mandag den 28. december 2015

"Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy

Title: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publication Year: 1891
Publisher: Penguin English Library (publ. 2012)
Pages: 487
My Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the story about Tess and her family who work as farmers in rural England. One day, Tess' father is informed that he and his family are actually part of the D'Urbervilles kinship, which means that their family is a family of prestige and wealth. That leads to Tess being placed at a house out of town in which a woman of the D'Urbervilles lives, in hopes that Tess will socialize with other people in the family and perhaps find a gentleman to marry. 
Basically, this is a very beautiful story about Tess who grows from being a child to being a woman. What she goes through during these 487 pages is heart-wrenching; however, having now finished this novel, I must admit I'm left with a huge question mark above my head. 
First of all, I was impressed with how Thomas Hardy structured this story. He leaves out bits and pieces of important information which turns the novel into a page-turner. I thought that we would eventually get the answers to all of our questions, but no! All we get are small hints as to what has happened, but we don't get the final revelation I was hoping for. Why is that?
Furthermore, I was a little bit puzzled with Tess and her behaviour. I liked her a lot, but at the same time I didn't understand her and her decisions on many occasions. In other words, I didn't feel a strong connection to her at any point in the book, but I was very much interested to follow her on her story and see where things were going. 
This is ultimately a love story that will break your heart. It's also a story about life for maids back in the days, and it's about growing up and making some tough decisions. I liked this novel a lot exactly because it puzzled with my mind, but I would definitely have preferred to have got some answers to all of my questions that I'm now left with. 

fredag den 25. december 2015

"My True Love Gave to Me" by Stephanie Perkins

Title: My True Love Gave to Me
Author: Stephanie Perkins (editor), Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 336
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Being in the mood for Christmas I decided to pick up this compilation of 12 different short stories that all are ensured to put you in the mood for the holidays. At first, I was thrilled with this book. I loved all the cute stories, and I loved how they got me in the mood for Christmas. It's funny how I was looking especially forward to Rainbow Rowell's and Gayle Forman's stories, but it was Matt de la Pena and Stephanie Perkins that put a smile on my face (despite the fact that I was surprised by the fact that Perkins' characters were supposed to be 19-year-olds?). Yes, some of the stories were a little bit too unrealistic, or too simple, but I still enjoyed them. 

Then came Ally Carter's story and that's when things started falling apart. This story was highly unrealistic in my opinion, and it made me realize how all of the other stories are basically too good to be true. I stand by my first impression: That they are cute and get you in the mood for Christmas. They all leave an impression on you, whether it's a good, lasting one or a rather bad one. But the thing is that most of these stories are shallow and contain instal-love which I'm not a huge fan of. It seems like Stephanie Perkins asked for everyone to write a romance story with a happy ending, because apparently that's all people want to read for Christmas? I, at least, missed some depth to them. 

onsdag den 23. december 2015

"Dumplin'" by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin'
Author: Julie Murphy
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 375
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This is the story of Willowdean Dickson who also goes under the name of Dumplin'. Willowdean is a high school student with a bit too much weight on her thighs. However, that doesn't refrain her from entering a beauty pageant in her hometown in Texas, because apparently Willowdean has enough confidence to do just that! 

While this is a somewhat cute story targeted towards young adults about redeeming yourself and facing some truths, I was very underwhelmed by this book. I was expecting a story about a heavy-weighted protagonist who decides to enter a beauty pageant, simply because she has the confidence to do so. While this is somewhat true, I don't think Willowdean comes across as having much confidence at all. She keeps second-guessing herself, and worst of all she's very disrespectful and mean to people. I couldn't help but wonder if that was really her way of being confident - not hesitating from sullying people around her? I regretfully didn't fint any inspiration in Willowdean at any point in this book. 

Furthermore, I very much disliked how Julie Murphy threw a "golden line" into the story now and again. By that I mean that she often includes sentences that are supposed to be these philosophies on life and how we're supposed to view ourselves and each other. I prefer to read that myself between the lines and not be reminded of it as often as was the case in this book. 

All in all, I did have quite a few problems with this novel which turned out to be quite predictable. As stated in the beginning, I think it is a quite story, but it's also very mediocre, and I honestly didn't like the message that Willowdean's behaviour might send readers of this book. 

"The Year of the Runaways" by Sanjeev Sahota


Title: The Year of the Runaways
Author: Sunjeev Sahota
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 468
My Rating: 4/5 stars

"The Year of the Runaways" takes place in London as well as in India. We follow various Indians who are settled in London and who don't know each other to begin with. All the Indians have moved to London illegally in order to earn enough money for their poor families back home. Some Indians come from a more cruel background than others, but they all have one thing in common, which is that they are in a desperate situation. 

This book was highly educating and very interesting to read! I knew about illegal workers and their poor conditions, but this book gave me a really good insight into what their lives and situations are really like. These people live from day to day in a constant presence of fear. They do this with the best of intentions - they want to save their families back home - but life is very tough for each one of them. 

Besides from that, this novel also taught me about Indian culture such as food, traditions and ways of living which is always very nice. It furthermore comes with some very clever observations which I really admire Sunjeev Sahota for. However, in my opinion the story did stretch on for a bit too long, and even though I wanted to continue reading about the characters, I did feel a slight disconnect to them towards the ending. BUT it was most certainly a great read, and I have a feeling it's going to be one of those books that will stick to my mind for a long time to come.