Wednesday 25 January 2012

A Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Published: first: 1768 - Penguin: 26th March 2002
Pages: 160
Synopsis (Goodreads): 
A Sentimental JourneyA Sentimental Journey is a novel without a plot, a journey without a destination. It records the adventures of the amiable Parson Yorick, as he sets off on his travels through France and Italy, relishing his encounters with all manner of men and women-particularly the pretty ones. Sterne's tale rapidly moves away from the narrative of travel to become a series of dramatic sketches, ironic incidents, philosophical musings, reminiscences, and anecdotes; sharp wit is mixed with gaiety, irony with tender feeling. With A Sentimental Journey, as well as his masterpiece, Tristram Shandy, Sterne forged a truly original style and established himself as the first of the stream-of-consciousness writers. 
This new Penguin Classics edition features an introduction that discusses the novel in relation to Sterne's other writing and places it within the context of "sentimental" literature. Also included are a chronology, suggestions for further reading, and full explanatory notes.

First off, I feel I should warn that this is not for everyone - even avid readers of eighteenth century literature.

Another book for university - this one for a module entitled 'Gender and Eighteenth Century Fiction', so I was already aware of the ... difficulties that come with reading from this period. But wow! This book has no real plot, no direction, which is probably Sterne's point with his style of writing: the stream of consciousness. This, not to mention the complex and extremely detailed language, makes this book difficult to understand and interpret. And though it is definitely not my style of narrative, I can understand the appeal to this book; to have a travel book that focuses on the people rather than the places, the detail behind emotions and interactions. If only it was written in more understandable language! Or at least chronologically!

Friday 20 January 2012

This Side Of The Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Publisher: Avon Books
Published: 22nd February 2011
Pages: 357
Series: Night Huntress
Synopsis: Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. but just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance...

With the mysteries disappearance of vampires, rumours abound that a species war is brewing. a zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally" - the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war... to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Review: I really adore this series; it's full of funny and sexy moments and I love Cat's and Bone's relationship, even though sometimes it comes across as odd, to say the least! Especially when he throws her off a bridge to try and get Cat to fly!

As the fifth in the series, this is the story of Apollyon, the bad-ass ghoul trying to start a war between vampires and ghouls over Cat's crazy new powers, and Cat and her team trying to stop him. The quite complex and completely awesome storyline kept me guessing, although there was one appearance I really hoped for - and got!

And while there were some moments where I asked 'what the hell just happened?', that is probably because some information is needed from Frost's spin-off books of the same world - which I wasn't too fussed about reading but may have to now, just to understand the timeline! Luckily, Frost's style of writing doesn't let you miss anything so you catch up quickly.

Throughout the book, there were some incredibly hilarious moment, some cringe-worthy ones, a couple of tear-jerkers and a fairly happy ending - with an added twist. Not to mention the return of Mercheres, Vlad, Tate and Justine, Cat's mother, all of whom add up to some really funny and some truly touching moments. I simply adore Frost's writing, her characters, their speech, everything about this series and I literally cannot wait to go and get the sixth!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Publisher: Norton and Company; Norton Critical Edition
Published: 1818 text, edition published 1996
Pages: text: 156, plus critical essays: 334
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein. 

Despite all the expectations and stereotypes of Frankenstein, I did not know what to expect from this book. And yet, I really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. There were obvious Gothic elements, which is why I was reading it in the first place, like the Sublime description of the mountains, the far away and foreign element of the setting, the alien and terrible nature of Frankenstein's experiments etc.. 

I really liked the story, even though it was fairly predictable: the story of a young man, aiming to do good in his field of medical and anatomy, only to hate what he has created, how it destroyed his life and livelihood. Some of it was predictable, probably because I expected it, and some parts did annoy me, like how feminine Victor Frankenstein was sometimes. But the monster's story was actually a little bit heartbreaking; it was awful how cruel the human kind can be with things they do not understand. But it was a little annoying as to how well spoken the monster was - or maybe I just expected him to only be able to say 'urg'. 

Even the language of the novel was not too much to put me off, like some other books for this module I've tried to read. Easy to read, easy story to understand and follow along, I enjoyed it enough to recommend it but will admit that it is not for everyone - especially someone expecting the gore and violence that typically comes with the image of Frankenstein. 

Thursday 12 January 2012


Good day and hello! Welcome to An Awful Lot of Reading, my new book review blog, because apparently Sophie is a bad influence in this respect!

I don't expect this to kick off well right away; what I do plan however, is to review the books I read, as I read them. As I am in the middle of my second year studying English Lit, quite a few of them will be classical literature, for which I apologise in advance if that's not your kind of thing. But it's good practice for me.

Coming up soon:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This Side of the Grave by Jeanine Frost
Restoration by Rose Tremain

As soon as I can:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Looking For Alaska by John Green

On a side note, anyone get the reference with my name?