26 September 2009

Review: Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden

Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden book coverWritten by Australian author John Marsden, Tomorrow, When The War Began was published in 1993 and was the first in what was to become the Tomorrow series. The series became very popular, however at the time I was trying to plow through books like Moby Dick at University and I guess it passed me by. I'd always promised myself I'd go back and read it and I finally have.

The book is based on events in a small country town and involves a group of teenagers and their response to an invasion from a foreign land. I admired the ingenuity of the characters and the manner in which they react to the situation and the danger. They're forced to grow up very quickly and I admired their quick thinking and bravery.

This was an enjoyable read, and quite an imaginable scenario. I also chuckled along at the small town references throughout the book, and I can imagine this novel would have been very popular amongst readers growing up in rural areas in Australia.

I don't think I'll read the rest of the series, although I do want to find out how it ends, however it's the age old 'too many books, too little time' scenario, and sometimes you have to make a decision not to continue so you can move onto other books.

At least I now know what the fuss was all about, and after reading it, I now admire the creativity and imagination of John Marsden even more. What a terrific Australian author!

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

Review: A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice

A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice book coverThis book came to my attention because it was written by the son of one of my favourite authors, Anne Rice. Based in New Orleans, A Density of Souls is about four young friends whose relationships change dramatically when they enter High School. I found the depth of the relationships absolutely fascinating and the insights by each of the characters to be beyond their years, but altogether convincing.

I enjoyed re-reading certain sections throughout the book in order to savour the language and the writing. There were also particular sections I needed to pause and reflect on, as they were deeply moving and poignant.

I couldn't help but compare Christopher's writing to that of Anne Rice, and I was surprised to draw the conclusion that this book is better than some of her novels. I wonder if they share a happy rivalry.

This book isn't for everyone. Some of the themes are quite heavy going and include violence and sexual themes. The review on the book cover claims this book is a "shocking, sexy tale. An intricate novel about four childhood pals whose friendships deteriorate into a nightmare of violence and chaos" and I can't help but agree.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by Christopher Rice, although I don't think I would have the courage to recommend it to anyone.

My rating = ****1/2

Carpe Librum!
19 September 2009

Review: The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas

The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas book coverAfter watching The Lord of the Rings series in a massive movie marathon, I was inspired to introduce some fantasy books to my repertoire. The Adamantine Palace is a story of dragons and humans living together in a different world consisting of many Queens and Kings of the different realms.

After a somewhat slow start, the book took an exciting turn when one of the dragons starts communicating with the humans. The story really picks up here, and I thoroughly enjoyed the drama, conflict and the secondary plot featuring court plotting, lust and deception. I also enjoyed the description of the diamond palace, and found myself imagining how this could be depicted on the big screen.

I couldn't help but side with the plight of the dragons, led by the pure white dragon 'Snow' and would be interested in reading a sequel.

Great read!

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
12 September 2009

Review: The Treason of the Ghosts by Paul Doherty

The Treason of the Ghosts by Paul Doherty book coverThis is the eleventh book in Doherty's series featuring the medieval sleuth Hugh Corbett.

Whilst I enjoyed this mystery set in the small town of Melford, it lacked the political intrigue of the court that I've enjoyed in previous novels.

It also included too much reflection on the details of the murders by Hugh Corbett that has the potential to become tedious in parts. As I draw nearer to the end of this series though, I can't imagine not reading through to the end. There are 5 more in the series to go, so look out for the next instalment! I do hope it's better than this one.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
02 September 2009

Review: The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice

The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice book coverI was looking at all my Anne Rice books and I noticed one of them didn't look like it had been read. My best guess as to why I hadn't read The Feast of All Saints when I bought it is most likely because of the very small and heavy font.

Anyway, years after purchasing it, I have finished reading this book which was quite different to her vampire series. The novel has a familiar setting in New Orleans, however there are no vampires or supernatural themes in the story. Set in the French Quarter in the 1840s the novel is about the gens de couleur libre the free people of colour, neither black nor white, and living in a city with slave markets and black servants.

This was a real eye opener into the times and challenges faced by the gens de couleur, and the struggles they faced. The main character is Marcel, although the reader is treated to an in depth analysis of several 'sub characters' and much family drama is covered in the book.

I was surprised by some of the themes and it really made me think. How could women of colour look down upon women who married other men of colour for love? Instead it was expected that young women of colour would strive to be the mistress (second wife) of a white plantation owner who would only visit the city every few months. Essentially this meant knowingly being the wife/mother of a second and secret family. Unbelievable.

There is a lot of family drama, questions of lineage, family traditions, society expectations and when it's okay to break the rules.

To be honest I struggled during the first 100 pages (there are 636 pgs in total), however the story really picked up after that and I was hooked. It was such a treat to read an earlier work of Anne Rice (one of my favourite authors), as I'm hanging out for her new book.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!