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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen May 25, 2009

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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

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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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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

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  

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