Sunday, 27 December 2015

Recently Read #6

It's been ages since I last did one of my recently read posts. With university starting again in September, I've barely had time to read anything other than my course literature, and although that did include a few novels, I just didn't feel like writing reviews for them. However, over the last few weeks I've had a bit more time to read, especially now that it's the Christmas holidays, so I figured it was time for another set of mini reviews.

THE ONE-OF-A-KIND CAT BOOK is a whimsical treat for cat lovers everywhere. Dive into its pages to meet Catalina the narcissistic movie star, Kit the steampunk genius, and Guillaume the macaron chef. Browse through letters, notes, and photos to learn about mystery cats from Svalbard and the Amazon. Follow a detective as he unravels the crimes of "Murder Kitties." The OOAK Cat Book is a grown-up picture book full of modern themes: a shameless search for fame (or infamy), an obsession with true crime, and our constant need for adventure and kawaii cats. The felines here will guide you to places like Paris, Varanasi, Woodstock, and the Great Barrier Reef.

This is unlike anything I would normally read, so when the author contacted me and wondered if I would like to review it, I was excited to do so. I'm much more of a dog person, but I do love cats too. It's such a cute, playful and original book, with really charming and wonderfully colourful pictures. I was very impressed by the range of stories and the imagination of the author. I normally love getting lost in long narratives, but dipping in and out of different short stories, all told in very different and fun ways, was a nice change. It's the perfect book to just read a bit of here and there, a story at a time. I think my favourite part was that about the murder kitties.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life--Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

This was actually the last book that I read for my English Literature course, but I decided to include it here because I loved it so much. It's Science-Fiction, but of the social rather than the more technical kind. Rather, it focuses on the clashing of two societies - the capitalist Urras and the anarchist Anarres. Shevek - a scientist from Anarres - goes to Urras to meet with other scientists, and through him we get to see how these two ideologies rely on one another. There are two overlapping narratives to the text - one that begins when Shevek is a child and continues up until he leaves for Urras, and one which begins with him going to Urras and then follows his experiences there. The narrative is really clever because as you learn more about Shevek and his motives, you also learn more about the two worlds. It might sound a bit dry, but it's really so interesting, insightful and captivating. Plus it's beautifully written.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book,Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

I'm not normally one for autobiographies, but I'm a big fan of Parks and Rec and I love Amy Poehler, so I thought I would give this one a go, especially since I had heard it was brilliant. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. It was funny at times and often very clever, but it felt a bit haphazard - like it wasn't thought through. I was left thinking 'was that it?' That said, I do think it is worth a read if you like Amy Poehler, because she really is brilliant and has a lot of smart and funny things to say. It's a book that leaves you feeling quite confident about yourself and about life, but I simply wish it had been a bit more substantial and structured. 

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

This is a book that I had been meaning to read for a very long time, but just hadn't found the time for. My sister got this book a few months ago and absolutely loved it, so after hearing her raving about it, my desire to read it multiplied tenfold. I read it throughout the revision period and it was a wonderful escape from the responsibilities of uni work. The magic in it is very different from, say, the magic of Harry Potter, but it's brilliant all the same. It's so cleverly written, really witty and full of intriguing characters. And not only is it about magic - my very favourite thing - it is also set in early 19th century England, which is a time that I have a soft spot for. It's a bit of a brick, but I was never ever bored while reading it, as both the plot and the characters are very engaging, and the world just swallows you up.

What have you been reading recently?

Love, Mimmi.