Book Review

Book Review: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

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Perfect is the second and final installment of Cecelia Ahern’s Young Adult series. And, before I even begin the review I need to say that when the book came to an end I was a little shocked; these books didn’t follow the usual trend of being a trilogy! I had read the book so quickly that when I got to the end I felt a little cheated because there wouldn’t be another sequel but, what to do! My personal longing for another book just goes to show how well they were written!

Lets get back to business!

Perfect follows Celestine North on the next part of her adventure. Having been branded Flawed by Judge Crevan, and being declared the most dangerous threat to society, Celestine is on the run. The book begins with Celestine in hiding on her grandfather’s farm, never knowing who to trust, never knowing when it will all stop. While Judge Crevan, father to her ex-boyfriend Art, appears to have the upper hand, Celestine has one little secret that can destroy him, his power, and the Guild forever.

The book follows Celestine as she uncovers who she can and cannot trust. We meet some wonderful new characters and get an even greater taste of the dystopian world in which they live. Will Celestine share her secret and be the cause of a revolution, or will she hold her cards close to her chest and stay hidden in fear?

Flawed and Perfect have taught me many little things. It has made me become very aware of the power that the government can hold and how they can often abuse this power. I have seen the value and strength of family and friendship and it has made me consider who would stick around in my life if shit hit the fan!

Overall this was a really gripping read, I couldn’t put it down. I would have loved to have had another book or two in the series – so Cecelia if you’re reading, please continue with it!!!

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4.5/5 for this book. Losing 1/2 a star because I feel like the story could progress further!

Have you read Flawed? Are you planning on reading Perfect? Let me know in the comments below!

Much love,

Cx

Book Review

Book Review: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

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World War Two. We all know about it. We can all retell the general happenings that took place. “Who was at fault” I’d ask you;  “The Germans“, you’d reply. And yes you would be right, but what Tatiana De Rosnay has depicted in this harrowing but wonderful book is that the German’s are not the only people at fault.

Sarah’s Key is set in France and tells the truth about what happened in France in during the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup. The narrative follows two main characters Sarah Starzynski, a young Jewish girl living in Paris with her parents and younger brother at the time of the roundup; and Julia Jarmond an American journalist living in Paris in the modern day who is asked to write a piece about the roundup on it’s 50th anniversary.

This story broke my heart. Sure, I’ve read The Diary of Anne Frank and have a particular fondness for books, movies, and TV shows that can depict the horrors of the war in an effective and appropriate fashion, but this book really tore me apart.

Sarah is in her apartment one night when the French Police arrive. She has heard her parents mumbling lately about something and she knows it’s not good. She hides her brother away, promising she will return for him when the police leave, but then she gets arrested along with her mother and father and taken to the Velodrome d’Hiver, a stadium which had been used for bicycle racing. She is held captive there with 7,000 other Jewish men, women, and children; the majority of whom, if they survived long enough, ended up in Auswitz. The story follows Sarah’s determination to get back to find her brother during this terrifying time.

Julia Jarmond researches the Vel’ d’Hiv and is horrified to learn of the involvement of the French Police. This is something nobody seems to know about. She discovers a personal connection to Sarah Starzynski and cannot rest until she uncovers all she can about this young girl and the horrors she encountered.

This book was amazing. Honestly, I couldn’t help but become emotionally involved. It made me think of the children I know and love and how terrified they would be if they were ever treated in such an inhumane manner. Even though the events of World War Two are not yet 100 years old, they are almost forgotten. We think of the war and yes we recognise the fact that there was death, destruction, needless and heartless mass murder; but do we ever stop to think about these people as people… not just statistics. Yes the Jews were killed… but do you look into the eyes of your son or daughter and wonder how many children their age were rounded up and killed off? I bet you don’t. It’s easier not to. It’s too easy to acknowledge the War for the horror it was and move on. There were so many innocent lives taken. And for what? It was needless, it was disgusting.

Even though the story follows two main characters, it made me sit back and think about the thousands of individuals who were treated like this. How many thousands of stories have been left untold? How many people were involved in these events; who notified the police of where the Jewish people lived; who turned a blind eye; who were responsible for arresting these poor innocent people…? Our world was changed utterly by these events. How could the involvement of the French Police be so easily swept under the carpet? I have so many questions but there will never be enough answers.

If you have any interest in human rights, or in World War Two then this is a book for you. The book looks at how easily society can turn its head and look away. It has taught me how important it is to stand up for others, and to not be led like a sheep. We have a duty to remember all those who were ruthlessly murdered in the events of World War Two. A fantastic and haunting read. I believe that this is a book that all teenagers should be required to read in order to teach them the importance of compassion, bravery, and equality. We live in a world that can be so full of hate, discrimination, and suffering. A book like this has the power to show people how far things can go if left undisturbed. We are a community of people and we owe it to one another to learn from past mistakes to try to create a more promising future for those here now, and those yet to come.

I feel that the only fault with the book lay in how quickly it ended. I felt that I needed to get closure around the two people at the end of the book. (I don’t want to say too much here because I don’t want to give anything away!) It was a story that I felt was brave, and honest, but I would like to know how things ended for Julia.

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Do you have a penchant for the stories of the War or do you feel that this is a book you would now like to read? Let me know in the comments below!

Cx

Book Review

Review: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

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If I’m completely honest with you all, I had no idea what kind of book to expect with this one! I didn’t read the blurb on the back, and I honestly thought I’d be reading about a dog and the amazing adventures he had with one family from start to finish.

That was not the case.

A Dog’s Purpose is a book that follows one dog throughout a few lives, where Bailey searches to understand why it is that he keeps getting reborn, and what his purpose is in life. While that may seem very philosophical, and it is, it is also so endearing and intimately beautiful. The author explores the many different experiences that dogs can be subjected to, spanning across a range of settings and emotions, both good and not so good. I felt as though I was being shown the world in an entirely different perspective.

Bailey’s journeys made me look at my dog in a very different way. I genuinely feel like I understand him more and can empathise with what his life must be like. I feel like I understand why he behaves in certain ways; why he might pee all the time when we go for walks, why he wants to be by my side 24/7, why he dislikes certain smells so much etc. This bit might seem a tad mad but I honestly feel like it has changed my relationship with him too!

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Reading A Dog’s Purpose was an absolute roller coaster of emotions! I sat in a coffee shop and tried with all my might not to cry my eyes out as I read certain parts. There were times when I felt extremely angry, guilty, and happy. It made me want to find my pooch and have a million cuddles, particularly as he’s a bit old now!

If you’re a dog lover then this book is most definitely for you! I can’t say much more without giving things away but it’s definitely something you should pick up and dive into!

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I would give this book 4 and a half stars! A very enjoyable book, fantastically insightful, but just not long enough for me!!

Cx

Book Review

Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is a book that I feel I was drawn to. Not because I had any idea of what it was about, and not because of the person who wrote it. I think I was drawn to it because it was something I was meant to discover and explore. I first saw Big Magic when I cut out a tiny little picture of it for my vision board. It was the colours of the cover than drew me to it and I glued it down onto the section that I had designated for Creative Writing for 2017. It was a tiny little section but as the year is going on, and I do know it’s only the start of February, I feel like that could possibly become the most important section of the vision board for this year.

Let me backtrack and describe my first experience with Liz Gilbert… I read Eat, Pray, Love, during a personal crisis when I had finished my undergrad in University. I had absolutely no idea whatsoever about life. I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, or how to control the crippling anxiety I was experiencing each and every day. I remember reading this book and after much deliberation, telling my father that I wanted to move to Italy. Why not, I thought, if it worked for Liz it might work for me. What I didn’t realise was that simply running away from my life here wasn’t going to change the ways in which I experienced life. What would be so different about Italy? It would be warmer… I would have the world’s greatest pizza at my disposal, but would there be some magic line across the border of Italy that would make my personal insecurities and anxiety disappear? Absolutely not!

In hindsight, what I realise now is that I really connected with Liz’s methods of storytelling and communicating. Her writing style speaks to me in a very honest way and allows me to find the courage to explore myself more completely. I never did finish Eat, Pray, Love. I had felt that the “love” part wasn’t applicable to me at the time. Ever since I have found love however, I have felt the urge to go back and finish the book. I called to my parents house yesterday and picked it up, ready to finish the section of the book that I now feel is applicable to my adult life.
Let’s get back to the actual review!
Big Magic is officially like my own bible. This book has reignited a spark inside of me and has allowed me to explore a part of myself that I had buried away. I honestly couldn’t put it down. I have learned so much from reading this book and I feel that I have received permission to write without the ‘success’ that I feel should come afterwards. I need to write because it is a craft that I love. I need to write for me. I need to write in order to express myself. I should write because that’s what I was born to do! If anything comes from it then that’s just an added bonus. If not, then there’s no big deal because in reality I’m only writing for myself to begin with.
This book was a page turner for me. I felt like inspiration itself was speaking to me and telling me that everything was going to be ok no matter what. I really loved how Liz told me that the world would keep spinning, rivers would not run backwards, and life would go on even if I failed, even if I were to get bad reviews! I’m a person who has always been very much afraid of life and the unknown. I have been terrified of the future and what may or may not happen. And that’s in all areas of life, not just in terms of creativity. This book has shown me that fear is a necessary part of life but that my curiosity should shine through much stronger than my fear. It’s ok for us all to be afraid of the unknown but, as Liz says, what would you do if failure meant nothing to you? I know for a fact that I’d travel, I’d write, I’d throw caution to the wind and live the best life I possibly could.

I can imagine that this is a book that I will be picking up and reading forever more. It’s one that you can pick up and open anywhere and know that you will be instantly inspired and rejuvenated by what you read. The book will show you that you really have no need to worry, that you have every right to create; whether that’s writing, painting, sculpting, acting… any form of creating you please. You are entitled to do whatever sets your soul on fire and not feel guilty about it.

If you feel like there’s something inside of you that you need to create then go out and buy this book now. Like, immediately! You genuinely won’t be sorry!!!

I would give this book 5/5 stars!


All I have for this book is pure love! And it is definitely one I will read again and again!

Cx

Book Review

Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

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Disclaimer: There will be language used in this review!!

Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k
Author: Sarah Knight
Year: 2015
Publisher: Quercus Editions Ltd.

This is the first ‘Self-Help’ book I’ve read this year. For those of you who don’t usually read ‘Self-Help’ books (or Self-Improvement books as I prefer to call them) then this is an interesting one to start off with! Sarah Knight delivers a Laugh-Out-Loud book full of entertaining anecdotes and wise advice! To sum it up, this book is meant to help you to stop having to do things that you don’t want to do, with people you may not particularly want to be around, which would ultimately result in you wasting time, energy, and sometimes, money.

Sarah’s theories on life are quite interesting and have made me stop and think about how I often give too many fucks about other people; whether that’s keeping other people happy, doing things just because other people want me to do them, or worrying about what other people think of me and my actions. I’ve started to really ask myself if I really care about some of the things that I’ve been doing, maybe saying hi to someone that doesn’t ever say hi back etc…! I’ve spent so long and wasted so much of my time trying to be liked by everyone when, in reality, I don’t give a fuck about what half of them think!

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Sarah talks you through making a Fuck Inventory, where you list all of the things that you do and don’t give a fuck about when it comes to things, work, people, and family. You mentally declutter by figuring out who and what are worth giving fucks about, and who and what are not worth it. Sarah believes that we all spend too much time caring about the opinions of others instead of living our lives in a way that will make us feel happy and content.

The reality is, unless we’ve been given a ballpark figure by a reputable physician (and sometimes not even then), not a single one of us knows when we’re going to shuffle off this mortal coil. It’s morbid, but it’s true. Tomorrow you could get hit by a bus, or mauled by a pack of wolves, or be scared to death by a clown.
When you think about it like that, don’t you want to make every second count?

Nobody on this earth is going to live forever. You’re not going to be remembered for all of the extra hours you put in at the office, or the parties you attended that you actually didn’t want to attend. You need to take the time you have and spend it wisely on the things you like, and want to do, with the people you genuinely care about. Otherwise you’re really just wasting your time on this planet.

I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who feels like they need to get their priorities straight. It will give you the motivation to get your shit together and only give your fucks to the things that you feel deserve it.

I have been recommending this book left, right, and centre to people who I think would enjoy it. Many people have gotten a kick out of the title of the book and a few people have gone out and bought it for themselves. Today though, I was told by someone that they felt that the word fuck was overused altogether, which is true in one sense but I believe the title of the book kind of gives us all a heads up on that one.

As Self-Improvement books go, I do feel that this was entertaining and to the point. There was nothing spiritual about it; no connecting with God or your Higher Power, nothing involving soul-searching of any kind. It was a no BS approach to living a life you enjoy. Simple As!

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I found this on Facebook and had to include it in the review!!

I did find that I grew tired of reading the book around the half-way point but I think that it is because I’ve got so many books on the go (something I’m not very used to doing!) But it is definitely one worth picking up.

I’d give this book a 4/5 star rating, simply because I did lose interest slightly at the midpoint but other than that it was a great, uplifting, inspiring, laugh a minute read!

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Is this a book you’ve read? Perhaps one you’re going to add to your TBR pile for the year ahead? Do let me know in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

Cx

Book Review

Review: The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

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As an Irish twenty-something, I am ashamed to admit that I’m not too fond of Irish authors. A friend of mine has often admonished me, asking me why I won’t read Irish authors when I’m hoping to become one myself someday. Luckily, I’ve started to change my opinion as of late. I’ve discovered some Irish authors that I like and admire and have managed to find authors who take a giant leap away from the “diddly-idle” and “oldies and Irish” style of Irish fiction. Donal Ryan is one such author.

Being honest, The Spinning Heart is a book I had to read. Not because I wanted to, but because I’ve had to teach it. Never in a million years would I have picked up this book and read it because I really wanted to. This is one of the joys of teaching. Without having to read this I would never have discovered this piece of literary art! So, lets get down to the nitty-gritty and jump into my very first book review!!!!

Book: The Spinning Heart
Author: Donal Ryan
Year: 2012
Publisher: Doubleday Ireland

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The Spinning Heart is one of the most brutally honest books I’ve read that takes place in modern day Ireland. Set during the recession of 2008. we are immersed in tragic Limerick where a town is trying to  cope with their newfound misery. Each chapter is narrated by a different character; each with their own unique voice, each with their own story to tell. The characters range from a bereaved mother, to the daughter of the very disliked builder-gone-bust. We meet a character with serious mental illnesses, a devout wife, and an abusive father. Their stories are gripping, their pain very real. While the novel has many different narrators, each character has one thing in common; Bobby Mahon. Bobby was the foreman on the building site and has somehow influenced each of the characters that we meet in this book. He is a friendly character who is always willing to help anyone out; as Jason tells us,

“Bobby done that turn for fellas that was as good as strangers to him and looked for nothing back and nearly made it sound like it was us doing him a favour”

However, Bobby finds himself at the end of some very serious accusations as the novel progresses.

The Spinning Heart is definitely a book I’m glad to have read. For me, it started out slow. I was unsure how I felt about it until I was about three to four chapters in. After that I was hooked. I just wanted to find out what was happening!  I’m very glad that all the pieces of the jigsaw fit together at the end! I would like to stress how accurately Donal Ryan portrays the disheartened citizens of Ireland who were ‘done over’ during the recession. As a young person in Ireland today, often struggling to make ends meet in a country where wages are low and prices are rising, I felt that I could relate to the sense of disappointment that these characters expressed. The knock on effect of the recession is still in full swing and I was impressed to read something that captured the real Ireland of the 21st Century in such an honest way.

My rating:
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Is this a book that you have read or are thinking of reading? Drop a comment below and let me know!

C x