Friday, 24 April 2015

JustGiving - Race For Life

Good morning, early birds!

If you're often around these parts, you may have noticed a new little button at the top of my sidebar...
It kinda looks like this:
JustGiving - Sponsor me now! It's saying "Hello! please click on me"

Basically I am running in one of Race for Life's 5k events on 10th June. I did this event last year, with a time of just under 47 minutes. I'd like to do it quicker this time around! I'll be posting about the trials and tribulations of my training over on if you would like to read about that in the run up to the event...

I don't have a sad cancer story to tug on your heartstrings and incite you to donate. I know people who have died from it, and I know people who have recovered from it. Sop story or no, so many people are affected by cancer in one way or another.

If you feel strongly about supporting Cancer Research, please please don't hesitate to hit the sponsor button. It's an important cause, and there is still a long way to go before we can successfully beat cancer.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Boop's Bookshelf: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie checks off 'A book set in high school' in my 2015 reading challenge

The Author

Muriel Spark was a award winning Scottish novelist. She wrote several short stories, plays, poems, novels and biographies. She had several titles and honors awarded to her through her lifetime. She has written pieces for the BBC, and lived in several countries through her life. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is the best known of Spark's works.


This short story centers around a Miss Jean Brodie and her exclusively selected group of students at the school she teaches at. The relationship between her and her students is a special one - though that may not be a good thing. Miss Brodie is in the prime of her life and she shares her experiences with her students, while subtly shaping them into miniature versions of herself. Brodie's teaching methods are looked down on by the school's headmistress, who invariably tries to intervene with Brodies' 'set' and gain a reason to dismiss Miss Brodie. Through a love triangle and increasingly manipulative behaviour, one of the girls eventually betrays Brodie to the headmistress, handing her the tools to bring her down. However, Miss Brodie never finds out who that was.

My Thoughts

While reading this, it was difficult to keep track of which girl was which. This was exacerbated by the chapters jumping around in time through the time that the girls knew Miss Brodie. At the beginning I felt that Miss Brodie was a forward-thinking, liberal teacher who is being stifled by the traditionalist headmistress. However, as the story progressed and the power Brodie holds over the girls is abused, I felt that she was much more ominous and her views more dangerous. I mean...I hate to lay down a spoiler, but at one point she says that she was in Germany and she thinks Hitler's regime is a good thing...

She was more than a little obsessed with fascism and she pushed that onto her 'set'. She more or less turns these girls into her very own fascist group, and they hung from her every word. She specifically chose the girls in her set because their parents were disinterested or too naive to intervene in her relationship with them. All a bit ominous and it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

On the positive side of that, my reaction to the manipulative Miss Brodie is the result of good writing. I felt genuine emotion towards Miss Brodie, even if the feelings weren't all positive. It is a well written novel, however I didn't particularly enjoy the story. Then again that could just be because there was a lot about fascism that I didn't understand...

My Rating:
3 stars

Good writing, didn't like the story quite so much...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Boop's Bookshelf: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Angel's Game checks off 'A book that was originally written in a different language' in my 2015 reading challenge

The Author
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a Spanish novelist. He has written both young adult and adult novels, most notably the 4 book series nicknamed The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This is the series containing Shadow of the WindThe Angel's Game and The Prisoner of Heaven thus far. This series was translated to English by Lucia Graves, who is both a writer and a translator. She is the daughter of poet Robert Graves. 

The Angels Game is the second book in the series - however it's a prequel to Shadow of the Wind, so I didn't feel too bad suggesting it for my book club!! The story is set in Barcelona, Spain. The story follows the life of David Martin - a writer at a newspaper, with a tragic back story and a talent for writing that needs to be explored. It is a dark tale following David's descent into writing and pouring his soul into his work. He also uncovers a mystery that parallels his own life, which he feels he needs to uncover the answers to. We as the reader, follow him in uncovering the mystery.

My Thoughts
I enjoyed reading this novel. I was pulled into the story from the start, and I wanted to know what was happening, and why the mystery resembled David Martin so much. I am not sure how much I actually liked the main character. I felt like I was on his side, but then there were situations or moments when I didn't like him. The story was all from his point of view, which towards the end made me suspect there was some tunnel vision going on.I found one of the secondary characters really interesting - Isabella - and wished there was more of her thoughts and opinions incorporated into the story line. I would have been interested to see David Martin and some of the various situations in the book through other perspectives. I liked the parallels within the story to that of other stories where a character has effectively sold their soul to the devil. The Angel pin that Corelli always wears made me think of heaven and hell, temptations and succumbing to it.

Bookclub Notes
At our discussion, one person in bookclub mentioned a review he had seen that suggested you read it thinking that the main character has schizophrenia. When I thought back through the book and the events that occurred - including the nickname Martin earned from Isabella 'Jekyll and Hyde' - it does explain some events and how some things happen in the story telling. Very intriguing - I'm glads this was mentioned because it opened my mind to a whole new side of the story!

Overall it is an involved and unusual story, and I really enjoyed reading it. However, there are a lot of points that either don't make sense, or are left wide open to interpretation - which I do find a bit frustrating. I really want to re-read Shadow of the Wind, and the newest installment - The Prisoner of Heaven. SO many books to read! 

My rating:
4 stars

I found it very difficult to rate this one - I was torn between 4 and 4.5 stars! I enjoyed reading The Angel's Game, however the unanswered questions I have are just that little bit too niggly to ignore...