Stoner by John Williams

Stoner. As a title it has some shock value to it, but the book is anything but anything that may come to mind when first reading it. It follows one protagonist from youth to death, all the highs and all the lows that he encountered over the many years he was alive. There isn’t that much to the story when you read the blurb at the back of the book and then as you read, but there is something that makes it even relatable to the readers.

Continue reading Stoner by John Williams
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How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

I was eyeing this book up for some time but couldn’t really commit to buying it; something with being unsure if I needed more books and all that. But after putting it in a virtual wish list and getting it for my birthday back in January, I felt summer was the time to get into reading again, and to pick up this book. It took me a little longer to read it than I had hoped, but sometimes you just hit a standstill with a book and you really need something to motivate you. I find reading on trains and planes really easy and a place where I seem to get most of my reading done; but with my travels to a town 20 minutes over, I seem to forget my book more often than not.

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I gave How to Stop Time a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, there was just something about it that stopped me from putting a full five star rating on it. Overall, it’s a very engaging book which I would definitely recommend for whatever mood you could be in. The author does a great job of going between the past and present and interlinking them in a very clear and effective manner so the reader isn’t lost in the plot. There was never a time where I felt like I didn’t know what was going on. Naturally, like any book, there are slight slumps in the story where not much seems to be happening, but once you get past that the action picks up soon after. There isn’t much dullness to the book, but it is not one that is overly fast paced; it simply is a comfortable, and quick, read all around.

The plot is engaging and encourages reading more and nothing is left unexplained. The climax of the story is one that is relatively predictable when you really pay attention to what is commented on throughout the story, but it is one that appears relatively late in the novel and the falling action and conclusion are not as long as some like. Nonetheless, everything falls into place and the ending of the story itself is one that I anticipated to some extent. There is no set up for a second novel, but I feel like How to Stop Time would make a decent movie, there is a multitude of elements that I believe would make it something worth putting on the screen, but romance films are in a slight slump at the moment so it may be years, if ever.

Anyway, this was a book worth the time and can definitely be read in less than nearly three weeks, so if you’re looking for a quick read or are on a deadline from the library this is something you should pick up when you have the chance.


There were a lot of good quotes throughout this book, and many times, they were super long, which is why it seems that the ones chosen just go on and on, but they are probably the ones that stood out to me the most when reading (then re-reading in an attempt to find them as I didn’t note them down initially).

“I have been in love only once in my life. I suppose that makes me a romantic, in a sense.” (23)
“The hall fell silent. I had never hears a silence like it. The whole hall seemed to be holding its breath. It felt civilized and modern. It felt refined and tantalizing all at once, like a polite collective pre-orgasm.
Time slowed, inside that moment.
Then the music began.”
(99)
“And within moments they disappeared through the packed room with their cocktails and, though they made it perfectly clear I could join them, I stayed there with nothing but vodka and tomato juice for company, staying in the safe shadows of history.“(179)
“This is what the piano does.
This is the danger of it.
It makes you human.” 
(209)
“I quote others only in order the better to express myself”, she’d say, which was itself, I sensed, another quote. (217)
I was hungover. I was always hungover in Plymouth. Well, either hungover or drunk. (255)
“You can’t fall in love and not think there is something bigger ruling us. …” (297)

 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

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Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

A short story like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is always pleasant to read. Likely due to the overall shortness of it. The plot doesn’t drag on and nothing is left unsaid at the end. The story itself follows a few character, all doctors, who are trying to figure out where Mr. Hyde came from, and what is going on with their dear friend Dr. Jekyll. Essentially, it is the perfect book if you have little time to spare. There really isn’t that much to say about this text as it is so short and to the point, with a griping end that keeps you hooked on the story all the way through. The chapters are also short thus further facilitating the rapidness of reading, perfect for winter time when the days are short.

I gave this book 4 out of five stars on Goodreads, as I really enjoyed this book and, as I have read it in the past, and it has been one of my favorites. It is easily one that I would recommend to many readers, even those that are not interested in the Gothic genre.

Quotations from the text:
Street after street, and all the folks asleep – street after street, all lighted up as if for a procession and all as empty as a church – … (3)
She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent. (23)

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Oh my this book took forever.

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Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Dracula seemed to take me a fair bit of time to read, let’s face it, there is only so many vampire books that I can read in a year. Also, it is not the most comfortable text to hold, there are many pages and the binding was relatively stiff, making it hard to find a comfy reading position. And unfortunately, it is not the most gripping at some points, which could be due to the way it is written, that being the epistolary format, so not a favorite.
Another issue that I had with this book, is that I could not find the climax. It seemed to have a slight rising action at the start, and then a more flat one in the middle, and a relatively steep one at then end, and seems to reach the climax in the last pages of this 454 page book, which can be a little disappointing. This is followed by a rather rapid falling action.

I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, which makes me a little sad, but what are you going to do when you just were not that into the book. I feel like classics could be a hit and miss for some. Some people obsess over them and enjoy every single one, but I personally do not seem to fit into that category. Overall, I would not have read this book had it not been on my reading list for my Victorian Literature course at university.

Quotes from the text:
It seems the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains. (3)
… there are bad dreams for those who sleep unwisely. (39)
For life be, after all, only a waitin’ for somethin’ else than what we’re doin’, and death be all the we can rightly depend on. (89)
Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker. (145)
… Lucy lay in her coffin, strewn with the wild garlic flowers, which sent, throughout the odor of lily and rose, a heavy, overpowering smell into the night. (206)
God does not purchase souls in the wise; and the Devil, though he may purchase, does not keep faith. (367)

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

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Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

I was in the cinema a while back and the trailer for this film came up. I immediately knew I needed to see it at some point, but felt it necessary to read the novel that it is based on. Before, and after, the trailer, I had seen the paperback here and there, primarily in the “just in” sections they have in book stores, and didn’t really think much of it. But, here I am en-route to Waterstones to pick up two school books for next year and I see that The Girl on the Train is 50% off. So I think, why not, and purchase it.
I dreaded having this book sat on my bookshelf. Seeing it everyday always in the corner of my eye. It looked so new and untouched, and I wanted to read it so badly, but I had told myself that I needed to read Robinson Crusoe. Needless to say, that obviously did not happen as here we are with a review of The Girl on the Train. Oops.

It gripped me from the start. Yes it was a little repetitive, but it got interesting pretty quickly. Yes there were introductions that then led to the rising action, but it passed so quickly it was barely noticeable. I do believe, that there is always that one character that you are not meant to like, or at least that’s how it is with me and the antagonist (sometimes protagonist) Anna. I really do not see why she lives her life the way she does and why she acts the way she does (it is relatively justified but she’s still annoying.) The plot twists and turns between diary entries of three female characters, two of which are in present time (2013), and the third whose entries are one year prior to this. I feel like it takes some time for it to get to the climax, but the build up is a necessary evil. Despite the lengthy build up to the climax, I was nonetheless content with the outcome. In this moment especially, there is not a word that one can miss. As any novel should, after this it undergoes the falling action, where here it became mellow and without the occurrence of any major twists.
Overall, very enjoyable, and still following on my trend of mysteries / thrillers (can you tell I’m starting to have a favorite genre?) A book that I would recommend to many who are just in need of reading something on the go.

This book took me only five days to read, and I honestly do not remember the last time it took such a short period of time for me to finish a novel. For that, and other things, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Quotes from the text;
Life is not a paragraph and death is no parentheses. (22)
Everything she has is secondhand. I want to know how that makes her feel. (56)
I like trains … Trains are wonderful. (60)
I like it out here, it’s cathartic, cleaning, like an ice bath. (69)
I am interested for the first time in ages, in something other than my own misery. (120)
… warm and honeyed … (279)
… so pretty in the daylight but now sinister, each one of them a hiding place. (408)