Saturday, 14 March 2015

End of Winter Book Reviews

After setting myself a few reading goals at the beginning of this year I have been steaming ahead into my 'to read' pile and found myself super pleased with most of the books read.

Having, or more specifically making that precious time, in a jam packed day, to really sit back and enjoy a book, was my first and foremost literary goal, and already flying through the third month, setting sail for Spring, I find myself actually dedicating parts of my day for this purpose. Gone are the excuses and distractions that used to keep me from indulging in reading. Having that ridiculous pressure of 'what should I be doing/ what am I missing out on' etc was blocking my way, and by pushing those negative and dragging thoughts away I have fallen in love with reading once more.

These are the books I have read and enjoyed over this fading Winter:

A Feast For Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R. R. Martin - 5 stars
I don't have a review of such for this novel for several reasons. One reason being that it is such a beast of a book that I wouldn't know where to begin, another would be for fear of spoiling an essential plot twist for fellow Game of Thrones followers, but also because I doubt my ability to do the story justice. I will say though, that although it was a little slower getting started than the previous three, I really enjoyed it and towards the second half of the book found myself unable to put it down. If you're already a fan of the series, of course you will pick it up! Enough said.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman - 3 stars
"Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester, even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village it's name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie... and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man's life."

I hate to say this, but I really couldn't enjoy this book, despite it ticking all kinds of boxes. The story was adventureful, the characters were odd and wonderful and the worlds were interesting and had my curiosity tightly gripped... But... I just couldn't get on with how it was written. I feel I may have missed something. I really didn't enjoy the tone or the style and couldn't therefore appreciate the novel, as I had hoped.
I think this book, with it's witches and unicorns and wonderfully fairytale happenings, will capture the imagination and hearts of many people yet to read it, but sadly I speed read my way to the end, feeling a light relief as I closed the book.

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O' Porter - 4 stars
Set in the 90's, Renee and Flo are an unlikely friendship paring but find kinship together throughout this nostalgic read. Following their teenage dramatics this book shows a peek into the lives of two small town adolescents and the entanglement of friendship.

What a sweet and funny book. It is what it is, no frills attached and certainly doesn't claim to be poetry, but for a nostalgic and often hilariously cringe worthy glimpse back at life as a teenager, this little novel was marvellous. It's the honest insight, the unforgivably brutal happenings and the awkwardly familiar emotions that really make this book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a blast from the past, to squirm in their seat and to laugh at and with the characters and themselves whilst remembering days gone by!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - 4 stars
"A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story of the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829."

Soft, enchanting, gentle paced story full of intrigue and emotion. Emotion made stronger by the moment you realise this tale is based on true events. Cleverly led and delicately delivered, I was captured by this touching story and felt submerged into it's world. One for solitary souls seeking a glimpse of a foreign time and place.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 3 stars
"Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret; a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel."

Ahh Mr. Gatsby. A finely spun tale of decadence and consumption in a time so fittingly equal. An honest review; I didn't fall in love with this book. I think the story line is wonderful and clever and full of awfully honest romance. But the telling, (sorry Fitzgerald), just didn't jam right for me. It was however, a perfect insight into the times of excess and showed a distinct window into the 1920's. The characters are also fantastic and believable, flaws and all. Over all this book gave great story and captured the essence of the decade but for me personally I fought my way through the writing style.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 4 stars
"A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after a prolific event, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms and threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild." (I was purposefully vague whilst selecting this summary... Go into this one with little insight as possible!)

What a truly fascinating idea! I loved the entwining elements that run throughout the story, the pacing all the way along, the focus on various characters and their individual stories merging into a whole. I really loved the thoughts this book provokes; the reflection upon ones own existence, priorities and importance when looking from a greater height.
As the story moves back and forth between what are in the end two worlds, the parallels made between this and the comic book, also between the world on stage and real life, was really quite something.
I did start out with a 3 star rating opinion, but as the story developed and unfolded I found myself sucking into it, as each character drew closer to some revelation I was also handing onto the end of each chapter.
One thing I couldn't personally groove with; within a paragraph made up of several sentences I could all too easily notice the repetition of stand out words or phrases. Such a minute thing to point out but now and then I found it noticeable enough to distract slightly.
Other than that I really enjoyed this book. An original telling of a classic 'what if' scenario.

I am very much looking forward to choosing and turning to the first page of my next book, and hopefully continuing to allow space in my day to really consume the story. What have you guys been reading lately and do you have any suggestions or recommendations for me, based on my reviews?


  1. I enjoyed reading your reviews, Gemma! I'm glad you enjoyed Burial Rites, I loved the atmoshere Kent created, and like you say, when you remember the novel's based on true events, it makes it even more emotional. Station Eleven sounds really interesting, I'll have to check this one out!

  2. What a beautifully written book! And a really interesting historical moment to research and write about.

    Station Eleven is very much worth a read! : )

  3. Love love love the series of A Game of Ice & Fire no wonder you gave it 5 stars.
    I just reviewed Little Women myself over at my blog as it's such a classic!
    I'm about to read stardust - can't wait! Thanks for the reviews x

  4. Aw I loved Gatsby when I read it! Lovely post

  5. Ahh so glad you loved A Game of Ice & Fire! What a world to dive into, huh?! I hope you enjoy Stardust! I'll be keeping a look out for your review of it! : )

  6. Decadence at it's best. Oh to be a fly on the wall at one of those parties!!

  7. I've just read Burial Rites and it had me in tears! Such a beautiful book. I have the whole series of GoT to start reading, kinda can't wait! x

    Josie’s Journal

  8. Ohhh my lovely you are in for a treat!! (Plan snacks... They're hefty reads!)

  9. Really enjoyed this post, thanks for the reviews. Added all of these books to my reading list!

  10. Ahh that's great to hear, Helena! I hope you enjoy them : )