Holiday Reading Reviews

This year for this first time every I went for a purely relaxing holiday on a campsite in France. Of course I always takes books on holiday with me but this time reading was the planned activity for the fortnight. As I was away I didn’t want internet access so I couldn’t blog reviews as I went along  and now I’ve been back a bit too long so instead of individual reviews I’m going to do a group one.

I took 6 books with me and I really wanted to read the adult fiction ones as I often struggle to concentrate on them when I’m in my home surroundings. I was pleased that I did manage to get through 5 of them and to start the last one, although I’ve not read any more of it since, but more importantly that is a tiny dent in my massive to read pile.

 The Handmaid’s Tale was given to me just days before I left for my holiday and I will admit that I did start it before I left. My friend had really liked it and I was interested in the idea of the story as it appears almost dystopian, but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. The book is about the future when woman no longer have the same rights as men and are now split into rolls to be of service to the society as a whole. The main character is a Handmaid, who’s purpose is to bare children to couples who are unable to have their own. The handmaid’s aren’t looked upon favourably by the other women in society, although I have to admit I didn’t quite understand why, I think they are given this role because of some previous indescresions but I didn’t find it was very clearly explained. Throughout the book the main character talks about her life now and her past in which she had a husband and daughter. This drives her to take part in illegal behaviour for her status but could help change her life for the better. I did appreciate the idea behind this book but  for me it just wasn’t an enjoyable read. I struggled with the way it was written and the lack of punctuation making it hard to build a picture up of the society. Lots of people have praised this books and I am sure for many people it would be a great read but it a book that wants patience and thought and for a summer read it wasn’t quite light enough for me.

Chocolat in contrast to my first books of the holiday was a lot more what I would want from a summer read. The plot wasn’t challenging and the writing was flowing. The book hasn’t been on my to read pile to long as I only recently found out that it was a book. Of course this means that I have seen the film first but that didn’t effect my enjoyment of the book at all. As you might expect the story line in the book does play out differently from that of the film and for me the main difference was the character of the mayor. In the books he is a the Father of the church and he gets his say through chapters int he book from his point of view. For me his character is a lot more vurlnrable from the beginning in the book because we are seeing part of his history from his point of view and we get to experience his struggle with the desires around him. I also found that the book allowed me to appreciate a lot more of the issues that are addressed than the movie did. All of the characters are dealing with different struggles from learning to to let go and move on to dealing with abuse and death but the story also shows us the power of a community in dealing with these issues to help everyone with a little help from good old chocolate. This for me was the perfect summer read. It had a balance of being light and easy to read but still with an interesting plot and having seen the movie first who doesn’t enjoy picturing Johnny Depp while sun bathing.

 Looking For Alaska was the last John Green’s novel I needed to read. I was a bit nervous about it if I am honest as it is considered by so many to be so good but  thankfully I was not disappointed. I’m not sure why but I had it in my head that his book was about something totally different than it turned out to be. I think I was expecting it to be like Paper Towns but I’m pleased it wasn’t. Instead it tells the story of a clever high school boy who moves to a boarding school where his world is turned upside down. His new room mate nicknames him Pudge on the first day and introduces him to Alaska Young and from then on the excitement begins. He becomes part of a group of friends for the first time in his life and he can’t help but fall for the whirlwind that is Alaska. The problem of course with being part of something so great though is that the pain when it falls apart. A lot of people talk about this being a sad book and I agree that it was but for me that’s not what made it so good. Instead it was the friendships that Pudge got to build because, I think for the first time every, I felt a little hopefully that we do all have a people out there who are going to accept us for who we are. More powerful though was the fact that that place wasn’t with the people Pudge had expected but with people who were different from him and that made the friendship better because they all had something to unique to love about the others and help them through when they needed it.

 

 

 Undone had to be the most depressing book in my summer collection and not just because it was exploring suicide. Like many books for young adults the story was about acceptance among your peers. It was the lack of acceptance about his sexuality that lead Kai to kill himself and Jem knows that it’s all she needs to get her foot in the door to discover who outed Kai and get her revenge. Then she plans on killing herself. It turns out to be not that difficult for Jem to get involved the popular crowed when she is given 12 letters that had been left to her by Kai, one for every month for the next year. In these he sets her wee challenges to help her move on that include changing her hair and how she dresses and it almost that simple to get her noticed but the popular crowd. Once they accept her as one of them she just has to play along with their expectations and make her moves when the time is right. The problem for me however was that she did start to like being accepted. She got a boyfriend within the group that had real feelings for her and she found it hard to admit herself but who she had real feelings for too. She was also really liked by one of the girls, who wanted her to be her best friend but Gem’s revenge got in the way. The people around her did care about her and wanted to help her move on and she could have if she her plans hadn’t got in the way and driven things to and ending that I didn’t think would actually happen.

 The Kite Runer was also admittedly quite a depressing book. Amir loved his life in Afghanistan with his best friend, and servant’s son Hassan. His father was a wealthy man and he had everything he could wish for but his father approval. Amir liked to read and didn’t like up to his fathers reputation and a strong man known for fighting a bear so when he fails to stand up for Hassan when he is bullied he begins to fear the truth of being found out. His fierce desire to be loved by his father leads to Hassan and his father leaving and from then on life doesn’t get easier for Amir. When the communist regieme finally take over his father takes him to America in search of a better life. There Amir gets an education and even marries an Afghan women he loves but a letter from a close friend of his fathers takes him back to him old home many years later in search of redemption. Although this book is set in a difficult political time for Afghanistan it provides an perfect background for Amir’s story, which is one about redemption. For most of his life he is unable to forgive himself for running away when his most loyal friend needed him most however the situation in society at the time made the actions of all the people what they were. They also provide justification of strong actions later within the plot that would seem there just to drag the story out within other societies however for Amir’s story they allow him the closure he needs and in the end you are left feeling hopeful.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Authors I’d Put On My Auto To-Buy List

This week from The Broke and The Bookish we have the interesting topic of our Top Ten Authors on my auto to-buy list. I’m afraid I don’t have an answer of ten for this. When I was younger, well in my early teens there was one author I would always buy but now I’m much more fussy.

  • Catherine MacPhail I think may been my only ever auto-buy. However that was when I was in my early teens and I no longer read her work. 

Now I wouldn’t buy any book just because of the author. I only really read books that I think I’ll like and I have to been in the mood for an idea before I’ll read it too. There are however a few Authors that I would always pick up their books to at least see if I am interested in it.

  • Darren Shan I have never read his Demon series but I really enjoyed his books on vampires and I’m interesting in his recent book Lady of the Shades.
  • Sophie McKenzie I really like Sophie McKenzie’s books that explore science such as Blood Ties and Medusa and I have read her Girl! books but I have never been interested in her more girly series.
  • Simmone Howel I love the books she has released so far, even though that is only 2  but I am very excited about a new book coming soon.
  • Cat Clarke Although I have only read one of her books so far I am hoping on read more of her work and would definatly pick them up if I seen her name on them. 
  • Cat Patrick So far I have read the books she has published and I’m excited about a new book coming out in May this year.

Are There Any Authors On Your Auto-Buy List?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Favourite Characters In X Genre

This week from The Broke and The Bookish we have to pick a genre of our choice and share out favourite characters in that genre. I’m not very good with genre specific topics because I don’t usually pay attention to them but for this I am just going for Young Adult Fiction.

Travis from Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Mikey from You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Gem from Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell

Cammie from Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter

Riley from Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell

Grace from Entangled by Cat Clarke

Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth

Mara Valentine from Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

Bree Tanner from The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Theo from Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie

Who Are Your Favourite Characters?

Entangled

Entangles is set in a totally white room with a pill of paper and pens set out for Grace to write. She doesn’t remember why she is there but the mysterious Ethan is keeping her fed and encouraging her to write about the events of the past few months leading to where she is now. As she writes we learn about her life. She writes about her best friend Sal and how their friendship is tested after one Easter holiday. We learn about her rocky relationship with her mother after her beloved father’s death and she talks about fallen in love for the first time. Things are tough for Grace though and her way of dealing with the many issues that are being thrown at her isn’t healthy. It is as she pushes herself to write about her past that we learn about how what all seemed good fell apart for her and she finally remembers exactly what happened to her and where she really is.

When I first started reading this book I was interested by how it was written. Grace talks about her situation in the white room with Ethan, who she seems to remember and be close to but can’t quite understand, and about her past. Ethan encourages her to remember and although it is hard she pushes herself to allow us and her to understand what has happened. It is a story about dealing with the hardships of life. She is struggling with her fathers death and her insecure relationships, all these things lead her into a depression she can’t deal with.

This book deals with very intense issues and shouldn’t be read by younger readers but I think it is well written and a very interesting approach to complicated issues.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish is the Top Ten Books on my Summer To Be Read List. This weeks was also fairly easy as there was about 40 to choose from but I’ve narrowed it down to the ones I am most looking forward to reading.

1. Eve by Anna Carey

Where do you go when nowhere is safe? Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earths population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school s real purpose and the horrifying fate that awaits her. Fleeing the only home shes ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life. In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eves timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.

2. Slated by Teri Terry

Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist,
and that they are giving her a second chance –
as long as she plays by their rules.
But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind.
Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems.
Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

4. The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada

An international sensation now available in English for the first time, The Auschwitz Violin is the unforgettable story of one man’s refusal to surrender his dignity in the face of history’s greatest atrocity.

5. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…

6. Girl Parts by John M. Cusick

Hello, David. My name is Rose. It’s a pleasure to meet you. We are now entering minute two of our friendship. According to my Intimacy Clock, a handshake is now appropriate. DAVID is a rich kid, with a million friends, online and off. CHARLIE is a loner, disconnected from the high school world around him. Neither of them feels close to anybody. Until they meet… ROSE: part girl, part robot, and ALL a boy could want. But can a robotic girl really change the lives of two teenage boys? Before they know it, Rose is teaching David and Charlie how to feel human again.

7. Entangled by Cat Clarke

What does he want from me? How could I have let this happen? Am I going to die?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got there. As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal.

But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see? Then, in a story full of dangerous revelations, Grace must face the most important question of all: why is she here?

8. Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

9. Rapture by Lauren Kate

The sky is dark with wings . . . And time is running out for Luce and Daniel. In order to stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the Fall began. Only Luce can break the curse, and it is her choice alone that will decide all of their fates. But as Dark Forces gather, great sacrifices will have to be made in this final, epic struggle . . . In the fight for Luce, and for Love, who will win?

10. Live & Laughing by Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre has become Britain’s biggest comedy star. His debut stand-up DVD was the fastest selling of all time, only to be eclipsed by his second that sold over 1.4 million copies and was the 2009 Christmas number one. He hosts his own BAFTA nominated BBC1 series, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and won the British Comedy Award for Best Live Stand-up in 2009 following his record breaking fifty-four date Arena tour.

But how did he get there?

Michael reveals all in his remarkably honest and hilarious autobiography Life and Laughing. His showbiz roots, his appalling attempts to attract the opposite sex, his fish-out-of-water move from public to state school and his astonishing journey from selling just one ticket at the Edinburgh Festival to selling half a million tickets on his last tour. Michael’s story is riveting, poignant, romantic and above all very, very funny.