Friday, 27 July 2012

Embracing my inner child...

I've decided that I want to read more children's books. Children's books are brilliant. They deal with the same stuff that adult books do, but most of the time in a much more subtle and mature way. They teach important lessons. They have great morals. Plus, they're really easy and quick to read!

So I've decided I'm going to read one children's book a week and discuss it here on a Friday. This week's book is The Twits by Roald Dahl.

By: Roald Dahl
Published: 1998 by Penguin Books

Goodreads Description: 

How do you outwit a Twit? Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the smelliest, ugliest people in the world. They hate everything -- except playing mean jokes on each other, catching innocent birds to put in their Bird Pies, and making their caged monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps, stand on their heads all day. But the Muggle-Wumps have had enough. They don't just want out, they want revenge.

My thoughts:

I read this as a kid, obviously, but I'd forgot pretty much everything that happened in it. I don't think I was a big fan of it as a kid, and having read it again now, I understand why; anything to do with food/mess knocks me sick. The description of Mr Twit's beard actually makes me gag, no exaggeration. Bleugh. But I was a weird kid, and I'm sure that most kids find it hilarious. I'm sure my brother would!

Reading children's books as an adult is interesting. As a kid, I'm sure I found the fact that the monkeys turned everything upside down hilarious. As an adult, I understand the irony of the Twits getting the shrinks, and understand that it's a lesson in karma. My mum's favourite piece of advice, which she's drummed into me  is 'do as you would be done by', or, 'treat people how you want to be treated.' That's pretty much what The Twits is about.

I love the way Roald Dahl writes, the way he addresses the reader as though they're in cahoots. The language is simple, but not too simple. I love that it's almost like he's having a conversation with the reader, and he's talking to them with respect, and acknowledging that they have thoughts and opinions on things. 

One thing I'd have to say is that 'two wrongs don't make a right' and that Muggle-Wumps could have been the better man - or monkey- and just left. But then what kind of story would that have been? And anyway, the Twits were horrible and deserved everything they got.

My favourite quote:
"If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
Overall, I give this book: 4/5

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

In Which I Gush Grossly About George R.R. Martin. (Game of Thrones Review)

By: George R.R. Martin
Published:  April 2011 by Random House Publishing Group (first published January 1st 1996)

Goodreads Description: 

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

My thoughts: 
As I warned in my last post, this is less of a review than an excuse to gush disgustingly about how much I love this man and his books!

The characters are obviously what makes a story, and these characters are fantastic. They may even have taken the place of the HP crew as my favourite fictional characters ever. Although Westeros isn't in our world, and the inhabitants live in a completely different time, the characters are still relatable, and easy to like (or in some cases, hate). Although I've pledged allegiance to House Stark, Tyrion Lannister has to be my favourite character, followed closely by Sansa Stark. I can gush for hours about why I love Tyrion, but I think anybody who has read the books/seen the show will understand why without me having to go on and on.

Sansa snook up on me. I disliked her at first but then suddenly one day I was like 'oh, I actually love this character!' My love for her grows as more bad stuff happens to her. I've seen a lot of people saying how they hate Sansa, and I seriously do not understand it. How do you hate an 11 year old girl who is basically being used and abused by everybody around her, the people who were supposed to love and care for her? To me, she is by far one of the strongest characters, and every time she uses courtesy as a shield/weapon, I cheer. I have a feeling things are just going to get worse and worse for her as the books go on, and I'm kind of dreading it, but also really (morbidly) interested in how she'll deal with it.

As for the other houses; I never really warmed to Robert Baratheon, and as for his son...Oh, Joffrey. What can I say about him? Other than 'what a little bastard', in both senses of the word. He's just...evil. I think he's written excellently and I think he's a great character, but I'd happily swing the sword that cuts his head off. His mother is a c*&t too, but I kinda like his 'uncle', the Kingslayer. Not so much like, perhaps, but he does intrigue me.

There's far too many characters to discuss them all, although I should mention Ned Stark, the main man of Book One. Oh Ned, stupid, loyal, noble Ned. You broke my heart, man. Saying that though, I'm kinda thankful for you going and giving up chapter space to Tyrion. There could never be enough of this story told through Tyrion's eyes.

One thing I was disappointed with when reading the book is my lack of interest in the Daenerys chapters. The khaleesi was one of my favourite characters/storylines in the show, but for some reason I was bored by her chapters. I'm hoping they start to interest me more as I read on, but currently whenever I see her name at the start of a chapter, I find myself sighing and seeing how many pages there are until I can read somebody else's, which is a shame!

Rating: 6/5 (They're just that good)

Reading Update

A quick update on my Goodreads challenge;

May (cont):
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling ***

The Ambassador's Mission - Trudi Canavan ***
May I Have Your Attention Please? - James Corden ***

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin ****
Shoot The Damn Dog - Sally Brampton ****
A Song of Ice and Fire Book One: A Game Of Thrones - George R.R. Martin *****
The Twits - Roald Dahl ***

Currently reading:
A Song of Ice and Fire Book Two: A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin

So I've become a tad obsessed with George R.R. Martin and his beautiful books. I watched the series A Game of Thrones after buckling to peer/tumblr pressure and fell in love. I wasn't planning on reading the books because I thought that they would be hard and slow to read, like LOTR. I was wrong. I love the books more than the show, if that's possible! I'm going to attempt to write a review of A Game of Thrones, but it'll probably just be a post exclaiming how much I love it, so I apologise in advance for my lack of critical skills! The only bad thing I can say about the books is that because they're so frickin' huge, I'm ridiculously behind on my challenge (11 books) but I'm cheating a little  catching up with smaller books!