Sunday 29 March 2015

Fangirl: Rainbow Rowell

I was almost certain that I was going to love this book even before turning the first page. Having already read Eleanor & Park and Attachments by Rowell, and having thoroughly enjoyed them both, I had extremely high hopes. I wasn't let down. 

Cath is off to university, reluctantly. Her and her twin sister, Wren, have always down everything together and whilst they are both heading for the same university, Wren is adamant that they will live separate lives.  Wren wants her independence, she wants to have her own friends, live her own life. But Cath isn't sure how to function without her twin sister by her side. Cath struggles with social anxiety and dislikes change and without her twin by her side, everything is made all the harder. She immerses herself in her love for writing fanfiction and takes to not leaving the room she silently shares with roommate Reagan. Slowly she builds up friendships. Reagen, Levi, Nick. Whilst she throws her fanfiction characters into exciting situations where they experience danger and love among other things, she struggles to so the same for herself. Preferring to remain within the four walls of her room, pouring her thoughts into her laptop. The problems arise when change is offered and Cath has to decide whether she is ready to live her own life, meet new people, have new experiences or if she wants to remain safely within her own head, accompanied by her thoughts. 

The brilliance of this book lies in its characters. Cath presents the nervous teen heading off to university, leaving behind a dad she doesn't necessarily want to say goodbye to. The alternative side is shown through the character of Wren who couldn't be more enthusiastic about the freedom university will bring her. I could relate to Cath on many levels. Having started university three years ago and now coming up to the end of my degree, I can remember the fear of starting afresh as though it were yesterday. I could sympathise with Cath when she chose to avoid going out in favour of delving into a fictional world that gave her comfort. Cath is an entirely relatable character, I felt as though I knew her because it was almost as though I was her. 

Of course, there is no use in having just one solid character and thankfully Fangirl was full of them. I loved the contrast between Cath and Wren. How their similarities and differences were equally striking. Reagan too offered a good contrast to Cath and I really enjoyed watching their friendship grow, it was an unlikely friendship but that was what made it so interesting. Nick was another interesting character and although ultimately he was a minor character, I felt as though Rowell devoted enough time to developing his personality such that he wasn't merely an afterthought. Often I find that authors neglect their minor characters, Rowell was not guilty of this! Finally, I cannot discuss characters without mentioning Levi. Charming and happy go lucky, he was very easy to like. Again, it was very interesting to see his friendship with Cath grow and the interactions between the two of them were touching and entertaining in equal measure. What I liked most about Levi was how normal he seemed to be. Rowell seems to have a knack for writing down to earth, relatable characters and her books are all the better for it. 

The story line moved at a suitable pace; not too fast, not too slow. It represented a realistic university experience. On one hand the girl who falls too easily into a pattern of never leaving her room and the other a girl who immerses herself into the party lifestyle. It was in all a bit predictable but it never set itself up to be anything else so I can hardly fault it for that. 

I really enjoyed this book, once I picked it up, I didn't put it down. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. 

Let me know in the comments your view on Fangirl and I would love any recommendations of similar books!


Friday 27 March 2015

How to care for a book.

How do you treat your books? This is a question that divides many.

There are the people who will carefully bend the pages back, enough to reveal the words but god forbid they crack the spine! These readers can finish a book and leave it looking untouched. The spine as flat as it was the day it was bound, the pages crisp and free of ink smudges. Some people like to preserve their books in their original state. I am not one of these people.

I strongly believe that a book is there to be enjoyed,  I know that I simply wouldn't enjoy it as much if I was fretting over cracked spines and dogeared pages. The first thing I do when I start a new book is crack the spine (I can hear the far off gasps of horror). I have books that lie flat when I open them and to me that is the sign of a well read book. I don't use bookmarks, mainly because I never have one to hand but also because I have no qualms about folding over the corner of a page. I have upset many a person by doing this, but it really doesn't bother me.

Reading in the bath is my all time favourite thing to do. I am in my third year at university so most of my time is spent working towards my final exams and finishing my dissertation. Because of this, reading for pleasure is a long forgotten concept. I struggle to make my way through the ever growing pile of fiction, but having a bath is the perfect opportunity to get a good chunk of reading done. I have been known to sit in a bath for hours, until my skin is wrinkled and the water is cold, because I could never just read one more page. Of course water poses a considerable threat to the condition of a book and such more books that I care to admit have crinkled pages, damaged by a splash of water or the steam from a bath.

Of course I wouldn't do these things to books that didn't belong to me, I understand that others like their books to be kept in perfect condition. But if the book is my own, bought from my own money, they I will read it however I want.

To me, respecting a book is enjoying the words and experiencing it to its fullest. I have all of my books proudly displayed throughout my house. They are worn and well loved, just how I like them.

Let me know in the comments how you like to read your books!


Wednesday 18 March 2015

Silver Bay: JoJo Moyes

This book sees the clash of two worlds, the corporate business world which cares only for money vs the small community who will do anything to protect their pocket of untouched beauty. Only, it isn't quite as simple as that. Mike Dormer heads on over to Silver Bay with the view of procuring the land for a business plan. He isn't quite prepared for the pocket of the world he lands in nor the people he meets: Kathleen, Liza and Hannah. The tight-knit community, untouched beauty, and a group of people who will do anything to protect the whales that call their shores home. With his plans hidden, he immerses himself into the community, earning their favour and finding the sort of friendship and love he had never known. But the community holds secrets that nobody could have imagined and how will they react when they learn of the intentions behind his stay.

Overall I really enjoyed the story progression, the story line made sense but also had a suitable number of twists and turns. I understood the purpose of the first half, setting the scene and all that, but it was just too slow and almost left me abandoning the book. Having enjoyed many a JoJo Moyes book before, I was reluctant to leave this unfinished so persevered. I'm glad I did as I found the second half to be significantly better. Whilst in hindsight it is tempting to say the story line was predictable, I would be lying if I said some of the twists and turns didn't catch me by surprise.

There was an abundance of likable and equally unlikable characters. A good book needs both and this certainly did. Mike seemed like a nice guy stuck between doing what was right and what was expected of him. I enjoyed watching as he grew as a character and the delights of Silver Bay began to effect him. Kathleen, Liza and Hannah, three generations of one family were pleasingly different. It was refreshing to have three strong female characters with varying personalities. Liza was at times irritating but surely any good character should be. I have grown tired of books that show their characters to be perfect and I found the characters in this book to be suitably normal. 

I liked the multiple narratives. With the nature of the story and the secrets being hidden, it was nice to catch a glimpse into everyone's head. If it had had only one narrative voice then the story would have been as risk from being very one dimensional. Usually I find multiple narratives to be either unnecessary or confusing, this was neither and a good example of how it should be done. 

Not the best, but by no means bad! I have always enjoyed reading JoJo Moyes' books and when I say that this was not my favourite, that is in no way a criticism, it just falls a tad short of my incredibly high expectations. Despite some reservations, I would recommend this book and I would most certainly recommend you check out some of JoJo Moyes' other books, I'm sure they won't disappoint.


Sunday 1 March 2015

Book Haul

Despite better intentions, this month witnessed a bit too much book buying. After last months excessive splurge I really couldn't justify adding any more books to my ever growing collection but somehow, I did. 

I decided to go down a different route, to me these books can be dipped in and out of. There isn't so much a need to sit down and read them all at once. I suppose they are what you would call coffee table books. This is all a round about way to convincing myself that my bank balance could handle another book binge. It couldn't. Next month I'll have to go cold turkey. Wish me luck! 

642 Things To Write About: The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

This is a notebook of sorts, each page containing a number of prompts to get the creating juices flowing. It's a brilliant idea, forcing you to break your usual writing mould. I can't wait to get stuck into this!

It's Kind of a Funny Story: Ned Vizzini

Ok so this doesn't necessarily fit with my 'coffee table' theme but it was bought in the same order so I'm going to include it anyway. I saw a review of this floating around and that is pretty much the only reason I bought it. I am otherwise going in blind but from the sound of it, I'm expecting great things. The blurb alludes to a tale of depression and mental illness but told in a witty and sensitive manner. 

It: Alexa Chung 

I can't really remember why I started liking Alexa Chung, but there is something about her that I have always liked. She pulls off a fringe in a way that I will always envy and her sense of style is something I will always admire. Again, this a good book to dip in and out of and it has a beautiful dusky pink cloth cover that just made me swoon when it arrived. 

Fashion That Changed the World: Jennifer Croll

I love fashion, I took textiles GCSE and loved every moment of it, my project was inspired by 1960s fashion. With Audrey Hepburn on the front, I could hardly pass up the opportunity to add this to my collection. 

How to be Parisian: Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest

After finally making my way over to Paris in the summer, I developed a rather unhealthy obsession with the city. As a classicist at heart I was unwilling to admit that a city other than Rome or Athens had been beaten to top spot. But it happened. I loved Paris more than I ever thought I would, for the first time ever I didn't want to return to England. 

Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!