University being over for the year means I've been able to really get back into reading, and while I maybe haven't read as much as I would've liked, I've still managed to get through a few books recently. I don't have a summer to-read list this year as I did last summer, but rather I am just reading whatever I have on my bedside table and whatever I feel like at the moment. So, let's get on with some mini reviews, shall we?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.
I was recommended this book by Melissa, and it proved to be a real treasure. Reading this book is like escaping into a more magical and vibrant version of our own world. It's set in 1930s England, but something about the story is quite timeless. Despite it being neither fast-paced nor action-filled, the story really grips you, and I was constantly longing to get back to reading it. The language is wonderfully poetic and vivid, the characters are very real, and following Cassandra and her family is so so enjoyable. It's a coming-of-age story of real depth, and without any of the predictability of most books in a similar genre.5/5
Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee
Cider with Rosie is a wonderfully vivid memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village, a village before electricity or cars, a timeless place on the verge of change. Growing up amongst the fields and woods and characters of the place, Laurie Lee depicts a world that is both immediate and real and belongs to a now-distant past.
Cider With Rosie has been on my to-read list for ages, and I randomly picked it up a little while ago. I don't know what I expected, but I did think I would enjoy it more than I did, seeing as it's such a celebrated classic. Laurie Lee jumps back and forth in time, dedicating each chapter to a new 'theme', like 'The Kitchen' or 'Winter and Summer.' He does write beautifully, and some scenes are really enjoyable to read, but on the whole the novel didn't quite do it for me. I had to force myself to get through it in the end. If a collection of quite nice anecdotes from the past is your thing, then this is definitely for you though.2.5/5
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.
I read these books a few times when I was younger, but the last time was years and years ago. When I heard that BBC are going to make a series out of it, I felt really eager to re-read them again, so when my exams finished I started re-reading them all. Although they're all brilliant, I would say they get better and better as the story progresses, and my favourite is definitely the final one. Pullman really is incredible at telling captivating stories, and the plot has a depth that is rarely seen in young adult fantasy series. I loved following Lyra's story again, rediscovering all the details I had forgotten. And yep, the end of the series broke my heart just as much as it did back when I first read it.
What have you been reading recently?