Sunday, 25 July 2010

Dark Places

I only realised after I had posted the last post, that it was only a day after the previous one!! Gosh, was I quick!! I suppose I found ''The Interpretation Of Murder'' quite easy to write about!
On to the new book! Today, I am going to write about a thriller. I absolutely hate watching them but I really really enjoy reading them! Probably because my imagination does not make anything look so gruesome or psychotic or weird or perverted like they do in films... The book I am going to write about is Gillian Flynn's ''Dark Places''.







You can find it with either one of these covers.








The book tells the story of the Day family, who are famous for what is known as the ''Farmhouse Satan sacrifices''.
Libby Day was seven years old when her brother Ben massacred her family. At that time, she gave evidence to help put him away. Now, more than 20 years after the massacre, Libby Day is lonely, jobless and broke. So when she is offered a chance to get $500 just to make an appearance for the Kill Club, she jumps at the chance. But the Kill Club believe that Ben is innocent and they want Libby's help so they can prove it. So suddenly, Libby finds herself thinking that Ben might not have done it. So she sets out on a journey to see what she can find out; with the aid of the Kill Club, of course.
The book is split into chapters which are alternately set in the present and on the 2nd and 3rd of January 1985 (the day before and the day of the murders). The ones in the present are all (but the last) narrated from Libby's perspective. The ones in 1985 are narrated from Patty's (the mother) and Ben's perspectives. That way, we find out what happened on the day before (and the day of) the murders while Libby (in the present day) is going around looking for people who can give her information, which could prove that her brother is innocent.
This book was the first thriller I read in ages! (I think the last thriller I had read was ''Thirteen Steps Down'' by Ruth Rendell about 4 or 5 years ago (maybe more...!).) I have to say I enjoyed the book a lot!! It wasn't fun or anything (i mean, it IS a thriller) but it made me want to finish it as soon as possible, so that I could find out who did it in the end... I started reading it without actually planning on it. I wanted to go the beach one day and I had already started reading another book (Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which I will write about some other time), which I thought was a bit too serious to take to the beach. So I opened the cupboard where we keep the books (they don't fit anywhere else...), I saw the book and thought I might as well try it! I had originally bought it for my brother, who really wanted ''Sharp Objects'', but I couldn't find it anywhere... (And when I say anywhere, I mean I could find it in Crete and I couldn't find it in any bookshop in Athens! That really is pathetic...).
If I were to rate this book, I would give it a definite 8/10, because it is a genuinely good book. If you think about the fact that it is only her second book, it's very very very good. And as her first book, ''Sharp Objects'', was loved by the critics, I believe it is safe to say that she is a very very good writer. Here is the cover of ''Sharp Objects'', which is about a girl who has the tendency to write words on herself using sharp objects (hence the title...).




And last but not least, some information about the author. Gillian Flynn was born in Kansas City and obtained a degree in English and journalism from the University Of Kansas. She went on to do a master's degree on journalism and then tried becoming a crime repoter. She finally gave up, claiming she was too ''wimpy'' for such a thing. She then started working at Entertainment Weekly, first visiting film sets all over the world, and then as a television critic. To date she has written the two books mentioned on this post, ''Sharp Objects'' and ''Dark Places''. 
Here are some links on the books and the author, for anyone who is interested!
Gillian Flynn Official Site
Gillian Flynn on Wikipedia
''Dark Places'' on Amazon
''Sharp Objects'' on Amazon

Bye for now!!

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Interpretation Of Murder

Hi again! I'm back and quite quickly too!! This time I am going to write about a completely different book. Nothing like the others. The book is called ''The Interpretation Of Murder''. Which I think you knew, as it is in the title of this post! Haha! Anyway, let's get on with it!
I was given this book as a present about 8 or 9 months ago. It wasn't much of a surprise, as I had already hinted (very, very subtly, mind you..!) that I wanted it. I still acted surprised though... (I am a nice person!) Gosh, I am babbling...
So... ''The Interpretation Of Murder'' by Jed Rubenfeld.


''The Interpretation Of Murder'' is set in Manhattan in 1909 and revolves around the visit of Sigmund Freud to America. When Freud sets his foot onto American soil (figuratively...), he finds out that a beautiful young debutante is found strangled in her apartment. The next day, another beautiful young girl and heiress, Nora Acton, is found tied to a chandelier, wounded and unable to speak or recall what happened. So, Freud enlists the help of Stratham Younger, a young American psychoanalyst, in order to help the heiress to recover her memory and thus, find out who the killer is.
The book is written from Younger's perspective and even though he is not present at quite a few events in the book, those events are described to him, so that he can narrate them in the story, and also, so that he can use information from them to analyse the situation.
There are many real characters featured in the book: Sigmund Freud (the well known neurologist and psychoanalyst), Carl Jung (a psychiatrist, well known for his own theories, many of which oppose Freud's theories), Abraham Brill (a psychiatrist) and Sandor Ferenczi (a psychoanalyst) (the latter two are not so well known, but they are real nonetheless). Even so, the story is entirely fictional, it is just based on a few well known theories that Freud and Jung had, and also on the conflict that existed between Jung and Freud (which was actually only from Jung's part - or so I gathered...).
This is a book I really enjoyed reading. It was very interesting and it made me want to find out a bit more about psychoanalysis, Freud and Jung. Which I did! I didn't really know much about them before... Just a few random facts about Freud from a lesson at school (3+ years ago). If I were to give the book a rating, it would be 8/10. It was very gripping, it made me want to finish it as soon as possible, just so that I can find out what happens in the end. It is a ''whodunnit'' book, but because of the fact that it includes Freud, it is quite different from other books of the same genre. All in all, I really really really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to everyone!
A bit of info in the author:
Jed Rubenfeld is the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale Law School. ''The Interpretation Of Murder'' is his first novel and it has sold over a million copies worldwide. This year, he is going to publish his second novel, titled ''The Death Instinct''.


As always, here are some links about various things!


Hope you enjoy!! See you soon!!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Aviary Gate

Hi!!! I'm back again!! I'm sorry about the big gap between my previous two posts... Again...
Today, I decided to write about another book I read fairly recently. ''The Aviary Gate'' by Katie Hickman. I read it around Easter, if I remember rightly... Which I think I do..! I had actually never heard of the author, but I liked the look of the cover and the info on the back-page made it seem interesting, so I decided to buy it!


So, let's start with the main theme of the book. The story begins when Elizabeth Stavely finds a fragment of a piece of parchment dated 400 years ago, while searching in the Bodleian Library for something on which to base her DPhil thesis. She believes that the parchment is about Celia Lamprey, the beloved of the legendary English merchant Paul Pindar. So, she decides to base her thesis on whatever information she can acquire about Paul and Celia. During her search for this information, she ends up in Constantinople, following a lead that wants Celia Lamprey to have been captured and enclosed in the Sultan's harem, and not to have drowned in a shipwreck. There, not only does she find valuable information, but also makes some life-changing decisions.
The narrative is split into two parts, which are interwoven. Half of the book is set in present day Oxford and in present day Istanbul, and the other half of the book is set in Constantinople in 1599. The author tells the two parts of the story together, so we find out facts about Celia's life through Celia's narrative, while Elizabeth is searching for it in the present.
When I bought the book, I though it might be quite interesting as it is set in Constantinople (and you know what Constantinople, a.k.a. Istanbul, means to the Greeks...). I started reading it and at first I really enjoyed it! But as the book went on, I started to find it a bit tiring, and the parts that were really tiring were the ones where Celia Lamprey's life was described. I think that the author probably wanted to fit in too much information, so it kind of went on and on and on, thus tiring the reader (or, at least, me...). But I decided to finish the book, as I was already quite far along, and in the end, I was quite happy that I had finished it. All in all, though, if a were to give it a rating, it would probably be 6/10. I mean, it was a nice book and it was interesting, but as it tired me about half way through (when others didn't), I think it is only fair that it gets a lower rating. Regardless of what I say, it is still my personal opinion, and if you find the story interesting, it is worth a try! You might not even find it tiring! I believe it is worth a try!
As always, I should give some information about the author. Katie Hickman was born into a diplomatic family, which resulted in her living quite a few years abroad. She read English at Oxford and, at the same time, she started travelling on her own and writing books about her travels. These books include ''Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon'', ''The Quetzal Summer'' and ''The Trip to the Light Fantastic'', later re-issued as ''Travels with a Circus''. After that, she turned to writing history books, including her famous bestsellers ''Daughters of Brittania: the Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives'' and ''Courtesans''. Her next book was ''The Aviary Gate'', which I described above and which took 15 years of research to write. Her last book, to date, is ''The Pindar Diamnond'', which is set in Dalmatia and tells the story of Paul Pindar (from ''The Aviary Gate'') and his obsession with a certain diamond, as the title suggests. 


(Wow! This has to be the most information I have written about an author before... Probably because it was quite easy to find!)
Here are some links to sites that might be of interest to some!


I'll be back soon!!!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

PopCo

Kalo mina!! That means Good Month, literally, but in Greece they say it at the beginning of a new month!
It has been ages since my last post, I know ... But now I'm back!
Today I am going to write about another book I read recently. I bought it 4-5 months ago, but I only read it about a month ago ... The book I am referring to is ''PopCo'' by Scarlett Thomas. She has also written ''The End Of Mr Y'', which is her most famous novel (although I have not yet read it ... Of course, this will be corrected as soon as possible, when I manage to find it and buy it!).




The central character of the book is Alice Butler, a girl with many peculiarities, which is quite evident even from the first chapter. The issue which underpins the book is that Alice has received some strange messages, which not only are anonymous but are also written in code. So she begins to wonder who could be sent them to her: somebody who works at PopCo, the toy company where she is employed?  Or is it her father, who disappeared many years ago? The only things that is certain is that to solve this ''mystery'', she would have to use her knowledge on how to break codes, and also use the key that she has been wearing around her neck since she was 10 old.
This book is quite strange and one of the main reasons for that is because the protagonist of the book is strange. The reasons she has for doing some things become evident as the book goes on. The greatest part of the book takes place at the conference that the company Alice works for has organised, in order to create the ultimate product-game for teenage girls - the only group to which they have difficulty selling products. interrupting the main part of the narration, there are whole chapters, describing Alice's past and explain her connection to both the fields of codes and mathematics. But what the author wants to do is to reveal some facts about businesses and how they operate in order to achieve a purpose.
I bought the book from the most wonderful bookshop in Greece: Eleftheroudakis, right opposite the University of Athens. It really is paradise, if you love books (for Greece, of course! In England, it's definitely Waterstones!!!). I saw it, I liked the cover and I read the story from the back of the book, so I bought it ... But I really did not expect to like it so much... In the beginning, I thought it was a bit weird, but after the third or fourth chapter I really did not want to put it down! One day, I actually stayed up and read the book until half past three in the morning...! I probably ended up finishing it in about 5 days! (Although I've read other books in a lot less time than that!) In the end, I really enjoyed this book. Very much so. In general, I like books that have codes and stuff (that's one of the central themes of his book). I love Dan Brown books, so now you know why I enjoy codes and stuff! But more about them in another post! If I had to grade this book, I would give it 8/10. It completely different from the two books I have already written about, but it's a really good book that I think many will be enjoy!

But I have to say some things about the author. Scarlett Thomas is an British author and teaches English at the University of Kent. She has written eight books to date, out of which, three are the best known: ''PopCo'', ''The End Of Mr Y'' and ''Our Tragic Universe'', which is her latest book. The covers of two other books look just below:


She is currently working on her ninth novel, called ''The Seed Collectors''.
Finally, as in both previous posts, so here are some links for anyone who would like to find out a bit more about the author and her books.


Scarlett Thomas (Wikipedia)
Scarlett Thomas Official Website
Our Tragic Universe
The End Of Mr Y
PopCo

The last two have links at the bottom of the page, from which you can read the first chapters of both books! To see if you like them, before you buy them!


Goodbye again!


(All images have come from Scarlett Thomas' Official Website.)

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