Wednesday, 31 August 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

....NESSIE.

Now, some of you may have seen her drifting around the blogosphere but the wonderful Nessie from Queen Nessie's Musings for the General Populace has her 19th birthday today, the last year in her teenage years.
SO I would just like to wish her a lovely birthday and YAAY to reaching 19! Nessie has been an old follower for a while and we've both guest posted on each others blogs and comment, she's probably my oldest blogging friend (even though we've only known each other for a couple of months...) ANYWAY...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND HOPE YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU WANT.

Also, I found this rather hilarious picture when searching for a picture, for those who have not watched Charlie the Unicorn clips on YouTube - GET THERE NOW.


In other news, my Kindle arrived the morning...

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Books on my TBR pile

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


This week's theme is Books that are on your TO BE READ pile for this autumn/fall.


1. What Happened To Goodbye - Sarah Dessen - AH. I PRE-ORDERED THIS IN JUNE. AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ IT. It's driving me crazy looking at it every day when I wake up on my bookshelf. And I've been ignoring the reviews and tweets about it too....urgh.


2. Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen - This arrived on my doorstep yesterday! This is the second in the new series Bright Young Things. Another pre-order. I'm so happy because I have it before Waterstones shelves do. It's being released on 6th September which is exactly a week's time...ah I love pre-ordering.


3. The Rogue's Princess - Eve Edwards - AGAIN. I ordered this for August and STILL haven't read it, another one driving me crazy. Enough said.


4. Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada - I bought this for £1.99 in Oxfam the other day and read the beginning while I was sitting at the till and 3 people, yes THREE, said 'Oh that's a good book, you should read it' while sitting there. So, I think I might follow their advice, especially as I'm going back to Berlin in December for the Christmas market. 


5. Where She Went - Gayle Forman - Eurgh. Pre-order from April...


6. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - Everyone is talking about this book at the moment and I bought it as part of a 3 for 2 offer to read it as part of revision for my exams. Erm, that never happened...so I better read it soon...


7. Another Eva Ibbotson - I have not yet conquered all Eva Ibbotson books that I own, I have about 2 left so I hope to curl up on the train to college with my big coat and scarf and one of her delightful books.


SO, you're probably wondering why I haven't read any of these books, most being pre-ordered. Well, over the holidays I go to the library for all my books as I have the time to make the trip which I won't in term time, so these books have lived on my bookcase watching the recyclable books being read and taken away. Sorry for my ramble, I was going this quickly.

Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery - Keren David

I saw this book when I was looking for a third book for a 3 for 2 offer in Waterstones. It's amazing how hard it always is to find that third book in an offer, whether you get it free or pay for it. It's actually incredibly irritating.
Anyway, it looked fun but I wasn't sure about paying £6.99 when I didn't know what it would turn out like and I've never heard of Karen David before, although apparently she has other notable books for YA...whoops.
This is also a relatively new book, only being released this month, so glad I got the chance to read it.

Synopsis: Lia is really just a normal teenager. Her mother is a nag, her sister a pain, her father's bakery business is failing AND she is getting no-where in her quest for the potentially paranormal but gorgeous Raf. Oh, and she just won £8 million in the lottery. Suddenly everything is changing for good, and for bad.


Review: Let's face it, all teenage girls now who are about 15/16 have dreamt of that perfect life living somewhere without parents, and had the obsession with Twilight and vampires in general that sparkle like a Christmas tree*.  But we know it won't happen for a while...or ever in some cases. So I think most girls can relate to Lia, well, partly.
Lia wins the £8 million after her best friend, Jack, buys her a lottery ticket as a late birthday present. The book starts with you finding out with Lia that she has won, while she is having a big argument with her mother.
This is a YA chick lit book really, which was great for me as I haven't read one in quite a while. I did enjoy this book but not as much as I would have liked I think. The book is crafted so you are given a piece of advice from her 'guide' and then her experiences of how she learnt this, which made it interesting and so that you could kind of guess what would happen, but all you were prepared for the hilarious antics of 16 year-old Lia.

This book in parts could be hilarious but I rarely 'LOL-ed' (Laughed out Loud). However, it got funnier as it went along and it was more like a sitcom kind of book, you only find it funny because of the situation she was in. Lia is what I call the exaggerated girl teenager. She is fashionable, only thinks of herself (oh and boys) and gets eventually everything she wants. Nothing like most teenagers get really. I was cringing fiercely for her at the beginning, especially with how naively she would agreed to silly things, how stupid she would buy things just so she can rush onto the next thing to spend on. Then, when things started to go wrong, she became much more mature and I started to like her more as a character.
I like Jack and Shazia, her friends but for me, they just stopped talking to her so abruptly before anything big happened and then, suddenly pop back in again nearer the end. It was the typical situation where you lose your friends, though, but I could kind of tell what was going to happen at the end of them.

One thing I liked about this book is that Keren David doesn't give everything away about everyone straight away. There were things that we only find out about until right at the end. She keeps you constantly guessing and guessing until she delivers the punch, most things I would not have guessed otherwise.
  This book is from a UK author and I think other nationalities reading it would find out a lot about being a teenager in England. Normally chick lit books are set in America, eg. Sarah Dessen books so it was nice to compare and have some familiarity for me. Lia is in Year 11, the year I have just left, which is like 10th Grade in America. She is about to do her GCSE's and then there is no more compulsory education, she can either go to college (which is like the last two years of high school) or start working. Being the girl that she is, she wants to do neither.

Raf was a great character and he made the story seem more normal and realistic even when Lia was being so stupid with her money. He is very mysterious and David makes you think certain things about him before revealing the truth right at the end. This is great, right. But. Instead of revealing things in bits, it's just told all at the end by his brother like 'Oh yeah, this is what happens but you should know this, right?' sort of way, which is nice to show he isn't a weird paranormal vampire but then, it was a slight disappointment of how innocent the excuse was.

There are constant surprises throughout with every single character, but the surprise for me was Karen David's writing. Most of the book consists of normal, informal, readable language with you would expect any teenager to write, which I like - makes it a bit more realistic. But suddenly, in one of the last chapters, this passage of beautiful, lyrical descriptions of nature appeared and I had to read it over and over again, it sounded amazing. It was unexpected. I don't know if it was done on purpose or what, but it was such a good piece of writing. So, turn to page 305 and near the bottom of the page describes the house Lia visits. It's lovely.

Overall, I'm not sure if I enjoyed this book. I did like it and I didn't feel upset or annoyed by the end but I can't say I absolutely loved it, mostly because of the poor beginning. I've read that this is a change of genre from normal for Keren David, and I think this is a good debut for this genre. She should keep it up, but just tweak some things. Lovely writing with a lovely protagonist. I think, if I ever won the lottery, I think I would know what to do now...
Verdict: This is a definite read for chick lit fans, just don't expect it to be perfect.

*NOTE: Although, the whole world and my friends were going nuts for Edward Cullen. I, however, was not. I've never read the books and only seen the Twilight and Breaking Dawn movie, and only because I was dragged there. So I half experienced this.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.wheniwasjoe.blogspot.com/
Pages: 339
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Challenges: BBC

Friday, 26 August 2011

Theodore Boone - John Grisham (#1)

This is a very different type of book from most YA fiction. John Grisham is known for writing gritty legal dramas for adults in crime, but this one is completely different, where it's aimed at young people or teenagers instead. I think this is what attracted me as it's so far away from his normal literature. And I wanted to know about Theo.

Synopsis: In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he's only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he's one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.
The stakes are high, but Theo won't stop until justice is served.

Review: This is such an original storyline and crime and murder trials are something I love to read about, mostly because you don't see many around that are really recommended or aimed at younger people. The legalities and the trial details are so complicated and confusing, many authors may be afraid to touch the topic for YA, especially if the reader is clueless to the legal system. 
Now, I know some bits and pieces that I have picked up from History and TV shows on law, the basics. But I know nothing about American courts, which is where the book is set and I've heard it very different from England (although, I have no idea if that is true). This is one thing John Grisham did extremely well. The details of how it works is fed throughout the first half of the book, normally when Theodore is explaining it to another character. He says it simply and clearly without a bunch of smart sounding words that have no meaning to the likes of a teenager. I, now, know a lot more about the US judgement system, which makes me feel quite clever.

I liked the writing as well, as it flowed so well and wasn't packed full of fancy words, but not too simply either. I never found it boring or tedious and I understood what was happening all the time.
Mostly, I didn't find it boring but there were times during the description of the trial when things kept being repeated over and over again (which was a tad annoying) that I had to stop reading for a couple of minutes and then continue again. I know in a real trial, details of the crime are repeated hundreds of times, but in a book where you can change reality, it's tedious. It really shows that you have to be dedicated to be a lawyer, to be interesting in it - something I shall NOT do. 
My only other critism is the unknown witness. Yeah, I know why you didn't come forward but I'm sorry, one minute he's revealing how he can't come forward yet he wants to, then a couple of chapters later, he's saying he doesn't care if the KILLER GOES FREE when he knows he did it. Just a bit weird for me.

I liked the Boone family in general, especially Theo and this dog, Judge (who is like a boy trapped in a dog's body). Theo seems so innocent as a 13 year-old boy yet he knows so much about law and how is works - more than a boy of that age should be allowed to know really. He is funny, charming and entertaining for the reader. His friends and family are equally although I found 'Mr Boone' a bit...well he doesn't say much really. 
Theo seems in much ways younger than 13 with how innocent and naive he is portrayed but then, older in others - because of his knowledge. 
With the characters, I didn't really see the point of April, his supposedly best friend, as she's only in a handful of pages, while in the middle of her parents divorce, which I thought Theo would be involved in really. It just seemed strange she wasn't in it that much.

I ended the book feeling deflated. I enjoyed the book so much and engaged with it so much that I needed to know what happened. What would happen? Would the witness stand? Would the murderer be guilty or not? 
Oh. It stops with Theo coming back to school after a view of the trial and being asked to help with legal affairs for a teacher. It's like someone cut the end off with a knife. So I was disappointed with it, a bit bewildered with an end where the loose ends were not sewn together. 
Until Monday when I went to the library. And found the sequel to this book and realised why I the loose ends were not sewn neatly. They were awaiting a sequel all about April. Brilliant.

Overall, the book is great, so unique and engaging and really makes you feel an expert in the world of law yourself. You join with Theo and are made to think the opposite to the truth before thrown back into a different judgement all together. This is an amazing first YA novel for John Grisham and I look forward to more to come.
Verdict: Give it a read if you already know some bits of law, and don't get put off by the end!

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.theodoreboone.com/
Pages: 263
Publisher: Hodder
Challenges: None 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

THE RESULTS ARE IN

So after feeling sick for about 2 hours wondering what the hell I got, I got THE piece of paper.

So, I did better than I expected and I am so so SO pleased with everything I got. Here we are:

English Literature: A*
English Language: A*
Science: A
Maths: A (Erm, sorry, wrong paper I think...)
Media Studies: A
History: A* (THANK YOU HISTORICAL FICTION)
Drama: A (A* in Performance)
French: A
Religious Studies: A

So no B's...so pleased.
I've just come back from dinner with my parents in Nandos and my dad has said that my present for these results is A KINDLE. IN short, I love today.

SO HAPPY! Thanks guys for putting up with my rambling and complaining - it was worth it.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Results. Are. Tomorrow.

Right now, I have just come back from meeting some friends while we, together, jitter and ramble and squeel about tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I am getting my GCSE Results. Oh yeah, those important exams I was rambling on about earlier in the year. YEAH I MEAN THOSE. They determine what college I go to, what A Levels I do, what kind of job I want to get etc, etc. ETC.

So I'm freaking out right now. Big time. I think I did okay but naturally, I'm scared and will refuse to talk to anyone known to be cleverer than me.
I will of course display what I got on here like I did for my Mock Results as you guys had to put up with my complaining, rambling and just probably sounding like I was going mad....which I did. I don't blame you.


In other news, I just came back from a few days away with my parents in Mallorca, Spain, which was lovely and relaxing and very very hot and sunny. I went all around the island on drives and walks and just being an English tourist really. One place I did LOVE was Cuevas del Drach, which means Dragon Caves. And you go into this beautifully structured caves and have a look around with about 200 other people and then come to this lake deep underground. These dimly lit boats row around the lake playing gorgeous classical music, it was amazing.
Then, to round it off, you get a ride in one of these boats across the lake, which, although rocky, was great fun and a great thing to do.

Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow when I come back. Wish me luck at 10am GMT when I collect them...I don't think I'm going to sleep...


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

An Education - Lynn Barber

I admit I wanted to read this book for two reasons. 1) A couple of months ago, I saw the film version starring Carey Mulligan which ultimately made her more famous than previously, even when she starred in one of Doctor Who's best ever episodes, Blink. I liked the movie, even though it jumped around a lot. The acting was the thing that clinched it for me. 2) An Education, book and movie, are set around the area I live in, so it's amazing to read about what life was like in the 1960's when my parents were growing up (Although, they were still in single figures, they don't remember it much) and even know where they are talking about and what it is like in modern day terms. Let's just say I was looking forward to this book...

Synopsis: When Lynn Barber was the mere age of sixteen, a man in a posh Bristol car offered her a ride home from a club. By saying yes, a long journey began which changed Lynn's outlook on life. This mysterious man charmed her for two years taking her innocence away, taking her to fine restaurants to drink expensive wines, going to exotic places with interesting, richer people than herself, as well as befriending her parents. Lynn Barber writes about her experiences and the devastating news she found out before it was too late, as well as moulding her life back together.

Review: I was expecting so much more than I got. For those who has seen the film and loved it, I would approach this book with caution as it it nothing like the film at all, including some of the finer details. Nick Hornby (screenwriter for the film) changed many aspects of her earlier life, as Barber starts off with, to make her seem less dull and more exciting. She never played cello and the name of the man she met was changed to David from Simon, which is sadly the name of her late husband.
All in all, I don't quite know what to say about this book so this may be short.

I was expecting the whole book to be about her early days and in depth of the two years with Simon. Indeed, they were not. In fact, the mention of the film is only 25 pages long in the second chapter and this part I seemed to relate and engage with the most. The rest of this 183 page book (thank god, it wasn't longer really) is story upon story of her Oxford years, becoming a journalist and the death of her husband which got more tedious and boring as the book progressed. In this bit, however, you really get a feel for what life was like in the affluent middle/upper class and of what Twickenham/Richmond was like then, especially for Lynn as she went to a private school without actually having much money.

Lynn's childhood was in Twickenham, a suburb of London, over the Thames from Richmond. Both, more Richmond however, are wealthy areas where a lot of celebrities and millionaires live, such as Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger, David Tennant. It's also popular for business people, as it's a 20 minute train ride to London Waterloo. Richmond is also one of the safest borough's in London as has been for a while so no wonder Lynn's mystery man was rich and had a very expensive car.

It was interesting to see how this young girl picked the pieces up after nearly refusing a place at Oxford University, a place she'd dreamt of going to marry Simon. We get a sense of how she lived her life fully with a mixture of lovely moments and odd anecdotes, as well as of course sad ones too. You get every emotion in this book.

I've never read a biography before, although my grandmother raves about them, so I don't know if I can make a firm judgement on if this is well written or not. To me it was informal and a little bit soppy in places. Some it was ultra formal, others like she was having a chitchat with you over coffee. It was a little bit up and down but interesting. Mostly. It took me four days to read this, normally a book this size should take half of that. It was slow after the initial chapters of her teenage years and I was bored out my mind by her chatting at times.
The lady herself comes across selfish, irritating and someone I would probably find annoying. However, early on, she admits of her selfish personality, but I didn't think about that too much. It was her whining that made me irritated. She boasts about her various prizes for interviewing and of the places and things she has seen. Alright, it's a memoir, but it was mentioned too often for my liking.

This book is average, it's not spectacular but not completely rubbish. This is great for the non-movie watchers and like me, live in the area she talks about and know about all the names of roads and landmarks around. It was pleasurable for mostly that reason. I also enjoyed looking at the glossy pictures showing her life.
Verdict: Average, although way too much time spent on things not to do with her.

I give it a 3 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/lynnbarber
Pages: 183
Publisher: Penguin Books
Challenges: BBC

Tuesday Top Ten: Books you Loved but never wrote a Review for it.

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


This week's theme is Books you LOVED but you never wrote a review for it for various reasons - hard to write one, before your blogging days etc.


1. The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose - Mary Hooper - This was my first ever Mary Hooper book, recommended to me by a friend who later de-friended me. I am so thankful to her that she did give me an insight into Mary Hooper, although I'm sure I would have discovered her at some point. This is still a favourite of mine but I haven't read it for a while now. 


2. The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen (basically all other Sarah Dessen books that don't have reviews) - This was my second Sarah Dessen book, discovered about a year before I started blogging, my first being Just Listen which I found in the library after staring at the front cover for weeks. It is my favourite at the moment of her collection of books. Sadly, I have only done 4 reviews for Dessen although I've read all her book apart from the new one. AHH, NON SARAH DESSEN READERS, PICK THIS UP NOW. I MEAN, NOW.


3. Broken Soup - Jenny Valentine - I like Jenny Valentine. A lot of people however don't. She was quirky and interesting and I love the UK cover for this book, I mean LOVE. 
I need really to read this book again, but I would recommend this one, mostly because the plot seems so puzzling and mysterious.


4. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - This book changed the way I look at life. I was always interested to know more about this period, only knowing the bare facts and not even understand that. So, when at the beginning of 2009, BBC broadcasted a TV adaptation of the book during a week. The last episode made me cry.
Anyway, I was interesting in this girl, knowing she loved reading and stories (I admit I thought Anne Fine was her...bad I know). So, I asked for the book for my birthday, got it and read it and realised that life can change so instantly. Everyone should read this book. Everyone.



6. Huge - Sasha Paley - I've always felt conscious about the way I look. It's natural being a thin, teenage girl who has rather gorgeous looking faced friends. I am harsh on myself I know. So after reading this after admiring it on the shelves, I realised I don't want to be fat and feel ugly all the time, no-one should. I did read this last year when I was blogging, but it was so hard to write a review on and at that point, I had no followers and felt it wasn't worth it. I'll write a review one day.



Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: FREEBIE WEEK

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


This week's theme is a FREEBIE so I can do whatever I liiiikkkeee *evil laugh* so, after long consideration...my theme for this week is...Best Time periods that I would love to go back to for a week and books that are set then


1. The Tudors - The Tudors are so interesting for me. Everyone knows about the ruling and the religion, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Spanish Armada, Bloody Mary etc. But it's the little things you find out about that are the best. What it was like to be an actor at that time, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, the sanitation, what different parts of London were like - I find it all to interesting and amazing. This is one period of history I would love to go back to, so to experience the gorgeous dresses, the culture, the food, the fairs, the wealth. It's somewhere I want to live as now really. 
Books for this era:
- Lady Grace Mysteries
- The Other Countess series - Eve Edwards
- The Lady in the Tower - Marie-Louise Jensen
- The Other Boleyn Girl - 
- Mary, Bloody Mary - Carolyn Meyer
- At the Sign of the Sugarplum - Mary Hooper
- At the House of the Magican series - Mary Hooper

2. 1700's - Yes, Jane Austen prime time. I know we all read about it in Jane Austen-esque books and think 'Oh my god, I want to be there' probably mostly thanks to Austen herself. Thanks. And then the movies want me to be there more. To wear the simple dresses, not just dance randomly where you're not sure where to put your hands and legs but dances that have actual moves you have to follow, the music. Just the simpleness of it all makes it so appealing I think. For me, it's mostly the dresses... I'm talking 1700's England here but after reading a certain book, Dutch 1700 sounds nice too with all the artists milling around.
Books for this era (Yep, mostly Jane Austen type books...): 
- I was Jane Austen's Best Friend - Cora Harrison
- Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
- Girl with the Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier (Dutch)
- Me and Mr Darcy - Alexandra Potter
- Cassandra's Sister - Veronica Bennett

3. Nazi Germany - so yeah, not the most happiest times in history to choose from but for some unknown reason, I find this depressing era rather amazing. I'm not turning Nazi, no no NO WAY, but I find it so weird and interesting that they got away with it. Going this subject for a year and then a final exam on it probably helped my interest but still, I liked this era before then. I think the fact that it's so close to us in history yet a lot has changed then is a reason and that as it's so close in history really, that this was acceptable? Amazing.
Books set in this era:
- Auslander - Paul Dowswell
- Once trilogy - Morris Gleitzman
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
- Chocolate Cake with Hitler - Emma Craigie
- Annexed - Sharon Dogar
- A Song for Summer - Eva Ibbotson
- The Morning Gift - Eva Ibbotson
- The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (NEED TO READ)
- Alone in Berlin - Hans Fallada
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

4. Romans/Greeks - Okay, I think we all need to stand up and clap the Romans because without them we would not have a lot of stuff we take for granted now *claps*, like roads, central heating, plumbing, sanitation, medical cures - things we wouldn't necessarily associate with them inventing especially as, living all those years ago, they had little technology that we have now and not a lot had happened on Earth then. It's amazing to think about really.
Books set in that era (Few, not many people want to tackle it):
- The Roman Mysteries
- Julius Caesar - Shakespeare

5. The 1910's/1920's (preferable England or the US) - Doesn't everybody? The music, hair, speakeasies, clothes, dresses, freedom for the end of WWI. Great. There's the boom and the whole world is doing well in money stakes, well until 1929, but you know, it was nearly the 30's. Oh, it just sounds like it could have been great to live as a young girl then, with so many opportunities. With the fashion, dresses went from really long Victorian style to the short, straight number we associate with the 20's. Both of which, I want to wear. 
Books set in that era:
- The Luxe Series - Anna Godbersen (starts in 1899)
- Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen (1929)
- The Secret Countess - Eva Ibbotson(1919)
- Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Okay, the 30's, but kind of the same)


Once - Morris Gleitzman

This book is one of those books I see everywhere but for some reason never attempt to pick up despite how short the book is and the time period its set in that I find interesting.
So, when I was at the library last month with my friend, who was going away for the whole of August, shoved this in my hand to borrow, I didn't complain but meekly say 'Okay then.' and walk over to the new weird too much technology of a computer which the libraries have decided to replace real people stamping a book. Now, you can go around a library and ironically not talk to anyone at all.
Sorry, anyway. The book.

Synopsis: The story follows Felix, a Jewish boy with a wild imagination and inclination to tell wonderful stories, at the height of the Second World War in Poland, where he escapes a convent to try and find his parents to warn them that the Nazis are 'book haters' after he witnesses soldiers burning books in the convent library. Along the way, he meets Zelda, a orphaned girl who has no idea of what it happening to the world around her. Soon, they find their way to the cellar of a print house in a Warsaw ghetto where, with others, they are fighting to save their lives.

Review: Once is a short story, much like a possible story Felix would tell himself. The story itself is sad, poignant and all together too real. We all know the story of how Hitler came to power, how the Nazis got support, what they did to innocent people and especially, their hatred and killing of the Jews before and during the Holocaust. We have studied it, analysed every tactic used and maybe even shed a tear over it - I know I could write a couple of essays on that period of German history, good and, mostly, bad points. It's something we know so much about, especially it happening just over 70 years ago, yet why do some things still get to us and surprise us?

This is one of those books that could make you feel a lot of things - sad, happy, depressed, surprised, confusion. There is a whirlwind of emotions that you feel throughout this book. This is mostly down to Felix's nativity of what is happening, he is no idea what every event means and why people are being so bitter. It is so heart breaking to think that a little Jewish harmless boy could have been through something very similar to the one told in this book, you want to tell him what is happening. Tell him to stop making excuses of what is happening. It is stressful really. But, although by now, you may be thinking that this book probably isn't the best option for the summer holidays (and it probably isn't really), the ending make me so happy and made everything I felt beforehand in the book worthwhile. There are glimmers of sadness in the last paragraphs, but for Felix, it is a happy one and I guess for the unlucky others too. The ending really does round the book off and make it a happy, rewarding book really.

Felix is an interesting protagonist. He has suffered a lot, although he doesn't particularly think so and tries to help others who are worst off than him. Even as a boy, he never thinks of himself. The motto on my copy of the book is 'Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least Once' which to be honest, I didn't pay much attention to but after reading, I sort of understand more what it means. You will too, if you read it.
Like I said, Felix is an interesting choice. He is at the age where he knows what is happening around him, but doesn't completely understand until told. We get both sad and hilarious alternative views of events throughout the story, that really show you how children of that age think. I liked Felix as a narrator, he was interesting and heart warming. I wanted to know him personally.
Zelda, on the other hand, is completely different. I really did not like her at all. Okay, so her parents are dead and she has no idea what is going on or who Felix is. And she keeps getting ill, but why the meanness, girl? She continuous kept saying to Felix 'Don't you know anything?' which if I was Felix, I would have punched her right from the first time she said that. I'm sorry, but hey, I've just been knocked unconscious and just woken up, of course I have no idea who this weird, strange but kind man is, Zelda? Get a little perspective! Okay, so she was nice in some parts, but not much. Did. Not. Like. Her. At. All.
Right, my rant in done. That is kind of the only thing I really didn't like with this book.

The book is a great and original portrayal of what life was like for a young Jewish boy like Felix and also, of life in the Polish ghettos. Throughout the book, there is a constant sense of fear, anticipation of the Nazis to be around the corner, brain washing and ultimately, hate. It is not a book you would read to feel how great you life is, but to look around at yourself and appreciate life as it comes, good and bad like Felix does. I have a feeling Felix and his story will stay on for a long time now.
Verdict: READ IT! But it isn't perfect, and have tissues ready.

I give it 4 out of 5

This is the first in the Once trilogy, the second and third being, Then and Now. I might have a look out for them at the library just to see the rest of Felix's story.

Author's Website: http://www.morrisgleitzman.com/
Pages: 150
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction

Related Posts:
Book #2: Then
Book #3: Now
Book #4: After

Other Books set during the Nazis:
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
Chocolate Cake with Hitler - Emma Craigie
Annexed - Sharon Dogar
Auslander - Paul Dowswell

Monday, 15 August 2011

HELP! I need suggestions!

I need some book reader's help.

I won this award at the end of the school year, a quite well, it's the highest prize you can get (Yes I am filled to the brim of happiness but I think the award also shows my inner geek too so I don't tell everyone about it...)

So, with it I got a £15 ($23) voucher to buy a book of my choice to have my name in engraved in and I get a fancy trophy, even though the school, being recyclable obviously, takes it back a year later for my annoying and rude year below.
But this book can't be any book. I can't just rush to WH SMITHS and rush into the Young Adult section and buy about 3 books, oh no.
They have to be special books. Like ones you would use in the future for your future career (And I know what that is going to be...oh wait, let me get my crystal ball to have a look...) or a book that means something. And no, I'm not going to get Pride and Prejudice or Of Mice and Men and relive my English Literature coursework and exam all over again.

So I'm stuck. I was thinking of getting The Great Gatsby but I found out that's one of the books I'm doing in college and I don't want to write all over a special book.
So the only thought I have is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Yes, yes...) but I need another one.

Does anyone have any suggestions of a classic that I could get with the money? Or any suggestions of NOT what to get out of the classics? 
I would really appreciate it.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Returners - Gemma Malley

I was interested in reading this book purely because I loved Gemma Malley's dystopian series, The Declaration about what live could be like if we were dependent on drugs that made us live forever. It is such an interesting concept and was written so well that I felt sad when I finished the last book.
So, of course, I want more Gemma Malley, so this book appealed to me, so I grabbed it in the library the other day when I saw it.

Synopsis:  London teenager Will Hodge is miserable. His mother is dead, his father's political leanings have grown radical, and his friends barely talk to him. To top it off, he's having nightmares about things like concentration camps. Then Will notices he's being followed by a group of people who claim to know him from another time in historyIt turns out they are Returners, reincarnated people who carry with them the memory of atrocities they have witnessed in the past. Will realizes that he, too, is a Returner. But something about his memories is different, and with dawning horror, Will suspects that he wasn't just a witness to the events, he was instrumental in making them happen. Set in the near future, with the world on the verge of a new wave of ethnic cleansing, Will must choose to confront the cruelty he's known in his past lives, or be doomed to repeat it.




Review: The whole idea of what the Returners are is interesting first of all and something that could be quite viable in reality, especially if they are unknown to anyone that isn't one themselves. After reading this book, I liked the idea of them, but I still don't understand the reason for them. Will constantly asks their purpose overall for history but they are always so vague and mysterious. They can never stop the suffering that happens, just live through it as an experience, which I understand so the suffering of those lives on but why have the Returners continuously?
This book is also a political novel and tackles a lot of the social issues that have arisen in England since the recession. Does wealth overall everything fundamentally? Should those that are not English citizens actually be living here? What would happen if an extremist party did get into the government? All these questions are tackled and more and I know that any English person at least would relate to this novel and help understand these topics. There are some racy and taboo like comments said that make you blush throughout but this is all seen as a bad thing, which is the general opinion at the moment.


The book is set in 2016, and nothing really has changed to now. Really, for the political side to the novel, it is showing what effect the recession has just under ten years on. All the things that happen to people in money troubles, happen to Will and it is quite hard hitting for him and the reader with the lengthy descriptions of the fights his parents had before his mother killed herself, both violent and just shouting. This is a book I would say is definitely just for people in their late teens from about 14.


Will was an average character, he was really just a typical boy. I found him neither interesting nor annoying. Although, I found his constant admiration for Clare rather irritating and felt like shouting 'We know you like her!' The characters of the Returners that you met start off rather creepy and scary and I didn't blame Will not wanting to join them. However, they open up and we see the life of a Returner through the grandfather-like Douglas and teenage Emily. Now, I liked Douglas although he was way too philosophical at times. But Emily. To start, she seemed to have hinted to have had a relationship with Will's past self. But nothing ever came out, I have no idea if it was true or not, although I doubt there was something. 
I liked the way it was written. There was never a point where the action and tension dipped, you always want to know who, what, why, how. Although the continuous use of short sentences could be annoying, I liked it. It  made it much more interesting and different to read to me. 


I liked also how Gemma Malley hasn't given everything away at the beginning and made it so what you think will happen halfway through takes a completely different direction by the end. It's definitely not a book to read to relax and feel good about yourself but it is worth a read for those that like dystopian fiction. 
It's not as good and well-rounded as her previous trilogy but for those that are new to Gemma Malley or new to the dystopian genre, it's a good read and enjoyable despite the number of spelling mistakes I found while reading (hewas, just to name a few), one slight pet hate of mine and I'm sure others.


This is a worth while read for those that haven't heard of Gemma Malley before or are new to the dystopian genre but I would read this and then continue straight on to The Declaration series. The idea is a good and rather puzzling interesting one, I'm just not sure if it was executed in the right way yet.
Verdict: Worth a look but not as good as The Declaration by far. However, Gemma Malley does give some interesting things to think about which I think shall stay with me for a while now. I shall leave you with one of them:


'"But nothing Douglas. Everyone has a choice. Everyone. All the time. You can walk through a door or decide not to. You can let your past dictate your future or you can throw two fingers up at it and walk away."'

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.gemmamalley.com/
Pages: 257
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: BBC

Check out my review on Gemma Malley's first book from the amazing The Declaration series:

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Cassandra's Sister - Veronica Bennett

Because we were rushed off our feet on my holiday and doing lots of different things which meant I was SO tired in the evening, I didn't actually read that much as I normally do so only got through this book while in America.

I have read this book before and from what I could remember I found it interesting and was one of the first books I read about Jane Austen herself and her family. This book is a lot like the movie starring Anne Hathaway, Becoming Jane as it is set around that time, although not in so much detail as the movie. 


Synopsis: Young Jane — or Jenny, as she is called — is a girl with a head full of questions. Surrounded by her busy parents and brothers, Jenny finds a place for her thoughts in the companionship of her older sister, Cassandra. Theirs is a country life full of balls and visits, at which conversation inevitably evolves on one topic: marriage. But the arrival of their worldly-wise cousin disrupts Jenny’s world, bringing answers to some of her questions and providing a gem of an idea. 


Review: This book follows Jane Austen inventing and writing two of her most popular novels, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility as well as some events that we know happens to her in her life, like the idea of falling in love. Sadly and perhaps unexpectedly, Jane Austen never married. She was offered one proposal by the brother of one of her friends who she accepted and then changing her mind the next day. As portrayed in Becoming Jane and mentioned in numerous novels about Jane Austen's life, Jane fell in love with the Irish, Tom Lefroy, the nephew of a family known to the Austen's. If anything ever happened between them, we shall never know, but I like to think they did, mostly for Jane's sake. They could never marry, and they knew that, as he had no money, training to be a lawyer and Jane Austen had to marry for money as her family were quite poor. Jane Austen lived her life with her parents and her also unmarried sister, Cassandra who's fiancĂ©e died on a trip to the West Indies. She lived off the money from her books that were published in her lifetime and from money from four of her five brothers. Jane Austen didn't live an extravagant lifestyle and  was never truly rich, she may have been unhappy to write about all her heroines falling deeply in love and marrying, yet she never did. However, maybe this made her loveless life bearable...again, it is something we shall never know for real.


This book follows the relationship with Cassandra and Jane Austen and of how their love lives affect both their relationship and themselves, which is a very different way to other novels like this that I have read which I liked. Other normally go for the romance. 
The only problem with this is that for me there wasn't enough romance, and I don't say this often. I know it's about Cassandra mostly in Jane's life but reading the blurb, you wouldn't think this, you'd think it's the novel that Becoming Jane was made from. The beginning is very slow with Jane starting and stopping many novels like Lady Susan. This is fine, but it did get a bit tedious and boring after a while with this pace. Then, when Tom Lefroy did come into it which is about half way through, we see him once for a chapter and then anything that happened between him and Jane was told after it happened and in not much detail. I have no idea what happened the second time they met, they never say! They just talk about it without giving any information. This annoyed me.


The characters were all likeable and behaved like they were from the 1700's, although there were times when sentences sounded more at home in my living room than at a ball, although this wasn't too often. I liked the friendship and sisterly love between Cassandra and Jane, it seemed like they were confidants in each other but still had that sisterly understanding, which is nice to see. Cassandra seems to be the one to calm Jane down and Jane brings out a rebellious side to Cassandra, this, to me, is the best relationship to have with one another. You both get things out of it.
My favourite scenes were the balls with the amount of detail of who was dancing with who, the dresses, the dances, the small things. These are the things that make me want to be transported now to England 1790 and join in, they were admittedly done very well. 
Mrs Austen, as always, reminded me SO much of Mrs Bennet and Jane of Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. This part made me laugh of Jane's cynicism and her quick wit: 


'"Mrs Fowle, seems very pleased that Charles is going to be a lawyer," said Mama (Mrs Austen). She consulted the letter again, then laid it in her lap. "Now, Jenny, what profession would you have predicted he would follow? I must confess that when he was a boy I always rather saw him as a soldier."
"I remember that he used to march around with a stick over his shoulder for a rifle," said Jenny (Jane). "But then, if you recall, my own favourite pastime at that age was playing with model animals, yet now I have no inclination even to own a pet cat."'


As you can see in that extract, Jane is referred to, until about 75% of the way through, as Jenny instead of Jane. I have never heard of this before for Jane Austen being nicknamed, and it got really annoying after a while. To me, she is Jane. Jenny is not even a shortening of the name Jane. Stick with Jane! I think I know why it was done, but it didn't add anything really.
The other thing that confused me was the passing of time. The book would suddenly jump to three years later without much warning or ending to whatever had happened before. The book was trying to cover a huge period of time, instead of just a small amount in great detail.


I did enjoy this book eventually nearer the end and this book does give information about the only proposal known for her to receive which most Jane Austen-esque books leave out. There are faults in this book but I think it is a good book for those that don't know much about the writer and just want to find out a bit more about her life. It would be the ideal accomplice to writing a essay on one of her books, to reference it to events in her writing. However if, like me, you know a lot about Austen, I would read this knowing you may not enjoy it. It's a lovely little book, but could be better.
Verdict: Recommend to anyone who knows nothing about Jane Austen. 


I give it a 3.5 out of 5


Author's Website: http://www.veronica-bennett.com/
Pages: 231
Publisher: Walker Books
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction


If you want are interested in finding out more about Jane Austen herself, have a look at these reviews for other books I have read about her:
I was Jane Austen's Best Friend - Cora Harrison
Love, Lies and Lizzie - Rosie Rushton

Friday, 12 August 2011

A Lovely Surprise

You all met Amy from I Love Smiley Faces and Books earlier in the week through the guest post week with her post on her Favourite Summer Reads.
You've also met Nessie from Queen Nessie's Musings of General Populace this week with her post on Books set in summer. Both are very good friends of mine on the blogsphere so I was delighted to find they had both awarded me 'The Lovely Blog Award'.
This is my second award, so I'm pretty happy and delighted they love my blog so much. It makes everything much more worth while.

So, first in return, I have to give 7 unknown facts about myself:
1. I work at my local Oxfam and I have a secret addiction to work the till, although it happens very rarely.
2. Last year on my work experience at M&S, I bumped right into (literally!) Robert Pattinson who was born in my area. Yep, Edward Cullen himself. He was so obvious though, I mean he was wearing a black hoodie, skinny jeans, a baseball cap, Ray Bans and Converse shoes on a really hot day. Little bit obvious. Also, much better looking in person than on screen.
3. I have an obsession of the sound of the light switch in my father's car. It makes the most amazing tiny noise. Ever.
4. If you put a full box of chocolate Fingers in front of me, I would probably eat the whole packet.
5. I'm looking to getting a weekend job in Waterstones (a bit like B&N), mostly because, erm, BOOKS ALL AROUND ME and the fact I get 33% off in Waterstones then.
6. I judge other people my age mostly on what they're wearing. They look really really nice all the time - I don't like them too much. Look nice sometimes? I love you. I am so vain...
7. I am probably the only person who prefers the Harry Potter movies to the books.

And so these lovely people do I pass it on to:
- Stephanie from Books are a Girl's Best Friend
- Belle's Bookshelf
- Audrey from Holes in my Brain

Day 5: Get Published!

This is sadly the last guest post for this week *Ooohhh* with the lovely Jen from Unedited who writes about everything and anything but mostly her life as a writer and getting published (have a look, a lot of her stuff makes me laugh) which is why she is perfect for this topic!
I know it's the summer holidays/vacation so you have some extra time on your hands, which means you can write more of that story you've been trying to do in in the evenings when you're tired. Or you're sick of staring at the icon in your Documents of that amazing story you wrote last year and want to do something with. Well, here is a guide to getting that story out into the world.
Here's Jen....

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I WANNA BE PUBLISHED!

If only screaming from your canopy style bed “I want to be published” made the publishing gods shine a single light on you and recruit you for duty. Would live be so much easier?
No. It wouldn’t… (Yes that was me crushing your positive bubble).

I’m not here to beat you down. I’m here to give you a swift kick of reality. Don’t worry… staying on your canopy style bed is safer. The fall after all is hopefully on those Egyptian cotton sheets you just HAD to have after finishing your first draft thinking you’d be a best seller. Yeah, you better write your next SEVERAL books there to make up for that bad decision. Don’t forget those Manolo’s on too girl, you better be working with them on since that was your rent money.
Hold the phone. You haven’t finished the first draft?? You mean to tell me you bought those sheets and shoes after telling your parents you wanted to be a writer? Holy heck we’re in trouble.

Let’s cover the basics.

To get to the publishing stage you need…
A completed manuscript – This is not a first draft. This baby must shine (consult with Critique Group – preferably in your genre). Read writing books for assistance.
A synopsis – Or sucknopsis, no, it mustn’t suck. They suck to write… hence the name. For help consult the synopsis gods (oh, right, they don’t exist. For something close visit Query Tracker).
A query letter –Writing a one page letter about how awesome you and your book are without… A) An elevator pitch (since you don’t know what that is), and B) You have no writing credentials isn’t easy. Don’t panic… guidance is available. For query help consult the query gods (found below)

How to get your work out there…
There are several options. Should you wish to be bold and share your novel Figment and Writer’s Digest are great ways to share your novel and writing with others. If you’re looking for query & agent guidance Query to the CallQuery Shark and Query Tracker are great places to be. Curious about publishing deals and agents then Publishers Marketplace is the place to be.

(Rebecca: I've also heard about Wattpad where you can post a chapter and if it's popular you post another one and so on) 
Deciding what works for you…
Whether it’s self-publishing, e-publishing, small publishing or traditional you must write the novel. It must always start at the beginning. So, go on, get started.
For publishing questions feel free to ask below in the comments section!