Friday Finds #25 – February 27th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Should Be Reading and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. I’m still on a book buying ban, but I cannot help adding new titles to my virtual TBR list anyway!

My finds:

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BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Garden – by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Genre: Classics, Children, Fiction
First published: 1910
Finished reading: February 22nd 2015
Pages: 358
Rating 4

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”

myrambles1review

The Secret Garden is one of those books I’ve been wanting to read for ages, but never made it to the top of my TBR pile. The TBR Pile Challenge made me finally pick up a copy of this classic written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and I’m glad I did. It’s an endearing story about two lonely and spoiled children who slowly discover how much better life can be if they decide to explore the gardens. Dickon is an adorable character with his love for animals and even though I had some difficulties understanding the Yorkshire accent at some points, I still enjoyed reading it. A great story for children that will hopefully inspire them to explore the world outside!

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Mary Lennox grew up in India to be a lonely, ugly and spoiled child with a temper so bad not even her parents wants to see her. An outbreak of cholera leaves her an orphan, and she is sent to her uncle’s house on the Yorkshire Moors. Slowly Mary comes to understand Yorkshire is very much different from India, and she has to start doing things on her own. She starts exploring the house and the gardens, but both are full of secrets… Her uncle keeps himself locked up after his wife died, and a lot of the nearly one hundred rooms in the mansion are locked up as well. And at night she sometimes hears the sound of another child crying… Who is making that sound? And why is one of the gardens locked?

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The Secret Garden is an interesting novel where we see the different characters slowly change and behave like better children. I enjoyed the natural element in the story where the flowers and plants in the secret garden are helping them grow stronger as well. Definitely recommended for both young and old, and who knows, it might even stimulate children to play outside more…

WWW Wednesdays #28 – February 25th

wwwwednesdaysOriginally featured at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words, WWW WEDNESDAYS is still about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

doctorsleepI’m currently about half way into Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, the sequel to the famous The Shining novel. I loved reading the first book last year and I’m excited to be visiting Danny Torrance and his special powers again. The book is awesome so far, and I absolutely love the Abra character! I have a feeling this one will get a high rating…

 

  • What did you recently finish reading?

thesecretgardentheoceanattheendofthelaneI’m finished The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman the other week and I absolutely loved this adult fantasy story with magical realism elements. I’ve just posted my full review! Last Sunday I finally finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as well. I’m ashamed to admit it’s my first read of this story…  I didn’t understand every Yorkshire line, but I loved the fact that it will hopefully inspire children to explore the world outside! A full review will be posted tomorrow…

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

gardensofthemoonGardens Of The Moon by Steven Erikson is still waiting for me next… I have been wanting to read this one for ages now, so maybe I should just kick myself and finally read it. Although I might be tempted by another novel when I finish my current read…

BOOK REVIEW: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – by Neil Gaiman

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Title: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: June 18th 2013
Finished reading: February 18th 2015
Pages: 255
Rating 4,5

“That’s the trouble with living things. Don’t last very long. Kittens one day, old cats the next. And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together.”

myrambles1review

After reading American Gods and The Graveyard Book last year, I instantly became a Neil Gaiman fan. His prose is easy to read and highly enjoyable, and I like the magical realism, myths and fantasy elements he incorporates into his stories. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is no exception. While this novel has a slightly different feel than the other two I’ve mentioned, I still highly enjoyed this story. I haven’t read many books which fall under the magical realism genre other than those by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende, so I’m pleasantly surprised this novel ended up being just as good. It’s a modern fairy tale story full of magic that will end up enchanting you completely if you let it. The unnamed male character travels back to his childhood and back to a world where everything seems possible. Warning, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is actually quite a dark and haunting story that is not really suited for little ones… But it will transport you back to your own childhood and the brilliant prose makes you read this story like a dream. Definitely recommended to fantasy fans!

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When a man travels back to his childhood home to attend a funeral, he didn’t realize he was about to travel back to his own childhood as well. Without knowing why, he goes back to the farm at the end of the lane where, when he was seven, a girl named Lettie Hempstock used to live. She was a very special girl, and soon memories start coming back of how remarkable she really was. But this past he starts to remember is too strange to be true, or is it? It all starts with the little pond behind the farmhouse she used to call an ocean…

A man that had visited his house all those forty year ago ended up killing himself in a stolen car at the end of the lane, and soon strange things are starting to happen. Something scary and dark was unleashed as the man died, and the little boy couldn’t understand what was really happening. But little Lettie and her family did know, and they decide to get rid of the darkness… Although that might not be that easy.

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It’s hard to describe this story without taking its magic away, so I’ve decided to keep the summary short. What I can say is that if you like reading fantasy and magical realism novels, you will probably enjoy reading The Ocean At The End Of The Lane as much as I did. Lettie is a great character and even though Ursula does become annoying, it’s mostly because she has to be that way for the story to make sense. The kitten in the story makes me want to name my own black kitten Ocean by the way; awesome name, although it doesn’t work well in Spanish…

Teaser Tuesdays #31- February 24th: Doctor Sleep

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve started reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King the other day. I loved reading The Shining last year, so I’m excited to be reading the sequel. So far it’s living up to expectations!

doctorsleep“Rose?”
“Yes?”
“Am I… am I stil human?”
To this Rose gave the same answer Dick Hallorann had given young Danny Torrance, and in the same cold tone of voice: “Do you care?”

 

What are you reading right now?

The Book Awards 2015: Nominations

a subtitle too (2) Michelle at The Writing Hufflepuff had the great idea to host The Book Awards; an award show ‘like the Oscars, but for books’! Please check out her blog and the award post to find out all about it and nominate your own favorite books!

I’ve decided to put together my own little post with nominations for a selection of her categories (mostly genres). I’ve included a short blurb from Goodreads that will take you straight to the book’s Goodreads page!

And now *drumroll* it is time to start nominating!

Awards

  • Best Trilogy – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Claretheinfernaldevicestrilogyclockworkangelinfogoodreads
  • Best (Auto)Biography – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wallstheglasscastleinfogoodreads
  • Best Classic – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradburyfahrenheit451infogoodreads
  • Best  Contemporary It’s Kind Of A Funny Story by Ned Vizziniitskindofafunnystoryinfogoodreads
  • Best Fantasy – The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfussthenameofthewindinfogoodreads
  • Best Historical – The Dance Of The Spirits by Catherine Aeriethedanceofthespiritsinfogoodreads
  • Best Horror – The Shining by Stephen Kingtheshininginfogoodreads
  • Best Humor – The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonassonthehundredyearoldmaninfogoodreads
  • Best Mystery Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watsonbeforeigotosleepinfogoodreads
  • Best Romance – One Day by David Nichollsonedayinfogoodreads
  • Best Science Fiction – The Road by Cormac McCarthytheroadinfogoodreads

  • Best Thriller – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynngonegirlinfogoodreads

Have you read any of my nominations? What did you think of them? Don’t forget to put in your own nominations at The Writing Hufflepuff! Like she said:

Share this post with your fellow bookworms! Tweet it, reblog it, pin it, mail it… Let’s make this a fun event for book lovers around the world 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Ruins – by Jess Walter

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Title: Beautiful Ruins
Author: Jess Walter
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: June 2012
Finished reading: February 16th 2015
Pages: 337
Rating 3

“Stories are people. I’m a story, you’re a story… your father is a story. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we’re lucky, our stories join into one, and for a while, we’re less alone.”

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My copy of Beautiful Ruins had been collecting dust on my TBR pile for quite some time before I actually picked it up. When I first saw the cover, I had a flashback of my months living in Southern Italy. So when I found out the story was actually set in a small town along the Italian coastline I was immediately sold. I didn’t realize Jess Walter didn’t stick to the Italian 1962 setting and switches back and forth to contemporary Hollywood though. Those who know me, know I don’t like romance or Hollywood scenes for that matter. I guess that’s why that part of this book let me down; I just didn’t expect Beautiful Ruins to turn out that way. Still, the Italian chapters are interesting. In true historical fiction style, the chapters take you back to 1962 where Pasquale Tursi owns a small hotel and is surprised to have not one, but two American guests staying there at one point. One of them is a retired soldier and now writer (Alvis Bender), the other an actress (Dee Moore) who is sent away from a movie set in Rome when she became ill… The Hollywood chapters are full of cliches and not exactly to my liking; the Hollywood producer Michael Deane a despicable person and hard to relate to. In short, I’m having mixed feelings about this novel, but I guess it’s worth reading if you don’t mind historical fiction being mixed with contemporary Hollywood scenes and (cheesy) romance.

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It is 1962 and Pasquale Tursi is back running the only hotel in his small village after his father died. Porto Vergogna is too small to have any tourist attractions, but Pasquale dreams of changing his village into one American tourists would enjoy. An American writer, Alvis Bender, visits his hotel every year, but the young Italian wants more… Then one day his dreams seem to come true when a mysterious American woman shows up at his small beach. Dee Moore is an actress who is part of the Cleopatra movie currently being made in Rome, but she became sick on set… They sent her to Porto Vergogna to recover and wait for a special treatment in Switzerland. Pasquale starts to have feelings for the woman even though they have problems communicating, and doesn’t hesitate helping her when the producers seem to have forgotten Dee. He travels all the way to Rome to confront them, and soon finds out the truth about Dee’s disease…

Meanwhile in contemporary Hollywood, Claire is not happy with her current life. When she started working for famous producer Michael Deane, she didn’t expect to be making cheap TV programs instead of interesting movies… So when they offer her a job as a movie museum curator, she is highly tempted. Her stripclub visiting boyfriend is also getting on her nerves, and she is wondering whether she needs a fresh start… And that is when Shane and Pasquale turn up at the studio. Claire doesn’t know it yet, but her weekend is about to become way more interesting when her boss asks her to help him locate a ghost from the past…

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There is also a third storyline set in the UK that I’m not mentioning in the summary because of potential spoilers. What I can say is that this storyline adds some dept to the story and is definitely better than the Hollywood chapters. There were too many cliches used in Beautiful Ruins though, which is a shame because the story itself has a lot of potential. I especially enjoyed the chapters set in Italy; the way Jess Walter describes the scenery makes me want to pack my bags and travel to Italy straight away. Alvis and his unfinished book about his experiences in WWII are a welcoming distraction from the Hollywood scenes and I liked the fact that Jess Walter decided to include some Italian in his prose. (I found out I still remembered some of my crappy Italian, hurray!) In short, Beautiful Ruins is a nice novel to read if you like historical fiction and don’t mind a few cliches and Hollywood scenes… I guess it would be a perfect beach read.