Saturday, 28 April 2012

Looking back at APRIL

Previous months: 
February
March

So this month has been pretty tough. Actually, very. At the beginning of the month, it was the start of half-term and that meant I had to start revising for my exams which are in...around 2/3 weeks now (oh, crap). I've been revising constantly all month, after school, free periods and Beautiful Days was read because one of my texts is The Great Gatsby, both set in the 1920's. It's been really hands on this month and I am still so lost in a lot of the subjects I do such as the way to write them in the exams.
GCSE's were SO hard last year but this is nothing compared to those when your teachers and college in general refuse to help at times. I literally feel like I am all by myself in this.
Theme of the month: Stress, we shall say.

Blogging unfortunately has gone doooown again, and it won't pick up until June probably. Sorry guys, but my education comes first. Blogging has been a bit scandalous you could say with the BIG thing this week.
I don't really want to get involved but for those that don't know, briefly, a major blogger in the book blogging community was found to have plagiarised another blog's work. It is wrong, yes, but personally, I think the rude, bullying-like comments in response were even worse than the main event.
But that's what I think. It has been a rocky week in the blogging world, and reading some of the comments on it, I felt ashamed to be called a book blogger at times. Hopefully, this will all blow over and we can go back to the normal, amazingly fun book blogging community everyone wants us to be. I hope so anyway.


Reviews:
Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
One Dog and his Boy - Eva Ibbotson

Also read but didn't review:
The Odyssey - Homer
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan

All the books I read this month are by my favourite authors - that was not intentional at all. These have all been AMAZING books (that I reviewed) and it's doing to be hard to choose the book of the month, although one does stand out the most. I would recommend any of those books at all.
The Odyssey and Enduring Love were read for Classics and English Literature. I would not recommend either of them - especially Enduring Love. It stays to get interesting until Joe goes off on one about science. Oh, and Jed is so creepy. 


Memes:


I loved doing these Top Ten Tuesday's - so fun and nice to do. I wish I'd seen some of those tips for new bloggers when I started.


Author Interview:


Other:


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

One Dog and his Boy - Eva Ibbotson

I have been a fan of Eva Ibbotson for a while - around two years - after finding The Secret Countess on a bookshelf in my local library. I'd seen Ibbotson's most famous children's book Journey to the River Sea around but never been inspired to read it. I am more of a fan of her teenage fiction, having all her books (favourites are A Song for Summer and The Secret Countess).
So when I found out she has died, aged 85, in October 2010, I was devastated to find out this was it - no more new Eva Ibbotson books that I loved.
Until, I noticed this book in the book store I work in. This has been published posthumously as it was finished a couple of weeks before her death. Although, being 17, I don't normally read younger children's books, I knew I had to read this one. So when I walked into the library a couple of weeks ago and saw this, I picked it up without a second thought...

Synopsis: On Hal's 10th birthday, he finally gets what he always wanted - a dog. His parents never wanted a dog in their huge spot-less house so spoilt Hal with the latest toys to satisfy him but this changed when they found Easy Pets Dog Agency, renting Flick, a mogul, for the weekend. But when Flick is taking back distraught and Hal finds out the truth, he realises he must find a way to be with his dog, even if it means running away.

Review: I had my doubts whether I would like this book even if it was by one of my favourite authors.
Having got used to the serious issues and mature language of teenage or adult fiction, sometimes children's books, however good, are just TOO slow or TOO easy.
But I didn't need to worry about that for this book. Sure, the language and writing is much simpler than other more grown-up books, but this is done in such a way that you don't really notice this is a children's book and to make it universal for readers. I really had no problem with the writing - it was a nice break really.

The events in the book are pretty ridiculous really upon reflection, but because of it being a children's book, this did not distract me from reading the book itself. There are moments of sadness where I felt so sorry for the dogs and for Hal but also moments where I was smiling to myself at the funniness of the situation or the speech - it makes it an entertaining book completely.

Like many bloggers have said, this book does take you back to your childhood when you were Hal's age and had something you utterly loved and did not want to lose. For me, this is a small bear which I still own which I got when I was 1 named 'Baby Bear' - quite original, I know. This bear went everywhere with me when I was younger and when I left it at my grandparents house 45 minutes away, I cried so hard my dad had to drive back to retrieve it. Much like everyone's past experiences, there was so much relatability for me with Hal and Pippa in the book - I wanted to join them!

Although I thought most of the book would be about losing Flick, the majority is of his adventures running away with Pippa (her sister is Kayley who works at Easy Pets) and seeing the different (and hilarious) villains they encounter along the way as well as the numerous places they visit and get help from such as the circus and a children's care home. It makes you realise how really we can all help each other - there are just some 'villains' that won't allow that for their own benefit.

There are some really unique characters as well as the characters created through the dogs featured - I loved to hear the tales of Otto, Francine, Li-Chee and Honey, not only from the 'humans' in the story. The only character that annoyed me would be Hal's mother Albina - she was just too selfish and rude for me. Thankfully, she only features at the beginning and end - she did add a touch of humour and it turned out right in the end.

This is just such a wonderful read that both hosts a nice break from other fiction and also, makes me want to read more and more. It is an incredibly quick read and I think it would be best for perhaps parents and children to read together. The dogs really come to life here and you close the book at the end, having felt you made new friends for life with this animal characters. Like every children's story, there is the happy ending which it kind of inevitable, this one was really but it still came as a surprise and I was delighted with it. It is sad to think this is the last new Eva Ibbotson I will read but I think if she was still here, she should be completely happy with the finished result - for someone who is not a huge fan of children's fiction such as this, I found this book practically perfect.
Verdict: Everyone should read this - whatever age. Eva Ibbotson should be deeply remembered even if it's just for this book

I give it 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/rguides/us/eva_ibbotson.html
Pages: 271
Publisher: Marion Lloyd
Challenges: British Book Challenge

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (#2)

If you haven't read The Hunger Games, then there might be a few spoilers in this review.
Actually, if you haven't read The Hunger Games DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW because there are major spoilers for the ending. 



Like the whole of this series, this review is long overdue. I got all the series at Christmas after reading the first book and finally understanding what my friends meant on how great this series is. 
I'm not one to follow the crowd when it comes to book to movie adaptations. Example: I've never read any of the Twilight books because I didn't want to and sure, I saw the movie, but a) vampires in books are NOT my thing and b) I was dragged kicking and screaming to see that movie by my Twilight-obsessed friends at the time. So, basically, there might be something very special for me to start to follow this series with the release of the trilogy of movies...

Synopsis: Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and long-time friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol-- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
(From Goodreads.com)

Review: This series is quite something so far and it hasn't failed me yet. 
Sometimes books suffer from as one blogger I saw put it 'second-book-syndrome' where you have this AMAZING first book that wants you to read on and on from this author but then the second book? It's a bit of a let down. An example I found was The Luxe series. Rumours, the second book, was not as great as the first, The Luxe, or for me the third, Envy and a little disappointing but still really really good. 

Well, you don't have to worry about that for this book. In some ways, I was more hooked in this book because I was used to Suzanne Collins writing and knew what the series was like - this was just another instalment. I loved The Hunger Games for the action, the characters and the setting but for me, the beginning was quite slow to get into it, although once on the train to the Capitol, everything was fine. This, however, had me from the first sentence. I loved finding out about Victor's Village and life after The Hunger Games which of course, the readers know nothing about. I liked seeing Katniss, Prim and their mother adjusting to live there. To see the consequences for all the characters and the setting for District 12 winning. And finally, seeing the reaction from Katniss' actions at the end of the book with Peeta. I had all these things I wanted to find out more about and these were all catered for in this book.

Here, we had the things we recognise from the first book about District 12 such as Katniss hunting. However, with changes as a consequence of Katniss, it was interesting to see how this would happen or turn out like. There is suspense and mystery surrounding some things at the beginning of the book that later are revealed and really drive the story along with both you and Katniss wanting to find out.

There are the same old characters from the previous book: Octavia, Gale, Prim, Cinna, Haymitch, Peeta. Plus there are some new characters of Finnick, Joanna, Plutarch, Wiress among some of them. I found none of these characters distracting or annoying at all despite their personalities and they really enhanced this new chapter of Katniss' story. 

Although some of the setting is in District 12 (which still seems as small as ever to me), we also see more of the setting of the Capitol. Mostly I found this place so corrupt and disgusting that I could start to imagine a world such of this at present. The Capitol is really an interesting place as a setting and I enjoyed finding more about from Katniss, when not being a tribute. 

Whether you find out from the blurb of Mockingjay or somehow find out, something very big happens at this year's Hunger Games in Catching Fire. Something that does impact the winners completely. I did read the blurb of Mockingjay before reading this and it gave the BIG thing of the book away, but don't worry if you do, I found I was still surprised by how and why this happens and what happens within it. 

The ending hosts one of the most annoying cliffhangers I have read in a while - Suzanne Collins is really a master of them. It ends so suddenly and so well that - ah, I cannot describe it well really. The title does reflect what happens in the book although not perhaps obviously. The events Katniss goes through make it seem like every aspect of her life is 'catching fire' or starting something new. 

The book is just pure brilliance and a great next instalment for the Hunger Games trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book with the marvellous characters, setting and the depth of suspense and tension that is built constantly. This was such a nice chance from some other books such as this with the moments of intense action with ones where it is interesting although nothing much is happening. This is a book I would recommend to anyone that has read the first book and I cannot wait to see this on screen. Really, read it. 

I give it 5 out of 5

Click here for my review of the first book. The last book in the series, Mockingjay, is out now. 
The movie adaptation of the first book is out now and the adaptation of Catching Fire is due out next year

Pages: 391
Publisher: Scholastic
Challenges: None

Saturday, 21 April 2012

On My Bookshelf (21)

This meme is inspired by the similar meme, 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren  (I don't have a Mailbox...)

It's been a while (3 weeks in fact) since I did one of these but I have been quite busy with revision and college and working - sounds like a tough life I know for some but it is quite stressful and nerve-racking at the moment so blogging hasn't been my main priority.

Here are some books I've acquired ALL from the library (I spend a lot of my time in there...) and some postcards I was sent by Caroline Lawrence!

Borrowed from the library:



- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - I'm quite interested in this because of all the reviews circlating about this book and the fact it's been short-listed for quite a few awards. Normally, I'm into anything set during WWII but I was a little hesitant when I first saw this a couple of weeks ago in the library. No idea why - perhaps because normally I'm reading books set in England or Germany - we'll see :) 

- The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler - I've seen a few reviews on the blogosphere and an order for some copies of this in the bookstore I work in but I didn't know much about it until I picked it up this week. I picked this up mostly because it sounds quite an interesting storyline. I didn't enjoy Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why as much as some other people but this looks like it will be good. Looking forward to reading this. 

- One Dog and his Boy by Eva Ibbotson - I have been looking at this book for months and months since it came out late last year but I never saw it in the library until now. Eva Ibbotson died in October 2010 and this was the last book she finished before she died. I'm more of a fan of her teenage fiction but I had to pick this up when I saw it.


Received:


So I was doing some Classics revision during half term last week. I happened to look on Twitter to see if a friend of mine had replied from a tweet I sent her and then I spot Caroline Lawrence's tweet saying that she was giving away some bookmarks for her new spin-off series from The Roman Mysteries aka, my childhood books. So I wrote her a tweet asking and a couple of hours later, I was being asked for my address.
When these came through the door, I was not expecting what I found in the envelope at all. If you can't read what is on the white piece of paper, it says 'Rebecca - Good Luck with your exams...I know you'll do brilliantly!' 
So this sort of well MADE MY MONTH. 
If you also have no idea who Caroline Lawrence, I will skip the horror of not knowing first and then direct you to her first book in the AMAZING Roman Mysteries series, The Thieves of Ostia (link to Goodreads). I would recommend these to anyone and there are events and facts in them that keep cropping up in my Classics course. They are well worth a read.


Have a good week and let me know your opinions of any of the books featured!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Author Interview: K.P.Smith

Today, K.P.Smith is here to ask five questions on her upcoming book, KENDRA'S DIARIES, part of new YA series, Growing Pains




1) What made you write the Growing Pains series?
I wanted to write a series that would speak to Young Adults to encourage, motivate and inspire them through their journey of growing up. Through Kendra's voice, her life, I want my readers to know that growing up can sometimes produce "growing pains". But with determination, faith and perseverance that can come out on the other side; ready and equipped to live the life they were born to live.


2) What did you enjoy the most about writing it? 
I love developing the characters and coming up with the plots. I got a real kick out of remembering when I was YA age. Because I am "older" it was a stretch to try and remember back that far LOL! But I loved the trip down memory lane.


3) Describe the book in a sentence  
 No matter what happens in life Stay Positive, Keep It Moving & Never Give Up!


4) What advice would you give to future writers - both in the writing and publishing process? 

Two things; Even the best book can only be a best seller if people buy it. So when you are WRITING the next best seller remember you have to  MARKET MARKET MARKET!
Which brings me to my second point; There is so much information out there everyone boasts to know the key to selling books. So I am going to say it. Yes I think I do too. The key is to try any and everything always remembering that what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Keep trying until you find  your own sweet spot.

5) Are you working on anything else?  
I am working on the second book in the Growing Pains Series: New Beginnings. I am taking clients for Doin It Publishing. We welcome all authors but we cater to the new/first time authors to help them realize their dream of being published. We offer full publishing services, a la carte services and consulting.

Thank you to K.P.Smith!


GROWING PAINS: KENDRA'S DIARIES is out now in the USA 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Advice for New Bloggers

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


So after saying yesterday, I wouldn't be posting that much on here due to exams and revision for them, here I am. This week the theme is advice I would give to new bloggers on starting a blog or more specifically a book blog. This is rather cool and I know I could have done with some advice when I started two years ago. These are some things I've picked up on while I've been around. 


1. Don't think that everything will fall into place straight away. This is something I thought would be easy to attain - you know, write a couple of reviews or things that are interested, comments on a couple of blogs and then I would have tons of followers and comments. Wrong - blogging takes time so don't assume everyone would know about your blog instantly. 


2. Blogging takes time to build up - and out of your life. So blogging is a huge part of my life, I check the blog everyday and catch up everyday before starting any homework on what people are posting about. I reply to comments/mentions and then, write a post or review if I need to or feel like it. I do that routine nearly everyday. Blogging takes so much time out of your life so you need to be prepared for that - like I said, everything doesn't fall into place straight away and it may seem pointless for a while. Some of my early reviews are really negative about the fact I am the only one reading it so this is your warning!


3. Stay Positive! Similarly, I was so negative and thought it sad I was the only one looking at my reviews/posts. But you shouldn't think negatively or horribly about what you're doing. If you are, perhaps you should have a break and return like I did. I started the blog in February 2010 but I didn't properly start it until July 2010 - 5 months where I just didn't see the point or want to blog. 


4. Don't become obsessed about comments or followers. I have 83 followers and I have been doing this for two years - sounds quite a few compared to some blogs where there are over 100 and they've been on the scene for 6 months. Yes, this annoys me. Do I worry? NO because I am happy at least someone is looking at my blog and it makes it all the more special when you DO get a new follower or comment.


5. CAPTCHA is the most hated thing in the blogging world (correct terminology: blogosphere). There has even been a campaign to get rid of it and raise awareness of our hate for it. WHY? I hear you ask. Well, for one, have you done one yourself? The words have become ridulously hard. Two: if someone is going to post a comment on your blog, they are more likely to keep try to post it without having to use CAPTCHA. For instance, if I had to reload the page and re-write my comment, I would rather just press 'Publish' and be done with it all rather than do though with it again. Also, some people don't realise it is there and click back. Result: comment not published and you lose more followers/comments. JUST DON'T USE IT. I have nothing, you post and it publishes straight away but if you are worried about spam, then have it so only you as a blogger agree if it can be viewed by other people or not. 


6. Try and join as many social networking sites as possible to promote your posts - and make new friends. I've seen a surge in followers/comments since I joined Twitter - it is the best place to join first as you can get in touch with other bloggers, publishers and authors this way in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere - I have done and received so many things because of Twitter. Have a smart phone? PERFECT - you can check your Twitter more regularly. 


7. Other website as a must to join: GOODREADS! This is the most amazing site to keep on top of your books - those you have read, are reading or want to read. It is such a good platform to raise awareness of your blog and reviews (you can post your reviews on there also) and find other bloggers through this too. Most bloggers I know have a Goodreads page both for blog and for personal reasons - it works and is one of my favourite websites for all things bookish. And it means you don't need to write your own synopsis as this helps you!


8. Don't feel you have to read the latest books. I have a thing about buying books so I mostly either go to the library or read books I already own or by authors I love. Therefore, when I started blogging, there were so many blogs out there that reviews these new amazing books that I wanted to read. But stick to the books closest to you then there is less pressure. I am still catching up on books I saw when I first started blogging. Anyway, if you let the hype die down, you can truly see if it's worth a read or not!


9. Be yourself. That is the most important rule of blogging. I enjoy blogging so much because it is part of me and the blog is my creation out of just being myself and doing something I love: reading. It is so worth while and while I'm starting to realise that this innocent little blog may help me with my future, it is worth all the hard work I put into it. All I'm saying is, go into blogging for the right reason - not the wrong one.


10. Have fun. That is the other important rule of blogging really. If you don't enjoy it, then, it's not worth doing it. I don't post as often as I like but still, when I do, I try to make the best I can and to have fun while doing it. I don't review some books I read because I know I don't enjoy writing the review. You have to love what you're doing to make the blog last long and be successful. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Exams...

So this is kind of a shout-out to let you guys know that I won't be around much the next couple of weeks.
In about a month's time, I'll be doing my AS levels for English Literature, History, Classics & Media Studies.

I've been revising for the past 2 weeks but as I'm still at college, all my spare time will go towards revising (hopefully) therefore, I won't be posting much on the blog. And I'll be reading MUCH more slowly than normal.

Sorry about that but afterwards you'll have me for the whole summer!
Wish me luck - I'll check the blog most days so leave me a comment or tweet me @rebeccabooks if you want to ask/talk to me about anything - I'd love to hear from you guys :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen (#2)

*There may be some spoilers in this review for those who have not read the first in this series, Bright Young Things. To see the review for that, click here*


I read Bright Young Things, the first in the series with the same name, early last year and pretty much loved it. Anna Godbersen has been a favourite author of mine for a while now since I fell in love with the covers of her previous series The Luxe set in 1900's New York before I set up the blog. 
That series was so good and I was a little disappointed by the first book in Bright Young Things. However, I was still hooked and couldn't wait to get this book when it came out in September. I did get it - but like a lot of books I didn't read it until now.

Synopsis: It's been a month since Letty and Cordelia arrived in New York and they have already fit in. Both living at Dogwood, Cordelia's late father's huge estate on Long Island, they spend their days relaxing with their friend Astrid and the nights out in the sparkle and high-class society of 1920's Manhattan. 
However, Letty wants more than being just a socialite. She wants to finally achieve her dream of being on Broadway - whatever the cost. 
Cordelia, meanwhile, is still getting over the events of the last month where she was deceived by the gorgeous Thom Hale resulting in her father being killed. She wants to honour her father - while achieving revenge.
Astrid is finally engaged to Cordelia's half-brother, Charlie - but caught in a shimmering world of speakeasies, jewels and endless parties. But Charlie is a gangster playing dangerous game and soon Astrid, Letty and Cordelia are caught up in the dangerous web of the gangster's world. 

Review: So after having a slight disappointment after Bright Young Things and starting this over a year after reading the previous book, I was a little unsure whether I would enjoy it as much as I wanted to - I mean, I could only briefly remember what happened in BYT and with Anna Godbersen still having to live up to The Luxe series in my mind, the outcome was a bit shady.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. This, I felt, was MUCH better than it's predecessor and I got more into the narrative and finding out more about the time and the character's themselves.

Sometimes when other historical fiction writers write these period novels, you only have a favour for the time and you read along with an understanding of what life at this time was like. However, whenever I read Anna Godbersen's books, I am literally taken to the era and it is like the reader is this invisible friend of Letty, Cordelia and Astrid's walking along side them experiencing what they are. I know a lot of about the 1920's America because I was examined on that decade of Prohibition, speak-easies and entertainment for my History GCSE last year. Equally, I picked this book up now as I'm studying The Great Gatsby in English Literature at the moment for my exam next month - so I have some knowledge of the time - who doesn't, with movies like Bugsy Malone? Now only did I understand and enjoy reading of the time period I know about, but I got to experience with the characters - therefore, I know why everyone goes to Gatsby's parties in a sense!

Considering this, I have a feeling some people would feel the characters are annoying or too frivolous, but knowing the time, this is exactly right and suits the decade the book is set in. If you want some more frivolous, I direct you to Daisy in The Great Gatsby...

In the last book, I didn't like Letty at all, but fell in love with the characters of Cordelia and Astrid. Letty, this time, was much better and felt sorry for her for the majority of the book, especially in the middle. There is a moment when she is with Grady (oh yes, he's back...) where I was deeply cringing for her - I must admit, some of the events in the book I wanted to jump in and shout at them 'Just tell them!' - but you know, I couldn't. Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading of all the characters.
Actually, to be honest, I felt sorry for all the girls at points.

Charlie is back also and in charge of the family bootlegging business now his father is dead. I have read a lot of reviews where people really disliked him and to be honest, he doesn't get any better. There are moments where I disliked him but latterly, he is much more likeable because of events - although still forceful and demanding.
There are a small cast of new characters as well as recurring minor ones - all of which were delightful additions to read about alongside the three main girls.

The best thing about this book is the writing which Godbersen I think altered slightly to suit the era after The Luxe. It is very visual and lyrical in parts that helps capture the society and attitude of the time, transporting you to that period of time. This is a book I had no problems with.

Overall, this is an amazing next chapter from the last book and the strongest so far. It is rich in suspense, romance, glamour, tension and moments where I just wanted to jump in and join the parties. Letty, Cordelia and Astrid have all formed into characters which I love to read about and although, the majority of the time, you are merely following their lives - it makes it an interesting and sparkling read. I would read BYT before starting this one, but if you have read BYT, although can't remember some of the plot, don't worry because this book gives a brief summary of what happened in places near the beginning. I had no problem remembering what had happened previously.
This is a delightful book which I thoroughly enjoyed and am SO looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Verdict: If you weren't a fan of BYT, still try this one, it's MUCH better.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.bytseries.com/
Pages: 368
Publisher: HarperCollins
Challenges: Historical Fiction

The next book in the series, THE LUCKY ONES, comes out later this year.

Click here for my review on Bright Young Things - the first book


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

So I bought my copy of this in January after it came out, but unlike my peers, I didn't read it straight away. I'm a John Green fan but obviously not a huge one at the time. I wanted to read this book...and the copy I bought at my work was signed so erm, SCORE.

My friend, Emma, read it straight away. Within a day I believe, and that day she was reading it was the day I realised how awesome her book choices are and so begun a BEAUTIFUL relationship.
Another friend, George, then did a book swap a couple of weeks ago with myself and Emma. She read Emma's copy of The Fault in Our Stars WITHIN TWO DAYS. And one of those she was working. With these two and others battering at me to read this book because it was - I quote - 'fricking amazing', I thought it was time. My reaction?
OH MY REBECCA, WHY DIDN'T YOU READ THIS SOONER?!

Synopsis: Hazel is 16, a typical teenager with Stage IV thyroid cancer. She was due to die when she was diagnosed at 12 but after a medical miracle at 14, she is on borrowed time - connected forever to an oxygen tank to help her 'crap lungs'. At 16, Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. Enter Augustus Waters, a 17 year-old remission who suddenly appears at her Cancer Support Group. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.


Review: A slight warning but this review is going to be me ranting and rambling about how great this book is because, well, it certainly is.


When you start this book and are introduced to the extraordinary characters of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, there is this little nagging feeling deep down, where you know as a reader how and when this will end. It has evolved out of cliches in other less appreciated books I guess but you know something bitterly terrible will happen - you're just not quite sure what. I started this book and read most of it with a solid idea of what would happen in my head, like many others did. However, then, around 70% of the way through, I was hit by this bomb that changed by views, emotions and ultimately, the narrative of this book. 

I can tell you now, it is rare for me to cry over a book. In fact, I don't think I have ever cried over events in a book, how sad I may find it. I'm just not the type of person to show these emotions over something like a book. However, TFIOS made me well up with the emotion and just the beautiful writing that John Green gave me as a reader in this book. If any reader of this book does not find the events extremely sad or cry physically, I would doubt they had read the book at all. 

Here is a point that I think sums up the amazingness and superiority of this book. 
Most of the time I read books, however much I enjoy it, however high I rate the book I'm reading, there is always this point where the narrative dips slightly - where the reader (or me at least) am slightly bored or don't understand. It's in mostly every single book and movies. For example, my favourite musical movie has to be Hairspray (from 2005). But the part where Tracy's parents are making up and then, Maybelle and the others go on that march and Queen Latifah's singing so nicely and like 'Yeah, we'll beat them'. Watchers of this movie, you understand which bit I'm talking about? I find that bit boring. So boring - the song 'You're Timeless to Me' I find a little weird with John Travolta dressed as a woman and although I like Queen Latifah's singing and the song itself, I prefer the more bouncy songs like 'You Can't Stop the Beat'. But I still love this movie regardless.
   So where am I going with this then? Well, as we've established every book has his section, however small, where it isn't as great or a tad boring/frustrating - even the best ones. But The Fault in Our Stars is without any of these moments for me. I was hooked from the first sentence and thrown back out at the end in slight shock and awe at this book. It is truly brilliant.

Some people criticise John Green for using the same characters in all his stories but putting them in different situations - much like they do with Sarah Dessen for her books. But this time, well, for those that didn't like his use of the same characters, do not fear because this is the complete opposite. Hazel is no Alaska or Margot. Augustus is far from Miles nor Quentin. Hazel and Augustus are unique in every way and they became characters I loved to see and hear about. Their conversations are hilarious and they do seem although doomed, like the perfect couple. In short, boy, any girl that reads this book would want their personal Hazel and Augustus as their BFF's. 
Many people have said they do not talk like teenagers. Erm, I am a teenager and that hardly bothered me because many of the conversations were like ones I have myself with friends. They may not be typical teens - but they are from the era, we have to remember that.

The thing I found the most amazing was the twist and turns of my emotions while reading. John Green gives you this book with a rollercoaster of emotions felt for the situation and the character's themselves. Through the majority of the book, I was happy and found the book rather funny and warming until literally in a page this changes completely.

I shan't say any more. If you really are interested with this book and want to know more, I suggest you read it than read more of my rambles - this is the best book I have ever read - it has changed my views on death (something I do fear) and of cancer itself. I know Hazel and Augustus's story will never ever quite leave me. I shall leave you with some quotes:

'That's the thing about pain...it demands to be felt'
'It seemed like forever ago, like we've had this brief but still infinite forever. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities 

'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves'

I give it 5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/
Pages: 313
Publisher: Dutton
Challenges: None

I found some great websites with reviews and an interview with John Green that are interesting, courtesy of Emma - Review  |  Interview

Other reviews of John Green's Books: Looking for Alaska  |  Paper Towns

Tuesday Top Ten: Books to read in a day

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


This week's theme is books that I would recommend to ANYONE to read within a day - or I have done so myself (although as I'm quite a slow reader and have limited time ALL THE TIME, it is rare for me to read a book in a day)


1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green - I have literally just finished this this morning and honestly, right now, I would make someone read it for the rest of the day to see the amazingness of this book. My friend, Emma, in fact did read this in a day - a college day. How, I do not know. Another friend, George - two days (one of which she was working). THIS IS A QUICK BOOK BECAUSE IT IS SO GREAT. (prepare for my rant on how amazing this is later in the week)


2. Shadow Web - N.M.Browne - this is one of those rare books which I have in fact read in a day. This is a dark horse of YA - I think it should get so much more attention that it actually gets. I just love the idea of it. (Review)


3. Once - Morris Gleitzman - This is a short story, so therefore, it is easy enough to read within a day, even if you were doing something e.g. working. The other two books in the series are equal in length - if you try this one, check out the sequel Then - written so well. (Review)


4. The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan - this isn't one of my favourite books ever read but it is pretty darn powerful and great to read. It may not be particularly memorable plot-wise, but the format is the thing that is memorable and original - it is written in the form of a dictionary with words that mean something to a couple. With some pages only having a sentence, I flew through this book eagerly. (Review)


5. Star-crossed - Rachel Wing - This looks like one of those 'typical' fluffy teenage books for younger teens. And in a way it is. BUT HOLD YOUR HORSES ON YOUR JUDGEMENTS, this was a lovely little find for my 14 year-old self. It is written in 2nd person which makes it so interesting. And it is absolutely hilarious at points and so heart-breaking at others. Read it. (Review)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Looking back at MARCH

Previous months:
February

I said last month that February seemed so long. This month seemed longer. It's weird because I find that looking back the months seem long. But living in these months, it seems like time goes so quickly.
This month I have done quite a lot. I've nearly finished my first year of college and need to start revising for my exams which are only like 5 weeks away (AH). I've got my first results back since last August (B in History, D in Classics - yeah I'm retaking the latter). And gained some amazing best friends since starting there. AND I'm officially working. I work permanently at the weekends in the book store I worked at over Christmas - my first real job so I'm pretty glad it's around  books.

Blogging has slowed down in my opinion but this blog literally cannot take all my time as I would like it to. It's going to get less over the next few months with exams etc. But I promise one day I will be back completely.


Reviews:
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
Bumped - Megan McCafferty
Crossed - Ally Condie 
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (as part of Loving Books' Chaos Walking Week)


This month has been catching up on series mostly. I started two (Cinder and Bumped) and read second in the Matched trilogy (Crossed). I read The Knife of Never Letting Go (first book in Chaos Walking series) ages ago but never wrote a review, so used this week to finally write one. 


Memes:



Required quite a few books this month from discounts in shops, the library and borrowing books off friends. Such a nice feeling to get a book every single week which hasn't happened in a while!



Author Interviews:


Other:



So actually, it's been more busy than I thought. I may not be reading as many books as I would like but I'm still posting bookish things. 
I am on Easter half term now so hopefully even more book reviews here! 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Crossed - Ally Condie (#2)

*There may be some spoilers in this review for those who have not read Matched. To go to the first book in the series, click here*

Also, this is a really rubbish review because I wasn't entirely sure on what I thought of this book.

Last year I read the first one in this series, Matched (review can be seen here). The first book was good, but merely just good. I felt although I did enjoy the book and thought the plot and writing was good, but there was something missing about the book which made me not rave this book or enjoy this completely. So needless to say, I was not rushing to the nearest book shop when the sequel came out last year. However, when I was in the library the other day bringing a book back, I glanced in the Teen section (quickly as I was on my break) and noticed this - so I picked it up. I was intrigued to find out what happened next...

Synopsis: Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by the Society to his sure death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of a rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices every thing to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again. 

Review: So needless to say, I did not have high hopes for this book. Like I said in the Matched review, I would only be reading the sequel to simply find out some of the secrets in the first book and to see what happens next. 
Throwing myself into this book with low expectations, actually I think made me enjoy this book much more than Matched. I have read tons of reviews where people slate off the book, saying nothing happened, too much poetic language, more action, no Xander. 

I loved those parts and for pete's sake - so much happens that affects the future for both Cassia and Ky. The relationships, ideas and beliefs are very different by the end and we get any idea of the world outside of the Society in the Outer Provinces. I liked this change of setting and gave a nicer idea of the whole world that Cassia and Ky live in. 

The characters themselves were much more established and more engaging this time round. Yes, Cassia is portrayed weaker at times throughout this book, but honestly, I think here she is shown quite strong especially the dangerous and passionate thing she has to do - I know it would have been a hard thing personally for me to do. 
I hated Ky immensely in Matched. I loved the relationship of Cassia and Xander so when Ky intervened, I just did not like him. In this book, there were times where he made stupid mistakes that impact on his relationship with Cassia and I just thought that he could easily have prevented these and it would be easier for him just to tell her. SO MUCH EASIER.
Xander is hardly featured in this book - in fact, only in one scene early on. He was as lovely as usual - I guess it's because he's supposed to be perfect but Cassia, girl, I would go for him so much more than Ky. However, for all those Xanders-lovers (like me), some things are hinted at that I think may ruin the image of Xander for me, anyway. 
We also had some lovely new characters - Eli and Vick. Plus some odd ones where I can see mixed judgements like Indie.

The writing IS much more poetic here, but for me, it didn't bother me too much. HERE I AM SAYING I LIKED THE POETRY. I HATE POETRY NORMALLY. Therefore, I think those 'whiners' (I use that word lightly) that do love poetry can live with the poetry in this book. Yes, it is different to Matched lyrical wise, but it's hardly a radical change. The thing I don't understand is that novels such as Wither by Lauren DeStefano was raved by bloggers for her lyrical language - and yes, it was very nice. However, there were no horrible, rather rude reviews actually, slating the poetic language. The idea of the Rising is based around poetry and the events fit with that. In both of these books, it worked just in different ways. 

The book is very different to Matched so for those that absolutely loved the first book in the series, this isn't going to be the most enjoyable read I think. But for those that had mediocre thoughts on Matched like me, then, this is a sufferable novel that you may actually enjoy this more such as I. 
Those that are saying nothing happens - ignore them completely. There is much suspense, intriguing scenes and many many secrets both solved and created through this beautiful, sparkling narrative. 
Despite my linkness for this book compared to Matched, the ending was again not that fantastic. For me, it kind of just suddenly ended like Ally Condie just didn't know what to write next. I think ended in the right setting and situation but overall, it just was quite abrupt for me. 
Again, I had the problem once again that there was something really missing throughout the whole book - I enjoyed it partly from the things I have mentioned but I would not commit myself to say I absolutely loved it. Some of the reviews around have been way too harsh, judging this sequel on the both positive and negative thoughts on Matched. This was a more enjoyable read than Matched but nothing for me, too special. I'm definitely picking up the next book however, to see what happens once and for all.  
Verdict: Read Matched first before this one if you're intrigued. There is a lot of mention to past events that I had a struggle to remember. 

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.allysoncondie.com/
Pages: 367
Publisher: Dutton
Challenges: None 

Related Posts:
Book #1: Matched
Book #3: Reached

On My Bookshelf (20)

This meme is inspired by the similar meme, 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren  (I don't have a Mailbox...)

*Sorry I haven't posted that much this week. I broke up from college this week for Easter so I was either busy doing work, outside enjoying the sun or like this weekend, working. But you have me sort of for the next two weeks so hopefully more blogging now*

This was kind of an impulse buy in the bookshop I work in when I saw them so yeah...I'm very excited to read these.

Bought:

- The DUFF by Kody Keplinger - this intrigues me and it sounds like an interesting storyline and concept so I thought I would give it a go.
- The Killables by Gemma Malley - if any of you saw my rants on her The Declaration series, you will know how much I love her writing and books. I saw these around last week and kept admiring the finished copy but as it came out this week, I was only able to get it today.  
(See here for my thoughts on The Declaration) 


What did you get this week?