Book review: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller




Published: 1961

So I know already I am going to get a lot of hate for this rating, and I have thought long and hard about it and just accepted it!

I’ll start focusing on the positives before I delve into the areas that I really struggled to appreciate. Firstly, it’s obvious a sensitive subject, the Second World War, and the author tries to discuss this subject with more humorous undertones than many other novels would, and for that I appreciate it.

The basic synopsis is, the book following a group of airmen stationed on an island off the coast of Italy during the latter half of the Second World War. We primarily follow the main protagonist, Captain Joseph Yossarian, and his disillusionment with the war and military in general. Throughout we dip into the other soldier’s lives at the base and we get to understand where they have come from and their hopes from the war. There are definitely moments when the author is trying to nail the theme and idea home, and it’s at these points where I get interested and want to listen, like this scene for example:

” Nately was instantly up in arms again. ‘ There is nothing so absurd about risking your life for your own country!’ he declared.

‘Isn’t there?’ asked the old man. ‘What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth fighting for.’ ” (283)

This is a soldier questioning the whole purpose of war, and questioning his own participation in it.

As you keep reading, the book reveals how corrupt, selfish and ineffective the military officials are and how the war is completely insane. I think that the theme of “catch-22” and how soldiers are made vulnerable by the war (like a prison sentence for them really!) are very poignant however, and there is a big however, I couldn’t get into the author’s writing style and humour at all, so although I understood what he was getting at, I did NOT enjoy the journey of getting there.

I also really struggled to relate or to feel any appreciation toward any of the characters, even the main protagonist I only really started to appreciate him when we got to the latter half of the book and by then it was too late to save it for me. Near the end the author was trying to tie in all his themes of the novel and a number did stand out for me. For example, the scene where Yossarian tries to escape to Rome because he realises how twisted the war and and world is, even in the glorious country he’s fighting for:

“What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives were socked, and how many children were bullied, abused and abandoned. “(472)

The rest of the characters are too similar, there are only a couple that stand out for me (Milo, Major Major, Chaplain and Nately). The rest have very similar characteristics and blend into one for me. The author does invest into the characters stories (or at least tries to) and this forms the bulk of the book. Nonetheless, when the characters described are so similar and quite frankly detestable in nature it’s challenging to find interest in the book. After a period of time, I did realise that the whole point WAS to make the reader not like most of the characters, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed this knowledge.

Lastly, and this permeated through his writing, it’s all very chaotic. I understand this is what it’s meant to be to show how confused and dumbfounded the war makes people, however it was quite challenging and frustrating to keep track. The chaos permeated the chronology of the book, the character’s thought processing as well as the character’s conversations so it felt like much ado about nothing in the end.

It was definitely hard because I had such high hopes for this novel, but in the end it wasn’t an enjoyable read and at times it quite annoyed me. Maybe it will be better the second time around, but I think I will have to wait a bit longer to find that out.


Wednesday Wondering: The Reading Utopia



Wednesday Wonderings: A chance for me to muse about anything and everything literature.

For this week’s Wednesday Wondering I am curious to hear your thoughts on your favourite reading spots. I stumbled across is absolutely amazing website of neat bookshops that I wanted to share with you:

From keeping stock in the vaults of a building that was once a bank in Victoria, BC, to combining books with parties in Beijing, everyone has different preference as to where they enjoy picking up a good book and reading (maybe the latter not being as common?).

I have always preferred the reading nook, the little corner away from everything else in the world, the comfy couch to just stretch my legs over and snuggle up to a soft blanket with a good book. I can stay in that utopia for hours. Sadly, I have never really had this idealized nook in my life. It was always either on the bed (which gets pretty uncomfortable after a little while) or sitting behind a chair in the library when I went to school.

In the past I’ve done a lot of reading on my morning train commute to work (which I enjoyed quite a bit at the time as the train took us through the English countryside). It gave me about 45 minutes of peace and quiet before we stoped at the busy station and everyone squishes into the compartment like can of sardines. But let’s be honest, it’s not the same as reading by yourself.

Nonetheless, I think I am getting closer with the most recent move to putting together a proper reading nook! We actually bought a proper bookshelf which fits our books, which has been nice. Unfortunately it’s not big enough as we already have more books then space on the shelf! The next step is getting a comfy chair in there and a proper light! In my future house I will make every effort to re-create this little bit of paradise:


I want to hear of your reading spot utopia. Do you listen to music? Do you need to be alone? Attach a photo if you have found your dream room online!

Teaser Tuesday: Feb 27th



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

This week I am jumping ahead of myself here a little bit, but this is a big, fat book so I thought I would start early rather than late! Enjoy!

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” Nately was instantly up in arms again. ‘ There is nothing so absurd about risking your life for your own country!’ he declared.

‘Isn’t there?’ asked the old man. ‘What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth fighting for.’ ” (283)

Book Review: The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell


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Published: 1958

So I thought that I would start off my reading blog on a positive note, an old classic, and a book that brings me back…wayyy back! In fact, I knew first of the film, when I was just 5 years old I used to watch the film and play along to it with my toy horses. Yes, I was such a cool child!

I was immediately attracted to the “real” portrayal of the horses in the wild, Australian bush. At this point in my life I was living in Slovakia so I literally couldn’t be farther from the place, but for some reason it felt so familiar.

Imagine my delight, when I realised a few years later, thanks to some research in my local library, that there was actually a book that the filmed was based on. And I have to say the book was AMAZING! I devoured the book when I was a child, enthralled with the wilderness that the author, Elyne Mitchell, described and captivated by the story of the silver brumby. I also loved the realness, this wasn’t any silly My Little Pony tale and neither did it have the teen drama that say the Saddle Club series had. It was just about free and wild horses versus man.

I’m delighted to say that many decades after I read the book, nothing has changed. The magic still remains. It’s not a complex book by any means, and it’s very short compared to a lot of the books I’ve been reading but it’s got substance without having to even try. The main theme is nature versus the man, and that couldn’t be more relevant in todays age.

The story is about a wild, silver stallion that lives in the wild Australian bush. Early on we discover that “he would be hunted…by man, since they were so strange looking in the wild herds” (14) and also he would be badgered by other stallions on the mountains as well, due to his colour. We follow his life as he develops and learns the tricks from his mother of how to remain invisible and be like a ghost of the mountains.

The plot is simple and rather predictable, but it’s hard not to fall in love with Thowra, the name of the silver brumby, and other mountain range that he resides in. By the end of the book you can’t help but shed tears against the selfishness and evil of mankind.






Have you missed me?


guess who is back

I know it’s been literally years, and it’s a tad too long to call this a hiatus, but I am back now!

A lot has changed in my personal life in the last few years, but now more than ever I want to get back to reading regularly and taking the time to write out my thoughts about books.

Instead of having such an ambitious reading schedule I have decided to only set myself the goal of reading 12 books this year, so that’s one book a month. This way it doesn’t put me off reading longer books, which I often didn’t feel like I had the proper time to read. Likewise, for the months that I do have more time, of course then I can read more and have “Bonus” reviews for those.

Likewise, this takes off the stress of HAVING to read books when, well, life gets in the way. I want to be able to enjoy this book journey and not have it as a dreaded to do list.

So without further ado, check out my reading list for 2018 and look out for my reviews, posting them on Sunday evenings!

Teaser Tuesday: Aug 25th



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Here is another blast from the past so to speak! A little late I know, but it’s not like they expire. Look out for the review for this as well over the weekend 🙂

” ‘You’ve been pretty busy these last few months. I’ve been reading a lot about you. You beat the police by several lengths when you tracked down Zalachenko and identified Niedermann.’

‘Lisbeth Salander was faster.’ ” (431)

The Seven Deadly Sins of Reading Tag



Thank you so much to The Happy Typewriter for nominating me for this lovely blog award, I love doing these too. Sorry it has taken me so long to complete it (I went on a little hiatus!). But I am back now so let’s get started!

Greed Defined as: An intense and selfish desire for something.

What is your most expensive book?

I am going to be super boring and have to say my most expensive book was for my German course in university, cost just under $200. I know, I am so lame!

Wrath Defined as: Extreme anger.

What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

George R.R. Martin. The fantasy world and the complex relationships that he creates in the Game of Thrones is very awe inspiring…however sometimes the complexity of the plot and just the sheer number of characters in his books get to be a little too much for me!

Gluttony Defined as: Intense over-indulgence.

What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

Any of the Harry Potter books. I am a quarter of a century old and I still proudly announce that the Harry Potter series is the best thing that has ever happened to me (in the book world of course!).

Sloth Defined as: a reluctance to work or make an effort.

What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I just don’t have the patience or the will power to tackle that read at the moment. So it just sits there on my reading shelf, a big blue spine that just makes me ashamed of my laziness.

Pride Defined as: satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

HAHA this is such a good question, as I am sure we all do it. For me it’s the The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. How can you not brag about having read a book published in 1475?

Lust Defined as: a strong sexual desire.

What attributes do you find attractive in male characters?

Nothing beats cleverness/intelligence in a male character for me sprinkled with a little humour of course. However, that should never cross into a know-it-all and the “perfect” male character. I appreciate a flaw or two to make him more realistic.

Envy Defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

I have to pick just one? This is going to take me forever…

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector’s Edition. If you have no idea what I am talking about click here to see this beauty. It costs an arm and a leg but brings so much happiness!

So, that’s all for me, now here are the bloggers I tag:

Really curious to read your answers!

Book Review: The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr


star1     star1     star1


Published: 2012

For a few years now I have wanted to read a biography about Queen Elizabeth II. I find her an extremely intriguing person, who is frequently misrepresented in the media in my mind. Previous biographies of the Queen that I have come across have been rather lengthy volumes so I was looking for something a little bit more general, that would give me a good overview of her life and what she has been through. Plus, it’s hard to tell which author has the access to actually know the Queen.

Before reading the book I’ve had some exposure to the Queen’s past, as I have watched a documentary detailed her love and passion for horses (as you may already know I am an avid horse aficionado). That one was very interesting and is what prompted me to pick up this book. It’s a very condensed version of her life, and did give me a good general overview of the Queen, which was what I was looking for in this case.

There were a few elements to this book that I thought were nicely done. Again, I liked that it was short and to the point. I don’t recall ever being overwhelmed or bored by minute details, which is something I do do find occurs in biographies.

Another good feature was that Andrew Marr made sure to bring in the context, so I was able to better envision the period and struggles she may have been experiencing at that point in history. He was also sure to always give background on significant people in her life, wether positive or negative, to again refresh a person’s memory or just understand the context. I am forever grateful for that!

There were aspects of the book that I didn’t quite enjoy. There seems to be this very obvious bias against Canadians. Now I am not sure if the author is aware of this, but I couldn’t help but note that every instance a Canadian person or Canada as a whole was mentioned there was always a negative connotation attached that quite frankly got on my nerves a bit. I don’t mind hearing something bad about Canada, I know we aren’t perfect by any standard, but when I couldn’t find a single positive association to Canada that really displeased me. I think even the fact that I became aware of it should demonstrate that it was very prevalent in the book.

I also felt that Andrew Marr tended to stray from the point. I bought this book to read and know more about Queen Elizabeth II, the real Elizabeth as he alludes in the title. Frequently though I am not sure that the book really accomplishes this, instead he often gets caught up in detail and his opinions. It’s great to get context, but that shouldn’t be the whole point on a chapter. Often, I felt he drifted and didn’t really give any interesting details about the Queen, nothing that I have never heard of.

Overall, I will say if you know very little about the British monarchy, this is definitely a good first time read. Especially since he does focus quite a bit on explaining what the monarchy does in the first place. If you are looking for more in-depth account of the Queens life I am not sure you will find this here.

Any biographies or autobiographies that you have been reading? Anything on your bucket list? Very curious to know!

Teaser Tuesday: Aug 18



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Got another blast from the past for you here today, as we continue to hunt for a house in a city that is 3 hours away from where we currently live. This house hunting is a lot harder than I had thought it was going to be. Anyway, hope you enjoy this little teaser from The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr!

” The glamorous young ones [Philip and Elizabeth II] would go instead. On January 31, 1952, the King waved them off at the modestly sized and freezing London Airport. His life of meetings was about to end; hers, to begin,” (98-99)

What are you reading this lovely Tuesday? Post your Teaser Tuesday links for me below please!

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


star1     star1     star1     star


Published: 2015

My co-worker mentioned that she was reading The Girl on the Train during one of our conversations and it sounded interesting so I thought I would look into it. I did some research on it before I bought it and I was quite surprised at how much attention it’s been getting. In fact, apparently it’s been top of USA’s bestseller chart for over 13 weeks and Dreamworks has bought the rights to produce a movie.

The similarities between this book and Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl are undeniable, both are psychological thrillers that not only keep you on the edge of your seat but also allow you to observe how people cope in difficult situations. I think the reason why they felt so similar is because the authors made the characters sound so real and relatable. They were far from perfect, instead the main characters were fraught with many psychological issues, but they lived in very realistic conditions that I am sure many people could relate to. The fact that it was based in London was particularly interesting to me, as it’s a place I’ve been to several times so I can image the setting well.

I think the similarities end there between the two books though (Paula Hawkins has stated that she actually used The Girl on the Train as a working title long before reading Gone Girl). I say this because the main characters are very different, and therefore, handle each problem and event very differently. Amy from Gone Girl is a very astute and crafty woman. She’s highly intelligent, and the planning and masterminding that she took the time to plot out was quite astonishing. Rachel, on the other hand, is very much a polar opposite. She’s a divorced, unemployed, unhappy alcoholic who defies planning and thinking in general. Instead she feels unmotivated, sporadic and depressed. When we meet her she is a shattered woman, who has given up on her life completely.

The plot of the book I think could have been a little bit better. I found the build-up/intro to the main characters took a little too long. Also, I really struggled to sympathize with Rachel. What happened in her life was sad, but seeing her throw her life away and just drink alcohol on every page got a little repetitive. I think it could have moved a bit quicker. Also, despite her problems, I didn’t like how she was handling her life and so wasn’t as attracted to her character.

The other flaw in the novel, was the man hating that was going on. It safe to say that 90% of the men in the book had either anger management issues, psychotic behaviour or were cheaters. I supposed only the red-haired man that help Rachel was the beacon of light, but even he seemed to have a drinking problem and didn’t actually help her in the end. Thought that was very negative and the fact that I became aware of it wasn’t a positive.

Lastly, it was interesting how the many of the main characters had similar qualities, but to me they seemed like the same person. I suppose this may have been because they all had very similar men in their lives, but I wasn’t quite convinced by it.

In conclusion, I found the book very thrilling and I was desperate to know what happened next. I would definitely recommend reading it, especially if you have enjoyed Gone Girl. Also, I found this interesting article written about the book that I would recommend reading through if you are interested in the book!

Did you read this book yet? If so what did you think? Send over links to your reviews!