Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Film review: Frankenweenie


About the film
Frankenweenie is a Disney comedy-horror film that was directed by Tim Burton. The film is a remake of Tim Burton’s short film of the same name, and also based on the film Frankenstein and Mary Shelley’s book of the same name. Frankenweenie was released at the cinema on 17th October and it has a run time of 87 minutes. The film is rated PG due to scary images, thematic elements and action scenes. 
Plot
Victor Frankenstein is a young boy who loves science and making homemade videos. When his beloved dog Sparky dies in a car accident, the school’s science fair gives Victor the perfect chance to bring him back. By performing an experiment, Victor is able to bring Sparky back to life. However, other students manage to hear about this and want to bring their own pets back to life which ends up with monstrous results. 
What I thought
I’m not the biggest fan of animated films, especially not at the cinema. However, my flatmate always goes with me to see whatever I want so I said I would go with her to see this one. The cinema was filled with children which is not something I enjoy but I was determined to at least give this film a decent shot.
The whole film is in black and white, which I wasn’t expecting but I really liked this. It gave the film a big Halloween feel about it, which is perfect for this time of year. I did think smaller children may not like this though as it is something they’re not used to. The animations were really well done, keeping with Tim Burton’s theme of characters. Some of the characters have really long faces, weird bodies and all kinds of strange things about them but I loved that. Each character is so different and they all stand out in comparison to each other.
The beginning of the film was really entertaining, with us getting to know all of the characters involved, especially Victor. As a character, I felt so sorry for Victor as he didn’t have any friends. He pretty much stays inside on his own or plays with his dog. The relationship between the two was very special and it was a lovely thing for children to see. It also showed that dogs are for life and not something to be seen as a toy etc. It was a really sad moment when Sparky died which was made even more upsetting due to seeing the relationship between the two characters.
After this happens though, the film begins to get pretty strange. I didn’t like the middle of the film too much as it felt like nothing was really happening. This part of the film explores other people finding out about Sparky being brought back to life and shows more about the science fair and who wants to win. The middle of the film was just really bland and I thought that it needed much more excitement to keep the audience entertained. Well, an adult audience anyway. My flatmate was set next to me nearly falling asleep.
Luckily, the film does get better again towards the end as there are a lot of exciting things happening. Overall, the pacing of the plot was quite strange and not done very well. Mixed in with the action is some humour which lightens the mood of the film and makes it a little bit more entertaining and not quite as scary for children. I almost forgot to mention, this film is available in both 3D and 2D although I was not going to pay for the 3D version so I cannot comment on how well this was done.
While there were good parts to this film, it wasn’t great. Tim Burton seems to have gone really downhill recently, especially with Dark Shadows. There were some nice references to other horror films and books, especially Frankenstein (see character’s names) but children will be too young to really appreciate with. Frankenweenie is a fun Halloween film for children but it wasn’t really one for me!

Waiting on Wednesday


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook


Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

     But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

     With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose....


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: 4th December

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Film Review: IT


About the film
It is a horror film that was released in 1990 and was based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. It is rated 15 due to moderate horror and violence and the film is 180 minutes long as it was originally aired in two, hour and half parts. 
Plot
In Derry, Maine, children are disappearing left, right and centre and no one has any clue why or where and the police have no leads. At the beginning of the film, we see a little girl on a bike riding around and when her mother calls her to come in, she doesn't listen and carries on instead. The little girl hears other children laughing in the distance and then hears a clown. The clown seems friendly enough but the next thing we see is her bike and the floor and the little girl is dead.
'The Losers' are a group of kids in Derry who have all had some kind of interaction with Pennywise the Dancing Clown and the first half of the film is all about what they have had to go through and how they all meet as children. At the end of the first half, they all make a promise to come back to Derry if something like this ever happens again. The second half of the film follows The Losers in their adult life and how they all end up back in Derry to take on It once again. 
What I thought
To begin with, I just want to mention that this film is in two parts and the disc is double sided although nowhere on the case, or the disc mentions this. I was highly disappointed with this because after I watched the first half, I was left wondering where the rest of the film was and it took me a little while to figure out what was happening and that was only after I had a quick look on Amazon.

I first watched this film when I was 10 and it had just been released. We had a babysitter at the time who probably shouldn't have let us watch the first half because it absolutely terrified me and my sister but we were still determined to watch the rest of the film the next night. I remember having nightmares for days after watching IT and for a long time it was the scariest film I had ever seen.
Tim Curry is absolutely fantastic as Pennywise/ It and I didn't even find out that it was him until recently. I loved him in Rocky Horror so I was quite surprised to learn that he could be someone so scary. Pennywise is by far the scariest clown I have ever seen and Tim Curry really brings the character to life. Now that I know there is going to be a remake, I am slightly curious as to who will play Pennywise and if they will be any good.
The rest of the acting isn't amazing but I can’t think of many films from the early 90's where the performances really stood out. The child actors are so much better and more convincing than the adults which made me not like the second half of the film quite as much. Performances all round are quite pathetic and cheesy but this is something which helps me to love IT so much. I don’t think I would have loved it quite as much had this been a masterpiece from the aspect of the casting.
Like a lot of films, the ending is very predictable, apart from when we get to see what IT really is. Considering the rest of the film and story is so good, this part really let it down and turned it into something silly and extremely unbelievable. 
The Remake
A remake of IT was due to be released in 2011 although still no news on a release date a year on. After liking the remake of Halloween in 2007, I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can do with this film, especially with the amount of effects and CGI that can be used now. It has been announced thought that the film will have an R rating in the US so obviously there will be a high amount of gore in comparison to the original. It has also been announced that it will stay a two part film, just like the original. Here's to hoping that the remake will scare me as much as the original did the first time around. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley


About the book
Lord of Fire is the second book in the Knight Miscellany series by Gaelen Foley. The book was published on 7th April 2011 by Piatkus and it is 384 pages long.

Plot
Alice Montague has a problem with her sister in law, Caro. She constantly leaves Alice with her nephew, Harry, while she goes off gallivanting around and generally doing as she pleases, giving Alice no life at all. When Harry gets sick, Alice calls for Caro to come home and help look after him, insisting that all he really wants is his mother. Caro has other ideas though as she wants to go spend the weekend with Lucien Knight in his home at Revell Court. When Caro refuses to go home, Alice takes it upon herself to go and get her.

Lucien is famous for the parties that he holds at Revell Court but they are strictly by invitation only, mainly because they are massive orgies. What everyone that attends the parties doesn't know is that Lucien is Secret Service and he has an ulterior motive. His plan is going exactly how he wants it to until Alice sneaks in his house. Although he is not sure about Alice to begin with, she manages to convince him that she is Caro's sister in law. Instantly feeling something for Alice, Lucien offers her a deal: he will let Caro leave to look after her son so long as Alice stays in her place. Being very sensible and quiet, Alice is unsure about his deal but reluctantly accepts. She doesn't trust Lucien at all and knows he is hiding something. She wants something from him: the truth. Will Lucien be prepared to tell her everything and compromise his mission or will his work be more important than the love of his life?

What I thought
I didn't read these books in the order that they were released or in the way that they run through the series and it doesn't really matter if you don't. Each book concentrates on one particular family member with some of the others popping up now and again. Lord of Fire is one of my two favourites from this series by Foley and she is one of my three favourite authors. There has been nothing by her so far that I haven't enjoyed.

The thing that sets this book apart from the rest in the series is the fact that it is much more sensual and sexy but not in a gross porn kind of way. Yes, there are sex scenes but most of the book in this genre have that in common. The way that these parts were written were incredibly done. It could have been written in a really seedy way but the way that Lucien and Alice explore their feelings for each other was beautifully done. The chemistry between the pair was hot but sweet at the same time.

Lucien seems like a really hard character to get along with to begin due to his nature of work and the reasons why he keeps Alice there in the first place. He in entirely selfish and doesn't want to do anything that won’t benefit himself in some way but he softens up throughout the story and became a lot more likable. For me, he was the ultimate hero even with these aspects. Lucien is dark, handsome, dangerous and mysterious but you are also able to see the softer side to him when he meets Alice. He is a real man, full of testosterone and I couldn't have asked for anything more in a main male character. Unlike most heroes in these books, Lucien never really tries to seduce Alice and he refuses to force her into anything she doesn't want. He knows there is something special between them and wants it to happen on its own or for her to go to him.

Alice is very sweet and naive. As soon as she gets to Revell Court she realises that she might be out of her depth when all she sees is an orgy going on. To be honest, if that was me at the time, I would probably run a mile no matter what my reasons were for being there in the first place. Alice is determined to get Caro back to her son though and after a little persuasion, she is prepared to do whatever it takes, even if that means spending time with Lucien who seems to scare the life out of her. I really enjoyed discovering Alice's growth throughout the story when it came to the romance part but I also saw how strong she grew as well. When things weren't going her way with Lucien, she was strong and demanding and wouldn't back down when it came to something she believed was right.

The story is very fast paced and there is always something exciting happening. Just when you think things can’t get any more interesting, there is a twist thrown in near the end and Lucien and Alice have some hard decisions to make. One of the things that I loved about this book was how descriptive it is. Foley has a way of taking every little detail about Lucien's house and making it sound dark and secretive underneath but then quite sensual in other areas. Even though the part about the parties wasn't quite to my taste, the descriptions of the people and the setting were incredible.

This story has everything that I would want to read in a historical romance: passion, love, excitement and drama. The main characters are very interesting to learn about and I loved following them on their journey. Amazing book. If you like this genre, this one is a must, especially if you haven't read any of Foley's other books.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Breathe by Sarah Crossan


About the book
Breathe is the first book in a new series by Sarah Crossan. The book was published by Bloomsbury on 11th October and the book is 384 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from?

What I thought
I’ve had this book sitting around for months now, ever since I came back from having a blogging break. For some reason, I just didn’t fancy it. Then when it was time to start something new I decided to give this one another look over and I actually thought very differently about it. I don’t have as much time now for reading, due to having so much uni work to do, so this one took me a little while to get through, only reading a bit before bed each night.

Breathe is told from multiple narratives. Quinn is a Premium who comes from a rich family has looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Bea is Quinn’s best friend and also an Auxiliary, coming from a family struggling to survive. And then there is Alina, a member of the resistance, someone trying to save the world and expose Breathe for what it really is. I like multiple narratives in books although there aren’t too many where there are more than two narrators. However, I think this was necessary with Breathe. All three characters are so different and have such a large part in the story.

I’m not sure if I could pick a favourite out of all three though. Each character had something special and unique to offer the story and each had something really likeable about them. Quinn is not like other Premiums, which is easy to see through his friendship with Bea. While he has some quite selfish characteristics, he is also sweet and brave and quite fearless. In her narrative, Bea is completely honest and I respected her for that. She was an easy character to get to know as she laid her heart and mind bare in this book. Then there is Alina. While I shouldn’t really like her, using people to get what she wants, there was a bigger reason behind her actions which is why I did like her. The things she did were for the greater good and not entirely selfish at all.

What I really loved about this book though was the plot. Set in a world where trees don’t exist anymore, where people live in a pod surviving on oxygen tanks and there being a very clear class ranking, this is one of the most probable dystopian books I have read. If the all of the trees really did get wiped out, we would definitely have trouble surviving. Breathe shows the possibilities of someone else having control over people’s lives, pretty much deciding who lives and who doesn’t. Although the message isn’t too pushy and in your face, there is a nice moral here about looking after nature and the planet as it will make it last longer.

Set both in the world of Breathe and the outside world, Sarah Crossan shows how differently life could be for people. I loved getting to learn about the outside world and what was happening to the people without oxygen supplies. The outside world also provided a really exciting plot, with numerous twists and turns. This was by far the most exciting part of the book as I got to learn so much more about the whole world that had been created. Being quite a chunky book, there is a lot that happens but the pacing is done well so there are some slower parts mixed in with some fantastic drama.

I thoroughly enjoyed Breathe and I cannot wait for the next instalment in the series. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught


About the book
Whitney, My Love is second book in the Westmoorland series by Judith McNaught. It was published by Corgi in 1987 and it is 544 pages long.

Plot
As a child, Whitney Stone was a bit of a rebel. She wasn't like any of the other young ladies around her and she certainly didn't act the same way. She was her own fathers nightmare because he didn't know how to handle her. Performing show jumps on horses, knowing how to use a slingshot and obsessing about local boy Paul are Whitney's interests instead of things like painting, drawing and being lady like. Whitney is far from lady like. When her obsession with Paul becomes too much for her father, he calls upon her Aunt and Uncle to take her away to Paris with them to teach her how she should really act. Before she leaves, she promises that she will come back and marry Paul one day.

Whitney is a huge success in Parisian society with a good amount of suitors although she hasn't accepted any of them. Whitney normally loves the attention that she receives but at one masquerade ball there is someone that she just cannot place even though she knows she has seen him before. This man is very full of himself and seems to try to impress Whitney but she isn't having any of it, leaving the man a bit put out.

After 3 years in France, Whitney returns home, excited about seeing Paul again. As soon as he sets eyes on Whitney all grown up, Paul is fascinated by her, realising what they could have together. Things are never easy when it comes to love and new neighbour Clayton Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore is there to stir things up. He disguises himself as Clayton Westland and seems to only have eyes for Whitney. Will Whitney succumb to his charms or stay faithful to her promise to eventually marry Paul?

What I thought
This seems to be the most famous book from Judith McNaught and one of my personal favourites. Most of her work is current but this, along with 'Until You', is a historical romance and my favourite genre to read.

Whitney is a fantastic character and a breath of fresh air when it comes to reading this genre. She knows exactly what she wants and goes about it in her own way, which isn't exactly looked upon in a good light. Whitney is boisterous, loud and demands attention the whole way through the story and there is never anything boring about her. I loved the way that she was outspoken and different from other female leads in this genre and that was a big reason why I loved this story so much. When Whitney went to France, she learned how she should be acting but when she returns home, you can see some of her old habits resurfacing, making her a much more interesting character again.

Clayton is the ultimate historical romance main character. Everything about him is wonderfully written, from his personality to his looks to the little facial expressions that he makes when he isn't very pleased. He is extremely powerful and will go to any length to get what he wants, especially Whitney, even though he would rather have her come to him all on her own. Clayton does have a really bad temper and a very hard time when it comes to believing Whitney some of the time and there is one part in the story that a lot of readers think was overdone and too much and although it is a little bit hard to read sometimes, it isn't so bad. Clayton feels terrible after this situation and even though the subject is a bit out of place in the genre, McNaught does a good job of not letting the hero off lightly.

There always seems to be something either exciting or interesting going on in the story and there weren't any parts that I didn't enjoy. Normally there will be a couple of chapters in a book that after I have read it once, I will skip the next time but that doesn't happen for me with Whitney, my love. Each time that I read this story I am 100% entwined in the story and I can never put it down once I start reading it again.

Every time that I read this book I fall in love with it all over again. I only read this book for the first time in 2007 but I have read it a couple of times a year at least since then. This is the ultimate historical romance story so if you like this genre, it is a must read.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday



"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Never Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne


Megan never meant to hurt her best friend, Anna. She made a mistake, and she’s spent all year trying to regain Anna’s trust. So when Anna invites her to spend the summer on her uncle’s farm, Megan is excited…and relieved. The past is finally behind them.

On the farm, Anna quickly falls for Jordan, a rugged summer-hand. Megan and Jordan have their own spark, but Megan’s betrayed Anna once before and she’s not about to do it again.

Still, the more time that Megan and Jordan spend together, the harder it is to deny their chemistry. But Anna doesn’t like to be ignored—and she doesn’t forgive and forget. What started out as the perfect summer is about to take a very dark turn....


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: 4th December

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower


About the film
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2012 film adaptation of the book of the same name by Stephen Chbosky. It is rated 12A due to thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content and references. The film has a run time of 103 minutes.

Plot
Fifteen year old Charlie is just about to start high school. After having a rough time, which isn’t explained at the beginning of the film, he has no friends and is worried about what school will be like for him. On his first day, the only person he speaks to is his English teacher. However, two seniors eventually take him under his wing and show him what life can really be like if you have a good set of friends around you.

What I thought
I haven’t read the book of The Perks of Being a Wallflower but as soon as I saw the film trailer, I wanted to see it and then read the book. Not knowing anything about the plot, I was excited to see what this was really about as the film trailer doesn’t really give away too many clues.

Logan Lerman takes the lead as Charlie, a socially awkward teenager with no friends. He was a very endearing character who was likeable from the beginning. It was clear to see how hard going to high school was for him and that he didn’t feel comfortable being there, which made me feel a little bit sorry for him. However, as the plot begins to reveal itself, Charlie’s problems are slowly brought to light and you are able to get the bigger picture about why he is how he is. When Sam and Patrick befriend Charlie, he begins to come out of his shell and realise that he can have fun with his friends. Lerman is wonderful as Charlie and absolutely perfect for the role. He is funny and sweet in his naive ways and was a very interesting character.

Supporting here are Emma Watson as Sam and Ezra Miller as Patrick. Watson is obviously well known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter films while Miller is more of an up and comer. The two play step brother and sister who are very close in their relationship. They act more like best friends than siblings. The two characters are very different, each with their own secrets, but both are outgoing and loud – the complete opposite of Charlie. I really enjoyed watching Charlie begin to get to know Sam and Patrick as to begin with, he didn’t know how to act around them or what to say. As good as Watson was, with her American accent and likeable character, Miller was who I preferred. His character is much more fun and the actor really goes all out in this film.

While this is a coming of age story, there is so much more to it than that. The plot was wonderfully surprising and not quite what I was expecting. If you haven’t read the book, there are a fair few twists which may shock you, as they did me. There are major themes such as sex, eating disorders and homophobia which run throughout the story which is where things get a bit darker and more intense. The plot is also very fun at times, with Charlie beginning to get to know who he really is and due to him experiencing new and exciting things with his friends. The story is a really heartfelt one with a fantastic range of characters, not just Charlie, Sam and Patrick. Other characters help to make this story so special such as Mr Anderson the English teacher and Charlie’s other friends.

Soundtracks aren’t something that I usually pay attention to but with this film, I couldn’t help it. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has a great soundtrack mixed with a whole range of different artists. I also think that there is a song in here for everyone. With songs from Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners to Asleep by The Smiths, a whole range of emotions are thought of in the choice of songs. Each song seemed to fit its scene perfectly and helped whatever was going on in the plot at the very moment.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a wonderful film for both teens and adults. The film showcases some wonderful new names in cinema and also shows a different light to Emma Watson who could have stayed as Hermione her whole life. I loved this film and can’t wait for it to come out on DVD now. 

 

Monday, 22 October 2012

An Offer From A Gentleman by Julia Quinn


About the book
An Offer From A Gentleman is the third book in the Bridgerton series and follows the story of second eldest son, Benedict. The book was published by Piatkus on 25th August 2006 and it is 384 pages long.

Plot
Sophie Beckett has never really been accepted in society but she has also never really had the chance. She is the illegitimate daughter of an Earl who takes her in and passes her off as his ward but never spends any time with her. When the Earl remarries, his new wife, Araminta, does not like Sophie at all and forbids her to be recognised as being anything like her own daughters. When the Earl dies, Sophie's step mother makes her live like a servant and her days are a living hell but luckily she gets along well with the real servants. All Sophie has ever wanted was to go to a real ball and on the night of the Bridgerton's masquerade, the other servants rally round to help her make her dreams come true.


Sophie has read all about the Bridgerton's from Lady Whistledown's paper but has never been able to meet any of them. When she arrives at the ball, there is a lot of fuss about one of the family in particular, Benedict.


Benedict absolutely hates that fact that no one really knows him and is frequently referred to as number 2. As soon as he sees Sophie in the room, he knows he has to talk to her but when he asks her to dance, she tells him that she doesn't know how. He takes her away to a private terrace in the house and Sophie suddenly realises who she is with but never gives him any idea about her true identity (as she has a mask on). It is obvious that the two have strong feelings for each other from the start and Benedict wants to see her again but at midnight, she flees but manages to leave behind one of her gloves. Benedict searches all over town for the woman he met at the ball but with no luck. As the years pass by, he starts to give up hope and begins to believe that he will never see her again. Will Benedict have to marry someone else and settle for second best?


What I thought

As you can tell from the plot of the story, An Offer From A Gentleman is pretty much a Cinderella story rewritten in Regency times. Even though you would think that this is just going to be a reworking of a classic tale, there is much more to it than this. Quinn manages to bring a classic story together with some quite hard hitting problems. Some of them were quite hard to read the first time around but after I reread this book, I found these subjects easier to deal with. It isn't very often that we get to know much about what happens with the servants or what the males in society think they can get away with but Quinn addresses these subjects really well in this one.


Sophie is our Cinderella in this story but not the kind of character that I expected her to be. She knows that she is illegitimate and doesn't try to hide the fact or believe that she can be something that she isn't. Actually, when she meets Benedict for the second time, she tries to make sure that he knows that she is only a servant. Although Sophie has had a pretty terrible life, she always tries to make the best of what she has and the chances she gets. I did want to see her go for what she really wanted a little bit more but then her personality would have been extremely strange and confusing but she did sometimes have a hard time distinguishing what she deserved in life and what she was going to get.


Benedict was fabulous throughout most of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of love at first sight and that Benedict would wait his whole life to be with the woman he loved if that was how long it took to find her. The true message in this story was that you should love someone for who they are underneath and not just what they look like and this is exactly what I felt from Benedict and Sophie's first meeting. He immediately fell for her charm, shyness and captivating conversation. He was just an overall nice guy and unlike quite a few of the other books in this series, he didn't have some deep dark secret that would come back to haunt him in his relationship. This time, the roles were reversed.


Lady Bridgerton provides as much comedy as ever. Most parents know their children quite well but to have 8 and know them all so well must be a hard job. I loved how she knows exactly who is right for each of her children and when they are in love, even when they don't know it themselves. The same could be said for Colin as well as he always seems to be around when one of his siblings is having a hard time deciding what they should do and how they feel.


There is a lot going on in this book and for most of the time but it never seems to be confusing even though it should do. An Offer From A Gentleman is the perfect true love story but with action and comedy added in at the same time. Highly recommended.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Defiance by C. J. Redwine


About the book
Defiance is the first book of a new series by C. J. Redwine. It was published by Atom on 6th September and the book is 416 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Rachel’s world is confined to the protective walls around her city. Beyond them are violent wanderers, extreme terrain, and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path.

When Rachel’s father goes missing, she is desperate to search for him. But her attempts to flee the city bring her to the attention of its overbearing ruler. His efforts to control her make the world within the walls seem as dangerous as that outside.

Her only chance at escape is Logan. Once her father’s apprentice, and now her only protector, he feels that helping her might mean losing her completely. But if he can put his feelings aside, they might be able to save more than Rachel’s father. They might be able to break down the walls, and set their people free.

What I thought
I really liked the sound of the synopsis for this book as soon as I read it. It sounded like it would have everything that I like a book to have; action, romance and a strong female lead character. It took me a while to get around to reading Defiance but once I had, I was glad I did!

The story has a dual narrative between Rachel and Logan.

To start with, the strong female main character was there. Rachel was fantastic from the start and I couldn’t help but love her. She has been brought up in a town that thinks of females as being lower than men, having a ceremony where someone claims them as their wife and where they don’t have a say in anything. However, Rachel has been brought up differently than other women in the town as her father taught her how to fight and look after herself. Because of this, Rachel doesn’t care for frilly dresses or the prospect of getting married and I loved that about her. She was never afraid to voice her opinion or to fight for what she believed in.

Rachel’s father has gone missing and has left Rachel has his apprentice Logan alone. Logan has been names Protector of Rachel and therefore must take care of her now. Logan was quite different from other male characters I have read about in YA books. He has a heart of gold and would do anything to make Rachel happy and to also honour her father. Also, he is an inventor so this made him really interesting to me. Logan had so many good things going for him. He’s also a very emotional character but doesn’t always know how to handle these feelings. Due to Logan narrating part of the story, I really got to understand his actions and feelings and I could sympathise with him and his situation.

There are also plenty of secondary characters to keep readers guessing about who plays what part in the story. While I though there were too many characters used at times, different people are introduced at different times and not used all at the same time which was a good way of doing things. One secondary character is The Commander, the villain of the story. He was truly terrifying and I wouldn’t have wanted to even get within a foot of him. It makes me shudder to even think about him and the things he did in this book. This villain is made out of all things evil that you could possibly think of.

The plot has a great mixture of mystery, fantasy and romance all at the same time. On a mission to find Rachel’s father, the story sees characters go on an adventure to find not only an item but also to find themselves. So much happens in such a short space of time in this book and this makes it very exciting. Defiance is fast paced and thrilling from page one all the way until the end. There are also plenty of twists and I wasn’t expecting a lot of them at all. I loved how I was kept guessing throughout the whole book and although I had some ideas about what would happen, I couldn’t guess everything and I was really shocked about a couple of things in particular.

The world that C. J. Redwine created was fascinating and this, along with beautiful writing, really hooked me into this book. I read it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. Defiance is a magical book that I can’t stop thinking about!

Friday, 19 October 2012

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall


About the book
The Well of Loneliness is a fiction novel by Radclyffe Hall. The book was first published in 1928, when it was also banned. The version I have is a reprint by Virago on 3rd July 2008 and the book is 512 pages long.

Synopsis
Stephen Gordon, named by a father desperate for a son, is not like other girls: she hunts, she fences, she reads books, wears trousers and longs to cut her hair. As she grows up amidst the stifling grandeur of Morton Hall, the locals begin to draw away from her, away of some indefinable thing that sets her apart. Stephen experiences her first real taste of happiness when she meets Mary, but can their love survive in a world of prejudice?
(Taken from the back of the book)

What I thought
This is another of the books that I have had to read for my Gender and Sexuality class this year and the biggest of the bunch. As this is such a large book and knowing what it was about, it was a little daunting even looking at it, let alone beginning to read it.

The Well of Loneliness was really hard to get into for me. The book begins at Stephen’s birth, explaining the reasoning behind her name and getting to know her parents. There is so much time spent at the family’s home, Morton Hall because this is where Stephen grows up but it was just so drawn out. Instead of being a book which picks out the most important bits of Stephen’s live, it tends to be a book about her whole life. Now, I wouldn’t have minded this had some more exciting or interesting things happened but they don’t. For a good chunk of the book, especially during Stephen’s childhood, the book just plods along without much happening at all.

It isn’t until Stephen gets to be a teen that the book gets interesting. At this point, it is really clear that she is different from the other girls around so the contrast between her and others is quite vivid, with descriptions of the way that Stephen acts and dresses. Up until this point in the book, the main focus was on Stephen’s relationship with her mother and father but now, getting to see her interact with others begins to show what the book is really about. I can’t think of any one point in the book where it actually states that Stephen is a lesbian but she is. She wonders why she doesn’t fell towards men what she probably should be feeling although she is never ashamed of this.

There is a lot of stereotyping going on when it comes to lesbianism in this book but it has to be taken into account when the book was published. I can understand why it was banned during this time too and Radclyffe Hall attempts to pick up on these reasons in the book. As Stephen gets older, people around her stay away because of how she is different and it was interesting to see how people treat her because of this. After reading about Stephen’s whole life, by this point I felt quite sorry for her, knowing what she had been through. I hated the fact that people were treating her differently for only being herself.

The Well of Loneliness is very heavy going and I think this is mainly to do with the time span of the book. I did appreciate getting to know exactly why Stephen was the way she was, after reading about her whole life but I don’t think that it all needed to be there. Many things were not necessarily needed in my eyes but then I wonder whether or not I would have understood Stephen as well without them. Yes, this is a book about lesbianism but there are no graphic scenes or scenes of too much detail. Instead, this is a book about acceptance about yourself and about acceptance from other people and finding a way to be happy with exactly who you are. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Duke by Gaelen Foley


About the book
The Duke is the first in the Knight Miscellany series by Gaelen Foley. The book was published on 5th January 2006 by Piatkus and it is 416 pages long.

Plot
As The Duke is the first book in this series and it all starts with Robert Knight, the eldest of the siblings. Recently, the woman who he thought was the love of his life, Lucy, died and he is determined that it wasn't an accident. He wants revenge. Robert is quick to suspect Dolph, the heir of Lucy's husband and he thinks that he motive was jealousy. The only way he is going to find out the truth is to get help from someone he cares about.

After Dolph had her father put in jail, Belinda Hamilton has had a pretty hard life. With her father's fee at £3000, she has to do something to help him be free. Belinda ends up selling oranges in the street just to make enough money to live but after a run in with the warden of the prison, she realises that it will take her too long to raise the funds so she goes to Harriette, a courtesan. Harriette shows her the ropes and while her friends take numerous protectors in order to make their fortune, Belinda swears that she will only ever have one, the one that will really take care of her. Known as La Belle Hamilton, Belinda has most of the men of the ton talking and they all want to get to know her better.

One night at a party, Robert goes to see what all the fuss is about, knowing that Dolph is really into her. He challenges her to a game of cards and if she wins, she gets his ring but if he wins, he gets a kiss. When Belinda loses and pays up, she instantly knows that this is the man who she wants as her protector. Being completely honest with Belinda, Robert makes a deal with her and tells her the story about Lucy, thinking that he will never love anyone as much as her but with Belinda living under his roof, things start to get complicated.

What I thought
Both main characters were strong and complex and I wanted to know more about them both. Poor Belinda has a pretty hard time as the result of something which wasn't her fault. On the surface, she comes across as confident but underneath she is extremely vulnerable although she tries her hardest to cover this up. I couldn't help but admire the things that she did so that she could help her father and because of this I loved her.

Robert has quite a few conflicts of his own throughout the story. To start with, he has Lucy's death on his mind and he needs to know what happened to her but also, once he and Belinda gets closer, he doesn't really know how to deal with his feelings for her. He tries to be strong at all times but Belinda slowly breaks down the walls in his heart and he doesn't know what to do about it. He keeps trying to tell himself that he can never love anyone as much as he did Lucy but he seems to not be able to control himself. Swearing to protect Belinda, due to their deal, he finds himself adding more meaning to it than he wants. I really enjoyed Robert's personality and the way that he treat Belinda. Although he didn't instantly do the right thing by her, he did try to explain his reasons for doing certain things. At the end of the book, Robert becomes a real hero (I won’t ruin the surprise) and if it had been a movie, I would have applauded.

There is quite a lot going on in the story from beginning to end and it kept me hooked all the way through. I loved that we get to hear a bit more about the courtesans although I would have liked this to be included a little more because it was so interesting. Memoirs of a Geisha showed a lot about the rituals and services that they performed and I would have liked to have learned a little more about what happened at their parties, apart from the obvious sex parts.

There is normally conflict is a novel of this genre but I thought this one was a little different. Usually the conflict overpowers the romance of the story but this one seemed to lie in the distance most of the time. While the beginning started off strongly, telling us most of what we needed to know about Robert's reasons for going to Belinda, it then goes off to follow how Robert and Belinda fall in love. (This isn't really a spoiler, anyone who reads this genre will know this always happens)

We are also introduced to Jacinda and Alec, two of Roberts siblings and although they aren't in it that much, they did make for a good chance of pace at times. Like Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, I like the way that the other siblings are written into each other’s stories because it makes them blend together very well.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Reached by Allie Condie


Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.


Publisher: Dutton Books (US)
Released: 13th November (US)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Film Review: Breaking Dawn Part 1


About the film
Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is the fourth film in the Twilight Saga. It was released at cinemas on 18th November 2011. It is rated 12A due to scenes of a fantasy/ frightening nature as well as scenes of partial nudity and violence. The film has a run time of 117 minutes. 

Plot
The film opens with Jacob Black receiving an invitation to Edward and Bella's wedding which results in him running off in wolf form, even after his father begs him to stay. At the other end of the spectrum, Bella's mother couldn't be happier when she receives her invitation. Reactions to the upcoming wedding are extremely mixed. The whole Cullen family, however, couldn't be happier at the thought of Bella joining their family and they're all extremely busy preparing for the big day.

What I thought
Even though I am a massive fan of YA books, I am not the biggest fan of Twilight. However, I was when the first film came out and since have been to see each of them within a week of opening. I really, really liked the first two films in the Saga but Eclipse was terrible in my eyes. Because of this, I was quite worried about seeing Breaking Dawn: Part 1 as I didn't think I was going to like it much at all.

Something I definitely wasn't expecting from this film was for it to be as funny as it was. Yes, there have been a couple of laughs in the previous three but nothing even close to how much I laughed through Breaking Dawn. Within the first 10/15 minutes or so, I had laughed quite a few times at numerous things but the real joy came at Bella and Edward's wedding. The speeches were hilarious and one of my favourites has to be from Anna Kendrick who plays Bella's friend Jessica. I have liked her in all of the films so far and thought she should have been used even more during these scenes. Her speech was fantastic and exactly how her character would have said things. The humour used early on in the film was much needed, I thought, as the story does get a lot darker part way through.

I haven't been a fan of Kristen Stewart at all from the very first time she appeared on our screens as Bella Swan. She certainly wasn't how I pictured Bella but now, I can quite happily say that she isn't as bad as she was. Now, I'm not saying she was fantastic in Breaking Dawn but I didn't want to slap her in the face as much as I have wanted to before. After three films, Stewart has had the chance to really get into her role as Bella and to know the character much better than she did to begin with. Her acting skills in Breaking Dawn have come on leaps and bounds compared to how she was in Twilight. Gone is the completely miserable girl who sighs a lot at everything that is said or done and instead, there is now a quite happy girl in her place. I would hope so though considering she has just married the man she loves. However, during the second half of the film, Bella's character changes completely considering that she's having a baby that is pretty much killing her. Here, I thought Stewart did a fantastic job. She looked terrible (and yes miserable but that's ok) and did a really good job of showing everything that was happening to her because of the baby. It was really quite scary how skeletal she looked all of the second half of the film.

The chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson was much more believable this time around and I think a lot of that was due to the wedding and them having to look all loved up. The sex scene between the two had to be cut down a lot as to start with, it made the film into an 18 rating rather than the 12A it is now. Because of this though, the scenes do lack a bit of passion but understandably so. This scene does stay as close to the book as possible though in the way that Edward breaks the bed and because there are feathers everywhere afterwards. Overall, it was just a bit too tame for my liking but it was also intimate at the same time.

One of my biggest disappointments with Breaking Dawn: Part 1 was the wolves. After realising that Bella and Edward are actually going to get married, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) run away in his wolf form. This is really a big part of the book and why he runs away but the film made it seem as though he ran away one day and was back the next for Bella's wedding and that isn't really how it happened. Also, the plot line concerning Jacob, Seth and Leah was cut severely short and I really liked this part of the book. During this film, we get to witness the way that the wolves can talk to each other once they have transformed but it was laughable to watch. The voices were changed and it all sounded really pathetic and forced. This was really thrown in there just because it happens in the book and wasn't done well at all. It might have been a bit better had it been used a couple more times so that the audience really got the fact that it is what makes a pack so close.

So, as you can see, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 was far from perfect for me. I really did love the first half of the film but the second half was terrible. I am really looking forward to Part 2 though as a lot more happens and I think it will be extremely exciting.

Monday, 15 October 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick


About the book
My Life Next Door is a debut contemporary YA novel by Huntley Fitzpatrick. It was published on 14th June by Dial Books and it is 394 pages long. This one was borrowed from Kirsty at The Overflowing Library.

Plot
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

What I thought
I don’t think I was prepared for just how much I was going to love this book. I told Kirsty I wanted something contemporary and romantic to read and she gave me this one without me knowing anything about it. However, the cover sold me before even reading what it was about. The cover really sums up the story well and compliments what is inside the book.

Samantha, the protagonist of this story was a fantastic character. Although she comes from a good family with money and a trust fund, she doesn’t whine about anything… ever. She never acts spoilt or moans that things aren’t going her way and I loved her for this. She’s a very down to earth girl who works to earn her own money which was something I really respected about her. Never did she rely on her family’s money to see her through. Sam does have an inquisitive streak though and she cannot keep her eyes of the Garrett family next door who are strictly forbidden by her mother.

The Garrett’s are a large family with 5 kids and a messy lawn. Not the kind of family Sam’s mother wants to be associated with. When Sam finally gets to talk to one of the Garrett boys, Jase to be specific, everything changes. The pair instantly hit it off and she quickly becomes a part of their family and every day lifestyle. Jase I absolutely loved. It has been a while since I read about such a gorgeous boy in a book and this one I fell for instantly. He works hard, trains hard for football (so he has a nice body too) and he’s extremely loyal and caring. I’m not normally one for nice guys in books but Jase changed my mind. Oooh, he also has a mini zoo in his bedroom which I thought was kind of cool.

The relationship between Sam and Jase was wonderful to explore. I was glad to see that there was none of this fall in love instantly rubbish and they take their time getting to know each other. Their relationship was very sweet but it managed to be exciting at the same time due to not many people knowing about them. Huntley Fitzpatrick is also really brave in tackling the topic of sex but she does it well. There is sex in the book but it is written in a very real way. Fitzpatrick tells it how it is. She doesn’t make losing your virginity seem like the most amazing thing in the world and she doesn’t say your first time will be mind-blowing. I loved how truthful she was when it came to this.

Secondary characters help to make this book as special as it was for me. The Garrett family especially made me fall in love with them. Young George has to be THE cutest kid I have ever read about. I don’t normally really like kids but this one was made out of all kinds of awesome. He was funny and innocent and came out with the most hilarious things. He was also very bright for a young lad though which made him even more special to me. I wish we had gotten to see a little more of the other Garrett siblings though.

My Life Next Door is a wonderfully romantic story of first loves. This was exactly the book I wanted to read this summer and is now up there with my favourites of the whole year so far. This one is amazing and should be read by all.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

What's Up With Jody Barton by Hayley Long


About the book
What’s Up With Jody Barton is a stand-alone contemporary YA novel by Hayley Long. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 24th May and the book is 256 pages long.

Plot
Me and my sister are twins. She's Jolene and I'm Jody. We've both got brown hair, we're both left-handed and we both have these weirdly long little toes which make us look like long-toed mutants. But apart from that, I'd say we're fairly different. Well, actually, we're a lot different . . . It's hard enough being one half of the world's least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene's turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much.

And as if a twinny love triangle wasn't messy enough . . . there's something nobody knows about Jody Barton. Something BIG. 

What I thought
I hadn’t even heard of this book before borrowing it but as I was assured it was a good one, I was willing to give it a go. The YA market is so full of paranormal books and I’ve been really in the mood for contemporary recently that I would take whatever I could get my hands on.

This book tells the story of Jody Barton, maths lover, River Phoenix and Jim Morrison enthusiast and twin to Jolene. All of these different things help to give Jody a very distinct voice and was a great character to read about. Jody was not exactly that character that I thought that I would end up reading about either though. Twists and secrets are added in to make the reader second guess what they’re reading which for me was a good thing. I love to be surprised and this book definitely did that.

Due to the major twists and secrets in this book, there isn’t a lot that I can say about the plot without giving everything away. However, I will say that What’s Up With Jody Barton deals with some massive issues for teenagers and the topics are dealt with extremely well. Parts of the book deal with how to be happy with who you are, others deal with cyber-bullying and others deal with family. There is a really mixed range of things going on here but they’re all fused together perfectly.

Hayley Long does something a bit different with this book compared to anything else I have read. Throughout, illustrations are used to enhance what Jody is either thinking or talking about. Some are of some quite random things while others are of famous people. The illustrations were fantastic and in regards to the famous people, quite true to life. This aspect of the book was something that made it stand out for me.

While this book was very serious in its themes, it was also quite humerous. Different text sizes are used to convey importance of feelings and emotions which I thought was a really good way of getting a point across. While I didn’t really know what to expect with this one, I was so glad I read it. If you’re looking for something a bit different from YA and also from a British author, look no further than this book!