Upsetting Changes

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Go Set a Watchman

I was really apprehensive to read this, To Kill a Mockingbird always makes it on to my ‘Top 5’ list. I’d heard and read mixed reviews and already had an idea what the basic premise of the storyline was.

Jean Louise Finch, or Scout to those who want to be more familiar, goes back to Maycomb on one of her routine trips to visit her father. She’s now living in New York so doesn’t make the journey often. Adult Scout is just as sassy and determined as her younger self, and it isn’t long until she’s winding up her Aunt Alexandra. I think one of my biggest shocks and upsets was when I realised that Jem had died from a heart attack a couple of years prior to the book taking place, this knocked the wind out of me instantly. One of the best things about To Kill a Mockingbird is the relationship between brother and sister and I would have liked to have seen how this played out a bit more.

When Jean helps her Aunt tidy around one day she comes across a pamphlet of her fathers that looks like white supremacist propaganda, sickened she goes to the meeting her father and her on/off beau Hank are at and is disgusted and shocked by what she sees. As a reader I was incredibly upset to hear about Atticus’ new perspectives on things and I think that’s how the novel works, in essence Scout perfectly articulates and displays our emotions at this news.

The rest of the novel is Scout trying to find a reason or an answer to what has made her father change from the man she knew as a child, with little success at first. It ends with an epic confrontation and then kind of fizzles out in a slightly disappointing way. It’s no Mockingbird, but that’s ok, as I don’t think it was intended to be.

Star Rating out of 5: 3

‘The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, “He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman,” had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.’

If you’ve read it I’d love to know what you thought, so please comment below.

Happy reading.

x

Advertisements

The Bravest Man I Knew

These past few weeks have been difficult for me, I watched one of the bravest men I knew pass away from Cancer in 2009 when I was just 24. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about my dad, but hearing about the recent deaths of Lemmy and David Bowie because of cancer, brings back lots of painful memories.

There was no disputing, that all those years ago, when JK Rowling first started penning the Harry Potter books that they’d be a hit. She created a world that was engaging and created characters that became like friends. In my opinion Severus Snape is one of the most complex characters in modern literature. His pale skin, lank hair and rich voice, the air of mystery that always surrounded him. JK Rowling left us wondering till the very last book what Snape’s true colours were. When all was revealed it was both beautiful and tragic.

When the books were adapted to films we were all, perhaps, too young to understand the importance of casting the right actors, but I know that when watching the films we knew all the right people had been selected. None more so than Alan Rickman. An actor who first came to my attention in the Die Hard film where he plays the eloquent bad guy Hans Gruber. As I grew up watching the Harry Potter films I was captivated by the subtleties he brought to the role of Snape, it was in the way he moved, the way he paused, his facial expression. Everything, that when reading the books, I could see so clearly in my mind, he was born to the play the role.

As I grew up I went on to watch Alan Rickman in other fantastic films such as Dogma, Love Actually and Sense and Sensibility. When I heard the news of his passing today, I was stopped in my tracks; I shed tears and felt like I had all the wind knocked out of me. The Harry Potter books were such a big part of my life when I was younger, they still are, and the films have kept me entertained through my teenage and adult years. He always brought a natural ability to any performance, his delivery of lines was impeccable and with Alan you could read it all in his eyes before he uttered a word. His portrayal of Snape, in my opinion, was one of his finest. It was like watching him step from the book and straight to the screen. He played the tragedy so well, that even now just typing this I feel fresh, warm tears spring to my eyes. I feel so fortunate, as a Harry Potter fan, to know that one of the finest British actors played one of the most intriguing literary characters ever to grace our lives and did it with so much finesse.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to write, but I thank you Alan Rickman for sharing your talent with the world. I don’t share this with a lot of people but I was re-reading the Deathly Hallows when my father died, I couldn’t sleep the night before the funeral because I didn’t want time to pass till I had to say my last goodbye. I believe that book gave me strength to get through that horrific day and it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the man who brought the literary equivalent of “the bravest man I knew” to life.

“Look…at…me” he whispered. The green eyes found the black, but after a second, something in the depths of the dark pair seemed to vanish, leaving them fixed, blank and empty. The hand holding Harry thudded to the floor, and Snape moved no more.”

Rest in peace Alan Rickman, and my thoughts go to your family and friends at what I know is a truly heart-breaking time.

snapegif

Georgina.

x

Promised the Moon – A Review

Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race by Stephanie Nolen.

ptm

I’ve had this book on my shelf for some years now, the more attentive amongst you will have noticed by now that I have something of a romantic fascination with space. As a young girl I was mesmerized by the night sky and have often beaten myself up for not paying more attention to mathematics and sciences, I think I would have loved a career in the sciences, especially something that involved astronomy. But this book is less about astronomy and more about aviation. The book starts off telling the story of some of the early ‘aviatrix’ including the more well-known Amelia Earhart, and the wrongfully lesser known Bessie Coleman (I’m actually looking to see if there are any books about her out there because she sounds like she was such a determined and inspirational woman)

After introducing some brave women, the author then takes a look at a group of 13 women. All who were determined to fly from an early age. Their stories alone are inspirational as it details the struggles they had, to not only fund flying lessons, but also to break through the social barriers that were existent at the time. Annoyingly it was believed that, following the war, women should leave the jobs they had to go back to being mothers and wives. Even those women who had more flying hours than men were told that the men had to come first. It often meant that the women, who were giving jobs flying, often earned less than the men and were told that passengers would rather avoid boarding a commercial flight with a female pilot. This meant that they often had jobs where they delivered goods, or worked fixing the planes.

‘Flying was dangerous, noisy, dirty – it wasn’t ladylike.’

But the women endured and you can imagine their hopes improved when a privately funded programme was started that took some of the strongest female fliers and allowed them to take part in the same tests as the Mercury 7. America was in competition (and at War) with Russia, and the Space Race became a focus of attention. Women like Jerrie Cobb, were put through the same physical and mental aptitude tests to see how well they would fare in space and it turned out they did pretty well. In a lot of cases the women actually did better than their male counterparts. Needless to say the women were excited, it seemed like they were finally being taken seriously, and they felt as if they stretched their hands out far enough they could touch the stars. So you can imagine their shock when they were told that NASA had made the decision that the further testing was of no use and no longer could be carried out. This caused problems as a lot of the women had to give up their jobs so they could attend, so they were left without work and their dreams dashed.

What proceeded was the battle of two of the most respected female fliers. Jerrie and her friend Janey, both took it upon themselves to write letters to NASA, to travel and give talks on the importance of a ‘Women in Space’ programme, they even wrote letters to the President. But at the same time they were arguing the benefits of putting a female in space (before the Russians) Jackie Cochran was playing a more political game. Despite her and her husband being the ones to fund the testing at Dr Lovelace II private clinic in the first place, Jackie played ‘the boys game’ and wanted to keep the right people on side so that in the future she could run any women in space programme. Perhaps it’s me but when I read this it really upset me, at a time in history when women lacked equality, I felt that Jackie should have helped support the cause a bit more instead of playing the long game to further her own power.

This is a really fascinating read, and I’m so glad that the author took the time to tell the story of these women because it’s one that’s not well known, if at all. But it’s also frustrating and heart-breaking in equal measure. To learn about these accomplished women who had worked so long and so hard to be taken seriously, just for their dreams to be snatched away because of nothing else but the fact they were born women. Another interesting element of the book is the way in which the women had to, not only defend their capabilities as pilots but also their sexuality. As the women were seen to be doing a ‘man’s job’ it meant that if they were unmarried they were believed to be a lesbian. To me it’s just ludicrous, and I often found myself shaking my head whilst reading it. It made me thankful to live in the era I do (although we still have a long way to go) If you’re interested in space and female history then this book is for you.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

‘…for a girl who had learned to be alone-the sky was the answer. I tumbled out of the airplane with stars in my eyes.’

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

Georgina.

x

Dead Man’s Time – A Review

Dead Man’s Time by Peter James.

dmt

Although I’ve always been slightly aware of Peter James, I’ve never actually read any of his work. This was part of a Secret Santa Book Swap we did at our Book Club ‘The Bookish Broads’ We each had to wrap up a book we had enjoyed and write a brief description on the front and then select one based on the blurb.

The story kicks off in New York during the 1920’s where a pair of young siblings find their father being kidnapped from the house, and their mother killed from gunshot wounds. Their father has associations with an Irish gang in New York and it seems the brutal murder and kidnapping is due to these seedy connections. When the young brother and sister are taken away from New York by their Aunt to start a new life across the pond, the young boy his passed his father’s pocket watch and a series of numbers. He makes a silent promise to his father (who is still just missing at this point) that he will come back one day and find him.

Fast forward to present day and we’re in Brighton where Aileen, an old lady, is brutally attacked (and later dies) and her house is burglarised of antiques worth millions of pounds. But one think that is missing, that although being worth millions of pounds on its own is worth more because of the sentimentality attached to it. The missing item is the pocket watch, and the dead old lady is the same young girl who left New York all those years ago with her brother.

What happens next is a race against time, Lucas Daly is determined to find the people who murdered his sister, but he also needs to get that watch back. It belonged to their father and Lucas, who is now in his 90’s, wants to keep the promise he made his father all those years ago. There are plenty of subplots going on, including a released convict who is set to get the cruellest and sickest revenge on Detective Roy Grace, Lucas’ destructive son who is both violent and frivolous with money and the strains of being a father and a Detective.

I have to say at times it did get somewhat confusing as there were an awful lot of characters, so it meant that it took a few seconds for me to remember who they were and whether they were considered the good guys or the bad guys. That being said, it was a cleverly woven story that passes through the ages and also calls on the basic human emotions of love and making the most of your time on earth. All in all not a bad standalone read, but I feel I would have had a greater understanding of some of the dynamics had I read some of the books in the ‘Roy Grace’ Series.

Star Rating out of 5: 3

Happy reading.

Georgina.

x

Forever – A Review

Forever by Judy Blume.

ForeverJudy.jpg

I’m not sure how I missed Judy Blume books growing up, but I did. In fact Judy Blume didn’t come on my radar until a couple of years ago, I know she’s a well-loved and greatly respected author, but I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read any of her work. That is until this book was selected by my Book Club ‘The Bookish Broads’ I asked the ladies to nominate books that they read at school and this one was picked. For those who aren’t aware it follows the story of Katherine and Michael, two teenagers who meet at a party and start dating. Whilst Michael has had sex in the past, Katherine hasn’t and this book deals with the first time in a really open and honest way.

Apologies if this is TMI (too much information) but I was a late bloomer in the sex department and I didn’t actually lose my virginity until I was 21. So I think had I read this when I was 13/14 it would have terrified me and I probably would have kept the book hidden from my mum. When Michael first starts asking Katherine to go further with him, I felt my mind suddenly jump back to all the things guys said to me when they wanted more than just kissing and hand holding and I said I wasn’t ready.

‘You’re not mad, are you?’
‘No.’
‘You’re sure?’
‘Yeah…but this is really tough…’
‘I know it…’
‘Give me a minute by myself; okay?’ he asked.

The really interesting thing about this book is the juxtaposition, at the beginning it seems like Michael is only interested in Katherine for sex, but by the end of the novel Katherine’s feelings for Michael subside and Michael seems to genuinely care for her. Judy Blume does a great job of introducing and airing the parental concerns and gives a great insight to a Family Planning Clinic. The moments of intimacy were realistic, sex can be messy and Judy Blume allowed for this, which is great as it prevents both boys and girls getting an idealistic view of sex. This was really easy novel to read and I think it’s a novel I’d allow my children to read.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

‘He led my hand to his penis. “Katherine….I’d like you to meet Ralph….Ralph, this is Katherine. She’s a very good friend of mine.”

I’m not going to lie, I laughed at Ralph…

Happy reading, Georgina.

x

Time to Book Ahead

With each New Year comes new ideas, this year already looks promising for the publishing world and various websites and newspapers are already speculating about what they think the next big thing in the Literary world is going to be. As you know, I don’t always review the latest releases, however here are some novels (some of which I’ve already purchased and are waiting on my bookshelf) which I’m looking forward to reading this year.

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

The Disaster Artist
This is a book all about the cult film ‘The Room’ starring the strange, and weirdly captivating, Tommy Wiseau. If you haven’t seen the film then you really should, it’s unintentionally funny and there are some great moments where time seems to get lost and goes from being a day to an evening to the same day again. This book is all about Greg (who starred in the film) and the process of the filming being made. I only read a short exert online and it made me laugh, so I’m really looking forward to reading it at some point this year.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Go Set a Watchman
I know this came out last year, and I was excited by it. I mean To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the books in my Top 5, so I was excited to hear that the familiar nostalgic characters were back. But then slowly but surely there was something of an outcry with people saying that it wasn’t a great book, and that previously open minded characters had become racist, so I kept putting it off. I guess I was apprehensive of losing the respect and love I had for the Finch family, but I need to read it. Who knows I may just like it, and if I don’t at least I’ll find out what happened to them.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
I made a promise to myself that this year I would try to read more varied genres. I picked this up in a book shop yesterday for the sheer fact that on the label it said ‘If you like Star Trek or Firefly then this book is for you’ I was instantly sold. But when I read the blurb on the back there was something that appealed to that aspect of me that still wants to be an astronaut exploring space. The idea of exploring vast galaxies with a mishmash crew of different species just struck a chord with my younger self. I haven’t read a lot of Sci-fi in the past so hopefully this will be the start of a long and beautiful relationship with the sci-fi genre.

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh.

Things We Have in Common
Something about this pulled me in, perhaps it was the praise that said it was similar to Gone Girl (a book which I enjoyed until the ending ruined it) I guess what piqued my interest more was the blurb on the back, it was captivating, just as the novel is supposed to be. Dealing with themes of teenage obsession and isolation, I have a feeling this is going to make for a compelling read.

Your Heart is a Muscle The Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa.

Your heart is a muscle
I love books that really seem to observe humanity and this one seems to capture it perfectly. Set during Seattle’s 1999 WTO Protest, the book follows the course of one afternoon and how the lives of seven people are changed forever. In the mix are an estranged father and son, two protestors who don’t believe in violence and the financial minister from Sri Lanka. Needless to say this should make for a raw and conflicting read.

Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta.

innocents-and-others
I think the main thing that’s intrigued me about this book is the fact it’s about two female filmmakers. Working in the media industry can be quite eye-opening and there’s always so much to be thinking about, so I was intrigued by these two filmmakers (best friends) who have very differing views on sex, morality and movie-making. It just sounds appealing and I can’t wait to grab a copy.

Zero K by Don De Lillo.

Zero K
I haven’t read much by Don De Lillo, in fact I’ve only read one of his other books ‘Americana’ and I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of a long, hot, dusty summer and not really knowing what to do with my life. The subject matter of Zero K really intrigued me; a billionaire tries to cure his ailing wife by the use of body preservation until medical research can find an answer to eternal life. I think mortality is a very deep subject matter, and we all have thoughts on life and death but when money is introduced it’s even more fascinating. I’ve often thought that wealthy people seem to think they can live forever and I feel this will make for an incredibly thought provoking read.

Other titles I’m keen to read at some point this year;

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig – What can I say I loved Star Wars so much..JJ did such a great job and it’s reignited the love of the originals in my soul.

The Tria by Matt King – Matt’s a promising writer and my review and interview with him last year was one of the most viewed posts I had, so I’m really looking forward to giving this a read.

Americosis Vol.2 by Haydn Wilks – Volume 1 was crazy and intriguing enough that I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – I’ve NEVER read them OR seen the films, but I’ve heard great things. I think it’s high time I give them a shot!

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith – I think like the majority of the world I’m working my way through ‘Making a Murderer’ on Netflix and it’s really kicked off my intrigue in true crime. I love the film, so it makes sense to give this book a read.

I’d love to hear what you lovely lot are looking forward to reading this year, so please comment below.

Happy reading, Georgina.

x