The Testaments – A Review

I’ve always been a fan of Margaret Atwood.  Since this was announced I have been desperate to read it. Fortunately my fiancé got it me for Christmas, but as I was working through the books reviewed below I only got round to it recently. As this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read it, maybe skip this review and then come back when you have.

The Testaments

The Testaments is narrated by Aunt Lydia, which for me was such a good move by Atwood. The Testaments are provided by two girls Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead; and Daisy a young woman living in Canada. So from the get go there’s massive juxtaposition to the lives the two girls lead, though some very subtle similarities.

But as this develops and you realise that the two girls are connected, it enables them to use their unique differences to get them through tough times. However, by far, the best thing about this book is the amount we learn about Aunt Lydia, from her life pre-Gilead, to the days of first arriving there. Reading the plotting she weaves to bring down Gilead is so thrilling, and the interactions with the Commander make you hold your breath.

This was a page-turner (I finished it in two days) and well worth the wait, the only downside for me was the last chapter (I know it’s a small gripe to make) but I just don’t think I liked it being set so far in the future, with the authenticity of the testaments being doubted slightly. Other than that, a great read.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

Happy Reading.

G.
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Time’s Convert – A Review

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know how much I enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Although Time’s Convert isn’t strictly part of the trilogy, it’s part of the series and focuses primarily on Matthew’s son, Marcus and his fiance’s transition into becoming a vampire.

Time's Convert

It was great to read about the familiar characters again, and have a glimpse into what was going on in the lives of Matthew and Diana and their steps into parenthood. BUT as I mentioned above this was focusing mostly on Marcus and Phoebe. 

Once again, Deborah Harkness, did a great job of the flashbacks aspects of the book, when Marcus tells his story of his life before being made a vampire. This part of Marcus’ life was really well written and at times, quite emotive. You really can tell that Deborah has a passion for portraying history and historical events authentically.

We then learn about Marcus’ early days as a vampire and the years following. It was these latter years, after Matthew and Juliette kill off most of Marcus’ children that it started to all get a little too convoluted for me. I had the same issues with the latter part of the last book in the All Souls Trilogy, in the sense that things felt a little rushed and almost too easy.

Whilst aspects of Phoebe’s transition were interesting, I just felt that alot of it was kind of disappointing, and again, the last part of her transition was rushed and easy. What saved this book for me were the parts about Marcus’ past. Which thankfully, there are quite a few chapters of. 

Not a bad read, but not great.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

Do you have an opinion completely different to mine? I’d love to hear it. Comment below with  your thoughts.

Happy reading.

G.
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A Room of One’s Own – A Review

Whilst I know it’s not strictly a book, this has to be considered one of the most infamous pieces of Woolf’s work. Based on two lectures Woolf delivered in 1928 it’s often noted as being an important feminist text, so I’ve been super intrigued to read this for a while and as it was free on the Kindle store at the time I figured why not.

A Room of One's Own VW

I read this underneath a palm tree on my holiday, so in a way, I didn’t miss the importance of how far women have come. I mean I doubt in Woolf’s time many women would have had enough money to book a holiday with their own money but I digress. In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf offers up the argument (both literal and figurative) of space for women within the world of literature, which at the time (and perhaps some would argue still is) dominated by men.

Simply put she puts forward the idea that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” she goes on to support this with facts that lead to questions, such as how was a woman supposed to have success when there were so many constraints against her. Not only financially but for lack of education, she even addresses lesbianism and the women who have written about it. You can’t deny that at the time she gave this lecture, the world was a very different place, yet here she was offering up so many relevant issues against women on a social level. 

It was thought provoking, insightful and a book I feel every feminist should read. Whether you agree with her sentiments completely or not, you must agree that she was raising the voice of women everywhere, especially those that didn’t have the privileges she had. I’d say Woolf is just as important to women’s rights as the suffragettes were. It also highlighted, that whilst we’ve come along way since Woolf’s time, there’s still a lot of suppression and decision making made by men about women. Not to mention the fact that there are still countries in the world that don’t allow women to vote and places in the world where female genital mutilation happens regularly. So it’s an important rousing read, even now all these years later.

Definitely an important piece of feminist literature that everyone should read at least once.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading!

G.
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The Virgin Suicides – A Review

I’ve never seen the film, whenever this book is mentioned, people always mention the film or assume that as you’ve read the book then you must have seen the film. But I haven’t. 

The Virgin Suicides JE

I read this one on holiday, it’s been sat on my Kindle for some time and I got if for 99p. And I have to say I am thankful that I didn’t spend a lot on it. The book in itself is pretty easy reading, but it just lacked something for me.

I know Jeffrey wrote the story so that the suicides of the Lisbon girls would always remain a mystery and unknown. But it makes the whole read quite convoluted. And it’s a shame because there were character dynamics that could have been discovered more and made the book so much richer. It just left me kind of empty.

Is that what he wanted from us as readers? Did he want us to feel that same sense of emptiness and questions that will never be answered as the male protagonists? Because if he did, he certainly achieved that, so I commend him. But if the whole point was for us, as readers, to create our own ideas, then it completely missed the mark with me personally.

It served it’s purpose as a quick and easy beach read, but it’s not the most mind blowing book I’ve ever read.

Star Rating out of 5: 2.5

Is my opinion completely wrong? Do you love this book? If so, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, please comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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Norwegian Wood – A Review

This book has been sat on my bookshelf for quite a long time. I’m yet to read many books that have been translated from Japanese to English, but if this one was anything to go by I will certainly be reading more.

Norwegian Wood HM

After hearing The Beatles song of the same name,Toru Watanabe is overcome with nostalgia as he remembers his first best friend, his first girlfriend and his life as a student, and his unexpected meeting of another girl named Midori.

It’s hard to talk about the book without giving away too much, but there’s an almost ethereal quality to this, which really adds to the feelings of loss, regret and nostalgia, that I feel Haruki Marukami really wanted to get across. The characters are well written, interesting and all have an air of mystery about them, which means you’re never quite sure what they’re going to do.

I really did enjoy this book, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. The first Japanese to English book I read was The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide but it didn’t blow me away and made me reluctant to want read anymore Japanese literature. However Haruki Marukami has made that change.

If you’ve read any of his other books and have any recommendations, please feel free to leave them below.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

Happy reading.

G.
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All Souls Trilogy – The Book of Life (Book 3) – A Review

This is the final book in the trilogy and it was the one I took my time with the most, I’m sure all fellow bookworms out there can relate to the pain we feel when a good book series comes to an end. 

The Book of Life DH

After travelling back from 1590’s London, Diana and Matthew, now married, face bigger challenges than the Congregation and tracking down Ashmole 782, a disavowed son of Matthew’s by the name of Benjamin. A truly hellish creature who uses methods of torture to see if witches are capable of getting pregnant to a vampire. So not only do Diana and Matthew have to battle for their relationship, but their survival too.

As with all the books in the series, there’s a great mixture of the supernatural, science and history in the book. And plenty of drama to keep you interested, however the ONLY thing I felt was a bit of a let down was towards the end and the meeting with Diana and the congregation. In a bid to get inter-species marriage allowed and recognised. I felt that it was resolved far too easily, considering that a large chunk of the battle was to get people out of their antiquated mind set.

That being said, it did tie everything up nicely and I really did love the series. It was the first book in a long time that made me want to know what happened next, and really helped re-ignite my passion for reading.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

What did you think of the last book? Do you agree with my comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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All Souls Trilogy – Shadow of Night (Book 2) – A Review

This is the second book and the series, and in my opinion, the best one. This book is all about Diana coming to accept that she has magic within her and that she’s actually a weaver, a rare breed of witch. The decision is made that if Diana and Matthew are to have any hope of gaining answers about Ashmole 782 and Diana is to get the guidance she needs to understand her power more, the pair must time walk to 1590’s London.

Shadow of Night DH

What I really loved about this novel, were the historical aspects. It’s very clear to see that Deborah Harkness is a historian and a fan of history. Her style of writing actually made me want to go out and learn more about history. Her descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells were almost tangible. It made the experience of reading the book richer, it was so easy for me to get lost in the pages.

The pair search for Ashmole 782 whilst scouring the streets of London for a suitable teacher for Diana. In this book, Diana definitely becomes stronger and more determined, less scared of her power and more willing to control it so that she can use it if necessary. She gets to see part of Matthew and his past which gives her more understanding of him and deepens her love and respect for him. 

There are some great characters introduced, especially Philippe de Clairmont, Matthew’s father, a man, otherwise surrounded in mystery. The moments with Matthew and Philippe were particularly well written and it was hard not to feel a bit emotional, likewise with Diana and her father, who was savagely murdered by other witches, along with her mother, when she was just a child.

There are ups and downs, but this book is one hell of a ride. As I said, personally for me this was the standout book because there were so many elements I loved, especially the historical descriptors.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Do you agree that this is the strongest book in the series? Or do you disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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