Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Books - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

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Length: 346 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Author: Jonathan Swift
Publisher: The Penguin English Library

Wow. This book was my Everest! For a 346 page book it was The Never Ending Story without the cute creatures!


But don't let me put you off, because I really enjoyed the story.

This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time, but as soon as a brand new shiny book comes out I obviously forget all about the Classics. Terrible I know. When I was about 16 (so 10 years ago!) I wrote out the BBCs Big Read list, because I'd decided that I was going to read them all! I've Googled it just now and they all seem to have 100 books, but for some reason I've got 200, because I apparently am a slave driver. Anyway, Gulliver's Travels was obviously on there as it is a Classic. I never read it in school (so I didn't hate it).

When I went to visit my Mum down in Devon, I found a really old paperback copy in one of the charity shops and told myself that I had to read it as I now had a copy! So I started reading it in April...

I got 100 pages in and stopped, because oh my gosh what is this dude going on about! All he does is tell me measurements! I GET IT! They're small! That was Part 1.

I'd been watching Chboskyy on Youtube (you should go check her out, she's cool). Anyway, she was reading War and Peace as read-a-long and they were doing it by reading 6 chapters per day. Well this gave me an idea, since I wasn't getting anywhere fast, I told myself I will read 50 pages per day. Doable right? No. I managed this on 1 day! I kid you not I had to spend all weekend trying to read this. But that actually worked out well, because I actually enjoyed the story once I'd become immersed in the world.

The Actual Book

Gulliver's Travels, is split into 4 parts. Each part contains an adventure where Gulliver ends up stumbling into some new part of the world no one has discovered yet. 

Personally I felt that each part got more and more insane. With every adventure, Gulliver gets more and more intolerant of the human race. Which I enjoyed. 

This book was published in 1726. That's 291 years ago! What I'm trying to say is, I think I may have missed a few things that Swift was trying to get across. I absolutely wouldn't have understood 90% of this story without the appendix at the back. 

What does come across for me is Swift's intelligence. He was clearly very politically minded and very aware of what was going on at the time. He regularly makes reference to various trails and academic studies. And he had very strong opinions on them all. All of this is portrayed through Gulliver's character.

I definitely get the feeling that the entire work is a sarcastic answer to what he wanted to say to the world. The letters at the beginning of the story bring across a certain mockery of travel writings.  

Personally for me, I wasn't a massive fan of Gulliver as a character. He seemed a bit too much of a goody-two-shoes and it felt like he was regularly fishing for compliments. This definitely came across at the end of the story when he wont even allow his family to be in the same room as him, because of his new found superiority complex. Yes, I know he's been through quite an ordeal, but after everything his poor family has been through (they probably thought he was dead at some point during all 4 parts). And maybe this is part of the mockery of travelers of the time coming back from their various trips feeling that they were superior, but I just didn't like the guy OK?

I did however enjoy the book. I think that I struggled a bit more, due to the fact that my version is so old. I could have used a few extra explanations. (Sometimes the appendix needed an appendix!) I also found myself wanting to Google some of the trials he was making reference to. But overall I really liked the idea of these crazy places around the world that no one had yet discovered. I also enjoyed the fact that Gulliver had to be the most unfortunate Sailor, with the most skill.

It says 70p! I have no idea when my version was published, but it smells amazing!

Mr J Swift himself.

I'd love to know if you've read Gulliver's Travels and what your thoughts on it were? Next I'll be reading Aaru by David Meredith, why not join me?

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Sunday, 6 August 2017

Books - All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher

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Genre: Fiction
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Format: Kindle
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

For me this book is very reminiscent of Inside Out, the 2015 Disney Pixar movie. Our protagonist, Cherry Redgrave, can see feelings or "Medlums" as they are referred to in the book. She uses this ability to help others, as she discovers early on that she doesn't only see other people's feelings, but she can affect them as well. 

Cherry herself is a very sweet character. She has a history marred with sad events that have left her dealing with panic attacks and a very different view of the world (she only wears pajamas)! Which I would love to do. Life would be so much better if I could go to work in PJ's and slippers (as long as it not raining)! But I digress...

It's through these events that she learns she can help others and that becomes her escape/her new purpose in life. I love the idea of being able to pour feelings into your baking. It brings a whole new meaning to "made with love"! 

We start out following Cherry going around helping to fix other peoples problems and in fixing those problems we are brought quite the twist! It quickly turns from the sweet idealistic world of "feeling down, have some cake" to a very dark and scary 1984 style world, where Big Brother is watching! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. It took this novel from a sweet YA romance story to something much darker. I did not see it coming.

While I think this was  brilliant story, there was a moment that didn't make sense to me. A character who shouldn't have been able to see Cherry's Medlum, looks at it and comments on the fact that she's had that particular Medlum since they were young. I don't want to say the character's name, but you know it if you've read it. This however, is only minor and it doesn't effect the story line, it's just a moment between the two characters.

There was also a character that was supposed to be very unemotional, but she comes across as quite nasty and sarcastic at times, which didn't seem to fit. 

The overall theme for the book is "You can't appreciate the good, without having to deal with the bad." For me, this is something that helps me get through tougher moments in life. I always think it makes for a good moral basis to a story.

Carrie Hope Fletcher is fast becoming one of my favourite Authors. I love the way she melds the mundane and the magical. It creates a perfect world to escape to!

This book, a lot like her last, has a warmth to it that lets Carrie's enjoyment of writing shine through. It just makes it that much more difficult to put down. I can't help but think that it's her obsession with Disney that has helped her develop such a brilliant way of story telling.

I for one, can not wait for Carrie's next novel. I wonder where she'll take us next!

If you've read this book, I'd love to know what you think, so please leave a comment below. I'll be reading Gulliver's Travels next, why not join me? 
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    Friday, 4 August 2017

    August TBR 2017

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    Last month was very poor on the reading front, so I thought I'd share an August TBR, to give me something to aim for.

    Week 1 - All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher

    Week 2 - Gulliver's Travels by Johnathan Swift

    Week 3 - Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

    Week 4 - Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

    Now let's see if I can stick to it. Odds are another shiny new book will pass under my nose and I will be forced to switch out one of the previously stated books by my severe lack of will power. 

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    Wednesday, 2 August 2017

    July Wrap Up 2017

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    July has been a busy month for me Life wise, but slow blog wise. I've done some amazing things this month, but I'm looking forward to a more chilled August!

    Tim has been away for most of this month, so I've been a bit down, but hopefully he'll be back next week (for a while at least)!


      7th - 9th


    The first weekend had me at Cornbury festival! The most middle class of all festivals and I love it! I showered and the toilets were regularly cleaned, it's all I could have asked for and more! We usually only go for a day, but this year was both wonderful and sad at the same time... it was the last one! So they said goodbye in style with an epic line up! Some of my highlights were:
    • The amazing Pierce Brothers, their energy and genuine pleasure at being on stage doing what they love is always obvious and very infectious! Let alone their sheer talent! At one point between the 2 of them, they were playing 4 instruments! (Guitar, Didgeridoo, Harmonica and a Bass Drum!) I had the pleasure of seeing them perform for what I think was the first time at Cornbury last year. They were on stage at 2pm and by the end they had drawn a huge crowd which is quite the achievement! So to see them again after just one year with an even bigger crowd already anticipating their set and knowing the lyrics and screaming out songs was an absolute pleasure to witness! They were also an amazing lead into my next highlight...
    • Scouting For Girls. I mean need I say more? These guys were just one massive party! I'm gutted that they weren't on for a longer set. We were meant to leave this stage early to go and get a good place to see Bryan Adams, but needless to say we couldn't leave. They were just too good!
    • Bryan Adams - aside for the carnage that was the Hunger Games style* run from the smaller stage to the Main Stage, this was epic. We stood at the back on a hill with a clear line of sight to the stage, whilst drinking tea and eating a curry. We were singing and dancing like no one was watching (we were quite far back so no one else was this energetic) with loads of room and enjoying the fact that everyone around us just probably thought we were drunk. Or at least I hope they did! There is no better way to spend a Saturday night.
    • After this my Auntie fell off a hammock**. I've never laughed so hard in my life!
    Sunday was a fun day of food, shopping, more food and music. I'm a bit miffed that they had Bryan Adams on the Saturday and Jools Holland to finish the whole weekend on the Sunday. His set was the usual average, which I'm sure would have been fine had he had some decent guests, but the "special guests" he was advertised as having were 2 people that were already part of his band*** and someone he sings with ALL THE TIME. So much that we guessed who it would be before he even came on. So overall not impressed with Sunday at all. The only person worth watching was Imelda May (who I'd never heard of, but was an epic Rock Chick through and through!) 

    A couple of other acts worth mentioning were Laura Oakes, who had brilliant stage presence and was very easy to listen to! Also she was sporting an excellent sparkly playsuit and an absolutely gorgeous pair of boots that given half the opportunity, I would steal from her, I'm not going to lie.
    The other was Police Dog Hogan, who made me want to grab my instrument and join in! Again great stage presence and had the ability to go from fun silly songs, to powerful ballad and back again. Wonderful folk group. I actually bought one of their CDs and got it signed! They make me want to start my own folk group!



    15th - 16th

    The following weekend had me down South again! I was near Honiton for a Pedal Paddle expo and my goodness was it fun! Very hard work though! Pedal Paddles are clearly designed for leisurely travel, not the endurance run we were on! Great work out though! Highly recommend this if any of you enjoy a bit of water sports and want to try something different! Or even if you don't like water sports! I am not the sporty kind at all and other than my feet getting on and off the Pedal Paddle I didn't get wet all!




    22nd - 23rd

    This weekend had me in Newark getting my hair done (Yes I travel for my hair dressers! Once you find a good one ladies, you never let go! I've been burned before!) It was also my Step-Dad's, Step-Dad's**** birthday on the Sunday, so we celebrated with a family BBQ, which was lovely as I rarely get to see that side of the family!

    29th - 31st

    And last but not least, it was Tim's birthday! Plus as an added bonus my brother-in-law and his wife (Will and Naomi) were up with their little girl, who live in Cardiff, so again we don't get to see them as often as we'd like!

    Overall I've loved this month, but I'm looking forward to a bit of a slower month and spending less time in my car! I'd love to know if you've been up to anything unusual, or even usual, in the comments below!

    TTFN! xxx

    *I swear children were being knocked out of the way. It was insane! And a tad scary and I'm fully grown with no tiny people to look after! 
    **She was fine, just a bruised shoulder.
    ***So... not guests.
    ****I'll let you work that one out!

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    Tuesday, 1 August 2017

    Books - Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

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    Genre:   Fiction
    Author:  Louise Pentland
    Format: Kindle

    Publisher: Zaffre Publishing

    For those of you who might not know, Louise Pentland is a Youtuber. She very easy to watch and very funny (even my husband enjoys her videos!). It's on on her channel that I first discovered she was writing a book and naturally it was immediately added to my TBR! 

    Obviously there are certain stigmas that are attached to Youtubers writing books, but from the first chapter I knew that this wasn't the case with Wilde Like Me. I was hooked immediately. The main character "Robin Wilde" is very relatable, whether you're a single parent or not. A lot of us have been through dark periods and "The Emptiness" as Louise refers to it, is something we are probably all familiar with in varying degrees. 

    What I love about this story is that it is filled with such strong female characters. Everyone has a deep back story and that really helps to shape the characters. One of the important points this book makes for me is that everyone needs a supports system. It's OK to lean on people sometimes. Yes you can pull yourself up to move onward and upward, but a little helping hand goes a long way. 

    But sometimes Louise's character building is a little too good. I've not genuinely hated someone like that for a long time. I found myself putting the book down in anger to go and make myself a cup of tea a few times. I think I got a bit too involved! I won't say who it was, if you've read the book, then I'm sure you'll know. 

    The progression of the story was excellent, Robin Wilde goes from strength to strength in such a gradual way I felt like a proud mother by the end!

    But the one thing that I can't believe, is that this is a first novel. I fell in love with this book as quickly and as hard as I do with any Sophie Kinsella book. If Louise could carry on with Robin Wilde's story in a Shopaholic type series then I am in a bookworms heaven!  

    Here's to the sequel! 

    If you've read Wilde Like Me, I'd love to know what you thought, so please leave a comment below! The next book I'm going to be reading is All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher, why not join me?
    Happy reading! xxx

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    Tuesday, 11 July 2017

    Books - My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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    Genre:   Fiction
    Author:  Sophie Kinsella
    Format: Kindle

    I'm on quite the Sophie Kinsella binge and I am loving it!

    My Not So Perfect Life is the story of Katie Brenner, a talented woman who has dreamed of living and working in London all of her life and she is on the path when her boss (who can't even get her name right) carelessly rips it all out from under her feet! When she crosses paths with her boss again, Katie has to decide whether or not she wants to get even or be the bigger person.

    It's safe to say that I know what I would do and Katie does not disappoint! Sophie Kinsella has painted such a real picture in this book. I've been in Katie's shoes, I've lived that budget and it is not fun! 

     I was crying with laughter by the second page and it didn't let up. I love this book so much, I can just tell that this is going to be one that I go back to time and time again.

    This story is so true to life. The characters are so believable and complex. This is why I found them all so relatable. I can't write as much about this book as I'd like to without ruining the story. The character development is what makes this book and this is something that I think Sophie Kinsella really excels at.

    The turn of evens are brilliant and I think it's something we've all thought about at least once or twice! This book had a scene in it that I thought was a lot saucier than Sophie Kinsella would usually go and I for one thought it worked very well!

    Kinsella makes a very real and important point. We all put a persona out their, whether it's via social media or just on a day to day basis when we are with others. How many of us can say that we are comfortable enough in ourselves to be truly vulnerable in front of others and to let it show that we don't have everything together? 

    I feel like Sophie Kinella is a modern day Jane Austin, in that all the heroins get what they want in the end. This book was such a cosy read and I can't recommend it highly enough. 

    As per usual with a Kinsella book, it was very addictive and easy to read. I read this too fast and now I'm all up to date with her books! I suppose I will just have to make a start on her Madeleine Wickham novels! If you have any recommendations on which one to read first, let me know in the comments! I'd also love to know if you've read My Not So Perfect Life and what you thought.

    Happy reading! xxx 

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    Friday, 7 July 2017

    Books - Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

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    Genre:   YA, Fiction
    Author:  Sophie Kinsella
    Format: Kindle

    Finding Audrey is about a young girl who has been bullied so badly that she is now practically a prisoner in her own home. She is struggling with depression and anxiety and is desperately trying to get back to the way things were. Along the way, she happens to meet a boy who wants to help guide her.

    Sophie Kinsella has a gorgeous writing style. I always get so involved with the character and her world and Finding Audrey was no exception. I just couldn't put this book down. I finished reading it at 2.30am and only then could I go to sleep! Luckily, this book is a bit shorter than her usual novels.

    I can't believe that this is only Kinsella's first venture into writing YA fiction, it seems such an obvious match. I really hope that she'll be bringing out more.

    There were some heavy topics brought into the lime light throughout this story, but Kinsella managed to talk about them in such a heartfelt way. By the end of the first chapter I felt a very connected to the character, by the middle I felt very protective in a big sisterly way and by the end I knew she'd be fine all by herself.

    The introduction to the family was hysterical! I found Audrey's realisation that her situation affects the people around her just as much as it affects her was beautifully done. The description of her body language throughout the book was a nice touch. But what I liked most was that we never find out what happened to her. At the beginning, I was desperate to know what had happened, even half way through I just had to know! But it wasn't until the next day that I realised we never actually find out and I think that is down to the pure finesse of Kinsella's storytelling. It makes the point that Audrey's Councilor is trying to make - don't dwell on the past. I think this works so well.

    Overall this is a beautiful story. Everyone has been bullied or suffers from anxiety to some extent. Maybe not to this extreme, but the morals still stand.

    Let me know if you've read this book and what you thought in the comments below!

    Happy reading! xxx  

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