Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

I have just finished reading ” Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed (via Goodreads)

I bought this book because I had heard a bit about it when the film version came out, and I thought it sounded interesting.

The blurb reads:

“At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.”

I’m really glad I bought it because it is such a good read. Cheryl’s marriage breaks down and her mother dies, and so she’s at a crossroads in her life, and trying to work out her path into the future. She learns the hard way how big a challenge she set for herself in doing the Pacific Crest Trail: she has never hiked long distance and it sounds really painful wearing the wrong size boots and carrying a massive backpack which she affectionately christens “Monster”. She surprises her loved ones and everyone she meets by hiking the Trail alone as a woman. Along the way, she makes friends with the hikers she meets and keeps up a good banter with them. She also works through her personal issues as she hikes alone: coming to terms with the breakdown of her marriage and the disintegration of her family when her mother died. We get flashbacks of important moments which led to her doing the Trail, which are fascinating, although there are quite a few sad moments.

I loved this novel because it’s a memoir, so it is real and the issues explored are things which anyone could go through. I give it a big 9/10!

I have just finished re-reading “The Witch’s Daughter” by Nina Bawden.

“The Witch’s Daughter” by Nina Bawden (via Goodreads)

I first read this book when I was a child after finding it in my local library, I have always had a thing for fantasy and so the title caught my eye, but it’s not actually a fantasy!

The blurb reads:

“Perdita lives a lonely life in the Western Islands of Scotland, until a naturalist arrives with his children. The story is a sympathetic study of the interplay of personalities, and also a tale of hidden treasure, crime and amateur detection.”

Perdita is described as being a witch’s daughter but she is actually a young, almost feral orphan girl who doesn’t mix with the other children on the island where she lives and who think she is strange. The story follows her as she discovers new friends in a boy and his blind sister who come to the island on holiday and who accept her as she is.

Besides being a story about friendship, it is a story with a mystery about the strange Mr Jones who visits the island at the same time as the siblings and a secret about treasure. The 3 children uncover the truth and Perdita’s life changes forever.

I loved this story as a child, and on re-reading it again now, I still love it. It’s just a lovely simple story about life on an island where everyone knows each other but there are still secrets. It’s interesting to see Perdita’s relationships with others: from the new friendship she forms with Janey and Tim, the pseudo-family relationship with Annie and Mr Smith, and the way the other island children treat her.

I give the book 7/10 because it’s just a good little story, and it’s about normal life but with the twist about treasure.

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!