Tag Archives: Books

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer


Hey guys! 

Hope you’re all well this beautiful August day. I’m back into the swing of things reading wise so I thought I would post a review of a book I’ve finished reading: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. This was quite a quick read as I managed to finish it in three days. I’ve surprised myself with that one. I was thinking that my brain wouldn’t let me read much! 


What’s it all about? 

The novel is narrated by nine year old protagonist, Oskar Schell. He is grieving the loss of his father, Thomas, who was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. The consequence of this for Oskar is that he feels angry and depressed as well as being distant with his mother. Essentially, Oskar is afraid of everything. 

“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.” 

However, Oskar has a terrible secret that he shares with the reader. When he returned home from school on September 11th, he listened to the voicemails left by his father whilst he was inside the burning World Trade Center. On the final call, Oskar fails to pick up the phone as he was too afraid. The line goes dead. Oskar feels so guilty that he hid the answering machine and hasn’t told anyone about the messages. 

“My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met.” 

In the not too distant future, Oskar finds a key inside a vase within his father’s closet. Along with the key, there is a little envelope with the word ‘Black’ on it. Oskar deduces that this must be a name and he makes the decision to track down every person in New York with that last name, Black. 

It is whilst Oskar takes this mission that he meets a range of different characters e.g. Abby that I found quite relatable. Yet non of them know anything about the key. A Mr. Black, first name unknown, has not left his apartment for 24 years, agrees to help Oskar on his search. Over the course of eight months, he visits all of the Blacks in all the boroughs. 

Oskar visits his Grandma’s apartment and talks to her allusive renter, who unknown to Oskar, is his grandfather. We are told how years earlier, Oskar’s grandfather had abandoned his grandmother when she became pregnant with Oskar’s father. Following the events of WW2, where he consequently lost everyone he loved, he decided he couldn’t bear loving anyone again. He did write letters to his son throughout his life, yet never posted them. Sadly, he returned to America before September 11th to reunite with his family, but it was too late to meet his son, Oskar’s dad. As a result, he moves back in with his grandma; a relationship that appears as rather strange to Oskar. 

“I missed you even when I was with you. That’s been my problem. I miss what I already have, and I surround myself with things that are missing.” 

Oskar discloses his story about his dad and the search to the renter. Whilst this is ongoing, Oskar checks his phone and sees that he has a message from Abby Black, the second Black he spoke to. Abby knows who or what the key belongs to: her husband’s father’s safe deposit box. This is anticlimactic for Oskar and he is disappointed that the key had very little to do with his own dad. He decides to return the key to William. 

“So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!” 

Whilst this is happening and Oskar’s search is ongoing, his mother never asks where he is going. It is finally revealed at the end of the novel that she has known the whole time. Once she gained this knowledge, she called every person and explained what Oskar was up to, before he got there. 

When his search ended in bitter disappointment, Oskar decides to dig up his father’s empty coffin and asks the renter for help. Together, they go to the cemetery. The renter brings two suitcases with him filled with all the unsent letters he wrote to his son. The renter decides to fill the empty coffin with these letters. This seems to be a turning point for Oskar, who is now able to move forward from his grief and loss. Importantly, he reconnects with his mother. 

To conclude, in a long letter from Grandma to Oskar, we discover that Grandpa and Grandma grew up in Dresden, Germany and both survived the firebombing of the city. However, neither of their families did. Grandma knew deep down that Grandpa was in love with her sister, Anna, but she married him anyway. She accepts that fact when he comes back to her on September 11th because she doesn’t want to be alone. When he tries to leaves her again, they decide to live at the airport together. 

“There were things I wanted to tell him. But I knew they would hurt him. So I buried them, and let them hurt me.” 

Oskar is back to square one. He’s failed to find any conclusions about his Dad. The novel ends with a series of pictures of a man falling to his death from the World Trade Center. Oskar decides to flip them so the man falls up the building. Therefore, imagining his Dad is safe. 

“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.” 

Overview:

I really enjoyed this book and I was surprised how quickly I managed to get through it. I had a tear at the end because I was incredibly moved by the content and plot. I tried to put myself in Oskar’s shoes; to feel what he felt throughout this novel. I am a firm believer that all novels have the ability to teach us something. This taught me that we can always feel pain and sometimes we are desperate for answers that just are not there. It’s really easy for us to look into things and make assumptions, like Oskar and the key. I’m not ashamed to say that this book broke my heart a little bit, possibly because of Oska’s narration and because I can remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at the time. This gave me some form of personal response or relationship with this book. 
Keep reading guys! Enjoy August. 

Big love xx

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Filed under Book review, Books, Reading

National Book Lovers Day 2017


Hey everyone!! 

Happy National Book Lovers Day! Being as so many of us on here are united by the love of books and reading, I wanted to send you my love and blessings for this wonderful day. To be honest, I didn’t actually know this existed until I saw something online. Nevertheless, we learn something new every day. Today I learnt this. 

According to the National Days Calendar, today is the day we are encouraged to spend the day with a good book. As if by fate, I finished my book yesterday which means that I can start a new book today, especially for this occasion. 

I did pick up some new books yesterday whilst on a day out. These miniature anthologies are super cute. As you know, I always keep my eyes open for new books. 


I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a Bibliophile. 

Bibliophile Definition: a person who has a great appreciation for or collects books. 

Hmm. This sounds about right! Not that I want to shoehorn myself into a stereotype…

To observe this day I am doing two things: look for new books and read. The rain has been pouring all day so it’s the perfect weather to snuggle down with a good book. My next read is In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut. Again, I picked this up in a second hand book shop knowing absolutely nothing about it. However, I was taken in my the blurb. I’ll let you all know how it goes. If anyone has read it, let me know what it’s like please! 

So, Happy National Book Lovers Day, to all of you wonderful people out there! I hope you have a lovely day reading and absorbing yourself into another world. 

Big love to you all! Xx

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More Than Reading: Unexpected Surprises In Books


Hey guys! 

Happy August! The weather doesn’t particularly resemble August or summer but that shouldn’t stop us from making the most of it. 

This post is something slightly different to what I usually post (I hope that’s ok!) because I realised that I’ve found books in various places which contained more than the story. 

You may remember from an earlier post that I love receiving books which include little messages inside. I keep them and treasure them. However, I also like to see what I can find inside books. I don’t look specifically for what’s inside; it’s what I’ve found in books after I’ve purchased them. The extra surprise you aren’t always guaranteed to find. 

I realised I’ve actually started a little collection! Well, 4. But it’s only the beginning. Therefore, to mark the start of August I wanted to share with you all what I’ve found and where. Maybe you’ve found something too! 


The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy

As my first find, this is a particularly awesome and surprising place to start. I wanted this book because I remember getting it from the library as a child and I wanted my own copy. They were my motives for buying it. However, as I was flicking through I spotted a letter. I was so intrigued for two reasons. Firstly, it was written before I was born. Yet, I found it years later in 2012. Secondly, the address (which I’ve coloured out) was a house near my grandparents home. 


Why did this get into a children’s book? Who are the people involved? What caused this letter to be mixed up or discarded? For me it’s about the person or people behind the book. I find it quite sad that I won’t be able to find out the answers to these questions. 

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

It was my Mum that actually recommended this book to me. One day when I was mooching about I found a copy. What I didn’t bargain for was the poignant message within the book. 


Now I have to confess that this made my cry originally. Everyone wants to have that one love that changes your life. I guess I kept hold of this book because I believe it can and will happen. 

Again, more questions. Who is Elaine? How many bad dates did she go on? Has she given up altogether because of unrequited love? A fitting message for a stunning novel. So beautiful. 

Bernice Bobs Her Hair – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This was a relatively recent find actually. Fitzgerald is a writer that I absolutely adore. The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourite novels so I always jump at the change to buy more of his work. 


21st birthdays are quite important; they are a milestone birthday so why would this book be given away? Hmm. Yet more questions! Another story untold. 

Miss Treadway & The Field Of Stars

This was my latest find in Stratford. I really wanted to read this book anyway and I fell on my feet because I managed to find a signed copy! 


I guess this doesn’t raise the personal questions of the others. However, I still count it as an incredible find. I always seem to miss out on signed books so I was secretly quite pleased to find this. 

So these are my unexpected surprises from books so far. Have you ever found anything? It is difficult because shops do tend to go through them first, making my finds even more thrilling! I think I’ll keep this updated so watch this space. Here’s hoping I find more! 

Have a fabulous summery August everyone.

Big love xx

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London & Matilda the Musical

Hi guys!

Happy July! I can’t believe it. July is my favourite month so I’m quite pleased it’s here. 


I started this month with a trip to London. More tourist time! Originally this trip was for my Mum as we got her Adele tickets for Christmas. However, you may have seen in the news that she cancelled the last two shows. This caused a slight problem for us, but, I managed to book us tickets to Matilda the Musical. 


This musical started in Stratford but my mum gave her tickets away, meaning we never got to see it. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to finally see the show AND on the West End.


I do not have enough words to explain or describe how amazing this show is. From start to finish I was completely hooked. The kids are awesome, loveable and incredibly talented. It stuck to the original novel, with some tweaks and added catchy songs that I’ve had in my head ever since. 


The set was really clever. It was full of books (I LOVE) and lights and things popping up and across. It was always moving and constantly changing, keeping the audience captivated. The lights were a really clever way of showing the chalk writing and the chokey. 


My favourite (well joint favourite) characters were Matilda, played by Eva-Marie Saffrey and Miss Trunchbull, played by Craige Els. Honestly, Matilda made my heart melt. Miss Trunchbull brought the humour and entertainment to the show. It was a nice surprise to see this part played by a male actor too! Now I’ve seen it, I can’t see how it could be done any other way. 


I realise in every post I say things like ‘you have to read/see this’, ‘I don’t have enough words to say…’ but for this, it’s completely true. It’s just magical. I knew the ending of the story and I still had a tear. I felt on cloud nine when I left. It was truly amazing. 


Well, you know me. I love an opportunity to go exploring and be a tourist. I certainly did that this weekend and it was fabulous. Making memories with my lovely family, spending time together and living for the moment. It was lovely. 

I especially love these signs at the tube stations around London. This one resonates with me because it is absolutely true. If you’re around London, keep an eye out for them. 


Until my next tourist adventure! 

Big love to you all xx

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Filed under Exploring, London, Photography, Places, UK

#HarryPotter20


Hey guys! 

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published? I know I’ve mentioned this in a previous post (here) but today is the big day. I’m so excited. I can remember reading them as a child; being transported into another world – a world where the extraordinary is possible, the magic made real and where friends really could conquer anything. It was bliss. 


My friend tagged me in something really cool today. Facebook have celebrated by creating their own little bit of magic. Confession: I let out a little squeal when I saw this! I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve clicked on this about 100 times. Also, Twitter has had the #HarryPotter20. Yet again, Potter fever is taking over! 


The world is a very different place now. However, these novels are the same. They provide a world for young people to get lost and dare I say it, adults too..? I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have quotes from the novels all around my classroom. I promote the books to all my students. I genuinely could not live without it. 


Books are life. These books in particular are a part of millions of people’s lives. It’s wonderful to know that Rowling feels it too. We must focus on the next generation now. Let’s keep the magic alive. 


Happy birthday Harry! 

Big love xxx

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Father’s Day – Famous Dads in Literature

Hey guys! 

Sunday, the day of rest. The weather has been amazing! It’s definitely feeling like summer. In the UK, today is Father’s Day. To celebrate all the wonderful dads out there, I’ve decided to do a post about some of the famous dads we see in literature. 
Atticus Finch – To Kill A Mockingbird – Atticus has stayed with me from the moment I first read this book. As a single parent, what he teaches Scout and Jem (and every child who has ever read the book) is life changing. To learn that everyone is important and each deserve respect is a lesson synonymous with Atticus. He’s quiet, humble and just an inspirational character. 


Arthur Weasley – The Harry Potter Series – Oh Arthur. Such a marvellous father character. He’s just so relatable. He tinkers, he helps the Weasley boys avoid their mother when being mischevious, he defends them all and he even provides support for Harry. Aww. 


Hans Hubermann – The Book Thief – Liesel’s adopted father, Hans is another inspirational father figure. He is warm and friendly in Liesal’s time of great need, accentuate by the World War Two setting. He plays his accordion for her and teaches her to read during secret late night sessions. It’s this that saves her life. 


Otto Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank – Without Otto, Anne’s diary would never have seen the light of day. Anne and her father were close, as seen in her diary. However he, like the rest of the world, learnt something from her diaries: “I must say, I was very much surprised by the deep thoughts Anne had. It was quite a different Anne I had known as my daughter…And my conclusion is, since I had been in very good terms with Anne, that most parents don’t know really their children.”


Bob Cratchit – A Christmas Carol – Bob’s character is incredibly on two levels. Firstly, he manages to work with someone like Scrooge. What can I say, we all love to hate him! Secondly, he saves Christmas for his family, mostly Tiny Tim. That’s pretty cool for a dad! He also adores his family which is incredibly heart warming. 


King Lear – Arguably not up for any best dad awards, Lear ends up driving his daughters away. His own vanity and desire to know what’s what caused him to force his daughters into proving how much they love him. When his youngest daughter (and favourite) declines to join in, he banishes her. Not cool. 


Grandfather Joe Bucket – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Ok, so technically a grandfather but it still counts. Joe is the one that accompanies Charlie to the factory on their magical adventure. It gives him the spring in his step, literally, that he needs to get out from his bed. 


Tom Oakley – Goodnight Mister Tom – Another book that utterly broke my heart. Again, set in World War Two, Tom takes in a child from the Blitz, William. Whilst their relationship at the start was slightly stilted, Tom grows to love and nurture the boy. 

I’m well aware that there are plenty others, but these are the fathers that stick in my mind from books I’ve read. Let me know if you think of any others I’ve missed! 

To all the dads out there, have a great day and remember, we are nothing without you. 

Big love xx

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Children’s Laureate 2017

Hey guys!

Something interesting hit my email inbox this week. It was the announcement of the new Children’s Laureate: Lauren Child. 


Lauren is the fourth illustrator to take this role. You may remember that the last Children’s Laureate was Chris Riddell, also an illustrator. I posted about it two years ago. Time has definitely flown by. 


Lauren Child is famous for creating the cute characters of Charlie and Lola back in the year 2000. I was too old to be reading those kinds of books. However, I do remember seeing them everywhere! I used to have stationary with the characters on because they are just unbelievably adorable. She was awarded this title at a celebration event in Hull as well. My very own doorstep. 


Congratulations Lauren! You’ll do an amazing job! Anything that gets young people passionate about reading is essential. As a teacher, it’s one of the things I’m most passionate about. Thankfully she shares and continues to promote the need for books in young people’s lives. 

 “Although there were all these terribly gloomy stories about the book disappearing, that hasn’t happened. I think it’s because, particularly for little children, holding a book is such a physical experience. I think the beauty of a world that’s contained in a few pages is quite amazing.”


Enjoy your weekend everyone! Read plenty. 

Big love xx

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