The Infinite Perks of Being a Wallflower – A Long Overdue Read

perks of being a wallflowerWell hello there! And I know, I know, many of you are probably reading the title and are thinking you’ve stepped into a timewarp, because I have, apparently, been living under a rock until now and have only just read this book. Sure, we all have classics sitting on our tbrs, glaring accusatory up at us, waiting to be read, but I do really think I should have read this before now. I mean, c’mon, if you’ve read this book, you’ll know what I mean.

Anyway, onwards with the review. If the fact that it has taken me 24 years and 7 months to read this (though in fairness to me it’s only been published for 17 of those years…) hasn’t already shocked you to your core, then the fact that I didn’t expect much from this book shouldn’t leave you too traumatized. Perhaps it is due to being disappointed too many times by hyped books, perhaps it was that I had committed another cardinal sin and watched the movie first. Either way- I don’t know why it surprised me that I liked it, but it did.

But really- what is not to like about this book? It is beautifully written, hard hitting and very, very real. This book had me laughing and crying along the way. The wisdom in this book resonated right to the core of my being- and like all good books, it’s the kind of story that not only stays with you, but keeps offering more every time you think about it. The characterisation was perfect- realistic, striking and infinitely wonderful. Still it was not just the core characters that were fleshed out- minor figures in the story were equally striking (I feel obliged to point out, in the words of Holden Caulfield, Mary Elizabeth is a phony).

So what else is there to say other than go read it? For goodness sake, don’t make my mistake- pick it up without delay!!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So have you read this book? What did you think of it? And what books have you delayed reading? Let me know in the comments!

Books I Actually Read In Pairs

“We will now take a break from this regularly scheduled programme…” Okay, so confession, I’ve been using the scheduling tool a lot more recently and have been passing over blogging in the last few days (passing over…pass-over… it’s Passover- a time for family, wine and bad puns apparently).

Anyway, I had planned a post for today, but decided to change it up a bit cos nothing’s more fun than breaking a self-imposed schedule.

As I mentioned in my “Books to Read in Pairs” post the other day, I usually try to read books that are polar opposites after each other. So I thought I would share with you some books that I enjoyed reading together.  And these they are:

  1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles & Persuasion – I will admit that there was a time in my life when all I did was read Hardy followed by Austen followed by Dostoevsky, but personally I feel like after the soul-crushing romance of Tess, you need a book that tells you that love can withstand, even the longest of separations.
  1. Crime and Punishment & Northanger Abbey – Both of these have dark themes, but let’s face once you’re done with the punishing finale of Crime and Punishment, you need the happily ever after of an Austen novel- especially this one which turns everything dark on its head.
  1. Gulag Archipelago Volume I-II & Forever in Blue – So this one’s kind of cheating, cos I actually read this during rather than after Gulag (which I only just finished) cos man this was a hard book to read and I needed a break!! If you do check this out, and I recommend you do, just know you will need several YA contemporaries to hand during and after this book. I know I’m going to line up loads for the rest of these volumes (only 5 more to go!)
  1. Hogfather & The Bluest Eye – This is actually the reverse of the other books- cos sometimes I need some Pratchett to psyche myself up to reading (emotionally) challenging books.
  1. The Godfather & Corrupt Me – These actually go together really well- so I should have included this in my last post- especially since I love any opportunity to pimp out the lovely Jillian Quinn’s work! But while they do complement each other, they are really different. Definitely worth reading back to back!

So who else tries to read different books together? What books do you like to read in pairs? Let me know in the comments!

Rape of Nanking – Book Review

rape of nankingI’m going to be as brief and to the point about this book as I can.

One: I did not have the will to review this book. I just did not have the words. Even now, a month on, and I’m still struggling to put this into words. It is, to put it simply, the most harrowing, graphic and revealing account of war crimes I am ever likely to read.

Two: In the end I realised, however little I wanted to review this, I really had no choice. It shocks me to my core that not enough people know about this (the number of people that have read it on Goodreads alone is remarkably low). This story needs to be told. Which brings me onto…

Three: You have to read it. It shocks me to my core that this is not common knowledge and that humanity can be capable of such things- but if we are ever to have any modicum of self-knowledge, then I think it is vital that everyone reads this.

Just a few final points about the content and niggling issues I feel have to be mentioned, which should in no way detract from reading this book, but are worth bearing in mind:

Firstly: I personally am not keen on “one-upmanship” of atrocities.

Secondly: to my mind the author should have resisted the urge to blame the West for China’s choice to trade with Japan instead of demanding reparations.

Thirdly: the lack of education on this as this is not a solely “Western” problem (in Indonesia for instance people wear Nazi paraphernalia). But no good comes out of blanket condemnations. There should be a global push for more education- East to West and West to East- of course, but we need to stop finger-pointing.

Still those were minor points of contention. Overall this was a thorough and highly education piece of non-fiction.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So have you read this book? Do you plan to? And have you read a book lately that you struggled to review? Let me know in the comments!

Salt to the Sea Took Me On A Journey

salt to the seaOkay, I’m not gonna take a roundabout route here: I absolutely loved this book.

While I enjoyed Between Shades of Grey, I didn’t actually end up loving it as I hoped (perhaps it was overshadowed for me by Solzhenitsyn’s Ivan Densovitch– but more on that another time). But this book… this book blew me away!

Like Between Shades of Grey, the writing was stunning and the build-up in action was perfect. But what really sold me on this book was how much I connected with characters and felt like I was taken on a journey with them, discovering who they were and what made them tick. I have read other books that have tried to make personalities, in similar circumstances, as swoon worthy and incredible as these characters- but so few actually succeed in making something that resembles both the heroic and the human. I salute Sepetys for her success here- it is such a rare feat and deserves applause!! Plus- and I have to mention it- there was a wonderful little Easter egg that linked the characters in Salt to the Sea with the ones in Between Shades of Grey (you won’t be getting any spoilers from me though- see if you can spot it yourself!)

Of course, the subject matter is intense and serious, just as Between Shades of Grey is, and I truly admire Sepetys for educating people on so many important issues. So, yes, librarians out there (and not just us apes with an abundance of bananas on the internet) stock up your libraries- because this is worth investing in.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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 So have you read any of Sepetys work? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Book Tag: Books to Read in Pairs

Hello again- as promised I’m back to tackle another tag today. And this one’s pretty simple- I just have to list between five and ten pairs of books (a bit like “if you like this, you’ll like this…”). Well, it sounds pretty simple, but it was actually quite tricky for me cos I usually try to read books as different to each other as possible after each other- so I had to actually train my brain for a minute to not think in opposites! Eventually though I came up with some decent pairs of books.

Anyway- thank you so much to the awesome Bookish Underdog for tagging me to do this one. On with the tag!!

  1. Isla and the Happily Ever After & To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– cute, frothy and so romantic!!
  1. Sabriel & Northern Lights– two of my absolute favourite dark fantasies!
  1. Little Women & I Capture the Castle– more cute romances!! Plus these ones have a nice bit of sisterly love going on.
  1. Fahrenheit 451 & V For Vendetta– books on why fascism is bad… (in case you needed reminding 😉 )
  1. One Day in the Life of Ivan Densovitch & Animal Farm– books on why communism is bad… (another healthy reminder: Marxism killed 100s of millions of people)
  1. The Belljar & The Yellow Wallpaper– books on why mental illness is bad- especially for women apparently… (boy has this post gone in a cheerful direction…)
  1. Hobbit & Chronicles of Narnia– the bedrock for any fantasy fan- open the cupboard and… ooh look a dragon! (also I needed to change the subject)
  1. Rebecca & Wuthering Heights– beautiful, slightly gothic and super seductive romances…
  1. Anansi Boys & Mort– funny fantasy!!!
  1. Three Musketeers & Count of Monte Cristo– swashbuckling- lots and lots of sword fights!

Hoho- that post got a little darker than I expected! Hope you enjoyed it anyway- I tag:

Rose Read

By Hook or By Book

Keira

Blame Chocolate

Lost Art of Reading

Sorry I’m Booked

Captivated by fantasy

Bookshelves and Biros

Book Cover Girls

So agree or disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments!

4 for 4- April Mini Reviews

Hello- happy Friday!! I don’t know about where you are, but it’s been a lovely sunny day over here in good old England for a change, so I’m soaking up the sun while I can…

sun has got his hat on

(And yes, I’m being totally British starting this post by talking about the weather- *that’s* not stereotypical at all… anyone want some tea?)

Anyhoo, I’m back today with my mini review feature where I catch up on some of my ever-growing backlog of unreviewed books- if you want to hear more about this, you can check out my post from last month. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

sun is also a star

The Sun Is Also A Star– Unusually for me, even though I loved the author’s other book Everything Everything, I frickin hated this. I’m totally not a fan of stories where people just fall in love in a day- especially since I didn’t feel like the main characters even gelled. And frankly, this might get me a lot of hate, but I didn’t find her situation as sympathetic as it was supposed to be. I don’t really feel like getting into political debates at the minute, so I’m just gonna say this book was clearly aimed at very left wing individuals and as a centrist I couldn’t get on board with the factual discrepancies and blatant propaganda. If you’re super into political messaging in books and are very left wing, you’ll love it… otherwise, avoid like the plague!

Rating: 1/5 bananas

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hollow city and library of souls

Hollow City & The Library of Souls– I really intended to do proper reviews for these, but I realised I must have been too absorbed in the stories cos I didn’t take any notes. What I can tell you about these books is that if you loved the first one, these are both a great continuation of the story and worked just as well for me! I found the world building in both of them equally imaginative and just as intriguing as the first. And I don’t know what it is about it, but I felt really connected to the narrator’s voice. Also BIG shout out and thanks to Fernanda who hosted a giveaway where I won Hollow City!!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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(apiece- that’s an awful lot of bananas!)

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heartless

Heartless– meh- this wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Looking back on it though, I didn’t personally connect with the characters and didn’t enjoy it as much as the Lunar Chronicles. Also proceed with caution: do not read if you are remotely hungry!

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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Okay- I don’t know if that was cheating to do just three reviews, but there were four books here… so… Either way have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

The Cramm Award

Okay, time for some bloggery admissions of guilt… After clearing out my shelves the other day, I realised there was another area of my life that could do with a bit of a shake-up… And that’s my total failure to do tags lately. I currently have god-know-how-many tags in my backlog and over 10 already written. But for some reason I haven’t done any tags in such a long time… So I thought I would start *cramming* them in now!! (yes, yes, very punny) Onto the first of (I hope) many tags I’ll be doing this month and beyond!

crammaward

First off, thank you so much to Sarah @ Between the Pages for nominating me- she’s absolutely lovely and runs an awesome blog- so you should check her out!!

Rules (because we need them):

  • Include that tidbit about who created this awesome award (With link)
  • Mention the person who nominated you
  • Share three things that motivate you to blog
  • Share three people who inspire you to blog
  • Share one thing you hope to do that will improve the world
  • Answer your challenge question
  • Nominate 10+ bloggers and give them a fun ‘challenge question

Three things that motivate me to blog:

  1. Books!
  2. You guys!
  3. Exploring new ideas!

Three people that motivate me to blog:

This is hard to narrow it down to just three! *Sobs*

  1. My blogging friends- you guys know who you are, but I’m gonna give a special mention to Zezee as she was one of my first friends on here and she’s awesome!!
  2. People making amazing content- *massive* shout out to Chris Barnett– he’s really talented and writes the most incredible stories- check him out!
  3. All the people recommending brilliant books- again I could name *so many* people right now, but I’m just gonna mention Bookstooge, cos he consistently writes great reviews!

One thing I hope to do to change the world:

Ooh er… That’s a tall order- I’d like to impact people with my writing- but maybe just changing one person’s world for the better- I’d be happy with that.

The Challenge Question: If you were forced to choose between losing an arm or never being able to use technology for the rest of your life, which would you prefer to sacrifice?

Ermmm I love technology, but sorry, I’m keeping my arm. It’s no contest. I guess I’ll have to do everything the old fashioned way- with both my arms intact. (haha I really want to know who would do the opposite though!)

My Challenge Question: Would you rather be a squib in Harry Potter that’s forced to face Voldemort or human in Middle Earth up close and personal with Sauron?

My Nominations- AKA more Bloggers that Motivate me to Blog:

Kat @ Life and Other Disasters

Donna @ Chocolatenwaffles

Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books

Liz @ Cover to Cover

Vicky @ Books and Strips

Stuart @ Forged From Reverie

Sarah Doughty @ Heartstring Eulogies

Jackie @ Death by Tsudonku

And anyone mentioned in this post!