Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

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!

I have finally finished reading “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen! It’s only taken me almost 4 months to get through it!

“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.”

I am reading my way through the complete works of Jane Austen, but they can be a bit long and boring at times, which is why it took me ages to get into Mansfield Park. It’s not the best of Austen’s novels, but after several fruitless attempts to get into it, I promised myself that I would finish it by next weekend! As I was a little bit bored this weekend, I was driven to reading and before I knew it, it had got more interesting so I managed to finish it!

Fanny Price is kind of boring. I suppose I understand that she is a quiet girl who sits on the outside of the social circle for most of the first part of the novel, and then gets sucked into the action as time progresses. Being quiet, kind and useful is probably Fanny’s advantage in this social circle, as she quietly judges the others as they make mistakes. Fanny is fairly grounded and modest, which is a contrast to her cousins, and certainly in comparison to her own family when she visits them and realises how much she has changed since moving to Mansfield Park when she was younger. The issues surrounding social classes show when Fanny is thinking about how she could never be deserving of, or able to even consider, a marriage proposal from someone out of her social class, no matter how much she has changed since being parted from her uncouth family and brought up in a refined environment such as Mansfield Park with her aunt, uncle and cousins.

The development of the relationships between the characters is interesting, with a massive scandal shaking up the foundations of many of them. Fanny grows to be accepted as a kind friend and cousin, even if she is not so keen on people around her at first, and then as a surrogate daughter towards the end of the novel. Her choice of who she is likely to marry is sort of obvious, even if it seems that she is too lowly in social class to be considered. I did grow to respect Fanny and her decisions in the end as she was the most sensible of the lot and took everything into consideration.

This novel took too long to get to the juicy bits, so it’s not going to be one of my favourite Austens! I have issues with how much time these characters spend fretting over stupid little things like what necklace to wear, which girl is likely to marry which man, or that someone was selfish to go for a walk without telling a certain person! I also don’t like the idea of cousins marrying each other! I suppose these things come with being privileged and not having anything too pressing to worry about.

I give it 5/10 because it took a while to get into, and when it did get interesting, it seemed to end a bit too abruptly for my liking. I can’t like all of Austen’s work!

I have just finished reading “Watch Me Disappear” by Jill Dawson.

“Watch Me Disappear” by Jill Dawson (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“A ten-year-old girl vanishes without trace from a Fenland village, her body never found. Thirty years on, she comes sharply back to life in the mind’s eye of her childhood friend, Tina Humber, who has done her best to put the past behind her. But now, as Tina returns home for a family wedding, she replays her memories in search of what happened, fearing that deep down she has always known who killed Mandy Baker.

In this subtle, moodily atmospheric novel, Jill Dawson explores the line between innocent and perverted desire, and that volatile stage when young girls become away of their attractions, but do not grasp the dangers.”

It’s a really creepy novel, with descriptions of some disturbing events. At times, one can’t be sure what is real and what is Tina’s fantasy.

She seems to have a lot of “funny turns” where she lapses into a state of mind where she is bombarded by memories from her childhood. Leaving her young daughter and husband in her new home in America, she visits her old childhood home village when her brother gets married and being home triggers her memories of her missing friend, Mandy.

Her dad seems to be the main source of her unhappy childhood, with rumours and his strange behaviour, especially as he seems to have a thing for young girls. We see how she was his favourite child, but there are many disturbing comments which he makes in her flashbacks, which make you realise that she could have easily been abused by him. She never acknowledges whether or not something happened.

Tina as a young girl was intrigued by desires and sex and we read about her experiences, and how boys and men like girls, but she isn’t as intrigued by men as they are by her.

The novel deals with a lot of important issues, but never really gets interesting. I found it disturbing and uncomfortable at times, but mainly it’s just a jumbled mess of the present and the past blurring together. The narrator seems to be in a foggy state: nothing seems that clear. It’s easy enough to read but the story doesn’t go anywhere and I was a bit bored by the end. I give it 5/10 because it deals with an important phase in a girl’s development into an adult, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.