Friday, 25 March 2016

Recently Read

Hello and welcome to a new type of post that I hope will become a bit of a reoccurring one here! Truth be told I'm a terribly inconsistent reader, and its something I really want to change. Since leaving university nearly a year ago (god) I've been meaning to read much more non fiction and over the past two weeks I've really stepped up my game! I've finally gotten round to reading some of what I'd already acquired as well as making a little Amazon order for some new books. I'm no literature student (my B in GCSE English is as good as it gets) but I thought I'd pop up a mini review of everything i've read so far because i've been really enjoying reading these kind of posts recently, and I think they can be super helpful. 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman | ☆☆☆
Stardust is a teeny 200 word grown-up fairy tale that follows the central character Tristan Thorn as he makes a promise to retrieve a fallen star in order to win the hand of his beautiful beloved Victoria Forester. This journey will take him far from the safety of his tiny Victorian town, over an ancient wall that people only venture through once every nine years, and into a world that is nothing like the one he has left behind. I have to say I had super high hopes going into this one and in the end I didn't love it, but I definitely liked it. Stardust does a brilliant job of capturing a kind of darkness that can be often left out of fairytale books (in fact I'll give a wee warning for some scenes of slight gore if that's not your kind of thing) and the descriptions of things and places were completely magical and really mesmerising. 

However because it's so short some really interesting sub plots and characters were forgotten about, or not treated with enough depth as I would have liked, with the main protagonists in particular feeling a bit underdeveloped, and just not very likeable. The whole thing felt really rushed for me and the ending seemed to come out of no where! That said I would probably give Stardust another read, purely because Gaiman's descriptions of this scary, creepy, magical world and all its weird and wonderful inhabitants were just so good. If you're a fan of fantasy I'd definitely give it a go!

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler | ☆☆☆☆
Oh my god this book! Its going to be a difficult one to talk about without giving away spoilers but I'm going to give it ago because I just loved it so SO much! We are all Completely Beside Ourselves follows the Story of Rosemary Cooke, whose beloved twin sister Fern vanished from her life when she was just five years old, with her older brother Lowell soon to follow. Rosemary, our narrator, explains that she used to be a great talker, but slowly, as she got older she began to stop talking until she was almost completely silent. A silence built to protect and to help her forget. Until she decides to tell us the reader the story of her life. Starting right in the middle (as her father always used to encourage) when aged five she was sent away to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone. 

What begins as a simple story of slightly unique family dynamics morphs into something far more emotional and harrowing as our narrator Rosemary slowly reveals more of herself and her complex past. She is an immensely engaging narrator and I was with her every step of the way despite the fact she is loyal to her family and not to us, which means that she cannot and will not tell us everything all at once. She keeps secrets and guides us through her story in an odd non-linear way that best suits her. Partly because she doesn't want us to judge the people she cares about most (she wants us to see 'how it really was') and partly because her childhood memories are foggy and incomplete in places. 

I adored the way Fowler managed to deal with some really complicated and unsettling political and moral themes while still managing to add humour and wit to create something smart, weighty but incredibly easy to read. I also enjoyed the exploration of some really pressing psychological issues, but as a psychology graduate that was always going to hook me in!  While it is clear that Author may have their own particular agenda (one obvious side of the central theme was only ever presented) I didn't find it overly preachy at all. We are all completely beside ourselves is utterly heartbreaking and asks some really important questions that I'm still struggling to find the answers too. Its the the kind of novel you'll be thinking about for weeks after, I promise!  

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald ☆☆
The Apple Tart of Hope was a purchase partly inspired by Hayleys review over at Water Painted Dreams and partly inspired by its absolutely beautiful front cover! Its about the aftermath of the disappearance of Oscar Dunleavy, the boy who used to make the worlds most perfect (kind of magical) apple tarts. Everyone assumes that Oscar is dead, apart from his brother Stevie and his best friend Meg who are adamant he's still alive, and are determined to find out the truth about what happened to him. 

Its a lovely contemporary novel (with a surprisingly quirky/magical element that I really appreciated) all about love, friendship and the power of well made baked goods! Its a gentle read with all the power in its subtlety yet it still manages to tackle some important issues and really do them justice! I bought this well aware that I'm a bit older than its target demographic (its somewhere on the border of children's and Y/A) but I still enjoyed it even if it lacked some of the complexity I might be used to. Its another 200 word mini novel, and just like with Stardust I could have probably done with an extra 100 words or so just to add some more depth, especially at the end. Overall I thought it was heart-warming, charming and sugary sweet, if a little bit lack lustre, and now all I want to do is go bake some apple tarts!

If any of you have any booky recommendation or even any review posts please let me know, what have you read recently that you've loved? 

No comments: