The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Book Review

Title: The Goldfinch

Author: Donna Tartt

Rating: 5/5

Genre: Bildungsroman, Fiction, Adult Fiction, Crime Novel, Epic Fiction


“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life”

As I’ve mentioned before, Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors. She not only crafts intriguing plots, characters and situations, but she never seems to disappoint with the endings to her novels. You, as a reader, feel very satisfied when you close that book, but it never seems to leave you. You find yourself going off into daydreams about the themes and the tartt_thegoldfinch
characters. And that, to me, is the mark of a good author. To leave you wanting more.

Now, interestingly enough, The Goldfinch was my first introduction to Tartt’s work, but has been the last one I’ve read. I found a review and an excerpt of the story long before I bought any of the books, and I loved the writing style so much, I immediately took myself off to Waterstones and purchased everything together. But after reading and loving The Secret History and The Little Friend, I took it upon myself to read it over the festive period. And at nearly 800 pages, it certainly took up my time. But what a story. Within the pages, I found myself sucked into the world of art thievery, bildungsroman plot devices, furniture crafting, museum tours, strolls through Las Vegas and Amsterdam, desired love, guilty consciousness and lasting friendships.

After a tragic accident and subequent death of his devoted mother, the reader meets Theo Decker as he stands abandoned in New York. His father has deserted him, the wealthy family who takes him in are concerned for his wellbeing, and his classmates have no idea how to speak or comfort him. Isolated within himself, Theo draws comfort and warmth from the only thing he has left of his mother’s memory and self – a tiny, priceless and exquisite painting that he stole from the gallery. The reader follows Theo as he is moved from the bustling New York to the loud and garish lights of Las Vegas and we observe as Theo develops and experiments with drugs, alcohol and love for the first time; each one proving to be as addictive and intoxicating as the last.

However, beyond this, the criminal underground beckons, and the audience watches Theo has to conquer the demons which he has held on for so long, along with the web of wild goose chases and false ends in which Theo has become entangled in.

As you can see, this novel follows Theo as he matures from a scrawny and not very worldly child into a complex and hardened adult. We see how he interacts with characters of different ages and different walks of life, along with the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides of humanity.

I read somewhere, on more than one occasion, that The Goldfinch has been compared to a Dickensian novel, and I can definitely see why from reading it now as the novel follows one individual’s lifespan, and how his actions as a youth impacts on his later life. He also comes against conflict, love, deception and crime and also experiences what it is like to be at the 8fdb0378-7a0a-44e0-a19c-5cfc2c71ddf5_het-puttertje-van-carel-fabritiusbottom of the ladder as well as the top. He proves a calming and familiar presence against others, and his point-of-view is never far away. This is a novel of grandeur, and just the immense scale of the book itself gives this away. We do get transported to different parts of the world, and the detail that Tartt has included is something to be marveled at. When Theo walks down dusty streets with the sun beating off his brow, we feel that heat on ourself. When Theo is experiencing his first acid high, we ourselves can feel delirious.

It really is a sensory overload.

I have always marvelled at the ways in which Tartt creates characters. Like with The Secret History’s Richard, it is always the supporting characters which provide the more interesting reading, and the main character is something they can react against.

The Secret History had Henry, this novel has Boris. Boris is simply a mixture of chaos, alcohol and strong principles. He is certainly the most fun character to read in the entire novel, and his and Theo’s relationship is something that is born of equal circumstance and the term of ‘Fuck it’.
Against Boris’s absolute insanity, the darling Hobie is another one which you cannot help but love. He’s distant when he needs to be, but so passionate and light, he is the perfect tonic against Boris’s special brand of darkness.
Also, the dynamic between Theo and the main female character of Pippa is one to be envied. It is something that cannot be written without the experience of having those particular feelings yourself. It’s love, compassion, companionship and adoration.

All-in-all, this book is a gem. Brilliantly crafted and expertly written, this book is a slow-burning literary giant.With this story, we as readers are lucky enough to experience two stories – the complete disintergration of Theo’s life after his mothers death, alongside the intricate and dangerous world of art thievery and crime. And as this book won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it clearly isn’t just this book blogger who thinks this book is something to be marvelled at.

Links:

To buy this book – Waterstones/Amazon

 

 

 

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett – Book Review

Title: The Silent History

Authors: Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett.

Rating: 3.5/5

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Adult Literature, Contemporary Fiction, Social Media Literature.


“Let the unknown be unknown. The things we need will reveal themselves in time.”

Thanks to the lovely people at Nudge-book.com, I was sent this book as a gift, alongside my main review text (link to that right here). And when I read the blurb and little insider summary of the book’s history, I was instantly intrigued.

The Silent History was originally published and serialised through an award-winning app, and released little by little as field studies and testimonals. It focuses on the tale of a generation of children born without speech, without language and without any obvious means of communication with the outside world. These are called ‘The Silents’. So instantly, the children are labelled under various terms31b3rhddlpl-_sy344_bo1204203200_
– a blessing, an epidemic, a freakshow, a scientific miracle, or just outcasts. The story is told through 120 individual testimonals, ranging from parents of ‘silent’ children, to doctors, friends, leaders and random observers, and it narrates how the children were first diagnosed, and how, through the years of 2011-44, these children grew into a world that saw the ‘silents’ change from being freaks of nature and into something far more powerful.

Now, I had my copy sent to me in a paperback book format. So I cannot review this as how it was originally published, as I didn’t have, or was even aware of the app. So, I apologise in that sense. But, after reading it, I can see how amazing this would have been as a novel-by-the-way-of-an-app. I have gathered through my research that there are even parts of the book that I haven’t been able to access, due to the user interaction that only the app can provide, which adds another level of this story completely.

Whilst I was reading it, I noticed there are definite touches of Sci-Fi, fantasy and even end-of-the-world in this book. With the ‘silents’ being diagnosed, humiliated and labelled an epidemic and then basically marginalised by the rest of society, there is a real sense of isolation and tension throughout the stories. With the use of first-hand and oral recordings of the silents history, it felt very World War Z, and the scenes of the motely groups of silents banding together was highly reminiscent of the zombie genre (think countless scenes in The Walking Dead) so I thought that the whole idea of discrimination was done really well.

With the people of the narrative, I also thought these were written extremely well. The authors could definitely explain human emotions, especially when said humans were at their limits. There are sections, like Theo (the manic, overprotective father) and his silent daughter, Flora, which does show postivity and family bonds, but not traditional sense at all. The most amusing character was either the straightforward Francine or the manic, cultish Patti, as they brought humour and a sense of realness to the crazy world they ipadiphone-33203a116f049163aa165def8aeb2a65lived in.

So yes, I found the premise and the writing was of a very high level. The original writers of the app and stories had clearly thought this out. But for me, the real problem was the translation of app-to-book. Like I said, I can definitely see how this would have worked as an app. It would have been so interesting, as the characters and stories would have been slowly given out, so the story would have been kept fresh and intriguing. But that doesn’t really work on paper. I was interested for 3/4 of the way through, but then it started to lose its focus and the ending wasn’t satisfying enough. Some characters just seemed to disappear without any proper farewells, and I did have to push myself to actually finish. Maybe due to how it was written or delivered, there were some parts were the narration felt slow and the big climax was disappointing to say the least.

But honestly, I think that is due to how it was changed from app to book. It does go to show that how stories are told originally really makes all the difference!

So unfortunately, I cannot give this a 4/5. The premise was fantastic, as was the writing. But it just didn’t work as a book. Not to this reviewer anyway.

But let me know! Have you ever read or used The Silent History app/book? How does it compare?

Once again, huge thank you to Nudge for sending me this.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

Website – Click Here

 

The Rivals of Dracula by Nick Rennison – Book Review

Title: The Rivals of Dracula

Author: Nick Rennison

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Gothic Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Vampire Fiction, Short Stories.


If there is one thing readers and viewers of this blog should know is that I’m obsessed with the Gothic. After studying it as a module in my degree, and even writing my dissertation on Dracula, I have developed a deep appreciation for this particular genre of literature, architecture and story-telling. So when I was sent The Rivals of Dracula by Nick Rennison to review from Nudge-book.com, I was so pleased as not only does it combine Dracula and the Gothic, but also my love for short stories.

Published two months ago, The Rivals of Dracula is a collection of short stories which have been put together and organised by Nick Rennison – author, editor and bookseller – and it focuses on, as the sub-title states, ‘The Golden Age of Gothic Horror’. Stoker’s Dracula was first published in 1897, and despite being one of the most prolific and famous Gothic stories to come out from the fin-de-siècle of the century, it was not the only vampire story to emerge from this period. And within this collection, Rennison introduces the reader to fifteen different authors, fifteen different short stories, and fifteen different vampiric characters. With a mixture of well-known writers and lesser familiar authors, the collection is a succinct, well-documented and diverse collection of vampiric tales from around the globe. 9781843446323

Rennison clearly took his time in the organisation of what authors and stories to pick for the collection, as despite them all featuring a ‘vampiric figure’, some are more obvious than the others whilst others take more a supernatural/ghostly appearance. The stories are easily readable, and highly Gothic, in the sense that they actually gave me chills when reading them. I’d thoroughly recommend F Marion Crawfords ‘For the Blood of Life’ and EF Benson’s ‘The Room in the Tower’, as these were so tense. Rennison also includes a little author biography before every story, which gives information about the writer, as well as other texts they may have written. There is also an introduction written by Rennison about Stoker’s novel and the world of the Gothic.

I was so pleased that I got to review this book, as it’s definitely up my street. This is a good collection of classic tales of the supernatural, and I was very impressed with Rennison’s introduction and choice of short stories. A must-have for Gothic fans!

Big thank you to Nudge for making me one of their reviewers, and sending me these perfect books!

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

 

Winter Wedding Ideas!

A few weeks ago, TheBlackTux.com asked me to write my thoughts on a ‘Winter Wedding Ideas’ blogpost. Now, despite being a 21-year old single student, I love planning and thinking about weddings, and I adore winter as a season for fashion and clothing.

So I thought I’d share some of my personal favourites if I were planning a winter wedding, and what I would love to include to make the big day as special as it could be.

1: Faux Fur Wraps.

With winter bringing the cold weather and the chill wind over the UK9101289947166.jpg, I think a white faux fur stole or wrap would be the perfect touch to any festive wedding. To me, faux fur looks so classy if done right, and there isn’t anything better than being wrapped up in a fur jacket on a icy day. So why not incorporate into your big day? Perfect for outdoor shots, and adding a little something to any strapless dress, these wraps keep your shoulders warm but let your arms and movement be relatively free.

At the moment, Monsoon are doing some beautiful wraps, and I adore this Addilyn Feather Cape, as it does add a bit of vintage/showbiz glamour, and could easily be reworn after the big day. Also, with the addition of a embellished brooch, and fine-knit fabric lining, this won’t snag or damage any  bridal dresses. And retailing at £129, I think this is a steal for your big day.

2: Irregular Choice Shoes.

Now, these are definitely a very personal favourite. Some may call them garish, tacky, and some people wouldn’t touch these shoes with a barge pole for their wedding day.

But I adore them. Irregular Choice is such a unique shop, and I adore how each shoe looks like a work of art. No matter what pair of shoes you’ll get, they will be made well and be comfortable, and they’ll definitely send out a statement on your wedding day.

My two favourites are:

7129-1-lThe ‘Grin & Tonic’ vintage style boots.

With the gorgeous lace detailing, oversized bow at the front and moderate heel, has the perfect blend between outrageous yet sensible, and the flash of blue on the sole which could be classfied as your ‘something blue AND new’.

Retailing at £115.00

 

Or:

The ‘I Love You’ heels.

Now these are so unusual, gorgeous and statement-ish, you’d struggle to find more unique and quirky shoes for your wedding. With wedding-character heels depicting a bride and groom, brocade style and applique of ‘I ♥ You’ across the toes, these shoes are genuinely a mixture between art and footwear. Also these shoes come in a ‘Mrs and Mrs’ style as well.

Retailing at £149.00

 

3: Bandelettes 

Now, I’m going to be writing my own blogpost reviewing the Bandelettes Beige 1004 Bands, but I thought I’d include them in this. For curvier girls, or people with just bigger thighs that can rub together and cause irritation, Bandelettes are godsend. In a nutshell, they artrio-back-2014e  5.5 inch Lace Bands, secured with two strips of non-slip silicone that sit on the upper parts of your thighs and give that added protection and stop skin-on-skin chafing. And for a wedding day, when you don’t want to be wearing tights, Bandelette
s provide a discreet and comfortable way to wear that beautiful gown of yours without any chafing or unneccessary pain. They come in a variety of colours, including nude and white, and are reusable.

Shipping from the US – Retailing at $15.99/£10.55

4: Book Confetti.

As this is a literary blog, I had to do something with books. So why not combine two of your favourite things, and have book confetti! To me, there would be nothing moil_570xn-673572676_3ti2
re romantic than exiting the marriage venue and have Shakespeare sonnets rain around me as confetti. A quirky touch to any wedding, and completely DIY and money-saving if you wanted it to be. However, PaperHeartCreation on Etsy has a wonderful shop full of different types and styles of confetti, for relatively cheap prices.

 

5: Bridesmaid Gifts – Silver or Gold Snowflake Necklace.

In my mind, picking bridesmaids will extremely difficult. These are the women who help you on the day, keep your nerves down, tidy up your dress and just be the best people original_gold-and-silver-rhinestone-snowflake-necklacea woman can have on her bi
g day. So naturally, you’d want to thank them for all their time and effort. And whilst pursuing notonthehighstreet.com, I found the sweetest, wintery present for those special ladies. These snowflakes necklaces would be a touching memento from your big day, and with the option of a personalised star initial charm, they can make every necklace feel entirely unique to the person. A wintery goodie for your bridesmaid!

Retailing at £15 per necklace.

So yes, here we are! These are my top 4 picks for my winter wedding inspired blogpost. A huge thank you to Sam and everyone at TheBlackTux.com for influencing this post – head over there if you want to see a good suit and tuxedo rentals.

#Ownthemoment16

Thank you for reading!

 

Book Tag Thursday – Dashing Through the Snow Tag

I was tagged by Michelle at Book Adventures for this delightfully festive tag, so here we go!

The Rules:

  • Thank the curator – (Such a cool idea, thanks Astra)
  • Tag five people to spread the Christmas joy!
  • Have fun!

♥ Name a book you would like to see under your Christmas tree.

Hans Christian Andersen: Classic Fairy Tales (Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics)

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I’ve been really into classical/un-Disneyfied fairy stories for a while now, and I’d love to own this very beautiful copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales.

♥ A book you’ll be reading during the Christmas season?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I’ll be reaching for the good ol’ classics this year. Going to blitz this on Christmas Eve and hopefully not be visited by any ghosts.

♥ Favourite Christmas movie

The Grinch.

dr-seuss-how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-movie

It’s become a tradition to watch this film over the festive season. I just love this tale so much! Plus Jim Carey makes me laugh so much.

♥ Do you like snow?

I like it to look at, and to build snowmen in. I don’t like it when it becomes slushy and slippy.

♥ Name a character you would like to spend Christmas with

Harry, Hermione and Ron. Honestly, a cosy Christmas at the Burrow without any Dark Wizards would be so fun.

♥ What fictional place would you like to spend Christmas at?

Hogwarts! Can you imagine the atmosphere, the food and the magic?!

hogwarts-christmas

♥ Fondest Christmas memory?

After Christmas dinner at couple of years ago, my dad and I went for a nighttime stroll where we ended up climbing over a fence, and walking along an abandoned pier.

♥ Can you say “Christmas tree” ten times fast in a row (pronouncing it correctly!)

YES. After a few attempts.

So I tag

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!