27 Oct 2015

september and october book reviews: the a list, through a glass darkly, love from paris

Another two months have passed where I've been reading, reading and reading. Most of this reading has been university-related but I still found time to read for pleasure. This time, my completed books are quite a mix...

The A-List by Zoey Dean

The A-List is the first in a series of novels about a group of well-off high school students in Beverley Hills. Think Gossip Girl but set on the West Coast. This review encompasses the first six books in this series (The A List, Girls on Film, Blonde Ambition, Tall Cool One, Back in Black and Some Like It Hot).
Image Credit: Goodreads

I (surprisingly) found myself enjoying the books I read in this series! Everything about the description, the cover and the premise should've had me running for the hills but they were such easy, summery reads (I read them in late August/September), that I didn't mind that the characters were all a bit one-dimensional, the plot a bit predictable (rich, over-privileged teenagers obsessed with their bodies, boys and social hierarchy) and that the setting was completely stereotypical.

Definitely more of a summer read and probably won't be as good when the nights are dark and cold. As a result, it gets a 5.5/10 for me. I must add that I don't think I'm the target age for this series though and that may have influenced my opinion of it! I still have four of the series to read but I think I will leave them for a later time when I fancy a lighter read.

Through A Glass Darkly by Jostein Gaarder

"It's almost Christmas. Cecilia lies sick in bed as her family bustle around her to make her last Christmas as special as possible. Cecilia has cancer. An angel steps through her window. So begins a spirited and engaging series of conversations between Cecelia and her angel. As the sick girl thinks about her life and prepares for her death, she changes subtly, in herself and in her relationships with her family."

I went from reading The A-List to reading something a bit more stimulating in Through A Glass Darkly by Jostein Gaarder, an author I had discovered in my teens.

Although the blurb makes it sound like quite a morbid book, I thought it did a good job of discussing death in a philosophical and thought-provoking way. The repeated visits by an angel allowed the reader to consider what death really means while at the same time, reading the thoughts of Cecilia. My favourite quote from this book is as follows:

'We see everything in a glass, darkly. Sometimes we can peer through the glass and catch a glimpse of what is on the other side. If we were to polish the glass clean, we'd see much more. But then we would no longer see ourselves... All stars fall at some time. But a star is only a tiny spark from the great beacon in the sky.'

Through A Glass Darkly isn't a long book - it only has 154 pages - but it is 154 pages of prose that will make you think about what the meaning of life is and also what death is too. I'm not saying you'll find out the meaning of life by reading this book but it'll definitely make you consider what life means to you. Overall, 9/10.

Love From Paris by Alexandra Potter

"How far would you go for love?

When new boyfriend Jack stands her up at the airport, Ruby Miller dries her tears, jumps on the Eurostar and heads to Paris. She thinks she's going there to visit an old friend and have a total break from romance. But the City of Love has other ideas.

A locked apartment where time has stood still, a bundle of long-lost love letters and a flirtatious French lawyer sweep Ruby into a mystery that spans three-quarters of a century. Who is the author of the letters? Why did the owner of the apartment close up the shutters and flee Paris before the war? And what secret was she hiding?

As the mystery deepens, Ruby turns love detective but it's not long before the ghosts of the past throw her own love affair into jeopardy."

I didn't realise that this book was a part of a sequel until I got to the end! However, it works as a stand-alone book anyway as Alexandra Potter sets the scene very well at the beginning.

Honestly, Love From Paris is a very good read - the pace is good and the plot made me want to carry on reading late into the night. It's a definite page-turner and the mystery of the love letters and apartment made me eager to find out if my own theory was right. I liked Ruby but I wasn't overly fond of Jack as he played such a tiny role within the plot that it made me wonder if his character was even necessary at all.

Overall, a solid 7/10 from me. A great plot marred by a few irrelevant characters and chapters.

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