Saturday 13 January 2018

Books to Read January ǀ 2018

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

This is a story that leaves an impression on every single reader. Most people read this during the course of their life and if you haven't, then it is definitely something to consider. Harper Lee develops characters so beautifully that each is associated with a different, distinct characteristic. Part of the reason I don't want to read her second book is because of the enormous respect I hold for Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout, I'm not ready for their positive attributes to be questioned yet. Complex themes are explored in depth through the eyes of a young child, in a simple and understandable style. There are constant moral conflicts presented, with a strong emphasis on the idea right and wrong. Lee focuses on a series of issues constituting a southern American town in the nineteen-thirties, racism being the most prominent. Described is not just social inequality, but the human condition and mentality. Racism is supposed to make you uncomfortable. The relevance of this today serves as another reason to read it, besides the understandable prose and the general ingenuity of it.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

As an absolutely hilarious, light-hearted read, 'Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging' provides a stark contrast to 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'. It is a simple, witty and genuinely funny diary account of a teenage girl's life. I first read this at the age of thirteen and giggled at almost every other page. If you have a teenage daughter around this age, I could not recommend this more. You could describe it as a funnier, female version of 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4', or as very similar to 'Bridget Jones's Diary' but for a younger audience perhaps. I am still able to read it now and laugh at every chapter. If ever you need some cheering up, open this book.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

Like all of the other books I have reviewed today, this is a very easy read. My favourite thing is the very dramatic tension built up to in the end. Although it is easily anticipated and very much expected, it still scares you in the same way that many of his novels succeed in doing so. You wait to realise the outcome of a situation with baited breath, making the chapter worth reading. Structurally this was also quite interesting. I liked the way that the first chapter was written and then soon after dissected by one of the other characters. Whilst there is no denying that Horowitz is an excellent writer, I would like to offer some criticism to this particular story of his. I came to the conclusion that this was an unsuccessful attempt to make the transition to adult literature. Writing yourself into a book and making a cameo appearance is difficult at the best of times. As a child Alex Rider (another character of Horowitz's) is forgiven for his perception of his surroundings and people. However, Anthony as an adult, comes across as quite judgemental. Being a first-person account, as a reader we gain a lot insight into Horowitz's life, which is probably not fictional, and is also irrelevant to the story line. Within the book, he mentions that he is growing further away from his audience (of children) with every year. This lead me to a conclusion which I haven't yet managed to shake: that this seems to be reminiscent of some form of midlife crisis. There were some very obvious techniques used, particularly towards the end, which arguably would have sat more comfortably in a children's novel. 'The Word is Murder', I believe, will act as a stepping stone to Anthony Horowitz, as he refines his literature to be fitting to an adult reader. I look forward to reading whatever he writes next.

Sunday 7 January 2018

Kitesurfing in Montenegro

This journey actually began with us being deported from Montenegro, having had to turn around and leave at the border because we did not have the original documents for the car. We then drove all the way back to Dubrovnik where we had been already very early that morning, dropping off my friend Matt at the airport. Over breakfast the decision was made to rent a car for a couple of days and attempt to cross the border once more. So, as a family of five with dog, in a foreign car on the backroads, we tried once more.

Montenegro is perhaps most known for being the setting for a part of Casino Royale. Despite this, the reality upon entering was far from that glamourous image. Even though it was very beautiful, it seemed as if things were developing all over the place but with no real plan or thought out infrastructure. Being in Croatia less than an hour previously really emphasised the difference that being in the EU makes to a country. Thankfully we had a surfing destination in mind so stayed in a more remote village, far from the chaos we had driven through that morning. Although we actually did very little kitesurfing, I enjoyed the beach and walking around Kotor. The best bit was going to a kite beach near Ulcijn where we were familiar with the owner of a company called Kiteloop. There, we enjoyed the friendly chilled out atmosphere. My advice for visiting Montenegro would be to plan your itinerary in advance, reading reviews online, particularly those mentioning how crowded places are, before visiting. It is a country with potential for a lovely holiday.