Review: War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

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This is the only book I’ve read for the best part of two months. It’s been a journey, it’s been long and difficult but I am so, so glad to have finally read this gargantuan book. I stuck with the schedule in the Goodreads group that was on, which really did impact my enjoyment I feel. I think I could have enjoyed it more if I had read more when I had momentum rather than sticking to the 6ish chapters a day to get through it.

It’s not going to be a long review, or even much of an overview, because trying to pin my thoughts down is nearly impossible and something I don’t feel I can do after just one read. This is a book I know I will want to read again in the future – not immediately, but in a couple of years for sure. Only then do I think I’ll be able to give a more rounded view.

I’m not going to go in to depth because honestly, I feel like I’ve forgotten a lot of the finer points. Two months is a long time to be stuck in the same book and reading about the same people, and I did feel completely entwined with their lives, but come the end of the book I was tired of the company. I fell in love and out of love with so many characters; those we see through to the end I have such conflicting feelings towards.

There are a lot of issues for me; mostly in how women are represented in the book. I know many people use the excuse of “well it was just the done thing in that time period” – yes, I know, but it still makes me angry because there are so many interesting women in this book who were just objects or tropes, while they did have character I felt the women a lot more stereotypical than the men which, for me, just lessened my enjoyment. That is especially true given the nature of Anna in Anna Karenina – because she’s a pretty great female character, and knowing Tolstoy could create her just makes me frustrated with the endings the women got in this.

As for the story, I loved the ‘peace’ sections of the book; I loved following the lives of so many varied people in a period of history I know so very little about. The lack of knowledge of the history is something I know I want to fill at least a little bit before I reread the novel if only so I can understand the ‘war’ segments of the book a little more fully. For me, they dragged and I lost interest and motivation, which in turn made the whole book a lot more of a chore than an enjoyment.

It’s not my favourite Russian classic I’ve read. I preferred both Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment – both of which are long, but not quite this long. And if I am entirely honest, if I am going to dedicate 2 months of my life to a book and read over 1200 pages, I want it to blow me away much like The Count of Monte Cristo or Bleak House – and keep me engaged, make me want to keep going, which this just didn’t unfortunately.

Ultimately, I’m not going to be rushing back to it in the immediate future, but I am so proud of myself in actually finishing it. It’s one of those books I have wanted to read for an absolute age, and to say I’ve finally done it is just such an achievement. While I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I had hoped, I think the satisfaction in reading it far surmounts anything I’ve felt from reading a book in a long time. It’s also made pretty much every other book in existence much less daunting to approach!

Also, this was the last book in my 50 books of 2017 challenge on goodreads – so I don’t even care it took me 2 months!

Readathon: Genrethon TBR

A bit late to the party but, as I finished my dissertation (!!!) I decided that this week I would take part in this readathon I’ve seen everywhere in the bookish community! Genrethon is a new readathon created by Joce, Kristyn, Lauren, and Brittany over on YouTube and it has a great premise – read a minimum of 3 books from 3 different genres over the course of the week (10th to 17th April).

20160410_182501672_iOSHere is my TBR for this lovely readathon!

On the go, I have Bret Easton Ellis and Other Dogs by Lina Wolff. I’d call this literary fiction, which feels a bit of a cop out! I also have The Thing Around Your Neck still going, I started this in February and didn’t pick it up at all in March so I’m going to get this short story collection finished.

The new books, I have Daphnis and Chloe which is one of the new Little Black Classics by Penguin. This is an ancient Greek classic and has been on my TBR for ages, since I first became aware of Jean’s Bookish Thoughts on YouTube. Finally a poetry collection by Kate Tempest. I am very excited about this, I haven’t read a lot of poetry at all but this appealed to me. I don’t often give in to peer pressure (this has been so hyped online) but I read the first poem and had to own it.

So, I’m aiming to finish these 4. If I get time I’ll definitely be moving on to some other books, maybe a bit of non-fiction and fantasy. Who knows?!

Readathon: Bout-of-Books 14.0

Bout of Books
I love a good read-a-thon so I’ve decided to take part in Bout of Books 14.0 next week! If you don’t know what Bout of Books is:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team
So, I’m really excited because I really want to get a good chunk of reading done over the next week and also, read-a-thons mean TBRs and I love making TBRs! So, below are the books I want to get around to or at least have the pick of over the next week! I doubt I will read them all but I’d like to get some of them started and/or finished. Without further ado, a TBR pile:
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Two of these books I am currently reading (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Skin) but the other four are books that I just want to read sooner rather than later. I always like to throw some du Maurier in to a readathon TBR so, while Hungry Hill is the next to read chronologically, I picked The Parasites because it is considerably shorter. Then we have two off of me August TBR The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ and also The Montana Stories. Topping it off we have another Persephone book and some Virginia Woolf to boot in Flush: A Biography.
So that’s my TBR for the week. I doubt I’ll get through all of these books but I’m aiming to complete 3, maybe 4, and make headway in to the others. I know I won’t finish Strange & Norrell this week but I’m 200 pages in and haven’t picked it up since the start of the month so just want to make a further dent in to it!
I’m really excited to be taking part in this and I shall update with reviews over the course of the week and my wrap up at the end. But YAY! Read-a-thon!

Readathon: Rainbow Read-a-Thon

Ahhh! Another read-a-thon. Yes, I am crazy. Yes, I did only just finish my previous read-a-thon TBR but what can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment! But I couldn’t, absolutely could not, pass up the chance to make a pretty rainbow TBR.

So, the premise of this is to create a rainbow for your TBR – 6 books with rainbow spines (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple), I could have done the alternate 4 books (two of which contain two of the requisite colours) but I’m crazy. The original video can be found here which contains all the information! Now, I think 6 books in a week is a bit ambitious and pretty much impossible how I am reading right now, however I’d like to get a bulk of them read at the very least and then take the remainder with me on holiday next week!

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So I think this is a very pretty rainbow. I could have made loads of bookish rainbows. It would have kept me occupied for hours. Now, on to the books.

Starting from the top we have the red book, Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. This is one I’ve wanted to read for a while and actually started once or twice but never actually got more than 10 pages in. It’s not too long at 229 pages so I feel it’s an achievable one!

Orange is an author I’ve heard a lot about recently – just mentions here and there, but enough to pique my interest to the point I bought The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I know very little about this book, I picked it up for the author alone, so I’m hoping to be blown away!

Yellow is another by Kazuo Ishiguro, and it’s the one I’ve heard the best things about. The Remains of the Day is apparently his best work, at least that’s what I’ve heard from most people I respect the opinions of.

Green is one I’ve actually already read today! Heidi is a children’s book by Johanna Spyri and I absolutely adored it (and the beautiful Puffin in Bloom edition of it!) It was a quick read, I devoured it in only a couple of hours and was just what I needed to get going in this readathon!

Blue is Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. Again, this is one I picked up because of the author rather than the plot of the book. It’s not too long and I’m actually looking forward to getting in to this one.

Finally, we have the book I’m most looking forward to but probably going to put off to last and that is The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I love Sarah Waters and this came out in paperback last week and I genuinely cannot wait to read it (I put off buying in order to have matching editions of her books). But I’m going to be patient as I think this might be a good one to take on holiday with me Friday!

So that’s my ambitious TBR for the week (15th-21st!) As I said, it’s unlikely I’ll finish all of these this week but I’m good with that. I just wanted to make a pretty rainbow, truth be known! Let me know if you have read any of the above books or if you’re taking part!

Thanks for reading!

Readathon: #TBRTakedown || Wrap-Up

I cannot believe it has been a week already! That’s crazy. But it has been a week of reading and it has been great. So this is just a brief post to conclude the week!

I didn’t conquer my entire TBR but I’m very happy with what I did end up getting read. I think I underestimated The Bone Clocks a bit, I had it in my head that it was going to be quite a quick read when in actual fact it took half the week – which I guess for a 600 page book is still pretty going by most peoples standards but slowed me down considerably with everything else!

So, I finished three books and started a fourth – of the complete books I totalled 1163 pages which I’m really happy with – it’s not far off my monthly total for April! If you haven’t seen, I managed to get around to, and finish the following books:

  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
  • Saplings – Noel Streatfeild
  • The Doll: Short Stories – Daphne du Maurier

And I started The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan which I am about 50 pages in to as of Monday morning when I write this!

As I said, I’m really happy with how the week went even if I didn’t conquer my entire TBR. It was a great way to kick me in to reading for the Summer and I should finish the TBR I set myself by Wednesday (10th!) and I think it’s a good sign of things to come for the next couple of months!

Thanks for reading!

Readathon: #TBRTakedown

So, what better way to get started with June and enjoy freedom than to take part in a readathon?! #TBRTakedown was created by Shannon over on BookTube. It’s a week long readathon so it’s right up my street as it means I can invest time in slightly longer books!

She created a few challenges that can be part of this readathon, I’m actually not going to follow any of these! I’m ashamed to admit it but I’m just not going to pressure myself like that to read things that maybe I don’t actually want to read! I’d rather be enjoying what I’m reading and not following challenges so strictly. So, here is my TBR for the week:

So, we have two from my June TBR – The Bone Clocks and The GracekeepersMy main reason for trying to read both of these is they’re bulky and I don’t want to take them on holiday with me later in the month. So get them done sooner!

Then we have The Picture of Dorian Gray which is a classic that has been sat on my shelf for months. I can’t wait to read this. It’s not very long and I’ve only ever heard good things about it so I’m looking forward to it!

Next up is a short story collection, and not only that it is a short story collection by the wonderful Daphne du Maurier. I love short stories during readathons to break bigger books up and I love du Maurier so this was a no brainer! I picked The Doll and Other Stories because they’re her earlier, only recently discovered short stories and I love her early work!

Finally we have a Persephone classic and I picked Saplings by Noel Streatfield. I loved Ballet Shoes, it remains one of my favourite childhood books and when I discovered she wrote for adults I was excited. This book is one I actually cannot wait to get around to.

I’m being ambitious; I know. But when am I not? I’d love to hear if any of you are taking part in any readathons this month and can point me in the general direction of them! I will, as always, be reviewing all of these books and if there are any you think I should pick up earlier in the week, let me know!

Review: Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

frog-musicSo I was really excited to pick this book up. I’ve read a couple of books by Emma Donoghue before (Room and Slammerkin) and while Room was a standout, Slammerkin was a little more nondescript. From what I understand, Room is very different to the majority of her work but nonetheless I enjoyed a couple of her novels and I really liked the premise of this.

Frog Music is set in San Francisco and based on an unsolved crime – obviously there is a lot of wiggle room for Donoghue to play with characters and the actual plot. In chapter 1, Jenny is murdered and her friend, Blanche, is trying to bring justice.

This book is a bit messy. It has the story running as two timelines parallel to each other, the dialogue is quite sloppy and in some parts unnecessary. The story is grim (it is a murder, but there’s so much grimmer than that). The characters, something which I feel are often Donoghue’s strength felt really underdeveloped and I disliked most of them. If she had been written in a different situation, Jenny could have been simply amazing – a Victorian-era cross-dressing lesbian who goes out catching frogs and sent for wearing trousers – but she wasn’t established well enough for her to hold my interest. I would read a book about that woman but… this one wasn’t the one for her.

I forced the remainder of the book during the start of Dewey’s 24hr Read-a-Thon (which I found out about quite late, around 10am Saturday) and had to really force it down. Truthfully I skimmed a lot of the dialogue because it was just dull. It was a quick read, it just wasn’t all that good.

This has seriously made me question whether I want to read any more by Donoghue. This makes me sad, I held such high hopes for this – and for Donoghue’s writing if nothing else. But this just let me down. I think I went in to it with such high expectation I could only be disappointed. The on;y redeeming feature was Jenny, and she was so poorly used that I’m being generous when I say I’ll give this a 2/5.

Readathon: #UnderHypedReads

So, like a crazy person I am I’ve decided that on top of my 2015 challenge I’m going to partake in the underhyped read-a-thon. It was started by Charlotte, a booktuber, who can be found at RamblingsOfAnElfpire. Underhyped can mean what you want it to, but I’m going to use the criteria of under 5000 reviews on Goodreads. It’s running from tomorrow (19th) through to Sunday (25th) and my TBR looks something like this:

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First off, we have The Loving Spirit by the wonderful Daphne du Maurier. I love du Maurier and I will forever be in debt to the friend that introduced me to her. This book was her first novel and it has only 578 ratings on goodreads. 578! I’ve wanted to read more du Maurier for a long time and given that only 4 of her works have OVER 5000 ratings this seems like an opportune time to pick up one (or in my case two) of her works.

The second book I’ve picked is The Birds and Other Stories again by du Maurier, this has 2969 ratings on goodreads and I’m feeling in the mood for a short story collection. I adored the last short story collection I read by du Maurier and have been wanting to pick this one up for an age. I’ve heard that when readathoning, a short story collection is often a good way to fill space so I thought why only read one du Maurier this week when I could read two?

Next is Jon McGregor’s If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things which I bought in September when Sar came to visit and it comes highly recommended. It has 4284 ratings on gooreads and is the highest rated of all the books I’m hoping to read this week. I’m going in to this completely blind, all I know is that one of my best friends loves it and that’s good enough for me!

Finally is A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. This was actually originally published by one of my local independent book shops and only came on to my radar when the woman who runs another bookshop mentioned it to me; I immediately snapped it up and I’ve been putting it off and off for months. It has a total of 2012 ratings on goodreads and yeah, it’s not something I would have picked up by myself so I’m looking forward to it!

So ultimately, it an be said that I’m crazy. Completely stark raving bonkers even. This isn’t going to be easy but I’ve finished almost all of my coursework that’s due and it’ll be a week or so before I’m given anything new so I’m going to be taking advantage of a bit of free time I have and just reading! All books will be reviewed but I’m going to stagger them slightly as to not clog up timelines. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can achieve this – if I could I’d feel amazing!