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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer May 3, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, Novel, recommendation, review, theBookGirl, Young Adult.
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TwilightTwilight: the most talked about book in the world (quite possibly).

You have to have been living on planet Zog to not have heard about the chick-lit young adult love story of Bella Swan, your typical teenage girl falling for the sexiest and most gentlemanly vampire in the history of literature…

The plot? Bella Swan is the new kid in town as she moves from sunny place-to-be Phoenix, Arizona where her Mum previously lived, to rainy, small town dullsville Forks, Washington where her dad, cheif cop Charlie, has always lived.

Bella dreads her first day of school, despite having a swanky new car, sorry, beat up old Chevvy Truck.

There she spots the sex God, archangel, embodiment of all things a girl desires, Edward Cullen *swoon*

Unfortunately, he’s a bad-guy-vampire (but with a conscience) and wants to drink her blood. Cue the most passionate and intense forbidden love story since Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Dashing Darcy.

Soon enough Bella has to suss out exactly what Edward is and then fight a battle with herself about what she wants, and what he might want.

This story is epic, written well, despite criticism, as Meyer manages to really get the reader to be Bella. Soon enough you will find yourself trapped in the frightening and fast-paced world of Bella Swan, and you will be rooting for her the whole way.

The story manages to dramatically capture exactly what a dream guy would be like for many a girl (too bad that to be this perfect he has to be immortal). This beautiful story stays with you far beyon the too few pages, even after the three equally awesome sequels.

To live as Bella and see these events unfold through her eyes is an unforgettable journey, especially with the perfect, sigh-enducing, fangirl-screaming lines Edward oh so casually drops, where in the real world would be so out of place, but are what many a girl would love to be told.

Bad points? Well, to start there are far, far too many typos throughout the book – seriously, the editor should have checked through this one more time!

On the style? Well Bella is developed, but there is room for more – she does complain an awful lot, where if I were her I would be dancing and giggling my life away. Also, the book focusses a little too much on looks – people are shallow but most people would want personality over looks; especially in a friend, but this isn’t always how Bella seems to feel.

Anyway, to summarise, Twilight is a light and funny novel, perfect for a summer read on the beach. It’s great for all ages (above 13 I would say, if you go on to read the whole series) and although Meyer is nowhere near being the next Austen, she has potential. She has potential.

KJ
theBookGirlKJ Reading

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Slam by Nick Hornby May 1, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, Young Adult.
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Slam by Nick HornbyI received Slam for Christmas one year and read it straight away, finishing it in a day. It’s one of those incredible books which you just cannot put down. 

The synopsis of the book is as follows:

“Whoever invented skateboarding is a genius. There’s only one skater, and his name’s Tony Hawk. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who he is, just trust me. Not only is Hawk the world’s best skater, he’s also good to talk to. So I talk to Tony Hawk, and Tony Hawk talks back. Because just when it seemed like everything had come together for me, I had to go and screw it all up. It only took two seconds. But all of me knew. One risk. One mistake and my life would never be the same. Hawk had a few things to say. And a few things to show me. Haveyou ever wondered what it would be like to see your own future? ”  

This novel outlines what it is like for the father during a teenage pregnancy, and is a thought-provoking tale about responsibility, expectations and breaking free from what everyone expects to do what and be who you want to do and be.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, after rereading it recently. It is well written in an intriguing style, through the eyes of a “typical” teenage boy. The hard-to-display emotion which so many teenage guys have during their first relationships is celeverly worked around by using a poster of Tony Hawks as the object to which a verbal journal is told.

I suppose I really like it because it is so different from the usual point of view of teenage pregnancies such as addressed  in popular films such as Juno. Hearing the side of the story of a guy who doesn’t want a child but knows he should be supporting the mother is worth it for the insight one gets into a world unknown. Also, the  addition of this world being so open and the motives so well explained means that every action any girl would take the “wrong way” really may have good intentions.

So, bad points? Well, sometimes the rough and unploished style of the narration can be a challenge to read when you just want to relax, and also a few twists and turns, in my opinion, made it just that bit too unrealistic, taking out the ability to relate and understand from the novel.

Overall, I would say the story was good, the style was interesting but not easy to read, and the plot was okay, but could have been more realistic. 

KJ
theBookGirl

 KJ Reading

To Kill A Mockingbird Theme: Lessons Learnt – Chapter 3 April 28, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analyse, book, GCSE, History, KJ, theBookGirl.
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To Kill a MockingbirdChapter three starts with Scout learning from Jem that she shouldn’t pick fights with people smaller than her, no matter what has provoked them “Let him go, Scout” this shows Jem’s authority and role of teacher and role model when Atticus is not present. 

Scout therefore learns about consequences of her actions and that she should not harm others. She learns this in Jem inviting Walter Cunningham home for lunch in order to make up for the fight and to help him where he would otherwise go hungry, teaching Scout about being charitable whilst allowing people to maintain their pride.

Scout also learns there are different things which people know and that people can be intellectual in many ways, “Atticus greeted Walter and began a discussion about crops that neither Jem nor I could follow” This shows that Scout is continuously learning, and still ignorant of much in the world.

The next lessons Scout learns is very significant – she learns that you should always respect everybody and their ways, even if you disagree with them.

Walter poured syrup on his vegetables and meat with a generous hand. He proabably would have poured it into his milk glass had I not asked what the sam hill he was doing…he quickly put his hands in his lap. Then he ducked his head… it was then that Calpurnia requested my presence in the kitchen.”

This is the course of action which leads Scout to realise that what she has done is wrong, and to understand the lesson.

” ‘He ain’t company, Cal, he’s just a Cunningham -‘
‘Hush your mouth. Don’t matter who they are…'”

This conversation/correction is the lesson which Scout learns, and is present throughout the book. IT doesn’t matter that Tom Robinson is black, or a lower class citizen or does things differently. He’s still a human living in the same time and place as Scout and the community she lives in, and that’s enough to qualify him for equality. Or at least this is what Atticus and the more moral citizens believe.

“Calpurnia sent me through the swinging door to the dining room with a stinging smack” 

This is the consequence of Scout’s actions, and Cal’s way of ensuring she learns from it and doesn’t act so disgracefully again.

Scout then learns that Cal has much more authority than she has, and that her father is an united front with the servant.

“I…suggested that Atticus lose no time in packing her off. …Atticus’s voice was flinty. ‘I’ve no intention of getting rid of her now, or ever.We couldn’t operate a single day without Cal”

This allows the reader to notice that Atticus is equal to all, whether they work for him, or are his family, whether they are black or white. It also teaches Scout that she is not in a position to treat anyone badly, especially not the ones trying to teach her and bring her up properly. 

A lesson which the reader sees demonstrated through the eyes of Scout, is that money does not qualify somebody to be desirable company.

“Little Chuck Little…didn’t know where his next meal was coming, but he was born a gentleman”

This display of manners is something which all people should aspire to possess, but is something which precious few of the character sin this book do have, and the majority of the people who DO have them are the younger generation, perhaps indicating that the jury of Robinson’s case may not have succeeded, but jurys of the future will be much more open minded.

 

Scout now learns that although she has flaws, her family -Atticus, Jem and Cal – all appreciate her and love her. 

“Calpurnia bent down and kissed me”

This display of emotion allows Scout to remember that although things can be tough, she always has her family there to help her. This is the total opposite with the Ewell’s where the father spends his time drinking, Mayella has to be the mother figure, and none of the children get education, help, care, love or even adequet food. This may be one of the main factors which leads Mayella to cause so much trouble for Tom Robinson. She is lonely, where Scout can never be.

 The next lesson learnt is arguably the key lesson in the entire book.

“You never really understand a person until you see things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”

This lesson is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and this use of apathy is what makes Atticus such a great lawyer, and what has, arguably, taught generations to acept others because they could be the same position. It teaches Scout to look past the surface and really understand who the person is and what they really are.

Scout learns next that there are people who aren’t nice,

“They were people, but they lived like animals”

This shows how people, like the Ewells, can have the opportunity to be equals in society – they are white and they have land – but they do not appreciate this and therefore should be outcasts in society. However they are still above the black community and are given special priveleges instead (they’re allowed to hunt game off season and the children only have to go to school the first day of every year, but they still get the opportunity to, unlike the black children).

Scout now learns what a compromise is,

“And agreement reached by mutual concessions… if you’ll…go to school, we’ll go on reading”

This compromise allows Scout to enjoy her hobbies, as well as teach her that although she can’t always get her way there is always something she can do to make it better. 

Finally Scout learns that ignoring people can be the solution to the problem,

Atticus said that if I paid no attention to him, Jem would come down. Atticus was right.”

This shows that Scout is slowly growing up and learning how to get along with other people. She also learns that Atticus ios wise, and his intelligence foreshadows how his morals will be right for the majority of the novel.

 

That’s all for chapter 3, and chapter 4 will be coming very soon.

KJ
theBookGirlKJ

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy April 27, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, GCSE, girl, KJ, Mystery, read, recommendation, review, theBookGirl, Young Adult.
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Looking for JJ“Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of the town towards Berwick Waters. Later that day only two of them came back…”

Looking for JJ is a book which has stayed with me for years, I first picked it up when I was about 13, looking for something new and different in my local library and found the exciting new world of Young Adult. That’s where I cam across a beautiful book which on the inside flap read:

“Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago – though it’s still hard for her to believe it’s real. The images, the sounds and the aftermath are imprinted on her memory. She’ll never be able to forget, even though she’s trying to lead a normal life – she has a job, friends and a boyfriend whom she adores. She’s making a go of things, putting her past behind her at last. But Alice’s past is dangerous, and violent, and sad – and it’s about to rip her new life apart

A  gripping and emotionally searing novel from an accomplished author. Anne Cassidy has tackled a terrifying subject with subtlety and imagination – Looking for JJ will not let you go.”

That blurb captivated me straight away, and as soon as I got home I just read and read and read. A few years later I came across it again whilst volunteering in Oxfam. I immediately bought it, remembering how much I loved it, and read it over the next few days; impressed that it wasn’t just good to a tween. 

The book covers the story of Alice Tully, a girl who has to face the usual uncertainties and problems in life which everybody has…but with the added difficulty of a horrific past. She has deep problems and conflicts rooted from the past, which she has to try to overcome.

It’s an epic story of beating the odds, survival in an unforgiving world and being misunderstood. It deals with living with the consequences of your actions and not being able to sorry to the person you hurt. 

This book really does absorb you, the reader, and also makes you really consider everything you do, and the actions.

Bad points, I suppose, are that some areas of Alice’s life could be developed a little more, so we see mor eof who she really is. Also, without writing a spoiler,  I was a little disappointed with the ending because it didn’t quite seem to fit with Alice’s personality.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in a crime novel, filled with chilling secrets and uncertainties. If you want to read something deep which can still communictae with you on a more basic level, this is definitely the way to go. 

Be warned, throughout this story I did need tissues.

KJ
theBookGirl

KJ Reading  

To Kill A Mockingbird Theme: Lessons Learnt – Chapters 1 and 2 April 27, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analyse, book, books, GCSE, girl, History, KJ, read, reading, review, the, theBookGirl.
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To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird explores loads of themes, but one of the first ones it goes into are the lessons which Scout and Jem (and often Dill) learn, especially during the first part.

The first notable lesson that Scout learns is that school life is very different from homelife and that she has to act differently there. 

The education system in Maycomb is poor, and Scout is told not to read anymore at home because the she learns is wrong. This makes Scout distraught and absolutely hate school, and leads her to find different ways to get out of going. “miss.Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me anymore, it woyuld interfere with my reading” This shows that the education system was flawed.

Scout also learns that although Miss Caroline is the authority, Scout knows more about the ways of the people in Maycomb, and also is very perceptive. This is demonstrated when Scout has to explain to Miss Caroline why Walter Cunningham cannot accept the money for his lunch.

The reader learns how Maycomb works, the way the poorer parts of soceity pay Atticus and the rules of the playground, through Scout.

This concludes the lessons learnt in the first two chapters.

KJ
TheBookGirlKJ

Marley and Me by John Grogan April 21, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, KJ, read, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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The cover of the bestselling book

The cover of the bestselling book

I recently read Marley and Me which is a fabulous book and definitely worth reading (http://www.johngroganbooks.com/marley/index.html). I hadn’t really heard about it until I saw the trailer for the new film (http://marleyandmemovie.com/) in the cinema, and my friend told me how amazing it was. As a total animal lover, I leapt at the chance when she offered to lend me the book. 
The blurb on the book reads:
“John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they bought home Marley, a wiggly yellow fur ball of a puppy. Life would never be the same. Marley quickly grew into a barrelling, ninety-seven pound steamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women’s undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewellery. Obedience school did no good – Marley was expelled. Neither did the tranquilisers the veterinarian prescribed for him with the admonishment, ‘Don’t hesitate to use these.’ And yet Marley’s heart was pure. Just as he joyfully refused any limits on his behaviour, his love and loyalty were boundless, too. Marley shared the couple’s joy at their first pregnancy, and their heartbreak over the miscarriage. He was there when babies finally arrived and when the screams of a seventeen-year-old stabbing victim pierced the night. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms. The heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family in the making and the wondrously neurotic dog who taught them what really matters in life. For lovers of Tuesdays with Morrie, The Year of Magical Thinking, and even, of course, dogs! “
This book instantly drew me in straight from the preface. It is brutally honest about every event which takes place…and the events and adventures this book travels through are just phenomenal. Any dog owner will have hundreds of funny stories to tell you about their naughty dog, but I think Grogan must take the medal for telling his stories in this funny, personal way.
The book is written on a very informal level and is filled with short factual references about dogs and other features of the story which were interesting (although they did interrupt the flow).
Grogan has written this very well, allowing the reader to enter into his world and family life, whilst keeping Marley as the focus point throughout the novel.
As it travels through the life of Marley, as the reader you become extremely attached to the crazy dog, and you feel a mixture of pity and jealousy for Grogan as the owner and responsibility for this dog.
This book, I can guarantee, will make you laugh until you cry, and cry yourself to sleep. It is truly an emotional rollercoaster, but is definitely worth the ride as it gives such a profound understanding of dog behaviour it is impossible not to fall in love with Marley.
The bad points, which I suppose I should include, may be that Grogan gives the reader just enough information about other things happening in the story (such as the birth of his children, and the natures of his work) to get you to want to know more but then returns to Marley without giving the informatio n you sought. THis isn’t necessarily a criticism, in fact it is rather clever, whilst allowing him to keep a distance from the reader, but it is frustrating when you are reading the book.
Overall, this is a beautifully written book full of charm and laugh out loud humour. It’s definitely worth a read, although I advise a box of tissues! 
KJ
theBookGirlKJ Reading

To Kill a Mockingbird March 12, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, GCSE, History, KJ, read, reading, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Ok, I had a sort of lapse in attention to this blog after the first 2/3 posts because I’m currently in the middle of my G.C.S.Es and some other stuff.
Anyway, I’m going to keep you updated on books AFTER the exams, but as I have to study books for my English Lit I might as well give you a breakdown on those books.
The books I have to study are To Kill a Mockingbird and An Inspector Calls. However, I’m only going to blog about TKAMB because it’s much more interesting (in my opinion), as well as being a novel as opposed to  a play.
So, for those of you living under stones in some corner of the universe, I will give a breif outline of the plot.
TKAMB is written from the point of view of a little girl called Scout, who lives in a small town called Maycomb, Alabama, with her older brother, Jem, her father; a lawyer named Atticus, and their servant and cook, Calpurnia, who is really the serrogate mother for the children. 
The story follows the adventures of Scout and Jem, and their friend Dill, as they begin to grow up, learn lessons and go through a journey which makes them the generation which changed attitudes towards racism.
The story moves from the begining of Scout’s school days, through the games which she plays with Jem and Dill, especially in trying to get the local Bogeyman; Arthur “Boo” Radley to come out of his house; moving on to learning morals; which leads to the climax with a courtcase about a black man raping a white woman. 
This story is memorable and actually manages to make the reader think and reassess their morals. It seems to me people expect the literature they are examine don to be dry, long and hard, but TKAMB is different (even if the name takes too long to write out in full). It addresses historic situations whilst retaining the level where one can relate to the characters.  This way we understand what’s happening with a wise assurance, but remember what Scout learns for ourselves.
TKAMB explores themes and stereotypes, investigating the typecasting which happens in places like Maycomb, where it is assumed everyone must have a “streak” of some sort from being a member of a certain family. 
The next few posts are going to be looking at some of the themes, and maybe exploring the different characters. I should be updating tomorrow, so it should all be good 🙂
KJ
theBook Girl KJ

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas March 10, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, KJ, read, reading, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Heya,

Now, as you may know, I rarely read just one book at a time, and recently I have been lent The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. 
This is a film which I have never seen because I wanted to read first, and now I can read the book. However, as I have not seen the film I’m going into the book blind, as it orgininally was.This means I will be reviewing The Devil Wears Prada, and possibly comparing it to the film, and silmultaneously reviweing The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas as a first time experience. 
The blurb on this book is:
The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.
If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine year old boy called Bruno (though this isn’t a book for nine year olds). And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to cross such a fence.
So, that’s all I know about the book and the story in general. My first impression is that the fence is probably a metaphor for troubling things and forbidden things, which should not be forbidden. It also has probably got a physical meaning too, although it is likely to only be fabricating the metaphor.
KJ
theBookGirl 

The Devil Wears Prada March 8, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, KJ, read, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Hello,

I have finally decided to read something not Twilight related for the first time since Christmas (after reading the series three times in a row, only stopping for half a day in order to read Double Cross, the latest in Noughts and Crosses, it really is time to remind myself of the other books out there), and the lucky book is A Devil Wears Prada. 
I have seen the film of this book many, many, many times, but I have always felt absolutly awful for not reading the book, as it goes against my rigid law of never seeing a film before reading the book, as the book is ALWAYS better. Now, I have finally got round to buying the book, so I’m pretty excited to see how it fares in comparison to the film.
After about twenty minutes of being sucked in I’ve finished two chapters (look at me go!) and I’m already being drawn back to it, despite my need to do my GCSE coursework (and therefore letting myself get distracted by telling you all about this).
So, here’s the basic plot, as written on the blurb:

 High fashion, low cunning – and the boss from hell
When Andrea first sets foot in the plush Manhattan offices of Runway she knows nothing. She’s never heard of the world’s most fashionable magazine, or its feared and fawned-over editor, Miranda Preistly.
Soon she knows way too much.
She knows it’s a sacking offence to wear less than a three inch heel to work – but there’s always a fresh pair of Manolos in the accessories cupboard.
She knows eight stone is fat. That you can charge anything – cars, manicures, clothes, to the Runway account, but you must never leave your desk, or let Miranda’s coffee get cold. That at 3am, when your boyfriend’s dumping you because you’re always working and your best friend’s just been arrested, if Miranda phones with her latest unreasonable demand, you jump.
Most of all, Andrea knows that Miranda is a monster boss who makes Cruella de Vil look like a fluffy bunny. But this is her big break, and it’s all going to be worth it in the end.
Isn’t it?
Now, too me, this blurb is pretty good and makes me want to start reading right away. The only problem I can see in it is it might give a little bit too much away, but having seen the movie, I know the general plot anyway…
KJ 
theBookGirl

Introduction March 8, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, Breaking Dawn, girl, introduction, KJ, read, reading, recommendation, review, the, theBookGirl.
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Hello Lovely People of the World*,

I happen to love books, because they’re like little portals of magic in which you can escape and forget about everyday life and instead be whoever and wherever you want to be. 

It’s a hobby in which I get totally absorbed, to the point of obsession, and so I have decided whilst I love reading so much, I should do reviews, recommendations and general, you know, mini-essays, I suppose, on books I’m reading or possibly have read. 

One of the great things about books is that you ca pick them up whenever, and as long as they aren’t to thick, like Breaking Dawn, you can take them anywhere with you. They’re just so reliable!

Anyway, so that is my little introduction, and very soon I intend on following it with an actual titbit of useful information. I’m also going to work on setting up a Youtube channel on which I will review books in a more interesting way.

KJ
(theBookGirl)


*You’re lovely for reading this, intentionally or not