[Book Review] House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

house of leaves

House of Leaves is interesting. It essentially follows three narratives. One , the subject of the novel (per say) which is The Navidson Record and it’s house on Ashe Tree Lane. Two, Zampano, as the author of the the writing. Three, Johnny Truant and his stories and his time assembling the notes left by Zampano.

The amount of layering in this novel is actually quite incredible to me. The novel is definitely not easy. The main body of text is sometimes all over the place, leaving an eerie and haunting feeling. The footnotes are extensive, sometimes making you follow two narratives at the same time.

But, the effort is definitely worth it in the end.

At the heart of the tale, House of Leaves is a love story. There’s Navy and Karen, Johnny and Thumper, but it is also one that is scary. The house on Ash Tree Lane provides us with many creepy instances, brought along by the skill of the author and the text placement, at times leaving you feeling claustrophobic.

Despite taking me a long time to get through House of Leaves, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and found in the instances I was reading it, I couldn’t put it down (despite the heavy weight of the novel!). I would definitely recommend it purely based on the interesting structure of the novel.

From reading upside down to back to front, House of Leaves left me waiting to see what twists and turns followed on the next page. I loved it! Have you read House of Leaves? Let me know what you thought!

 

House of Leaves was one of our book club books for October. You can find my partial review of the novel here

[Book Review] The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

the haunting of hill house

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a classic horror novel. Following the story of four adults as they plan to spend the summer in reclusive and unmentionable Hill House, the occupants soon learn the reason why no one goes there.

Despite the novel being published originally in 1959, I have not yet read it, but it has always been a book I’ve wanted to read.

The novel lives up to its hype, and is truly scary. I found there were moments where Jackson’s writing got under my skin and left me scared, leading me to put the novel down for the moment to calm down. It has been a long time since I’ve read a novel that’s affected me in such a way.

The writing style of the novel is interesting, at times there are more than one conversation going on, particularly when it comes to Mrs Dudley, as she parrots back her rules whilst other characters talk around her. It gives the sections a feeling of her not being there, adding to the haunting element of the tale.

Eleanor is also an interesting character, especially as she begins to ‘feel’ the house and gives the house an almost lifelike description.

This book is definitely one I would recommend for those who are interested in a good scary story. Shirley Jackson crafts a ghost story that gets under your skin and wanting to read more despite the fear you’re feeling.

[Book Review] Born Lippy by Jo Brand

born lippy

Born Lippy: How to do female by Jo Brand is hard to categorise. Filed under Philosophy on Amazon, the book can also be seen as somewhat of a self-help book, too.

For those of you who don’t know who Jo Brand is, she is a comedian, and her biography can be found here.

I have personally never read anything by Jo Brand before, but I have seen her on television occasionally, and was somewhat in the know of what her personality is like.

Born Lippy is insightful in it’s own ways, as Brand discusses growing up and feminism. It’s a book that reads loud, but that doesn’t deter from the message that Brand is trying to portray.

Set out in different segments on how to deal with certain situations, Jo Brand is giving her own experiences and her own advice on things she has done and would like to have changed. The message of the book is simple, but also needed, look after yourself, and know how to do it well.

The only drawback for me, personally, were a few grammatical and spelling errors in the book which could have been picked up by the editor before it went into publication. Some of them I couldn’t tell if it was slang and colloquial, but there were definitely a few errors in there.

Overall, it was good easy read, funny at the right moments. I would definitely recommend if you are looking for a bit of fun, and a different look at the way feminism is viewed today.

[Book Review] Becoming by Michelle Obama

becoming

Becoming is Michelle Obama’s memoir, following her life from childhood, through university, her career, and her time as FLOTUS.

Michelle Obama is a deeply motivated and skilled woman, and that sense prevails throughout the book, from the way she studied at school, then went on to study at Princeton despite her university councillor saying she wasn’t ‘Princeton material’.

Michelle Obama lets the reader into her life, and gives an in-depth look to her struggles and how she over came them.

She was truly a powerful and inspirational lady even before she became FLOTUS.

The book to me was inspiring, it made me want to do more with my life. To try and achieve more. Her writing is fluid, but also gives you a sense of her personality as a naturally fun-loving person, but also a person who loves order, which for me, is very relatable.

The effect that she’s had on women, in particular minorities over the years has been astounding. When I’d be reading the book in work, many women would stop me and ask me about the book, get excited, and tell me how much they all looked up to her.

Many young women across the globe share the same story. Michelle Obama is an inspiration to them.

I would definitely recommend this book, it’s an enjoyable read, and there’s I have learnt so much. Michelle Obama’s writing style is smooth and clear, perhaps harkening to her days in law, but this is definitely worth the time.

Have you read Becoming? Let me know what you thought!

[Book Review] And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a novel by Patrick Ness with illustrations by Rovina Cai and tells the tale of Bathsheba as her and her hunting pod hunt down the devil himself, Toby Wick.

The novel itself is an interesting insight into the mind of a whale as they travel throughout the ocean, and how they view the humans. On a deeper level, this novel discusses the ideas of life, humans and purpose.

Giving oneself purpose is a theme that runs throughout the novel, and how our actions define us. From believing in prophecies, to how we conduct ourselves. Bathsheba and Demitrius consistently question each other on their moral standpoint, one from a whale, and one from a human. It’s deeper meaning of understanding the people and things that you do not understand shines through, and how getting to know someone will help you to understand the other person. It is a necessary topic in the current world that we live in.

Our main character is Bathsheba, and Bathsheba is a complicated one. One destined for the life of a hunter, but is one that questions the idea of being a hunter, and what makes someone a devil, or evil.

Patrick Ness has always had a way with words, and whilst I did enjoy this novel, I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as his others. It is still a great read regardless.

[Book Review] The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

The Travelling Cat Chronicles written originally in Japanese, and translated by Philip Gabriel follows the adventure of Nana the cat, who was a stray, but was rescued by Satoru. It’s a story of loyalty and friendship as the two travel Japan as Satoru looked for a new owner for Nana.

The novel, despite its short length, accomplishes a lot. Philip Gabriel’s translation is detailed and filled with beautiful descriptions, and highlights Nana’s personality really well.

I hadn’t realised when I bought the book that it would be told from the perspective of Nana the cat, but I loved Nana’s narration. Sweet and sarcastic, Nana is a credible cat. I often thought of whether this would be like what my cat thinks.

Satoru is a charming and caring owner, perhaps a little too perfect, but this is what the story needed. Satoru was loving, was happy despite everything that was thrown at him.

Personally, I loved the book. I was a novel I felt really emotionally attached to, and shed quite a few (read: a lot) of tears at the end.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, but be warned! Bring the tissues, because you will cry!

[Book Review] That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger follows Lee Bauer, a school shooting survivor as she embarks on telling the truth of what happened that day, and how one story overtook the others, but it’s not true.

The story follows Lee as she gathers letters from the other five survivors so that they can share their experiences of the day, and discusses the aftermath of the shooting for the victims three years on.

Initially, I read this book as kind of a challenge to myself. It’s not typically a book I would pick up and read, despite it’s interesting premise. So, I challenged myself to read it, and to see if I would enjoy it.

The book won. It was actually very interesting and raised so many interesting points in how one narrative can be spread, and trying to raise awareness of the truth. It also deals a lot with the idea of perception, and how the image we see of one person is not the actual representation of the person at all.

Despite my initial hesitance, Lee was probably the character I could relate to the most of all of them, as she was Asexual, like myself. It was actually really nice to see asexuality represented in a book, as I don’t come across it very often in my own reading. So, I was surprised and happy that this was included.

The writing style is neat and simple, which at first was a bit of a setback for me, as I found the writing was a little bit ‘I got up and got dressed. I wore skinny jeans.’ But once you really got into the story, the author really grips you and you find it hard to put the novel down.

All in all, this was a winner for me. A pleasant surprise, and handled a really dark subject well. It hid nothing, and really put forward that what these characters, is not just something they get over. It’s something they deal with three years on, and will carry on to deal with the rest of their lives.

I would definitely recommend this novel, even with my hesitance, I ended up really enjoying the read, and learning a lot!