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Brian Friel’s Dancing At Lughnasa- Character Summary September 18, 2009

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Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

Dancing at Lughnasa is a pivotal drama, based in Ireland. It is a play, narrated by Michael, the main character, as he looks back on a particular summer of his childhood, which revolves around his family of mother, four aunts, uncle, father and himself as a child.

The plot follows the memories of that summer,exploring many themes and ideas, in the iconic realistic style of Mr Friel.

The five sisters live in a small house in a very rural, very Catholic part of Ireland, with Michael and their brother Jack.

Jack was a missionary priest, who has just returned from Africa, confused and ill, he struggles with living at home in Ireland, and adjusting back to English, after years of Swahili.

Kate – the eldest sister- is a school teacher, and the only sister with a reliable income. She is strict and takes the responsibility of the family upon herself as she tries to hold it together, and keep her family right, whilst working all day. Kate is the character I feel the most empathy for, as she, in my opinion, is often written off as bossy and controlling, with her very religious character causing unnecessary strain on the sisters. However, I feel that she is simply a very tired, very loving woman, who has had to grow up before her time, and sacrifice all in order to look after those she loves. Her part in the story is the crucial role of keeping the family together to pull through the never-ending hard times.

Maggie -second in age to Kate – is a cheerful, carefree woman, who hasn;t allowed poverty, or bad luck stop her from being a positive laughing woman. She is the sort of character that brings a smile to your face from just being her. She is very much on the same level as Rose and the childhood Michael, making merriment and telling riddles non stop, she is the most confident, and least inhibited of the sisters. Maggie is the housekeeper for the family, and she works hard all day, every day for little recognition, but she doesn;t need the recognition for she values the love of her family much higher.

Agnes is the sister which Rose looks up to the most, seeing her as a special friend who she admires and wishes to please. In return Agnes is close to Rose, feeling more protective of her than the other sisters, and keeping a close relationship with her.

Agnes is the middle sister, and she knits for a living, knitting gloves she then sells on for a little money. She is quieter than the other sisters, although not by much, but just enough to see that she is a little detached as she is always focused on Rose.

Rose, who, too, knits, is often described as “simple” as she is less aware of the circumstanced they are in than the other sisters, and is often slower to understand what is going on, giving her an almost childlike personality. Rose is loving and loveable, as she tries to do what’s right, and forever is youthful as she doesn’t take on board the responsibilities that her sisters know they must. She is kind and sweet, but childlike and funny. All round, she is the cute character which adds to happiness and purpose to the other’s sisters lives.

Chris is the youngest sister, and Michael’s mother. She is less strict about social etiquette, rules, and approval, as can be seen by her having a child out of wedlock, and her language which is often very blunt. Chris is a harder character, but has soft edges, such as her maternal side. It seems she often needs nothing more than a few kind words in order for her to soften, relax and become youthful; yet her everyday life is harder, as she too shoulders responsibilities (although not as many, due to her feeling less social pressure). Chris has been hurt by love, and lives for Gerry, who she sees rarely but becomes elated when he comes.

Gerry is a care-free, responsibility-free, community-free man. In fact, he has what each of the sisters yearn for inside – freedom. He feels no obligation to Chris, or indeed Michael, and comes and goes as he pleases, as is his attitude to life. To me, I feel that he is not maliscious or cruel, he simply does not think or consider implications. He has happiness and enjoyment on his mind, causing him to overlook his cruelty in the way he treats Chris and Michael.

Actually, he remind sme of Rocky from Chicken Run, in his wild, free way, but, of course, Rocky is much more sensible, brave and noble…

Michael as a child is funny and humorous, reminding the audience/reader of the funny cynical age that children go through. He is spoilt and loved by all his aunts, and extremely creative as he has no nearby friends. His personality often shines through when the sisters interact with him, but he is naiive to all the troubles of their responsibilities.

Michael as the narrator is much more aware, as he looks back, perhaps through rose tinted glasses, on the events of that exceptional summer from his childhood. He is matter of fact and clear in what happens, but conveys much emotion when speaking of the causes and affects of the events.

The final character that I personally believe is a character is “Marconi” the wireless that the sisters own. It is often personified and seems to be almost magical in it’s “pagan” power to control and change to sisters. It is very interesting to explore how Marconi is referred to throughout the text, and very believable that is does have the power of a character in exploring and enhancing the other characters.

That just about sums up the characters within Dancing at Lughnasa



Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella August 29, 2009

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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.


The Trial Scene in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The trial scene is the first climax of the novel, and this means it has much depth and meaning. This article is going to look at analysing this scene, but it’s going to be broken down into various sections.

Main Events

  • Mr Heck Tate gives his account of what happened
  • He describes the injuries
  • Bob Ewell gives his account of what happened
  • Ewell agrees with the description of the injuries Tate gave
  • Atticus asks Ewell if he can read and write, showing Ewell is ambidextrous.
  • Scout says “I thought Jem was counting his chickens” showing she is wiser in this case
  • Mayella Ewell gives his account of what happened
  • Atticus asks Mayella questions about herself, building up a picture of her neglect. He shows that Mayella doesn’t understand what love means, and it is implied Ewell has beaten her before.
  • Tom Robinson gives his account
  • Link Deas, Robinson’s employer, interrupts to back up Robinson
  • Atticus makes a final speech in Robinson’s defence

Characters’ Positions in Trial

Mr Heck Tate
Tate is neutral – he doesn’t say whether he thinks Robinson  is guilt or not, but simply tells what happened from his point of view. However, his language is very racist, and he easily believed Mayella’s word over Robinson’s. He also didn’t call for a doctor despite Mayella being so injured as he just was considering the evidence. It didn’t occur to him that Mayella may be in need of medical attention, or that a doctor would be called on to witness.

Tate’s account is that Bob Ewell ran to him and told him that Mayella was raped by Robinson, so he got in his car and went to the Ewell’s house, where he found Mayella lying on the floor. He helped her up and asked who had hurt her, and she claimed it was Tom Robinson. At this point Tate went to Robinson’s house and brought him back and arrested him. He didn’t call a doctor.

Bob Ewell
Ewell is clearly very against Robinson, but also seems against the world as a whole. Ewell is informal, bordering on obscene despite the Judge’s request, such as his description that “Mayella was screaming like a stuck hog”. He also says, very forcibly, “I seen that n***** yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!” his language showing a disrespect for the court and taking credit away from his accusation. Ewell also didn’t bother to get a doctor, again showing a lack of care for the well being of his daughter.

Ewell’s account is that he was returning from chopping wood when he heard Mayella screaming. He dropped the wood and ran to Mayella but crashed into the fence and got caught in it. He then untangled himselfand went to the window to find Robinson raping Mayella. The room had clear evidence of a fight from the disruption to the furniture. Ewell ran into the house, but Robinson left. At this point Ewell went to Mayella rather than chasing Robinson. He then went for Tate.

Mayella Ewell
Mayella claims Robinson is guilty at first, but is reduced to tears after cross examination. Mayella is very scared of everything in the court, especially Atticus, which amuses Mr Gilmer. Jem believes Mayella is trying to make Judge Taylor feel sorry for her when she begins to cry, but Scout thinks she is just stupid.

Mayella is described as having a “stealthy” and “cat like” confidence making her seem sneaky and untrustworthy.

Mayella’s account is that she was on the front porch, doing nothing, when Robinson came along and she asked him to chop up a chiffarobe into kindling, because Bob Ewell asked her to do it, but she wasn’t strong enough (even this account shows neglect and bad parenting). She then went to get him a nickel to pay for the work, but when her back was turned he threw himself on her. He got her “round the neck, cussin’ me and sayin’ dirt – I fought ‘n’ hollered, but he had me round the neck. He hit me agin and agin-”

She screamed and fought back but she couldn’t remember much more, apart from her father coming in just before she fainted. She then remembered being helped up by Tate.

Tom Robinson
Robinson obviously knows he’s innocent, but he hides nothing from the court and tells them all relevant information. He knows he is a dead man walking but doesn’t let that intimidate him as he gives his evidence, and as he trusts Atticus.

Robinsons account is that Mayella has often asked him to do odd jobs for her, and he does this free of charge because he feels sorry for her. This causes the white society to be shocked and discriminate against him, because they feel it is impertinent for a black person to pity a white person. He went into her house, on the night in question, when she asked him to chop up a chiffarobe. He did as she asked, but she grabbed his legs when he was standing on a chair. This shocked him and caused the chair to fall over. She then tried to hug him and kissed him.

“She says she never kissed a grown man before…She says what her papa do to her don’t count. She says: “Kiss me back, n*****.””

He ran from the room, and then saw Bob Ewell in the window, who shouted,

“You god-damn whore, I’ll kill ya.”

He then just ran away, and he admits he was scared.

Evidence of Robinson’s Innocence

– Robinson cannot use his left hand, so wouldn’t be able to injure Mayella dominantly on her right side, but that is where she is injured.

– His account had alibis and corresponds with his general character

– Mayella had bribed her siblings to go away as she was expecting Robinson, and she was lonely. She wanted love.

– Mayella admits she was kissed and implies more, by her father, in Robinson’s account

– Link Deas, his employer, backs him up

Evidence of Bob Ewell’s Guilt

– Bob Ewell is ambidextrous, and he was the only person present with a strong enough use of a left hand to inflict the injuries Mayella suffered, or to strangle so strongly with both hands.

– Mayella can’t fully admit it was Robinson, and hesitates and hides information, implying Bob Ewell has beaten her.

The Black Community in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The black community are a major part of the novel, although only on the surface a small part of Scout’s world.

We are primarily introduced to the black community through Cal, who is a servant as most of the black community within the white society are in To Kill a Mockingbird. This sets up an image of servitude and inferiority, which Atticus fights hard against, in order for Jem and Scout to see that no matter what skin colour, all humans are equal. Of course, Atticus is successful in this, even if he does have to teach Scout why certain phrases are offensive – she doesn’t realise they are due to the general discrimination the white society has against the black society without a second thought.

The other major character we wee which represents the black community is Tom Robinson. He is a clearly innocent family man, accused of the rape of a “white trash” girl, and thus found guilty.

From the novel almost every member of the black community is admirable in their personalities and innocent in their nature, and this generalisation makes the crimes against the black community all the worse.

Chapter 12 gives the reader the widest view of the black community as it is based their church. This is where the reader realises just how badly the community is treated. The church is used as a location for gambling by white men, which is clearly disrespectful. Only four of the congregation can read. Lula is very offensive to the children, as a defence of the way the black people are treated by white.

These are all examples of how the black community is affected by the white community.

The black community as a whole is a very close congregation, as it has to be to survive the harsh treatment by the white community. The church means that the people are protected – for example the way Zeebo, the minister, forces the people to give donations to Tom Robinson’s wife in order to allow her to survive whilst Tom is in jail.

The community is also very religious, the church being the only one with a steeple in Maycomb. All the members of the community dress smartly and attend church and this thickens the support group.

Together they can silently fight the discrimination with each other’s support and the understanding of people like Atticus.

As a whole the black community are a mockingbird within the story – they are innocent and law abiding, helping the white community, yet the white community “shoot” them by treating them so badly.

This means the people who respect the black community, earn much respect in return, such as Atticus, who the black community stand for in gratitude for defending Tom and honour for being such a great man.


The Character of Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch is arguably the single most important character in To Kill a Mockingbird, as he is the epitome of what the entire novel teaches.


The reader knows that Atticus Finch grew up on Finch’s Landing with his family, but broke away from tradition and expectations to bcome a lawyer. Once he was successful in this he used his now more wealthy income to fund his brother – Jack Finch – in his quest to become a doctor.

Atticus then settled down with his wife and had two children – Jem and Scout – but his wife died just two years after Scout was born.

Atticus had hired Calpurnia and she now became the mother figure for the children and the voice of female reason keeping Atticus right when he needed a second opinion or help with the children. In many ways she played the role of a wife, although, of course, never in intimacy.

Atticus childhood shows that he had a strong moral character and determination in order to break the mould and become something that would make a difference rather than just staying on at Finch’s Landing as was expected. His compassion for Jack also shows the genuine generosity of Atticus’s nature, giving an early indication of a disposition of consideration and empathy.


Atticus’ role throughout the novel is to show the ultimate accomplishment. Atticus is the ideal moral man, having a very high moral belief system. Atticus has achieved in his career, his relationships, and his happiness, and this makes him a role model to the children and the reader.

Atticus’ main role is as teacher. It his job as a father to bring Jem and Scout up to be admirable, respectable young adults, and he does this thoroughly, making certain they understand that money and power is worthless unless they can respect themselves.

Atticus teaches them the main lessons they need for life, in particular to stand in another persons shoes.

His success, at the end of the novel, can be shown by the quote “I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else for us to learn, except possibly algebra.” Said by Scout and showing that once Atticus had succeeded in teaching them major moral lessons, Scout acknowledged that actual knowledge which can be learnt from school, such as maths, is important but not in the same sense as understanding that discrimination is inexcusable is important.

Atticus is the conscience of the novel – he is the voice of reason that makes Scout and Jem stop and think, and he is the one they fear if they know they have been immoral.


Atticus’ personality is fairly complex, as he has to deal with a lot of pressure from other people. Atticus is always very solid in his decisions and does not doubt he has done the right thing even if others do. However, this does mean he often has to live with society disapproving and disrespecting him, making his life hard. Atticus is not afraid of taking the hard option, and he does so in a gentlemanly manner.

Atticus also cares greatly for his children, wanting only to do what is right for them, and to bring them up so they become young people who he can be proud of for being true to themselves and true to others.

Atticus can be critisized of holding his moral decisions as his highest priority – he puts defending Tom Robinson over the welfare of his children – but he is always aware of this and suffers greatly for doing the “right” thing.

Atticus’ noble conscious can be summarised when he explains why he decides tp defend Tom Robinson: “For a number of reasons,” said Atticus. “The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold my head up in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again…simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is not a reason for us not to try and win”

This shows that Atticus has determination, hope, and self respect, enviable by anyone, in his quest to be a person he can live with.


Atticus’ influence on the other characters is very heavy. Notably, he makes the jury think about their verdict for a full hour in representing Tom Robinson fairly. He also affects Jem and Scout’s lives, simply by teaching the right from wrong. Atticus is a very influential member of society, not from wealth or power but from hard-earned respect.

The society view Atticus as the most moral man, and the best chance Tom Robinson will have. He is well regarded as an honest, decent man, and the society, no matter how prejudiced and ignorant, deeply respect that,

Atticus is a perfect gentleman, gaining respect from the ladies of Maycomb. He is a talented and intelligent man, earning respect from the men of Maycomb. He is fair and equal, therefore receiving respect from the black community. He is thoughtful and clever and this makes him respected by the poorer members of the white community such as the Cunninghams.

The Theme of Education in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The education system in Maycomb is very contradictory and almost backwards in some cases, and this makes a significant point in the ideas of the novel.

The fact that the very institution preparing the next generation for the future is flawed and teaches narrow mindedness (in the case of Scout being reprimanded for learning outside the school), only can forebode the next generation being just as prejudice and discriminative as the current one.

The theme of education runs throughout the novel, although not always based in the school. It initially shows Scout realising that school is not what she was looking forward to, as the teacher is patronising and sensitive, where as the children are intelligent and used to a harsher environment. Miss Caroline doesn’t understand the ways of the small town, and the small town doesn’t understand the ways of Miss Caroline, leading to a breakdown in communication and general progress and therefore preventing proper education taking place.

This is shown when Miss Caroline is reduced to tears by Bob Ewell’s son being rude, and frightened by a “Cootie”. It is also shown when she doesn’t realise why Walter Cunningham doesn’t want to borrow money, and punishes Scout when she tries to explain nicely. This basic lack of comprehension on each side makes the education system dubious at the very least.

The school is changing its system from when Jem was the age of Scout, and this does show that things are moving forward, but it also seems pointless as Jem is just as well educated as Scout – it seems it is more to do with your background and therefore family and upbringing, than the school. This is also shown by how everyone is generalised – the Ewells are thought of as stupid because they only go to school on the first day, and that’s how it’s always been.

The main education throughout the novel is in the form of lessons learnt from Atticus, and these lessons are the moral life lessons preparing the children for adult life when issues such as racism, discrimination and cruelty are part of a daily routine. This education prepares Jem and Scout to be good people; wise as well as intelligent, and this is what matters when they have the power of knowledge.

The theme of education also comes from Aunt Al teaching Scout to be a lady, Cal teaching the children to behave properly, and Miss Maudie explaining what the children are afraid to ask others.


Lessons Learnt Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The lessons learnt throughout To Kill a Mockingbird are both many in number and deep in complexity, but they can be listed in summary. There are also two types of lessons learnt – what Scout and therefore the reader learns about Maycomb, and what Scout learns about how to live. This second option includes the real lessons learnt throughout the novel:

1)      Respect others
For example, Atticus always addresses Mayella as ma’am, despite the trouble she has put Tom Robinson in. Atticus believes that everyone should be shown courtesy and respect, and that is a basic human right.

2)      Be Open Minded
For example, Atticus wants Jem and Scout to stand in others shoes in order to prevent them from just thinking from the point of view of well-off, white children of good connections. It is also shown by how because the Radleys are different – they have their front door shut! – they are shunned from society, whereas Boo is just misunderstood.

3)      Protect the Innocent
This is Atticus’ entire job – as a lawyer it his duty to protect the innocent, and in this novel he has to defend Tom Robinson. This is one of the main points of why it is a “sin to kill a Mockingbird”. Atticus believes it’s important not to judge people, or treat them according to prejudices, and, over and above that, it is important to help those people discriminated against. This is what Scout learns about Boo, and why Heck Tate doesn’t arrest Boo at the end of the novel.

4)      Equality
Quite simply, everyone is equal as a human being, and that is why Cal can have authority over the children despite the racism issue.

5)      Moral Stances
This is a lesson Scout and Jem find very hard – that sometimes that taking the moral high ground means that you will be goaded and discriminated against, but that you still should “hold your head up high and be a gentleman”. This is shown when Jem rises to the bait of Mrs Dubose and consequently has to spend a month reading to her. The children learnt that there are always consequences for actions. They also learn that these consequences would be avoided if they realise the right thing to do in the first place.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling August 23, 2009

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HArry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

HArry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is another excellent novel in the Harry Potter series. It is the only novel almost totally unrelated to Lord Voldermort and this makes it interesting it’s role of development in the series, as well as an unusual addition to the enjoyment of the reading as a whole.

Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can’t wait to go back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn’t if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There’s an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called to guard the school…

A fantastic new story featuring Harry and his friends from the spellbinding J.K. Rowling.”

This story follows the plot as Harry finds out that the escaped murderer is connected to him in ways he is horrified to imagine, and now putting him in intense danger. Harry has to struggle with this issue of extra but unwanted protection, as he also battles his way through the problems of school bullies (in the form of Draco Malfoy), the pressure of doing well (especially in Quidditch), a little hint at girls (watch out for Cho Chang), and, of course, the worry about comforting and helping your half-giant friend as he tries to protect a hippogriff.

There are many layers and depths to this story, especially as it goes on to deal with friendships and priorities. This story leaves the child-like qualities behind as the reader slowly sinks into the world of Hogwarts, fully and totally, and realises that no matter what the style is: this story can be related to on many a level.

The characters, of course, are well written, as Harry and his friends grow up to act a little older, a little more responsible, and a little more careless as they settle well and truly into the spirit of Hogwarts.

The new characters add far more humour and quirks to the general plot, as does the new setting of Hogsmede – a wizarding town.

The magic of the wizarding world, unfathomably combines with the magic of the style, topic, characters and plot to create a truly unforgettable tales which will stop you forever from putting the book down.


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

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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.


P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern August 12, 2009

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P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

“Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry.
They were childhood sweethearts – no one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other.
Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms Holly discovers Gerry had left her a bundle of notes, gently guiding her into her new life without him, each signed ‘PS, I Love You’.
With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing – and being braver than ever before.
Life is for living, she realises – but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.”

PS, I Love You is a very emotional book, as is expected, but Ahern has managed to make the emotions very realistic throughout the novel, conveying as well as possible the extreme grief that Holly goes through, and the hardship it takes to simply keep living. Ahern, too, manages to show how Holly still can have good days, good emotions, good times even through this grief and I think this is what makes Ahern so gifted at her craft.

The plot follows Holly over the course of roughly a year as she goes through the motions of life without the person who made it worth living. It follows her adventure as she receives each letter, and thus learns to cope with her grief, her life and other people’s lives.

It is weird because it is a book you can relate to really well, even if you haven’t lost your soul-mate. What I mean is, you can relate to having to struggle through something, and to be forced to persist even if you’d rather just give up and curl up. Most people have to go through situations where they wish they could change something every day, but are forced to see their friends happy and unaffected, the way they should be.

In that way, the novel is written exceptionally well and teaches you to hold on and never to give up, because things will change.

In a more technical way the book is also very good; it comfortably shows how families have various strengths and weaknesses, and demonstrated well all sorts of different characters and the way they interact. It gives problems which can’t be solved instantly, as well as moments of happiness which form on their own.

Holly is extremely well written, as the major event – the death of her husband – causes her not only to have to endure life without him, but re-evaluate her life, and rethink how she is. It gives her the time and space to make her a stronger and kinder person.

In conclusion this book is well worth a read, and although it will make many a reader gently cry for Holly and those in her situation, it will also allow one to laugh out loud at her humorous friends and family, and learn to appreciate life for what it is – a short but miraculous thing.