Sunday, 20 December 2015

Book Reviews feat. Emily St. John Mandel

vivatramp uk book blogs rebecca daphne du maurier station eleven emily st john mandel the grownup gillian flynn

Gone and read some books again, haven't I?! November was an inconsistent reading month for me as I seem to be in the habit of slumping terribly after reading a book that I absolutely adore. And so, my reading finished half way through November. 


If I don't speak to you beforehand, have a Merry Christmas! I'll be spending it across the road (yes, literally) at my Grandma's - eating lots of food, opening lots of books and scowling at my Dad's 'jokes'. 



vivatramp uk book blogs station eleven emily st john mandel

41. station eleven by emily st. john mandel
FINISHED: 07/11/15 | ISBN: 0804172447 | PAGES: 333
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlement of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Travelling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band's existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed. 

Everyone and their dog seemed to absolutely love this book but for me it was just so-so. When this book first popped up on my radar shortly after it was released, I felt like it would be right up my street because I have been writing a post-apocalyptic collection for just over a year now. Despite writing within the genre myself, I always find it fascinating to see how other writers imagine their very own apocalypse. Mandel's apocalypse, or at least the premise of this book, felt very fresh and exciting but, in all honesty, I felt like it didn't reach its potential in many places. The pacing, for me, felt a little too rushed and I wanted her to further embrace the things that made the story so different a bit more - specific examples redacted because I like to keep these book reviews spoiler-free. Despite feeling disappointed, the characters really pulled this story along. Everyone absolutely loves this book though so do take my review with a pinch of salt. I think I'm going to re-read it in the future because I may have just burnt myself out on the genre. 

RATING: 

vivatramp book blog the grownup gillian flynn

42. the grownup by gillian flynn
FINISHED: 09/11/15 | ISBN: 1474603041 | PAGES: 80
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetuating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behaviour, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection; however, when the 'physic' visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realises she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. 

This had everything a great Gothic short story should have: weird kids, a cracking yet wholly uncertain ending and an opening line about handjobs. This was sharp and darkly funny - everything that I have come to expect from Flynn. If you love Gillian's other work, you'll love this. 

RATING: 

vivatramp book blog rebecca daphne du maurier book reviews

43. rebecca by daphne du maurier 
FINISHED: 14/11/15 | ISBN: 1844080382 | PAGES: 441
Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers. 

I bloody love Daphne du Maurier and I can now, finally, say that I bloody love Rebecca. What a book! I'm going to keep this to a minimum because I honestly believe the less you know the better. However, I will say that it was du Maurier at her best - dark and brooding and, at times, genuinely shocking. It's the sort of novel that you read and want to write a paper about because there is just so much to unpack. Read this with a friend as I did because you'll want to talk about it! I would honestly recommend this to everyone. I'm off to get the entire first chapter tattooed on my forehead.  


RATING: 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead.

 TWITTER INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR
VIVATRAMP@GMAIL.COM
Share:

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Book Haul feat. Gillian Flynn

vivatramp book blog book haul gillian flynn david duchovny

Before I get started, I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who got in touch following yesterday's post where I shared one of my poems entitled Constellations. Your support helps an awful lot! 


November was an incredibly thrifty month for me where book buying was concerned as I only ended up picking up two new reads - and only one of which did I buy myself! Unfortunately, any spare cash I have this month will be going towards gifts so it'll be much of the same. Here's hoping I get some books for Christmas. I have a strange feeling that I will! 



vivatramp uk book blogs holy cow david duchovny

holy cow by david duchovny* 
Elsie Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a bright Box God - and what the Box God reveals about something called an 'industrial meat farm' shakes Elsie's understanding of her world to its core. The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who's recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can't fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport...

I weirdly remembered that I was part of a website where reviewers could request books quickly and easily from publishers so I thought I'd log in for the first time in a long time to see what was on offer. Much to my delight, David Duchovny's debut novel was up for grabs. I love me some Duchovny. I really do. I've already read this and you can find my review of it in my latest mini book reviews post.

vivatramp uk book blogs the grownup gillian flynn

the grownup by gillian flynn 
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetuating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behaviour, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection; however, when the 'physic' visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realises she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. 


I have absolutely loved everything that Flynn has ever published so I knew I had to get my hands on this short story as soon as it was published. I have, again, already read this so keep an eye on my review of it this month. Put it this way, I cannot wait to see what she publishes next...

If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead.

 TWITTER INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR
VIVATRAMP@GMAIL.COM

*This book was sent to me for review purposes by the publisher
Share:

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

constellations: a poem

vivatramp uk lifestyle blog poetry writing



settled
between stars 

i fathomed the fog  

               into 





             con               



                              


                                   stell                 

                        



             
ations



 

making it even harder
to see 

(photo credit)



'constellations' is a poem that I wrote in 2015 about depression.  If you liked this, why not read some more of my creative writing?


 TWITTER INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR
VIVATRAMP@GMAIL.COM
Share:

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Bee's Mini Book Reviews feat. Edan Lepucki

vivatramp book blog book haul

October was a busier reading month for me, compared to September's efforts at least, and I ended up getting round to a few books that really surprised me! I've actually upped my Goodreads challenge for the year to 52 books, to match last year's efforts, so please pray for me as I try and read a ton of books in the next month. God knows I'm going to need the support...


vivatramp 1984 george orwell lifestyle book blog
FINISHED: 02/10/15 | ISBN: 014118776x | PAGES: 355
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skillfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true piece of freedom is betrayal. 

That's right, pals! After saying I was going to read it about a billion and one times, across a billion and one years, I finally settled down and read this dystopian classic. With tight fautless prose, Orwell creates an entire world rich in ideas within just a few hundred pages. I imagine it made for an absolutely astounding read when it was first published but, even still, I felt like it still held up to the contemporary reader. Overall, I found this to be an interesting read - albeit disturbing at times - a must for those interested in the dystopian genre. 



RATING: 

FINISHED: 2/10/15 | ISBN: 0586081321 | PAGES: 224
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken. 

Sometimes books jump out at you as you browse your shelves for your next read and this canary beauty was one of them. Guys, I absolutely loved this book and I didn't even expect to fall in love with it! This was a hilarious fast-paced farce jam packed with messed up characters that find themselves in the most surreal situations, doing and saying the most awful things, and the joke is always on them. The humour reminded me of Rick and Morty and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, two shows that I very much like, so if you too are fans of those shows you'll probably like this book. I'm definitely going to have to re-read this in the future.  



RATING: 

FINISHED: 17/10/15 | ISBN: 1784870110 | PAGES: 204
In Persian myth, it is said that Akbar the Great once built a palace which he filled with newborn children, attended only by mutes, in order to learn whether language is innate or acquired. As the year passed and the children grew into their silent and difficult world, this palace became known as the Gang Mahal, or Dumb House. In his first novel, John Burnside explores the possibilities inherent in a modern-day repetition of Akbar's investigations. Following the death of his mother, the unnamed narrator creates a twisted variant of the Dumb House, finally using his own children as subjects in a bizarre experiment. When the children develop a musical language of their own, however, their gaoler is the one who is excluded, and he extracts an appalling revenge. 

I bought this after the #Burnsided hype took over the online book community, as mentioned in my book haul, and if I'm honest said hype isn't something I will be buying into with this review. It was of the same disturbing ilk as some of my favourite books such as Perfume and Lolita but, whilst they relied on ridiculously clever writing to explore depravity, Burnside relied on hideously graphic imagery that felt gratuitous in comparison. This book wasn't without some merits, the tone, for instance, was sustained throughout, but if I'm honest it's not something I would pick up again. It actually really disturbed me and I'm not easily disturbed.



RATING: 

FINISHED: 22/10/15 | ISBN: 031625083x | PAGES: 416
The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can't reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one another. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt [...] Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realise this community poses its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust. 


This book came out of nowhere for me and I absolutely loved it. I haven't stopped thinking about Cal and Frida since I read it and I think that's a testament to Lepucki's amazing characterisation. As you guys know, I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic tales, particularly those set in the wildnerness and those that look at human nature in general, and this was just totally up my street. I found myself really struggling to put this book down and I haven't really felt that way about a book since I read the Chaos Walking trilogy. I didn't know where Lepucki was going to take the story and I was seriously impressed with how she weaved everything in. The ending left me with soooo much to think about and I kinda wish I could elaborate here but I would much rather I kept these mini reviews spoiler-free. I just really appreciate novels that encourage contemplation and discussion and this felt like one of them. I think on a second read I'd probably bump this up to a five star book, simply because it was my bag. Will it make the canon? No, but I don't think 5 star books need to - a 5 star review for me simply means I loved it. If this sounds like your bag, you will probably equally enjoy it. If you're a bit lukewarm towards it, it probably won't be for you. 


I would definitely love to hear from Cal and Frida again so Edan if you're reading this...


RATING: 

vivatramp book blog lifestyle blogs
FINISHED: 30/10/15 | ISBN: 0241973600 | PAGES: 304
After following the advice from a manual called 'How to Meet and Marry Mr Right', Jane learns that in love there is neither pattern nor promise. The Girls' Guide To Hunting and Fishing is a deeply funnily collection of connected stories and a portrait of Jane, a woman maneuvering her way through love, sex and relationships. 

I wanted to read something lighter following my run of dystopian reads so I opted for this beauty from the Penguin By Hand collection because I love me a bildungsroman. The Girls' Guide is told through a series of vignettes / short stories over the course of Jane's life, charting moments in her childhood to her later adult relationships. She was so easy to warm to as a protagonist and further confirmed that I love to read from a woman's perspective. I have to be honest with you, I didn't expect much from this because romance just isn't my bag. However, whilst my admiration did cool off where the romance was concerned, I really enjoyed parts of this  - particularly when Jane was interacting with her family. The last 'story', unfortunately, felt far removed from the rest, almost alien to me, and it took me out of the book completely. I was disappointed, I have to admit. I would, however, still recommend this to everyone, particularly if you enjoy stories that span decades of a character's life, because a lot of the things I didn't like are probably things that others would really enjoy. 



rating: 

FINISHED: 30/10/15 | ISBN: 1472225910 | PAGES: 224
Elsie Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a bright Box God - and what the Box God reveals about something called an 'industrial meat farm' shakes Elsie's understanding of her world to its core. The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who's recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can't fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport...

If you like David Duchovny, you're probably going to like this. It was fun, surreal and, at times, wonderfully silly. It's colloquial, sure, but it's quite fun to read in his voice anyway. One of the most endearing things about this book is the times in which Duchovny breaks down a wall as it were and has Elsie discuss her notes from the editor. At times, I found it could be quite preachy with regards to the consumption of meat but it didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the book. All in all, this was a fun way to while away an hour and I would recommend it to fans of Duchovny and / or talking animals. 

RATING: 

Have you read any of these books - if so, did we have similar reading experiences? What did you read during October? 


 FOLLOW: TWITTER | FOLLOW: BLOGLOVIN'
FOLLOW: INSTAGRAM | FOLLOW: TUMBLR
VIVATRAMP@GMAIL.COM
PINTEREST


*This book was sent to me for review purposes by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links.
Share:
© VIVATRAMP | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig