My Review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My Review of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
My Review of The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
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.
I did have the intention (for all of five minutes) to write a review of War and Peace, but sat down at my laptop and tried writing for god knows how long and it just didn’t work. My opinion on it is that it’s the longest book I’ve ever read and quite dull in places, but the characters are quite loveable and have a subtle quality to them.
Date Finished: 23rd April 2013
Book Challenge 2013 Number: 32
Anyway, onward to the book I finished today, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This follows characters in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi in the height of the civil rights movement and racial segregation. The main characters are black housemaids Aibileen and Minny and white writer/college graduate Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, and the story is split into their different perspectives on life in this sleepy, segregated town.
You definitely have to admire Minny for her spirit and courage when you find out what she goes through on a daily basis, even if she is cursed with a big mouth and the nerve to use it repeatedly, leading her to be fired 19 times in the same town. The story with the pie will never cease to make me feel sick and make me laugh at the same time. She without a doubt gives as good as she gets and then some, which makes her a bit of a loveable rogue.
Aibileen is the mother hen of the black help, who has raised almost 20 white children in her career. She’s damn well good at it, and creates a great relationship with little Mae Mobley, who she craves for to learn to be a kind, accepting person who takes people as they are rather than the colour of their skin. Her determination throughout the book leaves me in awe, she’s eternally optimistic and everything pays off.
Skeeter is an interesting character who is constantly driven by the mystery surrounding her old black nanny, Constantine, who she was very close to but who disappeared when she was at college without an explanation. It is this mystery which drives the plot forward as this eternal curiosity and passion to find out what happened leads Skeeter to asking lots of questions and receiving intriguing answers.
If thinking of which character really gets your back up and you want to strangle it’s Hilly Holbrook, an annoying busybody who thinks she runs the town. She isn’t a main character in the sense that her point of view shapes the book like the first three characters I mentioned, but she’s an irritating ideological presence throughout the book, the antagonist to pretty much everyone, especially poor Skeeter towards the end.
The Help is definitely a book I would recommend, it explores civil rights in a fascinating way whilst giving you characters which make you smile and who you identify with.
Date Finished: 16th February 2013
Book Challenge 2013 Number: 13
Finished on: 25th January 2013
6th Book of my 2013 Reading Challenge
Rating: 4 stars
I always thought that Shakespeare had written this play, before doing a bit of research and realising that it was probably written by a multitude of writers, of which Shakespeare may very well have been one of.
This review will probably be a short one as I am totally useless at reviewing Shakespeare. I only started this today, but as it’s such a short play, I finished it rather quickly, especially after getting so into it.
It’s a period of history I adore and a historical individual I admire. Sir Thomas More, starting out his career in law and politics before becoming Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, later executed for opposing Henry VIII’s changing of the church and his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
The language, especially that which leads to his death, is so emotive and powerful. I want to share with you my favourite passage that I found towards the end, where he is imprisoned and awaiting death for high treason:
Finished on: 24th January 2013
5th Book of my 2013 Reading Challenge
Rating: 4 stars
Grantchester Grind is the sequel to Porterhouse Blue, a funny and satirical look at Oxbridge traditions that I really enjoyed. Grantchester Grind follows it’s predecessor with a hop, skip and a laugh into the style of writing that Sharpe has made his own.
Porterhouse Blue ended with the death of the current master Sir Godber Evans and the election of Skullion as Master, previously the Head Porter. Skullion goes on to suffer from a ‘Porterhouse Blue’, which is the college term for a stroke brought on by the luxurious and rich diet they eat at High Table. Grantchester Grind follows some years later, where Sir Godber’s widow, Lady Mary, is convinced her husband was murdered. She proceeds to create a Sir Godber Evans Memorial Fellow, who, funded by a generous salary, will integrate into the college and subtly investigate the circumstances of her husband’s death. Her choice is Dr Purefoy Osbert, who is not really welcomed with open arms at the fictitious college where a first class degree is a once in a blue moon occurrence and miracle.
As the investigation of Sir Godber’s death plays out, the Dean of the College takes it upon himself to visit prosperous Old Porterthusians (previous members of Porterhouse) in the hope that one is willing and able to become Master if and when Skullion cannot continue. At the same time, the current Bursar is contacted by an American media mogul who seems to be interested in supporting the college without clarifying what it is he wants in return.
Overall, a great satire of tradition in Oxbridge for the sake of tradition and the focus on tradition and sport rather than academia. Skullion failed to deliver for me this time though, given that his character didn’t really get a chance to shine as he was still in a state from his stroke. He still manages to steal the limelight at the end as he does in the first book, which remarks on what a strong personality he is. And I still laugh at the Chaplain’s controversial opinions and distorted hearing which makes him hear things completely wrong. The character’s are familiar with some new ones filtering in to make the story fresh, and without giving away the ending too much, Porterhouse may finally begin embracing the future but still maintaining their staunch traditionalism of the past that they’ve clung to.