Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Beach Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke And The Bookish. This week's Top Ten is about books that should be in our beach bags.

I have a slight problem with this one, as I don't have specific types of books that I read on the beach. (Though, having just said that, I would never EVER take my HP books to the beach. They would just get ruined) I just read whatever I am in the mood for at the time. So, this list is going to be rather varied.

In no particular order, here are my picks:

The Island and The Return by Victoria Hislop
In my opinion, The Island is loads better than The Return, but I think they're both very summery reads. The Island is a little depressing as it talks about the leper colony on Spinalonga (a little island off the coast of Elounda in Crete, Greece), but it is such a lovely story. I actually read this one while on holiday in Elounda quite a few years ago. I could actually see Spinalonga while I was reading the book! The Return is similar (as in, it's about a person who goes away to discover who they are etc), but it is set in Grenada, Spain.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I know this one isn't very summery, but I read it while on holiday, sunbathing next to the pool and got burnt, because I did not want to put it down. So, I've associated it with summer!

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
This a very beach-y book. It all takes place on the beaches inLyme Regis, where the two heroines, Mary Anning and Elisabeth Philpot look for fossils. It really is a lovely read.

A good thriller (eg. A Maiden's Grave by Jeffery Deaver, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn)
I'm being rather vague here, but I usually end up reading at least one thriller during the summer months. So, I've just put a couple here, so you can get the picture!

Love Falls by Esther Freud
I recently read this one and, while I can't say I loved it, it seems as if it would make quite a good beach read. It's set in Italy and it's got beaches, pools, cute boys and a trip to Florence!

A good mystery book (eg The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville, Angels & Demons by Dan Brown)
I'm keeping this one vague, too! Just anything that might have a bit of mystery to it, really! Labyrinth and Sepulchre by Kate Mosse come to mind, too.

The Forgotten Garden and The House At Riverton by Kate Morton
I honestly love both these books! So, I don't know if you would classify them as summer reads, but they're books I'd recommend reading at any time during the year.

Bridget Jones' Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
These are just so funny! They'll probably have you cracking up on the beach. Though the films are loads better, in my opinion

Chick-lit books (eg books by Sophie Kinsella or Cecelia Ahern)
Well, this one is a bit of a no-brainer for me. I always end up reading some kind of chick-lit book when I'm on the beach. Believe me, I have read books that have been utter rubbish (but still fun) and others that are quite good and have some laugh-out-loud moments. Just what you need in the summer! Something nice and happy!

And last but not least,

Recipes for Cherubs by Babs Horton
I can't really remember what happens in this book, but I do remember enjoying it when I read it a few summers ago. If I am not mistaken, it is set in Italy and actually features the proper recipe for Foccacia bread. I think a re-read is in order!

What books are must-haves for your beach bag? 
Anything I should read this summer?

Monday, 30 May 2011

Fire Study (Study #3)

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
First published by Mira Books in 2008 (this edition by Mira Books in 2009)

Book #3 in the Study trilogy

Description: (from Goodreads)
The apprenticeship is over— now the real test has begun. 

When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before.… 

Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

My thoughts:
I'm going to start of by saying that it took me a lot longer to get through this book than it did for the previous two books in the series. I found it a lot slower and quite a bit less interesting than the other two, but it did have its merits.

The whole Sandseed and alienated-from-them-newly-formed Daviian clan did not really make up such an interesting story. Most of the time while reading the book, I felt as if the party Yelena was in was just moving around and around across the Sitian land, camping and talking and making plans for scenes that lasted quite a limited number of pages. It was as if there was very limited action going on.

Then, at some point, the book got loads better. It was fast paced and the characters were back to their cool, calm (well, not really) and collected selves and made plans that actually had a chance in working. I was completely and utterly stunned by the revelation at the end. It was something I did not expect and I was rather glad that I had not been able to see it coming. It makes for a better story!

The characters were lovely, as always, and Leif endeared himself to me even more in this book. I really liked Opal and I am looking forward to reading the Glass series (a spin-off series featuring Opal as the main character) and find out more about her glass animals! (Just want to add here that I rather liked the idea of the glass animals! I found it quite original!)

All in all, a very good ending to a lovely series, though I will admit that it could have been better throughout the book (and not only at the end). One this is for sure though, I love Maria Snyder's writing!!

Rating: 8/10

You can find out more about Maria V. Snyder at the end of my review of the first book in the series, Poison Study.

Read for: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

Sunday, 29 May 2011

In My Mailbox (9)

Hello everyone! Welcome to another IMM post! In My Mailbox is a meme that is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, so we get the chance to share our new books for the week (bought, borrowed or won) with all the lovely bloggers out there!

This week was a VERY good week! Let me show you why...

I got DIVERGENT!!!!! It's all shiny and nice and new (and also the very first book by a debut author I will ever read in the year the book was actually published). I have heard so many great things about this book that I am rather looking forward to reading it! Though it won't be straight away... I might wait a week or so.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black (Feariewalker #1)
The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket (which is actually my brother's)

This week I also grabbed another book of the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab programme, off the adult fiction list, as I rather liked the sound of it:

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

And last, but not least, I got my very first review request!!! I'm so happy! So, I will be reading and reviewing:

Beyond Nostalgia by Tom Winton
A sincere thanks to the author for this one!

That's all from me this week!

What did you get in your mailbox??
Feel free to leave a link in the comments!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

On My Wishlist (1)

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

This is my first time participating in On My Wishlist, but I have so many books I would just looove to read, but am too poor to afford. It might help me keep track of them, too, so here goes!

The first book I really, really, really want is Ruby Red. This book is about time travel and all the reviews I have seen have been extremely positive. I was contemplating buying the hardback edition in my latest order (which will be my last in some time), but I am too poor, so unfortunately, it will have to wait.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier              Edelstein-Trilogie #1
Description (from Goodreads): Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

This next book is soooo weird looking!! I saw it in a couple of IMMs and it's full of creepy pictures! Ergo, I want to read it! :)

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs                Description (from Goodreads): A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.                          A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Friday, 27 May 2011

TGIF (3)

TGIF is a feature hosted by Ginger from GReads! every Friday! This feature allows us to re-cap our posts of the week and answer a fun question at the same time!

This week's question is:

Author Love: 
In 2011 which new/old authors have you discovered & loved?


It has been approximately 4 months since I started blogging in earnest. I had started my blog sometime last year, but I count my official blog birthday as the 22nd of January 2011. During these 4 months, I have met some lovely bloggers and followed countless others, who have introduced me to a great number of new authors. But I have also done some discovering on my own! Some of the old/new authors I have discovered this year and loved are:
  • Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games series: It might seem weird to some, but before I started blogging, I had never even heard of this series (despite the fact that it has also been translated into Greek). And when I did start hearing all those lovely things about them, they magically appeared in my local bookshop! Coincidence? I think not! Needless to say, I loved them all!
  • Maria V. Snyder - The Study series: Another author who has been around for quite some time! When I read the first book in this series, Poison Study, I was amazed. I loved the story. I actually ordered the next two books in the series the day after I finished reading Poison Study! I was even more amazed when I read that Poison Study was actually the first book she had ever written! She definitely has a lot of talent! I'm looking forward to reading both of Maria Snyder's other series (Glass and Insider).
  • Nick Hornby - High Fidelity, Slam!: My brother discovered him before I did. I noticed that he seemed to enjoy his books, so I decided to give them a try myself and I wasn't disappointed. I love his writing style and the way he approaches the matters he has decided to write about. He makes them seem real, as if they're actually happening somewhere out there right now. Which they probably are.
  • Diane Setterfield - The Thirteenth Tale: I'd had this book since last summer, when I borrowed it from my Grandma. It came all the way to Greece and then just sat on the bookshelf until approximately a week ago. I had recently read Irena's (@This Miss Loves To Read) review of the book and decided to finally read it. One of my best reads this year!
Which authors did you discover this year??? Let me know, so I can check them out for myself!


Last week on the blog:

Thanks for stopping by!

In Which I Talk About The Weather...

It's raining... As in, absolutely pouring it down... My house is on a bit of a slope, so we currently have a small river right outside the front door, too...

In case you didn't know, I live in Greece (where people come to see a bit of sun?). I actually live on the island of Crete, which is the southernmost island in the country, which practically means that we have even warmer weather than the rest of Greece.

What's very puzzling is that I do not believe it has ever rained this late in May. And I've lived here all my life. What on earth is going on??? It's not cold or anything, but it's seriously weird. It makes me wonder if we will have an extra hot summer, to compensate for the amount of rain we have had this year....

I don't think this post is going to be of much interest, but I'll post it anyway!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
First published by ?? in 1925 (this edition by Harper Press in 2010)

Description: (from Goodreads)
After the war, mysterious Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire pursues wealth,riches and the lady he lost to another man with stoic determination. When Gatsby finally does reunite with Daisy Buchanan, tragic events are sent in motion. Told through the eyes of his detached and omnipresent neighbour and friend, Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald's succinct and powerful prose hints at the destruction and tragedy that awaits.

My thoughts:
I don't think I can remember the first time I heard about this book. But I was in a bookshop in Athens one day (about half a year ago) and I was trying to find some books to buy, when I found a series of Collins Classics book which only cost 4 euros each. Let me tell you, that's cheap... So I actually ended up buying 4 of them (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Scarlett Letter, Moll Flanders and this one). Anyway, I only just got round to reading this one.

When I decided to read this book, I was rather glad of the fact that it's rather short. The book was very thin. Until I opened the book and saw the size of the font. It's tiny! I don't think I've ever seen such a tiny font in my life. No, scratch that, I have (in The Lord of the Rings edition that we have at home). Regardless, I found that The Great Gatsby is a very easy story to get into.

As suggested by the title, the book focuses on the life of a man called Jay Gatsby. The story is not told from his point of view, but rather from the eyes of his neighbour and 'friend', Nick Carraway. During the course of the story, many things happen, despite the small number of pages. At first, we meet Gatsby through the experiences of others, the stories people have heard about him. Then comes the point where the narrator, Nick, actually meets him in person and when the 'action' starts happening.

Nick is a very likeable character, who seems to me as if he's a little lost at times while everything is happening around him. Jay Gatsby is a rather distant character. He seems to be elsewhere - in a world of his own - during some of his encounters with Nick, but seems to come alive later on in the book. Daisy didn't strike me as a very strong character and I have to admit I didn't like her husband, Tom, probably because he was a cheater. A character I liked was Jordan Baker. She wasn't one of the main characters, but I liked her attitude and her carefree personality.

All in all, The Great Gatsby is a book worth reading. It's short and very well developed, with wonderful prose. I haven't read anything else by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I am looking forward to picking up another one of his books.

Rating: 8/10

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in Minnesota in 1896 and died in 1940. He was a writer of novels and short stories. During the course of his rather short life, he wrote 4 novels, left a fifth one unfinished and published a number of short stories. He is regarded as one of the greatest 20th century writers. Fitzgerald was of the self-styled "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I.
His other works include:

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year 2011 Challenge

The Abandoned & The Strange Case of Finley Jayne

Next up are some mini reviews of some mini stories. Both these novellas are prequels to books only recently published and the e-books were free to download from Amazon.com.

The Abandoned by Amanda Stevens
The Graveyard Queen #0.5

Description (from Goodreads):

There are rules for dealing with ghosts. Too bad Ree Hutchins doesn't know them.

When her favorite patient at a private mental hospital passes away, psychology student Ree Hutchins mourns the elderly woman's death. But more unsettling is her growing suspicion that something unnatural is shadowing her.Amateur ghost hunter Hayden Priest believes Ree is being haunted. Even Amelia Gray, known in Charleston as The Graveyard Queen, senses a gathering darkness. Driven by a force she doesn't understand, Ree is compelled to uncover an old secret and put abandoned souls to rest—before she is locked away forever...

An ebook exclusive prequel to The Graveyard Queen series.

My thoughts:
I rather enjoyed this story. I wasn't sure what to expect of this, as I had noticed that even though the main character in the actual series is called Amelia Gray, she seems to have been mentioned only in passing in the blurb. In this book, we don't get much insight into the world of Amelia Gray from her point of view, but rather from a different person's POV. Thus, it felt to me as if the author is trying to prepare the ground for the introduction of Amelia Gray as a main character. 

I have to say I liked that. I don't know if there are many prequels to story series that do not feature the main character, but I found it was a rather original idea. And the story is a full, albeit short, story that stands well on its own. In some parts it did feel a little rushed, but not in a way that particularly bothered me. The main thing is that it made me look forward to reading the first book in The Graveyard Queen series, The Restorer, which was published a little over a month ago.


The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross
Steampunk Chronicles #0.5

Description (from Goodreads):

Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined…

An ebook exclusive prequel to The Steampunk Chronicles.

My thoughts:
Oh my... What can I say about this prequel? It was just so, so good! In this case, the prequel actually focuses on the main character of the series, as opposed to The Abandoned. We find out more about the character of Finley Jayne before the events in the first book of the series, The Girl In The Steel Corset. (If I am not mistaken) 

The story is quite a long one (probably half the size of a regular book), with a very good development of characters and a rather interesting storyline. I loved Finley's character and I am looking forward to seeing what exactly it is that makes her 'not normal'. I'm probably going to give in and buy the book for myself sooner than I had originally planned.

Disclaimer: Both these e-books were available for free download from Amazon.com.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Specials (Uglies #3)

Specials by Scott Westerfeld
First published by Simon Pulse in 2006 (this edition by Simon & Schuster in 2010)

Book #3 in the Uglies series

Description: (from Goodreads)
Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she's one of them. A Special. A superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.
But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn't better than anything she's ever known. Tally still has memories of something else.
But it's easy for her to tune that out--until she's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

My thoughts:
When I started reading this book, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had enjoyed Uglies a lot and was a little disappointed by the second book in the series, Pretties. Before I start stating my opinion of this book, I have to say that this review will contain spoilers for anyone who has not read the first two books in the series. Consider yourselves warned!

In this installment of the Uglies series, Tally has progressed yet another level and she is now a Special. But she's not even a regular one at that; she is a special brand of Special (?), a Cutter, a team created by Dr Cable and led by Shay (who we saw as a Special at the end of Pretties).

This book was a lot better than the previous one, but still, nowhere as good as Uglies. The plot was a lot more interesting and there were some completely different things going on, which I actually did not expect. One thing I liked a lot about this book was that there was mention of other cities in the world other than the ones Tally had lived in and knew about (Crumblyville, Uglyville and New Pretty Town). It made the world a lot more real and believable.

Though again, quite sadly I must say, I did not like Tally. She comes off as a particularly selfish and rather stupid person. At the beginning of the book, she just seems to do whatever Shay tells her to do and as the book progresses, even though she does seem to still be able to make decisions for herself, she is still not very likeable. Another thing I liked was that Zane was not really featured in this book. It might sound rather nasty of me, but I really did not like Zane's character and I believe that he is responsible for the ruination of Tally's character.

To end this review, I am going to make a comment about the ending of this book. I can't say I expected it to happen in the way it happened, so I was pleasantly surprised by it. Though I didn't really like the part where 4-5 weeks went by in the space of a couple of paragraphs. Even though the author felt there wasn't much to say about that period of time, it nevertheless felt like a big gap to me, as things were sure to have been happening.

Rating: 7/10

You can find out more about Scott Westerfeld at the end of my review of the first book in the series, Uglies.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Secret Lives Of Sisters

The Secret Lives of Sisters by Linda Kelsey
First published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2008 (this edition by Hodder Paperbacks in 2008)


Description: (from back cover)

She is your best friend. And your worst enemy.

Hannah has always felt in the shadow of her older sister, Cat. Cat is the flamboyant one, the one who can make everyone laugh. Hannah is so quiet that her parents often joke, 'Has Cat got your tongue?'

Now Hannah has a daughter of her own, who is about to get married. On the day of the wedding, Cat's caustic tongue is once again let loose with devastating consequences.

As Hannah is compelled to examine her past and try to make sense of her complicated relationship with her sister, she begins to unravel the secrets and lies on which her seemingly normal family was built.

While the truth has the potential to finally unite the sisters, it also has the power to tear them apart for good.

My thoughts:
I have had this book for over a year (if I am not mistaken), but I never really wanted to pick it up and read it. It was actually a present and not a book I chose, and I'm not sure if I would have chosen this book for myself had I seen it in a bookshop. I only decided to read it because I am participating in the British Books Challenge and I had it on the initial list I had compiled when I signed up for the challenge. Even though I have already read more than the 12 books needed to complete the challenge, I decided to give it a try.

First and foremost, I must say that it was definitely not what I expected. I thought it was going to be one of those typical chick-lit novels, with women fighting over men, or falling head over heels in love with them and trying to snag them for themselves. If there is one thing this book isn't, it's that. This one was a lot darker and sinister than I thought it would be.

This book takes place both in the past and in the present. It starts off with the wedding. There, because of various things happening, it triggers the telling of the story of the past, of how the two sisters came to be the way they were. The story has quite a few things going on that are so very sad, it makes you want to sympathise with some of the characters for all the things that have happened to them.

The characters were rather well developed. I did like Hannah a lot, Cat a little less, but by the end of the book, I actually understood why Cat acted the way she did. A character I really did not like, even though she is portrayed as being one of the good characters, was Mavis. We do learn something as to why she acts the way she does, but I still didn't feel as if that justified part of her behaviour in the book.

One thing I really didn't like about this book was the end. I can't say much about it without spoiling the end, but I found it a little too rushed and that parts of it were unnecessary. It was as if the reaction was a little over the top. I might not make sense now... Sorry. All in all, a good story, that is not what it initially seems to be.

Rating: 6/10

Linda Kelsey is a British journalist and author. She has worked for a number of magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and SHE. She now works as a freelance journalist, writing for a number of different magazines as well as newspapers and has also published three novels. She currently lives in London.
Her two other books (other than The Secret Lives of Sisters) are:

You can find out more about Linda Kelsey and her books by visiting her website, LindaKelsey.com

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011

Monday, 23 May 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

Hello everyone! Welcome to another IMM post! In My Mailbox is a meme that is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, so we get the chance to share our new books for the week (bought, borrowed or won) with all the lovely bloggers out there!

These are the books I got over the past two weeks! I only got one the previous week and didn't have enough time to write up an IMM post, so I'm including it in this week's post!
Here is what I got:

A World I Never Made by James LePore (from Shana over at A Book Vacation)
Camille by Tess Oliver (from Vickie over at ComaCalm's Corner)

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
This edition has a really weird cover, that I don't think I really like. However, even though it is from a swap, it's in absolutely perfect condition! I couldn't believe it when I first opened the parcel! Looking forward to this one!

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
As most of you will know, Shift (the second book in the series) has just come out and everyone has been saying how good Shade (and Shift) are! I thought it sounded rather different, as it features ghosts, so I decided to give it a try!

From S&S Galley Grab:
I got my first newsletter from S&S Galley Grab and decided to grab two e-galleys for starters.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma 
Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz (which I will admit to downloading by mistake, so I am not sure when I will get round to reading it)

That's it from me this week!

What did you get in your mailbox??
Please leave me a comment!

Friday, 20 May 2011

TGIF (2)

TGIF is a feature hosted by Ginger from GReads! every Friday! This feature allows us to re-cap our posts of the week and answer a fun question at the same time!

This week's question is:

Back to the Beginning: 
What was the first book you reviewed on your blog?


Oh my.... This is bad... I just read my first review and I really do not like it... No, scratch that. It's just baaad. Anyway, this first review is on The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I have to admit, I made a good job of not saying much about my thought on the book. I think I have come a long way since then, though. My reviews are more structured, they focus on my thoughts about the book (and not on retelling the blurb in my own words) and I feel a lot better about them! 

Which was the first book you reviewed on your blog? Has your style of writing/reviewing evolved in any way since then? You can even link up your first review if you want! :)


Last week on the blog:

I've been a little absent this week, but it was for a good reason! I had some interviews for the MSc programme at the university on Monday and Tuesday, so I was just a teensy-weensy bit stressed. But, I found out on Tuesday evening that I have been accepted!!! Anyway, there will be many more reviews to come now, so don't desert me! ;-)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
First published by Pan Books in 1979 (this edition by Pan Books in 2009)

Book #1 in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series

Description: (from Goodreads)
It's an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he's an alien. At this moment, they're hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words:
The weekend has only just begun. 
This title is Volume One in the Trilogy of Five.

My thoughts:
The first time I ever heard of this book was when the film was made. I remember my friend Penny saying that she had watched the film and that she hadn't really liked it. (Then again, she grew up in America and doesn't particularly like British films, probably because of the accent. Fortunately, she likes me, despite my British accent!) Anyway, I stumbled upon this book in the bookshop a couple of years ago and decided to buy it as a present for my brother. It had been sitting on the bookshelf since the day after he opened his present. I only recently found the DVD for the film at my local video club and decided I wanted to try watching the film myself.

Well, I did and I ended up really enjoying the film! I thought the cast was great! Martin Freeman was really good in the role of Arthur Dent and I loved the voice of Alan Rickman as Marvin the Paranoid Android! But I'm not here to review the film. 

After watching the film, I decided to try reading the book. It's not a very long one after all. As is obvious from the blurb, this is the story of Arthur Dent, the only man to survive the demolition of the planet Earth, due to his friend Ford Prefect. In the book, we follow Arthur on his journey across the universe, a place he never expected he would be in. (Well, who would?)

This book really is a weird read. The story is great and it obviously required a great deal of imagination to come up with. The book is very funny in places. And that is not only because of the things that happen in the course of the story, but also because of the way the author chose to describe them. A few of my favourite parts in the book were the ones where we could read excerpts from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and the dialogues between Marvin the Paranoid Android and the rest of the characters! You could tell, from the words the author chose and from the way he formed the sentences that Marvin really was depressed (and with a very bad case of depression at that!). All the characters in this book were rather well developed (for a book that is not really that long) and I enjoyed that. 

The book does tend to lag in certain parts, with not much really happening, or just because of a certain dialogue or description going on for a little too long, but I didn't find it so bad that I couldn't carry on reading the book. I would like to add here that I think I enjoyed the book more having already seen the film. I feel that the director of the film did a fantastic job of recreating the world in the book. The images from the film kept coming to mind all the time while I was reading the book actually, making me laugh out at certain moments (which I might not have done had I not seen the film beforehand). All in all, I think I prefered the film to the book, which is not something that happens often.

Rating: 7/10

Douglas Noël Adams was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. This series began on radio, and developed into a "trilogy" of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was completed after Adams' death in 2001. His Trilogy of Five contains - other than The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - the following books:
He also wrote two books in the Dirk Gently series. A posthumous collection of essays and other material, including an incomplete novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

You can find out more about Douglas Adams and his books here:

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011, 1st In A Series Challenge

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Love Falls

Love Falls by Esther Freud
First published by Bloomsbury in 2007 (this edition by Bloomsbury in 2007)

Description: (from Goodreads)

From the author of Hideous Kinky comes a charming, surprising, and utterly irresistible tale of adolescent love and self-discovery.

When seventeen-year-old Lara accepts her father's invitation to accom­pany him to a Tuscan villa for the summer, she's both thrilled and nervous for the exotic holiday. To her delight, she soon discovers that the villa's closest neighbors are the glamorous Willoughbys, the teenaged brood of a British millionaire. Caught up in their torrential thirst for amusement—and snared by Kip Willoughby's dark, flirtatious eyes—Lara sets off on a summer adven­ture full of danger, first love, and untold consequen­ces that will irrevocably change her life.

My thoughts:
This book is one of the very few hardbacks I own. I think I got it as a present from my grandparents for my birthday back in 2007 (my birthday is in August and the book was published in July, so that is the only logical explanation as to why they got me a hardback). I hadn't actually read it until now, though don't ask my why not. I honestly do not know. I came across this book when my brother and I decided to have a clear out of our books (to give some of our kiddie books to charity), so I kept it with my other unread books.

Well, umm, I have mixed feelings about this book. I can't really say if I liked it or not. It was kind-of weird. It started off ok. We are introduced to Lara, the main character in this book, who lives with her slightly bohemian (??) mother. Her father, a university professor, invites her to travel with him to a villa in Tuscany, on his first trip out of London in years. She accepts and they travel to Italy by train, eventually arriving at her father's friend Caroline's villa. There, Lara and her father also meet up with the Willoughbys, the villa's closest neigbours.

The story focuses on all the relationships between the people in the area: Lara's rather awkward relationship with her father, Caroline's rather weird treatment of Lara, the relationships between the Willoughby children and their guests/spouses/spouses-to-be and, of course, the relationship between Lara and Kip, the youngest of the Willoughby lot. Yes, that's a lot of relationships to talk about. To the author's credit, you don't feel as if it's too much when you are reading it. I only realised it as I was writing these words.

The story was nothing too sophisticated. It was just how a girl of 17 grew up a little too quickly over the course of a few weeks over the summer, just because of her encounters with the other people in the novel. The character development was ok. Ms Freud told us more about some than the others, leaving me with a rather unclear picture of what was going on at some points in the book. I didn't particularly like Caroline or Roland (he's the husband of one of the Willoughby girls). Others I felt were there only because the author wanted to set a particular atmosphere - they didn't really contribute.

One thing I did like about this book was the descriptions of Tuscany. The villa and its surrounding area sounded beautiful and a little mysterious at times and I would love to see all that scenery myself. I particularly liked the descriptions of a beach the whole party visited one day! It sounded idyllic. I also liked the descriptions of Florence. I visited Florence for a day a few years ago (on a school trip) and loved it! Such a pretty place! The book did bring back quite a few happy memories!

All in all, I am not sure what to say about this book. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I would have liked to, so I'd classify it as an ok read for me. It just might be the thing for you though! If you like the sound of it, then give it a try! (Forgot to mention that it's actually set in 1981, a week before Charles and Diana's wedding, and I read it right after their son got married to Kate Middleton! No, I didn't do it on purpose!)

Rating: 5/10

Esther Freud is a British novelist. She is the daughter of painter Lucian Freud and granddaughter of the famous neurologist Sigmund Freud. Ms Freud has worked in television and theatre as both an actress and a writer. Her first novel is the semi-autobiographical ''Hideous Kinky'', which has also been made into a film starring Kate Winslet. Her other books include ''Peerless Flats'' and  ''The Wild'', with ''Lucky Break'' being her latest novel. She is married to actor David Morrisey, with whom she has three children.

You can find out more about Esther Freud here:
Esther Freud on Goodreads

Esther Freud on Wikipedia

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011
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