August 2016 – Monthly Good Reads!

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I have once again returned from the dark recesses of my bedroom, (kind of, I got out of bed, does that count?) to write you another review of what I’ve been reading this month. I would like to say that I’ve been productive this last month, going on adventures. The reality is I’ve read a lot, making the most of my free time while I still have it, before I’ll be swamped in essay deadlines and exams. In Spain they would call me “una rata de bibioteca”; a library rat. (Bookworm). A name I enjoy living up to. It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines who you will be when you can’t help it. [Oscar Wilde]. Books are a small taste of heaven and an escape from the everyday stresses of our vague and so often dim reality. Books can reimburse that missing delight from your day and lift the heavy weight of the world from your shoulders, even if only for a short time. Without further ado, here are my three recommendations from this month.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Starting the month with a novel that embraces our childhood belief of magic that walks amongst us. The only novel (so far) by Morgenstern, she magnificently captures that childlike innocence that has been hidden away in all of us. Creative, unique and captivating, this book was so incredibly enjoyable. I’ve never read anything like this. It takes fantasy and twists it into something so fresh and delightful. Although the human pain of love and loss are felt, it is backed up by magical imagery that is so hard to find in a book these days. It is like the divergent fairy-tale we have spent all our lives searching for. In summary; this book is incredible and you should probably read it.

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Burton & Swinburne in The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder.

There is no other way to describe this book other than the fact that it is strange and I love it. It is a steampunk novel and masterfully composed as such. Steampunk, for those who may be unaware of this peculiar genre, is a specific sub-genre of science-fiction. It takes the 19th century Victorian era and twists it into this technological, hipster world where technology and aesthetic design collide into a world of industrial, steam-powered machinery. Mixing this obscure, industrial world with one man that carries the burden of his past, leads us to the adventures, excitement and danger of this fictional universe, which leaves one gripping the book in eagerness. Hodder creates complex characters and shows off his deep knowledge of Victorian urban myths. It is indeed a strange, yet inviting book, perfect for those looking for a taste of obscurity, or for those who bathe in it.

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Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

The beauty of this book is how human it is. Although I am an intense lover of fantasy novels, there is something incredible about books that remind us of the fragility of ourselves. This novel takes a mother’s love and the both struggles and sometimes dangers of being a guiding figure for our children. Not every home is perfect, in fact few are. Every family has its issues and the Hurst family are no exception. Take three children, all with their own intense problems and a mother with a fondness for control and authority. Now we have the fun ride that is Mother, Mother. I enjoyed this book immensely, I hope you do too.

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My Monthly Good Reads – July 2016

This month I reread some of the most captivating novels I own. Second time around, they are still as enchanting, some of the most emotion evoking books I have ever been lucky enough to stumble across. These books are of great importance to me. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I have and continue to do.

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1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

Published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, this was Sylvia Plath’s first and only novel. Much like her poetry, particularly like the poems from her collection Ariel, Plath used her own emotions and life experiences as inspiration. This semi-autobiographical novel follows the young Esther Greenwood, who comes from the suburbs of Boston, working as in intern for a prominent New York magazine. Frightened and disorientated by the large, glamorous city, Greenwood finds herself falling into deep and intense depression. This dark novel is both a powerful story and an extraordinary insight into the feelings Plath struggled with for much of her life. Plath is one of my favourite writers, and The Bell Jar is one of my favourite works written by this incredibly talented woman.

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2. Sylvia by Leonard Michaels

Set in 1960’s Manhattan, this short novel tells the fictionalised tale of Michaels’ first wife, Sylvia Boch. Michaels, having finished university, is doing little else but writing during his abundance of free time, when he meets Sylvia. A story of paranoia, drugs and sexual fantasies, it is an emotional tribute to their self-destructive relationship, heavily influenced by Sylvia’s precarious mental health. A short, but beautifully written novel, it is an unforgettable story that will sit with you for days after you have finished reading it.

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3. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award in 2013 and also known as Where The Moon Isn’t in the American edition, this debut novel of British author and mental health nurse Nathan Filer, is one of the most mesmerizing, eye-opening books I’ve ever, in all my days read. It follows a 19 year old named Matthew, who suffers from intense paranoid-schizophrenia, as he struggles to deal with the grief of losing his brother to a tragic accident during their childhood. Written in the form of a diary by our protagonist himself, it gives us an insight into what the struggle with mental health issues, for many people, really looks like. It is both stunning and haunting, a story that you will never forget.

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4. Birds Nest Soup by Hannah Greally. 

I first read this book while doing research for a history paper, on the development of mental health services in Ireland, focusing in particular, on the Lunatic Asylums, which became the dumping grounds for people who were different, embarrassing or simply in the way. This book is the story of Hannah Greally, a nurse who came back from London during World War II, traumatised by the war. She entered St.Loman’s Psychiatric Asylum in Mullingar, Ireland, intending to only stay for a few weeks. She would spend the next 18 years of her life there. This book gives us a look into the horrifying and disturbing torment that patients were put through. Mental health was so poorly misunderstood in these days. Unfortunately, this meant that those struggling mental illness, were the ones that bore the brunt of this vacancy in the field of mental health and psychiatric care. This book gives us, even just the smallest perception of what it was like for the thousands of patients who spent some, of if not all of their lives in these prisons.

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My Monthly Good Reads!

I read a lot. I have a fine appreciation for curling up in fuzzy pyjamas with a book. Sometimes I will even go as far as to say that I prefer books over going outside and socializing. (What sort of blasphemy is going outside anyway?) Since finding out that my local library was now completely free to join, I have been practically living there. I go down at least once a week to change books. I have spent a lot of my free time lately reading, now that I can read anything I want and not just academic reading.

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Hopefully I will update this list every month so keep an eye out for another post next month with new books!

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Originally published in April 1925, this is a book that I think everyone should read at some stage of their lives. This book, to put it simply, is amazing. The use of language is mesmerising. The plot is simple yet sucks you in; I couldn’t put this book down. Set in the summer of 1922 in a fictional town named West Egg. Nick Carraway moves into West Egg and meets his neighbour Jay Gatsby, a man who holds a lot of parties. I don’t want to delve too deeply into the storyline for fear of spoiling it. This book was enjoyable, dramatic and exciting to read.

  1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

It was a close friend that nagged me to start reading this series and boy am I glad she did! A dystopian young adult series, this first book is full of twists and intense, feels-inducing drama. The story is easy to follow; every month a new boy arrives to The Glade. They must solve the maze and escape. Thomas is the latest to arrive. They remember nothing but their names. Just like the characters, we start off just as clueless as Thomas. But slowly we learn and follow along like Thomas. Dramatic and emotional, this book quickly became one of my favourites. If you’re a fan of the Hunger Games, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. I’m really looking forward to reading the second book of the series.

  1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I watched the movie version years ago and fell in love. As much as I enjoy the film however, the book offers so much more to the reader. The Lovely Bones is about a 14 year old that gets murdered at the very start of the novel by her neighbour, Mr. Harvey. She watches her family from heaven, seeing how they all deal with the grief. It’s a beautifully written novel that will tug on your heart strings. It’s dark, tragic but an enlightening insight into grief and how it can affect people. A wonderful book but be prepared to get emotional!

That’s all for today folks! Tune in next month when I’ll have more books to review and keep an eye out for posts about music, films and general life!

Rose x

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