Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books that SHOULD be in your beach bag (#10)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish
This is such a good topic, I'm so excited. I could only think of 8 this week, but more than the normal 5/6! These are the best reads for summer, personally, after that they wouldn't have fitted so well.

This week's theme is Books which are the perfect summer read

1. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - This is my favourite Sarah Dessen book ever. It had just everything anyone could possibly want in a book and I love the characters within it. I also read it every year, normally in the summer and as my summer is going to be a long one, this will be coming to a book blog near you....or this one.

2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen - I first read Just Listen (and it was my first Sarah Dessen experience) over the summer of 2007. Yes, I am not as old a fan as some but I do like her books as much. So far, I seem to read this too every year for mostly the same reasons as The Truth About Forever. I do love this book too.

3. The Other Countess by Eve Edwards - My first read of this one was late last summer on my last holiday at the end of August where I fell in love with Eve Edwards. I just could not put this book down at all, it's ridulous I know.

4. I was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison - although I didn't read this over the summer, I did read it when it was supposed to be sunny and warm so I think that qualifies. This is a definite summer read I think, and I know in years to come I may read this book again. AFTER I GET MY HANDS ON THE SEQUEL TO THIS ONE. Which might come onto the blog this summer....if I can get my paws on its glossy annoyingly lovely cover.

5. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - I read this in September last year when I started Year 11 (God, that seems ages ago!) when also it was still summery although autumn was coming closer. Anyway, I could also see this as a summer read - get the UK hardback version - it's amazing and lovely and I treasure it.

6. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin - I read this time last year. My friend also read it recently and said to me that it was nice to read outside in the sun. It is a nice summer read, continuing this theme of love and relationships here, ha! I can imagine reading this one outside by the pool in the sun with sunglasses, a cold drink and floppy sun hat on.
Looking outside at the cloud, that isn't going to appear any time soon.

7. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen - This is a book, for me, that you can read anytime, all year round. I first read it in the Spring and last read it in the winter and enjoyed it both times. I don't know why but I can see it as an 'any-season book'

8. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - Okay, Okay, I had to add another Sarah Dessen book. You can read any of her books in the summer and like, The Luxe, all year round although, summer is best for a bit of Sarah Dessen. This one is almost as good as The Truth About Forever but I think I like TTAF because it was the first book of hers that I properly fell in love with. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is the renown author of hard-hitting novels aimed at a young adult audience - something she has been criticised for greatly, especially with her first novel, Speak which was banned in some schools in America because of the way it was written and the fact it happened fictionally and in real life in American schools. I know some of the events in Speak happen in my own school.
I was a bit dubious about Wintergirls when I first picked it up in the library, but I'd seen good (and some bad) on the blogosphere and it's about a subject people wouldn't dare write a whole novel about: anorexia in teenage girls.
I'm glad I did.

Synopsis:  This novel follows senior year for Lia, a seventeen anorexic who also has to battle with the horrific death of her former best friend, Cassie who continuously haunts her and tells her how she isn't good enough - too ugly, too fat, too-everything. However, the death is slightly her fault, Cassie's last act was calling Lia 33 times before dying alone in an empty motel room of shock. Lia feels stronger and stronger, the lighter she becomes and feels more in control of her life with her difficult mother, father and step-mother. Maybe she can make herself disappear altogether.

Review: Laurie Halse Anderson, for me, has done it again. She's made this terrible, disturbing tale into an emotional, heart breaking novel for young adults. Now, I'm not saying it's a perfect book, there are some flaws but it's a pretty good book for what Anderson has to do: show what it is like to be anorexic without scaring kids. For me, she's done it.

My dubious-ness continued from the first page, it DOES take a couple of chapters to get into it and get used to Anderson's writing style and Lia's voice. Actually, at the start, I was close to stopping and not even continuing. However, something made me continue and I'm glad that I did because it did get better as it went on. It's not the type of book that catches your attention straight away but lets you gently get into it until delivering the shocking killer punches.
I've read some reviews of people being annoyed by the crossing outs that run throughout the book. To be honest, I liked them. They showed the real Lia and showed how there is conflict between her real self and the anorexia side of her. They weren't so frequent to be annoying personally and they only cropped up in big serious situations.

The story is sad, let's face it, but for me, it's not tears-running-down-your-cheeks sad. Although, it does make you think about what it would be like to be anorexic, it really does show you the mentality of one and why they do it - something that they are also criticised about as people just don't understand why a young girl would do that sort of thing...well, here you are. Read this and find out why.
I could even say that I too started behaving slightly like an anorexic. I am pretty thin, I admit. I don't put on much weight and I am only a size 12 because I'm tall and lanky. I have also been called anorexic numerous times, especially when I started secondary school. Actually, one of my friends now, when I first met him five years ago, whenever he saw me he would call me the name until I told him to shut up and hit him (on the arm in a kind of 'I'm-not-joking-but-this-punch-is-not-going-to-hurt' kind of way). He stopped after that. But still, it's not a nice thing to be called that at all. This week, I started worrying more about the way I look, what I'm wearing, what I'm eating, do I look bloated. I have no utter idea why. I can only think I'm doing it because of the book.

Now, I'm not saying this book turns you into a self-conscience freak for a week but it does make you think a little like her and get into her head a little.
   What I also liked was the way Cassie was there throughout...but then not. You never find out if Lia is dreaming or actually serious, although Cassie is a little bit creepy. The word wintergirls is referred to in the book and from what I can tell, it means like really thin girls. This theme of winter is also used really cleverly.

Overall, apart from some flaws and being an sort of anorexic for a week, I enjoyed this book completely. For me, it was better than Speak although it is slightly hard to compare when they are such different books. I loved the ending for this book and just reading about Lia and finding out more and understanding more about anorexia. This is one I would recommend for older readers and for ones that don't mind this kind of subject and Lia's obsessive voice on what she looks like and, especially, eats.
I take my hat off to Laurie Halse Anderson for this book.

I give it 4 out of 5

Author's Websitehttp://madwomanintheforest.com/
Pages: 278
Publisher: Scholastic
Challenges: None
Related Posts: Review on Speak

On My Bookshelf (7)

Have received a lot of books in the past week so I thought I'd make a post out of it!

My Books:

- Where She Went - Gayle Forman - I screamed when I opened this from Amazon....that basically shows how I felt about it I guess

From The Library:
- Numbers - Rachel Ward - I've been meaning to read this for a while but never had the chance so jumped at the chance when I saw it in the library
- Annexed - Sharon Dogar - I picked it up because of the subject and the person it's based about but I once read something by this author...and didn't finish it and heard some not great reviews about the one...could be interesting.

Friend Gave Me:
- The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory - seen the film...could be interesting.
- The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette - Carolly Erickson - Again on the 'interesting' level. Been told it's a good'un though.
- Wicked - Gregory Maguire - I have seen the stage production which was AMAZING but then, I've heard the book lets it down...well, the book WAS written before the stage musical.


- War of the Worlds - H.G.Wells - I got this today for £1 in a National Trust second hand bookshop that I went in with my parents as it's Bank Holiday weekend. It smells amazing - that rustic smell from old books. And I looked in the front and it's from 1946! So happy with this purchase :)

Friday, 27 May 2011

Malorie Blackman Signing

Last night, I was lucky enough to go to a signing and interview with Malorie Blackman at my local library with my best friend, Tijana (yes, the one that got me Looking for Alaska). Tijana has seen the poster about it when she was in there the other week and rushed home (well probably not but she informed me quickly afterwards) about it and we decided to go.

Malorie Blackman is the author of many, both Children and Young Adult, books such as Thief!, Pig Heart Boy, Boys Don't Cry and the Noughts and Crosses triolgy/quartet. I became involved in her reading at about 10/11 when I joined secondary school when Noughts and Crosses first came out. I read it as a library book and then got given a copy for Christmas 2006 by my family which is the one I got signed.

It was really intesting to hear about where she gets her ideas for books, what inspires her and how her past has impacted on her books now. I learnt a lot of things and she is such a talkative, funny, bubbly person and for me, you can really tell she loves what she does and loves any praise for her books.
She was such a lovely person to speak to and for us, you can tell she loves writing children's literature.
I really enjoyed the evening, it was nice to see an author that I've kind of grown up with. For anyone that's never read her books, take a look at Noughts and Crosses. This is one of the best written novels I have truly read. Great evening.

Here are some pictures!
Tijana, Malorie, Me (above, below)

My Signed book!

Then on the way home from the library, we had a lovely walk over the river and saw this view of the sun setting. I had to make it darker to see the redness, it was much more lighter than this picture shows.

 Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Movie: The Wave

Today, while I should have been slaving away at revision, I went over to my friend's house for a 'History-Revision-moviethon' which consisted of one movie not set in Nazi Germany or Prohibition America or just America in general (our topics).

However, we did watch a German movie called The Wave. 

It is based on a true event in California, America in 1967 in which a teacher had to teach a class about autocracy and dictorships. When asked the question 'Would a dictorship happen again in the modern age much like The Third Reich under Hitler?', there was a complete NO answer. So, the teacher embarked on a social experiment to treat the class like Hitler would have treated them, building it up every day with rules, regulations and a proper name, salute and logo. The class started off with 30 people, girls and boys.
They decided to call themselves The Third Wave (ringing any bells?) after the fact that every third wave is always the strongest and the biggest. They believed in discipline, community and leadership.

But the third day, there were 200 students in the class.

By the Thursday, the fourth day, it was starting to get out of hand. People were bulling other pupils who weren't apart of the group, the logos were seen everywhere throughout the local town and the members were starting to do and carry stupid things. On the Friday, he called a meeting to witness an announcement that 'The Third Wave would do national'. They were met with an empty channel on a TV and afterwards, the teacher announced they had been a part of an experiment to show that fascism was possible even in a democracy like America. He showed a film on Nazi Germany and the experiment ended.

Although this may sound like a weird, slightly disturbing (a bit I guess) movie to you, it really puts it into perspective. I hadn't heard of this before, neither had my parents who were alive then but it is such a poignant story really. I mean, a group of teenagers behaving like Nazi Germany in just the space of a week? That is pretty scary. The movie symbolises the steps Hitler took in Germany: intimidating non-believers or those that are different, forcing people to do things, following the leader's every move and feel they have a duty, although they really don't know what that is. It's so scary, well-made and so poignant, it's amazing. One of the best films I have seen.

Me and my friends kept stopping it to discuss how it was like that in Nazi Germany from our knowledge for the exams and how that could possibly happen now. I mean it's unlikely that that will ever happen in this day and age but then, but then well they said that about the genocide of the Jews during that period and well, things like that have happened again all over the world. The same with dictorships e.g. Libya at the moment.

I don't know, it just kind of really hit home for me, it made me understand why no-one stopped Hitler, why no-one wanted it to end, why it happened within a year of Hitler being Chancellor and it made me realise that it can happen again and it's up to my generation to learn from past mistakes and make sure it never happens again. Easier said than done, right?

I would completely recommend this film - it opens your eyes to the world, I guess.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Those Books that you Lied about (#9)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish

*NOTE*: I shall be doing between 5-7 instead of 10 over the exam period (May-July) because they may look easy but these memes are actually quite hard to think about and remember. Also, with the other things happening in my life at the moment (yes I have one full of revision constantly), I simply won't have the time. But I love doing these so they are happening still, just reduced.

This week's theme is Books that you Lied about either you lied about reading, you lied about NOT reading, you lied about liking/disliking...Admit the truth!

1. Introducing Scarlett Lee by Rose Impey - Okay, so I have yet to read this book WHICH I have been pineing to read for YEARS as Rose Impey wrote 'The Sleepover Club' books which were both my favourite books and TV programmes (two of the actors were in Neighbours - Rosie and Frankie). So a friend at my Stagecoach was reading this one and I envied her and she asked me if I had read it and in some weird jealousy mood, I told her I had and we started having a conversation about it - well more her saying 'Oh I love this character' and me nodding and saying 'Oh yeah I do too! She's great' in mock enthusiasm. Well...Stagecoach does include acting :)

2. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin - Sorry guys but I wasn't a big fan of this when I first read it. However, the whole world was so this is Type 3 case in that I pretended I loved it and even went as far as to buy the book (which I still have, unread) because it was on offer and to show anyone that came round that I liked it...I was SUCH a sad kid.

3. What I Was by Meg Rosoff - So this was my first and last Meg Rosoff book. I just don't like her books at all. And I know I'm not the only one in this elite club. As well as there is an elite club of people who DO like her. However, about 4 years ago, I read this book...and was...disappointed? No...I just didn't get it and skipped to the end.
Anyway, this is Type 1 - pretending I hadn't read it. My friend was talking about books to me, the only bookish person at the time and started ranting on about how she HATED her books after reading How I Live Now (which I've heard mixed reviews) and said these words: 'If I find out you read one of her books, I will personally not talk to you'. I had happened to have just ended my period of reading this not fantastic book. To her, I still haven't.

4. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland - A lot of people love this book but when I read it, when it first came out after I was attracted to the cover, I really didn't like it. But because a lot of other bloggers, friends, bookish people I knew raved about it, I had to pretend I liked it as much as I said. I thought there were parts that were good but I don't think it deserved all the hype people gave it when it did come out and was so popular.

5. Lady Grace Mysteries  - I love this series, even though they aren't so good anymore and they are very simply written. Although, some people beg to differ and so this suffered by being denounced by countless of people while I, faithfully, stuck by it and enjoyed it secretly.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I didn't understand this book on first read but according to my friends who had read it and enjoyed it on first read, they beg to differ on this opinion. It wasn't until I watched the Keira Knightley movie and studied it in class that I became a fan of it...and then the Jane Austen/Elizabeth Bennet fiction came along... 

Monday, 23 May 2011

Looking for Alaska - John Green

This is my first book for John Green and I've heard mixed reviews many times about this one, his debut. This, as far as I know, is the only John Green book avaliable in England right now and I have seen it countless of times both in the blogosphere and in the shops.
This was bought for me by one of my best friends, Tijana for my birthday in February. She wanted apparently to get me another book but the lovely proper bookshop that she went to, The Lion and The Unicorn, didn't have it so she got me this one as I had said that I wanted to read it, so here it is.

Synopsis: Miles Halter transfers from his childhood school in Florida to an exclusive boarding school in steamy Alabama, Culver Creek, to look for the 'Great Perhaps' quoted in the poet, Francois Rabelais' last words. Here, he finds many unique friends, including the funny, self-destructive Alaska, and many new and excting adventures, and of course pranks. Here as he tries to understand himself and his peers, he is pulled into Alaska's labyrinth that leads to some shocking consequences.

Review: I really liked this book, I really did. However, there are two small things that let it down, and from reading other reviews on this book, I know I'm not the only one that things these things.

Number 1: The book is in two parts, the chapters marked with the days leading up to the ultimate, shocking event (I am trying not to tell you too much because I read ahead of myself and found out beforehand and was shocked - I will be vague), both with 136 days before and after the event. Anyway, the first half was so good. Amazing even. I loved Mile's voice and how original all his friends are compared to other novels like this one. They are all such unique people with their own personality and not cliched or anything, however, you could also relate them to your own friends e.g. Alaska reminded me of my friend, George.
However, in the days afterwards, it started to go downhill. It started to get tedious, boring, went on and on about the same thing. It was also much shorter, or at least seemed it, than the first part which in the way I see it from the title, the 'After' bit is the whole point of the naming of the book. The book ended ambiguously too and it seemed a little rushed in a way that like you suddenly found out what they were looking for in about ten pages. I don't know....for me, it just wasn't how a book like this should end and it disappointed me slightly. There is an essay in response to an exam he is supposed to have done and well, would you really swear in your coursework? No way.

Number 2: Alaska started to get on my nerves. I know this was the whole point of her, that she was so two-faced in a way, but well, one minute she was all kind and happy. And then the next, she's screaming at them to go away and saying horrible, disturbing things. It was just so contrasting and I haven't met a person like that at all, so I guess I don't really understand what it's like but still, the fact that the novel is named after her, she was awfully annoying. That's it really.

This book held both good and bad points. The characters, both teachers and students (The Eagle and Takumi made me laugh) and descriptions were all so original and different to many things I've read before. You get to see into what it's like to be a teenager and John Green has done this successfully as well, the things they did DO happen now e.g. nicknames for people, smoking. I should know as I am their age in the book: 16. The 'After' bit held really good and emotional points which illistrated the grief caused by such an event and how different people deal with it. It was nice to see the union of Colonel and Miles after the event and how they ARE like Alaska so rightly says, like a married couple, which makes me think of people I know who act like a marriage couple a lot. It's just so funny and interesting to see how they have become so close to be that friendly and act in that way, although of the same sex.
There is more humour within it than that including the last words carefully chosen (Miles has an obsession with last words of historical figures)

I would really recommend this book to anyone that doesn't mind the dark events, it really is a good Young Adult book with some amazing bits in it that are so well done.
My copy of the book is the one above and you will only understand the significance of the flower when you read it through the whole way (it isn't a massive one but it is pretty big). There is a lot of foreshadowing in this book that you don't even realise when reading it normally - only at the end.

Overall, I think John Green has done a great job, especially as this was his debut, however, there are points where it isn't as good and slightly rushed. It does give a good insight into a teenager's live and how they deal with big personal issues such as the main event in the novel and acts as a lesson for other teenagers on how to deal with their grief and guilt. I really enjoyed this books still though, despite some of the low points. I am going to look for more of his books in the future.

(Sorry for the vagueness!)

I give it 4 out 5

Author's Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/
Pages: 263
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenges: None

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favourite Minor Characters (#8)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish

*NOTE*: From now on, I shall be doing between 5-7 instead of 10 because they may look easy but these memes are actually quite hard to think about and remember. Also, with the other things happening in my life at the moment (yes I have one full of revision), I simply won't have the time. But I love doing these so they are happening still, just reduced

This week's theme is Those Favourite Minor Characters that never get any praise or acknowledgements

1. Victoria & Jonah from Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway - Victoria just made me laugh so much and the two of them together is just...they suit each other and together, they are even more hilarious than by themselves. I just loved them but a lot of the story and the reviews I've read are all about Audrey (naturally), James (who was also a great character) and Evan. They are just great people.

2. Bendy, the cat from Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway - Okay, so not a human but this cat just made me laugh out loud so much and I just...I want this cat. Likewise on above, this cat is NEVER mentioned but he is so awesome. Amazingly.

3. Val from Diving In by Kate Cann - I really didn't like this book at all. In fact, I have no idea why I gave it 3.5 out of 5. But one person I did love out of it was Val. She is amazing and really livened her bits up especially with the constant 'oh my god, I love Art but he wants sex. What should I do?' URGH SHUT UP.  Sorry. But Val should have been in it more frequently....like every scene.

4. Slim from Of Mice and Men - I love this guy. *Cue in English essay points* He is like the conscience of the ranch and he just understands everything and knows how to make people feel better and more assured. I just like him a lot.

5. Remi and Arno from Love Struck by Rachael Wing - They are twins and are good friends with the protagonist, Holly in the book. They are just so funny and even though they appear only a handful of times, they really do lighten up the atmosphere of the book a bit. I just thought that they should have more credit for providing most of the humour surrounding the book. 

Monday, 16 May 2011


These are some things I'm loving at the moment from H&M, New Look and Topshop. I'd like to get some new things as I'm on Study Leave and I start college in September which means NO SCHOOL UNIFORM. And these are such new summery things.

I'm thinking a relaxing shopping trip this week with my mum. :)

Anecdotes from GCSE Exams: Part I

I've decided to do a kind of temporary feature to make my exam period more relaxing and more worthwhile (although it already is...I know). So this is the start of 'Anecdotes from GCSE Exams: Part I'

Okay. So today I had English Language and French Listening. Both had a score of 4 out of 10 in easiness. So, you can already tell my mood at this moment.

English Language. Something I should excel at being a book blogger, right? Not necessary. I am in the top set but well...even my first language amazes me at times. First of all....
WHAT the hell (heck) is free running?

That was what the article I had to read was about. I still have no complete idea, neither do my friends which I think establishes something missing from the article that is supposed to be INFORMING me. It didn't. Okay, so I doing alright until I get to Question 3 and think 'Oh, layout? Easy.' Except I wrote about how it appealed to the audience and therefore answering the question....and then forgot about that from there until I sat up from scribbling, looked around, pleased with myself, I look at the exam paper again to remember about the whole target audience thing. Oh crap.

From then on, it went okay apart from getting subjective and objective the wrong way wrong. So annoyed at that.
Although, I nearly had a laughing fit when the girl in front of me held up her exam paper, looked at it and then made a rather loud sign which sounded a lot like a cat.
My only other distractions were: the girl sitting to my right who kept flicking her hair and I LOVE her handwriting, a guy sitting slightly behind me who I could see tapping his foot in the corner of my eye and one of my friends saga with her water bottle, pencil case and exam paper all falling on the floor at once. Twice.
So an average exam really.

Next I had French Listening which I didn't do very well with the added fact that I got an itch half way through in the middle of my back. Which, I can tell you, it the most awkward place to itch and that writing and itching don't co-ordinate with each other well. Oh and I thought Cindy was a man. Great.

So. That was my first anecdote of the exam period. Tomorrow holds no exams but I have to go in for revision sessions. Oh joy. Back to school already.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

My Explanation.

Sorry, I have been rather absent in the last couple of weeks with the occasional post for Tuesday Top Ten and The Morning Gift review (which seemed to take AGES to read when in fact it was only 2 weeks and a bit....it was a long book...my excuse...)
Anyway, I am fine, hunky dory. I am, however, swamped by revision due to my lack of it before the Drama exam in early April and it is death by paper. Literally.

I have also become increasingly more formal in everything I write (hence the sudden correct grammar and long words) recently, probably due to the fact I have to sound like a 30 year-old English Professer and most of my exams. That is the advantage about Maths...I don't have to sound like I've swallowed a dictionary whole.

I have also become extremely more emotional and generally more the hormonal female teenager that I am. I think it's the stress of the exams and the 'AHH. This is my only chance even though no-one apparently cares if you fail in 10 years time!'
I don't think I'm the only one with the fact that GCSE English is trending on Twitter - kind of illstrates 15-16 year-olds desperation and fear for tomorrow when I have my first English Language and French Listening papers.

Although, I have finishes offically with lessons and school. On Friday, I left at lunchtime after 3 hours of pictures, tears and signing of shirts. I have so many 'Good Luck!' messages scribbled over my shirt, presently hanging on the staircase. I also won an award from the school.

I won the Governor's prize for an 'incredible contribution' to the school in which I get awarded a £15 voucher to buy a BOOK to be presented to me in September by the Guest of Honor, none other than Greg Davies who famously plays the Head of Sixth Form in The Inbetweeners. He also used to teach Drama at my school. So I'm quite pleased and looking forward to it. Just got to find a book. I was thinking so far maybe a Penguin Classic Hardback. I love the designs for them and that would be quite special. Just have to chose one.

So yes, my life is on hold at the moment because of my school commitments which also explains my lack of posting the recent weeks and I am very sorry, but I shall probably only be posting the occasional review and the Tuesday Top Ten (Five). But by July, you shall have me back!

So the End of an Era of Secondary School.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Morning Gift - Eva Ibbotson

First. *Sorry* this review and reading took soooo long to do. This book is 500 pages long and well, I have had limited time for reading in the lead up to my exams so...not my priority right now.
   Since discovering Eva Ibbotson last year, I had a book sess over Christmas and my birthday where I asked for her 5 other book as part of presents to get for me. So, I have the whole collection of Eva Ibbotson books....I am truly obsessed with her writing. I thought her writing was amazing and couldn't get any better, however, I was slightly disappointed by this book.

Synopsis: Twenty-year-old Ruth Berger is desperate. The daughter of a Jewish-Austrian professor, she was supposed to have escaped Vienna before the Nazis marched into the city. Yet the plan went completely wrong, and while her family and fiancĂ© are waiting for her in safety, Ruth is stuck in Vienna with no way to escape. Then she encounters her father’s younger college professor, the dashing British paleontologist Quin Sommerville. Together, they strike a bargain: a marriage of convenience, to be annulled as soon as they return to safety. But dissolving the marriage proves to be more difficult than either of them thought—not the least because of the undeniable attraction Quin and Ruth share. To make matters worse, Ruth is enrolled in Quin’s university, in his very classes and it becomes even harder to make sure their secret is safe.
(From Goodreads.com)

Review: I don't quite know what to say. For starters, this is a long book. Okay, so 500 pages which is fine for me to read, I don't have some kind of unavaliablity to read above 300 pages but this book seemed this long. It seemed to go on and on for a while, and yes, I understand that this is spread over about 4 years but well...it was just too long for me and there were descriptions and scenes that didn't need to be there.
   I just didn't like Quin. He got on my nerves and he's so selfish and annoying. But then the next minute, he's not and helping Ruth get out the country. Also, he is about thirty. But Ibbotson made him seem much much younger, like in his early 20's. Which is fine but to me....he didn't seem THAT old.

I love Eva Ibbotson's writing and she makes it very mature but there were words that I think even my English teacher will be confused about and for me, it was just too...too much for such a sweet story. Ah....the story. The story was interesting and sweet in parts but to be honest, there was no real love between Quin and Ruth, either on their wedding or afterwards. It just kind of happened. And then, that was it for the rest of the book. There was no lead up. No hints or feelings shown by Ruth. It was just a little bit unrealistic for me.
   In addition, the characters were all really well written and completely different from each other and original but there was SO MANY. The only ones that I could truly remember was the ones at the university. I became confused by the minor characters and asking myself who was who and why they were in England.
My other bewilderment was the revelance of the title with what happens in the book. Ruth and Quin do talk about what a morning gift is (it's a gift that the husband gives a wife after their wedding night to show that they were truly man and wife and she was a virgin. Another word is 'dower') and one does appear but that's it. The ending and the drawing together of them has nothing to do with it and in all honesty, the title didn't really fit at all.

ENOUGH NEGATIVES! The characters were amazing. I personally loved Ruth, Pilly, Sam and Janet and loathed Heini and Verena (although I started off liking her). Eva Ibbotson has successfully done it again by both having the reader know things before the characters and, the characters knowing things for chapters before it is revealed to the reader themselves, and making the dedicated readers want to know desperately! This is one of the things I love about her writing.
There are some really interesing, engaging, well-written parts that she should be commendented for and some really good descriptive writing which helped me get an idea for my exam next week where I have to 'Write to Describe'. These are the classic Eva Ibbotson styles I recongised and loved more dearly.

I feel bad to have this much wrong with a book by my favourite author but I just truly did not enjoy it and appreciate it as much as the others I have read by here and the story and book as a whole promised so much more that it overall achieved. If you're a 'Eva Ibbotson virgin' then, I would start with 'The Secret Countess'. This book has some high and low points but overall, it's not my cup of tea.

I give it a 3 out of 5

Author's Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Ibbotson
Pages: 506
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: Historical & British Books Challenges

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Tuesday Top Ten Complete Jerks in Literature (#7)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish

*NOTE*: From now on, I shall be doing between 5-7 instead of 10 because they may look easy but these memes are actually quite hard to think about and remember. Also, with the other things happening in my life at the moment (yes I have one full of revision), I simply won't have the time. But I love doing these so they are happening still, just reduced.
This week's theme is Complete Idiotic Guys in Literature that I really do want to slap.

1. Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen - Although, he's the main guy character, he was, as Remy describes, 'too much of everything' and I don't particularly like people like that. He is...okay by the end but the beginning. Urgh.

2. Rogerson from Dreamland by Sarah Dessen - Oh. My. God. I think those who have read this book would agree with me, this guy is the most annoying, idiotic and...a complete jerk-ish guy ever. He loves her. Okay, fair enough. He desperately wants her to prove herself by having sex. Okay, my Jerk levels rise. And then, he starts punching her and threatening her - yeah. Great Boyfriend. Overall. Sarah Dessen makes readers absolutely hate him. HATE HIM.

3. Curley from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - I just have this resounding hate for him with the fact he is so hard to analyse and wants to be 'hard' because he is small and gets threatened easily. Fair enough, but he doesn't have to treat his wife like he does with a 'glove fulla vaseline' - make your own judgement on that one. And then, when she gets killed, he doesn't care. He just wants revenge for breaking his hand. Urgh.

4. The Mayor from the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness - I just hated him from the beginning. He is so power hungry and will do ANYTHING to get what he wants. He just annoys me and makes me want to hurt him where it hurts personally...if he were real...which he isn't...in some people's worlds...

5. Art from Diving In by Kate Cann - Similar to Rogerson (no.2) and also. Who would want a name like Art? 'So what's your name?' 'Art.' I don't know, I thought most of the names were ridiculous like. Coll and Art but urgh. He overall made me hate the book with the fact she liked him for starters.

* 6. Richard Pincent from The Declaration series by Gemma Malley - I really hate this guy. Mostly because I kind of love the other characters but I really, really, don't like this guy. He is pure evil and a complete jerk.

* 7. James from Shadow Web by N.M.Browne - He is just so slimey. I think that's the reason I hate him. I mean, she is a harmless girl who is confused and alone in a different world, would be nice not to use her and then try to kill her!? Okay, so he doesn't know when he is mostly slimey but still. Hmph.

I know, 2 extra than I said, but I saw them and was like 'Have to include them!'
So I did. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Ten Books I'm so glad someone recommended them to me! (#6)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish

*NOTE*: From now on, I shall be doing between 5-7 instead of 10 because they may look easy but these memes are actually quite hard to think about and remember. Also, with the other things happening in my life at the moment (yes I have one full of revision), I simply won't have the time. But I love doing these so they are happening still, just reduced.

This week's theme is Ten Books that I never would have read (or taken longer to pick up) unless someone had recommended them!

1. The Chaos Walking Series - Patrick Ness  - When I saw this title, I instantly thought of this one. My friends, Joey, George and Tijana, had all read this one and raved about it. Then, one wintery day last year, I was in the library pondering on a book to read when George appeared and said I should read The Knife of Never Letting Go. I'd seen it in the shops but always bypassed it thinking it looks so depressing, too boyish, too...not me. But she made me take it out and from then on, I baffled them by constantly asking questions - 'What happens in the end?', 'Who's this?' blah blah...
And the rest is history...

2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne - I would never have read this in Year 7 (4 years ago) if it hadn't been for this reading day. I can remember it quite clearly. We were sitting in the school library and this lady was talking about books - do you read regularly? Why do you read? etc. Normal things. Then, she started talking about this book and read out the blurb which (if you've read it) is pretty intriguing and said that she'd read it over lunch and suddenly something happened that completely changed the book. The next week, I bought it in WH Smiths.

3. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac - Gabrielle Zevin - Joey recommended this to me too. I was at her house and she has this massive, 'I-want-that' bookcase so I had a look and picked this one up and asked her thoughts. She said it was good and said I could borrow it if I wanted. So I did.

4. Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin - Another Gabrielle Zevin. This was my first one of hers but I was at school in English where we were talking about books...about 3 years ago. And my arch-rival (okay, so we just didn't like each other very much and she was VERY competitive with me) said she had read this book called Elsewhere and it was good. Anyway, saw it in the library and decided to have a read and thought it was pretty good. Probably the only thing we agreed on. Ever.

5. The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose - Mary Hooper - My friend, who sadly I don't speak to anymore, had this as a book on her shelf in her bedroom when I visited her house. She said it was really good and if I liked history, it was even better. Having a secret love for History, I saw this in the shops the next week and on an impulse of a 9/10 year-old, I bought it. And it is still one of my favourite Mary Hooper books and made me read many more of her books which are as good. I also got to meet her and when I told her she kind of got me into reading, she seemed thrilled and wrote in my copy of this book 'So happy I got you into reading and you're a loyal fan, Mary Hooper x'

Sunday, 1 May 2011

On My Bookshelf (6) - Make-Up, Books and how my Tip of a Room is looking

Hey, haven't done one of these in while! Oh well, anyway, here are a few things I have required over the past few weeks:

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - For my History GCSE, they recommended it and I've heard good things about this one.
If I Stay - Gayle Forman - In preparation for when I get the paperback of 'Where She Went' - the sequel of this one.
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro - I so desperately want to see the movie of this but I didn't get a chance, so I thought I'd get the book to comfort my need and they were all in a offer so I got this one free :)

Rimmel London Clear and Protect Nail Varnish -£4.50 - I needed a new one of these as my Barry M one, which I've had a while, is running out and has turned a light pink colour :S
Stay Matte Rimmel London Conceler - £3.99 - As my face is just one giant spot right now (a bit exaggerated but I have a very big spot right now on my cheek) which is weird as I never get spots, I thought it was time to invest in some conceler and chose this one as it was the only one that matched my skin tone...I am too white.
Rimmel London Special Eyes Eye Pencil - £2.99 - I got it free and my one is running out.

Red Bracelet - only £2.99 - I really liked it and I now wear it a lot, it's a bit different I thought

Lastly, this is my desk at the moment:

And that's just a couple of my books. Have a good week and May Day! :)