Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I’m very sure that I requested for this book because it was supposed to be a twist on the usual murder mystery. Well, it definitely was different.

In The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Aiden wakes up every day in the body of a different person. He also has to relieve each day, watching Evelyn Hardcastle die at 11:00. And until he can figure out who killed her by his last host, he’s doomed.

I can’t really say too much of the plot here because:

1. It would result in a spoiler

2. I’m still confused.

While this was a very clever book, I found it quite confusing. It’s probably because we’re thrown into the narrative with Aiden, who wakes up with a name on his mind but absolutely no idea what’s going on. The first part of the book was basically him trying to understand the whole situation.

Another reason why it confused me was the sheer number of characters. Aiden has 8 hosts and after finishing the story, I still can’t remember any of them. While the book does show Aiden grappling with the characters of the host, all the hosts had the same voice (probably Aiden’s) to me, which made it hard to distinguish between them (and between them and Aiden)

That said, I did understand the ending of the book and thought it was very exciting. Somehow, I managed to understand one plotline and the final few chapters were tightly written and got me hooked. I think that if the first half of the book was the same, I would have understood it more and have been less confused.

I would like to comment on Aiden but I don’t have an opinion of him. Perhaps it’s because he spent most of the book unaware of himself, but I never really got a good sense of what he was like as a person. It always felt that the mystery was the goal and he was sort of fumbling towards it (until the ending, where he came up with a plan and things got interesting).

To be honest, I’m not sure if I would have finished this book if it wasn’t from NetGalley. While it’s very cleverly executed and the ending was good, the beginning was confusing and I never connected with Aiden or the other characters. I normally need either the world or the characters to keep me reading and I didn’t get ‘hooked’ until later in this book.

Mystery fans may enjoy this, but be sure that you know what you’re getting into. This isn’t going to be a typical light read - you’ll have to be able to keep track of a huge cast of characters while trying to solve a murder. If you think you’re up to it, then the world of the Hardcastles awaits.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 22, 2018

New Blog!

Hey guys! Just FYI, I've decided to consolidate all my blogposts into one place! I'm still going to leave this blog here, because there are a lot of old posts, but going forward, my new book reviews will be on 

I'll still post the remaining NetGalley reviews here because I requested using this blog, but other than that, everything will be at the new blog. It won't be just book reviews too - it'll be book and tea reviews. For a start, I've copied some of my more recent posts over.

Hope to see you around(:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

This book was a large reason why I finally read Jane Eyre - a serial killer satire of Jane Eyre sounded amazing. The peek that Wendy at Literary Feline gave into the book intrigued me and I decided that I had to read it.

Jane Steele is a big fan of Jane Eyre. However, she and Jane Eyre are vastly different - starting with the fact that she’s a serial murderess. But inspired by the book, Jane Steele decides to pen her memoirs.

This book is basically what happens when you take Jane Eyre and ask “what if I made her a feisty girl?” When faced with danger, this Jane repeatedly chooses the “fight” response, rather than flight or to bear the whole thing.

I found that many of my objections to Jane Eyre were addressed in this book. For example, this Jane is openly affectionate to her ward, Sahjara, who is an enchanting character in her own right. In general, I thought the non-Jane female characters here were a lot more sympathetically written and showed Jane’s generosity of spirit (no matter how evil she thinks herself).

I also found Charles Thornfield, the Mr. Rochester of the book, to be a decent human being. He has his demons, same as Rochester, but he managed to hold on to his sense of decency and never locked anyone (first wife or not) in an attic.

Speaking of the characters in this book, I absolutely loved how they came to life and participated in the story. Jane Eyre was very much about Jane and her experiences and feelings. Jane Steele has Jane become involved in the lives of the people around her, which lead to both mystery and adventure. Needless to say, I found the plot (and characters) of this book to be much more entertaining.

It’s pretty rare that I say this, but I like this satirical look at Jane Eyre much more than the original story. If all the Jane Eyre adaptions are this good, then I definitely will not regret reading the original anymore.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Imagining Shakespeare's Wife by Katherine West Scheil

I've had a slight increase in interest in Shakespeare ever since last year when we visited Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe in London. So when I saw this book on Anne Hathaway, I decided to request a copy.

As with Shakespeare, we know very few details about Anne Hathaway's life, which makes it very easy for historians to reimagine her the way they want. Imagining Shakespeare's Wife first takes us through the known facts of Anne Hathaway and her legacy, and then goes through the ways that she has been represented in great detail.

The sad fact is that Anne has always been used to illuminate aspects of her husband. As his wife, she would have known (and could have said) a lot about his character. And since she was about seven years older than him, speculation about their marriage has been rife. If people want to portray Shakespeare as a libertine man about town, they tend to view Anne and her marriage to Shakespeare very negatively. If people want to view Shakespeare as a great moral character, they tend to view Anne as someone embodying feminine virtues. And in recent years, Anne has been re-interpreted (sometimes drastically in novels) to fit certain feminist messages.

Obviously, this was a fascinating read. I've always felt a certain sympathy for the way Anne has been portrayed because it has been really unflattering at times. To see how people have interpreted her silence is really astounding. And like James Shapiro said in Contested Will, there is very little we know about Shakespeare's personal life, which means that the temptation to read into his marriage through his works is very great.

If you're interested in Shakespeare, I think you'd enjoy this. It's fairly easy to read and contains a lot of great analysis about the ways Anne Hathaway has been interpreted throughout history. It's probably not related to any of Shakespeare's plays (except for the part where people use his plays to pass judgment on her) but if you want to know more about the Bard and his Wife, this is a book to read.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.