Dear Stranger Book Review BecBe

The deets:

Author: Various
Pages: 286
Publish Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Dear Stranger is a collection of letters written by a variety of people from celebrities (such as Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson and Caitlin Moran) to those who have mental health issues regarding the subject of happiness. The book which is in the aid of Mind a mental health charity with at least £3 from every book sold going towards the organisation.
As the variety of authors is so different, it means the letters are all completely different. Some letters were illustrations, others based on personal experience and others were critiquing happiness. At most the letters were two pages long which is enough to create a real impact and leave you thinking about what has been written. Letters I particularly liked were ones by Arianna Huffington, Nicholas Allan, Nick Harkaway, Rachel Joyce, Seaneen Molloy- Vaughan and Thomas Harding.
 

My thoughts on the texts I read at school (six years on!)

A few of the texts I still kept from school!
(Source: Authors Own)

I often write about the books I read recently on here, however, I have been thinking lately back to the texts I read at school. I studied English Literature to A- Level so went through school studying one text or another. Some books I didn’t like, others I really loved. However, one thing that I do stand by is that I glad I studied English Literature at GCSE and A-level.
Although I read a lot, I rarely got my head stuck in a classic and there are some books and genres as you will see below that I really like that I would have never picked up otherwise. Today’s post is split up into what I thought of the book at the time (from what I can remember) and what I think about it now.
Just to note this post is not to be read as a review post, it is my thoughts on what I can remember now from back then.

Two Weeks With The Queen- Morris Gleitzman

My earliest book I studied at high school, I must have been 11 or 12 so over 10 years ago now. It is about a boy whose brother has cancer and he writes to the queen to see if she has a cure. This book I wasn’t a fan of at first. I think I thought it was too ‘primary school’ for me. I do remember having this slight feeling of sadness when the letter he receives back from the Queen is just a general Buckingham Palace one and he knows that his brother is going to die.

Apart from that moment in the book I don’t remember too much about it. I don’t see myself reading it again unless I have kids and happen to come across the book!

Sherlock Holmes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A GCSE text, I remember not being thrilled about Sherlock Holmes being a module, but then I absolutely loved it. So much so I bought the box set of all his books.

Postcards- Annie Proulx
An A-level text this book was part of an American Literature module. It is about Loyal Blood who murders his girlfriend, buries her and then worried he will be caught drives off and never see’s his family again. Each chapter is marked by a postcard. It is a stunning read filled to the brim with symbolism. I have read it more than once but not recently. At school, I loved the book.

The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Another A-level text. I wasn’t keen on Gatsby. I remember at school this was the first book I read where I was thinking I didn’t want to go to university if it was going to be this hard. I didn’t like the way it was written which meant I struggled to write essays. I thought the characters were spoilt and self- indulgent and completely unrelatable. All I remember is Daisy being lazy and selfish and West Egg and East Egg! However, years later I watched the film with Leonardo Dicaprio in (which I loved) and I can understand completely why the book is iconic. I have still kept my school copy.

Tender is the Night is another A- Level text that I studied in Upper Sixth. I don’t remember much of this book at all, which says it all really.

The Old Man and the Sea- Ernest Hemingway
A GCSE text I loved, The Old Man and the Sea I think was more of the ‘harder’ texts we studied. I think I got an A in either the coursework or exam I had taken on this text so was pleased. I want to read the book again as I remember so little.

Atonement- Ian McEwan
An A- level text which I have read time and time again. It is a story about Cecelia and Robbie who start a relationship together just before the second world war. They keep it a secret because Cecelia comes from a very wealthy family whilst Robbie is poor (Robbie and his mother both worked for Cecelia’s family), therefore, it is likely the parents wouldn’t approve. Bryony who is Cecelia’s sister is jealous of this relationship and so tells a lie that disadvantages Robbie throwing the story into a wicked twist.

I loved this book, luckily for me the movie had come out that year as well, which was done well. I loved all of the symbolism that came with the book. I enjoy World War Two fiction anyway which helped. This book also opened my mind up to other books by Ian McEwan such as ‘On Chesil Beach, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam and Saturday amongst others. I really recommend this book.

Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It – William Shakespeare
Macbeth was a SAT text I think, I don’t remember much at all of Macbeth, but I do remember Romeo and Juliet. I liked Romeo and Juliet because of all the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets and the romance. It was a fun play to study. As You Like It was an A- Level text. I enjoyed reading out parts in class. I always seemed to be reading one line or another.

The Franklin’s and The Merchant’s Tale- Geoffrey Chaucer
Ahh Chaucer. All I remember about both books was that chivalry was a theme throughout. I didn’t detest Chaucer but looking back I can understand why those books were core texts, as they are important historically. But they were just so plain and boring. I appreciate not every text can be fun but seriously when are you ever going to read something in Middle English?

Whose Life Is It Anyway- Brian Clark
A play this time! Whose Life Is It is about Ken an architect who was paralysed after a car accident. He doesn’t want to be alive and is fighting for his right to die.  It was a really good play to study as there are so many ways you can analyse the theme. I also think the play was ahead of its time considering the debate about euthanasia – I got an A* for my exam in this 🙂

Mirror- Sylvia Plath
Ok it is a poem and it was in an anthology but I remember this poem so well because it is dark. The mirror seeing this woman grow old and thinking it’s part of the wall but as night falls it serves as a reminder that it isn’t part of her. I could go on.

That is it, these are the books I remember studying at school. Did you read any of these texts?

techbitch book review Lucy Sykes Jo Piazza
(Image Source: Authors Own)

The deets:

Author: Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Pages: 431
Publish Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fiction
Also published as ‘The Knockoff’ techbitch is about thirty something Imogen Tate, Editor in Chief of Glossy magazine. Coming back from six months off recovering from breast cancer, Imogen finds that her magazine has completely changed. Her former assistant Eve Morton has been brought in to turn the magazine into an app. Coupled with Eve’s attitude problem and a whole new tech world to encounter, Imogen has found her life has turned upside down and she doesn’t think she will last long in this new tech world where traffic matters.  
I really enjoyed the book, from reading the reviews it was billed as an alternative to ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and I definitely agree. As social media is a large chunk of my current job I definitely understand the pressure of feeling you have to be online all the time and constantly looking for new ways to build interaction, both of which are touched on throughout the book. 
Eve constantly is looking for instant gratification no matter if people know her or not. I really understood how the instant gratification that is given by total strangers over social media can give a real kick. I enjoy it when someone likes a comment or is asking me a question. It came across well in the book.  It all added to the pressure thatEve put her staff under and how Imogen felt really overwhelmed with the media. You can definitely imagine that in real life (unlike ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ where I found it a bit unrealistic). Techbitch was the right length to read and doesn’t feel dated. It really is a book for those that like fashion or digital media.   

Book Review by BecBec of The Year of The Rat by Clare Furniss
(Image Source: Authors Own)

”To Pearl, there’s nothing sweet about her premature half- sister Rose. It was Rose that caused her mother’s death and Rose that turned her world upside down.”

The deets:
Author: Clare Furniss 
Pages: 305
Publish Date: 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
I picked this book in Tesco (Tesco and Amazon seem to be a common theme here). This story is about Pearl, a 16-year-old, London girl who lost her mother. Her mother died giving birth to Rose, her sister by her step- father. This book details with Pearl’s struggle to come to terms with her mother’s death in the following year. I admit, I did struggle to read it and had to leave it and come back to it. As it was a YA fiction I did find to ‘get into’ the story as such as I found parts hard to believe. The writing expressed clearly the awkwardness in how Pearl deals with situations such as avoiding her best friend and meeting her real father. I don’t think I would read this book again in a hurry.  

 

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes Anna McPartlin Book Review BecBec
 
 
”Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end.
 
Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet, her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.
 
But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.
 
Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment. ”
 
The deets:
Author: Anna McPartlin
Pages: 436
Publish Date: 2014
Publisher: Blackswan
Genre: Fiction
Awww I loved this book, this story is about Rabbit, she is in a hospice dying of cancer and she is aware that she hasn’t got long to live. In Rabbit’s sleep, she goes back to her youth where she was in love with Johnny Faye who was in a band with her brother. The chapters alternate between the growing love story between her and Johnny to how her family is dealing with Rabbit dying. In particular the relationship between Rabbit’s mother, Molly and her brother Davey, over the guardianship of Juliet her daughter. The story itself was very well written, it felt to me that each chapter had its place and added to either the love story or the practicalities and emotions of having a close one pass away. On a side note, I loved the fact it was set in Ireland, as I have visited Ireland before and loved the place (and want to go back).