When God Was A Rabbit – Sarah Winman

When God Was A Rabbit is a novel narrated by Elly beginning in her childhood and continuing into her adult life. It is a story about love, a story about family and friendships and a story about life and growing up. The book follows Elly and her family over four decades and several continents.

 

The story is written in a way that you feel there is an untold mystery that is never fully revealed during the book. Instead you are left to draw your own conclusions once the story has come to an end. There are a mix of events crossing in to the intangible including talking animals, unexplained magic tricks and premonitions. I didn’t quite understand where Winman was going with these themes and was left a little confused at the conclusion of the story. Some aspects of the novel were so realistic whereas some were downright unbelievable.

Winman writes some beautiful and unique characters that are unusual and fun. The protagonist Elly is beautifully quirky and the first part of the novel passes by all too quickly. The supporting characters throughout the novel are loveable and add flavour to he story. Despite all this I just didn’t connect with the novel or the characters and I can’t quite explain why. I think the second part of the story let it down for me. I didn’t love the characters quite as much when they were grown. I loved the whimsical setting and the childish reasoning that I experienced in the first half of the book but ultimately finished the book feeling rather indifferent about it.

 

Overall, I give this book three bunnies called God. I can’t really fault this book as I can appreciate how other people may have fallen in love with it but unfortunately it just didn’t touch me in the same way.

 

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Books versus Movies: Part 2

The next dilemma is: do you read the book first or wait for the movie? I feel I may be a little on the unpopular side of this debate but I have come to my conclusion after a quite a bit of trial and error over the years.

 

In my highly scientific studies so far I have realised that the best order for me is to watch the movie first before reading the book (if I haven’t already). I promise I have a method to my madness (and I’m sure some of you will call it madness). To start with I generally find that if I have read the book first I end up disappointed with the out come. A notable example for me was This Is Where I Leave You. I adored the book and spent my time reading it bursting out loud in laughter, even when reading it in public at my favourite coffee shop. When it came to the movie I found a lot of the humour in the book was lost in and the movie ended up kind of depressing. I’m disappointed if the characters don’t fit my mental image, or they change major arcs of the plot, both of which were evident in the afore mentioned movie. This has happened many a time and I have just learnt that this path leads more often that not to frustration and disappointment.

 

Take the order and reverse it and I have much more success. By watching the movie first I fall in love with the simplicity of the plot because I don’t know any better. If the plot of the  book has more depth, that is great and it only adds to my experience but I already am happy with the simplicity of the movie. If you want the movie first you also already have a visual image of the characters and what they look like, rather than having pre-conceptions of what they are like you already have them in your mind. That way when it comes to reading the story you can concentrate on the plot developments and character growth. A great example I have in this situation is The Notebook. I first watched the movie and just fell in love. I mean, who didn’t? It was a beautiful story and you just fell in love with Noah and Allie and every. single. time. I watch it I am left in tears. I just loved it. Then I read the book. So much with the book was different, the story and the characters had so much more to them. In particular Noah, he was so different, so deep. You didn’t get a sense of it in the movie but the book just developed such a complex character. Would I have loved the movie as much if I knew all this before hand? Probably not.

 

I hope this has helped enlighten you to my methods of optimising my enjoyment of books and movies. Perhaps you might even give this order a try next time? I hope so. In the mean time I’m going to try and avoid reading Me Before You before I can watch the movie. Wish me luck!

 

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After The Crash – Michel Bussi

I picked up this book from another blogger and after reading her review was intrigued by the concept of the story. A plane crash. One survivor a three-month-old baby, their identity a tug of war between two families. Eighteen years without a definitive conclusion and on the eve of the then mystery baby’s eighteenth birthday the mystery is solved, however, the detective who solved it is found murdered.

 

This book had me instantly hooked. The story is told from a mixture of perspectives including Lylie, the mystery baby now almost an adult, her brother Marc and the detective Grand-Duc’s diary. The action begins straight away with Bussi weaving an intricate story with many small mysteries and revelations to ponder throughout the book. So many threads to the story that you wonder how they all fit together to form a conclusion.

 

My favourite part of the book was the characters within it. Buss ihas developed an array of interesting characters. Each character has their own puzzle piece in the mystery to add to. Some you think are evil. Some you think are good. Some you think are absolutely crazy. Each one will surprise you and what you think about them when you first meet them will all change by the end of the book. Probably one of the greatest mixes of characters I’ve found in one book in a long time.

 

Ultimately this book had everything a good thriller should: a great hook at the beginning, a complex enough plot to have you guessing until the end and memorable characters that add such vivacity to the plot. You may guess at aspects of the mystery, however, all is not revealed until the end making for a fast paced mystery. I highly recommend this book for fans of book such as Gone Girl and Girl On The Train. I give After The Crash four Airbus 5403’s.

 

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The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

I’ve been extremely lucky of late, the past two reviews have been stand out books for me and thankfully the streak continues with the Nightingale. I had heard a lot of rave reviews about this book and can happily say that they are well deserved and this book definitely lives up to the hype. This book destroyed me leaving me bawling my eyes out after consuming it within a day.

 

Two very different sisters living in France as World War II breaks out. They each have to fight their own battles and show bravery in different forms while trying to survive in a dangerous time. Both sisters are chalk and cheese and at the beginning of the story you learn that each of them have their own (distinctly polar opposite) flaws than verge on annoying in the first half of the book. I found myself at times feeling frustrated at both characters and sympathising with the other one, one of the important themes of the book. The sisters try to learn to understand and support each other but struggle because of their differences. Both of their characters develop as the war presses on and the character growth in both of the amazing women is beautiful and heart breaking. You come to truly love both Vianne and Isabelle for their differences, their flaws, their life lessons and their hopes.

 

The book demonstrates how life goes on even during war. Love blossoms, friendships strengthen, children grow and people change. In fact these feelings and situations are almost heightened because of the war and the desperation in trying to cling to something good and pure. I loved the changes in perspective throughout the story allowing you to step in to the shoes of multiple characters. I also loved the shift from present day to the past. Where the story was heading was a mystery you were constantly solving. Hannah created some memorable characters all of whom were not black and white but shades of grey. No one was perfect, no one was wholly good or evil (well, except one arguably) and all this was constantly changing through the story. I finished the story caring desperately about the sisters and hoping impossibly for a happy ending.

 

This story joins The Book Thief and All The Light We Cannot See as a truly memorable historical fiction set during World War II. I have not been left destroyed and crying by a book in a long time and I (predictably) give The Nightingale five beautiful birds for a book I could not put down.

 

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Books versus Movies: Part 1

The age old debate of books versus movies is a big one that becomes increasingly relevant as more and more cinemas are filled with movies based on a book. Which is better? Books or movies? Do you watch the movie? Or read the book first? Where do you stand on books with movie posters as covers? For? Against? So many questions. So many opinions. Where do you stand? All I can add to this is my own opinions and experiences and I would love to hear yours in return.

 

I feel like this could quickly become a long winded post so lets divide this debate up into parts and examine each question on its own. Lets start at the beginning. Books versus movies: which is better?

 

I feel that this is a simple answer from me. Books. Books are almost always better than movies. They have one advantage: they can be as long and descriptive as they need to be. The major flaw in all book to move adaptations is that the movie just cannot go into the depth that books can. If they were to fully explain everything that occurs in the book they would go on for hours. Take the Hobbit for example. They took the time to follow the book in detail and they ended up with three, long separate movies. They just can’t compete with a book in that department. They also can’t reenact the internal dialogue that books can. Yes, they can have voiceovers verbalising the thoughts but it just isn’t the same as reading the characters inner thoughts and dialogue. Take Twilight for example, so much of the angst and built up tensions between the two main characters is lost in the movie without the constant verbal mentation that you experience while reading the book.

 

All in all I am a book fan all the way. I enjoy watching the movie as I like so see how they visually represent the words, the story but more often than not I find myself leaving the cinema disappointed. Notable movie disappointments for me include This Is Where I Leave You, The Lovely Bones, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and any of the Twilight movies beyond the first one. To me they missed crucial elements of the plot, had actors that I didn’t feel represented the characters in a satisfying way, changed aspects the story too much from the book or all of the above. For these reasons I can be wary of a book to movie adaptation.

 

However, for every disappointment there was a success. Movies that I enjoyed quite a lot (not as much as the book but enough to be fully satisfied) includes movies like The Book Thief, The Hunger Games and every other Harry Potter movie (apart from the aforementioned Prisoner of Azkaban). Might I dare even say I actually prefer the Lord of the Rings movies to the books? This is purely because I feel that as much as Tolkien is an amazing writer at times the essence of the plot can get lost in the multitudes of descriptions. At the very least watching the movies made it easier to read the books as you already had the setting and the characters in your minds eyes and did to need to build them from the immense descriptions. There are even the movies I love for their differences from the book. The Notebook is a simple and beautiful movie that never fails to put me in tears and the book just as much so, however, parts of the plot are quite different and I appreciate them both for the differences reflect the mediums that they are being portrayed in. Movies do better telling a simpler story that you can enjoy in 2 hours and leave fully satisfied with the connection you created. Books get their beauty from their complex layers that you build slowly over the duration of the novel. I love them both in different situations.

 

I could go on about this forever so lets move on and continue with part two at a later date: watch the movie first or read the book?

 

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Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

This book was emphatically suggested to me (several times) by a friend. Flash forward 40 years and we have destroyed the world, poverty, famine, global warming, you name it. Most people live their lives in a virtual reality called OASIS to escape the drudgery of reality. The creater of OASIS, James Halliday passes away leaving behind the greatest game of all: find his easter egg hidden in OASIS and win his fortune and ultimate control of the OASIS. The novel follows Wade Watts on his quest to find the easter egg and escape his current situation of poverty.

 

It did not take long for this book to drag me in and hold my attention. Immediately I loved the nerdy references to all things related to the 80’s, including movies, music and Star Wars. If you are at all a fan of this decade, video games, fantasy and/or science fiction then this is the book for you. These references are hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud quite a lot at the passing comments and in my opinion these references added the personal connection to the story and lifted this book to another level. This book has it all: action (virtual and real world), love, friendship, puzzles and adventure, some kickass characters and some great lessons hidden underneath it all. I loved every minute of the book and am already looking forward to reading it again in the future. There isn’t much more I can say other than read it, read it now.

 

Ready Player One is a rare book that comes along that sucks you in wholeheartedly until you have consumed it all leaving you returning to the real world wanting to recommend it to every person you meet. Sticking with the 80s references I give this book five floppy discs, this will satisfy the inner nerd in you all.

 

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Books: bring people together since forever.

I was at work last week. It was a Friday morning and as per usual we had our weekly multidisciplinary case conference. I work in the health system, more specifically in sleep and at these meetings we discuss unusual patients that come through our clinics. Usually the attendees filter in dribs and drabs, sit in the meeting room and perhaps converse in pairs or small groups. This week was a pleasant change from the usual routine. The day previously I had done a little book bonding with a colleague and they had a copy of a book I was interested in reading and so offered to lend it to me. She gave it to me Friday morning and as another professional was wandering in, noticed the exchange and commented on the book. A conversation grew, which discussed the book in question, which lead to the debate book or movie first. Suddenly everyone that was walking in joined in on the conversation and regrettably it had to end soon after as the meeting started.

 

It was such a great feeling! We were all bonding over books, our opinions on them, debating the merits of watching the movies first versus reading the book first. All of us with a range of ages and professions. We had doctors, nurses, psychologists and laboratory technicians. All with something in common we could interact over (that wasn’t work related, of course). It was magnificent. A great start to Friday and I hope it happens again.

 

This is what I love about reading. Books bring people together. They encourage creative conversation and debate because everyone has a different perspective, something new you can take from it. It is something I can do for hours. So much so that I think people get sick of hearing from me. Which brings me to the bookstagram community. What a great place for all of this. Book ideas, different opinions on your favourite books, people to gush with and who share your feeling of elations and devastation when you finish a book that touches your soul. Just magic.

 

And we have books to thank for giving us the content, the feelings, the ideas. For bring people together from different ages, genders, countries, and walks of life. The book in question that brought my diverse colleagues and I together on a beautiful Friday morning conversation: The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham.

 

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