Monday, 28 May 2012

Letterbox Love (1)

For starters, I have not changed the meme I will do for the new books I receive because of the plagiarism scandal over at The Story Siren, who originally hosted In My Mailbox.
I would still continue with that without a problem. For the record, I believe that what she did was wrong, but the way it has been treated by the book blogging community is much much worse. She apologised and told us her reasons, saw she was wrong. But the rude, unnecessary comments were what shocked me the most. However, that's a whole other post. Basically, this change is not because of that.

I have decided to go with Letterbox Love as this is a meme for UK book bloggers, which I am. I liked the idea of a UK meme as I think, with the majority of bloggers being American, other countries do seem to be overshadowed sometimes with great books that maybe only come from that country. Anyway, that is why I changed.


This is a weekly meme hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking

I haven't done one of these in a while as I haven't actually received many books as I have had exams, which are OVER NOW. Whoo! These are the books I acquired in the last couple of days with my new found freedom.

Borrowed from library:

- Delirium by Lauren Oliver - this is another of those books which I see everywhere - in shops and on the blogosphere, yet I never had any interest in walking up to it and reading the blurb. Until now. I don't quite know what made me look at this book this time. But I did and loved the sound of it. And since then, I've seen around 3/4 more reviews of this all with 4 or 5 stars. If this doesn't please me, I will not be happy. 

- The 39 Steps by John Buchan - I saw the play of this in London a few years ago and loved it. Since then, I've seen the book around but it wasn't until the other day that I found it in the library and decided to give it a go. A friend told me this is more serious compared to the play, so this could be interesting. See the play - so funny.

- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld - FINALLY. There are so many reasons why I have JUST picked up this book. I loved the original cover mostly with the parts of Barbie's for each book in the trilogy. I also liked the grown-up feel of it when I was younger. I loved Scott Westerfeld's writing in his stand-alone book, So Yesterday (review). So, it is surprising that I started reading this now. So happy I will finally read this. Been on my to-read list for a long time. 


- Theodore Boone by John Grisham - I have read this book and loved it, especially the idea of Theo being a 'kid lawyer' and after the second book in the series, The Abduction (review), my friend, George and I have become huge fans of the series and of Theo. The third book in the series, The Accused, has just been released in hardback and I would thoroughly recommend this series to anyone - so good. I bought this book in a charity shop for £2.50 which I am so happy about for such a great book! Review for this book

- Someone Like You by Roald Dahl - This isn't for me, but for a friend who on World Book Night at the bookshop I work in, visited and JUST missed out on a free copy of. Anyway, I was in a charity shop looking at the books and there this was for £2.50 next to Theodore Boone. So it wasn't free but it's her birthday soon so this is part of it (I hope to Roald Dahl that she doesn't have a surprise visit to the blog before I give it to her). Ironically, the book originally was from the shop I work in...

What books did you get this week? Have you read any of these books and if so, what did you think? 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Shadow Web - N.M.Browne

I've read this book about 3/4 times now. Everytime I read it, I notice something different, it just shows how well crafted this book is. It's a book I read every year, I cannot get bored of this book because of the way I see something different, and I love reading about Jess and Johnny,

Synopsis: After searching herself on the internet during a break from a history essay, sixteen-year-old Jess Allendon from Shene, London finds another Jessica Allendon, from Shene, that is sixteen-years-old. She agrees to meet up with her at Waterloo. One minute she is approaching her doppelgänger, the next she is being shooed away from the 'first-class entrance' because of her skimpy clothes. Suddenly, she is trapped in a London which looks as if it's from an era long past, but the year is 2008. And the other Jessica has been playing a very dangerous game in his secretive and dangerous version of London that's landed Jess is a dangerous web that she needs to sort out. Fast.

Review: This book for me, has everything. There is action, feelings, romance, secrets, adventure, twists and turns and if it was a movie, I'd be on the edge of my seat. I love the character of Jess and the book follows her growing up and becoming mature and appreciate her own world which is better that Jessica's. She comes to the world completely disoriginated as you would expect and has to learn quickly about Jessica's life, work and past in order to do the right thing and for people not to notice she is different. There are lots of things that Jess does that the reader and herself in HER London would never think twice about but in Jessica's London, this is different and soon, Jess is in trouble.

The world itself is so interesting and it has puzzled me MANY times about what this parallel world is. From reading N.M.Browne's view on writing the book (you can see this on her website), the world shown is one where there have been no World Wars. That's right, I'm sure most people think while studying World War I or World War II 'I wonder what would have happened if they had never have happened?', 'I wonder what would have happened if England had lost?' Well, here's your answer. The world heavily features German aspects making it obvious of the world that has been created. When Jess walks into the house that there is a painting by 'A Hitler', which Jess remarks 'What an unfortunate name'. But there is no mention of Hitler or of wars that we would understand because here, they didn't happen or if they did, they were less significant than in Jess's real London. Women under 30 don't have the vote, there are various important links with Germany through the royal family and a traditional greeting is 'Guten Tag' (this is a formal greeting in Germany meaning 'good day'). It's funny and really makes you think about this alternative life that may or may not be happening right now.

Jess could be seen as a little bit annoying. At times in the past I have admittingly thought 'MAN UP'. It is true that Jess seems nothing like a heroine of the novel as she turns out to be and she has more to contend with than her doppelgänger.
I really like Johnny. When he comes out of his shell a little bit more, he seems very passionate, down-to-earth and cares about Jessica's well being despite not really liking her. I've read in some reviews that people think he seems much older than 17. I have to agree - he does seem like he is in his early 20s rather than the same age than me. But this fits with both his personality in this and the world that Jess is in.

Overall, this book is one that I love now and will keep on loving every time I read it. It has everything for me at least. Read it, if you haven't read it before, I'm pretty sure any teenager can relate to the woes and situation of Jess a little bit, even if she is in a different world. You won't regret it. Just don't google your name!

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 312
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: BBC

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

'The Great Gatsby' Movie Trailer

So, you may or may not know that today, the trailer for the upcoming re-make of The Great Gatsby was released to the world. It's being released at Christmas featuring an all star cast, so probably one of the biggest films of the year.
My friends and I have just finished doing The Great Gatsby in our English Literature class so we were really excited to find out about this movie, especially we loved the book and for me, it is the first book we did in English which I didn't hate by the end.

In short, we WANT to see this film.

So, when I saw the trailer this morning, I had to run it through twice in order to catch everything that happened - it's pretty action packed.
On the surface, it still looks like a great film that I really would love to see.

However, it is very different to what I imagined, although I've seen the 1974 version featuring Robert Redford as Gatsby where I was sitting there pointing out all the errors from book to movie. This has got to be better than that.
Baz Luhrmann (who directed Moulin Rogue, Romeo and Juliet AND the most expensive advert, Chanel No5 featuring Nicole Kidman), I read in an interview with him, said that he was going to keep it as true to the book as possible and I really hope it is, more than the 1974 version anyway.

The costume and set design look amazing, so glamourous and VERY 1920's. The characters look true to those in the book, although for me Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, had a American/British/Australian kind of accent at one point which was a little off-putting. Furthermore, Jay Z music at the beginning? It works, but where is my funky Jazz music of the time?
The movie looks very modern, maybe what this book needs - a face lift. All I know is I cannot wait for Christmas to roll around to see this one.

Have a look at the trailer below and comment below - I'd love to know what you think!

Jay Gatsby: Leonardo DiCaprio
Daisy Buchanan: Carey Mulligan
Nick Carraway: Toby Maguire
Tom Buchanan: Joel Edgerton
Myrtle Wilson: Isla Fisher
Jordan Baker: Elizabeth Debicki
George Wilson: Jason Clarke


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogs/Sites I follow that aren't bookish

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

This week is all about the blogs or websites I visit when I'm not looking at the bookish blogs I follow or Goodreads. 
Most of the alternative blogs I follow are fashion ones because well, I find them so interesting. I would love to have a fashion blog also but I know I wouldn't be as great at it than some bloggers out there. Enjoy, and check them all it, they're definitely worth a lookie.

1. WishWishWish - This is a fashion and lifestyle blog written by the lovely Carrie. I read it because I just love her clothes and the photographs are so beautiful all the time. She goes on lots of travels around Europe frequently so I love to see her pictures of the city she visits, they are all such good photos. But her clothes are to die

2. Blushing Ambition - This was one of the first fashion blogs I found done by Annabel, who lives in America. She mostly photographs her outfits and any food she goes out to eat (which is a lot) and always looks so yummy that I want to jump on a plane over there to join her!

3. It's Cohen - I found this when I was typing in 'Rebecca-Books' in Google (long story) and found this, also by a Rebecca about her life in Liverpool as well, as you've guessed it, her fashion and outfits. I love her clothes and the fact they are both accessible and so cheap to create from charity shops. It just shows how shopping from charity shops isn't that bad and can create a cheap yet great looking outfit.

4. oh emma - My friend introduced me to this blogger who is the same age as myself living in London so I love to hear about another teenager's perspective on life here. Her clothes are lovely and again, so accessible. I really love her clothes. Like really.

5. Queen Nessie - Long term followers will have seen Nessie comment frequently and done a couple of guests posts (like here). She is one of my blogging friends, along with Amy who isn't blogging at the moment. Nessie runs a lifestyle/comment blog about her university life here in England and just everything and anything really. It's so interesting to read and I love to see what she has to say. No, this one isn't all about fashion.

6. Simple Sophie - this is probably the newest blog I found, which is of course a fashion blog run by 18 year-old English Sophie about her life and her various outfit. I also love her clothes again, especially her jewellery.

7. the stylish heart - Again it's the clothes. This is run by Sarah who has the most loveliest hair that I wish my own hair would live up to. She also has a love for stripes and navy which really suits me because my fashion sense (or what I have of one) consists of mostly that: stripes and navy. She buys all her clothes off the high street so she gives me ideas of what I want to buy for the next season as well as how to wear the trends. Just...her clothes...

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Lady In The Tower - Marie-Louise Jensen

This was one of those books I just chose because, well, I chose it. And it looked alright. And I liked the cover. Mostly, it was the cover. Oh, and it was on offer.
So this wasn't a book I had been pining for a long time, it was just one of those moments I decided to buy it.
This is a historical fiction novel and after reading it last year, I soon discovered that buying instinct was a good idea. I decided to re-read it now as I was a blogging and reading slump while my exams are on.
It was as good as the first time round...

Synopsis: The isolated part of the castle is the place where Eleanor's mother has been imprisoned for four years after being accused as a witch - this is the Lady Tower, as called by the servants at Fairleigh Castle. While her father goes away frequently on business with Thomas Cromwell or the king, Henry VIII, Eleanor roams around the castle like a servant, riding on her favourite horse, Arianna or practising jousting with her little brother meanwhile, secretly writing notes to her mother.
However, when court come to Fairleigh, by chance, Eleanor hears of a plot to murder her mother and it becomes Eleanor's mission to free her before it is too late. Everyone it seems she can trust, may betray her, so she must be careful. However, she soon realises that she is not only saving her mother, but also herself from marriage to one of her father's men.

If you are looking for a historical fiction book with lots of gore and fighting, I would click away right now, but WAIT, click here instead because this would be much better suited for your tastes.
This book is historical fiction with a lovely bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

When I first picked up this book, I had my doubts. I love historical fiction but mostly when they have some gentlemanly romance. From reading the blurb on the book, there is no hint of this romance and I think that's what raised my sceptical. I mean, the whole book being about Eleanor running away with her mother, it didn't sound that inviting for me.
However, I was wrong. The book is centred around a couple of months in fifteen-year-old Eleanor's life. After her father arrives back to Fairleigh Castle with the king and her entourage, Eleanor frequently meets this gentleman who goes against the 'codes' for gentlemen and when Eleanor is disguised as a servant, he tries to kiss her. This man, she soon finds out, is her soon-to-be husband, Lord Stanton. And she hates him immensely. And he is not too fond of her either. Great start!
The romance is pretty gradual, more gradual for Eleanor as around the halfway mark, there is a sense that Stanton does not hate Eleanor as he IS kinder. Although, it is slightly infuriating, this suits Eleanor's character and I liked this 'will they? won't they?' feel.

The characters themselves are interesting. The only one I had a real problem with on both readings was Eleanor's mother, Lady Hungerford. I found her very petty and I understood Eleanor's annoyance with her.
Eleanor herself was a delight to have as a narrator especially with her boldness to defy some of the Tudor conventions for women such as jousting and riding astride (with one leg on either side of horse). I like this rebellous side to her as well caring side we see latterly. She was a perfect heroine for me.
Although you are persuaded to hate Stanton, I found myself enjoying his jokes (some of which I had to giggle at) and his encounters with Eleanor do largely make the book for me. The similarities from Eleanor's father to the conventional views of Henry VIII were what caught me for his character - he is a character that you love to hate - or just hate really.

Another aspect of my enjoyment for this book was the time period it is set in. As some may know, I am studying this time period for my exams so reading this book put this all into perspective for me. It is 1540 - the year where Cromwell was given a Lordship - but executed by the end of the year for treason and heresy. Cromwell was in charge of turning England from Catholic to Protestant as he was evangelical himself. However, after the marriage to Jane Seymour, around this time, Henry wanted a more Catholic approach to the Church, although he was still the Head. However, Cromwell didn't want this and tried to defy the Act of the Six Articles which enforced this approach Henry wanted. Officially, Cromwell was charged for treason and heresy as in Calais (which was part of English rule then) was completely Protestant and this was all down to Cromwell not enforcing the Act of Six Articles.

However, it's mostly thought that Cromwell was charged as he wreaked the marriage of Henry to Anne of Cleves. It's funny to think that someone like Eleanor might actually have really caused this and the treason charge was a part of plotting against him.
This period of history is interesting and it is quite nice to see a historical novel based around this time - it helped put my history course into perspective with what happened that year. It is good to see not another book set in the Elizabethan times.

I really enjoyed this book despite my reservations and I could read this again and again. This is one for historical fiction fans but I would recommend this to most people, especially those perhaps studying this period in time. Or just like Henry VIII.
This was also based on A REAL STORY and a REAL PLACE, which you can visit now.

I give it 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 317
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Challenges: Historical Fiction, BBC

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

I was incredibly dubious about this book to start off with. It had the ingridents of what could be a book I would enjoy. YA? Tick. Contempory? Tick. Set in 1996? Sounds good, tick. Possible romance on the cards from the sound of the blurb? Tick.
So why was I dubious? Well, because one of the co-writers was Jay Asher. And I was so disappointed by Thirteen Reasons Why, his previous book. I mean, it wasn't totally awful but I just finished the book feeling 'meh' to a book with such a powerful storyline. I just did not like the book.

So after seeing this book being reviewed on the blogosphere with mixed reactions and glancing at a few covers in the bookshop that I work in, I was starting to get intrigued by this book despite the author. A couple of weeks ago, I saw this in the library and after finally picking up the book, reading the blurb and a couple of pages, I decided to give it ago because this was the type of book I absolutely love. I just hoped it met my expectations.

Synopsis: The year is 1996, the internet is only a year old and less than half of all high school students in America have actually used it. Only some even own a computer.
Josh and Emma have been neighbours and best friends for years. It was only until the previous November that everything changed which has made it awkward to be around each other - especially as they share friends. When Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, Josh gives it to Emma to install on her new computer. However, when they log on, they discover Emma's profile on Facebook. Facebook will not be invented for another 8 years.
The year is 2011 and practically all teenagers have a computer and use the internet daily.
As Josh and Emma start to look at their profiles from 15 years time, they find their futures out - both good and bad.

Review: So I started this book with quite high expectations, despite not being a fan of Jay Asher's last book.The idea seemed really interesting - finding out your destinies in 15 years time? I know we all wonder what life will be like in that time period. So this book needed to deliver to get a big five-star from me.

And it did. Sort of.
This book was not absolutely terrible like a lot of reviews I have read make out. I can see why some would see it as average. But personally? I didn't think it was that bad really. MUCH better than the boring narrative I found in Thirteen Reasons Why, anyway.
The chapters are relatively short so I found I read this book pretty quickly without getting bored at all like I sometimes do when I read in one session for a long time.

I am a 90's kid, I was born in 1995, a year before the book is set. I would be 18 months when Emma and Josh are the same age of me now, it makes it much more interesting to compare my adolescence to their own. Mine is full of exams, coursework and social networking while their's seems to be of sport, parties and spending time at home, while preparing for their 'finals'.
In this sense, this is what really drew me in to compare the lives of the two decades of teenagers and see how different or similar they are now. And in some ways, this happened.
The aspect that MAKES this book is the technology references that are subtly added for those nostalgic few  who remember these devices. Seeing the total lack of knowledge of these devices was hilarious at times. Some of my favourite examples was Josh proclaiming 'What's a blog?' after seeing a status where his future self had referred to posting photos on his blog - this equalled a small ironic chuckle, as a few years ago, I too would have been clueless of what a blog is.
There are then more ethnic and serious issues shown to display HOW MUCH the world has changed really in ten years EG: 'We just learned in Sociology that they don't allow same-sex marriages anywhere in the world' - okay, so this is still true in some places but still.
It is what makes this book and for those that remember the 90's or early 2000's - this book totally takes you down memory lane.

A lot of people criticise the characters, especially Emma for being annoying. And to some extent, I can see this. She is quite whiny, becomes obsessed with Facebook and her future - but this is the whole point. She becomes obsessed like teenagers these days are. A lot of my friends have had to either change their password or deactivate their account on Facebook just to get some revision done. It's awful really.
This book makes you think about that and more. Why don't we go back to a time where computers were rare and the Internet was like travelling commercially to the Moon? Why do I go on Facebook so much - a site I detest and find absolutely ridiculous? In this face, it's interesting and like I said, makes you think a lot about your own usage of the internet, but Facebook especially.

This book really engages you and with the short chapters, this became shortly a quick read, even with college. You are drawn into the story and wonder what will happen. The things that happen in the book may seem quite absurd or silly but like the Facebook issue, it makes you think about how you can impact your future. If I didn't write on the blog anymore, would that impact on my future work career or getting into university? Would the blog help more with that? It's so weird to think about these things.

The book is not perfect, by any means. Jay Asher's writing here appealed to me more than in Thirteen Reasons Why but there was still something missing unlike the other amazing books I have read.
The thing that caught me in this book from beginning to end was how it made you think and after reading it, I do think of it ever so often when I visit Facebook.
I would recommend this to anyone that remembers the 90's fondly for a bit of nostalgia, a little bit like watching the pop culture references in Clueless, I think. This book was pretty good and I really enjoyed reading it. I know I definitely don't want to find out my future.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: Carolyn Mackler  |  Jay Asher
Pages: 356
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Challenges: Historical Fiction

Review of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and THE FUTURE OF US are also being made into movies by Universal and Warner Brothers with Selena Gomez starring in Thirteen Reasons Why - click here for the details

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

I am giving up blogging. For Two Weeks.

After saying I was going to be cutting down my posts here, life's sort of got on top of me.

Unfortunately, I am giving up blogging.

No, not for good! (although that was a hard sentence to write)
I am giving up blogging for the next two weeks. I will check comments and I am in the middle of writing a review so there will be posts, just not as many as usual or I would like to write.

I have 5 exams coming up over the next two weeks and a lot of work still to complete so I would like to focus on these. My education comes before blogging. And if that makes me a bad blogger, well, then, I'm a bad blogger. At least I won't fail though.

This is just a little warning. Please, keep talking and commenting - I will read every single one. I promise.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Books that should be made into a movie

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

This is a repeat of one I did when I started doing this meme last year (see here for my previous one). I do love book adapations - I mean who doesn't love to see their favourite books and characters brought to life? My problem is that sometimes it does ruin this amazing world that we can only invent in our heads. 
Here is my list of books I would LOVE to see (and can imagine) being made into movies...

1. Shadow Web - N.M.Browne - I will always stand by this one and my thoughts that it should be made into a film. Every time I re-read it, I can always imagine it so vividly in my head that I want to see it on screen. I can imagine the characters, the setting and I think it would make a great movie. This is such an under-awarded book and deserves to be made into a movie. So much. (review)

2. Audrey, Wait - Robin Benway - There are parts of this book that reminded me of the teenage dramas I watched when I was younger like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Saved By the Bell (totally showing I am a 90's kid right now...). There are moments when I was reading I could see this in a successful movie form - a teenage comedy perhaps with all the humour and mishaps in this book but with a lovely satisfying ending. One of those 'well-good-films'... (review)

3. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn - so another 'well-good-film' that I can see being a teenage comedy with the sights of New York featuring every minute. Let's say it, The Strand IS a real place, therefore, it could be done. I would go to see this movie for the laughter and to see New York in general. Oh Dash... (review)

4. The Fault in our Stars - John Green - so I read somewhere when I finished this book, that a movie was in preparation, I think John Green sold the film rights for this book which is pretty awesome. I think this would be much like the book is itself if done well in movie form  with the mixtures of heart-wrenching moments, laughing your socks off and then, on the edge of your seat wanting to know exactly what happens. All I know is I would love to see a real Augustus Walters. (review)

5. Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler - although I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted, throughout reading I could again see it as this perfect summer watch for us teenagers with a nice moral at the end. Anyone else? (review)

6. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac - Gabrielle Zevin - This is another of those films much like Speak that gives you an insight into American high school life. I think this has been made into a movie in Asia (with Emma Roberts as the only English speaking character in it) so it would be good to be made into an English/American speaking movie. I can imagine it and it obviously can be done - I think this would be really popular... (review)

Books that have been/are going to be made into films:
- Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (review)   (film review)
- An Education - Lynn Barber (review)
- Becoming Jane (This is a lot like Cassandra's Sister by Veronica Bennett)
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne (review)   (film review)
- Girl with the Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier (review)   (film review)
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky (review)
- The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (review)
- Speak - Laurie Halse Andersen (review)   (film review)
- The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (review)
- Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (review)