2015 – A Review

When I started this blog it was so I had a place to write full book reviews about the books I was reading. I don’t necessarily always read the latest releases so it’s great to see so many people viewing my blog and commenting and I’ve met some great bookworms along the way…Here’s to 2016!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Standing the test of time.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

axmascarol As the nights grow longer, darker and colder I don’t think anything quite beats curling up with a good book and a nice hot chocolate. But if you’re looking for something seasonal and that’s so well written it’s stood the test of time you can’t go wrong with Charles Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’

There have been so many cinematic retellings of this timeless tale over the years (The Muppet Christmas Carol and Scrooged being amongst my favourites) but settling down with the novel is just as good. I shan’t bore you with the story, I’m fairly certain you know it by now (and to be honest I’d be shocked if you didn’t) but reading it again as an adult there are certain things that stuck out to me. Scrooge’s fear of death, greed leading matters of the heart and the way that even a small gesture can make a difference to someone else’s life.

It’s easy to get lost along the way in life, you grow up, buy a house, get married etc. and pretty soon it’s hard to think about anything else other than working longer hours to help keep a roof over your head. But for me one of the reasons this story will still be going strong 100’s of years from now is because it helps you stop and take stock of your life and helps you realise that the only time it’s too late is when you’re dead. So I’m urging each and every one of you to do one selfless thing this holiday season, whether it’s giving food to a family without, putting some money in the collection for the Salvation Army or even something like doing all the dishes to help out whoever made the Christmas dinner. Just know that doing that one thing will make your soul feel lighter, will lift your face into a smile and as well as knowing you’ve helped out another human being, it will help you embody the true meaning of Christmas….Just as Scrooge did.

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Happy Reading.

Georgina

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A Companion of Harold Fry

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce.

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I absolutely adored ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ so when I saw that the author had written a book from the perspective of the woman set out to walk to, I couldn’t resist.

For those who have read ‘Harold Fry’ you will know that Queenie is terminally ill with cancer and is living out her days in a hospice in Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Queenie tends to keep to herself but when news spreads about Harold, the mood changes in the hospice as everyone rallies around Queenie to encourage her to keep her strength up. The hospice is run by nuns, and with Queenies ability to talk being quite limited due to her illness, one of them suggests that she writes a letter for Harold.

Through the writing we learn about how Queenie came to work in the Brewery with Harold all those years ago and hear in painstaking detail how she fell in love with him but was always happy knowing that nothing could ever come of it. As the book develops the author offers an insight into Queenie’s fellow friends at the hospice, and in this moment’s humanity, friendship, love and compassion are offered up in very beautiful and heart breaking ways.

Towards the end of the novel Queenie has to write down one of her biggest secrets involving Harold’s tragic son David. On pain meds and feeling increasingly anxious as Harold’s arrival is fast approaching, this makes for a perfect end to a beautiful story. An incredibly warm novel, which offers an insight into an otherwise unknown character.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

‘Sometimes you can love something not because you instinctively connect with it but because another person does, and keeping their things in your heart takes you back to them.’

Happy reading.

Georgina.

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The Happy Reader – Autumn 2015

The Happy Reader – Autumn 2015.

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The person being interviewed in this season’s magazine is the multi-faceted actor Alan Cumming. Cumming is more than actor, he’s a performer, a cabaret singer, an artist and author. Chances are you know him from somewhere. The interview with him is really varied and I must say for the first time in a couple of issues, it’s clear to see that Alan is incredibly well read across a mixture of genres, and his love for the written word comes across clearly.

Up for the discussion is the season’s book ‘The Purple Cloud’ by M P Shiel. A book that is all about the end of the world, where there only seems to be one psychotic survivor. In modern day society we would probably view this book as incredibly ahead of its time as it seems to discuss the serious and very scary aspects of climate change. But as usual the hidden gem of this issue of the Happy Reader is an article entitled ‘Bear Food’ in which Naomi Alderman talks about her trip to the Arctic with the incredible Margaret Atwood. In the article Naomi talks about the impact of being somewhere so natural, and quiet, can affect busy minds who live in bustling cities like London or New York. There was something about it that just seemed to resonate with me, and even if it doesn’t make you realise how much we have changed as human beings over the centuries, it will certainly make you appreciate the things we take for granted.

Another brilliant magazine, long may it continue. The Winter copy arrived just the other day, so I’ll be sure to post a review when done.

Happy reading.

Georgina

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Little Women – A Review.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Little Women

This was the latest book selected by my Bookish Broads Book Club, and I have to say I was pretty excited about reading it. It’s probably one of the few classic books that seemed to slip me by as a young girl and my cousin absolutely loves it. I’ve heard so much about the March sisters, especially Jo, and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

But actually I wasn’t very impressed. There’s no disputing that Alcott could write but I just found a lot of it quite preachy and twee. I know that during its original publishing year this probably would have been considered the norm, but I just felt that the author was trying to teach too many virtues to its authors instead of trusting them to make their own decisions.

There’s not really a lot that happens in my opinion and what does happen is all terribly cliché and predictable. Boy moves in next door, they befriend him, he begins to fall in love with Jo, the old man turns out to be warm hearted and oh look it’s Christmas and what fun we have!

I just found it all quite droll and I really struggled to read it, I didn’t like Amy at all and found her to be very vain and materialistic which was odd considering that her ‘marmee’ and father had tried to bring her up to value people and not things. I found the first part of the book incredibly convoluted. During the second half the book, where Meg marries Brooke, I found it much more interesting. Because it actually felt like something was happening.

The characters began to change and you could define them from one another whereas in the beginning, although there were a few character traits that made them obviously different, they felt like the same person. Although Beth was always rather sickly I couldn’t help but feel that her death came out of nowhere and actually found her character quite dark and maudlin.

The only redeeming aspect of this book was the character of Jo and I actually felt that Alcott developed the relationship between Jo and the Professor quite nicely, even I found him quite charming. However it wasn’t enough to make exclaim at the end ‘What an incredible novel this is, how have I not read it sooner?!’

Star Rating out of 5: 2

‘But I have nothing to give you. My hands are empty’

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Perhaps if I had read it as a young girl I may have loved it and feel differently. But I just felt it was too twee and too preachy, and I also found it hard to stomach the way women were meant to be perfect little wives when they got married and live for their husbands, which is probably another reason why I feel I connected more to Jo and the Professor’s relationship because it felt more equal. I’m keen to know other opinions on this ‘classic’ so feel free to comment below.

Happy reading.

Georgina

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Eleanor & Park – A Review.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Eleanor & Park

This is one of those books that I have often picked up in bookshops, flicked through and put back down. There’s always been something stopping me, perhaps it’s because I’m 30 years old and I guess rather ignorantly I always associate YA books with the awfulness that is the Twilight books. However I’m trying to make more of a conscious effort to give them a go, especially with such praise being sung for the Divergent Series as well as The Hunger Games series (none of which I have read by the way…I know, cue a shocked gasp and a judgemental face)

So after hearing from a few friends that Eleanor & Park is well worth a read, I bought a copy, brought it home and it sat on my shelf for a few months. During a night of indecisive ‘what should I read next’ I was picking up various books and putting them back down again, I wanted something that was going to keep me interested but didn’t want anything too heavy or long. I picked up Eleanor & Park and decided to read the first page and then I couldn’t stop.

I really loved the style of writing and the way in which is switched between Eleanor and Park. And I instantly loved Eleanor, I loved Park too but Eleanor was just so incredibly loveable because she seemed to embody the girl we all are at some point (and perhaps still are)

As their friendship, and eventually relationship, begins to develop we also begin to see more about their home lives and the things that make them seemingly difficult or awkward to one another. For such a beautiful novel there’s also a lot of heartache to it, this comes with just Eleanor’s home life alone, I lost count of how many times I was urging for her to find the strength to stand up to her stepdad and for her mum to do the same. What’s also particularly sweet about this is book is how perceptions change, Parks mum particularly changes her view on Eleanor and eventually becomes an advocate for Eleanor & Parks relationship (way to go Park’s mum) but as is life, all must good things must come to an end.

When Eleanor realises who has been writing the vile things on her school books it made me feel sick to my stomach and the last chapters of the book were incredibly difficult to read. And for me that’s the magic of Rainbow’s writing, is how she was able to make me love and despair at the same time. I raced through this book in no time, and it’s certainly helped change my perspective of YA novels.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

‘The world rebuilt itself into a better place around him.’

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I should point out that they only reason that I didn’t give the book a full 5 stars was because I was so incredibly frustrated with the ending, I didn’t like it one bit so like a teenager I’m sulking and only giving it 4 stars. Of course I now want to know what other Rainbow Rowell books are worth a read so please comment below with your suggestions.

Georgina

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Dirk Gently – A Review.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.

Dirk Gently

This book was recommended to me by my older brother. It was my dad’s copy I read and was one of his favourite novels. It’s hard to sum up what the books about really, because so much goes on and the characters are all tied to one another.

There’s an Electric Monk, a 200 year old Chronologist, a murder, a horse who can think and plenty of pizza. It sounds like a weird eclectic mix, and it is, yet there was something really enjoyable about it. Yes, of course the story is outlandish but as it develops it actually makes perfect sense, and all the elements get woven together perfectly by Dirk (and the author of course)

I even laughed at some points, but what I found bittersweet was how it’s taken me so long to read the book in the first place. Something my dad loved so much, that as a teenager I crinkled my nose at as I didn’t see how I’d enjoy it. But enjoy it I did and better late than never hey?!

Star Rating out of 5: 3

‘A few seconds later a door flew open a few yards from him and a woman ran out of it, wild-eyed and howling.’

I do have the second book ‘The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul’ to read but that may have to wait till I have the time. Don’t worry though, I’ll post a review when I’m done, just out of interest has anyone read this book? Or any other work by Douglas Adams who is probably most renowned for his epic novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ – comment below if you have? I’d love to hear recommendations of his other work and of course your thoughts on this if you have read it!

Until next time.

Georgina

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