October Wrap Up/November TBR

Hello!

October was a lot more productive than I imagined on the whole. I’ve submitted uni work ahead of schedule even with a fire in my department at uni and I’ve had a social life, I’ve read 6 books and am on my 7th as I write this. Maybe an 8th can be squeezed in, who knows?! So this month was full of ‘spooky’ books, plus the occasional dip in to something else, mostly non-fiction!

As I write this, my favourite book of the month was Clare Balding’s Walking Home – you can find my review floating around on here from this month. Also, if only fiction is counted it has to be Frankenstein which was just sublime – definitely one to read!

I went to the lovely Jen’s book talk at my local Waterstones which was lovely. I’ve only ever been to a couple of bookish events but I’m going to endeavour to go to more in the future for sure because I had a really good time and it’s just a really nice environment to be in. So yes, hopefully there will be more bookish events in my life soon!

November! My favourite month! I’m 21 this November which I’m actually now feeling quite excited about. As for hopes on the reading front. Well here we are:

2014-10-28 17.02.02

I’ve got quite a few deadlines coming up so I’m not going to be too ambitious. Though, saying that, The Luminaries is quite a beast. I’m quite excited about all of these – I’m going in to 3 of them nearly completely blind. The only one I have a faint idea about is The Great Gatsby which I have shamefully never read. Having read several classics this month, I decided to forgo a Penguin English Library in November. I hope these all live up to my excitement!

I’ve really been enjoying reading this month, cuddling up in a blanket with a book really is the best way to relax and extract myself from the stresses going on around me! Here’s to hoping November is just as awesome as October.

Review: Brighton Rock – Graham Greene

Brighton RockThis was a good book but I didn’t like it. That seems a bit daft, I will agree but I think you can appreciate a book and not like it all that much.

My problem with this book is it was very narrative heavy, I like descriptive books and there was a lot of talking in this which really puts me off. I can handle up to a 50/50 split of plot/conversation but when it’s conversation heavy I tend to switch off a little! The prose though, oh the prose was so beautifully written and if there were a smidge more I would have been very happy.

I really quite liked the adaptation with Richard Attenborough in – the reason I picked this book up is only because the poor man died and the movie looked good. I didn’t realise until I’d seen the movie that it was actually a book. So I thought I’d give the book a go because, actually, while the movie was out of my comfort zone I did enjoy it.

The characters in the book were not likeable, I think I was meant to empathise with them but I didn’t. They were very one-dimensional and put in to ‘boxes’ based on stereotypical roles. Take Ida for instance, while she gets more time in the novel than in the movie, she essentially a puppet, a stereotypical working woman of the 1930s and nothing really more. She has her role and she plays it, no more, no less. Rose was very, very one dimensional – her naive, innocent act was really overplayed.

This book was good, I keep saying it, I just didn’t like it as much as I had hoped. I hate to give books low ratings, but sometimes it’s inevitable. Ultimately, this is a 2/5 book – while it was good, I don’t think it’s one I would recommend to a friend. I’ve not been put of Greene’s writing, I think I would like to try one or two more books before I put him off for life – I don’t think one book is enough to judge an author! Any suggestions would be welcomed!

Review: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

frankensteinThis book is absolutely wonderful. I don’t know how I have got this far through my life (1 month shy of 21 years) and have not read this book. It is actually quite boggling because it was just amazing.

I’ve never seen an adaptation of Frankenstein. I didn’t study it at school and I just had no need to read it. I knew the story. Everyone knows the vague summary but the actual book is so very different to this warped idea I, and I imagine a lot of other people have of a green zombie-like man with bolts through his neck!

I knew this book was one that made the reader question morality – who was really the monster. Victor or the creature? But truthfully reality was so much better than expectation. This book is heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking because everyone assumes that the creature is a monster, but he’s so very human. He was an experiment by an overambitious man and is rejected on sight by the world that he lives in. The man who made him thinks he’s an abomination and cannot even look at him. If the world were just a little less judgemental, things could have been so very different.

The creature is essentially fuelled by rage; all he wanted was love and he was rejected so instead he uses this hatred towards him and becomes a monster. He was just scared and in an unknown world. He was made by unfortunate, un-asked for circumstances and he just wanted to be happy. It’s unfair. He was a character that I just wanted to find peace. Frankenstein made a man, the monster was made by society.

Ultimately, I gave this book 4 stars. It is just so different to the way I imagined it, the prose was beautiful and I just loved it. It was dark, rich and packed with so much stuff. It’s hard to just put in to words how much is actually in this book. I’ve read a lot of reviews that compare it to adaptations but I don’t have that option. All I do know is that from the little bit of knowledge I have obtained from media and referencing to it in popular culture is that the book is very different to how it has been portrayed in the numerous adaptations; notably there is no magical lighting strike that gives the creature life!

Review: The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

WomanInBlackThis is a really good, spooky novella. I didn’t get to read this when I was at school, my sister got to read this and go to see it at the theatre, I can understand now why her friend was afraid to walk home in the dark afterwards!

The best way to describe this is it’s what I hoped The Woman in White was going to be. I loved The Woman in White, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting but THIS is exactly the sort of scenario I had imagined when I decided to pick TWiW up. It’s like Susan Hill read TWiW and was disappointed so wrote The Woman in Black to counter it, wrote what she wanted to read.

I loved this. It was short and snappy but equally it was packed with description and atmospherics. The writing was beautiful, vivid and creepy. It definitely managed to get under my skin even though there isn’t really too many scary parts. The descriptions were spot on and the whole book is simply eerie even though, in thinking back to it, nothing really huge actually happens.

My only criticism is the ending seemed a bit hashed. It was very poor and when reading the introductory paragraph to the final chapter it was pretty clear where it was going. It could have been achieved in a much more – and I use the word tenuously – believable fashion. It felt rushed and that disappointed me.

Final rating 3/5

Review: Walking Home – Clare Balding

Clare-Balding-Walking-Home-2014It’s very hard to review something that is somewhat autobiographical but I’m going to give it a try and see how this goes because I genuinely need to express my love of this woman. It will be brief, there isn’t too much I can say apart from get out there and read it yourself!

I read My Animals and Other Family a couple of years ago, not long after it was released and I loved it. I don’t often pick up a biography or memoir, so when I do I generally really have to like the person. Anyway, I loved it. It was a book that was very satisfying to read and I knew if Clare released another book (and I was hopeful she would) that I would be jumping in there and buying it as soon as I could. I just really clicked on to her writing style, I could feel her personality coming through the pages and I could pretty much hear her narrating it in my head. Who needs an audiobook?!

I was lucky enough to pick this up, signed, in Jarrolds. I missed the event that Clare did along with a couple of other authors as I was on holiday at the time, so I felt very fortunate to be able to pick up a signed edition of this!

This book on the surface is a lot less about Clare. Each chapter is set around a walk she’s undertaken and her walking ‘journey’. But in and amongst all of the relaying of these walks are personal anecdotes, linked in so beautifully with the atmosphere of the environment you’re in at the very moment. Some personal stories are squished in to the walks and others, the walk fits in around the story. It was so, so very beautifully written there just aren’t words for it.

I can’t lie, I laughed and I did indeed cry. One particular chapter, as a dog owner, made me sob like a baby. It was possibly a little overreaction, but I can’t care. There were some particularly poignant moments, the chapter about Percy – obviously – and also in the chapter in which she was talking about carrying the Olympic torch. To be honest, all of the little bits that made up the Olympics were a highlight for me, I could practically hear her excitement (as I said, after a while she’s practically narrating it in my subconscious).

Lastly, Alice is a amazing. That’s all I can say. Whenever Alice was mentioned, I laughed. The little inputs here and there nine times out of ten had me snort.

Everyone should read both of Clare’s books. There’s no buts about it, you just should.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

MissPeregrineCover

This book was interesting. I was nervous about picking this up, I didn’t really know how the story and vintage pictures were going to work together, I wasn’t entirely certain how the plot was going to unfold but it wasn’t all that bad! It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that seems to be a recurring theme with books I read lately! There were flaws, of course, which I will expand on, but overall it was a pretty easy read. Easy to follow and a novel concept too!

I was expecting something a bit more creepy, I thought this book looked perfect for a spooky Halloween type read but it was not really all that creepy. It started out quite promisingly but veered off a bit. Also, I feel that it could have been so much more. It felt a little underbaked in parts, the plot could have been more developed and characters more fleshed out. Even Jacob seemed a little two-dimensional and the story was centred around him.

Continue reading

Review: The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

womaninwhiteThis is a review of the absolutely beautiful Penguin English Library edition. At 702 pages it was quite a beast to read but it had me at the start and, while difficult to keep plodding through I feel it was totally worth it.

It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, I’ll be honest about that. I was expecting more ‘ghosty’ and less crime! Truly, I thought this was a ghostly story but it was really nothing of the sort. It was crime, it was romance, it was a character building buffet. There were so many, very unique characters that made up this novel and while it was long, it was so very worth it.

Someone in a review on goodreads got it absolutely right, when this was written people didn’t have access to the media outlets we do now – TV, internet or even a radio and Wilkie Collins had to describe people and things so intricately so people knew the exact essence of it. Characters like Count Fosco had pages dedicated to their description because many readers of this book had never even encountered an Italian before, most readers hadn’t ventured from their county before, and Collins wanted to give them that moment, let them actually see this man.

Needless to say, the writing was amazing. It was a little lengthy, and bulky in places and I did feel that some of it wasn’t necessary, but the above statement I think clarifies why it could be a little hard going in parts and I can forgive it!

Continue reading

Review: The Bookshop Book – Jen Campbell

bookshopbookThis book is a book for all those people who love bookshops. I hope that is all of you. It is a book whose pages are filled with the sheer joy of a bookshop – from the new to those that date back to the 1700s.

Bookshops are my safe place, whenever I feel sad or lonely, I go to a bookshop. Over the last few months I have discovered a multitude of beautiful shops that just make me feel warm and safe.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jen is one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other for over 10 years, and  after falling on to the same team in a reading challenge (she is very hard to beat, our Jen. Her reading is prolific and it makes me jealous) we became good friends and she is wonderful. Just wonderful. She is really one of the most lovely people I have the pleasure of knowing. For anyone who would like to know more about Jen, do check out her blog. Because I cannot express just how lovely this girl is and it makes me so happy to say that I knew her back when she wrote Harry Potter Parodies!

Back on to the book – which is just as wonderful as she is. I can’t put in to words how happy it has made me. It is a love story for bookshops, and I think that’s why it was picked as the official book for the Books Are My Bag campaign 2014. Seriously, check out the campaign over that the official website – which is so beautifully orange and happy!

Continue reading

Review: How to be Both – Ali Smith

how-to-be-bothAs always with Ali Smith, this book had me a little conflicted. Once I was in to it, I absolutely adored it. That much is certain. My main wish is that I, personally, had more time to read this over 1 or 2 sittings opposed to 4 or 5 days which it did take. Her writing is something that has to absolutely be consumed, it’s something that has to be done on binge setting, it’s not as easy dipping in and out as I was on bus journeys.

How to Be Both is made up of two parts. The present day, the life of George, a teenage girl whose mother has died suddenly and the other centres around the life of a 15th-century painter Francesco. The thing I didn’t realise is that the novel exists in two editions – one with George’s story first and one with Francesco’s. I personally had an edition with Francesco first. But it can be read in any order, either way around, each story references the other. I’ve also heard that if you purchase the ebook that both versions are delivered to your device! Exciting.

Continue reading

Review: We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

we were liarsThis is a book I’m really struggling to review. Most people say go in to this blind – know nothing – so I’m going to stick to that and not spoil it for anyone.

I’m in a minority, I didn’t find it lived up to the hype. I read and listened to so many reviews of this book, I was told it was amazing and the plot twist was just ‘so surprising’ but I just didn’t feel it. I found the plot twist a little, well, crappy if I’m honest. It was a cheap way out.

I don’t really have the time to do an in depth review about a book I didn’t particularly enjoy. I only read it because it was a book club book, ordinarily I would never have picked this up. I’m not a fan of YA. I’ll make no bones about that fact and this book was just so full of typical YA stereotypes and words cannot express how much I would not read this book again.

It was an okay book, but it has to be 2/5.