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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini May 28, 2009

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A STORY OF FATHERS AND SONS, FRIENDSHIP AND BETRAYAL, AND THE CASUALTIES OF FATE

1970s Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can forsee what will happen to HAssan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption”

The plot of The Kite Runner could easily be described as a bildungroman as it is primarily is a tale of growing up. However, it has quite a few twists making it different from your average coming-of-age story, including the setting, the dangers and the comparison given between Amir and his best friend Hassan. 

The novel begins with Amir, who is our narrator, looking back from adulthood to an event which occured when he was 12. We soon learn that this event has changed a lot about him, affected him throughout his life and is a pinpoint of realisation for him. The story then tells of what happened then and what os happening now which leads the reader on a very powerful journey where we are overcome with a whole hoard of emotions.

This is one of those rare books where the main character not onl has flaws (as any realistic character has) but could also be accused of being “the bad guy” rather than the innocent victim who is just misunderstood or undervalued. Yet we still love him, despite everything he does, and I suppose its his courage to tell us, the humble readers, his story which makes us love him so.

The characters are all realistic and perfectly displayed, the plot reveals its mysteries at times perfect for suspense. The delicate issues are well written and brilliantly portrayed. Overall it is an inspirational book in every way.

Bad points? 

Well I personally found it hard to come to terms with all the names as they are, of course, not English and therefore unusual to me. This isn’t a bad poitn so much as a thing to be aware of if you, too, sturggle to get to grips with different pronounciations. Clearly, if it did use English names it would ruin the book as it is part of the understanding of the culture.

The well accounted descriptions of history and current events occuring in Afghanistan, too, is well written with a great depth of knowledge and quest for the reader’s understanding.

In conclusion this novel is well written and you honestly will not be able to put it down. Well worth a read!

KJ
theBookGirl

Constance by Rosie Thomas May 27, 2009

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Constance by Rosie Thomas

Constance by Rosie Thomas

This story is purely captivating. 

“Connie Thorn was abandoned by her mother: a foundling left for strangers to find. She fiercely carves her own place in the world, shaping her own identity away from her adoptive family.

Her distance from her sister, Jeanette, her opposite in every way, is magnified when they both fall in love with the same man.

Years later, with bitter betrayal between them, Jeanette contacts Connie to tell her she is dying. The only family Connie will ever know is disappearing.

Leaving her peaceful hideaway on Bali, Connie hurries to her sister’s side. Can the two of them put the past behind them and make their peace? And can Connie make her own peace with who she is – and who she loves?”

This story cannot be justified in any review I do as it is so deeply founded and well written. The plot follows Connie as she tries to work out her life – present, past and future – within the time she has left with her sister. It also follows Noah, nephew of Connie, and his life binding the two stories together which wouldn’t be far off magic.

Bad points? Well, some of it may not be for younger readers, and it also is not good for you if you prefer your heart strings to remain un-tugged.

Thomas has created an insprational and moving novel which is well worth a read this summer!

KJ
theBookGirl 

New Moon By Stephenie Meyer May 25, 2009

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New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Following my post on the New Moon poster I thought I might as well review the amazing book it is based on. 

 

The blurb of the book is as follows:

“Shoot I muttered as the paper sliced my finger; I pullet out to examine the damage. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut.

It all happened very quickly then.

“No!” Edward roared…Dazed and disorientated I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm – into the fevered eyed of six suddenly ravenous vampires.


For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just begining…

Passionate, riveting and deeply moving, New Moon, the compelling sequel to Twilight, irresistibly combines romance and suspense with a supernatural twist.”

 

The plot of this captivating sequel is enough to tear someone’s heart out and shatter it as various events occur determined to make the forbidden love between mortal and immortal remain forbidden forever.

I promise you now that this journey will cause you to cry with happiness and cry with pain at the events, circumstances and occurrences which the story methodically encounters, reacts and changes with.

The plot begins with Bella happily in love with the infamously gorgeous and sexy Edward Cullen, who possesses all the true characteristics of a born gentleman and all the chivalry one could wish for.

However, things begin to change dramatically and soon enough Bella has to deal with something far worse than she has encountered before.

During the journey she is taken upon by the turn of events she makes new friends and encounters another aspect of life in the form of Jacob Black.

Once again Meyer shows an amazing ability at relating the reader to Bella and consequently producing a whole spectra of emotions which few authors can persuade their reader to feel.

New Moon has often been criticised by even the most avid fan as a let down, unnecessary or simply a plot device. However, I feel that the characters would be much shallower and flatter if this novel did not follow a route such as it does as it explores a path which few authors are brave enough to take their characters. 

Without inducing spoilers this novel is the ultimate test for the Twilight characters and the saga would not be complete without it. It is far darker and even scary compared to the previous novel, but still deals with the themes of forbidden love, morals, and following your heart.

Bad points? Much the same as Twilight – even some of the mortal aspects are unrealistic and Bella can once again be criticised for being a moaning damsel in distress rather than a constructive heroine as desired by nowadays’ standards. However, here I must defend her by pointing out that we are listening to her whole soul and for her not to complain and moan at what is occurring would be totally unnatural.

In conclusion; a dark and epic novel happily follows the powerful first novel in the beautiful Twiligth Saga. Meyer easily shows her capability at writing with force and passion which fully develops the chemistry necessary for such an epic story of  love, courage and…ermm..vampires.

Of course, I feel I should point out, this story although featuring the supernatural isn’t actually about the supernatural; more so about very human feelings, which can only be truly shown when contrasted with the possibility of not being human at all.

And so I urge you dear reader, to pick up Twilight and then New Moon, in order to sweep you into the favourite love story of this generation!

KJ
theBookGirl KJ Reading

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen May 25, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in recommendation, review.
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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Working my way through the works of Jane Austen I naturally have come to that great book; Sense and Sensibility.

 

The description is as follows:

“Unfairly deprived of their family inheritance by the grasping Mrs John Dashwood and her husband, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood and their mother find themselves in greatly reduced circumstances.

Compelled to leave Norland in Sussex for Barton Cottage in Devonshire, the two sisters are soon accepted into their new society. Marianne, whose sweet radiance and open nature charm the roguish John Willoughby, is soon deeply in love. Elinor, whose disposition is more cautious and considered, who carefully conceals her emotions, is suffering the loss of Edward Ferrars whom she has left behind.

Despite their very different personalities, both sisters experience great sorrows in their affairs of the heart: Marianne demonstrably wretched and Elinor allowing no one to see her private heartache. It is, however, the qualities common to them both – discernment, constancy and integrity in the face of the fecklessness of others – that allow them entry into a new life of peace and contentment.”

 

The plot of this classic novel follows the Dashwood sisters as their love is tried and tested and as they grow up to find that a fairy tale life is hard to find for anyone. 

The narration primarily follows Elinor, whose nature is to shield her feelings and be nothing less than devoted to the happiness of her family. This style is really intriguing as it seems that Elinor’s love story is merely a sub-plot to her sister’s extravagant and emotional journey which her personality makes known to all and of course makes her the centre of attention. 

Yet, it seems to me, that Elinor is still our (as the reader) main focus, for we learn to look deeper in to actions, words and empathy to understand how Elinor feels and this makes us much more intimate with her than we can be with Marianne, despite her being so much more open.

The characters thoughout this novel are extremely well developed and as the reader we learn to love and hate the whole cast of  personalities as they meddle, interfere and generally disrupt the Dashwoods’ lives.

The style in which this book is written is very easy to fall into, despite the language being ye olde English, as you have the theme all distinguished authors possess of relating the reader to the main character and therefore making you feel connected with her. This, consequently, makes us feel the journey which Elinor follows that much more important, and makes us that much more emotionally attached to Elinor.

Bad points? oh how I hate this part of reviews! I think the only disappointment I had with the novel is that the ending is far too abrupt in my eyes – without giving any spoilers, I would have wanted it to be further developed. However, on that point I shall say no more in case you have not read the book yet.

I also became quickly confused with who was who, especially when they are all referred to by their last names! This is no criticism – as it is truthful of the times – but is something to be aware of when reading so as you do not get confused too!

In conclusion, Sense and Sensibility is a beautifully written book and one which I believe no one has a single excuse not to read! Elinor is an enchanting character and well worth accompanying for her journey throughout the novel.

KJ
theBookGirl KJ Reading

To Kill a Mockingbird – The END May 19, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in To Kill a Mockingbird.
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UPDATE: If you have any questions concerned with TKAMB specifically, and have your exam soon or whatever I can provide detailed answers within  24hrs. Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. This includes everything on characters, themes, plot, ideaologies and anything else at all 🙂

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

I have finished my English Lit exam today and never have to analyse To Kill a Mockingbird again. But I will read it again as it is such a good book!

 

I hope my notes helped and that everyone else doing their GCSEs felt it went well!

Good luck all!!

KJ
theBookGirlKJ

New Moon Poster May 19, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Twilight.
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Ok, I know this is nothing to do with reviews etc. but

http://www.twilightsource.com/tsgallery/?level=picture&id=1448 

Summit have officially released the first New Moon poster, and I thought all you Twilight fans would appreciate it 🙂
 

 

Official New Moon Poster as posted by www.twilightsource.com

Official New Moon Poster as posted by http://www.twilightsource.com

 

 

Eragon by Christopher Paolini May 16, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Novel, review, theBookGirl.
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Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon is a fantasy hit worldwide. It follows the story of a teenage boy, Eragon, who finds a Dragon’s egg which hatches for him. Eragon now has to become a Rider, as in the ancient legends. However, this egg was wanted by King Galbatorix, evil king of the country, and this made Eragon infamous and top of his Most Wanted list. 

 

And so the epic story is born, a story of revenge and love, hate and honour, of all things powerful and motivational. Eragon begins a quest and the reader enters a world where to do what is right you have to fight against everything.

Here’s the blurb:

“One world… One dragon…  A world of adventure.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realises he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands…”

This book is extremely good as it is a perfect escapism novel, filled with action and fantasy where no one has to worry about the Credit Crunch or Swine Flu. 

The plot is thick and complex, maybe with a little too much detail for one not acquainted with Paolini’s intricate world, but otherwise easy to follow, with unexpected twists and turns.

The characters are well developed and although there are few sub-plots, this is improved in the second of the series. Eragon is well illustrated and most definitely a three dimensional character with flaws as well as honourable characteristics.

Paolini writes well, keeping the reader interested, and giving imaginative descriptions which aren’t too long winded.

Bad points? Some of the language and terms Paolini has made up are a little hard to remember and pronounce (although there is a guide at the back)

Good points? Complex, chunky plot, well developed characters, a clear style and gripping narrative makes you unable to put the book down, once you get into it.

Overall, I would recommend giving this a read. It lacks a developed romantic story, but the action and adventure do make up for that.

KJ
theBookGirl KJ Reading

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen May 14, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Novel, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Pride and Prejudice "Vintage Classics" cover

Pride and Prejudice "Vintage Classics" cover

Recently I reread that amazing classic; Pride and Prejudice.
It is a beautiful book perfect for a romantic such as I am, or equally for someone who loves a book which is stylistically and profoundly written.

 

The blurb of this book is:
“Elizabeth Bennet is young, clever and attractive, but her mother is a nightmare and she and her four sisters are in dire need of financial security and escape in the shape husbands.
The arrival of nice Mr Bingley and arrogant Mr Darcy in the neighbourhood turns all their lives upside down in this witty drama of friendship, rivalry, enmity and love.”

The plot follows Elizabeth Bennet, who you quickly relate to, as she tries to find herself and what she wants in a flurry of visitors. Love is at the heart of the story, but the necessity of finding a man who has the wealth to support her is equally important…and she could never marry someone who she does not love. Equally, you learn to have affection for her sister, Jane, who, too, must find herself a husband.

In this enchanting story you are introduced to the type of man that just aren’t around anymore – the wondeful gentlemanly type who is chivalrous and very amiable. The whole cast of gentlemen from Mr Wickham to the infamous Mr Darcy makes the love stories all the more gripping.

The tale, with many a twist and turns, enjoys the romance of the late Georgian era, where Lizzy learns to trust others and, too distrust others.

Bad points? Really, I don’t think I could criticise Austen’s style, plot, characters or themes. She’s awesome, and I’ll leave it at that.

Good points? All of the above.

Read it if you don’t want to miss out on one of Britain’s top novels!

KJ
theBookGirlKJ Reading

PS there has been a slight lapse in posts recently, and that will continue, reluctantly for a while due to the sheer amount of work I have… :\

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding May 10, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in KJ, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Brief Character Summary – To Kill a Mockingbird May 9, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analysis, Essay, Harper Lee, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncategorized.
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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird Cover

The following is a very short summary of the different characters (very useful for last minute revision notes):

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch- young girl and narrator of story. She learns many lessons throughout the novel, and grows up from a naive but perceptive child to a moral and strong young lady, acknowledging facts many adults failed to grasp.

Jeremy Atticus Finch – Scout’s older brother and friend. Jem is maturer than Scout and look out for her. He is very much like his Father, and teaches Scout when Atticus is absent. Jem is much quicker than Scout and has a role of authority and knowledge. She looks up to him, although likes to feel his equal.

Atticus Finch – Jem and Scout’s father. Atticus is a lawyer for the people of Maycomb and works very hard for justice and equality. He accepts people the way they are and has a very advanced set of morals for a resident in Maycomb at this time. Atticus is one of the few characters who is not racist, as shown by his defending Robinson.

Calpurnia – Maid and cook in the Finch household, Cal is really a surrogate mother to Jem and Scout, and holds joint authority with Atticus in that respect. She is loyal, kind and strong, having a great amount of respect for Atticus and affection for the children she keeps the family together through tough times.

Charles Baker “Dill” Harris – A companion of Jem and Scout, he becomes a very firm friend at the beginning of the novel. Dill has a huge imagination and the children spend much of their time playing games together. He also matures with Jem and excludes Scout when she sees the “right” thing to do instead of what they want to do. Dill is Scout’s fiancee at this young age.

Miss Maudie – Atticus’ friendly neighbour is another moral character who does as she likes and sees as right. She is very fond of the children and looks after them, and spoils them a little. Scout can always rely on her for help, advice and something to do.

Mrs Dubose – This is another neighbour of the Finch’s’ but she is constantly nasty to the children, and shouts at them from her porch. She is recovering from a heroine addiction, and this makes her nasty.

Aunt Alexandra – Aunt of Scout and Jem, sister of Atticus. Aunt Al believes in society, class and therefore is prejudiced and stereotypes.She interferes a lot in the upbringing of Jem and Scout, when she decides they aren’t being brought up well enough.

Tom Robinson – a chivalrous, honest black man who lives in the black community in Maycomb. He is accused of raping Mayella Ewell by Bob Ewell, despite evidence against this. Robinson is a mockingbird in the novel, and a victim of racism, discrimination and prejudice.

Bob Ewell – a white man in Maycomb, who spends all his money on drink, is a single father with many children, and who treats everyone badly.

Mayella Ewell – the white eldest daughter of Bob Ewell. She is lonely and desperate, unhappy with her life as a poor and disregarded woman, and in this loneliness turns to Tom Robinson, whom she tries to have a relationship with. Needless to say, Robinson does not tolerate this and refuses; but when she is faced with this she accuses him of rape, with encouragement of her father.

Arthur “Boo” Radley –  a neighbour of Scout’s who lives in a house in which the occupants very rarely come out of, especially not Boo. At the beginning of the novel he is regarded as the local “bogeyman”; someone to be feared with the tales of his insanity and violence. However, as the story develops it becomes clear that he is just lonely, and not allowed to communicate with society which makes him awkward and unused to people. He eventually turns out to be a hero and kind hearted man, who loves the children.

Miss. Caroline – Scout’s school teacher who does not understand the ways of Maycomb and ends up being taught by her pupils. Miss Caroline does not get on well with Scout as they had a bad start.

The Cunninghams – this is a family which is well known in Maycomb, they are self respecting and kind, but very poor.

Mr. Dolphus Raymond – a white man who spends his time with a black girl and their children. He pretends to be drunk constantly by drinking out of a bottle hidden in a paper bag, but it turns out that it is simply Coca Cola, and he just wants to live with the black girl without any hassle from the society.

Lula – a black woman who lives in Maycomb, and doesn’t want Scout and Jem to go to the black church one week because she is so bitter about the racism. She wants segregation but where black people have at least as many rights as whites.

Zeebo – a kind and well loved member of the black community who is both the minister in the black church and the garbage collector for the white community.

Uncle Jack – Scout and Jem’s uncle. He is a doctor and loves the children dearly, although he doesn’t understand children nor how to treat them. he uis usually a very good friend to Scout and Jem.

Francis – Scout  and Jem’s cousin. Francis has a narrow mind and cruelly torments Scout. He is filled with the prejudice and discrimination that Atticus has taught his children not to have.

Judge Taylor – a just and fair judge of Maycomb, who must be the judge in the Robinson case. He is assertive and attentive, whilst giving a relaxed and laid back impression which results in getting the truth whilst being in total command of the court.

Miss Stephanie Crawford – a busybody neighbour who makes it her business to know everything and pass it on. She is the town’s gossip.

Mr. Gilmer – Bob Ewell’s lawyer. He is clever and twists words, and plays off the fear Mayella has of Atticus to his advantage.

Sheriff Heck Tate – the sheriff of Maycomb. He is a good friend of Atticus and has command of the town. He is generally a good guy.

 

KJ
theBookGirlKJ