book review · books · fiction · literature · review

The Little Paris Bookshop

Sometimes I feel as though I can never find a good book, that’s probably why I reread my favourites again and again. But when I spotted The Little Paris Bookshop sat upon the shelves, I thought I couldn’t go too wrong.

The Little Paris Bookshop was an encapsulating read, comfortably set within a bookshop itself (could the setting be more perfect?) it takes you on a tale of adventure, love, and time. Although this bookshop is not one you’re used to walking into off the streets. The Literary Apothecary in a barge bookshop, and its owner can tell what book you require — without any previous description.

Ultimately the best thing about a barge bookshop is its ability to travel. The adventure of Jean is certainly amusing in his decision to cast off without any money, ensuring all necessities must be exchanged for books. Yet, there are more serious undertones to the novel, as Jean desperately travels to seek his forgiveness 20-years too late. The unopened letter previously forgotten holds a past that must be revisited, with intriguing turns to the tale.

This is a witty and funny book at times, with some serious questions on life and death, a book for those who seem to have read everything.

book review · books · fiction · review

The Help

the-help-stockettHaving just picked up The Help for the fifth time, I thought it was worthwhile putting pen to paper as to why I keep coming back to this book.

There’s something unique to Stockett’s writing that transports you instantly back to 1960’s Mississippi. Whether it’s Skeeter, Aibileen or Minny narrating we’re pulled back to a time of harsh segregation and a desire to alter the perspective of America’s racists.

I love how this book describes not only the real-time struggles of a coloured maid in the deep south of America, but the hope and resilience of people coming together. It’s a testament of friendship, hope and exceptions. It relies on a group of women willing to risk everything for a chance at making a difference.

It’s a book of defying the society we live within, that shows no matter how small, we can all make a difference.

 

book review · books · classics · fiction · modern classic · review

The Handmaid’s Tale

 

handmaidTo continue the dystopian literature of 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale is another incredible story of resilience and hope in a new world.

We follow Offred in the religious land of Gilead, living the life of a handmaid. Offred has the rare ability to bear a child and must attempt to conceive with her commander. She holds no political or personal presence, she is simply a piece of property for which the state and her commander has sentenced her to one job.

While the life of a handmaid is exhibited, Offred also gives the reader glimpses of her life before this new regime. A life with purpose, love and hope. It in this, that we begin to sense her rebellion for the current world.

It’s a clever tale that connects our past with a possible future, one that holds complete power and overriding hierarchy. It is certainly a modern classic to be read by all.

book review · books · fiction · literature · religion · review · war

In A Land Of Paper Gods

In a land of paper godsStuck between two worlds, Ming-Mei arrives at Lushan, a boarding school for missionary children in the mountain tops of China’s Jiangxi Province. Ming-Mei lies forgotten, as does her forbidden Chinese tongue; she is Henrietta Robertson a girl of British missionary parents teaching the gospel to the people of China.

Yet something mysterious occurs to Dormitory A, the girls soon find themselves in the Prophetess club, searching out prophecies in the out-of-bounds section of the school. From the hidden lake and caves to behind the washroom, these secret areas bond the girls together and show the innocence and difficulties of their childhood.

Told from Etta’s point of view, the tale is a coming-of-age story in which Etta must find not her only her place in the world, but also her calling. Full of adventure, prophesies and war this is a novel that will keep you enhanced by Etta’s world. Through Etta, we explore not just her religion and culture but her sense of duty that showcases the power a girl can have, in an unrecognizable world.

In A Land Of Paper Gods is published by Tinder Press and currently available in hardback, it’s certainly worth a read.

book review · books · fantasy · literature · review · Shakespeare · young adult

Station Eleven

I may have picked up Station Eleven without a clue of what I was about to read, yet it held a twisted tale and collision of events that had me gripped throughout.

Station 11Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the tale follows the survivors of the Georgia flu virus from their first encounter at a King Lear production to year twenty of the new world. Whether it be the Travelling Sympathy, who spread music and Shakespeare to the lost civilisaion, or the community stuck at the Severn City Airport; small communities continue to exist in an empty world.

It’s a clever collection of the stories of survival, it shows how we prioritise what is left from a community to allow a new civilisaton to grow. I enjoyed seeing how these tales were woven toegther, the switch between the present and the days leading up to the epidemic to show how life was lost while hope remained.

Once started its a book you’ll struggle to put down, and you’ll begin to question what matters most to you in life.

book haul · book review · books · classics · literature

Thoughts on African American Literature

I’m currently in middle of a module on 20th Century African American Literature, and it’s got me thinking of the way we categorise literature, place labels upon it, in a way to control it further.

IMG_6219Early 20th Century African American Literature is often placed as political work. That an African American who is able to express himself for the first time since slavery, must, and often this is the case, want to write about the world he has discovered himself in. A world of racism, prejudice and violence. His work is used to express this rejection, this removal from society; somewhere across this line literature and politics collide.

Literature becomes a place to express ideas, experiment with an ideology and look towards a new world. It’s a place of freedom we sometimes take for granted, yet it can also act as propaganda, have high influences upon our current lives. It makes you think of the importance literature can play, and its impact, on politics, on history and everything in-between.

It’s made me appreciate how much literature has and continues to play a part in our lives. Whether this be freedom of expression, of tackling innovation or it’s ability to somehow go against the status quo. Literature is incredible, and holds a large proportion of our lives in its hand.

Hopefully this wasn’t too deep a topic for a Sunday morning, if you’re interested in these topics I certainly would recommend a few titles:

  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man – James Johnson
  • The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
  • Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
book review · books · fiction · literature · review

The Versions of Us

The title alone intrigued me into reading this book, the thought of the possible paths of your life changed and altered dependent on the smallest of decisions.

The versions of usWe follow Eve from her days at Cambridge University and the possible outcomes of a bike, a missed tutorial and a stranger. Three options come through this point, two men are presented in the moment, who and what will Eve choose?

The tale dips into Eve’s life at various points of importance, as we see her marry, have children, a career in a number of orders and with a variety of outcomes. The three versions are all different, yet weaved together, separate, however fate still seems to play a role.

I love how this book ends without a definite version of Eve’s life, there is no right or wrong way for life to play out; you just need to see which way fate will take you. An intriguing and thoughtful read, making you question not just the choices and versions of Eve’s life, but also the possibilities of your own.

Laura Bernett’s The Version of Us is out in paperback and soon to be released in the US and other countries.

book review · books · crime · fiction · film · literature · review · Room

Room

Room_coverGoing against my better judgement and expectations, I saw the film of Room before even owning let alone reading the book. Beautifully and truthfully told, the film allowed me to see a world much quicker then if I’d wandered around many bookshelves trying to find such a capsulating story. It introduced me to the story I wanted to explore, a book I wanted to read, and a tale that needed to be told.

The film brought me directly into Jack and Ma’s isolated world, physically restraining the life that can be lead in such an imprisonment. Yet, being told through the film, made the situation of their circumstances much easier to navigate through then the book alone can portray; visualising their world and the constraints within it.

Room filmWritten from the point of view of five-year-old Jack, the book only allows you to understand Room from his eyes; a home not a prison. Likewise the confusion of the life around him is so narrowed by his current experiences it takes a while to understand the tale of Ma’s imprisonment and the world Jack was born into.

It’s a tale of bravery and strength, of a living a life of your own under any and all circumstances. It proves that even in the most unimaginable world, hope can still be found and life lead to the full.

Emma Donoghue captures the confusion this world holds over Jack, and his many new discoveries outside of Room. It certainly made me reevaluate aspects we take for granted, experiences we all share and expectations of a common world.

This is a book to read and a film to view; although one where the story stretches past the last page and into your own life.

book review · books · fantasy · fiction · Harry Potter · illustration · review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Hary PotterHarry Potter has been an obsession of mine for far too many years to count, I’ve read the books numerous times, seen the film, been to the studio tour and the Wizarding World in Orlando. Yet as more Potter elements are unleashed into the world I’m as excited as I was when the publication date for the Deathly Hallows finally arrived.

I’ve gained tickets to see the eighth instalment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as it enters the West End later this year, although still quite a while away. But my most recent Potter acquisition is the very first story: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay, bringing magic and mischief to Harry’s much loved world.

harry potter 2It’s a new awakening to a tale many of us are familiar with, yet these different faces, Harry’s in particular seem to capture more of the character then I think the films may have done. There’s a sadness in Harry’s face that truly depicts his miserable existence at the Dursley’s, Hagrid booms through the page, the very half giant of his description. I also love the settings from the quirky Diagon Alley, with shops all shapes and sizes to the enormous grandeur of Hogwarts transporting us to the magical world.

harrypotter-editionThe story now contains through Kay’s illustration elements of Harry’s Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them textbook, to Hagrid’s borrowed Dragon Breeding library book. The illustrations enhance Rowling’s story, capture all the magic and suspense of the tale, it’s beautifully done and cleverly intertwines all aspects of Potter’s new-found world.

This is a brilliant book for any potter fan, or to entice those who are yet to enter the wizarding world, published by Bloomsbury and priced at £30, it’s a book to add to your shelves.

 

book review · books · fantasy · fiction · literature · review

The Night Circus

The Night Circus bookI’m unsure why exactly I feel as though The Night Circus can only really be read in November, maybe it’s the magic of christmas approaching and the darker nights which fit in with this book so perfectly.

Regardless of when you decide to pick up The Night Circus (although November is the time for me), you are instantly transported to a place of magic, excitement, trials and tests.

The Circus is the competition stage for a whole new trial of skills and magic, it therefore arrives without warning, departing too without hesitation, adding to its mystery. Open only once nighttime has fallen, the many tents can be explored, examined and viewed.It may be a place of magic and amusement for most, but for two it stands as the fighting ground, the place to show skill and beat an opponent.

Th novel follows the circus, from its birth as it travels around the world, but most importantly it follows the people as they explore and examine its mystery or create tents that fill it. It’s a wonderful collection of tales and experiences, from young to old the circus is a place of magic.

My only wish is that the Circus would appear near me one day, without warning so that I can live through its magic.