Thursday, 19 May 2011

day 06 - a book that makes you sad

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak left me with a knot in my tummy before I’d even read the prologue and has moved me, possibly, more than any book I’ve read before. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, yet at the same time I couldn’t bear the though of ever finishing it, and to say that it’s sad is such an understatement. This book is so sad it made my hands hurt, and so beautiful that I am afraid to ever read it again. This is not a book to read if you like happy endings. It is a book to read if you like to read and if you like books and if you like to devour words like they’re jelly beans and if you like to have your heart broken and then carefully pieced back together in the space of just a couple of pages. It’s a book to read if you want to be struck at the very core of your being. It’s a book to read if you love. Just thinking about it now in order to write this tiny review has left me feeling in need of a hug. It’s a book to read if you want your life to be changed forever.

Excuse me now, whilst I go and cry quietly for a while.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

day 05 - a book that makes you happy


“That's the effect of living backwards," the Queen said kindly: "it always makes one a little giddy at first…”

I have no words. No actual words. Alice makes me happier than a happy thing. Always has done, always will do. I absolutely prefer ‘Through The Looking Glass’ to ‘Wonderland’ but I love them both so so much. How can you not:

`It's a stupid name enough!' Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. `What does it mean?'

`Must a name mean something?' Alice asked doubtfully.

`Of course it must,' Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: `my name means the shape I am -- and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.'

`Why do you sit out here all alone?' said Alice, not wishing to begin an argument.

`Why, because there's nobody with me!' cried Humpty Dumpty. `Did you think I didn't know the answer to that? Ask another.'

`Don't you think you'd be safer down on the ground?' Alice went on, not with any idea of making another riddle, but simply in her good-natured anxiety for the queer creature. `That wall is so very narrow!'

`What tremendously easy riddles you ask!' Humpty Dumpty growled out. `Of course I don't think so! Why, if ever I did fall off -- which there's no chance of -- but if I did --' Here he pursed up his lips, and looked so solemn and grand that Alice could hardly help laughing. `If I did fall,' he went on, `the King has promised me -- ah, you may turn pale, if you like! You didn't think I was going to say that, did you? The King has promised me -- with his very own mouth -- to -- to --'

`To send all his horses and all his men,' Alice interrupted, rather unwisely.

`Now I declare that's too bad!' Humpty Dumpty cried, breaking into a sudden passion. `You've been listening at doors -- and behind trees -- and down chimneys -- or you couldn't have known it!'

`I haven't indeed!' Alice said very gently. `It's in a book.'”

Monday, 16 May 2011

in which i am disappointed

I had such high hopes for Jon McGregor’s ‘Even The Dogs.’ His debut novel, ‘if nobody speaks of remarkable things’ is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read and his second offering ‘So Many Ways To Begin’ is at times painfully touching. I was so excited by McGregor’s much hyped third novel. I waited impatiently for it too arrive in paperback, watched the TV Book Club’s review of it (a rave by the way) and settled myself down after a long weekend in London, ready to fall in love.

I didn’t.

I was, and am disappointed. Maybe its because I built it up so much in my head but I’m afraid that I really didn’t rate it that much, and that makes me sad. ‘if nobody speak of remarkable things’ this novel is not. I found it hard to read and whilst it’s obviously extremely well researched; whilst the subject matter is hard-hitting and McGregor doesn’t even consider wrapping you in cotton wool before he hits you about the head; whilst there are parts of it that are beautiful and other parts that grip you, I found at times that this was almost a chore to read. Instead of losing myself in it and finding an entire afternoon has passed me by, that I’ve been snuggled in the Camper whilst everyone else drinks cider and laughs outside as was the case with INSORT, I found I was looking at my watch, telling myself I’d read til 10.30 and then go to sleep only to read til 10.15 and then play on the iPad. Oh deary me. I think maybe part of the problem was that the book was just so depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to read books about happy little baa lambs gambolling around a field of daffodils and living happy ever after but I do like a balance and this book was just unrelentingly grim. It didn’t let up even for a second; there was no light relief. You’re immersed the world of addiction and homelessness and loss and it leaves you feeling utterly hopeless. There is no denying that it packs a punch, a very hard punch.

It’s not that it’s a bad book – McGregor is without a doubt one of the brightest modern talents, and this is as apparent here as it is in his previous work, it’s just that this is not an easy book to read. It’s unconventional narrative and it’s bleak subject matter mean you can never relax into the story and I really wanted to relax! I think perhaps I read it at the wrong time, perhaps if I read this again in 6 months time I’ll have a whole new set of opinions. Right now though I just want to go and re-read if nobody speaks…and remind myself just why I love Jon McGregor as much as I do. 6/10.

day 04: your favourite book for your favourite series

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is in my humble opinion the best book of the series, and not only because it introduces us to Sirius Black, possibly my biggest literary crush (and of course to Remus, who I’d like to keep in my pocket) but because it’s full of emotion and humour and suspense. Love love love.

I’d read the first two books of the series around the time of the release of Prisoner of Azkaban, and whilst I devoured both of those it was this book that really stole my heart. I fell in love, and I fell hard: with Harry (who I fell out of love with in the following books!), with know-it-all Hermione, with not-quite-as-dazzling-as-his-siblings Ron, with chocolate sharing-dark secret Lupin and most of all, oh, most of all with Sirius Black. I loved the Maurauder’s back story – how I loved it – and the start of the back story surrounding Snape, I loved the way it made me question things I’d never even considered in books 1 and 2 – darling old man Albus Dumbledore is not – and how it’s a little bit darker than it’s predecessors and now, over a decade later, it still remains my favourite of the series.

Why do I love it? Because of Ron’s attempt to use a telephone; because of Remus on the Hogwarts Express; because of the Boggart in the wardrobe; because of the Marauders Map, hell, because of the Marauders generally; because of Sirius; because of THAT scene in the Shrieking Shack. Sirius Sirius Remus Sirius. Prisoner of Azkaban has well rounded, well developed characters, a storyline that doesn’t lose it’s focus, no Voldemort (a fact you appreciate more after reading the later books) and a climax that STILL makes me forget to breathe. It definitely marks the start of my intense love for the series.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Day 03 - your favourite series

it has to be the Harry Potter series. These books are a part of me, I don’t even know how to express what they mean to me. I think I possibly love them a little too much. The characters are my friends; my family and I know the books almost by heart. Iwas 14 when the first book was released, although I didn’t actually start reading this POA was released when I was 16. I remember reading books 1 and 2 in a weekend and then bugging my brother to read book 3 faster so I could get my hands on it. I read that one in an evening and then went right back to book one and started again. I’ve read the whole series countless times since then – in the summer of 2005 I read Half Blood Prince 5 times. The Harry Potter books make me laugh, they make me cry, they are my comfort reads and now I know it’s all over I feel a little bit lost.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times:

Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I love this book, I just think it’s gorgeous. I’ve loved it for sooo long. I saw the film first, so have always read the book with Audrey Hepburn in mind, even though book Holly is a little bit tougher than film Holly, and whilst I love the film, I love the book so much more. It’s one of those little books that you can curl up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon, that you can lose yourself in so that for a couple of hours it’s all that matters.

“Never love a wild thing.... He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That's how you'll end up.... If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll end up looking at the sky.”