Friday, 18 November 2011

Boy - Roald Dahl (1984)

Sometimes, when my pile of books to be read seems insurmountable and unexciting, I turn to an old favourite, a comfort read. That is why I picked up Boy. I am the kind of person who will read something over and over because I love it, even though I know exactly what is going to happen. I must have read this at least five times as a kid, and the stories - some of which horrified me - made me laugh and led me to read them again and again.

If I have kids, this is going to be one of the many books I shove down their throats. It's set in 1920, a time where if you got tonsillitis, your adenoids would be removed without anaesthetic on the kitchen table. I was a little worried I wouldn't enjoy this book as much now that I'm older, but that's not the case. Read it, have a good laugh and be thankful corporal punishment in schools is now illegal.

Dahl's father died when he was young, and his mother had to bring up six children by herself, but luckily they were quite wealthy. His father was very explicit in that his children had to go to English schools as they were the best in the world. It tells of the Great Mouse Plot of 1924, where Dahl and four other boys put a mouse in a jar of Gobstoppers. His family used to return to Norway every summer and spend their days taking a boat to various little islands. At the age of nine, he was sent to an English boarding school, where the boys would be caned severely. His 22-year-old half-sister bought a car (a very rare thing in the 1920's) and crashed which sliced Dahl's nose almost completely off and it had to  be sewn on again.

When he was twelve he went to a boarding high school, and although he was captain of two sports, he was considered too subversive to be for school captaincy. He and his classmates use to be chocolate testers for Cadbury (which is where he got the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) He won many awards for his photography - one of which he took of the Arch of Ctesiphon (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) while flying for the Royal Air Force during training in 1940.

Despite his average grades and lack of captaincy, Dahl got a job with Shell and  received his dream posting for a job in East Africa.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Best of Me - Nicholas Sparks (2011)

This was a spontaneous purchase. Its pure, typical Nicholas Sparks. Girl meets boy, boy is from side of the tracks and boy and girl are kept apart. Its reminiscent of Sparks' The Notebook and Piccoult's My Sister's Keeper. 

I liked it, but it wasn't a personal favourite. Towards the end, it got tearjerking, but managed to avoid cliché, which is always nice. A nice book to read, but nothing especially compelling or unique.

Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier were in love as teenagers. Dawson lived with a local mechanic, Tuck, to stay away from his abusive father and criminal family. But when Amanda's parents blackmailed her, Dawson ended the relationship so she can go to university. Dawson killed a local doctor soon after Amanda left, and was sent to prison despite the fact it was an accident. He still feels guilt and sends money to the family.

Years later, Tuck dies and the pair are asked by his lawyer to return to their hometown. Dawson has never gotten over Amanda and lives on his own at works constantly. Amanda has married and has kids. When Dawson returns, his family immediately are out to get him, the man who shamed them. Tuck's will leads them to a cottage, where the pair pick up where they left off. Amanda thinks about leaving her family, but can't and Dawson is again forced to live with her memory.

Amanda's son is in an accident and needs a heart transplant. Dawson goes to the pub and tries to save the son of the doctor he killed, but is shot by his cousin. Amanda's son gets a transplant, and the heart he is given was Dawson's.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly (2010)

I bought this because I wanted something to read. Then I read the blurb later and realised it was historical fiction, something I'm not super-keen on. It is set in present-day France and the diary that the main character Andi finds details the story of a girl living through the French Revolution in 1790.

I found the diary entries that are included really boring and I often skimmed them to get back to the contemporary storyline. The incorporation of the dual storyline seemed awkward and forced. I find it hard to stop reading a book once I start, so even though I disliked it I stuck with it until the end.

Andi blames herself for her brother's death, and is on a cocktail of medication to ease her depression. She wears a key her brother found on a red ribbon around her neck. Her estranged father takes her to Paris so she can work on her senior thesis. All she cares about is music and agrees to write the thesis on the French composer Malherbeau and relate his work to contemporary artists like RHCP. Her father is a geneticist is testing a heart specimen to see if it belongs to Louis Charles (the French boy king during the French Revolution) and Andi finds a guitar case and unlocks a secret compartment with her necklace. She finds a diary belonging to Alex - Louis Charles'  companion. She reads the diary while trying to write her thesis. She meets a boy called Virgil and they traipse around Paris and go to a party in the catacombs. Then the police turn up and they are separated, and all of a sudden Andi finds herself in 1790 with Malherbeau and she is Alex. She tries to save the boy king, but fails. She then wakes up with Virgil  there and is confused as to whether she was dreaming. Fast-forward a year later, and Andi has recovered from her depression and lives in France studying music and she and Virgil are together.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares (2011)

Although I really enjoyed the previous books in the saga, I think this book was a total waste of a book and so much more stuff could've happened or been written better in it.

This book was written in the same style as the last four books which obviously works well with the four main perspective to switch between. My favourite character was Bridget, even though I used to be able to relate to Carmen, and Lena was probably my favourite character, Bridget had the best storyline in this book as it was the only interesting one. I think that if you want to read this book, save yourself the time and just read the last fifty pages as it's where everything happens. The twist at the end was the only redeeming plot point of this story.

Bridget, Carmen, Lena and Tibby are still good friends but have drifted apart in the last few years, especially Tibby who moved to Australia. A little before their 30th Birthdays Tibby invites the girls to Greece for a reunion. Tibby got there a day earlier so she could meet them at the airport, however when they arrive Tibby is nowhere to be found. They go to Lena's grandparents house where they were going to stay and they find all of Tibby's stuff but no Tibby. A body is found in the water that had drowned and it turned out to be Tibby, and when the girls look through her bag they find a letter that seems like a suicide note and some letters addressed to them with dates on. Bridget then finds out she's pregnant, she is still with Eric except after Tibby's death she started hitchiking around the country and doesn't want to tell him about the baby. Carmen is engaged to a guy she doesn't love, and Lena thinks about Kostos every day. Bridget ends up going to Australia to talk to Brian where she learns that Tibby had a daughter, Bailey. Lena starts a pen pal relationship with Kostos and has to deliver a letter to him from Tibby, in person. In the end Brian and Bailey move to Pennsylvania to a house that Tibby picked out that has many little sheds and other buildings where Bridget, Carmen and Lena could've stayed with them. We learn that Tibby had Huntington's, a degenerative disease. She found out when she was pregnant with Bailey, who doesn't carry the gene and brought the girls to Greece to tell them, she was then going to move to Pennsylvania with Brian and Bailey and go into a hospice. However she lost muscle control when swimming and drowned in Greece before she could tell the girls. Bridget keeps her baby and gets back with Eric, Lena and Kostos reunite, and Carmen breaks up with her fiancee and ends up alone.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare (2011)

I bought this book straight after I read the first book because I knew I would want to read it once I finished the third one. I liked this book, however I really wish the fifth one was out because it has a big cliffhanger ending.

I didn't like this book as much as the first three, I thought that the storyline was really weird and sort of boring until the ending. My favourite character in this book was Isabelle, I liked reading her perspective and seeing the depth of her feelings and some reasons behind her behaviour.

For plot summary see Mac's previous blog.