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19 years old from the UK, I have always loved a good book and a cup of tea, and am often asked to recommend books I have loved, thus created this blog in order to share my thoughts with whoever is interested. Please share recommendations if you wish!

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Mine - John A. Heldt

I will be honest with you; time travel is not something I have ever really read about, I adore films and TV shows about time travel (don't get me started on Doctor Who), but I've never really stumbled upon a book concerning time travel that took my fancy. That was until I read the description of The Mine.

What I really love about the story, and writing style, is how clear the difference between  the year 2000 where Joel (the principal character) travels from, and the the year he travels to, 1941. The whole era is captured really well, in particular the changing face and perception of women. 1941 and the second world war was so vitally important to the development of women in society and this is really clear in the book, but subtly so the story still flows well.

I was gripped whilst reading this book, especially for the last 50 pages or so, because the time travel offers the reader the exclusive ability to glimpse the future before it happens. Despite this ability, you are still drawn in by twists and turns, as well as the story (mostly) not being diluted with 'fairytale' twists of fate that don't happen in real life. It allows, surprisingly, for a time travel book to be, almost, believable.

My only real criticism of the book is when Joel first realises he has travelled to 1941; he doesn't really seem at all concerned, just accepts it and moves on. I can't help but think my response would have been 'holy moly how an earth am I going to get home!? *insert dramatic scream*' (maybe not holy moly but you get the idea). That being said, he is aware of the need to get back and does make an attempt; I myself perhaps would have made more attempts but then again he is a clever chap and most likely realises his attempts need to be better timed.

Joel is an interesting character, not the typical tragic hero he first appears, because, to put it bluntly, he's selfish and a bit of an idiot. I love that. Too many books focus on creating a perfect male character and although Joel does lean that way, he still knowingly makes mistakes and suffers the consequences. I am also a sucker for a cowboy, for fear of spoilers I'm not going to explain that further, but I pretty massively digress.

This is a lovely book and one I would really recommend to any age, unfortunately it is only available as an ebook, but it will make you smile and is one of those books that will make you reflect a little on both our collective past, and your individual future.

Note: This book was sent to me to review. This is no way alters or affects my opinion of the book and I only review books sent to me that I genuinely would have considered
purchasing for myself.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fools' Gold - Philippa Gregory

I have loved Philippa Gregory book for years now and absolutely adore the cousins' war series in particular, as I have said before I love historical fiction and I have a (geeky) love for the war of the roses. I assumed I would love her other books just as much.

I was not disappointed, but this book was defiantly not what I was expecting.

Firstly, it turns out this book is right in the middle of a series, the order of darkness series, something I didn't have a clue about when I started to read but quickly worked out after the first couple of chapters. Why did I not realise when I bought the book you ask? Because I borrowed it from my Nana and she didn't have a clue, she had just thought it was 'a bit of a funny book'. That all being said, it didn't effect the reading of the book much, granted some details would have been easier to grasp and the back story would have been improved, but I enjoyed it none the less.

Secondly, I foolishly assumed this would also be historical fiction. I was wrong. Although it is set in 1454, its not based around historical events, but still I really enjoyed it. The story was fun and quick, not difficult to follow, and the characters were likeable, if a little bland.

I say bland but really they weren't, I am just hard to please when it come to characters and I had high hopes for this book after I had enjoyed so many of her others. What I really mean is that the characters were a little 'samey' - you could plonk them into many other books and stories and they would have got along fine. I like characters that demand to be read; that fight to belong in the book they are in.

On the whole I enjoyed this book, nothing that spectacular but amusing and light hearted. I would say that if you are fond of Phillippa Gregory and her writing style ( I love her style of writing!) then it might be worth picking up the first book in the series and see how you get on, and would be really great I think for younger teen readers (beware reference to sex and drunkenness).

Monday, 21 July 2014

The Black Magician Trilogy- Trudi Canavan

I have loved this series for a number of years now, and love re-reading the final instalment- The High Lord- which happens to be my favourite. This is what I would describe as 'a good fantasy/magicy' book, not the mildness of Harry Potter (my opinion please don't eat me) but also not your full on dragons elves and cloaks/wands combo often found in fantasy books. It has a lovely balance between an accessible story with fantasy intertwined.

That being said, this series is a little too long. What I mean by that is not that three books in a series is too much, on the contrary, but that the whole series could have been written in two if not one book instead of the three. Some sections are a little boring and do drag the pace of the story a little and don't really bring that much to the development of the story, however this is not something you would notice until you had finished the series. I have been known to skip whole chapters that, really, do nothing for the story, and I'm assured by other reviews that I'm not alone in thinking this. The same goes for some characters, in my opinion, some are just unnecessary for the story. 

I must admit though, this is one of my favourite series, especially as I am a sucker for a strong character. I adore the character Akkarin, the high lord, (hence my love for the final book in the trilogy) and I think his development as a character is really interesting- the more you learn about him the more you like him. However, their is a definite shift in the character in the final book that, dare I say it, is odd and vastly changes the perceptions of the character which some readers may find annoying and unnatural. I personally don't mind but just a heads up. 

On the whole I do love this series, and I do reach for it do reread when it takes my fancy. I would say don't rush to get the whole series in one go, get your hands on the first book 'the Magicians Guild' and see how you go- if you don't enjoy it you most likely won't enjoy the rest of the series but keep in mind that the series does get better the further you get into it. 

Side Note: I adore the covers on my copies, I just think they are really well designed

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Firstly; please excuse the film version book cover.

I have been told to read this book for a number of years by a close friend, but managed to put it off and put it off until I rediscovered it an abandoned stack of books in my house. I guess I had been putting it off because I thought, after foolishly watching the film first, that it really wouldn't be my thing however with my efforts to expand my reading horizons I ventured in. I was not left disappointed.

Granted, this book is graphic; both in the physical sense and emotionally. Despite this, the graphicness is important and valuable to the story, offering a tragic contrast to the innocent mind and voice of Susie, the principal character and the voice of the book. Susie’s narration of events is stunning and perfectly portrayed however I feel that, personally, I would have struggled a little with the imagery and events if I had not seen the film prior to reading the book (controversial I know but it’s possible I'm alone on this one). 

What I love about this book is that it is an interesting and unique interpretation of teenage life and growing up and what is important about growing, as well as the way a family can adapt and change as time progresses. The unusual and detailed characters bring the story to life and offer such depth and to the story, as well as being interesting and likeable. My only real issue with the characterisation is how the characters on earth are much more detailed and interesting than the characters in 'heaven'- however it would be easy to argue that this is a stylistic technique.   

In addition, some scenes are a little far fetched, brilliantly written, but a little far fetched; which brings in an element of sci-fi. I would be really interested to hear others opinions on this (if you read the book it will become obvious which scene I'm talking about but for the sake of spoilers I don't want to go into too much detail) as I have heard mixed reviews and various differing opinions- some love it some just don't get it. 

Although this book is a little tricky its well worth the read, beautifully written and crafted, however maybe stay clear if you are maybe younger (say below 16? although I'm not one for being good at age recommendations). 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Host - Stephenie Meyer

I have absolutely no shame in saying that I loved the twilight books, which I read a few years ago now, and after reading them I was desperate to read other books by Meyer and I was not disappointed by The Host. It was brilliant.

Now disclaimer, this is a sci-fi novel and involves aliens, space and all that jazz but it is a fantastic gateway book into the whole sci-fi world and would be brilliant for anyone that wants to try the genre without jumping straight into a star ship out of this world alien planetarium war.

Looking at the book it is a monster, really thick and a bit heavy, but trust me you do not feel it whilst reading the story. Its effectively a love story but with unconventional twists and turns (thank you sci-fi) and not one that will leave you thinking 'hey haven't I read that before?' like so many romance stories do now a days. Unusual, unconventional and leaving you firmly divided in yourself as to what you want to happen as the story progresses.

Its easy to assume that this book would be terrible because of the twilight stigma that surrounds it, (side note: the twilight books are REALLY GOOD, granted the films are a bit rubbish but give the books a try!) but I love Stephenie Meyer's writing style and she crafts a beautiful book out of a story that is at great risk of being wildly confusing. If twilight was written for a younger teenage girl audience, this is seemingly more grown up and eloquent young adult fiction and would be suited to teenagers and adults a like. I certainly read it for the first time relatively young and have re-read it as an 18 year old (as well as lending it to older family and friends) and enjoyed it just as much.

Like so many book adaptations, the film does not do the book justice (granted I do also love the film) and its so worth picking up the book if you like young adult fiction, romance or even just want to try sci-fi; its a great story and really gripping, full of twists and very original ideas, settings and characters and is totally relevant for todays world.

Stoner - John Williams

I bought this book in the hopes of getting myself out of the book rut of fantasy and 'modern real life' that I had become accustomed too, and to be completely honest with you I achieved this. What drew me to this book in particular was the quote on the cover of the book that read

"The greatest novel you've never read"- Sunday Times
Now I don't know how true that was for me, granted it was good, but I was left a little disappointed. The book is written in order to record 'unrecorded history' or rather the life of an average man and to 'reclaim the significance of an individual life'- something that I think is achieved brilliantly.
However at the end of the day following the life of an average man is, not boring, but can leave you feeling a little disappointed at the end of the book; you constantly expect more which is not delivered. This, in my opinion, is the point of the novel. Yes, Stoner does not achieve absolute greatness or changes the world dramatically, but it teaches us that sometimes the small human victories are just as important. I think if you are looking for something that is thought provoking you will enjoy this book, but maybe don't expect the 'greatest novel' claims on the cover.
At the time of buying the book, I didn't realise that it wasn't a modern novel (you would think that the bold print 'vintage' on the cover would have clued me in but you would be mistaken), in fact it was first published in the UK in 1973 and the author himself was born in 1922, something that you would not be able to tell from reading the story but explains a lot after reading. Again, if you are looking for something that isn't necessarily 'modern' but is an accurate reflection on the past this could be an interesting read for you, and not one you would find in the history books.
The writing style is lovely, and beautifully fitting for the development of the character and the story, as well as being classically crisp and clear.
I enjoyed this book, not as much as I had hoped I would, but it is a lovely story, simple straight forward and a telling account of an individual life.

Change Of Heart- Jodi Picoult

I was once told that, when applying for uni/jobs ect, that mentioning that I loved Jodi Picoult novels is a huge no no and is considered a foolish error to talk about.

To this day I have not one single clue why because, personally, I feel she is a brilliant author.

I have read Change of Heart on multiple occasions and it has to be one of my favourite novels that she has written, not only for the fantastic and interesting story, but due to the complex issues faced in the book. I love a moral dilemma just as much as a mystery. The stigma surrounding the death penalty is one that is discussed all over the world and this story brings the key issues to the fore front, as well as painting an interesting light on how it must feel to be on death row, without actually voicing the thoughts of someone on death row; and there lies my main issue with the book.

Those familiar with Picoult's writing style will be aware of how she splits the story into different chapters 'written' by different characters, and despite this book revolving around 'Shay', a criminal on death row, his voice is never heard. I understand that this is possibly explained by the story (Shay has difficulties with communication as well as not classically listened too by officials) I thought it was a shame that he didn't have a chapter so we could hear his real story. However, I'm convinced this was an author choice and does add to the interest of the story.

What strikes me as the most interesting part of the story are the themes of religion, and what place religion holds in the modern world. The ideas put forward, as well as new concepts and thoughts I had not considered before, are gripping and its in these sections that the author's real talent shines; her utter dedication to detail. Jodi Picoult really does her research when writing a new book and in Change Of Heart the unusual and widely unheard Gospel's, ideas and concept are truly interesting. In addition to this, the voice of 'Michael' ( a catholic priest) is really enlightening, especially through his internal conflict surrounding the definition of religion and how religion is interpreted by the world. In this sense, as well as the death penalty, the book is incredibly thought provoking and a fantastic read.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Fault In Our Stars- John Green

Warning: my opinion is somewhat controversial in regards to this book.

I wanted to write about this book before seeing the film so that my thoughts and views are not tarnished or altered by the way the book has been interpreted by film makers, and as I am seeing the film tonight (eekk) I thought I had better get a move on.

I have to admit I had HIGH expectations for The fault in our stars because at the time of purchase I was very much into 'youtube culture' and had heard hundreds of shining reviews and decelerations of how outstanding amazing and perfect it is. I was not left disappointed as much as somewhat unenthused at the end.

Don't get me wrong, it is a fantastic book, a lovely story and obviously the writing is beautiful; I have never read an author who is so quotable, however I feel like the 'hype' surrounding the book spoils it and is distracting. What started as a moving, beautiful and intelligently written book has turned into, well, something of a cult.

That being said, I recommend this book time and time again, not only is it an easy read (in the sense that you don't feel dragged along or tangle) but it strives to teach you a little about life itself and is an honest representation of many aspects of the lives of young people. Although I do think that the story itself does lean towards the teenage girl genre, the writing style and eloquence ellivate the book to another level, allowing it to be accessible to all ages (please bare in mind scenes of an 'over PG' nature).

I must comment on the title which I do think is utterly perfect, coming from Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves'"

Personally, the title sums up the book perfectly. This a lovely book and more than well worth reading.