Friday, 2 April 2010

Busy, busy and even busier...


Just a note to say that I will be continuing in my mission to complete the book list but I have been very very busy at university. However, I now only have a dissertation and two exams until I have free time to read and write for fun, so, come June there will be more blogs! And the long awaited Dorian Grey blog!

Many thanks for your patience!

Verity Black

Monday, 28 September 2009

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

All I knew about Frankenstein was that it involved a monster and I wasn't far wrong with that idea! Frankenstein is simply about Victor Frankenstein who creates a monster, then the creator is hunted by the created.

I like the idea of Frankenstein and I understand how it could be scary, but Frankenstein didn't really appeal to me. Thrillers need a plot that is full of suspense and a connection between the characters and reader, but Frankenstein did not have either of these. I felt everything was rushed and skimmed over. I wanted to feel Victor's losses, I wanted to know what he felt when he was locked up, but I just didn't get it. It did not come up to my expectations.

It's not all doom and gloom though. The book is easy to read and despite never really scaring me it was a strangely pleasant book to read. Not too complicated and I wanted to know what happened at the end. The positive of skimming over things is that the story never stands still for a long and as such it is quite fast paced. I read the book in a couple of days.

Frankenstein could be a brilliant book to some readers and as such is rated as a good book, but I never made that connection and had just a pleasant read.

Rating 2/5.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Picture of Dorian Grey - Cinema Visit

Hey everyone,

Just thought I'd let you all know that I have gone to see Dorian Grey at the cinema and nearly read all the book, so there will be a special edition blog on both of these very soon!

I am in the process of writing a review of Frankenstein, but I am struggling at the moment with a mild form of writing block! But I hope to have the review published very soon, within the next couple days.

Also, the 50 book dates group within bookarmy has a good following of people, currently 27, with discussions about Dorian Grey and Wuthering Heights at the moment. Please come and have a look and join in the discussion! Comments on any of the 50 books are welcome!

Verity Black.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin

It’s quite ironic that this novel is titled Pride and Prejudice. I dreaded having to read this book, a tea party in the garden with cakes and scones drama that had no interest to me at all! How wrong was I? This is a witty and social comedy that never stopped me smiling. As such, I had a prejudice against the book and lots of people do. True to its title the book deals with the workings of society in an ironic fashion concentrating on prides and prejudices. The book follows the lives of the Bennet family and the five daughters, especially Elizabeth the second oldest daughter, as they try to marry ‘well’.

In the introduction of my version of Pride and Prejudice opens with ‘[I]f Jane Austin remains the most misunderstood of great English writers she must, as an ironist, accept part of the blame’. This couldn’t be more true. Austin’s style of wit is through irony and she does it so well that you may actually fail to realise she is being ironic. A slight problem if your novels strongest strengths are its humour. As such Pride and Prejudice can be conceived by some as an irrelevant drama about village life that lacks interest. For example my dad was picking me up from work over the summer and I told him Pride and Prejudice was a comedy, and he didn’t believe me! This brings me back to my comment in the introduction, there is a prejudice and misunderstanding around Austin and Pride and Prejudice. However, if you understand the irony and the wit of Austin then you won’t stop smiling and grinning to yourself.

Pride and Prejudice is a conversation maker, everyone has their favourite and most hated characters and it changes throughout the book. Each character is so vivid and clear that you find yourself there, I found myself speaking in a feigned posh voice every time Mrs Bennet spoke! Austin’s ability to clearly develop character traits and for so many characters is achieved mainly through dialect. The conversations throughout the book are exemplary, they are so realistic and clear. This with Elizabeth’s personal reviews on situations works just brilliantly. Elizabeth Bennet is where Austin shows most her wit, and it works really well against the backdrop of conversation that is provided.

The story is a love story. It’s not a difficult plot to follow and has a few little twists and turns in it but otherwise it is quite simple. This does not matter at all though, if it was anything different the general feeling of the book would change and the humour would not really work. Again, the plot and Austin’s wit compliment each other well.

Pride and Prejudice truly shocked me and I love the book. So much so, I watched the series by the BBC that my sister tortured me to when I was younger. It is a sharp and witty comedy about social life in regency period. It had me grinning, and smiling, and going ooooo! I thoroughly recommend this book.

Rating: 4.5/5

Some related stuff:
Pride and Prejudice BBC series is a very good likeness to the book and I recommend watching it during or after reading the book.
Becoming Jane is a film about Jane Austin and it gives a great background about Austin and it will enlighten your reading experience because it is possible to see likeness between Elizabeth and Austin. However, remember that it will have the use of ‘artistic licence’!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009



I thought I'd let you all know that there will be some more blogs soon as I have read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly! However, time is forever speeding up and I am busy getting ready to go back to university!

Currently I am enjoying reading Catch 22 and will soon be finishing it. As such, if you would also like to pick a book from the list in which you think I should read next please let me know!

Hope you are all enjoying the blogs and please leave your comments to let me know what your views are.

Verity Black

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Recently I was watching Loosewomen on ITV1 and they were discussing whether it is better to be a pessimist or an optimist...I must say if any of them had read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath they would soon know the answer! Its definately better to be an optimist!

The Bell Jar follows the life of Esther Greenwood, a young woman from the suburbs of Boston, USA, as she slowly has a breakdown. It must be mentioned that this novel is a semi-autobiographical with people's names and places changed. It is reflective of Sylvia Plaths life who sadly committed suicide a month after the 1st publication of the novel.

The Bell Jar is slow going initially and it takes a few chapters to connect with the main character. However, once that connection is made it feels like you're having a break down with her. The story is delicately written with an air of ruthlessness. Plath approaches the topic in a softness that would not offend any one but shows the feelings of the character without diluting them. The skill that Plath has used to do this is worthy of all praise!

When reading The Bell Jar it did feel as though it jumped around and this I found annoying. However, after finishing the book I realised that this is another reflection of what it could be like to have a breakdown. Yet again clever writing from Plath. Also, this combined with hardly ever mentioning the characters name beautifully reflects the process of emotions when having a breakdown. It clearly shows that Plath experienced these feelings.

In conclusion, after reading the The Bell Jar I feel that I truely understand what it feels like to suffer with depression and likewise. The line of the book being, 'it felt like a bell jar had been lifted from around me' and at that point it all makes sense. This is not a fast paced high action book but once that connection is made its hard to put down!

Rating 4/5.

The article that the Loosewomen based their discussion on:
Also there is a film called Sylvia with Daniel Craig and Gwyneth Paltrow which is about Sylvia Plaths life. I found this insightful and made the book so much more heartfelt! The link for the trailer is below:

Saturday, 25 July 2009

1984 - George Orwell

We have to thank Orwell for his introduction of Room 101 and Big Brother, note the sarcastic tone as Big Brother reaches its 100th or so series. However, a sincere thanks is given to Orwell as 1984 is a thought-provoking book that certainly puts me against the idea of ID cards!

The book follows the life of Winston Smith, a worker of the Ministry of Truth in London, as his facade starts to slowly crack. People disappear, historical events are recreated, and children are just another Big Brother weapon!

Having heard a great amount about the book but never reading it, I was very excited about reading this as my 1st date. The book was relatively easy to read and it soon dragged me into the life of Winston Smith. Orwell portrays Smith's feelings and emotions to such an extent that you will start to worry whenever a CCTV camera is seen ...not a story for the paranoid!

However, the occasional chapter where it was felt Orwell was trying to communicate his personal political views, was complicated to follow and may require a couple of reads. Therefore, it is by the strength of the overall story and a need to know what happens, that gets the reader through these chapters. Although do note that if you have a more political mind and understand more than this fictional story, then these chapters may be the most enjoyable to yourself.

It must be noted that this book deserves the praise it recieves, 'written before its time' and 'fitting for today'. Obviously, it is an extreme version of totalitarian rule but the small details Orwell adds really does make the reader think about what is being implemented by the government on todays society; why can we not protest in Westminster square or how many of our actions can be traced? Will the newspaper be listening to your phone calls and will you know?

When Winston reaches his final resolve, it is not the hoped ending of a wonderful life, but any other ending would void the book of poignancy. As such, after much thought and initial disappointment, this ending is truely fitting and really does make you wonder if 2 +2 = 5.

Overall, the book was generally an easy, enjoyable read, and could be appreciated by most on an artificial level. However, to truely give this book it's full praise then the reader needs to have a little bit of an idea about context and politics. I would read the book again and I couldn't put it down at times, but there were occasions when I couldn't wait for a chapter to end and struggled to get through it.

Rating: 3.5/5

If 1984 takes you fancy then I would suggest Animal Farm by George Orwell aswell.

There is also a very good film of the book in which the trailer is below. If you enjoy this film then I would strongly suggest V for Vendetta - an absolutely brilliant film!

Verity Black