Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Book Review #47

Hi everyone!

Finally I can say I have read the Harry Potter series! – This is an achievement that after having achieved, feels much more like a loss.

I think I am not alone when I say that reading Harry Potter is a commitment. We all love Hogwarts and Dumbledore but we also, as bookworms, love to read a variety of books. Whilst I was reading HP I did sometimes wish I could just throw it aside and pick up something standalone, a world I could read and then say goodbye to. But now, after having said goodbye to Harry, I’ve ended up feeling a bit of book shame – how could I have ever wanted this to not last forever?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was something entirely different and yet at the same time the familiar story we had all been reading for six books already. The wizarding world, in a way in which it had not previously, seemed to swell and grow so that Rowling left us with a fuller picture of what it meant to be a wizard who had left Hogwarts in England. 

Meanwhile, the authoress comfortably stitches together past characters like Dobby with more unfamiliar ones like Bellatrix and in doing so creates confrontations that feel shockingly fresh but also inevitable. In Order of the Phoenix Rowling showed us that she was not afraid of axing important characters but in the Deathly Hallows she is a woman on a mission, slashing lives with her pen left right and centre. The thing is, these deaths felt like they were always going to happen; as though people we loved had to die in order for their to be a happy heroical ending. This is true within the narrative literally but also I feel it is a comment that can be understood in our own lives. What Rowling is suggesting through Deathly Hallows is that sacrifice is essential if we want to cultivate a better life. This is why I do not resent Rowling for the deaths of characters in her novel. The later books are meant to be mature and death is as much a part of life as love, friendship and magic are.

I think in taking the task of defeating Voldemort up to a more mystical level through the Hallows and the Horcruxes Rowling stayed true to her whimsical and refined magical theory. She did not give in to a simple life for life spell which would easily have made sense and would have still brought in the tears. She made things difficult, she made things really difficult and although the deus ex machina might have felt vaguely random (you’re telling me a horcrux was conveniently in the room of requirement this whole time?) this challenge made this final instalment all the better for it.  

Reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was like hugging an old friend, like stepping onto the train home at the end of the night and waving goodbye through the glass.  Of course almost everyone reading this has already read and then reread and then reread this series – I am aware that I am abysmally late to the party – but I will still, for the sake of this review, recommend this book to all of you.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Currently reading: Black Skin, White Masks #46

Hey everyone!

This week I want to briefly discuss what i’m currently reading!

Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon is a non fiction post colonial essay considering the psychology of the black man in a white dominated world.

I am about halfway through this book and so far I am really enjoying it. I think what’s most significant about this essay is that it remains important to everyone, no matter what gender, race or nationality years on from its publication. Fanon is interested in discovering why we, as humans, marginalise certain groups of people – and I believe we can all learn empathy from this. 

This book is unique in that it discusses the dynamic between interracial relationships in a way that I have previously not seen in post colonial writing.

I am yet to finish Black Skin, White Masks but so far I certainly recommend it to all of you! The writing style is almost a poetic kind of prose so even if you don’t enjoy non fiction I still think you would find it interesting!

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth

Audiobooks. #45

Hey everyone

Finding time to read can be one of the most frustrating tasks, even more so if you are a bibliophile. If you are a book lover you might feel a pressure to read mountains but with everything going on in your life you just might not have the time.

After a few months of using Audiobooks as a way of reading I think its fair to say I have mastered them. In this post I will share my secrets.

Certainly services like Audible are really great ways to access Audiobooks and read while you are commuting, drawing or working out. But not everyone can afford to pay a subscription fee each month and so I thought I would explain to you how I listen to audiobooks on the cheap.

Youtube. Youtube has millions of free audiobooks that are in the public domain and are waiting for you to listen to them.  These aren’t just weird unknown books as well, many of the Audiobooks I have listened to from Youtube have been classics that I have wanted to read for ages but didn’t have the time to sit and spend hours with.

This point is a significant reason why Audiobooks are so great; they allow you to access books that you otherwise, as an active reader, would not have been able to enjoy because you keep dozing off every five minutes when you are trying to read them. As a listener, you are observing the story through a narrator as opposed to actively engaging with the book. Although this might put some people off, I think that it can be a really positive way of reading stuff you might never have felt brave enough to pick up before.

So after you have chosen the book you want to read from Youtube you might be at the stage where every time you close the app on your phone to flick through snapchat your audiobook cuts out. Well luckily we have Dolphin X! This is a mobile browser that allows you to listen to videos that are playing within the app. It is the perfect way to listen to audiobooks from Youtube whilst having free access to the other apps on your phone while you are on the go (No this is not sponsored haha).

As well as Youtube, I love the app Audiobooks.com which has loads of free classics and more modern stuff if you want to pay.

I hope this post has got you excited about listening to Audiobooks! It is how I manage to read as much as I do and as widely as I do.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Book Review #44

Hey everyone,

Some of you might remember that a very very long time ago I began to read the Harry Potter series. Well, after a number of breaks and proclamations of ‘I just want to read something else’ I am finally near the end of this very epic journey.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has been my favourite so far unquestionably.

The plot of this later instalment was already so much more rich but then Rowling goes and interweaves histories and secrets all throughout the narrative in a way that feels classically Harry Potter-esque. In a sense this book is the best of every part of the books and the heartbreaking and genuinely soul destroying ending only adds to its impact.

I am a firm believer that Rowling did the right thing in killing Dumbledore off, not only because of the intricate plot work and foreshadowing that is to come (I know whats going to happen already, the films did an excellent job of spoiling it for me) but also because it signifies a shift in series. This really is the book where everything becomes far more grown up and far more terrifying; it might seem like the transition is a move from middle grade to YA but I don’t think this does it justice. Voldemort is evil, this is an adult book from now on.

The growing up didn’t feel like a loss of the childhood that I briefly relieved whilst reading these books, it felt like an important way for Rowling to expand her world.

In terms of world building I felt that Half Blood Prince gave me the impression of a wider universe of knowledge about the wizarding world that is still waiting to be tapped into, in a way that is similar to Goblet of Fire. Most significantly, the darkness of the Horcrux magic is far more emphasised and explored in the book than in the film – I found myself quite obsessed with Voldemort’s past and his pursuit of immortality.

Of course I would recommend this book, its Harry Potter; but I shall recommend it even more because of the way it changed my perspective on the magical world outside the safety of Hogwarts.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.


Strange the Dreamer. Book Review #43

Hey everyone!

A few weeks ago I finished this book and have been waiting to talk about it on this blog ever since.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a young adult high fantasy novel. The story follows the story loving Lazlo Strange, an orphan who dreams of one day seeing the lost city of Weep. Nobody knows the city’s true name, nobody knows where its magic comes from and where its magic has gone but Lazlo still dreams. Even though he is surrounded by scholars and academics in the royal library he works at, Lazlo has never been interested in the science of the real world. This book follows a lover of other worlds and other stories.

I don’t think I could have written a summary that does this book enough justice. Strange the Dreamer deserves an unquantifiable amount of magic justice. That is, this book is the most magical I have read in a long long while.

I have always been interested in what lies just beyond the everyday and so I was delighted to find, when reading this book, that Laini Taylor is just as fascinated too. Strange the Dreamer is a truly strange and beautiful book. Taylor constructs a visually decadent world and weaves a cast of stunningly unique characters into a vibrant narrative. Until reading this novel I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed Taylor’s writing style. I would describe it as a cross between magical-realism and pure poetry. The language itself is a magic in this book.

Lazlo oozes with quirks, he is the perfectly whimsical anti hero, but what I found most lovable about his character was his unwavering belief in his dreams. It is a lesson to all of us to not only be ambitious in the goals we set but also be authentic in the dreams we pursue. I imagine that if I were to be adventuring alongside Lazlo to the lost city of Weep (no spoilers!) then we could both just spend hours geeking out about fantasy books.

This was a brief but hopefully interesting review of a book that is quite literally out of this world. I highly recommend reading Strange the Dreamer if not for the language then for the escape itself.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

The End of the Day. Book Review #42

Hi everyone!!

I’ve been gone for while – but i’m back!

The end of the day by Claire North is a new adult sci-fi thriller novel that follows Charlie, the harbinger of death. Although he is one of the riders of the apocalypse and comes before death itself, Charlie is a normal guy and his job is like any other – he reports to an office in Milton keynes, takes sick leave and occasionally has his life threatened in Belarus. This story spans multiple countries and multiple lives. Each encounter asks a different question and alters the way we see our world.

This novel satirises the abstract death. Charlie is the average hero but his ‘anti-power’, as North seems to be so fond of within her main characters, is letting people know when they are about to die. The reason I loved this book so much was because Charlie approaches death not as something sorrowful but rather as a moment to reflect on what you’ve been given in life and the things the world has taken away. Significantly North pushes the boundaries of how society commonly perceives dying. Aside from all of the globe trotting and hilarity, we understand that we don’t have to be scared of passing on – it doesn’t have to be an end.

Charlie respects women, supports racial equality and when asked about his sexuality simply answers that he’s not too sure. Essentially North creates the friend we all wish we had and on top of that makes him into philosophical beacon that spurts out inspirational life quotes every few chapters. What I like most about Charlie is his willingness to learn and understand. North’s unique writing style coupled with the empathy she exemplifies through her main character turns this book from a narrative that you can enjoy into a story that you can learn from. Charlie visits countless people from countless backgrounds and shows tolerance for every single one. The End Of the Day showed me the importance of advocating for equality on all fronts.

I would try and explain the plot but it is far too big and spectacular and intricate for me to describe here. You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

I highly recommend this novel – it was perhaps one of the most interesting books I have read this year as North’s work usually is.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars!

Keep on reading

And thanks again Beth

Sleeping Giants. Book Review #41

Hey everyone!

Today I want to talk to you all about Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

The book starts with a childhood discovery and is followed on years later by a revelation of cosmic proportions. This is the tale of the secrets that an ancient civilisation left behind and the secrets that are still being kept today. Sleeping Giants is a whirlwind of anonymous benefactors, underground government facilities, bilingual geniuses and very very big giants.

Sleeping Giants is told as a Dossier, through a series of interviews with characters in the plot. This format is similar to the system which Illuminae is written in and, for me, is extremely entertaining. The interview format makes the storytelling fast paced, digestible and more realistic. I was never bored reading Sleeping Giants and would whole heartedly recommend it if your looking for an easy piece of Sci-Fi that you know you’ll be able to finish in a few sittings.

But further than just my love for the format of storytelling was my love for the world building of this book. Sleeping Giants is set on modern day Earth but there are many elements to it that would be and are initially confusing to the everyday reader. For example a lot of the science in this book could very easily become so pretentious that it would get in the way of the plot; yet Neuvel always makes a point of simplifying the scientific world that the book encompasses so it is accessible and enjoyable for all.

The plot itself is intensely exciting not just because of the way that it its told but also because of the characters it is told through. In my opinion, the cast of Sleeping Giants is one of the most unique out there. The book offers humour, romance, fear and friendship all because it is able to offer characters who aren’t simple, one dimensional cardboard cut outs.

I would recommend this book entirely because I find it very difficult to find any fault with it. In fact, the only fault is that it wasn’t any longer.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Maggie Cassidy. Book Review #40

Hi everyone!

This weeks post is about a book I spoke about in last weeks! (that was a long winded way to say it)

Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac follows Jack Duluoz, a teenage athletic star who one night, in a cold New England town meets the plain and beautiful Maggie. The story looks at friendship, family, the value of education and the confusion of love.

I would like to start off by simply saying how confusing this book was. In my life as a reader I have never came across a book as difficult to read as this one – not just in terms of plot but even more so in terms of language.

Kerouac was a part of the Beat Generation of writers and poets and therefore the ‘spontaneous prose’ that the book is written was always going to be more poetic and abstract. Yet at times I would read whole paragraphs and pages and not understand at all what was going on. Books don’t have to lose meaning or plot just to ascend to ‘artistic complexity’. I think that entertainment is important for all fiction and that shouldn’t be lost to language that was too abstract in its vocabulary and form.

That being said the language was beautiful and did end up teaching me something new about reading all together. After finishing this book it became clear to me that Kerouac weaves a story not to excite via plot but instead excite via language on its own. What I mean is the book forces you to read it not to understand but to simply accept: whole pages were confusing but also I read some astoundingly powerful sentences that captured entire emotions in just a few words. It wants you to appreciate words detached from a wider meaning. It’s poetry.

From what I did understand which, to be fair, was a lot of the novel, the plot was well crafted. The pacing was perfect and it really did feel reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – one of, if not my favourite book! Make no mistake this novel screams youth.

I’ve tried to capture the ambivalence I feel towards Maggie Cassidy in this book but the best way for you to understand would be to read it.

I give this book a 3.6 out of 5 stars

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Currently reading #39

Hi everyone!

Today I want to talk about and hopefully recommend some of the stuff that I am reading right now.

I want to start off by talking about the revelation that I have had regarding reading in general recently:

It is OK to read more than one book at once!!

For a really long time I was literarily repulsed by the idea of dipping into more than one world at once. It felt unnatural, I felt like by dividing my attention I would be enjoying both book’s experiences less. However recently I decided to pick up Jane Eyre (spontaneously) whilst reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (My Harry Potter post is for a whole other time) and found that it was a really enlightening experience.

I’m at a time in my life where I’m growing up and away from YA whilst reading less in general due to the load of work that starting new courses brings. Yet oddly I’ve found that reading more than one thing at once has actually motivated to pick books up more – it is challenging but it is all the more rewarding and fulfilling as a bookworm and I would really recommend trying it out to any of you who had the same reservations as me!

Back to books:

Currently I am reading Emma by Jane Austen and Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac.

  • ‘Emma’ so far has been really interesting. Unlike Pride and Prejudice, Austen does not create a victim in her heroine but instead someone who the reader is almost annoyed with throughout. Although there are still those beautiful stuffy paragraphs that Austen is famous for I do feel that this book is slightly more dynamic then P&P because it talks about women in a more subtle way then being outrightly feminist in my opinion.
  • I have read very little of ‘Maggie Cassidy’ so far but already am getting vibes similar to those I felt when reading ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky. In the simplest of expressions: it feels young.

You can be sure that book reviews will follow for both novels mentioned today!

I wish you all a happy reading week

Also I think I have finally worked out the comment section of WordPress so comment and let me know – do you guys all read more than one book at once? Have you always done? Am I the only one?

Keep on reading.

And thanks again Beth!

Jane Eyre. Book Review #38

It has been three months and about a million things have changed but I am back!

Although I find myself dropping in and out of these posts I’ve always felt that this blog has always been one of my favourite things about reading aside from the reading itself.

Today I would like to talk about a book I finished literally minutes before writing this sentence – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

This classic piece of literature, as I am sure many of you will already know, follows the life and love of Jane Eyre, an orphaned dependant who grows up first in the care of her uncharitable aunt, then the cold walls of Lowood school before becoming governess at Thornfield Hall. It is at Thornfield where Jane meets the sultry and sardonic Mr Rochester, the man who will change the course of her life forever.

I would like to start by simply saying – I enjoyed this book, although my feelings for it are far more complex.

Oddly the majority of classics that I have read were read when I was much younger than I am now and much less knowledgeable about books and literature in general. I find that, as a result of this, in my reading of Jane Eyre I have been able to appreciate some of the finer details of the narrative in much more depth.

Jane Eyre, unlike many classics, is not, thick, difficult or even confusing in the same way that the other Brontë sister, Emily’s Wuthering Heights is. Despite the novel’s thirty eight chapters the plot never feels boring or slow; in fact it feels quite the opposite – Jane Eyre turned out to be one of the most fast paced books I have ever read in the sense that something was always changing in the main character’s life whether that was physical or not. This is one of the books greatest merits – it is constantly exciting. I find that only after having finished it that I am able to step back and see the ridiculousness of the story as a whole and even in spite of this, love it even more.

It would be unfair not to dedicate a few lines of this review simply to the language of the novel. Charlotte Brontë is a weaver of words through and through – there is a reason why her books are still selling even today, centuries on. At times the paragraphs can feel uneccesary and a victim to a victorian preference to ‘overwrite’ but I never felt that this damaged my opinion of the book. In the case of Jane Eyre it only made the events more believable. The fact that the narrator was speaking in such an intelligent vernacular only gave more credibility to the fact that Jane herself was an intellectual woman. The precision of lexical field felt honest and realistic. Further than this, I felt simply that the prose was special in a way that I find very rarely in books. It read like prose but sung like poetry and there was a beauty in this that could not and cannot be ignored; even if you put the mysterious visions, country mansions and cross dressing aside, at the core of Jane Eyre is a beating heart of literary skill and sparkle.

The book easily talks about hundreds of different themes and so I could easily try to talk about all of them but instead i’m going to focus on one that really jumped out at me. The representation of women in this book is clever. Of course, the Brontë sisters are known to be powerfully feminist in their craftsmanship but until reading Jane Eyre I did not realise how empowering and subtle this feminism was. Charlotte Brontë creates what the masses will enjoy as a poor victim but then fashions her with an unbreakable sense of self worth and a body that is not fairytale in its beauty but instead plainly average. Brontë does not just show women that they are powerful, she shows them that they can be powerful in their own lives. When a book’s story moves past it’s pages, that is when the world gets changed.

This book was more than a pleasure to read. I recommend it to everyone of every age and every life.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading

And thanks again Beth!