Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett

This book was such a delight to read. Light, funny and really interesting; I finished it within hours! It tells the story of the Queen who comes across a mobile library one day, and decides to borrow a book for the first time. Not ever having really read any books, she soon becomes captivated to the point of obsession with reading all the books she can, neglecting her duties as head of state. The consequences of this are far-reaching and negative to say the least!

A unique and hilarious plot, Alan Bennett’s writing style is a pleasure to read; it’s so easy and flows so well. Moreover, there are some fantastic lines and brilliant quotes about reading in this book, here are a few of my favourites:

“Had Her Majesty gone for another duff read, an early George Eliot, say, or a late Henry James, novice reader that she was she might have been put off reading for good...”

“The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something lofty about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included”

“‘Can there be any greater pleasure’, she confided in her neighbour, the Canadian minister for overseas trade, ‘than to come across an author one enjoys and then to find they have written not just one book or two, but at least a dozen?’”.

Wonderful quotes that completely sum up the humour of this book, and the great appreciation of reading that comes with it. I would definitely recommend it- it’s an easy, enjoyable, quick read that will make you laugh and allow you to indulge in your own pleasure for reading.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? 

Friday, 28 December 2012

Citadel - Kate Mosse

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this final instalment of the Languedoc trilogy. I loved ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Sepulchre’ and so had high hopes for ‘Citadel’.

Primarily set during the Second World War (1942 and 1944) in Carcassonne, it brings us the story of Sandrine Vidal, a French resistance fighter who, along with her sister and friends, forms the group ‘Citadel’ in order to thwart Nazi plans and actions. The story intersperses with the story of a monk from the fourth century, who is on a journey to hide a an ancient Codex which has links with a ghost army which, if found during the Second World War, could help defeat the Nazis.

It provides a great insight into life under Second World War occupied France, I certainly learnt a lot and it was good to gain a real understanding of that time. It took a little while to get into it, but I did enjoy the second half of the book more than first. Maybe slightly overlong, but towards the end I felt tense and emotional in parts; I stayed up until the early hours to finish it! The love story between Sandrine and Raoul was enjoyable to read and my heartstrings were pulled in places.

I liked how there were references to Alais and Leonie (the heroines of ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Sepulchre’) and the return of other characters from the previous novels, as it tied the series together (something which needed to be done as ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Sepulchre’ were very different).

Overall I would describe this as ‘Good’; I enjoyed it but it was not as good as ‘Labyrinth’, nor as gripping, and I’m not sure if I would read it again, but I'm glad that I did read it. 

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? Has anyone read Labyrinth or Sepulchre?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Book Recommendation

Emma Hulme: ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ S J Watson 
Think it would have to be Before You Go to Sleep- a real page turner, original, cleverly written and full of suspense. You can't wait to finish it and yet you don't want to at the same time, as you're enjoying the journey so much! It’s the type of book you finish and want to read again straight away, now you know all the twists and turns. Definitely one of my top five books! 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Book Recommendations!

I would love to hear about other people’s book recommendations- It’s a great way to discover new books and for those people to express why they love that one so much. Please get in touch by commenting on this post, or by emailing me at telling me about your favourite book or a great book recommendation, and why you think people should read this. I will feature any recommendations on my blog. Looking forward to hearing about your favourite books! x

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My Christmas Wish List/ Books I Want to Read in 2013

1. When God was a Rabbit – Sarah Winman
- This was recommended to me by my sister Caroline and the blurb sounds very gripping! About a girl as she moves from the late 1960s to now, detailing the most pivotal moments in her life.

2. One Hundred Names – Cecelia Ahern
- I have loved every Cecelia Ahern book I’ve ever read so can’t wait to start this one! It’s about a journalist who’s boss dies and leaves her with a list of names, but no explanation.

3. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
-This was also recommended to me by my sister, Caroline, who said it was a better version of Jeffrey Archer’s ‘Kane and Abel’ – about the life of two men and the different paths they take.

4. The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
- This sounds like a fun, unusual and witty book, about the Queen discovering a mobile library and books that she’s never read before!

5. The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach
- This was recommended to me by my friend, Olly, who had this to say about it: ‘It's a kind of coming of age story, about this boy who is unusually quiet, but loves playing baseball as a shortstop and about the connections between people he meets when he goes to uni on a scholarship. It's superbly written, touching, occasionally hilarious, and quite a good illustration of modern American life’ and ‘you don't need to have ANY appreciation of baseball to enjoy it, only an appreciation of life, endeavour and human relationships’. Intriguing!

6. The House of Silk (New Sherlock Holmes Novel) - Anthony Horowitz
- A big Sherlock Holmes fan, I’ve been promised by my Dad (also a big Sherlock Holmes fan) that this is a very good book and the style is very true to Conan Doyle’s.
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
- I’ve seen the film to this book many times and it never fails to move me to tears, I absolutely love it so think it’s about time I read the book, which is bound to be even better!

8. Grimm’s Tales For Young and Old – Philip Pullman
-I’ve always loved fairy tales and this book looks gorgeous as well, I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

9. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
- This sounds like a mysterious and unusual book. A circus suddenly appears with a sign saying ‘Opens at Nightfall, Closes at Dawn’. It has 5 stars on Amazon and 266 reviews!

10. I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella
-I’ve read all of Sophie Kinsella’s other books and always enjoy them! Funny, light; you need a bit of chick lit in your life from time to time!

11. The Dinner - Herman Koch
-About two couples whose sons have committed a dreadful crime, and their actions and discussions about what they are going to do next. It sounds very interesting!

12. The Long Weekend - Veronica Henry
-About a hotel in Cornwall, just one weekend, where all the guests have secrets and “baggage”. It’s got 5 stars and 98 reviews on Amazon- it’s sure to be a winner!

What do you think of my want-to-read list? Have you read any of the books mentioned- what did you think? Do you have any more recommendations?

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Gift - Cecelia Ahern

What an absolute pleasure this was to read. I finished it within three days (only reading it at night!). Like the other two Cecelia Ahern books I’ve read in the past, I couldn’t put it down. It’s so easy to read, yet thought provoking at the same time.

The plot is about a very unlikeable main character, Lou, who is a work-a-holic, a very selfish man who does not care about his family, just about getting another promotion. He meets the mysterious Gabe, a homeless man on the street, who is very observant, and gives him a job at his company. I think, given the Christmas setting, Gabe is supposed to represent the Archangel Gabriel, and the story a very modern type of Christmas miracle.

The story is of someone who wishes he could be in two places at once, something which I’m sure we’ve all wished for, and the consequences of this wish coming true. Cecelia Ahern, again, intertwines mystery and a little dose of magic so well into reality. There’s twists and turns, uncomfortable moments (I found myself saying “Noooo!” in places!) all of which makes it so you have to know what happens and keep reading on. I cried at one point towards the end- an occurrence which is quite rare for me when reading; it really was a rollercoaster of emotions.  

It’s a brilliant book. I can’t stop thinking about it now that I’ve finished it, and of clever little things that fit together once you know the full story (I won’t give anything away for those that haven’t read it though).  It’s set at Christmas time which is one of the reasons I chose to read it now, and I would highly recommend buying this someone as a present- if they start reading it on Christmas day it will be finished by Boxing day evening- it’s that good!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dominion - C J Sansom

‘Dominion’ portrays an alternative ending to the Second World War, where Churchill did not become prime minister and Britain made a peace pact with Germany in 1940, resulting in World War II as we know it not happening. The book is set in 1952, the Nazis are still in power and Britain has become an authoritarian state, ruled by terror, Nazi propaganda, with no freedom of speech or the press. It’s a great idea and a really interesting concept. C J Sansom completed a PhD in history so he really knows his stuff- all the facts about political figures are 100% accurate, their opinions on society are true to what they were (e.g. Halifax probably would have signed a peace treaty and not continued the war, and Hitler did have Parkinson’s disease), and therefore the imagined future is very realistic (quite scary thinking that could have happened to Britain!).

Britain is divided between Nazi sympathisers/ supporters and the Resistance movement, headed by Churchill, which has been driven underground. The main protagonist, David Fitzgerald, a civil servant in the Dominions office that has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the state of Britain, is very likeable and the reader sympathises with him a lot.

I found this book really slow to get going. It took 300 pages to finally get me into it (It is nearly 600 pages long in total). It did get exciting and became a bit of a thriller-chase after that, but it’s a shame it took so long to get there. I love history, having studied it at University myself, so this book did appeal to me, but I wish it had been a bit more exciting in the first third of the book.  

I think if you’re interested in “what could have been...” then read this book, but be prepared for 300 pages of scene setting until the real action starts. I did find it fascinating, and after the 300 page mark I was quite gripped, but I could put this down throughout the majority of the time I was reading it and I probably won’t read it again. Overall I’d give it about 7/ 10.