Review: Little Women & Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott

Overall Impression: A heartwarming tale about childhood and sisterhood, and the perils of growing up.

Little Women

It was a cold and hopeless winter morning, with frost thick on the ground that I decided to pick up Little Women. I was in the most unpleasant depths of a cold, and my brain felt as though it was stuffed with cotton wool. I will confess that I was feeling pretty low and fed up as I sat moaning under a blanket on my sofa. Bored with back to back TV, I picked up Little Women (which I had recently gotten free from the radio times due to a new adaptation) and began reading with much trepidation, feeling that if it was anything like Jane Austen’s work (which I don’t have the greatest affection for) it would be a bit of a slog. So, it was much to my surprise that a few chapters in, I found myself rather enchanted, and subsequently made my way through the second book Good Wives as well within a space of a week. Continue reading

Eclectic Mini Reviews: Atonement, It and I Heart Vegas.

Eclectic Mini Reviews
Hello, bookworms of the blogosphere! Today I bring you three for the price of one, aka, mini book reviews. Woohoo! These novels all told very different stories in contrasting genres, but all of them have one thing in common, I had somewhat conflicted opinions about them. Do you ever have that problem when there are some aspects you LOVE intensely about a book, but there are so many other things that get in the way of you being able to rate it as high as you want? These are all books that meet this criteria. So without further ado…

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 5/5

Overall Impression: A mesmerizing book of ideas and what-ifs, set in a dreary, heartless future.

Whoa, this was one amazing book.Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I had no idea what to expect from Fahrenheit 451 when I picked it up, other than that it was a novel about burning books and was generally held in lower esteem than its dystopian rival, 1984. When I spotted the novel last summer looking battered and lonely in the sci-fi section of a second hand bookshop I couldn’t help but adopt it. It had clearly been mistreated and needed a new home. The spine was torn, the pages orange with age and reeking of must, yet oddly it added to its charm. It almost seemed as if the novel had been through the same hardships that had occurred in the story, that it had come a little too close to being incinerated in its lifetime and was now a scarred casualty of war.
Yeah, I know, I have an overactive imagination right?!
This book was also read as part of The Rory Gilmore Challenge.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house?
The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

While I can easily say that Fahrenheit 451 is one of the best novels I’ve ever read, it’s also one of the weirdest and to begin with I had no idea what to make of the whole thing! From the first page you are thrust into the deep end, Continue reading

Stuart Little by E.B. White Review 3/5

Overall Impression: A sweet little tale full of childishStuart Little by E.B. White adventure.

I’ll fess up now, I bought this purely because it was on The Rory Gilmore Challenge, not because I had any inclination to read it. I picked it up from the hidden depths of a bargain bucket, forking out a whopping 10p to pay for it. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal! Even though E.B. White has long been considered a prestigious children’s author and I remembered enjoying the Stuart Little films when I was younger, I didn’t have high expectations. So, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! That’s the great thing about this challenge, it makes me pick up books I never would have considered reading otherwise. 🙂

He’s one small mouse on one very big adventure.
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother, George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and  thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure.
When his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest, Stuart is determined to track her down. He ventures away from home for the very first time in his life and finds adventure aplenty, but will he find his friend?

Stuart Little has all the elements needed for a great children’s book, there are an array of cute and fuzzy animals (mice, cats, birds), daring adventures with an element of danger (such as trips down the drain and rides in the garbage truck), positive morals weaved throughout and a heartfelt friendship between two characters that gives you something to root for. Continue reading

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee Review 5/5

Overall Impression: A beautiful, deeply moving book about the best and worst humanity has to offer.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

How strange is it that I decided To Kill a Mockingbird was going to be my next read only a few days before everybody was in uproar about Michael Gove axing it from the UK English curriculum? Could there have been a more perfect time for me to start reading this, when everyone is feeling so passionate about it?
To Kill a Mockingbird has always been one of those novels I felt everyone except me had read. I wasn’t given the option to study it at school and for years and years people’s pop culture references about Atticus, Scout and Boo Radley were utterly lost on me. Before diving in all I knew about Lee’s famous tale was that it was set in the south and tackled the topic of racism, but this novel has so much more to offer than that.
This book was also read as part of The Rory Gilmore Challenge.

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel – a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy.
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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold Review 3/5

Overall Impression: Unnerving, beautiful, bizarre and…boring?

I have come across many readers who have strong opinions about The Lovely Bones. Before even The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold1reading a page I had heard it hailed as an unforgettable tale able to reduce even the most stoical reader to tears. On the other hand, I had also spoken to others who found it a painful slog through atrocious writing.
Naturally this made me curious.
Considering this is such a well-known bestseller with over a million copies sold I am shocked that it has taken me so long to read it! It’s even famous enough to have made it onto the prestigious Rory Gilmore Book List.
I adored the movie adaptation which I saw several years ago so I will admit I had high expectations. Did it live up to them? Yes and no is the short answer.
Warning: Readers should note that this book does cover the delicate issue of rape, although this is only one aspect of the story. If this topic is a painful trigger, you may not want to read on.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood.
Watching from her place in heaven, Susie Salmon sees her suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself.
But life is not quite finished with Susie yet…

Sebold’s writing is quite….I’m searching for the best word here. Odd? I can understand why it has divided so many readers causing both awe and frustration. The story is told from Susie’s point of view after her death and this was one of the many things that drew me into the book. It is an interesting way to write and certainly provoked thought. Throughout the entire novel I had this sense of closeness to the story. With an invisible protagonist you can go anywhere, see anything including people’s deepest darkest hidden emotions. Yet at the same time the narration felt distant, disconnected, and I think that reflected Susie’s predicament perfectly. Death gave her the ability to understand those around her better than she ever did on earth, and yet she cannot be a part of it remaining trapped and unseen by the ones she loves. The narration seemed to have no boundaries and was quite harrowing at times. Susie explained the details of her death in an unsettling, factual and calm manner. The opening scene of this book was one of most uncomfortable I have ever read and will stick with me for a long time. On this level, Sebold has done a fantastic job.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Review 5/5

Overall Impression: One boy’s journey of self discovery packed to the brim with some of the most memorable characters I have ever come across.

I was scared to open this book, and I mean scared. That never happens to me, but a had this huge trepidation about Dickens. I remember loathinGreat Expectationsg Oliver Twist when I was younger, I encountered the film many times and the book itself during year nine English and have steered away from all Dickens since. God help anyone who starts singing about ‘gruel’. Seriously, there is a special place in hell dedicated to people who sing those songs. 😛
However, in the name of literature (and because the book is on The Rory Gilmore Challenge) I decided to attempt Great Expectations, all the while thinking I should rename it ‘Low Expectations’. Even having seen TV adaptions and enjoying them, I couldn’t put away that pain from year nine English.
Ohh how I have been missing out! I took the book on holiday with me because I thought it would help me fall asleep earlier, but instead it kept me up later!

Pip’s life as an ordinary country boy is destined to be unexceptional until a chain of mysterious events leads him away from his humble origins and up the social ladder. His efforts to become a London gentleman bring him into contact not just with the upper classes but also with dangerous criminals. Pip’s desire to improve himself is matched only by his longing for the icy-hearted Estella, but secrets from the past impede his progress and he has many hard lessons to learn.

Philip Pirrip know simply as Pip by most, is an unassuming young orphan in the care of his older sister and her husband, Joe. They live poorly, scraping by on dinners of bread and butter in a village near the misty marshes where criminals have been known to wander.  Continue reading

Belated Birthday Book Haul! (As Requested)

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There comes a time in every bookworms life when they just have to say no to books. When your to-be-read pile is overflowing and you have run out of shelf space for the third time running, you know that you have a serious problem! Not to mention when you start to calculate how long it will take you to read all those books you own…..lets just say some of mine will still be unread in ten years time. :S So it was with much pain and internal suffering that I stated to my family ‘do not buy me any books for my Birthday this year, I have too many!’
When I headed home the weekend after my birthday and opened my presents I was really happy with everything I got, but couldn’t getting rid of a nagging little voice inside my head that said ‘but Becky, there are no books.’
So when my blogging buddies started asking me what books I got and telling me to let them know about my crazy haul I didn’t really have an answer, because I didn’t have anything to tell!

But, as the title suggests I did get some books in the end after all, they were just very delayed due to various friends being off at uni. This is the part where I have an excuse to take lots of pretty pictures of my books and fulfill my promise, one book haul post coming up! 😉 Continue reading

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Review 2/5

Overall Impression: Arrrrrggg! *yanks on hair* Everything about this book was so irritating, irritating, irritating! I have never found a book with so much potential, that falls so flat. The perks of being a wallflower

Eeeeshh. I was so disappointed with this book. I feel like I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t like it! I’ve read so many good reviews, and pretty much everyone I know who has read it thought it was fantastic. But honestly? Meh. Maybe it’s because of all the hype around the book. After all, I even got out a sheet of paper in expectation that there would be loads of great quotes to mark. But it really did sound like a great book, the kind I usually enjoy.
But hey, on the plus side I absolutely love the front cover! That’s a positive right? :S I have a weird appreciation for purposeful scribbling and doodling.
This book was also read as part of the The Rory Gilmore Challenge.

Charlie is a freshman and while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through unchartered territory: The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sidelines forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The blurb pretty much sums it up. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age story centred around a young boy. The book begins with Charlie’s first day as a freshman as he tries to get over the death of his sort-of friend Michael. He shuffles through everyday life observing, but not really taking part, hence – wallflower. That is, until  Continue reading

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Review 2/5

Overall Impression: At the risk of sounding immature andThe Great Gatsby cover uncultured – what a snooze fest!

This book was read as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge.
I really wanted to like this book.
From the moment I first bought it, I was staring longingly toward the spot it occupied on my bookshelf. Excited to discover this epic story that is so widely praised, and cherished.
Umm yeah…no.
Seriously, what just happened? Gatsby goers what am I missing?
This year I set myself the goal of trying to read more classics including books from the Rory Gilmore Challenge. And weirdly it has only just dawned on me – I am not going to like all of them; because no matter how much literary merit they have, people’s tastes vary. Unfortunately this was one I just did not get on with.
A pre warning, this is probably more of a rant than a review, and when I look back on it later I hope I will be able to look down my nose at it and say ‘gosh, I was so immature’. But here goes!

Jay Gatsby is a self-made man famed for his decadent, champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island’s bright and beautiful, he longs only for Daisy Buchanan. In shimmering prose, Fitzgerald shows Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion.

The above description pretty much sums up the entire plot (it’s only a small book, 148 pages in my version). We are guided by Nick Carraway, our narrator (implementing the age old unreliable narrator debate) a man in his 30s recovering from his involvement in the war. He decides to try his hand at the bond business, moving to New York. As an outsider he paints a bright picture of the 1920s in America – the glamour, the parties, and the desecrated American Dream. He rents a house which resides next to the mansion of the one and only Jay Gatsby, a figure of mystery and intrigue who’s story is slowly revealed throughout the course of the novel.  As past and present collide, tensions hit breaking point in a whirlwind of love, jealousy and betrayal. Continue reading

The Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm Review 3/5

Overall Impression: An endless book of fabulous fantasy and childish imagination.9780099511441

Way back in February after completing a set of exams I decided to reward myself with a book spurge. The Complete Fairytales by The Brothers Grimm was one of those books. Since then, fairytales seem to have become some sort of trend, making appearances in both the TV and film industries. Which does make me wonder, why did I decide to pick up the Brothers Grimm this year? Was it really on a whim? Or did it get into my subconscious?
Another reason I chose this book is because two of the stories are on The Rory Gilmore Challenge (Rapunzel, and Snow White and Rose Red) and being the type of person who never likes to do things half way, I though hey, why not read ALL the Grimm fairytales?! 🙂

‘The stories have immense vitality…no punches are pulled…no emotion is unrepresented’
– Margaret Atwood

Wolves and grandmothers, the seven dwarfs, a goose made of gold…the folk tales collected by the Grimm brothers created an astonishingly influential imaginative world. However, this is also a world where a woman cooks her stepson and an evil queen dances to death in a pair of burning shoes. Violent, funny, disturbing and wise, these stories have intrigued both children and adults for generations.

I actually had to do some research before purchasing this book so I would like to warn anyone interested in reading the Grimm Fairytales to do the same. The reason for this is that there are a lot of books out there claiming to be the complete version, when in actual fact they are not. There are a lot of different volumes due to the fact that the Brothers Grimm didn’t publish them all in one go. The official number of tales is 210, so this is the number you should look for. My version however boasts on it’s back cover 279 stories, and claims to be the only complete edition available because it also includes The Omitted Tales, Selected Tales from the annotation of 1856, Jacob Grimm’s Tales, Published Tales and finally Selected Tales from the Posthumous Papers of the Brothers Grimm. These are extra bonus stories for those that are interested. So if your looking for the best book to go for, I would say this is definitely the one to pick! 🙂

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What are you Reading this Summer?

Here in the UK, summer has begun.

For some of us this means a chance to relax and splurge on an expensive holiday, for others it provides some much needed hope when shuffling into work, but for students it means the long awaited summer holidays are finally here; a short break from ramming facts and figures into our heads. Of the overwhelming stress and the manic shots of adrenaline our bodies pump through our system to keep us revising until 2am in the morning. But most importantly for me, it means the opportunity to hopefully get a lot more reading done!

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Emma by Jane Austen Review 4/5

emma by jane austenOverall Impression: Insightful and funny, with traditional Jane Austen flair, this makes the perfect summer read.

I read this book as a part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, the Rory Gilmore Challenge, and also because of my personal goal to try and read more classics this year. This is the second Jane Austen book I have read, the first being Pride and Prejudice, but I enjoyed this one much more! Emma was quite a different experience because I had no prior knowledge of the plot, and I think this led to a much more rewarding read.


Emma Woodhouse, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition’ thinks a little too highly of herself, and entertains herself by meddling in the affairs of others. The results are not always to her liking.

The blurb doesn’t give you much of a taster of the book, so here’s my expanded version, as always, no spoilers. 🙂
Emma Woodhouse lives with her eccentric/hypochondriac father and her governess Miss Taylor. Life is good. She lives in the beautiful estate Hartfield, has everything she wants, and has no desire to marry. However, when her closest friend and steady companion Miss Taylor is wed to Mr Weston and moves out, Emma finds herself with a lot of solitary leisure time. Holding herself in high esteem from being the one who first introduced Miss Taylor and Mr Weston, she decides to take up matchmaking, much to the dismay of her friend Mr Knightly. She finds her perfect mission in Harriet Smith, a beautiful but naive young girl who is easily led. She quickly befriends her and sways her in the direction of Mr Elton, a well mannered man she believes is in need of a spouse. But Emma’s scheming doesn’t go to plan, and soon she finds herself in a flurry of unforeseen events, tumbling in a downwards spiral of confusion and mayhem. Continue reading

The Rory Gilmore Book Challenge

rory gilmore book challenge

Hello all 🙂
The New Year is a great time to take part in new book challenges, So in preperation I’ve already signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012, and I have now decided to participate in another which I discovered through The Reading Life of a Bookworm’s blog. This challenge is The Rory Gilmore Challenge!
Who is Rory Gilmore you ask?

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Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen Review 4/5

Overall Impression: There’s a reason this book is a classic. pride_and_prejudice_cover

When Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr Darcy, it’s fair to say he doesn’t make the best first impression. Arrogant, condescending and aloof, he’s everything the spirited and clever Elizabeth despises – and that’s before he breaks her sisters heart.
But why, then, do her thoughts turn to him again and again? Slowly, Elizabeth starts to realize that her first impression may have been wrong. But by then it may just be too late…

Expanding on the blurb, Elizabeth Bennet and her five sisters live in a period of time where the main aim of a lady’s life is to marry. To marry for money, to marry for estate, to marry for the sake of your family; but rarely, to marry for love. So when the wealthy Mr Bingley arrives at Netherfield Park along with his sisters and his friend Mr Darcy, Mrs Bennet begins to hear wedding bells.  A ball is held, as they often are in these stories, which gives the Bennett’s a chance to meet their new neighbours. Mr Bingley begins to show an interest in Jane Bennet, and she is all too flattered by the attention. Meanwhile Elizabeth Bennett has the pleasure of meeting Mr Darcy, an arrogant, and rude man, that insults Elizabeth at their first meeting.
One day, Continue reading