Friday, 21 September 2012

Day 4- Your Favorite Book From Childhood

Just to warn you, this post is very, very link-ridden.

It's not a book, it's a series. And it's The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis. Always awesome. I always wanted to be a queen of Narnia, to meet interesting folk and have adventures.

Of course Narnia is one of the best literary worlds. It's up there with Carroll's Wonderland, Tolkien's Middle-Earth, Barrie's Neverland, Baum's Oz and of course Pratchett's Discworld. I think those are some of the best creations in literary fictional history. Although I do have to mention Cornelia Funke's Inkworld and Christopher Paolini's Alaga√ęsia. Both rather awesome worlds.

I think I love all of these fictional places because there's so much there that you wouldn't find in reality, but it's always wonderful to think about what our world would be like if we had them. Who wouldn't want to fly in Neverland? I guess another thing that links all of these worlds is that there are film adaptations of every single one. in fact, most of them have quite a few adaptations. That means they must be good, right?

If I had to pick a particular book from the Chronicles, it would have to be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Which actually made an even better film, amazingly. (I very rarely will say a film even compares to the book, but this one actually manages to make the plot better.) I do have to say it is the film that made me notice Skandar Keynes. At the time I had a minor celebrity crush on him.

So yes, probably my favourite set of books from my childhood. And aren't they just first class?

Image from Wikipedia

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Day 3- My favourite Author and Book by Them

Choosing a favourite author is difficult, but there are two that really stand out for me, and have quite a few books each.

Image from Google
One is Neil Gaiman. He's brilliant, and I have two favourite books by him. One of which is Good Omens, which is jointly written by Terry Pratchett, so it's very funny and pretty darn good. Good omens is basically about the Rapture, Doomsday, The end of the world. You know, that kind of thing. It even features the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Antichrist, an angel and a demon. Please read it, you won't be disappointed.

The second, just by Neil Gaiman is Neverwhere. Neverwhere is about a world underneath London (London Below), and features an unlikely hero and many names of places thet you know, but have never thought of in this way before.
I would also recommend this book to everyone, although other Neil Gaiman books can be difficult. However, Stardust is wonderful, short and was also made into a film for those of us who like stories, but are too lazy to read them.

The second author is Gregory Maguire. His books are quite adult, so I wouldn't recommend them to everyone. I'd say young adults and above. However, the theatre production of his novel Wicked is a must-see for everyone.
Beautiful cover - Image from Google
Gregory Maguire is probably most famous for Wicked, but he has also written adaptations of fairy tales. My favourite is Mirror, Mirror. Which is absolutely nothing like the 2012 film. Mirror, Mirror, protty obviously, is a reworking of Snow White. It's less magical and farcical than the Disney version, with more true to life and powerful themes, but it still includes some elements of magic. It also happens to feature the Borgias, which is just another plus really.

Of course, both also write childrens stories. Having not read any of Maguires stories I can't recommend them. Having read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and seen Coraline, I'm not sure I can reccommend his either.

Monday, 17 September 2012

0.4 by Mike Lancaster

The book cover - image from google
0.4 is the story of Kyle Straker, a 15 year old voice recorder onto tapes and transformed into a book. Nobody knows if this is a hoax or if it is real. But this is his version of the events of the early 21st Century.

I love the cover of the book. It's pretty awesome and makes you think about what weirdness could possibly be in this book. So, just by looking at it you can tell that it's a sci-fi. Futuristic in some ways and completely normal to the point of mundane in others. It has everything to do with technology. It's so sci-fi, I wasn't quite sure how to react when I finished the book. I think my thoughts were: "Well, that's odd, and also pretty cool". one thing I can say for sure is that it has some great ideas and leaves you thinking about reality.

Reality itself is a huge theme here. And I thought the book was a bit short actually, because it didn't explore reality in the way I would have liked. Sure, it was action-packed, but I wanted more background and insight.

It's an easy read, and very interesting (I read it in a few hours). But I don't think it's for everyone. Basically if you're not a fan of dystopias, weird goings-on, mysteries or classic science fiction, don't read it. If you're in it for a story that is different, interesting, and plot-driven it's for you. A good thing is that it can be read by either gender, as long as they like the premise.

Unfortunately I didn't really feel much for the characters. I understood Kyle, but wasn't really overly empathetic towards him. I think perhaps the author could have described his feelings a bit more. It was probably more aimed at a teen audience though, so I'm not really the target audience.
However, I think teens would love this, I think especially boys who like sci-fi and gadgets.

For me, this book gets 2/5 stars. While it was a good idea, and I loved the premise, I don't think it was executed quite right for me. I didn't feel much fro the characters and it was on the young side.

-------------------------------------------
There is a sequel already out, called 1.4, which tells you about the aftermath of 0.4.
0.4 /Human4 on Goodreads.com.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Wither and Fever by Lauren Destefano

Destefano conjours a world where a disease has made it so that men die aged 25 an women die aged 20. So for 16-year-old Rhine Ellory, there isn't too much time left.
Rhine has been captured by gatherers and is sold on as a bride to House Governor Linden. All she wants to do now is escape back to the life she came from, escaping this life of luxury that others can only dream of. But she has reason to. She left someone behind.

Wither and Fever are both wonderful. Full of beautiful imagery and dangerous thoughts. Sometimes they moved at a slow pace, but this didn't mean they weren't riddled with suspense and danger.
The themes are all the usual - love, life, loss, friendship in unlikely places. But it includes other, more adult themes like hardship, trust, family life and relationships, polygamy and death. It leaved you thinking about it afterwards (always a sign of a good book).

But a major theme is time. It's at the very heart of the books. There's always a sense of urgency, even when things are slow-moving. In fact, it's even worse when the narrative is slow-moving. The imagery and descriptions are stunning. I can easily imagine the places described, whether it be luxury or disease-ridden. They flourished inside my head.

I guess this is a modern, younger version of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. (Which I have read). It has some similar themes, and some not quite so similar. I'll let you decide really.

I loved Rhine, but did think at times she was a bit silly. Some things weren't as obvious to her as I thought they should have been. But she never failed me with her bravery. The character is generally wonderful, and her voice shines through. I also very much liked Gabriel. His apparent meekness reminded me quite a lot of Peeta from 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins (which I will review eventually). You could tell he had inner strength and a rebellious side, just like Peeta. Now, Peeta is one of my two favourite characters from The Hunger Games. So this must be very good.
If you like The Hunger Games, you may well like this too.

Now, I've read other reviews with people hating this book. and this is because of the premise. The whole 'girls being sold as wives to procreate' thing. But I honestly don't see the problem. Sure, the world is a little flimsy, but the actual story is good.I think nit-picking will only make you think about what's wrong with the ideas and not what it's really about, which are the themes.

All I can say really is that they were bothy thrilling, suspenseful, romantic at times and made you really think about the concepts in the book - such as death and time, and what you would have done in their situation.
I think that this dystopian is a great book for teens, young adults and adults alike, and I'm giving it 4.5/5 stars.

The final book, Sever will be out in 2013. And I'm looking forward to it.
-----------------------------
Lauren Destefano's Page.
Wither on Goodreads.com- other reviews.

Day 2- A Quote From my Favourite Book.

The whole Inkheart trilogy is littered with beautiful writing, and choosing just one quote is difficult.
It's especially difficult because I haven't read them in a while.

However, I'll give it a go.

This is a beautiful quote from it. it's very descriptive. and that's exactly what I like.

"They had gone. Had left him alone with all the blue, that clashed with the red of the fire. Blue as the evening sky, blue as cranesbill flowers, blue as the lips of drowned men and the heart of a blaze burning with too hot a flame. Yes, sometimes it was hot in this world, too. Hot and cold, light and dark, terrible and beautiful, it was everything all at once. It wasn't true that you felt nothing in the land of Death. You felt and heard and smelled and saw, but your heart remained strangely calm, as if it were resting before hte dance began again.
Peace. Was that the word?"

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Day 1- My Favorite Book

Inkheart Film Poster (from IMDB)
Well, I have many books that I love.
But if I had to choose it would be Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke.

Inkdeath is the third book in the Inkworld Trilogy (Started by Inkheart, then Inkspell, and finally Inkdeath) by German writer Cornelia Funke (who also wrote The Thief Lord, which was also made into a film, and Reckless, the newest of her books and Reviewed HERE). They are really childrens or early teens books, but I love them.

And the reason Why is this:
Cornelia Funke writes in such a wonderful way. There are beautiful descrptions of magical worlds, people and creatures and basically, it's a situation I would love to find myself in.

As an avid book fan, Inkheart opened up an adventure that to me seemed infinitely possible. Characters coming out of a book seemed like on of the best things in the world. I think it did help that I read it when I was quite a lot younger, because there was still a magical wuality about this world, and the child's idea that anything can happen. I hope I haven't lost that really.

The whole series is wonderful, and I would encourage everyone to read it, no matter how old you are. I almost guarantee that you'll love it.
And, the books have some lovely covers.

You can read about the series on Cornelia Funke's website
or, by Visiting Wikipedia
or, if you don't trust my view on the subject, have a look at other reviews on Goodreads.

Inkdeath cover - from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A little Update - The 15 Day Book Challenge

Right now I have an absolutely unruly amount of books to read, all stacked up in a pile in my cupboard. Most have been reccommended to me by my sister or reviews from other bloggers. Or.. just because I wanted to read it.

As I'm currently working my way through the Hitchhikers Guide Trilogy of Five by Douglas Adams(and it might take a little bit, although I am on the last book), I'm going to do a book challenge I found on the internet. So over the next fifteen posts, I will be writing all about books.
Also, don't worry. More reviews WILL be coming soon. Well, as soon as I've finished a new book.

The 15 Day Book Challenge

Day 1- Your favorite book and why
Day 2- A quote from said book
Day 3- Your favorite author and favorite book by them
Day 4- Your favorite book from your childhood
Day 5- Guilty pleasure book
Day 6- If you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you want?
Day 7- Favorite movie adaptation of a book
Day 8- Favorite quote from any book
Day 9- What are you currently reading?
Day 10- Write a review of the last book you read
Day 11- Favorite book you had to read for school
Day 12- Favorite classic
Day 13- Favorite poet
Day 14- Post your favorite poem
Day 15- Recommend 5 books

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Image from google
This book is always recommended. I swear anyone who has ever read it would urge others to give it a go. So after people and websites galore told me to read it, and after it being on my to-read list for an age, I finally have.

Hitchhikers Guide is every bit as awe-inspiring as I expected it to be. It twists your mind every which way possible, into a mass of awesomeness, and breaks the boundaries of thinking in a way that is only comparable to one other literary piece: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
That's right, I just compared something to Lewis Carroll. And it's so very true.

Unfortunately, I was silly, and saw the 2005 film first. Although the film has an exceptionally star-studded and pretty darn amazing cast, it just doesn't live up the the genius of the book. This also meant that I already knew some big things that were revealed in the book, but I did appreciate how Adams very subtly weaves the story.

It also had a side-effect of reading anything that Marvin the robot said in Alan Rickman's voice. This, however, is not such a bad thing, as if anything it made for even more amusing reading.
A general side effect of the book was that every time I read it I wanted Tea.

The characters are very well developed for such a small book, and even some smaller parts had personalities that you could easily identify. Ford in particular has a very good personality - I do love the fact that he just can't help himself from being curious. I also have a sneaking suspicion that underneath the egotistical exterior Zaphod has a lot more to offer.
Book Cover from Wikipedia
As there's literally nothing I can fault it on, I'll tell you about things I loved. one thing I particularly enjoyed about this book was the side notes on things in the Universe and beyond, and how everything he says is either amusing, or ties in with the story at some point. Or both.

In fact, I'm sure that some minor references in this book will turn out to be the crux of the whole plot in another. In that way I wish I hadn't seen the film - I would have been even more in awe. I would probably have never seen anything coming.
Luckily, there's four more books to read.

So the main themes: Life, the Universe, and Everything. That pretty much sums up the whole book, don't you think?
All in all it's witty, with laugh out loud moments, whilst contemplating life as we know it. I'd call that Genius.

Definitely 5/5 stars.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

This was a book that I saw on Amazon and was interested in, but it wasn't until my sister lent me the book (with not overly sparkling reviews) that I managed to read it.

Bumped is set in the 2030s, after a virus has 'swept the world', making everyone over 18 infertile. This has lead to the use of surrogates (both professional and amateur). Melody is one of these surrogates. She's worth more as a surrogate because genetically she's practically perfect. But before she can do the deed her religious twin sister Harmony turns up on her doorstep to spread the word of God.

The characters were interesting, and the choices they make, and what they go through and have gone through are a good subject for a book. However, I found both Melody and Harmony to be annoying at various points throughout the book. It was mainly their use of language, and the way they would get overemotional at some things, but not emotional enough at others. In that way I guess they weren't a very realistic representation of the girls in society today.
Picture from Google

The fact that the were twins was also interesting, and the whole plot surrounded it. Only one problem, first they were very distant with each other, as you might expect when you find your long lost sister, but at the end they had a link that was really unrealistic.
Speaking as a twin myself, I hated it. We twins don't have a random connection, we're just like any other sisters, only closer (sometimes). Although there wasn't any ridiculous psychic abilities, it still annoyed me.
However, I loved Zen as a character. He's well rounded and normal, which is more than I can say for the rest of them.

Some of the language was good, but there were parts that also really annoyed me. here are some examples:
'pregging', 'negging', 'bumping', 'for serious'. These I can just about understand. i know what they mean and there will be some slang in the future. But what the hell is 'renegging', 'thumped' and 'PTL!'? Which reminds me, there are also far too many exclamation marks, and sexual music excerpts.

If you can get past these things though, it's actually not a bad book. It deals with very important issues, that we all face and that we all understand.
 Bumped deals with a lot of issues and themes, which I really like, such as religion, teen pregnancy, surrogacy, sex in general, advancement, cultural values, perfectionism and choices. This does redeem it, as it does make you think (something I love in a book).

Overall, a good book, but with some really annoying habits. Awarded 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

I picked this up at 'The Works' for £1.99. Bargain! I'd been looking at it but hadn't decided to buy it yet, until I saw it. It's another one of those books whose cover draws your attention.
The cover is blood red with the shadow of a horse on it. Curly dark red is strewn across it in the shape of a heart, and the white writing over the top is pretty cool too. I do like an interesting font.

However, I don't usually like seaside stories, and aren't usually fond of horses either, but the idea of the story was what made me pick it up. The Scorpio races happen every year. They are a race of sea horses, and to race means that someone will die. It is a certainty.
The idea is that a girl enters the race (the very first girl may I add) to save her family from poverty as there is a hefty amount of money available if you win the races. So, that's a good start - it has danger and a touch of romance. From there it went downhill.

This book, in one word, was disappointing. The idea was good, the sea horses were actually pretty scary, but to me the characters did not have enough substance to them. I liked most of the characters, but I wasn't overly invested in them. The only one I thought was interesting was Finn, the girls brother.
It might be worth a mention here that I did think it was a bit weird how easily people got over deaths, for example, of their parents and friends. You would have thought that some of the book would be about their feelings on that, but not much time is put into it, it is more about the feelings of now. Saying this, it does make for a quicker pace.

The romance was quite well written, it played out how you might expect it to in a usual teen relationship. But the whole tone of the book was either solemn, nervous or occasionally exhilarated. However, it was easy to read, unless the tone depresses you.
Something that I did think was very good though, is the fact that Steifvater deals with women's rights and the treatment of women in a mans sport. It was well done in mu opinion.

I do think that this is written with younger readers in mind, even though one of the main characters is supposed to be 19. I think this is more for 14-15 year olds who love horses. I'm not a fan of horses, but I thought that the idea would make it worth the read, which it certainly is. But, for me there was still something missing in this book.

The ending is very exciting, but everything comes off as you might expect it to, so, yeah, disappointing. The ending isn't so much of a bang as a small fizzle in which everything goes as you always expected it to.

However, it was, overall, fairly enjoyable, and brilliant to the right audience. Unfortunately, I'm not the right audience so it gets 2 out of 5 stars, because quite frankly, there's not much substance to the characters.

( Also, don't read this if you hate it when authors use people's whole names. It grated on my nerves.)
--------------------------------------------------------------
Quite a lot of other people seem to like it, so have a look at these opinions:
From GoodReads.com 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

This book has been on my Amazon wish list for a long time. I finally got a copy as a birthday present, and was ecstatic.

Firstly, I have to say what made me want it was the cover. It's just so beautiful and elegant. The circus and the well-dressed old fashioned couple on the front are wonderful, all in black and white, with just a dash of silver and red.The man in looks particularly charismatic. Underneath the cover is the face of a clock. The most intriguing clock, as it doesn't have any numbers or numerals on it. And if you open up the cover there are white top hats and bowler hats on a black background, the odd few red. But what got me is the pages. Every page lined with black so it looks like the book has a velvet side. I love it when the pages are coloured that way. and to top it off, a red bookmark.
So basically, it was the most beautiful book I'd ever seen and I had to have it.
Then there's the blurb, also particularly intriguing.

All we know is that there is a circus that comes at night, the Cirque du Reves (the circus of dreams), and two people have been bound.
The Beautiful Cover. Image from Google.
The plot was interesting, I loved the premise and all the ideas surrounding it, but I still feel that there could have been more in detail descriptions so that I could fully appreciate the circus, although it does make it more mysterious not to have them. The atmosphere of the whole tale is beautiful.
Saying this, some of the ideas within the tents were wonderful, I especially loved the cloud maze, bottle room and ice garden, and the descriptions of these were perfect.
Now for the bad bit.

The game itself, although connected to the circus, was not as exciting as I wanted it to be. The whole book was more about the ethereal and mysterious nature of magic, and less about any kind of magical battle/duel. It isn't as quickly paced as anticipated. The love scenes, however, were well written, with just enough detail, but not too much information. Although Marco is incredibly fickle, too much so for my liking, and they are a little quick to fall in love.

The main characters were good, especially Bailey and Marco, as I thought that they developed well, although others did not. This may have been because there were so many different characters, and so not many characters got a spotlight, the ones that did are not especially well developed, like Celia, but others are much better. Too many characters was a major downfall of this book, as most of them were not well rounded, and did not serve much of a purpose in the book. Characters such as Isobel, Mr. Barris and Madame Padva.
However, Alexander is a very good character. he is the perfect concoction of mystery and intrigue, with a cloudy, elongated past and never revealing his true feelings or intentions. Although the author dos not make it clear why there is a competition between Alexander and Prospero, you feel that Alexander has a good reason.

Balance, time and stories were some very interesting themes associated with the book, and I would have liked them to be explored more, and can only hope that it will be in the future.
Overall this is an intriguing book with some beautiful ideas, concepts, descriptions and mysteries, but there are far too many characters to the author to keep up with (it felt like each character was hanging by a loose thread, whilst being juggled precariously) and the plot was not quite as snappy as I would have liked it to be. So I'm awarding it 3/5 stars.

------------------------------------------------------------
This nook has divided views a lot. So here are some more:
Goodreads.com
The Guardian Review
Erin Morganstern's Blog

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is the story of a cyborg mechanic in futuristic New Beijing. Captivating already.
Now, it also has other elements: the stepmother (legal guardian), handsome prince, a ball. This is Cinderella, but not at all as you know it.

As an avid consumer of fairy-tale adoptions, both in literature and film, I was always going to go for this one. But the thing that really got me wanting to read it it the setting, and in fact the general premise of it. What makes it so different from other adaptations is that it is futuristic (kind of like in A Long, Long Sleep, but better). The idea of Cinderella being a cyborg in New Beijing is wonderful, especially as we get to know the perks and difficulties that come with it. Throw in a few androids, portable screens, I.D chips and were peachy for the future. These ideas are very, very well thought through, and for such a small book I am very impressed with how much was explained, although I would like to see more explanation of what happened to the world in the next few books. The ideas of the futuristic earth aren't really that far out of reach, which I love.
Image from Google.
The characters have the depth that is needed to really bring this story to life, with Cinder far more feisty and interesting than her Disney counterpart. (I was always very disappointed with Cinderella, because she let things happen to her, and gave up far too early for my liking. If it were me I'd have moved out of that house waay back). The prince has a far larger role to play than in original stories, with emotional turmoil and the weight of a kingdom on his shoulders he has his work cut out.

The themes in this are wonderful. It has all the usual that you would expect: Love, life issues, death, good and evil, and so on, but they are looked at in ways that I've rarely seen before. It makes them more interesting.
Then theres the other themes: duty, loyalty, betrayal, freedom, guilt, lies, finding who you are, all weaving into Cinder's life to make a truly complex book.

The narrative is good, the story completely sucks you in within the first few pages. The plot points, revelations and details are executed well. I think that this book is more aimed at young adult readers, although I would still recommend this to adults and slightly younger teens too.
Also, look out for other fairy tale references.

The themes are good, the heroine is believable (even if she is a cyborg) and the twists are cutting, so I'm giving this book 5/5 stars.


----------------------------------------------------------
Marissa Meyers Website
Marissa Meyers Journal
Reviews from Goodreads.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

On reading Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes a while ago (recommended by my sister, who is an committed lover of Joanne Harris's work) I realised that I, like so many others, was enthralled by her gift with words.
This book only seemed to make me want to read more. We picked this one up in a local charity shop.

This tells the story of St. Oswalds in two narratives. One from the schoolmasters, Roy Straitley, and the other from the viewpoint of a child who just wants to fit in somewhere. It also tells the story in two time zones, set fifteen years apart.
The story starts off simply. About a boy who trespasses onto St. Oswalds grounds, and finds that he fits there better than anywhere else he knows. He gets more and more daring, listening to lessons, stealing uniform and even roaming around the school halls.
Fifteen years in the future and Roy Straightley is still teaching. About to hit his century of servitude to the school, he is determined not to let the curious events unfolding ruin it. It starts with his register, and a pen, but soon grows to encompass the whole school. Someone is trying to bring St. Oswalds down.

This story deals with so many pertinent issues, like belonging, revenge, love, life issues, hitting teenagerdom, mental health, physical health, missing persons, power, crime, society, and sets it all around one place. This is the mark of a truly incredible writer.
Image from Wikipedia

Gentlemen and Players is darker than Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes, so I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers. But for me it was perfect. Dark, with lightly sprinkled humour and nostalgia. I loved it.

It being a mystery book, I was unsure as to whether I would ruin it for myself. You see, usually I uncover mysteries in stories and films stupidly quickly. I always end up being at the end and thinking: 'yep, thought that was going to happen', or perhaps 'KNEW it'. But with this book, I am relieved to say, I absolutely didn't have a clue. I had an idea about who was behind everything, and I was wrong, so very wrong (although not the person who was implied). This is very unusual.
So thank you Joanne Harris for being completely unpredictable, for giving little twists and turns that I didn't expect in the slightest. :)
Just for this I would give it 5 stars.

The characters were well written and had depth. Although I would have liked to know a little more about some characters specifically, I felt that for this books purpose you knew just enough about the characters, along with the little details you don't usually get. I loved the idea that a mug can say a lot about a person.

Overall, I am going to give Gentlemen and Players 5 out of 5 stars. 
I was debating 4 stars, as it wasn't as action packed as other books that I enjoyed, but I don't think this book needs that. The suspense of the mystery is enough to keep it thrilling.

------------------------------------------------
Gentlemen and Players Wikipedia Page.
On Amazon.co.uk
More reviews on goodreads.com

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.

Previously, I've seen this book reviewed on other blogger pages and on Amazon. The reviews showed mixed opinions.But on seeing it for a meagre £1.50 in a local charity shop, I thought I would give it a go.

Before I go to Sleep follows Christine on her daily journey to regain a handle on who she is, as well as trying to confront the shadows of her past that come back to haunt her every day. Christine has been suffering from amnesia for twenty years. Every day she wakes up and doesn't know where she is, or even sometimes who she is. She needs to be told every detail upon waking. Today she gets a phone call which starts todays journey into the life that she doesn't know she has lived.

This book deals with very interesting ideas, such as the nature of memory, grief, betrayal, paranoia, love, fear, trust, ambitions and losses. It deals with every emotion imaginable. In one book with less than 400 pages this is quite a feat.

Image from Wikipedia
There should really be a warning that comes with it though, as there is some content which is quite shocking, that I was not expecting to read about in this book. It is not a book I would recommend to everybody as some paragraphs are quite disturbing for the average reader. This is definitely for adults, preferably not overly sensitive ones, as some topics covered may upset some readers.

Despite this, it is a wonderfully powerful book. Hard hitting and well written. On the cover of the version I own it describes Before I go to Sleep as 'unsettling'. I think this is exactly the perfect word to describe it. Of course, it being a book about amnesia some of the content is repeated and mulled over a few times, but I think this only contributes to the feeling of utter confusion and distrust apparent in the book. Other reader might be put off by the repetition though.

I barely knew that it was a thriller when reading it, until it hit me full in the face. It feels much more of a slow terror rising inside you. S.J. Watson is a good writer, but not amazing. However, Watson is very good at holding the reader at arms length, supposedly letting you in on secrets, but still having more to reveal. And that's the way I like it.

I am awarding it 4 out of 5 stars, as I am not sure it is for everyone, but for most it is a book that would be an insightful, and intriguing read.
------------------------------------------------
S.J. Watson Website.
Richard and Judy Book Club Reviews. - scroll down to see more reader reviews.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

1984 by George Orwell

(Warning: Possible Spoilers)
---------------------------------------
As a classic, 1984 was always going to be on my reading list. So many people reccommend it, and now I can finally see why. The themes and ideas presented in this book make you think. This is a quality in a book that I value very highly.
Winston Smith is an average man. He works, eats and sleeps like any other person. But Winston works for the Ministry of Truth, he is a member of The Outer Party. To some he is privaleged but to him his life is mediocre and has no meaning. Winston hates The Party, and wants to destroy it, but this is thoughtcrime, punishable by death.
This is the story of the individual struggle against the oppressive dictatorship of Oceania.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a true dystopian It is often said to be one of the first that truly captured the atmosphere of perpetual war and the ideas of what is reality and what is only in the mind, and how the mind can trick itself if you will it to.

Image from Wikipedia.org
we can see how 1984 has made its mark upon society in many ways, the most obvious being that words coined by it:  'Big Brother', 'Room 101',  'double-think', and the term 'Orwellian' also came from this book.
There are various themes, all of which are some important themes to deal with even in the most ideal life and world: Futility of war, individuality, oppression, death, life, the different natures of love, the workings of the mind and so on.

I was not sure what to make of Winston, nor in fact any of the characters. In fact there was only one person in the whole book who I felt something for, the rest of them I felt sorry for because if their experiences, not because I was attached to them in any way. The person I felt something for was Winstons mother, who may have laid down her life and her daughters' life in order for her older son to live.

I found 1984 quite difficult to read, most especially when Winston is reading The Book. This is a similar experience to how I felt when reading 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. I suppose this is probably because they are both classics, and also because it is, in my opinion, a very long winded and complex piece of writing in some areas. Although I enjoyed both books immensely, their themes and stories being wonderful, this is something which puts me off a book.

Although towards the end Winstons struggle with how he views society is very interesting, I was slightly disappointed in the ending of the book. As although itthe reader always knows in their hearts how it will end, I couldn't help but feel that there should have been more explosive than it was. It was a bit tame for my liking.

I am giving 1984 three out of five stars, because, although it is good story with interesting themes, it was not to my taste in terms of the ongoing war and complex writing at some points.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
1984 on Wikipedia
1984 on GoodReads, if you would like a second opinion.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima

The Heir Chronicles is a trilogy surrounding the world of the Weir (that's magical beings to you and me). These are people with Weirstones, allowing them to have capabilities beyond what is usually possible. There are five types of Weir: Wizards, Warriors, Enchanters, Sorcerers and Seers.

These three books focus on three young people each belonging to a group of Weir, and the events surrounding them.

Now these books are apparently for ages ten and up, which is why I could so accurately predict what was going to happen presumably. Although with the amount of death threats and actual death in these books I would probably not give them to a ten year old to read.

The themes surrounding this set of novels were simple: Relationships, Trust, Strength and Courage, Life Struggles and Overcoming Evil.
These are the kind of themes I very much enjoy, but sometimes find lacking as they are used over and over in books, especially of the fantasy genre.
But these books did not dissapoint me. The characters with these ideals were well rounded and I did feel something for the characters, although I would say not as much as I have for other characters.

There was one character in particular that I loved, and for those of you who have read this trilogy, or are yet to read it, this character is Jason. Definitely my favourite. I can't say much else otherwise I will definitely spoil the plot.
Which reminds me, the plot was good, if predictable quite a lot of the time, but younger readers would probably find it less so and therefore enjoy the suspense more. As it was, the only suspense I had was wondering what else would happen inbetween finding out major plot points.

Although at times I found myself wavering on boredom, over all I would say that this is a good set of books, to be enjoyed mostly by younger readers, but young adults would also enjoy it.
For that reason I give it three and a half stars out of five.

----------------------------------------------
- Apparently there are two more Heir Chronicles yet to come out, but this works as a trilogy. But I will be reading the next two books :).

Wikipedia Page (WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS)
Fantastic Fiction Review
Need more opinions? Here's Good Reads on The Warrior Heir.