Book Review | Emma by Jane Austen

Reviews

Published: 1815 by John Murray

Genre: Classic

Themes: Romance, Georgian Society

Length: 474 Pages

Source: Own

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

Emma is one of my all time favourite books by Austen. This is probably my 3rd time reading it and I still enjoyed every second of it. Emma is a book filled with comedy and character growth in the height of Georgian society.

Plot

Emma likes to think of herself as a matchmaker. When her ambition and wild imagination takes over and she tries to match her new friend Harriet to someone from a higher social status things start to go a little wrong.

Characters

Emma is a fantastic character to read about. She’s intelligent and kind-hearted, but can be a little misguided and self-possessed which puts herself into some tricky situations.

It’s said that Austen predicted Emma would be ‘a character whom no one but me will much like,’ and while I’ve seen that true for some readers, this definitely wasn’t for me. I love seeing her grow in self-awareness throughout the novel and she becomes much more likeable because of it.

Writing

As funny and ironic as ever. But I have to say that this one is quite lengthy and definitely feels. While her descriptions of the characters are hilariously brutal, they do drag a bit.

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”

Emma

Would I Read Again? Yes
Would I Recommend? Yes!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Black Voices Matter | Books By & About POC

International Women's Day Reading Recommendations (1)

Hi Readers

I want to, in the way that I know how, voice my support for the brave and passionate protestors demanding change right now in the US. I’ve compiled a list of books by black authors, some I’ve read and some that are on my TBR.

Read these books, support these authors. But if you want to help the protests directly the link below will take you to a site that will show you how.

Ways You Can Help!

Books

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
The Poet X by Elizabeth Avedeco
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Avecedo
The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Becoming by Michelle Obama
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Small Island by Andrea Levy
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
– Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Untitled design

Some on my immediate TBR. I haven’t read these but have heard great things and will make them a priority in the coming months:

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi-Coates
Malcolm X: Autobiography
Anything by Jacqueline Woodson
Dear Martin & Dear Justyce by Nic Stone
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Untitled design (1)

This is just a small portion of the amazing books by POC. If you have any recommendaions of your own recommendations, please share!

Stay Safe,
Jess X

Book Review | Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson… now I want to go on an American Summer road trip

Reviews

Published: 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books

Genre: Contemporary

Themes: Road Trip, Summer, Grief, Romance

Length: 343 Pages

Source: Own

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

This is my third time reading this book and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I still enjoy it! I’ve realised this is the first time I’m reading this book outside of a readathon and I had overall a better experience with this book when I took my time with it rather than reading it in one day!

Plot

After the sudden loss of her father, Amy’s mother decides to move across the country for a fresh start, with Amy to follow on once she’s finished her Junior year of high school. Now it’s Summer and Amy’s mother has enlisted the help of a family friends son Roger to drive her to their new home. A road trip of healing, detours and romance ensues.

Character

This book deals heavily with grieving the loss of a parent and I thought it was done really well. Amy’s grief is still so strong from losing her father. She’s not the same girl she used to be and she’s still feeling survivors guilt. On this road trip Amy goes through a lot of healing and it was so nice to read her character grow.

Roger, while nice, is a little bit more forgettable. He’s got his own mission on this trip and it makes him feel quite vacant a lot of the story. It’s not until his and Amy’s bond grows that you really start getting to know him.

My only little quelm with this book is a thing that’s typically seen in YA books. Where is her mother? Okay so to be fair she’s dealing with grief herself, but to leave her 16 (17?) year old daughter to travel across the country with a boy she hasn’t seen since childhood after she saw her father die? What the heck is wrong with this woman?

Writing

Being a Morgan Matson book, it wasn’t all about grief. Seeing Amy & Rogers relationship grow was so cute and fun to read. It has the perfect balance between light-hearted and heartbreak.

I also really like that this was left open ended. It gives you the feeling that the characters still have a long way to go. Their story isn’t over just because you’ve got to the final page of the book. It made them feel more real to me.

“The best discoveries always happen to the people who aren’t looking for them.”

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

Would I Read Again: Oh yes. Probably next Summer.
Would I Recommend? Absolutely!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien… an unexpected journey

Reviews

Published: 1937 by Allen & Unwin

Genre: High Fantasy/Childrens Classic

Themes: Adventure, Dragons, Elves, Hobbits & Dwarves

Length: 322 Pages

Source: Own

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

Recently I read a biography of Tolkien and loved it so much I was just dying to delve back into the world he had created. The Hobbit was his first published work set in middle, derived from his collection of myths ‘The Silmarillion’ and the starting point for his epic trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings.’

Plot

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, introduces the reader to Middle Earth. A place where Goblins, Elves, Wizards Dwarves and, of course, Hobbits lived in abundance. In this we follow a Hobbit who is hired by a band of dwarves to travel with them to their home on the Misty Mountain, which has long been occupied by a hungry, gold loving dragon.

Characters

Bilbo Baggins, a typical Hobbit who enjoys his homely comforts but secretly longs for an adventure, is the main character of this novel, and I absolutely fell in love with him. He’s very relatable and funny but his courage and loyalness makes him one of the best Hufflepuffs in literary history.

Writing

This book is aimed at children but honestly the writing doesn’t show it. Yes is could be a bit silly at times but the writing and world-building was absolutely captivating. The descriptions of middle-earth were so detailed, it gives a brilliant picture of a whole world that he imagined.

Overall Thoughts

I’m sure you would have watched or at least heard of the films by now, but I implore you to give this book a go. It’s such a worthwhile read.

Would I Read Again? Yes! (and I have)
Would I Recommend? Absolutely!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

T5T: Five Of My Favourite Summer Reads

International Women's Day Reading Recommendations (4)

Note: Hosted by BionicBookworm

Hi Readers!

Anyone else as excited as I am that the days have finally gotten longer and warmer? We are on the cusp on Summer now so it’s timeto get those perfect beach reads out…even if we have to read them in our living room rather than at the beach!

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | J.R.R Tolkien: A Life by Humphrey Carpenter

J.R.R. Tolkien_ A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

Published: 1977 by Allen & Unwin

Genre: Non-Fiction

Themes: Writing, Academia, Family, WWI

Length: 288 Pages

Source: Kindle EBook

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

I’ve always wanted to know more about one of the worlds most accomplished writers. I knew J.R.R. Tolkien, writer of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and much more had lived through the tragedies of two wars and that these may have seeped into his stories. But I was also intrigued at how this orphan, who joined the army and became a teacher at Oxford came to create a modern mythology.

To write this ‘authorized biography’ of the creator of Middle Earth Humphrey Carpenter was given exclusive, unlimited access to Tolkiens papers and writings. He also interviewed Tolkien’s friends, family and the author himself. Although he fondly remembers the difficulty of understanding a word he said.

Because of this Carpenter was able to tell Tolkien’s life with an intimateness not often seen in biographies. Through him I felt I was getting to know every side of Tolkien. Son, orphan, academic, war veteren, husband, father, teacher, friend and writer.

I also loved how honest Carpenter was. No, Tolkien’s life (aside from fighting in the Battle of the Somme) was relatively uneventful and mundane. And yet he was able to create a rich, unputdownable biography written with humour, admiration and insightfulness.

This was the first attempt at a biography of Tokien’s life and whilst others have followed since I think this is the only one you need.

Would I Read Again? Yes, and I will.
Would I Recommend? Absolutely!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Recipe | Double Chocolate Marbled Banana Loaf

International Women's Day Reading Recommendations

Hi Readers (& Bakers)

I had to jump on the isolation bandwagon at some point, didn’t I? Banana Bread/Banana Loaf Cake seems to be a staple in most bakers repertoire.

Everyone has a very specific way they like their banana bread. Some are purests and think the classic banana bread shouldn’t be touched. Some like the crunch of a nut or the freshness of a blueberry, the spice of cinammon or the sweetness of a raisin.

For me personally banana and chocolate go hand in hand and that’s why a chocolate banana bread is the one for me.

I’m trying to be a bit more experimental with my baking so I tried out mixing a banana loaf with a marble cake, which is where you add chocolate to one half of the batter and then marble it, and it was pretty tasty. I think it would be cruel not to share it!

banana bread

Here’s all you need to know on how to make it.

Tips

The Bananas

– Should be nice and ripe. No green whatsoever and should have some lovely dark specks on the peel. The more ripe you let them get, the sweeter the banana is and the better it is for a banana loaf.
– Also, never throw out old bananas. If your bananas have gone past the point where you like eating them but you don’t feel like making banana bread straight away, just freeze them. Peel them and place them in a bag or tub. Let them defrost at room-temperature when you want to bake with them. They go really mushy but it’s perfect for this recipe.

The Flour

When I baked this I used self-raising flour as that’s all I could find in the supermarket at the moment. But you can easily make this with plain flour. Just substitute the baking powder for 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda).

The Sugar

I love using brown sugar in baking but I didn’t actually have any myself. So I made my own by adding a tablespoon of black treacle (molasses) to white sugar and stirred in until it was nicely incorporated.
You can just use white sugar also if you want.

The Chocolate

Go ahead and use whatever chocolate you prefer. Chocolate chips are great or you can just chop us some milk chocolate, dark chocolate or even white chocolate. You do you.

The Butter

The butter needs to be soft. It makes it easier for mixing and also helps the cake rise if it’s light and fluffy, which is hard to do with rock hard butter. Either leave it out overnight or pop in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. You could also use baking margarine.

The Eggs

Make sure they’re room temperature along with the butter. This will prevent the batter from splitting. If it does though don’t panic, the flour will save it!

The Loaf Tin

Use a standard loaf tin. Make sure to grease all the sides well with butter or cooking spray. You could also line the bottom with parchment paper if you’re worried about sticking.

Don’t Over Mix!

When adding the flour it’s so easy to use a machine and beat the living daylights out of it. But that’s not what you want to do with cake. So put away the machine and break out the good old fashioned spoon/spatula. Mix just until all the flour is incorporated.

The Marbling

Distribute the two mixtures in the pan evenly and then swirl a knife through the mixture a few times.

banana bread - the marbling

Here’s How You Make A Chocolate Marble Banana Loaf:

Ingredients

  • 3 Nicely Riped medium/large Bananas
  • 110g Soft Butter
  • 135g Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 190g Self-Raising Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Hot Water
  • 50g Chocolate Chips/Chunks
  • A Loaf Tin
  • A Lot of Bowls!

Instructions

  • Get your loaf tin greased and pre-heat the oven to 180C (350F).
  • Measure out your dry ingredients (the flour, salt, spice, and baking powder). Give it a good stir and then set aside.
  • In another bowl stir the hot water with the cocoa powder. Again, set aside for later.
  • And in another bowl (I warned you you’d need a lot of bowls) mash up those bananas.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the butter and sugar together and whisk using either a machine or your muscles. You want to whisk them together until it’s gone really pale and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time.
  • Once the eggs are mixed in add the mashed bananas.
  • Then it’s time to add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Add the dry in a little at a time and don’t over-mix it. You want it to be just incorporated.
  • Now add about half of the mixture to the cocoa mix and stir together.
  • To the plain banana mixture add the chocolate chips/chunks.
  • Now it’s time to create the marble loaf. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and distribute into the loaf pan a little at a time, creating an almost checker board effect.
  • Once you’ve used all of both mixtures, take a skewer or a knife and swirl it through the mixture (making sure to get all the way to the bottom as well).
  • Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Check it’s cooked by sticking a skewer or knife into it. If it comes out clean, it’s done! But don’t eat it yet!
  • Let it rest in the pan for 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. This will help it set up, so it won’t fall apart when you try lifting it out. Once those 15 minutes are up though, feel free to dig in!
slice of banana loaf

I hope you enjoy this recipe if you give it a go!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X