Starter for Ten – A Review.

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls.

Starter for Ten

I enjoyed ‘Us’ so much that I just had to read this. It’s been on my Kindle for ages, and after favouring my beloved paperbacks for so long, I felt that I needed to show my Kindle so TLC. Starter for Ten is follows Brian, a working class boy who’s about to embark on life at University. Something his widowed mother isn’t looking forward to and his two friends Tone and Spencer seem to be giving him a lot of stick about.

Through fashion faux pas and bad first impressions, Brian finds himself at a party where he sees and falls in love with Alice Harbinson. It becomes Brian’s ambition to make her fall in love with him. But of course this being a David Nicholls book, it’s not all plain sailing. When an opportunity comes to up to appear on University Challenge, something that has been a lifelong dream of Brian’s. He sees it as an opportunity to get closer to Alison, but instead he finds himself ostracising himself from the obsessive team captain Patrick, and making incredibly awkward statements to teammate Lucy Chang.

But behind the humour and the toe curling awkwardness is a novel that focuses very much on young people. Trying to find their place in the world, certain of what they think they want to be and then realising that they’re wrong. At the very centre of the novel are the subtle ways in which David Nicholls deals with the death of Brian’s father. Something which Brian seems to rarely acknowledge, but actually it’s in his lack of acceptance that some of the nicer and more heart breaking moments happen.

Although undoubtedly well written, I just didn’t feel as though the characters in this were as well developed and predicted some of the things that happened.

Star Rating out of 5: 3

‘And it occurs to me that I’m not clever at all, that in fact I am without doubt the most ignorant, the most profoundly and hopelessly stupid person in the whole world.’

Happy reading lovely book folk.

Georgina.

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Reading Challenge 2015 – ‘A Book That Made You Cry’

Book Number One – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

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It is just a normal day in Kingsbridge when Harold Fry receives a letter from a long, lost friend. He hasn’t seen or spoken to Queenie Hennessey for almost 20 years so when she writes to thank him and say goodbye, Harold feels that his letter in response just won’t be enough. So without any planning, and unbeknownst to his wife, he decides to walk to Queenie, who is terminally ill with Cancer and on the other side of the country, in the hope that it will keep her alive.

Along the way Harold has time to reflect on his childhood, one that was filled with abandonment and lacked any kind of affection, he also reflects on his own relationship with his son David and wonders why he and his wife have felt like two strangers passing one another for so many years.

During his walk Harold begins to meet many people, each with their own story to tell, some are having secret affairs, some are waiting for a loved one to return and others are hoping the day will come when they build up enough confidence to leave their small hometowns and see the world. With each person he meets Harold begins to realise that everyone looks so normal, but each of us harbours our own secrets, regrets and pain. When people hear of Harold’s unlikely pilgrimage, they open up their hearts to him, and although a fair few think that what he is doing is a little crazy, it inspires them and fills them with hope and in return encourages Harold to continue on his soul searching journey.

Back home in Knightsbridge, Harold’s wife Maureen slowly begins to realise how her life would be without her husband, and uses the time he is walking to reflect on her life, her marriage and her passions and hobbies that seem to have been ignored for a long time.

One thing Rachel Joyce perfectly captured was the disjointed way in which memories, even those particularly difficult or painful, come back when you least want them to, and how they often won’t be ignored. Her manner of writing is filled with so much warmth and description that it almost feels poetic. But the thing I perhaps loved the most about this book was how it really stops and makes you think.

The last five chapters of the book were incredibly touching and as soon as I felt that tell tale lump in my throat, I knew it was only a matter of time before I felt warm tears slide down my face. The subtle way she deals with the chapter that looks at things from Queenie’s perspective, really took my breath away. The tears fell from my eyes with no forced effort. This was a truly wonderful novel and I’d recommend this to everyone. It makes you want to make the most of life; it fills you with hope and reminds you how important it is to tell those that matter that you love them.

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Star Rating out of 5: 5

‘Nobody is so frightening once you stop and listen, Maureen.’

 

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

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Currently Reading.

I was feeling so low on energy today that I let my kitten Mr Tibbs stick his paw into the jar and pick one out for me instead (you can witness the cuteness here; http://instagram.com/p/sseglEqCds?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=video)

But the book that was selected out of my TBR jar is…

 

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding.

 

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As usual, I’ll put a review up as soon as I’m done.

 

Happy reading fellow bookworms, and remember it’s ok to have more books than shoes.

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Book Review – Americana by Don DeLillo

I’m not familiar with Don DeLillo but upon uploading a photo of my latest selected book, quite a few people were quick to say how good ‘Americana’ was and how much they enjoyed it.

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I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. It follows David Bell who seems to be the All American boy, living the American dream. He works as a television executive, lives in a swanky apartment and has an ex wife with benefits, if you catch my not so subtle drift. But David seems displeased with his comfortable life and is desperate to expose the real America, or unseen America. The book is broken up into Four Parts, which show David at different stages.

In the first part David is an almost Patrick Bateman style character, and although there’s a lot of humour in the first part of the book, it’s also incredibly pretentious and hard to feel any kind of sympathy for the people he tries to screw over or spreads rumours against via Binky his secretary.

Four months earlier, at a party aboard a tugboat repeatedly circling the Statue of Liberty, she had gone around telling everyone she had dropped one of her pubic hairs into Mastoff Panofsky’s scotch and soda. Everybody was afraid of her’ – Like I said, you can’t help but feel that David is right to be growing tired of surroundings with such callousness and fakery, despite being one himself.

He sets out on the road to make a documentary on the Navahos but never quite makes it, instead taking time to make his own film. Don DeLillo has written the book so beautifully descriptive and poetic, that it’s easy to see how David sees life as one long motion picture made up of different moments. He uses people he meets in his journey to appear in his film, and it is in the second part of the book that we learn about David’s childhood and growing up. During this section of the book, I took that David was struggling to overcome the death of his mother and her illness and also grasp a better understanding of some of the moments he witnessed as child. There’s page upon page of imagery-laden dialogue, which at times could be hard to follow, as it seemed nonsensical, but I think that’s what DeLillo wanted. To make us feel as confused and ‘falling in’ on ourselves as David felt.

‘We plan the destruction of everything which does not serve the cause of efficiency.’

In the final parts of the book David seems to have emptied his conscience and soul of the doubt and need he had been carrying round, he continues his journey and meets numerous people on his travels, which offer him more insight and perspective to the real America and it’s people. A great book, which deals with everything from sex and death, to finding your calling in life and whether happiness can be achieved. I’d recommend this to people who love vivid descriptions of imagery and want something a little different than your typical ‘finding yourself’ novel.

‘All of these sounds in the warm house, of running water and steam, of shrill chalk and the rustling of paper, of voices known and of time moving down the Grandfather clock, all these, inflections of the house itself, all-comforting and essential, told me that I was safe.’

 

Star Rating out of 5: 5

 

Happy reading bookworms.

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Facebook – Book Nomination

I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to select the 10 Books that have ‘stayed with me’ – So I thought it would be nice to share them here too (you will notice some repeats from my previous posts and lists) but here it goes, in no particular order.

1) The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling – I know it’s not a singular book, but the whole series captivated my imagination and gave me an incredibly immersive reading experience. I felt that Hogwarts was my home and I will always love Jo for giving me, and many others like me, a truly amazing book series with some of the best characters created.

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is a book I read at High School and I remember falling in love with it straight away. It was easy to imagine the surroundings, the characters and the tensions. It’s probably one of the first books I read that made me feel heartbroken at the injustices and ignorance of society.

3) Matilda by Roald Dahl – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, minus the horrible parents and scary Miss Trunchbull, I felt that Matilda was a reflection of myself when I was younger. I found more contentment and happiness in books and powered through as many novels as I could get my hands on. It warms the heart.

4) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield – The copy I own is literally falling apart, I’ve had to cello tape the spine together and have to be very careful with the pages, as some of them are loose. I adore this book, about three very different girls, who become sisters at an early age because of various tragedies. But each one with a different life ambition to the other. This book taught me that it’s ok to be different from other girls and that no matter where you come from, you are capable of achieving great things.

5) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – A book, I sadly, only read this year and one I regrettably wish I would had read a lot sooner. It takes an unflinching look at living day-to-day life with depression, and the painful journey to recover some normality and become you again. Quite heart-breaking but incredibly poignant and well written.

6) 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane – Technically this a play, but again it deals with loss and depression and was written after Sarah Kane’s partner passed away. It’s quite a harrowing read as Kane reflects on her incredibly personal experiences of dealing with grief. It’s quite fragmented as a read, but it provides an insight into subject matters that are usually pussyfooted around. A fine piece of writing and theatre.

7) Dracula by Bram Stoker – Incredibly atmospheric, well written and one of the first vampire novels I read. This is an absolute classic and is partly responsible in my life long fascination with vampires, much better than Twilight and the book to film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola is an absolute feast for Gothic Horror fans everywhere.

8) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I adore this book. It was the first book by Austen that my dad gave to me. And I became absorbed in the time period, I thought, and still do think, that Elizabeth Bennet is one of the strongest female literary characters ever written. So intelligent, headstrong and outspoken. A classic book, which I will never tire of re-visiting time and time again.

9) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Not only have I always loved Christmas more than anything, but also this book has so many morals and lessons to teach. A book that can save the soul and give a whole new perspective to just how beautiful and lovely life can be, if only you step back and stop being so self involved.

10) King Lear by William Shakespeare – This tragedy is probably one of Shakespeare’s finest pieces of work and yet doesn’t seem to be as favoured as other work. Truly heart-breaking but incredibly well written and filled with plenty of drama. If the ending doesn’t have you sobbing, I don’t know what will (Psst! I’m referring to the bit where Lear carries in Cordelia) Feel free to share your Top 10 in the comments section below.

Happy reading fellow bookworms!

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Currently Reading…

So those of you who follow my blog know that I suffer from the problem of indecisiveness. I struggle to select which book or novella I should read next as I have so many books backlogged from my years of not reading, so I use my TBR jar to help me decide. Quite simply, I write all the books I own, but haven’t read yet on a piece of paper, fold it and put it in the jar, then once I’ve finished a book I give the jar a shake and pick one out at random. It saves me the time and energy of standing in front of my bookshelf and perusing the titles, reading the blurbs, feeling the book, flicking through the pages, pursing my lips and scratching my head…I have a wedding to plan, a job to go to and Mr Tibbs (my kitten) to feed, so I don’t have time to do all the above. The point to all this?

The book I selected out of my TBR last night is…

 

Americana by Don DeLillo.

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I’ll put a full review up as soon as I’m done.

 

Thanks for reading and remember, it’s ok to have more books than shoes.

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