Archive for the ‘Quick Reviews’ Category

Book – Oh My Gods

Author –Tera Lynn Childs

Genre – Young Adult

Protagonist –Phoebe

Summary

If Phoebe Castro can keep her grades up and have another stellar cross-country season, her dream of attending USC with her best friends is only a track scholarship away. She’s made all her plans, so it’s a complete shock when her mom announces she’s marrying a mysterious stranger and moving them half-way around the world—to Greece.

Phoebe’s stuck on a secret island in the Aegean attending the super-exclusive Academy, where her new stepfather is the headmaster and the kids are anything but your average students—they are descendants of the Greek gods, super powers included. That’s right, Greek gods are no myth! If Phoebe thought high school was hard, she knows this is going to be mortal misery.

Securing that scholarship seems like Phoebe’s only ticket out of Greece, but training and maintaining her grades will be grueling, even without a sabotaging stepsister from Hades and a gorgeous guy—what a god!—who just might be her Achilles heel. One thing is for sure—summoning the will to win and find her place among the gods could be Phoebe’s toughest course yet.

The Greek gods get a makeover in this romantic odyssey of mythic proportion.

Things I liked about the book

1- Very entertaining quick read , I finished it in one sitting

2- Now how many truths can a teenager handle in a day ? For her emotional out burst ,Phoebe is totally likable. I just wanted her to succeed in the school where all her classmates are of Greek Gods linage  , that means super power  kids and she is the odd one out .

3- Relationship that she maintains with her old friends in US, was depicted beautifully. She isn’t supposed to reveal anything about her new school to anyone outside the island but think of hiding things like this from your best friends ..Difficult huh? Imagine them feeling hurt because of this exclusion from your life and you not being able to do anything . Much more difficult ? Phoebe not only has a difficult school life , her life long friendship is also at stake .

4 – who doesn’t like  Greek mythology with little bit of mythology , little bit of drama , some romance  and some mystery ? I love this kind of stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Things I disliked about the book – Didn’t you read the above paragraph? I loved it 🙂

My rating- 4.75 out of 5

Source – Library

Advertisements

2633226

Book : Oliver’s Story by Erich Segal

Category : Romance ( Not exactly)

Protagonist: Oliver Barrett IV

Summary of the book : from the dust jacket of the book

Oliver Barrett IV found the love of his life in Jenny Cavilleri. And though the time they spent together was brief, it was enough to last a lifetime. Or so Oliver told himself. Living without her for two years now, he still believes he will never love again. Until the day he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman, and suddenly the future seems very different than Oliver thought it would be.

Things I liked about this book: ( Can’t say I liked any thing so I am just giving my views )

I wanted to like this book , I really did . I had absolutely loved Love Story ( ya,ya I know , the tear jerking romantic story ) I knew this book couldn’t be as phenomenal as Love Story. Some books have that kind of impact but I had definitely expected something atleast close to the first book.I was throughly disappointed.

The book fell short on reasoning and realism. As a reader I just couldn’t identify with Oliver’s decisions. He was too much in love with his first wife Jenny  , granted .But he doesn’t want to take a step forward in to a new life. He doesn’t realise that not every person is alike  and not every girl is Jenny. Oliver just couldn’t handle the fact that Marcie has different prioroties in life. All he does is try to find her  in Marcie. I would have left the book within a few pages , had it not been for the curiosity of knowing what happens to Oliver eventually.  Wrong decision Shona. Should have left the book at the time I thought I had enough of over the board romance and cheesy emotions  🙂 Take my advice , go read Love Story and forget that the book has any sequel . Ok?

On my rating scale : 2 out of 5 ( I would have said 1 but Erich Segal is one of my fav authors)

Challenges for which the book is listed : None

Source : Personal Copy

girl-with-a-pearl-earring0452282152

Book: Girl With A Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier

Category : Historical Fiction

Protagonist: Griet and Vermeer

Summary of the book : from author’s website

One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. Who is the model and why has she been painted? What is she thinking as she stares out at us? Are her wide eyes and enigmatic half-smile innocent or seductive? And why is she wearing a pearl earring?

Girl With a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter’s attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings – the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings.

In contrast to her work in her master’s studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer’s volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should.

On the verge of womanhood, Griet also contends with the growing attentions both from a local butcher and from Vermeer’s patron, the wealthy van Ruijven. And she has to find her way through this new and strange life outside the loving Protestant family she grew up in, now fragmented by accident and death.

As Griet becomes part of her master’s work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even – as the scandal seeps out – ripples in the world beyond.

Things I liked about this book:

Reading about art has always fascinated me . Though it is  historical fiction set in the 17 th century  ,author has done full justice to Vermeer , his muse and his painting. I loved the way the story of the ‘girl’ was woven in to Vermeer’s life.

Griet , is a very sensitive person who gets pulled into Vermeer’s life and art  when he decides that she is going to be the subject of his painting. But as eccentric and self involved as artists can be , Vermeer does not realise that choosing this girl can lead to a upheaval in her already difficult life in his house dominated by his wife Cornelia and his tyrannical  mother in law who have no respect for servants .  As the book is from Griet’s point of view , we get to see the social stratification of the period , the prejudices based on religious beliefs  interwoven into the tale of one of Vermeer’s most famous painting.

Griet’s narration holds you from the first line and it does not stop being interesting at any point. Some really good description of the Dutch life  and Vermeer’s painting style makes it a must read book  for all art lovers.

A well researched and a well written book. Highly recommended.

Things I disliked about the book : None

On my rating scale : 4.5 out of 5

Challenges for which the book is listed : Centuries Challenge 2009

Source : Personal Copy

Book : Iliad ( Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition) by Homer  ( Translation by Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox)

Category : Classics

Protagonist: Too many to list 🙂

Summary of the book :from the publisher’s website ( Don’t even ask me to summarize. It took me days to read this one .If not for this beautiful translation I would have been lost. Seriously )

The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization – an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.

The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus’ killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer’s theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.

Things I liked about this book:I had boldly signed up for  the Centuries Challenge where I had listed this book as one of my selections. I went to the library and asked for it. The librarian (she knows me well enough ) , gave me this look , the look  that was somewhere between surprise and sympathy. Surprise because I pick up YA , mysteries , chick lit from the library and sympathy because she could tell that I didn’t know what I was getting into.

I took me 30 minutes with the book to realise what I had done. I had got  the library’s oldest translation of Iliad. No offence to Iliad fans but I was lost . Then I had the sense of calling a friend who’s a major in literature and asking if there was an easily readable translation of  this great book. On her suggestion I got Penguin Classic  with translations by Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox.After that I sailed through. Took me a month to finish it though . Most important thing was I finished it.

The story of Final days of battle of Troy has been  told in a very beautiful manner. I had the 911 on Greek mythology after reading Percy Jackson and watching some movies like Helen Of Troy and Troy , so I was on safe grounds..

But now coming to the story , did I like it ? Tricky question.My answer , Yes and No

I was taken by the style  but this whole  Battle Of Troy scenario  has never impressed me . You might ask why. I ‘ll give you some of my reasons.

Achilles, Hector, Menelaus,Odysseus, Aias, were not just warriors they were men of valour and courage who fought a battle so long and so unnecessary(Trust me it was avoidable , but they had to keep the oath and all, so they fought) .Interference of Gods  was something I totally disliked . Could have let them fight their own battles for once( Gods being Gods had to meddle in this) .Good thing was ,these men  were immortalised by Homer  through this epic. This  blood bathed battle took  away so many years out of these mens lives , just think ..Is there anything to be happy about this story.

Even though I absolutely loved the writing  ,  I don’t always find that this story is  justified. This is  solely my opinion.And I know I will be criticised for criticising this immortal classic but it’s my opinion.

I am staying away from Greek Mythology for a few days. A month-long Iliad reading was all I could handle but that doesn’t stop me from recommending  this book, which I feel is a must read for anyone who loves literature.

Things I disliked about the book : Too many sub plots , too many characters . Too many things going wrong for everybody (exception – Gods )

Loved the writing style but  couldn’t disagree more with the plot .

On my rating scale : This is an excellent piece of literature for which I am not qualified enough to rate.

Challenges for which the book is listed : Centuries Challenge 2009

Classics Challenge 2009

Source : Borrowed from a friend (that reminds me , I need to thank her 🙂

just listen

Book: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Category : Young Adult

Protagonists : Annabel

Summary of the book from Goodreads

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything; at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf ‘s Department Store. This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Things I liked about this book:

Like other Sarah Dessen’s books , Just Listen deals with many sensitive and important issues . Anorexia and it’s effects not just on the person but also on the family  has been portrayed in a touching manner. It’s not just Annabel’s sister Whitney who is going through a bad patch of life but her parents and sisters too have to suffer seeing her go about refusing food , resisting therapy and throwing tantrums. More  painful was that they  failed to see the signs of the condition popping up .Something they could have stopped if they had intervened earlier.

“Everything’s all right,” she said. “Don’t worry.”
Looking back, I don’t doubt my mom believed this at the time. I learned later how Whitney had
completely reassured her, saying she was just overworked and overtired, and while she had been
working out more and eating less because she had found she was a little bigger than the girls she was going up against for jobs, it was by no means to extreme levels. If Kirsten thought she wasn’t eating, she maintained, it was because they kept totally different hours, as Kirsten worked nights and Whitney worked days. Personally, she’d said, she felt that there was more to this than just concern. Since arriving in New York, Whitney had clearly been working more than Kirsten ever had, and perhaps that wasn’t sitting well. Maybe she was just jealous.
“I am not jealous!” I heard Kirsten say, her voice angry, a few minutes after my mother went downstairs.
“Don’t you see, she’s tricked you. Open your eyes !”

Not having been confident enough to tell  her part of the story concerning the day Sophie stopped being her best friend, Annabel  loses many things .Most importantly , she loses the life she used to have.  But that doesn’t make her look bad. She is just trying to protect her dear ones from getting hurt. initially though I could not judge her character or form an opinion ,I can tell you she was one of the those who starts growing on you as you read on.

Another highlight of the book was Annabel’s friendship with Owen. Their conversations were the ones I enjoyed the most in the book.

Things I disliked about the book : Nothing in particular

On my rating scale : 4  out of 5

Challenges for which the book is listed : Sarah Dessen Mini Challenge 2009

With this I complete my Sarah Dessen Mini Challenge 2009 🙂

Source : Personal Copy