Thursday, 29 November 2012

Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison (#2)

Although this is the second book by Cora Harrison based on the diary of Jenny Cooper, a close cousin to Jane Austen, I think it could be read independently without the first novel, I was Jane Austen's Best Friend (see my review).
I bought and read the first book on a bit of a whim - wanting an easy read. Nothing too tough. But actually really enjoyed it! So I got the second book...and have only just got around to reading it.
Since acquiring this novel, I have also read the first book in Cora Harrison's new series named Debutantes (my review), which I would also recommend!
Cora Harrison has to be one of my favourite historical fiction writers as well as Anna Godbersen and Mary Hooper among MANY so I was quite pleased to be starting this book and finally finding out the ending to Jenny's story.

Synopsis: The effects of Jenny Cooper met, fell in love and was then proposed to by the lovely Captain Thomas Williams are both joyful and threatening to their future happiness with a number of obstacles between their love becoming official in marriage. Meanwhile, Jane Austen - Jenny's cousin and closest friend - has her own ideas to find romance. Jane's wild imagination is looking for a dashing, handsome and brave young man - but the males of Steventon don't particular match that fantasy. Soon, Jenny and Jane go to Bath to visit their aunt and uncle and are shown a world of romance, dancing and elegance as well as a few scandals along the way. Soon Jane has a number of admirers wanting her attention and is at risk of being the talk of the town for the wrong reasons...

Review: I have to admit that I constantly cringe whenever I type/write/say the title of this book - it's jokey, yes, but if I had not sampled Cora Harrison's novels before, this would not be a to-read for me.
This is the perfect book for those that are big Jane Austen fans like myself. Although I've only read Pride and Prejudice, I love the plot, the manners and the elegance of her time and also just Jane Austen herself too. This is also the perfect read for those fans to sit on a rainy afternoon in bed with chocolate and coffee and just enjoy the afternoon. Because of the simplicity of this novel, I loved reading it late at night or very early in the morning - it was easy to engross yourself in and to understand.

The story is told from Jenny's point of view. As Harrison says in the Author's Note at the back (which is so interesting to have a read of what is true or not), Jenny's real name was Jane but changed for the purposes of having another Jane in the story. I've always loved Jenny - she's very lovely, gentle and kind yet quite strong-headed and understands what is happening around her. Unlike sometimes young girls of the time are portrayed, neither Jane nor Jenny I found extremely silly and I felt very attached to their future happiness throughout the novel. Jenny at the beginning of the book is engaged to a naval officer  Thomas - another rather lovely character. However, they are refused permission by her brother due to his wife's jealousy for the match. Thomas is vacant for the majority of the book as he goes on a trip with his crew. I loved seeing the genuine sadness from Jenny at his leaving - it just made it lovely to read.

What I absolutely loved about this book (and the series) is the references to Jane Austen's literature. There are quotes that Jane gives to Jenny to put in her diary that after a quick Google, I realised are from Jane Austen novels. The characters and plot have a certain Jane Austen-esque to them. Jane Austen reminded me so much of Elizabeth Bennet and Thomas as Mr Darcy which for a big Jane Austen fan like myself, it's lovely to see the thought put into the novel through this references.

The plot of the book is never boring, with a number of sub-plots happening that keep you as a reader guessing until the very end. I enjoyed the structure of the novel as a diary written by Jenny that really allowed me to get to know her character once again and sympathise with her. The writing is very informal and not at all like the Regency language we associate with Jane Austen, but I liked this aspect of it - it makes this an easier more enjoyable read.
I loved the simplicity of this novel, the modern language, the understandable plot and the lovely unique characters. This novel may should very modern but the key aspects of the 1700s are still present - the etiquette  the clothes, the manners, the dancing - all written clearly and in a way that made it so easy to imagine.

Despite the isolated moments where I had to cringe (starting with the title), I think this novel is best for those that want an easy read for whatever reason that may be. This was perfect to read late at night and very early in the morning when I didn't want to read anything too heavy. I loved the characters, the plot and the writing that made this an overall great read that has cemented Cora Harrison as one of my favourite authors.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.coraharrison.com/
Pages: 346
Publisher: Macmillan
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction

Cora Harrison's other books:
I was Jane Austen's Best Friend
Debutantes

If you like this, you'll also like....
Cassandra's Sister by Veronica Bennett
Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter
Love, Lies and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton

Friday, 23 November 2012

More Bookish News (Patrick Ness!)

After another busy week at college, this weekend is going to be even busier. Anyone else feel like there is literally not enough time in the day?

Today, I found out that Patrick Ness is releasing two books next year - an adult fiction and YA.
First up, his Adult Fiction book, The Crane Wife, which I believe he wrote a while ago but is publishing it now, has now got a cover and release day.
It's being released on 28th March 2013 in the UK AND AUSTRALIA. Here's the cover:

Synopsis: The extraordinary happens every day...

One night, George Duncan - decent man, a good man - is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.

The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George's shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.

Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.



Secondly, Patrick Ness announced on his website that he is releasing a YA novel entitled MORE THAN THIS next September 2013. AND. It will be published in the UK. And the US. And Australia and New Zealand ALL AT THE SAME TIME. 

So those Patrick Ness fans - whoop!
Patrick Ness is a favourite author of mine and after meeting him twice, he was really lovely. Here are my reviews of his already published books in the Chaos Walking series (which is currently being made into a movie):
The New World (#0.5)
The Knife of Never Letting Go (#1)
The Ask and the Answer (#2)
Monsters of Men (#3)

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Also, a heads up that I noticed today that Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is only 20p on Amazon! It's been one of the most talked about books on the blogosphere (here's what I thought) so worth so little. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Breathe - Sarah Crossan (#1)

It's been a while since I published a review, two weeks at least. But I have been reading constantly throughout that!
When I picked this up in my local library, I had already seen some glowing reviews on the blogosphere. Yet on reading the blurb, thinking it sounded pretty good - something I would like, there was still something nagging in me that I shouldn't read this. Was it because I have a zillion other books of my own to read? Was it that I had banned myself from going to the library so I could read those said books? Was it the books waiting to be read on my Kindle?
Who knows. Anyway, I think it's plain to see I did get this out of the library in the end. This book is new and for bloggers like me, who receive little review copies, I knew this would be one of the only chances to read a book I might end up loving FOREVER. I'm so glad I didn't go with my gut feeling.

Synopsis: Imagine the world living in a plastic bubble with oxygen being pumped in because that is the only way to survive.
Set in the future, this is what Earth has come to. The world is dead, there is little oxygen under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that discovered a way to survive, each city lives in pods, on the outskirts of the devastation and remains of cities. For Quinn, Bea and Alina, this is reality.
When Quinn proposes a camping trip outside the pod, Bea doesn't refuse. She wants to spent some time with Quinn, alone, hoping he will finally notice her. However, at the border, they run into Alina, a secret Resistance member on the run from the government. She is also the one Quinn thinks is his dream girl. The planned trip that Bea imagined is turned upside down as they learn about the secrets Breathe have been hiding.

Review: Despite my hesitated thoughts before starting this book, I actually really enjoyed it. I've read many dystopian series over the years of blogging - some are very good, some not so good, yet this book belongs in the former category.

The aspects of this novel that hooked me was both the characters and the world that Sarah Crossan expertly portrays. The idea behind Breathe is clear and something relevant to today. Although we're not on the verge of a world without trees and oxygen, the whole topic of deforestation, toilet roll companies promising to plant 3 trees for every tree they manufacture - it is all something that is considered and talked about today and that is the idea that gripped me throughout this novel. Outside the pod, the characters within Breathe go through the destruction of a town, which to me sounded a lot like London, especially the frequent mention of The Grove (which is the Arsenal football stadium) which was nice to see.

The characters are all very diverse and interesting and it is them that made the book for me. There is Alina, a lovely, feisty girl who is fighting against Breathe to try and expose them. There is also Bea, a loyal girl from the lower-class Zone 3, eager for Quinn to realise that she likes him much more than a friend. And finally, Quinn himself from Zone 1, the guy who has everything due to his father working for Breathe. He's never had to worry about oxygen, breaking rules or money, although his father is a bit of a creep. He is best friends with Bea, the one he can tell everything to, and on his unexpected meeting with Alina, he falls for her beauty and decides that she is 'the one'. For me, I found Bea the most interesting and the one that learns and develops the most out of the three. My only problem with Quinn is that I felt he could have been developed a little more - he was a little forgettable at the beginning compared to the strong characters of Bea and Alina.

The plotline was littered with surprising (and unsurprising) twists and turns. This is not a novel that you will know the ending before you reach it. There are a number of revelations that I would not have guessed at the beginning and at times I was seriously worried how the characters would get out of certain situations. Crossan certainly keeps you guessing until the final page. My only blunder would be that I felt the story was incredibly interesting and well-written from the beginning until the middle. Then, for me, there was a small section between the middle and end which I lost a little interest, got confused or just didn't enjoy it as much as the initial journey and experiences on the outside.

The ending is something that I think was done considerably well - both leaving a slight cliffhanger yet you also know where/what the characters are about to do. The ending, while sad in some ways, was also quite uplifting despite the destruction throughout the novel (once you have read it, you'll understand what I'm referring to).

The book surprised me to say the least, yet it was a good surprise. I really enjoyed this dystopian and I will definitely be reading the next in the series to find out what happens next to Alina, Bea and Quinn. Although I think Quinn could initially be developed more, I liked his bravery and persistence by the end, the same for Bea and Alina. One of the best dystopians of the year, by far.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.sarahcrossan.com/
Pages: 373
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: BBC

The next book in the series, RESIST, will be released in Autumn 2013 (TOO LONG TO WAIT)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Blog Tour: The Pineville Heist Trailer

When I was asked  by author, Lee Chambers, if I wanted to take part in the Pineville Heist blog tour, I jumped at the chance for a number of reasons. Firstly, FIRST EVER BLOG TOUR. And secondly, how great does this book sound?

I also noticed when perusing Netgalley that it's a galley on the site, so if this post doesn't persuade you to request this book, then who knows what will?
AND it's already been optioned for as a movie starring a certain Booboo Stewart, who plays Seth (one of Jacob's 'brothers' I have been told) in the Twilight Saga, to come out in 2013 (My Evidence) so this book has great things happening to it.
Sooooooo, let's take a look at the book trailer:



Seventeen year old Aaron stumbles into the aftermath of a five million dollar bank heist gone wrong. Hiding under a canoe, Aaron partially catches the murder of one of the robbers. In the chaos he sneaks away with the money and heads straight for the closest place of safety, his high school. Terrified, Aaron tells his shocking tale to Amanda Becker, his drama teacher, but it doesn't take long for one of the psychotic robbers to show up. In the locked down school the pair are relentlessly pursued in a quest to get the money back and wipe out the evidence.

For me it sounds a little bit like John Grisham's Theodore Boone series, with the solving of crimes in the plot. So if you enjoyed that series (like me!) then I'm pretty sure this book would be up your street - it sounds incredibly interesting and I hope this book does as well as I think it should. 





Sunday, 11 November 2012

On My Bookshelf (30)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

I'm on a library ban at the moment as I have so many books of my own to read. And let's not talk about the Netgalley's and Kindle books to read too! Also, we all know my 'thing' about buying books with my own money (even though I now get a discount...) so I haven't had that many book buying sessions for the last couple of weeks...



Bought:
- York Notes Advanced on Frankenstein - I know most people aren't probably interested in this but I was so pleased with my bargain. I got this in a charity shop for £2 before I went away, normally around £6/7. I happened to go into the British Heart Foundation charity shop as the one near my house normally have some good books in there. I was looking at the 'Classics' section and noticed this. I'm studying Frankenstein for my English Literature exam at the moment and because it's A level, it's quite hard to understand or to find all these interpretations etc. of Mary Shelley's writing and opinions so I thought this would help. Advice for those studying English: get York Notes, they have saved me too many times!


Library:
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger - After reading and loving The Great Gatsby, I've been very interested in reading some more modern classics, such as this one. After reading about a lot of controversy and challenges against this book as well as the mention in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, when I found this in my school library, I thought it was time to read it. 
I've now read it - it was good but not as good as I would have liked. Holden annoyed me a lot.

- Breathe by Sarah Crossan - When I saw the number of reviews on the blogosphere for this book in the last week, I never thought I would a) find a copy and b) be interested in reading it. However, when I saw this in my local library, I picked it up wondering what it was actually about. It sounds like such an interesting topic, something I think we all think about even if it is subconsciously. The sound of it reminds me a little of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (review) or Matched by Ally Condie (review) so I hope to enjoy this dystopian. 
Let me know what you thought if you have read it!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Some Bookish News

Just a quick post (I know another one this week) in between having a marathon catching up on Elementary, (which I love!) and writing an essay that MAY have been due in a week ago but ya know, I wasn't in the country and my teacher hasn't asked for it yet...
There's been some very bookish news in the last few days that are all exciting and nice to see in the media.

First up, today Sarah Dessen, who is like the most amazing person ever on the planet (FYI, favourite author...) released today the title, cover art, the synopsis AND an excerpt for her new book being released next year on USA Today. Have a look at the original article here, I found out through Twitter and also she tweeted the other day that she would be announcing something so I was prepared!
So glad to hear she's releasing another book, named The Moon and More, however, who knows how long it will take to reach over here in England could be anyone's guess...




Emaline works at her family's vacation rental company the summer before she leaves for college. She must confront her values, goals and choices as her relationship with city-boy Theo evolves and she's forced to say goodbye to the beach town where she grew up.












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Secondly, the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals longlists have been announced earlier this week. For those that may not know, Carnegie is a huge children's book awards over here in the UK. Added to the medal, schools sign up as book clubs and are sent the books in the shortlist to read and then choose the one that they liked the best which helps decide the winner of the award. They did it at my old secondary school but the librarian that ran it never chose me but some of my other friends (much to my jealously) but I'd always wanted to join in. The Kate Greenaway medal is awarded to illustrations in children's books. Last year, both awards were won for A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and illustrations by Jim Kay!
The shortlist will be announced on 19th March 2013 with the winners being announced on 19th June 2013. Anyway, here at the longlists for the awards - some really great books on there! 
*The ones in bold are by some of my favourite authors.

Carnegie Full Longlist:
Goldilocks on CCTV by John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond (Puffin Books)
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus (Macmillan Children's Books)
The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke (Walker Books)
The Traitors by Tom Becker (Scholastic)
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday Children's Books)
Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children's Books)
Spy For The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin (Doubleday Children's Books)
Naked by Kevin Brooks (Puffin Books)
Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess (Puffin Books)
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)
VIII by H.M. Castor (Templar Publishing) See my review here
Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers (Bodley Head)
The Broken Road by B.R. Collins (Bloomsbury)
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walker Books)
15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (Oxford University Press)
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Macmillan Children's Books)
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
Scramasax by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Quercus Publishing)
Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (Oxford University Press)
Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (Marion Lloyd Books)
Saving Daisy by Phil Earle (Puffin Books)
Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean (Brambleby Books)
The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant (Faber and Faber)
Trouble in Toadpool by Anne Fine (Doubleday Children's Books)
Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn (Macmillan Children's Books)
Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher (Hodder Children's Books)
The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Indigo)
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)

After by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books) See my review here
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig (Bodley Head)
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children's Books)
Unrest by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Doubleday Children's Books)
The Seeing by Diana Hendry (Bodley Head)
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Walker Books)
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson (Marion Lloyd Books)
The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen (Oxford University Press)
The Prince Who Walked With Lions by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children's Books)
In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Itch by Simon Mayo        (Corgi Children's Books)
At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Andersen Press)
The Treasure House by Linda Newbery (Orion Children's Books)
All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Random House David Fickling Books)
Hitler's Angel by William Osborne (Chicken House)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver (Puffin Books)
Burn Mark by Laura Powell (Bloomsbury)
Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (David Fickling Books)
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)
This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury)
Goblins by Philip Reeve (Marion Lloyd Books)
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Puffin Books)
Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts (Templar Publishing)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon (Profile Books)
The Flask by Nicky Singer (HarperCollins Children's Books)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
A Skull in Shadows Lane by Robert Swindells (Corgi Children's Books)
A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)


To see the longlist in full, have a look here

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Right now I'm going to back and attempt my English essay again by sounding like I know why readers would be fearful of the power of science shown in Frankenstein (urgh). 
This is a song I've been listening to on repeat. I love it!



Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

Since the announcement of the release of the motion picture film of the same name starring Logan Lermon and more notably, Emma Watson, this is a book that has again gained many readers as they learn about Charlie's life in growing into a proper teenager.

I read this book this time last year and I have to admit, I didn't think much of it. I thought it was good and thought-provoking but I didn't get the hype, there was nothing extraordinary about it.
Anyway, when I saw a copy of this book recently at my place of work with a newer cover to mark the release of the movie, I bought a copy. And let two of my friends borrow it, and they loved it, saw the movie, loved that, I thought it was time I gave this book another try.

Synopsis: Charlie is starting high school as a freshman - alone. His best and only friend has gone and he is thought weird, geeky and socially awkward by his peers. This is until he is befriended by some seniors who take him under their wing and introduce him to the life of a typical teenager: relationships, love, drugs, alcohol and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Review: For starters, I enjoyed this much more the second time round. I don't think I quite understood the first reading of this and after watching the movie, I think I understood the ending and Charlie more. 
Charlie is an interesting character. The narrative is told entirely from his point of view in the form of letters to an unknown person. There are a few theories who that unknown person is, but I'll let you make your own judgements.  At the start of the novel, we start by knowing nothing and end with knowing not everything... There is closure but I would have like a little more. 

Charlie's language fluctuates from being very simple to being very vivid and complex. I loved Chbosky's writing. This book is not one where you can admire the vivid descriptions or be amazed by the choice of words. It is like Chbosky is saying 'Here's the story with no added crap. Like it or not'. Very different approach, but I liked this way. There was no metaphors and stupid representations of things you have to think yourself. It was just simple a story that could happen to a teenager. 
I could say the writing is clear and although you do know most of what happens, after seeing the movie and having a friend explain to me the ending (which the first time reading I DID NOT realise, it's THAT subtle), there are parts which are incredibly subtle and implicit. The ending bit with his aunt? Never realised.

Charlie is a very likeable character and I found myself becoming more and more attached to him. I do see something of myself in him, the naivety of the experience within teenage society, not understanding things that he 'should' know etc. Charlie is so sweet also, and a few characters within the novel use this nature which made me like him more. I think anyone in their teenage years, even those in a group considered 'popular', would understand Charlie's experiences in growing up throughout the book - the angst, the confusion and the emotions that everyone shares. It is this that I think anyone can relate to this novel - those that have been far through adolescence and those that are experiences it here and now. It does unite people in something we all go through. 

I loved some of the quotes in this book, Charlie himself as well as some of the other great characters like Sam and Patrick. Charlie is someone that embodies everyone, everyone can relate to him in some kind of way. The writing is what makes this book. The book provides a unique portrayal of teenage life that although, may seem unrealistic, I can assure you it is realistic and quite well done. 

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Stephen-Chbosky/1843916
Pages: 213
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None


Movie:
As I mentioned, there is a movie version of this book which I found really good actually! Although this is a YA book, the movie is not a teenage movie. My friend, who hates those kind of movies, came out saying it was incredibly good. And the plus side: they haven't changed the story too much. So go see this after you've read the book!

Monday, 5 November 2012

From Rome with Love

 I know I posted my 'pledge' to the blog and you guys outlining how the blog will be run due to my own personal life. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please have a look here, I would appreciate you reading it.
Anyway, THAT was 11 days ago. So yeah, when I said you would see me again in 2 weeks, I was pretty spot on (that was a guess actually!).

My lack of posting in the last few weeks has mostly been due to the fact I've been in Rome for the last few days as I'm on half term. I came back last night (in time for the last Downton Abbey episode, naturally) and I have a day off today which has kind of turned into a homework day.

I have a post being written at the moment for my review of Perks of Being a Wallflower (yes I read that a while ago...) and I have the 'Looking back' post for October to still do. I also finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro while I was in Rome. Such a beautiful book, so lovely. I now need to hunt down the film. Let me know if you've seen the movie or read the book and what you thought!

I shall leave you with some pictures of Rome and of me being a tourist with sunglasses.

Trevi Fountain

This is like a monument for the unification of Italy but apparently a lot of
Italians dislike it because it's like a stones throw from some ancient ruins
so it's known as the 'Wedding Cake' and conveniently not in guide books...
St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City aka where the Pope lives

The Roman Forum. Yes I was fangirling because I knew a lot about the ruins there
from doing Classics AS and reading The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline
Lawrence...
I think we all know what this is...

I look like such a tourist, it's horrible.