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)!

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Blurb: It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives- three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school's most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury. But what they expect is definitely not what they get. Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she ever imagined?

What I thought: Wow. I don't read a lot of horror/ murder mystery books, but I really liked this. SO CREEPY. It was meant to be my Official Halloween Book, but I have the self-control of an invisible cabbage, and I couldn't wait. I opened it last night, and read all the way through in about two hours.
I think what I liked most about it was the scary side. It's a horror story, it's supposed to scare you, and it did that very well. The mystery aspect was pretty good too- you're kept guessing all the way through the book, and then the killer turns out to be the last person I was expecting (I mean, I didn't even suspect them), like pretty much all good murder mystery books.
This isn't exactly a bad point, but it's something I felt could have been improved; it all felt very stereotypically horror story-ish. The situation is exactly what you'd expect- three days on an isolated island, no contact with the outside world, a massive storm, and then people start dying. Nothing spectacular, but definitely creepy. I felt that if it had been a bit more subtle, then it could have been better. Like, all the horror in the book kind of smacks you around the face, it's very obvious- the descriptions of the deaths and bodies (a bit too vivid for me), the oh-no-I-hope-no-one-kills-me side.
The only other problem I had with this book- some of the character's weren't as developed as I hoped, especially Meg and T. J., which was disappointing because they were pretty much the main characters. I think Minnie was written better than Meg; she felt more real (not in a good way) and she made you pity her and hate her at the same time. With Meg, it felt a bit like Gretchen McNeil had taken a name, slapped a few random qualities on it, and then pushed her into this situation. The same with T. J.- although he seemed cool and everything, you never really understood why Meg was in love with him, and that annoyed me. Central male characters in books like this are supposed to be swoon-worthy, and he just wasn't.
However, it really was a very good Halloween Book. If you want something to get you in a Halloween-ish mood, read this. The mystery side is as good as the horror side, so fans of both genres should enjoy it. While not the best technically (there were a couple of wrong details) or in terms of character development and emotion, it really is creepy as hell.

Rate: 6/10

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Review: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Blurb: Percy Jackson used to be just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until he accidentally vaporized his maths teacher. Now, he spends his time battling monsters and generally trying to stay alive. Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks Percy has stolen his lightning bolt- and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.

What I thought: Don't judge a book by its cover. Literally. The cover of this book makes it look like a badly-written, predictable sci-fi story for ten year old boys. It really put me off. I should be less judgmental. (But seriously. His skin is purple. PURPLE).
Although it did take me a while to really get into it, this book was really good. It wasn't like some books you get at the beginning of a series, where they spend the whole time just setting up the world in preparation for the second book. There was a really good pace, and not too many fight scenes, which I liked. The characters were good, but not particularly amazing, as was the writing. I'm using the word good a lot, because really it's the only word for it. Not spectacular, not terrible.
The "good" thing does not, however, apply to the book in general. Because, in general, it was amazing. Maybe not quite amazing. But enough to make me want to buy all the other books in this series. It was funny, clever, and exciting. The setting was awesome (I want to go to Half- Blood Camp!) and the characters were interesting, especially Mr D, Annabeth and Percy. I REALLY loved Annabeth. And although the whole Percy- Annabeth- Grover thing kind of mirrored the Harry- Ron- Hermione thing, it did work.
Although I didn't get as into this as I have into books like it (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, etc.) I did love it. And yes, I will read the others. Just as soon as I get round to it.

Rate: 8/10

Thursday, 17 October 2013

12 Books for Autumn

These are my top twelve books for autumn, the ones that should be read with the leaves turning orange, red, gold, brown outside and a mug of peppermint tea inside. I'm thinking this will be a seasonal thing, I'll do one for winter and spring and summer as well. I did mean to do only ten books, but I came up with a shortlist of twelve books, and I couldn't decide which to kick off (you are the weakest link... goodbye), so now it's twelve books. This list is mostly fantasy, a few classics, and some romance. They're in no particular order. I hope you like them!

 1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

2. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

3. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

4. Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

 5. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

6. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

8. Black Heart Blue by Louise Reid

9. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl 

10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

11. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

12. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Blurb: Life can change in an instant. A cold February morning... a snowy road... and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

What I thought: I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. The beginning disappointed me slightly. If I Stay was recommended to me by a friend, whose favorite author is Gayle Forman. This girl has read all of John Green's books, so I figured If I Stay must be really amazing, if she thinks it's better than TFIOS etc. It wasn't, at least near the beginning. I mean, it was good, but I didn't love it like I was expecting to. As the story went on, I got more drawn in though, and by the end, I did really like. I think it could have started off better though.
The central event in the book (you probably know what this is already, but I'm trying not to put any spoilers in for those who don't) happens pretty early on, so you don't really get to know the characters beforehand. It seemed to happen too soon for me, like, you pick up the book and then BAM! Also, Mia didn't seem to be too upset. Now, I'm not saying this because I'm a psycho and I want everyone to be miserable, but I figured these were pretty appropriate circumstances, and I didn't really feel her emotion.
Certain people (arghh, so hard to do no spoilers) who you don't really get to know before The Central Event, as it shall be called from now, you got to know afterwards through Mia's flashbacks, which I thought was good. Like, just because they're not there anymore shouldn't mean they don't get to be a part of the story, and through the flashbacks, I came to really LOVE them, which kinda sucked in the end.
Mia's family, and pretty much all the characters actually, are awesome. Really not what I was expecting. I have to say that Kim, Mia's best friend, was my favorite though. I was kinda worried that she'd just be the typical, always-there-but-not-really-relevant girl in the corner, but she was just so cool, and strong, and someone I could really relate to. Not because of the circumstances, fortunately, but just cause she was really down-to-earth, and she had her own problems and attitude, she wasn't just the wingman (wingwoman!).
I think the reason I was so disappointed at the beginning was my friend's raving about Gayle Forman. I was expecting mind-blowing, life-changing writing. I was expecting quotes to rival labyrinth/rain/stars/etc., words so beautiful I couldn't help but plaster them all over my words, and I just didn't get that. The writing was good, sure, but it wasn't amazing. Once I got over that, though, and got into it, this book was just really good. And yes, I did cry at the end. I cry at everything. I get it from my mum, she actually cried at the TRAILER for War Horse. Thank God I'm not that bad (well. I only almost cried at the trailer. Whatever).
All in all, definitely a recommended book. I'm reading the next one right now, Where She Went. I won't do a review for that one, because I don't like doing reviews for all the books in a series, no particular reason why. But I will just say that this one is absolutely worth reading, too. You get to know Adam a lot more, and also New York! More books should be set there.

Rate: 7.5/10

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Blurb: As children, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special- and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

What I thought: Let me just say- Kazuo Ishiguro is a genius. Although not necessarily one that I'd like to meet. Never Let Me Go was darkly twisted in a Jekyll and Hyde sort of way- the light and innocence of childhood, with the horrible truth creeping out from underneath. It was just SO GOOD. So completely different from anything else I've read- and I know I say this a lot, but it's true- in both the central idea and the narrative.
Something about this book stopped it from being completely horrible though, despite the fact that by all rights, it should have been. The naivety of the characters, and their acceptance of their lives and what they were created to do, somehow makes you accept it as well.
The story is told from the point of view of Kathy, 31, who is looking back on her past, trying to understand what was really happening, and why they did the things they did. As well as the compulsory life planned out for them, and what they must do, all the Hailsham students have their own problems, dreams and faults, that make the story so fascinating.
All of the characters seemed very real to me. Sometimes you can get characters whose every move you can predict, who only do things for love or friendship or themselves or whatever, but everyone in this book was just so complex.
I liked how Ishiguro never really came out and told you what was going on until the end. I mean, yeah, you can pretty much guess, but there's still that element of suspense and is-it-true that I loved.
So to sum it up, this is a really great book. Not a favorite (I have very high standards) but close. The characters were complex and felt very real, the backdrop of their planned-out lives went perfectly with their problems, and I could really understand why they did the things they did. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes books with slightly creepy situations that could technically be real.

Rate: 7/10