2012 Wrap-Up

I have pinched this idea from from Jessica over at Bookworm Chronicles, but due to my incompetence on the iPad I can’t link to her post right now, so I’ll share the credit when I get to an actual computer. This is just a lovely way to round off the year and reflect on the books I have read, some of which I have blogged about and some that I read before I started blogging.

Best Book of 2012 The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Worst Book of 2012 Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

Most Disappointing Book of 2012 Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, especially as I love his work in general

Most Surprising (in a good way) Captain Correlli’s Mandolin by Louis de Berniers

Most Recommended to Others The Hobbit I LOVED it!

Best Series you have Discovered Agatha Raisin by M.C.Beaton

Favourite Cover of 2012 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Most Thrilling Book of 2012 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Most Memorable Character This is a cheat, but any Jilly Cooper one works for me every time

Can’t Believe you Waited until 2012 The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

Books Read 65

Plans for 2013

My aunty has just informed me that one of the top resolutions for this year is to read more books, luckily I don’t think this will be mine, but I do intend to have a book related resolution, mainly to decrease that insane TBR pile that I have accumulated other the upcoming years. I read somewhere about a blog that is hosting a reading challenge centred on only reading books you own for the first few months of the year (I will hunt it down later), so I think I am going to attempt this challenge. Other than that I just want to read more and continue blogging and discovering more fantastic authors.

Happy New Year to you all!

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The Age of Innocence

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I feel as though I have been reading The Age of Innocence since the beginning of time…this perhaps gives a good indication of how I feel about this novel. I am a great believer that the time/mood you read a book has a huge impact on your perception of it, and this is how I feel about this novel.

It follows the lives of Newland Archer and his new wife, May in the New York of the 1870s. We first meet them when they are about to announce their engagement, and May’s cousin, the mysterious Countess Olenska has returned to New York and abandoned her foreign husband back in Europe. Unfortunately, Newland is clearly falling for Countess Olenska, but the rules of their society make it impossible for him to act on is feelings, and so he marries May and has to live with the consequences of his decision.

I first picked this novel up during the last week of term, and as was expected the Christmas holidays and my return ‘home’ have meant a chaotic, crazy but enjoyable week or so. Due to this and due to my lack of engagement with the characters as whole, I didn’t really feel involved or interested in this novel, and therefore had little desire to sit and read and escape from the craziness of life for a few hours. So my reading has dragggggggggggggged on and on and on.

For me the characters just did not hold my interest. I did not feel any connection to them, and therefore I found myself frequently distracted whilst I was reading, and to be honest I have very little idea of what actually happened. Yes, this could be seen as a terrible reading confession and I am probably missing something huge and truly exciting about this novel, but unfortunately it was not for me.

Due to various upheavals in my home life, I am visiting relatives who have very little Internet access *sob*, this not only has impacted on my work, but on my blogging, but luckily I am able to receive updates from the blogs I follow, so I’m not completely blog free. I was fortunate to get lots of lovely books for Christmas, so I will be blogging about them when I return to some form of normality.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and enjoys a Happy New Year!

Stardust

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A couple of years ago one of my best friends recommended a film to me, yes this might seem like a regular occurrence to some people, but I’m not big on films, so this was quite a significant moment in our friendship. She started raving about this film called Stardust telling me how much I would love it and that I absolutely needed to watch it. And I eventually did….and LOVED it!

Now as I have previously mentioned, I hate the idea of watching the film before reading the book, but the I don’t spend a great deal of time in the fantasy section of bookshops, so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! I recently read a fantastic review out here in the blogging world, and it was this that prompted me to download the book, and great possibly what made me pick it up sooner than I usually would have done (and typically I cannot remember where I read it, but I shall endeavour to find it when I switch on la laptop!).

Stardust follows the adventure of Tristran Thorn, a 17 year old on the cusp of manhood who lives in Wall, a tiny village bordering a mythical, magical world; a world that humans can only visit once every 9 years on Market Day. Tristran is hopelessly in love with Victoria, and to prove his love he goes on a quest to bring back a fallen star, in the hope that Victoria will agree to let him kiss her when he has done so. Unfortunately for Tristran he is not the only person eager to find this star, which sets him off on an adventure, encountering unicorns, talking trees, strange hairy men, witches, lightening catchers, battling brothers…and true love.

After my last read, which I did enjoy but left me somewhat devoid of that comfortable feeling that a good book brings, I adored Stardust. It was fantastic to pick up a familiar, yet refreshingly new story and become truly engrossed in the world it created. There were enough differences to the film version to keep me intrigued and enough similarities to make this an easy read at a slightly hectic time of the school term. I loved the bizarreness of the whole novel and all the extra little details that film versions just don’t quite capture, and for someone who claims not to like fantasy novels, they are quickly becoming my sure fire enjoyable reads; strange how our taste in literature changes as we grow older.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel as a delightful, short read that will really take you on a magical adventure to a world full of strangeness and fantastical fairy tale creatures…and love, because who doesn’t love a good romance. Now if only I could find the original review that pointed me in the direction of this amazing novel so I could properly thank them….

Fingersmith

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I first read Fingersmith five years ago when I was in my second year of University. I had very little memory of the novel and have been meaning to revisit it for years, however a recent blog post inspired my rereading and gave me the push to actually take the book off the shelf and open the pages.

Fingersmith tells the story of Sue Trinder, an orphan growing up in a den of thieves and fingersmiths in 1860s London. Sue is sheltered from the harsh realities of this rough upbringing by Mrs Sucksby, who lovingly cares for Sue and ensure no harm comes to her…but Mrs Sucksby has an ulterior motive. Several miles away in a large and lonely house in the English countryside lives another orphaned girl, Maud, and soon the lives of these two girls are to become intertwined in a twisted plot of love and deception. Throw in a roguish ‘Gentleman’, an eccentric, malicious old uncle and a very disturbing mental hospital and you have an interesting journey through Victorian Britain.

I have incredibly mixed feelings about this novel, which in turn has led to me feeling somewhat indifferent to it. For me it read like a new novel, especially as I remembered virtually nothing of the narrative, which is often a blessing when returning to a book as it is great to have some suspense, and the novel did offer this. The novel is told in three parts, the first from Sue’s perspective, the second from Maud’s, before we return back to Sue and discover her fate. When reading the first part I began to see some subtle similarities to Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, which is a novel I love; sadly with this in mind I found I became somewhat frustrated with Fingersmith for not being as intriguing as the former novel. Yes, between each narrative switch we were left on an interesting cliffhanger and I wanted to discover the outcome, however I wasn’t tearing home to return to the novel and race through the pages. In fact by the end of the novel I was just eager to finish it nd move on to a new read.

Before I start sounding too negative, there were many parts of the novel that I enjoyed, and you certainly cannot fault Waters for creating interesting characters and bringing Victorian Britain to life, but this was not the novel for me. I much preferred The Night Watch and I have heard good things about Waters’ latest novel, The Little Stranger, so this has by no means put me off her work and I am sure I will return to her again one day. Despite all this Waters made some fantastic observations about the power of literature and words that truly made me smile:

‘Terrible plots? Laughing villains? Stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad? The stuff of lurid fiction! We have a name for your disease. We call it a hyper-aesthetic one. You have been encouraged to over-indulge yourself in literature; and have inflamed your organs of fancy.’

I cannot imagine living in a world where women were accused of being hysteric at every opportunity and the majority of the blame was apportioned to literature. Imagine never being able to read…or only being able to read books deemed suitable for your delicate nature.

But my favourite quote of the novel regards words in general and it is just a beautiful description of the power of words:

But words, Hawtrey, words – hmm? They seduce us in darkness, and the mind clothes and fleshes them to fashions of its own.’

The Postman and a Forgotten Delivery!

I know this sounds like the title of a bad crime novel, but I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up this post.

Persephone Books appear to be everywhere in my blogging world; as mentioned a few posts ago I bought my first book in a cute little cafe/second hand bookshop and this led to me signing up for their biannually magazine/catalogue. Due to various reasons I used my Grandparents’ address as my mailing one, and forgot all about it. So imagine my surprise when I visited them and along with the usual dull barrage of post they brought out this:

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I was very excited!

Unfortunately I am terribly indecisive, so I don’t know where to begin? Suggestions would be most welcome if you are a fan of Persephone Books!