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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks December 28, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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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

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

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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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.

KJ
theBookGirl

Eragon by Christopher Paolini May 16, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Novel, review, theBookGirl.
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Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon is a fantasy hit worldwide. It follows the story of a teenage boy, Eragon, who finds a Dragon’s egg which hatches for him. Eragon now has to become a Rider, as in the ancient legends. However, this egg was wanted by King Galbatorix, evil king of the country, and this made Eragon infamous and top of his Most Wanted list. 

 

And so the epic story is born, a story of revenge and love, hate and honour, of all things powerful and motivational. Eragon begins a quest and the reader enters a world where to do what is right you have to fight against everything.

Here’s the blurb:

“One world… One dragon…  A world of adventure.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realises he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands…”

This book is extremely good as it is a perfect escapism novel, filled with action and fantasy where no one has to worry about the Credit Crunch or Swine Flu. 

The plot is thick and complex, maybe with a little too much detail for one not acquainted with Paolini’s intricate world, but otherwise easy to follow, with unexpected twists and turns.

The characters are well developed and although there are few sub-plots, this is improved in the second of the series. Eragon is well illustrated and most definitely a three dimensional character with flaws as well as honourable characteristics.

Paolini writes well, keeping the reader interested, and giving imaginative descriptions which aren’t too long winded.

Bad points? Some of the language and terms Paolini has made up are a little hard to remember and pronounce (although there is a guide at the back)

Good points? Complex, chunky plot, well developed characters, a clear style and gripping narrative makes you unable to put the book down, once you get into it.

Overall, I would recommend giving this a read. It lacks a developed romantic story, but the action and adventure do make up for that.

KJ
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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen May 14, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Novel, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Pride and Prejudice "Vintage Classics" cover

Pride and Prejudice "Vintage Classics" cover

Recently I reread that amazing classic; Pride and Prejudice.
It is a beautiful book perfect for a romantic such as I am, or equally for someone who loves a book which is stylistically and profoundly written.

 

The blurb of this book is:
“Elizabeth Bennet is young, clever and attractive, but her mother is a nightmare and she and her four sisters are in dire need of financial security and escape in the shape husbands.
The arrival of nice Mr Bingley and arrogant Mr Darcy in the neighbourhood turns all their lives upside down in this witty drama of friendship, rivalry, enmity and love.”

The plot follows Elizabeth Bennet, who you quickly relate to, as she tries to find herself and what she wants in a flurry of visitors. Love is at the heart of the story, but the necessity of finding a man who has the wealth to support her is equally important…and she could never marry someone who she does not love. Equally, you learn to have affection for her sister, Jane, who, too, must find herself a husband.

In this enchanting story you are introduced to the type of man that just aren’t around anymore – the wondeful gentlemanly type who is chivalrous and very amiable. The whole cast of gentlemen from Mr Wickham to the infamous Mr Darcy makes the love stories all the more gripping.

The tale, with many a twist and turns, enjoys the romance of the late Georgian era, where Lizzy learns to trust others and, too distrust others.

Bad points? Really, I don’t think I could criticise Austen’s style, plot, characters or themes. She’s awesome, and I’ll leave it at that.

Good points? All of the above.

Read it if you don’t want to miss out on one of Britain’s top novels!

KJ
theBookGirlKJ Reading

PS there has been a slight lapse in posts recently, and that will continue, reluctantly for a while due to the sheer amount of work I have… :\

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer May 3, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, Novel, recommendation, review, theBookGirl, Young Adult.
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TwilightTwilight: the most talked about book in the world (quite possibly).

You have to have been living on planet Zog to not have heard about the chick-lit young adult love story of Bella Swan, your typical teenage girl falling for the sexiest and most gentlemanly vampire in the history of literature…

The plot? Bella Swan is the new kid in town as she moves from sunny place-to-be Phoenix, Arizona where her Mum previously lived, to rainy, small town dullsville Forks, Washington where her dad, cheif cop Charlie, has always lived.

Bella dreads her first day of school, despite having a swanky new car, sorry, beat up old Chevvy Truck.

There she spots the sex God, archangel, embodiment of all things a girl desires, Edward Cullen *swoon*

Unfortunately, he’s a bad-guy-vampire (but with a conscience) and wants to drink her blood. Cue the most passionate and intense forbidden love story since Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Dashing Darcy.

Soon enough Bella has to suss out exactly what Edward is and then fight a battle with herself about what she wants, and what he might want.

This story is epic, written well, despite criticism, as Meyer manages to really get the reader to be Bella. Soon enough you will find yourself trapped in the frightening and fast-paced world of Bella Swan, and you will be rooting for her the whole way.

The story manages to dramatically capture exactly what a dream guy would be like for many a girl (too bad that to be this perfect he has to be immortal). This beautiful story stays with you far beyon the too few pages, even after the three equally awesome sequels.

To live as Bella and see these events unfold through her eyes is an unforgettable journey, especially with the perfect, sigh-enducing, fangirl-screaming lines Edward oh so casually drops, where in the real world would be so out of place, but are what many a girl would love to be told.

Bad points? Well, to start there are far, far too many typos throughout the book – seriously, the editor should have checked through this one more time!

On the style? Well Bella is developed, but there is room for more – she does complain an awful lot, where if I were her I would be dancing and giggling my life away. Also, the book focusses a little too much on looks – people are shallow but most people would want personality over looks; especially in a friend, but this isn’t always how Bella seems to feel.

Anyway, to summarise, Twilight is a light and funny novel, perfect for a summer read on the beach. It’s great for all ages (above 13 I would say, if you go on to read the whole series) and although Meyer is nowhere near being the next Austen, she has potential. She has potential.

KJ
theBookGirlKJ Reading

To Kill A Mockingbird – Advantages and Disadvantages of a Child Narrator May 2, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analysis, Essay, Harper Lee, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird.
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To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird is written from the point of view of Scout, sometimes this is an “older” Scout, who is looking back on the events and can give a lot more detail or understanding upon a certain event. Usually, however, it is a “young” Scout, who is the age that she is during that event.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to the narration of the young Scout, and either way, Harper Lee has managed to overcome to disadvantages and work with the advantages extremely well, as shown in the popularity of the novel.

A clear advantage is that we understand things as Scout understands them, and things are explained to us when they are to Scout. For example, Atticus and Jem have to teach her the rules and customs of Maycomb regularly, which a reader who isn’t from this small town in Alabama may not know (such as, screen doors only shut when there is illness, the Radley tree having “poison” fruit, the boundaries where Scout and Jem can play, the white society’s views on the black community).

Also when Scout experiences things for the first time, the reader does too, and gets a full description, such as in chapter 12 when Jem and Scout have to go to Cal’s church and they learn about how only 4 of the congregation can read, and that Zeebo, the garbage collector is the vicar. They also experience the bitterness some members of the black community have for the white community such as Lula.

Another advantage is that because the story is told when Scout IS that age, the reader can really get into the story and understand how Scout perceives everything, whilst appreciating how perceptive she is and also noticing the things she is ignorant of, which can explain many attitudes people had to the black community.

A further advantage is how so often Scout can be juxtar posed with other characters who are stereotypical, racist or otherwise less moral than Scout. These characters are usually older than Scout and have much more power and influence, showing the reader the general problems with the older generations being biased and prejudiced and therefore harming the “Mockingbirds”.

Scout is also a fairly neutral character as she doesn’t have any of this prejudice and this means the reader is able to see the events as they truly happened, as young Scout does not prejudice about the things that happen in her thoughts as she is still learning and hasn’t had enough experience to even think about discriminating as the main influence she has is of her father who is also a very moral man.

Also, the use of foreboding and metaphor through Scout’s childhood games and minor experiences means that the more significant events (such as the verdict of the court case) can be seen as it really is, and Scout can learnt to see it from an easier way of understanding it. 

The only disadvantages I can see are that Scout can become confused and her loss at what is going on can possibly confuse the reader as it isn’t that clear compared to how it could be if a maturer narrator was used. 

Also there isn’t so much force or power of emotion during the discrimination during as an older narrator has. Personally, I prefer to really feel how the characters feel, but Scout doesn’t always understand fully and therefore feel fully the consequences of the prejudices. 

In conclusion there are far more advantages in this case of having a young narrator, but these are only applicable because Harper Lee has managed to portray it well; in a very high quality narration.

KJ 
theBookGirl KJ

Slam by Nick Hornby May 1, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, Young Adult.
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Slam by Nick HornbyI received Slam for Christmas one year and read it straight away, finishing it in a day. It’s one of those incredible books which you just cannot put down. 

The synopsis of the book is as follows:

“Whoever invented skateboarding is a genius. There’s only one skater, and his name’s Tony Hawk. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who he is, just trust me. Not only is Hawk the world’s best skater, he’s also good to talk to. So I talk to Tony Hawk, and Tony Hawk talks back. Because just when it seemed like everything had come together for me, I had to go and screw it all up. It only took two seconds. But all of me knew. One risk. One mistake and my life would never be the same. Hawk had a few things to say. And a few things to show me. Haveyou ever wondered what it would be like to see your own future? ”  

This novel outlines what it is like for the father during a teenage pregnancy, and is a thought-provoking tale about responsibility, expectations and breaking free from what everyone expects to do what and be who you want to do and be.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, after rereading it recently. It is well written in an intriguing style, through the eyes of a “typical” teenage boy. The hard-to-display emotion which so many teenage guys have during their first relationships is celeverly worked around by using a poster of Tony Hawks as the object to which a verbal journal is told.

I suppose I really like it because it is so different from the usual point of view of teenage pregnancies such as addressed  in popular films such as Juno. Hearing the side of the story of a guy who doesn’t want a child but knows he should be supporting the mother is worth it for the insight one gets into a world unknown. Also, the  addition of this world being so open and the motives so well explained means that every action any girl would take the “wrong way” really may have good intentions.

So, bad points? Well, sometimes the rough and unploished style of the narration can be a challenge to read when you just want to relax, and also a few twists and turns, in my opinion, made it just that bit too unrealistic, taking out the ability to relate and understand from the novel.

Overall, I would say the story was good, the style was interesting but not easy to read, and the plot was okay, but could have been more realistic. 

KJ
theBookGirl

 KJ Reading