Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

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 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!