Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I'm off!

Guys, sorry to say this but tomorrow, I am going on holiday with my friend to....Los Angeles. Yes, THE Los Angeles in the United States of America! I am so excited, although, I need to pack really right now *looks at clothes scattered across room*

Anyway, I am taking some reading material of course on the trip that so link to my Summer of To-Reads list. Here's what I'm bringing with me in the way of reading (especially as I have a 11 hour flight - eurgh):

- The King's Speech
- The Returners - Gemma Malley
Cassandra's Sister - Veronica Bennett
- Love Falls - Esther Freud
- If I Could Fly - Jill Hucklesby

Anyway, have a lovely week and I shall post when I get back about the holiday. Keep commenting, I will reply eventually and if you want me to look at anything on your blog, just post the link on one of the reviews.

Also, I have a surprise for the blog when I get back! Enjoy!

Tuesday Top Ten: Best Books that tackle Tough issues (#16)

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

This week's theme is the Best Books that tackle quite TOUGH issues either cultural, political etc.
1. Speak - Laurie Halse Andersen - For me, Laurie Halse Andersen is the queen of writing for young adults about teenage issues, however, Speak has always stayed with me since I read it all those years ago, completely unaware about what it would be about. There is a certain sadness in this book that other 'Tough Issue' books don't contain and I think this is down to the leading lady, Melina, and Halse Andersen, herself. Speak is a must read for anyone, teenage or adult.

2. Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Andersen - I have read quite a few anorexic books, it is a topic I find interesting and like to look into it, especially as I have been labelled it myself before because of my natural thinness (although, I eat for about 3 people). Wintergirls is much more haunting I think compared to Speak as it's written in prose and very lyrical and mysterious. There is lots of weird and wonderful imagery that helps you get into the mind of an anorexic girl. So much so, that for a week, I felt fat and ugly constantly myself and I think it was down to this book. You experience being an anorexic. 
3. Noughts and Crosses - Malorie Blackman - Noughts and Crosses, I think, deals with racism the best to any other racism tackling novel I have read before. This time it is reversed where being white is a bad thing where black is good. This just shows that it is wrong whichever way, and can happen at anytime, any point and with anyone, regardless of race.

4. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne - I think this book teaches the lesson about how what the Nazis did was wrong and shouldn't in theory happen again (however, it kind of has). It also shows how unaware people can be about things happening around them and so close to them.
An example. The other day, I received an email from my now old school telling me that there is a kidnapper in my area that tries to kidnap teenage girls by the river and tried to kidnap a 9 year-old boy in a playground. It's things like this that kind of open our eyes to those around us and I know that I am now more careful out and about especially on my own, which I often am, now it's summer holidays. We need to look around us more, I think. 

5. Dreamland - Sarah Dessen - Abuse is something I think all people treat as a taboo subject. No-one wants to talk about it, as it is something maybe everyone may experience at some point, either a hit on the arm or a slap around the face. Dreamland, I think, tackles it so well and makes it stand out a lot. For me, it isn't one of Sarah Dessen's best books but it is the most hard hitting and one that people I think could be shocked by after reading. It really does hit home a bit. This may be why it's banned in England. I got my copy in the US. 

6. Someone Like You - Sarah Dessen - Someone Like You deals with teenage pregnancies and teenage relationships, and the pressure for that one thing that worries all girls - sex. For girls, it means more, more things can happen that for a guy - it's something that needs to happen at the right time and with the right feeling. Sadly, this book deals with losing a friend early too, something some people in the world right now will be dealing with after the terrible Norway Attacks and the death of Amy Winehouse who was aged 27. These last few days have especially made me more aware of my life and how I want to live it. Life is something we take for granted really and I think that is shown in this book. Life is taken for granted and suddenly, it stops and we can't have all those good times again. It is also taken for granted how we live it, like having a baby early could ruin it and for granted of how easily babies can form and how they can take over our lives. This book is a must on the 'Tough Issue' books - it deals with these things and much much more.

*I shall not be doing a Tuesday Top Ten next week as I am on holiday, will be starting it again, though the week after on the 9th August

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Roman Mysteries: The Man from Pomegranate Street - Caroline Lawrence

I discovered this series when I was in Year 4, so about seven years ago, when I picked up a random book in the mini library in the corner of the classroom and decided to read it. I did manage to get through it, after 3 months - I was an incredible slow reader when I was younger. Anyway, the book I picked up was 5th in this hugely successful series, and it got me hooked.
I got my copy of this book a couple of years ago, knowing it was the last one in the series (17th) and haven't read it since, so when I reached into my cupboard to get a notebook the other day and discovered this, I decided to finish my Roman Mysteries era.

*May Contain spoilers if you have not read the other books in this series*
Synopsis: September AD 81. Returning from Ephesus to Rome, Flavia and her friends learn of the mysterious and sudden death of the Emperor Titus. Was his death natural? Or was it murder? As the four detectives investigate this mystery, they little dream how much their lives—as well as the future of Italia—will be changed as a result.

Review: By looking at the cover of this book above, you instantly think for younger readers. Much younger. One of those mock-ups of ancient historical times so they can learn that, yes, there were other periods of history before the Tudors or Victorians. However, before you judge, hear me out about this book. I admit, there are parts of the book which are more suited to younger children and the fact that I read this series when I was 8/9 and understood it, shows it maybe aimed at younger children. But I am 16 now and I really enjoyed this book, a lot. 

It made just a lovely end to a great series and of me was one of the best of The Roman Mysteries. The Roman Mysteries are such a great series because of the way Caroline Lawrence takes you to the Roman times and lets you experience what it is like to live in that era, the pros and cons. There are such unique characters. The main characters of the stories is Flavia, a bossy but clever girl. She lives with Nubia, who she bought as a slave and freed in the first book. Then, there is Jonathan, her Jewish next door neighbour who sees the worse in everything. And lastly, there is Lupus, who used to be a beggar boy as he was mute after someone cut out his tongue. All these create a lovely set of cast that all have different personalities. 
The great thing about this book was it was like a character revival. All the main, good characters from the last books came back at some point in this book, minor and major parts, such as Flaccus, Pulchra, Diana. to name a few. It was nice reunion actually, and helped me remember the events in the last books. 

The language is quite simple compared to other books in this genre but it is densely backed with historical Roman mentions like food, treatments, names of places, old names for things - the list continues. As you read throughout the series, you learn some of the words meanings, and there are descriptions sometimes to help you understand what it is. However, the thing that helps the most is Aristo's Scroll at the back with meanings for the words. Aristo is the handsome, Greek tutor for the children in the book - he is one of my favourite characters in it and appears in nearly all of the books. The chapters normally end on some kind of cliffhanger or decision being made.
There were so many surprises and twists in the story in this one, more than the other books. It really keeps you on your toes and makes it much more exciting. 

The story begins unusually for the Roman Mysteries with Flavia getting ready for her wedding, three years after the Roman Mysteries was set. However, this is kind of a flash forward and then the story begins when Flavia explains their last mystery. It ends by going back to the wedding where you find out who is it she is getting married to which I must say, all Roman Mysteries fans will approve of, I'm sure. The romance between her and the guy she marries is slightly cheesy in my opinion and may not have been said in those days but it fits. Nubia also gets married within the book at one of the most unexpected moments, I must say, although fans will approve of her husband too. 

The mystery is nicely done where the reader always thinks they know, and then they are proven otherwise. There have only been a handful of times where I guessed the culprit before the characters did and in this book, that didn't happen at all. The only part that annoys me is that the mystery wrapped up too easily for me, but that may be just me. 
The only downside to these books is Jonathan. I do not like him at all, he gets on my nerves a lot. In this book, I think I enjoyed it more because he wasn't in it until nearer the end and I preferred the conversation of the other three together more than him. This is probably just my opinion but for me, he's too negative and grumbly. 

This is lovely historical book with lots of unique, exciting things to read about with some amazing characters that I have got to know over the last seven years, it is sad to see the end of the series, even with some loose ends still there, although I think I can guess the outcome. I hope they do crop up in other books like Lawrence says in the Author's Note. This is a great end to a great series of books and makes me love the fact I am doing Classical Civilisation in September even more - this book makes me want to revisit the old books in the series. 
Verdict: A lovely end - but read the rest of the books first.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.romanmysteries.com/
Pages: 262
Publisher: Orion
Challenges: Historical Fiction Challenge

There was a TV adaptation of these in England for CBBC which was alright. 

Friday, 22 July 2011

You Against Me - Jenny Downham

This was always one of those books that intrigued me because of the front cover yet I never picked it up or saw it. It was only when I was looking at the book in WH Smiths the other day that I saw this book and thought it looked and sounded so interesting and unique.

The only problem was the author. While everyone raves about Before I Die, Jenny Downham's first book, I didn't like it that much. It was, well, average for me. And to this day I still don't understand the wow factor it has. That's what made me hesitant about this book. Although, when I saw it in the library, I grabbed it. To say the least, it was what I expected.

Synopsis: If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of carelessness work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision and exams begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide and it changes the course of how they see things. 

I have been putting off this review for a while because I had no idea what to write at all about it. 
I did like reading this book, there's no doubt about that but there was just something about it that made me not enjoy it as much as another book would. 

I have read a couple of reviews which all rave about this book and Downham's debut, Before I Die which I read a couple of years ago. I think the problem is that for me, her writing is quite flat, although she deals with the taboo type subjects really well. 
Her writing is readable and interesting but to me, it's nothing special. It's good, but it dips too much and there were times where I just wanted to get the book read and done, when normally I just would have stopped reading and moved on. But I didn't. I just wanted to finish the book, and go on to the next one. This was partly because it, for me, wasn't that great a book and partly because I wanted to know what happened. That's one of things I did love about this book, as well as the characters.

Mickey is one of those that you would class as a 'lad' or 'hard', although as you get into the book, he reveals a softer, kinder side to him as he is ultimately trying to help his younger sister. He is the only male in the family now who live in a council estate, with his sister refusing to go out, his mother turning to alcohol for answers and his youngest sister not going to school most of the time. However, he is ambitious. He wants to be a top chef in London. Set in a seaside town in Norfolk and with the stereotypes we take from where he lives, it seems like it will never happen, to start off with. By the end, you start to believe with him that it can happen and whatever your living and financial situations are, you can achieve whatever you want.  I like Mickey, more nearer the end as he does ultimately use Ellie to start off with for information, which kind of makes you hate him a bit. 

Ellie, on the other hand, is completely different. She is studious and always at home, revising constantly for her upcoming GCSE's (I know how it feels, really). At first, when she meets Mickey, she seems innocent and feisty but for me, it was lost nearly straight away. I liked her being hesitant about Mickey and questioning. Latterly in the book, she got annoying to me. I don't know why, but she did. I was annoyed at her for not telling the police sooner and for doing what she does in the novel. I preferred Mickey over her. Her father and brother are some of the most annoying characters I have read, seriously. Her father, I wanted to punch for being so horrible to Ellie, when she had done nothing at all wrong (seriously, she would just eat something and that's wrong.) Doesn't he care that funnily enough, he has another child? Obviously not. 
Tom, the brother, he just seemed to be so selfish and manipulative - both characters seemed unreal to me. 

The romance in the novel doesn't hit off straight away. What was weird for me was how Ellie accepts to meet up with a complete stranger. Although, they both do this for comfort and to find things out to help their families. It reminded me of a modern Romeo and Juliet where the feud is really within the rest of the family, not the couple themselves. However, there is no deaths. There is subtle romance throughout until the last few hundred pages where is seemed that the romance button suddenly switched on for the couple and the book. 
I also liked how Downham has left a bit of a mystery at the end, although as we've followed the court case the whole way through, I would have liked to know the outcome. At the beginning, I assumed Karyn (Mickey's sister) had changed her mind and accused Tom of rape but throughout the book, this judgement changed and by the end of it, I, and many others, thought 'Maybe Tom is guilty'. You never know, Downham's left the rest to you. I didn't like the end really, apart from this. It was weird how they were one minute being torn apart by their families and then, the next day, they're not and it's absolutely fine. It just seemed so unrealistic to me. 

Overall, this is a good book which outlines what it is like to be in that kind of situation of both sides, the defendant and the accused, and the impact within the family - it really gives you an experience of the emotions you feel and how the other children may think as they get left out. However, it is flawed and the writing was just flat and not always interesting in parts. Definitely an improvement from Before I Die
Verdict: If you liked Before I Die or these kind of books, go for it.

I give it a 3 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/628636.Jenny_Downham
Pages: 413
Publisher: Random House
Challenges: British Books Challenge

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books that all Teen readers SHOULD read (#15)

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

This week's theme is Books that all teenagers SHOULD have read by the time they are 20 to help them in life.

1. Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling - Okay, anyone above the age of 15 should absolutely love these books and be sad to see the franchise end. I was 6 when the first movie came out, and sadly, I cannot remember it, although I remember the film. The earliest film I can remember is the 3rd one, although strangely I can remember most of the books coming out. Harry Potter is a legacy that should continue and become a legend in the film and book industry for other young authors and film makers to follow. It should be a classic, much like we see the Back to the Future series now or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly movie. It just should be remembered.

2. Sarah Dessen books - All of her books, I think, teach us a lesson on how to treat one another, whether for love, friendship or family. She is also a great author and writes some lovely stuff. For me, she is the ultimate teenage girl writer that everyone should read.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Okay, I admit, I am not a big classics fan and I hated Pride and Prejudice when I first read it. But I think it teaches us about how love can be and how you have to be a certain person to different people. Also, people have to read some classics right? This is one of the better ones in my opinion.

4. Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen - This, I think, teaches us what happens to people who have rumours about them, how it can spread out of control and how people assume things about certain people without evidence. I know all teens are affected with it once they go to secondary school/high school and really, it shouldn't happen. I know because I am a teen and it's happened to me in a similar situation to Melinda in Speak and it's not a nice thing to happen. In fact, it's awful and makes you hate yourself (Note: I was not raped by a jock like Melinda is, but the rumour thing has happened frequently)

5. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne - I think this book is so haunting. It shows what Nazi life was like through the eyes of an innocent young boy who loves his father or ultimately is keeping the Jews at bay. This really teaches us something I think about how we should know not to do things like the Nazis did. It just so inhumane.

6. The Diary of Anne Frank - I read this book when I was about 13 - the same age as Anne was when she started her diary. I had fallen out with my two best friends, the guy I was going out with liked one of these best friends and I had no-one really to turn to apart from my parents...which in this situation wasn't a comfort. I read this book and it kind of inspired me that she had a much worse life than I. Living her teenage years in a two storey annexe, it's not how you want to spend it. This is a true story and I think it should show teenagers how to live their life by enjoying every minute.

7. The Declaration series by Gemma Malley - This book is about how the thing that we should desire as human beings, can also become a down fall. They are also awesome books and so amazing. And the main characters are teenagers really. You never know, we might have to fight a kind of battle that's similar.

8. Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness - These are AMAZING. And I think some teens that aren't all that enthusiastic with reading will love reading after reading these (way too much use of the word reading there!). These are scary when you first pick them up, especially Monsters of Men but they are worth the weight to carry. They also highlight what war can do to people and what it is like to be in that kind of situation where you are on the fence and can't choose a side for a number of reasons as well as trying to save yourself, the people you love and those that need saving. It's tough for a teen to think and understand these kind of things and experiences but I think these books help give a kind of insight.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

On My Bookshelf (8)

This meme is inspired by the similar meme, 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren

Bought (I actually bought all of these...):
- Peter Pan & Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M.Barrie - I found this one in an antique book store in Chichester for £2.50, it smelled so lovely in there
- The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies - I also bought this one with the Peter Pan on for £2.50. I've seen it before in magazines but never found the actual book. A week later, I was in WHSmiths, and saw it in the Adult Section...
- Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier - I love this book so much that when I saw it on my first day working in Oxfam, that I bought it for £2.99. Worth it.
- The Rogue's Princess by Eve Edwards - I think this is the last one in the series, although I wish it wasn't. I actually forgot I pre-ordered this last month so was so delighted when I found it on my doorstep!

The necklace hanging down is one that I have been looking at and wanted for weeks and weeks in Accessorize, but I wasn't sure if it was worth £9. So, yesterday I went shopping with my mum to have a look in the sales and we found this in on the sale rack for £2.70, 70% off. I was preeeetty happy. :)

Have a lovely week, guys :)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Paper Towns - John Green

After reading Looking for Alaska, I entered the world of John Green's writing. The only pieces of writing that have had me laughing continuously out loud, page after page. You get those times when you think 'Oh that's funny' but don't laugh, or times when you chuckle at a line and then put back on 'Serious Reading Face' but I never really laugh so much, I have to stop reading. Until now.

Not even Looking for Alaska did that to me...this one did however.

Synopsis: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
(From Goodreads.com)

Review: This book is the first time any book has made me laugh out loud continuously - it is that funny. John Green's debut novel, Looking for Alaska made me laugh a couple of times but more of a chuckle. This one had me full blown laughing to myself in my room. This also makes me sound quite sad, but I liked this book. 
It was the character's unique, one-lined expressions that did this to me and it didn't just happen at one specific point, oh no, multiple points. This was my favourite line of the book, I must admit:

' "Just call me if you have any questions but with the Vaseline, you want the one that's bigger than your fist. There's like a Baby Vaseline, and then there's a Mommy Vaseline, and then there's a big fat Daddy of a Vaseline and that's the one you want. But if they don't have that, then get, like, three of the Mommy Vaselines"'

Okay, so not the most hilarious literature you've ever seen probably, but this line had me in stitches. I really liked this book. 

After having my second experience of John Green, I can justify to say that he does what Sarah Dessen does, and what makes people like her. Sarah Dessen uses the same kind of outline plot and the same kind of characters eg. the girl has a problem of some sort. John Green does this but more.
Quentin, the main character, is Miles in Looking for Alaska. Margo is Alaska. There is a main concept to the book that runs throughout. The Great Perhaps and Paper Towns. They are the same kind of book but John Green has made them seem so different. Only if you read others of his do you realise the similarities. This might annoy, frustrate some people. I, however, like this. I like the familiarities and the fact you can guess what is going to happen, yet it still surprises you. 

The characters are what make the book, I think. Quentin is a nerd, a social outcast in the hierarchy of American high school, yet he is popular among his own kind (the nerds) and has a secret crush on Margo, his childhood friend who is at the top of the hierarchy - everyone wants to be her friend. Despite him being the 'weird one' that every school has many of, I would like to be his friend if he were real. 
Then, there is Ben. Oh...Ben. Ben is Q's best friend who wants to climb the social ladder and is a typical, girls-obsessed guy. He is also the funniest of the bunch, behaving like both a teenager with a sense of humour and a little five-year-old handful for Q and Radar to look after like parents.
Radar is Q's other best friend who is obsessed with Omnictionary, a parody of Wikipedia which he updates regularly on the pages to make sure they are up to date. Although, he is occasionally funny due to his sarcasm, he seems the guy with all the answers to me. However, about 80% of the way through the book, I suddenly realised, and I don't mean this in a bad way, he was black. I seriously did not realise this throughout and the book and although it wouldn't worry me if he was black, it surprised me of it not being mentioned before hand, unless done on purpose (or possibly it had said and it hadn't computed in my mind he was). And even when they do mention it, it's as a joke:

'"Oh no, you didn't," Radar says when I show him why we're laughing, "Ben Starling, you better not have bought your token black friend a racist shirt"'

This reminded me of Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman which apparently similar. 

The writing isn't what you call amazing, fluent or poetic but it's simple and understandable, how I like it. It also really does feel like Quentin is talking to you about the whole experience which is nice.
The story is mostly upbeat and nicely paced. There was a lull moment in the middle where it seemed to drag slightly but once they got on the road trip, it quickened up and became as funny as it always had again. The book is spilt into three parts. The Strings, The Grass, The Vessel which after reading the book, I understand these names mostly apart from The Grass. It's nicely done and spilt out evenly. 
The clues to finding Margo conjoined with the narrative and the feeling Q is a friend make the book quite adventurous and made me care about her and want to know what the clues meant that they found. I was finding out with them, what the evidence meant and where Margo was. It was very cleverly put together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Although, some reviews have said that the ending is bad compared to the rest of the book (which I can see why), it's nice and ends quite ambiguously, a lot like Margo is herself. You can, however, guess what happens afterwards, which I think is always nice as it can be different for everyone. This book is incredibly entertaining and is a great summer read for anyone that has a sense of humour and enjoys these kind of books. I would definitely recommend this one over Looking for Alaska, although both are good in the own right. I am definitely going to look for more John Green books. 

I give a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/
Pages: 305
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: None

My Review of Looking for Alaska

Tuesday Top Ten: Authors I would LOVE to meet (#14)

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

Sorry it's a bit late - was out all of Tuesday

This week's theme is Authors I would DIE to meet and get them to sign books and talk about bookish things and love them more forever.

1. Sarah Dessen - I LOVE HER BOOKS so much. She is my number one, top of the list, favourite author, she is actually amazing and I'm sure a lot of bloggers would agree with me. If you haven't read her yet, you are missing out. Seriously. She also looks nice and could be quite funny and polite and just...hmmm.

2. John Green - I have just finished my second experience of his books (review coming very, very soon) and I don't know a book where I haven't laughed so much. It's hard to laugh for me at a piece of paper in front of me but this guy did it. He is quite hilarious. 

3. Eva Ibbotson - Sadly, I cannot meet Eva Ibbotson as she died late last year, but it would be great if I could somehow. She is such a lovely, amazing, sincere author and I think she would have been a nice lady to talk to despite being an author or not. Also, it would be nice to hear about her experiences she writes about during the Nazi Germany period of history, a part that I find so interesting. 

4. Rachael Wing - Mostly I just want to say Well Done to this girl. I love her books and how they are a spin off of Shakespeare plays which I find most dire and uninteresting. She was published at 16, wrote a novel at 14 and is published again. I find that so amazing. 

5. Eve Edwards - This is mostly to just ramble and gush at how amazing her books are and how they are definitely some of my favourite historical reads at the moment and just 'Wow'. She seems a lovely person too and she deserves a bit more credit, I think, for her books. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Summer of To-Reads

I have been thinking about this for a while but I have decided to try and read as many books as I can on my to-read list on Goodreads which has been sitting alone and cold in the corner of my Internet.
I think it's time, especially as it is, erm, 159 books long.

So I won't read all of these, but the ones that are viable to me or I am itching to read will be included in my To-Read Summer reads.

You can join me too if you want, just let me know so we can swap our stories or if we have the same books on our wishlists :)

Crossed out mean I have read them
Italics means I have the book on my bookshelf, but not yet read.

The Summer I turned Pretty - Jenny Han
The Hunger Games series - Suzanne Collins
Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen
A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson
Where She Went - Gayle Forman
An Education - Lynn Barber
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson
Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler
The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight - Jenny Valentine
Zelah Green - Vanessa Curtis
The Returners - Gemma Malley
Good Girls - Laura Ruby
Anastasia's Secret - Susanne Dunlop
Prom and Prejudice - Elizabeth Eulberg
Let's Get Lost - Sarra Manning
Love Falls - Esther Freuo
Prom - Laurie Halse Andersen
The Last Little Blue Envelope - Maureen Johnson
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The 10pm Question - Kate De Goldi
Strings Attached - Judy Blundell
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
The Rogue's Princess - Eve Edwards
The King's Speech
Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison
Across the Universe - Beth Revis

Friday, 8 July 2011

Looking for some lovely GUEST POSTERS

Hey guys,

I have been thinking about this for a while and been asked to do this by one of my lovely followers (she knows who she is...) but as I have 8 weeks of freedom until I have to start college, I am going to do a themed week of some sort where I hand the blog over to some of the people who read it so they can guest post.

I am yet to decide the minor details but I would like to know who would be interesting in being included in such an event. Doesn't matter if you are not a blogger or don't blog about books (it will be linked to this, yes), I just want you're writing skills, amazingness and just you really - something nice for both me and the summer...and the blog.

Also, I realised that I started actually probably doing the blog in around July 2010, so this is going to be a kind of blogoversary thing too, why not?

As it's a week-long thing, I would like at least 5 people. If there's more, I will dance around my room in full blown happiness.

If you are interested, please fill in the form below, just so I can get your details (email) without broadcasting it to the whole blogosphere - Thank you!


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Wicked - Gregory Macguire

I went to see the musical Wicked for my friend's birthday celebration in December last year, it was a week before Christmas and I absolutely loved it, and that's just the start of how much I liked it. I loved the songs, the storyline, the characters - everything. It took me 2 months to get the songs out my head.

My copy was borrowed from my friend, but actually bought by me a week before our outing when the day before she had told me about the storyline and the book. I bought it for about £1.49 in a charity shop nearby.

Synopsis: Years before Dorothy and her dog crash-land, another little girl makes her presence known in Oz. This girl, Elphaba, is born with emerald-green skin -- no easy burden in a land as mean and poor as Oz, where superstition and magic are not strong enough to explain or to overcome the natural disasters of flood and famine. But Elphaba is smart, and by the time she enters the university in Shiz, she becomes a member of a charmed circle of Oz' most promising young citizens.
Elphaba's Oz is no utopia. The Wizard's secret police are everywhere. Animals -- those creatures with voices, souls and minds -- are threatened with exile. Young Elphaba, green and wild and misunderstood, is determined to protect the Animals -- even it means combating the mysterious Wizard, even if it means risking her single chance at romance. Even wiser in guilt and sorrow, she can find herself grateful when the world declares her a witch. And she can even make herself glad for that young girl from Kansas.
(From Goodreads.com)

Review: I so wanted to love this book, to be amazed by the world of Oz, to see the teenage years of the Good and Bad Witches and to find out who all these people actually are. I was so looking forward to that when I started reading this book. 

First thing first. Anyone seen the theatre performance? You have? Well, you're not going to enjoy this book. 
Haven't seen the musical but are DYING to see it? Read this now.

It is one of 'those' books. The friend I borrowed it from read this book before seeing the show and loved both. I, on the other hand, have seen the show before reading the book and did not enjoy it very much. I'm not saying DON'T READ THIS BOOK, no I certainly am not, but be careful about your judgements when you do. 
The start is well, average. There's nothing thrilling or amazing and to be honest, I got bored and wanted some action. Which never happened. 
It wasn't until Galinda started narrating that things got interesting, which then went all down hill again when Boq took over. I feel bad for not liking this book but I just did not enjoy it. And I have a secret....

I didn't finish the book

That makes me feel worse. I've been reading this book for 3 weeks and I felt I had made no progress and didn't like the book anyway, I was reading it constantly and I realised last night that I was only on page 306...out of nearly 495. So I threw the book across the room and gave up and grumbled upstairs to find another more interesting book. The book just made me hate reading and hate being a blogger. Two things I love doing at the moment - it wasn't doing much for my stress levels and blood pressure. I'm glad I did...and I'm not glad I did.

Let's get to the root of the problem. The characters are all very different, even minor characters. You can tell which ones are the goodies and baddies straight away. The storyline is well...complicated. I think part of the problem is that Gregory Maguire talks on and on and on about everything and adds really unrelavant bits which I couldn't care less about. He reminded me of Jane Austen where I have no idea what he's rattling on about. 
The plot is very very different from the show and there are different characters in it that aren't in the show and vice versa. There are also different relationships with one another e.g. in the show Fiyero and Galinda are really good friends when in the book, they hardly talk when you are with them. They're both there - but there are no personal conversations. 
The book challenges some of the Wizard of Oz story and of course, the stereotype of the bad witch. The writing is good and fluent, although there are some very...interesting 'adult' scenes which I was cringing to myself at. It's, erm, quite detailed. 

What annoyed me what that the world they were in was basically Earth but with magic. The Land of Oz is supposed to be completely different without things like coffee or wine. I mean, they call Dorothy an alien, but they act the same as her so can't really say that! It says on the front that it is a best-seller and it probably was as it is so different but, then the show came along and it probably went down hit from then.

I am quite stuck with this one actually and I'm sorry, this isn't a thrilling review. This book is great to tackle the stereotypes that society makes and has made for years, it also gives a sense of what another civilisation that isn't our own would be like, maybe in some far galaxy.
Verdict: Read if you haven't seen it before, it is a good book for those who haven't. Give a wide birth of you have seen the show.

I give it 3 out of 5

Author's Website: http://gregorymaguire.com/
Pages: 495
Publisher: Headline Review
Challenges: None

Monday, 4 July 2011


So on Friday night, I attended my first ever Prom to celebrate the end of secondary school as it's the end of our exams. All the girls for WEEKS have been flying around getting make-up, accessories, shoes, THE DRESS while the boys well....most of them only got their suit a couple of days before and made it seem like getting just that was the hardest thing in the world. 

I got my dress back in March just before the Drama to kind of get the buying out the way so I could focus on everything else and so I had time to get accessories e.g. bag, shoes, jewellery. I had the dilemma of my hair which is dead straight and fails at anything else. 
Anyway, even after the build up and the stories of it being bad last year, it was amazing. I had such a lovely night with everyone I know and it was nice to know that no-one was uninvited or left out because they weren't. Everyone enjoyed it, even those who you don't normally hang out with. It was fantastic. So, as promised, here are some pictures from the night and the most important one...THE DRESS...

So this is me, about 11am in the morning of the day. I had my nails done with my friend at a nail parlour near me which do it professionally for £5 - not too bad, huh? I also, then, around 3pm, went and got my hair done. I sat in the hairdressers for an hour reading while they curled my hair which went extremely well despite the fact my hair has never normally stayed in. It was great, and I liked having bouncy curly hair instead of boring straight. It felt really light actually. My hair, alas, is not curly any more and back to normal. 
So I went from this to....

Dress, Monsoon
Bag, shop in Cyprus
Shoes, M&S
Bracelet, Accessorize

THIS! This is in my back garden with the washing line, table and uncut grass. I can't be too glamourous right? I loved the dress, not too long but not too short and I can move really easily in it. My only fret was did it make my chest look too big...which when I asked was shot down by my parents and friends. 
I had three friends around to mine to get ready and then we drove down to the Rugby Stadium where it was being held in a Rolls Royce. A friend of my dad's owns one and offered to take us there in it. We were a little early so we stayed outside and watched everyone arrive which was great and then went in and partied the night away, as they say.

I love these shoes that one guy was wearing...

It was sad saying bye to people but then, a lot of the people there are going to my college and I hope to see some of them over the summer. It's sad that I have spent at least 5 years with them all and Year 11 has made us all come together and support each other a little bit more than we were in the earlier years maybe.  I mean some of them I've known for over 13 years from Primary School - those are the ones I hope to stay in touch with.

I wish we could have it all over again...although I don't think any of us could afford another one, hah :) 

Have a lovely day :)