Book Reviews





A Christmas Carol

As its coming up the Christmas I thought I would leave you with a little festive cheer from arguably the most famous Christmas tale ever told (and one of my favourite Christmas films, second to Elf!) I'm not sure how much I'll write up until the new year, so if you don't hear from me, have a great end of 2011, and I'll see you in 2012!

"I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laoco├Ân of himself with his stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!" 
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 


A few bad eggs...

I'm in that slump. That space between amazing books where nothing comes close to what you've just read. Sometimes, it's my fault I don't enjoy a book - I expect it to be the book I've just finished. I'm unfair on it. I don't approach it as a seperate entity, but still on a high from "that great book" expecting the exact same thing from it.
Other times, it really is the book (honest!) be it writing structures I can't relate to, tedious characters, contrived plot...
It's actually pretty draining, pulling yourself through "ok" books, constantly on the hunt for the next "great" one.
You invest a lot of time into a book. A lot of life, actually. You give it your heart and your trust for hours and hours. Sometimes you miss a meal to reach the end, and you certainly give up a few hours sleep. You believe that the experience it will give you will be worth missing a night out for. You cut yourself off from human interaction for it.

So when you emerge from 400 pages and feel hollow, what do you do?

I have a range of immediate actions. Twilight got launched across the room (I was aiming for the window, but missed), and Engleby would have been thrown if it wasn't attached to my Kindle, so instead I had to go out for a run to shake myself free of it. Very often, my poor boyfriend gets a full blown rant about the book's flaws that he has to just nod and smile through... but mostly - I throw myself straight into the next novel, full of hope that it can only be better.

Do you need "healing time" for a book?

I mean, I pretty much have a freaky sort of relationship with them, given the above. I lived off one-hand-only, non-preparation-required crackers for 14 hours as I read Order of the Pheonix start to finish. I (in effect) cut my boyfriend out of my life for an hour or two every night and give my affection to characters - I barely even hear him when he talks to me (and I'm really sorry for that, if you're reading!). I cry at them, I laugh at them, and when they disappoint me, I'm a moody cow! It's a tough break-up when the ending hasn't been worth the commitment of the previous pages and all they entail. So am I wise in moving onto the next one?

Should I be giving myself time to forget them? Doing other things for a while? Seeing other books? ;)

Trouble is, I just darn love to read, and can't imagine a night without a chapter or two. And when I clumsily fall unexpectedly into a masterpiece amidst all the bad eggs, it's the best feeling ever.


"To read or not to read?" : The Blue Book

Not so long ago, I fancied some food while I was out shopping. I decided I wanted some Wagamama noodles, and headed over. However, before I went in, I stopped off at Waterstones. I was on my own and didn't feel comfortable eating alone without something to occupy me. I bought a book.

Hurried from my usual "read the first chapter" browsing habits by my grumbling stomach, I grabbed a book I had on my Amazon wishlist, The Blue Book. It was a new release, the plot sounded great, and even though it was £13 (*hyperventilation*) I bought it anyway. I needed a book and I knew what this was about.

A couple of months on, I am only 150 pages in and have completed 3 other books instead.

The trouble is, I simply cannot bear the writing style. It's languid, self-indulgent, meandering prose that (150 pages in) hasn't yet presented me with the point of the novel. It's got unlinked narratives popping up left, right and centre and a first chapter that, even if I had read it in the shop, has no bearing on the next 8! Argh! I've only so far experienced the ridiculous mind-babble of the central character. I don't really relate to her, her characterisation is annoying and I don't need a thousand different ways to describe a waiting crowd for a boat!!!!

Ok. I've got that out the way... Here's the dilemma. Obviously, I'm not clicking with this book, but the thing is that the plot sounds great, it's simply the way it's written that's getting to me.

Do I stick with it, with all the grating irks that go with it, for the satifaction of the plot? Or do I stop, potentially missing out on a great story, but saving myself the frustration?

I felt like this with a couple of David Mitchell novels... I didn't finish them, but then again I didn't find their plot so interesting either...!