Tuesday, 24 December 2013

One Last 12 Days of Christmas, and ACTUAL CHRISTMAS!!!

I've actually forgotten how many of these I've done, so whatever, this is the last one at any rate, because, you know, Christmas is tomorrow. Or maybe today, or two days from now, depending on where you live. So then... one final 12 Days Of Christmas: Presents For Bookworms.

I really, really wish I was the legal drinking age so I could get this as a Christmas present. We found these in Waterstones a while ago, and we bought two copies just because. So awesome. No idea who we're going to give them to.
It's basically a collection of book-based drinks. For example: The Rye In The Catcher, Moby-Drink, etc. Do I need to say anymore?

Aaaaaand... CHRISTMAS. Despite various reservations about commercialism and whether or not Christmas trees are a good idea, I am SO EXCITED. If you're reading this (which I hope some people are), I hope you have a great Christmas, or a great day if you don't celebrate it. I will be getting up at five tomorrow to unwrap presents, so hopefully you'll get more sleep than me!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Blurb: A whirlwind day in Paris... A chance at true love... Heartbreak is waiting just around the corner.
(That's one explanatory blurb, right there.)

What I thought: I don't know what it is about Gayle Forman's books. The writing is good but not great. The story/idea/plot/whatever is fine. It should end up being an average-to-all-right book. But Just One Day was really good (and by good, I mean I really enjoyed it. I don't mean that despite everything I just said, it turned out to be amazing, and I just can't stop talking about it and all people everywhere should read it).

It did take me a while to get into, just like If I Stay and Where She Went. In the beginning, Allyson annoyed me because of her passivity and Melanie annoyed me because of her me-ness (which is, as of now, a word, and I expect it to be in the OED by Christmas), and you kind of wonder when the story actually starts.
And then Willem turns up, and he seems like SUCH A DICK. Not at first, I mean, but a few pages after he's introduced. I was thinking, okay, nothing happened, and now she's dropped all of the nothing to go off with this guy who kinda sucks. Great. 

HOWEVER. Willem turns out to be kind of awesome. But still kind of a dick. Which is actually kind of nice (kind of, kind of, kind of). Refreshing. But still a bit annoying. Arghhh...

I did think that the story had parts in it that were very like some other books I've read. Although, goldfish that I am, I've now forgotten what those bits were. Got to write reviews closer to when I actually finish the book... Anyway. I do remember thinking that some parts were a bit Anna And The French Kiss, and also some other stuff which, guess what, I don't remember.

But the thing is, all of that really didn't matter. I read an article in my school magazine a few days ago about film critics, and there was a bit about how it doesn't matter if there are slight plot gaps or whatever, if the story makes you forget about them or just not care. If the story is better than it's failings. Which I think Just One Day is. Despite all of the things that could have been better or different, or the parts that annoyed me, it was one of those books that you just can't stop thinking about. For me, that goes for all of Gayle Forman's books that I've read so far. I don't know how she does it.

Rate: 7/10

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Blurb: Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building on the Left bank. To the residents she is honest, reliable and uncultivated- an ideal concierge. But Renee has a secret. Beneath this conventional facade she is passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her self-important employers. Down in her lodge, Renee is resigned to living a lie; meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid a predictably bourgeois future, and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. But the death of one of their privileged neighbours will bring dramatic change to number 7, Rue de Grenelle, altering the course of both their lives forever.

What I thought: In Anna And The French Kiss, she studies foreign, translated novels. At one point, her English teacher says this: "Foreign novels are less action-oriented. They have a different pace; they're more reflective. They challenge us to look for the story, find the story within the story." Throughout the whole of this book, I was reminded of this quote. It really is like that- there's the plot, and then there's all their (the character's) thoughts and reflections, and it's all so interesting. Most of the books I normally read are English or American, and the whole book is centered around the plot. This is much more about character, and ideas. You could really feel the injustice of Renee's life, and how unfair the world is. And then there's Paloma, and I was desperate to find out what happened to her, and it's so sad because she's just a little girl.

I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog very much. It delves into all this philosophy about what it means to be human, and Art and Beauty (always given capital letters in the book), and how people naturally are. The main characters are all so interesting and noble and good (but only the main characters, everyone else seems to be horrible), and they make me think of the end of The Fault In Our Stars, where Augustus writes Hazel the letter, and he says "She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the Earth."

Muriel Barbery is an amazing writer. Most of what I read is either YA or classic-y type stuff. YA authors, while generally very good, are less sophisticated because their books are aimed at a younger age group. Most involve romance, gorgeous boys etc. This book is so different, and I love it. Anyone who likes Banana Yoshimoto or Milan Kundera will love this. And I did cry at the end. I've got to stop doing that.

Rate: 8/10

Thursday, 12 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Presents for Bookworms

Day 3 

I found an advert for something like these on Tumblr the other day, and it seemed like a really cool idea. I love bookish t shirts- I've got one that says "Daisy Buchanan thinks you're a beautiful fool" on the front that I wear all the time. These tops (and the images) are all from Strand books, and they have a much wider range including children's clothes too. I'm pretty sure you can get them from Amazon or wherever if you don't live in America and don't want to pay postage (like me, although that Jane Eyre top is staring at me). Perfect Christmas presents for people who've read everything you can think of- just get one based on their favorite book.

(Completely unrelated, but I heard this joke today, and I just had to write it down... Have you heard any jokes about Dorian Gray? They never get old.)
 T-Shirt: Women's Pride & PrejudiceT-Shirt: Men's 1984

  T-Shirt: Women's Jane EyreT-Shirt: Men's Catch-22T-Shirt: Women's Great GatsbyT-Shirt: Men's On The Road

Monday, 9 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Presents for Bookworms

Day 2:

Essential for reading in bed without disturbing whoever you happen to be sharing a room with: a mini clip-on reading lamp. I got one of these a few weeks ago, and it is so good for when my roommate wants to sleep and I can't tear myself away from my book (which happens quite a bit). I used to use a torch, and I'd have to hold it between my neck and my shoulder. Very annoying. 
But these are really good. They come in tons of different colours, and there are loads of different designs around at the moment, so you have a lot of choice.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Blurb: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it... It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

What I thought: I've never been to a circus, and now I'm not sure I want to, because I know it could never live up to this book. WOW. Best setting in any book I can remember reading. I want to live inside The Night Circus. The circus is my favorite aspect of the entire book. I loved how new tents kept getting introduced, so you were gradually discovering the circus throughout the story. I can't possibly describe how much I loved this book, and the circus. As soon as I finished, I ordered another copy as a Christmas present for anyone. Everyone should read this.

Although the setting was probably the strongest part of the book, it was not just a place put down on paper. There is a story, and the circus stems from that, and the characters are so amazing. The most beautiful love story, the most gorgeous magic, the most mysterious plot. For most of the book, it's pretty vague on details (on purpose, relating to the main characters) so you never really know what's going on, or who knows what, and that was part of what I loved so much. The mystery echoes the mystery of the circus, and how no one's really sure what's going on, or what the circus holds.  It's kind of like Harry Potter, in that J K Rowling created this amazing world, and populated it with interesting characters and this fascinating story.

Also, the cover. So beautiful, and so appropriate for the book. I like how the blurb really doesn't tell you much, so you go in with no idea what will happen. I only finished The Night Circus a few hours ago, and already I want to be reading it again. I predict a massive book-hangover, and much re-reading. One of my new favorite books.

Rate: 9/10

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Bookish Calendar: November

I know this is late, but I didn't find a sufficiently November-ish book last month, and now I have. So:

First of all- the cover. So pretty... I haven't finished this book yet, but I absolutely love it, and it does seem very November-like to me. Set in the late 1800s- early 1900s, it is the story of an entirely black and white circus, only open at night, unlike any circus there has ever been. The story of Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, and all the other circus performers, is enthralling. Such a perfect book (touch wood).

Friday, 6 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela
Free, free, free, free, free
Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela
Twenty-one years in captivity
Shoes too small to fit his feet
His body abused but his mind is still free
Are you so blind that you cannot see?
I said free Nelson Mandela
I'm begging you, free Nelson Mandela

Pleaded the courses at the ANC
Only one there in a large army
Are you so blind that you cannot see?
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear his plea?
Free Nelson Mandela
I'm begging you, free Nelson Mandela

Twenty-one years in captivity
Are you so blind that you cannot see?
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear?
Are you so dumb that you cannot speak?
I said free Nelson Mandela
I'm begging you, free Nelson Mandela
Free Nelson Mandela

Begging you, begging you please
Free Nelson Mandela
You've got to, you've got to
You've got to free
You've got to free
You've got to free
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
I'm telling you, telling you, telling you
You've got to free, you've got to free
You've got to free, you've got to free
Nelson Mandela

- The Special A.K.A, 1984

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Presents for Bookworms

I know that the actual 12 days of Christmas doesn't start until Christmas Day, but it wouldn't be very helpful to suggest bookish Christmas presents after Christmas. So I'm going to do a present-recommendation thing, one a day for 12 days between now and Christmas.

Day 1: 

The most obvious: a Christmas-y book. I'd suggest something like Dash And Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan for teenagers or YA readers. Or Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, which I haven't actually read yet but I'm sure will be great. For anyone who likes more classic-y stuff, go for The Catcher In The Rye. Not strictly Christmas-y, but based around the holidays.

 Or, if you can't find a suitably Christmas-y book, just go for something good, or something that they'll like. So far I've bought Angelmaker, The Book Thief and Code Name Verity as presents for various people in my family. Go for genres they normally read, or something slightly different but still familiar. These are some more books I think would make good Christmas presents, which don't actually involve Christmas stuff.

 Because we all need a little Harry Potter in our lives now and then. Although it might be hard to find someone who hasn't read them yet. If you do, please enlighten them for me.

  For any teenager, or anyone who even remotely likes emotions: John Green's books. And if they've read those, try Stephen Chbosky or Daniel Handler or David Levithan. Jandy Nelson, Matthew Quick and Stephanie Perkins are also amazing.  

 For adults, try Angelmaker. There's a full review below. 

 And for anyone who loves classics, I'd recommend something by the Bronte sisters or Charles Dickens. Not Jane Austen, please. That failing, try Gone With The Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, or something along those lines.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

An Almost-Review: Catching Fire (the movie)

I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the weekend, and I've been thinking about it a lot so I thought I'd write about it. This isn't going to be a proper review, because I know next to nothing about films, but I just wanted to say what I thought about it.
First of all, it is amazing. Better than the first one by miles, even though that was really good too. Jennifer Lawrence is a very good actress, and an even better Katniss. I think she suits the role really well. I'm pretty sure there's a different actress playing Effie, although she sounds exactly the same- it took me ages to realise.
But the problem, for me, is that this film is too good. The Hunger Games is not, whatever else you might say about it, a happy story. When I came out of the cinema my palms were covered in red marks- I spend probably about half the movie digging my nails into my skin so I wouldn't cry, and the other half with my hands in front of my face. They (whoever the hell "they" are) have done it so well.
So well that it gets inside you, and then everyone starts dying, and you know you're going to be in a really horrible mood for the rest of the day. It is not nice to do that to a person's emotions.
However: the good is bigger than the sad. I really, really want to see it again. When the DVD comes out I'll buy it and watch it at home, and allow myself to cry in private. It is haunting, and amazing and WOW. Shivers down my spine.

Review: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Blurb: Joe Spork, son of the infamous criminal Matthew "Tommy Gun" Spork, just wants a quiet life, repairing clockwork in a wet, unknown bit of London. Edie Banister, former superspy, lives quietly and wishes she didn't. She's nearly ninety and the things she fought to save don't seem to exist anymore. She's beginning to wonder if they ever did. When Joe is asked to fix one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. The client? Unknown. The device? A 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie's old arch-nemesis. Joe's once-quiet world is now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe. The only way he can survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father's old gun.

What I thought: Angelmaker is maybe the most brilliantly funny book I can remember reading. With the possible exception of The Giggler Treatment, but that does have the advantage of containing little chameleon-things and poo.
It is smart, in the most hilarious way possible. There is a glass-eyed, single-toothed dog named Bastion, a terrifying old lady who could possibly destroy the universe by accident, an evil dictator who wants to be a god, and an ingenious lawyer and his gorgeous-toed sister. Also, Joe Spork, son of a gangster, grandson of a clockmaker, who hasn't quite made up his mind which one he wants to be. And an ex-gangster's wife turned nun. It must be the most eclectic mix of characters since Harry Potter. I particularly like the dog.

Beginning in a dreary, forgotten corner of London, where the most interesting part of Joe's day is his ongoing battle with the neighbour's cat (which is actually rather entertaining), the story escalates into a wild celebration of crime, and humour, and good-against-bad. With a lot of crazy scientists and clockwork added in.
There are some rather horrific torture-related moments, but aside from that, it's not too gory. It's mainly just hilarious. My roommate came in last night while I was reading it, and I was lying on my bed laughing like a complete loony. I'm expecting an ambulance to drive up at any moment.

The thing about this book is that it's just so fun. But the fun-ness (yes, I did just make that word up) doesn't detract from the intelligence or the writing, which is awesome. The story carries you along with it, and by the end you're laughing and grinning and rooting for them to win. Hilarious, satirical and vaguely nostalgic, this is a book that will make you happy.

Rate: 7/10

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ten Books I'd Recommend to John Green Fans

John Green is my favorite author, and I tend to read a lot of books in the same sort of style, so I thought of doing this post. There were others I wanted to put in, like Hate List and Someone Else's Life, but I thought the ones below were more appropriate. Are there any others you think I should have put in? Hope you enjoy it!

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Death, this is the story of the adopted Liesel Meminger, her family and friends. Living in Germany during World War Two, it shows the point of view of the commonplace people, and the things they did to survive. This will break your heart.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares/ Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
These books are both set in New York, told from two points of view, and are both amazing. Dash and Lily is based during Christmas; Lily leaves a notebook in her favorite book shop with a list of dares inside. Dash picks it up, and so begins their massive game of Dares, sending each other all over the city. Nick and Norah is about two music junkies thrown together by chance, who spend the night together trying to figure out their lives and each other. (I'm counting these as one, because they're by the same authors. Kinda cheating but I couldn't just put one in.)

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
This book is so gorgeous. I did a full review a few weeks ago, if you want more information. Based in Australia, it tells the story of Lucy and Ed throughout one night. It's the end of the school year and Lucy is determined to find Shadow- the mysterious graffiti artist whose work is all over the city. She enlists Ed to help her find him. The prose is beautifully poetic and the story is interesting. 

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
With writing as poetic as Graffiti Moon and as emotional as The Fault In Our Stars, you will fall in love with this book. A guarantee, or your money back. Lennie is simultaneously grieving the death of her sister, falling in love, and trying not to fall for her sister's boyfriend. I went through a phase of rereading this constantly. One of my four favorite books.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Mia is the one classical musician in a family of rockers. Even her boyfriend, Adam, is in a band. I won't say much, because I don't want to give away more than is in the blurb, but I will say that, one day, Mia finds herself with only one choice left. And it is the most difficult choice of all. 
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Having been discharged from a mental hospital, Pat Peoples tries to rebuild his life. His one aim is to get back together with his estranged wife. And then he meets Tiffany, the equally damaged sister of his friend's wife. Very well written, very emotional and very good.

 Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Although it took me a while to get into this one, by halfway through I was hooked. Cullen Witter's younger brother goes missing at the same time as a supposedly extinct species of woodpecker is spotted in his town. The writing isn't as poetically brilliant as Graffiti Moon or The Sky Is Everywhere, but it is different. And hell, John Corey Whaley knows how to end a book.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
One of my favorite books ever, mainly because of the writing. The book is Min's letter to her ex-boyfriend Ed, documenting their relationship and giving all his things back to him. One of my favorite lines from it is; "I never told you how beautiful it was then, like everyone was telling us not to be". There is no way I could ever write a decent review of this book, but you should definitely read it, whether you like John Green or not.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I saw the film before I read this, and I wish I hadn't. The book is so much better. To me, if you think of two writers who go together really well, and write in kind of the same way about kind of the same things, it is John Green and Stephen Chbosky. I don't think he's written anything else, but this is amazing. After the suicide of his best friend, Charlie finds himself making friends with his English teacher, a senior called Patrick, and his stepsister Sam.
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
Twin sisters Rebecca and Hephzibah always had each other to rely on, having spent their whole lives under the control of their preacher father. Now Hephzibah- the confident, popular one- is dead, and Rebecca has to live without her. I have never read anything like this, and nothing I say will be able to sum it up, but it is amazing.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Blurb: London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves- fingersmiths- under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her "family". But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.

What I thought: This was recommended to me by one of my teachers, and it really surprised me. It's not the kind of book you generally expect a teacher to lend one of her students. If I had to sum it up in three words I'd say surprising, strange, and complicated. There's one part especially that completely shocked me. I just didn't see it coming.

It seems that everyone in this book has some ulterior motive or secret- no one is completely who you think they are. None of the characters are completely good; they are all very complex, and do things you never would have expected them to.
Although I didn't fall totally in love with Sue and Maud, I did emphasize with them, and found them very interesting. They are very different from what you would normally expect heroines to be like. 

This book, like onions, cakes, and ogres, has many layers. There's just more and more stuff that you don't know, and more and more twists that never seem to end. It's a very dark story, told in a very dark way. I think the setting really affected me, and the way I saw this book. Both Briar and Lant Street are very unpleasant places, for completely different reasons, and it seemed to me like their whole world was horrible and there was no way they could get out of it. Not the best feeling, but it did work with the story.

There's really not that much else I can say about it. If you're a fan of mysteries, historical fiction, Oliver Twist-like gangs and plots, read this. It will shock you.

Rate: 6/10

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Blurb: School is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate; tonight she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work is all over the city. Somewhere in the glassy darkness, he's out there, spraying colour, birds and blue sky on the night. And Lucy knows that a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for- really fall for. The last person Lucy wants to spend this night with is Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since punching him in the nose on the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells Lucy he knows where to find Shadow, the two of them are suddenly on an all-night search to places where Shadow's heartbreak and escape echo off the city walls. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

What I thought: I loved this book. I loved the poetry, and the colours, and the graffiti. I loved Lucy's glass-blowing, and how she had her own, unique form of art too. I loved the descriptions, and emotions, and I really loved the characters. This book sparkles, but not in a flashy way, like The Great Gatsby, all champagne and fireworks. This book sparkles like the stars.

Let's start with the front cover. How gorgeous is it? My copy has a different cover (stupid Amazon!) but I love this so much I had to put it on. I love the lights in the background, and the white spray paint. Also, the title. Graffiti Moon has to be one of the best titles ever, up there with The Fault In Our Stars and The Sky Is Everywhere. The writing, too, is quite like Jandy Nelson's writing in The Sky Is Everywhere. Cath Crowley uses the same poetic, romantic language, but instead of music being one of the central themes, there is art. Instead of using music as an emotional outpouring, both Shadow and Lucy use their art. Instead of their thoughts and feelings coming out in sound, they come out in their glass and paintings. They are able to create their memories and emotions, and make them physical things. I liked the idea that you can feel and think in colour and light, rather than words. This book made me wish I was better at art (I'm not terrible, I just work really slowly).

I've never read anything by an Australian author before. I don't know why, I just never had. It was different. The setting was good, and I loved the descriptions of their city, especially through Shadow's paintings and Lucy's glass (the bridge bottle). There weren't really any incredibly evil people in this book (excepting Crazy Malcolm and Crazy Dave), so there wasn't really anyone to blame for the main character's problems. I liked this, because it wasn't anyone's fault, it was just circumstances. Circumstances suck sometimes.
Jazz, Lucy's best friend, was definitely not the kind of best friend who fades into the background, stuck into the story to give the protagonist a wingman/woman. I loved her. And Daisy. And Dylan. And especially Leo. There was just a tonne of awesome characters, with depth and worries and humour.

Sometimes, I'll admit, I did get mad at Lucy. For not seeing what was right in front of her; for building up this romantic picture of Shadow in her head, ensuring that, whoever he turned out to be, he would be a disappointment. For making Shadow feel that he should be more than he was (okay, she didn't realise she was doing it, but it was still kinda dumb). She just didn't get it (the mysterious "it"- no spoilers), when all along it was right in front of her, and without even realising it, she stopped him from telling her because of all her high expectations. He just wanted to be good enough for her.

Basically, the writing was awesome, the story was great, and the characters were interesting and vivid. Anyone who likes The Sky Is Everywhere, or anything by John Green, or Dash And Lily's Book of Dares, you will love this book.

Rate: 8/10

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Blurb: Andi is broken. She is failing school and failing life. Since the death of her brother, all she cares about is music. Taken to Paris by her estranged father, she makes a discovery there that could transform everything. Hidden in the compartment of an old guitar case is a lost diary from Revolutionary France... Alexandrine is a street performer who is trying to save a young life from the devastation of war. She writes her deepest thoughts in her diary, hoping that one day someone will read them and understand. These two girls, though centuries apart, are tied together by more than just the diary. As its words transcend paper and time, Alexandrine's past becomes Andi's present and lives are changed forever.

What I thought: A copy of this book has been lying on my sister's bedroom floor for years. I picked it up a few times and read the first chapter, but I never read further than that before. A couple of days ago I was bored, so I decided to read the first bit. And then I didn't stop. This book sucked me in, especially the first chapter- one of the best beginnings I can remember reading- you're smacked round the face with Andi's anger at the world, and her pain, and I just couldn't stop reading.
Andi is one of my favorite characters. For some reason, I've always been fascinated by those angry, broken, aggressive characters in books, and the way they heal throughout the story. Andi is very, very broken, to the point of almost committing suicide more than once. She couldn't get past her brother's death, her dad's leaving and her mother's illness. And then, throughout the book, you can see her letting go, letting herself live again, and moving on. But she isn't one of those characters whose anger becomes her, and when it's gone, there's nothing left and all interest they once had is gone. She is stubborn and determined and vibrant.

Another character that really interested me was Andi's father, and how he always seemed to do what was worst for Andi and her mother without even realising it. He doesn't believe in her, he can't see what music is to her, he tries to mold her into the genius he thinks she should be. He tells her she can do anything she wants, and when she wants to do music, he tells her it isn't enough. I don't think he's really a bad person, he just can't see what he's doing to his daughter. He can't see what she's doing to herself.

At the moment, I'm going through a French Revolution phase (A Tale of Two Cities, etc.) and this was perfect for that. I started reading this book because of New York and music and pain and loss, and then I kept reading because of Paris and music and healing and hope. Alex's story was just as enthralling as Andi's. They are very similar, too- determined, stubborn, and angry at the world around them. Near the end, I got annoyed with Andi because I felt she could have done something more, tried to help them, but she didn't. But at the same time, she really did help them. Confusing...
Throughout most of the story, I thought I had the ending figured. I thought the only problem I had with this book would be its predictability, but there wasn't even that, because I got the ending completely wrong. It was nothing like what I thought it would be. Guess I'm not cut out to be a detective after all...

Like most books, there was a romance side to this story, but it didn't take over the whole book. The guy is called Virgil, which is the most amazing name ever, and he's not just some hot boy, thrown in to fill out the story, but lacking his own character. He too, is angry at how his life turned out, angry at the unfairness of it all. He too, is a musician and also a rapper. I know I've always said no spoilers, but I'm going to write the lyrics to some of his, and Andi's songs down here, because they are so beautiful, and because they really sum up the book much better than I can.

Banloser - Virgil (Not the whole song)

Hey ho Banloser
Call me robber, boozer
And substance abuser
Hey ho Banloser
Call me dole-cheating,
Work-beating welfare ruser
I don't want to be no
Bad boy for life
Feeling rife
With the strife
And a knife
In my back
But I'm on the outskirts
Trying not to get hurt
Living in a desert
Of poverty and fear
I try to conform
Do no harm, be the norm
But I can't transform
I can just persevere

Iron Band - Andi

If I had coal and fire
And metal fine and true
I'd make an iron band
An iron band for you
I'd pick up all the pieces
From where they fell that day
Fit them back together
And take the pain away
But I don't have the iron
And I don't have the steel
To wrap around your broken heart
And teach it how to heal
Somewhere in the fire
Somewhere in the pain
I'd find the magic that I need
To make you whole again
I'd make the iron band so strong
I'd make it gleam so bright
I'd fix the things I've broken
I'd turn my wrongs to right
But I don't have the iron
And I don't have the steel
To wrap around your broken heart
Wish I could make it heal
Wish I could make it heal

Rate: 8/10

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Book Thief Movie

I spoke (wrote?) too soon. There is a Book Thief movie coming out next week! I had no idea!! I am so excited right now, the book is amazing, and the trailer is so good and argghhhh too many emotions. How did I not know about this????

Well, this wasn't a great post, but I just wanted to add that to my list of movies I must see. How was your Halloween? Are there any other movies I've missed? Have a great day!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Time of the YA Novel-Movie is Here...

Has anyone noticed the amount of YA books being made into films at the moment? Don't get me wrong, I love it, there's just so many. And this may be kind of weird of me, but I hate it when people have never heard of the book, and they go see the film and then tell you to go see it, and it's like DUH. That happened with The Great Gatsby; everyone was raving about it, and maybe five people in my entire year could tell you it was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It annoys me because these people didn't give a damn about the story/ author/ etc. when it was just a book, but when it's a film, and it's shoved right in their faces, then they'll go crazy about it. And yeah, maybe the number of people in my year who know that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby has increased to ten or eleven, but I don't think the author gets enough credit for coming up with the story and characters and everything to begin with.
Having said that, and annoying illiterate teenagers aside, I am really excited about all the movies in production/ coming out soon. Here's a list of the ones I am going to be camping out at the cinema for, in order of release date;

 How I Live Now (Meg Rosoff)
I know this has been out for a while now, but I have yet to see it (I was at school, and busy with stuff). I read the book about six years ago, but I really loved it. I thought her other books were a bit odd, but this I ADORED. So many movie adaptations of books try to be exactly the same, but I really like how they've changed the time period and the war- it looks good and original, not just a line-for-line copy of the novel.

Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)
 I'm so excited for this release. I walked post a poster for this the other day with my friend, and we both freaked out. When I get excited I tend to splutter. Imagine trying to speak Swahili with a stutter. That is me. The books are amazing, the first film was amazing, and how cool is Jennifer Lawrence?!

Divergent (Veronica Roth)
Freaking out all over again. I finished Allegiant the other day (review below) and OH HOLY COW. Fellow Allegiant-finishers, you know what I mean. These books are SO GOOD, and yeah, Shailene Woodley. I want to be her. I keep seeing preview-y things on tumblr, and it looks amazing.

The Fault In Our Stars (John Green)
Do I even need to say anything? Just go see it. 
If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
I read this, and Where She Went the other day, and I really loved them. This book kept me up till one in the morning. I only found out it's being made into a film a few days ago, but I'm really excited. Chloe Moretz (how do you spell her last name?) is Mia, and I can't remember the guy playing Adam's name, but he looks good, too. Filming started today.

Has anyone seen these? What did you think (please no spoilers)? Are there any other films you're excited about? And also, happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Review: The Duke And I by Julia Quinn

Blurb: After enduring two seasons in London, Daphne Bridgerton is no longer naive enough to believe she will be able to marry for love. But is it really too much to hope for a husband for whom she at least has some affection? Her brother's old school friend Simon Basset- the new Duke of Hastings- has no intention of ever marrying. However, newly returned to England, he finds himself the target of the many marriage-minded society mothers who remain convinced that reformed rakes make the best husbands. To deflect their attention, the handsome hell-raiser proposes to Daphne that they pretend an attachment. In return, his interest in Daphne will ensure she becomes the belle of London society with suitors beating a path to her door. There's just one problem; Daphne is in very real danger of falling for a man who has no intention of making their charade a reality...

What I thought: This definitely fulfilled the requirements for my post-Allegiant, fluffy, feel-good although slightly predictable book. It was funny, romantic and sweet.
One of my favorite aspects was the characters, especially the Bridgerton family, especially Daphne in the first half of the book. Her mother, Violet, was a rather Mrs Bennet-like woman, desperate to marry off her children, although she paired this with a more kind, slightly badass side. Anthony, the eldest Bridgerton child, was amusing in the first half, overbearing and irritatingly overprotective in the second, as was Benedict. Colin was my favorite of the brothers, not including Gregory, and I absolutely loved Hyacinth, although she was rarely mentioned. All the Bridgerton children were funny and smart, and contributed a lot to the story.
In the first half of the book, I really liked Daphne. She was intelligent, sensible and funny, especially compared to the empty-headed, marriage-obsessed fools she was surrounded with. She was just incredibly awesome, but in the second half, her awesomeness kind of tailed off. I felt as if Julia Quinn had thought "okay, I've created this great character, and now I'm just going to leave her as she is, and not add anything else to her for the rest of the book", which was disappointing.
Simon was cool, although he seemed to spend half the time lusting after Daphne, and the other half being all angry and messed up because of his dad. It was like those were the things that defined him, and aside from that he wasn't all that amazing.

The setting was very interesting for me- I don't read much historical fiction, so it was a nice change to read something Regency-set, even if I didn't understand words like "ton" (er, what?). I really got a sense of the restrictions on women, and the way in which everyone was supposed to act. What did annoy me was how everyone (except maybe Penelope Featherington) seemed to be stunningly gorgeous, which could probably be said for most books, actually. Simon's stutter went a little way to improve this, but Daphne could have had at least one ugly sibling.

Right. We need to talk about the sex in this book. The good thing was that it didn't start until about halfway through, and even then, it didn't really take over the story. Most of the story became related to it (sounds odd, but makes sense if you read it), but interesting things still happened, and it didn't turn into a boring porn book with absolutely no plot.
What I did find, though, was that the (few) grammatical/ typo errors increased quite a lot in the second half. Even though there was still a storyline, when the sex part started, character development and grammatical accuracy seemed to pretty much stop.
Despite this, it really was a good book. To anyone looking for something to cheer them up after reading Allegiant, I would suggest this. Very funny, sometimes almost absurd, clever and romantic.

Rate: 7/10

Friday, 25 October 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Blurb: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered- fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's know, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties and painful memories. But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature- and of herself- while facing impossible choices and courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

What I thought: Holy. Freaking. Hell. I am going to have to try so hard to not put spoilers in this review. I am also going to have to try not to type in the spluttered mess of words that is coming out of my mouth right now. It sounds sort of like "But... she... and he... and why why why WHY?... and I just... arghhh...". I know, eloquent right?
There was hardly anything I didn't like about this book. It was amazing. I love Tris and Tobias, and Uriah, and Christina and all the others, so it was good to read more about them. Also, there's just something about reading a book by an author that you're familiar with, but haven't read much of recently, especially if that author is Veronica Roth. Woman, you are my idol. Her writing was so comforting and familiar, and just kind of like a warm blanket (whatever, I'm weird). And aside from all the familiarity of it, the way she rights just grabs you, and pulls you into the story, and doesn't let you escape again until you've finished, and maybe not even then. I know I'm going to have a book hangover from this for so long. Just when I was getting over A Tale Of Two Cities, as well. Damnit...

My only teeny-tiny-weeny problem was that, with the first set of revelations (hah, no spoilers!) I thought it could have been a bit more of a climax. I mean, it was a surprise and all, but I wasn't really shocked. I just accepted it and moved on. And then that became so easily ingrained into the story, and the characters seemed to accept pretty soon after their initial freak-outs, that it was never really like "oh yeah and everything you've ever believed is a lie. Now go panic about that". (Not technically a spoiler, because it does say that on the cover).
Tris. What to say about her? I have always loved Tris, especially in the beginning of Divergent. She's so brave, but in the right way, and selfless, but to a fault, and just so completely awesome. She feels real. She is gritty, and not perfect, and somehow different from other heroines in the same kind of genre (Miss Everdeen, I'm looking at you). I mean, what other heroine shoots her friend, and then tries to sacrifice herself? (Not a spoiler either, at least not for this book) She has problems that the other heroines don't have. Veronica Roth didn't try to make her perfect, she made her a person.

Tobias. Is awesome. In Divergent and Insurgent, he's all badass and cool and stuff, but in Allegiant, when he narrates half the story, you get a sense of how broken he is, and how much he loves Tris. He makes mistakes, because he's human, but he is a good person. He's one of those hero's I completely swoon over, like Jace from The Mortal Instruments, or Peeta from The Hunger Games. I like that you get his point of view, too, because so often in books like this you only get the girl narrating, so some variety is nice.

Okay. We need to talk about the end. I'm not really sure how to do that with no spoilers, but I really really don't want to ruin it for people who haven't read Allegiant yet. Not even as payback to my friends for when they told me what happens at the end of The Evolution of Mara Dyer. That was not cool, and now I'm the only one who knows what happens at the end of Allegiant. I feel powerful. Mwahaha... But seriously. The end. I'm torn between yelling how much I hate Veronica Roth for doing this, crying myself into a puddle on my bed (which I kind of maybe already did), and sending her pages of fanmail to beg her for her secret- how is this book so perfect (admittedly, in a how-could-you-do-this-to-me-I-will-never-be-happy-again-you-dementor kind of way)?

There are a tonne of deep philosophical, moral issues in this book, which, yeah, are really important and required a lot of thinking about, on my part, but that was wiped out by the end. I have not gotten that emotional over a book since I finished Clockwork Princess. Or maybe The Fault In Our Stars. And I'm not going to go into all those issues because I have to go cry in a corner now. And then read a light, fluffy romance book with lots of fancy dresses and dashing young men, and absolutely zero sadness. God knows I need it after Allegiant.

Have you read Allegiant? What did you think, especially about how it ended? Has this changed your attitude towards the rest of the series, and the film? Speaking of the film, I am so freaking excited! It's like Christmas, only without the advent calendar. (Someone should SO make an advent calendar counting down till Divergent comes out!!! You could have bird-shaped chocolates and everything...)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Bookish Calendar: October

I had the idea for this post a few days ago. It's kind of like a Book of the Month thing, but instead of being the best book I've read that month, this is the book that I feel represents/ epitomizes/ any other fancy word you can come up with, the month in question.

For this month (October, in case you need reminding), I've picked The Book Thief. I found this on holiday a few years ago, and I absolutely loved it. I don't know why, but it just seems like it should be read in October to me. I mean, it should be read any time, because it's an amazing book, but it feels very October-y. Even the cover makes it look like the kind of thing you should read in front of the fire, with clouds and rain and falling leaves outside, and Halloween. (Slightly off topic, but I am SO excited for Halloween!)

In other news, which isn't really related to anything, Allegiant just came in the post! It was only released today, and I've only just started it, but it is SO GOOD (cue irritating girly squeals and me driving my roommate mad in my excitement)!