To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

My rating: 4.7/5.0

This book is an absolute classic, and a completely unmissable read. I read it before for my GCSE English Literature class, but being fourteen at the time I returned to it now, suspecting that it might mean slightly more to me six years later. And it did.

It’s heartbreaking, thought-provoking and totally page turning. I think I read it in the space of two days. The characters have such depth to them, and through the eyes of seven/eight year old Scout Finch (Jean Louise if we’re being formal!), they all come majestically to life. One thing that struck me is that I was still a little scared of Scout’s initial impression of Boo Radley! I guess the idea of an unseen phantom that one can’t put a face to is infinitely more terrifying than something you can quantify, hence the extensive imaginations of children.

Moving through the book and seeing the trial of Tom Robinson from Scout’s perspective makes it seem even more abhorrent. The innocence she has, which her brother Jem loses, becomes all the more precious in light of the outcome. One almost begins to detest the machinations of adults, purely because of the effect it has on children.

I cannot begin to this book justice here, but suffice to say that if you have no read it you must; and if you have read it, return to it, I almost guarantee you it will provide you with something new.

B

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The Kingmaker’s Daughter – Philippa Gregory

Enjoyment/Story Rating: 3.0/5.0

Style/Language Rating: 2.8/5.0

 

Okay, well this another classic Philippa Gregory story, telling the tale of Anne Neville; daughter of the Earl of Warwick, the “kingmaker” of the late Plantagenet era. It’s a good tale if all you want is a simple story of a vaguely historical nature, but that is all it seems to provide. I was expected something a bit more, because I’d been told that it was better than her other recent novels, but I found it sitting quite comfortable alongside them in terms of mediocrity.

Now don’t get me wrong, Philippa Gregory has written some really great books, I loved her Tudor Series, but the things she’s written lately seem to just have been the same story and all she’s done is edited the names before sending the book to the publishers – it seems one dimensional and fairly flat with little new to offer regular Gregory readers. I found myself skipping pages as I got bored with the repetitive nature of the style, diving back in again when I stumbled across something that it felt like I hadn’t read before.

I would recommend this if you like comfortable historical novels and just want a light and easy read. Otherwise, if you want better historical fiction, go for Gregory’s earlier novels, in my opinion they are far superior to her later works.

 

B

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Teachers Top 100

So, apparently teachers in the UK have chosen their top 100 books for teaching and enjoyment. Top of this list is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen which I have to confess, I haven’t read. I read Persuasion at A level and I think it’s a great book but the few times I’ve attempted to read about the escapades of Mr Darcy and Ms Bennett, I’ve been overcome by the cliched nature of what’s been done to it since Austen penned the thing. I’m also pleased to see a lot of Tolkien on the list, I adore Tolkien and I wish there was a module on my course to do with 20th Century fantasy writers, but alas alack there is not. Reading down the list I am genuinely liking what is on the list, although I do take issue with one: Twilight (series) by Stephanie Meyer. WHY? This book is truly, truly terrible; the story is not great and the actual use of language/plot development/sentence structure/character development ain’t good either. I guess one of the reasons it could be on there is it might make more kids want to take up reading? Maybe? I don’t know, but the day that that series shows up on the official syllabus is a very very sad day indeed.

Also, it makes me a sad English Literature student when I read down that list and realise that I haven’t even heard of some of them, never mind read them. Worse still when I thought it was film and not a book. Whoopsie. I am pleased to say that I have read lots of the novels on that list, and I think I might use it as a reference to tackle more. I have The Independent’s ‘1001 books to read before you die’ tucked away somewhere, but I always find that slightly overwhelming. Maybe 100 is a better place to start. And before you ask, yes I know they’re books recommended by teachers, but look at that list there are only a few that I was designate as “children’s” books, and even those are fun to read so… why not?

I might even try and tackle that world renowned piece of literature next… might take me a good while to get through it though: Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar… 

Albums Coming Out in April 2013… (The Ones I’m Excited About Anyway)

April 2nd – My Shame Is True by Alkaline Trio

I have loved this band for about six years now and I’m very excited to see what they come up with next. Due for release on the same day as their Broken Wing EP. Coming out through their own label in a joint venture with Epitaph Records. The first single ‘I Wanna Be A Warhol’ is available to listen to and download – it sounds like classic Alkaline Trio, but with Skiba’s voice and their playing technique showing the maturity of band that have been together for two decades. 

April 8th – House of Gold & Bones Part 2 – Stone Sour

Second Part of Stone Sour’s concept album, via Roadrunner records. 

April 9th – Paramore by Paramore

Follow up to Brand New Eyes and the first album since Paramore became a three piece. I’m interested to see where this might go because I wasn’t a huge fan of the first single ‘Now’; I disliked the way they had distorted Hayley Williams’ voice – she has a really good voice I didn’t really see the need for the over auto tune that they seemed to have done. But I’ll withold judgement until I’ve heard the rest of it… 

April 16th – Save Rock And Roll by Fall Out Boy

After their explosive return from hiatus, this is the new album from Fall Out Boy. I liked their first single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ – it’s a very good workout track, so I’m excited to see where the rest of this album goes. I wasn’t a massive fan of Fall Out Boy before their hiatus but I appreciated their music and style. Interested to see what they do with this return. 

April 22nd – Tape, Deck, Heart by Frank Turner

This album doesn’t really fit in with the general ‘rock’ of the other four albums, but Frank Turner is one of my favourite artists. I’ve been a fan for about three years and I can’t wait to see him at Leeds festival later this year. I am very very excited for this album because the first songs released ‘Four Simple Words’ and ‘Recovery’ have been absolutely amazing and I simply can’t wait for the rest of it! If you haven’t heard Frank yet, please give him a go, he’s a punk rock singer songwriter from London and he’s bloody brilliant!