Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart

This is one of those books where I'll invariably feel torn if I have to give it a rating. I enjoyed the story, but I felt it was quite different from what the blurb was. So, ignoring the blurb, here's my synopsis of the story:

Nell Marchworld may be related to English nobility, but in New York, she's just a lowly hat-maker. However, one of her hats catches the eye of a wealthy client and she's introduced to more and more opportunities. However, her boss is so terrible that she wonders if she'll ever achieve the success she wants. Oh, and there's something in there about a romance too.

For me, the enjoyable part of the story would be reading about Nell's struggle to make a success of herself. She's clearly a talented hatmaker, but way too unassertive (I feel her pain, I'd probably be unassertive in her case too). The problem is that her designs are too modern for her stuffy old-school boss, who happens to be a quit. The obvious thing to do would be to quit, but the chance of having her own label means that Nell will slog through whatever hardships her boss puts in her way.

And that childhood friend Quentin? Well, she definitely pines for him the whole novel, but I never saw a hint of him liking her. I mean, that guy has a girlfriend and, at one point, was engaged to said girlfriend. As far as the I could tell, he wasn't interested in her.

But an even bigger disappointment than the "love story" would be the ending. There's supposed to be a twist, but personally, it felt very forced and unbelievable. Nell spends the whole book being mentally abused by her boss, but she leaves because of... something her boss did (and not something he did to her, or a friend). I can't say that I was convinced by the ending.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the novel. I didn't even mind the lack of love story, since that's never a main pull for me. However, the forced ended let me down.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hipstopia by R.A. Desilets

Hipstopia was written by Google+'s +Rachel Desilets. In fact, I got to know about the book through Google+! Does this make me hipster? I'm not sure, since I don't even know what a hipster is.

But, even with my woeful lack of knowledge of contemporary culture and subculture, I found this short novel to be an entertaining read. It envisions a world where the hipsters have broken away from America to form.... Hipstopia. There, everyone is unique - which is to say that everyone smokes, drinks coffee and wears glasses. That would be me, except that I don't smoke or drink coffee. Darn, I wanted to ride on one of those scooters too!

Anyway, while Hipstopia seems like the perfect place, free of marketing from the Big Corporations (and with seven, count'em seven choices!), it's not. At least that's what Jay, the right hand man of the guy running Hipstopia is starting to find out. When he gets sent to quiet a disturbance, he meets prisoner number forty seven, a beautiful girl that grabs his attention immediately. Add that to a shock that he receives when he accidentally kills someone and Jay is disillusioned with the place.

Personally, I found Jay's escape from Hipstopia too easy. While this book is supposed the first in a series, the latter half felt rather free of conflict. Sure, there's a covert war going on between Hipstopia and the rest of America, but Jay seems to resolve his problems a bit too easily.

Overall though, this was an entertaining book. I'm not sure if I want to read more yet, but I suppose the blurb of book two (which I haven't seen yet) will convince me yes or no.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon

This book is really famous, and I've been meaning to read this book for ages, but I've never gotten to doing it (strange right?). So today, while I was browsing Ranbow Plaza for something to read while taking a break from studying, I found it and decided to read it.

Here's to hoping that it lives up to the hype and is a wonderful read.

My teaser:

I like Sherlock Holmes, but I do not like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the author of the Sherlock Holmes series. That is because he wasn't like Sherlock Holmes and he believed in the supernatural. (Page 88)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. To participate, share a two sentence teaser along with the title and author of the book.

What is your teaser this week?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier

Why would the police investigate the murder of a horse? Even if it's a creepy, nightmare inducing murder? Well, if the owner of the horse is rich and influential, you can be sure the police won't have much of a choice. And with that unsettling case where money decides which cases are more important, The Frozen Dead starts.

This book isn't just limited to the murder of a horse though. As Commandant Servaz starts to investigate, people start dying. The more the police find, the more people seem to die. And with more knowledge comes plot twists. The more I read, the more I wondered "who is the criminal?" because all my guesses were wrong.

First written in French, this book is an excellent Police Procedural from France. There are some procedural differences from a normal novel (such as the way cases are investigated), which the book explains in a note in the beginning of the book. Another difference would be cultural difference. Once, a character mentions changing to use "tu" to the judge. This marks a change in their relationship, because "tu" is a more intimate form of "vous", which means "you" in English. I wonder how many of these nuances had to be left out when the book was translated into English.

Wait, that means I really should go learn French. It'll be there, on my "to-do" list of languages.

There are only two things about the book that I wasn't happy about. The first was the ending, in which one of the characters was revealed to have this big secret (unrelated to the case) which I didn't see coming and frankly, thought was a bit unbelievable. The second would be that a case mentioned in the beginning (the murder of a homeless man by three boys) as a contrast to the horse case seemed to be neglected and then forgotten about by the book. I would have liked to know how the case ended, and if proper justice was given.

All in all, this is a well-written police procedural. It's interesting, there are twists and turns, and generally, the characters are well thought out.

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