The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – A Review.

The Surface Breaks is a feminist re-telling of The Little Mermaid all dressed up and ready to go in the most beautiful cover I’ve seen all year. Louise O’Neill takes the story of The Little Mermaid back to it’s Hans Christian Anderson roots moving away from the Disney version we all know so well.

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When I was a little girl I loved Ariel and watched that movie many times but I also owned the (1975) Anime version of the tale. Which is a very close re-telling to the original fairy-tale and as a girl enjoyed both but for different reasons. It’s a much darker story which Disney turned on it’s head and made into something light and filled with a romantic musicality.

The Little Mermaid

I was excited to head into this new re-telling and from the first few pages I knew it had the original story ingrained in it’s roots. Louise O’Neill tells the story we all know well of a young mermaid princess who falls in love with a human boy, and after saving his life desperately wishes to become human. But there are two twists to this tale, the first is her feminist take on a classic, the Mer-people but specifically the mermaids live in a misogynistic and patriarchal society where there only choices are to be pretty to be silent and to be mothers. Beauty is how our little mermaid and her sisters measure their value and it causes repression, anguish and a fierce sibling rivalry.

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The second twist to this tale, no pun intended is this stories darkness long gone are the singing crabs and fishes for best friends but one thing stood still and firm, her roots at the very centre of  The Little Mermaid’s story, I am talking of cause about The Sea Witch. But even the word witch is turned on it’s head on this tale.  The Sea Witch is a major character in all versions and in The Surface Breaks I enjoyed this complicated interpretation of her character Ceto. She’s the centre of most of the stories darkest moments but has some great lines and oodles of body positivity all the while leaving me not really knowing if she was good or evil or just morally grey.

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I really enjoyed this book, I would say it took a little while to get going, a lot of time was spent in Mer-society which was great… but I could of cut that just slightly shorter and gone above water sooner. The is a very famous fairy tale after all even down to the mermaid  losing her beautiful singing voice, all major plot points we know and love they remain. So there was no need to drag certain things out because as readers we know where the story is heading because we’ve been there before, it’s just a case of where we end up.

 

The book really got going up for me in the last 50 pages and while reading I felt we were in for a huge pay off. And I really did love the ending… but I could of done with an Epilogue or another chapter, the ending just felt a little unfinished to me especially in terms of Oliver I think he (and i’m being as vague as possibly here to keep it spoiler free) but I feel that all I really needed was a paragraph or two on him and then a chapter on what happens after the end of the book as we know it. It was brilliant but felt a little vague.

Anyone who has read The Surface Breaks let me know your opinions I would love to hear your thoughts.

Over all loved it! Great story telling and an interesting perspective from a unique female character who grows and develops as the story unfurls.

3/5 Stars!

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North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Review

 Spoiler Free

As a reader picking a classic to read is hard, they feel and read differently from modern novels and if you’re not used to reading them or have just read something contemporary a classic can be a lot to jump into.

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I have a had a few classics on my TBR for a while, but North and South has always been one my eye as been drawn to again and again. The idea of a young woman pulled away from her home in the South of England and moving across the country against her will to northern England in the mist of the Industrial Revolution was an appealing concept.

North and South follows Margaret Hale, a strong-willed young woman who hasn’t lived amongst high society but is has hardly struggled either- her father is a parson and she has grown up amongst the luscious but slow English Country side with her cousin Edith and friend Henry.

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When Margaret’s father gives up his parsonage following a crisis of faith he moves his whole family to Milton- a city many believed to be based on the real life Manchester. Milton is not like Helston where Margret has grown up it is not green or slow but a busy vibrant city filled with smoke and industry but also there are many poor people. This is something which Margret has been sheltered from in her former life. The people and culture are so different and Margret is referred to as a foreigner more than once, these are two separate worlds that lie next to each other within the same country.

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Margret’s father begins teaching a much lower paid job than his former profession reducing their circumstances considerably but this is how she meets Mr. Thornton her father’s first pupil. Mr. Thornton is a master at a prosperous cotton mill and he and Margret see the world very differently, particularly this new world that she is inhabiting and its people. I don’t think I can continue without spoiling the book all I can say is go and read it now.

Spoilers

I have read a lot of Jane Austen so I suppose with North and South that’s what I thought I was getting a simple love story but North and South is so much more than that. It takes a strong young woman and places her in a world amongst people she doesn’t understand and watches how she negotiates them which I find fascinating. Margret isn’t the kind of character who is interested in making social connections she someone who is interested and passionate about social justice. She can see the awful situation the poor are in and their choices are so limited strike or die, die or strike and that’s why in my favourite scene in the book when the strikers come to Thornton’s mill she begs Mr. Thornton to talk to them, reason with them even through their actions are driven by starvation and desperation. She has hope that all men can just be spoken to and no matter how bad things get they can be resolved.

Best Bits 

Other than Margaret who I’m obviously quite a fan of particularly from a feminist perspective, Mr Thorton is such a well-written character. Thornton is a brilliant business man and a man of incredible morality, and most of all he loves Margaret, amongst all the political angst in this book it was a really great love story to watch unfurl.

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Thornton is a brilliant businessman and a man of incredible morality, and most of all he loves Margaret, amongst all the political angst in this book it was a really great love story to watch unfurl.

Overall I would give this 5/5 stars and it has to be one of my all-time favourite classics, I look forward to reviewing the tv adaptation (which can be found on Netflix) very soon.

I hope you enjoyed my North and South review I’ll see you next time, goodbye!

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Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies- Review

 

Before the Rains has been on my radar for quite some time after spotting a copy at my local Waterstones. The blurb seemed to really jump off the page and offer the reader everything you could want in a historical fiction.

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Before the Rains is set in 1930’s India, an India still being ruled by the British and surrounded with political unrest and India’s desire to be independent. The story follows Eliza, a recently widowed young woman coming out of an unhappy marriage and has come to India to find a career for herself as a photographer. In the 1930s when this book is set women had far fewer options than they do to today and Eliza knows how limited her options could be. So when the opportunity arrises for her to follow her dreams and head back to her childhood home of India Eliza grabs it with both hands and does not let go.

India holds many secrets for Eliza even though she doesn’t know it. She’s commissioned to take photographs of the Royal Family including the Maharaja and his awkward wife Priya and it is while at the palace that she meets the Maharaja’s younger brother the handsome and charismatic Prince Jay.

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What did I think? ( Slight Spoilers Ahead)

I haven’t felt this conflicted about a book in quite some time, I loved the majority things about Before the Rains particularly how feminist the book is. Eliza is a strong young woman who comes from a difficult family situation and although the era she is brought up in and the fact she is a woman isn’t in her favour she wants a career she knows from her previous marriage that she doesn’t just want to be someone’s wife and to live on the sidelines that won’t be enough for her, she wants more and she gets it and becomes a photographer not just in England but in India.

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The book is filled with some great, strong female characters all different and diverse with an important role in the story. Because the story is set in a British-run India the fact that Eliza is English is hugely significant when she arrives she thinks she knows who she is but after spending time with Jay in India her political views surrounding Britain’s presence in India start to change and the deeper Eliza gets with Prince Jay the more she forgets who she is and what she is doing, Jay is set to rule if his brother Anish were unfit or were to die. Oh yeah did I mention interracial romance? Well, I’m mentioning now and it’s pretty swoon-worthy too.

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Rating

Overall I would give this book 3/5 stars I could have rated higher as I enjoyed reading about India and the political situation during that time period and really loved the characters of Eliza and Jay. But I felt the writing style was quite undeveloped and unsculpted and I found the ending a little unbelievable, I would love to hear thoughts from anyone else who read this book.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Before the Rains I’ll see you next time!

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – Review

Title: The Roanoke Girls 

Author: Amy Engel

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Book Format: Paperback ARC 

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First of all, I want to thank Hodder and Stoughton for sending me an ARC of The Roanoke Girls, the ARC that I was sent was an absolutely studding edition of the book and this cover is so gorgeous with the roses and the slash across the cover tieing in so well with the story. But, now for the actual review… 

The Roanoke Girls is about a mysterious, rich family and their big mysterious house, each Roanoke Girl over the years either runs away from that house or dies. The story follows Lane Roanoke the daughter of one of the runways, when her mother dies she is sent to live with her grandparents at the grand Roanoke estate a place she has only heard about through the lips of her mother, a woman who ran away from that place as fast as a bullet from a gun.

The novel is told from two perspectives from teenage Lane and Lane ten years later, This book certainly has the ick factor and is not for the faint hearted! I know this book is being marketed as a mystery but really the story is not that mysterious. What is going on at Roanoke is revealed very early on it’s just the layers that get slowly peeled away.

This book certainly isn’t a fun ride it has the serious ick factor and certainly sent my moral compass into a right spin.

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It also has a narrative structure that felt reminiscent to books such as The Girls by Emma Cline and We Were Liars by E.Lockhart. I couldn’t help thinking have I been here before? Have I read this before? Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing it just felt familiar and sadly I wouldn’t say, The Roanoke Girls wasn’t as good as either of these novels, it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t hit me right in the heart or in the head like some books do, nor did it leave a lasting impression.

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I know this book is being marketed as a mystery but really the story is not that mysterious. What is going on at Roanoke is revealed very early on it’s just the layers that get slowly peeled away.
The Roanoke Girls deals with complex and deeply troubling issues and it’s not self-serving of judgemental to the characters the writer just tells the story and allows the reader to make their minds up for themselves.

The novel has some interesting characters exploring the way we are all human and sometimes the people we think are perfect are the most flawed and the ones we think are the most flawed have the ability to be the most kind.
An interesting exploration of human relationships and the damage that one family can do to itself throughout the ages.

Worth a read.

3/5 Stars

I hope you enjoyed my review, I’ll see you next time!

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The Fault in Our Stars – Review

I’m pretty confident that most of you know what The Fault in Our Stars is about, it is one of those books that has been swept along in a wave of popularity and is loved by so many.
When the book first came out I just wasn’t desperate to read it, I don’t remember why.

Recently I gave in and saw the film adaptation on Netflix and I wept like a baby but not just that, the film inspired me to pick up the book, which is something I never really considered about adaptations of books, love them or hate them they get people reading!

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

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I can’t say enough good things about this book, firstly the writing, oh the writing, this was my first John Green book and after been drawn to his world by his delicious prose it won’t be my last. I am the kind of reader who needs to get sucked into a book pretty quickly otherwise chances are I’m going to put it down for ‘later’ and pick up something else. The Fault in Our Stars didn’t just suck me in it had me hooked from the first page, from the first line! The thing is I had seen the film I knew I was walking into tragedy but when a book’s that good I don’t even care!

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John Green creates fully fleshed out characters in Hazel and Gus it was so easy to read and mostly laugh and later cry all the while feeling privileged that I got to be part of their journey in some strange way. The Fault in Our stars is definitely a new favourite, it broke my heart and the moment I finished it I wanted to start it again.

Paint and Butterflies rating 5/5 Stars!

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Children’s​ Books- My Childhood Favourites!

I was having a think about the books I read while I was growing up, the books that had a big impact on me not only as a reader but as a young girl growing up in Britain.

I know when people mention their favourite children’s books Harry Potter is often at the top of their list  but there will be no Harry Potter mentions here. Although the Harry Potter books were being released throughout my childhood I didn’t read them until last year! So that’s me, putting Harry Potter to bed… at least for the remainder of this post.

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What we love has children can have an impact on us for our whole lives, from music to film and everything in between youth is an impressionable time. Now I want to share with you my childhood favourites, the books I loved, the books that started off my never ending TBR pile, the books that started it all…

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

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I have a life-long love for Alice and her adventures, that curious little girl who fell down a rabbit whole as stayed with me and I’m always finding new Alice re-tellings to delve into Splintered by A.G Howard being one of my favourites.

Goosebumps by R.L Stine

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Even now I love a creepy read and I’m sure Goosebumps was where it all began, spooky, spine-tingling reads and I’m sure the cause of some rather creepy nightmares.

Jacqueline Wilson Books

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I adored Jacoline Wilson growing up, from Tracey Beaker to The Suitcase Kid Jacqueline Wilson writes great stories that also show children a world, or a situation that they may not have understood before. At the same time her books are relatable and full of great characters and hard-hitting drama.

Nobody’s Horse by Joanne Webster

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When I was growing up I was lucky to have a mother who was also I reader and I constantly searched her book shelves looking for some hidden gem. Nobody’s Horse was one of those gems, the story of a horse with no one to love and care for it. As a little girl who loved horses I read everything with a horse or pony on the cover  but Nobody’s horse was definitely a special read and I read that book cover to cover until the cover fell off and the pages were held together by nothing but tape.

The Beatrix Potter Stories

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Beatrix Potter was such an interesting woman to be a writer and an illustrator in the time she lived was amazing for a woman of her era but she also did a great deal with the money from her books for conservation and the protection of British countryside. Her beautiful books were a childhood staple for me, I was fascinated and thrilled by the tales of Peter Rabbit and her other characters.

Ten Week Stables

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Another of my Mums old books, ten-week stables was another horsey adventure and is the type of story that makes any young child  think that anything is possible.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

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Another horsey book I know, but Black Beauty is such a classic, voiced by Beauty himself this unique narrative follows Black Beauty throughout his life. From when he leaves his home and mother and moves to his new home with his first owner. Each time Beauty is sold he gets a new life and sometimes not for the better. The story teaches children that not all humans are kind but when they are they can give love beyond measure, a beautiful tale of love and friendship.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

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There was always something so magical about this lyrical christmas story, when I hear lines from the famous poem now I am filled with nostalgia from Christmas’ gone, a book to read in a magical time of year.

I hope you enjoyed my Favourite Childrens Books post, what are your favourite books from your childhood? Let me know in the comments, happy reading everyone!

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Bodies of Water by V.H Leslie Review

Title:Bodies of Water

Author:V.H Leslie

Publisher:Salt Publishing

Format:Paper Back

I have recently been looking for some good gothic fiction to read and on my new found hunt in all things gothic I came across Bodies of Water by V.H Leslie. I didn’t know this when I bought it but at 130 pages Bodies of Water is actually a novella but don’t let that put you off it is a steady burner and has a slow build and really gives the reader time to get enthralled into the world and become interested in the characters and their stories.

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Bodies of Water follows Kirsten and Evelyn both live in the building Wakewater House but in different periods in time. Kirsten moves into Wakewater in present day London while Evelyn is living at Wakewater in Victorian London. The two women have two very different lives and two very different experiences, while Kirsten is moving into her new flat Evelyn has been sent to a hydrotherapy centre for ‘women’s complaints’.

Wakewater house is on the River Thames and the river is a huge part of the story partly because of water treatments being used by ‘doctors’ who treated the women in the victorian Wakewater House.  But water is a strong theme running throughout the book and  a huge factor in tying the stories of Evelyn and Kirsten together.

An interesting and educated novella, Bodies of Water is not just a gothic ghost story but a study of women and a discussion about the repression that we have suffered over the centries and what the long term consqueses of that maybe.

I loved reading this and would definitely recommend to everyone who fancies a watery, creepy, ghostly time!

Paint and Butterflies Rating 5/5 Stars

Hope you enjoyed my Bodies of Water Review,

Happy reading everyone!

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