We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ascend - Amanda Hocking

What will she give up for those she loves?

Title: Ascend

Author: Amanda Hocking

Publisher: TOR

Pages: 330 (including short story, excluding exerpt from Wake)

Source: bought

Preceded by: Switched and Torn

The Synopsis

Wendy Everly can barely remember what it was like to feel like a normal girl. She'd wished for her life to be different but everything is so much more complicated than she'd expected. And she certainly hadn't dreamt she'd be getting married at eighteen to a man she didn't love-all for the sake of duty.

As  the big day approaches, Wendy can't stop thinking about two different men - and neither of them are her husband-to-be. Finn, quiet, strong and determined to do what's right, and Loki, dark and seductive - a sworn enemy who once saved her life...

With all-out war just days away, Wendy needs to act quickly if she is to save her friends and family. But while her loyalties and duties are to her people, deeper passions are leading her elsewhere.

And as her worlds collide Wendy must sacrifice everything she loves to save them. But will it be enough?

The Review

I could not wait for this book to be released, and I ordered it as soon as I could. I started reading it the very day it arrived. And I will say that it did not disappoint. Not very much was revealed in this book, so there were not that many bombshells, a lot did come together, and we are left with a happy ending. What more could you want from the third book in a trilogy?

There are so many triumphs in this book, and life generally just becomes a bit easier for Wendy, even though she still has many obstacles that she has to overcome in this third installment. Whilst there were parts where I felt Wendy's angst, there were also parts where I felt how Wendy is capable of anything. I was so glad when she found the key to destroying her enemy, because honestly, who doesn't like to see the bad guy getting the treatment that he deserves? The only thing I had a problem with was how Rhys and Riannon sort of just disappeared without any explanation, but they reappeared again, which is good.

The short story at the end of Ascend ties things up very nicely, and we see that Wendy gets the happily ever after that she deserves, as well as so many of the other characters in this book. I really don't think there could be a more fitting ending to a trilogy, and as a whole the Trylle Trilogy gets a thumbs up from me, I definitely see myself rereading this in the future.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Deviating from the list and the reading 'plan'

This post has been partially inspired by Delaisse's post, which you can check out here.

I have a plan for 150 books in the next 5 years. This means that there are 30 books a year that I have to read in order to read the 150 books in the next 5 years. It was fine until today, where I realised  that I was just putting myself under a bit more pressure than I need. Sure, it is not a difficult thing, and really 30 out of the 60 something or so books I read a year, is really not bad, but now I feel a bit stuck. It feels a bit too forced.

Sure, I want to read all of the books on my list, but I want to want to read them, not have to read them because they are on a list. Who knows, maybe next week I'll feel better, but for now, I want to cast Alice's Adventures in Wonderland aside, and pick up something else. I can do this, and I probably will, but at the back of my mind I am wondering, if I do this, will I regret it down the line, when year one of the challenge is over and I have not read those 30 books?

Do I need to be disciplined, or is this whole discipline to read books from a list ruining the reading experience for me? This is a question that I cannot really answer. But, I just feel I need to express it here, and have it recorded, so that in a month, or a year or 5 years when I look back and see what I felt, I can maybe answer the question I have posed myself?

I think I shall just have a freebie weekend where I read whatever I want to, whether it is from the challenge list or not, or just some random YA, I am going to go wherever the reading wanderlust takes me, and I hope that I'll not regret it. But how can you regret reading something, and enjoying it?

I am probably just being silly, and I hope that this freebie weekend will inspire me to get back into Alice, and plow through the 25 other books I need to read to make up my 30 for year 1. Oh well, time to step back and enjoy the reading journey instead of fretting, have a wonderful weekend all.

Tomorrow my review of Ascend will be up, Sunday is my fairly long post on Wuthering Heights, and Monday you can look forward to my review of Life by Keith Richards, which so does not do the book any justice. Have a wonderful reading weekend!

Torn - Amanda Hocking

What happens when everything changes?

Title: Torn

Author: Amanda Hocking

Pages: 324 (excluding exerpt of Ascend)

Publisher: TOR

Source: bought

Preceded by: Switched

Followed by: Ascend

The Synopsis

Leaving behind the mysterious country of her birth, she is determined to fit back into normal life. But the world she's left behind won't let her go that easily...

Kidnapped and imprisoned by her true family's enemies, Wendy soon learns that the lines between good and evil aren't as defined as she thought. And those things she'd taken for granted may have been lies all along. With the help of the dangerously attractive Loki, she escapes back to the safety of Förening - only to be confronted by a new threat.

It's time to make a choice - can she put aside her personal feelings for the sake of her country? Torn between duty and love she must make a choice that could destroy her one chance at true happiness.

The Review

I was very excited to start reading Torn after Switched ended on the cliff hanger that it did. Whilst I will admit that Switched was a bit slow in getting into the action, Torn makes up for that for being quite packed with action, and a lot that was introduced in Switched was explained in Torn.

Wendy is kidnapped by the Vittra - the enemies of her kingdom Förening - and Wendy discovers that the king of the Vittra is her father. As you can tell, the plot really thickens in Torn. Wendy becomes torn as far as many things go, torn between choosing freedom or duty, her mother or her father, and most interestingly, Finn or Loki.

Fortunately Wendy sees her father for the monster that he is, and as such, she chooses her mother, and when her mother reveals things to her, she chooses duty. Wendy does show a lot of growth in Torn, and one of my best parts is where she stands up to a petulant Marksinna, I felt so proud of Wendy at that moment. The way that Wendy responded to all the challenges that she becomes faced with just endears you to her character so much more than has been possible in Switched.

I really enjoyed Torn, there was a lot of action, that really had me biting my nails, hoping that Wendy would be okay, especially when we were introduced to those dreadful hobgoblins. And there was a lot of suspense, is Loki trustworthy or not? Is Finn going to stop toying with Wendy? And will Wendy and Tove really get married? I know I am revealing a fair amount, but I just want you to see all these things that are brought up, and some of them are carried over to the final book Ascend, which will be reviewed tomorrow.

If you are looking for a series or a trilogy, that you can really get into, and really get to know the characters, and just escape into for a brief time, and that just as importantly, has all the books out already, then Amanda Hocking's Trylle Trilogy is for you.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Midweek catch up post, and June review

I cannot believe that it has already been a week since I have posted anything new. Time just flies so quickly. Since I am working on some new content, I thought I'd just write this to give you a round up of June, and to let you know that there will be several new posts going up soon.

I have decided that Sunday's here at Bibliophilia will be Classics Club day, this makes it more manageable, as a post a week for review purposes or just a general progress post just works better for me right now. So what can you look forward to this Sunday? My review of Wuthering Heights. It is quite a lengthy post so do brace yourself. I am reading Alice's adventures in Wonderland at the moment, so I should have a post up on that next Sunday. I think making Sunday's my Classics Club day, it gives me more time to finish, so I won't have to stress that much.

In other reading news, I spent the last 3 days reading Starcrossed and Dreamless by Josephine Angelini, and let me tell you neither of them disappointed. My reread of Starcrossed was wonderful, and my first read of Dreamless, was just perfect. Needless to say, I am dying to get book 3 which sadly :( only comes out next year. But the wait I am sure will be worth it to see how this trilogy ends.

I got several books this month. For review I got A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness from PanMacMillan South Africa. I purchased many from Kalahari, I think I'll actually do a Book Loot post to show case them, but I can tell you now already, they are all for the Classics Club. I have done quite well this month, finishing 5 books so far, I would like to try to finish 2 more books before the end of the month.

That's it from me for now, working on a review of Life by Keith Richards, so look out for that.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Some Bookish Pins from Pinterest

I think that Pinterest is one of the coolest things to come about in a long time. I am especially fond of the bookish things that are pinned there. I may make this a regular thing, but I also may not. I just thought I would share with you some of the pins that have really caught my eye of late. And of course they are all bookish, I hope you'll enjoy...

All bookish folk know this
Yet another reminder of J.K. Rowling's brilliance
Because you KNOW that this is true
Why I shall forever be single

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Top Ten Summer - well in my case, Winter - Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish, and well since we Bookish folk always have lists of books we would like to read, why not give your list in Top Ten increments every week, to put these lists into a bit of perspective?

Since I live in the Southern Hemisphere, and we are sadly at the beginning of what will probably be a very cold winter, I shall be giving you my list of Top Ten Winter Reads. What is better in winter than huddling up under the covers with a wonderful book and some hot chocolate to warm you. And what warms the soul better than a wonderful book. Whilst I have hundreds of books on my TBR list, and my TBR pile is teetering, these are the Top Ten Books that I look forward to reading this winter:

The Harry Potter Series -J.K. Rowling

I will admit, I was late to jump onto the Harry Potter band wagon, but I am so glad that I did. I have not read these books since my initial read in 2010, and since I have them all on my list for the Classics Club, why not make them my winter reads? I recently completed my collection - I have all 7 books as well as The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I can't tell you how excited I am to read them again, but I am sure that if you have read them, then you completely understand.

Dreamless - Josephine Angelini

I flew through Starcrossed last year and it really stuck with me, in a way very few books do. I could not wait for the paperback to be released in South Africa, so I splurged on the American hardcover edition. I shall be rereading Starcrossed and then getting right into Dreamless - I cannot wait for this. I need a bit more of Paris and I need to know what is going to happen to Helen *sigh* - how we all get so involved in books!

 The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab

I finally got a copy of this, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to read it! And then there is Ash Born Boy which you can get for free, and read as a prequel to or after reading The Near Witch.

 Out of Africa - Karen Blixen

I happened to see a few minutes of this movie when I was on holiday in Plettenberg Bay, and whilst I don't think I saw enough for it to have ruined or influenced the book for me, I really am looking forward to reading this book. I have always wanted to go to Kenya, so in a way this will be a bit of vicarious travel for me, time travel, because things are not the same, but it just seems like such a beautiful story, and something that may come across as sacrilege, I do want to read it so that I can watch the movie. I signed a pledge to read the book before watching the movie, so I want to stay true to that. And this is a Classics Club read, so I can't wait to be able to share my thoughts on this.

 Wat's Nuus - Riaan Cruywagen

For those of you who require a translation, its "What's News". Riaan Cruywagen is the South African Walter Cronkite, and he truly is an amazing news anchor. He has been around forever, and is just brilliant. How I wish I just had a little bit of his talent and skill! So to be able to read about him and his life, and his career as the man who brings us the news in Afrikaans is something that I greatly look forward to.

 Franny and Zooey- J.D. Salinger

I started reading this when I was at Rhodes, but I never finished it. I enjoyed what I read, but for some reason just never picked it up again. I definitely think that this winter is the perfect time to take it out again, start over and finish one of Salinger's few full length novels.

 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have been dying to reread this since I saw the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. And since I intend going to see the film when it is released in December, I shall have to do a reread. Also, for some reason, I am seeing some similarities between Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby; but that is something for another day.

 The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

I read this in 2009 for my Modern Fiction class, and I really loved it. But, it is one of those novels that you cannot simply read once, there is just much more to it. So this winter will be the time to get back to The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen

I read the most wonderful review of this over at the fabulous Tammy's blog The Book Fairy's Haven, and I cannot wait to get into this, as well as the other Sarah Dessen books that I have ordered.

 Eternal and Blessed - Cynthia Leitich Smith

I read Tantalize not long ago, and I cannot wait to see where this series is going. This seems to me like a very different vampire series, and book one ended on a cliffhanger, so I really do want to see what happens next.

How hard it was to pick just 10, there are so many more. How about you? What are you looking forward to read this Summer (or Winter)?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Victorian Celebration

I am a bit late joining in on this, but I thought it would be better to ensure that I am actually going to read a Victorian book before signing up and not completing anything.  As luck would have it, I am reading Wuthering Heights which is a Victorian novel, so I can sign up for this.

Wondering what this Victorian Celebration is? Want to know where to sign up for it? Read further and you'll find out...

A Victorian Celebration is a 2 month event hosted by the wonderful Allie from A Literary Odyssey. The aim is to focus on Victorian Literature for these 2 months, and I think it's wonderful. How often do you really place the book that you are reading into a specific era? I think it makes one a bit more mindful when you do do that.

A Victorian novel is broadly defined as a book written during the Victorian Era, and you would be right in guessing that the Victorian Era is the time of Queen Victoria's Reign. I am feeling rather inspired whilst writing this post, so I may just do an entirely different post on the Victorian era and Queen Victoria. It is actually the perfect excuse to watch The Young Victoria again.

Other than Wuthering Heights - which I am really getting into - I am going to try and read at the very least 2 other Victorian novels during this period. I shall be attempting The Picture of Dorian Gray and doing a reread of Alice in Wonderland. I am hoping that these reads will go very well so that I can try George Eliot's Middlemarch and Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. I recently ordered the BBC miniseries on North and South so I definitely need to read it before I watch it. I am also now realising how many Victorian novels are on my Classics Club list.

Other authors that form the Victorian literary era include: the Brontës,  Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Alexandre Dumas, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James. Do note that this list is by not all of them, but just a handful.

Allie is doing several giveaways too, so head on over to her blog and check it out - you will be entertained by these books - they are not as difficult as you would think. They are quite enjoyable.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Never tickle a sleeping dragon
"A big hairy thing with too many legs"

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Author: J.K. Rowling

Pages: 88

Source: Own

Publisher: Obscurus Books in association with Bloomsbury

The Synopsis

A copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them resides on almost every wizarding household in the country. Now, for a limited period only, Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl. 

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to improving and saving the lives of children around the world, which means that the dollars and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope most sincerel that passing wizards feel more charitable if they ever see you being attacked by a Manticore.

      -Albus Dumbledore 

The Review

Everything I read by J.K. Rowling incites within me a great sense of awe. 7 full novels. Quidditch through the ages. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. It just amazes me how greatly she has been able to flesh out a world that once existed only in her imagination. Not to mention all the details that are shared on Pottermore! Sadly I am a Hufflepuff, but that is not the point...

Whether you are an old or a new Harry Potter fan, this book is a must read. If not for the information, then for the notes scribbled in by Harry, Ron and Hermione. Your mind will be blown by the description of magical creatures that you have and have not heard of before. Ranging from the well known Centaur and Phoenix to the lesser known Re'em, Nundu and Doxy - this book will entertain you. Again I have to applaud J.K. Rowling for creating so many fantastic beasts and sharing them with us all. It is like a mini encyclopedia with all the information that it gives you, speaking of which I cannot wait for the Harry Potter Encyclopedia that Ms Rowling is working on to be released. If this is mind blowing then I fear we shall all be zombies after reading the entire encyclopedia, I am sure that it will be that awesome.

So do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, if for no other reason than to help Comic Relief to whom all the funds from the sale of these books is donated. Help make someone else smile, whilst smiling yourself when you are regaled by the marvellous-ness of this book. It's the right thing to do!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Even in the future the story begins with Once Upon a Time

how awesome is this cover?
Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Pages: 387

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Source: borrowed

The Synopsis

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

The Review

pretty spanish cover
It is quite rare that you get a book that masters the art of adaptation. I have to say that Cinder is truly in a class of its own. With elements of Cinderella woven into the story so cleverly, I am hard-pressed to find the words that will do Marissa Meyer any justice. You simply have to read this book to see for yourself. I actually found myself flashing back to when I used to read Cinderella, I could see the pictures in my mind's eye. I found it a bit difficult to picture the androids and cyborgs, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this story. But before I get too carried away, how pretty are the covers? And how clever!

Cinder is an incredibly clever book. I never thought I'd enjoy reading about Cyborgs and Androids, never mind Lunar people, but I absolutely loved this book.

I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that there was also a short story that acts as a prequel called Glitches which you can view over here. I am not sure whether it is better to read before or after, but if you like to know a bit about a story before reading it, then go ahead and read Glitches first, it doesn't give away so much that you find Cinder is ruined for you.

If you loved fairy tales, but think you're a bit too grown up for them now, give Cinder a try - let your inner child dream again.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Some Jubilee Concert highlights

Those who know me, know that I am an Anglophile. I love all things English, and I do think it is partly due to my English heritage, but that is a story for another day. I have decided to just put up some pics, mostly for posterity of the marvellous Jubilee celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In 4 years she'll be on the throne longer than Queen Victoria, that is quite an accomplishment, and I wish Her Royal Highness all the best.

My fondest memory of the evening was Prince Charles' speech, where he called HRH 'Mummy' it is so easy to forget that she is that too. I hope that you also had the chance to view some of the festivities, and that you too have fond memories. I share here some pictures that I found online.

The stage infront of Buckingham Palace, which I am sure was inspired by the U2 360º tour.

Robbie Williams - Let me Entertain you

Robbie's Salute
This brought back memories from his Under an African Sky tour
Sir Paul, I so want a jacket like that

I love the whole Union Jack theme he had going

The speech that moved us all
She has such a lovely smile
A beautiful ending to an amazing night

Sunday, 10 June 2012

#2 Book 6 - Middlesex

I was born twice: first as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as  a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.

Title: Middlesex

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

Pages: 529

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Source: own

The Synopsis

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stepanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967, before they move to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan.

To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns her into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Jeffrey Eugenides
The Review

I first read Middlesex in 2009. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Rhodes University Library had a copy of it. Well, they had The Virgin Suicides, so I suppose I shouldn't have been that surprised. I had my cousin with me at Rhodes that year, so it was wonderful to have someone who adored The Virgin Suicides as much as I did with me. Of course here I am referring to the film, as she had not read the book yet which I had read in 2007.  You may gasp at how we watched the film before reading the book, but I should defend myself in saying I live in  a very small town. The library offers/ offered a very limited selection at that time, and well Jeffrey Eugenides was not a name that flew around back then.

A friend, Allison, had us watch the movie, and well I am not sure we really understood it back then, we were quite taken by it, we must have watched it like a hundred times. I was overjoyed when I found that the movie was based on a book, and when I found it at the Rhodes Library, I had to take it out as soon as I could. I loved it. And I have great respect for Sofia Coppola for staying so true to the book, but I digress.

I heard about Middlesex on Oprah, there were a bunch of us who used to watch Oprah in the downstairs common room every afternoon. Being able to link the author of a beloved title with a new title that just sounded mind-blowing was wonderful. Sadly I only tracked the title down in 2009, but I am ever so glad that I did. My cousin, Dohné, and I both read it, she read it first and was ever so patient as I made my way through it. Don't you just love having someone who reads the same books as you and never gives away spoilers? And we were equally moved by it, moved is not a strong enough word for what we felt about the brilliance that is Middlesex. So knowing that we both loved Middlesex, how could I - in December of 2011 pass by the opportunity to get us each a copy of this masterful epic? It was fortuitous, rather serendipitous that I was browsing in the Greenacres Bargain Books and saw 2 copies in the 3 for R99 sale section. I grabbed them immediately, clutching them to my chest, oh the find!! Such wonderful bounty from a single browse!!! And no one  else had already taken them. It was like the heavens opened. I am sure I must have looked like the Cheshire Cat, grinning so ridiculously, but only the bookish truly understand what it is like to get such a wonderful bargain, and find the book you have been wanting to buy for years. Sometimes patience truly is a virtue, and you find the most wonderful things. But again I digress, I am just trying to make this post a little epic like Middlesex, so I do hope that you are entertained.

I feel that I have woven a beautiful tapestry indicating my reasons for being so fond of this book. I shall now get to the more intricate details that speak more of the contents of the book, than the circumstances that fostered my love for it.

Middlesex is a modern epic, it is a masterpiece that for me comes from the same vein as the Odyssey and Gone with the Wind. There is a perfect balance between fact and fiction, the way that the development of America particularly Detroit/Michigan is woven in so beautifully from the 1920s to the 1970s is wonderful. It does not detract your attention from the story, it just adds to it, it gives it that extra bit of credence that blurs the line between reality and fantasy - so that the story just becomes so real. 

There are many strands that weave together to tell this story, the stories of Lefty and Desdemona, Tessie and Milton, Detroit and the changing social climate, Calliope. Each of these stories are given in segments carefully meted out that all at once you get a complete picture. There is never a moment where you feel lost, nor do you miss anyone or anything. We have a masterful story told by a masterful story teller, the muse Calliope, which if you don't know is the muse of epic poetry. The references to popular culture of  the time is also phenomenal, you learn so much, one example, the murals by Diego Rivera.

One of the Michigan Murals by Diego Rivera
There is just so much that I can say about Middlesex, but I fear falling short whilst expressing its brilliance. Whilst this novel is both beautiful and thought-provoking, it also is quite funny at times. One of my favourite lines:

"...great discoveries, whether of silk or gravity, are always windfalls. They happen to people loafing under trees."

How can you not be enthralled by a book like this? But I think, what is the most brilliant part of this book for me, is how it all comes together. You get the opening which I have quoted above, and are let into the secret of the novel, but in the journey you go through to find out how it is that our narrator was born as a girl and then as a boy is never something that you ever find yourself actively wondering. This I think is the greatest link to the epic, before we read these epic poems, we know what the outcome is. We know that at the end of the Odyssey Odysseus does get home safely, but we are enthralled none the less by the journey. The same can be said about Middlesex, we know what the outcome for our narrator is, but the journey of the story that takes us through Calliope's lineage, to how she became Cal is enthralling.

One of the Michigan Murals by Diego Rivera
Middlesex is a novel like none other, and you can understand how it won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. I found it interesting how we started with many stories coming together, and then the story started to focus more on Calliope, the tests, the outcome, the emergence of Cal. The light that gets shed on the movements of the time, the ancient treatment of Hermaphrodites. The origin of the term Hermaphrodite. Fact and fiction are put forward as one thing, and it is truly brilliant. I could say so much more, but I don't want to give any spoilers. My other thoughts I'll lay down in my reading journal.

But don't take my word for it, go and read it and let me know what you thought and felt.

If you've already read Middlesex, what did you think? Was it over-rated for you, or did you also revel in its dazzling originality?

P.S. if you are into analysing covers, the edition that I have pictured (which is the one I own) is explained from the bottom paragraph of page 329.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

#1 Book 143: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

 In fact everywhere he looked, all he could see was two different types of people: either happy, laughing, shouting soldiers in their uniforms or unhappy, crying people in their striped pyjamas, most of whom seemed to be staring into space as if they were actually asleep. page 208

Title: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Author: John Boyne

Pages: 216

Publisher: Random House

Source: own

The Synopsis

Nine-year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who live a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas.

Bruno's friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process. 

The Review

Before I start my review, I would like to implore you to please, please, please read this book before you watch the movie. I watched the movie first, so I didn't go into this book as a blank slate that has to be coloured. And whilst it is still an incredibly moving book, it is much better to read the book before watching the movie.

I have always been oddly drawn to the Holocaust, I don't quite know why. And I don't mean drawn like people stopping to look as they pass the scene of an accident. I mean drawn in the sense of it feels sort of kindred to me. I cannot explain it. Perhaps I was a victim of the Holocaust in a previous life? Perhaps I was one of the few good souls who housed fugitive Jews and was killed for it. I cannot say. All I know is I cannot pass anything to do with the Holocaust without feeling a great deal of melancholy and an odd familiarity. It is for that exact reason that there are 4 books dealing with the Holocaust on my Classics Club List. It is something that should never be forgotten, and it is an atrocity that should never be repeated.

To read a book written from a child's perspective is amazing, especially when the author is not a child. The simplicity of the way in which it is told, and the graveness of the story, the harrowing reality of what happened to Jews during World War II in concentration camps, the little value attached to a Jewish life... It makes The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas a poignant, sad, shocking but beautiful novel.

"What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And decided which people wore the striped pyjamas and which people wore the uniforms?
        Of course sometimes the two groups mixed. He'd often seen the people from his side of the fence, and when he watched it was clear that they were in charge. The pyjama people all jumped to attention whenever the soldiers approached and sometimes they fell to the ground and sometimes they didn't even get up and had to be carried away instead" page 100/1

Whilst I had read this before, I was hoping to get the same startling realisation as I did before. And if you've read this book before, you'll know what I am talking about. If  you haven't, well I'll not say anymore as far as that goes, because I do not want to ruin it for you. I didn't have that same 'aha moment' but I was moved in a different manner than before.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is not a book that one reads for enjoyment, but rather a book that you read for the experience of it. John Boyne shows that you don't need a complex story to get people to feel. That a story told so simply can unleash a watershed of emotions is only one indication of the brilliance of the story and the author. Everything that is pointed out to you, in the clear way that only a child's eyes can see, and it makes us look at ourselves, and question our courage should something like this happen again.

Monthly Roundup: May, the month that was

As I write this, I realise that May has really been a long month.

A lot has happened, a lot has passed, and a lot of new things are happening that find their origins in May.

I wrote 2 exams in May, and I cannot tell you how relieved I am that they are over. I am contemplating taking next semester off, but we'll see how things go. I don't think I want to dwell too much on the other happenings of May, so I'll just get to the more important bookish things that occurred.

As far as reading goes, I read 6 books. Well 5 books and a short story: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, Dragon's Oath by P.C. Cast, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the short story that serves as a prequel of sorts to Cinder - Glitches, as well as Ascend by Amanda Hocking and Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith. I am busy with my review of Cinder and should have that up soon. But for the rest, I am horribly behind in my reviews. It is quite sad, but I hope to catch up soon.

Book loot, I got 2 box sets: The Hunger Games and A Song of Ice and Fire. I also got the last books that I required to complete my Harry Potter collection - The Philosopher's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Order of the Phoenix and the Half Blood Prince, as well as The Near Witch, Wat's Nuus and Ascend. I also got Skulduggery Pleasant: The End of the World which was given away as part of Exclusive Book's World Book Day giveaway.

I ordered Dreamless by Josephine Angelini which I am super excited about, and Starcrossed. I have an ARC of Starcrossed, but the one I ordered's cover is just sooooooo pretty, so I just had to have it.

I have also decided to go on a book buying hiatus for a month or so, as I did a book inventory and realised  that I have read only about a 3rd of the books that I own. It is appalling, and I need to remedy it. I am going to try to only buy books for my Classics Club reading that I don't already have. Let's hope that I have the strength to not buy every book that I want and see.

As for June, I hope to read at the very least 5 books, I would like to read at least 3 Classics Club books, so I am hoping that June will be a reader friendly month. What are your plans for June, and how was May for you?