Monday, October 08, 2012

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Puffin Classics
Year of Release: 1925
Source: Borrowed 
Having heard mentions of this book all my life, without ever really knowing what it was about, I finally decided it was time to pick up this book and read it. There are many different versions and cover art of this book, having been written in the early 1920's. If you're interested in reading this book or something similar, visit Puffin Classics, for all the information you need. 
The Great Gatsby is a beautifully written novel. It is recounted in the first person- an uncommon writing style in the 1920's and it is argued that Fitzgerald wrote in this perspective because he wanted "something new". The Great Gatsby is arguably Fitzgerald's finest work, and I agree with this statement completely. 
The story is told in the perspective of Nick Carraway, an exceptionally ordinary man living an exceptionally ordinary life in the town of West Egg. His neighbour, on the other hand, is a little more eccentric. Nick lives next-door to Jay Gatsby, a middle-aged man known for throwing incredible parties in his over-sized mansion. Gatsby has everything- money, people, a reptation- women want him, men want to be him. His parties are usually packed to the rafters with people and by invitation only, so when Nick receives an invite from Gatsby himself without ever having spoken two words to him, his interest is piqued. The two bond immediately and become inseparable. During the course of their friendship, Nick and Gatsby find that they have more in common than they originally thought. Nick's cousin Daisy, who is married to an arrogant, self-centered man by the name of Tom Buchanan met Gatsby five years before the novel begins, when she was just a young beauty living in Louisville. The two fell in love but as he was serving overseas, she was getting married to another man. It's no wonder then, all these years later, that Gatsby would want to see Daisy again. But what events unfold behind closed doors will spark a chain reaction that will not only put stress on Daisy and Tom's marriage and Nick and Gatsby's friendship, but could essentially put lives in danger.  
The Great Gatsby is the best kind of poem and in it's attempt to find a balance between illusion and reality, becomes the supreme American novel, capturing the allures of money, ambition and greed. Lose yourself in the lives of the elite living in the raging 20's and leave me a comment below!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Review: Asleep Without Dreaming by Barbara Forte Abate

Title: Asleep Without Dreaming
Author: Barbara Forte Abate
Source: PDF (from author, this was a requested review)
Summary (from Goodreads)-
Fourteen year old Willa Burkett has been waiting her whole life to leave Hoosick Falls- a nowhere place that fails to hold even a single good memory. But, when a series of vengeful incidents stir Willa's mother Stella to impulsively pack up and go, it is only to fins themselves stranded in yet another ugly, near extinct town, only now with a broken down car and no ready way out. Unable to move on until an alternate plan shows itself, they accept a job working for Omega Pearl Bodie, a proprietress of The Moonglow motel- a long forgotten, steadily decaying relic, where mostly nothing happens- except now, when everything does. It is here in this place of desperate loneliness and restless boredom that Willa will have her world rocked to the core in ways she doesn't immediately comprehend. The craziness of the life she's left behind all but eclipsed by the dark turn of the here and now, as Willa attempts to keep one step ahead of the ever-twisting whims of a mother prone to keeping secrets and telling lies, a murderous arsonist returned to the scene of his earlier crimes to dole out revenge one fiery victim at a time- and Jesse Truman. A boy with indigo eyes that Omega Pearl has hired as a handyman at The Moonglow- who Willa longs to save- if only she understood what it is he needs saving from.
As soon as the book starts, we are introduced to a young Willa Burkett and her mother Stella- a lying, controlling, selfish, manipulative witch of a woman. Immediately, we are given the impression that they come from a past of nothing but bad luck and bad experiences that have left them both scarred. So when their shabby, rundown car falters and breaks down in the middle 0f the highway, they're not all that surprised at this unfortunate turn of events. Unable to continue their journey to California in a runaway attempt from their home in Hoosick Falls, they have no choice but to set up camp in a low budget motel, run by a woman known all around town for spreading gossip. The Moonglow. No money, no home and now, no car, Willa and Stella are stuck in another stupid, old town. Things can't get worse than this, right? Wrong. Turns out, there's an escaped prisoner on the loose, who goes by the chilling name of Norman Hitchcock. The town is suppressed by fear and it doesn't help matters any when unexplained fires start burning down essential buildings in town. Possibly the only positive thing that comes from this situation is Jesse Truman, the young, hot handyman working at The Moonglow and Willa has her heart set on him. But Jesse is hiding something, something Willa would never have imagined in her wildest dreams. A shocking past and an unexpected turn of events will cause Willa to question everything she's ever believed in, everything she's ever known and face the all important question- does she really have anyone? 
When Barbara Forte Abate requested me to review this book for her, I was so excited because I knew I was in for a great read, thanks to The Secret of Lies, which I reviewed last year. So a few days and 7 cups of green tea later, I regrettably reached the end of this chilling read. It was disappointing to finish because I enjoyed reading it so much that I didn't want it to end! Another flawless read by Barbara Forte Abate, this author just continues to amaze me with her extraordinary talent for writing and creation of characters. You can truly relate to the characters in her books in the most beautiful ways. 
The perfectly woven web Abate has created through her writing comes to life before your eyes as you read... and read, and read, and read- this book was just impossible to put down. I felt like I could connect with Willa and felt her emotions throughout the story- her anger towards her self-centered mother, her longing to be with Jesse, her sadness, her curiosity sparked by the fires- I felt it all because I was able to understand, as I'm sure most readers will. 
I give this book the highest of recommendations, especially if you are a mysteries fan. Thank you, Barbara Forte Abate, for giving me the opportunity to read such an amazing book. 
Visit Barbara Forte Abate's Official Website