Monday, 19 January 2015

Winter Book Haul

A book haul is long overdue...but  better late than never, right? I thought I would do this post because I got some pretty interesting books recently which I am really excited about.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle's estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won't enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty - unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as Mary discovers one night. high in a dark room, away from the rest of he house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.
I found this beautiful Parragon children's classic edition tucked away in a charity shop, and at 50p I simply couldn't resist. It is a treasured children's classic as well as on the The Big Read 100 books list so I am excited and interested to pick this up and see what I think.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
With the wisdom of age and a haunting voice, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. it begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Here she learns the rigorous acts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing a kimono; elaborate makeup and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of her inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. In this story we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girls virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion.
This was yet another charity shop bargain and a very popular book (made known by the fact that it's also on the 100 books to read list) so I thought it was as good a time as any to buy it. It sounds extremely interesting - exactly the type of novel that I would enjoy so I am very excited and intrigued to give it a go.
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

This book isn't really the type to give a synopsis for so I thought that instead I would share the story behind it and give you some background information. In 2012, Laura Bates, a young journalist, started the Everyday Sexism Project after being sexually harassed in London whilst on public transport. She began to collect stories surrounding this issue and everyday sexism in general; stories sharing countless women's experiences with this problem that is in every woman's life. she received so many responses that she created this book packed full of stories where people (both men and woman although mainly focused on the female side of the issue) have been subject to sexism in everyday life such as cat-calling, sexual harassment and discrimination. It is brimming with feminist rants and is her way to speak out against sexism that we are subject to everyday. I am very passionate about this topic and see myself as a major feminist, you can always find me having a rant about sexism. Because of this I am looking forward to reading this very much and it will probably make me very angry. I will be doing  post on it once I have read it so look out for that if it is something you are interested in.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted island for a summer camping trip. Exploring and playing sailors is an adventure in itself but the island holds more excitement in store. Two fierce Amazon pirates, Nancy and Peggy, challenge them to war and a summer of battles and alliances ensues.
I know very little about this book and wouldn't even have been able to give you a brief synopsis if I hadn't researched it earlier, but it sounds like a really fun adventure story and a loved children's classic so I can't wait to give it a try.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This children's classic tells the story of a horse's own long ad varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to n elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse. Throughout, Sewell rails against animal maltreatment. Young readers will follow Black Beauty's fortunes, good and bad with gentle masters as well as cruel.
This book was one of my mum's favourites as a child (hence the reason she got it for me for Christmas) and is also on the 100 books list so it is something that I really want to read. Supposedly, the horse-human relationship is meant to reflect human-human relationships to some degree as well as having a few morals for young kids thrown in there too making it something that I am quite interested in.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them.
Being set in Afghanistan, it is a story that really interests me because I don't know much about the country but I love reading books set in other countries with different cultures as I find it so interesting. It s something I really want to read as the story sounds emotional and beautiful and I really want to read more diversely. 
The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford by Nancy Mitford
Here in one volume, are all eight of Nancy Mitford's sparklingly astute, hilarious and completely un-put-a-down-able novels, with a new introduction by India Knight. Published over a period of 30 years, they provide a wonderful glimpse of the bright young things of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties in the city and in the shires; firmly ensconced at home or making a go of it abroad; and what the upper classes really got up to in peace and in war.
 Nancy Mitford (1904-1972) is well known as one of the "Mitford sisters" who did everything and met everyone. She is the most famous writer of the sisters (I am not sure how many sisters there were, maybe three, and how many wrote) and was a novelist and biographer as well as translating various other peoples works into English but she was most famous for her partially autobiographical story, The Pursuit of Love. I am really interested in the "Mitford Sisters" after hearing about them though a YouTube video and doing some research to find out more so I thought reading Nancy's collective works was a good place to start and I am excited to hopefully become engrossed and amused by her world and life.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

A memoir-in-comic-strips, Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution and how this went on to affect her life in many ways. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a yung life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
I have already read this and absolutely loved it. The history, politics and hint of feminism thrown in made it an extremely interesting read and I definitely advise that you pick this up. The art in it was simple but really well executed and added so much to the story. It was only my second graphic novel (my first being Maus) and really encouraged me to keep reading them because I always enjoy them immensely.
Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen
Over the New Year period, I spent an amazing week in Hamburg, Germany with friends from all over the world and although I know very little German, I thought it would make a nice souvenir to pick up the German edition of Harry Potter and the Philosophers sStone. I really like the cover and it excited me to know that I now own a book in another language (even though I am a lot more likely to read one in French). Some may say it's ridiculous that I spent money on it because it is extremely unlikely that I will ever read it, but for me, my books are a collection and Harry Potter is my favourite series as well as an influential part of my life and I like that I'm growing my collection in an interesting way. I also think that it makes a really interesting souvenir and a way to remember the places I have been too, I think that for the next 6 different countries I visit, I will pick up each following book in the series so that I eventually have the full series with each book in a different language as it is a way to expand my collection and collect a meaningful souvenir. I am really glad I got it and am excited to see it displayed on my shelf.
I hope you enjoyed this haul that was hopefully a bit more unusual and slightly different from the normal YA hauls that you usually see (not that there is anything wrong with that, because, let's face it, I love those as much as the next person, I just felt like mixing it up for a change...). Maybe you found it interesting, maybe you didn't but anyway... Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
Love from, the Rambling Bibliophile, Ellen xxx

Saturday, 10 January 2015

November Mini Reviews

I haven't posted in a real long time and this post is extremely late but I have been super busy with school work and mocks and other things, which is also a reason I didn't read as many books as I would have liked in November. However I did read more than I thought I have, somehow managing to finish 5 books even though I was insanely busy and struggling through a reading slump.

Animal Farm by George Orwell 90%
Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
This is a satirical novel which essentially addresses the communism and beliefs of Stalin in the Soviet Union using animals metaphorically to symbolise different aspects of the Soviet Union. Although I had some knowledge of the communist set out of USSR at this time, it wasn't extensive but this book really improved my understanding of it and I found it thoroughly interesting. It is, I think an important book to read, as with all George Orwell's work, which relentlessly worked to expand my knowledge and interest of the subject as well as portraying how corrupt it was and putting forward Orwell's clear opinion. Of course, it was extremely well written, and though not fast-paced, short and concise and never bored me. I definite must read for anyone interested in history and politics. 

Just Listen by Sarah Dessin 75%
Last year, Annabel, was "the girl who has everything" - at least that's the part she played I. The television commercial for Kropf's Department store. This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owens' help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she lost it all. 
This is the third book by Sarah Dessin and I think my favourite. I really enjoy her books as fast, easy reads to bridge a gap between two more intense books that I want to read. I flew through this book and really liked it. It felt a lot more real compared to her other two, and the characters felt relatable and very well developed. It also dealt with bigger issues, such as Anorexia and she did it in a sensitive way without being too cautious, representing the illness in a way that was raw and truthful. Having my own experience dealing with someone I know having Anorexia this was something I really appreciated as people on the outside rarely see how it can make the person act. I also liked that we got the opportunity to see other characters stories and see them develop. However, her writing, though well composed and clear, isn't distinct or interesting in a way that would make this close to a five star rating, 

To Kill a Mockingbord by Harper Lee 95%
"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." A lawyers advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much...
This was a re-read for me, being a favourite book of mine as well as one of the most influential that I have read, and I loved it even more than last time. It is such a beautiful, heart-wrenching and emotional story with an imperatively important message. It is also amazingly written, Harper Lee has such a beautiful style in which she tells the story and a distinct, unique voice that draws you in. This novel never fails to both warm my heart and rip it out, as well as making my cry on multiple occasions. It is a book that will always hold a place in my heart, will always be room for on my shelf and one that I will come back to again and again. A definite recommendation (especially for someone looking to start reading more classics and not knowing where to start) and something everyone needs to read at least once in their lifetime. 

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas 92%
I won't give a synopsis for this because it's the second in the series and spoilers would be inevitable but you probably have some idea about what the Throne of Glass series is about. I loved this book, possibly even more than the last. The story was so intriguing and mysterious and just gripped me right from the beginning. The world building and character development is phenomenal, there is so much background and it is all so well-developed and thought out, making the story the author has created genuinely amazing. The writing is also fantastic, being fast-paced and interesting. And then the emotions, oh I had all the feels, sadness, humour, intense frustration...everything. I am actually really struggling to hold back and not read the next one, Heir of Fire, because I really want to find out what happens next, but know I'd have to wait for ages for the next one and I don't know I'd I can do that This epic fantasy series is a definite reccomend if your are looking to get into more fantasy, especially high epic fantasy type books. 

The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye 43%
Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other sounds who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those sounds, Jude's name is never called by the mysterious "receptionist". He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He's waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? The Waiting Room is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualisation, of waiting.
I have a lot of thoughts about this book so I may do a full review, but I'm not sure if I've left it too late. Although I would love to say that I really enjoyed this book, it really wasn't for me. Starting of well because premise is really interesting and the book is very well written as well as fast paced it went downhill pretty quickly after Nina turned up. This book felt repetitive and kind of boring, especially after going into it thinking it would be discussing important issues and making me think a little differently, it kind of fell flat and disappointed me a bit. It was pretty short, but felt quite long and dragged out and then the ending came without me even realising, it was so abrupt - I was reading it on a kindle app and I clicked to move on to the next page and continue reading only to find out it had actually finished, I was very confused. Saying that, there were some enjoyable parts and it has some good reviews elsewhere so it might be something you may enjoy, it just wasn't for me. 

That is everything I read in November, sorry this post is so late. I hope you are having a good week and enjoying the lead up to Christmas or general winter holidays. What was your favourite read in November?
Love Ellen xxx
(p.s sorry about the absence of photos I am having to post this using my phone because of my tablet breaking and uploading a photo would be rather challenging)