Friday 30 October 2015

Book review: Shopaholic to the rescue

Disclaimer: I was sent this novel, pre its release date, by Penguin Random house in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Shopaholic to the Rescue
Shopaholic to the rescue
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Published: 2015
Number 8 of the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella follows the borderline farcacial journey of Becky and a mottle collection of friends, family and enemies, across America in search of her Father and Tarkie: husband of Suze, who are believed, by many in the cramped RV, to be brainwashed - what could possibly go wrong? As one would expect from any continuation of the Shopaholic series there is fun, laughter, dramatics, friendship and, of course, shopping; everything I love and expect from this series, and exactly what I needed to read about at the end of a stressful, work-filled, university day. It was a light, easy, quick read with a lot of laughter, and a little frustration but most importantly it was the perfect escapism after having my head stuck to a research methods text book.
Goodreads synopsis
Becky Bloomwood and a hilarious cast of beloved family and friends (plus one enemy!) set off in a van to find her missing father, last heard from in Las Vegas.
Becky’s father Graham and her best friend’s husband, Tarquin, have disappeared from Los Angeles saying simply they have “something to take care of.”
But Tarquin’s wife Suze who is Becky’s best friend, and Becky’s mother Jane, are convinced the two men are hiding something and are in danger—their imaginations run wild. They must track them down!
Hijinks ensue as husband Luke drives Becky, daughter Minnie, Jane, Suze and other favorite Kinsella characters across country from LA to Las Vegas in search of the missing men.
Becky feels deeply guilty about ignoring her father while he was in LA, in addition Becky feels her enemy Alicia is threatening her friendship with Suze.

The whole gang is back for this novel and their personalities are out in force - from Danny to Elinor, Alicia to Janet, everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to be heard and in a situation that is causing everyone's nerves to become frayed, sparks were bound to fly and fly they did! Suze has become best friends with Alicia-Bitch-Long-Legs and left Becky out in the cold, Elinor is getting drunk and experiencing her very first hangover and Danny is simply overjoyed with all the inspiration that he is gaining for his new fashion line. Everyone has an agenda - positive or not - and everyone wants to get what they want but inevitably, something has to give.

I love the Shopaholic series and couldn't wait for the parcel from Penguin Random House to land in my postal pigeon hole. It has to be admitted that I was a little concerned with how well the shopaholic charm was going to hold up - number 8 is a long way to stretch a characters development and antics without it feeling overdone - but it held up well. No, I cannot claim that this is my favourite book in the series nor am I entirely sure that a 9th will work, but I am very happy that Becky was back with a new adventure for my enjoyment and I highly recommend that, no matter how dubious the fan, any fan of Becky, Luke, Suze and the rest of the colourful characters picks up this book. After all, winter is definitely upon us and what can be better than a comfy chair, cosy blanket, hot chocolate and a laugh-out-loud book to blow away the winter blues.

Rating: 4/5

Friday 25 September 2015

Book review: Am I normal yet?

NB: I feel as though I should begin this post by saying that I am an anxious person, a very anxious person, but I have never been diagnosed with generalised anxiety, nor do I suffer from bipolar disorder -- I definitely sympathise with the characters and what they are going through but I am definitely not going to pretend that I understand. Mental illness is a deeply personal experience. The last thing I want to do is offend or upset anyone with my review, which is going to be positive -- I promise. However, if there is anything said that doesn't sit right with anyone, please let me know. 

Goodreads synopsis
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

Am I normal yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Published: 2015
Wow! These where my initial thought on this amazing book, and for quite a long time it has been the only content of this review. This book is just incredible and its really hard to put into words why that is the case, not because its in any way surprising: this is my first encounter with Holly Bourne and the majority of the Goodreads reviews are very positive, but because this book is just so special, it is so important and its also so different. Since John Green's meteoric rise to fame, and the success of The Hunger Games, the YA gene seems to be filled with two types of books; dystopian and those about  teens with cancer or other life-long/ terminal illnesses and whilst cancer seems to be the illness that everyone's gravitating towards with literature, mental illness has begun to get a look in. There's Jess Valance's novel 'Birdy' about the pressures of being popular and what that can lead to (all I can say without giving spoilers), Jennifer Niven's 'All the bright places' and Rainbow Rowell's 'Fangirl', and whilst I enjoyed everyone single one of these and thought that 'All the bright places' in particular was very good at raising awareness of what it is like to live with a mental illness; in this case bipolar disorder, none of them did it quite as well as 'Am I normal yet?'

This book follows Evie's journey through her 16th year and what she hopes will be her new beginning at College. College can be a difficult and trying time for anyone; hormones are flying and new experiences are out there for the taking, when you have OCD its even harder. All Evie want's to do is be normal, she wants a boyfriend, she wants to go to parties and she wants to be rid of the nasty voices in her head and her dependence on medication. She tries really hard but unfortunately, even her best efforts sometimes weren't good enough. Everything about this novel was brutally honest, the characters, maybe apart from the sincerity and focus in the weekly 'Spinsters' meetings, were realistic and believable.  They were good friends, who had their perfectly normal spats and disagreements, and who were ultimately, and unfortunately, kept in the dark and grew frustrated about this but found a way to have their own personal happy endings.

What really struck me about this novel, apart from the characters, and the plot, which were fantastic, was the imaginative and raw writing style. Here might be a good time that the random capitalisation of certain words such as 'stigma' 'misinformation' and 'change the way we think' around 100 pages in, did make me a little annoyed. Holly Bourne is quite clearly an advocate for mental health and for changing the way we think and feel about mental health and that is amazing, this book, in my opinion is a great stepping stone towards it. However, I feel strongly that the same message would have been just as well portrayed and received had those words been left in lowercase. That being said this novel had a writing style, and way of portraying the internal struggle that Evie was dealing with, that goes above and beyond any other novel I've ever read before. It was interrupted and even, disjointed in parts. This didn't detract from the story or make for difficult reading but rather it offered an insight that, otherwise, would have been very had to put across. the bad thoughts, and their consequences, interrupted the smooth telling of this story just as they interrupted the everyday life of Evie.

This is a very important book, a very accessible book, and everyone needs to read it.

Rating 5/5

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Book tag: The unpopular opinions book tag

Technically, I wasn't tagged. However, after taking to Twitter for reassurance that it would still be okay to complete the tag, I am very excited to bring you the 'Unpopular opinions book tag'!

A popular book/series that you didn't like.

I spent a long time thinking about the answer to this one but actually, I have no idea why it took so long. No I've thought about it the answer is so obvious, and in fact there are two books: The book thief by Markus Zusak and One day by David Nichols. Everyone raved about these books during their time in the bookish spotlight but I just couldn't see what all (any!) of the hype was about.

A book series you loved but everyone else hated.

This one really did have me stumped, I don't really read that many series and I tend to read books based on the reviews and recommendations of others so its very rare that I'd read a book that others didn't like. However, the closest I can come to is the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. I understand that the book has issues and the writing isn't great but I do still enjoy reading them and I definitely don't share the, really intense, hatred of the series that seems to have developed recently. 

A love triangle where the main character ended up with the wrong person.

I couldn't think of a book for this one. I usually just go along with the canon, I never really question it. If I think of one or read a book that gives an answer to this question I'll edit it at a later date. :)

A popular genre you barely ever reach for.

Sci-Fi or crime. I have read a few books from these genres but these books: The cuckoo's calling by Robert Galbraith and Ready player one by Ernest Cline, but I really think these books could easily be placed in other genres as well.

A popular character you didn't like.

Gale Hawthorn. He had his good points and at some points he was a fairly good friend but once Peeta was in the picture he became a bit of a whiny guy. I also couldn't stand his attitude and actions towards the end of the trilogy.

A popular author you can't get into.

This is another one that stumped me a little bit. The closest I could think is Nicholas Sparks, I have read a couple of his books: The last song and Dear John and, although there were okay, wasn't that interested in reading anymore. Also, as I perused his other titles and read the blurbs I realised that they are horribly formulaic; I feel as though I could tell you what happens in any of his books without actually reading them - A women, pretty but shy and a little insecure, arrives in a quaint American town (usually on the coast or near a large body of water) as a way of escaping something in her past. She meets a guy, good looking and also with a sad past; widowed, or had been in jail. They fall in love and they are happy until something happens that means they, ultimately can't live happily ever after. (NB. I'm sorry - once I started writing the explanation I realised how much this annoyed me and a rant occurred :/ )

A popular series you have no interest in reading.

I know this is the popular opinions tag but, please don't hate me! I have absolutely no interest in reading the Throne of glass series by Sarah J Maas or the Mortal instruments series by Casandra Claire ... They just don't appeal to me. 

The book is not always better than the movie.

If there's a film I want to see then I always try to make a point of reading the book first and I hate it when people rave about how much a fan they are of a series, for example Harry Potter, and then it transpires that they have never read the books. That being said, there are a few films that I have no problem commending as being better than the book:
  • The last song 
  • P.S I love you
  • The Duff - I'm not sure if this one really counts as the book and the film (I LOVED them both) are so different, they could almost be to different stories
  • Paper towns - maybe. See this post for some of my reasons :)
  • Nick and Norah's infinite playlist - (book review)

Thank you for reading :)

I tag: Anyone who wants to do it, any of my readers and @coffeechanel, @GingerReader22 and @theblogbookshop Have fun! :D

Monday 31 August 2015

Book to movie: Paper towns

I feel that I should head this post with a bit of a disclaimer; I read Paper towns quite a while ago and as such, may have forgotten the smaller details of the novel. This having been said, I do understand that it would have made more sense to have written this comparison after re-visiting the novel  however, I am in the mood to blog, I definitely wanted to blog about this and, as I am currently at my Granddad's and he is sat doing the crossword, this is definitely the perfect time for some spontaneous blogging :D

Okay, as I said this is very spontaneous and I'm hoping its going to be fairly chat-like; especially as I would love to hear your opinions on this. I loved the movie! It was adorable, and sweet, humurous and moving -- much like the book -- and even though i dont think that film Margot looked like book Margot, I thought Cara Delevigne did a fantastic job. What I really wanted to talk about was how different the Margots seemed to be. I really disliked book Margot, she was utterly self-centred, almost appeared to be deliberatly unhappy as a way of appearing more mysterious, she 100% used Quentin and whilst I understand that he did gain from the adventures they had, it was just because he was there and he was what she needed -- a driver, an acomplise and someone who definitely wouldn't say no (at least not with any conviction). Whilst film Margot definitely shared these traits (and thank god, I hate it when feels change the characters so much you can't recognise them) but she actually explained herself. She sat down with Quentin in Algoe and explained everything. And whilst this definitely didn't excuse her behaviour, and I still sat there thinking that what she had done to Quentin (and his friends) and also to Lacey, who didn't even seem to get a look in(!) was horribly selfish and so very arrogant, I still found myself liking her so much more in the film than I did in the books.

The other thing I found really interesting was my sisters reaction and the following discussion we had which, in some part, gave me the idea for this post. My sister came home from seeing the film a couple of days ago (she's now seen it twice and plans to go again) and when I asked her about the film and whether the characters were true to the book. She said they were. What she did say though was that she really like Margot as a character. having only read the book at this point, I disagreed strongly and we began to chat about it. Francesca said that she didn't find Margot selfish and the clues  were just to let Quentin now that she was O.K. Whilst the later point is what she was trying was achieve, I cannot believe that it was just misunderstood. Why would someone who just wanted to let another person know that they were O.K why not just stick a message on the blind or slip someone a note! The clues most definitely pointed towards wanting to be found -- I mean, there was an address and a map! Quentin, Lacey, Ben, Angela and Radar all went on a road trip, that was admittedly also so that they had one last adventure together, but to find Margot Roth Speigelman, and she pretty much just spat it back in their faces. They went looking for her becuase they cared. She didn't care and I think, that maybe with the exception of Q and her sister, she never did care about anyone but herself. She loved the idea of being thought of; despite her scathing attitude towards the 'myth of Margot Roth Speigelman' she actually loved it.

The book portrayed all this. The film tried to excuse her behaviour.

Opinions, would be gladly recieved. Let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter :)

Saturday 29 August 2015

Book review: The lemon grove

The Lemon grove
Author: Helen Walsh
Published: 2014

Goodreads synopsis
Set on the rugged, mountainous west coast of Mallorca, this taut, sultry, brilliantly paced novel is an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth. 
Taking place over the course of one week, The Lemon Grove lands in the heat of Deia, a village on an island off the southeast coast of Spain. Jenn and Greg are on their annual holiday to enjoy languorous, close afternoons by the pool, and relaxed dinners overlooking the rocks. But the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of their teenage daughter, Emma, and her boyfriend, Nathan. Jenn, in her early forties, loves her (older) husband and her (step)daughter and is content with her life, she thinks. But when this beautiful, reckless young man comes into her world, she is caught by a sexual compulsion that she's seldom felt before. As the lines hotly blur between attraction, desire and obsession, Jenn’s world is thrown into tumult--by Nathan's side, she could be young and carefree once again, and at this stage in her life, the promise of youth is every bit as seductive as the promise of passion. 

The last post I made was about how much easier I find it to review books I wasn't that particularly enamored with. I recently The lemon grove by Helen Walsh and, I hate to say it, but it fell, without any doubt, into this category; I was really disappointed with it.

I had lost track of how long this book sat on my TBR before I finally picked it up but it had  definitely been there longer than any other book has ever been left on the pile before.
I read this book in one day, on a cold, wet, English summer day which may have been a mistake as, even without reading the various testimonials on the back, I could tell from the cover alone, that this was intended to be read on a white sandy beach in the sun - much like those described in the story.
The setting was lovely but that's about as far as my praise can go. The whole novel was just weird and frustrating. Nobody seemed to know what was happening right under their noses - not the step daughter, not the locals, not even the husband and he definitely should have noticed the change in her behavior, he definitely benefited from her ... frustrations. It all just seemed a little implausible , however this apparent ignorance wasn't the most disturbing part of this novel. Although the blurb obviously enlightened me to the topics that would be covered and the relationships that might occur, nothing prepared me for just how depraved Jenn was. She was obsessed. It wasn't just attraction and flirting it was, at least on her part, utter obsession. What struck me most, and judging by the reviews on Goodreads I am not alone, is that if the same situation was occurring between an adult man and a 17 year old girl then, I am pretty sure, there would have been much more outrage both from the other characters and from the readers - why did this situation not seem to warrant the same reaction?
Continuing in this vein, the other thing that made Jenn even more messed up was that she seemed, almost, as obsessed with her step-daughter as she was with her step-daughters boyfriend. I understand that part of that was trying to understand and rekindle the bond that was formed during Emma's childhood and lost through the passing of time and the rebellion of adolescence. However, it also seemed to be so much more than that. The majority of her thoughts seemed to be dominated by how sexy she thought her daughter had become, with multiple thoughts about the firmness of her breasts - the whole thing just felt really odd and even more uncomfortable.

The novel was clearly supposed to be a bit of an exploration of sexuality and desire. I commend her for trying, it just didn't work very well.

Moving beyond whatever debates may or may not arise from the very prominent sexual aspects of this novel, the other aspects - the characters and the setting - do nothing to approve my opinions. The characters, beside their apparent naivety, were just unlikable and possibly even worse unreliable. They were so flat. The husband was the worst - a resentful and failing author who couldn't get his act together. He wallowed and was angry and that's about as far as his character ever developed. However, at least he knew what he was (or wasn't doing). This definitely wasn't a trait that he shared with his teenage daughter. I know that teenagers are prone to mood swings but Emma couldn't even stick to decision for a page. It was overdone and utterly exhausting.

Rating: 1/5

Monday 24 August 2015

Confessions of a book blogger: I prefer bad books

NB: All opinions expressed in this post are my own, I am no way generalising or expecting anyone else to have the same opinions.

Reading may be a solitary activity but loving (or hating) a book really isn't; at least not for me. If I've read a book that I really loved, then i want to thrust it into the hands of everyone I pass with a shout of "you must read this book!"
This want to share great books with others, paired with the slightly glassy eyed look of my peers as I launch into why the characters/setting/plot writing style makes THIS the next book they should read, is why this blog was born. Whilst, I am maybe somewhat better in the art of vocal reviews than written ones - there's something about seeing your feelings and opinions written down in black and white that viciously increases the self doubt and feeling that editing is needed, that sadly leads to the death of almost all of my blogging inspiration.That being said, I love blogging. I love  having my own little corner of the internet where I can rant and rave to my hearts content, and possibly even more I love that through letting my inner bookworm fly I've found other others who are just as passionate, if not even more so, as I. (The #Bookbloggers is a wonderful place to be.) But with great passion comes this incredible feeling of pressure. Pressure to successfully and eloquently put across my feelings and also, do the author justice. With this we come to the crux of this post.

I am both a worrier and someone who struggles to control their excitement and this is quite often the kryptonite for a lot of posts I attempt to write about books I loved. Jumping up and down squealing "read this, read this!" may get me so far but  its far from being coherent. The problem, I have, with trying to write in a more coherent manner is that I, more often than not, find it really difficult to pin point exactly why a book made me want to jump around, and if I can find the reasons I often can't articulate those reasons elaborately enough to warrant writing a review. If I do write a review, I often worry that it is nothing more than a collection of ramblings and fillers.

Everyone has certain things that they enjoy in a book and are therefore more likely to enjoy a book and I am no different. This is obviously no bad thing but does pose another issue for my positive reviews - they all feel  very similar and as I desperately try to avoid becoming repetitive I start to lose the essence of what I was trying to say in the first place, or at least that's how it feels to me.

Because of all this I actually get quite excited when I read a disappointing novel. Of course no-one actually wants to read a disappointing book and no author wants to feel as though they've disappointed their readers, it's just there's something so much easier to review about a disappointment. Its so much easier to pin point exactly what was wrong, what didn't work for me as a reader and I guess that, without all the excitement, its easier to remain focused.

I'm sorry that this has been so rambly but after having so many problems trying to write a review that I feel happy enough with to publish, this was just something I wanted to get off my chest. Does anyone else find this, how did, or do you, overcome it? Let me know in the comments or on my social media.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Series review: The Bone season and The Mime order

Image result for the bone season series review book blog
The Bone season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: August 2013

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsis - The Bone season
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

Goodreads synopsis - The Mime order
Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

After reading The Bone season I waited, very impatiently, for the paperback edition of The Mime order, the second in what will ultimately become a 7 book series, to be released; that's how much I love these books - Samantha Shannon is, quite simply, a genius.

Beginning in the year 2059 and set in fantastical London and Oxford, this series follows Paige Mahoney as her and her fellow clairvoyants try to live and survive, albeit using somewhat rather illegal means, in a world where there are being increasingly and ever more aggressively shunned to the very outskirts of society. Sometimes, they are even removed from it entirely, without a trace. But this novel is so much more than just a fight for survival, although that does definitely play a fairly significant part of the story. This is a completely immersing, colourful, roller-coaster of a tale full on intrigue, secrets, hidden worlds and magical (for want of a better word) people. As you might be able to tell I'm not a good enough word smith to be able to effectively put across my love for these books and the reasons for it.

Image result for the mime order
The Mime order
Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: January 2015

Rating: 5/5
The world itself proves that Samantha Shannon has an incredible imagination, and it is truly amazing but the characters are where I think she really shines, they are complex and obviously very well thought out and thus, every single one of them is relatable and believable each in unique and different ways. Each of the characters has very human flaws and fears.Even the protagonist. She is undoubtedly strong but, unlike so many books I've read where the female lead has to be strong and has decided (or needs) to save everyone  from whichever situation they may be in, Paige Mahoney was all of these but she was also scared, unsure and flawed. She made bad life decisions; she was sometimes insensitive and I loved it. She was so real and raw you couldn't help but love her and empathise and sympathise with both her mistakes and successes. That being said I was also, understandably, sometimes annoyed with her at the same time and for the same reasons. Just as much as I loved Paige's character and development there were some other characters that I really disliked and wanted to strangle - Jax, I'm looking at you. However much I did want to slap some compassion into select characters I still loved them, granted not for their personalities but for their depth. Very rarely have I come across such fantastic and realistic growth and, even more rarely have I come across a book with such a diverse range of characters, I don't want to give it away but seriously, there were so many different types of characters -- different ethnicity, religion, sexuality, language -- but what I found really interesting and really refreshing was that it wasn't obvious. I adored this because, not only was it sometimes a really interesting surprise, but it also highlighted something that should be remembered everyday, no matter peoples religion, ethnicity, sexuality or language they are still just people going about their lives. It was so nice that these differences were not unnecessarily pointed out for the sake of it. In no way was Samantha Shannon was using the characters as a way of shouting, 'Hey, guys I've written a book with diverse characters!' All the developments were needed and added yet another beautiful layer to the story, and another reason to the long list of reasons why I love this series.

The story also flowed incredibly well throughout each book and bridged that sometimes treacherous terrain between books effortlessly. Never did I feel that there was repeated information or that horribly patronising tone that I've found to be the starting gambit for so many sequels in the past. There obviously had to be some re-capping and it was welcomed. This series is so jam packed that despite my best efforts minor details are forgotten, but it was so clever and was used as a way of introducing new information that meant that the story simply continued; just as rich and wonderful as before,

As I mentioned, I really struggle to properly cohere why I love books that I love and this review is no different (although I have tried really hard), please, if you feel, as I do, that this review has been a bit rambly, do not let it put you off from reading these books. You'd definitely be missing out. I know I've used the phrase 'never have I ever', or some variation of it, a lot during this post but its perfectly true. Never have I ever come across a series that combines, so perfectly, so many wonderful elements -- role on book 3 and quickly!

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Happy publication day: Go set a watchman by Harper Lee

Go set a watchman
Author: Harper Lee
Published: 2015

To kill a mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Published: 1960

55 years ago, 'To kill a mockingbird' was published. It became an almost-overnight success winning the Pulitzer prize and instantly becoming an American classic. Following the tale of Scout, Jem and their father Atticus, it is often revered for its warmth and humour, despite the fact that this novel deals, unflinchingly, with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. Many of the characters are now now synonymous with English literature classes and Atticus Finch has become, for many, a moral hero and a model of integrity.

Finally, this critically acclaimed American masterpiece has a sequel and the world is very excited. All week, it seems that the entirety of Twitter and the blogger-sphere could talk of nothing else; or at least the corners of it that I, and many other book lovers inhabit. I haven't yet read this highly anticipated novel, nor have I ordered it from much beloved Waterstones, so I cannot comment on the content of it, the characters, the plot or how wonderfully it continued the adventure through, now 1950s, Southern America.

However, what I would like to mention is a) my own excitement and, b) the prevalent and, for me unnerving, spoiler about the development of Atticus's character and what appears to be an unprecedented and entirely unexpected turn around of his moral compass. I read 'To kill a mockingbird' for the first time relatively recently after, I'm not going to lie, resisting my mum's enthusiasm for the novel and I am so glad I did. Also, and some may be confused about this, I am very happy  that I read this novel for the first time as late as I did. For me, it was absolutely perfect. I was old enough and aware enough to fully appreciate how important the story and the message behind it is, was and, continues to be. So many quotes from this book really struck a cord with me, especially considering the increasing racial tensions in the world today, one only needs to read about the events in Ferguson, America to realise that logic surrounding racism have become skewed and unlogical (at least in my view) and I really feel that the whole world just needs to sit down and have a good chat with Atticus Finch as I currently know him to be.

"You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women—black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire." (20.48)

This is also what is preventing me from pressing the order button on the Waterstones website. I am hugely excited to read more about Scout, Jem and whoever they may meet along the way and I am sure that 'Go set a watchman' will be just as insightful and deep, whilst retaining its unique and beautiful delivery and I definitely want some more of it on my already full bookshelves. However, I'm not sure that my love for Atticus will allow me to survive his changes. I guess I just need to toughen up and deal with it though, because the idea of being left behind whilst the rest of the book loving community immerses itself into the pages of this hugely anticipated novel from the wonderful Harper Lee makes me very sad ... maybe next time I venture inside a bookshop it will be in my possession.

Happy publication day 'Go set a watchman', congratulations Harper Lee.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Book review: Pride and prejudice

I first read 'Pride and prejudice'. undoubtedly Jane Austen's most famous novel, a while ago and hated it. I just didn't click with it, despite the romance, the balls and the intellectual, headstrong bookworm of a main character, supported by her amusing father. This classic could easily be described as a chick-lit of its times and by tradition I should have loved it. However, I didn't. But recently, several years older and fresh from watching the film adaptation (2005, Kiera Knightly and Mathew Macfaden), I decided to give it another try and so bought the surprisingly cheap and, much nicer, newer, Penguin Classics edition - the copy I originally read was an old orange Penguin Classics edition with tiny print and really rough pages -  and I enjoyed it much more, I'm really sorry I was so quick to judge.

As mentioned 'Pride and prejudice' is, first and foremost, a love story. It's about the love between sisters, between a mother and her daughters, between a father and his daughter and, of course, about the love between two people who overcome the odds and initial misgivings about each other to ultimately find happiness with each other. It has, without a doubt, all the trappings of a romance novel that would be snatched off the shelves today. Although I do love a good romance novel, and this without a doubt ticked that box but it also so much more. I enjoyed this book because I enjoyed the characters. They were dynamic, relatable and realistic. Even the characters I couldn't stand - Mr Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourge,most notably - were well written and, for the most part, were just

Thursday 14 May 2015

Book review: A robot in the garden | Blog tour

A robot in the garden
Author: Deborah Install
Published: April 2015

This book surprised me. I was expecting a story about a man and his wife, experiencing problems in their marriage and not seeing eye to eye about the prospect of starting a family. I was expecting a story about a toy robot, facilitator for a tale of finding yourself and, realising the important things in life. As I said, I was surprised.

This book was sent to me by Ben from @BenWillisUK , who arranged this blog tour on behalf of @DeborahInstall , the author.  The book was sent to me in exchange for a honest review.

Goodreads synopsis
Warm-hearted fable of a stay-at-home husband who learns an important lesson in life when an unusual creature enters his life.

With all the charm and humour of  'The Rosie Project' and 'About a boy' mingled with the heart-swelling warmth of ' The Paddington Bear movie' 

A story of the greatest friendship ever assembled.

Ben Chambers wakes up to find something rusty and lost underneath the willow tree in his garden. Refusing to throw it on the skip as his wife Amy advises, he takes it home.

Yes, there were elements of the above but it was also so much more. This is a beautiful, humorously written book about relationships, friendship, loss, discovering who you are, what's important to you (and having a really fun road trip along the way) and how to travel, by air, with an outdated robot - Never put them in the hold, don't even try!

All this is wrapped up in an extremely adorable and very accessible package. The characters are dynamic and believable and, whilst they are not always likable, Deborah Install does a fantastic job at ensuring that their actions and words are explained. This book is far from being one of those disappointing finds where the 'good' characters are flimsy and the 'bad' ones are so just for the sake of it. 

I loved this book, it took me a while to adjust to the genre - I say this for want of a better word, read the book and you will see what I mean - but I loved it. The characters were so easy to fall in love with and the empathy I felt for Ben and Tang as they traveled their various journeys had me laughing and crying along with them. There were also times when I was on the edge of my seat hoping and praying that they would be safe. Honestly, it is so difficult to become swept up in the story, you wont be able to put this book down!

'I have to admit that the idea of travelling  across the dessert in a Dodge Charger with a retro robot and a radioactive sausage dog is not something I imagined myself doing' ... This line had me in stitches.

Rating: 4/5