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Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver cover

Hey, book lovers.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted for you on here, and I apologise. I’m now back in Luton, living in a completely new student flat ready for going back to Uni in the beginning of October, and have been very busy with work.  I work in a bookshop (ironically enough), and have been trying to get used to living on my own again and focusing on work and getting ready for university and everything. I will be a second year very soon, it’s quite exciting!

Anyway, moving on. This post is going to be a review of a little book I’ve been reading called The Giver by Lois Lowry, about the perfect world of a young man called Jonas,  where there is no pain or hurt and everything about life is planned out so that nobody in the community is unhappy. It sounds odd, or much like your sterotypical dystopian fiction story, but it is very different in its own way. There is much beauty in the way it is written, and in the way Jonas himself is presented. The book is written in a third person narrative, but you very much experience the story from his perspective, which is exactly what is needed for a story of this kind. He as a character is polite and kind- he has only ever known the characteristics and traits expected of people in his world- if you make a mistake or inconvenience another in any way, you are expected to apologise, and then in return the other must say they accept your apology. If you are ill, you must seek out pills that will take away your pain. As you grow older, your future job is chosen for you, as are your future spouse, if you request one, and your children, one boy and one girl. It is a world that Jonas is very much grateful to live in, but when he is selected to be the new Receiver, he discovers dark secrets that hide under the surface. If you do not fit the requirements of this peaceful society, you are released. But with his new responsibility, Jonas comes to find that this is not as positive a thing as he had once thought. When you are released, you die.

Jonas wants to change the way his society lives, and so with the help of the previous receiver, who he comes to know as The Giver, he goes on the run.

the giver

It is a beautiful but haunting little book, that will leave your mind reeling for days after reading it. I sincerely recommend it, though I will have to say that it is not for the faint-hearted.

Thanks for reading!

Happy reading!

April

😀

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Book Review: Fracture by C.J Daugherty

Fracture

Hey, book lovers.

You might have read my recent reviews of a couple of books called Night School by C.J Daugherty and the book that follows it, Legacy. If not, you can find these on my blog. I suggest that if you haven’t read those yet you find them first and read that review so you have a better understanding of the series.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently and not a lot of reviewing lately, and I apologise. But I have a few more to come so I thought I would try to work them through chronologically as quickly as I can, from the last book of this series that I have read so far to a series by Sophie McKenzie.

This is a wonderful book, in a brilliant series. There is so much tension in both of the previous books and this continues well in this one. Allie is living at Cimmeria Academy, where she has discovered that Night School is a program that not only powers the whole of her school, but a severe amount of government officials. And when she becomes a part of this, Allie is struggling to break through all of the lies and deceipt that the teachers and traitorous students alike are trying to keep under the surface. Her mental breakdowns increase and she begins to push away when her best friend is killed and Allie does not know who is working for the enemy, the very man that has taken her brother Christopher away from her. The school is crumbling and Allie is in the middle of it all, her powerful Grandmother Lucinda trying her very best to keep the school safe.

If you’ve enjoyed one or both of the previous books, you will love this one. Or even if you like thrillers with complex plots and compelling characters, this is pretty much the book for you. I suggest giving it a chance and let me know what you think!

Happy reading!

April

😀

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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Hey, book lovers.

I’m afraid I’ve been delaying my review on this wonderful book for a while now. It’s the third book in the Divergent series by an author called Veronica Roth and the first book has already been made into a film. I’ve seen it, and it’s really, really worth watching. Believe me on this one. You might recognise these two whether or not you’ve actually seen it.

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Anyway, the three books are set in a world where there is little to no hope, which is why it has been primarily labelled as a novel from the dystopian fiction genre- something I, myself have really gotten into writing since doing my degree, but that’s another story altogether. You can find the reviews to the first two books in this series, Divergent and its sequel Insurgent, on my blog. I really loved these books and was really drawn in to each one of them. I read Divergent probably a lot faster than any other book I’ve read, and I’m kinda a slow reader (hence why it often takes me a long time to get a new book review on here, sorry, but I do try.)

It’s a wonderful series. The first book sees Tris living in a world where your personal traits and attributes see you into specific parts of your world, which are known as Factions. Candor means honesty, Abnegation (which is where Tris comes from) means selflessness, Dauntless means bravery, Amity is for peace, and Erudite for knowledge.

But in the first book she was transferred to Dauntless when she chose bravery at her choosing ceremony, and her decision has affected her relationship with her family but has also made her far more brave, intelligent and better at making quick decisions. She is more agile, better at fights and defending herself physically, but some of the events that ran on into the next book have shown that any kind of physical trauma can affect the mind just much as the body. Consequences of her actions leave her hateful and bitter, and in Insurgent she finds it far harder to fight, but the war is growing. Tris must learn to work with those she has come to trust to fight in this battle of both a physical and a mental skill, but it won’t be easy.
Allegiant shows Tris that not everything in the world is as you might have seen it, and that the government have been conspiring and have made these factions as a kind of social experiment. But this one is narrated not only by Tris but by her previous instructor at Dauntless, the one she has come to love and adore, Four, or as he is also known, Tobias. Four has to face his four fears, which is where the name originated from, and his love for Tris and the bitter hatred at the world who created him and the Divergents that the government have made to show that people will have not only one trait but possibly two or three. Tris is fighting her own battles, and though their relationship becomes strained in the war raging around them, their love for each other is clear in the ending, which I will not spoil for you. But it is a tense one, very, very sad. And I do not want to ruin it for you so I will leave it there and simply say that this book is so very worth the price and the time it takes to read, as it is a big book.

Happy reading!

April

😀

My Writing Projects For The First Academic Year Of My Degree!

Hey, book lovers.

So as you will know if you’ve read my recent book review of Dance of Ashes by Yelena Black, I’ve been very busy working on assessments due for the first year of my degree in Creative Writing at the University of Bedfordshire. Like many others on this website that I’ve come across, reading and writing are everything to me, and I want to of course keep writing and to develop my craft in the subject in order to write the best possible books I can! Because isn’t that what every writer wants? And this is coming from someone who’s friends now are mostly writers. Before University I didn’t know personally anyone who had written a novel. Well, now I do!

So, this post is a little different to my usual book reviews. I want to get back into posting regular content and I still have a lot of books left to talk about, so I won’t be going anywhere soon. Moving swiftly on, I thought I’d talk about the first four assessments I wrote for my first year. I may do another post about my most recent stories soon, but just as soon as our work has all been handed back and we’ve received our feedback and grades.

There were four units, all with their different topics and requirements. There were two assessments due for each of these modules; one due for each module in January and the second batch being due in May.

Writers Reading

This unit is very much like the title. We write a story that in some way links to our reading during our time on the course. I read an awful lot of Young Adult novels, so my piece for this unit was based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, a short story fanfiction/adaptation piece called A Touch Of Death. I was happy to receive a B+ for this piece, a happy 13 out of 16 marks. This piece was a lot of fun to write, because it was like fan fiction in that you play around with the story.

Writing Practices

The requirements here were simply to write a short-story piece. It could be about anything, it just depended on the form. For this piece I wrote a dystopian fiction piece. I got a C for this one.

Composition 1

The requirements for this unit were that you could write pretty much any form of writing; poetry, a short story, a script, etc. My short story for this one was about finding love after experiencing grief. I got another C for this one.

Creative Writing Theory and Practice

For this one, you could write in any form as long as you involved in your contextual study (a kind of essay that goes with each creative piece, discussing and explaining your aims and objectives and what went well and what didn’t) some kind of theory that could be linked to your story. Mine was an extract of a novel that I am going to be writing about a girl called Anna who receives a letter on the doorstep from her mother from birth and realises that she is actually adopted. She is angry, and in the chapter decides to run away and find her loving mother from the address given to her in the letter. I was able to link this to the theories of Freud and Jung and spoke a lot about the genre. I had thought this was my weakest piece when I submitted them but I actually received some amazing feedback and an equally amazing A-, both of which made me very happy indeed.

I will talk about the recent four stories in another post, but they are still going through the marking process and so I think it would be better to keep them as four little secrets for now. I was pretty happy with these stories overall and received some wonderful feedback from my lecturers. So I’m so proud of myself for completing all of these and am now just awaiting the feedback and results for the last lot!

And for now, happy reading! I’m off to read the sequel to Night School by C.J Daugherty now, Legacy. It’s good so far. There will be a review up soon, plus my friend’s even leant me the sequel that comes after it so I’m pretty excited for that one too, as I’ve been really drawn into this series.

April

😀

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

catching fire

Hey there, book lovers.

This particular book review is about the wonderful sequel by Suzanne Collins to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, the second book in a series of three about a world ruled by the malicious President Snow, who has forced his twelve districts into a shocking battle-to-the death. The first novel in the series sees sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteer in the place of her twelve year old sister Primrose, alongside the boy who saved her when she and her family when they were starving, Peeta Mellark. I read this book quite a long while ago, but I’ve read it a few times and I found that Katniss’s strength and her hatred for being held contained in this horrific society was what made the book so worthwhile to read, along with the friendships and romances she encounters. I would seriously recommend it to anyone who loves the dystopian fiction novels as much as I do.

Gale was always there for Katniss from the very beginning. And he still is there for her in the second book, but I think he was quite understated in this one as it seemed to focus much more on the blossoming romance between Katniss and Peeta that had developed in The Hunger Games. But they do kiss, before she goes off to the arena for the Quarter Quell that marks the 75th year of the annual Hunger Games. Before all of this happens, however, Katniss and Peeta are expected to keep up a love and romance that is purely for the eyes of the public and to stop people from realising that there is more going on underneath the surface, and to prevent an uprising. President Snow appears to Katniss and tells her that she is to keep this up and make them all, and himself, to believe it, or else the consequences would be horrifying for both herself and for everyone she loves.  With this comes a wedding, and a baby- and some start to believe that their Mockingjay- a public heroine, is expecting Peeta’s child. But President Snow knows better than to believe it, and he is angry.

To show her he means business, President Snow orders a Quarter Quell, and orders that for the very first time, various winners from the previous Hunger Games events from all of the different districts will have to fight to the death. Haymitch is quick to act out, and a plan is formed that they will do their best to protect Peeta, knowing that they are the only winners from their district.

This book is a wonderful sequel and follows the story on well. I really enjoyed the first book, and got into this one just as quickly. I won’t spoil too much for you, but I hope you enjoy it.

Happy reading!

April

😀

Book Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

dance of shadows

Hey, book lovers.

Many apologies- I’m well aware that it’s been a long time since I last posted. I hope you don’t think I’m making excuses here, but I’m afraid I’ve just been very busy with finishing and submitting my four 70% assessments and their contextual studies, as well as trying to look for and sort out the contract of a new flat for my second academic year at the University of Bedfordshire! Yes, I’m a busy, busy bee.

On to more important matters- my first book review in a while! This post in particular is going to involve a wonderful book by an author called Yelena Black, Dance of Ashes. It’s a fantastic book with a gripping and complex plot, the narrative leaving you wondering after what is going on throughout the book and what this strange mystery is about this odd dance school.

The main character is Vanessa. The narrative is written in third person, but it’s the kind of narrative that still leaves you thinking you are in the character’s head, if you know what I mean? That doesn’t happen to me often, but this was one book that did exactly that. She goes to this mysterious dance school in New York to find her missing sister Margaret, who has mysteriously disappeared from the school, along with many other leading ballerinas. I just wanted to keep on reading this book. You don’t find out what is so mysterious about the school until near the end, (and I won’t spoil it for you, it’s better that way), but as Vanessa digs deeper into the school’s history she discovers a deep and dark secret, and there are many there who want to lead her towards danger, such as the gorgeous Zeppelin Gray, and others who only want to help, like the loveable Justin. I didn’t like him at first, I guess I just didn’t like the way he kept appearing, but I realised towards the middle of the book that he’s just trying to lead her out of this dark situation because he knows and has experienced these many other disappearances.

The friendships she has with the other people at the school were pretty cool, too. There’s a gay drama queen guy called Blaine who is always on about how much he fancies certain guys he sees, which is rather amusing, particularly when Steffie and TJ, Vanessa’s roommates join in on the discussions.

The book reminded me a lot of another book I’ve recently posted a review for on here (and since finishing Dance of Shadows, I’ve began to read Legacy, the sequel to Night School), a book about Allie, who goes to a school called Cimmeria and discovers that school really can be murder. That’s all I’ll say. I just really recommend you read them both, especially if you enjoyed Night School. If you do, you’ll absolutely adore Dance of Shadows!

Just can’t seem to get enough of books.

Happy reading!

April

😀

Book Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

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Hey, book lovers.

So, I am aware that all of my recent posts seem to be put up in the early morning (and yes, it is 2am), but that’s not something I’m doing on purpose. But I started reading this book immediately after finishing The Spectacular Now and I was immediately hooked, I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and I couldn’t really put it down, except for a visit to my nan’s earlier this afternoon.  But I’ve been reading it since I got back, until about 2am! I’m not the fastest of readers, and it takes me a while to get through a book, but this was probably my quickest on record for quite a while.

So, moving steadily on, this book is about Chelsea, popular high school student and second-in-command to the most popular girl in the year, Kristen. Chelsea is well-known, being best friends with Kristen sure has its advantages! The girls want to be her, they watch her with envy and the boys want to be with her. But she is also known for her secret-spilling habits, sharing rumours about everyone and anyone for the opportunity to raise her social status in Grand Lake High, much to the pleasure of Kristen herself! But it’s when they go to a party and Chelsea discovers a secret about one of the boys in one of her classes that things start to roll out of her control. And Noah, the boy she saw in the toilets with someone she had not expected at all, ends up in a coma in hospital for several weeks, all because she was drinking and told his secret to the other students she was once close to, who decide to take the information into their own hands and violence becomes the issue that caused this ordeal.

She tells the police, but this all only makes things worse for Chelsea and she becomes invisible to everyone at her school, her old best friend making her a social outcast. Inspired by a website that tells a story of the silence of monks, Chelsea makes a decision to be silent, taking a vow that means she cannot and will not speak, hoping to make things better and easier for everyone around her. But this new silence just puzzles the rest of her school and she is labelled a freak. But she does the right thing and even though she feels worthless and lower than ever, she earns friendships in completely new places, an Indian girl called Asha who loves to knit and is extremely good at Geometry, and then there is Sam, the best friend of Noah and the last person she would expect to befriend her after everything that has happened. But after a while she becomes drawn to him and a friendship and a romance begins to blossom! It’s really well written, I wasn’t completely sure when I picked it up as to how Hannah Harrington would do this, but it’s done well and suits the book. I’ll try not to give too much away and let you enjoy it for yourselves, but I definitely recommend this one.

Happy reading!

April

😀

 

Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

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Hello, book lovers.

I’m really sorry I haven’t written a post in so long, I’ve been a bit busy with assessments for my course as the May deadline is approaching quickly. I promise I’ll be able to write on here more once they’re all finished! So lots to read in the summer, my friends.

Anyway, moving steadily on. I have just finished reading a wonderful book called The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. It’s a cute little story of a reckless teenager called Sutter Keely who has a habit of drinking too much and throwing away any kind of relationship he has before it has really began.

Cassidy is his ex-girlfriend and friend, and they’ll constantly have this kind of chemistry-fired friendship going, even though Cassidy feels that at points it was like he didn’t really care about anything other than being the life of the party and joking around. Because you have to give him credit for that, he’s a hilarious character- he always seems to have a story or a joke to tell, and he likes to consider logical solutions for everything, so he’s not exactly stupid either. They love him for his laughter, mostly. But he’s been told he’s not serious enough, especially by Cassidy herself. And even though he doesn’t seem to see this as a bad thing, it’s gotten him into a little more trouble than he would have hoped for.

He’s witty and funny, and you can have a laugh with his narrative because it’s as if he’s talking to you directly (they call that a conversational tone.) And with Sutter’s character, it works spectacularly.

But it’s when he meets Aimee Finecky that things start to change in his life. She’s shy and builds walls around herself to stop people getting close to her, she’s drawn to her science fiction novels and has enormous dreams to live on a ranch full of horses and to work for NASA, a kind of ambition that Sutter begins to see beauty in. But at first she does not stand up for herself very well and so her friends, her mother and even her little brother are able to walk over her, and when Sutter sees this for himself, he teaches her to let out everything that has ever bothered her about her life and also to do things for herself and say no a little! His influence changes her completely and she becomes a new person, but this new-found confidence only exaggerates her aspirations and she finds herself falling in love with Sutter on the way, hoping for something a little more than he feels he is really able to give her.

It’s really a spectacular read! Go and give it a shot, if you like small-romance novels, you won’t regret it.

Happy reading!

April

😀

Book Review: Night School by C.J Daugherty

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Hey, book lovers.

Last night I finished reading this stunning book by C.J Daugherty called Night School; it’s the wonderfully crafted story of a young girl called Allie who, when her parents tell her that her rebellious behaviour of drinking with friends and even breaking entry into her school and spraying graffiti is becoming too mucch for them to handle and she is sent away to Cimmeria, a school with many secrets.

Allie herself is a really well written character, in my opinion. She’s a redhead with a fiery spirit and a lot of insecurities; since her older brother Christopher ran away she has not been the same. His disappearance has triggered many panic attacks and Allie is still struggling to deal with her anxieties he has caused while she is at the school. But she meets a lot of people and has to learn who to trust, there are a lot of liars at Cimmeria. A lot of friendships are made, including Jo, who becomes one of her closest friends, though later on an incident on the roof leads her to doubt Allie’s friendship. I do not want to go into too much detail as not to give away the whole story, but there is a lot to the plot so I suppose that would be difficult to do. Her other friends include Lisa, Ruth, Rachel, Lucas, Gabe and Carter.

She meets Sylvain, a french exchange student who she finds immediately charming, falling for his good looks and french accent. He takes to her instantly, and she soon comes to find that this is rare- many girls have tried to claim his affections in the past but he has never felt so deeply for any of them as he has for Allie. But it seems that there is more to him than first meets the eye. He is powerful, and on the night of their school ball, his desire is strong. Too strong.

No one will tell her about what is really happening at this school. The school has many secrets, and everyone is lying. Allie is the new girl, and because everyone in the school is already a legacy- they are connected to the school in some way, their parents went there, perhaps, they do not feel they can trust her enough to tell her, so she is special. Everyone knows her name. But later she discovers that she is a legacy after all, a very strong one.

Go and read this! It’s amazing, loved it.

Happy reading!

April

😀

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