Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

51PBblV4b4LI awaited this book in anticipation, and actually read it months ago when it first came out. I am definitely a fan of Khaled Hosseini’s writing, having previously loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. As you can imagine, thanks to my eagerness to acquire this book, I ended up reading it within two days.

Essentially, it is the story of two siblings, a brother and sister, who were unwittingly torn apart, and their journeys into adulthood, the families that they create and the coming together of those families.

Like Hosseini’s other work, the basis of the story is a tale of the horrors that Afghanis have had to endure in recent history – the drastic measures that had to be taken in order to survive.

Without giving too much away, it is another beautiful piece of work by Hosseini. I do have to say, though, that this novel did not have quite the emotional effect on me as his previous work did (whilst reading both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns I was almost constantly in tears). However, I find it impossible to pinpoint the reason for that. It could be that this book did not give quite as big of an emotional punch in the stomach, or that my emotional state has solidified since first discovering his work 10 years ago.

Nonetheless, this is an amazing read, and I would definitely recommend it.

4.5/5

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

17465450First thing’s first…The author’s name is Liane Moriarty. MORIARTY. You may have seen through previous posts that I enjoy Sherlock Holmes – the books, the TV programmes, etc… So the fact that the author’s name is so uniquely linked to our dear Sherlock is pretty cool. However, I am too lazy to google her and find out if that is in fact her actual birth name.

Anyway, about the book. I think that this is the first book I have read that is set in Australia, certainly modern Australia, and I found this an interesting aspect of the book. It helped me visualise what life is like there, and is a nice break from the traditional stories of the Western world, being dominated by America and the UK.

The book itself was an easy read, not at all demanding, which makes it a nice break from the strenuous material I have been reading for Uni. I liked the parallel stories of the lives of people linked to each other, and being able to see the characters from different views – both personally and the front that they put on for others. I found it interesting that the stories are told from the perspectives of the female characters – although I felt they did rely on the male characters quite heavily.

One thing that I just did not get was the emphasis on the Berlin Wall. I just can’t see why that much detail was included when the story didn’t need it. I have to admit, it seemed like pointless page fodder.

The Husband’s Secret is a modern tragicomedy and the perfect book if you are looking for a quick light read. I would recommend this book mainly to commuters.

3.5/5

Book Review: The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

81d+031CmSL._SL1500_Alex Woods is a good guy. He is such a likeable and unique character, one in whom we can probably see the personality of friends or even ourselves reflected. I agree with many of the critics who comment that he is a similar character to Mark Haddon’s Christopher, in that I have a similar reaction to him as the protagonist. He is likeable and appealing, and just so slightly awkward.

The unlikely yet strangely believable friendship between Alex and Mr Peterson is excellent. They are a great comedy duo and their interactions caused me many laughs throughout the book, and a few tears.

I love the way in which I feel like I’m peering in on somebody’s life, the way that it is clearly a novel but yet feels so personal that I am worried I am eavesdropping.

Euthanasia is not an easy topic to tackle, but I feel the way in which Gavin Extence has managed this, with the touches of comedy and social awkwardness, does it so much justice.

There is literally nothing bad I can say about this book. I’m glad I read it, it is the best debut novel I have read in years.

5/5

Film: The Little Rascals

Little_rascals_ver2This film is a huge throwback to my childhood. I was given it for christmas but have just recently got around to watching it. I’m not one of those people that generally watch kids films (mainly because I don’t have kids so I have no excuse to), but there are a few films that I can spend hours rewatching and reminiscing about. This is one of them.

Watching it now, I can appreciate how genuinely good the children actors are (think Bugsy Malone, and how hard it must have been for the kids to stay in character). I love this film because of all the warm and fuzzy memories of childhood, but also because it is actually a good film.

It has everything a grown up rom com has, but in miniature. Darla, the infuriating female lead, with her pick of boys and enjoying the attention, and Alfalfa, the smitten and oh so sweet but not quite popular enough boy, portray the typical style love story. There is also go kart racing, which is always fun, and bubble singing!

This is a fun, witty film which is perfect for the whole family. If you have kids, I strongly suggest you watch it with them!

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling

imagesI read this somewhat sceptically, in fact I put it off for quite a while because I was so sceptical. I grew up reading Harry Potter, from the age of about 10, so the magic was really a part of my childhood. Then, to find that J K Rowling had written a book for adults, about something seemingly so normal – there was just something about that which didn’t sit right with me.

So finally, a little while ago, I walked into a bookshop and picked it up, and I am oh so glad that I did. The casual vacancy is set in a small town in the UK, and is essentially a story of small town life. What struck me though, were the darker undertones of politics and social issues resonating in the story. I have to admit that at first it does take a while to get into the book, and it does take a bit of perseverance. However, once the story gets rolling and you get to know the characters, it is unputdownable.

In the West Country, the small town of Pagford is turned upside down after the death of parish councillor Barry Fairbrother. The book follows the lives of the community as they discover and deal with Barry’s death, including the controversy of filling his spot on the parish council. The Casual vacancy highlights the huge effect that a death can have on a community, and the revelations that come about after a person’s death.

It would be hard to explain what I liked about this books without giving the story away, but I can say that the story of Krystal Weedon and her family is so extremely heartbreaking, and so believable, especially in the UK as it is now, and I did towards the end of the book find myself in tears. This book is as good as Harry Potter, just completely and utterly different. I strongly suggest you give it a read.

4.5/5

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

book thiefThis is another borderline YA/Adult fiction book, and one that I believe truly has something for all. The story is narrated by death, and the encounters that he has with Liesel, a young girl adopted by a German family in a small town.

On the superficial level of the book, it is a story about Liesel’s love of books, and the friends that she makes through this passion, and the stories of her book thievery. This on it’s own is enough to keep a reader hooked. Yet, when you get deeper into the book and focus on the historical and political factors, you can see it is much more than this.

The Book Thief is at least in some way a protest of the fear of open mindedness and culture in Nazi Germany, it is a protest about the treatment of Jews (as I expect most things set within this time period would be – nobody agrees with the Holocaust, right?), it is a protest of hypocrisy and barbarism.

Above all, it is a well written and powerful novel that manages to evoke strong emotions, and forces a connection with the reader and the main character. I love the boldness of having death narrate the book, and I think it is a device that really does work.

I would recommend this to all.

4.5/5

On Music

Music is an inspiration, a basic pleasure that without leads to a less colourful life. Without music I find life black and white, mono-chromed and monotoned.

I’m not a particularly musically gifted person, but music plays such a huge part in my life, gives highlights to my ups and downs, and I am striving to understand the role that music plays for me.

Over years and years of hard work, I taught myself how to play the clarinet and the piano, and am now attempting to learn to play guitar, so that I may have a better understanding of this amazing art that gives me so much to live for.

I’m starting by learning how to play ‘Feelin’ Alright’ by Rebelution, which is basically the soundtrack to my life.

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