Category Archives: Book Features

My Problem with Pooh and Christopher Robin too.

Unexpectedly I came to see the (2017) film Goodbye Christopher Robin which tells the tale of the world famous Playwright and Author A.A Milne but most notably as author of Winnie- the Pooh. First published in the wake on the first world war in 1926, the film follows Milne known to his family as Blue as he returns from the first world war with shell shock or what we now may recognise as PTSD. Devastated by his time at the Somme Blue wants to write a book about war, encouraging peace for future generations; but that is not the story that finds him.

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Thanks to the decision to move his young family to the Sussex country side Blue started to spend more time with  his young son known to the family as Billy Moon and his beloved bear affectionately named Edward  (would later be re-named Winne-the-Pooh). I saw a video with the films director and he talks about how Blue and his wife Daphne were very much of their time, how it wasn’t uncommon to have baby and continue on with life as if nothing had happened only seeing the child for half an hour in the morning and evening. Looking at the relationship of Billy, Daphne and Blue through modern eyes is difficult and it is almost impossible not to judge their relationship. Billy Moon has a nanny Nou whom he adores and as the film unfolds I found myself wondering in a house or family like this when a child has so little access to their own parents who is really Billy Moon’s mother is it Daphne or is it Nou?

In later life a grownup Christopher Robin is even quoted when describing Nou as ‘Almost a part of me’ and they remained close for her entire life.

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Blue and Billy eventually get to bond when both Nou and Daphne are away from the house hold leaving the pair alone together with no choice but to either sink or swim. Blue eventually discovers what a bright and vibrant imagination his son has discovering the names of his favourite toys, which along with Edward Bear included Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore the depressed Donkey. They play together in the long hot summer days just Blue, Billy and his toys and Billy’s imagination that essence of childhood become the inspiration for A.A Milne’s most famous creation, his Winnie the Pooh stories. The Stories were an instant success, lifted up on the back of the tragedy of World War One ‘the country is wounded’ Blue cries to his wife Daphne in the film and with the help of Winnie the Pooh they could remember that life could be good again and life was worth living after all.

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But by writing about his son and his toys  Blue was effectively selling his sons childhood to the masses. The books were an instant stand out success and at one point Christopher Robin who was slowly but surely losing his identity as Billy Moon was named the most famous child in the world. Comparing it not just to today’s standards but famous children throughout history there are very few examples where child stars come off unscathed. Christopher Robin was more famous than his father A.A Milne and his mother was  not only the driving force behind commercialising Milne’s’ books also could see what a commodity her son was becoming. He would do interviews and photographs, signings; all the while Edward Bear had become Pooh and no longer just belonged to him but him and millions of other people all over the world. Billy Moon’s real problems started when he attended boarding school at age nine. It is depicted in the film but the real Christopher Robin had spoken of it many times in his books and interviews over the years that he was consistently bullied for being the child in his father’s books and poems he was pushed kicked and repeatedly pushed down the stairs.  He felt his father had ‘climbed on the back of my infant shoulders’ to forge his career leaving Billy without any identity and with no say in how famous he had become and he was famous for no real reason.

Eventually Billy Moon would shed his Christopher Robin identify all together when he joined the army and became Private Milne. He would survive the war and later marry his first cousin. This would cause great strain on his relationship with his parents one that was already full of emotional entanglements and resentments.

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Daphne and Christopher soon to wife’s father were brother and sister and did not get on and the marriage between the pair further strained his relationship with his mother who was a hard woman at times and is depicted as such in the film. As he grew into a man Christopher seemed to always looking back to his childhood his was filled with a bitter resentment towards the books and what they did to his life and was still angry at his father. He did not speak or see to his father until he was on his death bed and Daphne and Christopher would never reconcile.

Goodbye Christopher Robin did a good job of showing that Daphne and Blue were flawed humans and their relationship with him was fraught. But it ends right when a young Christopher Robin gets home from war, the viewers never gets to know how it ended for the family and how they would never be reconciled. How Christopher would never take a penny from the Winnie the Pooh franchise but eventually when he and his wife had a disabled daughter they were eventually forced to take some money to pay for her care  ‘For Clare’ I read  him say, which is both beautiful that he loved his child in a different way than his he parents loved him but tragic that he had to forgo his principles in the end and his wishes to separate himself from Pooh.

The origin story of Winnie the Pooh is a sad one but it got me thinking about the new Christopher Robin movie to be released this year. (2018) When you’re telling the story of an adult Christopher Robin who famously came to hate Pooh Bear shouldn’t how he really felt about his situation be addressed?

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I get it, this is Disney and this is the sentimental tripe we love, it has echoes of Robin William’s Hook to me and I’m sure it will be a box office smash. But where does the morality come in? The Little boy Christopher Robin is immortalised in book form destined to be playing with his ‘Silly old Bear’ forever but the adult man who grew up and away from Pooh does he stop mattering cause he’s dead? When did we stop caring about truth? Honestly I think that this movie is a morally bankrupt idea, and yes people will love it because it’s Disney but they will be loving a lie somehow I don’t think I will ever look at Winne- the -Pooh ever the same way again and that’s both a good and a bad thing.

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Let’s Talk About- Series I’ve Started, Read the First Book and Never Made it to Book Two…

I am a series sinner I have been doing the same damning thing for years and it needs to be addressed. I have a terrible habit of starting series, picking up the first book jumping head first into a word getting, often  getting completely sucked in to the characters, the stories.

But then when I finish and place the book back on my shelf, instead of picking up the next book in the series I read something else instead, which is fine if I were to ever get around to reading the second book in the series; but I rarely do. And this can be frustrating for me as a reader, as a reviewer and just as a person who wants to know what happens but lacks the discipline or the will to finish what she has started.

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In an attempt to tackle the problem I started to look through my bookshelves, now I don’t know how you all organised you TBR and your shelves but I keep all my unread books on the same one.  I started pulling off all the second, and third, fourth books in series that I haven’t read I started to realise I have a problem. After some thought I decided it was time for an unhaul, what books am I realistically never going to read (or read again in some cases) and what books but looking at series in particular am I just never going to get around to completing. (All the books below are going to be donated to my local library)

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This works both ways as well, I like to have a monthly TBR and yes I’m flexible with my reading but I do like to have a rough idea of what I may like to read in a month. So in April I came up with the idea of introducing or re-introducing series often a second book that I have forgotten about to my TBR. A Series that I still want to read and have never lost  interest in even after time has passed. This month that series is AngelFall and the Penryn and the end of Days books by Susan Ee. I read the first book Angelfall a few years ago and it became victim to my usual pattern of failing to read book 2, but thanks to my new monthly plan I have just finished the second book in the series WorldAfter (review to come). Going through my shelves I really thought seriously about series I intended to finish and at the top of my list are Shatter Me, Angelfall, Cinder and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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I know my reading tastes are maturing and changing in general and there are some books I’m never going to get around to reading The last book in the Selection Series is a great example of this. But as I grow and change and explore new genres and writing styles as a reader there are some books I want to bring with me, some I don’t want to forget.

Come Find Me! 

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International Women’s Day- Favourite Ladies in Literature 2018

Hello everyone and happy International Women’s day! All the way back in 2016 I wrote a post for International Women’s day on my Favourite Fictional Females, in 2017 I decided not to do the same list because I didn’t think it could have grown or changed that much from 2016.

This year I am giving the list another go, with fresh eyes and newly acquired reading habits and although I have gone over my list from 2016 and I still stand by all the ladies on that list I just want to add a few more. I always like to hear what you guys think and any ladies you think should have made my lists and haven’t.

Robin Ellecott – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

 

From going over my 2016 list I realised how heavily my lists are influenced by what I’m reading at the time and Robin is a perfect example of that as I’m currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (not that that means she doesn’t deserve to make this years list!) cause she does, she’s awesome.

Robin is a strong and Independent woman  who has had some bumpy roads in life, her career has taken and nose dive and although she doesn’t know it she’s in a relationship with the wrong man. Robin is all about fighting for what she wants and she wants a career, she wants to be a PI and although she took some wrong turns and dark corners that have lead her the wrong way she is fighting for the life she wants and deserves. She’s brilliant, a power house and above all a great detective.

Lou Clarke- Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

 

I am such a long time Me Before You fan and Lou fan, Lou is full of heart right down to her core. She loves her family wants to do the best she can for them, she’s a little lost though which makes her totally relatable. Lou’s self discovery and love and eventual  loss of Will makes her one of my favourite characters.

Me Before You- Book Review

Demelza Poldark- Poldark Series by Winston Graham

 

Ahh Demelza, anyone hate Ross as much as I do? I mean seriously what was that guy playing at? Demelza is brilliant she is strong and fiery, she was a poor girl who came from nothing, a father who beat her and left her half starved but this eventually lead her to Ross her future husband… I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone who hasn’t read it or watched it but the woman can handle herself and she needs to cause she’s going to go through some seriously tough times- all hail Demelza Poldark.

Catherine Earnshaw – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 

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Oh how we all love to hate Kathy Earnshaw, one of the most self indulgent and selfish characters ever written. But Kathy was strong, wild passionate and a free thinking individual. What ever you think of her life choices and some of her questionable decisions and motives no one can question Kathy’s strength of heart.

Dolly – Cheerful Weather For the Wedding by Julia Strachey 

 

When we meet Dolly it’s her wedding day and she is decided whether or not to marry her fiance while her former lover waits to talk to her desperate to talk to her but he is trapped downstairs while she locks herself in her bedroom drinking in her wedding dress. Dolly is a great example of the tragedies that can befall us in adult hood especially if we don’t know which choice to make.  Dolly is also a woman who I think we have seen many times before if real life, the lines between reality and fantasy are just a little blurred and she doesn’t realise till it’s to late how damaging that can be.

My full review of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding 

So I hope you enjoyed my choices for International Women’s day, hope you’ve all had a good day and I’ll see you next time!

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Page to Screen Series: Episode 1-Atonement

Hi Guys I’m starting a new series here on Paint and Butterflies Books a page to screen adaptations series and as I have very recently watched Atonement I thought it would be a great place to start.

One of my favourite things about reading apart from the actual reading of course is when beloved books get adapted for the big or small screen. I have reviewed some great and… some not so great adaptations but one of my favourite films I have never spoken about – Atonement. The book by Ian McEwan and the film starring Kierra Knightly and James Mcavoy, Dir by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice)

 

 

I came to the film before the book when it was released in (2007) and have been really fond of it ever since. The book I read about three of four years ago and it only deepened my love for the story, while reading it I realised just how loyal the film version had been to the original material.

Firstly if you haven’t seen Atonement go see it right now, I’m about to spoil everything. The story is set the ‘golden’ summer before World War One, both the novel and the movie are set in three parts the first part being hot summers day at our main character Briony’s parents country home in England it is important to note that Briony is thirteen years old. Briony is the youngest of three children,  her sister Cecilia is a Cambridge graduate and is home enjoying the summer and their elder brother Leon is coming home for a visit bringing his friend Paul Marshall a chocolate millionaire with him for the weekend and Briony is elated to see her brother. But also a little confused, her universe is shifting and for the first time in a long while she’s not the center of it. She is a young writer and plans to write him and perform him a play to celebrate his return- The Trials of Arabella by Briony Taliss.

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The young family invite Robbie the housekeepers son to dinner after seeing him on the approach their fine country house. This wasn’t just a random act of kindness Robbie is like a member the family, Cecilia, Leon and Briony’s father had taken kindly to his House Keepers son and he had paid for his schooling and later his Cambridge education in which he attended at the same time as Cecelia although they weren’t friends they never spoke.

Everything that occurs for the rest of the novel and the rest of these characters lives is decided on this one sunny afternoon. Briony sees something she doesn’t understand-her sister and Robbie having an argument fueled with sexual tension by a fountain in the garden. Briony sees this through a window, with no context  but instead of asking questions she starts to doubt Robbie’s moral character and being the kind of character Briony is she creates her own fantasy scenario with hero and villains and her own version of right and wrong unable it seems to distinguish from what is truth or fact and what’s in the reality going on around her.

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Later that evening Briony catches Robbie and Ceclia having sex in the library, they have just confessed their  love for each-other. But in Briony’s mind Robbie is further the villain who was hurting her big sister, the fantasy continues. Now a fantasy is fine in it’s self when no harm is caused.

Briony’s cousins Lola, Jackson and Pierro are staying with them while their parents are divorcing and surrounded by scandal and the troublesome twins Jackson and Pierro go missing at dinner. While everyone is looking for them in the darkness Lola their elder sister is raped and is discovered by Briony. Briony did see the perpetrator but could never be sure who it was. She convinces herself it was Robbie and tells the Police she is knows it was him and this certainty puts him in prison until the start of the war. The question is how accountable is Briony for her actions? I think from a very young age we know the basics of right and wrong and when it’s play time and when’s it’s not. Briony is forever in a state of play, she doesn’t learn or progress the same way other children do she doesn’t care about the world outside her own childhood bubble and thinks if she tells her story to herself or others that makes it so. She said Robbie was evil so it was so it’s the whole writer is God complex, she is dark and terrifying.

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The rest of the book follows Robbie and Cecelia’s separate lives and reunion, and of course the repercussion the war, and what it had on them and Briony. For Robbie that was prison and having to join the army as a private thanks to Briony’s actions always keeping him closer to the danger. Eventually his on journey would lead him to Dunkirk. When Robbie and Cecilia do finally get to see each other again for half an hour in a coffee shop Cecilia has to leave to go back to the hospital where she is nurse. You can still feel that love between the two characters but also the distance because they have never really been given a chance to be together.

 

 

 

Cecilia mentions how Leon stands outside her flat and tries to see her and another implication of what Briony has done to so many people hits again, this lie had destroyed a family, two families. The family have lost Cecilia, Cecilia has lost her family, Robbie’s mother left alone and had to watch her only child be dragged off to prison and probably lost her job because how can she keep working for the family now? And Briony really has come off unscathed, yes she nursed in a hospital for a bit but really she’s the centre of the universe like she always wanted.

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There is a section in the book where Robbie and Cecilia are living in a white house by the sea it’s something they talk about a lot in the book and in the film, they are together and they are happy. In this scene Briony apologies to Cecilia and Robbie tells them she wants to help clear Robbie’s Name. She also tells them that Paul Marshall the chocolate millionaire really raped Lola but she is also now his wife.

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We later find that this conversation was fiction and all happened in the context of Briony’s Novel she has released in the present day, and never could of happened because Robbie died at Dunkirk on the last day of the evacuation, Cecelia also died because of a bombing and burst water main and were never reunited. Briony sees this book as her Atonement, cleansing herself of her crime. I have mulled Briony over and over in my mind and I personally think she is vindictive, nasty little madam who was old enough to know better. She lived in her own head more than was normal and as much as writers and creatives do live in their own head a little (or a lot) Briony blurred the lines of reality and fantasy until she couldn’t see which was which.

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I found a quote from James Mcavoy who played Robbie saying she was ‘nuts…and she can rot in hell…’ I’m inclined to agree.

 

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The Author/Reader Relationship and What Happens When they ‘don’t’ deliver?

Hi guys, I want to chat today a bit about expectations. Expectations, specifically a reader’s expectation when they buy a book from an author they THINK they should like- maybe they’ve heard a lot about them through bloggers or vloggers and heard nothing but positive reviews or just loved the premise of every book they have written. I have had this experience loving the concept if a book but when the book is in my hands and I’m actually reading what I thought I was going to read and what I actually read were two very different things.

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I hate DNF-ing a book (don’t we all?) The topic for this blog post was inspired by my own author/reader relationship with Neil Gaiman, I have read three books of his now and although I have persisted hard with each one they all have ended with a DNF most recently The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Gods and I can’t help thinking is my bad reading experience my own fault?

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When I read the premise for American Gods which I read in book form and on Audible this year, I thought, brilliant, Gods, Goddesses, names like Shadow and Mr. Wednesday a dead wife that returns from the dead what’s not to love? And looking at it from a subjective point of view Gaiman is clearly a fantastic author with an endless imagination but he didn’t write what I wanted or expected him to write which is partially my problem.

What I’m saying is that when you spend your money on a book and it doesn’t meet your expectations for whatever reason whose problem is it anyway? The readers? The authors? Or is that just the way it goes sometimes… you can’t win them all as they say.

On the upside, I can’t wait to see American Gods be adapted to the small screen from the trailers it looks pretty darn good, new format, new way to take in and experience the story, awesome!

Hope you enjoyed today’s book chat, see you next time!

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New Releases and Books I’m Excited to Read in 2017

There are some great books coming out this year and I for one am really excited about some of this years up and comers! Here are some of the books that will be hitting the top of my TBR as soon as they hit the shelves.

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Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite authors and I love it when a new Shadow Hunter novel is released. Last year I blasted through Lady Midnight and although I will definitely have to re-read it before the release of Lord of Shadows in May, I just love this well-developed world and look forward to every new book.

Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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I had heard so much about the first book in this series A Court of Thornes and Roses and just wasn’t that interested in another Beauty and the Beast re-telling. Sometimes I love a re-telling (anything Alice in Wonderland related I am always all over!) But Beauty and the Beast seemed so familiar to me, the story so set in stone I wasn’t willing to give ACOTAR a go UNTIL I got a copy for Christmas and boy was I wrong. I blasted through ACOTAR and its sequel A Court of Mist and fury back to back. I haven’t reviewed them yet so I will leave it there, but needless to day I loved them and I can’t wait till the third book comes out in May and wish I had it in my hands right now!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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I read the first book in Laini Taylor’s  A Daughter of Smoke and Bone series about three years ago. Her writing style was so beautiful her imagination is something deep and unusual that creates deep intriguing stories. I’m not sure what happened because it was three years ago but I failed to pick up book 2 and 3 in the series although I always planned to…

Now she had a new book coming out this time about a war between Gods and Humans and I can’t wait to see what she has in store! Hopefully, I can finish her first series before Strange the Dreamer hits the shelves March 28th!

Other books I’m excited to read this year!

I always have a rough idea of some of the books I would like to get to in a year, I don’t like my TBR for a year to be too big because things always change with new books coming out and ARCs I may get sent or just books that I just have to buy. But I do have a few books that I plan to get to in the immediate future- (other than the above) and that I’m particularly excited about reading.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas – Currently reading

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Okay, look. This series like the A Court of Thorne and Roses series was never really on my radar, but after reading  ACOTAR and ACMAF I found that I loved Sarah J Maas’ writing style so much that would be doing myself a disservice as a reader if I didn’t give her first series a shot and so far I’m loving it.

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry 

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Anyone who follows me on Goodreads knows that I have been looking for a Gothic novel (preferably with a romance for quite some time, the romance doesn’t have to be the main plot,  it can be a sub- plot)  but it has to be written in the modern day and not a classic like Dracula or Northanger Abbey, although they are both great stories. I am hoping the Essex Sepernt is going to fill that void. In my hunt for a gothic romance written in the modern day I have found some great pieces of fiction my favouite being  Bodies of Water by L.H Leslie. Any recommendations on this subjection very welcome!

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

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I know people have their opinons about Stephenie Meyer but when I was a teenger I enjoyed the Twilight books, I’m not a teenger anymore I’m a twenty something and have grown beyond Edward, Jacob and Bella and can see their flaws. I also have read her first adult novel The Host which I love and keeping The Host in mind I am embarking on The Chemist with great optomism, her first thriller I belive.

 Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern 

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I’m a long standing fan of Cecelia Ahern, I have been reading her since I was a teenger and since her first novel P.S I love You. The Lyrebird sounds quite mysterious to me, it is about a woman I belive who has earned herself the nickname the Lyrebird beacuase of her great talent for mimickary.

I have decided to go into the book almost blind because I feel that I will get most out of it that way.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, I’ll see you next time!

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My Top Reads of 2016!

Hi Guys!

Can you believe it it’s already 2017! 2016 has been a pretty hit and miss reading year for me but all in all I have read some great books.

I didn’t really plan my reading last year or have any goals I just read what I felt like reading at the time which was okay but the problem is I’m always looking for a book or feeling or vibe in a story (and it never comes along when I want it to.)

Perfect example- I  have been looking for a modern written romantic, gothic tale forever but everything I found seemed to be a classic (eg Northanger Abby, Dracula etc.) Then, just when I’d stopped looking The Essex Serpent was published! (It’s on my January TBR- TBR post coming soon…)

I wouldn’t say my lack of planning made my reading year unsuccessful but I do have plans for more productivity this year but my plans are coming to you in another blog post all togther.

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My Favourites of 2016!

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare 

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I had a Cassandra Clare filled year in 2016! I re-read the second half of The Mortal Instruments series and read The Shadow Hunter Academy short stories for the first time both were brilliant. But I have to say, it was so much fun reading Lady Midnight, Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite authors, I get so drawn into her characters and the Shadow World and I can’t wait for the second book in this series to be released later this year!

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Bodies of Water by V.H Leslie 

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In my hunt for something gothic I discovered Bodies of Water, a short book barely 300 page. It’s ghostly, gothic and filled with betrayal and romance! I Loved it! (All both this books main characters are LGBTQ+)

My Review

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 

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I had heard the hype okay? If you haven’t where have you been living? I never had any plans to read this novel until one day a friend

I never had any plans to read this novel until one day a friend and I were feeling particularly maudlin and watched the movie. The script and the words use in the movie intrigued me, let me tell you this, if you haven’t read the book and are putting off for what ever reason, John Green has it, he has a real command of the English language, every word, every sentence is worth reading in this book it’s all so beautifully constructed.

My Review

The Girls by Emma Cline 

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Loosely based on the Charles Manson killings The Girls is about a fourteen-year-old girl who gets wrapped up in a cult and it’s eventual tragic end. This book was fascinating to read because I didn’t know a lot about the original murders so while reading I researched the original killings which, from a reading perfective allowed me to enjoy the book to its full potential.

Uprooted by Noami Novik

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I really enjoyed Uprooted, normally when I read fantasy I need the book to be huge or a series to I get everything I can out of the world and the characters but Uprooted was the perfected example of a standalone fantasy done well.

I hope you enjoyed my top reads of 2016 see you next time!

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