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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The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrow (A Review)

 

Both happily and unhappily I have just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, from here on out I shall just refer to it as Guernsey and I think you will understand why.

It has been softly on my radar for a few years now but with no real intention of reading but I’m not sure why. It’s definitely my genre, it had been sat on my Goodreads shelves for awhile now and it’s one of those books that I had seen around in varying covers but had never quite reached for.

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Then I saw the trailer the Guernsey movie and knew I’d been missing out and bought the book without hesitation. The first thing I discovered was this book is a epistolary novel for those who don’t know this book is written in the form of letters, I have only ever read one book in a similar format before Cecilia Ahern’s Love, Rosie and I just didn’t get on with the structure and ended up DNF-ing the novel. But Guernsey is different, it is so easy to fall on love with the characters. The book follows Juliet a young writer and journalist who has been writing fluff pieces during the second world war to cheer up the nation she’s looking for a new and interesting book idea when she get’s a letter from a man in Guernsey who has bought one of her old books that had her contact detail written inside.

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They begin to correspond and he discuss he is a member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. They enjoy corresponding so much that Juliet begins to get letters from other members of the society and this is where the fun really begins. When Juliet travels to Guernsey and meets the real people she has been writing to, her new friends from her letters and becomes part of their lives. She discovers what Guernsey and it’s people went through during the war, occupied by the Germans, Guernsey was the only part of the British Isles to really have to live with their enemy and Juliet a writer and a seeker of truth is determined to find out what that really means. She also becomes curious about the societies founder Elizabeth, Elizabeth becomes the centre of this story that Juliet becomes determined to write and her love for the island pours out of her and onto every page.

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Guernsey is a book about friendship, loyalty and love, in a period in history when there had been so much tragedy and devastation it shows is the small things that truly bind people together and love will always win out even in the darkest and most brutal of times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a beautiful story that everyone should read it is written in letters but the characters feel fully formed and full of colour. The book is so short it was like being on a short visit with great friends, who I already miss.

5/5 Stars!

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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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Page to Screen Series: Episode Two- A Cuckoo’s Calling

Hey guys and welcome back to the second episode of my brand new Page to Screen series launched only last week. The basic premise is that I will talk about books that have been adapted for the big and small screen but in a more in-depth way than when I just do a standard review. I don’t hold back in these discussions but I will try and do this as spoiler free as possible as I know many people still have series this on their TBR.

Here is Episode one where I talked about Atonement.

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If you have dropped by my blog in the last week you may have noticed I have mentioned the Cormoran Strike Series a few (okay many) times. It all started when I binged the BBC adaptation and then began reading the first book. As someone who is not really a lover of crime it was a surprise that I have completely falling in love with this series and it’s characters.

Based on the Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling) novel of the same name A Cuckoo’s calling stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger they play the one legged private investigator Comoran Strike and his new assistant and temp Robin.

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Strike is the son of a model and rock star and internally has been dealing with his mothers murder for years he also lost his leg while serving in the army. So when he meets Robin on the morning he and his long time girlfriend Charlotte break up after a blazing row he has been through a lot.

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Robin has moved to London to be with her boyfriend Mathew and has been temping, an intelligent university graduate Robin is capable if achieving more than she has been doing and at this point in her life she knows she has been floundering. But it’s only when she walks into Strike’s office and he nearly kills her by knocking her down the stairs that she starts to feel a sense of gravitational pull and knows that working with Strike is where she’s suppose to be.

Although her Fiance Mathew hates her doing the job and that friction is felt between them as he desires her to work in a more corporate environment. The reader can feel his dislike of Strike, it just flies off the page and this has been translated brilliantly on screen. Strike who really is just a quite loner, he lives for the job and is busy building his fledgling business but Mathew dislikes him,  just as much he dislikes the fact that working for him makes Robin a low earner.

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Together Strike and Robin have been hired to re-examine the case of Luna Landry a model at the height of her fame when it appeared she jumped from her penthouse. The Celebrity world comes easy to Strike and washes over him like nothing but it’s exciting for Robin moving in these glamours but ultimately tragic circles.

Luna, it’s reveled was adopted and had been investigating her biological family and for a time it’s thought that this could be the reason for her death.

Luna Landry

I really like Rowling’s writing for adults, I’ve said before that Harry Potter wasn’t really part of my childhood it somehow managed to pass me by until about three years ago when I read the whole series. I should say I enjoyed the Harry Potter books but I think when you consume something whether that be books or music or movies as a child or in your teens it has a different effect on you than when you just  experience it as an adult, a huge part of that is the nostalgia factor.

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Reading Rowling’s writing as Robert Galbraith has been a really lovely experience she invokes some interesting discussions including race and disability. I am thrilled that the Strike series is continuing with the adaptation of Lethal White I just hope the book comes out soon!

I hope you enjoyed Episode two of my page to screen series, I love reading your comments especially if you have opinions on the books or the series, I’ll see you next time!

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January Reading and TBR

It’s January which means it’s a new year and we are all getting that new start feeling, by now of course some resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside and some of us are slipping back in to our old ways.

But not me, this year I have lots of plans and that includes reading, my reading slowed a little bit last year and as I was having a good (and overdue) sort out of my bookshelves I noticed how many books I’d started but not actually finished. While assessing my 2017 reading year I realised there had been so many times when books just hadn’t grabbed me. One of my favourite things about reading is being taken in to that world, captivated and not being let go to the very last page like some sort of literary prisoner.

Some how, maybe it was me or perhaps I made some bad reading choices but that didn’t happening for me very often in 2017 so I am trying to start this year off on a high.

January TBR

I’m currently reading the Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Cambell, Jen is a YouTuber and Vlogger who I have watched for awhile. She has lots say on the subject of fairy tales a subject which I actually wrote my dissertation on so I am always keen to hear her perspective and was equally keen to read her short story collection which from what I have read so for is dealing with the darker side of fairy tales and going back to their more gruesome roots.

I am also planning on reading Ali Smith’s Autumn, The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, Howards End by E.M Forster and Little Women, all of which have adaptions apart from Autumn so I am keen to get my teeth into those as well.

In 2018 I also I have plans to pick up on previous reading challenges that I have started and never completed three in particular created for this blog. One was The Shakespeare Challenge, two The Austen Challenge and thirdly and mostly importantly I started re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia for The Problem with Susan, always a Queen of Narnia? to find out more click the link above.

I think it is important to finish the things I’ve started and plan on getting back on track with with this blog. So just wanted to say hi again, happy new year and let the games begin.

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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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Let’s Talk About Grantchester! 

A Priest and Policeman walk into a bar… I know what you’re thinking this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but that one line is basically the entire premise for this show… (sort of). Based on the Sidney Chambers novels by James Runcie Grantchester has now returned to ITV at 9.00 for its third series and it’s a welcome return in the shape of a typical British Sunday night drama.

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For those who don’t know the books or the show follows clergyman Sidney Chambers (played by James Norton) and his sleuthing adventures with best friend older Policeman Geordie (played by Robson Green). The two men are bound by friendship but also by their differences many of which are not just generational. Where, for instance, does young Sidney and Geordie who is twenty years his senior stand on subjects such as the death penalty? And in the most recent series infidelity? All are explored in a show that has morality, love and friendship at its very core.

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The series follow the men’s personal and professional lives and their many highs and lows Sidney and his long standing will they won’t they with his ‘friend’ Amanda is an on-going theme throughout the show. This is a detective series though with a weekly murder in this quaint English village that really shouldn’t have that many murders and more often than not it’s solved by the Priest, not the Detective, but that is all part of the charm of this programme.

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If Sidney and Geordie aren’t enough to reel you in and Sidney’s dramatic almost romance with Amanda still doesn’t have you convinced then watch it for Leonard the lovely shy Priest, who always provides comic relief. Oh yeah and Dickens, because who doesn’t love a black labrador puppy following James Norton round on a bike? That’s right, no one!

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I hope you enjoyed today’s post I’d love to hear your thoughts, see you next time!

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