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The Orange Prize for Fiction 2010 June 12, 2010

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Uncategorized.
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As a judge on the Orange Prize for Fiction 2010 Youth Panel, I was one of 6 judges deciding upon the “Winner of Winners” out of the last 14 books which have won the Orange Prize for Fiction awards.

The winner we selected was Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels; as announced by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall at the awards party on Wednesday:

This year’s winner of  the Orange Prize for Fiction was Barbara Kingsolver with “The Lacuna”:

For more information on the Orange Prize visit:
http://www.orangeprize.co.uk/

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella August 29, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review, Uncategorized.
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Confessions of a Shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic (originally published as “The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic) is a fabulously funny novel; the Bridget Jones of shopping. It has that special zing to it which makes the reader relate to Rebecca Bloomwood from the very first sentence, and will not allow the reader to put it down until it has been finished and the sequel picked up.

“Meet Becky Bloomwood, an irresistible heroine with a big heart, big dreams and a teeny tiny little weakness…

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Becky Bloomwood has a great flat, a fabulous wardrobe full of this season’s must-haves and a job telling other people how to manage their money. The only problem is, she can’t afford to live the high life any longer. The letters from the bank are getting harder to ignore, she tries Cutting Back, she tries Making More Money, she tries really hard, but nothing is working.

Her only consolation is to treat herself to something – just a little something…

Confessions of a Shopaholic…the perfect pick me up when life is hanging in the (bank) balance!”

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are walking casually down the high street with a fellow shopper, listening rather intently to something interesting they’re saying when you sort of let your gaze slip? And then you see It in an innocent window…and your eyes lock upon It. You can’t look away. It’s captured you. But your friend keeps walking and talking, and you have to pretend your interested in this ever-so-boring-non-It-related conversation, so you “mm” and “Ahh” and occasionally look back at your friend but all the while your thinking about It, and how much you like It and how much It would suit you, and what you could wear It with and wear It to, and what everyone will say about It.

Then you realised your friend is walking away from It and walking fast! So you sort of work in an angle, almost into your friend, who gives you an odd look before continuing to talk rubbish. And then they walk even fast away from It! How, you don’t know, but they do, so, before you think, you interrupt them mid-flow,

“Oh my God! Look at that!” You squeal and half run over to It, where you all but drool against the window, waiting for your friend to say, yes, yes, we shall go in, where you must try on that fabulous item!

Do you know that feeling? Have you had one of those moments? Well, Rebecca Bloomwood does too, and this novel understands that – she understands the need to shop.

The plot follows Becky as she realises that she really needs to get rid of her debts, some way or another, and so begins her journey, either to try to stop spending, or to make more money, but both of which are so hard! And what do you do when you’ve had a hard day? You shop.

This novel is insightful and understanding as it allows the reader to analyse Becky and think for a minute of two at the irony of her situation.

It is actually far more profound and deep than the constant humour and stupidness makes out, and by the end of the novel she is a very different person from the beginning.

Rebecca Bloomwood, as the character, is your typical RTR (relates to readers) Joe Bloggs girl, who is nothing exceptional, yet nothing to be pitied. She is just your average girl, and this is why this book is so successful; yet again the reader wants to read a book where they can really imagine properly what happens, because it could be them. Of course, it also gives the perfect escapism novel – money’s tight, life’s going downhill, love doesn’t exist; you read a novel about a girl just like you in the exact same situation, and suddenly, as it works out for her, it will work out for you too.

This aspect, combined with the thorough and rich humour throughout the book, provided by Becky as she gets into also sorts of complicated and entirely avoidable situations, allows a light laugh and a deeper reflection, and is altogether a great read.

This is truly an excellent book, and well worth a read. If you have already seen the film and not read the book, you definitely should NOT give this a miss – it is different enough to captivate, but not so different that you will fall out of love with Rebecca.

All in all, it is a positive read and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

KJ
theBookGirl

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling August 14, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review, Uncategorized.
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

“Harry Potter is a wizard. He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last…”

This awesome sequel to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will once again have you laughing, crying, groaning and celebrating with Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the characters as they enter their second year and the adventures become even more epic, much more mysterious and darkly deadly.

The book opens at the end of the summer holidays, where he finds a cute little creature named Dobby (a house elf) in his room, telling he must not go back to Hogwarts because dangerous things are going to happen. After facing a large number of obstacles, which he has to conquer in order to even enter Hogwarts he once again begins a year at his wizarding school.

It isn’t long before the mystery begins to unfold, and once again Harry, Ron and Hermione take it upon themselves to work out what is happening, why it is happening, and most importantly of all, how to stop it.

If you love the perfectly written (and perfectly stereotyped) characters, with all their childlike charm and entertaining roles, you will not be disappointed by this sequel. It still stars all the old favourites (even good old Mrs Norris – Filch’s cat) as well as adding a good number of new, brightly painted characters (including the emotional Moaning Myrtle and the self-obsessed Gilderoy Lockhart).

As for the complexity, originality and twists and turns of the plot…well, it has the key mystery factor which will keep you reading until you have finished. It has under plots, and minor story lines which help develop the characters and shape Harry into a better person, as well as improve the senses of morals. It keeps a realistic line with the personalities, which is, after all, what books are all about, and this allows the reader to relate even to a wizard.

Although it has a somewhat predictable ending, the journey is anything but, and there is enough that is not told that stops the reader guessing what the cause of all the trouble is, and how it can be stopped.

In conclusion, a good, worthwhile read (despite it’s aimed audience), with light-hearted humour and plenty of puzzles to keep every reader entertained.

KJ
theBookGirl

New Movie Cover Edition for Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon June 23, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Twilight, Uncategorized.
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http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2009/06/new-moon-cover.html

I thought you may appreciate the above article.

It shows the official cover for the movie tie in version of New Moon soon to be released…which is awesome.

Enjoy!

More actual book reviews will be coming soon, but I’m still tied up in writing/summer holidays.

KJ
theBookGirl

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman June 18, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review, Uncategorized.
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Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Noughts and Crosses is a truly excellent book which treads the delicate path of racist attitudes weaving between a passionate and strong romance.

“I had to make a choice. I had to decide what kind of friend Callum was going to be to me. But what surprised and upset me was that I even had to think about it…

Callum is a nought – a second-class citizen in a world run by the ruling Crosses. He is also one of the first nought youngsters to be given the chance of a decent education by studying at a school for Crosses…

Sephy is a Cross, daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country – a man doing his best to keep power in the hands of the Crosses. Friends with Callum since early childhood, hoping for something more to develop, she is looking forward to Callum’s arrival at her school…

But in their world, noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. And as hostility turns to violence, can Callum and Sephy possibly find a way to be together? They are determined to try. And then a bomb explodes…”

This novel deals with many of the delicate issues in modern society, very carefully intertwining them with a romance story which will affect for days, weeks, months, years to come.

Racism is a main feature of this novel and the separation between the black people and the white people is heart wrenching as Sephy and Callum struggle to remain true to who they are and what they believe.

Terrorism also features, as it always does when extreme prejudice has occurred, and this provides a very real edge to the story which can be felt second hand as realistic in today’s society.

The story between Sephy and Callum is one, once again, of forbidden love. Where in Mansfield Park it’s the love of a cousin, or in Twilight of an immortal, here it is a divide of classes which causes the problem.

This story cuts deep into the heart as it unfolds, with many twists and emotional tales, the characters we very quickly feel close to and a part of, ruthlessly carry on the story, uncaring of our pleas to make different choices or for the cruel world to change in a sentence.

This story will most definitely take you on a journey you will not forget in a hurry, and even if you have a heart of stone, this story will hurt you and mend you, changing you throughout its course as we catch a glimpse of Sephy and Callum’s life.

This novel is definitely worth a read, if you haven’t picked it up already. All you will need to undertake the journey is a box of tissues and the beautifully crafted words of Malorie Blackman.

KJ
The BookGirl

The Cherry Blossom Tree June 18, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Uncategorized.
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I’m writing a novel which will be named something along the lines of “The Cherry Blossom Tree”.

I am currently still writing it, and so this is taking up a lot of my time, which is why there is sometimes a lack of posts.

To read more about my novel, please feel free to visit my other site.

KJ
theBookGirl

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer June 8, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review, Twilight, Uncategorized.
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Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Brief warning: Only read this review if you have read Twilight and New Moon! I do reference those novels, although I give no spoilers for Eclipse.

 

Eclipse; the third installment of the Twilight Saga, more than lives up to the introduction and sequel which Twilight and New Moon gave. This novel shows the story after the return of Edward and the reconciliation with Jake. Once again Meyer delivers a fabulous combination of developed characters, spine-tingling horror and deep, forbidden, love.

“Bella?

Edward’s soft voice came from behind me. He pulled me into his arms at once, and kissed me. His kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge on the way his lips crushed mine – like he was afraid we had only so much time left with us.

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Following the international bestsellers Twilight and New Moon, Eclipse is the much-anticipated third book in Stephenie Meyer’s captivating saga of vampire romance.”

Eclipse, as the absolute centre of the beautiful saga, is filled with drama and emotions; so much love, so much hate, so much tenderness one heart can hardly bear such a novel, yet as your heart is torn apart and roughly sewn back together, no matter what team you’re on, you will find yourself once again absorbed into Bella’s world of mythical creatures. 

Bella, once again heroine, has to find a ground where she is comfortable, unwilling to give up either gorgeous hunk in her life, but being forced to choose by each, she is now in the predicament of all predicaments, and as she slowly tears her life apart on a quest for something it seems she cannot have, yet more drama unfolds as Victoria is still after her, the good vamps are back, but the increasing wolf pack is also still around.

I can promise you three things from this novel:

1) Edward is more romantic and more desirable than ever; he shows how much he cares for Bella and what a good person he really is. In this novel I felt so much pain on his behalf, and this is clearly well written by Meyer, as she once again gets the reader to connect with the characters

2) Jake gets his look in; we all know that Jake would never let Bella disappear from his life without a fight, and so the situation between Edward and Jacob is created – pick your team and get ready for great heart ache!

3) The violence and action, the horror and thrills aren’t nearly over yet – remember you still have Victoria prowling around out to get Bella, not to mention the Volturi’s ominous warning that they’d check up on Bella’s vamp status… if you think New Moon had action you haven’t seen anything yet…

This novel is a truly great continuation of the saga, and although the feeling is general more of despair and hatred rather than love and hope, Meyer still captivates her audience as the plot becomes darker, and not only are our favourite characters given further depth (even shallow old Rosalie) but we have a whole new cast who are equally as deep and complex.

Bad points? Well, once again Bella spends far too much time complaining and feeling sorry for herself 0- she still needs to be more constructive and the heroine a bit, instead of the moaning damsel in distress. However, she does grow up a lot in this novel, which is definitely something to look out for.

In conclusion, a darker and fuller plot with the amazing characters which Meyer has created will make you longing for Forks long after you read this gorgeous novel.

KJ
theBookGirl

New Moon Trailer June 1, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Twilight, Uncategorized.
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THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON trailer in HD

This is the OFFICIAL trailer for The Twilight Saga: New Moon. I’m sorry for going off topic, but it’s just so exciting 🙂

It was released at the MTV awards yesterday.

Taycob fans: 1.26 for you
Robward fans: the beginning
Twilight fans: prepare to be amazed
Everyone else: sorry

KJ
theTwilighterBookGirl

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

The theme of Family throughout To Kill a Mockingbird May 3, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncategorized.
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To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird really doesn’t stop telling us about family. In the narrow minded world of Maycomb, famiyl is everything, and, according to Aunt Al, every family has a “streak”. 

Throughout the novel we see that some families never change – for example every generation of Ewells so far have been pitiful excuses for people, living in a dirty environment and uncaring about education or getting a better life. Comparitively, many generation of Cunningham have been hoonest and worked hard to make the most of their land, despite their lack of money.

Other families have changed, mainly the Finch’s. Atticus broke free from the stereotype of his family when he moved to Maycomb, away from Finch Landing, and he got a respectable well paid job as a lawyer, paid for his brother to learn medicine, and then brought his children up with a black servant as their surrogate mother.

Aunt Al is the main character who highlights the stereotypes of the various families, and when she comes to live with Atticus, Scout, Jem and Cal, all of this is brought to the notice of Scout.

“There was indeed a caste system in Maycomb, but to my mind it worked this way: the older citizens, the present generation of people who had lived side by side for years and years, were utterly predictable to one another: they took forgranted attitudes, character shading, even gestures, as having been repeated in each generation and refined in time. Thus the dicta No Crawford Minds His Own Business, Every Third Merriwater Is Morbid, The Truth Is Not in the Delafields, All Bufords Walk Like That, were simply guides to daily living”

  The way that this society is set so strongly in stone means that it isnt moving forward as the rest of the world is; it is set in old superstitions and stereotypes without thinking of moving on to a more open minded way. 

This is a very strong factor when it comes to the Tom Robinson case – he is instantly guilty because he is black and therefore a lower class citizen. It also means that the Ewells are known for all their disgraceful behaviour and unlawful habits, but this isn’t even taken into account because that is just how they are.

This also shows how the society never seems to be able to move forward, and is demonstrated in the children’s initial and irrational fear and curiosity of Boo Radley, which is encouraged by the older generation (such as when Miss Stephenie Crawford tells the tale of Boo’s father’s death to the children).

However, hope still remains where the younger generations are concerned – Scout and Jem rebel against these prejudices as the story continues, and they learn throughout the course of the novel that these prejudices are unfounded, especially where the black community is concerned.

In conclusion, much of the story is based around family, but this is mostly just stereotyping by the judgmental people of Maycomb.

KJ
theBookGirlKJ