My Review of You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi Macfarlane

My Review of You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi Macfarlane

Finished on: 2nd July 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Reading Challenge Book: 41
Sorry for not posting this sooner, have been running around like a crazy fool for the past week! Have a review to write of Revenge Wears Prada (The Devil Returns) which I think I’ll write tomorrow whilst making the most of a long awaited rest day. 
You Had Me At Hello, if you judge it on its title, is a romantic soppy novel reminiscent of Mills and Boon cringeworthy texts. But in my mind, this book is more than that, it has a beautiful depth and loveable characters.
This book follows Rachel, 10 years out of university and freshly split up from her fiancée Rhys. She bumps into an old university friend Ben at the Iibrary and begins to get to know him once again. What results is her being introduced to a top story for her work as a journalist, to see everything crumble in that respect, and to wonder what her feelings are and who she can trust. 
I love how this book isn’t straight up romance, it has sweet little flashbacks of university life and the romance creeps in at the end, just a tad which makes oh smile and gives you a nice familiar ending. My most favourite character would have to be Rachel herself as she has that type of self deprecating charm that’s quite endearing. On the other side of the fence, I cannot stand the character of Simon, and if you ever read this book you will understand why. God what a whining little twat.

My Review of Hannibal by Thomas Harris

My Review of Hannibal by Thomas Harris

Finished on: June 26th 2013
Rating: 5 stars
Reading Challenge Book: 40
I’m sorry for not posting this sooner, I had it written and saved on my computer but I seem to have had a one tracked mind and forgotten to post it. 
Hannibal is the final book chronologically in Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series, following on several years later from Silence of the Lambs. Dr Lecter has escaped police custody and is living in Florence, whereas Agent Clarice Starling of the FBI is seeing her career crumble around her, fuelled by Paul Krendler. Wealthy businessmen, ex-patient and victim of Dr Lecter Mason Verger is desperately seeking revenge on the man who made him mutilate himself through drugs and hypnotic suggestion, offering a hefty reward for those who deliver Dr Lecter to him alive. 
This book for me was the most twisted of them all I think, particularly the ending, which if you’ve read the book and seen the film you will know that they are quite different. I thought the focus on Hannibal’s dead cannibalised sister Mischa was sometimes not that relevant, especially now with hindsight we know there’s an entire book dedicated to what drives Hannibal as a serial killer and his early years of living and killing. 
But, as always, I find it very hard to fault such complex and intriguing work on one of the most notorious characters in the horror/crime genre.

My Review of The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

My Review of The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Finished on: June 24th 2013
Rating: 5 stars
Reading Challenge Book: 39
I am really getting into Harris’ work and the Hannibal series of books. Today I’ve started the last in that series ‘Hannibal’ and am whizzing through it whilst enjoying every second. 
The Silence of the Lambs follows FBI academy student/trainee Clarice Starling, asked by Agent Jack Crawford to visit Dr Hannibal Lecter in the asylum and ask for his advice on a psychological profile/survey of people like him. The hidden motive is for Starling to extract information from Lecter that may be potentially useful for catching the killer known as ‘Buffalo Bill’ who has been killing and skinning women.
Lecter is as manipulative as ever, using ‘quid pro quo’ to extract information from Clarice about herself and her childhood. This book particularly opens up how Lecter is seen by those around him, with Chilton wanting to study him as a ‘pure sociopath’ and the orderly at the asylum Barney who he appears to respect, telling him that he finds rudeness so irritating that he likes eating ‘free range rude’. The way Clarice sees him I find particularly interesting though, she appears to respect him as an academic personality, although she is nevertheless horrified at his crimes and motivations. The way she refers to him as ‘Dr Lecter’ is interesting, sort of screams to me as a method of deference and shows that he is the dominant personality in this situation. 
I just love the intrigue of Harris’ writing and the complex psychological themes that he uses. Can’t wait to finish the last book in the series, where I’ve heard that Starling and Lecter’s relationship really gets twisted.

My Review of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

My Review of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Finished on: June 22nd 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Reading Challenge Book: 38

It’s so hard to believe that I’m getting so close to finishing my reading challenge for this year so soon, maybe I will get to 100 again like I did last year.

I moved on from Hannibal Rising to the next book chronologically in Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series, the first book to be published, Red Dragon. This story deals with the hunt for the ‘Tooth Fairy’ serial killer by the FBI, led by Jack Crawford. Hannibal Lecter is at this point incarcerated after being caught some years before by investigator Will Graham, who paid a heavy price for catching him both before the story begins and as it ends.

I have to admit, I’ve seen all of the movies of this and Red Dragon didn’t impress me storyline wise as much as the others. However, the new TV series Hannibal tells the pre Red Dragon story in a very intriguing way which I think provides extra layers into how I interpret the book.

Overall, I still view Harris as a master of this type of genre, the characters are subtle and believable with many complex layers which make them really interesting. I would credit Will Graham as the most intriguing character of this book outside of Lecter himself for being a man so alike to serial killers in terms of psychology and particularly empathy, but so desperate to escape his FBI past in favour of a normal life.

My Review of Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

Finished on: 20th June 2013

Rating: 5 stars

Reading Challenge Book: 37

It’s been so nice to work my way back into reading and relax whilst reading with a bit of music on without having to worry about revision, exams or deadlines.

Now for those of you who know me or read a lot of my reviews, you’ll know that I love a bit of gory writing and horror, especially within the realm of crime/criminal psychology. My favourite series ever is McDermid’s ‘Wire in the Blood’, revolving around criminal psychologist Tony Hill. So it would make sense that I would enjoy reading Hannibal Lecter books and watching the many programmes and films based on him. Weirdly, it had never occurred to me to read the books until recently. 

I decided to read Hannibal Rising first, as although it’s the last book published, it acts as a prequel to the others in terms of chronology. You begin to understand what has driven him to become this psychopathic killer who kills without remorse or regret, and it does almost give you a sense of sympathy for him. I think that’s important with books and characters such as these as ‘monsters’ are simply not born that way, they have to be created through trauma, and although this does not excuse the crimes they go on to commit, it helps your understanding. 

I was blown away by how true the movie actually was to the book, as in I could recall individual lines from the book that were used pretty much as is in the film. Only a few minor details are skipped over, but this does not detract from the story that Harris has created! Brilliant!

Overall, I found this quite an enjoyable read, and a lot less gruesome I would imagine than the ones to come as it shows how he becomes this notorious killer on a learning curve rather than showing him at his murderous peaks.

My Review of Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie

Hello everyone!

Here is my first review of the summer, Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie
Rating: 3 stars
Finished on: 19th June 2013
Reading Challenge Book: 36
It’s the story that so many children are familiar with, especially thanks to Disney; the tale of Peter Pan and Neverland. 
Peter Pan is a boy who refuses to grow up, living with the Lost Boys and the fairy Tinkerbell in Neverland, enemies with the notorious Captain Hook. He appears in the bedroom of siblings Wendy, John and Michael Darling, and together they go to Neverland to go on an adventure. Wendy takes on a motherly role to the Lost Boys, something which they have lacked for so long.
After a fight in the past with enemy Captain Hook, Peter Pan severed his hand off, leaving him with a hook in its place. The hand is then fed to a crocodile, who loves the taste so much that he follows Hook around with the hope of tasting him some more. It provided such a cool little back story to the widely known fact from the film about why Hook is so afraid of the ticking crocodile who swallowed a clock. 
Overall, it was lovely to reconnect with a bit of childhood nostalgia and go back to the original 🙂

Quick Updates :)

It’s so good to be home from university 🙂 I got back on Saturday morning and have been so busy since then!

My family and I did the Race for Life yesterday, completing it in 1 hour and 3 minutes, which is a good time for us snails who walked most of it then attempted to run some and failed.
I have every intention of starting a new book either today or tomorrow, unsure which one yet, I will have to have a look at what I’ve got out that remains unread. Have also ordered Thomas Harris’ Hannibal series of books so looking forward to digging into those once they arrive 🙂
I also start driving lessons again after a year long break tomorrow morning at 9 o clock. Wish me luck!

Great big rant at my old sixth form and seeing the end of the long road of my first year

A lot of things have occurred to me when looking back at my sixth form experience. I used to think that sixth form was a great experience and the teachers were great, but in my final year I realised a lot of things.

They are absolutely shocking at recognising the signs within their students. Whether it is signs of mental illness (or for one person I know FAKING mental illness for attention), or when a student is slowly losing the will to come into sixth form and concentrate when they are being made to feel worthless by certain individuals.
I can relate to this latter point very well as the sixth form pastoral team took so long to realise how much I was struggling emotionally when nearly everyday they saw what shit I put up with. It was only when things reached an explosive climax that they even attempted to do something about it – which didn’t work I might add! They hoped that by ignoring things and encouraging me to have a thicker skin it would go away. Well I had to deal with a lot of that by myself and with the support of my true friends when it could have been resolved so much sooner
They are obsessed with their own image that encouraging their students to grow as individuals takes a huge back seat. Of course everyone wants to be the best that they can be and attain A grades if possible, but that does not mean that the only way is an A grade! I swear sometimes the only reason I ever received any help was because I was classed as someone who could be a success story for them and to gain these A/A* grades, especially in my degree subject, History. Well guess what? I got a B in History. Does it matter? NO! I got into my first choice university, satisfied the conditions for 2 separate academic scholarships based on my application, and I’m doing a course at a university that I love. That’s what will shape my future, not one B marring what they would consider ‘great A Level grades’.
Rant over, thought I’d get my feelings down to vent before I go out to celebrate my housemates birthday with everyone. Can’t have some stupid negativity weighing me down on a good day. 
My exams are over by the 10th June, expect lots of reviews and actual book related stuff after then, because I have three months of idleness ahead of me. These months will consist of slobbing out on the sofa with the cat, lots of reading and meeting up with my beautiful friends 🙂

Tired, fed up, ill, stressed and not reading

I am in a complete rut at the moment and I will share with you the reasons why:

1. This internship I was meant to be doing is so poorly organised that at this rate we will be so short on time that we will be pushed to the limit. And that is something we do not need on our plates what with our exams being this term! Am definitely foreseeing a very high drop out rate of this entirely voluntary unpaid venture.

2. My body seems to be in the mood for rejecting all food. The curse of being an IBS sufferer is the moment you get stressed (i.e. in the exam term) most foods that are a student staple trigger crippling stomach pain. It wasn’t as if my diet was already limited with no dairy, I now think carbs are going to have to temporarily vanish from my life!

3. I had a book-related crisis today that genuinely made me want to cry. I bought a beautiful copy of Wuthering Heights with the most fantastic cover art work only to knock over oil from my reed diffuser all over it! Upside it now smells really nice but downside it’s stained! It’s currently drying out on my radiator with a piece of tissue between every page to dry it up.

4. Reading has been very sparse for me. In between revision, panic, this stupid internship and looking after myself, there’s no time 😦 I’m managing to crawl through Wuthering Heights at a snails pace, but I have no desire to delve into something new.

I seriously cannot wait for summer when all of this stress is behind me and I might actually be able to enjoy food without worrying it will make me ill. And get the chance to buy lots more lovely books (of which there are many on my wish list) and sit in a relaxing atmosphere and read them 🙂

My Review of Death Sentence by Mikkel Birkegaard

Finished on: 29th April 2013

Book Challenge Number: 33

Rating: 3 stars

Death Sentence follows Danish crime writer Frank Fons, who has a reputation for gritty, gory murder scenes in his books. When murders are committed exactly how he has written them, rather than sharing what he knows with the Police, he decides to track the killer down himself. As this story unfolds, you are presented with several flashbacks of Frank’s career, from losing his family, using writing as therapy and turning to alcohol. 

This book wasn’t actually as bad as I was expecting it to be if I’m honest. The writing style leaves something to be desired but the storyline developed well, culminating in an explosive ending that you can’t help but question. It’s one of those moments where you half expected it to happen but half can’t understand how it ended up at this point. The way Frank was portrayed to me showed a certain darkness to his character with the twistedness of his writing and his state of mind in parts of the book. These character traits of his almost make the ending make sense as Frank is so irrational in places, a bizarre ending is the only way to finish up his story.

It bugs me that the killer is actually never revealed and you don’t find out their story, as for me that makes a crime novel slot together, where you understand their motives and piece together these motivations with events and subtle details within the book. 

Overall, this book is probably not for everyone, but if you’re into crime fiction it’s worth a try.