[Book Discussion] The Christmas Forest by Rebecca Boxall

the christmas forest

The Christmas Forest by Rebecca Boxall is a Christmas tale of love and friendship. Enid has Asperger’s Syndrome and has been talking via letter to a man called Fred.

The story focuses around Enid planning a trip to Australia to finally meet Fred for Christmas, supported by her sister Bess. But will it happen? That is the big question that hangs for a large part of the novel. Enid’s friends are unsure, Enid is sure, Fred is sure, but who will win out?

Despite the short nature of the novel, The Christmas Forest is a pleasantly good read. The plot moves fast enough to keep you interested, and Rebecca Boxall writes wonderfully. Asperger’s Syndrome does take a centre role in this novel, and Boxall handles it with care and it is well researched.

The narrative is sweet, and is definitely one I would recommend for the Christmas season.

It is interesting to note that Boxall has written Enid with Asperger’s, as a lot of research shows that it Asperger’s is usually diagnosed in males. Boxall is bringing to the forefront women with Asperger’s and allows the reader to submerge in Enid’s plight and characteristics.

All in all, I would definitely recommend The Christmas Forest. What did you think? Have you read it?

Let me know what you thought in the comments!

[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 Discussion] Red Phoenix by Larry Bond

red phoenix

Red Phoenix by Larry Bond is a military fiction book. It follows the story of war between North and South Korea told mostly from an American perspective.

The book is okay. I had a few quibbles with the book, the characters are very stereotyped, the Americans are big, brave and macho. The South Koreans are obedient, the North Koreans are evil, etc.

One of the only prominent females in the book, Anne, started off really well, but in the end followed a very typical ‘I’ve found a man, and I love him and I don’t know what I’m going to do without him.’

Also, if I hear the phrase ‘frozen rice paddies’ one more time, I think I might just have to lash out.

Despite its faults, the book is entertaining. The beginning is intriguing, it kind of wavers towards the middle, and then picks up again toward the end.

The biggest success, for me, was that the book made me want to read more about Korean history and the history of the Korean War. It’s a perfectly decent book, and I can see why people would like it, and I did enjoy reading it, but it is also not typically a book I would have stuck with.

The book was also very well executed, it followed a lot of characters and different countries. They were all set up well, and once you learnt names and places you remembered them well.

My two favourite characters of the book were definitely Kevin Little and Lieutenant Rhee. They were the two that really stood out to me, and I found myself really wanting to find out how everything was going for them more than anyone else.

What did you think of the book? Let me know in the comments!

[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.