Saturday, 29 October 2011

REVIEW: Sarah Gruen - Water for Elephants

I bought Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen so long ago I've forgotten how and where I got my copy, it is one of those novels that's been on my 'need to read' list forever and finally made its way to the top last week! I have heard nothing but praise and love for this novel and had huge expectations for it when I started reading, I have to say, it absolutely exceeded every single thought and expectation I had. Incredible.

The plot itself is so enchanting and captivating I literally couldn't put the book down! It came everywhere with me, work, uni, my boyfriends... everywhere! I was finding myself picking it up and reading the odd paragraph between serving customers! It really does fall into the category of a 'can't put it down' book, in every sense!

I immediately fell in love with Jacob, as the protagonist I found him adorable, he was loving and emotional yet had a hard harsh quality about him (which only flashed up in certain circumstances) that made him all the more endearing. His protective nature is the kind which I find myself captured by whenever a character possesses it. Marlena was equally impressive. I was worried before I read the novel, about how I would percieve her, I can't quite explain it but I was half expecting her to come across as a pathetic (in the emotional sense!) character in some ways. I can assure you this is not how she came accross to me in the end at all! She's such a strong woman with a bit of a fiery temper particularly on one occaision near the end I actually found myself thinking 'I wish I could be like that!'.

The plot itself was fantastic, the setting and environment in which the novel takes place is just magical and the circus environment is one which I found really gripping and consuming.

Over all I literally cannot find a bad word or criticism for this novel, I loved everything about it, the characters, their relationships and bonds, and the plot and setting were all perfect for me. I would entirely reccommend this book to absolutely anyone who wants a captivating read which drags you through all emotions possible!

Abi.. xo

Image from Google Images

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wishlist Wednesday #2


Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly blog hop post hosted by Pen to Paper in which we each write a post about a book that is on our wishlist.. either new or old it doesn't matter!

This week I have chosen When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman.

'Product Description'/Summary from Amazon:
Young Elly's world is shaped by those who inhabit it: her loving but maddeningly distractible parents; a best friend who smells of chips and knows exotic words like 'slag'; an ageing fop who tapdances his way into her home, a Shirley Bassey impersonator who trails close behind; lastly, of course, a rabbit called God. In a childhood peppered with moments both ordinary and extraordinary, Elly's one constant is her brother Joe.

Twenty years on, Elly and Joe are fully grown and as close as they ever were. Until, that is, one bright morning when a single, earth-shattering event threatens to destroy their bond forever.

Spanning four decades and moving between suburban Essex, the wild coast of Cornwall and the streets of New York, this is a story about childhood, eccentricity, the darker side of love and sex, the pull and power of family ties, loss and life. More than anything, it's a story about love in all its forms.

This book has been on my wishlist for a couple of months now, I just havn't even got round to buying myself a copy let alone reading it! Everytime I go into Smiths or Waterstones I either don't remember to pick it up, or can't find it!

Fingers crossed I remember to get my hands on a copy for myself soon and hopefully it'll fullfill my expectations as from what I've heard it's pretty good!

Abi.. x

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Book Haul!

Today I ventured out to town with a friend of mine, and thought I'd see if I could find something in Smiths that I'd enjoy, especially as I had a '£5 off any book over £10' voucher to spend! In typical me style however, I ended up spending my voucher AND purchasing two other paperbacks out of the 'buy 1 get 1 for £1' section..

Smith's Description:
An elite public school. An outsider. Rumours of a haunting Fleeing expulsion and the death of a close friend, Andrew Taylor is sent by his father to spend his final year at the prestigious public school Harrow. It is an eccentric place, a rambling ancient building filled with the sons of the rich and famous. Shortly after he arrives, the other pupils notice Andrew's striking resemblance to Lord Byron, a former pupil of Harrow, and Andrew is persuaded to play Byron in the forthcoming school play. This is where his troubles begin. Before long Andrew senses a malevolent presence. His fellow Harrovians joke about 'The Lot Ghost' but when a classmate dies, the haunting becomes all too real. Soon another classmate falls ill and Andrew discovers old letters hidden in a bricked-up basement. Aided by his housemaster Piers Fawkes - a once famous poet turned alcoholic - Andrew realises he must discover the secret history behind the letters to prevent further deaths

It's a ghost story so I'm assuming it'll be a suspense filled narrative! I havn't read a ghost story novel in a long time and thought this would make a nice change for me!

Smith's Description:
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother - her cheerful, can-do mother - tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden - truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment and her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up, she realises there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern. "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" is a luminous tale about the heartbreak of loving those whom you know too much about. It is profound and funny, wise and sad, and Aimee Bender's dazzling prose illuminates the strangeness of everyday life.

I am really eager to get into this novel, now I finally have my hands on a copy. If you're interested in this book hop over to my friend Gemma's blog and take a look as she also has a post on it.. Passion for Novels.

Smith's Description:
Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver...There's Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell...

I find novels of this sort particularly fascinating, class structures and the issue of racial prejudice are things that I find interesting to read about and feel particularly passionate about myself so this is definately going to make its way off my shelf and into my hands ASAP.

Abi.. x

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Wishlist Wednesday #1


So, Wishlist Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by the lovely Pen to Paper in which we discuss a book that has been on our wishlists for a while, or even one that we've just added!

The book I have chosen for this week is the well known One Day by David Nicholls, a book which many have read and raved about, and has now been made into a feature film released in cinemas starring Anne Hathaway.

'Product Description'/Summary from Amazon:
My copy, still with its sale stickers on!
'I can imagine you at forty,' she said, a hint of malice in her voice. 'I can picture it right now.'
He smiled without opening his eyes. 'Go on then.'
15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.
So where will they be on this one day next year?
And the year after that? And every year that follows?

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. From the author of the massive bestseller STARTER FOR TEN.

I actually bought this book around a year ago.. or what seems like a very long time ago anyway! I saw it discussed on the TV book club which was on channel 4 and liked the sound of it so went out to my local Smiths and got my hands on a copy intending to read it as soon as I could. I absolutely fell in love with the concept of the story, and thought the structure of the narrative would be unlike anything I had read before, plus, I'm a sucker for a love story. As usual with me though, something else cropped up, another book I was more excited about, or one of the many books I have to read for University muscled into my queue of 'To Read Soon' books, so 'One Day' unfortunately got pushed to the back of my bookcase...

When thinking about which book I would choose this week, I suddenly remembered it, and now am desperate to read it after re-reading the blurb! Maybe this will be my next page turner?

Delving into the Fairy-Tale

So I started up at university again last Monday, and for week 2 of my Children's Fiction module I read Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont's classic fairy-tale 'The Beauty and the Beast'. Now I know the majority of people will have either read this as a child or at least seen the Disney film but re-reading it again at age 20 with a new perspective and a critical approach to the piece was fascinating for me...

At first glance the story itself is a simple narrative, easy for a child to understand and follow, but looking closer you see so many different underlying issues that are not immediately apparent. I found it particularly interesting examining the relationship between Beauty and her father, and then the following relationship between our heroine and the Beast. Her virtuous nature and dedication to her father is very clear as she is contrasted quite drastically with her two sisters who have little consideration and very much selfish approaches to life. Beauty on several occasions denounces the hand of many an eligible bachelor in place for a committed relationship with her father. It is demonstrative of her child-like qualities how she is dependent on the presence of a male patriarchal figure in her life, a trend which is carried on through her relationship with her father and then replaced by the Beast later on in the narrative. She is materially dependent on the Beast in terms of clothing, food, housing etc. yet to some extent it appears she still maintains her freedom from him during the days spent in the palace...

As you can see I'm rambling on the topic now - evidence of how interesting I find it!

In my opinion the text is clearly a didactic piece, aimed probably at young girls, who would read it and see that a virtuous young girl, committed to her father, hard-work and selflessness is in the end rewarded with a handsome prince in a lavish castle. Clearly aimed at teaching young girls that a virtuous attitude will get you everywhere in life.. in my opinion anyway!

I was so excited by the topic I couldn't stop rambling during seminar about it! Leading it myself and a friend actually being told to 'shh' by our seminar leader.. oh dear!

For anyone who agrees with me that this topic of the underlying ideologies projected in fairytales I would really recommend Maria Tatar - The Classic Fairy Tales, a great book full of various different versions from differing time periods of all the classic fairy-tales, along with some critical extracts from scholarly works at the end. It's available on Amazon, or you could always hunt through your local Library!

Abi.. x

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