Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Me Before You - book review

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Woah. I read this incredible book on holiday in Italy (amazing holiday!), and it was so so enjoyable, and extremely gripping. 

Me Before You tells the story of Lou Clark, a quirky, sarcastic and wonderful character who has just lost her job, and Will Traynor, who is tireless, adventurous and has just been involved in an accident that puts him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The book follows their relationship with each other and others and their characters through moments that are both wonderfully hilarious and heart wrenching. I have never read a story like this before, and it's such a unique and brilliant idea that is very relevant to today's society I think. 

I just adored both Lou and Will equally, as they are both so strong, funny and lovable. I admired Lou's determination and desperate need to help Will, and his attempts to make her feel appreciated and his interest in her I thought were so genuine and deep. Nathan as well was an amazing character, who was so easy going and refreshing, he had such a great relationship with both Lou and Will. 

I thought the book involved some really really important and relevant issues, and tackled them in such an engaging and clever way. I found that these issues were brought closer to home by reading this book, as I felt so involved with the characters, I was so moved and affected by their experiences. (I don't want to give anything away to people who haven't read it!) 

Whilst I was reading it, and more so once I had finished it, I thought about the story and characters a lot and it really made a big impression on me. I gave this to my sister to read, and she loved it as much as I did, and I would totally recommend it to a lot of my friends (at least one is definitely getting this for Christmas). 

I know the sequel to this came out the other day (very exciting!), I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback, unless I end up in Waterstones and I can't help myself, which is likely! I think I will definitely review it when I read it though! 

Also, I recently discovered this is becoming a film next year (!!!!!) and got extremely excited! I think and hope more people will be affected by it, and will realise how real the issues are. (The excitement was also partly due to the fact that Emilia Clark and Sam Claflin has been cast as Lou and Will, and both me and my sister think will be perfect! Mega exciting!) 

Keep Smiling! :-) 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Beautiful Suffering

So a while back I heard the phrase somewhere 'beautifully suffered' and it really struck a chord in my head. 
What is beautiful suffering? 
What causes it? 
How do you suffer beautifully? 

One night, when I just kept thinking about this phrase I'd heard somewhere, I wrote this: 

How does one beautifully suffer? 

Is it like Jesus' suffering? 
His pain and anguish for us to live 
Forgiven and uncondemned. 

Or is it simply someone who is beautiful, 

Or is it more? 

Like to suffering of grief 
At the loss of a loved one 
who was so brutally stolen 

Or the undeserved suffering of women, 
Raped and abused. 
Of those tortured by cowards and thieves of love, 
Simply for what they believe? 

The agony at losing a newly born child, 
Who was given no chance at life, 
The toys and daffodils lying untouched and neglected by the grave. 

The stab that reappears 
In every great achievement, 
Knowing that a buried parent will never share 
In the triumph and rejoicing. 

Or the knowledge that 
The one you long for 
Is yearning for another, 
Who is not you. 

Just what does it mean? 

I then asked my dad about the phrase and what he thought, and he told me that I had heard it from a poem by R S Thomas, called The Musician, if you were interested; 

A memory of Kreisler once:
At some recital in this same city,
The seats all taken, I found myself pushed
On to the stage with a few others,
So near that I could see the toil
Of his face muscles, a pulse like a moth
Fluttering under the fine skin
And the indelible veins of his smooth brow.
I could see, too, the twitching of the fingers,
Caught temporarily in art’s neurosis,
As we sat there or warmly applauded
This player who so beautifully suffered
For each of us upon his instrument.
So it must have been on Calvary
In the fiercer light of the thorns’ halo:
The men standing by and that one figure,
The hands bleeding, the mind bruised but calm,
Making such music as lives still.
And no one daring to interrupt
Because it was himself that he played
And closer than all of them the God listened. 

I'm not sure if you can call what I've written a poem, but I enjoy writing out my thoughts and it helps me pick what I'm puzzled about apart. 

Keep smiling! :-) 

Monday, 29 June 2015

All the Light we Cannot See - book review

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This wonderful book follows the stories of Marie-Laure, a blind french girl, and Werner, a German orphan before and in the midst of World War II. Their stories and lives are so different but each so interesting and both characters are easily lovable, and when they inevitably meet each other, a relationship sparks between them, showing care and a humane sense of goodness to help each other ignoring the fact that their countries are at war, from which both have lost people close to them. 

I found this book fascinating, as it tells a war story but from a different angle and one that isn't often done, especially from a blind french girl's perspective. I loved both Marie-Laure and Werner so much, and although they are obviously different, they are also quite similar in some ways. I did find that jumping in and out of different years confusing at some points, but it did make the whole story far more interesting, and I thought that the chapters towards the end of the book, in much later years had a huge and powerful effect on the story. 

Interesting elements of the time were also subtly incorporated into the story, such as the use of radio technology, music and society. Some of this is also delivered from the perspective of a blind girl, so you experience how she got around using her father's models and it is written in a way that you can almost feel what she feels, such as the shells and sand, and I completely understood how wonderful the idea of the sea was to her, yet so terrifying and daunting. I also felt the anger of Werner and his self hatred and grief at losing his friend and his family, and I understood his determination to do something good despite his situation. 

The writing. The writing of this author is just phenomenal. I found it so beautiful and perfectly fitting and he manages to use words and phrases that enable you to see exactly what he is describing in such a vivid and fantastic way. His writing is so original and intricate, yet so easy to grasp and understand. 'As quick as a swallow' is one simile that really made me smile; I just think it is so simple but so pure and elegant. 

Overall, this book made such an impression on me and I often think a lot of war stories are quite similar and they don't always appeal to me, (that being said, Goodnight Mister Tom is my favourite book!), but this one I found different and original, and so beautifully moving. I would, and already have recommended this book to quite a few people, and would certainly recommend it to a lot of different personality types, as I feel it has the capacity to be a very broadly loved book. 

Keep smiling! :-) 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - book review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon

This book is brilliant in so many ways. 

The main character, Christopher, has Asperger's and after finding his neighbours dog dead he sets out on a mission to discover who murdered Wellington, the dog. The story encompasses issues such as family conflict, as well as obviously mental illnesses, namely Autism. 

The story is told from Christopher's perspective, allowing the reader to really experience how he thinks. For example, when he travels on a train, I really felt as if I understood why he was so anxious, but at the same time not fully getting it. 

Asperger's is a type of autism, where the individual often struggles with social interaction and communication, but often has intense interests or talents, such as Christopher's amazing maths ability. It is caused by a lack of cognitive (brain) development, but usually improves into adulthood. 

I really enjoyed that is was written from his point of view, as I said, and also the images and diagrams that were scattered throughout made it easy reading and separated the text out. I thought that even the small details like the chapters only being prime numbers and Christopher's little explanations that sort of diverted from the story but still allowed you to be with him, they added to the effect and show just how much thought was put into the book. 

This book offers a subtle yet engaging insight into autism, whilst being entertaining and so cleverly written. Personally, although none of my close family or friends are autistic, I found this book so insightful and interesting, and was able to relate Christopher's behaviour to people I know with autism. 

I would most definitely recommend this to others (I already have!), as I think it would suit so many different reading interests and what people look for and want to get out of a book. 

There is a stage adaption that has recently been advertised unfortunately I have not seen it, but I would love to as it looks incredible...maybe soon! 

Keep Smiling! :-) 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - book review


Tess of the d'Urbervilles

I have recently finished reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy as part of my AS Level English Literature course. And, yes, I admit, when I found out that this was one of the books I would be studying, I wasn't too excited to say the least. However, my doubts were soon altered as I began really enjoying the novel. 

The story is set in Dorset, South England, where Tess - the main character - was born and raised along with her many other siblings by her parents, who unfortunately, are a tad too fond of alcohol. The story begins with a Vicar telling her father, John Durbeyfield, that his ancestors were once great, well-known knights. This, whether true or not, haunts Tess throughout the novel. 

As the story unfolds and Tess meets many other characters, two of whom especially have a huge impact on her life, and she experiences troubled highs and many lows. One of the things I really loved about Tess, is that even though she has to journey through so many struggles, and is let down by so many people she loves, she is still loyal and compassionate towards them. I also love her because I think she is just so real and so human, unlike some characters authors make to seem impossibly perfect. 

I found I learnt a lot more about Victorian society than I have from studying it in school (given that was in Primary!), I felt I experienced it more from a personal point of view and I was angered and frustrated on behalf of Tess because of the completely unjust patriarchal society. It also made me see industrialisation from the country folks point of view, and how, when agricultural machinery was first introduced, it was so terrifying and devastating for workers. 

As for the style of writing, I thought it would be very hard going and dense, and yes, it took me longer to read than most other books, and I had to pay more attention but overall it wasn't bad at all! I also feel that, as we discussed and wrote essays alongside reading the book in class, it made it easier for me. 

If anyone has read Tess of the d'Urbervilles or any other Hardy or Victorian novels, I'd love to hear what you thought! 

Also, I do more book reviews on my goodreads account, which are a lot more brief and straight after I have finished the book. 

Do you enjoy reading book reviews? Are they something I should do more often? 

Please let me know your thoughts! 

Keep Smiling! :-) 

Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/Sharpie_63 
Add me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/29369422-sharpie63