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Escape your reality, if only for a little while.

Hey there, book lovers.

Month

February 2014

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

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Hello, book lovers.

This review is about one of my favourite books by the amazing author John Green. He is also the author of The Fault In Our Stars which I recently reviewed on this blog, and several others including Paper Towns, which I have not yet read, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (on my shelf), and An Abundance Of Katherines, which is also on my shelf. I have read both of those books and they will be reviewed on this blog soon, so keep an eye out for that.

This book is written from the narrative perspective of Miles, who, when he moves away to a boarding school meets and falls in love with a quirky girl called Alaska who has him instantly intrigued. The narrative takes you through Miles’ experiences at the school and his nickname Pudge, his friendships, breaking rules and a tragic twist that leaves them all reeling with confusion and frustration. This book will take you by surprise. It happens quickly. I think the message here is to enjoy the time you have with someone you love while you can and appreciate it because you don’t know when that might just disappear.

The novel is really well written. You can relate to Miles’ character and you can also see instantly why he feels so close to Alaska, she is an interesting, well-rounded character.

If you liked The Fault In Our Stars, you will love this one. I also think it will become a movie at some point, just like the other book, Or at least, I hope it will.

Happy reading!

April

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A Little Bit Of My Own Writing!

wattpad

Hello, book lovers.

This post is going to be something a little different to my usual book reviews and Why do we write? posts.

As you may have read in my About Me page, I am a writer. I’m a Creative Writing student at the University of Bedfordshire. I like to write my own stuff just as much as I love to read. So in this post, I thought I would share with you a little bit of my own internet writing presence, my Wattpad stories!

I’m not published. I have written a novel which I am trying to get published at the moment through agents, but unfortunately have not been too successful with. I am also writing another, which I will have done by the middle of this year at least, (as soon as I have finished my assessments that are due in May). They are two completely different novels, but the one I am writing at the moment is more of the YA genre than the first, like the ones I am about to show you.

Admittedly, this book/story on Wattpad was written when I was around fifteen, and I’m now 19. It is not the best quality of writing I have done, but I have been told the premise of the story is good, so I will share it with you in case you wish to read it.

So, here you go.

http://www.wattpad.com/user/AprilGraceable

Happy reading!

April

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Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

the hunger games cover

Hello, book lovers.

This post is a review of a book called The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Yeah, what can I say about this book? I absolutely love it. There’s a lot to talk about with this one, but I’ll try to summarise. It has a great movie adaptation, the characters, especially the main protagonist Katniss Everdeen, are strong and well-rounded, heroic characters, much like the kind I like to write in my own stories and novels, and the world Suzanne Collins has created is gripping and compelling.

I first read this book when it was published a few years ago. Then, I loved taking weekly trips to the local library and coming home with about four or five books at a time, reading them and bringing them back and then taking out more books each time I went. I’m pretty sure this library obsession is what sparked my current situation of the 68 books that now sit on the shelf above my head. And I have a job interview at a book shop tomorrow, which I’m really hoping to be successful with considering that a book shop would just be my perfect working environment. I can talk about books for hours, so I think I would be good at talking to customers about them.

Anyway, this was one of those books that I found at that library when I was fifteen and I have remembered it very clearly ever since. You know those books that still stand out to you, even after years, or when you’ve read countless books since? Yeah, so I read them again and again. And when my Dad bought this trilogy set home for me as a surprise one day after work, I literally got up off the couch and and gave him the biggest hug he had ever received from me. He was pretty happy with that, too. The Hunger Games is well written, the dialogue tells the context of the story well without giving too much away at the very beginning. The nightmare that Katniss’s younger sister Primrose (Prim) has on the very first page gives you a good inkling that something is very wrong about the world they live in, or at least tells you that this is definitely a Dystopian fiction novel you are reading. Katniss is very strong, which is something most people like to see in the protagonist of a novel of this kind. We often want to read to escape, to experience characters that can do things we might feel we cannot do ourselves, and Katniss Everdeen is a very good example of this.

From the beginning there is a love triangle between Katniss and one of her childhood friends, Gale. In the first chapter, Katniss goes off to hunt food for the day of the reaping, which is the day that one of the children from their district and the eleven other districts are going to be selected for The Hunger Games, a brutal fight to the death that everyone else will be able to see. He joins her and they eat together out in the woods, discussing what is going to be happen that day. There has always been a romance between them, Gale certainly feels something for Katniss, but she claims to feel something for him as more like a family member, a brother, perhaps?

And then when she volunteers for her younger sister Prim, who has her name selected the very first year she has entered, she meets Peeta Mellark, the boy who saved her from starvation all of those years ago, and as the trip continues into the arena where they are supposed to fight to the death, she discovers that he has felt something for her all along.

Genuinely, I really liked this book. I read it several times. And then I went to watch the movie with my little sister, on my birthday, because it had come out only three days before, and I absolutely loved it. Many people said they didn’t think the movie adaptation did the justice but I thought it was done well. The characters were casted well, because each character seemed to have a similarity to what I had pictured them looking like in my head while reading the book. So, I would say I recommend the film just as much as I recommend the book. (But obviously, the book is better.)

Read the book first, if you want my opinion on this one. I would definitely recommend them both, though. But it is better to see what the characters and the world look like in your own head before seeing what someone else thought they looked like.

Happy reading!

April

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More Books and More Book Reviews! And Some Uni Stuff.

Hey, book lovers.

You will notice, if you look on my blog, that for now I only have three reviews on my page. This is because I am trying my hardest to juggle University life (so, assessments mostly, and seeing and spending time with friends and often visiting family), my own writing, including the book I have finished and have edited and so am trying to get published by contacting agents about it, as well as the one I am about half way through writing as of now. I started this blog a little while before  assessment week, which was, admittedly, a very bad idea.

But assessment week, for my last lot, is finished. In fact, I could tell you that I’m really very happy with these assessments. There were four modules, Writers Reading, which is where you had to write a piece that links to your reading in some way, this was my favourite one, there was Writing Practices which required a fully finished and completed short story with all of the normal conventions included, Composition 1, for this piece you could literally write anything creative, an essay, a short story, an extract of a novel/novel idea, a script. And then Creative Writing Theory and Practices meant you had to discuss or include the theory behind writing in some way, so I generally made references to Freud and the human behaviour through this piece. This piece actually turned out to be my best grade, even though I hadn’t really workshopped it and therefore my lecturer hadn’t seen it before. In Writers Reading I got 13 out of 16 marks, so a B+. I was really, really happy with this grade. For this piece I basically did a short story adaptation of a novel called The Book Thief by Markus Zusak about the world of a little girl called Liesel Meminger, a girl in Germany experiencing the second world war as it happens. For Writing Practices I wrote a Dystopian fiction short story about a female-led world with a dramatic ending and a very brutal kind of world. I got a C on this piece, 9 out of 16 marks, and have recently entered this story into the Bristol Prize Short Story competition for 2014, so I’m hoping they like it. For Composition 1, I also wrote a short story, one about a young man called Edward who meets a young woman after his Aunt’s funeral and falls in love with her. I also got a C on this piece. And for Creative Writing Theory and Practices, I wrote the first chapter of a novel idea about a girl who discovers that her parents have lied to her about who she really is when she recieves a letter from her birth mother. This grade was the one that surprised me the most. I got an A- ! I quite literally gasped when I saw it. I was in the classroom, with the rest of the group and when I recieved my work back, I looked through the front sheet (yes, through it, I was worried), and gasped so loud that they all stared at me like I was an idiot.

So yeah, back to books. Because of University, I have an Aspire card where I can spend £300 in the University bookshop, so I went out today and bought four new books. I buy books a lot, so I will have a lot of books to review as I go through the three years I’m here, and beyond, of course!

I’m a writer, and I just counted all of the books on my shelf. 68! I thought I would share some of the books that I will soon be reviewing for you! So here you go!

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
5. Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman (Sequel to Noughts and Crosses)
6. Checkmate by Malorie Blackman (Sequel to Knife Edge)
7. Double Cross by Malorie Blackman (Sequel to Checkmate)
8. Sister, Missing by Sophie McKenzie (Sequel to Girl, Missing)
9. Missing Me by Sophie McKenzie (Sequel to Sister, Missing)
10. Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie
11. The Setup by Sophie McKenzie
12. Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie
13. Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie (Sequel to Blood Ties)
14. Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie
15. Split Second by Sophie McKenzie
16. Viking Gold by V. Campbell
17. One Day by David Nicholls
18. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
19. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
20. Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart
21. Shift by Em Bailey
22. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
23. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Sequel to Suzanne Collins)
24. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Sequel to Catching Fire)
25. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
26. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
27. Ashes by Ilsa J.Bick
28. The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King
29. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
30. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
31. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tenessee Williams (Play)
32. City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare
33. Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
34. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
35. Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
36. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
37. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
38. A Game of Thrones by George R. R Martin
39. The Book Of Summers by Emylia Hall
40. The Cuckoo Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling)
41. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
42. Shift by Hugh Howey
43. Life and Laughing by Michael McIntyre
44. Awakened by P.C and Kristin Cast
45. The Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler
46. Legacy by Danielle Steel
47. Othello by Shakespeare (Play)
48. Before The Poison by Peter Robinson
49. The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
50. The Killables by Gemma Malley
51. Property by Valerie Martin
52. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
53. Divergent by Veronica Roth
54. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Sequel to Divergent)
55. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Sequel to Insurgent)
56. Lullaby by Amanda Hocking
57. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
58. The Selection by Keira Cass
59. Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

These, of course, are not all of them. But there will be lots coming soon, so watch this space! Just need to find the time to write all of these, but I’m hoping to fill my blog with them very soon and I will update as much as I can!

Until then, happy reading.

April

😀

Book Review: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

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Hey, book lovers.
 
If you couldn’t already tell, this post is a review of a book called Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, the first book in a series of four about the violent feud between racism and society. This is one of my all-time favourite books, I’ve now read it around five times, which isn’t normal for me because I tend to stick to one book, read it and then move quickly on to the next one. But this is an amazing book, it is a beautiful, beautiful book (yeah, I felt the need to say  that twice), about racism, a topic that is, unfortunately, a very common issue in the modern world.
 
I personally believe that the premise of this story is one of pure genius. Malorie Blackman represents the topic of racism in this book well; she turns the reality of white over black people (in some cases, of course, many people despise the idea of racism, like myself), on its head, altering it so that white people are seen as the lower and people with dark skin are the ones who would be ideally richer and tend to be prejudiced against the white Noughts. This is a challenging topic, but I think she handled it very well.
 
The story begins with childhood best friends Callum McGregor and Persephone (Sephy) Hadley, daughter of the leader of their world. Callum’s mother, Meggie McGregor works for Sephy’s mother, Jasmine Hadley, but after a brutal twist, Meggie loses her job and the two children are torn apart, but they still see each other in secret, growing a friendship that becomes, well, love. They are living in a challenging world, one that despises the idea of black and white people being together, being friends, being lovers. But they are determined to not let this get between them and to stay together forever. The book has a heartbreaking twist, in which Callum’s family have to learn the meaning of friendship, family love and staying together in this brutal world, with Callum’s troubled sister, Lynette, and the older brother that chooses evil over everything their family considers to be fair. Meanwhile, Sephy’s family forbids Callum from seeing Sephy, and the two have to fight to stay together, seeing each other in secret on the beach near her family’s home.
 
This book is brilliantly written. The world Malorie Blackman has created is unique, yet reflects what is sadly real about the world we are living in today. Callum and Sephy are gripping characters; they had me intrigued from the first page because of their binding friendship and the idea of childhood love which can often be relatable to us. We all want to have our first love, don’t we?
 
The dialogue is realistic and humorous and added a smile to my face as I read. It is often tragic, but it is a story that will pull you in and keep you reading. I definitely, honestly, certainly read this book. Go out and buy it. You will not regret it.
 
Happy reading!
 
April
 
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Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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This tragically stunning novel tells the tale of sixteen year old terminal Hazel-Grace, a somewhat cynical (as you can imagine) teenager with lung cancer who, when she meets the gorgeous plot twist that is Augustus Waters, has her outlook on the limited time she has left changed completely.

The book is #1 New York  Times Bestseller by the esteemed author John Green. He has published several novels, including Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Looking for Alaska, the last four of which are actually on my bedroom shelf and will therefore be reviewed on this blog very soon.

Hazel was reaching Depression before she met Augustus Waters. Her mother’s concern grows and, when she encourages her to attend a support group for kids of her age and of similar circumstances to hers, she is reluctant. But she goes and charming Augustus Waters pulls her in almost instantly, taking her into his world of enthusiasm and even more cancer perks and a trip to Amsterdam that he persuades her to do, making her feel like what is left of her life is indeed worth living. A budding romance blossoms between them and together they experience friendship and love and a tragedy that will probably push you to tears (I warn you now). The novel is beautifully written and, though there were times that I found that I could not get into it, the dialogue is humorous and witty and does indeed make you want to read on, if not just to see what else Augustus has to say to Hazel.

But it’s a wonderful book and one I highly recommend. It’s also going to be a movie, very soon.

Here is the trailer. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ItBvH5J6ss

I recommend reading  the book before you see the movie, but I will definitely be seeing it!

Happy reading, and watch this space for more book reviews!

April.

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Book Review: Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie

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This post is a review of a wonderfully gripping book called Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie, a highly credited author of mostly teen fiction books, an author who has won several awards for her novels, including the amazing Blood Ties and its sequel Blood Ransom, The Setup and its following books, including The Hostage. She also has several other well-loved novels, and I am able to say that I have read most but unfortunately not all of them, though I am currently reading her newest book, Split Second. Reviews for these books will appear on this blog at some point in the future.

Girl, Missing is about a sixteen year old girl called Lauren who, when one day she is looking through her computer and flicking through the internet, comes across a missing person’s website where she makes a discovery that will change the way she looks at her life with her family, and spirals her into a world of adventure and hopeless betrayal, leading her to seek out her birth mother and leaving her hungry for more information about the place she comes from. She sets out to America and the trip reveals a discovery of a woman called Sonia Holtwood and an adoption company that seems to be nothing like it is described in the brochures.

I genuinely adored this book. I am a huge fan of Sophie McKenzie’s work, but this novel is the first of hers that I came across. The writing itself is well-crafted, with compelling and gripping characters and a relatable protagonist. Lauren’s curiosity is something that can be recognised by many people, and her and ability to dive into ruthless, often dangerous situations with such an agile and brave nature is something that many wish they could say they possess. McKenzie has the wonderful skill of being able to throw her main characters into dangerous, tricky situations and to have them coming out of them with immense bravery and skill.

Her characters are always extremely well-rounded, with their own issues and insecurities; dangerous pasts, discoveries to be made about themselves that will shake their whole worlds and turn them upside down and inside out, and this is something that I would love to be able to do in my own writing. When it comes to Lauren, I was gripped immediately as she was so relatable; with her ‘annoying’ but adored little brother, her Mum and Dad who she missed only when she found herself separated from them in America, though she knew she loved them but had perhaps taken them for granted when they were around her.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I found hardly any fault in it, it gripped me from the first page and had me there for the rest of the time I spent reading it. You will pick it up and not want to let it go.

I will be reviewing more of her books, too, including Blood Ties, its sequel Blood Ransom, the sequel to Girl, Missing which is called Sister, Missing, and the third book in the series, Missing Me, as well as The Setup, the books that follow on in this series and her adult novel, Close My Eyes.

Look out for more book reviews soon, and Happy Reading.

April 😀

 

Books, Books and More Books!

Hello, book lovers.

I’ve become a bit of a book fanatic over the last few weeks, and I now have a shockingly large collection compared to the amount I owned before moving to University. Of course, I’ve been planning on doing book reviews on this blog and I tend to review each and every one after I have read it. I am a Creative Writing student and, perhaps with some naivety, I feel like these are a necessity. Perhaps others on my course would feel the same, I certainly have friends who do.

I have a hunger for going into book shops like Waterstones (when I’m back in Milton Keynes as unfortunately there is not one in Luton), WH Smiths, John Smiths University Shop and more recently, The Works.

Waterstones has always been my favourite book shop, I will have to admit. I adore book shops of all kinds but something just draws me to this one in particular, (perhaps the fact that there is a Costa on the upstairs floor and that this is the place where I used to go to do most of my writing before University as I  did not own a desk then). So, basically, I’m a book fanatic. And this is my favourite shop. WH Smiths is equally awesome, though. They’re usually around the same kind of price here, aswell. I’m more of a YA lover but I go for any genre, but still novels like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Noughts and Crosses, The Fault in Our Stars are the kind of thing I like to read. I am looking into different genres however, especially for my course.

John Smiths University Shop is in Luton town centre and is a great bookshop with books of all different genres, from fiction to everything non-fiction related, educational books mostly but others of different ranges, and they also sell lots of stationery and art equipment and many other things. The Works is another good bookshop that I really love, because the books they sell are always cheap. I went in there today and bought three books for £5! These are books I have seen in shops like Waterstones and WH Smiths that are usually of around £6.99, and I usually buy books that I have heard lots of good things about through reviews on the internet.

I will be posting many reviews of the books I read, and each one from my collection on my bookshelf in my room will be included. (Seriously, I just counted them all, there are 63, my shelf is now full and I think it might just break soon.)

So, my friends, basically watch this space as there will be plenty to come very soon!