Hercule Poirot 1, 2, 3 by Agatha Christie

So like I previously said I’m kinda back. I’ve read four books for the month of June, but I won’t write a detailed book review on all of them. Technically I’ve read three Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie and the other one is Dorothy must Die. Please look forward for that review in the upcoming days.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1)
By Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4/5
Review: I’ve read this book before, but since I’m in a really bad rut I decided to re-read Agatha’s Poirot all over again, this time in order. I really enjoy this character of Christie’s he maybe pompous and obnoxious, but he gets the job done. I love the subtle murder story and the complex discovery of the book. In this book we also see Hastings, which is my favorite companion of the beloved detective. It takes us back to the beginning on how Poirot and Hastings first start working together. I don’t know how many people have read Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, but the two books are similar to each other. Hastings is the Watson of Poirot, so I feel that Hastings is just as beloved as Holme’s companion.

To be honest, I really don’t remember anything about this book as I was reading it. Not that I’m complaining it’s nice trying to find the murderer again and try to solve the case. This book is very much your everyday whodunnit book. We see Poirot try to solve his first case with the death of the wealthy Emily Inglethorp. Invited by the Inglethorps, Hastings accepts the offer for a much needed rest. Unknown to him, this will be the beginning of his adventures with Poirot. During his visit to the ‘Styles’ compound, our narrator learns of the various tensions that each character has with the matriarch. Emily, running a tight-fisted household prefers to have the last decision on the lives of her stepsons. However, the main strain on the relationship of Emily and her stepsons is the unity of their mother to the questionable Alfred Inglethorp. As the death of Emily is found, Poirot takes upon himself to solve the crime in memory of his benefactor!

The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2)
By Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Rating 4/5
Review: So right after I finished the first book I decided to just keep riding the Poirot band wagon and picked up the second Hercule. In this story, we find Hercule and Hastings paired up again to solve the mystery of the death of Paul Renauld. This was an interesting read for me because we get to see Poirot in a match with another detective. Not only did I love the mystery in the book, but the competition between the detectives spiced up the book.

Poirot and Hastings travel to France in response to Paul Renauld’s call for help. Upon their arrival they find out that their hasty departure was not enough to save his life. As the story unfolds South America becomes the central point of question. Since Renauld’s past is unknown to many, South America and his association comes into question. While the other detective stumps himself with the South American problem, Poirot focus on the neighbor of the said victim.

Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot #3)
By Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 3/5
Review: This is a little tough for me to review because its a short story collection. All of them features the famous detective and of course his right hand man, Hastings. The stories are all very well written and includes Christie’s classic way of creating an interwoven mystery. Although they were all short and doesn’t give you much details, its still a pretty good read. My only problem was that it was too short. You don’t really get attached to any characters besides our narrator and his hero. I would recommend this to those who are already familiar to Agatha Christie’s writing because its difficult to fall in love with the queen of mystery if the story are too under developed.

Shatter Me

Shatter ME

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Dystopia, Paranormal, YA
Rating: 4/5
Protagonist: Juliette Farrar
Other Characters: Adam Kent, Warner, Kenji Kishimoto, James Kent

SummaryAs long as Juliette remembers, her life has always been isolated. Her classmates hates her, the teachers are scared of her and even her parents thinks she’s a monster. Imprisoned for a crime she was unwilling to commit, her only hope is to survive the four cells that surrounds her. For almost a year, all she knew was the weather from her small window and the unnerving routine that has been keeping her sane. For almost a year, she hasn’t communicated and hasn’t touch another human being, until she was introduced to her new cellmate.  Plunged into uncertainty, Juliette must learn to open herself up to another person and to trust again. Shatter Me has a dystopian backdrop where Mafi introduce us to a different earth, where the sky is the wrong color, animals are dying, the human population is slowly diminishing and a girl, who’s life is going to be shattered by revelations.

ReviewI really enjoy reading mainstream books because I like knowing what everyone is reading and get in on the hype. I recently, meaning a year ago, started following booktubers (that’s youtubers with book related accounts, for those who doesn’t know) and this series was popping up on everyone’s reviews and *gushes*. So being a nosy book reader, I decided to eventually start the series. Unfortunately for me, it took me almost a year to buy the book and a few more months to actually read the book. I was very hesitant to buy Shatter Me because there were many instances where I bought the first book in the series/trilogy of new authors, and I ended up hatting it. Being burned so many times, it was an internal battle. I’m glad that I ended up buying it since I did enjoyed reading Juliette’s story, but there are things that irked me along the way.

Although I did enjoy the book, there were times when I just couldn’t stand it and had to put it down for a few hours. My main problem for the most part was the writing. Don’t get me wrong, Mafi is a pretty good writer and she brings life to her characters through her words, but I just couldn’t stand some of her writing style. Especially the way she uses numbers to describe Juliette’s thoughts. I wouldn’t have minded as much if it was used once or twice, in fact I even enjoyed the first few. I just don’t understand why she kept using them, especially when Juliette and Adam are together! For me, it didn’t make the sentence better, in fact it did the opposite and after a couple of times it started becoming cheesy. Since I’m already ranting about Mafi’s writing, I might as well mention the repeated words and sentences. I feel that this would have made an impact, if it was only evident when Juliette was still in the asylum and her constant acknowledgement of certain words and sentences show how she’s struggling to keep her sanity. Seriously, I could deal with the strike through all over the book, but with this, it eventually got to me. Like I said before this would have worked for the first half of the book, but I think Mafi should have kept her writing simpler. There were too many unnecessary forms in her way of writing that it really bothered me during the slow moments of the book and I eventually found myself jumping from one sentence to the next just to skip the pattern.

I know I ranted a lot about Mafi’s writing style, but I really did have a great reading experience overall and I feel that for this book the good outweigh the bad. The relationship that blossomed between Adam and Juliette was the main reason this book was a hit for me. I was skeptical about his intentions in the beginning, especially after the incident in the asylum, but I eventually got over it. His thoughtfulness, caring nature and just the way Mafi describe his gentleness towards Juliette, would make anyone’s heart melt! I’ve heard that there is going to be a love triangle in this series, but as of right now, I don’t see how Mafi can pull off the Juliette and Warner pairing. Maybe I’m just being close-minded, but Warner seems so evil, too evil. I like my share of bad boy exterior and softy interior, but Warner brings the “bad boy” image in a whole new creepy level. As for our protagonists, she was different, in a good way. Mafi weaves a tale of such sorrow and sadness that it made me cry for Juliette. Having such a horrendous childhood and being forced into a place of such awful conditions made my heart break a little. After all the tribulations she went through, Juliette was still able to stand-up and care for those who almost destroyed her. She represents a new kind of kick-ass heroine, one who doesn’t physically fight, but rather her strength lies within her and this made me like the book so much more. As much as I enjoyed our heroine, there were other characters that I enjoyed even more. One of them is Kenji. I know, very random, but I find him to be hilarious during times of such conflict and that’s what some books needs. I understand there are serious moments, but its also nice to laugh such gripping scenes. I really wish that he will be a good guy until the end of the series.

Although I found the ending to be rushed, I seriously didn’t mind. I’m glad that it ended the way it did. Cliffhangers doesn’t really bother me, but I like things to be tied together in a pretty little bow. Even if there are questions that still need to be answered, I feel content with knowing what Shatter Me reveals.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

EndingComing into this book, I really didn’t know much about it except for Juliette’s deathly touch. Other than that, I didn’t even know it was dystopian. I actually thought this was suppose to have a similar setting as X-men. I’m glad I was wrong. I like that Mafi introduced a world different from my imagination, the desolate and grim background on Juliette’s world made her powers even more exciting. Her super strength was a total surprise, with her powers being opposite of her physical appearance is a nice touch. I do wish that Mafi made either Warner or Adam immune to her, but not both. I just think that’s too convenient, which made me a bit wary.

I’m not really sure what to think of Omega Point. I like the idea of a resistance to the Reestablishment, I just don’t want it to be a District 13 copy-cat. That being out of the way, I’m glad that Juliette found a haven for herself and Adam. Plus, its nice to have a place where she can be accepted and loved for who she is. After all her hardship, she really deserves to be happy and comfortable of herself. I want to read more of the different powers that the other 36 others like Juliette. We do get to see Winston, the doctor that heals Adam, who can stretch his body in different directions, of course there’s also Kenji, who can turn invisible and the two girls, who I think can heal people. Just meeting them, made me excited to see what everyone else can do.

By end of the book, I half expected people to just fly off like the Avengers. Especially, when Juliette wore her special skin tight clothes with gloves and ankle high boots. Seriously, the image of that leaves me in a fit of laughter. Being serious, though, the ending was acceptable, with Adam and Juliette facing the world together hand in hand.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

HarryPotter
Author: J.K Rowling
Narrated By: Jim Dale
Genre: Fantasy

As stated on the title of this review, its not the actual book I’m going to talk about, but rather the audio version. Since most, if not all, have read the book or at least has seen the movies, I won’t go into details regarding the synopsis of the novel. Yes, I know the book is not the same as the movie, but you get the main idea. This is my honest thoughts and opinions on the audio version of J.K Rowling’s best selling series, so please, if I said anything bad or things that you didn’t like, don’t hate me for it.

I have read this particular book more times than I can remember and every time I pick it up I can’t help but fall in love with Hogwarts and the wizarding world all over again. Many have told me that the audiobook is fantastic and Jim Dale, the narrator, does justice to the voices of the characters and he brings even more life to Rowling’s already vivid world. With such high praises, I can’t help but give in to peer pressure and even if I don’t end up liking it, I at least get the chance to re-read Harry Potter all over again. So its a win, win situation.

Now, if you have never listened to an audiobook in your whole entire reading life, I feel that this is a good place for you to start. I can see why many enjoy Jim Dale’s narration. He gives each character life in his many voices and you will be able to identify each of the characters in the book. If you have watched the movie as much as I have, then the voices might be a hit or miss for you. There are some that I enjoyed and some where I just thought it didn’t suit the character and there are others that made me chuckle each time I hear it. I know that the audiobook was released way before the movies, but I can’t help compare them. I think that Professor Dumbledore and Hagrid’s voices are dead on to Richard Harris and Robbie Coltrane’s. The first time I heard it, I almost thought that maybe they lent their voices to Jim Dale for the book (hahaha!). I did have problems with Hermoine’s voice. I love, love Emma Watson, so when I heard the voice that was used for her, it slightly broke my heart. The audio version sounded very whinny and high pitched, I get that she’s suppose to sound like a know-it-all, I just can’t accept that’s how she sounds like. I would rather keep Emma’s voice in my head. The two that really stood out for me, and made me hold my stomach in laughter, is Mr. & Mrs. Dursley. Just thinking about it makes me laugh. Mr. Dursley sounds like a cross between Marvin the Martian, from Looney Toons, and Mr. Bean. Yea, you heard me right, Mr. Bean! I really can’t describe Mrs. Dursley’s voice, but I think her voice is only hilarious because it sounds very much like Mr. Dursley’s, in a feminine way. That being said, I did enjoy the overall narration of the book. I love the magical sounding voice of Jim Dale and to be honest, it kinda sounds like Professor Dumbledore is reading the to me. I think he did a stupendous job in this audiobook.

Even with the misses on some of the voices, I didn’t really mind it that much. I liked it enough that I would actually listen to the second book, but it’s not the best I’ve heard. There are some books where their audio is so great that I can’t help but associate the voices to the character when I’m actually reading the physical book. For me, this is what makes an audio very good. The problem is, I feel that I’m biased, only because I love the movie actors that plays our beloved characters so much, that I associate those people and their voices to their counterparts. That being said, I still highly recommend the audio, because it’s a different way to “reading” the Harry Potter books. I feel that when I’m listening to the audio, I find bits and pieces that I missed when actually reading the physical book. So, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, and are planning on re-reading the series all over again, maybe you can keep the audiobook in mind. Try it out. Like I said, like it or not, its a win, win situation.

Fangirl

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Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Contemporary, YA
Rating: 3/5
Protagonist: Cath(er) Avery
Other Characters: Wren Avery, Levi, Reagan, Mr. Avery

SummaryCath is not your typical university freshman. While everyone is out having a good time, partying, dancing and getting drunk, Cath is content with staying in her dorm writing fanfiction. For years, Cath and her sister, Wren, wrote dozens, if not hundreds, of stories about Simon Snow and are even well known in the fanfic world. As the two approach their freshman year, Wren dropped news that she will not be living with her sister. Thrust in a world foreign to her, and without the comfort of her sister’s shadow, Cath must come to terms with the changes around her or succumb further into the fantasy world that is slowly taking over her life.

ReviewYA Contemporary is not a genre that I’m usually drawn to. It’s not my least favorite, but I probably only own a handful of such books. The main reason I picked this book was because of the hype in both goodreads and youtube. So, with all the talk about such a great read, I just had to pick it up and find out for myself. As I flip through the book, page after page, all I kept thinking about was “It’s going to get better, it has to!” Eventually, as I got to the last page all I felt was disappointment. I cannot phantom why everyone made such a big deal about this book. Its a very typical “growing of age” book and besides the fanfic aspect, it really wasn’t that original. I understand this genre is not my forte, but even I have read amazing YA contemporary books. Don’t get me wrong, Rainbow Rowell can write very well and she does so with fluidity. I gave her 5 star on her writing style and character development, but the problem is that’s really all I liked about the book.

As I said previously, Rowell can write and write she does. As much as I enjoyed her style I felt that Fangirl went on far too long. There were unnecessary parts in the book, example, Cath reading Levi one of her short stories. I understand that many enjoyed that part of the book, but I wish she just added that as an appendix. At least she could have given people a choice. Now, if the actual short story was an integral part of the book then that’s understandable, but to those who have read it, we all know it wasn’t. Just like the length of the book, I just couldn’t handle Cath. I thought as I get further absorbed in the book I will eventually love her, or at least like her, unfortunately that wasn’t the case here. Although she does get less annoying, I still can’t get past her whinny nature. I understand social anxiety and an introvert personality, but I think the way Cath was portrayed was over the top. I had such qualities entering University for the first time, but I didn’t deliberately push people away, especially those who want to befriend me. For the first half of the book, as she wallow in self-pity on the loss of her sister’s attention, I felt like I was reading a middle grade book, who’s character is entering middle school and has to go through this process of growing up. I just couldn’t deal or connect to Cath’s level and that for me is an important part in loving a protagonist. I do have to say that Cath becomes a more tolerable protagonists in the end, we see her grow from a child-like teenager to a more independent person.

The actual saving grace for me with this book is Levi. I totally enjoyed his character and although we really don’t see an internal character growth from him, we do get to see that he’s got his sh*t together. Anyone who is as dedicated to listening to lectures over and over again shows that he is trying to achieve more for himself. Levi is just the best through and through. Maybe some will find his sunny personality exhausting and annoying, but for me its different. Where we are all being bombarded with brooding and dark male characters in many other books, Levi is a breath of fresh air! His mannerism almost reminds me of Peeta from The Hunger Games. Totally different setting, but I feel if Peeta and Levi ever met each other in normal circumstances, they would love each other, not in a Simon and Bass context. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was all the different relationships that Rowell included. We have parent relationship, sibling relationship, parent hate relationship, best friends relationship, etc. you get the drift. Rowell does a really good job in writing and developing each relationship. I especially enjoy the development in the friendship between Reagan and Cath. I love how they barely tolerated each other, and then they grew to tolerate each other and eventually grew to tolerate each other’s company. I just found their relationship so hilarious and uncommon, since they are polar opposite of each other. It also doesn’t hurt the fact that I love Reagan’s character.

I understand that many will totally hate me for this review, since a lot of readers love this book, unfortunately its just not cut out for me. Although there are aspects to the book that I love, I feel that my dislikes outweighs the likes, so I probably won’t buy a copy of this for myself since I won’t have the urge to re-read it. Although I will miss Levi and Reagan, I just don’t have the energy to read Cath and Wren all over again. Even if this book left me with bitter disappointment, I won’t swear off Rainbow Rowell’s books altogether. I did enjoy her way of writing, so I might eventually, in the future, read her other works.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

EndingCath and Wren had a wonderful relationship growing up, but eventually one needed to move on. I felt that Wren’s decision to separate herself from her sister was a good idea. Each needed to find themselves and who they really are as an individual. I just don’t think she needed to be self destructive about it. While reading all of Wren’s shenanigans, I already felt that she was heading on her path to destruction, I actually half expected her to die in the book. I just don’t understand the rebellion of Wren. From what I gathered in the book Wren and Cath had a free childhood. They were able to party with their friends, have slumber parties and even date and have boyfriends. At first i thought it was an outcome of their mom’s abandonment, but she accepted her mom’s olive branch! If her actions was to “separate” herself from her sister, then the actions itself is a bit dumb. We really don’t get an explanation on her actions, but Wren’s ending was acceptable. After being admitted to the hospital for over drinking, it was a wake-up call for a future she wouldn’t want to have a part of.

Cath eventually found her own self. She still loves fanfic and she still loves Simon Snow, but at least by the end of the book she has learned to let people through. Cath already was true to herself. Besides the fact that she was  more involved in a fantasy world than the reality, she knew who was important to her and who she is as a twin. Although I do hate her whinny personality, I do love how she takes care of the people she loves. I was rooting for her and Levi to get together. Anyone who is willing to walk back and forth from their dorm to the library is worthy of someone’s heart and I think that the two will compliment each other. Even if I feel that their relationship is TOO perfect, I can look past that and just like for what it is.

As for the actual ending of the book. I totally hated it. I get that everything is tied up neatly and everyone “lives happily ever after” I just can’t grasp that Rowell ended the book with Levi and Cath in his room reading Simon Snow. It was so uneventful. I feel that Rowell should have just ended at the part where the two sisters finally got hold of the last book of Simon Snow and the four head back to their dorm. That would have left more of an impact, a sense of finality and the renewal of the sister’s bond.