Archive for August, 2013

LTUAETitle: Life, the Universe and Everything

Author: Douglas Adams

Date Finished: 25/08/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

From listening many times to the radio series of HHGTTG, I already knew that this was my least favourite instalment of the five series, however I still gave it a good 4/5!  That just shows how great these books/radio programmes are!  Thoroughly recommended although you should definitely read books 1 + 2 first to fully appreciate the humour and recognise the characters.

The plot in this book is very good and made more sense to me as I read it, rather than listening to it late at night on audiobook.  The ‘Kikkit’ idea is very clever and extremely funny at times too!  I also like the way Adams manages to weave in old characters and at least slightly tries to make it a little bit plausible!  The amazing thing about this book and the whole series in general is the width and depth of Adams’ different ideas!

The characters are up to scratch here, especially Arthur, Ford and Slartibartfast who we follow for most of the book.  Despite this being my least favourite instalment overall, series 3 does include my favourite scene of the whole ‘trilogy’.  It is when Marvin is trapped in a mattress swamp and begins talking to the mattresses who live there.  It is hysterically funny and very well acted out on the radio but also made me laugh out loud when reading too.

As always, Adams’ writing and inimitable style is a pleasure to read and I am sure it won’t be very long before I get to books 4 and 5!  I am really looking forward to Arthur’s sandwich making escapades and meeting Fenchurch again.  I seriously recommend the whole HHGTTG series to absolutely everyone!

The Classics Club Spin #3

The Classics Club Spin

It’s that time again where we all list 20 books on our blog and a random number is chosen and we have to read the corresponding book over the next couple of months.  Last time, I read Rebecca which I really enjoyed, so hopefully this time I will be just as impressed by whichever book comes up!

Here is my list:

5 books I am really looking forward to:
1. Othello – William Shakespeare
2. Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare
4. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
5. The Cranford Chronicles – Elizabeth Gaskell

5 books on my TBR shelf:
6. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
7. Suite Francaise – Irène Némirovsky
8. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
9. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
10. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

5 books I don’t own yet:
11. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
12. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
13. If This is a Man – Primo Levi
14. Night – Elie Wiesel
15. Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

5 books I am slightly (!) apprehensive about:
16. Dombey and Son – Charles Dickens
17. Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
18. A Chocolate Orange – Anthony Burgess
19. Middlemarch – George Eliot
20. Atonement – Ian McEwan


Title: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Date Finished: 09/08/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

Well, I have taken my time to get round to reading the epic Lord of The Rings series but after all these years I finally picked up The Fellowship of the Ring whilst on holiday in Corsica.  Wow.  I was not prepared for it to be so utterly brilliant!  I knew I would love it, as I had loved The Hobbit in January but I didn’t realise quite how much I would love it!  Tolkien’s writing is so great, I don’t think I can fault a single area of the book.

People have often said that The Lord of The Rings is the ‘best story ever told’ and I agree that it is one of the best I have ever read (so far).  The way Tolkien manages to write an epic that is still easy to relate to and not over confusing is really special and definitely not very common.  The plot is probably what made me turn the pages most, even though half of me was saying ‘slow down and savour each moment!’  The twists and turns are very well done and manage to balance perfectly between not being too ridiculous or too predictable.  I cannot wait to see what happens next!

The characters are totally iconic in modern day life: everyone knows the names Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas etc and it was really enjoyable for me to put personalities to these vague faces I could dimly picture from trailers/TV.  The way each character develops throughout this first book is akin to a great Dickensian classic, especially the way Sam has gone from a faithful gardener to brave and loyal adventurer!  It is going to be amazing to see what happens to everyone as the story continues – surely Gandalf can’t really be gone?!  Also, I can’t wait to finally watch the films too to see how everything is presented on screen…although not until I have finished the books of course!

Middle Earth is a well-known setting but it is still very detailed and intricate, especially to those who are unfamiliar with Tolkien’s universe.  Therefore, the inclusion of maps at the end of the book is really helpful, particularly if you are like me and like to follow a journey on a page and picture the route.  The detail with which Tolkien has created this world is just beyond incredible and you end up believing absolutely everything you read!

I think the main (?) reason why we all adore The Lord of The Rings so much, is that Tolkien’s enormous love and enthusiasm for all things in Middle Earth is plainly obvious throughout the entire epic; it permeates through every myth, legend, song and story that form the background and history of his unique world and you can’t help but share it too!  Bring on The Two Towers.

P.S I have put that this counts towards The Classics Club, but I put LOTR as one entry, so I guess it only counts as a third of a classic? :L

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

the helpTitle: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Date Finished: 31/07/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

I picked this book up in a charity shop last year just by chance, as the cover looked good and I thought I’d heard some good things about it!  I definitely had!  This novel is truly amazing and I am so glad I took it with me on holiday, as I couldn’t put it down and I actually had time to read as much as I wanted.

The setting is Jackson, Mississippi in the 60s and the three protagonists are Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeeter.  Aibileen and Minny and black and work as maids for white people, one of whom is Miss Skeeter.  Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the maids and as the book progresses, the three form the unlikeliest alliance as each of their lives goes up and down.

The plot is truly fantastic and is 100% unpredictable – you have no idea what is going to happen next!  This is probably what kept me turning the pages the most.  Obviously books like this inevitably have sad parts that really affect you emotionally and also make you question: ‘since I’m white, would I have behaved like that if I lived there?’  I hope I could answer ‘no’!  Stockett has been very careful and thoughtful, as there are no loose ends – everything is resolved in one way or another and the plots and subplots all weave together completely coherently.

The characters are also a 5/5 in this novel – aside from Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter, there is Hilly, Elizabeth, Constantine and so many others who all have big roles and big personalities to match!  The whole story of Miss Celia is so totally weird and unexpected, I don’t think I have ever been so surprised when we found out what was going on!

The setting obviously reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird and some of the themes overlap slightly, but this is definitely not a spin off or copy!  It takes a completely different attitude and perspective on the racial inequality in 60s USA.  TKAMB focuses on the innocence of children and general prejudice to show how wrong the racism is whereas The Help is more like TKAMB from the viewpoint of Calpurnia and her colleages!  There is less imagery and hinting in The Help of what happens behind closed doors than in TKAMB: in The Help we actually are behind closed doors with the maids and their employers.

As you can no doubt tell, I adored this book and I am going to recommend it to everyone who comes my way!  It is perfect for you if you loved TKAMB like me, but also perfect if you didn’t as it deals with everything so differently!  So basically, it is perfect for everyone…go out and buy it now!