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The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber

15 Jun

Started – 16/5/13

Finished – 15/6/13

Format – Paperback Book

 

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

Synopsis – Keep your wits about you; you will need them …’ So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition and revenge.

 

My Thoughts – I picked this book up as it was the reading circle book from last month. I had already got it on my TBR pile so it was the perfect opertunity for me to read the book earlier than I thought.

 

This book is about Sugar, a prostitute in Victorian London and her meetings with William Rackham of Rackham Perfumes and how there lives become entwined. It is definitaly a book of how the other half live with Sugar to start with living in complete poverty and William living in a wealthy house paid for by his father who set up the perfume company.

 

Not only Sugar and William feature prominatly in the book. There is also Williams wife Agnes who is not a very well lady and has a lot of issues but also William and Agnes’ daughter Sophie Rackham.

 

This book i felt was brilliant. I really enjoyed the story behind it and how many different twists and turns there were to the plot line. It is also a very unique writing style and i really got into this one straight away. The only thing i didnt like was the abrupt ending. I would have liked it to go on a bit more.

 

I loved how the character of Sugar developed too. She started off so headstrong and knew what she wanted and ended up almost loosing the plot. There is a fair bit of adult parts of the book however with the subject matter in question I do feel that it needed to be in there.

 

a much recommended book. It is a big book and it did take me a month to read but this in no reflection of the story, i loved it.

 

Rating – 5/5

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

28 Apr

Started – 19/4/13

Finished – 25/4/13

Format – Kindle e-book

 

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

BBC Top 200 Books

1001 Books You Must Read

Ultimate Teen Book Guide Challenge

501 Must Read Books

World Book Night 2012 Challenge

 

SynopsisWuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries.

The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

My Thoughts – I downloaded this book when I first got my Kindle as there are a lot of classics out there that I havent read and as it was free i didnt really have a lot to loose. I seem to have a rather love/hate relationship with the classics i either really love them and get sucked into them or i hate them and cant get into the story or understand them. Happily this was a book that I absolutely loved and got really into the story.

This book tells the story of Catherine and Heathcliff who have grown up together and social class is really the main factor in the reason that there relationship doesnt get going. They both end up marrying other people and Heathcliff ends up vowing revenge on Catherines new husband.

At the start of the book you see how the story ends up and as its told through the eyes of someone else the story is revealed all the way through the book. I did enjoy the story told in this way and it added to the mystery of the book and how the characters ended up in the way that they did.

I found this book very east to get into and i really understood the language too. Another good point for me was there is not an extensive list of characters which made this book a lot easier to read.

I do wish i had read this in the middle of the winter though as i think it would have added to the atmosphere of the book.

This book is very good and it had also made me make my mind up to try more classics as this was a book that i very much enjoyed.

Rating – 4.5/5

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

5 Mar

Started – 16/2/13

Finished – 4/3/13

Format – Paperback Book

 

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

1001 Books You Must Read

Ultimate Teen Book Guide Reading Challenge

501 Must Read Books

World Book Night Reading Challenge

 

Synopsis – One boy, one boat, one tiger …After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years.

 

My Thoughts – I brought this book back in 2010 way before the movie was out and I wanted to read this as it was such a high profile book. Now I did really enjoy the story especially the ending part where Pi spoke to the officals and the whole story became clear.

This book is about Pi Patel who lives in a zoo in India. I really enjoyed his descriptions of the zoo and the animals especially. His family decide to move away to Canada and sell the zoo and some of the animals. The ship that they are travelling on sinks and Pi is a survivor along with a few animals who are injured, this includes the Begal Tiger, Richard Parker.

He is adrift from everyone for months and lives with the tiger in a small space. The only part i didnt really understand was when they found an island, i didnt really understand the significance of that.

This book is quite religious too, three different religions howevr i didnt find that this was too heavy or forced upon the reader.

I do want to see the film but I’m not sure if this will live up to such a good book. I really enjoyed the story and i can see why its on so many reading challenge lists.

Rating – 4/5

Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

12 Sep

Started – 31/7/12

Finished – 9/9/12

Format – Paperback book

 

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

BBC Top 200 Books

1001 Books You Must Read

Ultimate Teen Book Guide Challenge

World Book Night 2012 Long List

Synopsis – Tomorrow is another day… Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s magnificent historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O’Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

My Thoughts – I’ve had this book on my shelf for a long time and to be honest i was getting a little bit put off my the sheer size of the book. its over 1000 pages long and to be honest this did put me off a little bit. However, i didnt need to have worried i absolutly loved this book and i really wish i had read it sooner.

This epic book centres on Scarlett O’Hara and her life. At the start of the book she is a very self centred person and all she wants to do is attend lots of parties and find a husband and lead as many boys on as possible too. Its at a part she meets Rhett Butler and these too dont really mix very well. In fact the end up really disliking each other.

Then the unthinkable happens, civil war breaks out in America and all the men go off to fight leaving all the women behind. This is the chance for Scarlett and her friends to have to do lots of things like working in a hospital and treating the wounded soldiers. Once the civil war is over with the reconstruction takes place and its here that Scarlett’s character really starts to appear.

To be honest i didnt really like Scarlett, I really tried to but her treatment of people, espeically Frank. I thought that this was so sad what she did, i do understand the reasons behind it, to save Tara, but she ruined her sisters happiness at this. Scarlett could have had a brilliant life but instead she was so preoccupied with Ashley that she didnt realise how badly that she was treating everybody.

I did find the treatment of the black people in the book so shocking. I know that this is what happened during this time period but reading about it was so shocking and i just dont know how people could have been treated in that way by others.

I also thought that this book was so much more than the romance story that it is billed as. I found it so sad with the ammount of death in the book and there were so many twists and turns that sometimes i couldnt believe how much was happening. At the end of the book i did shed a tear as Melanie was such a nice person and i just didnt think she deserved anything that happened to her.

The only thing that did put me off slightly was the begining was very complicated with all the characters being introduced and this did at one point make me think that it wasnt the book for me. This was nessassery for the book to be introduced and once i got a hundred pages in i didnt really look back.

I loved this book its not often that i say that and i was so shocked at how much i loved this and how quickly i got into it. An amazing book!

Rating – 5/5

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum

2 Aug

Started – 20/7/12

Finished – 25/7/12

Format – Hardback Book

 

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

1001 Childrens Books You Must Read

 

Synopsis  – One of the true classics of American literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has stirred the imagination of young and old alike for over four generations. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful out of such familiar items as a cornfield scarecrow, a mechanical woodman, and a humbug wizard who used old-fashioned hokum to express that universal theme, “There’s no place like home.”

Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in a strange land called Oz. Here she meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City, where lives the all-powered Wizard of Oz.

My Thoughts – I’ve owned this book for years and years and its always sat on my shelf. I read this once when i was a lot younger and i thought that i woud read it again now that im older. I was hoping that i enjoyed the story as much as i did as a child.

This book is the story of Dorothy, who lives in Kansas. It is the most boring grey place and she doesnt really like living there. Then during a cyclone Dorothy and her dog Toto are swept away to a place called Oz. This is the most brightly coloured land and it is there that she meets her new friends, the brainless scarecrow, the tin woodman with not heart and the lion with no courage. Together they want to go to see The Wizard of Oz to ask for the things that they want.

Now i felt that parts of this book was quite scary for a child and sometimes quite shocking. for example, the flying monkeys and the wicked witch. As a child this really scared me and i think that this is what put me off reading it again when i was younger. I also felt that when Dorothy was asked to kill the witch it was a little bit shocking. Its not like modern stories and for a little girl to have to kill somebody, it just didnt sit right with me.

However, i did enjoy the story and the journey through the land of Oz. I really got into the story and really fell in love with the characters. I loved the cowerdly lion i think he was my favourite character. I think that there was an important message behind this book with the no brains, heart or courage. I think its kind of like the lion already had his courage he just needed to believe that he already had it.

The only problem i had with this is the musical that was made based on the book. I kept getting ‘follow the yellow brick road’ stuck in my head at various points of the story.

This is a very enjoyable read, not only for children but for adults too.

Rating – 4/5

The Opposite of Fate – Amy Tan

4 Jul

Started – 5/6/12

Finished – 26/6/12

Format – Hardback Book


Challenges – Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

 

Synopsis – Unbearably moving, intensely passionate, deeply personal account of life as seen through the eyes of one of America’s best-loved novelists

When I began writing this history, I let go of my doubts. I trusted the ghosts of my imagination. They showed me the hundred secret senses. And what I wrote is what I discovered about the endurance of love.

So writes Amy Tan at the beginning of this remarkably candid insight into her life. Tan takes us on a journey from her childhood, as a sensitive but intelligent young Chinese American, ashamed of her parents’ Chinese ways, to the present day and her position as one of the world’s best-loved novelists.

She talks of beauty and how she was perceived as a teenager in a country where Marilyn Monroe was the ultimate sex symbol. She describes the daily difficulties of being at once American and Chinese and yet feeling at times like she was truly neither. Most significantly, and heartbreakingly, she tells the history of her family: the grandmother who committed suicide as the only means of defiance open to her against a husband who ignored her wishes; her remarkable mother, whose first husband had her jailed when she tried to leave him; and the shocking deaths of both her father and husband when Amy was just 14. How this weight of history has brought itself to bear on the adult Amy looms large in her own story. Ghosts, chance and fate have played a part in her life, and The Opposite of Fate is an insight into those ancestors, the women who ‘never let me forget why these stories need to be told.’

My Thoughts – This book was picked as a group read for the Rory Gilmore challenge on the BCF. I really enjoy reading memoirs and this book was no exception. This book is about the authors life in China, America and many other countries in between.

Amy Tan grew up in China to start with in her life and had a very traumatic start to life. She lost her father and brother within six months of each other, and they both died of brain tumors. Her mother was also challenging at times and Amy had to also deal with this. Then they moved across to America and started a life their. This began a spate of moving across countries to other homes under her mums request.

In fairness she had a very trumatic life. One of her best friends was killed, on a night that she could have stayed in the house that he was in that very night. She also had to deal with her publisher dying of cancer and her mum being diognosed with alzheimers.

I found the differences in cultures very fascinating. Considering how her grandmother and mother lived in China and how Amy lived in America, it was all very different. In the book Amy goes back to China to visit her family and the differences in cultures was so apparent.

I wasnt aware of this author before i read her memoir, which is quite shameful considering how well known she is in America. I think i would have enjoyed the book even more if i had read some of her works, epecially The Joy Luck Club before reading the book.

I also liked how the book jumped about on the timescale. I found that this made the story a bit more interesting as you found out different parts of information as the story went on. My favourite part of the book was the chapter about What the Library Means to Me. This was a brilliant chapter and just shows how much books can mean to a person.

This is a wonderful book, it was fascinating to read about the authors life and also her works. I am now going to try and read more of her books.

Rating – 4/5

Grimm’s Fairy Stories – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

27 Mar

Started – 21/3/12

Finished – 23/3/12

Format – Kindle e-book

 

Challenges – Rory Gilmore Challenge (Rapunzel, Snow White and Red Rose)

1001 Childrens Books You Must Read)

501 Must Read Books

 

Synopsis – The Brothers Grimm rediscovered a host of fairy tales. Together with their well-known tales of “Rapunzel”, “The Goose Girl”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Hansel and Gretel” there are darker tales which deserve to be better known. This is a collection of their tales.


My Thoughts – This was one of the many kindle books that i downloaded on the first day of me having my kindle. Its one of those classic books that has always been on my list of books that i want to read but have never got around to reading them all.

 

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Although i read most of them in one sitting, it is definitely a book that could be dipped in and out of. I could actually see myself reading these stories aloud at bedtime to my younger cousins.

 

Some of these stories i was familiar with and some i wasnt. Stories like Snow White and Cinderella i was familiar with, due to watching the Disney films when i was a lot younger. However there were some new to me stories like Bearskin and The Three Brothers. I was hoping that all of the stories were contained in the edition, but unfortunately not. I will be keeping my eyes open for more of the stories.

 

Now, although i enjoyed the book i did find some of the stories a little disturbing for a younger child to read nowadays, as all fairy stories at this time all seem to have happy ending and live happily ever after. For example, Little Red Riding Hood. Where at the end she is gobbled up and dies in this story, maybe nowadays that would be upsetting for a child.

 

I did find some themes reoccurring throughout the stories. The handsome prince, the poor princess, the wicked stepmother, the ugly step sisters, the youngest sibling is always the good one etc. Now i liked all these and thought that these were good parts of the fairy stories.

 

I also thought that these books were very easy to read considering they were written over 200 years ago. I know that i didnt read these in the original language, German, and that they had been made to be easier to read, but i still had concerns that i wouldnt be able to read them very well.

 

This book is really good, well worth a read if you havent already read this.  Plus i would say good for bedtime stories for older children

 

Rating – 4.5/5