Tag: classic

Book Review: The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

In today’s book review post, I am featuring my review for the first non-fiction book I read this year – A Diary of a Young Girl. I have been making more of an effort to read non-fiction of late, and so I felt it fitting that I also feature this on my blog. It reflects my current reading, and this book naturally led to some very strong emotions.

A Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

Genre: Non-fiction/classic

Pages: 283

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Fingerprint Classics

Publication Date: 1947

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank’s extraordinary diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, has become a world classic and a timeless testament to the human spirit. Now, in a new edition enriched by many passages originally withheld by her father, we meet an Anne more real, more human, and more vital than ever. Here she is first and foremost a teenage girl—stubbornly honest, touchingly vulnerable, in love with life. She imparts her deeply secret world of soul-searching and hungering for affection, rebellious clashes with her mother, romance and newly discovered sexuality, and wry, candid observations of her companions. Facing hunger, fear of discovery and death, and the petty frustrations of such confined quarters, Anne writes with adult wisdom and views beyond her years. Her story is that of every teenager, lived out in conditions few teenagers have ever known.

 

My Thoughts…

Having read so much historical fiction, particularly around World War II as I’m interested in the subject, I’m surprised I hadn’t read this book before now. Most of the narratives are about the overarching movements on the war, but it’s personal stories that really make it hit home. But this isn’t fiction. Anne Frank was a real young lady, who went into hiding because a regime did not like her faith. All the devastation that took place is disgusting.

Up until the family go into hiding, Anne lives a reasonably normal life. She has a school and classmates… A family who love her. All the things a child should have. Fear and doubt are not things that a child her age should know, but they come soon enough. There is a stark difference between the schoolgirl gifted a diary for her birthday, and the young woman confined into the Annex.

Throughout her diary we watch Anne struggle to come to terms with her new life, her relationships and living in a small space with very few provisions. Through the various chapters, we experience Anne’s day-to-day struggles, angst and moods, as well as her extended periods of melancholy. Anne becomes a teenager in The Annex; she has to battle with herself to come into her own, deal with her hormones and the like with no help or privacy.

The knowledge that this is a real girl’s diary makes the content all the more stark. That I concluded this read on the day Russia invaded Ukraine brought this to the forefront of my mind once again.

It is an educational read that helps those of us who have never known such hardship to really understand the atrocities experienced by the Franks, amongst others, had to live through. But, it also has a glimmer of hope – as it highlights those who risked themselves to hide and protect Jews. It is a pity it was in vain for too many people.

I don’t know what I expected, but the abrupt ending of the diary left me at a loss. Naturally, Anne had no inkling of their discovery and so there was no lead-up to that in her narrative. To mentally conclude the book, I researched what happened to the family after the events in her diary, and I was saddened by the reality. It is sad that anyone should go through this, but the truth is, so many lives ended in similar, or worse ways.

The Diary of a Young Girl wasn’t light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is important. It gives insight into the horrors that oppressed Jews had to live in, and only through wearing their shoes can we understand how they lived, suffered and fought for their lives.

Have you read The Diary of a Young Girl? What are your thoughts on this book? As always, let me know in the comments or on social media.

 

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Book Review: Dune – Frank Herbert

Today’s book review is slightly later than scheduled as I had an exam on Wednesday that I was preparing for. I’m pleased to say that all my efforts were worth it and I passed!

I’m looking forward to sharing today’s review of Dune by Frank Herbert. It is a book I really enjoyed reading earlier this year and is the introduction to a grand science-fiction series but I’m looking forward to exploring in more detail!

 

Dune – Frank Herbert

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 577

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Hodder

Publication Date: 16/07/2015

Rating: ****

 

Goodreads – Dune

Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.

In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.

And his journey will change the universe.

 

My Thoughts…

Having just read a science-fiction novel before reading Dune, I was excited to immediately pick up another. It’s a genre I am reading a lot more of. But where my prior read, The Feedback Loop, was light and palatable, Dune offered me a fantasy-esque epicness I love! I had sampled of the first few pages of the book casually before, so I had an idea of what I was committing to reading. And yet, it became so much more! Dune was plenty I hoped for, and then some more.

This book is a science-fiction on a grand scale. There is a vast amount of history in world-building that is incorporated even as the opening chapters unfold. It is clear that a lot of investment was put into the characters backstory, and it is entertaining to uncover as the main story begins. There is a lot of familial conflict and resentment that drive the plot. Think of Game of Thrones, but in space! It’s a complex web of alliances and forces, but without being too difficult to follow.

The events that take place are consistent within the universe created and the flow of the narrative is impressive. There are also elements of mystical powers and magic to the story, which I really enjoyed. As a huge fantasy fan, this really appealed to me, although unfortunately the book employed some fantasy tropes I am less than enthusiastic for.

Our protagonist Paul is his mother’s son, and much more besides. Jessica is Bene Gesserit, part of an exclusive sisterhood who have trained themselves to acquire and hone magical abilities. We discover very early on that Paul has inherited these abilities, and Jessica has been training him to control them. What I really didn’t like, however, is that boys are not supposed to have the magical power that Paul does. But of course, Paul having this ability makes him *much better* than women who have it.

Obviously… Why is this gender difference a thing?

There is another character for whom I think the author did injustice, and that is our villain, Baron Harkonnen. Described as so grossly fat that he cannot support his own weight every time he appears in the narrative, Frank Herbert shows an obvious prejudice that he employs to paint this already immoral character in an even worse light. This isn’t the worst though. Around 200 pages in, I feel like the author challenges to make Baron Harkonnen even more of a villain, and decided to do so by making him gay. Bear in mind the book was originally published in 1965, and in this sense it definitely shows its age. Society has a very different attitude now to that which was present when the book was published – and certainly for the better!

Whilst I didn’t love every aspect of the book, overall I enjoyed it very much and added the sequel to my TBR immediately after finishing it (which I have since gone and read). No book is ever perfect, and the great elements outweigh the few gripes I have. It’s an entertaining science-fiction read all the same, and a bit of a classic, so I hope that you will give it a chance for yourself!

Have you read Dune, or any other books in the series? Have you watched the recent film that was released? I’d love to hear in the comments!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Characters

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I’m featuring my top ten bookish characters. I’ll admit that I actually struggled to put this list together a little bit. Despite having read so many books, I don’t typically read anything with bookworms for characters. That being said, I have just about managed to scrape together a list; if you love your bookish characters as well, then check out my list below and which books they are from so you can check them out for yourself!

 

Hermione Granger

This one is a fairly obvious start, but as I’ve just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, this was the first name that popped into my head. Hermione is very intelligent, and can always be found with a book in hand. It suits her personality very well and she is one of the most likable characters… even if she can be a little bit of a snotty goody-two-shoes sometimes!

 

Liesel Meminger

Readers of The Book Thief will be familiar with Liesel, and the book title tells you everything you need to know! Liesel loves books so much that she will go out of her way to steal them. What is also very endearing is that reading is something she does with her foster father and it is a bonding activity for them. Readers can really empathise with Liesel, because a lot of the time she reads to escape her reality – Germany in the middle of the Second World War.

 

Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion is one of my favourite characters in the Game of Thrones series. Not only does he have his head screwed on the most, but he is also an avid bookworm. From history tomes to books about dragons, nothing is off-limits for Tyrion. He also reads for some personal solace; as a dwarf, he is ridiculed by almost everybody, despite his birth. Especially by his father. From birth he was never destined to follow his brother in prowess as a knight, but instead he made use of what he had – the thirst for knowledge and the patience to learn.

 

Samwell Tarly

Samwell Tarly is another Game of Thrones character who would never have made it as a warrior if not for being thrown into the Night’s Watch. He is well suited as a steward, not only for his kind and gentle manner, but also for his love of study and reading. It’s for this reason that he ends up on the wall in the first place; Sam is a disappointment to his father as he does not follow in his footsteps. He does not wish him to be the family heir and so he is sent to Castle Black as a means of disinheriting him in favour of his younger and more pliable brother.

 

Lazlo Strange

If ever asked how his nose got broken, you’d expect Lazlo to regale you with a story of some kind of brawl or fight. But the truth is, Lazlo Strange breaks his nose when a book falls off a bookshelf and hits him in the face.

Lazlo loves the adventure in books, little knowing that he’s going to end up undertaking an adventure of his own. Aptly titled, events in Strange the Dreamer take this wide-eyed, naive young man on a journey to find a city lost to legend, Weep. Little does he know that his dreams of a blue-skinned goddess are tied to that place as well.

 

Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy enjoys both reading books, but also writing them. After his adventures in The Hobbit, he is determined to make a record of his journey and this is referenced in the Lord of the Rings series. The life of a hobbit is, for the most part, a quiet one… and a bookish nature is far from strange. However, we get to see the exception to the rule in the form of the protagonists of these books.

 

Dantry Tanza

Blackwing

Dantry Tanza is a character that features throughout The Raven’s Mark series. He is very scholarly by nature, but he is emotionally driven to his studies in order to help save his sister Ezabeth.

Dantry is quite endearing because he is one of those people who is very, very intelligent, but also quite lacking in terms of experience and common sense. He is naive, but he really blooms throughout the books!

 

King Alfred

In a slightly different way, King Alfred of the Saxon stories series is also bookish. But more in a chronicler’s sense. He is determined to unite a fractured England, and he attempts to record the history of his efforts to unite England as we know it today.

In a way, we probably owe a lot to him for this as it’s where a lot of our knowledge of history in the period came from.

 

Scout Finch

Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird is undoubtedly a very bookish character. She is taught by Atticus Finch in a way that allows her to develop her mind from a very young age. She’s even said to have learnt to read before starting at school, which is very young indeed!

 

Guy Montag

I didn’t expect to feature a Classic on this list, but Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451 is the epitome of bookish characters.

In a world where books are banned, his job as a fireman is to burn books. But, curiosity gets the better of him and ultimately, he becomes the kind of person that is being rooted out of their censored society. There’s something about the forbidden that lures you in, and Guy Montag falls for books and their sacred, secret knowledge hard.

 

That’s all from me in today’s Top Ten Tuesday post. Have you read any of the books on today’s list? Do you like any of these bookish characters? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 6th March 2022

Hello and welcome to my Sunday summary post!

It’s been a busy week here on the blog! I originally intended to share one post combining my monthly wrap-up for February and my TBR for March. However, when I started drafting that post I quickly realised that this format wasn’t really working for me. Whilst it does make sense to an extent, the post was becoming really long and I didn’t get the opportunity to include all the content I wanted. So, I decided to split these back out. So, my Monthly Wrap-up for February was posted on Tuesday and my Monthly TBR for March was shared on Thursday.

I also shared a First Lines Friday post to wrap-up the working week. In that post, I challenged myself to feature a book I’ve added to my TBR in the last three months. Let’s face it, I’ve added quite a few books in that time period and so I had plenty of scope to choose from. I’m really pleased with the book I selected and I hope you enjoyed the introduction as much as I did!

 

Books Read

When I left you in last week’s Sunday Summary post I was 60% through Blackwing by Ed McDonald. This was the book I picked up at the end of February, having swapped it from One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest.

I am glad I made the switch. I absolutely devoured reading Blackwing and the escapism fantasy books offer was exactly what I needed! I read this book in a matter of days and I’ve since decided that I’m going to continue with re-reading the trilogy.

Because I still want to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, I added this to my March TBR and as of this post I am 40% through the book. I’m now doubly glad I made the switch last month because this book isn’t quite what I expected. In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s perfectly readable but at the same time it’s not grabbing me in the same way either. It’s just something I feel very neutral about.

I decided to pick up a second book this week to give myself a break from it. I have picked up the next book on my TBR, Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall. This is going a lot better! I am enjoying reading this one and I managed to read 75 pages in one sitting yesterday. I expected to go into this book fully rooting for the main character. However, protagonist Natalie is a lot more complex than the synopsis lets on and I’m not sure who I’m rooting for at this point! For anyone like me who loves characters with moral shades of grey, I think it’ll be a good one for you.

I haven’t given up on One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest just yet. I’m going to continue with this next week and see how I get on. However, if it doesn’t pick up soon then I think this might be my first DNF of the year. We’ll see.

In better news, I started listening to my audiobook of A Storm of Swords again this week! It’s been a few weeks since I last put this on, however I was in the mood and I’ve managed to work my way through a few more chapters! Progress is progress!

 

Books Discovered

No new additions to the TBR for the first time in a few weeks, which is good! I’ve added enough lately, so I’ll have to give it a break if I want to delude myself that I’ll catch up at some point.

Haha, funny right?

 

Coming Up…

Next week I’ll be going back to my regular three post schedule.

It’s been a little while since I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post, and I like the sound of this week’s topic. The topic is Books With Your Favorite Trope/Theme. There are a lot of themes or tropes that could be looked at as a part of this post, so content on the blogosphere is going to be quite varied. My favourite theme for this post is going to be based around my love of fantasy books, and feature books which contain prophecies! It’s a very common thing in fantasy and it’s one of the tropes I don’t hate even though it’s a bit overused.

On Friday it’s the turn of my regular Shelf Control post. I’ll be taking another look at my TBR and sharing with you the next book on my list. I’ll share some details of the book, go into some detail as to why I added it to my list and why I still want to read it now.

Last, but not least, I’ll be back the same time next week for another Sunday Summary update!

Until then, I hope you have a good week and I’ll see you in the next post!

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Monthly TBR – March 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my Monthly TBR for March. Somehow we are in the third month of the year already and I honestly have no idea where it’s gone!

Last month I decided to combine my wrap-up post for January and my February TBR. And it does make sense, to a degree. However, I thought the post was too long and I didn’t get the chance to include all the content I wanted. So, I’m experimenting with splitting these back out and if you have any feedback on which you prefer I’d love to hear it!

I’m really pleased with last month’s reading progress and I’m keen to keep the momentum going. Therefore, I’ve decided to avoid all historical fiction and non-fiction reads that I’ve had on my radar, mainly because they focus around war. It’s not a particularly pleasant topic at the moment in light of current events, so I’m putting these on hold for a little bit in favour of picking up some alternative topics. I have also chosen books of varying lengths. As some of these reads are a bit shorter, I have more titles on the list this month. 

So, shall we dive into what I am going to be reading?

 

Fixed Reads

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

This book was on my mood read list for February, however I decided to swap it out in favour of a fantasy book at the end of the month in order to experience some escapism. It’s for this exact reason that I make time for mood reads now; I’m glad I made the change!

However, I do still want to read this book and as of writing this post I’m currently around 20% through. I’m interested to see where this book is going to take me. Where I am at the moment, I am feeling pretty neutral about it. It’s perfectly readable, but equally it hasn’t grabbed a hold of me in the same way that some of my recent reads have. I’ll continue reading to give it a chance in the hopes it picks up; even still, if it stays the way it is it’s probably going to be a three star read.

 

Keep You Safe

I’ve had this book on my radar for a few years now. Not only does it sound great in its own right, but I also want to read it as it is written by a local author! I am intrigued by the mystery behind the synopsis and the potential for there to be an unreliable narrator, which I think is hinted at. What I also like is that it’s a very approachable length – it’s long enough to invest into but also not so long that I risk getting bogged down in a detailed and convoluted story. Sometimes that’s fine too, but lighter reads are my preference right now. 

I can’t wait to read this and share my thoughts with you!

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I want to conclude my re-read of the Harry Potter series this month. I’ve been enjoying making progress with the latter books in the series and I am looking forward to picking this last instalment up again.

I last read this book 8-10 years ago now. That’s a scary thought for me! I loved it then and I have every confidence that I will again. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a ‘lighter’ read, as it’s fairly chunky and the subject matter quite dark for a YA fantasy, but I’m looking forward to it all the same! I still find these books engrossing!

 

Lean In

I want to try and read some non-fiction this month, and my sister recently loaned me a copy of this book. It was recommended to her through one of her more senior work colleagues for the purposes of development and I would also like to take something from this. I find myself in the middle in that I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a career woman, but I definitely care about my job. I don’t just turn up to get paid.

I’m sure this book has plenty of content and something that I can take away from it in order to develop myself and maybe even progress further!

 

The Thursday Murder Club

As well as Lean In, I’ve also been loaned a book by my sister’s boyfriend Chris. Not only did The Thursday Murder Club get a great review from him, but I’ve also been hearing great things about it in the wider community and it was already on my radar to add to my TBR and read.

I’m looking forward to picking this up because the protagonists are not from the generation you would expect to be sleuthing. I’ve also heard it’s incredibly funny and I hope it will be as intriguing and lighthearted as I’m expecting it to be.

 

The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm

I am also carrying over The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm again. Whilst I did pick this book up a couple of times in February, I didn’t really make that much progress with it. I stand by my decision to chip away at this one again this month, but I need to find more balance between my current reads and also picking this one up regularly. I will continue to read this into March and even if I don’t finish it, I hope to make a lot more progress with it this month.

 

Mood Reads

Ravencry & Crowfall

I started reading Blackwing, the first book of The Raven’s Mark trilogy, on the 26th February. This was the book I decided to swap with One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest. Three days later, I’d read all 370ish pages. I devoured this book. It was exactly what I needed at the time; an epic fantasy that I could throw myself into and love all over again.

I read this book back in June 2018, so it’s been a while. Given that I loved it so much, I’ve decided that I want to re-read the rest of the trilogy again. Therefore, these are my mood reads for March! It’s not very often I’ll binge read a series like this – but if it’s good enough, I can engage and I’ll love every second of it!

 

As in previous months, my indicated mood reads aren’t set in stone and like last month, so I might choose to pick up something else at the time! Unlikely, given how much I loved Blackwing in February… but never say never!

Have you read any of the books on my monthly TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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January Wrap-Up & February 2022 TBR!

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s January Wrap-Up and February TBR post. I’ve decided to combine these two posts so I can briefly talk about what I have read in the last month, and also share what I plan to read over the next month. More often than not there is some degree of overlap and so I think it makes sense to share both of these. I’ll try to keep it concise so it’s not too long!

 

January Wrap-Up

I’m pleased with the last month’s reading progress. At the beginning of January I was around halfway through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I was kindly loaned this by my sister’s boyfriend Chris to read and I’m glad he shared it with me! It has a great diversity of genres and topics and it was a really interesting read because I probably wouldn’t have picked it up myself. That’s the good thing about recommendations; it encourages you to push the boat out sometimes.

Next I picked up a fairly short read, The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper. I deliberately picked up The Feedback Loop next because it is a reasonably short book at just under 200 pages. I’m really glad I did this as it kept up my reading momentum. I read The Feedback Loop in just a couple of evenings – a record for me in the last few months!

After that I went on to read Dune by Frank Herbert. This particular book had been on my TBR for just under five years. I had casually picked it up once before, reading the first 20 odd pages as a means of trying the book out. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to be a light read and I think that’s why I haven’t picked it up since. I’m glad I did in the end however. I was right in that there was a lot to take in at first and I didn’t start off particularly quickly. However, once I got about a third of the way in and I had gotten all the foundation information laid out, I was flying! It was definitely worth the investment and I really enjoyed this book in the end – all 529 pages of it!

I concluded the month of January with two ongoing reads – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm. At the end of the month I was just under half way through Harry Potter and about third of the way through the folk and fairytales. I discovered that The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm was not a book to read on its own and was better to read concurrently with another book. So, this is why I started Harry Potter at the same time.

So, that’s that I got up to in January! And now onto the important bit – what am I planning to read this month?

 

February TBR

Fixed Reading List

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Naturally I’m starting the beginning of this month by finishing off my January reads. I’m currently just over halfway through Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Although it’s a chunky book it’s proving really easy for me to pick up and read. So, I’m hoping to get this wrapped up in the next couple of days!

 

Son of Mercia

As a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell, I was really excited to receive an invite for the blog tour for Son of Mercia. It is set at around the same time period and given that I’ve loved Bernard Cornwell’s series so much, I thought it would be great to read something similar but from a slightly different perspective. I really like the sound of the synopsis and I can’t wait to give you my thoughts on this book on the 21st of February!

 

Clockwork Magpies

Last month I saw a promotion for review copies of Clockwork Magpies and I fell in love with a synopsis immediately. Although I’m not reading too many advanced reader copies at the moment, I decided to make an exception for Clockwork Magpies. It’s a steampunk style of fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist that I think I can get behind. It’s a little bit different and I hope I love this as much as I expect to! It’s also quite a short novel as well at just over 250 pages, so it shouldn’t take long for me to devour at any rate!

 

The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm

Originally I had planned to sit and read throughThe Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brother’s Grimm as it is last month. However, I’m finding that it’s easier to pick up in small bursts. A lot of the stories are very short and so in my opinion it makes good companion reader. It’s great if you fancy a little bit of a change of pace, or just fancy something different. So, I will be reading this throughout the month alongside my other reads.

 

Mood Reads

Diary of a Young Girl

I am a big fan of historical fiction and in particular, one of my favourite topics is World War II. Having said that though, I regret to say that to date I have not read the diary of Anne Frank – not in full. Something in the back of my mind tells me I read an extract from it in my history lessons a long time ago. It’s a harrowing story but it’s one that I want to take the time to read. I’ve added it to my list for reading this month as I’m hoping to start reading a lot more. It’s definitely becoming more of a habit again. If I don’t get to it however, it’s not the end of the world.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

I’ve got the urge to pick up a classic this month and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest particularly catches my eye. I really like the idea of the synopsis; it’s been on my list for a long time (along with plenty fo other books). Again, if I don’t get round to this by the end of February then I’ll carry it through to my fixed reading list in March. If I can take off another book from the TBR then I will be very happy though!

As with last month, my designated mood reads aren’t fixed and I might choose to pick up something else entirely! And, you are always welcome to change my mind; if you have a book recommendation I’d love to hear it!

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know!

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Book Review: Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Since it has been about a month since I last shared a book review I’ve decided it’s time to get my thinking cap on and share my thoughts with you on a previous read. When perusing through the list of books I’ve read I discovered that I hadn’t yet reviewed Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I confess that my first thought was along the lines of ‘where do I even begin reviewing this?’. But, I’m going to do my best to do the book justice!

Since classic novels are typically taught in school I think a lot of people have the misconception that they’re going to be dry, dull or that no one in a million years would want to spend their free time reading them. After I left school I said the same thing. I have a whole host of opinions on how the education system doesn’t promote reading, but that’s for another day. However, they do need to be given their due. Classic novels can be great reads. I’ve even gone back to books that I read and hated at school and I enjoyed them. I wish they were given more of a chance, and if I were to suggest you pick up any, Brave New World is a great one to start with!

And, if you’re not sure, there is a TV series based on the book on Now TV. You could always give that a try first? Although it’s not 100% true to the book (but covers the main topics and concepts well), I still enjoyed it regardless!

 

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Goodreads – Brave New World

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society that is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.

 

My Thoughts…

Not only is the plot of Brave New World interesting, but it’s one of the shorter classic books I’ve read at just over 260 pages. This is why I think it’s a great place to start; it’s not intimidating and it has plenty to offer despite the reduced page count.

Some of the undoubtedly futuristic elements in Brave New World (considering it was published in 1932) are not so wild in the present day. One of the groundbreaking elements of the book is that humans are not born traditionally, but are genetically modified for desirable qualities, fertilised in vitro and are effectively incubated until birth. Whilst we don’t exactly have a designer baby thing going on, treatments such as IVF are now available and can involve an element of this.

Equally, the clinical aspect of birth control was in its infancy in the 1930s. Yes, for thousands of years there have been home remedies and techniques to prevent it. Even giving birth control advice was only allowed in Britain in 1930. It’s strange to consider because prescriptions for it now are so commonplace.

I find it fascinating to compare the ideas that authors had decades ago as to what was futuristic to them at the time and what similar theories we as a society have now about the next few decades. What I wonder the most about is whether the ideas written by these authors have given birth to the reality, or whether they did have an inkling of human capabilities and technological advancements that were within reach of mankind. Kind of like the chicken and egg argument.

There may be similarities between the societies of Brave New World and the modern-day, but there are also very distinct differences. For example, Brave New World has a completely different social class system, based on intelligence, to the one we used to. Citizens are effectively controlled by the use of ‘feel-good’ drugs and activities. There is no such thing as sadness or lack of purpose. Everybody has their role and they fulfil it to the best of their ability. They don’t have to think, they just have to do as they’re told. On the surface that might sound good, but I think it would be hell.

I’ve read plenty of other reviews that suggest this is a good read for anyone who has or has suffered from depression. It emphasises the point that feeling good all the time isn’t where it’s at. To appreciate the highs, sometimes you need to take the lows that go with it. And I can see that. It makes sense. If you always had the same thing you have nothing to compare it against.

Have you ever read Brave New World? Would you recommend it or would you be prepared to read it based on recommendation? As always, you can let me know in the comments or via social media.

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Monthly TBR – January 2022

It has been a long time since I drafted a TBR post but I’m really excited to be here and sharing my TBR for January 2022 with you today! If you have checked out my 2022 New Year Goals/Resolutions post you’ll know that this year I am back with sharing TBR’s at the beginning of the month, but with some tweaks. Not only do I anticipate reading less than previous years (my goal is 40 books in 2022), but I’m also going to be incorporating the element of mood reading that I enjoyed in 2021. So, as a result, I will be setting a couple of fixed books on my monthly TBR, but I will also be leaving myself time and flexibility to pick up any mood reads.

So, what am I planning to read this month?

 

Books

Dune – Frank Herbert

Goodreads – Dune

I have tried to pick up Dune casually before but not really taken the time to invest and start it properly. It is probably fairer to say I’ve sampled it. That changes this month! I received a copy of it for my birthday back in February 2017 and given that I’ve owned it for so long and not read it, its way overdue!

I’m also really excited to pick this up. From what I have sampled I think this is one I’m going to really enjoy. It’s a science-fiction classic, and if you have read my blog you’ll know that I’m have been picking up more science-fiction. I like the concept of the synopsis and with the new lease of life I’ve found within myself I think it’s the right time to challenge myself to this one.

 

The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

Whilst I haven’t officially set myself the goal of clearing down my TBR, it makes sense that I continue this endeavour. I have nearly 200 books on my list, and unless I read them or take them off they are not going away!

The Feedback Loop is one of the oldest on my list and at around 182 pages, this is a another science-fiction that should be very easy for me to digest. Depending on how I get on with Dune, I may even end up reading this at the same time or as a little bit of a break. Equally, I might not. I’m not ruling anything out. If I have learned anything from 2020 and 2021 it’s that if I’m not in the mood to read something then there is no point in forcing it. I’ll go with the flow… but I fully expect to enjoy both of these.

 

Audiobooks

A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Storm of Swords

I’ve decided that I will also be adding the audiobooks I intend to listen to onto my monthly TBR posts. I quite often find myself in a position where I will binge-listen to audiobooks and then I’ll completely fall off the wagon and not listen to any. So, I making it a regular feature to include these in order to regularise my habits.

I started listening to A Storm of Swords right at the end of December and my goal is to listen to as much of this as possible in January. A Storm of Swords is over 47 hours worth of audio, so I’m not going to beat myself up if it takes me a while. However, I will be making a deliberate effort to start listening to these on a more regular basis.

For example, I probably spend about an hour every weekday commuting, so this would be a good opportunity to pop an audiobook on. One of the other activities I have taken up fairly recently and will be doing in 2022 is Pilates. Again, it’s a great time to be able to listen to something – especially as I’m sure I’ll be desperate for a pleasant distraction whilst I’m doing it! But honestly makes it sound like I don’t enjoy it, which isn’t the case at all, but man does it hurt when you don’t have any abs…

Having done some maths I think I can get through most of the audiobook just by listening to it when doing these activities. However, if I can put in some extra time to get it finished then I’ll be a very happy bunny!

 

Mood Reads!

Whilst this section of the TBR is very much fluid and subject to change I have a couple of ideas in mind as to what I think I would like to pick up later in the month. It also depends on how I go as to how many I fit in; I may get round to both of these if I have a good month.

I’m currently torn between continuing my Harry Potter re-read with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, or alternatively reading The Original Folk & Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm. They are both very different choices and I’ll leave it until I finished both of my ‘set’ reads before I decide fully. I may even change my mind completely in between now and then, but I think it’s a good idea to give you an indication of what I think I’d like to read.

You are always welcome to change my mind; if you have a book recommendation you think is absolutely fantastic then I’d love to hear it!

 

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know!

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First Lines Friday – 17/12/2021

Hello and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series in which I take the opportunity to share the opening introductions of a multitude of books. These may be books I’ve already read, are looking to read, or am even just a little bit intrigued about.

For today’s post, I set myself the challenge of featuring a book set in winter. I must admit at first I was wracking my brains trying to think of one interesting enough to share. It’s a bit of a bizarre topic to go hunting for books around, but having gone back to the subject it almost hit me at once. It was not a hard choice and if I think it’s one that you have a good chance of identifying straight away from the introduction.

Can you guess what today’s featured book is?

 

Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids. They were sent to the house of an old professor who lived in the heart of the country, 10 miles from the nearest railway station and 2 miles from the nearest post office. He had no wife and he lived in a very large house with a housekeeper called Mrs Macready and three servants. (Their names were Ivy, Margaret and Betty, but they do not come into the story much.) He himself was a very old man with shaggy white hair which grew over most of his face as well as on his head, and they liked him almost at once; but on the first evening when he came out to meet them at the front door he was so odd-looking that Lucy (who was the youngest) was a little afraid of him, and Edmund (who was the next youngest) wanted to laugh and had to keep on pretending he was blowing his nose to hide it.

 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

Goodreads – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Narnia… the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter, a magical country waiting to be set free.

Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old house. At first her brothers and sister don’t believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Lion Aslan, they realize they’ve been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witch’s sinister spell.

 

My Thoughts…

Why it didn’t occur to me to feature this book for today’s First Lines Friday post when I set myself a challenge last Sunday is beyond me. I read this book fairly recently (and in one sitting too) so it should have popped into my head straight away! Granted, it doesn’t all take place in winter… however Narnia is iconic for its wintery setting and so I felt it an obvious choice for today’s post.

I really enjoyed this short story. It’s probably more targeted and suited to a younger audience, however since I didn’t actually read it in my childhood (insofar as I can remember anyway) I wanted to rectify that now that I’m older. It was nice to read because it was a little bit simpler and shorter. It made a break from the usual reads I pick up and it was a refreshing change.

Were you able to identify today’s featured book from the introduction? Have you read this book and any others in the series? Let me know in the comments!

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First Lines Friday – 09/07/2021

Hi guys and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

Today’s featured book is another book on my TBR. Before I started drafting today’s post, I had absolutely no idea which book I was going to feature. I’ll admit that today’s selection was a random scroll and finger-point on my TBR list; I think I landed on a good one too! I really like the sound of the opening lines below as an introduction to the novel.

Do you recognise this opening at all?

 

I squint at him. The Sun is in my eyes and he looks like a shadow monster.

‘I can’t’, I tell him. ‘I’ve got to get home. I’m only meant to be getting sweets from the paper shop, then straight back.’

He crouches in front of me. He is wearing a woolly hat, which is funny as it’s really warm today.

‘But your mum asked me to fetch you.’ His eyes crinkle at the corners as he smiles.

I fold my arms. When I told my head, his face blocks out the Sun.

‘You might be lying,’ I say. ‘Mummy warned me about men with sweets and puppies.’

The man laughs like Gramps does when he’s Father Christmas.

‘I know’, he says. ‘What’s she like? She is such a worrywart.’

He’s right: she is. I drop my arms to my sides.

 

 

99 Red Balloons – Elisabeth Carpenter

99 Red Balloons  – Goodreads

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

 

My Thoughts…

I love the sound of this book! I enjoy a good mystery and what makes it all more harrowing is that it involves children. For some that might not be an easy subject to read, however it doesn’t bother me at all. From the synopsis, there seems to be a lot to this story to sink my teeth into. I like these types of books because you’re forever guessing and second-guessing everyone’s actions and motives. It’s the kind of story that keeps your brain going long after you close the cover.

I haven’t read a book like this for quite some time, so I’m definitely looking forward to it! The last type of story I read like this was a complete hit with me and made it to my Top Reads of 2020 list. I really hope 99 Red Balloons lives up to the same expectations!

As always, I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post! Have you read the book, or is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

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