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Twilight By Stephenie Meyer February 28, 2010

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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The following video is a requested review of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I discuss the different attitudes towards Twilight, as well as reviewing the novel.
Click here to read my written review of Twilight.

Penguin’s Poems for Love selected by Laura Barber February 13, 2010

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Penguin's Poems for Love, selected by Laura Barber

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Here are the poems to take you on a  journey of  ‘suddenly’ of love at first sight to the ‘truly, madly, deeply’ of infatuation and on to the ‘eternally’ of love that lasts beyond the end of life, along the way taking in the flirtation, passion, fury, betrayal and broken hearts.

Bringing together the greatest love poetry from around the world and through the ages, ranging from W. H. Auden to William Shakespeare, John Donne to Emily Dickinson, Robert Browning to Roger McGough, this anthology will delight, comfort and inspire anyone who has ever tasted love – in any of its forms.

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

Penguin’s Poems for Love are beautiful. They are a carefully thought out collection, consisting of deeply passionate ideals, and brutally honest realism. There is something in every poem that will cause you, as the reader, to connect with the poet, and what the poet in trying to convey.

Single, taken, married, divorced, widowed…there is a poem relating to it all, so this is not just a poetry collection for those flying on cloud nine, and nor is it purely for the cynics who simply don’t believe in love.

The range is so great you will be astounded at the linking, and connections, which create the flowing pattern, regardless of the age of the pieces, and the variety of poets.

The poems are organised through themed chapters, throwing together unlikely combinations, to follow the various paths life may take love through. Even the organisation of these poems reminds the reader that love is a timeless thing, a powerful emotion that has survived through centuries, and caused destruction through decades.

The power of words is intense in these poems; it is near impossible not to find a poem to suit your mood, feelings or situation.

The only criticism I have, is that with these combinations, often I find the poems don’t sit well together, for the dramatic change in language, content, poet and style, although highly effective, destroys flow if more than a couple of poems are read. This takes from the credit of the poets, unnecessarily.

In conclusion, this collection is well worth reading, and contains a very strong combination of poems, stirring deep emotions. However, do not expect flow through the paths the poems take with each other.

KJ
theBookGirl

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini January 30, 2010

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A Thousand Splendid Suns paperback by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a book you will never forget, for it’s beautiful characters, intricate plot, and heart wrenching tale lives on long after the last page is turned, made all the more tragically striking with the truth and honesty in the setting, history and ideas portrayed.

“Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter.  When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.”

The plot follows two tales, each unwrapping the events creating the coming of age of a young girl, forced for one reason or another, to assign her life to misery, pain, loss and cruelty.

Mariam, unloved and resented, discovers betrayal and guilt, and, as a strong minded character who can endure if nothing else must live with what she feels are the consequences.

Laila, a partially cherished yet partially overlooked daughter, grows up with Tariq – a friend and boy next door, he is everything to her. Yet, with disaster and horror, Laila too must put together a life destroyed by surroundings, religion and power.

These tales are told within Afghanistan, following years of communism and Taliban rule, the chronological modern history of the country, and  the implications for the working class people who must live between rockets and bullets, and obey the strict laws from Shari’ a to communist.

The story is beautiful, although extremely tragic, and it will wrench at your heart for Hosseini’s talent swells in this novel, making you truly feel for the characters, and understand their lives.

Sensational.

KJ
theBookGirl

A Room With a View by E. M. Forster January 1, 2010

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The cover of "A Room with a View" by E. M. Forster

Miss Lucy Honeychurch is a girl inexperienced in the world of love; but she’s soon to learn much more through an enchanting trip to Italy, where her journey is not only physical, but emotionally challenging too.

The plot of one of  E.M.Forster’s most famous novels follows young Lucy as she travels to Italy with her overbearing cousin, and discovers not only the world of renaissance art, living outside the rule book, and experiencing real life, but also the mysterious, working class George Emerson, and his father.

The book explores how Lucy, a very impressionalble girl with no opinions of her own, but a promising spirit develops as a character, growing a backbone, as well as a taste for real, hard, living love – and in this grows to love life. She explores a world of confusion and choices, where a whole cast of characters attempt to influence her in every decision she must make.

The style of the novel is also notable; in the way it voices the thoughts of many of the characters, but is always in third person and narrated by Forster. This brilliant subtlety allows the reader to know what the characters are thinking, and their motives, without their voicing obvious intentions or ideas which would be otherwise unrealistic.

Lucy’s character is well considered and her development is carefully tracked. Her flaw – of being without opinions and often without thought – is used to show her as real, but also to demonstrate it’s healing as she develops as a character.

Other characters are equally well written, from Mr Beebe, a hypocritical priest who, I feel, plays his role like a puppet master with Lucy on the strings, to George Emerson, the true love interest, written with no specific merit, other than his ability to love completely and passionately, and ask questions other men are too scared or ignorant to voice.

The novel seems to be tellinga story of romance, but with the message that one must live for the present, fully and passionately, and follow one’s heart to answer life’s questions, rather than simply following mindlessly, without independence, in the way previous generations had done.

The greatest flaw of the novel is the unnecessary length as Lucy takes an extremely long time to grow as a character and do something about her feelings once she has developed them. This leaves the reader growing irritated, as they know how the book will end in a fairy-tale classic way, but Forster’s style prevents the reader throwing the book down in exasperation.

The love story is not unique, but the journey Lucy follows is an almost unique representation of the awareness humans realise of living for the moment, and not simply for society.

In conclusion, this story is a reasonable love story, but with much more social commentary swirling in the undertones. It is definitely worth a read, but it’s dragging pace may lose the more demanding reader.

KJ
theBookGirl

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks December 28, 2009

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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook is a highly emotional novel written by Nicholas Sparks. It follows the story of two old lovers; Allie and Noah, as they find one another again.

“North Carolina, October 1946. Noah Calhoun has recently returned from war: he tries to forget the horrors he has seen and experienced by restoring an old plantation home. But though his days are spent working, his nights too often give way to dreams of his past.

Fourteen years ago, Noah fell in love with a girl, and he is still haunted by her memory but convinced he will never find her again. But when the past slips into the present, Noah realises his ghosts are never far away.”

Allie is a beautifully written character, a fierce and strong protagonist who, although recently engaged to a high flying lawyer, cannot forget her old love, Noah, who she met for a brief but perfect summer at the age of fifteen. As her first love, he was special, but more than that, we quickly realise that the two of them were meant for each other.

Noah, too, has never forgotten Allie, and although he achieved great things for a man of his social class in southern America, it is the simple beauty of life and nature that makes him work. As a character he is breathtaking; he is wise, and realises what it really important. Yet mostly his undying, pure love for Allie, which is strong in every breath he takes, every word he speaks, makes the reader feel such empathy for him that he is destined to be an unforgotten classic of this decade.

This novel has an excellent plot, it really touches upon current emotional issues, and allows the reader to feel the full weight of implications they cause, in particular the deterioration of life, which is brilliantly contrasted with the tale of the lively, feisty youngsters. Every reader will relate to the way in which what was once so fresh and powerful will age, and change, but still can hold a power beyond human understanding. Sparks has captured this beautifully, in a genre which usually avoids such complex and deep issues.

The only criticism I assign to the writing is the way the characters are too perfect – of course, this makes the contrast between young and old much more powerful, but the characters have no real flaws. They have the indisputable love that is comparable to Heathcliffe and Cathy; but they have none of the flaws which make such an epic love possible.

It may also be suggested that, although the plot of the story is near perfect, and the characters are beautiful, the style is too simplified to show such a deep love. Perhaps this is because the love is a simple thing, but often the expression of it seems a little tame or repetitive “Her fell in love with her…he fell in love with her…he loved her”. However, this may just be demonstrating the extent of the love and the full, unelaborated power of it.

Perhaps one of the best ways Sparks expresses the love of the characters is through the incessant poetry running through Noah’s mind. He quotes and inserts in a way that not only flows with the novel but enhances and immortalises it, causing the reader to yearn for more and feel the deep emotions of Allie and Noah.

The novel is a brilliant read, and perfect for any emotion. It is a beautiful story and excellently written, despite its minor flaws, with quotes which could prove to be lines to live by. If you have not read this bestselling novel, you simply have not lived.

KJ
theBookGirl

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen June 3, 2009

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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

This beautiful story follows the loving and mysterious character of Fanny Price, and her challenges as she is brought into a world of riches and elegance by her rich Uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram. She comes to live in his house, with his children, at the age of ten, and now, at the age of 18 she is introduced to love and responsibility.

The blurb of the book declares:

“Is love a matter for the head or the heart?

Fanny Price has always felt like an outsider. She was adopted by her uncle as a child and now lives in luxury at Mansfield Park, but doesn’t fit in somehow. Shyer and much sweeter than the glamorous cousins she has grown up with, she feels she can only stand by and watch from the sidelines, never living her own life.

Fanny won’t admit – even to herself – who she really loves, Her uncle conducts the search for a husband as if it were a business deal, and when the time for Fanny to marry comes, will she be handed over on a handshake? Or will she have the strength to make her own mistakes – and finally find true happiness?

 

Fanny is a beautifully developed character; she is not loud, or popular, or “accomplished” but we love her as she is kind, and wise, and tender.

Her challenge is to believe in herself, stay true to what she believes and to live with the burdens which cause her trouble.

We meet the enchanting Edmund Beertram, who is dashing, kind and such a gentleman. As Fanny’s cousin, he protects and loves her, and encourages her in all her challenges, little knowing the largest one involves himself.

This book is written very well, telling the reader just enough for us to guess the true feelings of Fanny, without being patronising, clumpy or heavy. Fanny’s character is hard to write as she is so timid and shy, so cannot be displayed in the over-emotional state of so many characters. 

All the characters throughout the novel are equally well written, none pure evil, but many misguided or with ill qualities, as is realistic. 

The plot is fairly simple but has many a twist and turn which prevent predictability.

The ending (without spoilers) surprised me as I wasn’t sure how Austen would conjure such a thing and make it work; but it did.

I felt that some minor characters, however, were a little under-developed and not so real in the world as Fanny, Edmund and William. However little else is there that I found disappointing or otherwise negative about the book.

In conclusion, definitely read this if you like other Austen books or period classics. The love story’s plot is very well written and worth your while. Once you get your teeth into this book, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to put it down. 

KJ
theBookGirl 

New Moon By Stephenie Meyer May 25, 2009

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New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

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

 

The blurb of the book is as follows:

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

It all happened very quickly then.

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KJ
theBookGirl KJ Reading