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Posts posted by Feste

  1. I read (novels) primarily because I enjoy it, otherwise it would be a waste of time. Learning new things, getting lost in another world or time, escaping reality, they all amount to what reading is to me. Reading has helped me know how to deal with situations; communicate, or empathise, with people; see life from different perspectives, they all help me learn about things I've not yet experienced. Reading is beautiful, each text is unique and whether or not I enjoy the story, I feel I grow as a person with every passing novel.

  2. Thank you everyone :)


    I must apologise for delaying so much in finishing my review of Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca' but I'm finally done.


    Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca'


    Perhaps reading Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ during the throes of a painful breakup allowed me to appreciate the little-loved aspects of this beautiful novel. Truthfully, I purchased ‘Rebecca’ on a whim, chosen as I share the name of the eponymous character and thus, had few expectations as to how the book would ultimately change my opinion on my own life. Du Maurier’s characterisation was flawless; her ability to create opinion on a deceased character was incredible. To me, it was this empathy I created with Maxim de Winter’s first wife, and not his second, that surprised me upon reflection.


    I’ve no doubt that most readers would be drawn to the nameless narrator, struggling to adapt to her new position in society whilst her husband pulls away, becoming colder with each passing chapter. Yet I found Rebecca the more interesting of the two. Her independence, strength and ability to lead her own life whilst being married, to me, mirrored traits that I’d love to possess, though not quite to the same degree. Du Maurier’s decision to keep the narrator nameless ultimately proved that she was, through and through, only Mrs de Winter and not a person in her own right. Throughout the novel, all she appears to want is her husband’s love and, juxtaposed with Rebecca’s full character, she comes across as weak.


    Controversially, perhaps, I read ‘Rebecca’ with an inherent hatred towards Maxim de Winter. He brought little of the stereotypical romantic male protagonist and his coolness and secrecy left me feeling confused as to what the narrator saw in the man she loved so effortlessly. Though I understood his aloofness towards his new wife as a result of his previous relationship, I despised his decision to remarry when he quite clearly was unable to love again whilst keeping the secret that would ultimately force him into his new wife’s arms, when he finally broke down his walls.


    Reading ‘Rebecca’ it felt as though I was thrown into the middle of a story beginning years before we had the privilege of joining the de Winters, just as our narrator felt. The secrets swamping Manderley were not only kept from the reader but also the cast, creating a tense, page-turning plot that was both complex and thought provoking. The web of lies proposed not only by Maxim, but also his housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, creates confusion as to the reality, resulting in a novel that can almost be described as a psychological thriller.


    One cannot deny that the resulting adaptations as well as several sequels by other authors, proves ‘Rebecca’ is more than an updated version of Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’, an argument proposed by critics of the novel at dates surrounding its publication. Indeed, du Maurier’s use of language and the beauty of her writing only highlights the intricacy of the plot, the opening line to ‘Rebecca’ being renowned as one of the more memorable in modern classics. The plot twists, the expert complexity of the storyline were beautifully composed and I endeavour to read not only the sequels to ‘Rebecca’ but many of the other works du Maurier has to offer.


    Rating: 10


    I tried finding a thread on Rebecca but failed, does anyone know if there is one (search doesn't seem to bring any up) or can I start a new one?

  3. I must have one of the strangest views on who she should have chosen.


    No one.


    This. I totally agree, or perhaps controversially, was the epilogue necessary? Why not just end it where it should have ended, after the overthrowing. There was no need to tie it all up so neatly. But I do also share these ideas regarding Harry Potter so it may just be a case of my hatred of epilogues...

  4. I was a massive fan of The Hunger Games and thought the concept was unique in that it had a reason behind the games, rather than a group wishing to see a second kill one another. I loved that Katniss was flawed, she wasn't a 'Bella Swan' type that was an over-hyped Mary Sue, if you like. Coupled with Haymitch and Peeta's lack of perfection, I thought the character development was brilliant. Collins' ability to convey emotion and have Katniss change due to experience was, to me, one of the major selling points of the first novel. However, I think Catching Fire and Mockingjay failed to live up to the expectation that The Hunger Games produced. I didn't like the writing style though, I'm not a fan of the 'in the present' style that Collins developed.


    I won't go into too much detail as to why Catching Fire wasn't my cup of tea as to be honest, I can't really remember. Mockingjay, on the other hand, had a single flaw that resulted in my clouded judgement. The ending. I haven't read a book with a more contrived, unoriginal, completely out-of-character finale.

    With all the death surrounding Katniss, her decision not to bring children into the world was a character trait rarely seen in YA books and I truly respected Collins for that, it was well explained and well documented throughout the series. Katniss was an incredibly strong, independent girl, I couldn't see her changing one of her most stringent views without any major explanation. Also, Gale's disappearance? Need I say more. Yes, from those I've spoken to, Peeta was favoured as Katniss' partner. but to remove his opposition so swiftly? Not a fan of this particular decision.



    In my opinion, Collins should have left The Hunger Games as a standalone novel, or spent more time determining a less contrived overall ending.

  5. The Book Thief, Birdsong and A Thousand Splendid Suns are among my most favourite books ever read, I very much enjoyed The Hunger Games series too, as did my son, then aged 12..


    I've had The House of the Spirits on my TBR shelf for ages, I think it's the size of the print that keeps putting me off! :o


    I love Birdsong, it's definitely one of my favourites too :) I too had House of the Spirits on my TBR list for ages, like two years! I finally got into it, I hope when you do get round to it you enjoy it too :)


    thats a lot of work....


    Sorry? What do you mean?

  6. Hi Stacie, welcome to the forum. I only joined this morning and I think I'm already hooked! Everyone is really friendly.


    My sister loves Darren Shan and I think has read every one of his at least once. I've read 'PS I Love You' by Ahern and 'My Sister's Keeper' by Picoult, as well as 'Harry Potter' and 'The Hunger Games'. What were your thoughts on 'The Hunger Games'? I've heard varying opinions and am interested in seeing how many match mine!

  7. Truthfully, I wasn't a fan. I feel perhaps due to all the social hype about vampires and that almost everyone grows up with a knowledge, albeit limited, of Dracula, I had high expectations and was left feeling disappointed. Dracula barely features, he hardly does anything and is certainly not this 'terrifying ethereal being' that one is led to believe. I liked the unusual writing style, yes, but the plot was dull and I felt nothing towards the characters. Perhaps had I lived in a bubble unaware of the hype, Dracula may have amounted to something more, but as it stands, I won't be reading it again.

  8. I enjoyed Life of Pi, in many ways I found it to be very originally written. I liked his new ideas on religion and thought that it was very comical the way a child could find the similarities in the differing faiths, something religious scholars are often unable to master. Once Pi was shipwrecked, I thought the story was slow but I almost found that added an extra depth to the book, in that the reader could empathise with the mundane life Pi was forced into. I didn't find it boring, per say, just a different type of interesting, who knew I'd read chapters about knot tying?


    I didn't, however, enjoy the ending. I don't necessarily believe books should end with an overly-contrived conclusion, but I think the author should comment on where the characters ended. I liked the idea of the animals in the boat but thought it juxtaposed with the possibility of them being human to be an unnecessary addition and ultimately, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps it was due to the beauty of Martel's writing and the dehumanising of people towards the end that I found almost distasteful.


    I did give it a 7/10 rating, however, because I did enjoy the book and did find it, until the finale, encaptivating.

  9. I too loved Rebecca I think du Maurier is brilliant. I'm interested in reading more too, I only picked Rebecca up in Waterstones as I'm a Rebecca (or Becky). I was pleasantly surprised and I'll be reading it again I imagine.


    I await your review of Birdsong, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did :)

  10. I absolutely loved 'The House of the Spirits', Janet, I was given it as a gift by my A Level English Literature teacher and its taken me two years to get round to reading it! I thought it was beautifully written, found the plot absolutely magical and the characters completely believable. What more could one want? I was a little intimidated by her style initially, if I'm honest, and it took me a couple of chapters to get engrossed but I couldn't put it down by the end!


    Did you enjoy it?

  11. Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi'


    Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ evokes the most beautiful images; his way with words appears unparalleled for much of the story. Purchased on a whim, I had few expectations and thus found ‘Life of Pi’ intriguing and captivating. Martel’s ability to keep a reader interested whilst, in truth, the story does not really progress, is testament to his profound aptitude as a wordsmith. Shipwrecked with a tiger, orangutan and a hyena, Piscine Molitor or ‘Pi’, finds himself in a situation few can relate to, yet somehow I was able to empathise with his actions.


    The beauty of the novel, to me, is undoubtedly the quality of Martel’s writing as opposed to the plot as a whole. His religious ideas are not force-fed but invoke questions in the reader’s mind, twisting the standardised beliefs that religion currently entail. As an atheist, raised with an understanding of several alternative faiths, I found Martel’s ideas captivating. Pi’s sheer determination to follow three outwardly different religions only seeks to highlight their similarities rather than their diversity. Martel’s ability to discuss the flaws of religion without being offensive simply highlights his value as a writer.


    Due to the slowing plot, Martel dedicates chapters to seemingly mundane subjects, tiger-training aside, his descriptions of knot-tying are largely uninteresting, truthfully, they seem to be used to increase word-count rather than to improve the story. However, somewhat surprisingly, these additions allow the reader to empathise with Pi’s plight, understanding the routine boredom that he was forced to endure. That’s not to say ‘Life of Pi’ was boring, in fact, it was far from uninteresting. Just as it seems Martel cannot grow the story any further, he gives Pi a greater understanding to his animal counterpart, as he is forced to train the tiger to prevent his own demise. To the uneducated reader, Martel’s ideas seem plausible, though honestly, he may have entirely fictionalised the process.


    My only issue with the story is the ending. Without revealing the twist, I can say that it is left to the reader’s discretion as to what they choose to believe. As an avid booklover, I prefer novels that have a distinct finale. That is not to say I enjoy contrived conclusions, but I like the author to place his stamp on a story, that, at least for the time being, this is how the characters’ story ends. It is this twist that has resulted in much discussion by readers and critics alike, all of whom draw their own conclusions and perhaps to many, it is this personal touch that they enjoy. To me, however, I believe the author’s word is final.


    For a book set at sea with a cast of one, Yann Martel successfully creates a story that encapsulates intrigue, the beauty of nature and what it means to survive.


    Rating: 8


    Markus Zusak's 'The Book Thief'


    In an era remembered for being one of heartache, pain and death, Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ reminds readers despite the great numbers of lives lost in World War Two, there was a story behind each statistic. Argued as being overly fictitious, Zusak has received criticism suggesting that he made light of the Holocaust by skimming over the tragedies to focus solely on one character who’s luck, above all, saw her survive the genocide. Liesel’s lack of emotion throughout the book has also been faulted, suggesting her willingness to steal and hard exterior at the loss of her brother dehumanises the survivors of such a tragedy. I am inclined to disagree with these reviews.


    Whilst Liesel does appear cold in parts, her dismissal of her young friend’s affections undoubtedly suggests her lack of emotion, when she does display affection it is all the more warming. The love she bestows upon her adopted father reminds the audience that essentially Liesel is, to her core, still a little girl in need of reassurance. In reference to the title, our main character is this youngster, who acquires her first book on the eve of her brother’s death. As a reader I am drawn to Liesel’s love of books, willing her to succeed in her quest to learn to read and understand the texts she holds so dear. Though this comes at a price as she is forced to steal and subsequently conceal all the stories she desires, chapters of Zusak’s novel are dedicated to the myriad of emotions Liesel feels at the sight of the Nazi’s ritualised book burning. One cannot argue that Liesel lacks a mature emotional range during these scenes, though it may be argued that they appear at inopportune moments.


    The revelation of the narrator of ‘The Book Thief’ comes not as a surprise, per say, but as a clarification of assumptions already drawn from the omnipresence and understanding the raconteur has shown. The choice of vocabulary that Death uses only enhances Liesel’s story, making it not only an interesting topic, but also a beautifully written text.


    Truthfully, ‘The Book Thief’ did not feature on my To Be Read list, I acquired it through a friend who was a giver for World Book Day. The whirlwind of emotion that it stirred in me as I read, sat in a drafty room, made me fall in love, not with the characters, as one would normally need in a book like this, but on the quality of the words themselves. In all honesty, whilst I empathised with Liesel’s plight, I did not have any further feelings towards her, nor could one truly like Death, knowing his role in society. Surprisingly, perhaps, I would not hesitate to recommend this to everyone, I believe that all novels that humanise tragedies are worth reading.


    Rating: 7


    Sebastian Faulks' 'Birdsong'


    Sebastian Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’ epitomises everything a good war story should entail. As a reader with little knowledge into the First World War aside from that I learnt in school, I cannot flaw Faulks’ historic accuracy. His descriptions are masculine and subtle, yet I found myself interested in the layout of tunnels and hooked by war strategy, Faulks’ only details are those of unequivocal importance to the story and the reader embraces that knowledge. Though from the outset, ‘Birdsong’ seems to target men, the demographic typically associated with war novels, the inclusion of romance and a juxtaposition between war and civilian life results in a story that also interests women.


    Despite the inclusion of romance, ‘Birdsong’ does not seek to glorify the idea of love in war, rather Faulks uses the truth that relationships are flawed. Charles, our protagonist, is somewhat unlucky in love, pursuing a married woman that, despite their passion and shared love, results in her returning to her abusive husband. The beauty of this pained relationship reminds the reader that tragedy does not only occur in times of war. Though Charles’ love life may be at the forefront of the warped romance that Faulks seeks to include, there are allusions to the relationships of the other men in Charles’ company. Upon reading some of the letters Faulks includes in ‘Birdsong’, I was reduced to tears for one of the first times whilst immersed in text. Of course, I was fully aware these letters were fictional, yet the changing voices almost made me believe that each was written independently. To me, any story that can invoke raw emotion, whether it laughter or sorrow, is flawlessly written.


    As a war novel, the main feature of ‘Birdsong’ is not romance but the tragedy of combat. As someone who is not adverse to reading horror or gore, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of unwarranted detail when it came to more violent scenes. Admittedly, there was mention of blood and Faulks does not seek to gloss over the extreme wounds inflicted, though it only sought to improve the quality of the story, not to overpower it.


    Faulks addition of post-war chapters, to me, seemed largely irrelevant to the body of the story, whilst I do understand them as being important to convey current opinions. To me, this was their only purpose and as much as I enjoyed ‘Birdsong’ these sections manipulated reader opinion, taking the narrative in a direction that was perhaps unnecessary.


    In truth, I thought ‘Birdsong’ was brilliant. Faulks’ combination of tragedy, romance and history was beautiful. I’d recommend it to my parents, sister and friends alike, its powerful scenes evoke raw emotion and show a human side to the war that needs remembering.


    Rating: 9

  12. Currently Reading


    'Kushiel's Dart' by Jacqueline Carey

    Page: 179/1015






    Had a heavy workload at University so was forced to abandon recreational reading in favour of academic texts.




    1. 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel'

    2. 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' by Mark Haddon

    3. 'Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West' by Gregory Maguire

    4. 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins




    5. 'Catching Fire' by Suzanne Collins

    6. 'Mockingjay' by Suzanne Collins





    7. 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak

    8. 'The House of the Spirits' by Isabel Allende




    9. 'Rebecca' by Daphne du Maurier

    10. 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks



    My Read List appears substantially shorter than everyone else's that I've seen! I'm only afforded enough time to read for my University studies most of the time, so recreational reading tends to be placed on the back burner until I can read without feeling guilty. Whilst I'm at University I aim to read one book a month on average, so I am above what my plan was, even if that's considerably fewer than every other reader it would appear. If I were to include my academic reading, then my list may be competitive!


    To Be Read


    1. 'Kushiel's Dart' by Jacqueline Carey | IN PROGRESS

    2. 'Kushiel's Chosen' by Jacqueline Carey

    3. 'Kushiel's Avatar' by Jacqueline Carey

    4. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Steig Larsson

    5. 'The Girl who Played With Fire' by Steig Larsson

    6. 'The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' by Steig Larsson

    7. 'Emma' by Jane Austen

    8. 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte

    9. 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini

    10. 'War and Peace' by Leo Tolstoy



    I have a larger To Be Read pile than the books listed above however these are the books I'd like to have finished in 2012. I aim to have Jacqueline Carey's first trilogy finished by the end of August ideally, with ideally another two or three finished in the interim. I'm not a very fast reader, if I'm honest.




    1. 'Battle Royale' by Koushun Takami

    2. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee

    3. 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov

    4. 'Les Miserables' by Victor Hugo



    I only include books on my Wishlist that I have found myself interested in through reading about them on the Book Club Forum, I have a few more that I'm interested in reading but I'm trying to push them out of mind in an attempt to reduce my To Be Read pile!





    1. 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel

    2. 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak

    3. 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks

    4. 'Rebecca' by Daphne du Maurier


    In Progress

    1. 'Wicked' by Gregory Maguire


    Possible Future Reviews

    1. 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' by Mark Haddon

    2. 'The House of the Spirits' by Isabel Allende



    My reviews were originally written with the purpose of reminding me of my own opinion in years to come. Due to this, I only review books that I believe the 'future me' would be interested in remembering. Though if I have a desire to write a review, I may end up writing reviews for all of my read list! I also only rate the books I review, otherwise the lone number means little to be once a few months have passed.

  13. Thanks :)


    Nailed- it's certainly interesting, I sort of fell into the subject by accident, but I love it now!


    Chesilbeach- I post them on my blog at the minute, I don't know if I'm allowed to post the link?

  14. I've just got back from a week in Spain and only had enough space for two books. I took Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I finished Birdsong on the plane back so I luckily measured it perfectly.


    If I were to go away again I'd take Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey as I'm only on page 179 of over 1000! I'd also take A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini as it's next on my TBR list after Carey's trilogy.


    I'm always interested in those who take books written by authors from the place they're visiting. I'd looked into getting a Spanish novel but never got round to buying one. It'd definitely an unusual idea!

  15. Hi, I'm Feste, I live in Newcastle and study Archaeology at the University of York. I don't read as much as I'd like whilst I'm away from home, I get too caught up in my studies but like to think I make up for it in the holidays!


    I read just about everything I can get my hands on and have recently started reviewing my reads so I remember how I felt and can look back on where I was in years to come. I'm currently reading Jacqueline Carey's 'Kushiel's Dart' and am loving it, she's made fantasy her own and not attempted to be the next Tolkein!


    I'm not sure what else to say, but if you'd like to know anything just ask away. I look forward to getting immersed in the forum as much as I can :)