Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Birthday Books!

Isobel Harrop | The Isobel Journal

If you'd handed this book to me before I'd heard of it and said, "Here you are Emily, it's a book with no plot and it's full of drawings," I'd have laughed at you, at the very least because I hate art. But thankfully, I didn't find out about it like that. I first saw it on Sanne's (Booksandquills) Youtube channel. I didn't think much about it when I first saw it, but a few days later I remembered it, and a few days after that I had recieved an email from amazon telling me that the book had been dispatched. And I don't think I could love it much more.

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop is the life of a Northern Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens depicted through drawings and photos from her journal. It is split into three parts: Me; Friends, Otters, College & Art; Love. Presented through a mix of photos, drawings and superimposed drawings on photos, it is, I'm sure, one of the most interesting autobiographies that you'll come across. Although this could have been about anyone, something that added to the book for me was that I think I'm quite similar to the main character. Some of the sentences next to the drawings read 'I buy a lot of records from charity shops', 'And because I, err, listen to a lot of cool indie stuff too, er, yeah', 'It's not that I haven't done my homework, it's just playing hard to get' and '"Valentine's day"? You misspelled "Eat Nutella And Lie In Bed Day"'. In fact, I think these are things that a lot of people can relate to, which is partly what makes The Isobel Journal so special.

Like I said, art and I do not get along. There is, however, one girl whose drawing style always made me smile and the style in this book is similar. If you're wondering, it's an endearing sort that isn't Da Vinci - in fact, it's closer to your own - but because it's in a book and done by someone else, it's really good, almost relatable. This combined with the at-times sarcastic and funny commentary, it makes for the kind of book you'd want to display proudly in your lounge, but wouldn't for fear of it getting dirty

I think the amount of red stickers poking out the end of the pages (there are 15) speaks for itself. Wherever Isobel Harrop is at the moment (hopefully doing English Lit at uni according to a cover), I'd like to thank/congratulate her for making such an inspiring book. Has this been enough to persuade you to pick a copy up? I really hope so. Trust me, you're missing out if you don't.

5/5 stars.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Jeremy Mercer | Time Was Soft There

Time Was Soft There is the memoir of a man who stayed in Shakespeare and Company in Paris, aka heaven. That is all.

Guys I'm sorrryyyyy. Ugh. I'm really tired and I don't even know why I don't just go to bed. Sorry again for the shortest review ever. Omg I don't even have any followers so I'm keeping myself up for nothing.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon | The Shadow of the Wind

Hi, hello, I'm Emily, and if blogs were animate, I'd be in prison for neglect.

Let me start by saying what everybody says about this: Shadow is a book for book lovers. Odd as that may sound, it features a book cemetery and delving into the history behind a book and an author.

The very first thing that hit me in the prologue was how similar this was to Northern Lights in that you must look after book you choose from the cemetery like a baby. Never lose it or leave it anywhere; make sure it's never forgotten and left unread and unloved again. You have a book daemon. Siduhgiobgdw08hf.

So there's a lot a mystery and greatness surrounding the burning of Julian Carax's books and who the mutilated face man was. Blah blah blah. Some may have seen the plot twist coming but I for one didn't and hugely enjoyed it.

Can I just add that this is the second Spanish book I've read and it has NOT let the side down.

I'm very sorry for this minute review - I'm tired, it's late and we've been back a week now since the summer holidays ended. Boo.

PS I might post my August round up soon because I read 9 books!
PPS It's my birthday soon so I'll have a nice juicy haul for y'all.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Philip Pullman | The Subtle Knife

Philip Pullman knows how to deliver a sequel. Although the plot wasn't as strong I think the content was a bit better. There are a few new characters in this book, new shocks, new woes. In fact, one big horrible death-type woe.

Sequels never seem to fare well when the glory of the previous book is still fresh in your mind. However, this book was a continuation of greatness, following on from Northern Lights. At the end of the last book Lyra "turned away from the world she was born in, and looked towards the sun, and walked into the sky". That is literally the last sentence in the book and also my favourite. Anyway, the second book finds Lyra in this new world where there are no adults. I love the way this was written: the idea of kids putting coins behind a counter when taking a drink, making themselves omlettes, cracking sodas while sitting outside cafes on completely deserted streets... In my mind, this is a very romantic idea. Romantic? Is that the right word?

Kids turn nasty, fights, knives, fingers lost, blahdy blahdy blah, let's concentrate on the sweet stuff. But trust me, this is all done in a His Dark Materials way, it's not street crime which this sounds like.

The plot for Northern Lights was prominent and strict with each part set in a certain place. This book was less about a quest (though it's set the next book up for another one) but like I said, I think the content was better. There were some serious surprises, one of which could probably be predicted but I just didn't. Another was just intensely sad and I think the author had been building up to it, making him a father-like character to a girl who couldn't have worse parents.

I also rate The Subtle Knife 5/5 stars as it was incredible. I really hope the next book is just as good and strongly suggest you pick up the first book if my review of Northern Lights didn't persuade you to already!  

Thursday, 15 August 2013

John Wyndham | The Chrysalids

My 4-second Youtube review of this consisted of a slow-mo mind=blown action with READ IT flashing up on the screen. For me. this pretty aptly describes how I felt about this book, but for the purposes of [enter reason here] I'll try and convert that into words.

I'm not entirely sure when the story is set. You are told that it's set after an apocalyptic event sent by God to cleanse the land and the people of their high self-esteem called Tribulation. Some think it's set in the future, but David - the main character - seemed pretty awe-struck when he sees the technology the the S/Zealand people have (much like what we have today).

Anyway, as a young boy David has the idea rammed down his throat from every side that if you do not have ten fingers, ten toes, two arms, two legs, etc., you are not in the true image of God. You must be destroyed to prevent the spread of your type. If you're a crop that's bad - a deviation - you'll be burnt. If you're a human with something 'abnormal' - a blasphemy - you'll be sterilised and banished to the Fringes where other 'different' people are. It's when David meets a young girl around his age that the stirrings of doubt start. Sophie has six toes on each foot, yet she's still pleasant, brave, and great fun. Unfortunately, and to David's dismay too, the same fate befalls Sophie as many other blasphemies before her.

Little by little, the reader begins to learn that David and a sibling are both blasphemies too - but not physically. Essentially, they and 8 others are telepathic, and towards the end you find out that there's a whole land where being telepathic is the norm, and you are to be pitied if you are not. The whole book is questioning David's father's (and many others') enforcement of this one true image and is a great story as well. The book was shocking, surprising and sad and I give it a no-brainer 5/5 stars.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Rick Yancey | The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is the story of a select few survivors of an alien invasion. This alien invasion, however, does not involve giant mechanical spiders and laser beams to fry you like a chicken. In fact, the process of preparing for this invasion has been going on for years, and supposedly we were being watched by them way back when we were building the Pyramids. The story is told through 3 or 4 perspectives, with the main ones being Cassie and Zombie.

Cassie's managed to live through the 1st Wave, an Electro Magnetic Pulse that stops everything working; the 2nd Wave where tsunamis wipe out anything on a coastline; the 3rd Wave where birds carry a vicious and vile disease that wipes out 9 in 10; and the 4th wave where people dubbed Silencers make you question who is human, who isn't, and who you can trust. Cassie is on a mission to find her brother Sammy who was taken away to a 'safe' place. Cassie's Mum was nabbed by the disease and she's just seen her Dad shot with her very eyes. She killed a soldier purely because she was frightened and didn't know whether he was human or not and she's determined to get Sammy back, and also to return his bear. Along the way Cassie meets Evan, a guy her age who just happens to be good looking, happens to be her Silencer and happens to have a thing for her. In general, Cassie gets lucky with these highly unlikely circumstances and remains alive when she should be dead. Evan, having wounded her but unable to actually kill her takes her in and nurses her back to health, before eventually coming along for the ride and helping to retrieve Sammy. I felt that at times Cassie's POV was a bit slow-paced and unrealistic, and I was often wondering when her and Zombie's paths were going to cross, but I did like reading her point of view mostly.

Zombie, who Cassie had a crush on in High School, has also been taken to this 'safe' place where he was trained up as a soldier and eventually sent out to fight with his squad. However, while out fighting, they make an important and shocking discovery. Most of the plot twists seem to happen around this point and I think I preferred Zombie's perspective as it was a bit more interesting.

In my opinion, the storyline was quite good, but I think it sort of relied on the shocks and surprises stuffed in. I didn't think that it dragged on but the speed could've been increased. As for being compared to The Hunger Games, I think they are similar but Cassie just isn't quite as kick-ass as Katniss! Also, some things did get repeated quite a bit in different perspectives, to the point where I ended up a bit confused as to what the truth was. Anyway, I think I will read the next book when it comes out Summer 2014 and I rate this 3.5/5 stars.