Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

I actually finished reading “How To Build A Girl” by Caitlin Moran a few weeks ago and completely forgot to write a review for it! I’ve read Moran’s columns and 2 of her previous books and enjoy her writing, and I thought I’d give this a try.

“How To Build A Girl” by Caitlin Moran (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“My name’s Johanna Morrigan. I’m fourteen, and I’ve just decided to kill myself.

I don’t really want to die, of course! I just need to kill Johanna, and build a new girl. Dolly Wilde will be everything I want to be, and more! But as with all the best coming-of-age stories, it doesn’t exactly go to plan…”

It’s actually a good book, although at times it feels a bit too similar to her actual life as described in “How To be A Woman” with her growing up in poverty and working for a music magazine, which made me wonder if she can actually write about anything else.

However, Johanna is a typical teenager who doesn’t fit in and tries to reinvent herself to become someone different. She goes about it fairly extremely, changing her name, dying her hair black and wearing eccentric outfits in black. She educates herself about music in order to get a job, and uses her new self to create a new life for herself. She seems to go a bit crazy at points, which makes for interesting reading! Her actions are not only to further and improve herself, but also to help provide for her family and lift them out of poverty.

I love her crazy adventures and the way she does things. Her relationships with her family and others are typically mixed and fascinating to read about. It seemed obvious to me that pretending to be Dolly Wilde was going to cause problems for her at some point and it does!

I did enjoy reading this novel, and I give it 8/10 because it’s just so different and a breath of fresh air (ironic, given the amount of smoking she does) and was worth reading!

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth (via Goodreads)

I finished reading “Divergent” by Veronica Roth last weekend.

I wanted to see what the fuss is about as it has been turned into a film recently, although it didn’t really grab my attention as something I really wanted to read.

The idea of a society divided into factions is interesting because you can see how and why such factions exist and what sort of people they consist of. However, this novel seems to think people can be divided into factions based on personality traits as if they are black and white, when really there are shades of grey in everything.

The action seems to flow quite quickly but the rush doesn’t help me form an attachment to the characters and I still found myself taking a while to read the novel. The relationship between Tris and Four/Tobias seems to happen quite quickly, especially with Tris being supposedly reserved and finding it difficult to be more intimate with people when she’s not used public displays of affection and so on. It’s not really believable that she could get over 16 years of ingrained behaviour so quickly. And she manages to use her lack of emotions to beat up people when told to. She is pretty bad-ass and tough but she makes friends and enemies both in her chosen faction and others, and is unable to find a place where she feels truly at home. It just feels like she’s trying to be someone she’s not, which I suppose is the point of the novel but it just doesn’t feel right.

I can’t say it was the best book I’ve read, but it was OK. I read it while on holiday and it was an interesting read but didn’t have me hooked immediately. It feels like it could be really good, but it just isn’t explored as much as it could be. If we’re going for dystopian societies with people divided into factions, I think “The Hunger Games” wins hands down! This just isn’t as good!

I give it 6/10 because it has promise but doesn’t deliver. I’m not sure I want to read the others in the series!

I have just finished re-reading “Narnia” for the first time for at least 10 years!

I had forgotten how amazing the story is! I remember feeling captivated by these books as a child and I still find them as magical as ever!

You get to read about the beginnings of the world of Narnia and how it progresses through its history before it ends.

As there are 7 books to cover, I will simply go through them one by one:

“The Magician’s Nephew” – The first book, which shows us how Narnia came to be and how its inhabitants are so different from our world. It’s a fascinating book, although it’s not really my favourite of the series. I like how Digory and Polly accidently bring the evil Witch from Charn into Narnia but they make up for it by protecting the people of Narnia and giving them their first King and Queen.

“The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” – The best known book because it is where the Pevensie Children first discover Narnia, save it from the evil Witch and then rule as 4 kings and queens. I do like this book, even though Edmund is a bit of an idiot for a while!

“The Horse and His Boy” – This book shows us a different part of the world of Narnia, starting where the Calormenes live and set during the reign of the High King Peter and his 3 siblings, who we get to see a small glimpse of as they rule as adults. I like the Talking Horses, Bree and Hwin, who help Sasha and Aravis to escape their home and travel to Narnia. This isn’t my favourite book but it’s grown on me more than the first time I read it!

“Prince Caspian” – The Pevensies return to Narnia many years after their great reign as Kings and Queens to find everything changed and King Caspian struggling to fight his usurping Uncle Miraz for the Narnian throne. It’s sort of a story of two halves: the boys fight Miraz and his army, while the girls meet Aslan and, together with the fascinating creatures of Narnia, go and free the creatures and people of Narnia. Maybe a bit sexist?!

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” – Edmund and Lucy, and their awful cousin Eustace are pulled into Narnia while King Caspian is searching the seas for new lands and the edge of the world. Life is different on board the ship, but the places they discover are fascinating. I like how Eustace changes into a much nicer person due to the effect Narnia has on him: the novel is really about his change.

“The Silver Chair” – Eustace pulls his schoolmate Jill into Narnia to escape their horrible school and they end up on a quest with Puddleglum the Marshwiggle to find the lost Prince Rillian before time runs out for his aged father King Caspian, who is away sailing the seas. Another evil witch is keeping him captive, and this time we visit the wild lands above Narnia and the underworld beneath Narnia, which are home to more strange creatures. I love Puddleglum: he’s so gloomy and pessimistic but his heart is in the right place! Also, the change in Eustace is so obvious in this book!

“The Last Battle” – Eustace and Jill end up back in Narnia and try to help King Tirian to protect Narnia from a false Aslan who is destroying the world as they know it. Narnia has become a lot darker now with so many evil forces at work and the struggle to understand which side of the battle is the right one. I like how this is a fitting end to the Chronicles, with the world ending and the Friends of Narnia (except Susan) coming back to their beloved world, especially with Polly and Digory coming back. I never liked this book when I first read it but now I can appreciate how good an ending it has. The ending is a bit weird and it’s a little bit complicated, especially with the train crash which caused Eustace and Jill to arrive in Narnia.

It’s really sad reading “The Last Battle”, but the stories all weave together so well throughout the Chronicles so we get a good view of life in Narnia at different times in its history. The characters are great, although at times they are a bit stereotypical of their sex and role! And, of course, Aslan the great lion is the fascinating creator and puppeteer who controls the destiny of Narnia and its inhabitants. He is like a friend to the good people, but is “not a tame lion”, which makes him both loved and mysterious.

The whole series is about faith and religion, right and wrong, and love and friendship. There’s lot of important lessons to learn from the books. I don’t really have a favourite book, but I suppose the 2nd one is the obvious choice! I’ve really enjoyed re-reading the series and I will definitely read it again at some point!

I can’t help but think that although Digory and Polly, Peter, Edmund and Lucy, Jill and Eustace and even the Pevensie’s parents all died in the train crash, the other Pevensie girl, Susan, is still alive in our world and grieving over her dead siblings and parents, separated from them because she stopped believing in Narnia. She doesn’t get the happy ending that the rest of them do. And they don’t seem to miss her much, even when it turns out they are all dead and their parents are dead too, but Susan isn’t even mentioned. It seems quite sad and rather harsh. But is this her punishment because she discovered sex and lived a “silly” life and didn’t keep her faith in Narnia? This issue is covered quite nicely by an article called “The Problem of Susan” by AshSilverLock over on her Fabulous Realms blog!