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3 books from my Summer TBR

Posted in Books
on July 23, 2016

P1060596 (2)Despite having a gazillion books already on my TBR, here I am with another tab open searching for new books. My amazon basket currently contains four books with 170 items saved for later – the book obsession is bad.

This Summer I’m hoping to get on top of my goodreads challenge because my attempt this year is pathetic, especially considering that this time last year I’d already completed it. In order to achieve it I’m going to need to read like 4 books every month so that’s fab (no, seriously. It is).

At the moment I’m reading Happy People Read & Drink Coffeee by Agnes Martin Lugand, a book I picked up in Dublin a couple of weeks ago. I can’t say it’s amazingly written but I’ve managed to read the majority of it pretty quickly and I’d still say it’s fairly good. I’m loving most of the characters and the plot is really heartbreaking. I may have cried a few times in the 175 pages I’ve read so far.

The other books on my TBR are probably books that I’ll continue to put off as new books bump them down my list. I bought Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre last month I think after visiting the Bronte Parsonage and Haddon Hall (where the film is set). Shockingly I’ve never actually read anything by the Bronte’s despite visiting the Bronte Country quite a lot. Jane Eyre is one that has always been on my TBR along with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I started reading Jane Eyre a while ago but my reading slump was bad and a 500+ page book was just too daunting.

Whilst buying Jane Eyre I also bought The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison which is supposed to be an incredible book. I’ve wanted to read some of Morrison’s books for a long while so I’m chuffed that I finally went to Waterstones and didn’t get distracted by all the other pretty little books in there. This book sounds so touching and heartbreaking and with it only being pretty short I reckon it’ll be a great one to read to get me that one step closer to my goodreads goal.

Finally there’s See Me by Nicholas Sparks because what is summer without a Nicholas Sparks novel? I’m really hoping I pick this up and read it soon because it’s been so long since I read one of his books. The last one being The Last Song which I read like 4 years ago so I’m looking forward to delving into another.

Notice how this blog post is called “3 books from my TBR” because I have that many. I’m also hoping to read Beth‘s recommendation of When We Collided after I 100% failed at our readathon (sorry Beth, I’m finally getting round to it!!) and also The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent because I spotted it at the checkouts in Waterstones last time I was in there and I was SO close to buying it if my total hadn’t come to over £40. Ooops.

What books are on your TBR? Have you achieved your goodreads goal?

 

Books I read in April

Posted in Books
on May 4, 2016

P1060041 (1)P1060050I really wish the colours didn’t clash with eachother.

April was a pretty good reading month, especially in comparison to the past few months of 2016. I’m also half way through Generation X which I’m loving so far. It will, no doubt, be in a blog post next week.

I accidentally featured The Outsider in my previous book post, it definitely wasn’t supposed to be there but obviously I wasn’t thinking properly when I wrote it. I won’t repeat myself because you can just go over and read that post. It was such a good book, plus with it being fairly short it’s an easy book to read. I loved that it’s about breaking out of normality, even if it does take things to the extreme. Although what Mersault does is a little crazy, he still made me question certain things that actually do happen in everyday life.

I can’t remember which I read first, I’ll Meet You There or The Outsider, not that it matters, in fact that’s 100% irrelevant to the blog post. I enjoyed I’ll Meet You There, it wasn’t a great book exactly but it was still a book I’m glad I read. I missed those days where I’d go to bed early just to read and this rekindled that. I liked how relatable all the characters were and although the storyline was a little predictable, I still think it conveyed all it’s sensitive subjects really well.

Finally, I read Veronika Decides To Die, which is a book my brother has been asking me to read for ages. Although it was ridiculously saddening to have to borrow his battered copy which is filled with highlighted paragraphs and notes scribbled everywhere (sorry jord), I’m still really glad that I read it. I loved that you learned things within the pages, and it too talked about things that happen in the world and it actually makes you question who are more crazy: the people in the institute, or us. Paulo Coelho actually spent 3 years in a mental institution for wanting to be a writer and so it all seems like a pretty accurate representation. Coelho manages to make you see the world in a different way and I love that about this book.

What’ve you been reading recently? Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Books I’ve Read (so far)

Posted in Books
on April 27, 2016

P1050983 (3)OK so this is the post that will push me to read more because if I’m expected to upload monthly books like last year then I need more books, obviously. 2016 started out as quite a slow reading year which is incredibly annoying. I think my problem is that I’ve been pushing myself to read different books and therefore I lost my enjoyment a little. Obviously I want to expand my reading comfort zone but I seem to have sacrificed the books that I do like in order to do that. I really want to read more classics this year but I need to set my monthly TBR so there’s a mix of other books in there too. To be honest I think it’s just time a placed a hefty book order and be all excited, and read at every given opportunity again.

1) Night Owls – Jenn Bennett (Read: 7th Jan)

This was the first book I read this year and I’ll admit, I chose it because I knew I’d be able to finish it quickly. It’s fairly short and easy to read and I read it within a couple of days but I can’t really say I liked it. I didn’t like the characters or the plot. It all just seemed too simple and predictable, and not my cup of tea at all.

2) And The Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks – Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs (Read: 17th Jan)

I adore Jack Kerouac. I was interested in the story because it’s about the murder that was committed in the friendship group – when Lucien Carr murdered David Kammerer. It’s a story I found to be entirely different from the movie Kill Your Darlings, in fact I hated the movie. I like that the book is told from two perspectives (Mike Ryko and Will Dennison) and that the Ryko chapters were written by Kerouac and the Dennison chapters by Burroughs. The book has been fictionalised but is all based on the true story of the muder and despite it being a dark subject I still find their conversations and characters fascinating. With Kerouac, there are always such meaningful quotes that I stumble across and The Hippos doesn’t disappoint.

“I had the feeling that all over America such stupid arguments were taking place on street corners and in bars and restaurants. All over America, people were pulling credentials out of their pockets and sticking them under someone else’s nose to prove they had been somewhere or done something.”

3) The Graduate – Charles Webb (Read: 3rd March)

I’m kinda gutted because this book is one that everyone seems to read and is a classic but I just didn’t like it at all. It all just seemed unnecessary and pointless. I read this fairly quickly, within a day, which was a pro since it boosted my Goodreads reading challenge a tiny bit. I reckon it’s worth a read just so you can make your own opinion but it’s not gone down in one of my all time favourites unfortunately.

4) A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (Read: 12th March)

This book broke my heart. I’ve never been so emotional while reading a book before. I cried my eyes out. This book has the best characters and the most heartbreaking plot. Every word in the 720 pages is necessary and contributes somehow to the ending. I love that all the characters are super supportive of Jude despite not knowing what is going on with him. I also love that the reader doesn’t quite know either. It feels like you’re a part of the friendship group and not an outsider looking in. There’s so much more I could say about this but I won’t repeat myself, you can read my full review HERE.

“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”

5) A Spool Of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler (Read: 26th March)

This is quite a slow paced book but I loved it all the same. It’s a story of the Whitshank family and it spools back through three generations. There are so many moments within the book that you can relate to and things that happen in pretty much all families. I just wished it told more of the other generations. I loved Denny, he was probably my favourite character despite being the one that caused most conflict, but I wish there was more of Red and Abby, and Linnie Mae and Junior, but that’s my only issue with it. I’d still highly recommend it.

6) The Outsider – Albert Camus (Read: 2nd April)

Everyone knows I love a good book against conformity and I like having a good ol’ rant about it so it was perfect to read a book about it too. It’s only 111 pages long but I wish it was longer. Meursault refuses to feel the things that people expect him to do and reading it opens your eyes to the things that we do/feel in order to satisfy other poeple. He commits a crime and his refusal to show remorse or sadness gets him into more trouble with the law. After finishing it I kinda felt awkward, like I was living in this absurdity because it’s true, there are so many unnecessary things we do in everyday life purely because they are expected of us. We are expected to stress about exams, or worry what people might think of us, or see things as either right or wrong when sometimes it is neither. Meursault takes it all to extreme lengths but he still remains a character that you like anyway.

Just writing this post has motivated me to read more. I went book shopping yesterday so hopefully May will be the month I finally boost my goodreads challenge. I’m aiming for five books – wish me luck.

What have you read recently? Any new favourites?

 

A Little Life

Posted in Books
on April 16, 2016

P1050987 (1)Oh god, I never thought I’d be writing this post because I actually never thought I’d be finishing the book in the first place. Talk about emotional rollercoasters.

Basically in February I wrote a blog post that I never published with the title “Why I decided to stop reading” and it basically consisted of my argument to myself of why I had to stop reading A Little Life because I’d become so disturbed and saddened by the storyline that I felt it was best not to go any further and leave it at page 350. I even gave the book back because I didn’t even want to think of it ever again. Yes, I am that dramatic.

Thankfully, I did repurchase the book when I saw it in ASDA for £4 (what a steal) and finished it within a couple of days. The book is 720 pages long and that feels like an achievement in itself. It seems that I can’t just put a book down in the middle like I’d thought because the characters somehow lived on and my mind tried to make up the ending and, I don’t know, I needed to know. Lets call it closure or something. Also a friend read and finished the book and that forced me to continue. Immediately after finishing the book, still with tears in my eyes, I quickly grabbed my laptop and wrote down my whole thoughts so please bare in mind that the majority of this post was written minutes after putting the book down with tears streaming down my face.

I very rarely do a review dedicated to just one book because, I’ll be honest, I’m pretty crap at writing them unless I’m completely invested. It’s not often I find a book where I just want to talk about it all day everyday, but this made an exception. This is a book I’ll be talking about forever, it has been about 5 weeks and I still can’t stop thinking about it so I felt this deserved a proper review because no tiny paragraph in a monthly round-up will do it justice.

From the back of the book I got the impression it was just about the lives of four best friends but I’ll just put it out there that the blurb is incredibly misleading. Like I said I ended up getting to pages 300-400 and being unable to finish because of the dark turn that I was and wasn’t expecting. I was expecting it because of all the other reviews I’ve read prior to reading, but I wasn’t because I’d become so invested in the characters that I couldn’t believe it was possible. I struggled reading this book because the dark parts are discussed in great depth and I found it disturbing to read. I actually began to feel sick and anxious as I read which is also why I wanted to write this post so that other people don’t start this book thinking they’ve found themselves a nice summer read. A Little Life discusses abuse: mental, physical and sexual. It is one of the hardest books I’ve ever read and one that I won’t be rereading, or recommending lightly.

Although there are a lot of horrific chapters and characters that I hated, there are also the very incredible friendship that Jude, Willem, Malcolm, and even (at times) JB share. It’s about the relationships that form randomly, and also about people who enter our lives who change it forever. This book kinda shows that some people that cross our paths (Willem, Harold, Andy and Julia) really are heaven sent.

After reading it I’ve found it quite difficult to read any book without comparing the characters to them. Hanya Yanagihara has written a story about friendship and love so strong that nobody could write anything like it. I became so invested in the characters she created that I actually felt I was my own character inside the novel and long after I’d finished the book my mind was still in it, and certain parts would suddenly hit me which would either make me feel happy or want to curl up in my blanket and cry again. Seriously.

A Little Life is 720 pages and although it’s length would be offputting to some people, each page was definitely required. With most long books I find myself getting bored and feeling like some parts are unnecessary but everything Hanya has written within these pages is incredibly relevant and without it’s length the story would be massively sacrificed. Never has a book made me feel so sick and sad yet also made me smile and laugh. I have cried tears of sadness and tears of joy. There is no way that I could say that I enjoyed reading this book because it pretty much destroyed me, but it is one of the best books I’ve ever read, so I’m not quite sure what word I would use to describe that.

Hanya Yanagihara has written something amazing, a novel that I didn’t know could ever exist. Her writing is both heartbreaking and sensitive to everything that happens and I don’t think anyone else could’ve ever written a story so heartwrenching and done it justice. Her writing in turn makes me want to be a better writer and makes me believe that it is possible that such incredible writing can exist.

There were times I found the story a little unrealistic and full on, but everything else seemed to make up for that. I am incredibly glad that I continued reading despite breaking the promise to myself that I wouldn’t. I’m also glad that when other people talk about A Little Life, I can be a part of the discussion because this book needs to be discussed.

‘When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.’

If you want to read this book then go ahead, but would I tell you to read this book like I do with so many other books I review here? No. I probably wouldn’t. I don’t think I could ever recommend this book without knowing the person well enough. I also don’t think this book should be read alone like I started out because I know that I needed to constantly discuss each chapter with someone just to get all my thoughts out of my system.

All in all, it remains the most difficult book I’ve ever read and also one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you’ve read it please leave your own thoughts.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Have you read A Little Life? What did you think?

Books I’ve Read – December

Posted in Books
on December 30, 2015

P1050260THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER/ THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER – Michelle Hodkin

These were both rereads for me. They were my favourite books a couple of years ago so I thought I’d reread them 2 years after and I love them still. The first time I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I found it quite slow and confusing in places, however rereading proved otherwise as there’s so much written in those parts that I’d never noticed before and hint at things later in the plot. The Evolution of Mara Dyer was always my favourite of the series but I think now it’s reversed. The first book is so much better than I ever realised.

When Mara Dyer wakes up in hospital with no memory of how she got there, or any explanation as to why the bizarre accident that caused the deaths of her boyfriend and two best friends left her mysteriously unharmed, her doctors suggest she start over in a new city at a new school, and just hope her memories gradually come back.

But Mara’s new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere and now she’s started to see other people’s deaths before they happen. Is she going crazy? As if dealing with all this isn’t enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, can’t seem to leave her alone. But does he have her best interests at heart, or another agenda altogether? 

ON THE ROAD – Jack Kerouac

I love reading books that talk about conformity which is why I bought this book (and also because Amazon suggested it). I loved both Sal and Deans characters, and I managed to feel so sorry for Dean as the story progressed and people began to lose faith in him. I loved the road trips and the people they meet along the way, and I also love that it’s all based on Jack’s life and the characters in there are based on his writer friends: Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs, etc.

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

What did you read in December? Have you read any of these?