Tuesday, 7 February 2012

February is upon us...

.....6 days ago in fact, but let’s just pretend! January has flown by this year really quickly; I can’t quite believe it’s gone already. Books I’ve read this month (some of which I’m aiming to review) are:

·         The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
·         Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
·         Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
·         Torment by Lauren Kate
·         Passion by Lauren Kate
·         The Mill on the Floss George Elliot
Has anyone read/got any opinions on these?
I’ve achieved most of my January resolutions which is fab: I’ve kept in contact with friends who live far away- more so than in previous months anyway, prepared for my theory test, and have been eating relatively healthily so I’m pleased with that J Is anybody still sticking to their new years resolutions or are they long forgotten?
Februarys resolutions: Pass my theory test (ACHIEVED!), get up at a reasonable time every time and stop sleeping until really late, meditate twice a day for 20 minutes,  and to average one review a day on dooyoo, a website I’ve recently discovered where you get paid for writing reviews, on literally anything, from books to make-up to camera’s to breakfast cereal – I haven’t actually checked if there are reviews about cereal, *goes off to check* well knock me down with a feather, there are literally hundreds of reviews on breakfast cereal! Anyhow, my current total is at £1.45 after writing just 3 reviews, but cheques aren’t sent out until £50 is reached so I’m aiming to boost my total this month… let’s see what it is when we reach March… I’m sensing a challenge!

Heather x

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Follow Friday :)

Follow Friday time again :) This months question is: Define what characteristics your favorite books share. Do they all have a kick ass heroine or is the hot love interest the Alpha Male?

Answer: It's all about the characters for me. The writing quality and style, the setting, the storyline, the dialogue etc etc yes of course it's all important but I have to really engage with the characters. If there are brilliant characters then I can forgive problems in any other area. I don't necessarily have to like or love the characters, some of my favourite books have characters I cannot STAND - it's more that I have to feel some kind of emotional connection to the characters, they have to be interesting,  complex, fully fleshed, out, believable people that could exist. The best books for me have characters I wish were real as I'd love nothing better than to meet them to find out even more about them, and what makes them tick.

It's the characters that I'll always remember from my favourite books, above anthing else, and it's them that keep me reading and engaged, they completely make or break or book. If I feel nothing but... meh towards the characters then the book has no chance of making it to my favourites list. This could be a controversial opinion but it's discovering new characters that's at the heart of why I am and always will be a book lover and feel joy upon starting a new book.

Heather xx

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Kite Runner: My Thoughts...

 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Story:
The story follows the life of our protagonist Amir, a rich boy from Kabul in Afghanistan, throughout his life. He is best friends as a boy with his servant Hassan, but their friendship sees some dark moments. Later on in his life, Amir is forced to move to America with his father and starts a new life there, only to return yet more years later, haunted by his past, his mission to save Hassan’s son Sohrab from some really awful circumstances in order to redeem himself for his betrayal of Hassan as a boy.

My Thoughts:
This is actually a book I had on my shelf for months before reading it. A friend lent it to me and told me it was fantastic, but for some reason, I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to pick it up. But I couldn’t be gladder that I did in the end! It was such an amazing experience, to read a book set in a completely different culture, that I previously knew absolutely nothing about and to then become so immersed in it. Of course I can’t know that it was actually an accurate representation, but I think I got a real feel for a whole different way of life. This book is probably nearly unique in the way it portrays an afghan culture to a western audience. It highlights the differences between the two cultures perfectly, when Amir and his father move to America.
The story is one that really touched my heart. I felt for the characters more than I usually do, which is saying something and they felt like real people to me. I liked how Amir as the main character wasn’t perfect and faultless as some main characters can be. He was a coward and he let down his best friend so deeply that I wanted to travel through the pages to get through to him and make him change his actions. But he acted as many human beings would, and it had to happen that way, for this is a story about cowardice and bravery, friendship and betrayal, right and wrong, guilt and redemption and the nature of evil. One of the key scenes early on in the book is horrific on a number of levels, so be warned, but again it’s crucial to the story.
The story is split into three parts and it’s the last third which is the most heartbreaking, as Amir attempts to make amends by saving Hassan’s son. I don’t feel he ever got the redemption he was seeking but I was so glad this very sad book ended on a hopeful note, and I like to think of the characters who are left alive, living happily ever after.

In a Nut Shell:
I really, really love this book. I don’t think ‘enjoyed’ is the right term for this book as at its core this book a truly sad story. But it’s a powerful story and one that will always stay with me, beautifully written and incredibly thought provoking. It also portrays the differences between two very different cultures. I would recommend it whole heartedly to anyone!

Heather xx

Friday, 20 January 2012

Follow Friday: Music! :D

Hello Lovelies <3

I haven't blogged much in a while, but I thought I'd join in with Follow Friday again this week- only to find out it's now a monthly thing! But last weeks question turns out to be perfect, as I was considering doing a post about music already, since I've been busy spending my chirstmas itunes vouchers today, and deciding which artists and which songs I liked enough to buy. Not that I want to buy the artist themselves! So, it's not last Friday, but is a Friday, so I shall answer anyway :P
Follow Friday is a blog hop posted by  Parajunkee’s View and  Alison Can Read.

This weeks (last weeks) question is: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.

Some singers/groups I've loved for a long time include: Muse, Paramore, Tokio Hotel. Plain White T's, Kate Bush, Taylor Swift, Ellie Goulding, Adele and Lady Gaga. However, I've recently been looking for some new artists (well new to me) by looking at some friends blogs and looking up the soundtracks to tv shows when I hear a song I like... and  there are several female artists,whose music I'm loving and listening to all the time at the moment, so see if you like them too:

Christina Perri

Ingrid Michaelson

Kate Walsh

Agnes Obel

Gabrielle Aplin: who I am going to see in March!

Oh and I also have to reccomend 'Silently' a charity single by a friend of mine Chlay, an ME sufferer like myself, although much more severely affected than me. This single is raising money for the ME association, Chlay's really talented and so it's a beautiful song, you can buy it for 79p from itunes and it's for a good cause, so please do listen and buy it if you like it!

I have posts coming up on the Kite Runner and the Little House, and then hopefully in the not too distant future the Hunger Games and Catcher in the Rye, so keep an eye out for those if you're interested.

Love to all

Heather xx

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Happy New Year One and All



A New Year.... and a New Start... Just a quick post to wish my lovely followers a very, very happy new year, I hope this new year is filled with much happiness and wonderful experiences for you all J

This year, I’m hoping will be the best year yet for me, as if all goes to plan it will be the year I get to go to university, which I’ve been desperate to do for what feels like forever. Roll on September! But if this doesn’t happen there’s still twelve months ahead where any number of wonderful things could happen, so I’m feeling positive and I’m not feeling any January blues this year  Perhaps this will be your most exciting year yet too!
 I’ve decided to make monthly resolutions this year, instead of the traditional New Year’s pledge to lose weight and be an all round better person, and will update on how I manage with them as the year progressesJ
January’s resolutions are: to keep in contact with more of my friends regularly, eat more healthily, get prepared for and book my driving theory test and to focus on doing positive things that will help my health.
 Unfortunately I haven’t included updating  my blog more often for this month, but I’m planning to include that in February or March’s resolutions, so bear with me,  I will get into the hang of being a regular poster in the end J Does anyone else have any new year’s resolutions to share?
Much Love and Happy New Year Vibes
Heather xxx

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Good-natured Mole makes friends with a rat named Ratty and they live happily by a river. Ratty’s mischevious friend Toad causes lots of trouble and together with their serious friend badger they have to get him out of scrapes. Toad escapes them however and ahs some adventures on his own before returning- and since this is a classic children’s book I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say they all lived happily ever after!

My thoughts
At the end of the day this is a book aimed at young children so all the criticisms I have aren’t really fair and are only because I’m reading it as a teenager! But I’ll share my thoughts anyway... I was fine with the animals talking and being intelligent, that’s all well and good... and even animals dressing in human clothes, eating human food including tinned sardines and furnishing their houses...  I can even cope with that- but an animal interacting with humans who don’t bat an eyelid at talking animals and can even be fooled into thinking a toad is actually an old lady- that’s just too far! :P  And since mole being called mole since he is one and toad being  called toad because he is one is just ridiculous- does every other toad and mole have the same name? How confusing! But anyway, my only non jokey criticism is I found that not enough actually happened in this book, there was a lot of dialogue and some chapters exploring emotions which I liked but it just felt like too much of it was very slow paced- although there were some faster moving sections involving toad.

However on the positive side, I loved the characters and they’re really memorable and loveable... mole is so adorable and I even have a soft spot for toad, as conceited as he is- he reminds me a little of someone I know and love actually! I also love how emotions are explored in some of the chapters and prefer these chapters more than those focusing on toad’s adventures.

In a nutshell...
This is wonderful classic children’s book, I would 100% recommend it to anybody 12 or under. If you’re over that age I’d still recommend it, it’s a quick, funny read that could take you back to your childhood J It’s obviously not aimed at you and you’ll have to get past the talking animals but you may find you enjoy it- I did!
Heathere xx

Monday, 17 October 2011

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: My thoughts

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

This novel is set in a mental institution in America in the 60’s. The narrator ‘Chief’ Bromden is a Native American confined the ward, who pretends to be deaf and mute. The ward is run by Nurse Ratched who the Chief views as ruthless and mechanical and represents order and control. The patients on the ward are split into ‘Acutes’ who are there to be treated and eventually return to normal society, and ‘chronics’ who will be in hospital forever.
A new patient, McMurphy, who represents anarchy and freedom, is introduced early on in the book: he claims to be a psychopath but his behaviour shows he is in fact perfectly sane. He is faking insanity in order to serve a prison sentence in more comfortable surroundings. Through the Chief’s eyes we see McMurphy quickly become the leader of the group and see the battle of wills begin between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy. There is conflict between the two characters throughout the novel as McMurphy attempts to weaken Nurse Ratched’s fierce control of the word and this escalates to a shocking ending.

My Thoughts
I found this a hard book to get into, I didn’t ever fully relate to the Chief- which at first is because I didn’t understand what was going on. I completely missed the point that when things get scary for him his subconscious imagines fog everywhere and he stops being able to see and hear, it’s his way of hiding from the world, the fog is also a metaphor for his mental clarity... but I thought originally that the nurses were literally pumping the ward full of fog -and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why! :P  I also failed to realise that he had hallucinations so when an air raid took place in the ward I was most confused :P But  presuming that you’ve got more brains than me and don’t make the same mistake you may well find it easier to understand what’s actually happening!
However once I’d got past my misunderstandings, I still didn’t quite empathise with any characters or care much about their fate, something was missing to me.The story was interesting and I kept reading but I wasn’t hooked, I could quite easily put it down and go to bed, it’s not a book that would keep me up reading into the early hours at all. I didn’t really relate or empathise with any of the characters, I don’t know why... perhaps because it’s all from the chief’s rather strange point of view, even once I had a grasp of how his mind worked I was always struggling to work out what was the reality, and what was his projections. I think that the chief is supposed to be unreliable as a narrator and as the reader you should look to McMurphy who is the only sane patient but for me it was just too much effort to read a book narrated by somebody who struggles to hold on to reality for the majority of the story.
However it is a book with deeper meaning, if you give a little time and have the desire to think thought it all, it raises big questions and explores important themes and issues. I think it has the potential to be a book I’ll come back to and get more from the second time round.

In a Nutshell...
This is a book that I’m glad I’ve read now that I’ve finished it but I didn’t particularly enjoy reading and to be honest I doubt I’d ever recommend it to a friend. But at the same time I do strongly  feel it could just be me, it seemed to have the ingredients of a really good book with many layers to it, so it is most likely a much better book than I’m giving it credit for.
Heather xx