Monday, 6 May 2013

The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

In 1913 a young girl finds herself stranded in Australia with no idea who she is or where she came from. When Nell turns 21 her family tell her of how they found her and it changes her life. Finally in 1975 Nell decides to track down her real family and find out how she got from England to Australia on her own. However, things happen and Nell's determination to discover the truth is interrupted. Instead it's left to Nell's granddaughter after she has been left a cottage in Cornwall. It's 2005 now and Cassandra decides to find out the truth about her grandmother and her own family history.

I have to say that this didn't quite live up to my expectations. I think if I had read this before everyone told me how brilliant it was I might have enjoyed it for what it was that little bit more. Instead I found it to be a little bit too long and dragged a little in parts. Whilst I enjoyed the sections with Nell and Cassandra I found the sections with the authoress to be a little dull. Normally I would love that sort of thing but it just didn't feel right to me. As I got into the book though it did get better. I think the mystery unfolding helped there although I had guessed much of it before the end. I also quite liked the authoress herself. Much more than the rest of her family, including her cousin and best friend.

That family, ick. Typical, creepy, upper class family. The uptight mother who will do anything to protect her precious. The creepy father who hides away dreaming about his long lost sister (not in the good sense of dreaming - shudder). Then there is the equally uptight and spoiled daughter who takes delight in befriending the authoress in order to irritate her mother. I confess that by the end I had felt sorry for the daughter but I still didn't like her very much. Have to feel for the authoress being stuck with them.

What I really liked about the book was Nell and Cassandra trying to unlock the past. They really had very little to go on. Just a small suitcase containing a book of fairy tales which were illustrated by a famous artist. Yet somehow with little (and no internet back then) Nell managed to uncover most of it with Cassandra getting there in the end years later. I especially liked reluctant Cassandra forming unexpected attachments.

There is of course the garden element of the book. I'm not going to say much about that other than the fact that it did remind me quite a bit of The Secret Garden. Quite a lot of parallels in there such as the sick cousin being promised a trip to the garden. Anyway, I get the feeling that this author was a fan of the children's book.

It sounds like I didn't enjoy the book but actually I did. I gave it 4/5 stars on goodreads and wouldn't have done that had I not enjoyed it. I just don't think it was quite as brilliant as it's reputations suggested. As I said earlier it was a little long in parts and could have done with a little editing but that's just my humble opinion. Also don't let my review put you off. I bet most people prefer the flashbacks to the authoress than to the sections with Nell and Cassandra.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

April Overview/ Month Ahead

I have been on a blogger lull of late. Mainly because I have been doing course work and exams. All of which are over now and I think I have passed. I've also been running about doing other things. I did manage a visit to the library though. Had to renew One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and my order of Lamb had just come in. Couldn't leave without checking out a few others.

So here is my reading month;

1. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (re-read)
2. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
3. John Dies @ The End - David Wong
4. Afterwards - Rosamun Lupton.

Yep, not a lot and I can't just blame the exams. I have been reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for about a month now and I just can't get into it. I thought I had lost my reading mojo again but since putting this aside for the moment I have read a book and a half. So it's not me it's my relationship with the book. I am going to get back to it though because I feel I should love it and so far nothing much has happened. I loved the film so I should love this.

My favourite of the bunch is Cold Comfort Farm without a doubt. I loved this book and I am thinking of picking up a copy of my own. John Dies @ The End was one of the oddest books I have ever read. The most disappointing was Afterwards. I loved Sister and this one just didn't live up to it. Having said that I still enjoyed it.

For this month I plan on working my way through this small pile of library books. I am back on placement as of next week but I am Monday-Friday short shifts so I should still get reading done. Even with course work. I picked up the Michael Connelly book because I had just read my first one. I quite liked it. It wasn't an exciting read but I felt that I wasn't done with these characters and so picked The Reversal up when I saw it on the shelf. I picked up the Jo Nesbo because so many people have raved about it but I'm not sure I am willing to splurge on the books just yet. The woes of being a student mean I have to be careful with book buying these days. Tend to feel a little guilty when it's not a nursing book. I've never read a Sebastian Faulks but I remember when I saw A Week In December on the shelves in the book shop. Someone put me off it at the time but seeing it in the library rekindled my interest.

So that's what my upcoming month looks like. Hope everyone else had a good month and got lots of good reading in. Going to leave you with a recent book purchase. I haven't completely stopped buying books and I saw this one in a sale. Haven't read On The Road by Jack Kerouac but I love this cover. All about the cover love.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Still Alive!

I was doing so well in updating my reviews and then it all went to pot. I am still alive though. Since I was here last I have had exams. I also had a large report that I decided to change two nights before it was due. There may have been a little stress. I also was in fear of developing pressure sores after spending hours in front of the computer in the library. Not to worry, I am pressure sore-less. I have also been organising events for my knitting group (how many of you knew I ran one?). We were celebrating five years running and I had lots of things planned. Which is also why I am sadly not joining in the readathon this weekend.

I have had a fun week though and a few ladies from the group made me this pretty bag to match some cushions I made a while ago. I just want to hug it! Tomorrow I get to see some friends I haven't seen in months and I might actually get back to my book after a 2 week hiatus.

Happy readathon everyone!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Amsterdam - Ian McEwan

After a prolonged illness Molly Lane has passed away. Many of her friends have come along to the funeral to pay their respects much to the chagrin of her husband as a fair few were former lovers. Foreign secretary Julian Garmony, composer Clive Linley and editor Vernon Halliday are three such guests. Clive and Vernon had actually become friends due to their connection to Molly Lane and their mutual dislike of Garmony. After the funeral Vernon comes across the opportunity to bring down right winger Garmony and gets his friend involved. However, this hatred and plan for revenge comes crashing down around them.

I forgot this was a Man Booker winner. It wasn't why I picked it up although I have been curious about his winning book. It was more I was in the mood to read one of his books and this was the only one the library had. Having read it I do still think that Atonement is the superior even though that was only short listed.

The characters Clive and Vernon are unlikely friends. They really don't have all that much in common. Clive lives in a world of music and that's all he really cares about. His social circle in the past have always revolved around music and the arts. Molly was a big part of that too and it was really only through her that Vernon was brought into Clive's world. I don't really understand how the two connected considering they have no real respect for each other. Vernon on the other hand is a newspaper editor. Has worked for the papers for years and is well respected in his field.

At this point their hatred of Garmony seems to be their only connection. Especially since Molly is now dead. Garmony is a right winger. Not all right wingers are bad but this one seems to go to the extreme. Or at least he would if he could and it looks like he is heading to be in that position. This is why Vernon gets involved and it just so happens that Molly's husband is able to help. A lot of this hatred and vindictiveness though is petty rather than for political reasons and you do have to wonder what Molly seen in each of them (and this includes her husband). Was she just attracted to their talent? As much as each of the characters repulsed me in some way I had to read on and see what would happen. This seems to be typical of McEwan. The characters always have a darker side, usually a selfish and petty one. In this case all of them.

The book was very well written. Points of view from each of the two men which gave insight into each of their worlds and was important to the ending. As for Amsterdam. Well, it isn't too clear why the book was given that title until the end when all was revealed. A great book and a great ending.

Monday, 15 April 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. A fun way for everyone to share their reading week.

I have been MIA the last few weeks as far as this meme has been concerned. I have still been reading and I am almost up to date with my reviews. So I haven't been slacking. Having said that I am just going to post last weeks reads.

Last week I read;

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Very much enjoyed it. I haven't read this in years so I had forgotten much of it.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I picked this up on a whim at the library and now I am going to have to buy my own copy. Loved it!

Just now I am reading;

John Dies @ the End by David Wong. This is one of the strangest books I have read.

Next I plan to read;

Afterwards  by Rosamund Lupton. Another library whim but I have been wanting to read this since it first came out. I loved Sister so I am looking forward to it.

Not much else to say news wise. Been keeping my head down and studying for exams. This time next week it will all be over

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Sunset Limited - Cormac McCarthy

Mr White and Mr Black are in the home of Mr Black. MR Black has just saved Mr White from jumping in front of The Sunset Limited. He refuses to let him leave until he can gain some understanding as to why he might do that. He also wants to convince Mr White that there is more out there and more to life and that someone cares for him. Mr Black found God when he was in prison and about to die. He doesn't have much in life other than the four walls around him. Mr White on the other hand has done fairly well for himself. He is a professor but also an atheist.

When I picked this up in the library I was unaware that McCarthy had written any plays. In fact this is his second. It's also the second book I have read by him and I'm not exaggerating if I say that The Road and this is completely different. Night and day.

Anyway, I have to confess that had I known there was a religious theme to the book then I would have avoided it. Like Mr White I am a sceptic and I hate it when one character tries to convince another to believe. Mr Black isn't really preaching though. He is just trying to stop Mr White from carrying out his earlier intentions. He wants to save his life rather than his soul. So the religious content didn't so much bother me in the end.

The play was rather short and it took me no time at all to read. It was set in only the one room and I imagine it would have been quite interesting to go and see. As I have learnt from previous plays you can get as much out of them as novels. I just wish that maybe I had taken a little bit more time with it. Mr Black was the more interesting of the two characters. He has had a hard life and yet he goes out of his way to save someone completely different from himself. Mr White doesn't seem to appreciate and it's harder to gauge what Mr White is all about. Perhaps he himself doesn't know.

It was an interesting idea and I after weeks of mulling it over I have decided that I did like it. Glad I picked it up on a whim.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Hunger Games!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was one of those books I read before my blog existed. It was back when I still worked with books and one of the few times I wasn't involved in the children's or YA books. A friend of mine had taken over that position and she would push all her books on me. This is the friend I have told you about before. The one who pretty much reads YA exclusively. She does occasionally make a foray into the grown up world but it's rare and usually comes as a surprise to her when she does. Back then I still devoured YA so I was usually happy to read the books she recommended (apart from the times she managed to get zombie books past my radar but that's another story).

The Hunger Games was one of those books that I was actually reluctant to read. I was sure it had been done before and so I wasn't interested. I really wish I had kept a book journal back then so that I could look back at what I was thinking as I read but alas I didn't. When I finally agreed to give it a go it was with a determination that I wouldn't like it (which is unusual for me). My friend was right though and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It had it's faults but I could ignore that for the most part. That scene with Rue (you know the one) melted my heart and from then on in I was hooked. I loved the next two books too. I think I probably enjoyed the third book more than most of the fans did. I think most people were expecting more of the same thing and were disappointed when it took a different turn. I would have been disappointed had it not taken a new direction.

So when the film came out I didn't want to see it. Now this is not unusual. I hate films that destroy my favourite books and it has happened so many times in the past that I now have trust issues. So I didn't go and see it and I have managed to avoid most advertising for it when the DVD came out. I then made the mistake of joining netflix and last week I gave in and watched it.

It has to be one of the few films that I have loved as much as the book (that's two in a row with Perks being the last one). One minute I was thinking I'm not going to enjoy this the next I was holding my breath because I knew what happened next. It was very well done and Jennifer Lawrence was a perfect choice for Katniss (something else I very rarely agree on). There were certainly things missing but I had read the book so long ago that I probably didn't notice half of them. Then the moment I was not looking forward to came. Yep, that scene with Rue and I sobbed my heart out. I mean proper sobbing. It would have been mortifying had I not been on my own.

So now I am eagerly anticipating Catching Fire. Of course I won't be going to see it in the cinema as I remember crying reading that book too.