Review: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – Patrick Süskind

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perfume story of a murderer book cover

SYNOPSIS: In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift — an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume” — the scent of a beautiful young virgin. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5Recently I watched the movie for this and I enjoyed it immensely. I was interested to see that it was based on a book, and Abbi finally twisted my arm to get started on this one. The book and the movie are similar and yet totally different, which actually works. I found Grenouille to be a person of zero potential pity in the novel – he was a pure psychopath, cunning and conniving, and he knew what he was doing was wrong. He sets your teeth on edge, and is just a nasty character all round. I was surprised to see that the book was a translated works, so I was a little nervous when setting out to read this, but let me tell you, a great job has been done with the translation. It never comes across like that – usually a translated book can be stiff, or lose a lot of what the author is trying to convey. I enjoyed the writing style a lot. Something that was strange for me, however, is that for such a short book, it felt like it took an eternity to finish, though that might have been due to the emotional week we had. It just felt like you were reading, but never really getting anywhere. While I liked Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, I was never really reeled in and absolutely, without a doubt, hooked. It is engaging, yes, but it is not the most engrossing novel I have ever read. It is sharp, and there is some strange humour throughout, which I always have a good time with, and it was written quite well. While I enjoyed this quite a bit, I (shockingly) appreciated the movie more. Overall, definitely worth the read, especially if you liked the movie!

Review: River’s End – Nora Roberts

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river's end

SYNOPSIS: Olivia’s parents were among Hollywood’s golden couples…until the night a monster came and took her mother away forever. A monster with the face of her father…

Sheltered from the truth, an older Olivia only dimly recalls her night of terror—but her recurring nightmares make her realize she must piece together the real story. Assisted by Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who found her cowering in her closet so many years before, she may have her chance. Noah wants to reconstruct the night that has become an infamous part of Hollywood history. He also wants to help Olivia and heal the longing in her lonely heart. But once the door to her past is opened, there’s no telling what’s waiting on the other side. For somewhere, not too far away, the monster walks again… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7So this was a recommendation from my bestie, Natasha, and it is one of her favourite novels from Nora Roberts. You can check out her review here. Anyway, the story started (again) as something I like more that sappy romance – we had a brutal murder, a child witnessing it, a cop that rescues said little girl and a family that is shattered and desperate to protect Olivia, the kid, and move on from the horrible tragedy. It is evident pretty much right after the murder that the cop’s son, Noah, would end up with Olivia, which was pretty freaky seeing as she was only four at the time. It was made even more awkward when she sees the Brady family again at twelve and has a crush on Noah, which would be fine, but you can see where Roberts is going to take the story between them from the beginning, which makes all the really young encounters between Noah and Olivia a little nasty for me. They were kids man. An interesting concept, having Noah be a true crime writer and having the MacBride murder stuck in his craw for years, and no surprise that he would want to write about it. I actually even appreciated how they kept the brutal murder present even after all the time had lapsed. Anyway, everything was moving along just fine, the first two thirds of the book I enjoyed, even with the incessant mentioning of sex and thinking about it. However, the final third fell into shambles. There were pages upon pages of sex, and I think of this stupid and pointless outing into the forest as the forest fuck fest session, as it served no further purpose than to push through inordinate amounts of sex. Not only that, when they were not unrealistically banging each other all over the show, they were having the same damn argument they have been having the entire book. It was old when it started already, dammit! I think the thing that really brought this book down for me (besides all the ridiculously misplaced and totally unromantic and uncalled for sex that they were constantly having) was that final third. It was rushed, sex-filled, with no character development. Natasha said that the villain surprised her, and she is usually pretty fast with these. However, I called the villain really early. I think it is because I read more crime thrillers than I do romance novels, so I might be more in tune with that. The story didn’t bring anything new to the table, we have seen it done before. Also, it isn’t like Roberts went out of her way to hide the villain or anything. Granted, she tried a few times to mislead you, but they came off as such half-hearted attempts that you just knew she was trying to throw you off track. I also didn’t really like Olivia as a leading character at all, which probably didn’t help the book in places. I didn’t actually care what happened to her, she just frustrated the hell out of me. However, aside from the final third, this is definitely one of her better ones, and I can see why Natasha is such a fan of this one. If you don’t mind pages filled with unrealistic sex for a portion of the book, then this is a book I would recommend you read – if you like romance with a little more story to it than a simple Mills and Boon read.