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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.

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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 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

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audery Niffenegger September 20, 2009

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audery Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audery Niffenegger

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a very intense, beautiful story of two people – Clare and Henry – who fall in love and live in love, despite Henry’s very peculiar condition.

Henry can time travel. He can’t control it, he can’t stop it, and he can’t take anything with him. Including clothes.

“This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty six, and were married when Clare was twenty two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable”

The plot follows Clare as she grows up with rare and mysterious visits from adult Henry. They form a loving but appropriate relationship as he offers an escape and friendship throughout their childhood. Of course, as she grows older, she feels more for him and a stronger relationship forms. Then she meets him at a time which is his natural time. From here the story begins for the reader, and for Henry. We are then invited along the journey as Clare and Henry’s relationship develops, is tried and is tested, with many dramas and questions along the way.

The plot follows Henry as he meets beautiful Clare and finds that she already knows all about him. More about him than he knows himself – she knows the future him. It then follows his relationship with her, in the same way it follows hers with him.

The plot challenges the reader to imagine our very ordinary world in an extraordinary way. We must consider the feelings and predicaments of being, or, even more peculiarly, marrying a time traveller.

This puts the strength of the characters to the test, as the book would only work with the deepest characters that can be formed – a two dimensional character would be simply too flat for this complex plot to work. But, indeed, Niffenegger can more than pull this off, and has conjured a masterpiece of a book, which I am certain you will lose yourself in, wanting nothing more than to sit and read, simply content as long as you can find out what happens next.

With the very perceptive display of characters, original twist on time travel, and a brilliantly realistic basis, this novel is purely excellent, a brilliant read.

It demands the reader’s attention, interrogating the reader with questions…what would they do? What is moral in these situations? How would they cope with this double edged knife of time travel?

KJ
theBookGirl

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.

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

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

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen June 3, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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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 

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
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