Don’t Tell Mummy

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Toni Maguire tells the heartbreaking story of her past, and the whole time I am reading I have to keep telling myself that this.is.true. The book is so well written that it is so easy to forget that the events you are reading actually happened to her, constantly I had to keep saying to myself ‘this really happened, it really, really happened’. Following her through childhood, living with little money, an abusive father and a mother who won’t come to her rescue, Maguire’s past slowly unravels.

I would definitely recommend this book, it’s an insight into the terrifying horrors abused children are subjected to, and how it affects the rest of the family’s relationships. When I first read this I didn’t know there was a sequel and so I was very disappointed when I didn’t find out how she finally managed to escape her father – and I still don’t know. But now I am aware, I am desperate to find out so I shall report back at some point.

For the time being though, go and read this book, cry for Toni, and enjoy her finally found happiness.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

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Another of my poolside reads however this one was not intentional (a mix up in books I brought led me to have to rely on the little treasure chest that is created by other holiday goers – the hotel book stand). Although most were love stories or murder stories, this little gem shone out and I snapped it up before anyone else could.

I couldn’t wait to get into this book, the film having wiped the floor at the Oscars; I knew it must be good!

****SPOILERS****

I am so glad I didn’t spend £8 going to see this film at the imax, or any cinema for that matter. I knew the basis of the story – a young lad gets shipwrecked and all he has for company is a Bengal tiger. Post read I realise now that ‘basis’ is an understatement: that is the whole story. Over 100 pages of just being at sea – okay you built a raft; caught a fish and ate it; caught a turtle and ate that; blah blah blah. Unfortunately I can’t suppress the need to skip forward and see how many pages there are to go before the next chapter and so knowing there were 100+ between me and the next section of the book was soul destroying. But I persevered.

And I’m glad I did, because now I know I will never have to watch the film. As the story got going a thought crossed my mind ‘if this ends up as a dream I will be SO pissed off’ – well it wasn’t quite a dream but the ending did make me want to rip the book in half and throw it in the pool in a strop. Let’s just say I’m not a fan of endings like this – especially when the book hasn’t exactly been enticing me the whole way through.

Although I wouldn’t care to see the film, I would be interested to see what they filled the two hour gap with as I’m pretty sure this story would not suffice – but then maybe they just filmed him catching a lot of fish, which would be equally boring to watch.

In a way the story represents that of imagination and the imagination of the young, I could imagine my little cousin coming up with something like this after her summer holidays, and for that it is good. On the whole I was very disappointed with this one..a theme you can probably see running through my holiday book choice.

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” – Life of Pi

P.S. I Love You – Paperback

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Another of my well awaited holiday reads. This book has been top of my ‘read before see’ list for quite some time – probably since the film came out – and it  was with great anticipation that I finally got round to reading it. Now, I am probably going to offend a few people with what I am going to say, so if you love this book I would probably stop reading this post now…..

I hated it. I’m not sure if the hype it got from everyone may have done this, or if it just wasn’t my thing, but I did not see what everyone loved so much about it. I was so sick of Holly’s whinging that it took the story away from me. I get her husband died and I can’t begin to understand how that must be, but does it really have to be in every single chapter, sentence, word? (Can you tell I don’t care for love stories yet?) It just felt so girly and flimsy, that there was no real story to it.

I was rather disappointed that this book I had waited years to read had let me down, but I guess that’s what happens after rather a long period of super-heroes, mafias and medieval kings. It’s safe to say I’ve lost my girliness when it comes to love stories.

 

Don’t be afraid to fall n love again. Open your heart amd follow where it leads you….and remember, shoot for the moon…P.S. I will always love you… – Gerry – P.S. I Love You

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!!!

The 31st of July is a somewhat special date – mainly just an excuse to get the DVDs, books and memorabilia out, as well as quoting the hell out of Twitter. ‘Why so Special’? I hear you ask. Today is the day that one of the most anticipated quotes of all time (in the Potter-universe) was uttered – ‘Harry – yer a wizard.’ On this day, Harry’s 11th birthday, The Keeper of the Keys, Rubeus Hagrid, brought Harry Potter his Hogwarts acceptance letter, and from that point we were sucked into the wizarding world.

Not only is today Harry Potter’s name day, but also his creator’s J. K. Rowling’s. I cannot thank her enough for giving me the escape, passion, hobby (lifestyle choice) of Harry Potter. From the stories that inspired me to read and write, to the best friend I have made through a common interest, it is all thanks to J. K. Rowling.

Both Rachel and I hope you have the most wonderful of birthdays.

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‘STOP! I FORBID YOU!’ yelled Unlce Vernon in panic.

Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.

‘Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh,’ said Hagrid. ‘Harry – yer a wizard.’

There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be hear.

‘I’m a what?’ gasped Harry.

‘A wizard, o’ course,’ said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa, which groaned and sank even lower, ‘an’ a thumpin’ good’un’ I’d say, once yeh’ve been trained up a bit. With a mum an’ dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An I reckon it’s abou’ time yeh read yeh letter.’

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

One Day – Paperback

Everyone knows that a summer holiday spent sitting by the pool is the perfect excuse for an intense reading session, so on mine this year I decided to catch up on some books I should have read some years ago – this also means I can now see the films! I began with David Nicholls’ One Day.

I was surprised to realise that the book was only published in 2009 as the film came out in 2011 – fairly fast if you ask me! Anyway… the story follows two lead characters on one day (15th July) for twenty years of their lives, showing snap shots of where they are and what they’re doing after leaving university. Although on several occasions I did just want to know what happened after that day e.g. while they were on holiday, I realise that that was not the point of the book.

It is obvious from the get go that at some point these two best friends were going to end up together one way or another which kind of ruined the book for me in a small way; I found myself just waiting for it to happen and not really enjoying the book to the full.

I did not see the twist towards the end coming. I won’t ruin it here as the book’s worth a read, but WOW. I was in shock – sitting pool side with my mouth gaping open was not a good look but it happened so there.

This book is about love, friendship and life, and is definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something easy, fast and non-intense; definitely one for the beach.

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The Fault in our Stars…

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There must be something in my subconscious which keeps leading me back to stories with a certain sadness as the past two I have read have not resulted in the ‘and they lived happily ever after’ scenario I crave.

However, this book gave me something else; it gave me another outlook on life. Following the life of a girl living with cancer, I was enlightened to get to the end of the book and think ‘just because someone has cancer doesn’t mean they are ‘dying’ from cancer, they are still living in that moment’, and this revelation made me feel, well, happy. Happy to know that in fact life goes on, that people living with cancer still fall in love, still Facebook stalk the person they love’s ex, they’re still (for want of a better word) normal.

Usually when I read a really good book I am always conscious that I am nearing the end, that the story is going to be over and that the mine and the character’s relationship is going to end, but here, although being a really good book, I was happy with the ending of the story. It felt like the end, like I’d had a snippet of Hazel’s (the lead) life, and I was contempt with knowing that she was happy.

A short, easy read story, with great depth. Not your usual pool side read but a good one nonetheless. I’ve enjoyed other works by John Green and The Fault in our Stars is no exception. I would highly recommend adding this book to you summer reading list.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

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You would be hard pushed to find someone who has never heard of The Boy the in Striped Pyjamas or who has no idea of the themes of which the book is based, but having an idea of what is going on only makes the book better – it would be like knowing Harry Potter is a wizard before reading the series, not detrimental.

However, a knowledge of the history of the Holocaust/ Nazi Germany is vital when reading this, and I fear that those who have a very limited understanding of the history would be unable to enjoy the book to its full. Yes, I know this person would be hard to come by, but if they do exist I feel they will struggle to understand what’s going on.

The story itself is told from the point of view of a 9 year old boy; it is pure innocence lost in the midst of adult on goings. Although a very sad story, it shows the beauty of child innocence, about the challenges adult decisions create for young children, how young minds work and interpret different situations, and the acceptance they have of other human beings.

I was lucky that although I knew the themes of the book, I didn’t know the story – apart from that something bad was going to happen, so with a matter of pages to go at the end I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to hit me. It did. Even as I read I pleaded with the pages to not tell me what was happening, but in the end it happened anyway.

I found that knowing something bad was about to happen gave the book a new edge, I was constantly waiting for it to come, always aware of how many pages I had left to turn, and the suspense it created throughout the story only made it better. As the book is very short it feels as though it could belong to collection of stories from that period. As though there are more chapters from other people in the camps telling their stories; (I won’t say too much here, so it may be that you need to read the story to understand what I’m going to say), e.g. Bruno’s farther.

One thing that really annoys me with any writing or film which has been ‘inspired by’ or ‘based on’ true events is that there are always critics who claim that ‘it wouldn’t have really happened like that’; ‘it doesn’t resemble the true nature of what happened’. Yes, there is a reason for that. It’s a story. This book is one of those, under scrutiny for not portraying how it really was. But that’s not the point of the book, if I’d wanted a history lesson I would have picked up a fact book. The story is not realistic, it is a story inspired by real events, enjoy it as just that.

(Discussing arm bands)

‘ Yes, but they’re different, aren’t they?’ said Shmuel.

‘No one’s ever given me an armband,’ said Bruno.

‘But I never asked to wear one,’ said Shmuel.

‘All the same,’ said Bruno, ‘I think I’d quite like one. I don’t know which one I’d prefer though, your one or Father’s.’

 

 

 

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As you can imagine yesterday was a very sad day for me (and no doubt Rach) on hearing that Richard Griffiths had died. The legendary actor who played the evil Uncle Vernon to our beloved Harry Potter will always have a place in the heart of any HP fan. Although most will no doubt despise the character he played, it only meant one thing – he was doing a great job.

May he rest in peace.

In his memory I have pulled out my top 3 Uncle Vernon quotes, I hope you enjoy them!

3) ’Every now and then Uncle Vernon would take a sharp turning and drive in the opposite direction for a while.

‘Shake ‘em off… Shake ‘em off,’ he would mutter whenever he did this.’ – Philosopher’s Stone. (Book)

2) ’I am not paying for some crackpot old fool to teach him magic tricks!’ – Philosopher’s Stone. (Book)

1) ‘There’s no such thing as magic!’ – Philosopher’s Stone. (Film)

J.K.ROWLING – The Casual Vacancy.

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Nerves mounted as word spread that J.K. Rowling was releasing ‘a book for adults’; how would it ever live up to her Harry Potter franchise? How would she differentiate between child/young adult and adult reader?

As a HP fan I was anxious to buy, let alone read the book, but of course curiosity got the better of me and here I am two weeks and 500 odd pages later, with J.K. still holding my top spot for favourite author.

The story itself was unbelievable. When I read the blurb I signed inside thinking there was no way this was going to be interesting – a guy dies opening up his spot on the parish council and the town residents start fighting over it: bore. NO. I hang my head in shame for ever doubting her; once again she wiped the floor with another audience.

Okay it was obvious that she was trying very hard to separate herself from well know children’s author, and at some points in the book it’s slightly cringe worthy; the language she’s using really doesn’t need to be that, erm how to put it, ‘blue’, and at these points of the story it was crucial to keep telling myself ‘she didn’t write Harry Potter’. But apart from that, I can’t fault anything else – expect that I wanted more! Once again I was sucked into each of the characters lives and I came away craving more of their stories – what happened to them next? It is clear that this is intended as a solo book and it will be a shame if she continues with it (I want her to try something else now).

The story takes a different format to that of what we’re used to with HP – another attempt at separation? But it works well, we meet all the characters on a personal level and the way in which we swap from storyline to storyline is flawless, it just flows and before you know it you’re half way through asking yourself when did I read all that?

The book is packed with emotion and really gets you thinking about what is really going on in other people’s lives. I would love to see the research she did for this story as I think there would be a few nasty shocks!

Once again, a beautifully written novel by Rowling, HP fans will be proud that our novelist idol can produce such contrasting stories but still captivate us all. A MUST read.

The Hobbit – Paper Edition

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With the release of The Hobbit soon to hit the big screen I decided that I could no longer put off the classic novel by J.R.R.Tolkien, so I added it to my Christmas list and finished it last night. I have mixed views. Okay, I have one view: it was so BORING.

Yes I know you are squealing with disgust at that last comment and quite frankly, disagree all you like. I accept that I am in the minority, going on the success trilogy’s franchise that precedes and the franchise alone for the Hobbit, I am aware that my views are not in line with society’s. I wanted to enjoy it, I really did -hence it making it to the Christmas list- but I just didn’t. I was willing the end to come, dwarfs kept getting into trouble and needed a hobbit’s help – that was it. That was all that happened. I was bored, bored of reading, but having to finish it just in case something amazing was going to happen which all the fuss was made about. But it didn’t, the amazingness didn’t come.

The beginning had a slight hook – I was intrigued as to how the adventure would unfold, but even now as I try to write this review I cannot recall in what order the events happened. I must say, I did enjoy the chapter with Gollum, but this may just have something to do with the fact that Gollum is a world renowned character from the franchise and I was just happy to recognise someone and finally be in with the crowd. I was also happy to find out where the ring came from – stocking up information for when I eventually see Lord of the Rings (yes, I know I should read them, but after The Hobbit I can’t quite face them).

Another downside I faced was the way the book was written, and I find this with a lot of books which have been written in a past time and republished for modern reading; the English. If you’re going to republish what you want to be a classic – please update the wording. Even I struggled to read some parts and this book is meant to be for kids?! Is there any need for phrases like ‘QUOTE’ why not just write ‘MODERN QUOTE’ and make it easier. I know I’m complaining about the trivial but it really does annoy me. Someone’s going to be proof reading it anyway, why not just change the needed bits to modern English?

So all in all, I didn’t enjoy the book and now I’m looking less forward to the film and the LOTR trilogy I have on my DVD shelf waiting to be watched. Maybe they’ll spark something and all will become clear.