As it happens, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children came for me in the library, so I am going to read that. Then probably A Secret Kept.
Alright, fellow book lovers. I am at an impasse. I just finished The Diviners, and now must decide what book to read next. I have six titles here that I picked up at the library. Which should I choose first?
Call Me Zelda Erika Robuck
Little Black Dress Susan McBride
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
A Train in Winter Caroline Moorehead
When in Doubt, Add Butter Beth Harbison
A Secret Kept Tatiana de Rosnay
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergert is the story of a girl named Beatrice “Tris” Prior. In the same vein as The Hunger Games, Divergent is set in a futuristic dystopian society. Rather than being divided into districts, the people are divided into factions. They are not divided based on location, but instead based on what they value the most: Abnegation, selflessness; Candor, honesty; Amity, kindness; Erudite, intelligence; and Dauntless, bravery. At the age of 16, each person undertakes an “aptitude” test that shows them what faction they are most suited to. They do not have to chose that faction, but it gives them some guidance. This is a difficult decision because they believe in faction over blood. If you leave the faction you were raised in, your family will never be the same.
Although Beatrice respects and values the selflessness of her family and neighbours, she never felt like she fit in. She wasn’t like everyone else. She knows she might fit in better with one of the other factions, but she does not want to leave her family behind. Not only so, but her aptitude tests are inconclusive. She is something they call “Divergent.” Immediately her test instructor gravely commands her to tell no one of this: being Divergent is dangerous. Why? What makes her different? What should she choose? How will this choice affect her? Can she keep her divergence a secret?
If you liked The Hunger Games, you will probably like this book, too. Personally, I read Divergent in a day after my friend recommended it to me. I found myself completely caught up in Tris’s world. I found it was a good balance between new and original, and familiar. These days it seems like everyone is into this sci fi/fantasy mashup genre. Roth brings her own ideas into the mix in her utopian society gone wrong. I found it interesting and compelling, but at the same time, might not exactly be literature. However, I eagerly recommend this book to everyone! I loved it! I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the sequel, Insurgent.
Second Chance by Jane Green
Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published 2007 by Viking Adult
Purchase: [Amazon] [Book Depository]
This book is about a bunch of screwed up people who used to be friends coming together again over a mutual loss. Holly, Saffron, Olivia, Paul, and Tom used to know each other twenty years ago. They grew up together. However, as it usually goes, they grew apart over the years, and eventually lost contact with one another. But not Tom. Tom managed to keep in touch with each one of them, no matter how far apart they were. Sadly, Tom is killed in a terrorist attack.
These four friends are brought together at his memorial. Holly has “the perfect life.” Two beautiful children, a beautiful house, and a successful husband. She puts on a smile for the world, but is she really happy?
Saffron moved to LA to be an actress. She is somewhat successful, and is dating someone famous, whom she will only name as P. However, she has her own issues, and so does “P.”
Olivia is newly single after her boyfriend of seven years tells her he is no longer happy. She thought she would marry him. Now she doesn’t know what to do.
Paul and his wife Anna have been trying to have children for years with no success. They have nearly depleted their savings account on IVF treatments and to no avail. Anna doesn’t want to give up, but knows she can’t go on like this. All she wants is to be a mother, and she does not know how to deal with the fact that it’s just not in the cards for her. Paul would do anything for Anna. All he wants to do is make her happy, but he can’t give her what she wants the most. He knows she would be an amazing mother, and it kills him that she will never have the chance to be one.
Life just is not fair. Now that these friends are brought back together over this devastating loss, they will be there for each other, help one another grow, and, hopefully, each be given a second chance at happiness.
I quite liked this book. I had heard some mixed things about it—for example that the rapidly shifting points of view were somehow confusing or distracting. I didn’t find that. It wasn’t really shifts in points of view. It was just an omniscient narrator changing focus at times. I thought it worked with this story, because it wasn’t just about one person—it was about all of these people and how they grow and change over the course of the novel. You wouldn’t have been able to see how much they grew if you didn’t know what was going on in their heads or in their lives. I thought it worked, and worked well.
Not only did it work in that sense, but it also allowed the reader to make connections with the characters, and feel sympathy or empathy for what they were going through. It is hard to do that when you are not given the opportunity to connect with them. Through the omniscient narrator, I found that the characters were all believable and relatable.
What I really liked about this book was that the characters were in real life situations and were able to grow in ways that were not only completely plausible, but might also generate hope for readers in similar circumstances. The characters did not need to be thrown into new and more promising circumstances to find hope (which is generally unrealistic). But instead they learned to be happy with the cards they were dealt. They learned to accept their circumstances for what they were, and to be true to themselves in those circumstances. As Maya Angelou said, “if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I found that was what this book was all about. And I really enjoyed it. Thumbs up!
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Paperback, 518 pages
Published 2012 by Harper Collins
This is the story of three women in the Tudor court: Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Howard. Told through each of their perspectives, we see the rise and fall of two more wives of Henry VIII. At this point, Henry VIII is no longer a handsome young prince. He is an aging man with a stinking, festering wound on his leg. He is no longer strong, but limps around on his good leg. Nevertheless, he insists on being treated as he always was–as the most handsome and strongest man in the room. Although nearing 50, he behaves as a spoiled child. This is not only unbecoming in a man, but it is dangerous in a king. This, coupled with his constant paranoia and suspicion, lead to a very dangerous tyrant. Circling in his court are Jane, Anne, and Katherine. Jane is a lady in waiting, as she had been for the last three queens of King Henry. Now she is the lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves, as she is brought from the Netherlands to be the bride of King Henry. These women struggle not only to maintain their place, but also to keep their heads. Literally.
We have been introduced to Jane Boleyn–the wife of George Boleyn–in The Other Boleyn Girl. In The Boleyn Inheritance we see things from her own perspective. Were the Boleyn sibling wrong about her? Or is she simply mad? Anne is a sweet and innocent girl who only wants to be the best Queen she can be. This, however, is difficult after accidentally offending the King. Will she be cast aside? Will she escape with her life? Kitty Howard is the youngest of the three, a frivolous maid in waiting to Anne. She is quite beautiful, however naive, and catches the eye of the king. However, is this a blessing or a curse?
I enjoyed this book. For the most part, it was less salacious than is predecessor, and I appreciated that. I also liked how the story was told through each woman’s point of view. The other Gregory books I have read have been told solely through one POV, so I liked that here she shook things up a bit. This also worked very well for this particular story because it allowed you to not only see the inner workings of each character’s mind, but you could also see how they appeared to the other women. For example, Jane thinks she is always doing the right thing. But, as some question, is she really trustworthy? I thought this book was really good, but I took a point away for the unnecessarily graphic sex scene and sexuality in the last third of the book. It had been really good up until then.
Today I went out to brunch with a friend. Afterward we went to Chapters and I picked up a copy of Divergent after my friend recommended it! I will read it next. I hope it’s good! 🙂
Have you read it?
Do you have any recommendations for me? Post them in the comments!
I just picked up Jane Green’s Second Chance. Have you read it? What did you think? (no spoilers please!) I haven’t read any of Green’s novels before but I have heard good things.
Now I’m going to curl up with a cup of tea and keep reading!
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
If you want to know what I think, email me and I will send you a copy of my Honours Thesis. 😉
I.E., This book is so amazing I wrote a book about it.
For real though, this book is an excellent exploration of femininity in the early 20th century. I love everything about it. Although Wharton won the Pulitzer for Age of Innocence, House of Mirth is what made her famous.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Paperback, 664 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Touchstone (first published 2001)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo
The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of the rise and fall of Queen Anne Boleyn–Henry VIII’s second wife–as told through the eyes of her sister, Mary Boleyn. Mary Boleyn was only a child when her family married her off. However, a few years later when she is brought to the court of the King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon, the Boleyn family’s ambition has another use for Mary. She has caught the eye of the King, and her family sees to it that she becomes his mistress–whether she likes it or not. They just as easily toss her aside again when the King’s interest wanes, and an attraction sparks between him and Mary’s sister Anne. The family’s conniving ambition, coupled with Anne’s own ambition, bring about a story so salacious and horrendous it could end only in the spilling of blood.
In true Philippa Gregory fashion, the story is told with precision and tact. She chronicles the lives of the Boleyn siblings as they weave their way through the most luxurious, avaricious, and lecherous court of Europe. Although I did enjoy Gregory’s telling of the story and her accuracy of her historical facts, I did not enjoy the subject matter itself very much. It’s pretty scandalous stuff. However, overall it was a good read. It’s not my favourite of Gregory’s novels, but it was still good. If you like Philippa Gregory, or historical fiction in general, I’d recommend giving this book a shot if you are interested in the Tudors.
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
The Undomestic Goddess is the story of lawyer Samantha Sweeting. She is a workaholic with a messy desk, devoting her blood, sweat, and tears to firm Carter Spink. On the eve of being made partner, she makes a mistake. A mistake so huge that it will likely cost her her career. She does the only sensible thing, and walks out of the office in a daze, hops on a random train out of the city, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Not only so, but she knocks on a random door, and accidentally takes a job as a housekeeper when she barely knows how to make toast. She considers telling her new “employers” that they have mistaken her for someone else, but instead thinks that this might be the break she needs. That, and the gardiner is gorgeous.
This book was a super fun summer read! Light Chick Lit that would make an ideal poolside companion.