Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Book Review - Girl In The Dark - Anna Lyndsey

“My dreams are crowded with people, as though to compensate for the solitariness of my waking hours

Anna is a normal, hardworking woman, who suddenly starts to feel burning pain whenever light touches her face. The condition gets gradually worse until she has to resolve herself to the confines of her room, where the windows, and even the gap under the door, is blacked out. Unable to sit by computers, or have a light on to even read a book, Anna is stuck in the dark, listening to her radio, or sleeping the hours of her black life away.

Though a sad story, Anna writes this in a way that doesn't make you feel sorry for her. She finds the humour in her situation. She writes with hope, something I definitely wouldn't be able to find if I were in her situation.

I think anyone suffering from either depression, anxiety or a chronic illness, anything that causes people to stay in their houses, in their beds, for the most part of the day, if you are a sufferer I believe you would be able to identify with this book. You don't burn with pain when the light touches your skin, but you are consumed by the darkness in your mind - and though that isn't the point of the book, I think the idea is definitely in there.

Again, this is another easy read, it's only short and it isn't full of words and paragraphs that are hard to follow. I don't think I've ever read a memoir before, always thinking they would be sappy or narcissistic, but I can say that this book isn't that. However, having said that I don't think I would make reading this style of book a regular occurrence. Yes, I enjoyed it, but I need more of a plot to my books, I need something I can get hooked on.

Overall I think I would give this book a 4/5. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, nor to give it such a high rating, but its hard not to be enamored with Anna's hope, and her humour, in a situation I would personally find all consuming.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Book Review - Harry Potter And The Cursed Child - J.K Rowling

“It's tough to live with people stuck in the past”

Perhaps I should call this a script review instead of a book review, but the story throughout is still strong, and I felt it would be silly of me not to tell you my thoughts on this. 

As I probably won't be able to see the play for a long longgggg time, seeing this book in my local bookstore I grabbed it without even a second thought. I am a Potterhead no doubt - though I lean more towards the books than the films - so of course I had to have this within my possession. I read this within a day, easily, which I think most people will as, being a script, it is mostly dialogue and doesn't go into depth like a novel would. I am so happy to be back reading about Hogwarts, it has been far too long.

Harry Potter and the Curse Child follows not Harry, but his son Albus and his friend Scorpius Malfoy. Albus and Harry don't get a long, Albus despises his father's fame and the implications that has on him at school, Harry just doesn't know how to reach out to his son and grow a bond between them. With growing differences of opinion, and Albus' longing to be someone other than his father's son, Albus and Scorpius take the past into their own hands, and the events that follows play out in the script.

Firstly, this isn't a children's novel, which you can argue the original Harry Potter's were, it would be silly to be written in the same way when the majority of the fans of the books have grown up alongside Harry and his friends. Instead this is a story about friendship and character, and I really enjoyed it. Some of the descriptions of spells within the script really make me want to see the play just to see how they will pull them off, I don't think knowing the story beforehand would ruin it in anyway - it didn't for the films!

My one complaint, which is a small complaint, is that I didn't like how Ron was written... he just didn't seem like the Ron I grew up loving, instead he seemed to have been dumbed down into comic relief. However, as the majority of the story follows the children of the trio it isn't big enough to ruin the story for me.

The story is pretty obvious, there aren't any major twists or surprises, but the events are great all the same.  

I would definitely recommend this script to anyone who loves the originals, I know it has been getting bad reviews from some fans from how it differs, but you have to remember that the characters have grown up like we have, and to see and feel the magic you need more than dialogue and to, perhaps, be sitting in the audience of the play. It isn't a novel, so don't expect it to be. I rate this 4.5/5 - my highest rating yet? I adored it, and the feeling of Nostalgia for the past me reading the books.

Have any of you read the script? Perhaps you've already seen the play? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below. 


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Book Review - The Man Without A Shadow - Joyce Carol Oates

“Laughter too depends upon memory—a memory of previous laughter.” 

The Man Without A Shadow follows Margot Sharpe, a neuroscientist studying Elihu Hoopes, an amnesia patient who can only retain new information for 70 seconds. Hoopes' deep loneliness, and secret childhood trauma, draws Margot in. He becomes much more to her than a subject of study.

I'm going to be blunt. I hated this book. When I picked it up and read the blurb I thought it would be something totally different, I thought we would delve into the mystery of Eli's recurring dreams of a young girl's dead body floating in a lake. I thought that would be the main plot at least; I was wrong.

The Man Without a Shadow is about a deluded but very smart woman, Margot Sharpe, who falls in love with both her boss and then Eli Hoopes. The book is written primarily from her point of view, and because I couldn't get over the fact that she was a moron I couldn't connect with her, and therefore the story. 

I can't say I am a big fan for romance novels as it is, I think they need to be secondary to the plot and not the whole thing, but when one of the duo in love is completely deluded about the 'romance' then I really can't get on board. This is a woman who has studied the brain and amnesia her whole life, and knows that Eli cannot retain any memory after his trauma that passes 70 seconds. She knows this, but still lets her deep loneliness let her believe that he does know her, and does love her. She makes him believe that they are married, she convinces herself that, although she is in her 50s at this point, she is pregnant with his child. I couldn't even feel sorry for her, because unlike Eli her loneliness is self-inflicted. She puts all her time into work, neglecting her deathly ill mother, and believing she is too much better than her colleagues to make friends. To me this wasn't a tragic love story, but a story of a woman who, though says she thinks being female makes her weaker, falls into the same trope of obsessive love. 

I found it a real chore to finish this book, but I promised myself I would. Oates' writing is also really hard to get on board with, she has a style that often repeats exact phrases that have been said not that long before. At first I thought perhaps this was to make us understand what it would be like working with a patient of severe amnesia, but after a while the effect just annoyed me.

I didn't enjoy this book, and therefore only give it 1/5. I know there would be some out there that would enjoy this tragic love story, but sadly I can't say that I am one of them.

Have you read the man without a shadow? What did you think? Was it a tragic love story, or a book about an idiot? Let me know in your comments below. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Looking Back To Mexico

With our holiday to Cape Verde only a month away, I found myself looking through pictures from my last holiday, nearly two years ago now, to Mexico, and I wanted to share some of my favourite memories of that trip with you.

The Hotel we stayed in - Occidental Grand Xcaret - was amazing. Though it was my first holiday without my parents, I can say that from all the places I have visited in my fortunate childhood, this was my favourite. I think it was even featured on the X Factor at some point... if that makes you think better of it I don't know. 

Its a standalone resort pretty much in the middle of the jungle, which they bring inside of the hotel, so you feel like you are wandering nature when you're walking from your room to the buffet. We spotted deer, flamingos, parrots, iguanas and more just wandering around the base. 

And if that isn't good enough, we had free unlimited access to the nature park next door, here they had dolphins, sharks and many more marine creatures, plus jaguars and monkeys. This was the only area that had access to wifi, so we visit a lot when we wanted to catch up with family and friends, plus with activities such as swimming with sharks/dolphins and cave swimming we had a lot to do just next door to our hotel. 

The resort had a huge amount of pools to choose from, the above being our favourite due to the in pool bar which we sat at for most of our days. 

We also decided to go on an excursion, which included not only jumping into sinkholes but a visit to Chichen Itza a huge Mayan ruin. The whole tour was great and we learnt a lot about ancient Mayan activities - I would recommend to anyone who visits Mexico.

This year we're taking a gopro with us. It was a little frustrating to have so many water activities in Mexico that we were unable to capture memories with due to cameras. Plus as Ben has volunteered to wear the camera, we can easily turn it on and explore the island without having to put our face behind a lens. Hopefully I should have some great photos and videos to show you soon!


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Book Review - Finders Keepers - Stephen King

“Shit don't mean shit” 

Though I haven't read many of his books, I am a big fan of Stephen King. His On Writing really inspired me, and I really think anyone who wants to write, no matter what it is you write, should read it. Finders Keepers is the first crime thriller I have read by him, and as you know a crime thriller, thought more a crime mystery, is one of my favourite genres.

Finders Keepers starts with the murder of  John Rothstein, author of three best selling novels on Jimmy Gold. Being labelled a sell out due to his last book of the trilogy, John Rothstein confined himself to a solitary life, secretly writing pages and pages of new material in journals kept in a safe along with thousands of dollars of cash. 

The story then follows both the murderer, a man obsessed with Rothstein with a drinking problem, and Pete Saubers, a young boy who's family are on the verge of a split, who then finds a mysterious trunk of money and journals years later. 

Its not a crime mystery, from the outset you know what is going to happen, but its Stephen King, you know its going to be a good story no matter what. 

What I like most about Stephen King's writing, is how he writes characters. You're in their heads all the time, and that has a way of making you root for them, even if they are a murderer. You find yourself thinking 'yeah get that arsehole' even when it is the person themselves who deserve comeuppance. 

The story itself is so-so, though I wouldn't compare it to Misery like a lot of people are prone to do - including me from reading the blurb. Yes it is about an individual obsessed with an author, but this is a crime thriller that focuses on the after effects of what choices you make instead of the obsession. Perhaps its my darker mind, but I do prefer the Misery style. 

Overall, I think I would give this book a 4/5. It wasn't perfect, but I did enjoy it, I really got invested in the characters and was hooked the whole way up till the end.

Have you read Finders Keepers? Or perhaps you've read some other Stephen King books? Let me know what you think about them in the comments below!
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