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21/05 Tuesday 05:44PM

book review

The Bruneions Monthly Book Review brings you reviews of popular books available from dBookHaus, Brunei.


“I remembered this one time that I never told anyone about. The time we were walking. Just the three of us. And I was in the middle. I don’t remember where and I don’t remember when. I don’t even remember the season. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.”

During his freshman year in high school, socially awkward Charlie writes confessional letters to an anonymous stranger whom he addressed as “Dear Friend”. When his only friend, Michael, commits suicide Charlie is left a loner until he finds companionship in two seniors, Sam and Patrick. They take him through a journey of experimenting, music, dating, drugs and everything a teen expected of doing. Charlie searches to find his place in the world, to participate and feel infinite.

As Charlie's first year of high school unfolds through the letters he writes, readers will be drawn in as they relate to his experiences. The style in which the book is written allows it  to speak to all types of  teenagers, regardless of whether or not they have experienced many of the sorts of things Charlie experienced. The journey becomes familiar and so easy to relate to and readers would begin to feel as if they were the ones the letters were written to.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is such a wonderful story, told with such humour and honesty. Charlie’s day to day life, past memories and inner thoughts are all revealed in his letters, creating a provoking and inspirational read.


Ruth “Ruthie” Saunders is an orphan, the sole survivor of a terrible accident that killed her parents when she was a toddler and left the right side of her body permanently disfigured. Raised by her grandmother, she fosters a love of television (primarily The Golden Girls) and writing that gets her through countless surgeries and hospitalizations, and an awkward and painful high school experience.

After graduating college, Ruth decides to set her sights on Hollywood, and she and her grandmother pack up and move to L.A. Ruth hunts for a writing job — any writing job — and eventually winds up working on a successful sitcom under two successful Hollywood show runners that decide to take her under their wing. They give her time and encouragement to develop her own pilot,  “The Next Best Thing”, a show based on her own experiences with her grandmother. She envisions her show speaking to the “normal” girls out there, the ones with low self-esteem and the odds stacked against them.

Ruth is thrilled when her show is picked up by fictional network ABS, but her dream becomes a nightmare when the network’s vision for her show doesn’t line up at all with her own. As Ruth struggles to maintain some of her show’s integrity, she also attempts to gain a handle on her personal love life and her relationship with her grandmother.

A fun, light and easy read.


Shadow of Night is the second in the All Souls trilogy, written by author and historian Deborah Harkness. Already an academic writer, focusing on Elizabethan history and the history of Alchemy, A Discovery of Witches was Harkness’s first foray into fiction, which was published to high acclaim in early 2011. The story features many familiar themes: magic, witches, vampires, time travel, but presents them in a new way and with fresh twists, making it more than just another fantasy trilogy.

The sequel follows Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch and historian to year 1590 with her travel companion and new husband, 1500-year-old vampire, Matthew Clairmont. They venture into the past with two distinct goals in mind. First, find the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782 to unlock its secrets, and second, find a teacher that will help Diana master her newly unleashed powers.

This adventure takes them back into Matthew’s tangled past and puts Diana right in the faces of the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” historical figures of the “School of Night” she’d studied as a historian and professor. This trip did not end up with them sitting by a cozy fire discussing philosophy and magic as Diana initially envisioned. Together, Diana and Matthew face obstacles that involve magic and Elizabethan political intrigue that couldn’t have been planned for even if they tried.


Hilary Mantel's brilliant, impossible-to-put-down ”Bring Up The Bodies” is her lively follow-up to the Man Booker winning ”Wolf Hall”.

“Wolf Hall” was about Anne Boleyn’s rise to power as the Queen of England, told through the perspective of Thomas Cromwell. “Bring Up The Bodies” chronicles the downfall of the same lady, owing partly to her harridan nature and partly to her inability to bear an heir for the King.

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel’s ”Bring Up the Bodies” follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy.

What price will he pay for Anne’s head?


The Glass Castle was written from Jeannette Walls’ point of view. In this memoir, you feel as if you were actually with her in every single moment living the tough life with Rex Walls, and every single detail would make a mark in your head.

Jeannette tells her courageous tale of growing up with an alcoholic father who had grandiose, schemes to find gold (and building her a glass castle, thus the title of the book) and her mother’s backwards methodology on almost every aspect of their lives.  You can see that even though they were in desperate need of a psychiatric evaluation, they really loved their kids.

But love is not enough. Just when things started to get semi-normal - dad getting a job or mom getting a job and the household having some sort of stability and food to eat - the family would be uprooted and take off to a new town and through these misadventures of cross-crossing the country and popping up in new towns, Jeanette had to deal with the pedophilic tendencies of certain family members and homeless people, going hungry, not bathing, bullies, picking food out of the garbage, multiple fires, and on and on.

But through all this strife, Jeannette eventually finds herself when she lands a spot working for the school newspaper. She and her sister hatch a plan and stick to it, eventually leading them out of the hardships and into more productive lives. Definitely one of those read-in-one-sitting type books and change your perspective on how you view your life.


Blue has always lived with the paranormal--her mother and their housemates are all psychics, and Blue can amplify the psychic energy they use. And while her mother was never one for giving her rules, she's had one rule for herself for as long as she can remember: stay away from  the “Raven Boys," her term for the privileged prep school boys who spend their school year in her town.

She eventually finds out that one group of raven boys may be different from the rest. Sure, Gansey and Ronan have tons of money; but with their less stereotypically prep-school friends Adam and Noah, they are on a quest involving  lines and a legendary Welsh king. When Blue sees Gansey's spirit as one marked for death, she feels somehow connected to him; and as she gets to know him and his friends better, it looks as though their fates may all be entwined.

With fantastic multi-character narration, a deep and intriguing premise, and several whopper realizations, Maggie Stiefvater once again tells a thoroughly engrossing tale that the reader cannot help but become totally caught up in.

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