The Book Ninja

the-book-ninja-9781471177163_hr*This post contains spoilers

Fellow readers, please note that the following post contains spoilers. You have been warned.

This book caught my attention as I was strolling through the bookshop, weaving in out and out of shelves,  running my fingertips along the spines of the various shelved books. Intrigued, I added it to the list. Incidentally, a few days later the same book was recommended to me. Coincidence? I think not – the universe is rarely so lazy (to quote Sherlock). Obviously I felt like the universe wanted me to read this book, so naturally it jumped to the top of the list and a few seconds later, thanks to the magic of technology, had successfully been downloaded on to my kindle.

I was promised a fresh concept, bookish references and a delightful story between the covers of ‘The Book Ninja’. In all fairness, I received all that but it also came with a bunch of other stuff that quite frankly did not float my boat. Although I loved how the story had a lot (and when I say a lot, a mean a hell lot) of book references thrown in coupled with   the main concept being about leaving books on the tram in order to find the perfect date, there were many moments where I wanted to throw my kindle against a wall purely out of frustration. (Honestly, after reading Wuthering Heights, I never imagined I would feel that level of irritation again, for me to want to harm a book, yet here we are).

Let’s start with the characters. Why were all the characters so ‘quirky ’ and over the top all the time? Honestly speaking, at first I embraced it and throughly enjoyed it. I mean this is  fiction and isn’t this the type of book that’s supposed to be light hearted, at times ridiculous and make you laugh out loud? But soon after, the antics were teetering between ridiculous and just downright over dramatic eye roll worthy dialogue and antics that made me question these characters. Unfortunately, the line was crossed (multiple times).

Frankie and her best friend, Cat, the main protagonists were indubitably awful people, something I cannot emphasise enough; the bad decisions kept piling up. Frankie was judgemental, snobbish and a hypocrite to top it all off. Cat wasn’t far behind. It’s quite easy to see why these two would be best friends. Let’s break this down – both are, to varying degrees book snobs especially towards the YA genre and oh yeah, both cheated on their respected partners and then had the audacity to try to justify it. Seriously?

Let’s move on. The side plots were clearly not well thought out, nor were they tied up properly. The whole Seb confessing his love for Frankie scene was just shoved under the carpet, never to be mentioned again. And the whole Cat getting pregnant as a result of her unfaithful dalliance with another man was just… well pointless. Even that was never given a satisfactory ending.

And finally we come to the YA commentary. The whole YA commentary was both valid and understandable. It highlighted brilliantly what issues YA books face as many people believe them to be for a particular age range and full of tropes, adding no value nor enriching readers’ lives. Of course, this is stupidly far from the truth – YA books are so much more than a bunch of tropes strung together and having predictable endings. But I digress – back to this particular book. The way these issues had been depicted was well done. However, after it being mentioned and emphasised over a handful of times, I couldn’t help but notice it had been overdone. An utter overkill.

Despite all this, I loved the whole premise and the ending when Frankie tries to win back Sunny by planting YA books on the tram, which had hidden notes inside them – no matter how ridiculous or unrealistic it may be, it made me smile. Using books to make such a romantic gesture is undoubtably clever and heart fluttering.

So in a nutshell, to round off this jibber jabber, the concept was amazing, as was the ending and book references scattered throughout. Nonetheless, the characters, side plot lines and the writing was a complete disappointment (and even that feels like an understatement). There were times where I came close to throwing my kindle across the room. But, common sense miraculously took over, leading me to snap my kindle cover shut in frustration instead of flinging it against the nearest wall. Basically this book had potential.

Happy Halloween,

Saz

P.S. A book just fell on my head. I only have my shelf to blame 😉

The Word is Murder

51mrdb3d0kl-_sx321_bo1204203200_ So to be completely honest I did have slight misgivings about this one. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the writing would be good – having read (and loved) the Alex Rider series, it’s pretty evident that Horowitz is a brilliant writer. (I mean the sheer amount of detail, thought and research that went in each one was amazing). Somehow I felt that if I didn’t like this book, it would tarnish the Alex Rider books for me. However, given such an intriguing premise, clearly I just couldn’t resist; one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was curled up and had begun to read.

It was incredibly interesting the way Horowitz had placed himself within the book. I don’t think I have ever read a book where a writer has inserted himself or herself in to the story so directly. The closest I’ve come across is when an author writes a character that’s been based on them (e.g. it was said that Agatha Christie based Ariadne Oliver on herself). It was actually a strange experience as there was a blend of reality and fiction; sometimes it was hard to distinguish between the two as the line where one stopped and other started to blur a tad. It was striking how Horowitz portrayed the process of writing about true crime but kept it within a fictional setting in relation to the characters and the actual crime. However, at times the story dragged because too much detail was being handed over – some of which felt somewhat unnecessary. However most of the little snippets of Horowitz’s life were interesting to read.

The murder itself was exciting and well constructed. Practically all the clues had been disclosed as the book progressed. This is always one of my favourite things about well written crime books – the opportunity to solve the case alongside the detective/narrator. I was able to guess a couple of things but sadly was not able to say why – I was basically taking a wild guess at whom the murderer was. Thus, it was enjoyable to read the ending where everything had been explained and tied up.

One thing I was slightly miffed or rather disappointed about was the relationship between Anthony and Hawthorne. There was something missing – perhaps it was the severe lack of banter, lightheartedness or some sort of friendship. In all honesty, I’m not quite sure what it was, but for some reason or other, their relationship and interactions didn’t quite work for me.

Hawthorne was largely an unlikeable character. He came across as rude in situations that did not warrant it in the least, aggressive and at times downright patronizing. Even towards the end, I was feeling lukewarm towards him at best (and even that is pushing it). It made me wonder if Horowitz had done this on purpose to make the book more realistic in a way. After all, he did keep commenting that if this were ‘fiction’, he would never depict his lead detective with Hawthorne’s characteristics.

Overall I appreciated the mystery element of the book. Nonetheless, I’m not quite sure I liked the ‘reality’ aspect of the book. I’m rather unsure what Horowitz was trying to get at by weaving reality and fiction together in such a way. It was certainly an interesting concept, I’m just a little confused as to the purpose of this. It is therefore questionable as to whether I’ll be picking up the sequel (The Sentence is Death). Actually, I’m sure I will at some point in time – just not right away. So basically, a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I’ll let you guys make your own conclusions about The Word is Murder. 

Happy Reading,

Saz

P.S. Just so everybody’s clear… I’m going to put on my glasses 🙂

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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The premise of the book was simply innovative – eight days with eight different witnesses to inhabit, to solve a murder that will happen everyday in the same way at the same time. Succeed in solving the mystery and you’re free to go; fail and the whole loop will reset itself. It was the brilliance of the concept that made me impulsively read this book without dithering about it first.

The narrative was captivating right from the first chapter and continued to be unputdownable all the way throughout. The plot had been intricately laid out, each piece of the puzzle entwined with another, waiting to be solved. There were small twists all throughout the mystery – nothing was really as it seemed. But the way everything came together in the end, was fantastically done. There were no plot holes (always a massive doubt of mine whenever the complex nature of time is in play), no questions left unanswered – everything had been tied together perfectly, with a more than satisfying solution to the whole murder.

“… these masks we wear betray us. They reveal us.”

The way the narrative had been written was extremely skilful. It had almost a lyrical kind of quality to it. Due to the vividness of the descriptions , a real sense of fear and eeriness had been injected in to the prose.

A variety of  characters had been presented, with secrets and hidden agendas of their own, which made the book a riveting read. It was incredibly fascinating to see the interaction between the hosts’ personality and Aiden’s – especially how sometimes both would merge, making each identity indistinguishable from one another for that split second.

“Are we shards of the same soul, responsible for each other’s sins, or entirely different people, pale copies of some long forgotten original?”

However, sometimes due to the sheer number of characters depicted, it sometimes got a little confusing to keep track of who everyone was and how they fitted in the timeline of events. Yet, I found this to be the case probably because I read the book in a very disjointed fashion (thanks to reality), instead of curling up and reading it in one go (something I cannot recommend strongly enough if you are going to read this).

“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home? This lost I decide. Precisely this lost.”

Although there wasn’t much in depth character development per se, all of the characters, especially the hosts, were very distinguishable; each had their own fortes, ideas and emotions that encapsulated them.

In a nutshell, the whole plot completely blew my mind. The concept was simply incredible, with an enthralling narrative to match. Honestly would recommend this book to anyone looking for their next captivating read.

Laters,

Saz

P.S. What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta 🙂

The Chalk Man

41xo7gtk2bkl-_sx323_bo1204203200_*THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS*

A word of caution to this blog post –  it contains massive spoilers. I would advise not carrying  on reading unless you’ve already read the book,  have zero intention of ever reading it or you simply laugh in the face of spoilers.

This book had so much hype surrounding that it was practically impossible to ignore whenever I happened to walk past any bookshop or even just the book section of a non bookstore. Anyways, the front cover caught my eye and next thing I knew, it had gone on to my ‘to be read’ list. Funnily enough I didn’t start actually reading it until my sister suggested that we read it together (much to my utter delight).

There was something really strange about all the main characters – they all seemed to have psychotic traits to varying degrees. I mean Eddie (the narrator) had been keeping a dead girl’s head hidden under his floorboards for a good thirty years or so whilst his friends had also done some rather questionable things (arguably less questionable, but questionable none the less, from Hoppo pushing Micky in a river to kill him because spiking his drink clearly did not work to Micky raking up traumatic memories on purpose and having a flair for lying). So you can probably understand why I tried and failed miserably to connect with any of them, or cared what happened to them after a while. There also seemed to be a serious lack of character development throughout.

Plus, the more I think about it, the more unrealistic it seems that these kids would have stayed as friends throughout their childhood considering it didn’t really seem that anyone particularly liked anyone else in the group, nor was there a feeling of closeness amongst them.

“Thin, I think, that fabric between realities. Maybe minds aren’t lost. Maybe they just slip through and find a different place to wander.”

To be fair, at times it was rather chilling and the mystery of the chalk men and the killer kept me turning those pages (or rather swiping on my kindle, but let’s not get caught up on semantics). The climax and revelations on the other hand were a different matter entirely. I felt somewhat cheated when everything had been cleared up – the lack of connections between the events, the fact that different people drew the stick men each time and of course how there had been no real ‘chalk man’. But that wasn’t even the most frustrating part. Oh no, the most frustrating part was the lack of neatness in the ending; there were still loose ends by the time the book came to its unsatisfying ending.  I mean some stuff had either been vaguely hinted at or was never mentioned again. Maybe this was done on purpose to leave an air of mystery and intrigue, or perhaps Tudor just forgot about it. Either way, I was left with a bitter feeling of discontentment and an urge to throw my arms up in despair.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some positives to the book – it’s wasn’t all doom and gloom.  The way the narrative had been written was really good – alternating between the past and present, with both having an air of suspense surrounding them. The pace was a little slow to start off with but all the chapters had something new to offer – another piece of the puzzle. The actual idea of having coded messages and leaving them with different colours of chalk was pretty cool.

“What shapes us is not always our achievements but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”

To conclude, this book was overall a disappointment. I felt no real connection with any of the characters  and the fact that multiple people had drawn the stick men felt like a cheat. In all fairness it was probably the amount of hype that had surrounded it which had elevated my expectations to a ridiculous amount. Honestly, I’m not sure I would recommend this book. I mean I might to the next person that mildly irritates me.

Happy Reading,

Saz

The Angel’s Game

51knbk4ewal-_sx323_bo1204203200_ I wanted to read this book ever since I accidently stumbled upon what I thought was a rather beautiful quote. Unfortunately, quite a bit of time passed and I soon forgot about it after adding to my (never ending) reading list, until by some happy co-incident (although you know what they say about co-incidents? The universe is rarely that lazy), I found a copy sitting on a bookshelf, just waiting to be picked up and read.

‘I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling.’

The writing was beyond amazing. Zafón is an amazing storyteller and masterly weaves a narration that almost takes your breath away due to the sheer richness of it. The actual writing is can only be described as being lyrical. The descriptions of both the various districts and characters were vivid and detailed. Due to this I could easily imagine what Spain must have looked and felt like during the time. (Reading this book has actually made me want to go visit Spain and just wander round the streets, immersing myself in the culture of the place).

Although at times admittedly I was rather confused about what was being said in regards to religion and the various other debates Martín and Corelli had, I still found some of the arguments (the ones I could just about get my head around) to be rather thought provoking. In fact to be completely honest, sometimes I was just confused at what was going on and how it all pieced together.

The plot sometimes moved a little slowly, but this was simply because Zafón took his time to construct such an atmospheric setting. The complexity of the characters amazed me especially Martín, Cristina and Pedro Vidal. Although I didn’t particularly like Cristina, I could still appreciate the depth of her character as well as the complicated relationship and feelings shared between her and Martín. The relationship between Martín and Isabella was also nicely portrayed. However, Sempere was undoubtedly my favourite character, and for some reason his bookstore felt like home – a place of comfort.

The mystery element concerning not only the identity of Corelli, but also the life of Martín’s predecessor was so captivating that at times I found it very challenging to stop reading and engage back with reality. The whole concept that made up the ending was brilliantly clever. Having said that, some loose ends could have been tied up in a neater fashion.

To conclude, this book had been beautifully written, with an immersive atmosphere. The characters and their relationships were complex in their own right and although at times it was a confusing read, it was an enjoyable one nevertheless. I’m definitely going to be picking up ‘Shadow of the Wind’ when I feel like returning to Barcelona.

Adios,

Saz

P.S. did you hear about the man who robbed the pastry kitchen? I heard he was a real whisk taker. 🙂