My Review of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Date Finished: 16th February 2013

Book Challenge 2013 Number: 13

Rating: 4 stars
 
It’s definitely going to be a lazy Sunday for me, have for the moment got no immediately pressing work to complete and am feeling a bit rough around the edges. Think I’ll turn to some Shakespeare today for a bit of reading in bed with the IPod on shuffle. 
 
I Capture the Castle is certainly an intriguing read, following the Mortmain family mainly through the eyes of Cassandra in their old, dilapidated castle. Mr Mortmain took out a 40 year lease on it, hoping it would soothe his chronic writers block after he can’t seem to write anything after his first book. Jacob Wrestling. He lives there with his 2 daughters Rose and Cassandra, his son Thomas, his second wife Topaz and Stephen, who helps out around the house and is desperately in love with Cassandra. Money is extremely tight for them, and Rose in particular craves a luxurious lifestyle. Then the Cotton brothers turn up, Neil and Simon. Simon is the heir to a considerable fortune, which could rescue the family from their dire financial situation…
 
This book was such a charming one to read, and literary-enthusiast Cassandra makes for a great narrator. I especially love the first line of the entire novel ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’. She tells the story as she sees it, and feels that ‘capturing’ everything around her and learning to speed write will lead to her literary ambitions of becoming an author. 
 
My favourite character from I Capture the Castle would definitely have to be Cassandra herself, she’s a typical late teenage girl wanting things she can’t have, but she’s not typical in so many ways. She has a lot of burden placed upon her which forces her to mature in order to help out to make life a little easier for the entire family. Their situation isn’t helped by Mr Mortmain himself, who for the first half of the book doesn’t appear to do much.
 
I absolutely adored the ending, which was a lovely surprise (and I won’t be giving it away). You feel a sense of elation on Cassandra’s behalf and also extremely sorry for poor Simon.
 
Definitely a recommended read 🙂
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My Review of The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

Finished on 12/02/13

 
2013 Reading Challenge Book Number: 12
 
Rating: 5 stars
 
The Vanishing Point follows ghost writer Stephanie Harker, guardian of Jimmy Higgins age 5. Steph has screws in her leg which always sets off the metal detectors at airports, and their trip to America is no exception. But as Jimmy waits for her to be searched, a figure whisks a compliant Jimmy away. As Steph and the FBI try to piece together what happened, you find yourself transported into how Steph became Jimmy’s guardian and close friends with his mother Scarlett. 
 
McDermid as usual has hit the spot for me once more. The characters are convincing as well as conniving, and you question everyone’s motives until the very end. My personal favourite character is Scarlett, who outside of Steph is a central character to the novel. I began to feel very sorry for her as the story progressed for going through so much and coming out on top. The storyline is also very intriguing, the narrative being told by Steph retrospectively for most of the story, a story of her becoming part of Jimmy and Scarlett’s life. The story then shifts dramatically to Steph and DS Nick Nicolaides in the present tense as they try to piece the story of Jimmy’s kidnap together. 
 
The ending had me completely speechless! Not for one moment had I considered that particular motive that McDermid reveals. Now I’m not one to give away spoilers, but wow. It’s taking every ounce of my self control to not let slip the dramatic ending. It’s so ruthless it seems almost inconsiderable, then you realise you had the completely wrong impression of a particular character all the way through the book. 

My Review of Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson

Date Finished: 8th February 2013

Book Challenge Number: 11 (I’ve skipped number 10 because it was Utopia by Thomas More, compulsory reading for a presentation I had to do. Also skipped 8 which was the Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, I don’t want to bore you or myself by posting a review on those)
 
Rating: 5 stars
 
Before I Go To Sleep follows Christine, a woman who wakes up unable to remember the previous day or key events in her life before a traumatic event. With the help of Dr Nash, she keeps a journal and tries to recapture her memories. 
 
When I first started reading this book, I was expecting it to be quite dry with no real storyline apart from ‘she can’t remember’ and thought the story might get repetitive. But oh no, this story had so many twists and turns that it well and truly had my attention. I do a lot of reading when I’m under the weather, but this book captivated me so much I finished it in two days! 
 
I love the way Watson builds up this image of domesticity with that undertone of suspicion that runs all the way through, culminating in an explosive climax that I did not see coming. The ending is really a happy one by all accounts, and a lot of questions you have as the story progresses are answered in the ending.
 
Overall, it was a heartfelt novel about feeling like you’ve lost yourself because you can’t remember key events in your life. I loved the little flashbacks that she has of past events as she visits new places and meets old faces, it really made the book personal and made you sympathise for poor Christine as her life appears so wasted.
 
For beautiful writing, emotion, suspicion and a brilliant ending, I 100% recommend this book
 
 

My Review of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Had such a nice week last week at home with the family from Wednesday to Sunday, got together with my friends to celebrate my friend Ilona’s birthday and went out for a Chinese buffet with the family…..One downside, I caught a cold from my nine year old sister and now I am an ill, sleepy, virus-ridden unhappy bunny. 
 
But, I have finished Sleepy Hollow and decided to give you a review of it 🙂 Hopefully I will be better soon and posting lots of blog-posts in between essay writing, seminar reading and classes
 
Date Finished: 5th February 2013
 
Book Challenge Number: 9
 
Rating: 2 stars
 
Sleepy Hollow follows the story of a Dutch Settlement in Tarrytown, with a quiet glen nearby called Sleepy Hollow. Here is where the spirit known as ‘the Headless Horseman’ is, believed to be an old revolutionary soldier riding through searching for his head. Teacher Ichabod Crane is fascinated by the tale of the horseman and wants to know more, then one night as he makes his way home, he sees the horseman by the church.
 
To be perfectly honest, this book should have been right up my street, but it wasn’t. The writing style was alright, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting from the book that brought us the film. I was waiting for a bit of gore, some terror and mysterious killings but all I received was a disappearance at the end and one teacher’s love story plonked in between stories told about the horseman by the villagers. There’s no real character development or half decent plot, and I know it’s a short book, but its like Irving doesn’t even want you to get to know the character that much or build up the story.