Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank #ClassicsChallenge2016

Image from Goodreads

I chose to read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank as my January Classics Challenge book (Read 15th – 26th Jan 2016). I actually listened to the audiobook of the 70th anniversary edition which was read by Helena Bonham Carter who was an excellent narrator.

I’m going to structure this post by answering the questions that Stacey suggests.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic

I’ve known about this book at least since my early teens, if not before.


WHY I Chose to Read It

Because despite knowing about it for around 20 years I hadn’t read it already. World War II and the treatment of Jews in the Holocaust is a topic that is so important to be aware of. I find having a personal story to connect to these bigger events useful. If I ever visit Amsterdam I would want to visit the house so knowing the full story would make that experience more insightful.


WHAT Makes It A Classic

As I’ve written above, this is a human story that connects us to a great atrocity. Reading the diary of a girl who we know dies in tragic circumstances adds a certain sense of poignancy to what she writes.

… 
WHAT I Thought of This Classic

This is what I wrote immediately on finishing the book – “It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, in a way that made it better.”

I guess going into this I expected Anne to write more about the war, but, although aspects of this are highlighted the focus is the thoughts and experiences of a fairly typical teenage girl in non-typical circumstances.

Anne, her family, and some other Jews hid in a secret annex in a warehouse from July 1942 until August 1944 when they were discovered by the Nazis and taken to camps. Anne comments on the circumstances leading to the decision to go into hiding, the personalities and relationships between everyone in the annexe, the food they ate, clothes, birthday presents (life went on), the help they got from those who hid them, what she was learning and thoughts about books she read – she’d be a book blogger in today’s world.

I immediately connected with Anne on a personal level – she was a writer and aspiring novelist. She was also pretty witty, and bitchy, much like the narrators in modern young adult literature. She was a deep thinker and constantly trying to discover and ‘better’ herself. Most importantly though she wasn’t perfect, she was flawed and says some fairly mean things at times. We see her development across those two years, as well as hints at a growing romance that was never to come to fruition.

The closing comment in the diary definitely bought a tear or two to my eye. I won’t spoil it though, it’s more important for you to come to that end on your own.

Rating – 5 stars


WILL It Stay A Classic

As long as war continues to be a problem and people are affected by it, this will remain a classic, so yes. It will definitely be a book I listen to again.

It is a classic ‘Young Adult’ book that deals with finding one’s identity.


WHO I’d Recommend It To

Everyone. In particular I think it would speak to young girls, Anne talks about boys, periods, her relationship with her family – siblings and parents and generally about everything that interests her.

Quote I highlighted

“Paper has more patience than people.”

Further Reading

I’ve purchased this book of stories (including an unfinished novel) and essays written by Anne. Will be interested to see how it lives up to the diary.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a mini site dedicated to Anne as a writer.

Anne Frank Fonds – founded by Otto Frank her father

Have you read – The Diary of a Young Girl – what did you think?

#WeAreChangers Blog Tour

Changers_blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the #WeAreChangers Blog Tour. The first book in the Changers series – Drew – was released in the UK on 14th January. I was lucky enough to access an e-review copy before Christmas and I think the YA community are going to really enjoy this series.

Imagine just having moved house and you are anticipating your first day at a new school, your first day at high school no less. Feeling stressed yet? Now put yourself in Ethan’s shoes, you wake up and see a petite blonde girl in the mirror, that blonde girl isn’t a stranger, she’s you, you’ve been ‘Chosen’, even down to your name and backstory. And what’s worse your parents make you go to school anyway because this is just what happens to Changers.

When I first read about the concept of this, like others have said, it reminded me of Every Day by David Levithan. In that book the protagonist wakes up in the body of a new person every day. They have no choice over it though, just have to cause the least disruption to the person they displace.

Changers however, grow to the age of 14 in one body, then for the next 4 years they switch once a year to be a different person (different genders, races, etc. but all the same memories and the same family). Finally, at the end of this time they have to pick who they become permanently, but you can’t go back to where you started. What a perfect teen theme, identity, choosing who you have to become at still quite an early age, loss of innocence, loss of childhood.

There’s the Changers Council with their bible and branding, your Touchstone ‘fairy godparent’ to see you through the weirdness and the need to Chronicle the process. There’s a great quote in the book that says “It’s an essential human tendency to forget who we were on the way to becoming who we’re going to be.” Not everyone that knows about Changers is 100% positive about the process and I think that will continue to be explored.

I really enjoyed the read (4/5 stars) and it saw me through/contributed to a sleepless night. I definitely empathised with poor Ethan. There were aspects of the concept that I think need a little more clarification, however because this is the first in the series I am assuming some of that will come later (and lead to a re-read to make full sense of it all – but personally that’s what I enjoy about book series).

With gender identity and sexuality being growing issues in YA literature I am sure Changers will have a lot to contribute on the topic.

The strapline: The Cheerleader, the Nerd, the Jock, the Freak. What if you had to be all four? indicates to me that other issues of equality and understanding of difference will be explored. I’m already anxiously awaiting June when we will follow Oryon for the year.

The authors T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper have developed a website ‘We Are Changers’ alongside the books which is an empathy project designed to encourage us all to consider the views of others. As part of this blog tour we were asked to post ‘Unselfies’ – to turn our cameras round, focus outward and capture feelings. On the 2nd January I visited the Harry Potter studio tour for the 6th time. One of the things that saddens me when I go is the fact that so many people rush past elements of the tour (especially the design aspects). When the staff tell me they’ve had people complete the tour in 20 minutes I wonder what they can possibly have taken in. So, I tried to look beyond the obvious and at the detail. People have spent ages creating these items and we have the rare opportunity to access it. Hope you enjoy the selection of Unselfies below. My hat goes off to the crew who made the wizarding world extra magical.

#Unselfies – The Magic Beneath

book

Look at the detailing on this book that I don’t think I even saw on screen?!

buckbeak

Buckbeak had all the feathers inserted individually. The animatronic model is so regal. In the third book Draco’s reduced empathy is demonstrated when he insults Buckbeak.

curtain

Detailing on the Curtain’s in Dumbledore’s office. Texture adds reality.

owl egg

Did you know the catch on the golden egg was shaped like an owl? Until I visited the Studio Tour I didn’t.

 

Look beyond the obvious, check out the detail. With people look beyond the behaviour and see if you can understand the motivation. The reasons behind someone’s actions might surprise you. Explore your own motivations, explore who you want to be.

What would you do if you woke up as a different person tomorrow?

 

 

 

 

2016 Reading Challenges

I recently wrote about my 16 most anticipated books of 2016, however I’ve set my Goodreads reading challenge at 100 again (I need to fit in some writing too) so I’ve decided to take part in a couple of challenges to help reach that target (not that I don’t have plenty of books available to read).

Firstly I’m going to join in with ‘Our Shared Shelf’ the Emma Watson instigated Feminist book club on Goodreads. I have the first book My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem on my kindle ready to go and am looking forward to seeing what else gets selected over the year (12 books in total).

Secondly, I am going to join in with Stacey at The Pretty Books ‘2016 Classics Challenge‘. I’m taking Stacey at her word and defining classics in my own way – as ‘older books’ I really should read. Below is the outline of the books I have chosen and an indication of what months I may read them in, though this is a moveable feast

Jan
Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank – I can’t believe I haven’t actually read this already. I am shamed. Therefore I have already started this and am listening to the audiobook narrated by Helena Bonham Carter. I’m actually really enjoying it. Anne’s voice is similar to the witty teens I am used to reading in YA books.

Feb
The Art of Happiness – The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler – I own this in hardback and am interested in seeing what it says and how it links to other concepts around happiness I’ve read recently.

Mar
1984 – George Orwell (I don’t own this and have never actually read it, or even seen a dramatised version) however this month I’m also planning to re-read Brave New World – Aldous Huxley which is one of my favourites and probably the first dystopia I read.

April
Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery – Holly Smale’s favourite book and one I have neglected. I have this on kindle. I think it might even be the whole series.

May
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. I actually started reading this at the end of 2015 but for some reason put it down, not that I wasn’t enjoying it. I’m going to give it another go this year.

June
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger I don’t own this and really feel as a YA fan this is a must

July
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro – I loved the film version of this and as it’s over 10 years old now I think it can be classed as a modern dystopian classic.

August
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams – I know the answer is 42 but I’ve not actually read this!!!

September
The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke – a sci-fi/dystopian classic. I don’t own this yet.

October
Battle Royale – Koushun Takami – I don’t own this but as a fan of The Hunger Games I’m interested to compare them.

November
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton – Another YA classic and I will add in a re-watch of the film this month too.

December
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck – I don’t own this either and wasn’t in the right English group at school to have been introduced to this classic.

 

Stacey recommends using the following questions when discussing the books

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
WHY I Chose to Read It
WHAT Makes It A Classic
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
WILL It Stay A Classic
WHO I’d Recommend It To

Oddly enough tonight at 8pm is the first #ChatClassics twitter chat to discuss the challenge so I might pop in.

 

Are you joining in with either of these? Are there any others you think I should check out?

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