Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Name: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Author's website: rainbowrowell.com
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Date published: 2014
Number of pages: 459
Rating: 5/5
Spoiler warning: Moderate
The ending of this book crept up on me (that seems to be happening to me more and more often, maybe I just need to pay more attention) and I didn't realise it was almost over until I turned a page and realised the next page was the last one. Obviously I knew it was going to end eventually, just not right at that point. I think I just became really attached and didn't want it to end. I really related to Cath and loved reading her journey. I recently started university so I really understood her nerves about it. The story felt very real with mistakes and confusion and mess and things not being straight-forward but getting sorted out eventually with a lot of effort and really good happy moments and happy tears that made the hard work definitely worth it...and I'm rambling...
I really liked the fan fiction element. I have to admit I read (and sometimes attempt to write...but just forget I mentioned that because my attempts are pretty bad...) fan fiction myself and I liked how this book showed that it isn't some weird freaky thing and that it can be really important and significant and brilliant.
I found it interesting that Cath never reconciled with her mother, and I that was good because doing that wasn't the right thing to do for Cath and it would have felt forced. I think it showed that the end of the book isn't the end of the story because maybe one day Cath would go on to talk to her mum, Maybe. The fact that the book leaves a few things in the air leaves you to imagine what Cath and her family and friends did next, in a good way, not in a oh-my-God-you-can't-just-leave-it-there-I-hate-you way, of course. As Wren said, "It's never over." (excuse me while I go and repeat that to myself while crying about Harry Potter).

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Notice (#3)

I would like to apologise about the fact that I haven't been posting on this blog very much at all recently. The reason is that, in September, I started studying English Literature at university and obviously that has kept me very busy. However, I am feeling quite settled in now, and so I'm hoping that I'll be able to start posting more regularly again soon. I already have notes for four reviews (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale, Fearless by Tim Lott and From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender) written already, so I just need to type those up really. I also have one book I still need to read and review (The WorldMight by Cyril Bussiere), which is something I've been meaning to do for ages, but that one may take me a little longer because I already have a lot of reading to do for my course.
I hope you all understand and I'd like to thank you all for your patience. You should hear from me again soon.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Name: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Authors' websites: www.rachelcohn.com & www.davidlevithan.com
Publisher: MIRA Ink Books
Date published: 2012
Number of pages: 260
Rating: 5/5
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was funny, adorable and cute and it really made me smile. I think it had some really unique ideas and I loved the way words were used; it was made up of thought-provoking, intelligent and wonderful sentences. I liked the way the red notebook led Dash and Lily to learn more about themselves, the people around them, and about life in general. And since I liked the book so much, I was not ready for the ending. I didn't realise I was so close to the end of the book and when I turned over the page and saw that it was the end I was a little sad because I didn't want it to end yet. This is definitely a new favourite of mine and I would recommend it for something to read over the winter. It's a perfect book to read while drinking hot chocolate and sitting by the fire (and I don't care if that sounds cheesy because it's one of my favourite winter activities).

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Runaway by Marie-Louise Jensen

Name: Runaway
Author: Marie-Louise Jensen
Author's website: www.marie-louisejensen.com/wordpress/
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date published: 2014
Number of pages: 311
Rating: 4/5
Available: Now
Runaway is dramatic from the very beginning, when it starts with events that utterly change Charlotte's life. The story, which follows Charlotte's new life on the run and her journey to discovering her family's secrets, is very exciting, full of action, mystery and suspense. This almost non-stop drama is balanced well by occasional moments of calmness or humour, and the romance (Mr. John Lawrence is a wonderful character) is also well mixed into the story.
It took me a while to get into this book, to be really interested in it and to really want to keep reading, but eventually I did and after that I didn't want to stop reading. About midway through, I found that all I wanted to do was find out what happened next, and then what happened after that, and after that... I think Runaway is definitely worth persevering through.

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Review: Blind Servitude by David Chattaway

Name: Blind Servitude
Author: David Chattaway
Author's website: www.davidchattaway.com
Publisher: David Chattaway
Date published: 2014
Number of pages: 99
Rating: 4/5
Available: 21st July 2014 (expected publication)
I found Blind Servitude to be a very engrossing read. The narrator, a young boy named Eli, tells you things in a way that makes you keep reading because you want to know more about his strange life in the mine, and how things came to be the way they are at the beginning of the story. Because Eli doesn't know everything, and is curious to find out more, you're also curious.
The story was quite sinister at parts, the siren signalling the disappearance of a prisoner reminding me of the cannon signalling the death of a tribute in the Hunger Games. It was also mysterious, suspenseful, exciting, and even scary at some parts.
There is some wonderful and brilliant description in this novella, and it is incredibly clever (keep an eye out for Peta). I would have liked for it to be revealed how they really ended up in the mine, and what the surface looked like when Eli opened the doors to the outside, but I suppose still leaving some things to the imagination even at the end maintains the mystery and makes the story more fascinating.

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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Review: The Worst Girlfriend in the World by Sarra Manning

Name: The Worst Girlfriend in the World
Author: Sarra Manning
Author's website: www.sarramanning.co.uk
Publisher: Atom
Date published: 2014
Number of pages: 344
Rating: 5/5
Available: Now
Spoiler warning: Minor
I liked this book because, though it had some very serious moments, these were contrasted well with its funny moments. The narration itself was also quite funny and I liked how Franny's voice was relatable and occasionally reminded me of myself.
I would definitely recommend reading this book if you love fashion, Franny has a clear passion for it and it's really interesting to see her learn has she goes through her fashion BTEC at college. I completely understood her love for Vogue, although my own collection of issues (consisting of one issue of French Vogue) is nothing compared to Franny's, I'm planning to try and collect issues from as many different countries as possible (perhaps buying one from England, the place where I actually live, would be a good idea).
The plot of The Worst Girlfriend in the World was really enjoyable. I actually ended up reading the whole book in one day (something which I seem to be doing more and more often for some reason) as I was excited to find out how it ended. And I'm glad it ended the way it did, with Franny and Alice forgiving each other while understanding that their friendship would never quite be the same and knowing that they would both have to put in effort to make it work. I think that showed really good character development.

Friday, 20 June 2014

My Life (#5): Scrambled Eggs

Yesterday I made scrambled eggs for the first time (bear with me here, I promise it gets more interesting, well, I hope it does). It may seem a little strange, that I'm 18 years old, and I've only just made scrambled eggs for the first time, but it's just one of those things I've never gotten around to doing. I mentioned it because the reason that I had time to make scrambled eggs for breakfast was because I've finished College! Well, mostly. I still have the viewing of my A Level Art Exhibition to go to, and then I have to take down all my Art work and take it home (that's going to be fun on the bus), but apart from that (and Results Day, but I'm trying not to think about that...) I'm done for the summer! So, I thought I would write about what I plan to do this summer, before I go to university (hopefully...yikes).
First, relating back to the scrambled eggs, I'm going to be doing more cooking. Since, like I said, I'm planning to go to university in autumn, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure I could actually do more than make toast. Obviously I'm starting with the basics that I've never made before, like scrambled eggs.
Something on my summer to-do list which I've already done is decorate my room. I've rearranged the posters on my bedroom walls so that I have a collage above my desk, with posters of my favourite people, and I've also added little souvenirs that I associate with good memories, so I smile every time I look at that wall. And there's still enough space so that I can add new things as I get new memories. I also have one corner of the room decorated with Doctor Who posters. Because Doctor Who also makes me smile.
Other things I plan to do this Summer include reading (a lot of reading, I want to read challenging and interesting books, like the classics, that will make me learn), writing (practice makes perfect, well, practice makes slightly better than before), and going on holiday with my family. I'm also hoping to volunteer at my local library. Generally, I'm just going to try and make the most of my time.
I hope you enjoy your Summer, and that the weather is good to you. And if you're going on holiday, bon voyage!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett

Name: You Don't Know Me
Author: Sophia Bennett
Author's website: http://sophiabennett.com/
Publisher: The Chicken House
Date published: 2013
Number of pages: 344
Rating: 5/5
When is it available?: Now
Spoiler warning: Minor


You Don't Know Me really made me feel the emotions of the characters - especially Sasha - and it takes you on quite an emotional journey. I felt so frustrated and angry and upset for Sasha in her worst moments, and in her best I felt so happy. I felt angry at Rose for not getting in touch, especially when Sasha just kept trying to apologise and get in touch, and then I found myself becoming worried about what was happening to Rose and angry at her management team and what they put her through, and finally I was so happy and relieved when the four girls were all back together and talking again. I think it was especially emotional that Sasha could see Rose's potential right from the beginning, she always thought she was beautiful and amazing, and I could really feel how conflicted Sasha must have felt when Rose won Killer Act because she was so proud but also so hurt and confused.
I think this book had really good character development and by the end I really felt that Sasha, Rose, Nell and Jodie were real, wonderful, funny, strong people. I loved it when Rose wouldn't go online to check the Killer Act votes partly because "she noticed the misplaced apostrophe in 'it's 3rd year'" and consequently also had no faith in the competition because of that. I really related to her in that moment, misplaced apostrophes are so annoying (hopefully there aren't any in this review, otherwise that would be slightly hypocritical). I was glad that the whole experience ended up bringing Nell, Jodie, Sasha, and, eventually, Rose closer together and that it made Sasha learn more about herself. And I was glad at the end when Rose put her foot down and just did what she wanted to do.
The book had some really important lessons, one being that things can become so distorted by the media and that you shouldn't believe everything they say and you shouldn't make judgements until you know all the facts of the situation because of the way the media twist things so much. The story also showed how social media can have its bad sides and what 'hating' on people can actually do to them, how it can affect their minds and emotions. It showed that people may not be what they seem (for example, Roxanna, who I severely disliked by the end) and it showed how difficult school and relationships with your friends can be at 15 and 16.
Overall, You Don't Know Me was just a really exceptional book. As well as what I've already written about, there are a few more things I really like about the book. You can really sense Sophia Bennett's love for fashion through things like the description of clothes throughout the book, which is something I liked because it reminded me of Sophia's other books, all of which I enjoyed reading. However, I also liked the book because it was different to Sophia's other books because it didn't have exactly the same setting; her other books were mostly set in London, if I remember correctly, and that isn't a bad thing, but it was interesting and fresh to see a story mostly set somewhere else. I also liked the chapter titles, as well as the fact that the story focused on friendship. Finally, I liked that a love for music really shined through every page.
Even though I didn't want this book to end (which is definitely a sign of a good book), I did adore the ending. It was so happy, wonderful, and perfect.
And I have to mention that I loved it when Taylor Swift was mentioned a couple of times in the book (I really am made happy by little, simple things).

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Name: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Author's website: http://www.megrosoff.co.uk/
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date published: 2004
Number of pages: 210
Rating: 4/5
When is it available?: Now


I thought this book was especially interesting because of Daisy's narrative voice. She was straight-to-the-point, blunt, and honest. This made things funny, in a way, but also relatable and almost painfully raw and emotional. Daisy doesn't tell you everything, and what she does tell you she doesn't say all at once, but she never lies, which results in the narrative being mysterious yet real and confessional. Because of this narrative style, it is easy to get a sense of the way Daisy feels isolated at times because of the little she knows about what is really going on.
How I live Now reminded me of The Hunger Games in that it has the same fight for survival and roller coaster of emotions, and also in that it is completely different to anything I've read before, what with its narrative style and plot line. Speaking of the plot, it was unexpected and no matter how you think it will end, or what you think will happen next, you can't imagine what actually happens.
This is a book with a lot to take in, but I managed to read it in a day because it was almost addictive. It is one of those books that makes you sit back and think once you've finished it. I couldn't start reading another book straight after this one, I had to let it sink in.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Name: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Author's website: http://www.suzannecollinsbooks.com/
Publisher: Scholastic
Date published: 2008
Number of pages: 454
Rating: 5/5
When is it available?: Now
Spoiler warning: Moderate

You are probably thinking something along the lines of "Have you really only just read this?" and the answer to that is yes, I have. The reason I have only just gotten around to reading this book when it's been around for so long that both a movie of it and a movie of the second book in the series have been made and released is because it took me a while to actually want to read it. I didn't want to read it, at first, because I thought I might not like it as it isn't the kind of thing I usually read, (before reading this, I'd never read any dystopian novels) and I was worried it might not be all it was made up to be. But then, after having been given the book as a birthday present, and after I'd seen the film, I did decide to read it and I'm glad I did.
It's a bit strange watching a film based on a book and then reading the book afterwards, I don't think I've ever done it that way round before. But I still managed to enjoy the book even though I had a rough idea of what was going to happen and I found I didn't want to stop reading it once I'd started. One thing I noticed was that the book was slightly more gory than the movie, but I think those parts of the book that were quite horrific were necessary because it showed how scary the situation was for the tributes and what they had to do to try and stay alive.
The story is such an interesting and unique idea. And it is a scary idea, especially once Katniss finds that she's still in danger even after surviving the games, but it's still fascinating and I definitely recommend you read it because it really is worth all the hype.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

My Life (#4): Taylor Swift's RED Tour in London


On Saturday the First of February 2014 I went to the O2 Arena in London to see Taylor Swift live at the RED Tour and I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing nights of my life. It was my first ever concert and I couldn't have chosen a better concert to fit that title. 
The Vamps, the opening act, were brilliant and great at entertaining a crowd who weren't necessarily there for them. They made most of the crowd, including myself, end up loving them, as far as I could tell. I especially loved it when they taught us the words to 'Cecilia'.  Ed Sheeran, who Taylor brought on stage part-way through the concert as a surprise guest, was wonderful and they sung Lego House together perfectly. Taylor's band, back-up singers and dancers were fantastic and looked like they were having so much fun.
Onto Taylor herself. Miss Swift is a spectacular entertainer who made the evening fabulous, incredible, marvellous and stunning and who left me awestruck. I really liked it when she talked about a song before performing it, it made it somehow more personal despite the fact that she was performing to a sold out crowd of about...15,000, I think it was. I also thought that it was really good that she moved around the arena, making every seat a good seat.
Thank you to Taylor Swift, for a night I doubt I will ever forget, and thank you to everyone who made that concert possible. I couldn't praise everyone highly enough.



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green



Name: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Author's Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date published: 2012
Number of pages: 313
Rating: 4/5
When is it available?: Now

I think I might as well start with the title, I love the name of this book. 'The Fault in Our Stars' really sounds poetic and gives an idea of how well-written the story is going to be. And it's not just good writing, it's funny too, which is not something you would expect from a book that deals with a topic so sensitive but it works well. It keeps the characters real and relatable. 
I thought I was going to cry while reading this book. I really did. I am the type of person who cries at books (I cried quite a few times reading the last couple of Harry Potter books). But I didn't cry at this book. I don't know what it was, perhaps I read it too quickly to become properly attached to the story, perhaps I didn't really pay attention, but I didn't cry (and I feel like I am one of the only people who didn't, I promise I'm not unemotional and insensitive! Well, I hope I'm not). Of course I found it unbelievably sad at parts, and it was quite upsetting. But no tears from me (apparently I am just a cold-hearted individual). So I just felt like there was something missing from it because of that and therefore I can't give it the five out of five stars. But it was a good book, with great writing, interesting thoughts and wonderful characters, so it definitely deserves four stars.

Now I just need to decide if I want to watch the movie or not. I'm worried it might not be quite how I pictured it and sometimes that doesn't matter with movies based on books but sometimes it really does and I think that might be the case with this one. Well, we'll see I suppose.

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Monday, 13 January 2014

My Life (#3): New Year's Resolutions

So this may seem slightly late, but I wanted to think my resolutions through before making them definite, and I only decided on one main resolution this year. My New Year's Resolution for 2014 is to work hard and really try with my college work, so I can get the three B's that I need to get into the university I really want to go to. Recently I've realised that I would really like to get into this university and so consequently I've realised that I want to work even harder than I usually do so it's more certain that I am going to get those B's. And after I've revised like crazy for the first half of the year, I'll still need to work as hopefully I'll be starting an English Literature degree!
So, while I'll be focusing on my textbooks, what will you be doing in 2014?
Happy New Year!
Rebecca.