Tuesday 31 July 2012

Review on 'The Land of Stories'

Twelve year old twins, Alex and Conner inherit a book of fairytales from their grandmother for their birthday. However, it is not an ordinary book, as one night when Alex is trying to sleep, the book starts to glow. Alex discovers that it is a portal into the fairytale world, and when she accidentally falls into the book, Conner has no choice but to go after her. The twins soon discover that although the fairy tale world has all the good characters they had read about, it also contains the bad ones, and soon run into various creatures such as goblins, trolls, the big bad wolf pack, and most terrifying of all, the Evil Queen. The only way for them to get back home is to collect various items from the Kingdoms, and join them together to trigger the Wishing Spell. However, the twins are in a race against time, as the Evil Queen is also looking for the Wishing Spell items. Conner and Alex must find all the items before the Evil Queen if they ever want to get back home.

Although this book was wrote for children, I absolutely adored it. I am a big fan of Chris Colfer, and when I found out that he was publishing a book I just had to read it. The book is action packed, full of suspense and humorous. The original stories of the fairytale characters have been cleverly interwoven into the world of The Land Of Stories, with each Kingdom being ruled by queens such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella. As I loved reading fairytales as a child, I found it interesting how Colfer had interpreted what had happened to the various fairytale characters after the original stories had ended. I also enjoyed how the plot progressed, and the information about the twins father before he had died integrated into the story further on. Although there were many plot points that I figured out myself long before the twins, there was one that I did not figure out at all, and that tied up all the loose ends. I also enjoyed the fact that although Colfer intends on making The Land Of Stories into a series, the first book did not end on a cliff-hanger, and everything was figured out. Overall the book was brilliant and Chris should be very proud for having such a successful debut novel. I am looking forward to future instalments in this series.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Review on 'It's Kind Of a Funny Story

After 15 year old Craig Gilner gets into the best high school in Manhattan, he realizes that he is an average student who receives average grades. He struggles to keep up with his work load, and slowly sinks into a depression,  eventually causing him to have suicidal thoughts. After calling the suicide helpline, Craig checks himself into a psychiatric hospital, where he meets other patients with their own problems, such as a girl who has cut her own face and a man who seems to have a limited vocabulary. With the help of his new friends, Craig is able to locate the source of his problems, find a hobby that helps with his depression and decide what he is going to do when he leaves the hospital.

This book is similar to some of the others I have read recently, such as ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’ and ‘Grow Up.’ However, although ‘Grow Up’ also dealt with teen depression, It’s kind of a funny story takes this problem a step further, with a teenager actually contemplating suicide, and checking himself into a mental hospital as a result. I thought the plot was interesting, and as the author had actually spent some time in a psychiatric hospital himself, it is possible that Craig has similar experiences. The book focuses on the fact that just because you are going through a hard time in your life, you should not end your life because of it, and you should never be embarrassed to get help. I think the book sends out a strong positive message to teenagers who could be in a similar situation as Craig, and the author captures the struggles of a typical teenager perfectly.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Review on 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret'

Hugo is a 12 year old boy. When his father dies in a fire, he is forced to be his uncles apprentice and work inside the walls of a train station in Paris, helping to keep the clocks working. However when his uncle mysteriously disappears, Hugo is forced to keep the clocks running alone, with his only distraction being to fix the automaton his father had been working on before he had died. With the help of his friend Isabelle, Hugo fixes the automaton and discovers a secret drawing, which helps him on his quest to find out who Isabelles godfather really is.

I thought this novel was really unique, as it is told through both drawings and text. Although it is similar to a graphic novel, it is not quite the same as some parts of the story are told through pictures alone with no text to accompany them, which gives it almost a cinematic feel. I thought this way of presenting the book was well thought out, as the books main focus is the history of film, focusing on film maker Georges Melies, who we learn from the book made over 500 films, his most popular film being called ‘A Trip To The Moon.’ As well as being greatly entertaining, the book is also educational as the reader learns real facts about film, such as information on the life of Georges Melies and also a few other facts, e.g one of the very first films, a train pulling into a station, which caused the audience to believe they were going to get hit by the train, as they had never witnessed anything like it before. As I enjoy non fiction being combined with fiction, I thought this was a clever way of doing it, as fictional characters were combined with the character of Georges Melies, whose story in the book was accurate to real life events.

Friday 13 July 2012

Review on 'Grow Up'

Jasper is a 17 year old boy who aspires to become a novelist. However, although he has ambitions Jasper is still an average teenage boy, with problems involving exams, booze, drugs, girls, suicide and sex. Then theres Keith, his step dad, who Jasper believes murdered his ex wife and is now planning to murder his mum. Jasper must overcome his his own fears while also helping his best friend Tanaya, who is depressed over her ex boyfriend and who Jasper believes is suicidal

Although this book covers some serious issues such as drugs, teenage pregnancy and suicide, it is in no way depressing and is extremely funny. The foul language and sex references could be offensive to some readers so I suggest you do not read this book if you are easily offended. However if you are like me and don’t get easily offended then I highly suggest giving this book a read as it is extremely comedic, and deals with the struggles and temptations than the average teenager goes through. I thought that it was similar to books such as the catcher in the rye and the perks of being a wallflower, as it is narrated from the point of view of a teenage boy, and deals with his personal problems and frustrations. As I enjoyed catcher in the rye and perks, I found this different outlook on teenage life funny and interesting, but like all teenagers there is more to Jasper than just wanting to have sex with pretty girls and do drugs, as he is worried about his best friend thinking of suicide, and is convinced that his step dad is a murderer and is going to attempt to kill his mum, which has many comedic moments such as him getting in trouble by the police for calling them about it and digging in the garden of Keith’s old house where Jasper is convinced his dead wife is buried. Definitely worth a read even if it is just for the comedic value.

Monday 9 July 2012

Review on The Mortal Instruments #2 City of Ashes

Clary’s battle against Valentine continues, as he gets hold of the second of the instruments, the Soul Sword. Valentine is planning to use this sword to create an army of demons, but first he must change the swords alliance from angelic to demonic. To do this he needs the blood from four different types of downworldly children, a child of Lilith, a child of the moon, a child of the night, and a child of the faerie. Can Clary, with the help of the other Shadowhunters stop him before it’s too late, or will Clary and her friends be faced with a battle that they can not win?

After reading City of Bones, I knew I had to continue with this series as I was hooked on the shadow world. The second book did not disappoint and lived up to the expectations I had from reading the first one. The book is action packed with never a dull page, as Clary and Jace’s battle against Valentine to save the world as they know it. The author has done a good job with the portrayal of characters, as I ended up hating characters such as the Inquisitor and Valentine, but falling in love with characters such as Jace and Magnus Bane. I also found myself caring about the feelings and relationships of the characters, which to me always shows that they have been well thought out and all have their own personalities. The plot itself was also amazing and the book was very difficult to put down once I started reading. Whereas the first book took a while to get into the action, as it had to explain all the different terminologies, City of Ashes got more or less straight into the action, combining imagery with action to create a beautiful and exciting world. Overall a very good read and I can’t wait to get the next book to find out what happens next.

Monday 2 July 2012

Review on 'Me Before You'

Louisa Clark has an ordinary life. She has lived in the same small village all her life and enjoys her job at a local café. However, thinks begin to change for her when the café closes down causing her to lose her job and forcing her to get a new one to support her family. Her small world collides with Will Traynor’s, a 35 year old man who got hit by a motorcycle, causing him to become paralysed and live out his life in a wheelchair. However Louisa finds out the shocking truth of the reason why she has only been signed to a six month contract. Will is planning on ending his life at the end of this time. Louisa is forced into a battle of helping to save this mans life by trying to get him to change his mind before the six months is over.

Firstly let me point out that the cover is deceiving. When I picked up this book I thought it would be fluffy and romantic. How very wrong I was. The story is about a quadriplegic man who is tired of life, as he can no longer do the things that he used to enjoy before his accident. I will admit that I cry at movies, but it is very rare that I cry at a book. This however was an exception, as the ending of this novel had be bawling my eyes out. If you want a lovely, happy, romantic read, then this book is definitely not the right choice. There was a certain direction that I thought that this novel was going in, and when it turned in a completely different direction I was both shocked and upset. However I always enjoy novels which have a shocking twist, so although the ending was upsetting I thought it was better than what I had originally thought the ending would be. Although I rarely read this type of book, as I prefer young adult adventure stories, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, and I am glad that it didn’t turn out to be the sappy love story that I was expecting.