Book Review: A Monster Calls- Patrick Ness

images

***

“Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.”

If you’re due a good weep, then this is a good book to cry over. Conor is thirteen, he’s being bullied at school, his dad lives in America and his mum has cancer. On top of all that his grandmother keeps talking about ‘after’, and the yew tree at the back of his house wants to tell him stories.

It’s a story that deals with cancer very delicately, not focusing on the ‘sufferer’, but all those around them that are also suffering. We barely see Conor’s mum in the book, but we see the effects of her illness on her son and mother. The yew tree monster comes to Conor to tell him three stories. The fourth is to be told by Conor, and the monster demands the truth. It wants to know about Conor’s nightmare. As the novel progresses we find out more about that nightmare and why Conor doesn’t want to think about it.

The Yew Tree

The Yew Tree

It’s a beautiful story about the grieving process and how a person can grieve even if their loved one is still alive. It’s about grief and guilt and all the steps along both of those paths.

I think that this book is lovely and made all the more poignant by the fact that it was actually the final idea of Siobhan Dowd, noted down before she died of breast cancer in 2007. Patrick Ness executes her story with grace and the understanding that almost everyone has experienced grief in their lives, whether it was due to cancer or not. And that is the very reason that I think that most people will not be able to read this book without at least a twitch of a tear duct.

Read the book? Let me know what you thought!

Have you read any other books by Dowd or Ness?

Have a lovely day,

Alys.

Four Year Old Diary Entries.

Over the summer I have been looking after my Goddaughter, Phoebe. Because she’s spending the whole day with me (one day a week) I thought that it might be a nice idea to write what we had been up to in a notebook so that she could show it to her mum and dad at the end of the week, or the end of the summer. The original idea was to

Continue reading

Book Review: Bitten- Kelley Armstrong

download (2)

***

I really like this series. I first discovered it when I was eleven, on my school library. It was actually ‘Dime Store Magic’ (the third book in the series) that I found amongst the dust that day, and boy oh boy was I unprepared for it!

Firstly I need to say that these books are NOT for eleven year old’s. They are violent and sexy and not intended for anyone under the age of sixteen. (Or the legal age of consent in your country) That said, if you’re over that age then you’re in for a treat.

Continue reading

TV Tuesday: Huge

Will  (Wilhemina)has been sent to fat camp. I thought that this was going to be hilarious, and while it does have it’s moments, it’s actually got these heartbreaking moments that have tears streaming down my face. These kids have some serious underlying issues. And it’s not just the kids, we get to see the staff at the camp and their own issues. It’s interesting to see how all of the different characters found their way to the camp and their reasons why. It’s really really good! There’re all these cliché issues, but they really don’t seem cliché the way that this show does them. The inappropriate relationship is believable, the unfeeling parents are realistic, the self-esteem issues are relatable, and the characters relationships with food are as varied as the characters themselves. It’s a really rich TV show with wonderfully complex characters. Each one is flawed, as in real life, and that makes them all the more likeable, even when you want to punch them for the character traits that you don’t like about them. It’s just a really brilliant show and I truly think that it has something for everyone, just be prepared for the tears, because I certainly wasn’t!

If you watch the show, don’t forget to let me know what you think.

Have a lovely day,

Alys.

A to Z Book Survey

AUTHOR THAT YOU’VE READ THE MOST BOOKS FROM

Probably Neil Gaiman or Kelley Armstrong. Both very different, both very good!

BEST SEQUEL EVER

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is an awesome sequel, continuing the biography of Kvothe from the first book; The Name of the Wind.

download (1)

CURRENTLY READING

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

DRINK OF CHOICE WHILE READING

Tea. Always tea. What can I say, I’m English…

E-READER OR PHYSICAL BOOK?

I do prefer physical books, if only because I like to look at them on my shelves. But I like my kindle too, I like to be able to try new authors for cheaper prices and get a glut of free books. I think it’s good. Also, I took it on holiday with me last year and it was great because it was so light and easy to cart about. AND you can make notes in there without having to feel guilty about writing all over your book. (Then again, that’s what post-its are for)

FICTIONAL CHARACTER YOU PROBABLY WOULD HAVE DATED IN HIGH SCHOOL

Nobody really jumped out at me for this question, but I have always liked Shadow from American Gods by Neil Gaiman, I think we would at least have been friends. And now that I’m looking at my Neil Gaiman books I’m thinking of Tristan in Stardust. I LOVE that guy!

American Gods: Shadow by luilouie

GLAD YOU GAVE THIS BOOK A CHANCE

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (review coming soon). It’s a science fiction story about a little village that is invaded by alien Children and I really really liked it. I’d already read The Triffids by the same author, and was rather underwhelmed, so I’m really glad that I gave him a second chance!

HIDDEN GEM BOOK

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

iMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR READING LIFE

When I was about ten my mum read The Hobbit to me, one chapter a night until we’d read the whole thing. It was nice because we didn’t have the nicest relationship then, or rather, right after. It wasn’t the first fantasy book that I ever read, but it did spark a love affair that just will not dissipate!

hobbit

JUST FINISHED

& Sons by David Gilbert.

KINDS OF BOOKS THAT YOU WON’T READ

Erotica. I like my steamy scenes just like anyone else, but there has to be an actual story there too. The steamy bits need to be a part of the story and make sense in the story, rather than the whole book just being about sex.

LONGEST BOOK YOU’VE READ

I have no idea, but I’m going to hazard a guess at ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ by Patrick Rothfuss, 994 pages of fantastic fantasy.

MAJOR BOOK HANGOVER BECAUSE OF

A Dance With Dragons After the Feast. I knew that when I finished the book there wasn’t another one in the series. It made me extremely reluctant to finish reading it, and it left me with a lot of questions. I may have moped about for a few days while I tried to recover.

download (2)

NUMBER OF BOOKCASES YOU OWN

Personally I only have one, but it’s a huge one. AND the house has four or five shared out between all of us. I also have a bedside table that’s actually MADE of books.

ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES

I read everything that I own more than once. There’s no point in buying a book and reading it only once. That’s how I see it anyway. But if I have to answer, then I suppose the books that I read over and over again would be Sabriel by Garth Nix, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Ask me that again next year and I might have a different answer!

What you can't see in this image is the little charter marks covering the white bit, because they're white and shiny and beautiful...

What you can’t see in this image is the little charter marks covering the white bit, because they’re white and shiny and beautiful…

PREFERRED PLACE TO READ

Bed. It’s the only comfy place to sit in my room. But I read everywhere, walking up and down the kitchen, on the toilet, in the garden, in the shed. Anywhere really.

QUOTE THAT INSPIRES YOU

Take your pick. (Pick the one in the middle…)

dreamsyouhaveonprozac: A design I made for my local middle school. Books ♥NEIL, you've done it again!A room without books is like a body without a soul

READING REGRET

Lately I’ve been splurging a bit on buying books and I sort of regret it. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them, but a lot of them have been read once and are now in a stack waiting to go to friends or the charity shop. I need to be more selective about which books I spend money on. Aside from that, I’m running out of space in my room to store all these books that I keep buying!

SERIES YOU STARTED AND NEED TO FINISH (ALL BOOKS ARE OUT IN THE SERIES)

The Women of the Underworld series by Kelley Armstrong. I lost track of them a few years back and stopped buying the new ones. I think I’m right in saying that all of them are out now, so I need to get the last few, or at least read them.

THREE OF YOUR ALL-TIME FAVOURITE BOOKS

The Hobbit, Sabriel and The Name of the Wind. They change round quite frequently because three is just too small a number! But these three are constantly in the top ten.

UNAPOLOGETIC FANGIRL FOR:

If you hadn’t noticed yet; Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix! Oh and George R.R. Martin.

VERY EXCITED FOR THIS RELEASE MORE THAN ALL THE OTHERS

Clariel by Garth Nix. I read the Old Kingdom Trilogy when I was younger and to this day they are some of the best books that I’ve ever read. I’m excited and nervous for the next instalment to be on the shelves. Also, there’s a dragon on the cover. If that’s not exciting then I don’t know what is!

clariel

WORST BOOKISH HABIT

I leave bookmarks everywhere if that counts. Also, if I have a time limit on when to read a book, I sometimes just get put off the whole thing completely. Which can be irritating for library visits!

X MARKS THE SPOT: START AT THE TOP LEFT OF YOUR SHELF AND PICK THE 27TH BOOK:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (review and reading group)

 

YOUR LATEST BOOK PURCHASE

642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

download (6)

ZZZZZZ- SNATCHER BOOK (lAST BOOK THAT KEPT YOU UP WAY TOO LATE)

I tend to read at night anyway, so all of the books that I read keep me up at night. But the last book that I spent like two days reading solidly without stopping to eat or pee would be The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. It’s very very good.

08-20bseason_full_600

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

download (1)

*****

This is a sad book, but in a happy way. I hope that makes sense to you. It’s the story of Charlie, a boy who is just trying to live his life, but life keeps happening to him.

Continue reading

Reading Group: The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

Read my review of The Rosie Project here.

Don is obviously a difficult character, but to make the novel work the author must make him a sympathetic one too. How is this achieved?

I think one way that Simsion makes Don so relateable is because of the humour that he uses throughout the book. I’m not sure exactly how he does that, if I did, I’d have made my fortune by writing a funny book by now. But most of the humour comes from the relationships that Don has with other people around him. Rosie and Don are fantastic together. I think they need each other to balance each other out, Rosie is pretty much the only woman that would ever put up with him in the long term!

Discuss the comedy in the novel.

Oh, well I should have read all of the questions before I started shouldn’t I?

Ok, Don’s relationship with Gene is also a source of hilarity for me. Because although Don isn’t exactly an orthodox sort of character, neither is Gene. The on that is supposed to be normal is actually the one that is ruining his own family for the selfish desire to sleep with a woman from each country in the world. And that’s funny. It’s sad if you think about it properly, but sometimes you just have to skirt over the top of things, especially with this book. Because Don is telling the story, we do not see much of the sad side of Gene’s family, it’s only at the end when Don really steps out of himself enough to realise that his best friend is an arsehole. But because throughout most of the novel Don is almost as selfish as Gene, we see the comedy of their relationship.

The novel is ultimately a love story – discuss the relationship between Rosie and Don.

As I said earlier, Rosie and Don are perfect for each other. Don needs someone that balances out his social difficulties and brings him out of his comfort zone a little. And Rosie needs someone to calm her down a little, someone stable that she can rely on. And they both get what they need in each other. It could easily have gone a different way, Don could have continued to be selfish and Rosie could have continued to be hurt by it, but they both changed themselves for each other, and that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it means that they’ve grown as a person.

Would you like to see The Rosie Project made into a movie and, if so, who do you see playing the main roles?

They actually ARE turning this into a film aren’t they? I have no idea who should play the main roles. I really don’t. I like to be surprised by films that are based on books, just because I imagine the characters one way, and an actor or actress is never going to be the exact same as that. I don’t know if that’s a cop out, but I’m still not going to answer it! Who do YOU think would be good at playing the main characters?

Have you read The Rosie Project? Let me know YOUR answers to these questions!

Have a lovely day,

Alys.

Book Review: The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

Rosie

 

*****

After only one reading, this book has made it into my ‘All Time Favourite’s list. It was totally not what I was expecting, I thought it was about a scientist that created an A.I. woman after giving up on finding love. I was completely wrong! (Although that would be interesting to read) Continue reading

Book Review: Bitter Greens- Kate Forsyth

****

I am so glad that I found this book in the library. It’s so GOOD! It tells the tale of three women- their whole lives interwoven into a single story. Kate Forsyth has certainly done her homework on this one, finding the origins of the tale ‘Rapunzel’ and telling us how it made its way to being written in both Italian, and later French. Charlotte- Rose de Caumont de la Force was a noble at the Sun Court of Louis XIV, a real woman, and she is the lynch-pin of this whole story in a way.

As Forsyth tells the true story of her misfortunate life she weaves in the stories of Margherita (Persinette/Petrosinella/Rapunzel) an Italian child who was accidentally sold to a witch by her parents. The witch bathed in her blood for youth and longevity. Margherita is taken from her family to a nunnery to live until she is on the cusp of womanhood, and then transferred to an abandoned tower. She discovers that the witch has kept other girls there and as they died has shorn their heads. Margherita is forced to bear the weight of their hair as the witch has sewn it into the girl’s own. That story runs the way that the story of Rapunzel usually runs, except that in this version Margherita meets Giambattista Basile and tells him her story. He writes is down, but mentions to her that he would change the ending. (Giambattista Basile is the Italian man who first wrote down the story of Rapunzel)

The third woman that is integral to this story is the true lynch-pin, La Strega. The Witch. Selena Leonelli was born in Venice, the daughter of a courtesan. She grew up in a large house and dressed in the best clothes, but when her mother tries to leave the city a  rich and powerful patron has her punished severely (this scene is quite graphic and involves rape, so don’t buy this book for your kids) and she dies soon after, leaving Selena alone. She becomes apprenticed to a witch named Sibillia who bathes in her blood for youth and teaches her her secrets. She also binds Selena to Venice with a spell, preventing her from ever leaving. Selena thrives under Sibillia’s tutelage but then the plague comes to Venice and she is left alone once more. She carves a life for herself as a courtesan, now completely terrified by the passage of time. She has an affair with painter Tiziano and was immortalised in his work, but that was not enough. She took eight girls to the tower (Margharita being the ninth) and bathed in nine drops of their blood every month.

It’s a fascinating book and beautifully written, one that I recommend to all of you. I think all three women are fantastic examples of life in the time period, whilst obviously having elements of fantasy (Witchcraft, anyone?) My favourite would probably be Charlotte-Rose however, because she was a real person and because the things that happen to her in the book, really did happen. Even the more fantastical things like dressing in a bearskin so that she could smuggle herself into the home of her fiancé. She was daring and sparkly and just fantastic and I wish that she could have had a happier life, because if she didn’t exactly deserve it, she was still worthy of it.

This is definitely one that’s made it onto my buying list!

Let me know what you thought of it.

Have a lovely day,

Alys.

Book Review: Thinner- Richard Bachman/Stephen King

book-film-review-stephen-king-s-thinner

***

It surprises me that anyone was ever fooled by the pseudonym of ‘Richard Bachman.’ This book has all of the Stephen King traits; Buicks, Maine, long road trips and a protagnonist that is almost human in their contradictions; perhaps that is why ‘Bachman’ didn’t really last very long.

Thinner is about a fat man who is cursed by a gypsy and loses weight. If that’s all there was to it I’m sure we’d all be running out to find ourselves a Romany, but that’s not how curses work. Billy Halleck, the fat man, can’t stop losing weight and it’s going to kill him.

Continue reading