I Partridge: We Need To Talk About This Book

i partridge

Why am I writing the review like this?

Because this is how the book starts.

That’s very meta- will you do the whole review like this?

No cos that’s not how Alan does it.

I notice you call him Alan- do you actually know him well enough to use his first name?

Ermmm next question…

Sooo what did you think of this book then?

I’m glad you asked. This book was killer- almost like that time Alan killed someone on live TV (something I’ll admit he’s a bit touchy about in this memoir). But seriously- this is the funniest book I’ve ever read. It stars Alan Partridge- the nation’s *ahem* favourite broadcaster. This book was stuffed with every kind of humour, from satire to silliness to literal toilet humour. Prepare to belly laugh your way through four hundred pages of pure comic genius- where “needless to say I had the last laugh” (not just a random quote- that came from the book- he says it *a lot*). Jam packed with clichés and awful puns, this book embodied the character we all know and love…

Wait a sec- I don’t actually know who Alan Partridge even is?!

AHA! Well then you have not lived! Be prepared, because you are about to go down a rabbit hole of TV from which you will not recover any time soon, starting with his flagship show Knowing Me Knowing You:

And don’t worry, even though that show was not picked up for a second season, you can still watch Alan’s time at North Norfolk digital on the I’m Alan Partridge and of course the full length feature film Alpha Papa. When you’re done with all that come back and read this book. You’re welcome! 😉

(Yes I have just sorted out your free time for the next year)

What do you know- I did do the whole review in Q&A form! “Back of the net!” (another Partridge gem). And of course I’m giving him a whole bunch of bananas

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So I’m not even gonna ask if you’re gonna read this- I know you will 😉 What’s the funniest book you’ve read lately? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome to the Ninth Circle…

*I received this on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

ninth circleWhere things are not as they seem…

Okay that sounds distinctly ominous. But it kind of sums up my feelings, because this book defied my expectations. A huge part of why I picked it up was because I was on a serious Supernatural bender and the blurb sold me on its similarities- so you could say it fell into my lap when I was in exactly the right mood. Weirdly enough, however, the reason I decided to read it ended up being the source of some serious agitation- whereas what I ended up liking about it was completely unrelated and unexpected.

So let’s start with what I didn’t like: the “oh my goodness this is such a rip off of Supernatural” moments. Because, man, there is no way of getting round the fact that it starts off really fanfic-y. Though it may have plenty of action, good levels of description and snappy dialogue, a lot of that felt too similar to the show. Here are some of the parallels:

  • The sibling dynamic could have been copied and pasted. And while there are technically three sisters, it mostly focuses on two- who are basically female versions of Sam and Dean
  • Plot points- like constantly getting captured and having to save each other and even the missing relative at the start which brings them together
  • The chapters, while there’s nice attention to detail in their organisation, are literally episodic
  • Demons, sirens, hellhounds… you name it- if it’s a monster in the show, it’s made it into this book. There was even a reference to an “orange eyed whelp” (yellow eyed demon anyone?).
  • And worst of all, even though the dialogue frequently made me chuckle, lines like “here I thought you were like Ken dolls” were virtually lifted from the show.

I wanted to give this the benefit of the doubt, cos yes, I know the show too damn well to pick it apart this way, buuuut it shouldn’t have been that closely related. Even the nine circles seemed shoehorned in to make it seem less unoriginal.

Fortunately, that all changed somewhere in the middle of the book. Just when I was thinking of giving up on this Supernatural-with-girl-power deal, the plot totally changed gear and switched direction.

And that point when it started to diverge away from the show, I actually started to enjoy it. All of a sudden, it became imaginative, explosive, thrilling. I absolutely loved the colourful new mythology that came into play and it completely upped the tempo to deliver a phenomenal conclusion. In the end the strengths lay in the differences, not in the similarities. I’d imagine you’d enjoy it more if you are not particularly well versed in the show to be honest. In the end, I’m a little conflicted about this one- but I gave it:

3/5 bananas

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Expected publication 22nd October 2017

So are you planning to read this? What books are you conflicted about? Let me know in the comments!

Fangirling Over Fangirl (Mostly)

FangirlWIPGoing into this, I will admit I didn’t think it would be my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have my fangirling moments, but I’ve never written fanfic, engaged in it or been properly part of any fandom. So when I heard of Fangirl, a book ostensibly about fanfiction, years ago, I just put it aside as “not for me”. That was until I read Rowell’s Carry On. In the end, rather poetically, my fangirling for that book pushed me to give this a go- and I’m glad it did!

To start with, like all of Rowell’s books, this was a perfect blend of wit and heart. I will be the first to admit that the plot was not all that exciting- but it’s not that kind of book. It’s more the sort of story where the characters take you by the hand and lead you through their world. You get to know them and you fall in love along with them.

And let’s face it: the romance is what you’re here for. It didn’t disappoint. Levi made me smile stupidly every time he talked or turned up. And, of course, any hint of Baz and Simon scenes and I’m gonna be right there- cheering it on! The interspersing of their story into the plot, while not for everyone, was just the dose of warm fuzzies that I needed.

Of course, it was also incredibly relatable. The love of books (even if they’re not real books) came across brilliantly. And while I think that everyone has their own style, so the descriptions of writing aren’t entirely universal, I did enjoy those parts too.

However, this subject also brought up the biggest problems for me. Because Rowell did bring up the question of fanfic and plagiarism in quite an awkward way. I might offend some people here, but there is an issue with repurposing someone else’s work for uni, and I don’t think that Cathy totally got that. The professor’s view was just seen as a bit old fashioned- when in reality universities have to be strict about plagiarism and you can’t use someone else’s work for profit (yes grades count). None of this was addressed. To top it off, there was another character who stole some writing and this was seen as categorically not okay (because it isn’t). It just felt like a bit of a double standard and, considering the juxtaposition of these two ideas, I don’t know why the main character didn’t consider comparing the two incidents. What was even more frustrating is that it was left pretty open ended and I never felt like this issue was actually resolved.

It left me thinking that this had never really been a plot point anyway… which brings me back to the fact that there really is very little in terms of story beyond the romance and relationships. In the end, issues like this receded to background noise. Even the “small matter” of finding oneself didn’t end up as being as important as finding a boyfriend. Ultimately that was enough for me and I found it an enjoyable read, though perhaps not something to go crazy over.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Have you read this? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Emperor of Thorns Was a Sharp One

*No spoilers!*

emperor of thornsI’m an endings person. I’ve mentioned this before- I’ve always thought there’s no point starting well and ending badly. That cathartic chord of a well struck conclusion is where it’s at for me. And I’m not the only one that thinks this- series are often judged on their endings- so there was a lot of pressure for this book, the last in a so-far excellent series, to deliver that perfect final note.

And boy- what an ending this was! To say that the tempo was raised in this book would be an understatement. So far the journey had been mental, but even then there was no way to see where the road was heading. The direction it took was on another plain (quite literally- it is fantasy after all). With more than one twist of the knife, this story skewered my heart and dragged it up through my throat. Every wild turn gave me palpitations. Lawrence said in the afterword that he wanted to end this series on a high- and by god did he do that. (And by high I mean: mind-blowingly, soul-crushingly good)

As you all know by this stage, I love Jorgy. But what was a marvellous addition to this book was having sections dedicated to the villainous Chella. Yes, that’s right, this book has villains to offset its anti-heroes. It added another dimension to the book.

And like always, it was amazingly well written:

“The scars of the briar mark me, a calligraphy of violence a message blood-writ, requiring a lifetime to translate”

“Careless words scattered like broken glass for the Brettan to pick a path through. Chella came to Kai’s aid before he cut himself”

“I’m only an echo and I feel only an echo of the love he would have had for you. But it’s a very loud echo.”

I mean that just speaks for itself!!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Do you like this series? Are you planning on picking it up? And which book do you reckon ended especially well? Let me know in the comments?

7 for 7 – July Mini Reviews

Admittedly I’m not prepared to admit it is July- to be honest I think I’d rather stick my fingers in my ears and go “lalalala”- but the world is not listening, time is marching on whether I like it or not and the summer weather is trying to bake me alive…

Sooo it’s time for my monthly mini reviews!

lovely bones

Lovely Bones– I was left with pretty mixed feelings for this. It was absolutely awful to see what happens to the family that’s left behind after a loved one passes- especially in such horrible circumstances- and that definitely made me teary eyed. However, I did find it a little too weird and I found the totally clueless police irksome. I mean, creepy murderer guy is *CREEPY*!!

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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12 years a slave

Twelve Years a Slave– I did not realise the full impact of the book until I reached the end- I was just so wrapped in it that I didn’t notice time passing. The sheer, intolerable injustice of it really got to me. I can’t say anything other than how disgusting it was that human beings could be treated like this. And, as much as we may all be aware of this period of history, it can never cease to be shocking.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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winner's kiss

Winner’s Kiss– okay, so my main issue with this is that I lost interest by the time I got to this book… which was a real shame, because I enjoyed the first two and there were parts of this where I remembered why I’d originally liked this series. However one of the characters got amnesia and that gutted a lot of my enjoyment. Not only did it reset the romance, but it gave said-character a personality transplant and made them a lesser version of themselves (for a totally illogical and unbelievable reason).

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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through the woods

Through The Woods– what an exquisite, creepy read!! Even after I closed the book, I was left with that tingly fear that the monsters might escape the pages and EAT ME!! Okay, I may be a tad melodramatic, but I am very easily spooked, and this was one hell of a graphic novel. What really made this book magnificent for me was that it’s like reading art- I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it. The aesthetic element was just so stunning and perfectly balanced with the beautiful snippy language. The drama created when that was combined with the way it was structured and that building intensity was just perfect. I also loved how it felt reminiscent of both fairy tales and retellings like Carter, whilst still feeling totally unique.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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jerusalem the golden

Jerusalem the Golden– There’s this type of book from the 60s that’s all “boo hoo I’m not properly middle or upper class, even though I’m super educated”. I will come right out and say that I just don’t relate to that sort of thing at all- maybe because their problems feel so “first world” to me. Either way, I felt like this was trying to say something profound so many times (about class, motherhood, etc) and failing. To be honest the serviceable language and decent-ish characters were not enough to save this for me and it failed to hold my interest. I don’t get why this is considered a modern classic- it’s a pretty mediocre read.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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jamaica inn

Jamaica Inn– it’s been a very long time since I read Du Maurier- and wow was this a treat. Like so many of her other books, it was compelling, atmospheric and beautifully written. The only reason it didn’t knock my socks off was that, as gripping as it was, I didn’t get the motivations for a lot of the characters. There was a grotesque aspect to them that never really translated into anything believable or dove head first into the uncanny- it was something in between- and I couldn’t quite settle into the book because of that.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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percy jackson lightning thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)– gosh I missed out on this when I was younger, that’s for sure. It was so inventive and accurate at the same time. And I will say, without going into why, I’ve always had a soft spot for Hades and I loved Riordan’s take on him. I did find that the false ending bothered me as an adult reader, because it felt latched onto the end for the sake of sequels. I’d have preferred if the promised betrayal could have been incorporated into the final showdown. But even if this was imperfect, I still had a lot of fun with this book and plan to continue the series at some point! So Percy Jackson for the win!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Okay, so that was a totally mixed bag! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

When You Need More Tolkien in Your Life You Read the Simarillion

simarillionWell hello! So I have to admit I’m being a bit lousy with comments and such at the moment (I blame the heat and Wimbledon and *insert a ton of other lame excuses here*). But don’t worry- I will get on top of it! Eventually… But until then, I wanted to share more Tolkien love!

And since I’m confessing things, it took me *years* to read this book. When I first started it, I was definitely too young- my memory of reading this was divided between the vivid parts that gave me nightmares and the not so exciting bits that sent me to sleep (aka the reason I DNF’d it over ten years ago).

Now when I picked it up recently, I was surprised to find it completely absorbing and really enjoyable. Unnntil I got to the bit where my bookmark had been resting for all that time I wasn’t reading it and I realised my eleven year old self was not as misguided as I thought. In fact, I was tempted to DNF it at *exactly* the same point. Unfortunately, I have to say it went off the boil in a couple of the middle chapters. However, not so long after that it picked up tremendously with the story of Beren and Luthien- and boy was I glad I had the maturity to not give up on it this time round!

I think it’s safe to say I ended up getting a lot out of it in the end. What I loved most about this book was that it was very much in the style of the Old Testament- that religiosity rang strangely true for me and gave the whole story a compelling sense of awe.

I also really appreciated how the thread of the song motif was woven into the entire plot and how it all tied together at the end. The tremendous scope of the story was truly terrific and I would recommend it for that alone.

And if you are a fan of Lord of the Rings and want to know more about Sauron and Middle Earth, then this is definitely the book for you!

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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So are you a Lord of the Rings fan? Have you read this? Let me know in the comments below!

Some Love for the Hobbit

Well if you’ve been around here a while, you will probably know that the Hobbit is one of my favourite books (if not- welcome! I’m the Orangutan Librarian and I’m a fan of the Hobbit). Hold tight everyone, because I’m about to do some serious *gushing* over this book… But first, I have a little bit more background to share before I get into the nitty gritty of why this book is so awesome.

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You see, I used to reread this book every spring, but spent a good few years apart from this here unassuming copy and was only reacquainted with it recently… so naturally I cracked it open the first chance I got. And man, it was just as good as I remembered.

Straight off the bat, I could see why it didn’t make a good film. It’s not just that it’s masterfully told (and hence the old adage “good books make bad movies”) but it’s also tonally lighter and funnier than most fantasies– including its successor Lord of the Rings. At times, it even seems to be sending itself up in a way I could only describe as being Pratchetesque (you can see the lineage right here, at the source of all modern fantasy). It’s composed in a way that’s meant to be read aloud and all the deep, dark themes are done in a light-hearted way. It is the Epicurean sweet pill that is easier to swallow than the bitter one of its interpretation.

The heart of this story is an adventure. Being part of Tolkein’s universe, it is stuffed with fantastical creatures and tropes– but every single one of them is authentic and done so well. Yes, there’s a reluctant hero, some world building woven into the plot, elves, orcs and a mothereffing dragon- yet unlike so many of the copycats that came after, there’s no chance you’ll be rolling your eyes at it.

For, while the spine of this story may be the “hero goes to face the dragon and is rewarded” narrative, it’s no simple feat to achieve this because of how complex the characters are. Even if one allows for Prof J B Peterson’s explanation that one has to grow teeth in order to defeat the monster, hence Bilbo becoming a thief, the ending of the story, where chaos breaks in despite the hero’s best efforts, left me with many unanswered questions. Who was right? Were any of them heroes in the end? One thing is for certain, even as we stumble around in this morally grey area, this book teaches that there is more than one way to be a hero and sometimes the right choices are not always clear.

There are so many other lessons wrapped up in this tale. Part of the story’s complexity comes from it being rooted in the mythological and fairy tale structure. In fact, reading it through again, I was struck by how often the individual adventures contain a multiplicity of messages. For instance, when the party fails to see the end of the forest, despite being so near the edge, one is delivered a message to keep faith– even when there is no sign of hope- for when they leave the path they therefore undergo unnecessary suffering. Consequently, needless suffering is the question being asked of the individual’s inner strength, while the eagles, as a symbol of divine intervention, is often the answer.

Still one message in particular comes up again and again: go out into the world and find yourself. This is a book about growing up, learning, becoming someone new. True enough, it is a tradition in many classic fairy tales or in folklore for there to be an element of going into nature to explore the psyche and Bilbo does this more than once- leaving his hobbit hole, entering Mirkwood and even riddling with Gollum.

This literal quest for answers taught me another fundamental truth. It struck me this time round how quickly Bilbo answered the riddle about darkness and how telling that was. It tells us that even a creature of light and comfort, like a hobbit, can know hardship. Outside our peripheral vision, beyond the safe havens we construct for ourselves, there’s always a bit of danger. Difficulties will come knocking whether you want them to or not– so it is far better to leave the comfort of your hobbit hole and confront them sooner rather than later.

So yes, there are endless and vital lessons to be learnt here. But the real moral of the story is that some books are just meant to be read over and over again.

(Incidentally this wasn’t the first copy I ever picked up- that one was a relic of an aunt and had the last two pages missing… needless to say part of my reading experience was a very frantic trip to the bookshop!)

As you might have guessed, my rating is easily…

5/5 bananas

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So I’m not even gonna ask if you like or loathe this book- cos what I really want to know today is what book from your childhood has left a profound impression? Let me know in the comments!