The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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I have no idea how I came to acquire this book. I don’t remember buying it. I don’t remember receiving it. Within the pages is a receipt from 2012 at a bookshop in Egypt (not completely weird; used to live there) but I have no recollection of this book or how it came to be in my possession. Weird ha?

I really didn’t know what to think about this one after reading the blurb; the story claiming to be about a baby who grows up in a graveyard after its family is brutally murdered and is raised by the ghosts and spirits who reside in the graveyard accompanied by his guardian. And from there we watch Bod (short for Nobody Owens) grow up in the graveyard meeting the various spirits that live there. It was interesting!

I wish I had read this a couple of years ago when its writing style and story would have made much more of an impact but if I’m being completely honest, the cover put me off not to mention the frankly morbid title. But I enjoyed it, and from me reading it I’ve realized actually how popular this fanbase is.

I was gripped as much as you could be from a book that says on the back Ages 10 and above.

Well, it is above…

Thank you Mr Gaiman, who I’ve realized and wrote many other cool books, for reminding me of the most important rule of conduct for a booknerd:

NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.

I’ll leave this little note here.

“Face your life, it’s pain, it’s pleasure. Leave no path untaken.”

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

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This book is literally The Fault in Our Stars meets Looking For Alaska ALL OVER.

Reading this was like a blast from my very angsty past, with slamming doors after breakups and Facebook posts I would have fangirled over it in my early tweens.

For a young reader, full of angst (its okay!) this is your ticket out of here.

An easy read which I started and finished today, as a means of escape (ANGST), this book was great. The story was and interesting twist on two ideas merging together.

The plot, at times, felt patchy and the ending gave me the impression of trying to be like so many other teen novels… I was upset by the lack of closure; with little positivity and a bucket full of hormone filled, almost epiphany quotes to sum it up. I wanted to know how our characters ended up. Also, wanted to know more about their backstories with lead them to their fates.

An okay read.

Neh.

 

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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I have been dying to get my hands on some Hemingway; having already own 3 of his works I’ve been waiting for the right moment to be able to lose myself in a book and give it the attention it needs. So last night, after sitting in a reading slum for a few days, in an act of frustration I picked up this little one and began reading with quite a forceful huff.

I have been in love with the idea of Hemingway for a while now; guilty of being an avid Pinterest-er, Hemingway is in abundance for his quotes to wandering up my feed and for me to pin them to “Romance at that” board. After scrounging through “Books To Read Before You Die” blogs many times, The Old Man and the Sea has popped up there, so inevitably it made it onto my To Be Read list, graduated into my To Be Read pile and then contributed to my To Be Read bookcase.

Alas, no more! 

It has been read.

These few lines stood out at me;

‘The fish is my friend too,’ he said aloud. ‘I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars.’

Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. But imagine if a man each day should have to try to kill the sun? We were born lucky, he thought.

Hemingway is able to capture this impossibly complex thought, romanticizing the concept in the most Hemingway-way possible. Being the man he was, the almost patriarchal view on other living creatures is imminent, but what shines through all that is the respect and almost chivalry between man and fish on a worthy life, is worth some consideration into the many layers to a personality which may not only be realized through their actions.

I’ll continue to ponder over this one for a while…

Thanks Ern, for the beautiful first read!

 

I totally felt like Dumbledore when I said alas…

forgive me.

A Broken World: Memories of the Great War by Hope Wolf edited by Sebastian Faulks

 

Finally, back to some normality.

This book has done some traveling over its time in my possession; Norway and back, and it took me the entire two weeks to get through it and then some.

As this is not a novel, it is an easy read to pick up and put back down again between the odd mundane task, picking up from another entry, possibly reading and entry a day.

I confess, this was the first historical read I’ve ever invested in (blasphemy, I know), and apparently its a historic read because it said so on the back; so that’s that.

The reason why it took it took so long was due to its content, the War was bleak wasn’t it?

Grim stuff.

I never took history at school and my knowledge of the First World War stretches as far as Downton Abbey (blasphemy) at the best of times; I decided I needed some education on the matter.

And it was shocking. It was shocking, and dreadful and painful and full of despair and love and hope and fear and the brutality of humanity. We can become the most beautiful creatures when we’re on the brink of death, destruction and any other dreary word that beings with ‘D’.

Despondence.

I had to keep putting it down to just take a breather.

As a first historical account of the Great War; I have been enlightened.

I’m overwhelmed with the sense that I shouldn’t forget.

 

 

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

 

I have a few confessions to make.

Confession #1: This was my first historical fiction read.

Confession #2: I kind of loved it.

Wow! As a teen, saying the words “historical fiction”simply sounds like social suicide, but I really wanted to give the book a chance. It just sounded so intriguing.

I was intrigued.

Throughout this one, there is just so much feeling between unspoken words and wordless looks; its truly magical how Chevalier was able to capture complex characters and their quirks and unique traits without wasting words.

Chevalier doesn’t waste her words; she is precise and well thought through and precise.

I’ll definitely be reading more of Chevalier.

 

Confession #3: Chevalier is kind of my grandmother’s neighbour in London…

 

Hello signed copy.

🙂

Adventures In Human Being by Gavin Francis

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This is a proper interesting one, this is!

For all the med geeks out there, this one is a definite read! Recently one of Waterstones’ bestsellers (it was on one of the table thingys) this is quite a popular book at the moment and it has all its right to be.

Contrasting heavily with Do No Harm, I can say, this is ten times more scientific. I skipped a few pages at some parts because I simply wasn’t interested in the content and then was able to pick up when I found something I was interested in.

This felt more of a textbook with a splash of humor and mostly dry pages and a lot on ancient philosophies and so on.

It doesn’t sound like I enjoyed it, does it?

I did! I really did, but its dull and exactly what I would expect from a science based book.

If I had read this before Do No Harm by Mr Henry Marsh, I would have bloody loved it… but I didn’t so I didn’t love it. I enjoyed it.

It’s alright, alright?

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

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When I started reading this book this morning, I had to Google the word “Tristesse”; I never took French at school or ever in my life. So yay, I learnt something new today. It means “a state of melancholy sadness”, by the way, which sums this very short novel up quite suitably. With my copy only owning 108 pages to its name; I got through this spot of literature quite quickly on the train. Also, why does train station coffee just taste of cardboard?

Bonjour Tristesse was a very interesting short read; absolutely perfect for a train ride to Brighton, actually; just in case you were heading that way!

I find it always challenging reading a translated novel and on more than one occasion feel like I’m missing out on the real essence of the literary talent being expressed; as if I’ve walked into a room just as the punchline of a really funny joke is being told and I’m trying to laugh along. And so, I’m sad I won’t be able to read this with all the rights it deserves; sometimes language barriers do that; and as much as a translation may try, at times there simply isn’t a word which is the absolute equivalent to another in a different language.

The story was a interesting take on the mind of a 17 year old girl, who’s idea of love, passion and physical desire were extremely unconventional of its time; the mid 1950’s. This story is definitely a prime example of glorious Freud’s Oedipus complex, so lover’s of all things Freud (and frankly messed up), this is the book for you! Wracked with tragic selfish, jealously and a bitter desire for instant gratification; the reader is able to jump inside of the mind of Cécile, and watch any and every temptation rule her entirely.

To be fair, Cécile is exactly who my parents brought me up not to be.

However, I can related to Cécile from the view point of always separated parents and the prospect of many step-parents through both of my parents various relationships. I have been put in the same boat of Cécile and whilst reading Bonjour Tristesse I couldn’t help but form a kinship with our narrator; but by no means does that entail I have to like her.

I’ll give it to Françoise Sagan, who was only 18 at the time she wrote and published this novel: talent.

To add, this book is a train wreck for feminism with phrases such as “find you a good husband who will treat you well” which are almost accepted; and only occasionally challenged in Cécile’s whimsical persona; half hearted and exploratory.

An interesting read!

“I was nailed to the sand by all the forces of summer.”

A brief spread on Shatter Me & Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

I have mixed feels for these books; the characters and style of writing. I believe it is creative, new and young. Different, we’ll say.

Hmm… Where to begin?

I’ll start with some of the shocking lines from Shatter Me, a book which to be fair, I pretty much hated and couldn’t wait to finish. My face throughout the whole experience was something close to what Ron Wealsey’s face looked like when they follow the spiders in Chamber of Secrets.

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Yeah; it was that bad.

I always wonder about raindrops.

I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.

I am a raindrop.

My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.

Yeah… that’s called raining.

I AM A RAINDROP.

Sorry.

I am nothing but novocaine. I am numb, a world of nothing, all feeling and emotion gone forever.
I am a whisper that never was.

Aha…

(*coughs*dramaticmuch?*coughs*)

He leans back against the couch. Runs a free hand over his face. Seasons change. Stars explode. Someone is walking on the moon.

Just… what? Who’s walking where? I thought he just sat down?

METAPHOR OVERLOAD.

Now I could have accepted the odd burst of fantastical creativity through literary license; the main character Juliette is in an asylum and slowly losing her mind, but the extent of the crossing out and the repetition, frankly drags. I kind of just want to bellow at Mafi “WE GET IT; YOU’RE CREATIVE.” 

But I won’t be too harsh on her; this author isn’t even 30 so I guess she’s still finding herself, right?

 

Shatter Me was just a bit of a disaster; a little bit of this and oh I’m in love with him, ooh raindrops oh no he’s dying cry cry cry oh I saved him and now I’m wearing a purple suit and all I want to do is make out with my weird ass boyfriend (who either has the personality capacity of a spoon or cardboard box; I haven’t decided yet) and mope around with my feelings ooh my feelings.

So yeah.

But I’ll give the girl some credit; Unravel Me is BETTER.

Yeah, at times I just want to kill Juliette (sorry), but it feels like we’re finally getting somewhere with Mafi’s writing! There is more of a story present and plot twists that actually came out of bloody nowhere and I LIKED IT. There were still some questionable choices though;

I want to study the secrets tucked between his elbows and the whispers caught between his knees.

Okay; I’m sorry but who whispers between people’s knees? Gynecologists? This is a dude who’s elbows have secrets…

Just… why?

Actually every time I read this line I burst out laughing.

But then Mafi’s creativeness really does pay off through Unravel Me at times.

“So much of it was like seeing myself on paper,” he whispers. “Like reading all the things I never knew how to say.”

I’ll give her that one. It was gooey and I liked it; don’t fault me, I am still young.

It’s the kind of face no one believes in anymore. 

Ahh…

Terror waves hello to me.

See! Now that last one gave me shivers and it was clever without trying too hard.

There is so much sexual tension in Unravel Me to the point I felt abused just reading it literally; WHOA I thought this was fluffy innocence and cheesy romance? I have to say I’ve got a problem with how Juliette sudden (SO GODDAMN SUDDENLY) falls in love with the man/boy who tortured her and her friends and kills for fun in the first book. Just what? I feel like Mafi had a change of heart on who she wanted as a villain and expected the reader to just go along with it. Don’t get me wrong; all the romantic stuff was good, but I felt it was so uncalled for.

Also damn her; I’ve now added a psychotic killing machine (who’s broken inside; go figure) to my list of ever growing fictional boyfriends.

I didn’t love this; I really didn’t. But it’s getting better and I always loved reading authors who grow with me (occasionally on me); so I’ll be finishing this book series out of curiosity as well as the books looking so pretty on my bookshelf; I mean cover artist: you da bomb.

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

6/10

Before I read this bright book, I had been bathed in many praises of the novel from online Bookstagrammers, and the cover kept popping up all over my feed. So I read a little bit about it; seeming like a typical YA read, marking similarities to John Green who I hold in high praises. But the cover was pretty; I could’ve done with an easy read so I dove into my poor student pockets once again. *sighs*

I read this ultimately summer novel back in November (yeah), and I promise you, I was engrossed by around page 3. I’d like to appreciate this book not just as a piece of writing but as such a creative piece visually. I mean, look at those pages!

Instantly liking both Noah and Jude, as they turn from the innocent kids you just want to protect and watch live a happy life, into dark and twisty teenagers who are just so lost and who you want to save. There is an certain theme of mystery against the storyline, where our narrators lie to each other and even to the reader; so that the most heartfelt betrayal is felt by both the characters and readers.

No, seriously; there’s a part where I gasped and yelled into my empty bedroom: “WHAT?! NO! HOW COULD YOU?” It’s brutal, trust me.

There are so many characters in this novel; few, if any, being truly happy. All of our characters have issues; big, oh-that’s-so-tragic issues. I’ll Give You The Sun is about broken people who when together can survive. Yes, yes cheesy I know; but true.

*Rendition of High School Musical’s ‘We’re All In This Together’

I’ve veered, a little.

This book fascinated me on a personal level as well; in regards to twins. I’ve always wanted a twin; being an only child for 11 years, and my mum being half a set of twin. I’ve always been in close proximity to them and the frankly weird crap that goes on between twins. Jude and Noah would give each other a piece of the world; for example; “I’ll trade you the moon and stars for the ocean.” They owned the world in their minds; hence the title I’ll Give You The Sun.

“”I love you“, I say to him, only it comes out “hey.”

So damn much,”he says back, only it comes out “dude.””

My favorite quotes from this book go on forever.

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.”

I don’t feel I’ve given our author enough credit here. This book is beautifully written with metaphors and similes which stopped me in my reading tracks to actually think about them and smile. This book, I felt, was a little young for me and would have rocked my 13 year old world; but still; effective none the less.

“”He has a very strange face; I don’t know if you notice. God was very drunk when he made him. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. Brown eye. Green eye. Crooked nose, crooked mouth. Lunatic smile. Chipped tooth. Scar here, scar there. It is a puzzle.””

I enjoyed this one; I really did. There was a questionable decision at the end but I can overlook it if I try hard enough.

Reading this felt like what I imagined being in the mind of a stoned artist would feel like.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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Breathe. I love that word; it can be so versatile; powerful and desperate; a demand, statement or plea.

Breathe!

Breathe.

Breathe!

(Can you hear it?)

Breathing is essential to life; you don’t need to be a doctor to know that. In my opinion it is the easiest of our bodily functions to explain; when in exams I’m most likely to come across a question that looks something like this:

“Describe the pathway of air into the lungs and how the structure of the respiratory system and its function helps to aid the action of breathing.”

And if you’re stuck on a question; looking up for inspiration (bio pun 😉 ), and happen to be sitting in one of the chairs within a one desk radius of myself, you’ll notice when I come to answer this, my left hand will be pressed against my chest, my right hand against my middle and my eyes closed. Because I know if I breathe, my body will tell me the answer my brain can’t remember. Breathing is the most natural thing we can do; the first thing our body must learn to do when we are born. I have the answer; I am my own personal cheatsheet.

The beauty of studying the human body is that you have a human body.

Kalanithi was human; and his own body betrayed him by attacking itself. The function of breathing which was a God given right turned into a struggle; something which must have been earned by Taking Care Of Yourself and Not Pushing It Too Far Today.

 

To start with; it’s incredibly difficult to sum this one up but I’ll give it a try:

  • Human
  • Honest
  • Enlightening

But then it was SO MUCH MORE…

In this book of defiance, I became Kalanithi’s friend; and he mine. It could be considered a book of confessions of living and what it entailed to live very fully and be waiting for the peak; the peak you planned for; the car, the holiday, the leisure of finishing a task; and to be cut short of that; his mandate which he swore his life to; is infinitely unfair.

And whilst I half whispered/sobbed into the pages sometime around 3am “It’s not fair…” I was joined in unison by Kalanithi screaming on his knees in his own despair from the ink of his book, “IT’S NOT FAIR!”

A plea, demand and statement.

Paul Kalanithi’s book has an impossibly, important message for the immediate population; regardless of profession. Read it because you’re human, and seeing the world from the other end of the line really puts things into perspective.

 

 

 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

 

Ahoy, SPOILERS AHEAD.

So, I’ve read the much-read Red Queen and… it really was quite enjoyable for a wind down read after probably the most intense set of exams I’ve had. It was simple and gripping and easy YA reading.( How much red and read can I get into this?)

At first I was ready to accept a classic romance story much along the lines of Cinderella, I had written it off already, accepted it; but boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

IT WAS SO MUCH MORE.

This needs to be said:

This may contain romantic notions but by no means is this a romance novel.

And it was savage at times, to be fair. A lot of hardcore killing what with the last lines of the book being “I will kill him.” Very cheerful. Altogether not a bad read. I knew I would love Cal from the moment he said “Thief” with surprise. And I just knew we couldn’t trust Maven. I just knew it in my gut.

I found myself finding symbols which represent other dystopian novels, and honestly; this is like a really funky fanfiction of them all. Which is enjoyable if you’re not looking for a serious read.

So, yes I will be investing in book two; Glass Sword. Another author I shall now damn for raiding my poor student pockets of funds. (Help me buy books; I’m poor. 😦 ).

Oh, and I’ve just discovered a few novellas. Double damn you, Aveyard.

I was team Cal from the beginning and I hope that picks up again and at the end, her and Cal live happily ever after. Here’s hoping.

But I hope we get some more Kilorn action out here. And I am literally a representation of Mare’s (who’s name I want spelled Maree) geeky friend who’s got a mega crush on her big brother, Shade. I like Shade. Shade hasn’t done much except exist but I like Shade; Shade’s good. Looking forward to some more Shade action.

Seeing as this isn’t Game of Thrones and I can’t ship incest to ship Maree and Shade… although there was a book or two between the Mortal Instruments Series in which we did ship Clace when they were brother and sister…well.

Definitely Team Cal up in the house.

6/10

John Green Collection

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I made it my mission to collect all of John Green’s books and it even ended up on my bucket list! Safe to say, I ticked it off!
My TFIOS copy is so beat up, I’m surprised the pages aren’t falling out like leaves, but I guess that’s what to be expected after reading it so many times. I absolutely love John Green’s TFIOS. 7/10

I loved Paper Towns and it really got me into contemporary genre that I hadn’t touched on yet, now I love it. 7/10.

I enjoyed immensely, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, it’s such an interesting idea that I feel really promoted gay equality at that time. I recommend it. I give it 6/10.

Let it Snow is not a book I would have picked up if John Green’s name wasn’t tacked onto the bottom of it, now I know that’s biased but nobody’s perfect. I enjoyed it nonetheless and it made me feel quite happy about Christmas time, I’m quite soppy when it comes to all that. I give it 5/10.
But, I can’t say I loved Looking for Alaska, at that I can almost here the gasps of horror for this much loved novel but, I have to be honest! It just didn’t jump out at me as much as Paper Towns or The Fault in Our Stars did. Most of the characters annoyed me and I didn’t really relate to the book. Don’t get me wrong, it had some great quotes but I just didn’t love it.  I feel like I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it before Paper Towns which it is very similar to; but Paper Towns trumps this.I give it 5/10.
And to finish, An Abundance of Katherines. Hands down, I disliked this book. I was very excited to read it and I was throughly disappointed. The main character made me want to scream and think “WHO WOULD DATE THIS GUY ONCE LET ALONE 19 TIMES?” and the abundance (see what I did there?) of math just bored me. Honestly, I would have preferred to have read the book from his best friend’s perspective. 4/10
JOHN GREEN IS A GENIUS THOUGH. I HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF LOVE FOR JOHN GREEN.

I feel like John Green is such a human author. He writes about real humans with real flaws and real problems and is probably to me, THE ULTIMATE Young Adult writer around at the moment if not in history. Whilst reading these books in my mid-teens I just felt like John Green got me.

So thanks dude, you’re cool.

Also his brother is an absolute babe for his FANTASTIC Biology videos on YouTube. Thanks Hank!

http://johngreenbooks.com