Review: Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

IMG_9518[1]Last summer (around this time actually) I read Joanna Cannon’s debut novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. It had a massive amount of hype on booktube, and although it wasn’t my favourite book of the year it was one that I really very much enjoyed. It’s no surprise that Joanna’s next book, Three Things About Elsie, was an instant hit on booktube once more, and I will admit that the gorgeous battenberg inspired cover design had me instantly wanting to haul this.

Three Things About Elsie does not follow Elsie, as you might expect, but Florence, her best friend. As the novel opens we find that 84 year old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. Waiting to be rescued, Florence reflects on her long life and the many memories she has with Elsie. Yet not all of these remembrances are good ones, and Florence can’t help but think of the new resident at Cherry Tree; the charming man who looks exactly like someone she once knew who died sixty years ago. Lying alone in her front room, Florence can’t help but wonder if the awful secret from her past is about to be discovered.

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Review: The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

IMG_9488[1]I think most people have some appreciation for Shakespeare, even if they don’t necessarily enjoy his plays or perhaps find them somewhat of a challenge. He is, after all, a genius playwright for good reason. Personally I love Shakespeare, especially his often playful use of language. Even when I was younger and couldn’t make sense of the plays as a whole I still loved saying the words aloud and hearing them trip or slip off the tongue. It’s therefore understandable that his works have influenced so many others, with hundreds of allusions scattered across different forms of literature and plenty of re-tellings. When I realised that Hogarth were doing an entire series where pretty prolific writers were writing their own versions of Shakespeare plays, I was immediately sold, even if it’s taken me this long to pick the first one up!

The Gap of Time is the first book in the Hogarth Shakespeare series and is written by the much loved Jeanette Winterson. It retells the story of ‘The Winter’s Tale’ bringing it into a much more modernised setting. For those of you who’ve read the play you’ll understand the bare bones of the plot, but for those who haven’t the plot is fairly simple. We have two kings, one of which believes the other is having an affair with his wife and has gotten her pregnant. Ruled by his jealousy the King sends the newly born baby off into the wilderness left to the hands of fate. Meanwhile, he does come to realise that his wife is indeed faithful, by which time both his son and his wife have died from the shock. What follows is the aftermath of these events and the filling in of the gap of time which passes.

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Review: The Abandon Trilogy by Meg Cabot

IMG_9475[1]Anyone who is a big reader is sure to have that one author that essentially made their childhood. I’m talking about the kind of author you couldn’t get enough of, whose books you’d devour in one sitting and would read over and over again. Yes, J. K. Rowling is of course one of these authors for me, but she’s not the only one. When I think back on my childhood there’s another name which always springs to mind; Meg Cabot. Meg’s probably most famous for The Princess Daires, but it was actually her other series which I fell in love with, namely The Mediator series. This was long before the likes of Twilight and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of paranormal YA. Whilst perusing my shelves the other day I realised that I had left one of her other series, The Abandon Trilogy, unread, so I immediately set to rectifying this.

The trilogy follows the story of Pierce Olivera, a young girl who died following an accident but was brought back to life. People are amazed at hearing her story, desperate to know if she saw a white light and what death might hold. What she doesn’t tell them is the truth; that she’s been to the Underworld, that whilst there she met a strange boy who has followed her to the living world, unable to give her up. Finding herself drawn to John and the world he represents, Pierce draws ever closer to the realm of the dead, but forces beyond their control are watching, and the furies cannot be stopped.

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The Hellenic Eatery, Cardiff

IMG_9114[1]With all this brilliant yet sweaty sunshine we’ve been having in Cardiff over the last few weeks I’ve constantly been in a holiday and travel kind of mood. Unfortunately for me, I have a house deposit and a wedding to save for, which means travel is a current luxury my bank balance just can’t afford. Fear not, for whilst myself and my other half may not be able to actually leave the country, we were most definitely able to bring another country to us! Cardiff is a brilliant city for great independent food at the moment, and with the amazing ranges of cuisines on offer the ability to transport yourself to another place are endless!

We actually decided pretty quickly on The Hellenic Eatery, a Greek restaurant we’ve been meaning to get to which really did have me feeling as if I were back in Kos or Crete. We both love Greece and the stunning local food there, so the idea of a Greek family-run business where most of the ingredients are important from Greece and cooked in an authentic Greek way was far too tantalizing to pass.

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Review: Matilda by Roald Dahl

IMG_9464[1]When I think of my childhood and the characters I associated with the most, two main people always spring to mind; Belle from Beauty and the Beast  and Matilda, from the Roald Dahl book of the same name. I was obsessed with books from a young age, far more than anyone else I knew, which meant I quite often felt somewhat distanced from those around me. My poor parents would continually allow themselves to be dragged to the library where I would take out the maximum number of books to greedily devour at home. Remind you of anyone? As you might imagine I’ve always felt a connection to Matilda and I loved both the book and the brilliant movie adaptation growing up. Feeling a bit nostalgic recently I decided to re-reread the book!

For anyone who doesn’t know, Matilda is the story of a young and incredibly talented girl. With parents and an older brother who take little interest in her (unless it’s to shout at her), it’s amazing that this tiny little girl is naturally so very knowledgeable and intelligent. From a young age Matilda takes herself to the library, quickly reading all of the children’s books and moving onto the adult ones. By the time she starts school for the first time Matilda has far surpassed the rest of her class, a wonder her teacher, Miss Honey, is amazed by. Yet despite her talents and kindness Matilda is not loved by all. The headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is a fierce bull of a woman, who thinks nothing of grabbing a little girl by her plaits and swinging her high into the air. Can Matilda overcome not only this evil teacher, but also her criminal parents?

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Review: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

IMG_9462[1]‘Call me Ishmael’. These words are famous, immediately conjuring Captain Ahab and his mad quest to kill the eponymous whale, Moby Dick.  The novel, written by Herman Melville, has reached iconic status, considered one of the greatest novels of all time. Yet still it continues to massively divide people, bringing a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ attitude to the vast majority of people who have read it. In all honestly this isn’t the first time I’ve technically read Moby Dick. I did read it during my childhood years, borrowing the book from the library and delving into a story which went almost entirely over my head. That’s why reading it this time round felt like a completely new experience, finally ticking of one of the massive classics on my to-read list.

I’m pretty certain the vast majority of people already know what Moby Dick is about, but for those who don’t I’ll give a quick little overview. The story is told from the perspective of Ishmael, a man who we first meet as he is set to embark on his first ever experience of working on a whaling ship. The ship itself is controlled by Captain Ahab, a man with a wooden leg whom we soon discover has a hidden agenda on this expedition. Ahab is determined to track down and kill Moby Dick, the infamous white whale who bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee during a previous encounter. Determined to stop at nothing, even death, Ahab drives his team deep into the most unforgiving of waters, caring for nothing else besides his revenge.

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