Book Review – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Book Review – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

img_20181215_132455-011325701911359914188.jpeg

5_star_rating_system_5_stars Let’s look back to the end of 2017 when I foolishly decided that I would reread Murder on the Orient Express before I watched Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation. Unfortunately, I started reading Autumn by Ali Smith and it took me all fucking month to get through it. So, I decided that this was the year when I would finally do it. And, today, nearly a whole month later, I closed the final page. I should just realise that December isn’t my reading month but, if I start doing that, I’d then have to admit that no month is my reading month. It’s why I can’t ever set myself a reading challenge unless it’s read 1 book. But, let’s not get too bogged down with 2019. We’re still in 2018 and, unless I miraculously gain the ability to read super quickly, this will be the last book I finish this year. So, let’s make this review a good ‘un.

Read more

Throwback Thirty – My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Throwback Thirty – My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

my_neighbor_totoro_-_tonari_no_totoro_28movie_poster295_star_rating_system_5_stars As I was reminded today, there are only 19 more sleeps until Christmas. This means that Christmas shopping is in full swing. I like to think I’m doing well with the amount of gifts I’ve already bought but, when I really think about it, I still have loads to buy. And I’m starting to get desperate for ideas. When I read something on Twitter about the 30th anniversary box set of My Neighbour Totoro I decided it was the perfect present for a friend… until I saw the price and almost died. I mean, I love her but no. Sorry. On the plus side, it reminded me that I’ve been putting off doing a TBT post about this film. I don’t know why it took me so long as I really love this film. In terms of Studio Ghibli films, it is one of the all time classics and Totoro has become a massive part of Japanese pop culture. By this point, he’s essentially the Japanese Winnie the Pooh, right? If I was going to be sharing my 30th birthday year with anyone then I’m really glad it’s Totoro.

Read more

Book Review – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Book Review – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

5_star_rating_system_4_stars1

I meant to start writing this review last night because I’ve got a busy couple of weeks ahead of me. Inevitably, I didn’t manage it as I got distracted and, if I’m not careful I’ll do it again tonight. It’s all because of this book as well. I have been a fan of Greek myths since I was a kid and got given a book about them. Before writing this post, I decided that it was vital to find the book online so I knew the name. I never did, which is a shame because I bloody loved that book. It presented the Greek myths in a child-friendly way that really played up the humour. Something that really helped distract from just how horny Zeus and everyone really were. It meant that I became interested in the myths rather than disturbed by them. With that kind of background then this book should have been right up my street. So, why has it taken me 7 years to read it? A very simple answer… the cover. The original cover (featuring a breastplate that looks more Roman in my mind) just looks tacky. I know I know. Never judge a book by its cover etc. But, come on, it’s awful. If Bloomsbury hadn’t released the beautiful Modern Classics edition then I might never have experienced this book at all. I owe them.

Read more

Book Review – Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Book Review – Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

81oxlxekxxl5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 It became very apparent at the start of this week that there was no way that I was going to finish the book I was currently reading for this post. So, on Tuesday lunchtime I had a mad dash around the charity bookshop next to work to find something I could finish in a day. There were plenty of possibilities on offer but, having recently seen this on Instagram, I felt the discovery of this book was fate. Not only is the book gorgeous but it’s something I’ve only heard great things about. So, I bought it and started reading it immediately. I didn’t get as much reading done last night because I ended up dropping my phone outside my friend’s house. I ended up spending the time I had put aside to read desperately trying to find my phone and arrange to get it back to me. Still, thanks to a lunchtime of ignoring my coworkers and just reading, I finished the book in time. Now I just need to get this post written.

Read more

Tuesday Review – They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

Tuesday Review – They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)

2f2c7d438d4f789950ada472cff36e0afcac25_star_rating_system_5_stars I think it’s safe to say I got into the spirit of Remembrance Day this year. I mean it’s been 100 years since the guns stopped during the Great War. A war in which millions of young men from all over the world lost their lives fighting for freedom. For the freedom we now have to ignore their sacrifice apparently. Now I know we live in a superficial age where mentioning things on social media isn’t necessarily considered the greatest tribute but it’s still a social platform on which you can express yourself. Yet, I spent the day dismayed by the apparent apathy of the people I follow on Instagram. I decided, as I do every year, to post a simple shot of a poppy with my Penguin Little Black Classics collection of Wilfred Owen poetry. Now, the algorithm hasn’t been kind to me in general lately but that post did worse than normal. And, in general you can rely on Penguin books to do well. To put it into perspective, after that had been up for 11 hours it had 44 likes. I then posted a fairly crappy picture of my fireplace, which got 49 likes in 4 hours. What the fuck is up with people’s priorities? So, you could say I’d already had enough of humanity by the time Peter Jackson’s documentary aired on BBC2. At least it meant that I was extra prepared for a very emotional experience.

Read more

Book Review – The Legend of Sally Jones by Jakob Wegelius

Book Review – The Legend of Sally Jones by Jakob Wegelius

5_star_rating_system_4_stars1

I don’t read enough graphic novels but I do love them. To the extent that every time I read a great one I think to myself “I should read more graphic novels”. It was Sabrina that really got my heart pumping for a good graphic novel this year so when I was given the chance to read a new release from Pushkin Press. It is the prequel to Jakob Wegelius’ critically acclaimed The Murderer’s Ape. I hadn’t read The Murderer’s Ape but everything that I found out about it suggested that it would the kind of thing I loved. And the promise of a unique and rare graphic novel was something I couldn’t ignore. It arrived last Thursday and I immediately started reading it. I was done by Friday and I’ve already ordered Wegelius’ first book.

Read more

Tuesday Review – New Doctor Who

Tuesday Review – New Doctor Who

promotional_poster_of_doctor_who_28series_11295_star_rating_system_4_stars1 “Laura”, I hear you all asking, “are you writing this review of Jodie Whittaker’s first episode of Doctor Who because, once again, you didn’t get round to watching a film this week? Or is it just because writing the words ‘Tuesday Review – New Doctor Who‘ is incredibly satisfying for someone who loves rhyming as much as you?” To which I would respond, why not both? Yes, it’s true that I didn’t quite follow my plan for this week and was in need of something to review but I could have just watched another Netflix film and had a rant about how rubbish they all are. As I’ve made quite clear here, I do love a good Netflix rant. And, I admit, there is something quite lovely about repeating those words over and over in my head. However, this is a momentous occasion and something all of us Whovians have been waiting patiently waiting for. I couldn’t very well let it pass me by without saying something about it, could I?

Read more

Book Review – The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick

Book Review – The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick

5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_stars As children we’re so often told that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a quaint little adage that I completely agree with when talking about people but not when talking about actual books. As any bookish person will tell you, you can very often tell whether or not you’ll like a book based on the cover art. I buy the majority of my books based on chance encounters in book shops. The typical romantic-comedy meet cute kind of thing. I walk into a bookshop, come face to face with something beautiful, everything gets a bit blurry, strings start playing in the background, I read the synopsis, we’re a perfect match, and we end up going home together. It’s a tale as old as time. And exactly what happened with the last book that I read. It was just your everyday lunchtime book shop browse and I fell in love. With a simple white cover with a black illustration. It was creepy. It was gorgeous. I had to pick it up. As soon as I read the word Frankenstein on the back I was doomed. I’d never read anything by Marcus Sedgwick but, if this cover told me anything, I knew this was going to be for me.

Read more

Book Review: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

Book Review: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

5_star_rating_system_4_stars1

Every year the Man Booker Prize longlist comes and it becomes a massive list of books I want to read. Inevitably, I never get round to them all but I will try to manage one. That one then becomes my top pick for the prize because it is the only one I’ll ever read. Most of the time my picks don’t make it to the shortlist and, if they do, they never win the prize. It was only last year’s Lincoln in the Bardo that I correctly championed. This year the first and, thereby, only book I’ve read is the one causing a massive stir. For, in 2018, the Man Booker committee have decided to place a graphic novel on their longlist. It’s quite a huge step for a prize that is so often awarded to similar works all deemed to be of high literary value. Occasionally, you’ll get the odd piece that verges more on popular literary fiction, like David Nicholls’ Us, but it never makes it to the shortlist. These guys know what they like and that’s not going to change. So, for there to be a graphic novel on the list is a pretty big deal. For such an elitist prize to pick something so un-literary is unprecedented. I had to check it out for myself.

Read more

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

img_20180821_111822-012278594279901835739.jpeg

5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_starsI often worry about books that everyone tries to force me to read. There have been so many occasions where I’ve read a super hyped book and been utterly disappointed. When my friend gave me a copy of Gone Girl it was accompanied by the fact that Molly Ringwald had loved it. You’ll probably remember from my ’30 Books for My 30th’ series that I never finished Gone Girl because it bored me to tears. Everyone I know raves about how good it is and how shocking the twist is. I feel like they must be reading a different book to me. I could see where it was going from the start. Then there was The Girl on the Train, which was celebrated as the new Gone Girl and named as a “must read”. Another super obvious and boring psychological thriller. I hated it but I did finish it. So, when I saw Eleanor Oliphant all over Instagram I became suspicious. It started to win awards and a friend of mine kept insisting that I read it. Still, I wouldn’t let myself believe. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a cheap copy in a charity shop that I decided it was time to read it. Would it be as good as everyone would have me believe?

Read more