Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The TV Book Club

I saw this on TV for the first time a few weeks ago by pure accident and I have to say, I was bored stiff!! The presenters seemed as about excited as dead dogs when introducing the programme and only became slightly more animated when talking about the books they were reviewing. Maybe they figure books are a serious subject, but where was the enthusiasm, the love, the awesomeness associated with a good book?
I decided to give the programme the benefit of the doubt and tuned in the next week. I lasted as far as the first break. Maybe its just me, but when I talk about books I can't help but get excited and animated, even when its a bad book! 
So if anyone out there knows of a good programme about books, please let me know. Otherwise I'll just have to stick with the amazing blogs out there! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Philopsopher's Stone

I first read this in 2001. The film was literally days away from release and I thought I should really try and read the book first. Also, I thought it was probably time I had gotten on the bandwagon as people everywhere were talking non-stop about Harry Potter and about how amazing the book was.
I didn't finish the book before I saw the film. In fact (and I can barely believe this now but...) I wasn't really all that enamoured with the book. I didn't get the hype. I didn't rush to absorb every page, it was only because I always finish a book that I made the effort to do so. 
I've now re-read this book at least 10 times and I suspect will continue to do so for the rest of my life. So what changed you ask? Well, book 2 changed it all for me. But more on that when I review book 2!
As most of you probably already know, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the story of an orphaned boy taken in by his horrid aunt and uncle. On his 11th birthday he discovers that he is a wizard and not only that, he is famous throughout the entire wizarding world as the boy who lived - an evil wizard killed his parents and tried to kill Harry, but for some reason, Harry is the only person ever to have survived. And so it begins, an adventure that lasts 7 books and that will no doubt last our own lifetimes as we relive it over and over again.
Harry starts school and soon begins to learn the story relating to his parents death and all that goes with the evil wizard Voldemort. Meanwhile, Voldemort, who has never been seen or heard of since the night he killed Harry's parents, is scheming his return, a plan that ultimately sees Harry and his new friends enter battle with the darkest of forces.
While this is a book aimed at children, I confess I absolutely loved it (although as mentioned already, the love took a while to appear)! I think children appreciate the amazing wizarding world while adults appreciate JK Rowling's masterful writing. The book is a literary delight, a treat for the imagination and the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Harry and his friends and teachers and the wizarding world. I still don't think its the best book of the bunch, but as a whole series, it plays its part perfectly.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: JK Rowling leads us on a rollercoaster of a journey filled with lots of details and pictures which truly open up the magical world she has envisaged. The way she has linked all the books together in my mind is mindboggling! There are so many details in each book that fit together in the end, but along the way you don't appreciate them - definitely a smart way to pull the reader in and ensure you re-read her books. I liked that I read these alongside the films, because although the films are nowhere near as good, they help a lot with the imagery and the formation of the characters and in the end you feel a part of it all. A writer's dream surely.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Book Bug List - book of the moment

Soon to be released as a major motion picture, I'd fully recommend getting in there first and reading this awesome book. This is the first book I've read in a long time where I literally couldn't put it down. My mother, who never reads books, eventually listened to my pleas that she should read this one, and when she finally picked it up, well, she couldn't put it down either!!
Set in the early 1960s, this tells the tale of a white woman and her interest in the black slaves in the community she lived in. My favourite character was Minnie, a no nonsense, straight talking woman, who harbours a secret for much of the book. When it is revealed it is more horrific than I could have imagine and more hilarious that it probably should be!
An educating, thrilling, funny, heartbreaking read; don't miss out! Grab a copy quick!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Normally I'm not really a fan of true stories or autobiographies for that matter, but when my neighbour handed this book to my mother and I spotted it lying around, well, it was a book...of course I had to read it!
This is the tragic, yet ultimately triumphant, story of Constance Briscoe who as a young girl is completely abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself. She is literally left all by herself.
Physically and verbally abused by her mother, a young Constance tried to have herself taken into care by Social Services. They refused. Nor did they ever follow up her request as to why it was made. At the tender age of thirteen, her mother walked out on her, leaving her to fend for herself. Constance had to make her own food, wash her own clothes, get herself out to school and eventually even get a job to be able to support herself once her mother stopped giving her money.
Despite her constant struggles with life, depression and the beatings she encountered from both her mother and her stepfather, Constance eventually finds some solace with a school teacher, Miss K, who takes her in and looks after her. Unfortunately this does not end well when the teacher suffers an accident and Constance is left alone again. Her time however with Miss K, gave her the motivation and courage to succeed. Dogged determination, an iron will and sheer hard work sees Constance study and pass her A-levels and she eventually manages to get to Newcastle University, despite her mother's attempts to thwart this.
I won't spoil the ending, except to say its a good one, sufficiently so for the author to pen a second book, Beyond Ugly, which is definitely on my reading book.
It is difficult to believe that in the UK such acts can occur. I know I certainly could not have endured what she endured, but then I guess she really knew no different to a degree and I can only imagine what a beautiful person she has become.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: Constance tells the story in an almost matter of fact way. She doesn't come across as begging for sympathy, she just tells it like it was, but her ultimate triumph is all the glory she deserves and more. She may not seem to want our sympathies but she certainly gains our utmost and most deserving admiration.