Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1)Goodreads Synopsis

“I have great honor,” The Giver said. “So will you. But you will find that is not the same as power.”

Life in the community where Jonas lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units: one male, one female, to each. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. The community is a world without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment injustice…or choice.

Everyone is the same.

Except Jonas.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community’s twelve-year-olds eagerly accept their predetermined Life Assignments. But Jonas is chosen for something special. He begins instruction in his life’s work with a mysterious old man known only as The Giver. Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings. But when his own power is put to the test—when he must try to save someone he loves—he may not be ready. Is it too soon? Or too late?

In The Giver, things such as inequality, conflict…choice in general are foreign concepts. Everything and everyone are assigned to what and who they’d be best suited with. No one argues with this because that would ruin the image of perfection.

After I finished this book I had to take a few days to gather my thoughts because I honestly had no idea how I felt about the story as a whole. Lois Lowry wrote what is in my opinion a great book. The idea of the plot is just so…out there. Like, imagine a perfect world. Imagine if people could achieve this perfect world, where being ‘different’ isn’t a thing. Everyone looks the same, acts the same, and there’s no room for judgement, rudeness or conflict.

I didn’t read the synopsis, which is not unusual for me so I went in not knowing anything really. The idea did occur to me that yes, a world where there’s no hate, no war…no hunger, would be perfect and amazing. I found myself wishing for just that but then I stopped to think: at what cost would all of this be possible? And that right there is the punchline to the joke that in actual fact is not a joke at all.

This book is categorised as ‘Middle Grade’ and I personally believe that that’s only because of how old the main character, Jonas, is. He’s eleven when all this starts so he’s starting to see the world in a new light. Asking more questions that in this community, one is not supposed to ask. There’s nothing middle grade about this book though. I found this to be horrific but not in a scary close-your-eyes way, more like…when the image is put in your mind, and you think of what goes on behind the scenes, it’s frightening. I think this is where the term ‘ignorance is bliss’ comes in. These people don’t know what they’re missing, so it’s not a problem for them.

I did like that this was told from a child’s point of view. Jonas has this innocence about him. He starts out as a curious kid and in the end, he’s fighting for his life. All because of him knowing the truth. Not many people like change, but I think this was taking it to a new level.

Heaven alone knows why I took so long to get to this book because I thought it was amazing. Once I had a free moment, I finished it and I couldn’t decide where I stood with everything. I’m still in a state of- I want to say confusion.

Lois Lowry did an excellent job with this book. I greatly enjoyed her writing style and look forward to continuing The Giver Quartet.

Read: 13 May 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 1 July 2014
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Lois Lowry

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Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Goodreads Synopsis

Alternate cover editions of this ISBN can be found here & here.

Jane Eyre is a wildly emotional romance with a lonely heroine and a tormented Byronic hero, pathetic orphans, dark secrets, and a madwoman in the attic. When it was
published in 1847, it was a great popular success. The power of the writing, the masterly
handling of the narrative, and the boldly realistic style were much admired. But many found it difficult to believe that Currer Bell, the pseudonymous author, was Charlotte Brontë , a young woman from a bleak Yorkshire parsonage.

This novel tells the tale of Jane Eyre, sent to live with her Aunt Reed when she was orphaned. Her life wasn’t a good one as she was constantly treated as if she were the scum of the earth. From her Aunt’s household, to the Lowood School, misfortune greeted her on every turn.

This was one of the books that I saw as a challenge since I didn’t know whether I was going to like it or not. I had first started listening to the audiobook but that was taking too long so I moved over to the physical copy.

The way this story unfolds is slightly strange as in I was confused a bit at the time jumps but after I caught my bearings, I was back with the program. We start out with Aunt Reed who I thought could dial it down a bit. She was a horrible woman who refused to accept anyone that she didn’t think was up to her standards. Right up to the end she was the same; there was absolutely no remorse on her part for how she treated Jane. I was glad when she sent Jane away even though she was technically kicking her out.

The people Jane met after leaving the Lowood School was a bit of a mix of everything. I like to think that her simple-ness is what drew people towards her. Sure she was plain and simple but that made her an anomaly to people, especially those who thrived on being noticed. Mrs. Fairfax for example was a lovely woman. The housekeeper at Thornfield Manor, she was inclined to know all the going ons at the house and not once did she treat Jane in an undignified manner. I felt that she was a nice change to see especially wtih the bad luck that seemed to befall Jane in her younger years.

I found Mr. Rochester to be a every strange man. He seemed very presumptuous over how he thought Jane should speak and act but I had to laugh when she set him straight. I think that was one of the things that made him love her. She was different yes, she had fire and wasn’t afraid to speak out when she thought something wasn’t right. Another thing that made her un-liked amongst others. ‘Woman (and children) should be seen and not heard.’

“He made me love him without looking at me.”

The romance aspect of this book was a lovely thing to see and I honestly appreciated it even as I’m not a big fan of romance novels. The only reason I picked up this book while knowing about the romance was for the deeper meaning behind it all. I got to see Jane grow up from being a seemingly rebellious adolescent to a strong and courageous woman with will power and a sharp mind. A woman with the determination to lead her own life and who wouldn’t be talked into anything when she’d already made up her mind that something wasn’t for her.

My only regret about this book is that I took so long to finish it because this is now my favourite book. I could read this book over and over again and would probably still be amazed. It’s been a while since I felt such joy and elation because of a book and I would gladly want to relive the experience.

Read: 29 November 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 5 May 1999 (first published 16 October 1847)
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Charlotte Brontë

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Book Review: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess

Goodreads Synopsis

Whatever comes,’ she said, ‘cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside.’

Sent to board at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies, Sara is devastated when her adored father dies. Suddenly penniless, Sara is banished to an attic room where she is starved, abused, and forced to work as a servant. How this exceptionally intelligent girl uses the only resources available to her, imagination and friendship, to overcome her situation and change her fortunes is at the centre of this enduring classic.

First published in 1905, A Little Princess is a heart-warming tale of hope, hardship and love set against a backdrop of Victorian England, and is one of the best-loved stories in all of children’s literature.

A Little Princess tells the story of Sara Crewe who is treated like a princess and everything she desires is hers. There’s a major stereotype in this book that being the one that a person who is rich and gets everything they want must be nasty and act as if they’re God’s gift to that mind. This is not true for little Sara.

I had watched the movie years ago and I knew the story by heart but this book is so much more heartbreaking. To have lost everything in a sudden moment must’ve been so traumatising for a girl so young. I couldn’t see how she could still walk around with her head held high and put others before her.

Sara was in my opinion, a main character that any reader wouldn’t mind. She wasn’t annoying or bratty and her humbleness was such a beautiful factor, I admired that a lot.

The saying ‘Jealousy makes you nasty’ basically comes to life in this book. Seeing Sara being treated like the princess she was was bad enough for these people, but when they saw that she’s possible the nicest and kindest person in the world, that was where they drew the line. The hell they put her through just because they were jealous was absolutely ridiculous.

I enjoyed this story tremendously and once I got into it, it was quite the fast read. I feel like curling up with some popcorn and watching the movie right now. I can’t wait to get to The Secret Garden.

Read: 4 December 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 24 April 2014 (First published 1902)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

893791Goodreads Synopsis

‘Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window’

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

This took me a while but I pushed through and conquered! No really, I had a buddy read set up for this on the 17th of March and never completed it because classics and I have a love/hate relationship.

Dracula tells the story of a monster that we meet in Transylvania through Jonathan Harker’s perspective. The Count plans on buying a house in London and Jonathan travels to see the client at his home. The book has many different journal entries from different characters in the book that each tell their own story. It seems different in the beginning but as you go on, the pieces all start coming together.

The first half of this book was a bit boring for me, to be honest. I could barely get through it because I felt like I knew the story already and all these words were just unnecessary facts. It picked up quite a bit near the end though and I was glad that even though it took me nearly a year, I completed it.

I did not find Dracula scary or horrifying. I slept quite peacefully that night. I imagine it must’ve been terrifying in it’s earlier days. The writing style was great and I was able to keep up…most of the time. There were a few words that were before my time but I caught on easily enough.

I can see why this book became so popular and I agree that it is great. The scenes were described in the most realistic way and I managed to fall in love with all of the characters. No, not Dracula…him I’ll never like (although, if you think of the TV Show…I could get on board with that).

I really loved this book and I hope that it’s given more of a chance.

Read: 29 January 2016
Rating: ✮✮✮✮

Publication Date: 1993 (first published 1897)
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Bram Stoker

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Goodreads Synopsis

Jess and Leslie, together create an imaginary land called Terabithia, which they reach by swinging over a creek on a rope. In this wonderland they seek escape from the difficulties of the real world and also learn how to cope. Until one day, tragedy strikes. This is the story of a special friendship between two lonely children.

“We need a place, just for us. It would be so secret that we would never tell anyone in the whole world about it.”

Bridge to Terabithia tells the story of Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke. These two children are from opposite sides of the world. Jesse’s parents being more old-schooled whereas the Burkes lean toward a more modern way of thinking.

I watched the movie adaptation of this book when I was younger but didn’t pay much attention to it. I’m glad I decided to read the book. There was so much more in this story that the movie couldn’t show.

Jesse and Leslie’s friendship starts out with him wanting nothing to do with her but they end up being so close it’s no secret that the two of them are inseparable. Everywhere the one goes, the other follows.

They end up going to this place near the creek one day and find a whole new world they name Terabithia.

“It might be a whole secret country, and you and I would be the rulers of it.”

Terabithia is a place they created so that they can have a world of their own and no one else can tell them how to rule it. There Leslie is Queen and Jesse is King, along with a little pup, Prince Terrien.

“They stood there, not moving, not wanting the swish of dry needles beneath their feet to break the spell.”

This book was filled with love and sadness and happiness. It shows that unexpected things await around every corner and you never know how one thing can have a bigger impact on your life.

Katherine Paterson did a great job putting important aspects of life and friendship into such a short book.

Read: 4 September 2015
Rating: ✮✮✮1/2

Publication Date: First published 1977
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Katherine Paterson

Book Review: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

There were parts of this book that I didn’t understand. And there were parts that will stay with me. I enjoyed it quite a bit though.

I jumped from e-book, to audiobook to physical book with this one. In the audiobook Kurt Vonnegut speaks at the end and explains who Billy Pilgrim actually was. He extended and elaborated on the character and made him into who we know as Billy Pilgrim today.

Mostly fiction, but part non-fiction, this book speaks for itself. It gets into your head, it does.

Read: 6 May 2015
Rating: 3/5

Book Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

3.5-4 stars.

The Time Traveler’s Wife speaks of what we’d say was impossible. A man who can’t help but jump through time and a girl who continues waiting for him to show up.

When Clare meets Henry for the first time, she is 6. When Henry meets her for the first time, he is 28.

What I liked about this book was that something that sounds like it shouldn’t be able to happen was part of this man’s life. It was who he was. Without being able to control it, he was thrust here and there not being able to decide where he ended up. When Clare met him she found him to be an anomaly and grew to love him. She was okay with waiting for him because she knew that he’d always come back.

Henry and Clare’s story is what I’d call a tragedy. Being together yet not, at the same time was what was painful about it. The moment she thought she had him, he’d disappear. Hours spent together seemed like minutes.

What I didn’t like in this book was the cussing. It was okay most of the time but some times it got a bit excessive. It took me a while to get into this book and I had to put it down a bit in the middle. Other than that, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

There were parts in the story that I found amusing and near the end I was wishing for all the bad things to disappear. Why should two people who loved each other the way Henry and Clare did be constantly separated?

I have yet to watch the movie adaptation of this book but I will as soon as time allows.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who prefers a love story with a twist.

Read: 13 May 2015
Rating: 3.5-4/5