Monday, 28 February 2011

The Winter Ghosts

I have read Kate Mosse's other two book, ''Labyrinth'' and ''Sepulchre'', so I just had to try this one too, to see what it would be like.

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
First published by Orion in 2009 (this edition by Orion Books Ltd. in 2010)







Description: (from back cover)
'Do you believe in ghosts?'
It's 1928. Freddie Watson is still grieving for his brother, lost in the Great War. Driving through the foothills of the French Pyrenees, his car spins off the road in a snowstorm. Freddie takes refuge in an isolated village and there meets a beautiful, captivating woman. They spend the night talking of love and loss and war. But by daybreak, Fabrissa has vanished and Freddie realises he holds the key to an ancient mystery that leads him deep into the mountains, to a cave that has concealed an appalling secret for 700 years . . .

Opinions:
''The Winter Ghosts'' is a very enjoyable book. As I mentioned before, I have already read Kate Mosse's other two books, which I thoroughly enjoyed! Sepulchre more so than Labyrinth, but both very good books regardless of my slight preference.

I was quite surprised when I first opened the book to find that - other than the fact that it is quite a small book - it has very large print! Which essentially means that the book is even shorter than I had expected. It was very easy to read, without being boring or anything like that. About half way through the book, you will probably get the feeling that you know what is going to happen in the end. Well, you might be wrong, you might be right...

I have to say here that I could not entirely sympathise with the main character, Freddie. He seemed to me like a very weak person, from the way he did not cope with his brother's death. But I suppose that of he hadn't been as he was pictured in the book, there would not have been much point in writing the book in the first place.

I have to admit that there was one thing that irritated me: the fact that once more, the book is set in the Carcassone area in France. As were the other two books I have mentioned. I know that the author lives both in England and in Carcassone, but it's one novel too many, in my opinion. I'm ok with the other two books as they are part of a trilogy (the Languedoc trilogy), but it wasn't necessary to have this one set there too... Having said that, I don't mean she should never again set a novel in Carcassone, but she should probably set one of her next ones someplace else, just for a change.

Just to finish on a nice note: This book is probably an ideal book to read when it's bitterly cold outside and you are curled up on your settee with a nice cup of hot, strong tea. It says on the back cover that you should 'stop the clock and read it in one sitting', which I am sure would be just perfect! (If only it were that cold over here... and I had a fireplace...)

Rating: 7/10

Author:
Kate Mosse is a British author and broadcaster. She was born in West Sussex and was educated at Oxford University. She currently lives in both West Sussex and Carcassone with her family. She is the co-founder and honorary director of the Orange Prize for Fiction. Other than ''Labyrinth'' and ''Sepulchre'', Kate Mosse has also written ''Eskimo Kissing'' and ''Cricifix Lane''. ''The Winter Ghosts'' is her latest novel. The last book in the Languedoc trilogy, ''Citadel'' is due out sometime in 2011.
Here are some selected covers:

Here are some links if you would like to find out more!

Counts as Book #11 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge and as Book #6 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories

This one is another of my brother's books! Not that it is much of a book, but I read it, so I am counting it in!

The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy & Other Stories by Tim Burton
First published by Rob Weisbach books in 1997 (This edition by Faber and Faber in 2005)





Description: (from back cover)
Tim Burton - the creative genius behind Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and The Nightmare before Christmas - now gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children: misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging to their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and tragedy of these hopeful yet hapless beings.

Opinions:
Weeeeell... This is not really a book. It's a collection of short poems accompanied by their corresponding illustrations. My brother recommended I have a look at it, even though he know I absolutely hate poetry (that is the main reason I hadn't ''read'' the book until now). It's a book that you can read in 5 minutes. Full stop. That's it.

I'm not going to say anything else about the book, because I'll end up spoiling it for you! I can honestly say the book was lovely and very, very touching. But strangely, it's what one might expect from a person like Tim Burton... I don't know why (seeing that is an absolutely weird person), but it is! Try  reading it! I think you'll like it too!

I know this review isn't what you might call informative, but I can't do it any other way! Just to add a last thought though, the illustrations are lovely. Sad-looking (sometimes), but lovely, nonetheless. Just to get an idea, here are some samples of his work!

(from link)
(from link)
(from link)

Rating: 10/10

Author: 
Tim Burton is an American director and producer, as well as an artist and a writer. He is famous for some very well known films he has directed, like ''Edward Scissorhands'', ''Sleepy Hollow'', ''Beetlejuice'', ''Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street'' and, most lately, ''Alice In Wonderland''. He has also directed the animated film ''The Corpse Bride'', one of my favourite films of all time!
He lives with his girlfriend, Helena Bonham Carter, and their two children in London.
In 2009, he published a compilation of his drawings, titled ''The Art of Tim Burton''.
More information can be found here:

Counts as Book #10 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

High Fidelity

This is actually one of my brother's books... I have no idea how he got round to buying it in the first place, but he said he enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a try for my British Book Challenge. So here goes!



High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
First published by Victor Gollancz in 1995 (This edition by Penguin Books in 2005)





Description: (from back cover)
Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top-five most memorable split-ups?
Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn't on it - even though she has just become his latest ex. He's got his life back, you see. He can do what he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up girls that are on his list, and generally behave as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can't move on. He's stuck in a really deep groove - and it's called Laura. Soon, he's asking himself some big questions: about love, about life - and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do.

Opinions: 
I have to say that I enjoyed this book a lot! It is written in a truly wonderful way! I haven't read any other of Nick Hornby's books, but I know I will now...!

The book starts in a very original way. It doesn't start with some scene of the character's life... Instead, it starts with a sort-of ''explosion'' from Rob (the main character) about his top five most memorable break-ups, explaining why they're regarded as his worst ones. It's also a way to stress to everyone, to Laura (and most of all, to himself) that Laura is NOT ON IT! Something like a ''Take that, Laura!''

This book is not what you might call a happy book... It's not sad. Don't think that's what I mean. It's more of a ''quest for life'' book. The main theme is Rob growing up, maturing, trying to become a better person and get out of the rut he had been in for so many years. She tries to seek closure with his ''girlfriends of the worst breakups'', so as to try and figure out where he went wrong. But does he succeed?

Well, that's for you to find out when you read the book!!

Rating: 8/10


Author: Nick Hornby is a British novelist. He studied English at Cambridge University and has worked as a teacher and as a journalist. He currently lives in Highbury, in North London. His most famous books are ''High Fidelity'' and ''About A Boy'', both of which have been made into films.
High Fidelity stars John Cusack as Rob, as well as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jack Black and Joan Cusack.
About A Boy stars Hugh Grant, Toni Collete, Rachel Weisz and Nicholas Hoult.
Here are the trailers for these two films:




Some of his other works include ''Fever Pitch'' (his first ever book, which tells the story of Hornby's relationship with football), ''How To Be Good'', ''Slam'' and ''Juliet, Naked'', his latest novel (published in 2009).

Nick Hornby on Wikipedia
Nick Hornby on Amazon.co.uk
Nick Hornby Official Page

Counts as Book #9 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge and as Book #5 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

Bye for now!
xx

Friday, 18 February 2011

Uh-oh...

I seem to be piling up on books.... But - of course - I am still reading them!

I now have three to review, but just haven't got round to it yet... Hopefully tomorrow! I might even manage them all, as one of them is really easy to review!

Fingers crossed!

Goodnighties everyone!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Other Hand

Here is a review of a book that I borrowed from my grandmother. I have to say that the main reason I decided to borrow it was because of the description on the back cover. So here goes:




The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
First published: by Sceptre in 2008





Description: (from back cover)
We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It's a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it so we will just say this: 
This is the story of two women. 
Their lives collde one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice.
Two years later, they meet again - the story starts here...
Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.

Opinions:
I  borrowed this book in the summer, but only just remembered I had bought it! The reason I decided to borrow it (as I mentioned above) was it's description from the back cover. That is the main reason I decided to write that particular description in my post. So you can all read it and see for yourselves. Doesn't it make you want to at least try it? I had never actually read a book I knew nothing about, not even from the back cover description. But I have to admit, it is a very good method to try and capture a person's interest. (That doesn't mean it should happen too often. I think the novelty would wear off then...

So, as you will have probably realised I can't really say anything about the book without giving part of it away. What I can say, is that it is the story of two women who met one day under very ominous circumstances, and who meet again two years later in completely different surroundings, but rather ominous in a different way. The story actually begins with the second meeting and explains the first one through narrations of either one or the other woman. But there really is magic in how the story unfolds...

I have to say I enjoyed this book. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, with the rather non-informative back cover, but I was very excited to get into it! It's not what you might call a ''happy book'', even though I'm not exactly sure how to actually define it. I'm not going to comae out and say that it is the best book I have ever read, but it was one of the nicest and most touching ones. I definitely recommend trying it, and I don't think you will regret it either.

Rating: 8/10


Author: Chris Cleave is a British author and journalist. He was born in London, but was brought up in both Cameroon and Buckinghamshire. He studied Psychology at Oxford University. He currently lives in London with his wife and three children. His debut novel, ''Incendiary'' won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s 
First Fiction award 2005 and won the Prix Sp├ęcial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007.






Chris Cleave on Wikipedia
Chris Cleave.com

Counts as Book #8 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge and as Book #4 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I hadn't planned on buying this book. It just happened. I was in the bookshop one day, looking through all the titles and suddenly noticed the book in question. I had heard of it, but did not know exactly what it was about. I took it from the shelf and was pleasantly surprised by the cover! So, after reading the description on the back cover, decided to buy it. Here I am now, reviewing it.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
First published: by Harper & Row in 1984 (This edition by Faber & Faber in 2000)


Description: (from Amazon.co.uk)
In this novel - a story of irreconcilable loves and infidelities - Milan Kundera addresses himself to the nature of twentieth-century 'Being' In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. We feel, says the novelist, 'the unbearable lightness of being' - not only as the consequence of our private acts but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine. Juxtaposing Prague, Geneva, Thailand and the United States, this masterly novel encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, and embraces, it seems, all aspects of human existence. It offers a wide range of brilliant and amusing philosophical speculations and it descants on a variety of styles.


Opinions: 
I found The Unbearable Lightness of Being to be one of the most 'different' books I have ever read. And that's actually saying a lot. I have read books ranging from chick-lit to children's books and from maths to philosophy, finding them all enjoyable in a very different way. This book was as enjoyable as it was sad. Throughout the book, you come to see all the different decisions that each character has to take and the reasons they had for making that decision. You actually get to experience their 'Beings' through their own eyes.

The book is split up into 7 parts and each part consists of quite a few short chapters. The whole book is only 300 pages long, but it took me ages to finish. I found that it was one of those books that you have to read slowly in order not to miss anything. Even though it took me ages to read, it wasn't at all tiring. I just wanted to keep on reading and reading until I reached the end, something I - of course - could not do, due to my other responsibilities. But if I could've, I would've.

It tells the stories of three people (or maybe four) and a dog, all interconnected, including the decisions each one of them makes and which influence both other characters (in some cases). It is set in the time when the Czech Republic was under Russian occupation, as well as the years preceding the occupation, but not necessarily having Prague as a backdrop for each part of the story.

All in all I enjoyed the book immensely and think that it is classified as ''one of those books that you have to read at some point in your life''. Highly recommended. Even though I found the main character to be a bit of an ''idiot'', for reasons you will understand when you read it yourself. And for all those reasons:

Rating: 9/10 (I don't know if I will ever give a book a perfect 10... Well, you never know! But probably not... I'm not too comfortable giving out absolutely perfect scores on books...)


Author: Milan Kundera is a Czech author who has lived in exile in France since 1975, thus leading to him having written books in both languages. He was a reformist, committed to reforming Czech Communism, which led initially to a complete ban on the circulation of his works in Czechoslovakia and then, a stripping of his Czechoslovak citizenship in 1979. His most notable works include ''The Joke'' and ''The Book of Laughter and Forgetting'', both of which were published before ''The Unbearable Lightness of Being'' and are quite political (compared to his later works). 



Some of his other books include:
''Life is Elsewhere''
''Immortality''
''Slowness'' and
''Ignorance'' (his latest novel, published in 2000).
He has also written a series of short stories, which are included in the collection ''Laughable Loves''.
Here are some extra pages, for those who want to find out more!
Milan Kundera on Wikipedia

Counts as Book #7 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Book title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Author: Jeff Kinney
Publisher: Puffin
First published: 2007
No of pages: 217

Description: (from Amazon.co.uk) Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into a new year and a new school where undersize weaklings share the corridors with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Desperate to prove his new found maturity, which only going up a grade can bring, Greg is happy to have his not-quite-so-cool sidekick, Rowley, along for the ride. But when Rowley's star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend's popularity to his own advantage. Recorded in his diary with comic pictures and his very own words, this test of Greg and Rowley's friendship unfolds with hilarious results.

Review: We bought the Diary of a Wimpy Kid because my brother fancied reading it. It was probably over half a year ago... But I only just got round to reading it on the 31st of January. Thus, making it the book I was reading on the 1st of the month!

Before reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, it had been years since I had last read one, and I can't really remember which one it might have been. And I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was funny, very well written and probably very factual, as well. I'm not sure about the last one - as I never went to school in America and schools work a bit differently in Greece - but I'm pretty sure quite a few American children would be able to empathise with the main character, Greg Heffley.

You can't honestly say that Greg is the good kid on the block. The only thing he wants to do is fit in at school. Only, he doesn't have the right way of going about it, and ends up hurting quite a few people in the process (especially his best friend, Rowley).

It might be classified as a children's book, but I think that quite a few adults would appreciate it, too. It's funny and will probably make you smile or maybe even laugh out loud at some of the things going on in the book. Same goes, whether you are young or old. A book definitely worth reading! You'll have fun! Trust me!

Rating: 8/10 (for funnyness!)


Author: Jeff Kinney was born in Maryland in 1971 and attended the University of Maryland in the early 1990s. He already knew he wanted to be a cartoonist, and actually ran a comic strip called ''Igdoof'' for the campus newspaper. In 1998, he started Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He worked on it for 6 years, until he started posting it in installments on Funbrain.com. In 2006, he signed a multi-book deal to turn the Diary into a proper book, which was published in 2007. Since then, he has also written extra books in the series:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
3.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself book (out of series)
4.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
5.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
 6.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
The author lives in southern Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Linkies:

There is also a film based on the book, the trailer to which you can see here:
Plus, the second film is coming up, based on the second book of the series (Rodrick Rules):

Counts as Book #6 in my 100 Books In A Year 2011 Challenge

Goodnight everyone!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

One Thing Led To Another


Book title: One Thing Led to Another
Author: Katy Regan
Publisher: Harper
First published: 2009
No of pages: 359

Description: (abbreviated version of back cover) Tess Jarvis' rules for life have always been relaxed... She has always been one to wing it but she's fast realising that her bank of blag is running out of funds. At 28, is it time to grow up? Maybe having a baby with your best friend isn't the best way to start...

Review: I was going through some books from last year to put away, when I stumbled upon this one. And I wondered ''Why haven't I read this one?''. So, I kept it out and started reading it straight away, even though I was trying to finish of ''Northanger Abbey''. And I managed to finish it in two days flat (quite a feat when I have been spending 7-8 hours a day writing stupid projects). 

I actually enjoyed this book immensely! I knew I was in for a not-so-challenging read, but it didn't really matter! I honestly enjoyed it soo much! The storyline revolves around Tess, a 28-year-old journalist, who has just found out she's pregnant with her best friend's baby. The book is about all the decisions - sometimes stupid, sometimes mature - that she has to make now she is pregnant, even if it means never being with the guy she thought she loved the most.

The end is pretty predictable, but even that doesn't spoil the appeal of the book! I get that with many books. I know the end (either because it's blatantly obvious, or because someone had been babbling and I heard), but it never seems to put me off reading them! I've always been interested in how the story goes until it reaches the end! I suppose I'm lucky that way!

Honestly, though, I think this book is well worth reading! Don't expect it to be philosophical or anything... It's a nice, sweet, romantic story, with many funny parts and a fair share of sad ones (just to even it out!). I think you'll enjoy it!

Rating: 7/10 (for its enjoyableness)

Author: And, as always, author info! Katy Regan is a journalist for Marie Claire, where she started working in 2002. While at the hight of her career, she fell pregnant in 2004 by her best friend (who remained as her friend). She decided to keep the child and went on to become very successful with her column ''And then there were three ... sort of''. One Thing Led to Another is her first book, which is based on her very successful column. She now writes for her blog, hosted on the Marie Claire website.

Counts as Book #5 in my 100 Books In A Year and as Book #3 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

G'night everyone!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Nothanger Abbey

Book title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin
First published: 1818
No of pages: 254

Description: (from the back cover) During an eventful season at Bath, young, naive Catherine Moralnd experiences fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaitances: flirtatious Isabella, who introduces Catherine to the joys of Gothic romances, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father's house, Northanger Abbey. There, influenced by novels of horror and intrigue, Catherine comes to imagine terrible crimes committed by General Tilney, risking the loss of Henry's affection, and has to learn the differences between fiction and reality, false friends and true. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, Northanger Abbey is the most youthful and optimistic of Jane Austen's works.

Review: I've been thinking for quite a while. Ever since I started this book, to be precise... How on earth am I going to review one of the Classics??? I mean, they are the classics. Not everyone might know of this particular book, but they definitely know Jane Austen (even if it's just because of the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice - with dishy Colin Firth - or the Pride and Prejudice film - with Keira Knightley). But I'm going to give it a try, nonetheless. So here goes...

If I am going to do this, I'm going to be honest about it. I have always found books that were written in the 1800's to be a bit tedious in their way of writing. But in my opinion, when reading a book like this one you should try to disregard the style of writing and try to focus as much as possible on the story.

So, with this little tip given, I have to say that I completely agree with this phrase from the description:
''With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, Northanger Abbey is the most youthful and optimistic of Jane Austen's works.''
I know I have only read ''Pride and Prejudice'', but I have read the plots of all of Jane Austen's works and it probably is her most optimistic book. As said in the description, the story revolves around Catherine Morland, a young girl who has never been out in society before, due to her family's lack of means to do so. So, when a slightly richer couple offers to take Catherine to Bath with them, Catherine jumps at the chance. There, she mingles with fashionable society and makes new friends in the faces of Isabella, Eleanor and Henry. After some time in Bath, Catherine is invited over to Northanger Abbey by Eleanor and Henry. She, of course, goes and there experiences new things she never has before. I can't say any more than that without giving the book away, for those who would like to read it!

All in all, I enjoyed the book, even though it took me ages to finish. I started it during the first days of January and managed to finish it on the 31st of January (Yay me!!). It's not a book you can devour... It takes its time to be read, mainly due to the fact that its language can get a little tiring. But, I believe it's definitely worth reading and I think you will probably enjoy it when you do!

Rating: 7/10 

Author: And now for author info. Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire to a large family of substantial gentry. Not much is known about her life and the information that is available has been surmised by some of Austen's correspondence mainly with her sister, Cassandra. Jane Austen never married, even though it is probable she may have loved Tom Lefroy, the son of some neighbours who spent a brief period in Hampshire when Jane was 20. Their families separated them when they found out they spent an inordinate amount of time together, and they probably never saw each other again. She died in 1817, possibly from bovine tuberculosis (which is caused from drinking unpasteurised milk).
She wrote many well known books, with her most well known ones being ''Pride and Prejudice'' and ''Sense and Sensibility''. Other than those two, her other works include ''Mansfield Park'', ''Emma'' and ''Persuasion''. ''Persuasion'' and ''Northanger Abbey'' were actually first published in the year after her death (1818).
As always, websites about the author:
Jane Austen (not so sure if this works though!)

Here are some trailers for films and series that have been made and are based on her books:


There is also the BBC series for which I could not find a good quality trailer, but I believe you can watch it on YouTube if you look for it.
There is one last film to talk about, which was made in 2007, called ''Becoming Jane''. It tells the story of Jane Austen (portrayed by Anne Hathaway) and Tom Lefroy (portrayed by James McAvoy). Enjoy the trailer!



Counts as Book #4 in my 100 Books In A Year! And as Book #2 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

Bye!
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