Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Creating Possibly One of the Longest Book (and blog post) Titles Ever.

*catches breath*

Ok, so I definitely bought this book because I thought the title was cool. Also possibly because I got an Amazon voucher for Christmas when there just happened to be a crazy sale on tonnes of ebooks (only 20p each people!!!!) So yes, I bought this book then, at around the same time that I discovered the true extent of the dangers of Amazon 1-Click purchasing to my bank balance. Anyway, I digress, the book is (in case you hadn't worked it out)...

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

So I might also have fallen in love with the cover!


Jonas Jonasson


I don't know... why did I decide it was a good idea to put genres in the review anyway?

One-sentence summary:

100-year-old Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of his Old People's Home and adventures ensue, which are told in parallel with the adventures of his life up to that point.


As I mentioned before, I basically just bought this book for the title and the ridiculously cheap price, then didn't actually sit down to read it until over a year later, due to my debilitating condition called Toomanybooks-itis (tragic, I know). But when I actually did pick it up, I was pleasantly surprised!
The quirky, matter-of-fact writing style more than matches that of the title (not always the case!), and while I know some reviewers found the style to be too minimalist, preventing them from getting invested in the story, I actually preferred it to a lot of the over-flowery language I find in books sometimes. Events are presented simply, and it's up to us as the readers to decide what we think of them.

The same can be said for the main character, Allan, who we gradually learn more about as the story progresses. He is also presented plainly and without judgement, allowing us to decide for ourselves what we think of him. The result: I kinda liked the old guy! Even though we don't exactly get to delve deep into his psyche, I felt as though I gradually got to know him as I read about his life leading up to his 100th birthday. Interesting food for thought about how we view old people perhaps?

And the story itself? Pretty off-the-wall to be honest, and totally implausible! But of course that's deliberate, and for me that just formed part of its charm. Who doesn't want to read about a 100-year-old man and his antics involving world leaders, multiple murders, treks across continents, and atomic bombs???

Final thoughts:

Hmmm... well, I found this a fun and interesting book to read. But that was sort of it. It didn't wow me with clever writing. I wasn't blown away by a fantastic new insight or revelation about life. But that's not what this book is trying to do. It is unapologetically what it is: the story of an old man's life. And very entertaining it was too!

Soooo, it's getting:

What did you think of the book? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Vicar of SLEEPfield

Today I'm reviewing a book I unearthed while delving into the depths of the 250 or so books on my well-loved kindle in an attempt to make some headway in  the seemingly impossible task of ever reading them all. And this is what I came up with:

The Vicar of Wakefield

Image sourced from goodreads

I can't think where on earth I got the urge to download this one from... I vaguely remember reading something else where it was referenced a lot and going to download it from (I love you internet). If anyone can enlighten me as to which book has frequent references to this one, be my guest!*


Oliver Goldsmith


Er... Well, wikipedia suggests 'comedy, satire' while I've also seen it in the 'children's' genre on some websites. Not sure I agree with that, but it's all I've got for now!

One-sentence summary:

The eponymous vicar and his family lose all their wealth and are forced to move, whereupon they come up against many unscrupulous characters and disastrous circumstances.


As you may well have already guessed from the terrible not-quite-punny title (sorry not sorry), this was not my favourite book in the world. I was informed by many a goodreads review that it's supposed to be satirical, but I can't say I picked up on any of the clues. Perhaps it just hasn't aged well. I found the writing to be pretty readable, though nothing special compared to other books of the period, and at times it was rather bland. I often found myself re-reading passages to make sure what was going on, as there were sometimes particularly significant events hidden amongst the rambling. Not to mention the numerous debates/monologues/gratuitous ramblings about politics, religion, and the rich that I ended up having to skim through.

The main character also got on my nerves with his never-admit-I'm-wrong attitude and unwavering piety. It's just not realistic! Christian or not, no one is that virtuous in their own strength, and it irritated me no end. At least have some sort of internal struggle! Grr... *deep calming breaths*

Anyway, despite all that, I didn't hate this book. Though I did experience the slight urge to tear my hair out as more and more ridiculous (and infuriating) mishaps and calamities and 'mortifications' piled up against the long suffering vicar and his family during the story, I couldn't helping liking and rooting for them in spite of myself.

I also love older books, simply because they give us such an important insight into attitudes and lifestyles that are foreign to our own, while allowing us to glimpse our familiar human traits beneath. And I have to admit, this book did have some suction power, as I impatiently ploughed through it in the hope of a happy ending. (Spoiler alert: there is one! Though it's pretty improbable... Maybe that's the satire..?)

Final thoughts:

I didn't quite connect with this book, and certainly didn't experience any of the 'laugh-out-loud comedy' elements that some reviewers managed to excavate from it. I did find myself rooting for the characters though, especially the vicar, though I also found him severely irritating. Basically, this book is a modern (ish) retelling of the story of Job, though at least Job had a believable reaction to his suffering. 

Sooo, for those reasons this book's getting:

*Just remembered... Little Women! Wow I must've had this book a while, I haven't read that in aaages!

Any thoughts on The Vicar of Wakefield? Did ANYONE get the satire? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Faulty Fault in our Stars

So I thought I'd start out slowly with this whole reviewing thing and choose something not too many people are emotionally invested in... (Sarcasm alert)

That's right...

The Fault in Our Stars!


John Green


YA Romance

One-sentence summary:

Hazel, our narrator, has terminal cancer and meets a guy at cancer support group, then develops a sort-of relationship with him while at the same time struggling to deal with the effect of cancer on herself and those around her.


Right, I'm just gonna come right out and say it: I didn't love this book.

It was 'okay' (get it?) but I just didn't find myself falling as madly and tragically in love with it as most people seem to. I bought this out of curiosity on the recommendation of a couple of friends who apparently cried buckets the whole way through. And being the obsessive Amazon-review-reader that I am, I trawled through hundreds of reviews saying it was the best book they'd ever read and it had profoundly changed them as a person and they didn't think they'd ever be able to drink enough water to re-hydrate themselves from all the tears they'd shed. High praise indeed.

But there was something about this book that just didn't do it for me.

Sure, there were some things I did like about the book's story, like the fact that it challenges the view of cancer patients being courageous heroes to be placed on a pedestal rather than human beings with struggles and flaws. And I liked how it exposed people's awkwardness and hypocracy when it comes to terminal illness. Hazel has received every possible line from people trying to use words to ease the pain of being a terminal cancer patient, and she acknowledges their hollow uselessness. But when it comes down to it, she cannot help trotting out those same lines herself, though she knows firsthand they're not going to help. 

And it's suction power was strong-ish too, as far as the story goes. I actually read this book sitting on the beach with my French friend in glorious sunshine, but it took me a while to snap out of it when she started talking to me. I count that as a good sign.

BUT sadly I just couldn't get into the writing style... It just felt too laboured and deliberate, as if John Green purposefully set out to write a book with plenty of supposedly deep and meaningful quotes that people could make into inspirational pictures to post on tumblr. Not that I have anything against tumblr of course! I guess what I'm saying is that the writing  felt quite self-aware, which in my experience is the absolute antidote to being able to get lost in a story and forget you're reading words on a page...

The main characters also didn't quite do it for me. Nothing especially wrong with them, they were just a bit flat. I was also not a fan of their unnaturally long monologues, especially Augustus's. Who really talks like that? Not to mention that their love story pretty much came out of nowhere and didn't really have a reason (except that Augustus stared at Hazel and was good looking). But I didn't dislike the characters - they were okay. Some of the minor ones were better developed though (Isaac, Hazel's mum, Peter van Houten).

Final thoughts:

I liked the book's subject matter and the choice to go for (respectful and tasteful) humour, and the fact that it didn't shy away from the uglier and more uncomfortable sides of cancer. But I didn't click with the characters or the writing, and didn't feel this book was anything special or unique compared with similar books. I really do wish I'd been able to love the book more, just so I'd have an excuse to wear this awesome cutepolish design on my nails. (Check out this awesome tutorial!)

But sadly, I didn't. So for that reason, I'm giving The Fault in Our Stars...

Similar books

Things I Know About Love by Kate le Vann
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

What did you think of The Fault in Our Stars? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, 16 June 2014

A blog is born...

Hmmm... I'm kinda struggling to come up with a fitting way to start this thing, but oh well, here goes:

TA DAH! A blog!!!

Meh. That sort of worked. As you may have already guessed from the title, this blog will be about all things book related, from my favourite authors, my book-spirations (it's a thing), and reports on what I am/have been reading. 

I was inspired to do this by a combination of things. Firstly, I had a go at one of those buzzfeed quizzes where I checked off all the books I'd read and it gave me a (pitifully low) score. Besides the simple annoyance of getting a low score on quizzes (you think you're better than me, eh buzzfeed?), it also made me realise how many brilliant classics I've missed out on reading just through not getting round to it... Hopefully this blog will change that! 

This combined with my appreciation for the ever-bookwormy Rory Gilmore from the show Gilmore girls (I downloaded every series off itunes... in German! Long story..), and my recent discovery of this awesome blogger who is doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge (mega kudos!), has given me the necessary kick up the backside to start taking reading seriously* and share my love of books with the world!

Plus I have a serious kindle-book-buying addiction... 

Yes I know it's my 3rd Kindle... They like to break, OK?

I'm not doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge, simply because I cannot justify buying/borrowing any books other than the hundreds buried in the depths of my kindle (not to mention the mountains waiting for me in my room at home). Who knows, maybe I'll attempt to follow in my favourite Gilmore's footsteps after I've waded through that lot!

So anyway, without further ado, here we go! Let's enjoy some dashing good books!**

*We're not talking boring seriously here, just more focussed enjoyment. Rules help CONTROL the fun! (Whaddup Friends fans)
**Pretty proud of that pun! It took me all evening to think up a name no one else had...
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