Review: The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton


The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton

The Rehearsal

Title: The Rehearsal

Author: Eleanor Catton

Release Date: May 17, 2008

Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 320

Source: City of Literature Class

All the world’s a stage – and nowhere is it that more true than at an all-girls high school, particularly one where a scandal has just erupted. When news spreads of a high school teacher’s relationship with his underage student, participants and observers alike soon take part in an elaborate show of concern and dismay. But beneath the surface of the teenage girls’ display, there simmers a new awareness of their own power. They obsessively examine the details of the affair with the curiosity, jealousy, and approbation native to any adolescent girl, under the watchful eye of their stern and enigmatic saxophone teacher, whose focus may not be as strictly on their upcoming recital as she implies.

5 out of 5 stars


I loved this book. I was so pleasantly surprised about this and I REALLY want to read more from this author. For my class I had to write a book review about the book, so I’m just going to copy and paste that here…. :)

In Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, The Rehearsal, two storylines are followed that eloquently and seamlessly blend together throughout the novel. Catton, an author from Canada, studied English at the University of Canterbury and completed her Master’s degree in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. The Rehearsal is Catton’s master’s thesis for her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

The Rehearsal opens with a saxophone teacher talking with a parent about her daughter during music lessons. This conversation quickly unfolds and becomes the basis of the first storyline. During a music lesson with the saxophone teacher the main character, Isolde, is introduced. Isolde makes an excuse about not practicing for her lesson by confiding in her teacher that her older sister, Victoria, was raped by the instrumental music teacher at their high school, Mr. Saladin.

Many of the students that went to school with Victoria and Isolde made it apparent that the relationship between Victoria and Mr. Saladin was consensual. The students claimed to have seen the couple together on multiple occasions, and it is later found out that the two are still seeing each other. Because there was a news story leaked about the inappropriate relations between teacher and student, Isolde and some of Victoria’s friends are required to go to counselling sessions with the school’s guidance counselor to talk about what happened. Isolde meets a girl named Julia at the counselling sessions and they form a friendship.

The second storyline opens with a first-year college student named Stanley auditioning for the Institute for drama. He wants to become an actor, and going to this Institute is his dream. He goes through the audition process and learns that he gets into the school. The first-year drama students have to put on a show with no help from professors, and decide to take the local news story about the relationship between Victoria and Mr. Saladin and turn it into a play.

Isolde and Stanley meet and start dating; Isolde is fifteen and Stanley is eighteen. A few short weeks later Stanley gets called into one of his instructor’s offices and is questioned about his relationship with Isolde. The saxophone teacher saw that the two were forming a relationship and was concerned about Isolde’s safety. Stanley brings it up to Isolde and the two have a fight about it. To try and not make Stanley angrier, she invites her parents to go to the first-year student play with her. Neither she nor her parents know that the play is based off the affair with Victoria and Mr. Saladin. After watching the play, Isolde and Stanley’s families get together to talk about it and its content…

I was pleasantly surprised by this book because the first few chapters were quite slow and confusing with the different stories. While reading the beginning I was distracted by the fact that the language used in conversations was unrealistic. There were too many metaphors and large words to be a real conversation between high schoolers, but as the story progressed, so did the writing style. The Rehearsal has strong themes of sexuality, and there are many references to being lesbian or gay.

The main character Isolde is uncertain about her sexuality and uses Stanley and Julia to experiment to see if she likes men, women, or both genders. The saxophone teacher, who never gets a name throughout the novel, is also represented as lesbian, which put a unique twist on the story which I was not expecting.

The saxophone teacher had fantasies about one of her friends who she has been in love with, and places herself and her female students in her fantasies as well. This reminded me of the relationship between Victoria and Mr. Saladin. I thought it was interesting with different ways Catton used sexuality and intimacy throughout the novel.

Stanley and his fellow first-year students also dealt with sexuality and gender roles during the play they wrote and performed. One of the objectives with the play was to use a prop chosen by last year’s students to use as a main theme or motif to guide the play. The object was a deck of cards, so they spun that into drawing cards at certain points of your life in order to determine sexuality and gender. This was beautifully explained during the brainstorming process of figuring out what to make their play about.

One of my favorite things about this book was the fluidity of time. During the first storyline, the sections were broken up by days of the week, where in the second storyline they were broken up by months. My interpretation of this was that time passes differently at different ages. Because you haven’t experienced much life when you’re young, every single day seems long and monotonous, but as you get older time seems to go faster. It doesn’t seem like you break it up into days or weeks even, but months or periods of your life.

There was also fluidity with time in the sense that some scenes were repeated but from another perspective. Because time was represented differently in both the storylines, there were some discrepancies between when events actually occurred. It gave the reader a sense of knowing more than the characters, and that made the reader want to continue reading to find out when every person would find out information.

The characters in this novel were beautifully broken, and made you want to know everything about them. All the characters were struggling with something different, but didn’t know the best way to deal with their problems. Some of the opinions they brought to the foreground of the story made me really have to think about what I was reading, and how I felt about the issues they were bringing up.

I am extremely impressed with Eleanor Catton as this is her debut novel. The themes that were discussed were talked about eloquently and fit together with the whole story wonderfully. As I read I try and make predictions about the way a story is going to go, and I couldn’t seem do that with this. Every page contained something new and interesting that added to the story. Overall I enjoyed this book immensely, and I look forward to reading more works from Catton in the future.

Review: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Gemina(The Illuminae Files #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

Title: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)

Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release Date: October 18, 2016

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 663

Source: TBR Pile

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

4 out of 5 stars


I’M SO GLAD I FINALLY READ THIS.

After much too long of waiting to read Gemina after Illuminae, I had to read a summary of the first book before starting this, and I’m glad I did because I would have missed out on lots of the ending. I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait for the next one!

Obsidio comes out on March 13, 2018, so I don’t have to wait a super long time which is nice. I’m going to try and read it right when it comes out, because I waited to read this for over a year… oops.

Gemina follows Hanna and Nik through drug scandals, hot jumpsuits, flirty messages, and combatting the end of two universes. But it’s casual, no worries ;) I enjoyed Gemina more than Illuminae, honestly. I think it was better crafted and I liked the characters more. The ending of this book omg. I was deceased when I was reading this. I was skeptical during one part because I was like wait a second there’s still more book left and this seems like an ending, but oh my goodness it was such a cliffhanger of an ending.

I am all here for Nik and Hanna to be together because they’re perfect. They joke around and he’s overly flirty which doesn’t fit his appearance very well because he’s supposed to be rough-around-the-edges with tattoos. It’s so cute. Also, did I mention the tattoos. I just imagine him to be super hot with dark hair and lots of intense tattoos everywhere and mmm I’m here for it.

This was such a well crafted book because there were so many random little plot points that you don’t notice until right at the end, and it’s just so impressive. The flower corsage. Never saw that coming and then I was like ‘woah dude how did you manage that one,’ then it all ends up making sense. HERE FOR IT.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, but just couldn’t give it 5 stars. I don’t know what it was that wasn’t 5 stars for me. I love the characters and the plot is super cool. I think it was just because I wasn’t DYING to continue reading. When I was reading I was enjoying it and loving it, but when I wasn’t I wasn’t thinking about getting back to it and devouring it, ya know? Idk. I am pumped for Obsidio, though :)

Series:

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Review: The Mirror and the Maze (The Wrath and the Dawn #1.5) – Renee Ahdieh


The Mirror and the Maze (The Wrath and the Dawn #1.5) – Renee Ahdieh

The Mirror & the Maze (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1.5)

Title: The Mirror and the Maze (The Wrath and the Dawn #1.5)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Release Date: April 26, 2016

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Page Number: 11

Source: Nook

The city of Rey is burning. With smoke billowing, fires blazing and his people fleeing, Khalid races back to defend his city, and protect his queen. But Khalid is too late to do either. He and his men arrive to find the city in ruins, nothing but a maze of destruction, and Shahrzad is gone. But who could have wrought such devastation? Khalid fears he may already know the answer, the price of choosing love over the people of Rey all too evident.

3 out of 5 stars


I’m sad that I’m done with this series now because I really enjoyed it. I’m so glad that I read the whole series in a matter of a couple months, and it’s inspired me to do the same with other series, so stay tuned for all of the series reviews coming up :)

This was a good short story, but I wanted more from it. It was so short, so I don’t even know why Renee Ahdieh wrote it, tbh. There wasn’t much you wouldn’t have known. That’s my least favorite thing about these novellas is that it’s exactly what you would have thought had happened. Give me a little extra content.

This novella followed Khalid during the whole shebang that happened right at the end of The Wrath and the Dawn when he found out that Shahrzad left the palace. He was devastated but knew that it was the right thing.

That’s literally it and it fell so flat for me. I ship Shahrzad and Khalid so much and have since the very beginning of the first book, so of course I wanted a novella about them. This was not the novella that I wanted because nothing new happened. He was sad. Of course he was. Idk, it wasn’t a bad story, just not what I wanted.

I was pretty meh about this if I’m being completely honest. I want the feelings that I had while reading The Rose and the Dagger again, though. I’ll have to re-read the duology sometime in the future because it was so guud. YAY FOR COMPLETING A SERIES!

Series:

The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25)

The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5)

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

Review: The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5) – Renee Ahdieh


The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5) – Renee Ahdieh

The Crown & the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn, #0.5)

Title: The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Page Number: 18

Source: Nook

Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.

3 out of 5 stars


This novella was so short, and I just wish that it was longer. I liked getting to see inside Khalid’s head because you never got his perspective at the beginning of the series. You saw his initial reaction to Sharzhad which was fun, but it also kind of broke my heart because I don’t want to see them not together.

Khalid is such a broken soul and Sharzhad helped him through one of the hardest times in his life, so seeing him before he knew here just made me sad :( I honestly don’t think this was a necessary novella because his perspective wasn’t really anything I would have thought unique. I knew that he was apprehensive about her at first. Of course he would be. He also thought she was beautiful right away which didn’t change throughout the story. So I don’t know.

I like being back in this world because this was a great series, but I don’t know if I would spend money on this novella like I did. It’s not really anything special. It was still good, but not anything special.

I only have one more novella and then I’m done with this series! Go me :) I’ll try and have the final review up soon!

Series:

The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25)

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

Review: The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25) – Renee Ahdieh


The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25) – Renee Ahdieh

The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn, #0.25)

Title: The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Release Date: March 22, 2016

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Page Number: 37

Source: Nook

It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

4 out of 5 stars


This was what I wanted while reading The Wrath and the Dawn duology, so I’m really glad that this was a thing. Despina has always been one of my favorite characters, so a short story about her… I’m here for it.

I love me some cute mushy romance, and this is the beginning of a relationship that I totally ship so hard. I love Jalal and Despina together, so it was super cute seeing them interact for the first time. I know that Jalal was kind of a player before he met Despina, but once he started talking to her he didn’t want to think about anyone else. Awww cute cute cute.

I love reading kissing scenes, so this was real cute. Again, here for it. I love seeing some of the characters that don’t get talked about too much in the full series, in novellas like this. I’m so excited to read the rest of them because I know that I’m going to love them all. I HOPE THERE’S ONE ABOUT SHARZHAD AND KHALID TOGETHER OMG. I would be LIVING for that.

Series:

The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5)

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

Review: Gilead (Gilead #1) – Marilynne Robinson


Gilead (Gilead #1) – Marilynne Robinson

Gilead (Gilead, #1)

Title: Gilead (Gilead #1)

Author: Marilynne Robinson

Release Date: October 28, 2004

Publisher: Picador

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 247

Source: City of Literature Class

Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America’s heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson’s beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows “even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order” (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.

3 out of 5 stars


I read this book for my City of Literature class, and this has been the least awful one we’ve read so far. I didn’t hate this book, but I did find it very boring. Less horribly boring than the others, but still difficult to get through.

Gilead is told from the perspective of a dead man who is writing letters to his seven year old son for him to read when he becomes an adult. The whole plot is based around his findings about life through being a pastor and a follower of God.

My professor described this as more of a history of Iowa than anything, and I do not understand that at all. There wasn’t much history at all, and it mostly just told random stories from John Ames’ perspective. I found him to be quite an unreliable narrator throughout the whole book, and found it hard to trust what he was saying. This book was very religious and I wonder how the people who aren’t Christian felt about it. I bet it would be confusing if you knew nothing about the different denominations of Christianity.

I’m very impressed with how masculine the narrator sounds as the author is female. I think that it was an extremely strong perspective to take and write about, but it was done very well. I wish there would have been more information about Ames’ wife. The third book in this series follows his wife, Lila, but I have no intention of reading it. I get that if I really wanted to know more I could just read the rest of the series, but I just wish there was more in this book.

I never realized how heavily I relied on chapter breaks before there are none. NO CHAPTERS. Just random letters to his kid. Which makes sense with the idea, but the formatting was very bothersome to me. I think it just made it harder for me to get through. I’m extremely grateful to my library for having the audiobook to this, because it was nice to hear it read in a man’s voice. The narrator sounded VERY familiar to me, so I looked him up and found out that the only thing he’s been in that I’ve seen was Spiderman 2. So I don’t know if he just has a normal voice or if I’ve seen that movie more than I thought I had…

Overall I think this was a decent book. I don’t get the point of reading it for my class, but I’m sure I’ll find out when we discuss it tomorrow.

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Release Date: March 16, 1985

Publisher: Anchor Books

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 311

Source: BF

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

3 out of 5 stars


I had such high hopes for this book, and they fell a little short. I am usually quite fond of dystopian novels, but this one was SO HARD for me to get into. It felt like every time I had to stop reading I left the world more than I usually do with books.

This novel follows Offred who is a Handmaid for her Commander and his wife. Her sole purpose is to get pregnant from the Commander, so then he and his wife can have a child. She gets held down once a month during her most fertile time while the Commander mindlessly has sex with her. She is the last hope for the Commander and his wife, but Offred can’t help but remember her own husband and her child from before this time of being a Handmaid.

The premise of this book is so unique and very interesting, but I don’t think the execution was what it could have been. Nothing happened until 250 pages in! I wanted some action, or at least a little plot. I felt bad for Offred, but I also was kind of confused while reading this. I don’t know the extent of her relationship with the Commander, and I’m sure that’s intentional, but I think too much was left unsaid for me to fully enjoy this book.

I might watch the TV show because I feel like this would translate much better with actors on a screen rather and words on a page, but I’m not going to jump right into it. Again, I really enjoyed the concept of this story, but it took way too long for anything to happen.

I was unsure about the purpose of the party other than the fact that she saw Moira again. Was that the whole reason? I feel like there had to be some underlying moral or message to that, but it must have just gone right over my head.

The ending seemed lackluster to me. She gives in to society and the people around her. I wanted a rebellion. I wanted SOMETHING to happen with her and the other people that were with her. I don’t knowwwwww. I wanted to love this. I really did.

All in all, I think this was an okay book. I enjoyed some parts of it, but I was mostly confused. I think part of it is that I didn’t like Margaret Atwood’s writing style. You should totally give this a try if you’re into dystopian, but maybe lower your expectations just a little tiny bit.