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Bookish Thoughts

I love reading! I read books about anything, any time, any place.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne | Review

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne

“What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pyjamas and which people wore the uniforms?” 


I have read so many mixed reviews surrounding this novel. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, for the sheer heart-wrenching relationship that is developed between two nine year old boys.


The story is told from the POV of Bruno, a nine year old boy living in Berlin in 1943. His family move due to his father’s work and what he discovers in his new home will change his life forever. His father is a high-ranking soldier – a strict, respected and feared man working for Adolf Hitler. Whilst exploring his new home Bruno discovers a place in which people all wear striped pyjamas, only separated from his house by a huge wire fence. It is on one of his explorations that he discovers Shmuel.


Bruno is portrayed as a very young, naïve boy with a strong curiosity. One thing that did frustrate me about his was his lack of empathy, even when he got to know Shmuel better. I think of my young, rather intelligent and certainly inquisitive nine year old brother and wonder if he would have reacted in the same way. The one thing I am unconvinced about, hence the four stars, is that the inquisitive nature of this young boy living with a Nazi official would not absorb the true reality surrounding him. Maybe this was a reflection of the society and children in the 1940′s, possibly the author wanted to create a sense of blindness to the events, a sort of denial or complete sense of wonder. This worked well overall, although sometimes I felt like there was a lack of reality.


The way the author conveys the soldiers is truly terrifying. I hated all of them, not just because of previous knowledge of this tragedy or assumptions of the types of men capable of causing this much pain and suffering. The way they are written in the novel creates a sense of fear, disgust and power surrounding them – especially in Lieutenant Kotler’s treatment of the house waiter. The power of this writing gives a shocking yet true sense of the utter travesty that was caused to these people.


Clearly a book written to inform young readers of one of the greatest tragedies in human history, this book uses a clever combination of wit and humour, with many dark underlying messages. The horrific events that happen in the novel are never described in full blow by blow detail, this made it all the more real for me. It was as if these events were too shocking to mention.


Without giving too much away – the ending was extremely poignant. An utterly heart-breaking way to end this story, with what I see as the author trying to reclaim human equality.


If you haven’t read this book then do – even just for the power of friendship.

Source: http://theconfessionsofareader.wordpress.com

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald | Review

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

“He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”  


Okay, so some of you may be wondering why I only gave this book a rating of 3/5. I know it is a well loved story - a classic American novel - but it was just lacking in some areas for me.


I enjoyed the description and liveliness of the 1920′s in this novel. I could vividly imagine glamorous girls and suave gentleman, including Gatsby himself. I didn’t feel like I got to know Gatsby well enough though. I understand that this was probably done intentionally, to coincide with his reputation but I wanted more. There was a nice air of vulnerability about him.


As for the narrator, Nick Carraway, I enjoyed reading the novel from his point of view. I thought at times  he came across as a little rigid and boring. I suppose he had to contrast with Gatsby’s rougher and more mysterious edge. The narration allowed Gatsby to remain aloof, as we never got to hear his thoughts or feelings from his own POV. I longed for more description of the goings-on of Gatsby’s many parties though, I wanted to attend one!


I despised Tom Buchanan. I thought he was a miserable, arrogant, aggressive man who did not deserve to be with Daisy, his wife. I desperately wanted him to get his comeuppance. Jordan Baker was a relatively strong, independent woman and I liked this about her. Compared with Daisy, she exuded girl power.


The pace certainly picked up in the last third of the book, which I felt was needed. I wasn’t expecting the events that happened towards the end, so this was a pleasant surprise.


Overall, I liked the book and am glad that I finally got around to reading it. I will certainly be watching the latest film adaptation soon.



Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe - Jenny Colgan | Review

Christmas at the Cupcake Café - Jenny Colgan

I was actually a little disappointed in this book.


I read Book #1 'Meet me at The Cupcake Café' and absolutely loved it! The characters were fun and engaging, the plot moved quickly and ended well. Jenny Colgan created a witty novel, with fun and excitement - the perfect chick lit novel.


This book was a different matter entirely. The story picks up about a year after the first novel. The Cupcake Café is thriving and our loveable characters are still present.


I don't want to write too much through fear of spoiling the first novel for those of you who may not have read it. This just felt less structured and engaging as the first. Some of the characters lost their spark, and became frustrating and boring. The 'to-ing and fro-ing' of the main protagonists also wore a little thin and the 'will they, wont they?' plot line was slightly overdone.


I have heard many people rave about this book, so please don't let this put you off. I just didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the first one! 


Let me know if you have read either of these novels? Did you enjoy them?

Is it just me? - Miranda Hart | Review

Is It Just Me? - Miranda Hart

“I have written the only diet book that I believe needs to exist, and here it is: CHAPTER ONE: Eat a bit less. CHAPTER TWO: Move about a bit more. THE END.”


I really enjoyed this book. I love Miranda - having watched all her series and laughed uncontrollably at each and every episode.


The book is split into 18 chapters such as Technology, Music and Dieting. All the way through she uses some of her well known phrases - addressing us all as 'Dear Reader Chums'. I definitely laughed out loud at some of Miranda's thoughts and anecdotes.


It is a light-hearted read in which Miranda talks to her younger self, depicting life in a then and now sort of manner. It gives you small snippets of her life and details many unfortunate social situations that she has found herself in - some of these had me cringing in my seat! It is written in a chatty, informal way which I enjoyed.


I would have liked to have learnt a little more about her, and the moral message of 'Be yourself rather than what you're supposed to be' got a bit tiring towards the end.


Overall, a fab, light-hearted holiday read for any Miranda fans out there!

Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake | Review

Anna Dressed in Blood  - Kendare Blake

“She's my purpose and we're going to save each other. We're going to save everyone. And then I'm going to convince her that she's supposed to stay here. With me.”  


Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

Cas Lowood, armed with his late father's athame knife, kills ghosts. In Thunder Bay, Anna, forever 16, drips blood on her white dress from throat slit in 1958, and rips apart anyone who enters her house - except Cas. He makes new friends - high school queen Carmel, jock Will, admiring nerd Thomas and Tom's voodoo grandpa Morfran - to fight this demon.


I enjoyed this book. It was a fun, quick read that was perfect for the Halloween season. It reminded me of an American movie set in a high school, I felt like it could transfer to screen well.


The plot and storyline were good, although some of it was far-fetched - it didn't come across this way. There was lots of humour and witty comments which I loved. It made a nice change from the whole vampires and werewolves saga, something with a bit more bite.


If you're into YA and want a quick, easy read then this one is for you. I will be reading 'Girl of Nightmares' eventually - although I won't be rushing into it.


Overall a good read, I'm glad I read this. 

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee | Review

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee Lee

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”  


I absolutely loved this book. A true classic, that I cannot believe I waited so long to read. The relationship between Jem and Scout Finch was depicted brilliantly. I really wanted to be their friend, spending a lazy afternoon playing in the sunshine. A true sibling relationship that brings with it turmoil, love, confusion and the inevitable phase of growing up.


The novel plays out through the eyes of Scout, a young yet intelligent protagonist. Her father, Atticus Finch, defends a black man accused of raping a young, white girl. Set in the Great Depression, this novel conveys the attitudes towards black people in absolutely heart wrenching detail.


This story explores inequality and prejudice of varying decrees. The world Harper Lee creates makes you feel like one of the neighbours. Without giving too much away, you will develop love and compassion for the truly misunderstood character within the novel, Boo Radley. A prime example of the effects of prejudice with regards to race, family and colour.


To Kill A Mockingbird has definitely made it onto my Top 10 books of all time, I highly recommend it.

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey | Review

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) - Rick Yancey

“Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you.”


I read this book because of the hype built up surrounding it on BookTube. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't absolutely love it.


I thought Cassie was a kick-ass female heroine, although she was quite whiney and annoying in places. Her relationship during the novel - I won't give too much away - became quite frustrating for me, maybe because I worked out the truth very quickly. Or maybe it was purposely written this way to portray the importance of relationships to someone who has lost many, in a short space of time? I just found the love interest a little clingy and too much for me.


I loved the character of Zombie and his side of the story. I thought this was portrayed really well and it was particularly interesting to have a female and male heroine throughout the novel. Sammy's character was adorable, broke my heart in places - his vulnerability and innocence was conveyed beautifully.


I read this in two separate chunks, I read half before we got married - then finished it whilst on Honeymoon. I think this affected my enjoyment to be honest, it meant that I wasn't 100% focused on the novel - I aim to re-read it in the future.


Overall, I would recommend this book. It is different from the other YA dystopian books out there - dealing with an alien apocalypse with a brilliant twist. The characters and plot are well defined, with enough action for you adrenalin junkies out there. Give it a read, I am pretty sure you will enjoy it!


Have you read this, or is on your TBR shelf? Did you feel the same and Cassie's romance?

'Project 10 Books'

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) - Rick Yancey The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald Everneath 1 - Brodi' 'Ashton Mercy - Jodi Picoult The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien Killing Sarai - J.A. Redmerski Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn Beauty Queens - Libba Bray Summer With My Sister - Lucy Diamond You Had Me At Hello - Mhairi McFarlane

Okay, so I have way too many books on my TBR shelf! In a bid to get through this mountain of books, I have decided to do the 'Project 10 Book' challenge - starting today! It somehow sounds better than book ban ;) I will read 10 books that I own, before I buy any more....


I am going on honeymoon in a weeks' time, after getting married on Saturday (eek!) - so reading will most definitely be minimal this week, what with last minute organising etc. I have already worked out my 10 books and will no doubt read lots by the pool on holiday. Some of these books have been on my shelf/iPad for so long, I thought it was about time I read them!


Let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought of them...





The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel - Khaled Hosseini | Review

The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel - Khaled Hosseini, Fabio Celoni

This was my first experience of a graphic novel. I was at my local library this afternoon and saw this on the shelf, thought I'd give it a try and I wasn't disappointed! 


I haven't read the novel, so this is my first experience of the story. It was heartbreaking, political, thought provoking and upsetting all at the same time. The illustrations are just beautiful, it is put together in such a way that the more disturbing scenes are made even more poignant. I devoured this in an hour, I was hooked right from the start. I loved the ending too. 


I will definitely be picking up more graphic novels in the future. Do you have any graphic novel recommendations? I have my eye on Fables Vol 1 - anyone heard of or read these? 

Stardust - Neil Gaiman | Review

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

'She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.'


Okay, so I actually didn't enjoy this one as much as The Graveyard Book. It was enjoyable but at times I got confused with the storyline and where it was all going. I liked the way that the character plots all intertwined with one another - the characters all had a connection of sorts - although because there were quite a few different plotlines this did become confusing.


I thought Tristan Thorn was wet, dull and dreary if I'm perfectly honest. He just seemed to be so in love with Victoria that consequently it became quite boring. I thought the language used throughout this novel was brilliant though, it is lovely and lyrical. There are many parts that bring out such vivid imagery, I could picture the world that Neil Gaiman had built perfectly. I also liked the personification of the star, this was a brilliant touch and a great way to delve into the world of Faerie. I actually got upset at one point in the novel, a scene involving an animal - I don't want to spoil it for you, in case you decide to pick it up, so I will say no more!


This novel hasn't put me off of reading more of Neil Gaiman's work - I have Neverwhere on my TBR shelf and am intending to find Coraline in the library. I just didn't enjoy it as much as The Graveyard Book, although the possibilities and promise of a great story were there.


Have you read this? Seen the film? I haven't watched the film, not sure if I want to watch it or not.....would you recommend it?

City Of Bones - Cassandra Clare

City of Bones  - Cassandra Clare

'The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he'd learned: that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.'


How have I only just read this book?!


Although it has taken me a while (work etc getting in the way!) I really, really enjoyed this book. It was just what I needed to get me out of what could have been an awful reading slump.


I love Cassandra Clare's writing style and imagination. The world she has created is exciting, action packed and quite different to other YA I've read. The characters in this novel were all believable and I related to the main ones particularly well. I loved the plot and didn't guess any of the twists and turns (which for me deserves a star all of its own!).


Clary and Jace make great protagonists, I did find Clary frustrating at times but the plot action and decisions she made outweighed this annoyance. I love Simon's character - can't wait to see Robert Sheehan portray him in the film, great casting choice! I was shocked to learn of Hodge's true colours and of Jocelyn's past. I felt these sub plots really worked well within the novel.


I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series, although I am going to spread them out - don't want to finish it too quickly!


Have you read this series? What did you think?



Currently Reading!

City of Bones  - Cassandra Clare

Currently reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and loving it so far. Reading an awful chick lit book has made me enjoy this even more I think!


Has any one read this? What did you think?

All That Glitters - Aita Ighodaro

All that Glitters - Aita Ighodaro

Well, what a let down this was. Picked it up as a quick, easy, summer read and didn't like it at all. Forced myself to finish it as I hate not finishing books.


The actual plot got more interesting towards the end of the book. I didn't enjoy the adult romance 'bonkbuster' of the beginning section, although some people might. I thought some of the characters were unnecessary too.


Gave it one and a half stars purely because the action got better towards the end, some elements of this book just didn't need to be there. Quite pretentious, uninteresting and dull.


Don't really have much more to say!

All That Glitters - Aita Ighodaro

All that Glitters - Aita Ighodaro

Don't judge a book by its cover!


Picked this up in my library for a quick, easy, summer read (sometimes you just need something light and summery, right?) - so far it's okay! Will review once finished!

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

'You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished'


I really enjoyed this book! My first Neil Gaiman novel - and certainly not my last! It is a particularly creepy children's book that starts off with the brutal murder of a young boy's family. This boy is then taken care of by a group of dead ghosts 'living' in a graveyard. The eight chapters of the novel represent the years of his life and the trial and tribulations of being the living boy amongst the dead. 


I definitely preferred this concept to Holly Black's Doll Bones. I felt the story moved along better and the characters were more 'likeable'. There was also a lot more action and content. Overall a great children's read - although some parts of this novel are rather gruesome, so check it out before recommending to very young readers!


Doll Bones - Holly Black

Doll Bones -

'There’s people who do things and people who never do—who say they will someday, but they just don’t. I want to go on a quest. I’ve always wanted to go on a quest. And now that I have one, I’m not backing down from it. I’m not going home until it’s complete.'


I picked up this book from my local library after watching some BookTubers reviewing it. It was okay, I liked it, I enjoyed it. It wasn't the best novel, but it is a child's book. In that respect, thinking of my 10 year old self - yes, I would have loved it back then....


It's a pretty creepy concept, the idea of a doll being the body of a dead girl. I felt like the start was very, very drawn out and dull. It took a while for the action to begin. The were some elements that were very exaggerated - the whole running away from home fiasco - but when I think about the target audience, it figures. The book has an interesting storyline though, and the concept of the doll and the back story was intriguing. 


Overall, a very quick read and the illustrations are wonderful. I am aiming to pick up some of the modern faerie tales Holly Black has written, shall see how I go with them. I am quite glad I didn't buy this one for myself though.


Any one else a fan of this author? Any recommendations?