Archive for January, 2014

TheTwoTowersTitle: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Date Finished: 26/01/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

I finished The Fellowship of the Ring back in August and I have waited impatiently for The Two Towers to come to the top of my TBR pile ever since.  It did not disappoint.  Although I felt like I didn’t fly through this volume as quickly as the first book, I can’t tell whether that’s just the difference between reading on holiday (book 1) and reading at home during busy term time (this book).

The plot is again, of course, brilliant and I really liked the way Tolkien kept it twisting and turning without it all becoming too silly.  He gets the balance right.  I didn’t have any idea what was going to happen next and that’s such a brilliant feeling when you’re reading a book, especially one as action-packed as this.  I will avoid spoilers so I won’t mention which parts completely shocked me…I can reveal however that I absolutely can’t wait to watch the film!  And with my sister ill with flu at the moment, I’m sure we will find time to watch it together very soon!

The characters are just as great as in the first book…probably because they are by and large the same people!  I loved the introduction of the Ents – I’d heard of elves and hobbits and orcs before I read the first book but I’d never heard of Ents before so that was really interesting to read about.  I was also surprised by how much Gollum features in this book; his story is quite unique really.  I feel like all the characters have a lot of unfinished business at the moment, so I really can’t wait to find out what they all do next in The Return of the King.

The setting and language and songs and stories and history of Middle Earth are second to none – the inclusion of maps at the end of the book is perfect and everything is crafted so thoughtfully and meticulously – I expect to read all of Tolkien’s works after I have finished LOTR – I am sure I will never have enough of Middle Earth!

I recommend The Hobbit first for anyone who fancies reading some of Tolkien’s work and I really can’t wait to read book three of the series.  Hopefully the second film will be just as good as the first (which was awesome!).

The Warden – Anthony Trollope

The WardenTitle: The Warden

Author: Anthony Trollope

Date Finished: 12/01/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

This is a book I’d never heard of at all before I read – I remember back when the Penguin English Library editions were first released in 2012 that in the first month I wanted to buy Great Expectations and The Mill on the Floss but the offer in the bookshop was 3 for 2 so I just picked up this one too.  I put it on my Classics Club list and hoped for the best!

The story follows the warden of the hospital in Barchester (a fictional cathedral town) and various other members of the clergy as they struggle with reformers.  It was very refreshing to read something so very English and ’19th century’ and I was definitely intrigued as to what was going to happen.  I have to say the plot wasn’t exactly heart-racing but then again it’s not really meant to be in this kind of book.

The characters (as usual in classics) are extremely vibrant and memorable, as Trollope paints a detailed picture of each one describing their various mannerisms and traits.  I liked them all really and I’m definitely keen to find out what happens to them all next in the other books in the series.  I think it’s really exciting to read a series of classics – it combines two of my favourite types of things to read.

The writing is brilliant and it seems like every word in every sentence has been meticulously chosen to given exactly the right impression to the reader of what is going on.  The setting of Barchester is also very nice as it reminds me of similar places near where I live in the South/South West of England.  There is something special about English period dramas, whether they are on television, film or in books and that is very true in this book too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book – it felt like a breath of fresh air, although I am quite surprised I managed to find time to read this week…I received amazing news on Wednesday that I’d been offered a place to read Chemistry at Oxford University in October; I am over the moon, especially as a couple of my close friends received Oxbridge offers too!  How I will find time to read then, I do not know…!

The Redeemer – Jo Nesbo


Title: The Redeemer

Author: Jo Nesbo

Date Finished: 6/1/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

This is the 4th book by Jo Nesbo in the Harry Hole series, and correspondingly it is the 4th book by him that I’ve read.  I realised as I was starting to write this post that I’d never actually blogged about a Nesbo thriller before, despite having read three; I concluded it had been much too long a gap (I read the third book in November 2011 and books one and two in summer 2011).  I don’t know why I’d waited so long to get round to this one, as I really enjoy this series.

The story focuses on Inspector Harry Hole in Oslo, Norway attempting to solve another bloody, brutal and haunting murder case.  This time, a Salvation Army Officer has been shot but everything spirals out of control for both the murderer and the police as the hit-man realises he has shot the wrong person.  Obviously in thrillers like this, the plot is really the most important part of the book, and Nesbo always seems to manage to balance drama and unpredictable twists with just an ounce of reality which makes the whole thing a lot more readable and believable.  The plot in this book was really gripping, and unlike usual, I really didn’t make any guesses about what was really going on until it was actually revealed; this made it a great read and I struggled to put it down!

The characters are also really vivid and I didn’t struggle with remembering who people were.  I think this is definitely a benefit of writing a series – I already knew Harry, Halvorsen, Beate, Rakel etc and all their traits so Nesbo could focus on introducing other important characters and could spend more time on describing them.  I have to say Beate is just a great person and – don’t worry I won’t spoil it – the death of someone quite main in this book really upset me!

The setting in Norway is also a reason I really like these books – something really appeals to me about Scandinavia even though (from this series) it seems to be absolutely freezing and dark all the time..oh and full of murderers and rapists!  Nesbo also uses good language and a very engaging style (commendations to the translator, Don Barlett, of course) which really helps when reading a fast-paced book.

I really enjoyed this book and I will be reading The Snowman (the next book in the series) when it gets to the top of my TBR pile!  I really recommend this series to anyone who likes crime/thriller novels and definitely to those who loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series though.  If you are not a fan of rather bloody/graphic/dark crime novels then this probably isn’t for you!

Wrap Up of 2013 and Plans for 2014

2013 has been the busiest year of my life so far…as I think back to last New Year’s Eve, there have been so many changes but mostly in a good way I think.  In February I went on an amazing visit to Uganda and then reciprocal visit of the Ugandans to Bristol in April was just as fun.  My hard work and revision paid off when receiving my AS results in March and August and we had a really relaxing (and full of reading!) family holiday to Corsica in the summer holidays.  I was elected Head Boy of my school and that has brought a lot of work and commitment but is really rewarding.  Since coming back in September for my final year at school, I’ve applied to university to study chemistry and I currently hold 4 offers from my 5 universities so I am really chuffed with that.  Christmas was quiet and calm which was just what we all needed I think!

In terms of reading, I haven’t been particularly brilliant – I had a good start to the year and a great summer of reading but apart from that I was only able to snatch at a few pages a night in term time, which is obviously not really enough!

I have several reading goals for 2014:

  • 1: Better my 2013 books total.  I read 27 books in 2013 so that means I need to read at least 2.3 books a month to better it.  Ideally this would mean trying to read a good 3 books a month, but I know that often this can be very optimistic!
  • 2: Better my 2013 pages total.  I read 10038 pages in 2013 so that means I need to read an average of 837 pages a month to better.  Maybe I should aim for at least 850 pages a month to make it a nice round easy target…
  • 3: Spend at least 30 minutes a day reading.  Now this may seem quite a small amount, but during busy school time 30 minutes is very long!  I want this to be 30 straight minutes with no checking the internet, watching TV etc at the same time.
  • 4: Keep up my classics reading.  I have been pretty good this year about sticking to this (10 classics in 12 months) but I want to make sure I still read at least one classic every month, even though I know this can be hard with classics being so long and taking much longer than ‘normal’ books to read.  I’m really looking forward to the readathon!
  • 5: Stay an active blogger.  By this I mean post about almost every book I read; continue to read other blogs; participate in challenges and events; reply to comments and comment myself.

These goals are obviously similar to last year except the targets are a bit lower – it’s good to have targets but really it doesn’t matter very much as long as I’m enjoying reading!  That’s definitely the case at the moment 🙂

The next Classics Club readathon is coming up on the 4th of January and I really recommend that to you – it was great fun last year and is from 1.00 pm on Saturday until 1.00 pm on Sunday (for me in England) so that works out quite nicely really.  I am currently reading a physics book and The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo but the idea is really to read a classic from your list if possible…so I am hoping to alternate between these two titles and The Warden by Anthony Trollope too.  I also have quite a lot of work to do so who knows how many hours I will actually be able to dedicate to reading.

Again, thank you to everyone who reads this blog, I hope 2014 is a brilliant year for you and we all continue to discover amazing new books and authors.