March Wrap-Up


So this month hasn’t been the best month for me in terms of reading – either for the amount or for the ratings. I only finished a book in the 3rd week of the month…how bad is that?

Anyway, here are the books I have read this month and their consecutive ratings:

The Looking Glass House

By Vanessa Tait

***

A novel by the great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell – the girl who inspired Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The novel is a fictionalised version of the time when Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) were friends. It’s an interesting concept and the book cover is gorgeous but the story is disappointing. For more details please read the full review I did on it the other week.

A Wild Swan: And Other Tales

By Michael Cunningham

**

This is a collection of fairlytale re-telling short stories. I’ve read a lot of these books this year and I must say I’ve been fairly disappointed. There’s nothing special about this novel – the main twist is that there are twists within the stories but sometimes not until the very end. For example The Beast – a story about Beauty and the Beast – it is the same story as the original but at the end when the Beast turns back into a man it is revealed that the Beast was in fact a spell to stop the man being a murderous beast. (That’s one of many stories – sorry for the spoiler, but it isn’t huge) That was actually one of my favourite stories of the lot…so that says a lot about the collection.

Extra: This was also my first ever eBook I’ve ever completed so…woop woop!

Feminine Gospels

By Carol Ann Duffy

***

Yes…another Carol Ann Duffy collection. I enjoy her work, what can I say. This is her collection of feminist poems. Some of them are downright beautiful – The Map-Woman and The Cord – but then others – The Laughter of Stafford Girls School – are too long, boring and disappointing. I’m not a fan of epic poems or prose poems so it is little wonder I disliked some of these poems. But nonetheless the writing, imagery and flow of all the poem are gorgeous.

Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke & Hangry

By Samantha Jayne

***

I read this after getting it off of NetGalley. So yes, another eBook, I’m glad I’m starting to get into them more. Although I will always prefer paperback/hardbacks. I read this in one sitting and did agree/experienced all of what she said. However the writing, in comparison to Carol Ann Duffy and other poets – newcomers or established alike – it is very childish. Simple 4 sentence rhyming couplets which sometimes don’t rhyme and don’t make sense. There are also a lack of finishes. All in all I think the collection could have done with more revision to it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Hence it gets 3 stars. Perfect for University/Post-grad students!

Emma

By Jane Austen

*****

Okay…so there is one 5-star review. I have finally finished Emma! After starting it in my final year of Sixth Form – Now I’m in my final year of University, seemed appropriate – I re-started the book and I loved it. It is so humorous, witty, believable and my god Mr Knightley! I want him. Badly. He is my Edward Cullen/Jace Wayland/Damon Salvatore – always! Okay…too much fan-girling going on there. But I love Austen’s stories. I’ve got only two more to go and then I’ve read them all. Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice left to go. (Yes, I know, why haven’t I read Pride & Prejudice?)

What books have you read this month? Have they been any good? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

March Book Haul


 
I’ve been a bit slow on the blogging front this month – sorry about that – but this is the perfect blogpost to jump right back in.

I’ve not been too bad this month – all of the books I have bought have been from charity shops and cost £3 or less. Bargain-book month because I am broke…I’m a student, I’m used to it.

So without further ado:

Brooklyn

by Colm Tóibín

I’ve been wanting to read this since I first saw the trailer for the movie. I didn’t get a chance to see the movie and I think I would like to read the book before I see the film, as the film is supposedly very good. I found this book for £3, in hardback in a lovely little store and was so happy! The story revolves around an Irish girl who moves away from her family to Brooklyn for work and whilst there she falls in love with an Italian immigrant, but when a family tragedy brings her back to Ireland she meets a lovely Irish man…who will she choose?

Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

 
I already own this book – and I think I showed it in a previous book haul, but I recently found it in hardback with black edged papers and I couldn’t help myself. I’ve yet to read it but it is definitely on my to-be-read-soon list. This is the fictionalised version of the last woman to be hung in Iceland – I believe? It sounds great, right up my alley.

Mrs Dalloway

by Virginia Woolf

 
I have never read any Viriginia Woolf and I’ve never owned anything by her either. But I found this pristine vintage red-spine edition and I had to grab it. I know the rough story, it’s about a woman who is planning a party and over the course of the short book she questions her mortality…or something like that. Its Virginia Woolf…it’s bound to focus on something depressive/mortality based.

The First Bad Man

by Miranda July

 
I know nothing of this book, and the cover hardly gives anything away. But I’ve heard great things about Miranda July and her writing. It’s supposed to be of good literary merit so I thought I’d give her a go, although I have no idea when I’ll get to reading this.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

by Judith Kerr
 
This is a modern children’s classic, a fictional re-telling of Judith Kerr’s own escape from Nazi Germany, as a Jew, and a child’s mental thoughts towards Nazi’s and the situation within the war. I have little idea beyond that but a lot of people have read it and it comes highly recommended to me. As a historical fiction/children’s classic fan – see previous reviews of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Gemma Series to learn more.

The Light Between Oceans

by M.L. Stedman


I mainly want to read this book because I saw the movie trailer and it completely peaked my interests, not to mention the music and cinematography being stunning. This tells the tale of a couple who live on an Island maintain the lighthouse in the early 1900s. A dead man and a baby wash up and the couple adopt her, as they have had child-bearing problems over the years. Every 3 or 4 years they go to the mainland and when they go after adopting child they run into the child’s biological mother who is still heavily mourning the death of her husband and child. It sounds like a harrowing, quandary novel. One which I’m sure will leave me with a lot of opinions and arguments…

Soundless

by Richelle Mead


This book was being hyped over Booktube a lot recently, but a lot of the reviews were mixed and not so impressive. It is only a short stand-alone book and I kind of want to judge for myself. Although the premise is also intriguing and I want to see how Mead writes it. In a village where there is no sound or speech, one girl suddenly starts to develop hearing abilities but this is somehow dangerous to her living in the village…or something like that.

The Looking Glass Wars

by Frank Beddor

 
This was totally an impulse buy. After reading the Dorothy Must Die series recently and a lot of fairy-tale retellings I was interested to see a re-telling of the Wonderland books. I’ve no idea of the story and I think the cover is rather cheaply made but I know that this is a series and it has had some good reviews. So we’ll see.

The Amateur Marriage

by Anne Tyler
 

I’ve been wanting to pick up more Anne Tyler ever since I got the Spool of Blue Thread – although I haven’t read that one yet either – I found this book, picked up and started reading the first few pages and I was hooked by it. But I put it down in favour of finishing the books I’m currently reading. This story focuses on a man and a woman who marry young and quickly when WW2 occurs. When they come back and have to place house together things aren’t as romantic as it first seemed.

You

by Caroline Kepnes

 
I’ve heard about this book for years. Its set from the perspective of a stalker as he stalks a woman (predator vs prey kind of gist) it sounds creepy and intriguing and another book that I’ve heard mixed things from. Some find the concept interesting – if a little dark – whereas others say that it is completely wrong. Who knows.

So there we are. A great selection this month and I can’t wait to start reading some of these! Let me know if you have read any, or want to read any.

Happy Reading!

Favourite Book Quotes #2


 
I love quotes! I have them dotted around my room; they’re great for motivation, for making you sound intelligent and they are great bedroom decorations. I love quotes!

Now everyone – should – have at least one quote that they know by heart. My best friend and I often end up quoting from Shakespeare…because we’re cool like that. But I have many favourite quotes.

So here are a few of my favourites:

(I did do a Favourite Book Quotes Blogpost about a year ago, there are some obvious quotes in that post if you think I’m missing some from here. Feel free to check it out!)

1.     Death, taxes and childbirth! There is never a convenient time for any of them!”

by Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind.

 
My favourite movie and a huge book which I read aged 16 (PRIDE!) I love Scarlet O’Hara she is a cow, (completely and utterly horrible) but also an amazingly strong woman! I love her. There are a hold load of quotes from her I could use, but this one tickled me today.

2.      You’re a wizard Harry.

By Hagrid from Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone

This is now a constant meme on my Facebook timeline, I swear. But it sums up my childhood. I remember hearing those words in the cinema aged 6 and then reading them for the first time aged 15! Same emotions then and now!

3.     You said I killed you – haunt me, then! ... Be with me always – take any form – drive me! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

by Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights

I have never been able to finished Wuthering Heights but there is no denying that some of the imagery and some of the quotes within it, particularly about Heathcliff and Cathy, are stunning. I love this and the one about the rocks the most.

4.      A thing of beauty is a joy forever: it’s loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness, but still will keep a bower quiet for us full of sweet dreams, health and quiet breathing.

By John Keats from Endymion

 
This is a quote from Keat’s poem Endymion. Keats is my favourite poet and Endymion is my favourite poem of his – the opening is just gorgeous.

5.      How do you know I’m mad’ asked Alice, ‘You must be or you wouldn’t have come here’

By Alice and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

 
No list would be complete without a quote from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. My bestie got me this quote for Christmas – I still need to frame it! – but I love it. Very suitable and also very interpretative.

6.      If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more.

By Mr Knightley from Emma

 
Screw Mr Darcy, or rather not, and go for Mr Knightley. He might be argumentative and opinionated but it would be so boring otherwise. He and Emma’s pairing in Emma is by far the most amusing, natural and lovely of all of Austen’s books in my opinion.

7.      Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting

By Peter from Peter Pan

 
Such a sad quote, but also beautiful. I always wanted to go to Neverland as a child – I’ve missed that opportunity now I’m 20 – but Peter was quite philosophical, if petulant, for a child.

8.     When you play the game of thrones you win or you die, there is no middle ground.

By Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones #1

 
Brr! Cersei is such a cold-hearted, manipulative, *beep* of epic proportions, but she has a point.

9.      Do you know there are 32 names for ‘love’ in one of the eskimo languages? And we just have one. We’re so limited.

By August Boatwright from The Secret Life of Bees

This book is a mine-field of beautiful quotes about love, life and living and it was hard to single one out, but this one just sticks with me. I had never realised how little we can describe our love for something. I love chocolate as much as I love my parents, and I love the colour yellow as much as I love Christmas…there should be another word.

10. Now I am dead, now I am fled. My soul is in the sky. Tongue, lose thy light. Moon take thy flight. Now die, die, die.

By Bottom from Midsummer’s Night Dream

Favourite Shakespeare play ever and favourite quote from it – which is a shame when there are so many great quotes. But this quote is special as it is the one I can say back and forth with my best friend, in unison at any given moment. I like quotes like that.

So there are 10 of my favourite quotes. Please do check out my other blogpost – from way earlier in my blogging days – and let me know if you have any favourite quotes of your own.

These are only a small selection after all.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

The Looking Glass House Book Review



Author: Vanessa Tait is a debut novelist of The Looking Glass House and the great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the little girl who is said to have inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Rating: ***

Review:

I went into this book blind but I couldn’t wait to pick it up, mostly because of the beautiful cover which reminded me so much of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Now we’ve all heard the phrase: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ and, unfortunately, that is very true of this book. Although props to the person/s who designed this cover – it’s selling the book!

I gave this book 3 stars. It is fairly well written, there are a lot of really lovely sentiments and prettily written phrases, but a few lovely pieces of writing do not a good book make. Unfortunately what this book lacked was a bit of ‘oomph’, as my family would say. There was no driving force, which wasn’t irritating or enjoyable enough, to keep you gripped within the book, even with the promise that Tait’s heritage suggested.

The story revolves around the governess of the Liddell sisters – including Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll (or Charles Dodgson, as was his real-name, who also centres in the book) – but the story is written in 3rd person which means we know what happens to Mary, the governess, but we don’t really get to know her or feel for her. I don’t know why this choice of narration was chosen when the story never leaves Mary’s side, surely 1st person would have been better. I might have liked her more.
 
Mary is a whiny, slightly impoverished social climber looking after the Liddell girls and not appearing to do a very good job of it. The Liddells are a prestigious family in Oxford who entertain Queen Victoria on occasion. Alice Liddell, in reality, would later begin courting one of Victoria sons. Mary wants a husband and she has two courters in mind, one Mr Wilton – a fictional retail assistant, who is rather drole and religious – and Charles Dodgson – the stuttering, ‘friend’ of the Liddells who the Liddell parents seem to ridicule and dislike, yet let him off with their three daughters to take photographs of them and go on walks, boat-rides and picnics – needless to say the relationships are weak.

There are interesting settings within the story, you get a real sense of Oxford and the gossiping-city that it is, and also an understanding of the way of life as a governess, but there’s still none of that power that makes you want to read on to find out what happens, as nothing much does happen.

The characters aren’t that strong. I had sense that Tait wanted us to rely on what we thought we knew of each character to propel the story, but I could have done with some more sympathetic reasons to like the characters.

Moreover due the lack of grip within the story the building climax is neither climatic nor particularly interesting. We can all see it coming from page 200 and I ended up wondering why it hadn’t happened sooner. The Epilogue is interesting, when the narration changes to focus on Charles Dodgson, he was possibly my favourite character of the whole book but I still didn’t enjoy the company of his fictionalised being.

Overall, it was a book I’m glad to have read and I’m glad to own for its beauty but it lacked any real substance to say that I enjoyed it or would read it again. A shame.

Best Books to Read Whilst Commuting


As an intern in London and as a student that lives away from home I take a lot of trains and I read a lot whilst I’m riding them. It seems to be a common trait picked up by many and so I not only get to read myself but I also get to see what other people like to read on trains and come up with a list of good books to read whilst commuting.
Penguin Classics – 80p books
Penguin started a new collection just last year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Penguin and I have been collecting them ever since. They are small yet full of great snippets of literature including the poems of the likes of Christina Rossetti and Emily Bronte, the fiction of Hans Christen Anderson and Kate Chopin and even Non-Fiction excerpts from Charles Darwin and John Ruskin. They’re really short but full of insight and tiny/light to carry around with you. Good little reads.
Poetry Pamphlets
 
I love reading Poetry Pamphlets they’re often attributed to poets that are just starting to grow as poets before producing full books and become names. I have several pamphlets – many of them I found within my local Books for Free shop. I have pamphlets by Jen Campbell, Carol Ann Duffy (Christmas specials) and Christina Dunhill. Very light and flimsy but full of great imagery and time can be spent deciphering the language if your trips are that long.
Small Memoirs
I have recently started reading memoirs and the smaller ones, again by smaller writers or historical-based memoirs, are great train reads. I would recommend:
-         The Divine Bell & the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
-         The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
-         Sapper Dorothy Lawrence: The only English Women Soldier by Dorothy Lawrence
They’re, again, easy to carry but full of weighty entertainment and facts to keep you interested whilst reading aboard trains. They also have the added advantage of making you seem studious.
Children’s Books
On the less ‘academic’ spectrum and more enjoyable factor, this is the perfect opportunity for people to revisit their childhood favourites.
-         Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
-         Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
-         The Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Are great, small, classics to get to. But even modern children books are great books to read on trains. You’re never going to see any of these people again, so it doesn’t matter if they see you smiling at the adventures of Peter in Neverland or getting annoyed at Edmund in Narnia. They’re great for transcending you from the cramped carriages of the trains.
Classics
How many times have I see Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ being read on trains, or even, recently particularly, ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy. Trains are a great way of getting to books that you wouldn’t otherwise read but have always wanted to. I used my train trips, during last year, to read the Lord of the Rings series (which I’m still yet to finish) by taking the book with me, and only that book to entertain myself. If you do the same then you have the perfect opportunity to read the book without getting distracted by other entertainments that you’ve brought with you. You almost trick yourself into reading a book that you would have otherwise ignored on your bookshelf.
There are some suggestions of types of books to read whilst commuting on trains. I do most of my reading whilst travelling so I try reading new things as often as possible; it helps with achieving diversity within my reading, but also allows me to enjoy myself by learning/reading new things.
I hope that that helps anyone who are soon to be, or already are, commuting.
Happy Reading!