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Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle

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RATING: 5/5 

BLURB: “Congrats. You fought through War and Peace, burned through Fahrenheit 451, and sailed through Moby-Dick. All right, you nearly drowned in Moby-Dick, but you made it to shore – and you deserve a drink! A fun gift for barflies and a terrific treat for book clubs, Tequila Mockingbird is the ultimate cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes – paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels – the book also includes bar bites, drinking games and whimsical illustrations throughout”

REVIEW: I bought this book as a joke present for a literature-obsessed friend and just had to order a copy for myself! I can personally testify that many of the recipes are delicious and testing them out has been great fun! I would particularly recommend ‘The Joys of Sex on the Beach’, ‘Gone with the Wine’ and ‘The Adventures of Sherbert Holmes’. The commentary on each of the literary works that the drinks are based on is also hugely entertaining, and I would definitely recommend it to any literature buffs, particularly as a present!

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

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RATING: 4.5/5

BLURB: “Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon state mental hospital with a strict, unbending routine. Her patients, cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy, dare not oppose her. But everything changes with the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with the devilish grin. McMurphy battles Nurse Ratched and the ward regime, challenging everyone’s beliefs about madness…who, of them all, is really insane?”

REVIEW: I studied Psychology at A-level and miss it so much that I’m always looking for books based around some of the things I learnt in my Psychology classes; this book fit that mould perfectly. It’s another of those books that is hard to describe without giving away too much of the ending, but simultaneously I genuinely believe it to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. In terms of the questions it brings up – what is madness? How should those classified as mad be treated? Why is madness seen as such a horrific problem?, etc. – and the emotions it creates, Kesey’s writing is almost unrivalled. The book was both horrifying and amusing, somehow, both tragic and hopeful, and it is this paradoxes, I think, that make it such a wonderful book – it stays with you long after you turn the final page. The only advice that I can give is make sure to read the ending at home – I read it on public transport and I think more than a few people were disturbed by my tears and running mascara! 

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Mary Shelley by Martin Garrett

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “Mary Shelley’s authorship of the novel Frankenstein guaranteed her widespread renown, but her turbulent life and other literary works are equally fascinating. Born in 1797 to the writers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, she inherited her parents’ passion for literature, social justice and women’s rights. At the age of just sixteen she ran away with Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and was widowed by twenty-four. During their eight years together (living mainly in Italy), she was estranged from her family and sometimes from her husband, suffered periods of depression, and saw three of their four children die in infancy. Despite her troubles, Mary Shelley maintained a busy social life, including a complicated friendship with the poet Lord Byron. She also wrote journals, short stories, mythical dramas, and several novels including Frankenstein. After her husband’s death in 1822 she returned to England with her surviving son. She continued to write, both in order to earn a living and to satisfy her literary ambitions. She also produced major editions of her husband’s poetry and prose.”

REVIEW: Mary Shelley is both one of my favourite authors and one of my favourite historical figures; as such, I always enjoy reading new biographies or fictionalised accounts of her life. This biography is extremely engaging and made even more fascinating by the use of images, including photos, paintings and portraits. It also contained some facts that I had previously had no awareness of – one of my favourites of these was the rumour that Mary and Percy Shelley first consummated their relationship in St. Pancras graveyard, not far from the grave of Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft! It was a great read with a good balance of information and speculation, and I would recommend it highly to fans of Shelley.

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The Book Thief Movie

I don’t normally write much about films on here (as much as I love them) because books are my real passion, but I went to see the recently released film adaptation of The Book Thief tonight and I just really feel the need to write about it! First of all I should state that I read this book about seven years ago when I was twelve, and since then I have re-read it more times than I can count. It is one of my favourite books of all time (definitely in my Top 5) and has always really stayed with me and inspired me. It was also the first book to emotionally break me. Considering all of this, I went into the film both with high expectations and high concerns; I was terrified that they would ruin this, one of the books I care about above many others. I was worried that the plotline would be drastically altered (there was talk of the ending being rewritten due to the horrifying nature of it as it is portrayed in the novel) or that the characters would not act as I expected. I am very pleased to say that I was wrong. The adaptation was beautifully filmed, acted, written and directed. It stuck closely to the plotline of the book (though of course not all of the details could be included, as the book is around 500 pages) and often used quotes that I recognised – and, in some cases, could recite (told you I’d read it a lot of times!). And even though I knew exactly what was going to happen in those closing moments, I still sobbed just as I do everytime I read the book. The friends who came with me hadn’t read the book before, but all agreed that the film was brilliant and are now all desperate to read it. And they, too, sobbed when the ending came around. It is one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I have ever seen and I would highly recommend it to all (but take tissues! And wear waterproof mascara).