A lovely little book market in London

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“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it… yes, books are like flypaper—memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin

101 things in 1001 days

Some books in terms of reading ultimately prove to be a little bit of a struggle and that is definitely true of today’s book review. It’s an understatement to say that despite my strong early lead in reading and reviewing all things classic the last two have proven a little more difficult. It’s not that they are complex in terms of storyline or that the characters or the writing style are woefully written but instead it has been that the focus of the story has felt a little lost or muddled. However I’ve struggled through and the ending really pulled everything together especially with today’s review. Notably today’s review will also be a very positive one and a recommendation to everyone to read this rather sublime book.

David a young American in 1950’s Paris is waiting for his fiancée to return from vacation in Spain. But when he meets Giovanni, a handsome Italian barman, the two men are drawn into an intense affair. After three months David’s fiancée returns and, denying his true nature, David rejects Giovanni for a ‘safe’ future as a married man his decision eventually brings tragedy.

This book is a tale of longing, love, hope, despair, confusion, deceit and regret, with the book ultimately revolving around the ill-fated love triangle between David, Giovanni and Hella. Both David and Giovanni are beautifully described; Giovanni is a passionate, romantic Italian who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is both dark and brooding and comedic and flirtatious. David is more forthright with his want to quash his feelings for Giovanni (symbolised most strongly in the use of the room that they share together.) However he is also quietly passionate and insecure in himself as a person. David as the blurb states is set on having a safe future, notably not with Giovanni however he finds it difficult to convince himself that his feelings are false and the love that he feels for him is both blistering and sexually driven. The supporting characters although well described are fleeting and moved on quickly giving snippets of information and swatches of personality to colour the descriptions of Paris. Several of the secondary characters including David’s father, Jacques, and Guillaume take on a more dominant role and they are equally built with different character profiles.

So in terms of the writing it is incredibly elegant and self-assured simultaneously mixing the French and English language throughout adding not only a sense of style but also helps to place the writing straight in the bars of the back streets of beautiful Paris. The writing style is stunningly described and it builds beautifully pulling the reader through the seedy bars of Paris, the description mingling with the passionate dialogue between David and Giovanni. In terms of style it mixes the cold accurate eye of Bukowski with the the dreamy and starry-eyed style of Orwell. The imagery and symbolism is intelligently written seen most pivotally in the use of the room that to me symbolises David’s inability to express his true feelings that ultimately lead to Giovanni’s downfall. The love triangle is a constant pulling and pushing of the three, Giovanni desperate to escape the room with David, David’s want to escape his own sexuality but we see he cannot stop himself from wanting and needing Giovanni.

My only critique is that I found the beginning tough to get into. It was one those books where I read the first chapter but ultimately didn’t really take anything in, went back and started all over again. It took me a little while to really get submersed in the book at the start as it’s difficult to see where the plot is going and I found it difficult to get myself involved. However, the second half of the book really takes off and once I was through the start I fell for this book very quickly. The ending is stunning, heart-breaking, distressing and honest. It left my heart racing and a little emotional. It pulls everything together but the imagery and the symbolism leave everything unsaid. It’s an incredibly subtle but intelligent ending.

When choosing the books to review for my classics challenge I wanted to pick novels that would teach me about classic writing and the symbolism in this book is stunningly written. It’s something that I think you need to experience rather than me spelling it out to you so I’m going to leave it at that. The mixture of personal freedom and sexuality are mixed perfectly but subtly to create raw and honest book with a beautifully harrowing ending.

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The Dead Game: Susanne Leist

Afternoon readers, another review for you today! This one has been sat waiting to be written up for a number of weeks now, but I wasn’t quite sure how to put pen to paper. It happens sometimes, I just don’t know how to put into words how I felt about the book.  This doesn’t happen too often but I am sure other book bloggers will agree that it can take time to get out of the rut a book has created and move onto finally piecing together a review. It has happened before and it doesn’t reflect on the quality or enjoyment of the book it’s just that it needs a bit of extra thinking. However, here we are with a brand spanking new review! ENJOY! 

Linda moves to a small town to live a quiet life. She opens a bookstore and makes new friends. Life is simple–that is until the dead body washes up on shore. Linda is horrified to find that dead bodies and disappearing tourists are common for this town. As soon as the sun sets, the residents are stalked by dark shadows. But this is only the beginning. Linda and her friends receive an unsigned invitation to a party at the deserted house on the hill. They are pursued through revolving rooms and dangerous traps, barely escaping with their lives. Two of their own remain trapped in the house. Or so they think. They must embark on a difficult journey, chased by unnatural creatures, not knowing whom to trust, to uncover the one controlling everyone in town.  Who are The Dead? Are they humans or vampires? Or a combination of both? They are led down a path with many twists and turns. Will they be able to identify the true leader of The Dead? Will they be able to destroy him? More mysteries pop up as others are laid to rest. Will there be an end to this game? Or will a second book be needed? The Dead Game has begun.

This book follows the seemingly unassuming town that looks just perfect from the outside. However, under the surface, dark forces are coming to power and they threaten to turn the town on its head sending the people that live there into disarray. With tourists disappearing and bodies turning up all over the place it is only time before the whole town is overthrown. Mix in a haunted house and you have a fully fledged supernatural mystery that packs a punch of horror.

There were lots of things that I liked about this book; firstly the author is obviously incredibly creative and imaginative. The book had so many different ideas and parts woven into one another I’m surprised she managed to get it all in! The descriptions of the town are well written and the locations help to cement the story as believable. I liked the horror/mystery genre that the book took on as it advanced and I thought the way the vampires were introduced was very well done; for a long time it isn’t a prevalent feature and therefore it focuses more on the story. A few minor issues for me; I felt that there were too many characters that at times I couldn’t keep up. I really like characters to be well developed and built up so that the reader can really relate to them and get involved in the storyline. For me, because there were so many characters, the author didn’t get a chance to really develop the personalities, back stories or quirks and that left me feeling a little disappointed. Additionally keeping track of all them gave me a minor headache at times and that’s just the characters, we haven’t even started to mention all the creatures that are so frequently introduced.

I think the problem for me as a reader was that the plot-line as described in the blurb sounds brilliant; however it is just too much for one book. Rolling so much into one book made for difficult reading and although it comes from a very creative and inventive author by adding too many elements the plot gets muddled and instead of being sat on the edge of your chair, you’re still piecing together the events from the last chapter. Additionally for me the POV changed too much and by frequently switching between characters you end up wondering who you are. I am probably too much of a nag about this, but wading through characters really irritates me, as it’s so easy to just stick to a couple and really, (really) explore the potential of those characters. Todd and Linda are well written but their dialogue is often stilted and it creates an edge that you can’t quite ignore.

Right, so after all of that, I really liked the premise of this book; it had everything going for it to create a really engaging exciting and inventive horror/mystery/supernatural tale. For me, honestly, the book needs work. It’s still enjoyable and I would definitely read other books from this author because I see potential, and nothing excites me more than an author with the makings of a brilliant book. My advice, and take it as you wish, is to sit down and really plan out what you want the reader to feel. Don’t just tell a story, disclose the secrets of your characters and indulge in exposing their personalities. Flesh then out and focus the book around them rather than including them in your plot line.

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30 Day Challenge!

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Wow, day 17! Seeing as university life is messing with my ability to read and review constantly I have kind of been relying on these as posts and its aggravating when I want to share my opinions of books with you! However! I finished a hilarious book last night and there will be a review up tonight! So apologies for the lack of reviews recently! Right, so onto today’s question. Now I know I always moan about the book challenges that they are difficult and confusing but today I actually knew the answer straight away! So, I haven’t read the book (*shock horror*) I know and it is on my list of thing to do, but I think its going to be quite special so I want to wait until I have time, when I haven’t locked myself in the library for days on end trying to finish essays on whether Hume thinks we can standardise taste! However, my mum printed this quote off for me thinking I would like it and it is now my favourite ever quote and so thanks Mummy Julie. So my favourite quote from a book is…..

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision.You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

 Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Beautiful isn’t it….?

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