Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Heretic's Daughter


Title: The Heretic's Daughter                                                              
Author: Kathleen Kent

Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga

Edition: Back Bay Books, 2009 (345 pages)

From the Cover:
In 1752, Sarah Carrier Chapman, weak with infirmity, writes a letter to her granddaughter, revealing the secret she has closely guarded for six decades. Her story begins a little more than a year before the Salem witch trials, when she and her family arrive in a New England community already gripped by superstition and fear. Hysteria escalates as neighbour is pitted against neighbour, friend against friend, until more than two hundred men, women, and children are swept into prison - Sarah's mother, Martha Carrier, among them. In an attempt to protect her children, Martha asks Sarah to commit an act of heresy - a lie that will most surely condemn Martha even as it will save her daughter.

My Thoughts:
The Heretic's Daughter is written from the perspective of a 9 year old, Sarah Carrier Chapman. Sarah is the third child of Thomas Carrier and Martha Allen. Sarah's mother, Martha was a strong-willed woman who had a certain contempt for the men of church. In December 1690, Sarah and her family travelled by cart from Billerica to neighbouring Andover, Massachusetts in a desperate attempt to escape the pox that had plagued their hometown. Little did they know that they had brought the disease with them. This did not sit too well with the people of Andover. In a time where superstition was rife and independent women were feared, the Carrier family suddenly found themselves under extreme scrutiny.

Martha Carrier was later accused of witchcraft and was thrown into jail with her two sons and daughter, Sarah. The first half of the book focused on the characters within the Carrier family, whilst the second half was an account of the family's life in imprisonment and the ensuing court trials. It is a truly heart-wrenching tale that provided a realistic impression of what really happened to the victims of the Salem Witch Trials - a point that was a real eye-opener for me since I know very little about the subject.

What I loved most about this book was Martha Carrier's resolve. Despite the perilous situation she was in, Martha continued to show strength and dignity all the way to her death. She was a source of strength for her husband and children, especially little Sarah. 

This is a gripping family saga of despair, family love and one woman's refusal to bow down to the powers that be. A great read and highly recommended, especially to those who wish to know more about the Salem Witch Trials.  



Footnote:
Kathleen Kent is a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier. The Heretic's Daughter was written based on family stories passed on from her grandmother and mother, as well as historical facts of the Salem Witch Trials.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #2: 2011

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewehere on that page (though I always tend to share slightly more!)
This week's teaser is from my all-time favorite paranormal series; Sookie Stackhouse:


"She pointed to the body lying by the white car. Fortunately, the corpose was on the side of the car concealed from the view of the rare passerby. In the poor light it was hard to be sure, but I believed Corinna was already beginning to flake away. I'd never seen a dead vampire in the rain before." - pg. 96 of Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris.

I haven't reached page 96 yet (just started reading this about 20 mins before I decided to write this post). Anyway, the teaser looks insane. Can't wait to delve right back in!




Angels

Title: Angels

Author: Marian Keyes

Genre: Chick Lit

Edition: Penguin Books, 2003 (482 pages)

From the Cover:
“I’d always lived a fairly blameless life. Up until the day I left my husband and ran away to Hollywood…”

Unlike the rest of her family, Maggie Walsh has always done everything right. At thirty-three she has a proper job, is happily married to Garv and never puts a foot wrong. So why does she make a bolt for Hollywood and her best friend, Emily? In the City of Angels, Maggie gets to do things she’s never done before: mixing with film stars, pitching scripts, partying non-stop. But is this really a once-in-a-lifetime journey of self-discovery, or is she simply running away from married life?

My Thoughts:
This novel started a little slow for me. At first, I found the main character, Maggie Walsh, a little lame and the storyline another one of those typical feel-good chick lits. But after mid-way through, the book definitely picked up a notch or two and I must say that I quite enjoyed it, especially since I wasn’t expecting to.

Angels is all about Maggie Walsh and her dysfunctional funny family. After 9 years of marriage to Garv, Maggie decides to leave him and the security that the marriage had been providing all these years. She runs off to Hollywood to live with her best friend Emily, a scriptwriter who is still looking for her big break. As Maggie tries to live the life in Hollywood, certain pieces of her old life suddenly resurface to memory. What really got me hooked were these flashbacks that slowly unraveled Maggie’s past and the kind of girl she really was. She no longer appeared to be the lame woman I thought her to be and her story was interesting to say the very least. Her family, a bunch of distinctive sisters, and a pair of over-protective parents, make such a funny combination, you’re bound to laugh out loud once or twice. Overall, I thought this was a touching novel with plenty of laughs.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Casanova in Bolzano

Title: Casanova in Bolzano

Author: Sandor Marai

Genre: Literature

Edition: Vintage Books, Nov 2004 (294 pages)

From the Cover:
Another rediscovered masterpiece from the author of the Embers – a sensuous, suspenseful, aphoristic novel about the world’s most notorious seducer and the encounter that changes him forever. In 1756, Giacomo Casanova escapes from a reputedly inescapable Venetian prison. He resurfaces in the Italian village of Bolzano, where he sets about refurbishing his person and finances. Then he receives an unwelcome visitor.

He is the aging but still fearsome Duke of Parma, who years before defeated Casanova in a duel over a ravishing girl named Francesca, sparing his life only on condition that he never see her again. Now he has taken Francesca as his wife – and intercepted a love letter from her to his old rival. He could kill Casanova on the spot. Instead he makes him an offer, one that is logical, perverse and irresistible. Turning a historical episode into a dazzling fictional exploration of the clasp of desire and death, Casanova in Bolzano is further proof that Sandor Marai is one of the most distinctive voices of the twentieth century.

My Thoughts:
Casanova in Bolzano is a novel written by the Hungarian writer, Sandor Marai. Whilst the main character is based on the infamous Italian womanizer Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt (April 2, 1725 – June 4, 1798), the storyline is pure fiction, and is merely Marai’s portrayal of Casanova’s romantic character.

When I first read the blurb I was pretty excited. It made me feel like I was in for an enchanting, historical love affair, full of passion and betrayal. Fortunately, I didn’t need to get past page 40 to realize that the novel was a complete disappointment. The prose was dull and long-winded, with paragraphs that lasted up to 2 whole pages before the next break. The storyline was filled with boring monologues making one believe Casanova to be a pompous character rather than an edgy yet romantic soul. And there was naught of passion or anything resembling that hot romantic desire that you would expect from a situation of forbidden love. It’s not until the final section of the book that Casanova finally encounters the Duke of Parma and the ravishing Francesca – the first ¾ of it was just about Casanova and his tiring monologues.

Easily one of the worst books I’ve read this year, though to be fair, it was translated from Hungarian to English, a factor that may have contributed to the lackluster writing.

p/s: Sandor Marai is more popularly known for his other novel, Embers, which is an international bestseller.



Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge 2011


So I've just signed up for another challenge and I realise this is a little too ambitious, even for me. I mean, it's already more than half way through the year, plus this challenge requires a minimum of 24 books! Can I do it? Well, since I am on maternity leave and this challenge does cross over with another challenge I've participated in this year, I'm thinking, why the heck not.

The Challenge is to read 24 books from the horror or urban fantasy genre between 1st Jan 2011 and 31st Dec 2011. Further details of the challenge can be found here. So far, my reading list is as follows:

1) Interview with the Vampire - The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (link to review coming soon)
2) The Vampire Lestat - The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (link to review coming soon)
3) Feed by Mira Grant (link to review coming soon)
4) Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore (link to review coming soon)
5) Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (link to review coming soon)
.
.
.
.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Follow Friday (#1)



I think its about time to direct more traffic to my blog and make new friends. It's been kinda quiet and lonely over here and I miss all the interaction! Parajunkee hosts this great Feature & Follow Friday meme for just that and this will be my first time joining. Each week, a blogger is featured and I'm quite happy that this week's featured blogger, Angela's Anxious Life, does YA, Paranormal and Mystery reviews (yippee!!).


Now, the question of the day:


What do I do when I'm not reading?
Well, recently, if I don't have my nose buried in a book, I'd be busy feeding, changing and playing with my one month old baby. He's an active little thing so I pretty much have my hands tied! I'm quite an active person myself though and prior to the baby, if I'm not reading, I'd spend my free time doing outdoor activities like hiking, caving and kayaking. I'm also a movie and TV buff - at the moment, I'm really liking Vampire Diaries and I can't wait for Season 3!



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some Rantings and a Review of I am Number Four

Hi everyone! After a 2 month+ span of silence, I'm back...again. I realise that since I started writing this blog, I've been pretty much a "now you see her, now you don't" kind of blogger and I would really like to apologise for that. Time is a luxury that I just don't have and I know although this is probably the case for most people, I have to say that the past 12 months have been an extraordinarily busy period for me. New job, exams and more recently a new baby, has occupied the most part of my time. Yes, I am now a proud mommy of 2 and I'm loving every minute of it. Despite this temporary setback in blogging, I do try to keep up with the latest around the blogosphere and I have been busy enjoying alot of interesting books. Now I'm hoping I can squeeze in the time to review all of them as well!

Anyway, below is a review of one of the latest books I've read and surprisingly quite a good one too.

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Title: I am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1)   
 
Author: Pittacus Lore

Genre: Science Fiction / Young Adult

Edition: Penguin Books, 2011 (374 pages)

From the Cover:
There were nine of us who escaped...
Number One was killed in Malaysia.
Number Two was murdered in England.
Number Three was hunted down in Kenya.
Before they come for the others, they'll come for me... I AM NUMBER FOUR

John Smith is not your average teenager. He regularly moves from small town to small town. he changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him. So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about - and who care about him. Never in John's short life has there been space for friendship, or even love. But it's just a matter of time before John's secret is revealed. He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed. John is Number Four. He knows that he is next...


My Thoughts:
For a book based on the alien race, a genre I'm not very fond of, I have to say that I actually enjoyed this one. The story centres around John Smith, a fourteen year old alien boy who descends from a planet similar to earth. He is one of the chosen ones. One with extraordinary powers - powers which have yet to develop in his young body and hence making him the target of a relentless and vicious alien race, the Mogadorians. As John grapples with the woes of living an inconspicuous life, and dealing with his unmastered developing powers, he meets a girl and suddenly everything changes. Although there were a few cheesy and dubious scenes, the storyline was intense and I couldn't help flicking through the pages on fast-forward mode. There was also a very strong message in relation to earth preservation which I really liked. I even developed a strong attachment towards Bernie Kosar, the stray but faithful little dog. Overall, I think this is a great book for teens, with just the right balance of entertainment value and moral conscience threaded in - 2 thumbs up! Can't wait to get my hands on the second book; The Power of Six!

p/s: Just watched the movie too and although I think Alex Pettyfer is too much of 'man' to play a fourteen year old, he is so irresistably hawtttt :)


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