Thursday 26 June 2014

The Fault In Our Stars: Film Review

I am going to put a SPOILER ALERT here because I just feel as though I can't talk about the film without revealing details so please if you haven't read it or watched the film, first off- where have you been these last few years! Secondly, don't read any further.



I am a huge fan of John Green, I follow him as a part of the Vlogbrothers and I am slowly making my way through his books, I have TFIOS and Looking for Alaska down so far and I am going to move onto Paper Towns soon. I thought the book of TFIOS was absolutely amazing, it had be sobbing for about half of it and it left me weirdly uplifted but also a bit empty. It was a touching and sensitive take on teens living with cancer, it wasn't all doom and gloom but rather it highlighted their desire to live and experience things despite their illness, John made characters that were flawed rather than simply ill, the cancer didn't define them and I think that was why it was such a beautiful book. It's safe to say that I was pretty damn excited to find out that it was being made into a film.

First off I would like to talk about casting, I had not heard of Shailene Woodley nor Ansel Elgort before hearing they were to play Hazel and Gus, of course I then went onto see them in Divergent but other than that they were new to me. This was perfect because I had no preconceived view of how they should act, to me they were Hazel and Gus. They capture the tone and personalities of the characters and when I look at them I do see 16 year old teens struggling through life- it is a long way from the 'teens' of Gossip Girl and 90210- they are realistic and relatable. Ansel plays the charming, slightly cocky and pretentious Gus perfectly, and dear lord when Gus starts to get ill again I felt that Ansel was able to show the vulnerability and sensitivity that was so important to Gus' character. In the book it says...

'According to the conventions of the genre, Augustus Waters kept his sense of humor till the end, did not for a moment waiver in his courage, and his spirit soared like an indomitable eagle until the world itself could not contain his joyous soul. But this was the truth, a pitiful boy who desperately wanted not to be pitiful, screaming and crying, poisoned by an infected G-tube that kept him alive, but not alive enough.'

...I felt this was captured beautifully in the film, as a cancer story it would have been too easy to let him die peacefully and beautifully and to give the film a Hollywood spin, a complete contrast to the realities of dying, but instead we saw him get weak and  lose control, we saw him get scared and fall apart. John Green created a flawed character and it transferred well to the film. 

Then there was Hazel, Shailene has a beautifully husky voice and she spoke Hazels words so well. I liked that she was dressed down and had minimal make up. The character of Hazel was kept realistic rather than glamourised. I believed every word Hazel said and when Gus died oh did I cry with her. My favorite scenes with her were the eulogy scene where it would have been so easy for her to the whole 'you are not dying' thing that always seems to happen in books/films when a character is dying. Hazels understanding of Gus' circumstance made the story so real, it would have been easy for her to go into denial. 

The character of Isaac was also done brilliantly, he was funny and witty but also strong and scared. He was everything a teenager should be. The scene where they egged the car was brilliant, I did however feel as though in the translation to film some of his character was lost. In the book I loved the scene when Isaac and Hazel were playing the video game, I know that in the film it wouldn't have been a vital plot component and obviously it was not necessary but I did feel that Isaac could have been a bit more present.

Also, I was slightly annoyed that there was no mention of Gus' previous girlfriend, I felt in the book it enriched his character and explained some of his actions. although again, when you are cutting a book into a 2 hour or so film then there are obviously aspects that won't make it. 

I was a bit worried going into the film that the metaphors when spoken would make me wriggle in my seat but actually I felt they worked very well. With the cigarette metaphor there was so much potential for it to be awkward and embarrassing but Ansel spoke it so well and I think that was down to him throwing himself so wholeheartedly into the character of Gus. 

So all in all it was an amazing film, often book to film adaptations are disappointing, but this certainly wasn't. It has an amazing cast and a brilliant soundtrack and it stays very true to the book. But, just as a warning, take tissues- I spent half of the film trying to control my breathing so I didn't break out into full on sobs! 

Let me know in the comments what you think of the film and whether it lived up to your expectations.


Tuesday 24 June 2014

we were liars: e. lockhart

So I have just finished reading 'we were liars'. As per usual I read a few reviews first because I was trying to choose between a few on my TBR list and I wanted to see what was big in the blogging world. I am kind of annoyed that I did because although the reviews didn't give away any explicit details, they left me expecting things from the book and they left me guessing. So I have decided that with this particular book there is really nothing that I can say. I want to tell you so much about it but I don't want to ruin it or spoil it for those of you who haven't read it already. My advice is that you should just go and read it- it's short, I read it in an afternoon. I'm sure you will love it, it will intrigue you and it may even make you cry. But if you came here for a glimpse into the characters and the story line I am afraid you have come to the wrong place, this is a story that I believe you have I go in blind to really appreciate it.

I would just like to make some general comments, there were a few metaphors which I just found were a bit too dramatic and unnecessary and on occasion I found it to be a bit pretentious- this is not necessarily a criticism but it just wasn't to my liking. The quote on the front is from John Green and in a weird way I see a lot of him in the book- the metaphors, the pretentious teens etc. although the metaphors aren't quite as succinct and memorable as his.

It's the sort of book that you immerse yourself in, digging yourself into their little world and then when it's over you don't really know what to do, where to go or what to read next.

I am sorry that this short review hasn't been very informative but I think it's the sort of book that works best if you don't know anything about it beforehand.


Friday 20 June 2014

A good bargain

I am always on the lookout for a good bargain- as I am sure most of you are too! When I am looking to get a good deal on books I tend to go straight onto Amazon or down to my local charity shop. Waterstones is often the last place I look as there are rarely reductions unless you want to partake in their buy one get one half price deal (which I often do). But recently I found myself browsing the shelves in my local Waterstones and I found a 'clearance' shelf. All the books were slightly damaged and massively reduced, it was an opportunity that I wasn't going to pass up!
First of all I found a hard back copy of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll which was originally sold for £16.99 but I managed to get it for £8. On the bottom right hand corner you can see where a bit of the book sleeve has been ripped- this does not bother me at all! The book is full of beautiful illustrations and at £8 it's a steal!
Next I managed to find a copy of 'Hansel & Grethel & Other Tales' by The Brothers Grim. The only damage I could see when buying this is a little bit of damage to the top of the spine. Again it had beautiful illustrations and I managed to get it for £8 down from £28.99!
Finally I managed to pick up 'Heracles to Alexander the Great' which I was particularly excited about because I study Classical Studies at university. It am excited to read it and other than the scuffed edges on the front and back cover, I can see nothing wrong with it! It was reduced to £10 from £25!

Have you managed to find any good deals recently? What are your views on buying damaged books?


Monday 16 June 2014

Johnny Be Good: Paige Toon

If you follow my blog then you will know that I have recently developed a more than mild obsession for Paige Toon's books. Johnny Be Good was the first to arrive following a post Thirteen Weddings Amazon frenzy and it was quickly devoured, so here I am attempting to write another review. When I first picked it up I thought it was just a stand alone book, I then found out that it was followed up by Baby Be Mine, Johnny's Girl and The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. I am not usually someone who cares whether a book is a series or not, in fact I quite enjoy stand alone books because they allow you to carry on the story in your own mind, but after reading Johnny Be Good  I was glad that I could go and gorge on a couple more- and of course that is exactly what I have done! Reviews of Baby Be Mine and Johnny's Girl to follow!

The book follows the life of Meg, a PA from London who finds herself moving to LA to work for big-shot rock star Johnny Jefferson- the dream job for any PA, other than Meg of course who knows nothing of celebrity life or the music industry (she doesn't even recognise The Smiths 'please, please, please, let me get what I want' lyrics *shock horror*). Of course despite a previous lack of interest in Johnny, Meg finds herself falling for said attractive and enigmatic musician against her better judgement. I'm sure you can imagine what happens when a girl who is used to sensible relationships falls for a womanising, drug taking celebrity who lives to party hard and bed every woman he can. I won't give too much away but it is definitely worth a read, perfect for a summers day out in the garden or for me- 3am in my bed (when all my best reading is done!)

So, lets start with the character of Meg, I warmed to her quickly, I found her to be witty, smart and likable and a brilliant contrast to the carefree Johnny. I have to admit that I too fell for the completely unsuitable Johnny, maybe because I saw him through Megs eyes? What I have noticed with Paige Toon books is that I always feel as though I am living the story too, watching the crazy world so clearly through the eyes of Meg, my views were therefore hugely influenced by her, my love for Johnny fluctuated with hers- which was a common occurrence because of his unsuitable lifestyle and the alternative love interest in the form of entirely more suitable Christian. This is the third Paige Toon book I have read and what I love is that the love interest isn't always clear cut, I found myself switching loyalties throughout the book and even though in a sense it was a typical love story, it didn't have a simple linear story line and there was a sense of unpredictability that left me guessing right up till the last word and left me excitably reaching for Baby Be Mine. I hate nothing more than a book that zones in on just the lead characters and I felt that Paige Toon gave plenty of attention to the more minor characters. There is Christian, Bess and Kitty to name a few and I felt as though plenty of attention was given to them to set them up as realistic and well rounded characters.

The only criticism I have is that I felt that Meg fell too easily in love with Johnny, I would have liked it if their conflicting personalities could have been used a bit more at the start of the book.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book, another brilliant offering from Paige Toon with the added advantage that if you love it, the story of Meg and Johnny carries on into Baby Be Mine.

You can pick up Johnny Be Good from amazon  and you can find out more about Paige Toon on her website.


Sunday 15 June 2014

The Secret History: Donna Tartt

Have you ever been in a situation where someone tells you that you will love a certain book so much that it actually puts you off picking it up? Well that happened to me with The Secret History, I was told left right and centre that it was the book for me- it revolves around the lives of a group of classics students, and as a classics student, it seemed like too obvious a choice to read. Anyway, I eventually put my pride aside and around Christmas time I picked it up and I haven't looked back since!

I would describe The Secret History as a kind of murder mystery book, I say 'kind of' because to me it isn't your typical murder mystery or at least it was nothing like any of the crime/murder mystery books that I had ever read. The book is narrated by a boy named Richard who has gone to university and finds himself joining the classics department, a department made up of a group of secretive oddballs. It is important to be aware that Richard is narrating as I found that some of the horrific 'things' that occurred were almost muted by his narrative. I found that I got a bit caught up in the goings on and when I finished and really looked back on what had happened, it shocked me that what had happened hadn't shocked me (you will have to read it if you want to find out what these 'things' are!). Oh the wonders of a first person narrative! It almost reminds me of the Great Gatsby where Nick leaves out information and is able to almost control the reader and what the reader thinks simply by what he chose to write and how he chose to present the facts.

There were many interesting characters to move the plot along: Henry the silent intellect (possibly my favourite of the characters), Francis, Bunny and of course the twins Charles and Camilla (yes, really!) and of course their lecturer Julian. I felt as though they each offered something different and valuable to the story, and they each had very different personalities. Of course, as a classics student I definitely appreciated all the references to the the classical world- Greek tragedy etc, but Tartt wrote about it in such a way that it is very accessible so it doesn't require any previous knowledge.

My only complaint is that the book is dominated by male characters, there is of course Camilla but I don't believe she was a particularly strong female character and was often just the other half to Charles or the object of Richards desires. I'm not sure if that was Tartt's intention and she was trying to make a point that I missed but personally I would have liked to see a stronger female character.

So, is it worth reading, I hear you ask? DEFINITELY! If I was to recommend one book to read, it would be this one. I often find it hard to define my top ten favourite books as there are just so many contenders, but this one is without a doubt up there!

The Secret History also featured in my post about books that have shaped my life  and I am currently reading her second book Little Friend and I can't wait to start Goldfinch which has been dominating the book charts since it was released!


Sunday 8 June 2014

A few of my favourite things

Reading and baking- two of my favourite things. The dreaded second year university exams ended in May and since then I have been throwing myself wholeheartedly into my two favourite hobbies. There have been too many books to read and too many sweet things to bake, but slowly I am making my way through the very long list of things I want to do before the summer ends and I am thrown back into essays and course reading.

Blueberry and Raspberry Frangipane tart, Chocolate Brownies, Flapjacks

(can you spot the little nose in the top left hand corner of the flapjacks picture?! This photo was taken just seconds before my dog tried and failed to help himself to them!)

Coffee, yogurt and granola in South Kensington

So in the last week I have made my way through

Thirteen Weddings: Paige Toon

Johnny Be Good: Paige Toon

Baby Be Mine: Paige Toon

Johnny's girl: Paige Toon

Looking for Alaska: John Green 

I picked up Thirteen Weddings on a whim as I saw it making the rounds on Twitter and my curiosity got the better of me. I am so glad I picked it up and since finishing it I have also made my way through the two books and the short story that follows the life of Johnny and Meg. I am also looking forward to making my way through The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson which is a YA book from Paige Toon.

I also finally got round to reading Looking For Alaska by John Green. I read The Fault in our Stars about a year ago and immediately went out and bought all of his other books, I have only just got around to reading them. TFIOS is still my favourite of the two and I am planning on reading Paper Towns soon so I will report back! 

Currently reading: Longbourn by Jo Baker
I am already loving this book, it is Pride and Prejudice from the view of the servants.

Next to read: The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson by Paige Toon and Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

What have I been doing?
London: V&A Italian Fashion exhibition 
Reading, reading and more reading 

This has just been a little glimpse into what I have been doing over the last week or two, I may do something like this every couple of weeks!


Tuesday 3 June 2014

Thirteen Weddings: Paige Toon

(Excuse the bad picture, the spine had been well and truelly cracked so the cover refused to lie flat!)

I am ashamed to say that I knew very little about Paige Toon before I picked up Thirteen Weddings, I had read One Perfect Summer a couple of years ago but other than that she hadn't featured. Thirteen Weddings however changed that and I went straight onto Amazon and I now have a truckload of her books coming my way! Thirteen Weddings had me up till 4:30am and if her other books are anywhere near as good then I know I will be losing out on lots of sleep in the next couple of weeks!

The book follows the life of Bronte, an aussie who finds herself partaking in a one night stand with the lovely Alex following the hen night of an old friend whilst in London. Bronte then goes home to Australia but a year and a half later she returns to London where she bumps into said one night stand. Alex is your typical romantic lead, handsome and intelligent, in my eyes a perfect match for the witty Bronte. Sadly a year and a half on from their first and only meeting, he is now engaged and unavailable. But love knows no boundaries and if you want to find out what happens next then get yourself down to your local bookshop or get out your e-reader pronto!

I fell in love with Bronte from the word go, I warmed to her personality and the style of the writing made me feel as though I was immersed in the story. Alongside her, I too fell for the handsome Alex and I found myself rooting for them to get together. I laughed and cried my way through it, I love nothing more than a book that genuinely makes me feel emotion. But what I loved most about this book was that it wasn't a simple boy meets girl love story, there were many twists and turns and there were enough strong characters to carry the story. 

The only disappointment for me was the underlying story of her life back home in Australia, I felt as though more could have been said about her past and her parents and I feel as though it would have really enriched Bronte's character. Other than that I loved the book and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

This is my first proper book review so it may seem like a bit of a mess, I just blurted out all of my views. I hope you have enjoyed it!


Sunday 1 June 2014

Liebster award

I have been blogging for about five months now and I have been struggling to give my blog the attention it deserves. This has been a mixture of exam stress but also not really knowing which direction I wanted my blog to go. When I first started my blog it was focused on beauty, fashion and lifestyle, but recently I have been leaning towards focusing it on books. I am just trying to create a good balance so it may seem like a bit of a mess of lots of different ideas at the moment but bear with me!

Anyway, so Rosie from Rosie Read Romance nominated me for the Liebster award, you should all go and check out her blog, it's brilliant! I have already done one of these which you can find here but I have decided to do it again with the questions given by Rosie as they are focused on books! 

Firstly, if you're interested the rules for the award are as follows:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the eleven questions he/she asks.
  3. Nominate eleven bloggers.
  4. Ask these eleven bloggers eleven questions.
  5. Let these eleven bloggers know that they have been nominated.
So lets get on with the questions...

1. What's been your favourite book that you've read this year (so far)?
I have not been able to read as much as I would have liked to so far this year, but at the moment The Secret History by Donna Tartt definitely stands out, it was one of those books where people kept on telling me I would love it to the point where it had been pushed in my face so much that I almost didn't want to read it. It's safe to say that I am glad I did, not only is it the best book I have read this year, but I would also say it is one of the best books I have ever read!
2. What book are you most looking forward to reading this year?
Ohh well I just read Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon, it was only the second of her books that I have read and I loved it so much that I have ordered all of her other books and they are now on their way, I can't wait for them to arrive, I predict that they will result in many late nights! 
3. Which book do you feel like you should have read but you never have?
I suppose the LOTR books, I have read the Hobbit but I found it such a trek to get through so I never made it any further.
4. Which book have you never been quite able to finish?
The only book that comes to mind is the 13th Lemony Snicket book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. I managed to get through the first 12 even though personally I felt they went a bit down hill after number 8. It bugs me to this day that I didn't quite get to the end, I need closure! Maybe this summer I will get it read. 
5. What's the first book you remember reading?
I was read to a lot as a child but the first book I can remember reading myself was the Milly Molly Mandy books which I absolutely loved.
6. A book you didn't think you'd like but ended up loving?
I feel like I talk about it a lot, but I would have to say The Secret History by Donna Tartt as it markets itself as a murder mystery, detective sort of book which is not at all the sort of book I would go for but it proved me wrong and I loved it. 
7. Whats the book that you recommend most often?
One Day by David Nicholls or Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, both of which I remember recommending to anyone who would listen. They are two of my favourite books and I wanted all my friends to love them too! 
8. Do you prefer to use the library or buy books?
I wish I used the library more often but I love to own books so I do tend to buy them either in charity shops, off amazon or from book shops. I remember one time my friend lent me a book and I loved it so much that I felt as though I physically had to own it, so I went out and bought it. I haven't opened it since but I find it comforting that it's there if I ever want to flick to my favourite parts!
9. Favourite place to read?
In the bath- this may sound horrific to you and some of you would be shocked at the number of my books that are crinkly and water damaged, but I find that in the bath is the only place where I can 100% focus on the book and I find it relaxing. There is also a place between my bed and the radiator and in the winter when the heating is on I like to sit with my back against the radiator and read. 
10. Favourite reading snack?
Nothing specific, just whatever is in the house along with an endless supply of tea and coffee.
11. Other than reading (obviously) what's your favourite hobby?
I used to love sewing although I haven't had the time to do it recently, I am also starting to knit- oh the exciting life I lead! 

My 11 questions are...

  1. What is your favourite genre to read?
  2. Which book has made you feel the most emotions?
  3. Which fictional character would you most like to be?
  4. Is there a book that has been hyped up that you then found to be disappointing?
  5. Favourite series of books?
  6. Favourite author?
  7. Is there a book that has made you look at your own life differently?
  8. Favourite childhood book?
  9. Do you like film adaptations- are there any good ones you can recommend or bad ones you can warn us about!?
  10. Do you look at online reviews before buying a book?
  11. Favourite fictional couple?
Now to nominate a few bloggers, below are just a few of my favourite books bloggers...

Becca from 
Erin from
Laura from
Kirsty from
Victoria from
Beckie from
Emma from
Jess from
Ray from
Jess from
Esther from

I would love it if you could let me know if you answer the questions so I can give them a read, and thanks again to Rosie for nominating me!