Saturday 26 August 2017

Reviewing the Classics #10 Northanger Abbey

Goodreads Summary:

While enjoying a six weeks’ stay in fashionable Bath, the young and callow Catherine Morland is introduced to the delights of high society. Thanks to a new literary diet of the sensational and the macabre, Catherine travels to Northanger Abbey fully expecting to become embroiled in a Gothic adventure of intrigue and suspense – and, once there, soon begins to form the most gruesome and improbable theories about the exploits of its occupants.

An early work, but published posthumously, Northanger Abbey is a parody of the Gothic genre typified by the novels of Ann Radcliffe, as well as a witty comedy of manners in the style of Jane Austen’s later novels and, ultimately, an enchanting love story. 

So for this months classic, my lovely twitter folowers chose Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. The only Austen book I've read before is her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, so I was eager to read her earliest work. Before I start talking about the book, I want to thank Alma for sending me such a gorgeous classic! I probably wouldn't be able to keep up with this little segment of my blog without them, so go check them out!

The book follows Catherine Morland, a seventeen year old debutante, who gets invited by her neighbours to visit Bath with them. After reading Pride and Prejudice I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, but I couldn't help feeling as if the first half of the book was quite dull. Although the book is called Northanger Abbey, Catherine doesn't actually visit the abbey until halfway through the book. I found the first half to be tedious and repetitive, as apart from a couple of planned daytrips that are cancelled due to bad weather and not enough time, all Catherine really does is attend balls and talk to her friend, Isabella. Of course it wouldn't be a Jane Austen novel without a love interest that has us all swooning, which came in the form of Henry Tilney. Henry was a sweet character, but unfortunately I felt as if he just didn't have the unique personality that Mr Darcy had. One thing that I loved about Mr Darcy was the character development he went through, and I didn't really see anything similar to that with Mr Tilney. I did however love how he treated the women, and lets face it, a man who loves discussing books is ultimate goals.

Catherine was a sweet and innocent protagonist, and I loved how she was unaware of certain things around her, particularly with John's romantic advances. I found it funny how she was completely shocked after learning that John had feelings for her, when it was obvious to the reader and the other characters. John, like his sister Isabella, was quite an annoying character, and I wasn't a fan of the love triangle that was happening.Honestly I can't believe that I can't escape love triangles  even in classic literature!

I enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more, and I particularly loved the Gothic satire. Catherine is a big fan of Gothic literature, and upon visiting Northanger Abbey, seems to think she is the protagonist of the novels she loves so much. This was actually my favourite part of the book just because of how dramatic she was being, and how she was creating her own version of events about Henry's mother. I particualry loved how Catherine thought she was unearthing some great secret by snooping around in a cabinet, when all she found was a few pieces of paper that turned out to be a laundry list and some receipts. Catberne was naïve and ridiculous and I loved her!

There were some characters who were just irksome, particularly John and Isabella. Isabella seemed to go after whatever man was interested in her at the time, and I felt sorry for James, who seemed to have genuine feelings for her. I also found John annoying, as he wouldn't leave Catherine alone, and got annoyed when she tried to spend time with Henry and Eleanor. I felt as if he seemed jealous that she had other friends, and kept trying to persuade her to change any plans she had made with the Tilney's. I was glad that Caterhine didn't reciprocate his feelings, as I felt as if that would have turned into a really unhealthy relationhip. He was also a huge brat for shit talking Catherine to General Tilney after he found out she didn't want him back lets be real.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as Pride and Prejudice, but I did love the satirical elements, and found Catherine to be a delightful creature (internal cringe) It made me want to go to an extravagant ball and wear a poofy dress. Seriously why aren't balls still a thing? I'm sure I would enjoy them more than sweaty nightclubs. I will hopefully read more Jane Austen books in the future!

Northanger Abbey is now available to purchase!

 Alma Classics  | Amazon Book Depository 

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Book Club Picks #9 Dramarama

When Sadye Paulson gets accepted into a summer drama school, she is ecstatic! With her best friend, Demi, she enters the lives of other teenagers with the same dreams as her. However, drama school isn't all show-tunes and jazz hands. Sadye soon realises that being a theatre actor is more difficult than she thought, and a lot of her peers have more experience than she does. Sadye must work hard to show her teachers she is worthy of being there, but will her efforts be enough?

 As a huge musical theatre geek, this book seemed like it would be right up my street! Although I can't act to save my life, and my singing sounds like a cat being strangled,I do love listening to show-tunes, and have even seen a few West End shows and touring casts. I was therefore extremely happy when I discovered that February's book club book would be about a drama school!

The book follows Sarah Paulson, who under the advice of her best friend Douglas, a.k.a Demi, changes her name to Sadye. Sadye is extremely excited when she gets accepted into a summer drama programme, and is determined to show Morales, director of Broadway hit Oliver! what she's got. As Sadye hadn't had a lot of previous experience, I felt as if she was a little delusional, as she believed she would get all of the lead roles.I loved how she was brought back down to earth by her new friends,especially Nanette, who had previously been on Broadway. I loved how Nanette explained that being an actor isn't all glitz and glamour, and how pressured she felt by her family to get lead roles. I felt as if Sadye initially tried to place her roommates in a hierarchy, and didn't want to be on the bottom. Sadye seemed to be trying to push Candie to the bottom of her hierarchy, going so far as to bullying her for not being a great dancer.Although Sadye had her own weaknesses, she seemed to be trying to hide them by bringing Candie's to the foreground. Although I liked Sadye's enthusiasm, I didn't like that she felt the need to be mean to others in an attempt to make herself feel good.

Although the majority of the characters were white and heterosexual, there was a little diversity in the form of Demi, Lyle and Theo. I did however feel as if the majority of the diversity was packed into Demi, and as he was very flamboyant, he felt a little stereotypical. However I did adore Demi, and I felt as if Sadye treated him unfairly at times. I hated that she accused him for leading Lyle on when he had never done something like that before, and how her jealously caused arguments between them. I also found it unnecessary for Sadye to have a crush on Demi, as it was only mentioned in one paragraph towards the end of the book, and seemed to be completely random. I think I would have preferred if their relationship had remained 100% platonic.

Sadye was quite selfish for the majority of the book, especially when it came to Demi. I felt as if her unnecessary arguments with him led him to not trust her as much, and was reluctant to tell her his plans for the future in case she reacted badly. I mostly agreed with Demi in that Sadye was making her teachers notice her for all the wrong reasons, as she continued to pick fights with them when they were just doing their best to help her to improve. I felt as if Sadye never approached anything with an open mind, and instead of accepting constructive criticism, she was constantly criticising her teachers ways of teaching. I did however love that she redeemed herself with Demi, and sacrificed her happiness for his future.

One thing that was quite annoying for me was the lack of chapters. I always have to have chapters to give me a good idea of when it's okay to put the book down and go do something else. However, this book wasn't even split into parts, so it was difficult to decide when to stop reading. I didn't actually see a good reason for there to be no chapters, so I felt as if it would have made reading it a little easier for me if it had had chapters.

The one thing that really annoyed me was the epilogue! I felt as if it was unnecessary, and the book should have finished with the previous chapter. I felt as if the last chapter showed that sometimes things don't go how you thought they would, and sometimes you drift away from people who were once your friends. However, the epilogue seemed completely random, as it never actually gave us a time frame for when this was happening and was quite abrupt. Although I get that some authors like to leave an open ending for the reader to decide what happened next, I would have liked to have had a little more closure.

Although I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I was going to, it was still an interesting read. I loved all of the references to various musicals, songs and actors, and there was a couple of instances where a song would be mentioned and I would get it stuck in my head and start singing it! I felt as if most things were explained well enough for people who aren't into theatre to understand the references, but it did feel as if the book was written with fellow theatre geeks in mind. Although I am unsure if anyone who doesn't know the difference between a Tony award and Tony Hawk (points if you understood that reference!) would enjoy it this book, I think theatre lovers may like it.

Dramarama is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon Book Depository 

Wednesday 2 August 2017

BLOG TOUR: Review on Dare to Fall

Pages: 325

Publisher: Ink Road

Goodreads Summary:

There's not much that MacKenzie Rivers is afraid of. In the small town of Windsor, Colorado, she is known for her easygoing, strong personality, some would even say she isn't afraid of anything. But MacKenzie knows that's not true. She's afraid of losing those closest to her. Recovering from a family tragedy, Kenzie is fully aware of just how big an impact death can have on those it leaves behind. Seeing its effects on other people is something she just can't quite handle. From now on, Kenzie is her own priority.

There are not many things that Jaden Hunter can make sense of. He doesn't understand why it was his parents who lost their lives last year. He doesn't understand why his friends don't crack jokes around him any more. He doesn't understand why his teachers still insist on letting him skip assignments. He doesn't understand why MacKenzie, the girl he was falling for last year, has suddenly distanced herself from him.

Too afraid to get wrapped up in Jaden's world as he deals with the tragic death of his parents, Kenzie has stayed away from him as best she can, until one night when they unexpectedly come face-to-face for the first time in months. As old feelings resurface and new memories are made, both MacKenzie and Jaden show each other how to appreciate the little things in life, the moments that are taken for granted. But will MacKenzie dare to fall for the one person she's so afraid of growing close to?

So I'll admit that it took me a while to decide if I wanted to sign up to this blog tour. Dare to Fall sounded like the type of cheesy contemporary romance that I usually hate, but the fact that the characters had gone through some sort of huge tragedy piqued my interest enough to give it a go! The book follows MacKenzie Rivers, a girl in her senior year of high school. Four years ago, MacKenzie experienced unimaginable grief when her baby sister was stillborn. When MacKenzie's mum starts drinking as a coping mechanism, MacKenzie feels lost and alone in her own grief. The only people who she knows would understand how she is feeling are twins Dani and Jaden Hunter, who lost their parents in a car crash. I felt as if this book dealt with grief in a raw and open way. Everyone copes with grief in different ways, and I loved how this was shown through the characters, such as MacKenzie's mum's drinking problem, and Dani cutting herself off from the outside world. I felt as if the book gave some good advice on how to cope with the loss of a loved one, such as opening up to others rather than keeping the emotions bottled up inside.

So the characters! I am continuing my trend of having a side character as my favourite, as I absolutely adored Kenzie's friend, Will. I loved how sweet he was, and how much he cared about Kenzie. I also loved that her best friends were both boys, and that there were no romantic feelings between them. I did have one problem with Will, which was how his sexuality seemed to be dismissed. We are told that the reason Kenzie has never dated Will is because he is gay, but apart from one homophobic comment, his sexuality is never brought up again. Now I love when there is a gay character who's plot doesn't revolve around the fact that they're gay, but I felt as if that wasn't what was happening here. There are practically no diverse characters in this book apart from Will, so I felt as if he was made to be gay for the sake of diversity. As Kenzie's other friend, Holden, never really has a love interest, and is described as never having a crush on the same person for long, I was hoping that something would happen between the two of them, but sadly I got my hopes up for nothing.

And now the romance, the part where I inevitably complain about how much I hated it, except, plot twist, I didn't actually hate it! One thing that I loved about the relationship between Kenzie and Jaden was that it wasn't the typically cliché instalove that I have come to loath. They had dated before the accident that had killed Jaden's parents, so this was more of a rekindling of their relationship. I loved how their relationship progressed slowly and naturally, and although there were a few cheesy moments, nothing made me want to roll my eyes. I initially thought Kenzie was quite mean for cutting Jaden and Dani out of her life at a time when they needed her the most, but I slowly started to see things from both perspectives.

So that plot twist! It's always difficult for me to talk about plot twists, as although I obviously don't want to spoil them, I also can't not mention them, especially when they are as shocking as this one! Although little hints were given that something wasn't quite right with Holden, I really didn't expect what had actually happened to him. The ending seemed bittersweet, as although things were starting to go in the right direction for Kenzie and Jaden, they were definitely going in the wrong direction for poor Holden. I was torn between feeling really sorry for him, and thinking how wrong it was for him to have kept his secret for so long. Really can someone please give that poor boy a hug?

I'm actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! Usually contemporary romance is a big no no for me, but I found the characters realistic, and there was enough going on outside of the romance to keep me interested. This is the first book I've read by Estelle Maskame, but it definitely won't be the last!

Dare to Fall is now available to purchase!

BlackandWhitePublishing| Amazon Book Depository