Monday, 31 December 2012

Hysteria by Megan Miranda


About the book
Hysteria is Megan Miranda’s second novel. It is published by Bloomsbury on 14th February 2013 and the book is 352 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an e-book through Net Galley.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Mallory's life is falling apart. Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear ...When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips. Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

What I thought
Megan Miranda’s first book, Fracture was a fantastic read and something which was quite different to other YA books. Because of how much I liked Fracture, I was desperate to read Hysteria, her second offering. The synopsis sounds exciting and very strange, which made me want to read it more.

Main character Mallory killed her boyfriend, apparently in self-defence although she doesn’t exactly remember what happened that night. All she can remember about is how much blood there was. With her story being believed by the police, Mallory is allowed to get on with her life although she is having problems concentrating. As she is struggling, her parents send her off to the boarding school that her dad also attended. She doesn’t want to go, leaving her best friend but she doesn’t have much choice.

The beginning of the book was very hard hitting, not wasting any time getting into the plot and telling us that Mallory had killed her boyfriend. I liked this that was revealed almost immediately even though not all of the details are given. This creates an instant sense of intrigue and mystery and it made me want to know more. Also, Mallory seemed like quite a nice girl so it really made me question whether or not she really had it in her to kill someone – especially her boyfriend.

As the story gets going, and Mallory moves off to her new school, little snippets of what happened that night are revealed. Mallory is hearing things, which she has ever since that night, and at times, it makes her think back and slowly remember what actually happened. Finding out the truth takes near enough the whole book but I really enjoyed this. I liked only getting tiny bits of information because it made me more and more desperate to find out what she did and why.

Normally I hate a boarding school setting but this one was different. Mallory is moved there for very good reasons and I do think she needed time away from everything that happened. The school gives Mallory chance to also meet new people who both help and hinder her in trying to forget about killing her boyfriend. I really enjoyed the mix of characters at the school because there was a good mix of good and bad. Reid was by far my favourite though even if at times it did seem as though he was thrown in just to be the love interest. It was also interesting to see Mallory have to interact with people she didn’t want to be around as it showed all sides of her.

The plot was just as exciting and mysterious as the synopsis makes it sound. Megan Miranda has a brilliant way of making her readers want more, making each chapter more gripping than the next and keeping many questions left open until the very last pages. Getting to the end of the book, I couldn’t read quick enough to find out what was going on but it was a massive shock to me!
Even though I loved Fracture, her first book, I think Miranda has done even better this time.

Hysteria was a book I just could not put down. Miranda’s words are addictive her story even more so!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Film Review: New Years Eve


About the film
New Year's Eve is a romantic comedy film that was released at the cinema on 8th December 2011. After looking on Amazon, it seems that the DVD and Blu Ray release is on 12th December of this year. The film is rated 12A due to some sexual references and the film has a run time of 118 minutes.

Plot
Set in New York City, New Year's Eve follows several people and how the day affects them. Kim is a single mother who still thinks of her daughter, Hailey as a child who wants to go out with a boy so that she could kiss him at midnight. Claire is in charge of the city's annual tradition, the ball drop on Times Square and when something goes wrong she has to ask an electrician, who was fired, to come and fix it. Laura, a chef who is catering the New Year's Eve party for a Ingrid is a woman who works at the record company, after having a near death experience decides to quit her job and asks a young messenger, Paul to help her fulfil her resolutions. At a hospital, Stan is a man who is in the final stages of cancer and we also see the birth of the first babies of the New Year. These are just a few of the characters we get to meet in this film.

What I thought
I was quite the fan of Valentine's Day and He's Just Not That Into You so I thought I would be quite safe watching this film because it is obviously done in the same kind of format. Films like these always have an amazing cast and this one is no different. The cast list is one of the things that make me want to watch these films as I like seeing how they all interact with each other. Even though New Year's Eve does have a great cast, they aren't all used to the best of their ability.

One of these in particular is Sarah Jessica Parker who plays Kim. Kim is a costume designer for a musical but she is so dowdy and boring herself that I just didn't believe it. Parker is most famously known for playing New York trend setter Carrie in Sex in the City and although this character is a contrast, it is not a good one. Parker was very unbelievable and uncharismatic. Her character was bland and Parker's acting matched this perfectly. There was no spark that she gives to Carrie and I was quite disappointed with this aspect of the film. 

Not everyone is bad though thankful. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Ingrid, another dowdy character who hates her job and has a near death experience at the beginning of the film. Pfeiffer has the ability to play any role she is given amazingly and she certainly did this with Ingrid. It didn't matter that the character came across as boring and quite sad because Pfeiffer gave her that something extra which made her really interesting. It was nice (and a little strange) to see her opposite Zac Efron though although the pairing and their storyline worked really well.

The main problem with this film is that there are just too many characters. Similar films have done the same kind of thing but with a smaller cast and I think this works a lot better. Due to having so many characters, none of them get nearly enough screen time. Only a couple get enough time for us to actually care about them and to care how they spend their New Year's Eve. For the most part, the characters are extremely underdeveloped and I would have much preferred for them to be cut in half, or at least down a little bit. What New Year's Eve ends up being is a mish mash of stories that I just didn't care about for the most part.

Also, as there are some quite good comedy actors in here, I expected this film to be a lot funnier than it was. Katherine Heigl gets a few good lines which were actually funny but everything else was either forced or clichéd. Even Ashton Kutcher isn't funny in this one and I have loved him in everything else I have seen him in. Because of the lack of comedy, and also a lack of real romance, I don't even know what to describe this film as or what genre it should be placed in. It doesn't seem to fit properly anywhere.

As you can see, I really didn't enjoy this film very much even though I thought I was going to love it. A massive disappointment.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Paradise by Judith McNaught


About the book
Paradise is a romance novel by Judith McNaught. It was published on 25th May 2010 (reissued edition) by Pocket Books and the book is 709 pages long.

Plot
Ruthless corporate raider Matthew Farrell was poised to move in on the legendary department store empire owned by Chicago's renowned Bancroft family. In the glare of the media spotlight, it was a stunning takeover that overshadowed the electric chemistry between Matt, once a scruffy kid from steel town Indiana, and cool, sophisticated Meredith Bancroft. Their brief, ill-fated marriage sparked with thrilling sensuality--he was the outsider who dared to rock her country club world--and ended with a bitter betrayal. Now, locked in a battle that should be all business, dangerous temptations and bitter-sweet memories are stirring their hearts. Will they risk everything on a passion too bold to be denied?
What I thought
This is kind of a follow on book from Perfect as it focuses on Matthew and Meredith who were introduced in the previous book. They both seemed like a lovely couple who loved each other very much so I was looking forward to reading about what they had to go through to get there.

The beginning of the story, set in the past, was extremely sad and it actually made me cry. Meredith's father is the ultimate villain and I haven't read about anyone so mean and hurtful in a long time. The deceit and lies that he puts Meredith and Matt through is terrible and he certainly deserved for something bad to happen to him. After all that Meredith and Matt had gone through in a short space of time, it shocked me that Meredith was so quick to believe her father. It seemed like Matt would do anything for her and the baby, even if it meant leaving so that he could afford to support them.

Matt has never gotten over what happened and it shows in his personality in the present. He is very hard and doesn't show much emotion at all. All he wants is to be successful and show everyone who has hurt him or put him down in the past that he's better than them all. Once you get past what happened before, I don't think you are supposed to like Matt very much because of the way he acts but I really did like him. Because of what happened to him, I could tell that he was still the same nice guy somewhere deep down and I was just waiting for that to come out again.

Although Meredith was also hurt by her father’s lies, I didn't feel for her in the same way I did for Matt. Don't get me wrong, I did feel sorry for her but Matt seemed to be hurt the most. Meredith does very well for herself and gets herself a nice fiancé that she has always wanted but you can tell that the same amount of feeling isn't there as it was with Matt. I was glad to see that she had a lot more confidence and could stand up for herself now.

The beginning of this story was very emotional but the rest of it got even better. Both main characters are interesting and well developed due to the lead up to the main story. There is a lot going on all the time from all sides which kept me thoroughly entertained. I loved the inclusion of secondary characters Parker and Lisa and was glad to see them both get their own happy endings.

This book had everything I could possibly want. There is romance, lies, deception and action all of the way through and they are the reasons why I loved it so much. Everything about this story kept me hooked from the first page and the character development was fantastic. Highly recommended romance novel.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

The Declaration (The Declaration, #1)About the book
The Declaration is the first book in the trilogy of the same name by Gemma Malley. This edition of the book was published by Bloomsbury on 8th November and it is 295 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copt for review.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Anna Covey is a ‘Surplus’. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination.

Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna’s life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy?

What I thought
My boyfriend has the old hardback editions of this trilogy but recently, they have been repackaged with new covers so I jumped at the chance to review all three books. I hadn’t read them yet and I thought it would be nice to have my own copy of them, which are so different to the hardbacks.

Recently I have been back in the mood for dystopian books so The Declaration was a great choice for me to read. It also sounded extremely different to any others I had previously read so I was excited about this one. I loved the initial idea of a world where no more children were allowed to be born unless it was under specific rules. I can’t imagine a world where no one grows old and there are no new people growing up all of the time.

I didn’t think I was going to but I liked main character Anna. She’s a girl living in a Surplus Hall, a place where the illegal kids go to in order to learn their ‘proper’ place in society. To begin with, I thought Anna was an idiot for not having a mind of her own but then I slowly realised that she had been brought up this way so didn’t really have any other choice. Living here is the only thing that she has ever known and it has been drilled into her that she is a waste and shouldn’t be alive. Although Anna is one for following the rules, she does break some of them on the sly which was something I did like about her to begin with.

As the story gets going, and a strange boy is brought to the Surplus Hall, Anna really comes into her own. The boy helps her to realise that the world outside is not all that she has been told it is and it makes her question her life and what she is doing. I really enjoyed watching Anna and Peter get to know each other and for her to slowly begin to befriend and trust him, even though she knows it is ‘wrong’. Peter is very interesting due to where he says he comes from. He comes from a life completely opposite from what Anna has been brought up in so the contrast between the two characters was really good!

For the most part, I found the plot to be very interesting and different. The explanations about why the world has particular rules and laws was definitely the most interesting aspect of the book. The ideas behind it all were viable and also very creepy. The Declaration made me wonder whether or not the world could ever actually get to the point where it becomes so overpopulated that this kind of thing could ever happen. You hear on the news and television programs of families having a lot of children and I guess if everyone did this then there would be massive population problems eventually, especially with life expectancy ages a lot higher than they used to be.

The Declaration, while with a dark and dingy setting, is exciting and thrilling. Gemma Malley has created a great new dysopian world.

Wednesday, 26 December 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.

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray


When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in the town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that a curse has been placed on his family that will cause him to go insane. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed. 

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family's terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone in the town. 


Publisher: Harper Teen (US)
Released: 5th March 2013

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

While there are no reviews being posted today, I wanted to take the time to wish a Merry Christmas to my followers. I hope you all have a fabulous holiday season and have a wonderful time!!



And because it's Christmas, I wanted to share one of my favourite Christmas songs with you all!


Monday, 24 December 2012

Embracing You, Embracing Me by Michelle Bellon


About the book
Embracing You, Embracing Me is a young adult novel by Michelle Bellon. The book was published by Fingerpress on 7th May and the book is 266 pages long. I received this book to review though Net Galley.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
The 90s - home of boy bands, individualism, teenage angst, ultra skinny models, and "Whatever!"...

In a decade when image matters, when the so-called Generation X is swelling with 'future perfect' hopes and pride, 16-year-old Roshell McRady dances her way through High School, never quite admitting that she's ashamed of her trailer park family home. Meanwhile she listens to Madonna while conjuring creative Top Ramen recipes to feed her younger cousins; she empties enough hairspray until her bangs are feathered and vertical like a lethal weapon; and she agonises over how to convince Gabriel Harrison, the new Mystery Guy in town, to invite her to the prom - a night which threatens to turn into a disaster.

But then life takes a dramatic turn for Roshell, and her life changes forever.

What I thought
I’ll start by saying that this isn’t the kind of book I would normally pick for review. Having a new Kindle meant being able to get books from Net Galley so I just requested books I thought that looked interesting, even if they weren’t from one of the publishers I usually read books by.

What made me want to read this book more than anything was the fact that it is set in the 90s. As someone who grew up in the 90s, I was looking forward to reading something which would hopefully remind me of some of the things I used to love. Michelle Bellon adds in some good pop culture references in the beginning of the book although they are not overpowering or too much. You do get a sense that the characters you are reading about are also growing up in the 90s.

The plot of Embracing You, Embracing Me follows main character Roshell as she learns to deal with being poor and living in a trailer park, trying her best to get out of a small town and deal with high school at the same time. While Roshell had a strong voice at times, some of the wording was terrible! It seems that while Bellon wanted the teenagers in this book to sound like they were from the 90s, she may have slightly forgotten how real teenagers talk. Roshell (and her friends) come out with multiple things that did not sound as though a teenager was saying it at all. I actually couldn’t think of anyone who would talk the way that they did. For example; ‘I sensed he was aware of my apprehension. I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was somehow able to read my troubled thoughts and fears and it left me feeling exposed.’ For me, these kinds of things just didn’t read true, especially from Roshell.

While most of Embracing You, Embracing Me is told from Roshell’s point of view, there are little snippets from other characters the whole way through the book. Some characters do this more than once while other only have one small paragraph. I did like getting to know other character’s opinions and what they were thinking but again, for most of the time their voices were not believable. Love interest Gabriel in particular sounded like a middle aged man most of the time and he just did not come across as the fun teenage boy that he was. I was disappointed with the writing style of this book in general because it made it hard to like the majority of the characters.

Bellon attempts to take on some important issues in this book but doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head with them. Quite early on in the book, something extremely important and hard hitting happens  but the topic is brushed over quite quickly and while it does have long lasting effects, it was kind of just pushed to one side. I figured that this was going to be a major part of the book, which would have been great as it could have brought around many interesting scenes and interactions but it wasn’t. Also, this book spans the life of Roshell into her twenties, so her teen years are gone over quite quickly too.

I think that this book was drawn out and long winded at times when there was no need for it to be. Embracing You, Embracing Me covers way too much time in so few pages and are quickly thrown from one year to the next without explanations about some things which happen in-between. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me at all and although I liked some of the story and some of the characters at times, there were just too many inconsistencies for me to really enjoy it.  

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Film Review: Bad Santa



About the film
Bad Santa is a Christmas dark comedy film that was released in 2003. The film has three different lengths:
Theatrical - 91 minutes
Directors - 88 minutes
Unrated - 98 minutes

Bad Santa is rated 15 due to extremely bad language and strong sexual content as well as violence. The film had a budget of $18 million and went on to make over $76 million worldwide.

Plot
Every year, Willie digs out his Santa suit and attempts to make a living with his partner Marcus, the elf. The pair go around the states and go to a different department store each year but they aren't any ordinary Santa and elf. Willie and Marcus make their living by robbing the store that they are working at each year, making enough money to make sure that they don't have to work for the rest of the year. Willie is mean, not getting any younger and a drunk. He spends most of his free time drinking and getting as many women as possible so when Christmas time comes round again, he isn't exactly is the right frame of mind, or state to work again. Marcus has to knock some sense into him to make sure that he can get enough money to give his wife a good life...the one that she is now accustomed to.

At their current store, Willie comes across a chubby (and dirty) young boy who he soon befriends when he learns that only his old grandma who barely notices anything is the only one at home. Willie moves in with Thurman and fully takes advantage of a free place to stay along with the use of a car.

With Willie's crazy and bad behaviour while he is at work, the head of security soon becomes wary and he intends to keep a close eye on the pair. Surely Christmas can’t always go so smoothly?

What I thought
Although this isn't a typical Christmas film, it is my all-time favourite. The thing that I love the most about it is the fact that it doesn't make Santa out to be anything that he isn't. This Santa is very real and not the cuddly, nice old man that all the other stories make him out to be. Billy Bob Thornton is absolutely amazing as Willie. Everything about him is fantastic and it pains me to say how much of a good sleazy drunk he is. Who knows if this is from experience or not but who cares? Thornton has amazing talent in order to be able to pull off this unconventional Santa. I do kind of wish that Santa was a bit hotter to justify the women that he gets but maybe they're just attracted to sleazy and disgusting.

There wasn't really anyone that I didn't like in this film. The little boy made me scream with laughter, especially when he cuts his hand open (I know that sounds so mean). It is very rare that I laugh this much at a film but I am nearly crying every single time that I watch it. The humour is really crude and disgusting at times but that is what makes the film what it is.

This is very much a joke film because it makes fun at Christmas and Santa so much. Bad Santa pretty much says that Christmas is all about material things but it does try to have a real meaning in there somewhere. The basic moral of the story is that you should try and better yourself no matter who or what it takes and you should give people who you wouldn't normally, a chance. Instead of a slushy, lovey dovey Christmas movie, this one manages to send out a message using humour to do it. I cant even remember there being a Christmas carol in the whole film.

This is my all time favourite Christmas film because it is like no other. When you begin to watch the film it will have you thinking 'what the hell is this' but give it 10-15 minutes and you will realise what you are in for. Not recommended for anyone who cant deal with crude comedy.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

2012 wrap up


I wasn’t planning on writing an end of year wrap up post but then for no real reason, I changed my mind. This year has been pretty awesome for many different reasons and one of the things I want to try to do with the blog in the New Year is to make it more personal. So, normally my end of year posts are all about books and the blog but this year I’m going to mix it up a bit.

This year, I haven’t been blogging all year because of uni work. I got so bogged down by it last year that I knew it was time for a break. I can’t do everything and I wasn’t finding reading as much fun because I was feeling the pressure to read everything at once! The break really did me good and I found my love of reading again which is why I came back in the summer. This is a new blog compared with what some of my followers will be used to though. This time around, I decided not only to review YA books but others too and add in film reviews at the same time.

Deciding to start blogging again was a pretty big decision for me as I’m now in my third and final year at university so I do have a lot to juggle work wise. I did really miss blogging though which was a big part of why I decided to power through and do my best. I may not always post as much as I have been doing – it all depends on how caught up I am on uni work but I will post something every week at least.

I also finally got a Kindle even though I have been against them from the beginning. I never thought I would like having one let alone reading on one but now I have decided I love it. I went with the Kindle Fire HD though because I had been wanting a tablet for a while and this was the best of both worlds. If you're thinking about buying one and aren't sure, I wrote a non-techy review which you can see here!

My beautiful engagement ring!
The other big news this year is that I got engaged! Kirsty from The Overflowing Library introduced me to John so we both have her to thank really – although she might say she was trying to get rid of him instead! We’re getting married on 30th September in Florida and it will just be the two of us. Family’s are bloody difficult when they live all over the place. Anyway, I’m super excited about the wedding and the fact that we get our honeymoon at the same time – getting to go to Disneyland after the wedding sounds pretty awesome to me. I also hate being the center of attention so this way I don’t have to be and we get to have a really romantic and private day. There will be skype calls to Mum just before though because she wants to see me in my dress etc. 

This is where we are getting married. 

Right, onto the books! I don’t have a top book this year so I’m going to go through a few I really enjoyed. I haven't even begun to really look at books being released next year yet though so no list of what I'm looking forward to this year. 

Books I loved
  • Adorkable by Sarra Manning (Review)
  • Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake (Review)
  • Foretold by Jana Oliver (Review)
  • Pushing The Limits by Kate McGarry (Review)
  • My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Review)
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam (Review to come next year)
  • Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (Review)
  • Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (Review)
This is a pretty mixed lot compared to how my end of year wrap up posts normally go. I can normally pick out one of two that were my favourites of the whole year but I couldn't this time. There have been loads that I've really enjoyed but I think this list really shows that I've enjoyed quite a lot of different things this year. 

I'm sure many or most of you will have at least read some on this list so let me know if you agree with my choices!


I hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas and New Year and I look forward to catching up with your reviews after the holidays. Thanks for following!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


About the book
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares is a stand-alone young adult novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It was published by Harlequin UK on 5th October and the book is 304 pages long. I received and e-book for review through Net Galley.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favourite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

What I thought
I’ve never read a Christmas book before. Normally I hate Christmas and I’m the Grinch. However, for some reason I love Christmas this year and I have wanted to read Dash & Lily's Book of Dares for ages now.

Set in New York, which has always seemed like a magical place to be at Christmas, the story is told through the dual narrative of Dash and Lily. While browsing in The Strand, a bookstore one day, Dash finds a red notebook on a shelf mixed in with the other books. There is no title on the spine which instantly intrigues Dash. After picking up the red notebook, he realises that someone placed it there specifically, giving a set of instructions about who could play the game contained within the book. Dash, being a straight teenage boy decides he does want to follow the clues, which send him on a hunt for certain books within the store.

The red notebook is passed between Dash and Lily, each of them giving a new set of instructions each time and leaving it where it was found, so the other person can pick it back up. I really loved the idea of this game and found it hilarious to read about. Some of the things that Dash and Lily get each other to do are really funny but they are done at the same as getting to know each other by asking questions about each other. It was nice to see each character get to have a bit of fun while letting the other know something personal about themselves.

The dares left in the red notebook stick mostly to a Christmas theme and it really did make me think about Christmas in a much more positive way than I normally would do. The setting is absolutely magical which helps with the Christmas feeling. There are many different things that Dash and Lily have to do, including going to some of the busiest shops a day before Christmas. Some of the places visited are very iconic regarding Christmas in New York and although I have films to thank for that, I could picture these places vividly.

Both Dash and Lily had very strong voices and they were both extremely likeable characters for different reasons, but also some of the same reasons. Both characters are slight outcasts, being a bit strange not much like their peers. They have very strong personalities and neither are afraid to say exactly what they are thinking. I loved that about these characters. Still though, they are teenagers and are prone to making mistakes which was a nice thing to see. Although in a surreal situation, the character’s faults made them real and this made it possible for others to relate to them.

The writing is also amazing. Dash’s chapters were written by David Levithan while Lily’s were written by Rachel Cohn. Their writing styles fit perfectly together and you couldn’t tell that the same person didn’t write the whole book. Both authors have the ability to write about real teenagers and give them real voices and problems while adding in a bit of something special and different at the same time. The plot of this book was very addictive, with me not wanting to put it down. I wanted to know what the next dare would be and I wanted to know more about the characters.

If you have put reading Dash & Lily's Book of Dares off for a while like me, this is the perfect time to pick it up. Although it has a Christmas setting, it is a book you can read all year round and enjoy thoroughly. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

10 Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn


About the book
10 Things I Love About You is the third book in the Bevelstoke series by Julia Quinn. The book was published on 3rd June 2010 by Piatkus and it is 384 pages long. 

Plot
Annabelle Winslow has just moved from the country to London for his first season. Her family isn't in the best position and are desperate need of money, meaning that Annabelle must marry. She doesn't mind that she must marry but the man interested is vile and old. The Earl of Newbury only wants a bride that will be able to give him a son as he is in desperate need of an heir, since he doesn't want his nephew to inherit the title and Annabelle fits his requirements perfectly. 

Sebastian Grey is that nephew. He isn't bothered at all if he inherits the title or not although no one really seems to believe him. While at a house party in Hampstead, waiting on the heath for a married woman, Annabelle trips over him lying on the grass. Annabelle finds Sebastian utterly charming and even though she knows she shouldn't, stays there to talk to him. Knowing that she is probably going to have to marry the Earl and not wanting to miss out on the finer things in life, she asks Sebastian to kiss her. After sharing a moment of immense passion, both leave without knowing each other’s name but it soon becomes clear that Sebastian was probably the one person that she shouldn't have kissed and now the only person that she truly wants to be with.

What I thought
This is by far my favourite Quinn book. As soon as I started to read it at work the day it arrived, I couldn't put it down. I read it at work, on the bus home, then carried on as soon as I got in and was up until 2am just so I could finish it. I have only just realised that part of the plot is extremely similar to my previous favourite Quinn book which was Romancing Mr Bridgerton. It seemed like I was waiting forever for her to release a new book as the What Happens in London was released in July 2009. After nearly a year of waiting, I was extremely happy and it was well worth the wait in the end.

It hardly took any time at all for the plot to get going and there always seemed to be something exciting going on. There was never a point where I felt like it dragged at all or that there were any boring parts, not even tiny ones. The story moved along at a nice pace where nothing seemed rushed. Although Quinn kept to a somewhat typical timescale which has been done in many of her books, I didn't find this to be a bad thing. There was plenty to keep my occupied while things happened as I expected them too.

Annabelle was such a welcome change of character. Although having lead a quite sheltered life away from the Ton and Seasons in London, she is far from a prudish miss from the country. One of the things that I loved most about her was the fact that she got annoyed with people not saying exactly what they meant and speaking in riddles when it was something she didn't understand. It seemed like she brought a breath of fresh air into the ballrooms as she wasn't afraid to say exactly what she meant herself. Annabelle did make mistakes though not having a Season before but this made for some really funny moments. She didn't really know how she was supposed to act and didn't know all of the right things to do which amused Sebastian greatly.

I thought that Sebastian was an interesting character in What Happens In London and was hoping that he would eventually get his own story. After giving a reading of Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, he left me wondering about him and his life and this book doesn't waste any time in letting the reader in on his big secret. This was something I wasn't expecting at all but I thought it was thoroughly shocking and amusing at the same time. It's quite funny that it was actually him who brought Olivia and Harry together in the first place even though they don't know that. Sebastian is supposed to have quite a reputation and have many, if not all of the young ladies falling at his feet but he never comes across as anything other than a complete gentleman and a true hero in this kind of story.

It was nice to see that the author had kept Olivia and Harry Valentine in this story as they were such a big part of Sebastian's life in What Happens In London. Both are very interesting characters, and Olivia was very humourous throughout when it came to both Sebastian and Annabelle.

As well as Olivia and Harry being supporting characters, I also really enjoyed Edward and Louisa. While they weren't in it an awful lot, I can see them having their own stories eventually, or maybe together (I would love it if that happened) as their characters and personalities show a lot of promise for another exciting story by this author.

If you haven't read a Julia Quinn book yet then, as much as I love this one, I wouldn't recommend it to start with. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever and What Happens in London both come before this book.

Wednesday, 19 December 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.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith


When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs? 


Publisher: Headline
Released: 4th April

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Book to Film Review: Life of Pi + Giveaway


About the film
Life of Pi is an adventure/ drama film that was released in 2012 and based on Yann Martel’s book of the same name. The film has a run time of 127 minutes and a rating of PG.

Plot
As an immigrant to Canada, Piscine Patel attracts the attention of a novelist who has heard about his story from his ‘uncle’ back in India. With the hopes that the story would make a good novel, the writer asks Piscine to tell him his story.

Piscine (later shortened to Pi due to being picked on at school) lives with his family in India, where his mother and father run and own a local zoo. However, the family do not own the land the zoo sits on and when it is going to be bought, Pi’s father decides to move everyone and the animals from the zoo to Canada. After booking passage on a Japanese ship, the family get ready for their new life. Devastation strikes while travelling across the seas though and a massive storm hits, leaving Pi alone on a lifeboat along with an injured zebra, an orangutan and Richard Parker, an adult Bengal tiger.

The film follows Pi on his adventures on the lifeboat and his journey back to civilisation.

Cast
Suraj Sharma as Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, age 16
Irfan Khan as Pi, adult
Ayush Tandon as Pi, age 11/12
Gautam Belur as Pi, age 5
Tabu as Gita Patel, Pi's mother
Adil Hussain as Santosh Patel, Pi's father
Gérard Depardieu as the Cook
Bo-Chieh Wang as the Sailor
Rafe Spall as the Writer
Shravanthi Sainath as Anandi, Pi's teenage girlfriend
Andrea Di Stefano as the Priest
Vibish Sivakumar as Ravi Patel, Pi's older brother, age 18/19
Mohamed Abbas Khaleeli as Ravi, age 15
Ayan Khan as Ravi, age 7

What I thought
As I have a Cineworld Unlimited Card, I was able to go to an advance screening of this film in Nottingham on 10th December. Although I have not read the book, the trailers for the film made it look fantastic and I was really looking forward to seeing it. I also saw this in 3D due to it being how the advance screening was being shown.

Life of Pi begins with Pi, now a middle aged man meeting with a novelist in his home in Canada. The novelist had been writing in India when he scrapped his work, deciding to start over. By meeting Pi’s ‘uncle’, he hears about an amazing story which he instantly thinks could work as a novel. Pi begins to tell the novelist about his life in India and how he came to live in Canada. The beginning of the film sets the scene perfectly by showing how Pi grew up, where he got his name from and also how he and his family lived.

As the story continues, Pi grows up a bit, finds religion and love and his life is extremely interesting. He definitely doesn’t have the normal life of any other boy in India. I really enjoyed the actors who play Pi throughout the film but especially Suraj Sharma who plays the role for the most part of the film. At age 16, Pi and his family want to move to Canada and this is where the film gets interesting. Their ship hits a massive storm and Pi finds himself all alone in the sea – apart from a zebra, orangutan and a Bengal tiger. The young man playing this role really throws himself into it and is able to really show emotion well. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere, not knowing how he is going to survive, fear was his first feeling. Along the way, sadness, hope, loss of hope and anticipation also kick in.

Pi encounters all kinds of problems while at sea, mostly with Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger who is determined to make the boat his own home. Obviously, he does eventually make it back to land otherwise he wouldn’t be telling his story to someone else, so while a large amount of the film is set at sea, not all of it is. The changes in setting were great and really broke up the monotony of seeing the same thing for such a long length of time. The whole story is beautifully told and made me feel a whole range of things while watching it.

In 3D, this film is a visual masterpiece. I’m not normally the biggest fan of 3D but with this film, I think you would miss out on a whole lot if you didn’t see it this way. With the bright and beautiful colours of India mixed with the exotic animals in the zoo and Pi’s life when he is at sea, there is so much to look at, at all times during this film. You can experience tiny birds flying out into the cinema, feeling like they are flapping their wings right in front of your face. The 3D effects on this film were so fantastic that I even jumped a few times because things ended up looking as though they were straight in front of my face. I don’t think I have ever, or will see again for a long time, a film as visually stunning as this one.

Although not a complex story, or a film with a massive cast, Life of Pi is one of the best films I have seen this year. It is a film that will make you feel things you won’t expect, react at things you would never think of reacting to and it is also just a wonderful story. 

I have two movie posters to give away!! The posters are double sided so you'll be able to choose which picture you want up on your wall. The giveaway will run until New Years Day and two winners will be picked afterwards. Good luck!

*Updated 21/12/12*
I have decided to throw in a copy of the book to one winner as well as the poster! 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 17 December 2012

Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer


About the book
Zombies Don’t Cry is the first book in the Living Dead Love Story series by Rusty Fischer. The book was released on 1st October by Electric Monkey and it is 337 pages long.

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Maddy Swift is just an ordinary girl, until the fateful night when she is struck by lightning and wakes up face down in a puddle. Then it's goodbye to all things Normal – such as breathing and having a heartbeat – and hello to yellow vision and a whole new Afterlife.

Turns out there’s a lot more to being a zombie than shuffling and groaning, but surviving school as one of the living dead requires a totally different set of skills. And things don’t get any easier when Maddy realises that she’s not the reanimated student at Barracuda Bay High . . .

What I thought
I had wanted to read this book for so long, since the author did a guest post on my old blog a long time ago. I love zombie books and this one sounded really different. At the time though, this wasn’t being published in the UK so I’ve had a really long wait for this one.

Zombies Don’t Cry is told from main character Maddy’s point of view, beginning with a short chapter which is set after the events which happen in the rest of the book. Maddie is your average teenage girl trying to get through high school. She doesn’t have many friends and just goes through one day at a time. Her personality and character come through well and her voice is a strong one… one that I liked very much. She’s quite ok not having many friends but she relies on best friend Hazel a fair bit.

Something strange is going on at Maddy’s school and a few girls have mysteriously died. Considering what a small town they live in, it makes people think that something very strange is going on. Also, all of the girls are in one of the same classes at school… the very same class that Maddy and Hazel are in. It doesn’t take long for Maddy to become a zombie and although the other girls did not turn out the same way, she joins them in being dead.

I really liked the way in which Maddy became a zombie. It was original and different and something that I had never read about before. There are apparently two different ways to become a zombie and one way makes you a normal zombie (well, normal according to the author) and then the other way makes you a bad zombie. The bad zombies in this book were very predictable from early on and I wish there had been some more mystery surrounding this aspect. I loved the whole way that Maddy realised what she was and what she had to do to survive. All in all, the zombie aspect of this book was very inventive.

Zombies Don’t Cry has quite a lot of action between the good and bad zombies and this was something that I really enjoyed about this book. Not only was there some new ideas about zombies but there was also a great rivalry going on. The actual ins and outs of being a zombie take up a fair amount of the plot so the action and planning of said action broke this up a little bit. I also liked how there was a small amount of romance in the book. The romance didn’t overpower the plot nor was everything reliant on the love interests involved which was a nice touch.

Although I did like this book, I found myself getting annoyed with a couple of characters at numerous points in the book and I wish the characters had been more likeable. Regardless of this, I enjoyed reading Zombies Don’t Cry and will be looking forward to a sequel. 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Film Review: This Christmas



About the film
This Christmas is a comedy/ drama film that was released in 2007. Although receiving quite a few bad reviews, it was a box office hit, making more than $40 million. The film is 117 minutes long and is rated 12A because of sexual content and some violence. 

Plot
In the Whitfield family, Christmas is a big deal. This Christmas, the whole family is coming home and there are bound to be some problems. 

Quentin is the eldest child and he hasn't been home in 4 years and the rest of the family must try to hide the fact that Joe has been living with his mother for a long time now. The rest of the children all have their own problems and secrets and it is obvious that they all interfere in each other’s lives. As the holiday season goes on, more and more of the secrets come out and the family have to deal with the consequences. 

What I thought
The general opinion on this film is that it is another version of The Family Stone and while I have to agree, I think this one was better. Obviously the story isn't the same but it has the same feeling/ idea to it. 

I thought the story had a lot more in it in this film compared to The Family Stone and it wasn't as clichéd (Not saying it wasn't a little bit though). The characters were a lot more interesting and the story wasn't just a slushy romance film. There is quite a bit of drama in the plot and it made a change from being slapstick and 
silly all of the time. 

There were two scenes that really stood out for me. One is where the two sisters have a fight and Lisa gets her own back on her husband. I know for the latter, some have called it quite brutal but I thought it was hilarious and well thought out but maybe a little over the top. What woman who knows her man is cheating on her doesn't want revenge and to punish him? Disabling him by putting baby oil all over the bathroom floor and then whipping him with a belt does seem harsh but maybe it taught him a lesson. Don't cheat on a fiery woman! 

I know Chris Brown gets a lot of stick, especially at the minute but I really quite like him in films. I'm a fan of his music as it is and it's good to see someone make a good move onto the big screen. I first saw Brown in Stomp The Yard a few years ago and wished that he had a bigger role and now I got that wish in this film. I loved his part of the story about wanting to be a singer, even though none of his family knew he could even sing and I felt this was a good character for him because it is close to who he really is. One of the things that I liked the most about Brown in this film, apart from his acting being really good, was that the small amount of singing that we do get to hear, isn't what we are used to. Brown is soulful and sings some classic songs beautifully. 

Columbus Short is another actor who, every time I see him in a film, ends up impressing me more and more. Although his role in This Christmas wasn't as big as in some of his other films, I thought he was exactly what Claude needed to be. Yes, here it comes...I think he's pretty hot too. That was a bonus for me though this time as I didn't even know he was in the film. 

The rest of the cast also do an amazing job and I couldn't really fault any of them. There really are some big names here so it's surprising when they don't clash so much and overpower each other. Unlike The Family Stone, this film didn't make the characters so different from each other, which I think is where the other film fell down. Not all big families are completely different from each other and it was a really good way to show that families are quite similar in their own ways. 

I absolutely loved this film!