The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis

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I decided to read the “Chronicles of Narnia” series by C. S. Lewis right through from start to finish and review them all in one blog post rather than separating them out as they are all quite short so I’ve been powering through pretty fast. I treated myself to a beautiful hardback collection with the original Pauline Baynes illustrations to replace the slightly tatty and extremely mismatched paperbacks I had as a child and have been dying to do a re-read since I bought them.
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Ben – Kerry Needham

“Ben” by Kerry Needham is the true story of Ben Needham, who went missing on the Greek island of Kos back in 1991. Ben was 21 months old when he disappeared, he would be 24 now. To date he has not been found.
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The Flavours of Love – Dorothy Koomson

“The Flavours of Love” is the latest book by Dorothy Koomson, an Author I read a lot of.
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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain was on the list of 50 books to read before I die and I had heard a lot about it over the years, so I decided to give it a go.

After coming into a considerable sum of money in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, Huck Finn has been placed under the guardianship of Widow Douglas. Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, are attempting to civilise Huck, which he finds very confining. When his alcoholic Father, Pap, turns up, Huck knows he must keep him from his money or he will spend it all on alcohol. Eventually, Pap, manages to gain custody of Huck from Widow Douglas and spirits him away to live in an isolated cabin near the shoreline in Illinois.

Huck is basically kept prison by Pap, who locks him up whenever he leaves the cabin, sometimes for days on end. Hatching a plan during once of Pap’s absences, Huck fakes his own death and hides on Jackson’s Island.

After some time being quite settled on Jackson’s Island, he runs into Miss Watson’s slave, Jim, who has run away the same night Huck was discovered to be dead as he learned that Miss Watson was going to sell him on, presumably to more brutal owners.

Huck and Jim stay on the island for some time, until Huck dresses as a woman and heads to town to see if there is any news and learns that some men are on their way to the island looking for Jim, who is suspected of killing Huck.

Huck and Jim manage to escape down the river on a canoe and run into various scrapes, with Jim wanting to get to a place where black people can live freely and planning to eventually “buy” his wife back from her owners and then “steal” their children so they can live happily. Huck is troubled by Jim’s plans and also his closeness as he knows it’s not right for a white boy such as himself to be aiding a runaway slave.

Will Jim and Huck be able to get to a place of safety?

On reading “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” I discovered I probably should have read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” first as there are mentions towards the beginning of the book of things that happened in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. It wasn’t too hard to grasp the story though.

The book is told in first person narrative from the point of view of Huck Finn. It is also written in the dialect a person of Huck’s stature and education would have spoken at the time. Although often described as a great American classic, there has also been a lot of controversy about the language used by Twain. There is constant use of the word “nigger” to describe Jim and other black characters in the book. Although in modern times this is thought of as a racial slur, back in those days it would have common for a white boy, like Huck, to describe black people in this way. Jim is referred to as “Miss Watson’s nigger” on several occasions, meaning he was her slave. Obviously, we know that slavery is no longer legal and one person cannot be said to belong to another like property in this way but, again, in those times this is how things were. I don’t feel that a book like this should be banned because of the language used, it is indicative of the time and history cannot be re-written.

The dialectical writing did occasionally make it hard to understand, especially when Huck was writing things that Jim had said but I soon got used to it and could read it without too much trouble.

I’m glad I decided to give this a try as it was quite an enjoyable tale. I might go back and read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at some point as well.

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Filed under 50 Books to Read Before You Die, Fiction Reviews 2014

Big Brother – Lionel Shriver

Having really enjoyed Lionel Shriver’s “We Need To Talk About Kevin” when I saw “Big Brother” as part of a buy one get one half price deal in Waterstones I decided to give it a try.
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NOS4R2 – Joe Hill

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I borrowed “NOS4R2” by Joe Hill, from my Dad as he had read and enjoyed it and thought I would too.
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Allegiant – Veronica Roth

The final book in Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy is “Allegiant”. Obviously this review will contain spoilers for “Divergent” and “Insurgent” so if you haven’t read them I wouldn’t recommend reading any further.
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