‘One Day’ by David Nicholls

Like all half decent books this one was turned into a movie. Like most half decent books it is probably a mediocre movie. I haven’t actually seen the movie yet so I can’t judge but I got in quickly to read the book before hand.

Emma and Dexter end up in bed together after a university graduation party. Faced with the rest of their lives and the awkwardness that follows after such an encounter these two set off to become life long friends. A tumultuous friendship that encompases many of the issues facing all of us at different stages of our lives, I think most people will see themselves in one or both of these characters. Even though these characters are relatable I warn you they can be frustrating and unbearably annoying.

This book was very easy to read and sucked me in hook, line and sinker, so much so I ended the book in tears, though this is not unusual for me. I felt that I could relate to the problems of the characters in their early to mid 20’s (my age now). I will probably go through the same life dramas as the characters in my 30’s and 40’s but I will have to update you on that later. I felt I could relate to Emma more than Dexter but everyone has a friend like Dexter, the kind of friend that you want to shake and slap upside of the head.

I can’t really say too much about this book without giving it away. I really enjoyed One Day probably more than I should have. Like I said it was easy to read and in certain parts predictable but if you want a good holiday book or a nice escape from reality then this one might be for you.

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About time I wrote something on here!

So after a year of life changing moments and a hiatus on the blogging I thought it was about time I got back into the swing of things. I have still been reading over the past 12 months but have just be too, dare I say it, lazy to post my feelings and thoughts on them. So in my proactive frame of mind I am back to share my book adventures with you.

So if you can be patient for another day I will have finished my book, the story freshly imprinted in my mind and my opinions on the tip of my tongue.

To help me a long please anyone out there reading this suggest me books, I need new and inspiring reading lists.

‘The Day After Tomorrow’ by Allan Folsom

One of the many people I met whilst I lived on uni recommended this book to me. Not one to turn down a reading suggestion I searched it out. This story grabs you from the beginning, surprises you and takes you for an interesting ride.

This story is a combination of genres. Based on certain historical events during World War II but begins with an old murder case. Paul Osborn watched his father’s death right before his eye, years later while strolling through Paris he see the man responsible. This shocking event send Paul on a Trans European game of cat and mouse with sinister consequences.

This book is every conspiracy theorists dream. A murder, with scientific undertones, World War II secret societies and the unanswered question of what really happened to Hitler in that bunker. These questions just scratch the surface of this book.I have already given too much away. This story is the unbelievable made almost believable.

I know is is a very unusual sounding book but one that is so easy to read that you always just want to read a few more pages and before you know it, it is 3am. I don’t want to give away too much but read it, you will be surprised.

‘Sense and Sensibility’ by Jane Austen

I once took a test on Facebook to find out who my Jane Austen love interest was, I ended up with Edward Ferrars and I have to say I wasn’t at all disappointed with the choice. I guess if Edward is my match my personality must be that of Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility, this is one thing Jane Austen is great at no matter the novel or the character you see yourself or someone you know reflected in them.

The death of Mr Dashwood sees his fortune entailed away to his son from his first marriage forcing Elinor, her mother, sisters Marianne and Margret having to move to a small cottage and live a life vastly different from what they have previously known. Thankfully Elinor is resourceful and has a smart head on her shoulders. She forces her family to realise their new future and make the best of what they have. With Elinor’s position in the family comes an isolation. She is unable to give into the full feelings of a romance unlike her sister Marianne and must keep many secrets to herself. Where as Elinor is sensible and reliable Marianne is the polar opposite. Marianne is ruled by her emotions, she expresses everything, nothing is kept hidden. She falls in love deeply with all her emotions on display, a scandalous concept for the time. While Elinor gets “burnt” for being too reserved, Marianne’s fall from grace is all the worse for laying all her feelings out on the line.

For me Elinor was the character I related to most. At times during the book Marianne annoyed me and it was like watching a train wreck about to happen. You sit there reading her exploits thinking, don’t do that, you are going to get yourself hurt or in trouble. It was also for me a little strange the idea of a 35-year-old man falling in love with a 16-year-old. I have no problem with age differences in relationships but when your suitor is old enough to be your father that is a little wrong. Of all the love interests in the book, Edward Ferras is my favourite he is the compliment to Elinor, cut from the same cloth he is sensible but reserved caring and stuck within a family who have none fo these compassionate qualities. Sense and Sensibility to me a beautifully written book, diverse characters a story line that you fall in love with but like every Jane Austen novel the final conclusion and the loose ends are tied up in the last few pages and then is over before you know it. If you like period romances and classic novels you will love this and I have to finish of by saying “Mr Ferras….what a dream boat!”

‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

After I had bought the six Austen novels I looked to see if all had a film or better a BBC version counterpart. Everyone had some version though a few were very outdated. I decided that after reading all the novels I would watch the movies. I have watched a version for every book except this one because of the two versions there is one from the 80’s and one  from 2007  but both looked totally rubbish in the previews and really what can you expect when the book really isn’t great.

Northanger Abbey has to be my least favourite of the Austen novels.  I know this was the first of the novels written and concessions should be made but this book bored me to death and annoyed me at the same time. Catherine Morland is a young impressionable woman, who at the age of 17 spends all her time reading Gothic novels, being a little bit flakey and unfortunately is the protagonist of this story. Her neighbours (the Allens)  invite her to stay with them on their trip to Bath and during this trip she meets the Tilneys, Eleanor and her brother Henry. A friendship is formed and Catherine accompanies the Tilneys back to their place Northanger Abbey, where confusion and hilarity (though I don’t know if this is intentional) ensues.

Where to be begin with my detestation of this book. Catherine is annoying, her friend Isabella Thorpe even more so. The characters are one dimensional and the story isn’t about anything. To me is seems as if this book is kind of a waste of the paper it was written on. I feel really bad for disliking this book so much, I am a huge Austen fan but this one just should be left of the list of her literary achievements.  Read this book if you want to but I wouldn’t recommend it.

‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen

I hadn’t really heard anything about this novel before I got the box set. I had no idea what the book was about though being a Jane Austen book I guessed there was some romantic element to it but that was about it. However after finishing this book in a matter of days I have come to the conclusion that Persuasion is my favourite Jane Austen novel.

Persuasion was Jane Austen’s last completed novel and while reading it I thought the story reflected a more mature mindset in the development of her characters and the choice of topic. It is different from your standard Austen novel in that boy meets girl and romance, albeit most of the time highly detoured follows.  This story centres around Anne Elliot a 28-year-old women apparently past her prime who gave up her true love Frederick Wentworth after much persuasion from her snooty family and close friends. Now Captain Wentworth has come back into her  life and it is killing Anne inside while she keeps this serene facade pasted on the outside.

Anne as a character shows more maturity and reserve. Like Elizabeth Bennett (whom I also love) she has her opinions but unlike her she doesn’t make waves by adding stinging wit to them. She isn’t weak and spineless like Fanny Price and her maturity level is far beyond Emma Woodhouse. Anne has suffered through losing the man she loves and come out of the other side change for better and for worse.

I love this story. Every time Anne and Captain Wentworth are in the same room with each other there is a tension and a longing for someone to make a move, it makes you want to put the book down due to frustration but you have to keep reading on. If you have read Pride and Prejudice there is the part where Elizabeth is playing the piano and Mr Darcy “gazes” at her, the feeling I got when I read that part is the feeling I had throughout most of this book.  This story makes me feel hope for the future and believe that there is true, pure romance.

‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen

Well we bought the set of six Jane Austen novel and earlier I had already read Emma and Pride and Prejudice so I decided to start with Mansfield Park.

Fanny Price is an eight year old girl when she is invited to live with her well to do Aunt and Uncle the Bertram’s at Mansfield Park. Learning to find her place in the family and how to avoid Aunt Norris becomes daily routine for Fanny but when the Crawford’s move into the area things begin to change. Fanny is a shy young women who enjoys nothing more than taking the mare out for rides in the country or wandering aimlessly through the gardens. Her thoughts and ideas clash greatly with the Crawford’s who have seems to enliven and corrupt all the Bertram’s including the solid dependable Edmund.

I don’t mean to be harsh for all the people who love Mansfield Park but this book irritated me greatly. It is well written and an interesting story but the characters made me want to run my fingernails down a chalkboard rather than spend time with them. Fanny is insipid and spineless, she cries at the drop of the hat. Edmund is too self righteous and when he justifies his part in the play I could barely keep down my lunch, such arrogance.  Within every Jane Austen novel there has to be at least one overbearing incredibly annoying character, the kind you want to close a door on mid sentence, the one that makes you embarrassed to read their dialogue, in this book that is Mrs Norris. She downright rude and mean and makes you cringe reading her passages. Without these character though a Austen novel would not be the same.

Other than the majority of the character annoying me I did enjoy the story and reading about the evolution of the character interactions. However with many Jane Austen novesl she spends most of the book setting up the story and developing the characters that the final resolution of the story is left to be completed in less than 20 pages. I found it a little disappointing in Mansfield Park that everything is nicely wrapped up so quickly and then the book is over.

This isn’t my favourite Austen novel but each book is different with a variety of characters and I think  this is why Austen appeals to everyone. There is a character for all of us out there, which is your favourite?

‘Shadowmarch’ by Tad Williams

I read Tad Williams’ previous trilogy featuring Simon (or Seoman in the end) who leads an ordinary life at first and then goes on to explore the world. It doesn’t sound too special – just like any fantasy story you might say. However, Tad Williams manages to tell not just one story but many and they intertwine. Also, he manages to make all his characters come to life. Shadowmarch follows the same formula, starting with the Twins Briony and Barrick, their older Brother Kendrick and the ancient evil from beyond the Shadowline to the north that claims back its land.

I like how Williams manages to get so much into detail without sounding boring or trying to drag out the story. He switches places but stays in the same time line. So you don’t just follow one main character but four or five. You connect with them, each with their own flaws and weaknesses. Rather than having the mages cast fireballs and the druids healing the dying he tries to mix a possible real time (ancient) world with fantastic but almost scientifically possible aspects (maybe it wasn’t a spell but just fatigue making the character see things?).

The story starts with the Kingdom in uproar, the king being held captive in the far south, his son Kendrick ruling in his place. The younger siblings Briony and Barrick get drawn into a massive plot of intrigues and war. Some characters you start to like turn out to be not so friendly, other who are rather plain evolve and grow on you. It’s not your straight forward fantasy novel but you need to like fantasy to enjoy this book never the less. If you like stories with a main character, fast paced action and strong fantastic elements, don’t buy Shadowmarch. If you have lots of time and you like a complex story, intertwining story lines and multiple point of view story telling then this book is a must read. It’s hard to say whether it’s better than his previous trilogy. My expectations were extremely high. After reading the first book of the new trilogy they are (almost) exceeded. I would give it 9 out of 10. (Review by Ole Brandenburg)

The Jane Austen Book Club

My sister and I have decided to follow the idea laid out in The Jane Austen Book Club. We are planning to read all six of the Jane Austen novels (Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Emma and Persuasion). After finishing all six books we are then planning to read ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’ by Karen Joy Fowler. We would love it if you would join in on this idea. Read the books with us or leave your comments on your favourite Jane Austen novel or other insightful bits of information. We look forward to hearing from you.

‘Desert Flower’ by Waris Dirie

I recently saw a movie poster (all in German) advertising this movie. I am not sure whether or not the movie is being released world wide or in English but I decided now would be a good time to review the book.

‘Desert Flower’ is the autobiograpgy from Waris Dirie a somalian runway model, actress and human rights activist. The book follows Waris through her childhood in Somalia to the UK and the beginning of her international career.

This isn’t one of those young girl discovered in a shopping centre goes on to become a model. This book raises many issues such as the tough life females have in Somalia, female circumcision and arranged marriages.

Waris is an amazing woman and through her book she has revealed the pain of her childhood and highlighting a world that most western people either don’t know about or ignore.  I believe this is a must read for young women around the world. Imagine how your life would be different if you were born in a different country.