook/dp/B0031RS2HC

Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead

Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge

Published in: 2007
Pages: 336
Edition read: Paperback

Book description:
Harry Gordon Selfridge was a charismatic American who, in twenty-five years working at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, rose from lowly stockboy to a partner in the business which his visionary skills had helped to create. At the turn of the twentieth century he brought his own American dream to London’s Oxford Street where, in 1909, with a massive burst of publicity, Harry opened Selfridge’s, England’s first truly modern built-for-purpose department store. Designed to promote shopping as a sensual and pleasurable experience, six acres of floor space offered what he called “everything that enters into the affairs of daily life,” as well as thrilling new luxuries—from ice-cream soda to signature perfumes. This magical emporium also featured Otis elevators, a bank, a rooftop garden with an ice-skating rink, and a restaurant complete with orchestra—all catering to customers from Anna Pavlova to Noel Coward. The store was “a theatre, with the curtain going up at nine o’clock.” Yet the real drama happened off the shop floor, where Mr. Selfridge navigated an extravagant world of mistresses, opulent mansions, racehorses, and an insatiable addiction to gambling. While his gloriously  iconic store still stands, the man himself would ultimately come crashing down.

My review:
I’d never even heard of this “Selfridge” place before the television show came out, and then I was hooked. When we travelled over to London a few years back, I forced the family to wander through Selfridge’s, just so I could compare it to the TV show. The store itself is hideously expensive- I’d have to take out a bank loan in order to buy a pen from that store, seriously. But I needed to buy something, anything, so I found the books in the basement and brought this bad-boy. Then proceeded to not read it for three years, because my TBR shelf is out of control.

Anyways, finally cracked this book open and it was really good. Selfridge changed the face of shopping and made it into what we take for granted today, he was a pioneer of the industry and a man of the people, and he was some sort of asshat who cheated on his wife regularly (that was disappointing to read about, I’d hoped it was just exaggerated in the show but no, this was how he actually was).

That aside, it was an interesting book and very informative. I kept having to go on wikipedia or youtube to check out things mentioned in the book- famous songs of the year, dance crazes, it-girls, fashion trends etc. I really enjoyed reading this and learning a bit about this legendary shop and the people who created it.

Final review:
Shopping, seduction & Mr Selfridge rating:
7/10
Would I re-read it? Yes, I’d definitely read this one again
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the TV show would enjoy this book, anyone interested in history, shopping, marketing- they would enjoy this book as well.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16169879-shopping-seduction-mr-selfridge
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shopping-Seduction-Selfridge-Lindy-Woodhead/dp/0812985044
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shopping-seduction-mr-selfridge-lindy-woodhead/1101061111

Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen

Nightkeepers (The Nightkeepers, #1)

Published in: 2008
Pages: 464
Edition read: E-book
Series: Book 1 in the Nightkeepers series

Book description:
The end of time looms, and Mayan demons have surfaced from the underworld to trigger an apocalypse. But as the final day approaches, the descendants of ancient warrior-priests prepare to fight back….
As a Miami narcotics detective, Leah Daniels never knows how her day will turn out. But she certainly doesn’t expect to be strapped to a stone altar as the human sacrifice in an ancient Mayan ritual meant to coax a demon from the underworld – or to be saved by a handsome warrior-priest king, who claims to recognize her from his visions.
Striking Jaguar thinks he is the last of the Nightkeeper warrior-priests, but as the end-time approaches, his mentor reveals there are twelve others. In reuniting them, Strike – king by birthright – gains the power to summon a Mayan god to combat the demons. But the woman of his visions is the gods’ chosen sacrifice. Now he must decide between love and duty…or find another way to invoke otherworldly magic in a death-defying race against the end of time.

My review:
This book was different to what I expected- I thought it’d really only be the story of two people, the main characters and their love story- normally these kinds of series focus on one couple per book and their ‘love story’, with guest appearances from other characters. However, this book included a wide range of characters and the beginnings of their own love stories, so that was…. different.

This story is long, and very involved. It was really interesting to read about and the Mayan mythology is fascinating, and the characters aren’t that bad to read about, although I didn’t really gel with any of them yet (however character development always improves in the second/third books).

Overall, it was a decent start to a series with an interesting premise and I look forward to seeing how the rest of the series plays out.

Final review:
Nightkeepers rating:
7/10
Would I re-read it? Maybe
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of paranormal romance, mythology, Mayan mythology, fantasy books, romance books.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2721947-nightkeepers
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nightkeepers-Final-Prophecy-Book-1/dp/045122437X
Author’s website: http://www.jessicaandersen.com/

Yakuza Moon by Shōko Tendō

Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter

Published in: 2004
Pages: 196
Edition read:
E-book

Book description:
Born to a wealthy and powerful yakuza boss, Shoko Tendo lived the early years of her life in luxury. However, when she was six, everything changed: her father was jailed, and the family fell into debt. Bullied by her classmates because of her father’s activities, and terrorized at home by her father, who became a drunken, violent monster after his release from prison, Tendo rebelled. As a teenager she became a drug addict and a member of a girl gang. At the age of 15 she spent eight months in a juvenile detention center after getting into a fight with another gang.
During Japan’s bubble economy of the eighties, Tendo worked as a bar hostess, attracting many rich and loyal customers, and earning money to help her family out of debt. But there were also abusive clients, one of whom beat her so badly that her face was left permanently scarred. Her mother died, plunging Tendo into a depression so deep that she tried to commit suicide.
Somehow, Tendo overcame these tough times. A turning point was getting a full-body tattoo with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, an act that empowered her to change her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at work, she looked up at the full moon, which became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book she wrote as an epitaph for herself and her family.

My review:
This is not a well-written book, the author states this herself in the opening paragraphs. She is not a writer, she is not looking to make a living from this, she is simply just wanting to tell her story. And that she does, quite well, given she is not a writer. Her writing style jumps a bit, and sometimes she will throw in bits and pieces that don’t add anything to the story; or she will start on one thing, and then next sentence she is on some other subject with no explanation; but if you can overlook this and get into the story, it’s pretty good.

I originally wanted to read this book as I thought it might give me an insight to the Yakuza, which is always portrayed as bad-assed motorcycle riding sword wielding Japanese mobsters in movies- but are they really like that? However, this isn’t really a book about them, this is about someone who is linked to the Yakuza and how it has influenced them.

This was fascinating to read, and kept me entertained during a long car-ride down south for a stupid cousin’s wedding that I so did not want to attend. It was also quite short, which was nice given the length of other books I’ve been reading lately!

Final review:
Yakuza Moon rating:
6.5/10
Would I re-read it? No, this is one of those books that you really only need to read once
Who would I recommend it to? For anyone interested in memoirs, Japanese culture, or Yakuza.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6482679-yakuza-moon
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Yakuza-Moon-Memoirs-Gangsters-Daughter/dp/1568364385

Ice Study by Maria V. Snyder

Ice Study (Study, #3.6)

Published in: 2009
Pages: 30
Edition read: Hardcover- was added in at the end of my Fan-Edition Dawn Study book
Series: Book 3.6 in the Study series

Book description:
This story is a prequel to Shadow Study. Ice Study tells a short story after Fire Study and another short story Power Study.

After the events of Fire Study, Yelena and Valek’s sabattical is cut short when they become entangled in a plot to prevent the Ice Moon from falling into the hands of a rogue magician.

My review:
So the Study series refers back to the events in this short story quite frequently, and although everything seemed familiar, I hadn’t actually read the short story before. It’s a quick read at only 30 pages, and yet Maria has managed to cram in so much story! It amazes me how she manages to do this.

This was a good story to read to get you prepared for the rest of the Study series, but not essential reading before the Study series as you can pretty much piece together what happened. I really enjoyed it though, and it helped ease the grief of finishing off the Study series and having this gaping hole in my life with no hope of any more Yelena and Valek stories in the future; it reminded me that I could go back and re-read the entire series all over again! Huzzuh!

Final review:
Ice Study rating:
10/10, because I love this series.
Would I re-read it? Yes! This series can do no wrong.
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of the Study series, fans of fantasy books with lots of action and awesome kick-ass characters.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7276503-ice-study
Author’s website: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/IceStudy.php
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Study-Maria-V-Snyder-ebook/dp/B01LYCNG12

Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3) Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3; Study, #6) Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3; Study, #6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: 2017
Pages: 478
Edition read: Hardcover, Australian Fan Edition
Series: Book 6 & final book in the Study series, book 3 in the Soulfinders Trilogy

Book description:
Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.
Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person’s resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.
With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surroundig the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

My review:
Why the three covers? Because look how pretty they are. This is one thing about this series that I adore, the covers of each edition of these books are gorgeous. Just look at them! The Australian one is the most dull simple with the black background, but even so it’s still pretty. I had to get the special fan edition that has tiny pictures of Maria’s fans that make up the image (it’s pretty cool), but now the hardcover doesn’t match the rest of my paperbacks! Ah book problems.

So. This book. Oh my gooooooooooddddddd this book. Where do I start? Well. It was amazing. Valek and Yelena are hands-down my alltime favourite characters, possibly ever. That’s saying something. I just adore them soooo much. The adventures these two get up to, its amazing. The love they share, it’s awe-inspiring.

Gushing aside, this book is told from multiple POVs and that makes for interesting reading, as we get the impressions of other characters like Valek, Leif, Janco, etc. It’s fun to read their perspectives, and it gives more variety to the story as we get all their adventures as well as Yelena’s. Yelena’s pregnancy is really awesome, seeing her progress but still kick-ass while waddling (could we expect any less from her?) and the ending is so sweet.

The only problem I have is that a swift conclusion seems to have been reached after such a buildup, it’s like 400 pages of building up to this massive plan, and then bam two pages and it’s done. Although I realise now that had Maria gone ahead and played out the plan in detail, it’d be another 300 pages (not that I’m complaining, bring on more story!).

So, I am now super sad that this series, that Yelena and Valek are now finished, and I won’t read anymore of their adventures! What am I to do with my life now? I mean, I couuulllddd re-read Poison Study again…

Final review:
Dawn Study rating:
100000000/10.
Study / Soulfinder series rating: 100000000/10.
Would I re-read it? Duh. Of course I will. Did you not read the gushy-gushy above? This book = love. This series = super love.
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of Maria’s other work, the Study or Soulfinder series, fans of fantasy books involving magic and epic adventure.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33976343-dawn-study
Author’s website: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books.php
Harlequin books: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781489220899
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Study-Maria-V-Snyder/dp/0778319857

Speaking in Bones by Kathy

Speaking in Bones (Temperance Brennan, #18)
Published in: 2015
Pages: 303
Edition read: Paperback
Series: Book 18 in the Temperance Brennan series

Book description:
For every case Temperence Brennance has solved, there remain innumerable unidentified bodies in her lab. Information on some of these is available online, where amateur sleuths sometimes take a stab at solving cases. One day, Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing persons report on an eighteen-year-old named Cora Teague. Since the bones in her lab do seem to match Cora’s medical records, Tempe looks into the case, returning to the spot where the bones were originally found. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby. When she then learns that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon with significance for a local cult, Tempe’s suspicious turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory thrown into question when Hazel herself turns up dead. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-change proposal, Tempe races to solve the murders before the body count climbs further.

My review:
I liked bits and pieces of this book, but it wasn’t as wow-factor as some of the other books, which was a shame. The last book leaves on such a revelation/cliffhanger/OMG moment- what will Tempe decide? I was yelling “SAY YES!!” at my book, like the characters could hear me, and eagerly started this book to find out what her answer was… which we don’t really get until towards the end.

The mystery of this book revolves around an online forum/collective dedicated to solving cold cases, which sounds cool until you get down to the dirty politics (people fighting over cases, stealing leads, etc). It also revolves around crazy religious sects and the demented things that they do all in the name of their beliefs, which is just totally batshit insane.  It was a pretty good mystery, but I know Kathy has written way better ones before and had been hoping for a real zinger with this book (but alas, no). I will have to wait until she publishes her next book, which is a bummer as before it was a matter of reaching for the next book on my bookshelf, but now that I’ve caught up in the series… I have to twiddle my thumbs and wait like a chump.

How do people live like this? (My solution was to dive headfirst into the longest book I could find, which was a 1,840 page humdinger…. A month on and I’m still not even halfway through that behemoth so maybe that wasn’t the best of ideas!)

Final review:
Speaking in Bones rating:
6/10. Good, but not great
Would I re-read it? Yes, but I would read other books in this series over this one.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the series, fans of murder mysteries, crime fiction, etc.

Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23664683-speaking-in-bones
Author’s website: http://kathyreichs.com/speaking-in-bones/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Bones-Novel-Temperance-Brennan/dp/0345544064