Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books I want to Re-read

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

This week's theme is Books I am DESPERATE to re-read sooon

(This might be a short post as I'm about to cook my dinner...)

1. Shadow Web - N.M.Browne - I read this every year, and hasn't entered my Read 2011 list yet so this needs to be whacked out soon. 
2. The Roman Mysteries series - Caroline Lawrence - Having started studying Classical Civilisation recently, I'm really in the mood for some Roman books. I'm literally sitting in class like 'I know this! Thank you Roman Mysteries!' 
3. The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen - LOVE THIS BOOK.
4. Before I Die - Jenny Downham - I am not a Jenny Downham fan, I put my hands up for that but I read this book a long time ago and I don't think I fully understood it, so would like to give it another go. 
5. The Diary of Anne Frank - I could read this anytime. 
6. The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose - Mary Hooper - My first Mary Hooper book, and I haven't read it in YEARS.
7. The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
8. Broken Soup/Finding Violet Park - Jenny Valentine - There are so many critisms about Jenny Valentine but I quite like her, so I want to re-read this to try and find out why people are saying these things.
9. Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Anonymous Commenter who made my day.

So I come in from college grumbling because the Media assignment that I spent 2 HOURS of my Sunday on, I had done completely wrong and it's due in tomorrow. JOY.
Anyway, not the subject here. I log on to the computer after a quick chat with my nan (she is looking after me at the moment which means AMAZING FOOD) and a cuppa and I go on Blogger. Straight away, I know.
So I look at a couple of posts, a review of 'The Luxe', a couple of fashion posts, log on to Facebook, say hi to my friend I saw 30 minutes earlier and then, click on the comments section of Blogger, mostly expecting nothing.

I am serious. After 6 months of no comments when I started, I do not expect comments on the blog at all so when I get them I am thrilled. REALLY thrilled. So when I saw I had a new comment, I was happy especially about my new Kindle.

So I'm reading it, trying to get a piece of food out of my braces while doing so (harder than it sounds) and then I just stopped. Still.

My nan thought I'd fallen asleep, I was so still.

And then, I let out this huge 'Awww' that I normally reserve for cute cuddly animals.

I had the loveliest, most gorgeous comment I have EVER received. Serious. This is what it said:

I also got a Kindle for my birthday and love it to bits. Plus, I have been looking for a not overly expensive case, and have now found one thanks to this post. :D 
Also, may I say, I love your blog! I have a whole new list of books that I must try from it, and please keep this blog running, it is truely amazing! :)

Signed Anonymous. So basically, the point of this post? I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to whoever wrote this comment because it literally MADE MY DAY. Made my month actually.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I am not obsessive over comments like some but it's comments like this that make me keep blogging even when it's tough to write something about a book I hated. So when bloggers complain about what their doing, it annoys me so much because they don't even realise what a great thing it is. 

Thanks guys. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

I have seen this book around often on various places: the blogosphere, bookshops, the library. But for some reason, I was always a bit dubious about reading it - I have no idea why and still don't. Weird.
This book mostly caught me because of the name of the author. I hardly a name of Rebecca by an author so it was a pleasant surprise to find one in the YA section.

Synopsis: Living in a big city can be scary sometimes, especially if the city in question is New York City. For Miranda and Sal, best friends, they have grown up knowing their way around the dangerous neighbourhood. But then this safety starts to unravel. Sal gets punched randomly by a kid on their way home and starts avoiding Miranda. The key to the apartment in emergencies is stolen. Nothing is stolen but a pair of shoes. No evidence is left but a scrap of paper with a note addressed to Miranda asking her to write a story. Soon, she finds more and she starts to realise that the sender is hinting at something tragic to happen. But what and how can Miranda stop it? 

Review: This book seems to be quite innocent and basic from the outside, looking at the cover - but it isn't. It is much more complicated and bigger a plot than that.
Firstly, the cover. To an outsider, it means probably nothing. A few pictures randomly on the blocks. Well, actually, when you read this book, you will discover these little illustrations mean things for this book, which I really liked. Like finding out the secrets to the cover - why it is like that. Covers are great things to have and I know I 'judge a book by its cover' a lot. But sometimes, publishers just go neutral so you have no idea what a book can hold.  

The book itself is a fantastic read to come across. I wasn't expecting much, however. After a series of reading books recommended by bloggers and not liking them at all, I wasn't expecting this one to be a good read - but it intrigued me. This book is not perfect - it has some flaws, but it is a delightful read (and unexpected for me) and even though, writing quite simply, it is a book I would recommend to anyone.

One thing that makes it is the mystery and deception of these letters Miranda continuously receives. I had ideas on who the sender was at the beginning - and was half right. The thing about the notes is they get more confusing and suspicious every time - and vague. Your mind is constantly churning wondering what on earth they could be leading up to and then, when you get to the event, you (and Miranda) understand what it all means. However, if I had received these notes, I would FREAK OUT especially in a city like that where I have already been burgled. Except, Miranda doesn't, or if she does, it doesn't seem like she cares much at all. It's a little unreal I think, but doesn't ruin the book for me.

The characters also credit the book, and the different relationships Miranda has with these various people. My personal favourite was Sal's mum, who made some hilarious remarks and is worried for everyone instead of themselves. She is good friends with Miranda's family and they live on the floor downstairs so she is in the book quite often, making these comments. I DID not like Julia or Annemarie, even though they become Miranda's friends. They were just too posh, too unlike the protagonist, too bitchy! They are the type of people I would have stayed clear of. 

Like I said, and someone told me on the comments section, this book is aimed mostly for those in fifth grade to about eighth grade (Year 6-9) so being in 'eleventh grade (Year 12)', I am probably the wrong person to be reviewing this book. The language is simple and there are rarely elaborate descriptions but it is a fun, lovely novel and a novelty after studying books that are more complicated. 
There is this childish, innocent element of time-travel which, for me being a Doctor Who fan, was interesting to read about as many books avoid this kind of subject. The spacey element runs throughout the book and is incorporated in the ending, making it very different again. Although the ending wasn't as great as the rest of the book, it is very unique to this book and I can see why they would put it in this age range.

Talking about space - there is something I didn't realise until about 70% into the book. *SPOILERS - JUMP IF YOU WANT TO KNOW* 

The book is set in 1979, even though it gives the impression of now. Maybe I didn't notice some clues but this hit me straight, I didn't even realise. I found this extremely clever, and after reading the book until the end, it gives this impression of looking back from an older Miranda.

*IT'S SAFE NOW* This is not a long book, but at the right length. There is a series of plots happening that eventually all interlink, making this an interesting and adventurous type of novel. It is quite cute really.
   Overall, this book left a lasting impression on me and made me think about an alternate side to life and the possibilities the future can be technology wise. This book is a gem of a novel, one that you could easily walk past. Try it, even if you're not into simple language - you might be pleasantly surprised. 

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.rebeccasteadbooks.com/
Pages: 197
Publisher: Andersen Press
Challenges: Historical Fiction

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books I feel as though everyone has read BUT me

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

This week's theme is Books I feel as though everyone has read BUT me

1. The Twilight series - Stephanie Meyer - URGH, don't get me started. It has been nearly three years since the Twilight and vampire revolution took off and I have yet to read these series of books. WHY? Because I think the idea of having something like a vampire in a book is stupid and only popular because of Twilight. Twilight was around before the movies so why the sudden urge for some sparkly vampire to fall in love with? I am not sad I haven't read these books as I know the story anyway from those that have so I don't think you'll be seeing this book around here any time soon.  

2. The Hunger Games series - Suzanne Collins - This does anger me however. It's been around a year since the final book came out in these amazing series and now there is talk of a movie. I am yet to decide whether to see the movie then read or vice versa. 

3. The Uglies series - Scott Westerfeld - one of the oldest YA series going in the 21st Century - I know. But I just haven't seen them around in libraries etc. I can't help it...I can't...urgh. 

4. Where She Went - Gayle Forman - Like I say in most of these Top Ten thingy's - I SHALL READ IT AT SOME POINT SOON.

5. Jane - April Lindner - I have never seen this book. Ever. Not in the flesh, where is everyone gettting their copies (actually, I can guess that question). 

6. Divergent - Veronica Roth - Well, £10.99 for 300 pages - bit much so I'm waiting for it to come into the library. It looks absolutely amazing though, looking forward to reading it. 

7. Across the Universe - Beth Revis - I was one of the first bloggers to know about this and it always haunts me when I go in bookshops but because of my phobia of not buying books without knowing what they are going to be like in my opinion, I am yet to read this one. I think it's going to be a library one.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Theodore Boone: The Abduction - John Grisham (#2)


After reading the first book in this interesting series, when I found out there was a second by my also-addicted-friend, I jumped for joy. I was sad that the ending of the first book just ended without a reason, but now I know why! 
My copy of this book is not as nice as the picture (left), it has some nice bright neon orange that would have put me off otherwise. DO NOT FEAR THIS BOOK. Read it, but read Theodore Boone, the first book beforehand to enjoy the true pleasure these books provide.

Synopsis: Theodore Boone is back with another adventurous case to solve! His best friend, April, goes missing mysteriously in the middle of the night from her bedroom without a trace - no-one knows where she could be. As the police hit dead-ends and a body is discovered in Strattenburg's river, it is up to Theo to use his extensive legal knowledge to find out the truth and find his best friend before it is too late. Will he find her? Is the body hers though?

Review: I really love Theodore Boone. He is a cracking character with a lot of charisma and intelligence and he is just so cool. Okay, so not hip cool maybe but I would want to be his friend - he seems like my kind of person. 
It is not entirely clear how long has passed between the first book and this one. However, there is the mention at the end of the Duffy trial starting again in six weeks time, so I would say about two or three weeks has gone. There are references to the previous book but this could also be read as a stand-alone novel, which is nice if you aren't into reading sequels which I know some people aren't. 

This book isn't so much a legal drama as Theodore Boone was. It is more about the life of Theo and his relationships with everyone around him, as well as the implications of something that happens rarely: abduction. I know there have been some pretty big stories in the past but soon I think abductions will become a thing of the past, thankfully. As well as showing how the police department would work and their procedures in a situation like this, this book outlines what you should and should not do if it was your friend/family member. I guess it would be the same procedures in England but without knowing much about this area, I cannot say if John Grisham has explained the confusing details of it like he did with the legal system in the first book.

The writing was still amazing and flowed really well which made me not realise how fast I read the book (four days) which is a record probably for me especially for this size of book. I felt like I was going back to these old friends when I read about the good old characters, it was like returning to another world really, a friendly one. Theo is as always my favourite and will be always. His parents and Ike (his uncle who helps him a lot) were just the way they were in the last book which was good. The only problem with that was in the last book, after being separated and not seeing each other much, Theo's parents and Ike seemed to get along and work together and even said (or it seemed obvious to me from reading) that they would get closer as they are family. In this book, that didn't happen. There was still the awkwardness when Ike's name was mentioned and the mood that they didn't want to be associated with him but felt Theo should know him. It just felt a little strange to me. At the end of this one, it felt the same as it did at the ending of the previous one so it will be interesting to see that relationship continue.

April was mentioned and introduced in the first book but like I said, hardly worth an introduction in the previous as she was only in it briefly as she was in the middle of a divorce for her parents. That 'divorce' was hardly mentioned in this book so I presume that it never happened or in middle of happening. I'm serious - in The Abduction, nothing was said about it! April is, although not in this one much either, complicated and we learn more about her and her weird relationship with Theo in this book, as well as her family. 
Last time, I thought Theo seemed younger than his thirteen years but this time, he felt much older. He never seems to me, to be a true thirteen year-old.

At the end of this book, I didn't feel deflated, I felt EXCITED. Why can the next book be out now? There is going to be a third book (Source) but will be released the middle of next year, so we have at least 6 months to wait. BOO! The end links to the first with a reference to the last one, and is left on a slight cliffhanger, but not one where you will ponder on and on and get on John Grisham's nerves with amount of emails you sent demanding to know what happened. 
  Overall, this book was far better for me and more well rounded and readable than the first book, it really has showed that John Grisham can be successful at writing YA and Adult books well and I think the next one will be one of the most anticipated of 2012. What will happen next for the great Theodore Boone?
Verdict: Ignore the funky cover, read it. But I would recommend to read the first book, Theodore Boone, first - there's an extract from it at the end of this book. 

I give it a 5 out of 5

My Review for the first book of this series, Theodore Boone 

Author's Website: http://www.theodoreboone.com/
Pages: 217
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Challenges: None

London Fashion Week

So I was in London this weekend. Nope, not because of London Fashion Week, but to see some friends of the family who were staying in London - we only found out about London Fashion Week a week ago.
So in homage to the fact that I felt so out of place everywhere with all these attractive girls tottering around in high heels with passes while I go along in jeans, we went to Somerset House, the beautiful gallery where they host London Fashion Week - in the rain and took some pictures.

Okay, no - I did not see Vivenne Westwood or Henry Holland or some other bizarre name, but I did see a lot of well dressed people and press which helped me learn about this world that I may enter in the future. THEY ALL LOOK AMAZING. Totally not fair and I felt even more out of place there.
The only famous person I saw was Gok Wan entering one of the venues in a rather bright red shirt which...didn't suit him. Oh and Carrie from a fashion blog I follow WishWishWish being photographed. If you see any photos (I am keeping a look out) of some boringly dressed girl in the background wearing a purple hat - that was me!

It's a lovely outside area and so peaceful with just everyone milling around, having conversations, taking photographs. There was a real feel of a buzz around the area and being the first time I've been there inside or  out for London Fashion Week, I am so glad I went. I can really see why they are the hottest tickets in town.

I got to pick up some free magazines/newspapers they were giving out about the Saturday day of London Fashion Week (seen below)

I didn't go to any of the shows or see anyone amazingly famous like Kate Moss but it was a lovely experience. 
In the fashion stakes, I got some shoes because my plain black ones are dead and have a mouth (sole is peeling away) I have named him Mr Shoe, and no-one has found Mr Shoe funny yet...I do though.

Above: Shows, £28, Urban Outfitters

Friday, 16 September 2011

Film Review: Girl With the Pearl Earring

Starring: Scarlett Johansson (The Other Boleyn Girl), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Cillian Murphy (Inception), Tom Wilkinson (Shakespeare in Love),  Anna Popplewell (The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe)
Made in 2003 by Lion Gate Films in the UK
Filmed in London, Luxembourg, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Belguim
Directed by Peter Webber
Based on a novel by Tracy Chevalier

Ever since reading the novel version, I have wanted to see this film, having known the film before the novel. Also, I knew of the film early on, especially after watching the first modern St. Trinians where they steal the actual painting the book/film are based on ('Oh my god! You want us to steal Scarlett Johansson?!'). So when I came across a MASSIVE DVD section in the library at the college and found this, I had to get it out for the weekend.

The film was overall well done. It was filmed beautifully and really fulfilled what I expected. This is a stunning adaptation of the novel, there plots that are included are done to the best they could and it felt like I was watching Girl with a Pearl Earring, not just a version of it. Although I love adaptations of books, sometimes they can ruin the whole feel of a novel for me because of the film. I think many would agree with me. This, however, didn't do that. I feel I can still read the book, healthy in the knowledge that my mind can either revert to this when I think of what is happening in my mind or create a complete new version.

Scarlett Johansson was the best choice as Griet, although so me she spoke little, she was just as I imagined Griet and looked so much like the girl we all see in the painting, hence Chelsea's comment from St Trinians. She came across a lot like her world was spiralling out of control because of her innocence that every character plays on in good and bad ways for her.
Colin Firth as Vermeer, not something that I would have necessarily have chosen, but I guess I can see Colin doing the moody painter look, like he kind of has in other roles. His relationship with Griet was well played too and showed simply that they wanted to, you know, get together but they knew deep down they couldn't. - it is such a complicated relationship and they live together knowing that and Griet knows she can ask him things that she would know dare to ask his wife.
And the plus of Vermeer? It's Colin Firth. Yes, he's 50 but you know, I like him...hmm...

Anyway, there were a few surprise castings that I did not know where in it. Number One: Anne Popplewell. She is the oldest daughter of Vermeer's family, and doesn't exactly have a speaking role. Just kind of walks around a bit and helps Griet once or twice. Number Two: Cillian Murphy from Inception. I was like 'Hey, it's you!' He played Pieter, Griet's kind of lover. He was annoying much like I find his character in the book, so persistent. So yeah basically he did a good job!

I loved how the colours of the headscarf are so vivid nearer the end for the painting, they are so beautiful and contrast dramatically with Griet's normally plain life and really shows what paint can do to make it so real and life-like.
The only things that annoyed me in a bad way against the book was that they took out a lot of characters and events that were so great and important to the plot like Griet's sister dying, her seeing her brother, the awkward dinners with her family and Pieter. These things were great in the book and I can see that maybe not needed but it would have been great if it was a true good adaptation rather than a half hearted one. And Cornelia. She was way too young and pretty.
Also, a lot of the events just you know, kind of just HAPPEN, without a build up or anything which is unusual in those type of films really.

This is a great and true adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with the Pearl Earring and should have won more awards. With its star-studded cast and beautiful filming, this is really one I would watch again and recommend others to do so too.

My Review of the novel, Girl with the Pearl Earring

Thursday, 15 September 2011

College rambles.

So college isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It's nice to have so much more freedom, be in a more relaxing relationship with the teachers and do basically your own thing. It is very different from secondary school, but better.
I've met some lovely people already too, some of which I've become friends with already, as well as hanging out with my old ones too. The only people from my old school is my group, so although outnumbered, we're closer too. I thought I'd give you a schedule of my day:

6:40am: Wake up, drag myself out of bed (I am not awake really by the way), choose something decent to wear and go downstairs.
7:00am: Watch TV and eat my breakfast while making a quick coffee to somehow wake me up.
7:25am: Go upstairs and brush my teeth, put make-up on, get generally ready to go.
7:45am: LEAVE THE HOUSE. In the morning, I walk to the train station which for me, crowned the most fastest walker, it takes me about 15/20 mins to get there, it's about a mile away. I do that because the public transport is so unreliable and it's a nice start when walking with an iPod in.
Around 8am: I get there to the train station, put my ticket through the machine and walk down the corridor to the platform. I HATE THAT CORRIDOR THAT LEADS TO THE DIFFERENT PLATFORMS. There are lots of pigeons that live on the ledges so you don't know when a pigeon is going to come out and either poo/fly into you/or just fly around and look scary. I HATE IT I TELL YOU.
8:10am: Train comes. I have to get this train or I am LATE. It's packed. Always, and you feel like you're not going to get on at all. It's annoying because people push to the front to get on and then don't move when they do to let others on. Poo them.
8:30am: Get to my destination and walk around the corner to the college.
8:45am: Lessons start. If we looked at today, I had History first which was AWKWARD. Because our class just doesn't talk. They stare at the teacher like 'Oh hey, we're in a lesson??' and the teacher ANSWERS HER OWN QUESTIONS. And keeps looking at me like 'PLEASE answer my question!' I am the answerer of the class. You know there's always one.
We get homework. Boo.
9:40am: Second lesson. English Literature with the most angry teacher. She just is permentantly annoyed with a angry voice constantly. It reaaaally annoys me. We start reading Death of a Salesman. More Homework. Booo.
10:35am: BREAK. I chill out with some people at the grassy area at the front.
11am: Third lesson. MORE ENGLISH LITERATURE. With a different teacher who I LOVE. She is lovely. We start looking at Othello and link the story together. MEGA confusion.
11:55am: IT'S LUNCHTIME. I go to a sandwich place with my friend and get a sub with some chicken and cheese and salad. Very yummy. Then, I hang out with some friends in the sun by this fountain. Then, walk back to the college.
12:55pm: Fourth lesson. Media Studies. We have a sub and just kind of chat and find out the meaning of some funny looking spelt words.
1:50pm: I'M FINISHED FOR THE DAY. We have another break and then I had to the library to get some homework done.
3pm: I go home and get home around 4pm. Normally it's like 5:30pm on a normal full day.

SO there you go. I really am enjoying my time there studying English Literature, Media Studies, History and Classical Civilisation. It's great fun and so much freedom!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The 10pm Question - Kate De Goldi

I have been putting this review off for a couple of days which is slightly unlike me really. My reasoning? I just don't know my final judgement about what I thought, did I like it, what I thought about the different aspects of the novel.
'BUT REBECCA, YOU REALLY WANTED TO READ THIS BOOK' and yes, I did. I'm just not sure about it at the moment, hopefully writing this review will help.

Synopsis: Frankie is just one of those people who worry a lot, perhaps obsessively. Everyone around him carries on untroubled by worry, apart from his Ma who listens and answers his questions every night at 10pm before going to sleep to help him. But soon, a new girl arrives at school who is not afraid to hold back with a wild and interesting past. Suddenly, Frankie's careful, controlled world is unravelling and leaves one ultimate question of all. Will he ask it though?

Review: First things first, I love the cover. I mean, LOOK AT THAT DRAWING. It is so beautiful and colourful and really one of the reasons I picked up this book. It made me drawn to it, want to find out what that meant. I mean, I wouldn't associate 'The 10pm Question' with a bird, so it was an interesting thing to put on the front.

Now, to the novel. This is a very fun and quirky book to read but has a lot of deeper subtext underlying problems with the characters. Frankie is twelve years-old, the 'baby' of the family. Frankie was a good protagonist and had a very interesting voice. At first he seems like a normal boy of that age, but as the novel progresses, you start to realise certain things about him, for example, his extend of worrying constantly over certain things. I mean, everyone worries right? I know I do, but soon you realise that this is serious and that his visits to his Ma every night have a purpose. The '10pm Question' is a very important thing for dear Frankie.

Frankie has, also, a very VERY weird family. First, there is his Ma, who does something (trying not to, you know, reveal everything here if you decide to read this) that you don't really realise until they address it in the novel. Then, his father, 'Uncle George' as they call him. I thought he had no father because he was never mentioned but then kindly Sydney asked 'Why do you call your father Uncle George?' (THANK YOU GAL). Continuing, there are the Aunties, a trio of fat, elderly ladies who looked after Frankie a lot as a child and are actually his great aunts. Lastly, there are his older siblings, Gordana (she is female...) and Louis who both play the typical older sibling role of trying to completely ignore him. I liked Gordana, she seemed to care for Frankie deeply and of how he felt but put on the traditional teenage stance of not and branding him a freak.
   And his friends weren't much better in the weird stakes. His best friend really is Gigs, who is a cricket obsessed boy who makes the duo quite comedic and outrageous. It was him that made me laugh, especially in his expressions and their exchanges in the made-up language of Chilun. Kate de Goldi kindly told us the translation in brackets next to the name which really added to the effect that it was as if Frankie was talking to you, telling you the story. It was like his own personal translation to you as a friend.

So, the bottom line. Frankie has a weird life which should make this a very quirky original novel. WRONG. Here comes skipping in Sydney (Yes, she was born there...) who although to me normal, although a tad aggressive, has a very rocky and turbulent background and family which develops throughout and we find out more about it, as does Frankie. I liked Sydney, she again was quite quirky, but was really useful in the book for filling in the gaps in Frankie's life by constantly asking questions as one of her personality traits. It helped.

The writing was good, with a mixture of the simple language of everyday people and descriptions. There was, for me, little 'laugh out loud' moments, but there was a couple of times where you have to crack a smile, mostly from the lovely Gigs and occasionally Frankie. These things are mostly for small objects or just a certain way the sentence was phrased so might not be unanimous funny wise.
My favourite part and favourite character? The Fat Controller and the in-depth description of Frankie's reaction to her catching a rat. Oh yes. This is Frankie's cat, if you wonder. Here was the part where I did actually laugh so much:

"The day began in the worst possible way. Twice. First, it begun at 3.49am, when the Fat Controller jumped through Frankie's bedroom window with a rat and proceeded to do a presentation juggle on the floor in front of his bed ... and accompanied by The Fat Controller's very peculiar deep-throated miaow of triumph ... But removing The Fat Controller wasn't easy since she became ferocious and most uncooperative if her hunting celebrations were interrupted."

I think I was in tears by the end of the chapter. Sad, I know, but I just found this part hilarious. The Fat Controller for me, MADE the book complete. Without her, I would not have enjoyed this book.

Overall, this book holds some great unique characters and interesting situations. It is nice to have it set in Northern New Zealand instead of the conventional setting of America or England. There are many quirky features of the book but there is something vital missing that makes you not quite love it as much as you may want to. I would recommend this book because of it's originality and comedic moments but beware, you may not love it.
Verdict: Could be an amazing novel, but not quite there. Good try though. 

I give it a 4 out of 5

Pages: 245
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Challenges: None

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books that I read because of another Blogger

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


1. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher - I saw reviews upon reviews about this one, raving about it, giving it normally around 4 or 5 stars. So when I saw it in Oxfam for £1.99, I bought it. And...didn't like it that much. It is now making the rounds of my friends who also want to read it - at least I get my moneys worth that way.

2. Candor - Pam Bachorz - This book intrigued me mostly because of the cover that was so interesting and weird. When I read a raving review on The Bookette amongst others, I thought it was a type of book I would enjoy so I was thrilled when my library had it in. It was, erm,  average. I lent it to my friend and she too agreed. 

3. Matched - Ally Condie - Matched was one of 'those' books. The ones that soar throughout the blogosphere. EVERYONE READS IT AND REVIEWS IT, either making it sound like the best literature ever made because they received it from the publishing company or those that although too received a free copy, made it sound not that appealing. Sometimes in the middle. So I tried it, again a library read. It was alright, but nothing special. 

4. You Against Me - Jenny Downham - I read Before I Die before I started blogging and to be honest, wasn't a great fan at all. I found it rather boring while others apparently cried. So, when others who had agreed with me, tried this one and liked it, I thought it was worth a try. WRONG. The amount of reviews I have read when people have loved loved LOVED it and I'm sitting there thinking 'it wasn't that great...' 

5. If I Stay - Gayle Forman - So far, this is one of the only blogger recommendations I have actually agreed with. This started popping up last year when there was news of a movie in the making. So I gave it ago and loved it. One of the best books I have read for a few years. I love the fact that there is a sequel and I have now bought my own version of this book. I know that some don't think it that great, but this time, I agree with the bloggers.

6. [Going to read soon] When you Reach me - Rebecca Stead - I have this awaiting my reading on my bookcase behind me right now. Again, I have seen reviews that mostly like it so I thought I could be good. And Rebecca? Hello, I have to try this one....

Sunday, 11 September 2011


I have seen so many memorial posts on the blogosphere today, I thought that I should say something like I did last year.

Today, ten years ago, was the day the Twin Towers fell and the beginning of something very new and frightening, not only for America, but for the world. Before hand, people would happily go on a plane to their chosen destination, knowing they would get there safe and sound with the ever spoken motto - 'Aeroplanes are the safest way to travel'. It's something I always keep with me when I fly.
But ten years ago, that all changed and so the decade of this new unknown sense of something so new and yet so terrible entered everyone's minds from then on. I do think of that day when I fly too, knowing that it became the beginning of, not the end, but of a new different type of terrorist era.

On the day itself, I don't remember it. I was 6 years-old at my primary school, literally a 5 minute walk from my home. I had just started Year 2 (first grade) and the sense of being so grown up had risen. I don't remember a thing of the day. But my parents tell me that they had to turn the channel in the evening on the TV because I got upset by the pictures. Me, a 6 year-old watching these horrific images on TV, so innocent. No-one should have seen them, on TV or even live. I know some may say 'Well that's bad parenting making your young daughter watch something like that'. Actually, no. They did it because they knew it was history.
I can't remember a time where the threat of terrorism hasn't hung in the air and life shouldn't be like that. From then on, something else was added for the future generations to worry about. Something that should be so free and safe.

The last week I have watched many documentaries showing the events of 9/11 with utter amazement. In some ways, I want to have been there. To seen it from a distance, witnessed the horror of it all first hand. But then, I know those that this day is so SO real to them, they probably wish they were away from it on: an onlooker.
I remember going to Florida in the October, about a month afterwards. Everyone looked warily at each other, no-one was innocent. I had a fabulous time there, but my parents said everyone looked at us, British - foreign, as if we were the terrible people who did this ten years ago. In England this could equally have happened but it did seem strange especially as Britain has helped America so many times.

I have visited Ground Zero, about two years ago when I first went to New York. I don't think people appreciate the huge area that the towers occupied, it's MASSIVE. I am so grateful and happy to know that it won't be wasted space, that something will become of this rather sacred area really. When I went on the Staten Island Ferry that goes past Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty, you can see a definite gap in the huge towers that you can only imagine it being there. To me the Empire State Building rains supreme in New York's tallest building but in many others, it will forever be the Twin Towers. The Statue of Liberty has witnessed many things - immigration, planes, high seas, a plane landing right by it in the Hudson - but the Twin Towers might have been the most shocking and poignant of them all. The World Trade Centre may not live on in infrastructure yet, she does, as do many other lucky ones.

However, life must go on and although it is safer now, it is not completely gone. The 9/11 victims did not die in vain, but to be remembered by everyone around the globe and to be as a symbol that we are never safe. Also, they have shown for us to be wary and knowledgable of these things that can struck at any point in life.
Everyone thought it was over. I know I did.

But then, they struck again.

Six years later in a place so so close to home.

What about you guys, where were you and what do you think?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

On my Bookshelf (9) - MEGA edition

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

I know I haven't done this for a while, but recently, I have received quite a few books. So here they are:

- Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen - I have been raving about this on the Tuesday Top Tens, but I am so happy to have pre-ordered this book (came out on 6th September), looking forward to reading this.
- Wither (#1) - Lauren DeStefano - I ordered this as it was half price and I have seen so many good things about it, this looks amazing and has a beautiful front cover.

- Girl, Missing - Sophie McKenzie from a review poster as part of the British Book Challenge hosted by The Bookette
- Arabella - Georgette Heyer from a competition hosted by Stephanie from Books are a Girl's Best Friend

So these arrived this morning together which I was incredibly excited about. Thank you to both of you for sending these books. 
However, I found much more than I expected when opening the package from The Bookette, I found a lovely note...

Some postcards and bookmarks from most authors I like...

And the best of all, Harry Potter bookmarks with lovely pictures on relating to the books. Thank you again Becky from The Bookette! I love this package. 

AND FINALLY, I have a new thing for this week. I got my Prize giving books. I asked you a couple of months ago for suggestions for it and the other day I actually got the books so I thought that I would tell you guys the books in a very new and special way...I HOPE THIS WORKS:

(Sorry for all the hand actions near the beginning...I was nervous and excited)
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (I have now realised that the Daphne is like the one from Scooby Doo - did not know it was spelt like that...) 
- A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness *smiles brightly*

Thanks again and have a good week :)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Film Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Starring: Asa Butterfield (Nanny McPhee), Zac Mattoon O'Brien, Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air), David Thewlis (Harry Potter), Shelia Hancock, Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria)
Made in 2008 by Miramax Films (US)
Filmed in various locations around Hungary
Directed by Mark Herman
Based on a novel by John Boyne

This is one of 'those' movies. You know the type, the one movie you've wanted to see for a LONG time because you have a connect for it (I love the book, is my connection) but you've never seen it, so when you do see it, it's SUCH a relief. Yeah, that one.

We watched this movie at the end of term as part of History, just before we left as we were studying the Nazis and I was thrilled. We spent a lesson and a half watching most of it and were going to finish it in our last ultimate lesson, which I was also excited about for a number of reasons:
b) I was so curious about how they finished the movie, as in the book if you've read it, it suddenly stops.
c) Erm, movie instead of a lesson, hello, this is like heaven for us.

But, I had a school council meeting. Joy. So, I rushed to the end of the lesson to see the end and found they'd finished it and were raving about how sad/good/amazing the end was. Double joy. And that's how I left it. So when I saw this on BBC2 the other day, I had to tape it for later watching especially with niffy recording that stores in the TV. YAY. And...the outcome? I love this movie.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is harrowing. It is ultimately sad but has many uplifting parts especially as you know Bruno helps sparkle the life of a Jewish boy. Most of all, this movie seems too real in places.
There was times when you will want to cry or laugh or look away or do all them completely together.
Considering how hard this must be to adapt without discriminating against anyone and making it much like the book but not too similar, the makers of this movie have done a spectacular job. The movie never falls flat, always keeping you guessing, waiting, wondering for the next think in Bruno's life.

From early on, there are glimmers of the underlining problems that we all know too much about: the Nazis, the Holocaust. These continue right until the end when everything is so clear and shocking that you cannot speak for a few minutes when the credits start rolling in.
Until the end, this movie is about a little boy, ignorant to the world around him with an indoctrinated sister and family. Only him and his mother read between the lines of everything surrounding them to discover the truth, and they don't even get near the entire complete truth.
Rupert Friend as the rather scared Lieutenant Kotler - I quite
like him though.... 
The characters were amazingly well played and most were much how I imagined them. Bruno was perhaps more curious and inquisitive than I imagined, much more like an innocent boy in this than the novel. I started to care for the mother as she realised gradually what she had let herself fall into and how she fought this - knowing it was wrong and standing up, even though she knew she could be killed. This was played out more I think than in the book, but I liked this. The father was also excellent at being both loyal to his country and his family. However, being played by David Thewlis (Professor Lupin in Harry Potter), I was almost expecting at any moment for him to pull out a wand and 'Patronus' the Nazis. However, it was nice to see him in a more serious different role to the one that recognised him.
The only actor that annoyed me with their likeness from book was the character of Shmuel. The actor, Jack Scanlon, was good at playing such a hard character but nothing like the Shmuel I imagined while reading. He seemed much younger than the age of 8, when in the book, he seems older beyond his years to Bruno.  It just seemed a little unrealistic to me.

The best part? The ending. I don't feel ashamed to say, I cried. Which I normally don't in movies or books. It is so sudden, and you know what is going to happen and want to shout desperately 'NO!'. I won't reveal it but it is some of the best cinematography I have seen in a while, since Inception. Just, wow. I am so surprised this film did not win more films.

It really is a a powerful movie, showing what should and shouldn't have happened. But most of all, it is a message for the next few generations of how we can re-kindle with others; how innocent and vulnerable we can be. Why shouldn't Bruno talk to Shmuel when they are the same age exactly? This, and more, really shows the barriers society makes us have sometimes. Everyone should watch this movie. And learn.

My Review of the book of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

College and a new found relative.

College starts tomorrow. *shivers*
My time on the internet and just in general not doing or thinking much ends.
Am I scared?


Tomorrow, at college, I am going to be in a new massive school, with lots of unknown judgemental people that I'll have to make friends with and call my teachers by their first name. And start the gruelling two years of A levels which, if I thought GCSE's were too hard, I am going to die with these.
Oh and the subjects I'm doing? You know, essay based ones. TOO MUCH WRITING ALREADY.

But the good thing is I get to go by train every single morning and afternoon which I love to do. So I might get some reading done if I'm not talking to anyone. And the building where the college is, is quite old so it's like going to a big old grand house for school every single day. That is pretty cool. Anyway, I'll let you know how I get on.

In other news, I found out today that I'm related to an Australian family of actors called the Edgertons. Joel and Nash Edgerton are the actors, and they're like my second/third cousin. How I found this out?

MY mother saw the name on the side of a bus and recognised it. Funny, huh?
And 'Joel' is in the remake of The Great Gatsby (which I am studying this year in English Literature) with Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher and Leonardo Di Caprio. So this is one family member I am happy with being related to....

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


So my parents have finally realised that I am a serious book fan and that I had book piling up on my IKEA bookcase by the minute. So I GOT ANOTHER ONE!
Another lovely birch wood (the wood of my desk & wardrobes so all matching!) IKEA 'Billy' bookcase with three shelves on the condition that I get rid of my ancient CD rack that we bought in France when I was like 7 and put them on the bottom shelf of the new bookcase.
Although that takes up precious book space, I need to stop buying books or I'll end up bankrupt, so I thought it was a good negotiation. Oh and the other condition...that I bake them a cake, which I have just completed.(Victoria sponge if you're wondering).
Here are some pictures of theee bookcase:

So on the top shelf are series, then, random stand alone books, and then CD's. On the top of the bookcase are library books.

This is my old one, nice and tidy...NOTICE SARAH DESSEN ON FIRST SHELF.

And what about the cake...

Cooking in the oven. 

Me in my lovely apron complete with slipper socks, Beatles shirt and leggings.

The successful cake....

The not so successful cake...this is going to be the bottom layer.

So that's it! I am quite happy with my progress today in baking. The first egg exploded but I did the next two perfectly, without any shell escaping in to the bowl. Something I have never done before...

Tuesday Top Ten: Sequels, Sequels, SEQUELS!

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

This week's theme is Sequels that I am DYING to read soon.

1. Theodore Boone: The Abduction - John Grisham - I read the first in this series only a couple of weeks ago and swiftly found out that my friend had also read the first and second in the series and she, herself, is dying to talk to me about what happens. I better read this one soon...

2. The Rogue's Princess - Eve Edwards - I PRE-ORDERED THIS AND STILL HAVEN'T READ IT. The CAPS say enough. 

3. Where She Went - Gayle Forman - SAME FOR #2. 

4. Crossed - Ally Condie - Although, I'm not a mega wave-the-flag fan of Matched, the first book, I would like to know what happens next. Also, the cover is preeetty and blue and did I mention pretty? Oh and I want her to go for Xander. Ky's pooey. 

5. Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen - I only got this the other day and whoa, I screamed in excitement (no joke). I got this BEFORE ANYONE ELSE I KNOW OF. So I was slightly excited...

6. Now - Morris Gleitzman - After saying to myself that I didn't mind if I read the sequels to Once or not, it seems like I AM. This looks so interesting and a nice round up to a great series so far with the perspective from Felix's granddaughter - I take it it's after WWII now. 

7. Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison - WHY ARE HARDCOVERS SO EXPENSIVE. I am longed to read this one since I finished I was Jane Austen's Best Friend. Yet the paperback comes out some time next year, can I wait that long?  

8. The Last Little Blue Envelope - Maureen Johnson - For those that have read this and reviewed, well, IT'S NOT COME OUT IN THE UK YET. Or if it has, I haven't seen it! It's showing up on Waterstones and Amazon but yet, no bookie in shoppie. Urgh, books can be stressful sometimes...

Friday, 2 September 2011


So for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or didn't see my mention of this subject at the end of Nessie's birthday post because you were marvelling at the amazing Candy Mountain cake, I got something in the mail the other day when I got home...


Oh yes. I have been talking about one for a while now, so when I mentioned it the other week just before my results, I never thought anything would happen. In fact, it did.
My parents bought me the 3G version as a present for my results, which I am  thrilled about! It's so beautiful.

I haven't downloaded many books yet and I'll probably use it more on holiday, but the ones I have downloaded are great (Note: The free ones are the ones I have downloaded...)

So here are some pictures I took of it in my excitement....

So I got a lovely navy (my favourite!) cover to go with it which was around £6.99 so when it's in a bag, it looks like a journal. 


It's weird for me, that it never truly turns off, but that may be me....

Yeaaah, the free ones...

So I love my new Kindle! :)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Then - Morris Gleitzman (#2)


When I finished the review for the first book in this series, Once, I said that I would look out for the rest of the books in the series. However, after going to my nearest town - no HIGH STREET (I never go there because it is so small and has a crap selection of books in the library), I would this one, waiting for me.
WOW, didn't realise I would find it THAT quickly. So...I picked it up.

Synopsis: The book starts where the previous one left off after they have escaped. They are two runaway kids in the middle of Nazi-occupied Poland who would shoot them straight away, no questions asked. Soon, they find shelter with a nice, older woman and start to build a family and change their lives. But then, the Nazis come.

Review: When I say it starts where Once left off, I mean it. I starts literally seconds afterwards and is a nice bridge from the old one. If you have not read Once, you could read this one, although they do ever so often refer to past events. I think it's better if you did though, you have a total understanding of the pain and suffering they went through, and the back story of how they met one another.
Felix is Jewish, and was sent to an orphanage by his parents so to protect him from being killed. Zelda's parents, although were Nazi loyalists, were shot dead by them and tried to burn the house down to kill Zelda. However, Felix saved her and she stayed with him.

This is a harrowing, sad, depressing book, that always keep you guessing and wondering. Once was like this but also had comical and happy moments mixed in. Whenever things start to look up for Felix, his whole world gets destroyed all over again. There are twists and turns like a roller coaster and some of the best literature is displayed in this book, it should of won so many more prizes. You never expect anything that happens.

Felix was, once again, a delightful protagonist and I really felt for him, especially latterly. He seems to start having a good time and then, everything is crumbled down. He's a good guy and just wants to protect everyone but himself. I know, the events are not true for just one person in this time, but it makes you really think, through Felix, the horrible, vile times Jewish people had under Nazi rule. Morris Gleitzman makes you think over and over again in your mind, the simple question: Why? WHY? Just, why.
Something we may never know.
I said in my review for Once that Zelda annoyed me. A lot, especially with her constant 'Don't you know anything?' ERM, NO WE DON'T. Anyway, that lovely line was in this book too, BUT not as much and I actually started really connecting with Zelda too, especially when she became a different person - Violetta (I really like that name actually). Zelda is also only six years-old when Felix is ten. It's strange how she seems so grown up and honestly, I thought she was the same age as Felix until said. It's disgraceful how much she had been through just at that age, and many other real people too.

Once again, Gleitzman has started each chapter with the name of the book and ended it the same way - which is so original. At the end, Felix is suddenly so overcome by emotions that he does something completely out of character and quite frightening. However, once he is reminded of his past, he goes back to his old self again.
This book is very different to Once. Instead of kind of setting the scene and introducing characters, it focuses more on other aspects of life in Poland at that time. We see rationing, the Hitler Youth, the SS killing squads and many other social and cultural details. I think I preferred this book to the first and definitely enjoyed it more because of this.

This book is very harrowing and makes you feel very uncomfortable frequently. You are constantly on the edge waiting and knowing what may happen. Events happen sometimes so quickly, you don't realise that you've just read around 10 pages. This is worth a read for anyone that read either Once or just loves this period of history. It may be about younger children, but this book is for any age - but warning, you may cry.
Verdict: A definite read, but I would read Once first before you move onto this. If you didn't like Once, keep going - it's worth it.

I give it 5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.morrisgleitzman.com/
Pages: 183
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction

Related Posts:
Book #1: Once
Book #3: Now
Book #4: After