Monday, 23 December 2013

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (2004)

4 stars

Mac bought me this book a while ago because she knew I would like it, and as usual, she was right.

The plot of this book drew me in straight away and I found I had read the first part of the book where Clare's a child and Henry's time traveling back to her in about two days, however even though I still enjoyed the rest of the book, I didn't find it as entertaining as that first part of the book and it took me a while to get through. I would've enjoyed this book more if there wasn't so many philosophical chapters or chapters all about dreams, I understand authors like to foreshadow but sometimes enough is enough. I do however appreciate the author having a main character named Clare and spelling it the same way I do. My favourite character was probably Alba or Kimy, I thought Alba was both exactly what the characters and the book needed to lighten them up when it started getting very dark and sad. I just really enjoyed whenever Kimy was in it with her small exterior and tough attitude. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romance novel.

For a plot summary see Mac's previous blog post.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian - Rick Riordan (2009)

4 stars

I finally got around to reading the last book in this series, and I'm really glad I did because it was probably my favourite of the series.

This book is pretty much a giant battle, which I personally really enjoy reading because whenever the army is at it's lowest more reinforcements come in which is always exciting to read. I also enjoy last books like this one where there are so many plot points and characters that all have to have a resolution that ties together and I think the author did a really good job of that. I know these books are meant to be read when you're a young teenager, but I think with this book I was able to appreciate it more being a bit older, because if I was younger I don't think I would've enjoyed all the fight scenes. My favourite character in this book was Luke, without giving away any spoilers, I liked how his character turned out in the end and appreciated how much courage he had. I would recommend this series to people who like good adventure/quest type novels.

The book starts with Percy blowing up the Princess Andromeda, Kronos' ship, at the expense of Charles Beckendorf's life. He returns to camp and tells them what happened before going with Nico Di Angelo to the underworld and bathing in the river styx like Luke before him and Achilles before him. He returns to camp again and takes all the campers, except the Ares cabin who refuse, to Mount Olympus to defend Manhattan from Kronos and his army while the Gods are fighting Typhon. With the help of the Hunters of Artemis, the centaurs and eventually the Ares cabin they are able to defend Manhattan while Percy eventually ends up facing Kronos with only Annabeth and Grover on Mount Olympus. As Kronos is about to kill Percy, Annabeth intervenes and speaks to Luke, who regains control over his body and asks Percy to give him the blade so he can kill Kronos as he knows where the weak spot is. Percy hands over the blade and Luke dies while Kronos is blown to pieces, hopefully for eternity but the Gods are unsure of how long it could be. Percy then gets one wish from the Gods and he wishes for them to acknowledge all their children and send them to camp, even all the minor gods as that is what caused the war in the first place. Rachel Elizabeth Dare then becomes the next vessel for the oracle and Percy and Annabeth dating (finally).

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns - Chris Colfer (2013)

2.5 stars

I bought this book when it came out because I wanted to support Chris Colfer and also see what he would do in a sequel to The Wishing Spell.

I'm sure as a child I would have loved these books, they remind me of Enid Blyton's books, however reading them as an eighteen year old is not really the target audience. I love the creativity of the whole world though and this book manages to weave so many different fairy tales together in different ways that I can't help but wonder how long Chris has been planning these books and all the characters. My favourite character in this book was Rumpelstiltskin, he was a really lovely person to read about and a nice occasional break from the main storyline chapters. I would recommend this series to any children that like adventures and fairy tales.

Alex and Conner haven't been back to the land of stories in a year and they have accepted it until their mother is kidnapped by the evil enchantress. They then make their way back to the world and meet up with Froggy who is dating Queen Red Riding Hood now. The enchantress plans to take over the entire land of stories and the human world and kidnaps the fairy godmother in front of everyone to prove it. Alex and Conner then go on a quest with Jack, Goldilocks, Red and Froggy to retrieve all the items needed to create the wand of wonderment. Alex finishes making the wand with the Enchantress' pride by insulting her in front of all the kings, queens and fairies that she's kidnapped and then defeats her without the wand, by forgiving her and removing the hate that fuels her magic. The fairies then decide that the threat that the enchantress posed was too great and they must separate the two worlds forever, however Alex decides to stay in the land of stories, while Conner and her mum return to the human world.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (2010)

4 stars

Even though I didn't want to, I had to keep reading the series once I'd started and although this is my least favourite of the trilogy I still enjoy it.

The first time I read this book I hated it with a passion, after reading it a second time I see that some things aren't as bad as I originally thought they were, and also that it was still wonderfully written, if a bit rushed in parts. I realised that the last books in trilogies are usually the weakest, with it mainly being about rebellion and bringing down the regime that has been oppressing the characters, but entertaining me, so the fact the the author managed to incorporate the games into this book again was really clever. I obviously hate what happened to Peeta in this book, however after reading it a second time I understand a lot more how everyone is damaged from the games, and that he recovers a lot more than I remember him doing so the first time I read it. Someone told me that the only reason I hate Gale is because the author makes you hate him in this book, which I think is completely untrue, he was always very passionate about his hate for the capitol and this book just gives him the proper circumstances to be vocal and active about it and helping in the rebellion. I think that if you disliked Gale before Katniss associates him with the final bombings then you definitely disliked him for his character, maybe the association with the final bombings makes people dislike him even though they previously didn't but that doesn't bother me as much as his personality before that. My favourite character in this book was Finnick, it amazes me how much of his personality is shown in this book when he isn't even in it that much and he and Annie are possibly the cutest thing in the whole series. Overall I think this is an excellent dystopian series that is not only for young adults, I think people of all ages can enjoy it.

Katniss is now living in District 13 with all the rebels under the leadership of Coin, a harsh woman who has questionable motives and wanted to save Peeta not Katniss. Katniss agrees to be their mockingjay, the symbol of rebellion for the rest of the districts, as long as the rest of the victors have immunity if they win, including Peeta. She and Gale shoot lots of promos that have her visiting wounded of many of the districts and then fighting lots of the capitol fighter hovercrafts which bomb a hospital. The capitol fight these promos with film of Peeta who manages to warn district 13 that an attack on them was coming before his blood spatters the screen and Katniss realizes they are torturing him for everything she does. She just shuts down and only Finnick can sympathize as he has the same fears for Annie. Coin then decides to send in a team to retrieve Peeta so Katniss can continue to function normally, however when she sees him he tries to kill her. It turns out the capitol hijacked him, using tracker jacker venom to confuse all his memories of Katniss so he hates and fears her. Coin then announces that they will make an attack on the capitol in a few weeks but Katniss can't go as she hasn't been to any training sessions. She and Johanna then go to every training session in three weeks and Katniss gets put through into a squad with Finnick, Boggs, Gale and a few others that are basically going to be filmed the whole time for more promos and not doing much real work. However before they go, Plutarch shows them that the capitol is rigged with pods that can contain any horror or defensive weapon that can be detonated by any nearby motion and Finnick and Katniss realize that they are just going into another arena. Once at camp on the edge of the capitol one of their squad is taken out and replaced by Peeta and Boggs tells Katniss that now she has united the districts Coin has no use for her and can use her death as a martyr to her advantage. As soon as they go down a street with supposedly few pods, Boggs steps on an unknown one and has his legs blown off, he gives control of the squad to Katniss who then tells them she's going to kill Snow and they can help her or turn back. They all continue with her except Peeta who thinks he'll go crazy and kill them all but Katniss can't leave him and brings him anyway. Once they are in the underground Snow releases some alligator like mutts who smell like blood and hiss Katniss' name as they search for her and only her, Cresida, Pollux, Gale and Peeta survive them and Katniss sees Finnick scream and then his head ripped off by one as she rises out of the underground. They then make an attempt to get into Snow's mansion however he had a guard of all the capitol children surrounding his mansion, and Katniss sees a capitol hovercraft drop some parachutes to the children which then explode, wounding them. All the rebel medics rush in, including Katniss' sister Prim, who turns to see her just as the remaining parachutes explode larger than the previous ones killing her, the other medics and the children and seriously wounding anyone in the square like Katniss and Peeta. Katniss reefuses to speak after she wakes and is wandering around the mansion when she comes across Snow's room where he tells her that if he had a hovercraft he would've used it to escape, bombing the children lost any loyalty the citizens still had to him, implying it was Coin's fault that Prim died. When Katniss goes to shoot President Snow in front of all the citizens, instead of shooting him, she shoots and kills Coin and when she goes to bite down on her suicide pill, Peeta's hand is there and he rips it off her suit as he can't see her die. She is declared mentally unstable and not accusable for her actions, she moves back to 12 with Haymitch, Peeta and a few other citizens of 12 who couldn't live anywhere else. She marries Peeta and has two children with him.

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (2009)

5 stars

After reading the first book, I immediately started this one, because even though I've read them before they are incredibly addictive reading.

Despite giving this the same rating as The Hunger Games this is my favourite book in the trilogy. It introduces really diverse new characters, and brings whole new facets to the old characters like Haymitcha and Effie. While reading this book I couldn't help comparing it to the movie as I had seen it the day before, and it is so spot on, some scenes are literally word for word as they are in the book. I also really enjoy this book as it has Katniss realising what her presence is doing and that a revolution is forming, but it's not all she thinks about and bases her choices around like in the third book. I still think about how long it must have taken the author to think of the arena for this book, because once she'd thought of the overall idea I have no idea how long it must have taken her to come up with all the individual horrors that it contains, I think the complexity of the arena also makes me enjoy this book even more. My favourite character in this book is Peeta, my beautiful boy with the bread. I think this is the best book for his character as Katniss gets to know him in this book and realizes that she does need him in her life.

Katniss and Peeta are about to go on their victory tour six months after the games. They have barely spoken and must now pretend to be lovers again for the citizens, to ensure that Katniss will do this, President Snow comes to visit her and tells her that she must do this to calm the districts who saw her act with the berries as a rebellion. He tells her if she doesn't convince the citizens he will have no trouble hurting her family or loved ones like Gale, who kissed her in the woods when she returned from the games, which Snow somehow knows about. At the first district they go to Peeta gives some of their winnings to Rue and Thresh's families and Katniss makes a moving speech about Rue before the Peacekeepers start shooting some of the citizens. Katniss then tells Peeta about Snow coming to see her and they decide to get married. However at the end of their tour Snow tells them that wasn't good enough. As the next hunger games is a quarter quell, something special must happen and this year it is that the tributes will be reaped from the existing victors which means Katniss is definitely going back into the arena. Katniss then goes to Haymitch and tells him that this games they have to save Peeta, not her, and he agrees to help. Haymitch's name is drawn out and Peeta immediately volunteers and once they are in the Capitol they and the other victors do everything they can to try to disrupt the games and anger the capitol citizens which is why Peeta tells the audience Katniss is pregnant. The games still continue though and once in it Katniss and Peeta ally with Finnick and Mags who soon gives her life so Finnick can carry Peeta out of poisoinous gas instead of her. They are then attacked by monkeys and a tribute from 6 sacrifices herself for Peeta when he is about to be killed by one. Johanna then brings Beetee and Wiress to join their pack after they escaped a segment of blood rain. Wiress then tells Katniss that the arena is a clock, with each wedge bring a new horror each hour. Wiress is then killed by one of the careers who is then killed by Katniss, and Johanna and Finnick kill another before the other two escape. Beetee then tells them of his plan to run wire from the tree that gets struck by lightning at midnight and noon down to the water which will hopefully electricute the other tributes. Katniss and Peeta must then separate as he must stay with Beetee at the tree and she and Johanna have to run the wire down to the water, however after a few minutes the wire is cut and Johanna attacks Katniss and tells her to stay down. Katniss then runs to try to save Peeta however when she gets to the tree he is no longer there and Beetee is collapsed with a knife that has some of the wire attatched to it. Katniss quickly works out that he was trying to get it to the forcefield to blow it up when the lightning strikes so she attatches the wire to her arrow and shoots it into the forcefield right before the lightning strikes. She then awakes in a hovercraft next to Beetee and gets up to find Haymitch, Plutarch Heavensbee and Finnick talking, after they tell her that Peeta was taken by the Capitol she attacks Haymitch for saving her instead of him.  She is drugged again and the next time she wakes up to Gale telling her that her family is safe but there is no more district 12.

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (2008)

5 stars

I first read this series in 2009 and after seeing the latest movie, Catching Fire, on Thursday I had to reread them.

This series is so well written it only takes me a few pages to get hooked into the story, I think Katniss' perspective is very easy to relate to and that's part of the reason everyone loves these books so much. When I look back on the book I'm surprised to see the games take so long, about 240 pages, because I get so drawn in they seem much shorter when I think about that actual part of the book. My favourite character in this book is Rue, although I love Peeta, I just think that Rue was such a standout character in this book without even having many pages to her. I think Rue is probably one of the best characters that Suzanne has in the entire series, and she really makes all the points the book tries to show about poverty, harsh policing of everyone, and meaningless death with her few conversations with Katniss. I think this series is almost required reading for people who can handle a book all about children dying.

Katniss lives in a future where once a year 24 children are chosen and put in a televised arena where they must fight to the death in what is known as the Hunger Games. When her younger sister's name is drawn to go into the games, she volunteers to take her place and ends up going in with Peeta Mellark, a boy who saved her life when she was younger and was starving, he took a beating from his mother to feed her bread from his family's bakery. Before she goes into the arena she learns that Peeta has loved her his whole life so any way the games end will be terrible for him, her mentor tells her to go along with it so she can get more sponsors and possibly live longer while she's in the arena. After a few days in the arena she learns that Peeta has teamed up with the "careers" who train their whole lives for the glory of winning the games and she must set a nest of tracker jackers, wasps that cause hallucination and sometimes death, on them. She gets stung in the process though and Peeta fights off the careers so she can escape them and he gets wounded in the process. Katniss then teams up with Rue, a small girl from district 11 and while helping her blow up the careers food, she dies and Katniss kills her killer and sings her to her death. It is then announced that there can be two winners of the games if they are from the same district so she goes and finds Peeta. His wound is giving him blood poisoining and she must get the medicine from the cornucopia where everyone else will be getting something else they need from. She gets the medicine after being saved by Thresh, the boy from Rue's district, and she and Peeta both recover from their injuries and go on to win together. It is then announced that the rule is renounced and there still must be only one winner, Katniss get out some poisonous berries and her and Peeta decide to both take them because they have to have a winner and must let them both live rather then having them both die. This turns out to be the case however Katniss is now in trouble from the Capitol having shown such rebellion and Peeta learns that she was faking her love for him he stops speaking to her.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Why Do Men Have Nipples? Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini - Mark Leyner & Billy Goldberg (1995)

3 stars

I read this because it had an intriguing title. It did provide informative answers to all the questions it posed. I now swallow my chewing gum without a qualm. The only problem was that the interesting information was interspersed with stupid IM between the two co-authors. The problem with a doctor and a comedian working on a book together is that some parts are boring and other parts try too hard to get a laugh.

All in all, I think this book is best suited for the coffee table. Instead of reading it cover-to-cover, I would just recommend you flick to the questions that interest you.

Here are some questions the book answers:

Why do people seem more attractive to you when you are drunk?
Can you swallow your tongue?
Will using a cell phone give you a brain tumour?
Should you starve a fever and feed a cold?
Why do you see stars when you are hit in the head?
Can you get high from licking a toad?
Why do you laugh when tickled?
Is it bad to crack your knuckles?
Does it really take seven years to digest chewing gum?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephanie Meyer (2010)

1 star

I read this because I had a copy of it on my Kindle and I had just read the rest of the Twilight series. I didn't thnk much of it, I thought it was mostly a money-making endeavour. It wasn't even a particularly interesting character to expand on. I think the first few chapters I read of Midnight Sun (Twilight told from Edward's perspective) were much more enthralling.

Bree can barely remember her human life. All she knows is her thirst and the newborns she has grown up with. She befriends Diego and he informs here that vampires can go in sunlight without being harmed, despite what their leader told them. They begin to question their nameless and faceless creator. They are sent to destroy a group of  'rogue' vampires (The Cullens) with all of their newborn strength. Bree does not believe what they're doing is right and doesn't join in. Carlisle lets her join them, despite the fact she is very tempted by Bella. When the Volturi finally show up, once all the newborns are already killed, they also kill Bree because she is a liability.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

4.5 stars

I bought this book years ago and started it, but never finished. When my boyfriend mentioned that it was his favourite book, I decided to pick it up again. Once I started reading, I didn't understand why I had ever stopped. It is a really good book, especially since English isn't the author's first language - his command of English is excellent (very reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro). It has won several awards like; the Boeke Prize, the Barnes and Noble Discover Great Writers Award and the Literature to Life award.

It was made into a film and released in 2007 - have a look at the trailer.I haven't seen it yet, but I would love to. I highly recommend this book. I loved it so much that the next book I read was A Thousand Splendid Suns - also by Khaled Hosseini.  It is heart-wrenching and tells you much about the author's view of life in Afghanistan in the 60s. This is one of those books that changes how you think. Read it.

Amir and Hassan have brown up like brothers, playing together throughout their young lives. The difference between them being that Hassan is Amir's servant's son, and a Hazara - an ethnic minority.  As they grow, Afghanistan is changing. They love running kites, a national pastime, and strive to win the local competition. On the day, the boys race to get the last kite that has fallen so they can win. The two separate, and Amir then sees Hassan being attacked by two of their peers. He pretends not to see and takes the kite home to show his father, Baba. Years go on and Amir and his father relocate to USA, where they will be safer. They struggle financially for a while and when things get better, Baba gets sick. Amir falls in love and gets married, always haunted by the thought of Hassan. When Baba dies, he gets a message from his old mentor, who wants Amir to visit him in Pakistan. Amir goes and Rahim Khan tells him that Hassan in dead, but his son is still alive but captured by the Taliban. Amir goes to find him and realises that the same man who attacked Hassan is now abusing his son, Sohrab. A struggle ensues, and Sohrab manages to use his slingshot to shoot the man in the eye, the pair escape and Amir asks Sohrab to live with him. The adoption official says it is near impossible, as there is no way to prove his parents are dead. Amir tells Sohrab he may have to live in an orphanage for a while. Amir and his wife manage to get through the red tape and adopt Sohrab, only to find he has tried to kill himself. He lives, but doesn't talk. When they take him back to California, he is still withdrawn. Until one day, Amir takes Sohrab kite-running and manages to get a smile out of him.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Allegiant - Veronica Roth (2013)

3 stars

I was so very excited for this book to come out and find out the end of the world and the characters Veronica Roth created with Divergent.

This is the first book in the trilogy that is written from two perspectives; Tris' and Tobias'. I loved reading from Tobias' point of view because, as I've said many times before, he is the fictional love of my life, also I really love knowing his thoughts on his family and what they've put him through. I know most fans really disliked the ending, but I thought it was very true to the characters because when I think of Tris I think of when she used to say "I am selfless, I am brave" and those are the characteristics she was showing when she did it. I was kind of disappointed as I really love reading the story because it is set in the world of factions and although I know it was neccessary for them to leave that society to further the plot and end the story I didn't really enjoy them living in the real world for half the book. My favourite characters in this book were Tris and Caleb. Although I already loved Tris, this book made me really admire her as a heroine and see her as a role model (considering I already know that the movies are going to be a big hit). I still don't understand Caleb's previous actions, but I really enjoyed watching his character growth through this book and his relationship with Tris change. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes dystopian novels, or wants a really creative world to escape into.

For anyone interested, the first movie trailer was recently released:

The book starts with Tobias telling his mother that he broke up with Tris even though he's lying just to gain her trust. He then gets Tris, Christina and Cara's charges taken off them and they are free to roam in the new factionless regime Evelyn is enforcing. They then get tapped to go to a meeting of the Allegiant - the uprising that wants what was told to them in Edith Prior's video, factions back and divergent to leave. A small group of them then leave the city together with Tori being shot by one of the factionless in the process. Once they make it out of the city they are picked up by some people who explain they are from the Bureau of Gentic Welfare and that they were part of one of their most successful experiments after what is known as the Purity War. The Purity War started after the Bureau started fixing genes that had bad traits, low intelligence, cowardice, dishonesty, agression and selfishness, however it showed that removing those traits took away other traits like compassion, motivation, assertiveness and self preservation. This then split the population into two groups, those who were "genetically pure" and those who were "gentically damaged", it caused a  massive war and the Bureau then took most of the "gentically damaged" and put them into other societies like theirs so they could eventually breed out the damaged genes. The divergent are the genetically pure, however after some tests it is shown that Tobias isn't actually genetically pure, he merely could resist the simulations. Tris doesn't care about that but it clouds Tobias' judgement and he helps some GDs he meets with a terrible plan to take down the bureau and their bias againt GDs (who he discovers are being treated basically like animals) and part of that plan was to have explosions throughout the department as diversions, however one of them ends up putting Uriah into a coma. Tris then comes up with a better plan after the Bureau tell her that they are going to reset everyone in the experiments memories as they are about to kill each other with the war brewing between the factionless and the allegiant. She decides that they should reset everyone in the Bureau's memories so they won't be biased against the GDs and Tobias must go back into the city to reset one of his parent's memories so they won't have a war. Whoever has to release the memory serum into the Bureau has to die because the room is armed to release death serum if you break into it, at first Caleb volunteered to do this job, but at the last minute Tris does it instead of him and although she manages to resist the death serum, David, the manager of the Bureau shoots her and she dies, but she manages to release the memory serum first. Evelyn then agrees to stop fighting the Allegiant if Tobias will allow her back into his life which he does and they work out a treaty where Chicago is the first city free of bias against GDs.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jessica - Bryce Courtenay (1998)

5 stars

I bought this on my Kindle because I adore Courtenay. It was a good choice - I love this book! It is quite long, which is no issue for me - the longer, the better! This book broke my heart about five times. I really connected with the protagonist and was sad to finish the book.

The great thing about this book is the neverending series of twists and complications. The protagonist  has to work through a lot and you get to read about her life over a span of several years. In 2004, It was adapted into a made-for-TV mini-series, which I haven't watched, but  I plan to. It was voted best miniseries at the 2004 Chicago International Film Festival. Here is a link to the series on YouTube if you are interested.

Jessica is a tomboy who works with her Dad on their farm. He gets Jessica a job at the shearing sheds and she befriends two boys her age - Billy and Jack. Her mother and sister Meg have their eyes on Jack as Meg's future husband as he is from the richest family in town. The rest of the boys at the shed dislike Jessica and when they pick on her, Billy stands up for her. A fight starts and it ends with Billy's head being trampled on by a horse. Billy is left with permanent brain damage and is never the same. Jack gives him a job as a gardener at his place, but the rest of his family mistreat him. Jack and Jessica begin to fall in love. One day, Billy is pushed too far and murders Jack's mother and sisters. He runs off and Jess finds him killing her dogs. She manages to calm him and gets him all the way to town. Jack has slowed down the mob and carries Jessica when she collapses on arrival. She feared that if she didn't get him away, a mob of vengeful men would kill Billy themselves and he would never get a fair trial. Jack goes away to war. She then begins to show and her family realises that she is pregnant and she refuses to name the father. The family think she was raped by Billy. She is exiled to a tin shed in the bush and eventually gives birth in a creek with help from an Aboriginal woman, Mary. Her mother takes her baby and passes it off as Meg's. Her father is furious about being tricked and then has a heart attack and dies. At his funeral, Jessica breaks down, screaming that they stole her baby and then is put in a mental asylum. Jack is killed in the war. There she makes friends with a Jewish man and when he is released, he helps get her out with the help of a lawyer. The lawyer also makes her mother give her their old land on the condition that she will never approach her son. Mary's half-caste children are taken and Jess with the help of her friends manage to get them back in a historical court case. She returns to her house to find her dog bitten by a snake, she kills it, but then is bitten herself by its mate. Knowing she is dying, she goes to her hut, where later Mary finds her dead. Mary finds a letter she wrote to Jack, but never sent - telling him that she is pregnant with his child.

Bridget Jones Diary - Helen Fielding (1996)

2.5 stars

I read this because a friend told me that it was even funnier than the film. It was not. I found it quite boring most of the time and very repetitive and predictable. I feel that in the movie, you can sympathise more with the main character, whereas in the book you just want to tell them to shut up and get over it. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed by this book. This book is also a reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice. I drew many similarities between the mothers and love interests in each story.

I think I may be part of the minority as the book sold over 2 million copies worldwide. It won the 1998 British Book of the Year and there is currently a musical in the works - with the lyrics score and being written by Lily Allen. Not to mention the popular film version - which I find hilarious. Here is the trailer to give you an idea. It has Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Hugh Grant and Colin Firthe as her love interests. I love the casting of Colin Firthe as he plays Mr Darcy in the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice as well. All in all, I think this story was executed much better through film.

Bridget is thirty and unmarried, which means everyone she meets is constantly asking about her love life. This book is a diary that goes over twelve months. It includes Bridget's quest to lose weight, stop drinking and smoking and find love. Along the way there are many witty comments from Bridget.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)

5 stars

Back in 2001, when I was seven years old, my mother bought me the first Harry Potter novel because of a glowing staff recommendation. I was at a stage where it was hard to find me a book as it was either too easy or too mature. I ate it up and my mother went on to purchase the next three in the series. I was hooked and my mother constantly found me late at night, still reading after I had promised "just one more chapter". Thankfully for me, Harry Potter has quite long chapters. I then had to wait another couple of years before I got my next fix. Because I read them in such quick succession, the first four are mingled together in my head. My far and away favourite was the Chamber of Secrets (which unfortunately, the movie scared me out of) and my least favourite is and always will be the third - which I suspect is for the lack of Voldemort.

As we all know, this series is record-breaking. Despite its success, I found lots of critical reviews. I cannot help but think they are simply kicking themselves for not writing the series themselves. Here is a video that runs through the plot of each book in song to the theme of each movie.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry is an orphan who discovers that his parents were wizards and so is he. A Dark wizard, Voldemort, killed his parents and tried but failed to kill Harry. He goes to a wizarding boarding school and befriends Ron and Hermione. Voldemort is using the body of a teacher, Quirell, to house his soul. Harry, Ron and Hermions realise that something is hidden within Hogwarts and suspect that Voldemort is after it. They go to recover the object - the Philosopher's Stone, only to find Quirell. Quirell/Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but Quirell himself dies as Harry is still protected by the charm of his mother dying for him and Voldmort's soul manages to escape.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
When Harry goes to Hogwarts for his second year, mysterious messages written in blood appear on the walls of Hogwarts saying that the "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened and that the "heir of Slytherin" is going to kill all Muggle-born students. A number of students are petrified, but not killed. Harry, Ron and Hermione all try to work out who it is. Harry and Ron open the chamber and discover that Ginny has been possessed and she has been letting the creature - a Basilisk- out of the chamber to attack the students. She has been writing in Voldemort's old diary and he has been writing back to her. The more she confided in him, the stronger his soul grew. Harry kills the Basilisk and destroys the diary and therefore the form of Voldemort with the tooth of the Basilisk. He gives the diary back to Lucius Malfoy, who planted it, with a sock inside. Malfoy gives it to his house-elf, inadvertently freeing it.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry accidentally inflates his Aunt when he loses his temper and runs away from home. The Minister of Magic tracks him down and puts him up in a wizarding pub until school begins. An escaped murderer, Sirius Black, is rumored to be looking for Harry. To protect the students, the wizarding prison guards are stationed at the school. Problem is, they make Harry faint. The new teacher works with Harry on a spell to repel them. Harry learns that Black betrayed his parents and got them killed and he is Harry's godfather. Ron's rat Scabbers also goes missing. Harry, Hermione and Ron try to save Hagrid's beloved hippogriff Buckbeak from being executed for attacking Malfoy (after being provoked). They find out Sirius' innocence and that Scabbers is actually a man called Peter Pettigrew who framed Sirius. Using time travel, they spirit Sirius away on Buckbeak and travel back to the current time.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
An inter-school tournament called the Triwizard Cup in being reinstated at Hogwarts. The students are only allowed to enter if they are older than seventeen. Harry is not eligible or interested and doesn't enter, bu nevertheless his name appears out of the cup. Along with another Hogwarts champion - Cedric Diggory. The champions go through a series of challenges and are given clues to each challenge weeks in advance. Harry fumbles his way through all of them  with a bit of help. The final task is a maze with lots of magical hurdles. Harry and Cedric make it to the end and touch the Cup at the same time, only to be transported to a graveyard. There they find Voldemort and some Death Eaters. Pettigrew takes Harry's blood and uses it to resurrect Voldemort. Cedric is killed by Voldemort and Harry escapes. He uses to Cup to transport back and announces to the awaiting crowd that Diggory is dead and Voldemort is back

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry is stuck at the Dursley's and is miserable because he hasn't received any mail from his friends. He and Dudley are accosted by some Dementors and Harry uses a spell to ward them off. He then receives an expulsion letter for using magic out of school. He is collected by a group of wizards and taken to Sirius' house. There he is told the place is serving as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix - which is a group led by Dumbledore dedicated to fight Voldemort. Ron and Hermione have been there for weeks. It has to operate secretly as the Ministry of Magic refuses to believe Voldemort is back. Harry goes to trial for his misuse of magic and Dumbledore manages to clear  him. Umbridge, who is from the Ministry is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Umbridge and Harry clash and she is given a promotion that allows her to create new regulations, Harry, Ron and Hermione form their own Defence Against the Dark Arts group called "Dumbledore's Army". They meet and practise defensive spells under Harry's direction. After predicting Mr. Weasley's injuries, Dumbledore suspects Voldemort can probe Harry's mind and gets Snape to give him Occlumency lessons. But as they pair clash, the lessons soon stop and the pain from Harry's scar only gets worse. They start taking their exams and when Umbridge confronts them they take her to see their "secret weapon" and they lead her into the forest where she is taken captive by the centaurs when she provokes them. Harry sees a vision of being Sirius being tortured at the Ministry. The DA all go, but it is a set-up and Sirius is killed. Harry is distraught and smashes the prophecy Voldemort wants, which is about him and Harry. Fudge appears at the Ministry, faced with the proof that Voldemort is back

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Snape makes an unbreakable vow to Malfoy's mother that he will protect her son. Dumbledore gets Harry to convince an old Potions master to come out of retirement. Harry, Ron and Hermione see Draco going into a Dark Arts store and this only aids Harry's suspicions. Harry starts doing very well at Potions thanks to second-hand Potions textbook with useful annotations from the "Half-Blood Prince". Harry has fallen for Ron's sister, Ginny and is constantly following Malfoy's movements. Dumbledore tells Harry about Voldemort's Horcruxes and how he believes Voldemort has split his soul seven times, one was the diary, the other was a ring, three are objects belonging to the founder's of Hogwarts and the last lives in Voldemort's snake. They leave to destroy one, only to find it had already been taken. When they return, Dumbledore is suspicious and petrifies Harry. Draco walks in and threatens to kill Dumbledore, but Snape walks in and kills him instead. The spell on Harry is broken and he tries to avenge Dumbledore but Snape escapes, but not before revealing he is the Half-Blood Prince (he had a Muggle father and his witch mother's maiden name was Prince.) Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he will not be going to school next year, but instead plans to hunt Horcruxes. The pair promise to join him.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry flees to the Burrow with help from the Order of the Phoenix as the protection he had at his aunt and uncle's place will be broken when he turns seventeen.. On the way, they are attacked, George Weasley loses an ear and Mad-Eye is killed. Harry, Ron and Hermione go to Sirius' place, where the house-elf tells them that Umbridge has a Horcrux - Slytherin's locket. They infiltrate the Ministry and steal it. They all wear it to keep it safe, but it makes them argue and Ron leaves. Harry and Hermione go to Harry's birthplace and talk to Bathilda Bagshot - a historian - but Voldemort expected this and Batilda is actually Nagini  and attacks them. They escape to a forest and Harry is led to Gryffindor's sword at the bottom of a lake. When he tries to get it, the locket tries to kill him, but luckily Ron returns and saves him and uses the sword to destroy the locket. Luna's dad tells them about the Deathly Hallows; the unbeatable elder wand, the resurection stone and the infallible invisibility cloak.With these items you can summon the dead. Harry realises he already has the Cloak and this is what Voldemort is looking for. The three of them are captured and thrown in the Malfoy's cellar with Luna, Ollivander, Dean and Griphook. Dobby helps them escape, but is killed in the process. They continue to look for the Horcruxes and even break into Gringotts and steal Hufflepuff's cup. They sneak into Hogwarts and destroy the cup with a basilisk fang. Harry finds Ravenclaw's diadem in the Room of Requirement. The Death Eaters attack Hogwarts, and Harry and the Order defend the school. Tonks, Lupin, Fred are killed. Voldemort kills Snape to make the Elder Wand his own. Harry realises that he himself is a Horcrux and that he must die in order for Voldemort to die. He finds that Snape never betrayed Dumbledore and that he loved Lily Potter. Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him as he was already dying from wearing the ring (a horcrux and the Resurrection Stone) He also found out that Dumbledore knew Harry had to die. Harry uses the Resurrection Stone to bring back his loved ones to support before he walks to his death. When Voldemort uses the killing curse, it does not kill Harry, but sends him to limbo. In that state, Dumbledore appears and explains that Voldemort has only destroyed the Horcrux, and hasn't killed Harry. He says that Harry is the true master of the Hallows, as he faced death, instead of trying to avoid or conquer it. Harry returns to his body and feigns death. Neville does as Harry asked and kills Nagini. Harry reveals he is alive and the battle resumes, with Bellatrix being killed by Molly. When Harry and Voldemort begin their final duel, Harry reveals that because he willingly sacrificed himself, his act of love would protect the entire wizarding community, just like his mother's sacrifice protected him. He reveals that Snape was always loyal to Dumbledore and never was the master of the Elder wand. Draco was, when he disarmed Snape, and then Harry was when he disarmed Draco. He claims that the wand will not kill its master. In the duel, Harry refuses to use the killing curse and encourages Voldemort to feel remorse, which could save him. Voldemort dies when he attempts to use the killing curse against Harry's disarming curse. Nineteen years later, at platform 9 and 3/4, Harry and Ginny are married with three children; James Sirius, Albus Severus and Lily Luna. Ron and Hermione are also married with children. Harry's godson Teddy Lupin is found kissing Bill and Fleur's daughter in a carriage. Harry even sees Draco with his own son. Neville is now a Herbology professor. Harry comforts Albus who is worried he will be in Slytherin. He says that one of his namesakes was in Slytherin and he was the bravest man he's ever known - and that the sorting hat will take his wishes into account. Harry's scar hasn't pained him for 19 years.

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Longest Ride - Nicholas Sparks (2013)

4 stars

I saw Nicholas Sparks being interviewed on TV the other day and this book was plugged. I immediately pre-ordered it on my Kindle and impatiently awaited its release. Sparks was inspired by a place called Black Mountain College which was an art school that housed many breakthrough 20th century artists. As per the norm for Sparks novels, this is going to become a movie and according to IMDb it is due out in February 2015.

I really liked how the two stories that unfold are that of a younger couple and an older couple. It shows a lot of similarities and it was nice to read about an relationship beginning and another of a sixty year marriage. This book was much better than I expected and I couldn't stop reading it. On the whole, I find Nicholas Sparks books to be a bit hit-and-miss. I adored The Last Song and The Notebook but The Best of Me bored me to tears. I think as an author of romance novels it's challenging to come up with an original story and avoid cliche.

Sophia is an arts student still facing problems with her cheating ex-boyfriend, and then she meets Luke. Luke is a bullfighter who risks his life in the hope to win big and be able to save his family's ranch. Sophia and Luke quickly and easily fall for each other and are soon inseparable. Meanwhile an elderly man called Ira is stuck in his car after he slid off the road and holds little hope of salvation as the snow makes his vehicle near invisible. Luke confesses to Sophia that he had a bad fall off a bull a couple of years ago and the bull nearly killed him. He was in hospital for months and a plate was put in his head. The doctors warned him that if he was thrown again, he would probably die. Sophia begs him to stop riding, and refuses to stay with him if he doesn't, but Luke refuses. Ira starts seeing his wife - who died nine year ago - and lives through with her the ups and downs of his marriage. His wife adored art and on their honeymoon they visited Black Mountain College and Ira bought her some art pieces. That was the beginning of their art collection. They bought thousands of paintings over the course of their marriage, and even though they are worth a fortune, Ira cannot bear to part with them as they remind him of his beloved Ruth. Luke comes back and sees Sophia and the pair stay in a cabin in the wilderness. On the drive, they see Ira's car and call an ambulance. They wait to hear news at the hospital and when they see Ira, he thinks that Sophia is his Ruth and gets her to read a beautiful letter that he wrote for his wife - as he did on every one of their anniversaries. Ira dies and as he organised, all the paintings are to be auctioned off and the proceeds given to various charities. Sophia asks Luke to come with her to the auction to see the art. The first painting up for auction is an amateur painting of Ira's wife done by one of her primary school students. It's laughed at, and then for four hundred dollars, Luke buys it for Sophia. The auction is cancelled and it is revealed that whoever bought the first piece gets the whole collection. The ranch is saved. Luke confesses to Sophia, that he won his ride and on the same bull that nearly killed him. The prize was a new ute and Sophia asks him where it is. Luke says he didn't want it and go the cash and bought something else instead. It's a wedding ring and he proposes to Sophia.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Newt Scamander (2001)

4 stars

I bought this book because I'm so excited for the movie and I had never read it before.

Even though the book is nothing like what the movie is going to be and it's basically a dictionary of magical beasts I thought this book was so clever. I can't believe that anyone would know so much detail about a world they created, but J.K. proves me wrong in this book, listing 75 beasts, their classification and a page or two on what they look like, do, and can be used for. All through the book are also little scribbles and doodles written by Harry and Ron, all of which are hilarious and the book is worth a bit of a look through just for them. As there were no characters in this book, my favourite beasts were the Nundu, the Runespoor and the Hippogriff and I hope we get to see all of them in the movie. Definitely give this book a look through or a read if you're a fan of the Harry Potter series.

Because the book is basically a dictionary for beasts instead of a plot summary I'll list the beasts that are written about:
Acromantula, Ashwinder, Augurey
Basilisk, Billywig, Bowtruckle, Bundimun
Centaur, Chimaera, Chizpurfle, Clabbert, Crup
Demiguise, Diricawl, Doxy, Dragon, Dugbog
Erkling, Erumpent
Fairy, Fire Crab, Flobberworm, Fwooper
Ghoul, Glumbumble, Gnome, Graphorn, Griffin, Grindylow
Hippocampus, Hippogriff, Horklump
Jarvey, Jobberknoll
Kappa, Kelpie, Knarl, Kneazle
Leprechaun, Lethifold, Lobalug
Mackled Malaclaw, Manticore, Merepeople, Moke, Mooncalf, Murtlap
Niffler, Nogtail, Nundu
Phoenix, Pixie, Plimpy, Pogrebin, Porlock, Puffskin
Ramora, Red Cap, Re'em, Runespoor
Salamander, Sea Serpent, Shrake, Snidget, Sphinx, Streeler
Tebo, Troll
Werewolf, Winged Horse

The Fall of Five - Pittacus Lore (2013)

4.5 stars

I really enjoy this series, I think all the books are really interesting and well written so you can't help but read them all in a few days, so of course I bought this book as soon as it came out.

The previous book in the series, The Rise of Nine, is still my favourite out of the four that have been written so far, but this one is probably a close second. I absolutely loved the first half of the book just reading about the group dynamic and all their relationships and training sessions together, reading those sections actually made me realize what an awesome movie it could be if the first one had done better. This book, instead of adding one new perspective to the existing three that were in the third book, they swapped Six's perspective for Sam's and kept alternating between him, John and Marina. I like Sam and understand why they needed to have his perspective in this book, but I hope that he gets swapped out for another Lorien perspective in the next book because I find those more interesting. I've read a lot of theories about Setrakus Ra actually being Loric or even being Pittacus Lore and although I'm skeptical I think it would be a cool plot twist in future books. My favourite characters were Eight and Nine, I've loved Eight since he was first introduced because of his easygoing nature and humour and in this book I loved him for his bravery. I've always just thought Nine was a stereotypical bodybuilder type but with each book he's getting more and more character depth and I'm loving him more and more, I especially enjoy his big brother kind of relationship with Ella. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes good fantasy and adventure, or anyone who likes x-men because they all have kick-ass powers as well.

The book starts with Sam being freed from the jail that the Mogadorians were torturing him in by his Dad and Adam, a mogadorian whose story you'll understand if you've read The Lost Files. The Garde has gone back to Nine's setup in Chicago to rest and recuperate after their battle with Setrakus in the last book. Five soon starts sending them ridiculously obvious messages as to where he is and John and Six find him and bring him back to Chicago with them after being saved by Sam and his dad, Malcolm, they learn that Five can fly and has the power of externa, where he can take on the qualities of whatever object he is touching. He immediately clashes with Nine, as his Cepan died when he was younger and he has been living on his own ever since and has terrible social skills. Ella has been having nightmares ever since the battle with Setrakus and she tells John that in them Setrakus talks to her and tells her to read a letter that her Cepan gave her before she died. When she reads it she learns she wasn't chosen to come to earth like they were, her dad was rich and sent her to earth to save her which the rest of the Garde don't care about but her nightmares with Setrakus intensify. Five knows where his chest is buried and the whole Garde are going to get it but the night before they leave Ella's nightmares paralyse her and she can't wake up, John tries to help and is similarly paralysed. Sam, Sarah and Malcolm then stay in the apartment to look after them while the rest of the Garde go to get Five's chest. Five is a traitor and it turns out the Mogadorians found him when he was very young and have brainwashe him to believe that the Mogadorians should take over the world, once on the island where his chest is buried he attacks the other Garde with a creature of his own creation and his legacies which are highly trained as he has been practising against the Mogs. He doesn't want to harm Marina and Eight as they were kind to him and he's sure they can be persuaded to see his opinion, however he immediately tries to kill Nine and just as he's about to deliver the killing blow Eight teleports in front of him and dies instead of Nine (I cried a river). Marina develops a new legacy in her rage whre she can create and manipulate ice and she uses it to pin Five down and stab out his eye, resulting in my favourite line of the book "If I see you again, you traitorous bastard, I''ll take the other fucking eye". John is taken into Ella's dream where she is Setrakus Ra's heir and they are killing the last of the Loric resistance (Sam and Six) he wakes up and the Mogadorians are attacking the apartment trying to get to Ella, they manage to take her but John can't stop them as he decides to heal Sam's dad who was dying. The book ends with Adam showing up to help John fight against the other Mogadorians.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan (2008)

3.5 stars

I bought this book at the same time I bought the second and third books in the series, it just took me a while to get into it.

I'd read a few comments from people saying that this book is their favourite in the series but I still think that Sea of Monsters is my favourite so far. When I was reading this book I kept forgetting what their goal actually was and what their quest was actually about other than just getting caught up in different fights in the labyrinth. My favourite character in this book was Dionysius, I think that he is always hilarious and lightens up the tense situations and I liked seeing a bit of his character depth in this book when one of his sons died. I also really like Rachel Elizabeth Dare and think she'll play abigger role in the last book in the series when I get around to reading it. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes greek mythology and adventure stories.

Percy and Annabeth learn that Luke is planning to use Daedalus' labyrinth to invade Camp Half Blood to kill all the heroes so Kronos has no opposition when he comes to power. Annabeth gets to lead a quest into the labyrinth and she takes Percy, Tyson and Grover with her. They eventually learn that they need mortal eyes to navigate the maze and get them to Daedalus' workshop so Percy gets Rachel Elizabeth Dare, who can see through the mist, to help them. Once they find Daedalus they learn that he has already struck a bargain with Luke and Kronos and given them Ariadne's string however as he is telling them this some of Luke's army come in and attack Daedalus, betraying him. Percy, Annabeth, Tyson and Grover return to Camp Half Blood to help defend against Luke's army, but not before Percy discovers that Kronos has taken Luke's body to control. A battle then ensues at camp, which ends with Daedalus coming in to help the half bloods against Luke's army and saving the camp. He then dies so the labyrinth will die with him and everyone returns home for the summer.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan (2007)

3.5 stars

I ordered this book as soon as I finished the first one, it just took me a while to get around to actually reading it, but once I started I read it in about two days because much like the first two as soon as you get into it it's hard to put down.

I love Percy narrating these books, Rick write his perspective so well that I'm often laughing out loud at his little quips. I think the quest in this book went on for a bit too long as it got a bit boring in places, but I like meeting new Gods and demigods which there was a lot of in this book. I also like how each book is slowly having more and more little references to Percy and Annabeth (Percabeth to those in the know) liking each other. My favourite character in this book was probably Apollo, it was nice having a god with a sense of humour and a nice personality. Just look at my posts for the first and second book for who I would recommend this series to.

The book starts with Percy and Annabeth going to help Grover bring some new demigods to camp but when they are attacked by a monster Annabeth gets taken. The goddess Artemis then says she must go on a quest to find the monster that can bring down Olympus and leaves her pack of hunters with Percy and Grover to take back to camp. They then are granted acccess to go on a quest to save Annabeth and they find that Luke has taken her to the garden of Hesperides where he is forcing her to hold up the sky in Atlas' place. Artemis is then tricked into taking the sky from Annabeth and will miss the meeting of the Gods on the winter solstice if they don't save her in time. Once there Percy takes the sky from Artemis so she can help fight Atlas and Luke and almost dies under the weight before Artemis tricks Atlas back into holding it. Thalia also pushes Luke off a cliff and though Percy is sure he's dead Annabeth, then later his father tells him he's wrong. Thalia then decides to join Artemis' hunt which makes her immortal and stuck at fifteen forever, putting the weight of the prophecy on Percy.

Monday, 5 August 2013

I am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies (2012)

3 stars

I really enjoy the Lorien Legacies series and I read something about "Adam" joining the main books at a point so I decided to read this book to understand what they were talking about.

This book is a collection of three of Pittacus Lore's Lost Files, it has the backstory of Six, Nine, and what happened to the other three Garde before the start of I am Number Four. My favourite story of the three was The Fallen Legacies, I liked learning about the Mogadorians and their lifestyle and I think Adam might end up with a pretty important role in the battle between the loric and the mogadorians. I thought Six and Nine's stories were kind of similar, the only difference being that Nine had to be rescued and Six made it out on her own. I do admit that reading this made me like Nine a lot more after knowing what he's been through, but my favourite character out of all three stories was probably Adam. I like that the author gave the mogadorian's a human aspect and I think the courage he showed to defy his kind was really inspiring to read. I would recommend this book to you if you really enjoy the Lorien Legacies and want to know more about the Garde.

I'll split the plot summary into each story:

Six's Legacy
Six and her Cepan Katarina are captured by Mogadorians while changing cities. Once they learn that Six is not the next number they can kill they torture Katarina in front of her to make her talk. She lies and tells them she is number eight along with a lot of useless information regarding their past movements so they think she's cooperating. Once she tells them they kill Katarina right in front of her. She is trapped inside their camp for another couple months before her invisibility legacy kicks in and she escapes that way.

Nine's Legacy
Nine has been living in Chicago with his Cepan Sandor for five years so when a mog shows up, instead of telling Sandor, he lures him into a trap and kills him. He then meets Maddy, a human girl who he instantly likes except when they're on their first date mogs show up and try to get him. He then goes to her house the next day and mogs attack him again, this time capturing him. He learns that Maddy was working with them so she could have her parents back, the mogs make Nine watch as they reunite her with her parents then set a Piken on them. They then torture Sandor in front of Nine for days until one day he overcomes the forcefield between them and kills Sandor out of mercy. He is trapped for about a year before Four and Sam free him.

The Fallen Legacies
This story is told from the perspective of a teenage Mogadorian, Adam, whose father is the general of the Mogadorian army. After they kill One, his father puts him in an untested device where he is supposed to see One's memories and he will be able to give them information on the rest of the Garde. Once he is inside One's mind they become sort of friends as they look through her memories together, and he starts to doubt his race's intentions. When he wakes, he learns it has been three years since he was first put in the device and he tells his father that it didn't work and he learnt nothing. Then on the way to kill Two, Adam learns her position first and tries to help her. They still manage to kill her and he goes unnoticed as a traitor. After two more years he gets to go along to the killing of Three, however when he tries to help him his brother discovers his intentions and he pushes him off a cliff, thinking that he killed him when he was still semi alive at the bottom of the ravine.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

2.5 stars

I bought this book a couple months ago so I could read it before I saw the movie, I obviously ended up not reading it before I saw it and I think if I knew how similar they were I wouldn't have bothered doing both.

I liked this book but I thought it was a bit boringly written. I often find with older books that although the plot is interesting me I get bored reading the book because of the annoying way it's written. I know that Jay Gatsby is supposed to be one of the best characters in fiction because of all his hope, but I just found him to be a bit of a pushover and very stubborn at times near the end. My favourite character was Nick Carraway, I like that the book was told from neither of the main characters perspectives and I just liked his personality and his commentary on some aspects of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance novels, historical fiction or classic novels.

Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan's cousin, moves to West Egg to get into the bond business and by coincidence ends up neighbours with Jay Gatsby. Once Gatsby learns that Nick knows Daisy he gets him to invite her to his house for lunch so Gatsby can just drop by as he and Daisy were in love before he went off to war and she married Tom Buchanan. Once they reunite and realize they still love each other Gatsby tries to get Daisy to tell Tom that she never loved him however when she tries to do that he insists they all go to town together. Because of a series of really unlucky events, when they are driving back from town Daisy accidently hits Tom's mistress, Myrtle, with Gatsby's car and keeps driving. Gatsby tells only Nick that Daisy was the one driving, of course he'll take the blame for her. The next day Daisy and Tom leave town and Myrtle's husband goes to Gatsby's house and shoots him before shooting himself. Nick and a few others are the only ones who attend the funeral.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan (2006)

4 stars

I bought this book because I liked the first book and knew that this one is becoming a movie this year. I don't know whether I would've read it without the movie because the first book didn't really leave me wanting more, but I am so glad I did.

I liked this book more than the first one because I think it had a better quest. It was probably partly because I studied The Odyssey in english last year because I liked knowing the myths behind all the events and monsters in this quest. I also think because these books are just a lot of action and fighting different monsters, because this book was shorter than the last I enjoyed it more because I didn't have to read as many fight scenes. My favourite character in this book, hands down, was Tyson, it may be because I am partial to both giants and outcasts but he was just so loveable I couldn't help it. I thought he brought a much needed sensitive view on things considering the rest of the characters are all either conceited or brave, and his little speech at the end about being sent a brother made me tear up a little.

This book starts on Percy's last day of school before going back to Camp Half-Blood for the summer where he has made a new friend, Tyson, who is 2 metres tall and pretty simple. When monsters attack him in gym class, Tyson is helping him when Annabeth shows up and takes them both to camp where monsters can now freely enter because Thalia's tree is dying. They learn Chiron was fired as the Gods suspect it was him who poisoned the tree and the new activities director Tantalus takes an instant dislike to Annabeth and Percy. When they suggest to him that they go on a quest to find the golden fleece, which can heal any living thing, he dedcides Clarisse should go on this quest. Percy and Annabeth want to go because it's on Polyphemus' island where he has Grover captured so when Percy is contemplating whether they should just go anyway Hermes appears to him and gives him some useful items and tells him that he should go. Percy, Annabeth and Tyson end up going and getting the fleece and Grover with the help of Clarisse when they save her from Polyphemus as well. After they capture the fleece, Percy sends Clarisse to the airport so she can take the fleece back as soon as possible and then Luke takes Percy, Grover, Annabeth and Tyson capture as he wants the fleece to heal Kronos. Percy tricks Luke into admitting that he poisoned the tree and got them to steal the fleece as part of his plan to help Kronos rise to power in front of Dionysus and the rest of the campers through an Iris message. Chiron then comes to rescue them from Luke's ship and they return to camp together as Chiron's name is now cleared. After a few nights Percy is woken in the middle of the night to find that them getting the fleece to heal the tree was all in Kronos' plan as Thalia, daughter of Zeus, is alive again.

Shine Light - Marianne de Pierres (2012)

3.5 stars

I was excited to learn how this trilogy would end after being really intrigued by book one and two, except I think after reading it it's my least favourite in the series.

I really liked Burn Bright and Angel Arias because they explored different worlds and creatures, but this one was focused more on Naif and how she was going to destroy Ixion. I still really enjoyed reading a story set in this unique world, but I think the end was very abrupt and confusing and I would've enjoyed an epilogue or another chapter giving an explanation as to what happened to everyone after the battle at Danskoi. I think my favourite character in this book was Lenoir, even though Naif thinks he has flawed logic and wants to hurt people, he never does unless he's trying to help Naif. I would recommend this series to people who like fantasy novels, espeially ones set in new worlds.

The book starts just after the end of Angel Arias with Naif and her friends on Ruzalia's airship telling her what they learned when the were in the Grave. They decide they need to take the books that are hidden in the Vank as they think they'll have the history of how Ixion was created in them. They also need to find where the ripers are keeping the uther queen as without the uthers they won't be able to look after themselves, also they think the uthers can reverse the badges so no-one will die of them. Ruzalia drops them back on Ixion and tells them of a way to send her messages while she's away. After they have retrieved the books, Naif learns that the ship that the ripers came on is sustaining the ever night on Ixion and she thinks it is right off the south coast of the island. The leaguers and the rest of Naif's friends are then taken by the ripers and she finds Rollo and Kero who help her find the uthers and then with one of them finds the uther queen trapped inside the riper's ship. Naif and Rollo send a message to Ruzalia to meet Kero at the ship and to tow it away so the ever night will disappear and the ripers will have to retreat to the caves or die. While they are waiting for Ruzalia to come and take the ship away, Naif and Rollo gather most of the people on Ixion to join them to go to Danskoi and once there they free the leaguers and just before a night creature is about to kill Naif, Ruzalia tows the ship away and the light returns to Ixion, banishing the night creatures and the ripers.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan (2005)

3 stars

I bought this book because I had heard so much about this series and when I told a friend that I thought the movie was kind of average she told me that the book series is so much better and I'm pretty glad I listened to her.

I think I would've enjoyed this book a lot more if I'd read it when I was younger, although I still thought it was good, it was written for a younger age group and it's really noticeable if you're 18 the first time you read it. I think that the premise of the story is really cool, a camp for demigods, of course you'd want to go to that. My favourite character was probably Chiron, I think I could really like Annabeth but the quest took up so much of the book there wasn't much room for character development or exploration asides from Percy. Chiron was just a cool dude who I thought was really needed as a guide for Percy and a bridge between the gods and demigods. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure novels, greek mythology, and is either a teenager or doesn't mind reading a book aimed at 12-14 year olds.

Percy is a kid with ADHD and dyslexia who returns from his boarding school to a holiday with his mother. However when his friend Grover interrupts them talking about how the kindly ones are after him, his mother gets him in the car and drives him to camp half blood. Once there he learns he is a demigod, a son of Poseidon and he must undertake a quest to find Zeus' lightning bolt that was stolen from him. He travels to Los Angeles with Annabeth and Grover to go talk to Hades, who they assume has the bolt, into giving it back to them but once in the underworld Percy learns that he had been set up and he had the bolt in his bag that Ares had given to him. He manages to escape the underworld with the bolt and after defeating Ares in battle returns the bolt to Zeus. He is welcomed back to camp as a hero and then after learning that his friend Luke was the one who initially stole the bolt he decides to go home for the rest of the year and return to camp next summer.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Every Day - David Levithan (2012)

3.5 stars

I bought this book because I thought the concept was really interesting and unique and I enjoyed Will Grayson, Will Grayson and wanted to see how a whole novel written by David Levithan would go.

This book was written wonderfully, even with it's predictable plot I had to keep reading just to see who A would inhabit the next day. This book also made me question my life; What would someone do if they woke up in my body? What would I do if I was in someone's body for one day? What if I fell in love with someone who was a different person every day? For that reason I loved this book, but the predictablility and sadness of the plot made me hate it a little bit. Because I didn't really like any of the central characters that much, I thought I would pick my favourite person A inhabited in the novel and the ones that stick out in my memory are Zara, Vic, Alexander and Kelsea. Zara was young and in love and just really likeable, Vic had faced his life with such conviction I don't know how someone couldn't like him and I know you're supposed to like Alexander the best but I actually just think he was a really likeable guy who I can imagine being one of my friends in real life. Kelsea wasn't my favourite personality A experienced in the novel, but I think her chapter was a lot more important than the rest of A's worries and I loved that he clearly helped someone with just one day. I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a weird premise and likes romance.

A wakes up as a different person every day, he's still himself, he just inhabits someone different. He usually tries to avoid attatchment and just try to not have anything go wrong, that is until he inhabits Justin and falls for Rhiannon. He can't stop think about her so he goes to visit her a couple times, once in the body of Nathan Daldry. On the way back from the party he went to as Nathan Daldry to visit Rhiannon he can't get back to his house before midnight so he pulls over to the side of the road to fall asleep so it won't hurt when he body jumps. Nathan then tells everyone he was possessed by the devil for a day and won't stop emailing A. Soon A explains to Rhiannon his situation and they start to kind of date. After a couple weeks Rhiannon tells him she can't get past his outside always being different and breaks up with him, he then replies to Nathan and meets him to explain to him what happened to him. Nathan then brings his reverend to talk to A and the reverend tells A that he is just like him and that you can spend longer than just one day in someone. A then wakes up in the body of Alexander Lin and calls Rhiannon. He sets them up for their first date and then tells Rhiannon that even though he can stay in a body for a long period of time he can't do that, it would feel too wrong and Alexander is a nice guy that she could love. The next day he makes his person move to a different city so he won't have to run into Rhiannon again.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fuse - Julianna Baggott (2013)

3 stars

After I read Pure I was so excited to read this book and to see what would unfold after everyone had joined together with a common goal, but I was disappointed by this book and it's lack of overall plot acceleration.

This book is told from the same four perspectives as the last book; Pressia, El Capitan, Partidge, and Lyda. I really hope that in the next book I can read from Bradwell's perspective for a change and also to discover more of his feeling and personality. I can understand why nothing much reallly happened in this book because Pure had most of the initial events of a revolution and obviously the last book in the trilogy needs to have the final conflict and resolution so I think that's why it took me so long to read. My favourite character was Helmud, he was so much more than anyone gave hin credit for and I loved how his brilliance shone through subtlely until the very end when El Capitan finally acknowledged him and his validity as a person. I definitely didn't enjoy this book as much as the first but I know that it had a lot of important stuff that I need to know for the next book which I hope is more interesting or at least moves a bit faster than this one.

This book starts with Lyda and Partridge being taken care of by the mothers and Pressia, Bradwell and El Capitan looking after wounded and training new soldiers at OSR headquarters. The dome sends out robotic spiders that latch on to people and blow up and they won't deactivate them until Partridge returns to the dome. Before he returns, he and Lyda have sex and she tells him she's not going back to the dome with him. Once in the dome Partridge learns that his father will give him leadership if he erases his memory of his time outside the dome. Once he does that Iralene helps him remember everything he's forgotten and then he slips his father a poison pill and kills him. Pressia and Bradwell use the black box from Ingership's house to learn where the formula that regenerates cells without the side effects is kept and on the way there they tell each other that they love each other, El Capitan also confesses his love for Pressia but then realizes she'll always love Bradwell. When Pressia goes to retrieve the formula, Bartrand Kelly, one of the seven, sees her there but she runs from him and when she returns to El Capitan and Bradwell she sees Bradwell dying. She shows him the two vials of serum she still has and says she can save him but he tells her he wants to die pure. She decides to instead insert the serum into the birds on his back because if they live he lives. However once she does that the cell acceleration does it's job and even though Bradwell wakes, he has six black wings coming out of his back.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Goddess - Josephine Angelini (2013)

5 stars

After devouring both Starcrossed and Dreamless in a few hours each I wasn't going to be left in the dark about how it all ends, and what was most important to me, finding out why Daphne was such a terrible person. Fortunately for me, this book did not let me down and was just as riveting as the other two books in the trilogy.

It is told mostly from Helen's perspective but is told from other character's perspectives when needed. I personally find Lucas' perspective the most interesting to read as you can understand how strong his morals are and see his inner battles between those morals and his own desires. When I was reading this book, I found it very easy to think I'd only read a few pages but when I checked I'd really read one hundred. I think this is a mark of how good Angelini's writing and plot were that I could get that interested in the story and not notice how much I'd read. My favourite character in this book was probably Hades (never thought I'd say that), he was written so I never doubted him or his motives, unlike most other characters, and learning that his compassion for humans was the greatest out of all the Gods really endeared his character to me.

This book starts about one hour after the last one ended with Helen descending to the underworld to try to get Zach to the Elysian Fields, after Hades promises her he will get him there and tells her she is a worldbuilder she returns to the Delos' house to recover from her injuries. Once there she dreams memories of past Helen's, including Helen of Troy and Guinevere and learns that she always ends up with Lucas they've never been cousins in any past life, only other obstacles in their way. They then learn that Orion is a shield to the fates, when he is around anyone the fates can't see them, or in Cassandra's case, possess them. After a couple of days all the other Scion's meet at their house to discuss what they must do now all the Gods have been released from Olympus when Phaon draws a sword, which isn't allowed, Helen gets angry and accidently summons her lightning. To stop her Lucas holds onto her and dies from the lightning, Helen then creates her own world and takes Lucas there so he can heal and Daedelus ends up challenging Phaon to a fight to the death. The next day when Helen returns with Lucas and everyone is relieved after thinking he was dead, they go out to watch the fight. After Daedelus wins, the Gods all appear and Zues challenges her. When she says that she knows an immortal cannot challenge a mortal he picks Achilles as his champion. Matt shows up with the spirit of Achilles in him wanting to kill Helen, and an army of Myrmidons behind him. The scions all then pick a side, with or against Helen, and Hector says he'll fight for Helen as he is her champion. When he slices Matt's heel nothing happens and Matt says it was the "wrong heel" even though he tries both heels, and many other parts of his body Matt doesn't die and instead kills Hector. Lucas then steps up as he was Hector's second and shoots an arrow into the heels of Matt's hand and he dies. Lucas then travels to the underworld and says he'll take Hades' place as head of the underworld in return for Hector's life. When Hector returns Daphne breaks down saying it wasn't meant to be him, she thought Orion was Hades son and would bargain the life of his girlfriend's father from him so she could have Ajax back and everyone learns of her deceit. Helen then goes to the underworld and gets the Eumenides to help her get Lucas out of his promise, she eventually gets them to agree to him not taking the position now, but he will have to do it eventually. Helen then makes herself immortal so she can battle Zeus, she traps him in Everyland (the world she created) and that scares the Gods into stopping the fight on the rest of the Scions. The epilogue ends with her and Lucas spending each day like it's their last on this earth.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Maze Runner - James Dashner (2009)

3 stars

I'd heard so much about this book and knew it was becoming a movie next year so I thought I'd read it and see if it was worth all the hype, I was a bit disappointed.

I think the best part of the book was the last fifty or so pages when they actually (finally) tried to escape the maze. Up until that point I thought it was a lot of build up and background information that is probably going to be helpful in the later books in the series, but was probably the main reason it took me so long to get through it. The end of the book was also where I really got invested in the storyline and it made me want to buy the next two, although I hope they give me more answers than this book did. My favourite character was Minho, I thought he was smart and nice and I hope he survives the rest of the trials. I would recommend this book to any dystopia fans, especially fans of The Hunger Games because I can see a lot of parallels and similarites between the two series.

Thomas wakes up in the Glade with no memories, only knowing his name. He learns that every month a new boy is put in the Glade and they have no way of getting out as they are surrounded by a giant maze that is filled with grievers, evil robotic creatures that can sting and kill people. Thomas learns the ways of the Gladers and almost immediately realizes he wants to be a "runner" someone whose job is to run the maze every day and look for an exit or a change. The second day he's there, a girl comes out of the box saying that she's the last one, everything will change. Thomas realizes that he knows the girl, Teresa, and thinks they were lovers in the past. Together they work out that the maze is a code and is repeating six words over and over, Thomas also decides to get stung by a griever so he can have memories and once he does he remembers how to get out. The other Gladers have to fend off grievers as he, Teresa and Chuck jump through the griever hole to type the code the maze was spelling out into a computer that shuts down the grievers. Once they've done that about 20 boys are left, and then as the leader of the operation they were part of is talking to them she is assassinated and they are taken to a building just outside of the "scorch" and told that they will be able to cure the disease that is plaguing the world. The epilogue is a letter from the leader of WICKED saying that all things are for a purpose and test group A results were very promising and her fake assassination and the groups capture was showing very good results, the next trials will show who their leader will be.