Tracy Chevalier – Remarkable Creatures Review

Hey all! Happy November! I thought I’d kickstart the month with a long overdue book review.

The Details:

Title: Remarkable Creatures

Author: Tracy Chevalier

Publisher: Harper Collins

Published in: 2009

Number of pages (in this paperback edition): 340

I know I like basically every book I read, but I did especially love this one. Chevalier offers an exceptional take on historic fiction – one of my favourite genres. I must admit that I was unsure when I read the blurb, and I did unfortunately do the age old no-no of judging a book by its cover. My first thought was “eurgh, do I really want to read a book about fossils? I like the history of people, rather than the history of rocks”. What a naive thought. The book was incredible and highly interesting, and I did subsequently do some research on fossils to be perfectly honest! I found myself totally immersed in this story. The history graduate in me relishes the fact that this book is based on true events and the romanticist in me enjoys the back story of the characters lives that Chevalier has invented.

I enjoyed the fact that the book encompasses many different themes, the most prominent one being gender equality, as well as class divisions and the argument of religion vs science. I feel that the fact that this book highlights how women were treated as second class citizens is really important. We see that Mary was treated awfully because of her gender and class despite the fact that she had made one of the most important discoveries in history. It makes me wonder how many other new discoveries or inventions were made by women that were ignored in history, or if any famous men have taken the credit for anything that was actually found or created by a woman. The fact that no one also never really listened or acknowledged Mary and her skillset and gave her the full credit for it (despite Elizabeth Philpot’s hard work) was also due to the fact that she was poor and lower class. I think it’s awful that even today, so many people are unable to get recognition or able to better themselves because of their class or gender. The book highlights that we have come so far in terms or equality, but also makes you realise that we still have a long way to go. I also found the fact that Chevlier explores the religion vs science argument extremely interesting, especially as the early nineteenth century was the time of enlightenment and change. As the book exhibits, there was a certain fear around new discoveries that acted against what Christians believed. For example, the concept that God built the world in seven days and built it to be perfect, really doesn’t account for the fact that Mary Anning is finding fossils and bones of dinosaurs and creatures that lived such a long time ago. As the book says, how can a creature that is no longer on the earth have existed and died out if God had built everything to be perfect? I feel that the book therefore also illustrates the true zeitgiest of the time that religion was everything people knew but more and more evidence was coming to light that pointed more towards science and evolution that God and so it was a really confusing era. I feel that Chevlier included all of these themes to convey why Mary Anning was outcast and why her place in the Scientific and Natural History worlds was not as prolific as her male, richer counterparts.

I also liked the fact that Chevalier adds a dramatised view of what Mary’s personal life might have been like, and it’s a really interesting take. I won’t discuss this in too much detail as I dont want to include too many spoilers but I will say that it is a great touch on an already awe-inspiring story and showcases the hurdles that Mary and Elizabeth Philpott have had to endure. It does make you wonder how true to the mark Chevalier’s ideas are and if some of the dramatitisations may generally have been true. The only thing I will say is that there is such a huge build up to the story and it does end reasonably quickly; the reader may perhaps find that the ending is a little rushed. Nevertheless, I still think that this book is really well-written and captivating.

I also have to admit that despite having a history degree, I generally had no idea who Mary Anning was until I came across this book, and it’s very sad. I feel that Chevalier’s work will help get Mary’s voice across, and I hope that more and more people will read this book and be as inspired by Mary and her legacy as I was. I’d 100% recommend this book.

If you’ve read this book, what do you think of it? What books are you reading at the moment? Let me know in the comments below X

Thanks for reading!

Miche xx

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Book Review – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Hey lovelies!

I have been meaning to write this post for a while. It’s been a long time since I posted a book review. I do struggle to find the time to read books, so I’ve just joined the book club in my village and my first meeting with them is tomorrow (20/05/19). I’m hoping that as a result I’ll have to ensure that I make time to read and therefore can write more reviews on this blog.

Anyway, let’s get to it! Today I’m going to review A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Why I chose to read this book:

I first watched this as the series on Sky (I think it was Sky, might be wrong) back in October and absolutely loved it so I had to read the book. There are two more in this series; the trilogy is called All Souls and I am definitely going to get reading the next one as soon as possible. The next two are called Shadow of Night and The Book of Life.

My thoughts on the story:

I loved it! One of the best books I think I’ve ever read. Certainly better than the series as all books are but as I loved the series so much I was rather intrigued if this would still be the case. I think that this book is beautifully written, and captivates the reader constantly; the story just flows seamlessly. I love the fact that Harkness has used these mythological creatures and turned them into her own excluding the common stereotypes. For example, a good witch with remarkable powers that she does not wish to use, a vampire that can still go out in daylight and doesn’t fly, and especially a daemon who’s characteristics are predominately that they are highly intelligent and diligent. I also love the idea of vampires using modern technologies such as mobile phones; I found this somewhat amusing.

My 5 favourite characters:

  • Diana Bishop – The protagonist. I really like Diana. She’s a strong, independent, stubborn and intelligent woman and really likeable. Even when being protected by vampires she still holds her own, and her character doesn’t allow herself to be controlled or protected to a certain extent, despite the danger she is in. Although Matthew does his best to look after her, she is still resilient and able to make up her own mind. I also like that she likes to eat, talk about relatable!
  • Matthew – I also really like Matthew. Although it seems like he underestimates Diana a little, it is clear that this is because he really cares about Diana, and I think he finds the fact that he cannot control everything she says or does attractive, because he is so used to people doing whatever he wants and finding his vampiric beauty and charisma difficult to resist. I feel that his character may change slightly in the next two books, as hinted by Hamish when he warns Diana ‘he wont be the same Matthew where you’re going’, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out through the series.
  • Ysabeau – Although at first Ysabeau is less than warm and friendly, I liked her from the off. She is truly a caring mother for Matthew and is certainly wary of Diana which is understandable given the circumstances of her husband’s death. I do nevertheless like the fact that she warms to Diana when she sees how much Matthew loves her and becomes really concerned and caring for her.
  • Sarah – I’m slightly biased with this as I know that Sarah was portrayed by one of my favourite actresses, Alex Kingston, in the series, however I think that character of Sarah is brilliant. There are many similarities between her and Ysabeau, both are protective of their family and wary of outsiders. Sarah is sassy and straight talking and is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs. She’s also very fond of coffee so let me tell you I can totally relate girl.
  • Sophie – although Sophie only appears near the end of this book, I think there is plenty of time to show her characteristics. She is seriously kind hearted and can see the good in everyone. She is not bothered by anyone else’s species and treats everyone with respect. She’s a total dreamer which I love, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Harkness develops her character and how it pans out with her child in the next two books.

What rating would I give?

5 out of 5. There is nothing that I do not love about this book. Harkness is incredibly talented and I’m so excited for the rest of the trilogy. I’d 100% recommend this to anyone looking for a fabulous modern fantasy novel.

Thanks for reading!

Miche xx

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I took a trip to the library & I am getting back into reading.

Hey guys!

I have to admit, that I haven’t been into a library for anything other than non-fiction books for my university degree since I was doing my GCSEs. Terrible, for someone who spent their childhood reading. All my friends and family knew that I was a huge bookworm, but I haven’t had the time to really read for so long. In college and university I was in full time education and working almost full time hours around it, and at university I only had time to read the book specific for my course – history. In the year and a bit since I graduated, my fiancé and I have brought our first house which was a complete doer-upper, and needed so much work doing to it so that for the last year, any time we were not at work we were decorating or building or sorting or whatever. This is also why I wasnt really able to blog before. Now, as we’re gradually getting more time to relax now that almost everything is done, I’m so keen to get reading around blogging in my spare time! I asked a few of you amazing people on Twitter to recommend me some books, which I will be on the look out for, but in the meantime I chose three books at random from the little village library I went to (I live in a small village, the nearest library is about a 10 minute drive away in a bigger village – all good fun). So now, no more excuses, nothing else should get in my way!

So here are the three books I chose:

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

Murder By The Barrel by Lesley Cookman

Take Me Home by Daniela Sacredoti

I will review all of them on my blog once I’ve read them.

Has anyone read these books before or anything by these authors? If so, let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading, and please check out my social media, links below! Xx

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Joyland by Stephen King – Book Review

Hi everyone, here is my brief review of ‘Joyland’ by Stephen King. I haven’t written a book review since I was at college but I wanted to have a go, so please don’t expect anything amazing with this. Hope you enjoy!
I am pretty sure that we all know who Stephen King is. He seems to be the godfather of horror stories, known for his dark novels that inspired some riveting horror movies, such as It and Carrie. His 2013 novel, Joyland, is no exception to the rule. A mystery/crime novel set in a South Carolina amusement park in 1973, this story was bound to incorporate an element of terror and fear, and it does just that. However, considering the truly dark abhorrent nature of other novels by King, this is in my opinion more tame than some of his other works.
The synopsis reads as follows: “College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truth about life – and what comes after- that would change his world forever.” Instantly, we are reminded of the basis of every King novel – death and darkness. We are also introduced to our protagonist Devin, who is hung up on the demise of his first taste of love. As the story begins, I was instantly reminded of the start of a stereotypical rom com, whereby the protagonist would try something out of their usual comfort zone to escape the memories of their first love and end up finding love in a truer form. However, our guy Devin is extremely heartbroken about losing his beloved Wendy Keegan, and throughout the novel we are reminded of it again and again and again. Although I think this element of the story is important to the plot as it’s a contributory reason to why Devin is at Joyland in the first place, I don’t think it really adds anything to the overall narrative by keep repeating it. I feel as though it makes the character of Devin come across of rather mundane and dull. Notwithstanding this, the synopsis certainly intrigues the reader and encompasses an element of mystery, encouraging you to really want to read the story.
After a descriptive start, the storyline really gets going when the character Emmalina Shoplaw, who’s name Devin describes as it being “hard not to picture a rosy-cheeked landlady out of a Charles Dickens novel”, tells the ‘ghost story’ of why the Horror House ride at Joyland is considered to be haunted, after the vicious and gory unsolved murder of a young woman on the ride a few years previously. The character of Rozzie Gold, aka ‘Madame Fortuna’ offers a further element of mystery and spookiness when her seemingly nonsense prophecies begin to come true. I definitely think that this helps to keep the reader compelled and interested in the plot and encourages you to attempt to figure out the mystery. I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly felt that the revelation of who the murderer is was rather shocking, but it makes total sense. It certainly brings that sense of “of course, why didn’t I think of that.” I really think that this revelation makes the book resonate in your mind and gives you the euphoric feeling when you finish a good book. This is certainly a reason why I like this book – the wow factor. King really conveys how ingenious he can be by cleverly playing with the mind of the reader. Despite this, I do think that after this revelation the story ends rather abruptly. There isn’t really much of a structured ending, and I think at it was quite odd to not have the opinions about the killer’s identity from notable characters such as Mrs Shoplaw, Tom and Erin especially after they were so essential in building the discovery of the murder and subsequent haunting. Another thing I disliked about the book was the fact that although this book is set in the summer of 1973, it seems to jump around between prior to that summer and to years after and the present day. As such I personally found that it was difficult to keep up with the story line at times.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book and it has made me really want to read some more of King’s work, and although there were certain aspects that I didn’t particularly like, I would really recommend this to anyone who enjoys a spooky sort of mystery story.

My rating: 3 of of 5 stars

Thank you for reading!

Michelle xx

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