Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy 

The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.(Goodreads)

Rating and Review: 4
This book is listed as Jo Rowling's first book intended specifically for adults, however young adult would not be an inappropriate category given the subject matter.

The book is set in a typical west English town, Pagford, and the chaos that ensues when a seat on the local council is unexpected vacated by the death of a town's member. There is a battle for the council seat which provides the important numbers for either marginalizing the town's poor, or helping them, depending on which side of the social strata one lies.  Barry Fairbrother, the deceased council member, himself belonged to the middle to upper class but was an advocate for the poor. His charisma helped to keep the council in check as far as keeping the poor families included in the town's purview. Fairbrother advocated for the local methadone clinic, which was used primarily by the town's less fortunate. Once his death opened a "casual vacancy" on the council board, a battle begins to control the council itself.

During this battle between the various adult factions for control of this one small village, there also occurs a battle between the citizens themselves. Children battle against violent or apathetic parents while trying to navigate the waters of adolescence, the school counselor battles for and against students who clearly need help but don't trust adults (with good reason), and husbands and wives battle against each other over years of perceived slights and secrets locked in a lack of communication and a history of habit.

Rowling is an outstanding story weaver and as usual gives an almost excessive amount of detail to each character. The attention to detail caused the book to be slow reading at times, which is why I didn't give it a rating of 5.  However, Rowling does an excellent job in defining and bringing together all the threads into a final ending. The ultimate point to be gathered from this book is that power, whether it be power over others or over one's own life, is a tenuous thing and can be easily shifted if one is brave enough to make changes.  Most people are not brave enough to make whatever changes are necessary, and sometimes the change is not as good as hoped but rather trading one set of circumstances for another. Interestingly enough, this book points out that adults do not appear to have any more control over their lives than children do. Everyone is subjected not only to the limitations of others but to their own personal limitations. Therefore power is an illusion.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Hardcover487 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Harper Collins

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

Rating and Review: 4
For the longest time I put off reading this book because honestly I didn't know much about it and didn't know if I would like and want to read it. I definitely made a mistake doing this. I'm not really sure exactly what it is about this book but I loved it. Tris and Four are amazing characters with so much depth and wonder to them and the world they live in is such a wonder in itself. An amazing one at that that is still in my head almost a month and a half after reading it. I am definitely going to have to finish this series and see where it goes because this one left my begging for it not to end. I wanted to know were they go next and what soo many things meant. Insurgent is definitely high on my to-read list because this is such an interesting world and I'm ready to be back in it and unravel more of the story.

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)
Hardcover421 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Razorbill

Sydney's blood is special. That's because she's an alchemist - one of a group of himans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worls of humans and vampire. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line.

When Sydney torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far orse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.

The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside - and within - the school grounds. Now that they're hiding, the drama is only just beginning. (Goodreads)     

Rating and Review: 4.5/5
Richelle Mead is by far one of my very favorite authors. I'm most definitely in love with her writing, characters and stories. She almost gives these little bits that you can follow and guess along but then has something totally random or unexpected thrown in your face at just the right time. Her books are the ones that you sit and wish you were reading all day long. I'll admit at first I was a little bothered by how weak Sydney is at times but shes definitely getting stronger and spunkier. I love that Adrian is back and as dramatic as ever. He is most definitely a fun loved character. Of course everyone misses Dimitri and Rose but I think she is doing a very good job of opening up a story that we will love just as much. Oh and I am oh so glad people get what they deserve in this book it's wonderful. I'm also glad "Old Man" is back because you know something wild has got to happen with him around and I really hope he stays around and continues his entertaining roles. Mrs. Mead also leaves so many little mysteries spinning in your head that you'll be thinking about it for day and dying for the next book. I know I already bought mine and am very excited to see more of one of my favorite worlds. :) Happy Reading