Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Sue Trinder was raised in a warren of thieves. Gentleman recruits her in an ambitious scheme to deceive an heiress, but once she replaces the victim’s maid, Sue is plagued with feelings of compassion. Will cold feet prevail?

The book’s atmosphere is like Oliver Twist meets Jane Eyre–complete with pickpockets, madhouses and murderers.

The cast of villains go about duping each other for selfish reasons, but Waters has a knack for making you root for the most fault-ridden humans.

The storytelling was so engrossing that at two points, I actually reacted out loud: “What?” and “Drama, drama!” The plot is twisted and fully enjoyable!

Previous reviewNext review

Another blogger’s review

And another one for good measure

Advertisements

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is a book most people read in high school. I didn’t, but it reminds me of a short story I had to read back then: “The Lottery.”

Atwood’s novel carries the same tones of a heartless society and its desperate victims.

It’s a cautionary tale of a dystopian society where woman are the core–the few fertile ones have become indispensable resources–yet they are without power. Every person is contained in their role and even the captors are enslaved.

Blood red suburbia. People are cloaked and confined. There is no one who trusts in humans.

Previous reviewNext review

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

“Hey Baby, what’s the story?” says Victor Ward, It Boy of the moment. “Never mind, spare me.”

It’s so cold that frost is creeping along the walls as Victor brushes confetti off the sleeve of his Comme des garçons tux.  Later in the script, Victor will be recruited by models-slash-terrorists and eased into senseless violence. For now, he’s oblivious.

“It’s what you don’t know that matters the most.”

As Victor flirts inattentively, from somewhere, an ominously relevant song from the 90s begins to play.

I am faux-freaked out by this book.

It’s the same plot as Zoolander but it’s hardly funny.

Previous reviewNext review

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

My brother gave me number 641 on the list for Christmas.

This is another novel in the detective genre, so I compared it as always to my benchmark: Agatha Christie novels. It was enjoyable but the “whodunnit” revelation was less satisfying than one of Poirot’s mise-en-scènes. Its focus seemed to be on recreating an environment (foggy and ominous) and a culture (wee British parish with a love for bellringing), in which a murder takes place, almost incidentally. What seems more important is a strained relationship between man and nature.

Note: Tailors are not “hemmers of pants,” but bells!

And Bunter rocks.

Previous reviewNext review

Another blogger’s review

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone is the classic detective novel, complete with an invaluable but cursed jewel, a mysterious theft, suspicious strangers from a foreign land, rigid British social classes, quicksand, interrogations, an unassuming detective and cigars in the billiard room. It seems unoriginal. Too much of what we’ve already seen: Sherlock and Watson, Poirot, even board game Clue.

However, The Moonstone was the Apollo 11 of the detective genre. It’s not a stereotype, but the prototype. It was a launching pad for all detective fiction. As a fan of the genre, I can vouch for this stellar novel. It’s out of this world!

Previous review Next review

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Born in a backwards fishing village, Sayuri was sold when her mother died and sent to an okiya in Kyoto. She longs for escape, since the resident geisha mistreats her, but the only path is to become a geisha. A blue-eyed beauty in a city of dark eyes, she soon becomes famous. But love?

Sayuri wonders if she has any control over her destiny. Is she a pebble in a stream, tumbled and pulled by the current of her circumstances? Or is she a fish, using the current to swim toward the destiny she desires?

Loved it. Slightly disappointed by Sayuri’s final choice.

Previous reviewNext review

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

William of Baskervilles is an English monk visiting a rich Italian abbey on a political mission. Adso, the narrator, plays his Dr. Watson as William is asked to investigate a murder in the abbey. The monastery’s pious veneer is peeled back to reveal the dishonest and greedy motives beneath.

Eco’s slogan: “God is in the details.” He uses long lists to describe. Instead of writing “Adelmo’s illustrations portrayed imaginary creatures such as men with tooth-filled mouths in their bellies,” he tells us exactly what was on the page, in a sentence 207 words long.

Themes: loss of ideals, hypocrisy, possessions, poverty, temporality.

Previous review –  Next review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone is a 15-year-old with high-functioning autism.

Christopher likes: dogs, detecting, the colour red, math, murder mystery novels, prime numbers, the police, the fact that the universe is constantly expanding, things in a logical order, orange squash, his pet rat Toby and The Hound of Baskervilles.

Christopher doesn’t like: people touching him, real novels, metaphors, the colours brown and yellow, France, people moving the furniture around, strangers, information overload and holidays.

I liked: Getting to know Christopher, who seemed real. Mark Haddon gave me plenty of details. There were no simple sugar-coated solutions. But it wasn’t depressing either.

Previous reviewNext review

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

A photo of The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas PynchonOedipa Maas wanders into a quasi-invisible conspiracy to desert the U.S. Postal Service. Is it apophenia?

This book is the awakening from a dream. A dream in which you saw meaning in every detail and every event was related and was PROOF. But now you are awake and all the strands of your dream are slipping away and you are left with half-memories of urgent searchings and your dream companions (those specific strangers whom you knew surprisingly well). You feel a desperate triumphant urge to make sense of things. You can’t.

I felt like Oedipa at the deaf-mute dance. Bogged down.

Previous reviewNext review

Mrs. ‘Arris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico

Photo of the book \" width=I picked this novel first because the title made it sound easy to read. It was. This book is a simple souped up parable from the British 1950s. Mrs. Harris, a elderly cleaning lady who talks like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, discovers how far she is willing to go to get something she desperately wants. We root for her. The narrator shows her foibles and fortes. He teaches us a lesson: Look how heroic “insignificant” people are. Look at the drama and worth of the lives we never see on TV. And realize the high value of human friendships.

Next review