The Big Book Review Top 100 Books…. and a few more

5Apr/100

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Top 100 Book:: Number 5
Star Rating:: *****

Quick Review::
To kill a Mockingbird is one of those books that almost everyone has heard of! It is one of those books that a lot of kids read in school (unfortunately I was not one of those) and is still a top seller 50 years after it was written.

To kill a mockingbird is a semi-autobiographical novel written through the eyes of Scout Finch a young girl growing up in a fictional town in Alabama. I absolutely love the fact that Lee chose to write the book through the eyes of Scout, the innocence makes the book just so much more appealing to read. Covering so many touchy subjects Lee manages to make the book so playful and pure through the eyes of a child.

The main plot of the book focuses on Scout’s father Atticus Finch, a very well respected lawyer in the town he is handed the case of a black man accused of raping a white girl. In a time where prejudice was rife across the US the Finch family have to deal with the racial reactions to Atticus being given the case. Written with warmth and humour this beautifully written book explores love, hate, friendship, family and race in the deep south of America.

This is a truly moving book, I found myself getting very emotional throughout the book, I could relate to Scout’s innocence about race and prejudice and the struggles her father faced trying to give his children a normal upbringing. A truly magnificent book that is very much worthy of its top 100 status. If you haven’t read this yet I recommend that you do before you read anything else.

14Mar/100

Notes from a small island – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson - Notes from a small islandTop 100 Book: Number 74
Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::
Bill Bryson arrived in Britain back in 1973, got a job, got married and had some kids. Eventually the time came when he decided to head back to his native country the USA but before doing that he embarked on one epic tour of the wonder that is Britain. Starting at Dover and ending in Scotland Bryson recounts many memories, meet many friends and tells many tall tales about the adventures he has had in this wonderful land I call home!

Now this book is one of my favourite styles, a diary style (as if you didn’t know that by now) In fact I would link this book very closely to Dave Gorman’s America unchained which I reviewed earlier on. Bill Bryson goes on a journey around Britain recounting many tales he himself has had in various locations throughout. Full of plenty of humour and plenty of opinion this is certainly not a politically correct book, but hilariously funny!

I really enjoyed reading this book, I have to admit at the beginning I was getting a little irritated with his style of writing, very aggressive, very impatient and quite rude but as the book progressed I began to warm to Bryson’s unique style and found myself laughing along to his encounters with the British public.

I can completely recommend this book not only as a worthy top 100 but as a book you yourself should read, it is a very easy read and very relaxing, brilliant if you are looking to chill out and get away from the stresses of the day!

Do pick it up and have a read, I have kept hold of my copy!

14Mar/101

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of the DayTop 100 Book: Number 84
Star Rating:: ***1/2

Quick Review::
One of Kazuo Ishiguro’s most famous works, The Remains of The Day is an interesting novel about Stevens, a very creditable English butler reliving his life through this book in order to clarify its meaning to himself.

The book begins with Stevens taking a holiday from his current employer and during his travels he tells the tales of his past with focus on particular characters including the lovely Miss Kenton with whom he was never able to declare his affections towards.

I won’t go too much more into the story but this gives you a general picture of the storyline and the plot it doesn’t stray much from the line. So where do I sit... well it isn’t my kind of thing! I can understand completely why it is in the top 100, it is totally different from any other book I have ever read, but it just didn’t grip me, I found myself getting too excited as the end was approaching and I could move onto something else.

This is now a very famous movie starring Anthony Hopkins and I haven’t yet got round to watching this film. From what I have heard it is pretty good! So my low down, I would give this book a read so you can say “done that” but I wouldn’t go out of your way to make it your life priority there are plenty of better books in the sea in my opinion!

10Feb/100

Memoirs of A Geisha – Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Top 100 Book: Number 39
Star Rating:: *****

Quick Review:: I thought that this was an absolutely amazing book! Full of so much emotion and cultural references it drew me completely from page 1. Memoirs of a Geisha follows the story of young Chiyo-chan an orphaned young girl from a fishing village and her sister Satsu as they are thrust into the world of Geishas. The book follows young Chiyo-Chan as she grows into a young teenager, the struggles she faces in the Nitta okiya and her transformation into a beautiful Geisha.

Arthur Golden develops the characters beautifully and you build real connections to the characters in the book, in particular Chiyo . The narrative is descriptive and slow. Although the book covers most of her life it doesn’t feel rushed in any way and has a wonderful flow to it. I couldn’t put it down when I started it and managed to finish it in one sitting. Thoroughly recommended as a poignant insight into an art that is slipping away into history.

10Feb/100

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen FieldingTop 100 Book: Number 68

Star Rating:: **

Quick Review:: You must have been stuck in a cave somewhere for the last 10 years if you haven’t heard of Bridget Jones’s Diary! A major movie starring Renee Zellweger as the unlucky in love, eternal spinster Bridget Jones.

So you have seen the film, what about the book? It’s fairly true to the script, a few differences in events and timelines but essentially the same set of characters and the same ending! But I did not enjoy this book at all and am quite surprised it is in the top 100. Fielding’s style of narrative irritated me immensely. I can’t quite describe here what I mean by it, but believe me it is grating after a while.

But moving on to the actual story itself, very cutesy, very funny and very chick flick. I am not surprised it was made into a film. The story follows Bridget Jones a ‘typical’ single woman living in London always conscious of her weight and looks. The character of Bridget is the type that makes you cringe with all her mishaps and misfortune. Completely besotted by her boss Daniel (Hugh Grant) the story follows her trials and tribulations in trying to seduce the boss and deal with the things life throws at her along the way.

The story itself is well written and flows very nicely; it is very warm and cosy and ends how you imagine it will. I just couldn’t wait to finish it though the annoying narrative killed any warmth I had towards the story itself. I haven’t read the sequel yet but I imagine it’s more of the same. I am definitely more a fan of the film then the book in this case!

16Dec/090

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

The Magicians - Lev Grossman

The Magicians - Lev Grossman

Top 100 Book: Not a top 100 book

Star Rating:: ***1/2

Quick Review:: To all my friends I have constantly described this book as a dark Harry Potter meets Narnia and from scouring the web it appears others have supported my view. The Magicians tells the story of young Quentin Coldwater who stumbles across the magical school of Brakebills (your Hogwarts) unintentionally when he turns up for his Princeton interview to find his examiner dead and a mysterious envelope bearing his name.

Everything changes once Quentin immerses himself in the life of a true magician love, death, pain, laughter, lust and hard work lay before him and the book concerns itself with his tales at Brakebills and his life after it.

My opinion, I am on the fence on this one! There were elements I loved, and elements I loathed, I felt that the author tried to cover too many storylines with this one, not that it was difficult to follow, I think I found some areas rushed and rather shallow. It may have served better as two books or a trilogy covering Quentin’s Brakebill days and his life after.

9Dec/090

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

Top 100 Book: Number 19

Star Rating:: ***

Quick Review:: Now a successful film the Time Traveler's wife is the story of Henry and Clare. Henry has a condition which means that he travels through time regularly and is unable to control it so he goes forward and backwards without any control! I likened it to Journeyman if anyone has seen it. This book tells the story of Clare and Henry in a diary style as they meet at various points through Henry's travels.

A wonderful concept which would have been more highly recommended if it had been around 200 pages less. It got a little repetitive and seemed to keep going over the same stories again and again. The beginning and the end were very well written, lose some of the mindless middle dribble and it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

Detailed Review:: *SLIGHT PLOT SPOILERS*

2Nov/090

The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame

Wind In The Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Wind In The Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Top 100 Book: Number 30

Star Rating:: **** 1/2

Quick Review::
Written in 1908, The Wind In The Willows is a "Cutesy" tale of friendship, respect and companionship between wildlife animals, focusing on the lives of Moley, Ratty, Badger and Mr Toad. It's known as a childrens book but I feel us adults can learn a lot from this book. It has a lot of underlying morals which are put across in a very gentle way. We follow the mischevious Mr Toad, The river bank loving Ratty, The home loving Mole and the father, authoritive figure of Badger. There is no real storyline as such it is more a collection of their adventures along the river bank and in the countryside of Pastoral England. A very enjoyable book to read.

2Nov/090

Reduction in Service

Incase you haven't noticed I have been pretty rubbish at writing reviews recently. This is because of my studies and everything else under the sun. Keen not to let my massive fanbase of two people down I have decided to keep the reviews shortened to the quick review only.

Once I have more free time next summer I will try and resume full service.

Cheers,

Jennie

14Aug/09Off

The Phantom Of The Opera – Gaston Leroux

Phantom Of The Opera - Gaston Leroux

Phantom Of The Opera - Gaston Leroux

Top 100 Book: I thought it was number 100, but I got the wrong book! So not in the Top 100

Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::
The Paris Opera House, early 1900's is mysteriously "haunted" by O.G, the Opera Ghost.
This novel written in a detective Style follows the story of the Christine Daae and her twisted love triangle with the Opera Ghost and Raoul.

Its a pretty gritty novel with love, murder, jealousy, rage, mystery and horror. It's interesting to know that this is based on true facts and the author spent a lot of time investigating the Paris Opera House!

Detailed Review:: *SLIGHT PLOT SPOILERS*