Monday, 12 January 2015

Review: Waiting for Appa

Book: Waiting for Appa
Author: Jennifer Kim
Publication Date: June 2009
Pages: 200

Summary (From GoodReads):

Eunhae is nine years old when she bids a tearful farewell to her father, who leaves their home in South Korea in search of a better life in America for his family. As her Appa tries to comfort her with his parting words, "Love will etch our faces in each other's hearts. We won't forget," Eunhae can't shake the icy fear that overwhelms her. Two years later, when Eunhae and her mother immigrate to America to reunite with her father, they are greeted at San Francisco International Airport with horrific news-Appa is near death-the unfortunate victim of a job site accident. Much to her dismay, Eunhae's father eventually dies and she and her mother are left alone in the world. As they experience cruelty at the hands of relatives, they also find reassurance in the kindness of strangers, but Eunhae is changed forever by the devastating loss.

Twenty years later, Eunhae still lives her life clinging to the memories of her father and a life denied, shutting out all those who love her. Troubled by the shame and hostility surrounding her father's death, she goes in search of answers and uncovers far more than she ever expected.

My Thoughts:

I was excited to read this book. I managed to pick it up for free by signing up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Reaching 200 pages in length, it took me two days to read this book.

Although it saddens me to say it, in my opinion there were probably more negative points than positive points when it comes to Waiting for Appa. Now, having never lost a parent before, I can't even imagine the grief and anguish one must feel at the death of a parent. It's for this reason that deciding whether the book is good or not is hard for me. It certainly dealt with how the death of her Father affected Eunhae, and in great detail. It affected all of her relationships from that point onwards and affected the development of her personality. But there were a couple of flaws about this book that stopped me from really enjoying it.

Eunhae's character. When Eunhae was a little girl and her Father had just died, I really really felt for her. I empathised with the little girl who had lost her Father so much. She was so cute and devastated that my heart truly did reach out to her. However, as Eunhae turned in to an adult and a teenager, this completely changed and Eunhae didn't seem like a very nice person. Take her encounters with Dave for example, she never actually seemed to want him around. Most of her encounters with Dave always seemed to end in an argument, or her taking out whatever frustrations she had on him. I can only assume that all the other times they had the most fun and games and laughter, otherwise I don't know how their friendship lasted so long. As a result, I could never fully engage with Eunhae as an adult, her dialogue always seemed to be full of frustration or the essence of feeling misunderstood. 

Characters. On a whole the characters (apart from Eunhae's Mother) seemed quite flat and lacked personality. Dave seemed to be put on the earth completely to serve Eunhae.  I never really understood Robert. It was only Eunhae's Mother I could really empathise with. She tried her up-most best to provide for her daughter and make sure she didn't have to go without what the other kids had. I probably liked her so much because she reminds me of my Mother. 

Time. In just 200 pages, it's hard to talk about someone's childhood and adult life in adequate detail. Although I know this book focused on how the death of her Father affected her, time skipped to frequently in this book. Especially during her teenage years, there were perhaps three chapters on her university years? And most of them featured her and Dave arguing, from what I can remember. 

To be honest my main problem with this book is that it basically stayed the same. From when her Father died, Eunhae couldn't let go of him, wouldn't let go of his ashes, resented her Mother for maybe catching feelings for someone else, thought of her Father all the time. More than twenty years later and Eunhae is still exactly the same. And then all of a sudden she was able to let go of his ashes. And then it was only when she found out a revelation about him was she able to move on with her life. I don't know maybe if there had been a more gradual realisation that Eunhae had to eventually move on with her life, and not just because she discovers something about her father, maybe if time had moved more slowly and the author hadn't tried to cover so much of Eunhae's life, and maybe if the characters were a bit more realistic, I could have very much enjoyed this book more. As it stands, it was a quick little read and it's most strongest point was that it made me think how utterly terrible it would feel to lose my Mother.

Food Rating: 6/8
Page Rating: 2/5

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Review: The Beloved Daughter

Book: The Beloved Daughter
Author: Alana Terry
Publication Date: January 2013
Pages: 232

Summary (From GoodReads):

In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. But it is her father's faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha's well-being. Is Chung-Cha's father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter? Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labour. Her crime? Being the daughter of a political traitor. The Beloved Daughter follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps of the contemporary free world. Will Chung-Cha survive the horrors of Camp 22? And if she does survive, will her faith remain intact? "The Beloved Daughter" is Alana Terry's debut Christian novel and was a winner in the Women of Faith writing contest.          

My Thoughts:

I read this book in one night. I started at around eleven o’clock at night and finished it before day light arrived. I don’t know if I managed to read this book so quickly because it was gripping or because it was quite short. I think it was due to the former. I am very interested in Korean culture, so I was eager to read a book about life in a North Korean prison camp.
This book was very realistic. Until I had read this book, I didn’t know that being a Christian in North Korea was a problem and had to be hidden. It certainly puts things in to perspective. The book is full of action, there is never a boring moment. Chung-Cha goes through some horrific events which affect her for the duration of the book. Even people you thought were nice show their true colours to be blacker than black. Some of the betrayal in this book against Chung-Cha was unbelievable.

(I really like the name Chung-Cha by the way).

Whether you are religious or not this book will make you question what you would do in certain circumstances, how far you would go (or wouldn't go) to protect your child. Chung-Cha’s struggle with her faith was very realistic and something I myself had gone through plenty of times. It is easy to doubt God’s faith when your life seems to be too unfair to deal with.

The book had some repetition of sentences and description that could have been changed. Apart from that I would definitely recommend this book for the thinking factor it will leave you with.

The ending is indeed bitter-sweet, and it becomes clear why Chung-Cha has had to write a journal to her beloved daughter.

Food Rating: 7/8

Page Rating: 4/5

Review: Elizabeth is Missing

Book: Elizabeth is Missing
Author: Emma Healey
Publication Date: June 2014
Pages: 320

Summary (From GoodReads):
Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey's stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud ...

'Elizabeth is missing', reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting.
Lately, Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.
A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won't be forgotten.

My Thoughts:

Reviewing this book is kind of hard for me. I didn't know about any of the hype when I brought it, apart from the fact that it was in Richard and Judy's book club and I got it for a £1 when I brought a second book from WH Smiths. I decided to pick it up because I found the first page interesting and I was intrigued to see how the concept of dementia would be played out.

There's quite a lot of different opinions when it comes to individual reviews on Elizabeth is missing. General tabloids seem to all commend it while there are some reviews done by readers that don't seem to understand the hype.

I must say I am one of those readers.

For me, the main reasons I liked this book was because of the concept of dementia and because I liked Maud's character, both young and old. I thought Healey managed to portray an old woman with dementia very realistically, and it certainly helped me to understand the disease. I really felt for Maud and her ever growing confusion with general life, even to the point of forgetting words such as pencil and bench. When people misunderstood what she wanted or meant, I wished I was able to speak for her. It was amazing how Maud would start with knowing exactly what she wanted to do, and then a few sentences later she would be completely lost and bewildered


The actual storyline, both in the past and present confused the hell out of me. I understood that people were missing and in both cases no one was telling Maud what she wanted to hear. I also get that because of the unreliable narrator nature of Maud's narrative, I should have taken more things with a pinch of salt. However, I get what happened to Elizabeth, but what happened to Sukey I am none the wiser. I felt that the conclusion was kind of rushed and appeared out of nowhere and was too open to be satisfying. Even as I type this I remember the confusion I felt when I finished the book, I even googled to try and find an explanation of the ending. I didn't understand how Elizabeth suddenly reached the conclusion, why her daughter suddenly decided to cooperate, how Elizabeth became linked with the whole thing.

I feel like a missed a whole chapter that everyone else read that explained everything.

Anyhow to sum everything up, this book was good for the concepts it explored and I feel that's one of the main reasons why it has gathered so much attention. That being said, I read the book quite fast and I can't remember getting bored or wanting the book to finish quickly. I would recommend reading it so you can gather your own opinion and read about the devastating effects dementia can have on a person and their family.

Food Rating: 6/8
Page Rating: 3/5

Guess who's back...after a whole two years.

Well there's not much I can say apart from that I flopped terrible when it came to this blog. Things like this seem to happen often, I get excited about a project, expend all my effort on to said project and then suddenly get distracted or lazy. Though to be fair, during the time I was writing book reviews, I had major exams coming up that I needed to study for. This resulted in great procrastination when it came to writing reviews until eventually I just gave up. It saddens me to say that I pretty much stopped reading all together.

Anyhow, there's no point going in to all of that when it's all the past now.. I just wanted to say for what it's worth I'm planning to do some more reviews on this blog again now I am back in to reading. I sincerely hope and will try to stay around for the foreseeable future but I can't promise anything. I'm in my first year of University now so from time to time I may have to disappear to deal with the work load, but I'll try and post reviews whenever I can!

Thanks for your understanding!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Review: Ugly Shy Girl

Book: Ugly Shy Girl
Author: Laura Dockrill
Publication Date: May 2009
Pages: 96

Summary (From Good Reads):

'The characters are funny, endearing and completely original. Laura has a wonderfully wild and exciting imagination!she defies boundaries.' Kate Nash.
 'Laura Dockrill is a singular talent in the rave new world world of poetry. Comparison to others would do her no justice. Bright, funny, intelligent and passionate, this is a book you should already be taking away from the shop...' Phill Jupitus.
 You might have known somebody like Ugly Shy Girl once! You might have seen her bumping into lamp-posts and tripping over her school bag. She wears a denim skirt down to her ankles and a second-hand Naf Naf jacket. Her hair hangs down in front of her face and her nails are bitten and sore. She is always doing or saying completely the wrong thing. This is a twisted tale is about the struggle of growing up in a place where you don't belong, surrounded by people you hate and how delicious getting your own back can be.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. It was a lovely quick read. The characters leaped off the page, I LOVED Abigail (ugly shy girl) I thought she was so cute and shy. I also loved the character of Jade of course :D She was super cool and an amazing friend to Abigail! The illustrations were amazingly quirky and I LOVED the illustrations of Abigail. I loved the way we were able to see her face as she gradually gained confidence. The characters were so realistic it was amazing. I thought that the way the book was structured, with the events of what happened on the day told in 3rd person and then the diary entries retelling the events with Abigail's true feelings was very clever. I loved the way the book ended, I was really smiling. Especially how the author incorporated herself into it. (for example in the book the author says: Let me see how I can end this. I need to finish this off quick I have a gathering at 5). The ending had me re reading it at least 4 times, it was beautifully un expected. I would recommend this book to teenagers who have a difficult time at school to show you you aren't alone and that things can get better!

Food Rating: 7/8
Page Rating: 4/5

In My Fridge

Even more library reservations:

My Dear I Wanted To Tell You I like the blurb of this book. Mixed reviews on good reads but hopefully it'll be good!

The Blackhope Enigma I started this book, and while it is all right, it's not gripping enough for me to keep reading at the moment. I will finish it however. Maybe it will pick up.

 My friend borrowed this book to me, I began reading it requires concentration I do not posses at the moment!

 Currently reading this at the moment and so far so good!

YA Historical Fiction 3: Review: The Agency #1

A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)
Book: The Agency- A Spy in the House
Author: Y.S Lee
Publication Date: April 2009
Pages: 341

Summary (Good Reads): 

 Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. 
         Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? 
         Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

My Thoughts: 

I really really liked this book! I loved James and Mary's relationship. I thought Mary was a really realistic kick ass character and she didn't get on my nerves. I loved all the dashing about in Victorian London, the historical facts seemed to fit in with the period of time. I think the book got steadily better as it progressed. It was gripping at the start but when the action began, that was when I really began to devour the book ^.^ I liked the ending of the book, even though it made me sad, it was realistic and suited the characters personality. I'm glad it wasn't a fairy tale happy ending. I would recommend this book to people who like The Sally Lockhart books and the Cat Royal books. I'm definitely going to reserve the second book in the trilogy and I hope I get to see more of James and Mary's relationship. I x]

Food Rating: 6/8
Page Rating: 4/5