Recent Reads

Petite Mort

I read this book a few months ago, and although I had rated it on Goodreads as 4 stars (now altered to 3), I had to remind myself of the premise for this review. Evidentially it didn't leave much of a lasting impression. It's a shame, because on paper (forgive the pun) it should be everything that should appeal to me; silent film era, cinematic illusions, mystery... 

The book is "narrated" by both the present day (set in the 60s, via a conversation with a journalist), and a young (set in 1913) Adèle Roux, a girl seduced by silent films, who follows her heart to the Pathé production company. Instead of becoming the star she hoped to be, she ends up working in the costume department. Along comes a handsome male producer and, as if you can't see this coming, she sleeps with him. Rather than secure her a role in a film, she finds herself in the role of personal assistant to the producer's famous film star wife. Yadda yadda yadda lesbianism yadda yadda mystery yadda yadda betrayal.

After reading true stories of early cinema, and the scandals that went on between actors, the sex and scandal in this book seem somewhat obvious. There isn't much I can say without giving away spoilers, as the book's blurb literally begs the reader not to disclose the plot twist. I think the emphasis of "omg plot twist!" is a bad move on the part of the author/publisher, as it encourages expectation in the reader, and therefore causes us to be more critical of the story. I had mostly worked out the twist from the first few chapters, so the reveal only caused a sense of satisfaction that I was correct. Not the shock that we are encouraged to expect.

The more I think about it, the more unconvinced I feel about the book. I don't remember feeling any sort of connection to any of the characters, although it was pleasant and easy enough to keep reading. 

American Gods

I actually read this back in February, and then devoured two Neil Gaiman books since, but this one was by far my favourite so I thought I'd review this instead! As blasphemous as this sounds, I hadn't read a Gaiman book until this point. I guess it was partly laziness and partly the raving about his work that made me feel like if I did read one, and disliked it, it would be a disagreement I had with a vast majority that I wouldn't be able to explain to myself; silly, I know. 

The book follows the character of Shadow (would be a cheesy name but somehow isn't, not sure what kind of literary magic he worked there), whose wife dies in a car crash just before he is to be released from prison. Unsure what to do or what to think, he makes his way back home on a plane. Here he meets Mr Wednesday, a charming man who claims to be a God, and offers Shadow a job, which takes them to bizarre characters and places.

The blurb describes it as taking "a long, hard look into the soul of America" and being deeply unsettling. I'm not sure whether it unsettled me (although the "underground" scenes are so strong I could feel them being played behind my eyelids like a film), but it most certainly captured my imagination. Although British, Gaiman channels the deep threads of American belief like he was born and raised there. It almost satirically observes the melting pot of the vast country, and delves into concepts of immigration and modern-day distractions. 

There are touches of everything I love about Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Terry Pratchett books, while the depictions of America reminded me of Stephen King. But Gaiman's writing stands alone as evocative and painterly, with a story unlike anything else I've read before. I would very likely count this as one of my favourite books, and look forward to reading it again. 

Good news is, the amazing Bryan Fuller (creator of Hannibal) is developing American Gods for TV!


Details of Home



I thought I'd take a few detailed shots of the flat and objects that my boyfriend (Mark) and I own!

We can't really decorate much, so we just collect a LOT of stuff. These images are just tiny parts of the living room.... the less messy parts!


I love books. Some of my favourites here include The Master & Margarita, Everything is Illuminated and 1984.






Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


I make no attempt at hiding the fact that Everything is Illuminated is one of my favourite books (and one of my favourite films), and I've read it 3 times in the 4 years I've known of it (the film was one of the first that my boyfriend showed me, and I read the book not long after). I find it the most beautiful piece of writing contrasted against a heart-breaking plot (seriously, cascades of tears every time). So I'm somewhat surprised it took me so long to read another book by Foer. Perhaps I felt it couldn't possibly live up to Everything is Illuminated, and it didn't, but I've already come to the conclusion that little will do for me. 

Some people consider Foer overrated, but I just cannot believe that the themes in his books are written with anything but passion and care. I'm no writer, and I'm no snob, and if his work moves me then I'm going to allow myself to move with it.

Much like Everything is Illuminated, Extremely Loud... is also about a rigid search, a delve into history of the protagonist's family. Specifically, the story is told through the eyes of 9 year old Oskar Schell, whose father dies in a terrorist attack. Oskar finds, inside a vase belonging to his father, an envelope with a key inside. On the outside of the envelope is written the name Black, and Oskar decides to contact every person in New York by that name, to try to discover more of his father. In typical Foer style, there is also a narrative that runs alongside in the form of letters from Oskar's Grandfather to Oskar's Father and from Oskar's Grandmother to Oskar. 

I've read reviews that describe an issue with the book being the unsympathetic main character, however I feel that doesn't take into account that Oskar is incredibly special. Although I don't think it's directly referenced, it's evident that he possibly has some sort of autism, being incredibly intelligent for his age, but unable to understand social boundaries. Or perhaps that's just the case of being a 9 year old child that has suffered the trauma of losing someone important in his life.

It was actually the side story, which is essentially about Oskar's Grandmother and Grandfather that made me most teary (although obviously Oskar's desperate attempt to understand his father's death is also heart-breaking). I won't go into details. 

Jonathan Safran Foer's work is possibly best for those who are sentimental about history and the way humans interact. His sub storylines are usually pieced together from letters or diary entries, something that has been left in the wake of trauma, or used as a way of dealing with grief. 

On a side note, I also loved the use of images and experimental layouts that were in my copy of the book. Beautiful and haunting.


Image via 

Book Review: The Teleportation Accident


My boyfriend bought me this book, along with Beauman's first novel, Boxer Beetle, which I read first (and enjoyed enough to go straight onto this). I have to say, I highly enjoyed The Teleportation Accident and look forward to reading it again in a year or so! It was funny (in a very dry way, which I love), unique and remarkably well-written. It would have to be, to have such an arsehole of a protagonist.

Loeser is "a total prick", as described in the first paragraph of the book. His main drive throughout the novel is sex, and he ends up following a girl from Berlin to America upon the assumption that the effort he is making doing so will be bound to get her in bed. He spares little interest in his friends left behind to the mercy of the Nazis (at one point tearing up and discarding a letter from a Jewish colleague describing his recent fearful altercation with a Nazi guard), and yet you still feel drawn to follow his story.

This book is often described as a genre-bender, and indeed it is, but also a distortion of time. Although each chapter is set in a specific place and specific time there are small details (such as ketamine being used in Weimar Berlin) that are deliberately used to make the reader feel like time is moving somewhat differently in this novel. Much like The Great Gatsby it makes use of lavish settings of empty people, all trying to impress each other and climb the social ladder. It's anachronistic in this sense, that it could easily be set in the modern day (much like Gatsby, which I can only assumed Baz Luhrman attempted to convey with his hideous film soundtrack - no, I still haven't seen the film), with modern-day party-goers gurning away.

Without giving anything away, trust me when I say the plot twists and turns in bizarre and hilarious ways, reminding me a little of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Don't look into the specifics, just read it.


Book Review: The Night Circus


I mainly picked up The Night Circus because everyone seemed to be talking about it, and the theme of a Victorian circus, which obviously fits my interests! Maybe this caused me to expect so much more, as, although I did enjoy the book, I wouldn't really class it as an absolute MUST read, or something I would re-read later on. I can't really put my finger on why this is the case... Perhaps because I didn't feel so invested in the characters or I wasn't blown away by the fantasy element of the circus. The plot was somewhat unfulfilling; it did exactly what I expected it to, to the point where I remember hoping I'd be proved wrong with a twist. Great plot if you like a fluffy love story (albeit with a darker edge, but nothing more disconcerting than an old Disney film villain would have been). 

A lot of the reviews listed across the inside covers hark on about the magical descriptions of the circus, although my experience was more like an endless "look at this, look at this, isn't it all so WONDERFUL!?", making it somewhat hollow. 

Perhaps I'm not the target audience after all, I spend much of my own time dreaming up cabaret concepts and it's the spit and sawdust circus, the filthier, faded granduer that inspires me. It just made me want to watch Carnivale again, and muse on how perfect that disturbing, Lynchian circus setting is. I get the impression that this is written for a younger audience.

I wouldn't be surprised if The Night Circus is picked up by Hollywood soon, it seemed almost like it was written for CGI (although if it were done by Terry Gilliam I would be incredibly excited) and Tim Burton. And unfortunately Tim Burton hasn't done anything I enjoyed for some time now.