Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Review Ratings

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I read an interesting blog entry over at Shannon Hale’s blog about ratings for books which got me thinking about how I choose my rating. Mostly it got me thinking about whether I should give it any kind of numeric rating at all and just leave it to the review.

Hale asked some questions at the end and even though the post is a bit old, I thought seeing as I’m a fairly new blog, just leaving its nest I though I’d answer them.

1. Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?

It makes me be a less passive reader. Before I joined Goodreads I always used to keep a hand written log of books I read – I gave them a star rating and a short review – usually a few lines. Now, since joining Goodreads I promised myself to review every book I read – more then a paragraph. Knowing others would be reading them I put more effort into them.

Reviewing a book is part of the reading process for me, it helps me to digest a book and I think it is very important to do so. Otherwise I am just reading it and then what happens to the book? It disappears to the back of my memory. That’s why I started making a log of books in the first place because it meant that I would remember each book I read. After a few years, looking back through it, even though much was illegible scrawl it really helped because I could see that – yes I liked that book and I could read what I liked about that book. There were my initial thoughts written down straight after finishing and it is that little bit of a memory I might have otherwise forgotten.

Writing reviews for Goodreads though, and now this blog has made me a more active reader – I am thinking about what I would like to mention in my review as I read, I am trying to notice more things and digest my feelings. I want to be involved in my reading, in the books that I read. It greatly effects how I read.


2. Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?

I usually do have a rating playing at the back of my mind, maybe this does distract me from reading it if I’m constantly thinking about how good it is (or isn’t)? I think it is harder to simply enjoy a book now because I feel that I have to justify it afterwards.


3. Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?

Hmm, yes and no. I don’t choose not to read a book because I don’t want to review it, or because I want to review it in particular, but being more involved in the books I am reading does make me want to read different kinds of books and makes me less patient with certain types of fiction I might have read before I started reviewing. I like more involving books in the recent years.

Thinking more about it, looking back I have picked up less dud books – maybe this is from reading reviews and also, maybe it is because I just enjoy books more now because I put more effort into reading them.


4. Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?

I don’t think so. It does make me reflect more, but I wouldn’t say it changes how I felt. Reading other people’s reviews might change how I feel – especially if they noticed something I did not which may change my entire outlook on the book.


5. What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?

I have always assigned a rating even before I declared it to the world. I find other people’s ratings of interest and use myself and now that I’m ‘declaring it to the world’ I feel like I’m a much more active reader. Reading isn’t about locking yourself away in a dark room with a light – it’s as social as many other past times and it is good to be able to share your experiences and opinions with others.

I don’t think that ratings are on their own useful, which makes me wonder if I should use a numerical rating on this blog? On websites like Amazon and Goodreads it is much easier to put the ratings together as a whole – and see your friends’ ratings alongside each other.

On a personal level, a numerical rating gives me closure and I like looking back some years later and seeing how much I liked it. A rating is like a place mat in my memory.

Are numerical ratings on blogs as useful as they might be on Amazon or websites like Goodreads?


6. If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?

My role as a reviewer – difficult one. Am I a reviewer? I consider myself more a reader then a reviewer. I just happen to write a review afterwards. chocolate chop Reviews are more important then ratings. Everyone will have different ideas on the value of each star and the meaning. I explain what mine mean here.

I have always found it difficult whether to rate between how much I enjoyed a book and literary merit. Should I detract a star because I thought it was badly written in parts even though I really enjoyed it or should I not? Bad, irritating clumsy writing does bother me but I can look over it depending on other factors.

I personally love really good characters and so I lean more towards more character driven books then anything else.

Writing this entry makes me think of a much more simpler question to ask myself:

Why do I read?

  • Entertainment?
  • Escapism?
  • To learn something different?
  • Intellectualism?

I think it is a mix of all of these – but mostly because I find reading entertaining. The days of required reading are over – I choose what books I read to simply enjoy them. I read so I can be taken out of my world and taken into another one – into a life I don’t know about to learn about them. Books can take you back, and forwards through time – they also help you understand different people and put you in someone else’s shoes so you can share their experiences – and not be confined to your own. You can learn so much from reading books – I mean fiction, not just non-fiction.

I do not read a book simply for its literary worth – that isn’t to say of course, that I’m not able to appreciate it. So overall, I think I rate on how much I enjoyed a book rather then trying to define it by its literary merits.

I still find it hard to rate though – it’s so very subjective and sometimes it just doesn’t reflect at all how I felt. Sometimes I want to change the rating of a previous review because of a more recent one. Should ratings stick once you’ve made them – at the moment I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and so they are comparing to each other in my head. I find my scales are being readjusted in my head. Maybe I need to award more then five stars or will that make it harder still?

How does everyone else rate? What kind of a scale do you use and what does each actually mean to you? What do you look for in reviews and how does the rating affect you?

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Reading and Music

This week I have gone a bit Russian. I’m reading a non-fiction book about Russia’s cultural history called Natasha’s Dance by Orlando Figues so I have bought a new album by The Russian Balalaika Folk Ensemble to get me into the right kind of mood. I don’t really know much about Russian history and have always wanted to learn a bit more, especially before reading any more Russian classics. I have read and really enjoyed Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky but their history and culture is fairly alien to me so this will be good preparation for reading more Russian classics. It’s even made me want to read War and Peace!

It’s quite appropriate for this book too – the title is taken from a passage in Tolstoy’s War and Peace where Countess Natasha, who despite growing up as the nobility with European manners and society rather then Russian – still manages to dance to a traditional folk song, a dance she would never have been taught growing up with the French mannerisms of educated Russian society.

What got me into the mood to read this book probably stems from the fact I’ve become a little obsessed by The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky lately too. I have always liked it since watching the first Fantasia as a kid:

Although this always scared me as a child too – but it was equally fascinating. I guess this video explains why to this day many of my nightmares involve erupting volcanoes, which as equally scare and fascinate me.

I’m also reading Magic Kingdom: For Sale by Terry Brooks and have just been listening to whatever comes up on my MP3 player at the moment – currently a mix of Ayumi Hamasaki, Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Booking Through Thursday

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Do you read book reviews? Do you let them change your mind about reading/not reading a particular book?

 

I never used to read book reviews other then briefly scanning Amazon to find out what the book was about and what the general consensus was. I might have read the occasional professional review but only of books I have already read. In fact, I rarely used the internet at all to research books until I joined www.goodreads.com which I now rely on for reviews.

I find reviews by people who I come to know, or can get to know by far more useful. This isn’t to say that I think professional reviews are bad, it is just that I do not find them as useful as reviews on Goodreads or through blogs. For one I find searching for reviews via Goodreads just more practical and easy then looking for them elsewhere. They serve what I look for and so I have found little cause to look elsewhere.

What I love about Goodreads and blogs is that you can see the person behind the review and because many reviews are just how a person feels. A few lines to a paragraph is a whole lot more useful to me sometimes then a page long review on a book. I have also had a couple of bad experiences with reading about books in newspapers or magazines in the forms of spoilers – which is why I tend to read them afterwards.

I would say that I have let reviews change my mind. If I see a book getting a lot of bad reviews I tend to keep away from them, especially if the reviews hit upon things that I myself tend to find aggravating. I have never read the Twilight novels because of reviews – well I’m not particularly attracted to the whole vampire thing either, but from the criticisms I have heard of it, I would be put off. Maybe also the faddish craze as well has helped put me off.

Which makes me wonder – would I read and like Harry Potter if I read it now rather then before the whole craze grew up around it, had I perhaps read reviews and maybe been swayed by some of the more negative stuff? Maybe my opinion would have been swayed and I’d have started to read it and be predisposition to dislike it? I’d like to think not – Harry Potter might have its faults but none that really add up to some of the stuff that’s been lumped against it. It’s is still a good story and doesn’t have the whole romance thing leading it as Twilight seems to – which is of course a presumption of mine, based on reviews!

I try not to read reviews of books that I am reading whilst I am reading – sometimes I have found myself enjoying a  book, then suddenly having a fault pointed out to me midway and not being able to enjoy it anymore which is hugely disappointing. Sometimes it is tempting though – to just see what other people thought especially if I’ve hit a slow patch. Sometimes a review will change how I feel about it after I read it – maybe for the better or for the worse. I love it when I read a review and the reviewer has noticed something I didn’t and it makes me want to go back and read it all over again. I hate it when it is the other way around and you end up doubting yourself over your own reading.

I love reading book reviews mainly after I have read the book because I love seeing what others thought of a certain book. It feels companionable when you HATE a book and find out that you aren’t alone in your dislike or your opinions. It’s even better when you can talk to that person.

Journeys to the Heartland – William Horwood

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star1 star1star1
 Genre: Anthropomorphic Fantasy
Published: 1995
Pages: 610

Journeys from the Heartlands is an anthropomorphic novel about the wolves of Europe who are fighting and struggling for survival against human violence and oppression. Horwood writes with a bloody realism, trying to be as realistic to wolf society as is possible in such a book, without turning them into wolf-shaped humans. Wolves follow their beliefs in ancient wolflore – the stories of Wulf and Wulfin who are their spiritual guides. Journeys to the Heartland is the first book that follows a number of wolves who are journeying to the Heartlands, to form a pack and take back the Heartlands from another fearsome pack, the Magyars. 

Horwood set out to write a trilogy but due to problems after publication in relation to one of the main distributors, this did not happen and he only published one more, resulting in the author having to combine the storyline of the third into the second book. This might explain why the one and only time I saw this book was at the time I bought it – since then I have never seen it or the sequel anywhere. 

This book has been very contrary for me. Did I like it? Did I enjoy it? Did I not like it?  My answer to these questions is yes, yes and yes. I liked it, I enjoyed it and I didn’t like it. I am interested in reading the second book, but at the same time I feel no desire to actually read it – merely find out what happens to these characters I came to know and care about. 

His strengths lie within the writing and characterisations. The wolves felt realistic but at the same time they became people that I wanted to succeed and I felt close enough to relate to them. Horwood is a good writer in that he manages to take you deep within this natural world and make you understand and become a part of it. The plot itself I felt was interesting enough but it unfortunately lacked a lot of direction. This is where for me it becomes very contrary – it is well written enough to be enjoyable just for the sake of being in that ‘world’. However the characters and writing together do not really make up for the want of a strongly defined plot. 

Some parts of the book come from a human’s perspective – a good human and a bad human. These parts felt a little disjointed and injected rather then developed. It is set during the second world war – a time of great upheaval, violence and death. Perhaps Horwood decided on this setting to represent the destructive forces of humans. However due to wolves not really understanding human warfare it is again, a very vague part of the book and feels an unnecessary  component towards the plot. I understand this theme will become more apparent in the second book – one of the characters from the evil Magyar pack even known as the Fuhrer. The parallel though is weak – as is the idea of evil.

One of the themes of the book was the corruption of the world by humans, known as ‘mennen’ to the wolves. Most of the wolves in this book had been victim to human destruction or cruelty of some sort. The lead female of the Magyar pack was brought up and thus corrupted by humans. She became a particularly sick and twisted character to a very exaggerated degree.

I’m okay with sick and twisted – but only if I think there is a point to it and I didn’t really think he put it across very well at all. If this evil wolf was meant to symbolise the corruption of humans upon the natural environment then Horwood failed in my eyes. There could have been a stronger, more meaningful message but instead Horwood tied it up with this caricature of evil that will continue onto the second book – another reason that puts me off wanting to continue reading this story.  

It is a bit ironic that after ten years sitting around on my shelf, never being read and getting dusty – that in the end I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped. Dust Mites one, Fiona nil.
At least it is off my shelf and onto bookmooch, if anyone wants it that is.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Teaser Tuesday (2)

It's Teaser Tuesday! Hosted by MizB of Should be Reading
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Journeys to the Heartland by William Horwood

Days passed, and nights, and time lost its reassuring rhythms as it became broken up into gobbets of present and past, of here and now, of being chased and hiding in holes, or beneath ruined Mennen-things; and moments of grabbed carrion or the stench and cloying taste of food, if food it was, they found in red bags that shone and swelled in the sun, and sometimes burst with the maggots that bread and spewed inside.

Journeys to the Heartland is told from the point of view of wolves – it’s strangely written – I have about 150 pages left to read and I’m still not sure what I think of it.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Weekly Geeks: 2010-22: Hoarding Behaviour, or I Have a Problem

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This is my bookcase. As I explained in my previous post, The Book Ban & General Ramblings, I have a problem that is currently in the shape of 415 books yet to be read.

<---These are all the 415 books, all stuffed into this one massive bookcase that is actually bending outwards at the back where they have been stuffed in every which way.

I started trying to organise this bookcase into my TBR shelves and read shelves. Unfortunately nowadays I just shove them wherever they fit – but for the most part the top 3 shelves contain my TBR paperbacks – the forth shelf down contains the majority of my read books and an overflow of my TBR and the bottom shelf contains some books that I have read – hard backs and an overflow of TBR books. Each shelf is 3 layers deep – so you can’t really see those books and loads more stuffed on top.

If you read my previous post you will see exactly what my Problem really is – and that’s a monster of a problem. I have recently been trying to chuck books out – those that I think I’ll never read because I picked them up without really looking and trying to only keep the books I really like and getting rid of them as I read, either to charity or through bookmooch.

What you see is actually the tidied up, cleaned out version. No, you do not want to know what it looked like before. Let’s just say it was a complete mess that was overflowing into piles all over the floor.

However, my book ban has actually been going quite well. I have successfully abstained from books for a whole month. Yes, a month and I have not bought one single book. However, the reason that really held my book ban together was that I was saving up to take my dad out for Father’s Day – and we went out today for sushi and had a deliciously good time. I need to save up to go again – which might be persuasion enough to keep up the ban.

So far so good – I did have a few panics where I rushed to the Book Depository website and my mouse hovered over a few books but I have resisted all urges. I have even walked in a bookshop and walked out again WITHOUT buying anything. Once upon a time I’d never have been able to do that.

I pretty much know what I’ll be reading through July – Harry Potter, so I won’t feel the need to browse and think of all the books my bookcase doesn’t yet contain.

However after July here lies the danger – I want some Japanese books and my library doesn’t have them so alas, I will have to buy them. However that won’t be until much later so I have time  to make some room for them.

So currently, my problem is under control and no longer ruling my life. I do miss it though.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

My Dad

Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s out there, hope you’re having a brilliant day!

I am taking the old man out tomorrow to Yo-Sushi tomorrow, to celebrate. Unfortunately I’ve caught a stinky cold and so won’t be giving him any hugs or kisses as I’m sure he doesn’t want this as a present. Isn’t it just sod’s law that I get a cold (in summer) right now? Not last weekend, not next week but this week. Just typical!

So my dad – what is there to say about him? He is a quiet man who prefers giving over receiving. One of my fondest memories as a child was coming home from school and finding the video of Disney’s Peter Pan left on the TV. It hadn’t been my birthday or anything he just bought me this video and left it for me to find without saying a thing. I hadn’t even known who it was from until I asked. And that’s just who he is and it really is something I have always remembered because it was just a gift. There was no ceremonious handover as usual when you buy someone something. He hadn’t even really wanted thanks, he just wanted to give. It’s remained a fond memory for me, I don’t think I ever forgot that whenever I watched Peter Pan. Sometimes it is just the little things that really count – not the big generous offerings other people think is so kind that become a sort of obligation to be thankful for – just a little unexpected thing.

Dad is also a reader, he likes anything from classics to non-fiction. He is also the bloke who got me into Harry Potter bizarrely, thanks Dad! One of his favourite books is The Piano Tuner by Daniel mason.

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Goodreads Description: On a misty London afternoon in 1886, piano tuner Edgar Drake receives a strange request from the War Office: he must leave his wife, and his quiet life in London, to travel to the jungles of Burma to tune a rare Erard grand piano. The piano belongs to Surgeon-Major Anthony Carroll, an enigmatic British officer, whose success at making peace in the war-torn Shan States is legendary, but whose unorthodox methods have begun to attract suspicion. So begins the journey of the soft-spoken Edgar across Europe, the Red Sea, India, Burma, and at last into the remote highlands of the Shan States.

 

This particularly interested him (and myself) because he was born and brought up in Burma, and his mother was from the Shan states.It is told from a slightly dreamy point of view – of a naive Englishman who has never had much of an adventure and he becomes caught up in a strange, beautiful and intoxicating world he knows so little about. It is beautifully written and very visually descriptive.

This was my random gift to him one day quite a few years ago after I found it in the supermarket. I only read it myself just over a year ago. Since then my aunt has read it and also my mum so it’s been around the family for a bit!

At the moment he is reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society recommended by that same aunt – myself and my mum who has also read it. I love it when books get passed around between us.

So Happy Father’s Day dearest Dad! I’m looking forward to tomorrow and just hope this cold clears up soon so we can enjoy our meal.

Musical Meanderings

At the moment I am reading Journeys to the Heartland by William Horwood which set from the point of view of wolves. I have dug out an album called Legend of the Wolf I bought probably as long ago as I got the book (nigh on ten years I would imagine, I mentioned it in Dust Mites). It’s from the Solitudes collection of music – I often used to see them in gardening centres where you pressed a button on this machine to listen to a brief extract.

Moving the Pack – Dan Gibson

I love the sounds of nature – running water and the beautiful sounds of wolves howling too – it’s kind of fitting for the book I am reading, although not quite as grizzly. Once scene described a poisoning where the alpha male vomited so much he threw up his own stomach. Things like that, especially with animals really chills my bones.

I feel I have been listening to a lot of calming, relaxing music  lately so I’m hoping my next book will inspire me to listen to something a bit more upbeat. Whilst not reading I have been listening to more Rachid Taha – an Algerian-French artist whom I really like. I enjoy music sung in a different language to my own, even though I don’t understand it, so this will be a little different to the above. He sings in a mix of arabic and French:

Barra Barra – Rachid Taha

Barra Barra  means outside you can find the translation of the lyrics here if you’re interested. I love the mix of eastern and western rock and I have all of his albums.

I’m also slightly obsessed with Eurovision Song Contest music. Terrible as most of it is (UK lately being the worst of the lot), they have some truly catchy tunes. Unfortunately less and less of the acts sing in their own language which is what I always enjoyed the most about each act. It isn’t about being able to understand the lyrics it is about the sound. Anyway, Serbia was one of the few that did sing in their own language… the singer is slightly peculiar and the song itself is classic cheese but it makes me laugh.

I can’t read (or blog) very easily to that music, it makes me want to dance like a crazy woman reducing productivity in anything I am doing.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

On My Wishlist

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On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet.

Oh gee my wishlist is longer then my arm, if not my whole body! I haven’t bought a book in a month so far due to my self-imposed book ban and it is killing me.

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Hotel Iris by Yoko Owaga I discovered whilst poking around the Vintage Books website. I’m taking part in the Japanese Reading Challenge hosted by Dolce Bellezza and so wanted some Japanese literature.

Goodreads Description: A tale of twisted love, from the author of The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper and the Professor

In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers. When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction. In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire, and she sees in this man something she has long been looking for.

The man is a proud if threadbare translator living on an island off the coast. A widower, there are whispers around town that he may have murdered his wife. Mari begins to visit him on his island, and he soon initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure, a place in which she finds herself more at ease even than the translator. As Mari's mother begins to close in on the affair, Mari's sense of what is suitable and what is desirable are recklessly engaged.


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I also want The Housekeeper and the Professor by the same author based on a recommendation from a friend who has recently read it and absolutely loved it. My library has neither and so I will probably be breaking my ban with both of these two the moment I’m able!

Goodreads Description: He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him. And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities--like the Housekeeper’s shoe size--and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away. The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.



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On Parole by Akira Yoshimura is another Japanese novel I am desiring greatly as it just sounds really, really interesting.

Goodreads Description: Shiro Kikutani, a high-school teacher, murders his wife, wounds her lover, and sets the lover's house - with the lover's old mother in it - on fire." "In jail for life, he is convinced of his righteousness: his beautiful young wife had been in bed with another man. Why shouldn't he have stabbed her lover before plunging the kitchen knife's long blade into his wife?" "After sixteen years in prison, Kikutani is released into a world he no longer recognizes. He must adjust to the intensity of Tokyo while living with the memory of his crime. Akira Yoshimura charts the psychology of a quiet man as he negotiates through the traumas of freedom: finding a job, a place to live, even something as simple as buying an alarm clock. Kikutani takes comfort in the numbing repetition of the chicken farm where he works, only to be drawn inexorably back to the scene of the murder. As Yoshimura's carefully crafted plot swings in ever tightening arcs, we are drawn toward a shattering, perhaps inescapable conclusion.


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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver was recommended to be by someone – I can’t remember who now actually. It is bizarre that a book that I have heard of by title and author only, probably never interested me due to the child on the front cover. I don’t like photographs on front covers and for some reason I have never read a book about a parent and their child. Books about children and parenthood doesn’t interest me. Yet, when someone out of the blue recommends it to me I am suddenly interested in it? I don’t think I would ever have been had I even looked at it before.


Goodreads Description: A stunning examination of how tragedy affects a town, a marriage, and a family, for readers of Rosellen Brown's Before and After and Jane Hamilton's A Map of the World.

That neither nature nor nurture bears exclusive responsibility for a child's character is self-evident. But such generalizations provide cold comfort when it's your own son who's just opened fire on his fellow students and whose class photograph--with its unseemly grin--is blown up on the national news.

The question of who's to blame for teenage atrocity tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years ago, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only fifteen at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York.

Telling the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?


Anyway, on a trip to the coffee shop in the bookshop I thought I’d look through it whilst I was there and it looks magnificent. Definitely looking forward to this one.


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Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace is one I came across randomly in the bookshop. Obviously the word ‘Tokyo’ pulled me due to my recent interest in anything Japanese.

Goodreads Description: On August 15, 1946—the first anniversary of the Japanese surrender—the partially decomposed, raped, and strangled bodies of two women are found in Shiba Park. More murders will soon be uncovered: women killed in the same way, and, it becomes clear, by the same hand.




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A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry I have wanted since reading The Secret Scripture a couple of months back. He is an Irish author and I got it into my head I need to read more books set in Ireland. It is set during the first world war, which I also carry an interest in.

Goodreads Description: In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there he encounters violence on a scale he could not have imagined and sustains his spirit with only the words on the pages from home and the camaraderie of the mud-covered Irish boys who fight and die by his side. Dimly aware of the political tensions that have grown in Ireland in his absence, Willie returns on leave to find a world split and ravaged by forces closer to home. Despite the comfort he finds with his family, he knows that he must rejoin his regiment and fight until the end. Sebastian Barry renders Willie's personal struggle as well as the overwhelming consequences of war.


It seems every time I look at my bookcase and think that I have enough, that there is not one book out there that could tempt me, that I feel that I need… I find another book to moon over.

All together now, if I bought these new from Book Depository they would cost me a a grand total of: £35.44 which doesn’t sound too bad now when you look at it… what am I saying? Of course it does!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Blogging Through Thursday

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Do you prefer reading current books? Or older ones? Or outright old ones? (As in, yes, there’s a difference between a book from 10 years ago and, say, Charles Dickens or Plato.) – Blogging Through Thursday

I have no preference and rarely look at when a book is published until afterwards. I admit I haven’t read as many pre twentieth century classics as I would like to. I have read some Dickens, some Dumas, some Gaskell and a Henry Fielding which is mid eighteenth century.

Looking through the books I read last year the vast majority were written in the last thirty to forty years. Actually that is shocking I really must make an effort to read more books from an earlier era. I own loads of course I just never get around to reading them. Or at least that’s what excuse I give – the reality is that I allow myself to be distracted rather then challenging myself to read something different.

In fact, I promised myself to read more classics this year but so far I have read only four. Well… maybe along reading Japanese literature I will also challenge myself to read more classics as well.

I have many classics waiting for me – from Dumas, to Fielding, Austen, Gaskell, Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky…

I keep an excel spreadsheet of all the books I have read and record information such as setting and genre along with read dates and days it took to complete. I have just added a year of publication column so I could see how old the books I read are.

It’s interesting being able to take a look at this kind of information and access my reading habits over a period of time. I can definitely see a gap in my reading I need to improve.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Stardust – Neil Gaiman

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 star1 star1star1half star

Genre: Fantasy
Published: 199
Pages: 200

In the town of Wall, which lies on the otherside of Faerie world, Tristran Thorn sees a star fall and promises the girl he loves that he will find it and bring it back to her in exchange for his heart’s desire. So he crosses over into the fantastical land of Faerie to fulfil his quest…

I have read  American Gods Gaiman and I was not very impressed. I found the writing flat and the story seemed to float around in the middle of nowhere. However despite all that, a part of me felt like I wanted to like it more then I did, so I said I’d read one more of his books and give him a second chance.

Here it is, the second chance and it succeeded in a fashion. I did enjoy it. It is a quick, easy read that I find myself breezing through. In short, it is an entertaining story.

Gaiman took a big fantasy world, containing wicked witches (sweet, harmless old biddies who wouldn’t harm a fly, if you’d believe that…) airborne pirates, seven lord of Stormhold on the quest to win their inheritance. He squashed an epic world into 200 pages and centred it around a fairly simple story.

I thought there were some brilliant ideas in Stardust that would make for a long series of short ‘fairytales’ I don’t know whether Gaiman intends to do this or not though. I can’t see myself going out of my way to read his other books but if he were to continue with this world, I probably would slip into it now and then.

The characters were not fleshed out enough – they fulfilled their generic roles. The story is simple and fast reading but I didn’t feel as if I was left with anything special to remember it by.

I’m not taken with Gaiman’s style of writing – it just don’t do anything for me. He definitely has an individual voice of his own, but it is one I can’t gel with, personally.

Gaiman set out to write a fairy tale for adults – because apparently adults lack all that magic and fantasy.

"As adults, we are discriminated against. As adults, we are an oppressed majority because nobody writes us fairy tales. I think the problem is not that ... we grow out of fairy tales. The problem is nobody writes us fairy tales; nobody gives us fairy tales that are as satisfying, as meaty, as filled with real people and real incident, as the things that we remember from when we were children,"

- CNN.com (1999)

Stardust wasn’t meaty, satisfying or filled with real people. It has a rather boring sex scene at the beginning, nipples and breasts are mentioned, a man urinating and the word ‘fuck’ appears in small print.

The problem is, that children have a natural ability to just imagine and believe that this is real. It is something innate and magical. Stardust doesn’t take you back to this stage. If an adult wants to get back to that magical world they can dare enter the YA part of the bookshop and they’ll find plenty of books with real people people and real incident.

In fact, Gaiman knows this because he is best buddies with Diana Wynne Jones. I think you’ve heard me mention her before. It was Jones’ Eight Days of Luke that inspired him to write American Gods.

She has also written at least two books about stars falling to earth. Once in Howl’s Moving Castle – with a couple of similarities: the poem ‘Song’ by John Donne found at the beginning of Stardust and the ideas of the heart and youth in relation to capturing a star being found in both books. Secondly in Dogsbody where stars fall from the sky in the form of living creatures.

I find it difficult not to compare these books. Diana Wynne Jones is a fantastic fantasy author and when she writes she doesn’t sound as if she is trying – plus her stories, although based around familiar archetypes and fairytales, always feel utterly unique and different. Unfortunately, compare these two friendly authors and I can’t help but choose the one I prefer. Perhaps this is unfair of me to do so, but this is my review and how I feel.

I don’t really understand his reasoning for calling Stardust a fairytale for adults – it was nothing more then a YA fantasy with naughty bits in it. Maybe , I am missing the point – maybe that was, in fact, his point. He wrote a YA book, swore in it, urinated in it and sold it to the adult market.

Three stars because I enjoyed reading it and despite my above complaints I think it’s a well written, well imagined story.

The half star is because if he were to write any more set in this world then I would definitely read them. However after eleven years I don’t know if he will.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

New Design

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I feel like this owl at the moment. It is 2am and my eyes are just about to cave in on themselves.

You know in my Bloggiesta wrap up post I said that I was happy with my design etc..

Well as you can see I changed it. Only I’m not sure if I like it… or loathe it! I wish you could choose your own background rather then one they make for you. Big improvements on what Blogger was before in terms of self-customisation but it’d be nice if we could upload our own backgrounds as well… in an easy to-do fashion that is. Unless of course I’m missing something big. (Possibly…)

Anyway, 2am I’m knackered and grouchy. Really, I just wanted to get a snazzy page bar that changed when you put your mouse over it.

Not sure if I like my banner. During Bloggiesta I discovered that my talents in Paint.net or any photoshoppy programme are absolutely delusional. I still like my owls and really should try to keep to a bird theme, but… gah!

Anyway, so love it, hate it? Don’t give a…?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Dust Mite Books

Do you ever look at your bookshelf and get so excited about all those books you have got to read? There’s some books I’ve got sitting around that I’m dying to read but just never seem to get around to it?

I’ve had books for years and years and just never read them. I really need to get on and read them. Maybe I’ll kick myself for not having read them earlier.

Here are some books that have been gathering dust mites for at least five years:

Otherlands – Tad Williams

TadWilliams_Otherland1 I first started this one oh ages and ages ago – probably about ten years ago or so. Being who I am, I went out and also bought the rest of the series but naturally never actually finished the first one. I was a bit of a book juggler back then, only rather then actually finishing books I kinda put them down and forgot about them…

I do remember enjoying this one, but it has multiple storylines going on and each time you finally started getting into one it then went and changed to another. I really must make an effort to read this one and get it and the others off my shelf. They’re bricks so will free up a lot of room if I can do this.


The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

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I remember getting this in my town’s old bookshop (since closed down, very sad) thinking it was so different from anything I’d read before (being mainly YA, fantasy etc) and then it just never got read.




The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

image

This is another one of those that I started, actually quite liked and then put down probably half way through. Weirdly I picked it up before I’d even learnt exactly who he was. I wish as a kid I read books properly, I might be a lot more well read by now!






Journeys to the Heartland by William Horwood

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This is by the same author as Dunstan Wood, about the moles – which is probably what this author is more famous for. I don’t think I’ve actually met anyone who has read these books yet though. I got them because I loved wolves back then… just never really got around to reading it.






Sophie’s World by Jostien Gaarder

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Well I’ve had this for a good thirteen to fourteen years I reckon and I just never managed to get into it. Perhaps at the time I was just too young.

I’ve read another one of his recently (Maya) so I really ought to give this one another go.

I wonder what has for so many years, stopped me from picking up these books? Most of the books now in my collection (unread) are probably only two or three years old but that’s only because that’s the time I’ve been buying and acquiring the most books.



I was in a bookshop just after last Christmas and I overheard someone say “I have to stop buying books, I already have six waiting to be read on my nightstand…” I immediately felt guilty as I carried around my little stack of six books I was going to get with my book token.

So, do you buy books and then not read them for years, or are you the kind of organised person who likes a small manageable TBR?

It’s Monday What Are You Reading? (2)



What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.


Hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey

I didn’t get to do this last week as I was STILL reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and it took me 12 days. Since reading After Dark by Murakami I’ve been suffering from a bit of book block where my reading just slows down and I get highly distracted – mainly by this blog actually!

So since Monday 31st May I have been reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Yesterday I started Stardust by Neil Gaiman. It is my second book by this author – my first being American Gods which I did not like very much. I gave it two stars in fact, but I always said that I would give him another chance.

So, recently I got persuaded by several people that Neil Gaiman ia awesome and I should read Stardust. So here I am.

So far I can say I like it, it is better then American Gods but I’m reserving any further opinion until I get to the end.

I don’t know what  I have coming up after Stardust, but I have a feeling I might choose something with gritty realism.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Bloggiesta Conclusions

chop darker blue chop pink chop

Now that Bloggiesta has come to an end, I am looking back over my little fledgling blog and seeing what I have achieved so far. I think ironically I have done less blogging this weekend then I did for all the others!

The Book Coop was born on the 29th May, 2010, inspired by Allison from The Allure of Books who I know from Goodreads. I jumped on the blog-wagon and here I am sixteen days later.

It’s a little difficult to try and look back with any perspective at the moment, with only 22 blog posts.

However, before I get lost in a myriad of  confusion, I should probably look back and think ‘where do I want to go, what do I want this blog to be?’

What is The Book Coop?

  • It is my life through reading. My journey through books. It is not about me as a person, but me as a person might shine through the books I read and the things I write here.
  • It is about my books and the books I want to read (or my friends want me to read).
  • I might offer a giveaway one day but it’ll be a rare occasion and I’m not planning one any time soon. Sorry.
  • It may also contain other things – music, films, TV programmes especially if they are related to books!

What do I want to improve in the long term?

  • I actually quite like the design, but I’d like it to be more personalised, but that might be for another day. Maybe after a year I’ll think about it. At least I have my little owls. I don’t think it’s too cluttered but that blog roll is rather long.
  • Come up with a good review structure rather then writing the first load of jumbled thoughts that come into my head.
  • Plan my posts more, learn how to proof read and edit. Stop being in such a hurry.
  • Be concise, stop rambling for thousands of words when I could just say what I have to say in 500.
  • Come up with interesting things to talk about, not just book reviews and memes (good as they are) something of my own.
  • My tags. They’re kinda all over the place and that’s only after 22 blog posts!
  • Build up relationships between my blog and others to create a community so it isn’t just little me sounding off into space.
  • Kill writer’s block.

There isn’t anything too specific. I’m still finding my voice, my style and I still haven’t really figured this whole blogging thing out yet. I’m getting there though, I’m getting there…

My accomplishments over the weekend amount to:

1. Favicon established.

2. A long winded, babbling explanation of star ratings that probably needs to be shortened. Maybe next Bloggiesta.

3. Wrote one negative review for a popular book.

4. Wrote some posts for later, half wrote a few others.

5. Came up with ideas I haven’t written yet but may write later.

6. Analysed blog so far.

7. Finished Uncle Tom, wrote a review, started a new book.

Musical Musings

This week has been a little slow for me, been reading the same old book for over a week and trying to get over my book block. So I have been listening to a lot of classical or simply instrumental music for a long time.

This is from the Howl’s Moving Castle anime movie that is based on the book by the wonderful Diana Wynne Jones. I love soundtracks and Joe Hisaishi is becoming a favourite of mine.

I am not a big fan of Japanese anime as a rule, but love anything that is from the Studio Ghibli collection. My Neighbour Totoro is one of my favourites, including of course the soundtrack.

I have recently downloaded a new album by Patrick Hawes, Night Pictures. He is a ‘neo classical’ composer and I find his music beautifully relaxing and thoughtful. I discovered him over a year ago but it’s only really recently that I’ve been listening to more of him.

This is from his Blue in Blue album, the first thing I ever heard of his:

I can’t find anything from Night Pictures on YouTube but here is one from Towards the Light.

Bloggiesta Day 3

blogiesta

Apart from finishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin yesterday, I had a day of procrastination. At least I finished Uncle Tom though because I’d been reading that for way too long.

So I’m going to do what I planned to do yesterday today. Which is research more memes, look up other blogs and look back on my young blog and assess if I’m doing what I want to do with it and if there is anything more I could be doing.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe

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star1
star1
 star1half star

Genre: American Classic
Published: 1851
Pages: 449

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was first published in 1851 in an abolitionist periodical in response to the second Fugitive Slave act which made it illegal to aide runaway slaves.

It is a very powerful novel and must have been incredibly influential during its day.

Stowe wrote with a furious passion, putting everything she thought and believed into this book. She occasionally diverted off into little rants, at first inventing contrived situations where characters or bits of passing dialogue were used purely to deride the slave trade. Towards the end she dispensed with creating characters and went on to simply lecturing the reader.

If you take the story away from the context and purpose you end up with something that isn’t very well written when you compare it to the likes of Dickens or Austen. The plot is rather loose and floating, feeling rather unplanned and the ending is weak.

From a non-religious perspective also, there was a lot of religious preaching which does not usually bother me, but this was just too much at times. I did not mind the characters when they were praying or talking about the bible, but Stowe fell into giving her own preaching.

However, put it back into context and what you do have is a very strong novel that must have stirred up a few hearts. She appealed to the fact that – you could not possibly be a real Christian, unless you were against slavery. If you owned slaves, traded in them or any way your soul was somehow at risk.

She criticised people who used used religion to justify slavery but she also believed that it is not enough to free slaves out of Christian duty, but you also have no prejudice against them at the same time.

From a modern day, non-religious perspective I found the preaching a lot to get through, but if you put it into the context it would have been appropriate for the audience she was writing for. The book was not written just to tell a story, it’s purpose was more far reaching.

Stowe does not shy away from informing the reader in not so many words, the way slaves were treated. Although for the most part she doesn’t actually show a lot of the brutality and most of the slave owners you meet in the book were the good kind. You heard through stories told by the characters about their histories and experiences.

The characters were all, mostly interesting and I enjoyed much of the dialogue which felt very realistic and natural. None of them were particularly fleshed out apart from Augustine St Clare who became my favourite.

There were two stories – the main being about Uncle Tom, who submitted to being sold down south due to the financial difficulties of his previous kind master. The secondary about Eliza and George who instead of relying on fate, took it into their own hands and fled.

Uncle Tom became a symbol of the strength of your faith in God. In modern times he has become a negative stereotype for giving into white men without a fight. I don’t think this is strictly fair, he did not physically fight against his masters, twice because he did not have to – but he did not give in emotionally or spiritually. Eliza and George played the other half – the slaves who disobeyed to flee to Canada. Although both sides showed that Christianity would in the end free them.

Stowe of course would have met and spoken and heard of such stories first hand and put them into this book. I believe both Eliza and Uncle Tom were based on real people.  So in a way it is hard to try to compare this to other classical novels, it feels much more a piece of propaganda.

I only gave this book three and a half stars because I felt that it did not capture my attention or imagination very well. Situations, conversations and characters felt contrived merely to put her point across. I am however a modern day reader – and I judge it from this perspective. I think it has become dated, but an important book of it’s time.

Bloggiesta Day Two

blogiesta

My accomplishments yesterday counts as so:

I now have a favicon which makes my blog a lot more personal.

I wrote an unpopular review.

I wrote a couple more blog posts for another day.

Today I hope to not fall asleep reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin so I can write a review for that. I plan to research more memes and find more great blogs to follow as well as catching up with the ones I found last week and love.

Right now I’m going to drink some coffee and finish this book!

Friday, 11 June 2010

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

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star1 star1
Genre: Historical
Published: 2005
Pages: 550

You see correctly. I have given everyone’s favourite book a unwholesome two stars. Usually it is awarded five stars and heaps of praise so I thought that I’d redress the balance by saying that actually, I didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s others like me out there. (Hello?)

It’s one of those books that you always seem to get recommended at some point, followed by such rave reviews that claim it’s the best book they have ever read, it made them cry etc etc etc. 
~
Goodreads description:
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . . 


Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. 

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

~

***There will be spoilers***

I cannot say that I ever felt attracted to this book, it never called out to me from the shelves despite it being a world war two young adult novel – something I’d usually be interested in. So it was with great reluctance, I admit, that I read it.

So what, perhaps you all are thinking did I not like about this absolutely fantastic book?

I did not like the weir omnipresentness Death. I felt as if I was being dictated to how to read the book and how to feel for the characters. The idea of Death narrating is admittedly and interesting one, a different view point in on a horrid time in history. I just didn’t like it.

Why should I care for Liesel? Because her brother died? Because she had to say goodbye to her mother? Many brothers died, many people lost their parents so why should I care about this girl? Should I care because she couldn’t read and so desperately wanted to, so much so she took to stealing books?

Why should I care for their hidden jew Max? What made him special or interesting? I found the characters to be very wooden and not fleshed out enough for my taste. I like nitty-gritty realism, I don’t like being told how sorry I should feel for these characters especially when they do not feel real enough for my imagination. 

I think it would have made a better novella rather then a five hundred page tome, that didn’t contain enough to justify so many pages without becoming repetitive.

I didn’t think it showed enough of the effects of the war, nothing that made it more interesting then other books of the genre I have read before. Zusak had a good opportunity to show a different side of world war two, from a German side – but for me he failed because he just didn’t deliver enough he didn’t make it real or take me into those people’s lives.

The ending too, where practically everyone died – just felt so contrived. As if to say, now what else can we do to make everyone feel sorry for Liesel who has lost her parents and brother and will now be left all alone in this world?
 
I dislike the overuse of metaphors and similes – and Zusak uses them practically back to back in this book. However, whilst I did not enjoy this aspect of his writing, I also admired him for it.
I cannot find the direct quote at the moment, I wish I could – but the one time Death actually came and said something out right about the war that wasn’t hidden behind all these metaphors and similes he said “but let’s not get to metaphorical about this” or something to that effect. Very, very clever.  Quite sly, in fact. Can you really trust a narrator who happens to be Death? 

That part really did make me stand back and appreciate this book, even though I just could not connect to it. The language was beautiful, even though I did not like it as a whole. It really made me think that this story, narrated by Death felt like a paper mask – that these characters represented everybody in Germany – every Jew, every ordinary person, every displaced child. 

Some books grip you and some books don’t. Sometimes there is a reason for that, and sometimes there isn’t. As I’ve said before –  between a book and a reader there is an invisible connection on a emotional, psychological or even spiritual level and if that is just not there, then there isn’t much you can do about that.

I gave this book two stars and not one stars because I don’t think it’s a bad book, it was just not for me. I have I am the Messenger to read, which looks very good indeed so I am prepared to give him a second chance

Bloggiesta… Here I am!

bloggiestastart

Today, it officially begins … right now I am writing an unpopular review. Maybe that isn’t the best of ideas for the start of Bloggiesta. Should I expect a mass exodus of followers when they see this review? We will see…

Book Blogger Hop (2)

 cfb meme button

Hoppity Hop!It’s the blogger hop hosted by Crazy for Books!

Well it’s Friday and that means two things. Firstly it means I’m hoping that loads of people are going to be trampling over my blog. Make as much mess as you want, it’s of no worry.

Second thing is that it is also BLOGGIESTA if you don’t know what I’m going on about click here if you do I hope you’re having fun giving that old blog a scrub and whatever else you’ll be doing to it this weekend.

What’s everyone doing/reading this weekend?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Bloggiesta!

blogiesta

It’s Bloggiesta and it is starting tomorrow! Hosted by Maw Books Blog it’s a blogging marathon where I’m going to really look at my blog and work out what to do.

Well, as I’m quite new there isn’t much to clean up but I want to sort out what I want to do and create my big master plan to take over the world and find out exactly: What kind of book blog am I? Where is my voice, do I even have one? What’s my image?

I’m going to come up with some interesting post ideas, write them down, write them out! I’m going to discover new blogs and socialise, get to know what this blogging stuff’s really about.

Try to figure out how to use that paint.net programme and improve my graphic skills. I’ve already been experimenting with my owls.

Finish Uncle Tom’s Cabin and start a new book.

Write reviews. Plan for the future. Stuff.

I’m gonna be all cooped up with my book and my blog and woe betide anyone, or anything that gets in my way!

darker blue chop

Character Connection (2)

character connection

Character Connection is hosted by IntrovertedJen over at The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

Today the spotlight is going to be on Mr Thornton from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

(Note: May contain loose spoilers pertaining to the plot and characters but nothing major…)

North and South is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, written in 1851. Margaret Hale is from the New Forest in the south of England, but after her father leaves the clergy over a matter of conscience they have to move up north, where they come into contact with Mr. John Thornton, a northern cotton trader.

It is set between the hostilities and prejudices between mill workers and mill owners and the divide between the north and the south.

I love all the characters in this book and the little human touches Gaskell gives them. Mr Thornton for a long time, has been my book crush. Mr Darcy, move over!

During the time this book was set, Industrialisation was truly taking form and people like Mr Thornton were becoming some of the richest people in England. The North had many growing industrial towns, such as Manchester, which Gaskell renamed Milton where this book is set.

Yet, due to the British class system there was still the prejudice that tradesmen or other such ‘shoppy’ people are of a lower class – even though they may be richer. It is this reason why Margaret Hale spurns Mr Thornton’s company.

Being a modern day reader, I felt less sympathy and understanding for Margaret then perhaps the readers of the day who might have shared some of her feelings. However saying that, I do still love her character and person.

Mr Thornton is my ideal dream-guy. He his strong minded, opinionated but a quietly thoughtful, kind man. However he is also a hard man who wouldn’t take  nonsense from anyone – especially that of his mill workers.

The working conditions and plight of his workers do not ignite his sympathies. He was not unduly unkind, in comparison to the usual treatment of mill workers perhaps he was quite fair and reasonable. However he saw their complaints and their plight as their own faults and because he had worked hard to get where he was – so could they.

I admire a person who has a clear line of moral beliefs, and a sense of justice and honour which I believe Thornton has. He may not always be right but he does not lie and he does not cheat. He has a strict code and he sticks to it.

He may have pride, but he is not blind to his own faults and throughout the book you see him grow as a person. I also love his passion and his feeling – all that energy bubbling up under that stiffly starched shirt!

This is something I do love about Victorian novels. The sexiness is hidden behind all those layers of clothing – but it’s there it just isn’t overtly being shown. That to me, is so more sexy then any sex scene. Call me a prude I guess – I don’t think I’ve read that many books with steamy sex scenes  - they just take away all the imagination. Like totally nude photo shoots – the sexiness is in the imagination of what lays beneath, once you see everything in all it’s glory it’s done, it’s over there is no point in imagining anything.

Well, you can see where my mind is going in regards to Mr Thornton! You can’t blame me, especially after watching the BBC mini-series starring Richard Armitage as Mr Thornton.

Richard Armitage

He’s a man who has honour, kindness, gentleness, pride and a great depth of feeling. He’s the kind of character where you can feel their pulse in  every scene.

(Or perhaps that is  only my pulse I am feeling?)

If you have read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen you cannot help but see all the similarities between storyline and character. The only difference is that – is Mr Darcy in this book actually represented by Miss Hale? And is Lizzie in fact Mr Thornton?

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