I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did! I was intrigued enough by the Pixie premise to buy Need, but was worried it woul...moreI have to say, I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did! I was intrigued enough by the Pixie premise to buy Need, but was worried it would be quite gimmicky and silly. And if I’m honest, some of it is…a bit. But I enjoyed the book so much, I was willing to overlook this and just get engrossed in the story.
The strength in this book is Zara herself. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I really, really liked her character. From the synopsis on the back of the book, I was expecting her to be weak but she certainly isn’t. The beauty of her though is that she doesn’t realise her strength; she is gutsy and brave without being aggressive and sarcastic. This gave her a really refreshing voice and I warmed to her from the very beginning. She’s an active member of Amnesty International, and this kind of sums up her moral attitude, in that she is keen to stand up for the underdog whether it’s the captives she supports through Amnesty or her oddball new friends at school.
Zara’s phobia collecting was very interesting too and different to what I expected. Rather than being consumed by phobias, it seems it’s the idea of them that fascinates her more. Each chapter begins with a phobia and a small description and I learned quite a few I’d never heard of before! This was really unique, I’ve never seen anything like that done before and it gave the book and Zara herself a real quirky feel. I also enjoyed the relationship between Zara and Nick Colt, which seemed very genuine.
There are some flaws in the book, which annoyed me a little. I thought the discovery that the creepy man stalking Zara was a pixie was very sudden, and without build up. I also thought that the idea of Pixies was accepted too easily and didn’t ring quite true. However, I did like the story about the pixies, which while it wasn’t entirely unpredictable, it was interesting. There are some other supernatural/mythical creatures along the way, which I wasn’t expecting and made for an exciting and action packed story that I raced through and struggled to put down.
I ended up really enjoying Need. Yes it’s predictable in places and a little bit implausible at times, even allowing huge stretches of imagination. But Zara as a narrator is compelling and intriguing, there’s plenty of original twists and fast action and it was easy to just put my criticisms aside and be swept along with the story. I’m looking forward to reading Captivate soon!(less)
I picked up Drawing With Light after reading a very positive review and being intrigued by the blurb on Amazon. I'm very glad I did as from the gorgeo...moreI picked up Drawing With Light after reading a very positive review and being intrigued by the blurb on Amazon. I'm very glad I did as from the gorgeous cover to the beautiful story inside, this book is an absolute joy.
Emily has been brought up by her father and stepmother Cassy, after her Mother, Francesca, left when she was a baby. She has no memories of her mother, but as her family changes from the one she is used to and a teacher compares her photography work to the mysterious Francesca, she starts to feel a desperate need to find her mother. With a first person narrative, Julia Green gets the voice of a confused 16 year old just right. For the most part Emily is shy and quiet and mature, but occasionally the feelings of jealousy and abandonment erupt, making her a very real but likable character.
The developing relationship with Seb is beautifully written, filled with all the anxieties and worries of first love. It has that heart pounding intensity that will surely have anyone sighing dreamily, but at the same time doesn't shy away from the painful and awkwardness of a brand new relationship. Both Seb and Emily are written with flaws, but it's these flaws that make them all the more appealing and believable.
The way Julia Green writes is almost poetic at times. The way she describes things, such as the trees Emily loves photographing for example, is wonderful. Drawing With Light is a reference to Emily's photography and I think it's a beautiful and clever way to think about it.
This is truly a lovely book. It isn't really the kind of book that will have you gripped. The blurb on the back of the book suggests there is more of a mystery surrounding Emily's mother than there really is. But it's not the mystery or secret that the book is about. It's about a young girl coming of age and needing to find herself. It's about family and first love and working out who you really are. I didn't find it to be a book I couldn't put down and raced towards the end, more a comfy and cosy read I looked forward to savouring.(less)
I know almost nothing at all about Shakespeare. Apart from wading through Macbeth many years ago at school, my experience of the great bard is almost...more I know almost nothing at all about Shakespeare. Apart from wading through Macbeth many years ago at school, my experience of the great bard is almost zero (should I have admitted that?). This in no way affected my enjoyment of A Fool’s Girl and in fact, I found it fascinating. I’ve heard of Twelfth Night, but until reading this book, knew nothing about it. Rees bases The Fool’s Girl around the famous play, in that the events that happened in Illyria were real, and Shakespeare is inspired to tell the story, known as Twelfth Night, after meeting and helping Violetta. Rather than feel alienated by my lack of knowledge I felt I actually learned from the book and also had my interest in Shakespeare himself piqued. I actually WANT to go and see/read some Shakespeare straight away! I was also able to pick up on some references to some of the plays, such as the three old herbalists who I presume later become the witches in Macbeth.
Where Celia Rees absolutely excels is bringing history to life. Descriptions of sights, sounds and smells all create such imagery that for a while I actually was in seventeenth century London. She doesn’t shy away from the grisly truth so at times the book is violent and slightly disturbing, especially in her descriptions of the fate of prisoners and betrayers. But this makes the book seem all the more authentic. Seventeenth century London wasn’t the nicest of places after all, with the heads of criminals hanging from London Bridge and the lack of sanitation.
Violetta is an inspiring character. She’s strong, determined, loyal and proud so even in hard times she never loses sight of herself. I found myself really routing for her and sympathetic of her plight. However at times I did feel that the emphasis on Shakespeare was too much and Violetta became a little lost. The book is told in an alternating third person narrative and then first person from several characters. I would have preferred a little more from our heroine herself, as I thoroughly enjoyed her voice, and the story was, after all, hers to tell. Feste provided a humorous and fascinating character and is complex with his moods and personality, although his devotion to Violetta never wavers.
The book is full of action, myth and romantic legends, which I absolutely adored. In particular, Violetta’s retelling of her parent’s life in Illyria is captivatingly beautiful. Rees’ writing is incredibly readable, while remaining extremely intelligent and I read the book very quickly. There was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me gripped and I finished the whole 320 pages in just over a day.
There was one area I was a little disappointed. There is a romantic thread that begins in Violetta’s childhood and continues throughout the book. I found it a little lacking, in that it felt slightly contrived and without real passion, which was a shame. Perhaps the reason for this goes back to what I said earlier, that Violetta’s voice could perhaps have been used more and thus made the romance more believable and exciting? I still enjoyed the book very much, but felt if this had been developed a little more, it would have been amazing.
There was such a huge buzz about this book, I was really excited to get started and settled down almost immediately with it. I was also a little bit w...moreThere was such a huge buzz about this book, I was really excited to get started and settled down almost immediately with it. I was also a little bit worried. Had I set such a huge expectation against it after the reams of glowing reviews that I was going to be disappointed? Not a chance! This is a real, once every now and then, will completely blow you away book.
Sam isn’t immediately likable. She’s one of the popular girls, part of a group who sneer at and bully the classmates who, in their opinion, fall below them on the social ladder. Worse is that while not the leader or instigator, she’s a follower, and the followers are the ones who give the leader the power to carry on. But Sam wants to keep her popularity, so although she feels uncomfortable about things at times, she ignores this.
Sam’s first day, the day the accident happens, isn’t anything special really. It’s Cupid Day and roses are given out at school, meaning it’s a popularity contest to see who gets the most roses. This was an ingenious way to subtly introduce the complexities of school relationships and the hierarchy that exists within them as well as the importance of being popular, fitting in and the torture it can be when you don’t. Being from the UK the idea of Cupid Day intrigued me and I have to say, I’m glad it’s not something we did at school (only getting a Valentine from your mum was bad enough). The first fifty pages are a detailed description of a fairly normal and uneventful day, and without the blurb on the back or fantastic prologue you would be forgiven for thinking this was just a typical high school story. It isn’t until Sam starts reliving the day over and over that you realise how important those details in the first section actually are as they begin to intricately weave in and out of the story.
This becomes an incredibly thought provoking book. How much do our actions, no matter how mundane and throwaway they are, have on a bigger picture? Sam begins to realise that there’s a knock on effect for everything she does. The character development is fantastic as she faces each day with a changing attitude. With a first person narrative, I felt like I was right inside Sam’s head and really understood her, even when I didn’t agree with her. But its not just Sam’s character that grows throughout the book, that of her friends and peers do too, as we see them living the same day in different perspectives. Lauren Oliver injects many teen issues throughout, and treats them with great sympathy and understanding. A picture is slowly built up of a few different characters and their problems, which through Sam become interlinked. I also adored the romance too within the book, which was beautiful, tender and heartrending.
Before I Fall is truly a brilliant book. I really did have the feeling that I was reading something very special. Even though I knew the premise, I had no idea how things were going to end. Every page brings something new, is completely unpredictable and had me gripped. I’ve read a few reviews that say this book would make a brilliant movie, and I have to agree. It’s so visual I could picture it just reading. One thing I’m sure is that Lauren Oliver’s debut novel is going to be HUGE. This is so much more than a teen high school book, and is a perfect crossover book for adults too. It’s a very clever story of what ifs, redemption, appreciating what you have and discovering who you really are, even when it seems like it’s too late. I can’t imagine anyone not falling completely in love with Before I Fall and being so moved your still thinking about it days after finishing. The last time I was so completely blown away by a book was The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This is my Book of the year so far by a million miles, and really will take some beating!(less)
Despite having some doubts about whether this was a book I would enjoy (I was one of the few who wasn't all that impressed by PS I love you), I was su...moreDespite having some doubts about whether this was a book I would enjoy (I was one of the few who wasn't all that impressed by PS I love you), I was surprised to find myself hooked from the very first page. The book is told in the first person, from 16 year old Tamara and I have to say I think Ahern got this character spot on. Tamara is spoilt and used to having her own way, and risked being an unlikable character, however I loved the way she was dry and sarcastic about herself and her lifestyle and I was easily able to sympathise with her.
I also found Tamara's aunt, Rosaleen to be a well-written character. I picked up quickly on a sinister side to Rosaleen, but for the life of me, I couldn't work it out. In fact, there's a huge family secret at the centre of the book that had me turning the pages and completely unable to put it down, so much so that I finished it in one night. I'd taken it into the bath and became so absorbed that before I released I'd been in over an hour and a half and the water was freezing! I'd recommend not starting this book on the bus or you may just miss your stop!
I do have a small criticism of the book, in that at 319 pages it was just too short! The first 100 pages are where we learn about Tamara, her father and family and move to the sticks. From finding the book it felt a little rushed. The book of tomorrow gives a magical element to the book, but i thought this wasn't maybe explored enough...I'd have loved a bit more about that.
While I don't think Cecelia Ahern is the greatest writer, she certainly provides a fast paced and fascinating narrative in this book. It's been a while since I became so involved in a story; I really couldn't put it down. Some people might find huge holes in the story and need to dissect it, but I think this is definitely one you need to just enjoy for what it is. It's an easy read, with a gripping and original story and tackles love, betrayal, family secrets and bereavement and manages to be sad, funny, suspenseful, captivating and magical. I highly recommend Cecelia Ahern's The Book Of Tomorrow...just make sure you have a few hours to spare when you begin, as I guarantee you won't be able to put it down! (less)