Sunday, 31 October 2010

NaNoWriMo Young Writer's 2010 here I come...!

I've always dreamed of writing a novel one day and have even had an idea for one since I was eight but I never thought I could do it now but then I discovered the National Novel Writing Month Young Writer's program, which encourages young writers to write a novel in a month. So, I've jumped in the deep end and signed myself up for the event!

Here's more about it:

It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants novel writing event where the challenge is to write an entire novel in just 30 days. That means participants begin writing November 1 and must finish by midnight, November 30. The word-count goal for our adult program is 50,000 words, but our Young Writers Program allows participants who are 17 years old and younger to set reasonable, yet challenging, word-count goals.

The thing that matters most in NaNoWriMo is output. Our high-velocity approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: you will be writing a lot of strange stuff, and some of it will be just plain bad. But that's a good thing! For 30 days, you get to lock that inner editor in the basement, let your imagination take over, and just create!
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants of all ages are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.
In 2009, 167,000 adults participated through our main site, and 35,000 young writers participated through our Young Writers Program.

I have set myself the goal of writing 25,000 words during this next month, which is more realistic for me than the adult word count goal of 50,000 with lots of school work to do at the same time.
However, I am signed up on the adult (13+)  site as well as the young writer's ones so I can participate in both forums.

I am planning on still keeping up with reading and blogging as much as I can because otherwise I would really miss it but I might not be able to post as much this coming month.

Are any of my lovely readers and fellow bloggers participating in Nano?

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Book Review: The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Summary (from inside cover)

Violetta and Feste are in London, the year is 1601 and William Shakespeare is enjoying success at the Globe Theatre. But Violetta is not there to admire his plays; she is in England to retrieve her country's greatest treasure, stolen by the evil Malvolio, and she needs help.
In an adventure that stretches from the shores of Illyria to the Forest of Arden, romance and danger go hand in hand. In a quest that could mean life or death, can Violetta manage to recover the precious relic and save her country and herself?

My review and thoughts

Despite Celia Rees being one of the few YA historical authors, I had not read any of her novels until this one even though I have 2 of them waiting to be read on my shelf so I was really looking forward to finding out what her writing was like.
I studied Twelfth Night last year at school and loved it, I've also been to see an open air staging of it so the premise of the book was very intriguing.

The book started off very well with the captivating setting of Illyria brought to life with colourful and 'flowery' descriptions and I loved the way that the story was told from the point of Viola's daughter Violetta. She spun a whole new world and identity for the second generation of the characters of Twelfth Night.
As the novel progressed into the world of Elizabethan London I soon realised Rees' unmistakable talent or transporting you to the past by building up your sense of being there with intricate details appealing to all your senses. The real test with historical description is how authentic it is and Rees definitely passes the test there as along with the descriptions of the bustling London streets and Shakespeares' playhouse, we are told about the gruesome lack of hygiene and the fate for the not so lucky.

Told through the viewpoint of Violetta, Feste, Maria, Shakespeare and the third person which means we get to know them and their thoughts towards others with a broader aspect which I found very interesting since I have rarely encountered this before. Although, this took quite a while to get used to and I think it could be one of the reasons that I found it hard to connect with the book.

Violetta, whose story the book follows is a feisty and determined heroine who is not afraid to stand up and fight for what she believes in and comes across as a fiercely loyal girl to her friends and companions as well as her home land which she feels very passionately about.
Feste is Violetta's faithful companion and serves her just as devotedly as he did her mother before her and is ready to risk his life to protect her. He brings the sound laughter to the pages with the tricks of his trade as a fool/clown and is also full of wise words.
Shakespeare was put across differently to in the novels that I have read where he was portrayed as being on the bawdy  or gallant side as he seemed to be a fairly quiet, kind and sensible man who did care for and love his family here. This is possibly quite a realistic impression of him and I also liked the way that I could see ideas for Twelfth Night forming in his mind in the narrative.

There is some romance mixed in too between Violetta and Stephano, the son of Lord Sebastian which began in childhood- how sweet! However there appeared to be little chemistry between the two of them, which made the relationship unrealistic. I would have liked there to have been more of a focus on this though as it seemed to be a bit neglected and rushed.
Despite enjoying this novel and its richly woven story and believable characters, for the first half I didn't feel fully 'into' the story. The last couple of pages were the best with dramatic tension built up very well and helped to change my opinion of the book. However I began to care more about the characters towards the end and I think I will connect with it more when I eventually read it again.

It does not matter whether you have read or are familiar with Twelfth Night before, Rees explains everything you need to know and I think that some readers will be encouraged to read the original play that inspired the book. For those who are studying Twelfth Night, The Fool's Girl would make an excellent and useful addition to curriculum work or research.

Verdict: Mixing together Shakespeare, Illyria, characters from Twelfth Night, mystery, myths and legends and Elizabethan London pulled off fantastically overall with Rees' exquisite writing. I would recommend it to anyone age 13+ but with the advice that it is a good idea to keep on reading is they are a bit confused at the start.

Thank you very much to Bloomsbury for sending me The Fool's Girl

Friday, 29 October 2010

Hopping Away and Follow Friday!

A Very big Welcome

Welcome to any visitors who got here through the weekly Book Hop (a Book Party) organised by Jennifer @ Crazy for Books or Follow A Book Blog Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View so that book bloggers can share their blog with other book lovers and also find new blogs to 'follow.' To get involved all you have to do is post your blog link at the bottom of the 'linky list' on Crazy For Books and/or Parajunkee's View, answer the weekly question (for the hop) on your blog and get hopping around!

This weeks Book Hop question/topic is: "What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"

Hmmm, just one? I think I would have to go with  something similar to Jennifer- a whole room in my house just filled with books along with comfy chairs to sink into and lots of fluffy blankets and pillows as well as a smoothie machine! Then again, I also like the idea of owning a first edition copy or manuscript of a Jane Austen novel.

Parajunkee's qustion: If you have, or would have a daughter, what book would you want your daughter to read?

I love this question, there are so many books I would want her to read. I'd introduce her to all the Enid Blyton books starting off with the Faraway tree ad moving on to all the adventure and boarding school series like Malory Towers. The Chalet School by Elinor M Brent Dyer and Anne of Green Gables are a must too. I have collections of all these books that I cherish so I hope to be able to pass them on one day.

Don't forget to leave a link to your blog in a comment so I can check it out, I will try my best to reply :D

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Coverlicious: The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Coverlicious is a feature that I hold here on this blog featuring book covers that I love, lookalike covers and US v. UK covers.

The cover that I have

Another cover that I found

The cover on the right that I have is my favourite because it is much more striking with the vivid colours and pretty decoration along with the clear outlines. It also makes it look more Shakespearean/ Illyrian and Violetta looks more like I imagine her here (even though you can't see her full face on the left cover.)
The more pastel and subtle colours of the right cover would make it blend in more and I think that it would be less appealing to teenagers because it makes it look more like adult historical fiction. Also, I have found similar images of a girl with a hand on her heart on other covers which makes it look less original and like the writing has just been put over the top quickly. I just don't feel it portrays or captures the wonderful imagination of the writing.

This is a slightly different version of the cover I have. I love the warmth of the blue background rather than the grey as it brightens the cover up but I think the fancier writing and enlarged author's name makes it look more cluttered and detracts from the decoration. I can't decide a favourite between those though!

What do you think?

Look out for a review of The Fool's Girl in the next few days!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

In memory of Eva Ibbotson- one of my favourite authors

I am very sad to say that I woke up this morning to read in the newspaper that Eva Ibbotson, one of my favourite authors passed away peacefullyaged 85 in her Newcastle home last Wednesday.
In her lifetime she wrote many books that have captured the heart of all ages and won several prestigious awards. Even though we have lost a shining star in children's literature, her charm and wit will live on through her writing for many generations to come.

I know that I am not alone in loving her magical and vividly descriptive fairy tale like writing in her books like The Star of Kazan coupled contrastingly with adventure stories for younger readers such as Monster Mission that all have happy endings.
Her books are filled with fantastical creatures: witches, wizards and banshees galore dropped into wildly  imagined exotic worlds as well as her favourite characters of eccentric Aunts and cruel guardians that torment orphans in their care. Questioned about this familiar Aunt feature in her books she said: 'When I get stuck into a book I usually try putting an Aunt in.'
She reminds me a little of Enid Blyton with her slightly old fashioned writing, filled with adventure, fantasy, mystery, magic and nature.

Many of her books were inspired by her childhood spent in Vienna and as a refugee in Britain, which is what makes many of her books so unique with first hand experience of her character Anna's (in the Secret Countess) experience of having to escape from the Russian revolution to Britain and other stories set in Vienna.

Here is a short biogrpahy of her life taken from The Independant :

Born in Vienna in 1925, Eva Ibbotson spent her early years shuttling between separated parents: her scientist father and her writer mother. She came to England after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 with her father, a physiologist appointed to a post at Edinburgh University; her mother followed a year later. She attended Dartington Hall and studied physiology at university, where she met her husband, the ecologist Alan Ibbotson. They moved to Newcastle, where he taught at the university, and had four children; he died in 1998.

Her books:

For children:

Which Witch?- shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal
The Great Ghost rescue
Dial a Ghost
The Beasts of Clawstone Castle
Not Just a Witch

Monster Mission- I remember reading this one in the bath with my mum and brother. It was shortlisted for the 2001 Blue Peter Award in the category in the 'Book I Couldn't Put Down' category

The Haunting of Granite Falls
The Haunting of Hiram
The Worm and the Toffee Nosed Princess
The Secret of Platfrom Thirteen- shortlisted for the Smarties Prize

Her new book The Ogre of Oglefort is being published next year so we have not seen her last work yet!

For Pre-teens

The Star of Kazan- I have not read this for a few years now but I remember the rich storyline that had me captured, it was the first book of hers that I read. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Carnegie Medal.

Journey to The River Sea- Nature features heavily in this one (as it can be seen on the cover) as it does in others of her books and Obama has said recently that he has brought the book for his daughters age nine and twelve. It came runner up in the Guardian's Children's Fiction Award, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award,  and won the Gold Medal for the 2003 Smarties prize.

The Dragonfly Pool- About a young girl named Tally sent to the progressive boarding school Delderton Hall inspired by Dartington Hall which she attened as a child

For older teenagers/adults- These were originally aimned for the adult market but the covers have recently been re-designed to appeal to teenagers

The Secret Countess (originally A Countess Below Stairs)
Magic Flutes- won the Romantic Novelists Association award in 1983
A Song For Summer
The Morning Gift (originally The Reluctant Heiress)
A Company of Swans (reviewed here)

I know that there are many other bloggers who are fans of Eva's books and I would like to hold a reading challenge in memory of her. If you would be interested in participating I would love to know and it would be great if you could mention how long you would like it to last and when the best time to start it would be. Thank you!


Monday, 25 October 2010

Book Review: Breathing Underwater by Julia Green

Summary (from blurb on cover)

'I dream about him night after night. He is everywhere on the island because this is a place where he was happy, and felt like he belonged...

Freya has come back to the remote island where her grandparents live, and where last summer he brother Joe died in a boating accident. but what really happened that night? Freya is not convinced that it was an accident and feels as if Joe's presence is still haunting her.
Perhaps, this summer, Freya will find a way to work out what happened, and pull herself and her family out of the sorrow that is threatening to overwhelm them. And perhaps Freya will discover that life- and love- is still vibrantly in the air.'

On first glance Breathing Underwater appears to be another feel good teenage summer romance with the sandy beach and clear aqua blue of the sea. In reality it has a lot more depth to it.
It is not the kind of book that has a complicated plot and any exciting twists and turns that jump out for your attention but it shines in its own particular way. Not much happens in the course of the book in an event way but that the end I could see a clear and dramatic change in Freya and the other characters around her which is what this book is all about.

The main character and voice of the story is Freya,a young fourteen girl old girl who is suffering with the grief of the loss of her older brother a year on from the accident. Coming back to the island where it happened has mixed feelings for her, she likes the way that she can feel her brother there and remember the times they spent together there but it also brings back the painful memories of what happened that summer and how he changed so suddenly.
Freya comes across as a quiet and fragile character at times and it was easy to sympathise with her. Despite this, she also has a strong and bright side that helps her to cope. As well as coping with her thoughts and feelings about Joe, she is growing up and finding her true self and dealing with insecurities, first love and the power and complications of friendship.
The way that she is portrayed and the book is written is beautiful, nothing is exaggerated and Freya's emotions were captured in a touching way that is often hard to convey in words.

I loved the island setting because it helped to lighten the book up and inject some summer fun into it, the descriptions of basking in the sun, sailing races, the clear blue of the sea, barbecues on the beach and star gazing with all the other children and teenagers at the campsite were wonderful.
I liked the way that the book had chapters of flashbacks to the summer before which helped me to get to know Joe's character and understand what happened better. Sometimes flashbacks ruin the effect of a story by cutting it up but these complimented the story and fitted hand in hand with the main narrative.

The only thing that I found a little unrealistic was a scene near the end when Freya feels Joe's spirit physically helping her and saving her life. However, this is such a small point and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book at all.

This is the second Julia Green book I have read and it turns out that this is her debut and I read her second book first unintentionally. I loved this one just as much and I can see how she has developed as an author in Drawing With Light. I can't wait to read more from her!

My favourite quote from the book: "Energy fizzes along every nerve and muscle in my body. I keep my breathing steady: in, out, long breaths that take the air deep inside, a flow along my blood . . . The water, deep and clean and cold, washes through my mind, cleansing me of thought, until that's all there is: water. Clear and open and free."

Verdict: Breathing Underwater explores teenage grief with sensitivity and poignancy with a message of inspiration as well as describing a sun soaked summer beautifully-fans of young adult books will find it a breath of fresh air.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and explores the content of our mailboxes on a weekly basis.
All links go to Goodreads this week.

Borrowed from school libraray:

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace

 (these two are for my school book club as we are following The Teenage Booktrust Prize)

For review (thank you to Bloomsbury)

This is the final cover
version (one was
earlier but was
changed. It certainly
looks very enticing!

Entice by Carrie Jones (published January 2011)

Has anyone read the first 2 books in the Need series? I have to admit that I have never entered into the vampire/werewolf paranormal zone (no, not even Twilight!) so I'm interested to read this to find out my real thoughts on the genre.

It is now the school holidays for a week so I am hoping to get lots of reading done!

What books have you got in your mailbox this week?

Friday, 22 October 2010

A Very Big Welcome

Welcome to any visitors who got here through the weekly Book Hop (a Book Party) organised by Jennifer @ Crazy for Books or Follow A Book Blog Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View so that book bloggers can share their blog with other book lovers and also find new blogs to 'follow.' To get involved all you have to do is post your blog link at the bottom of the 'linky list' on Crazy For Books and/or Parajunkee's View, answer the weekly question (for the hop) on your blog and get hopping around!

This weeks Book Hop question/topic is:  "Where is your favourite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"

I love to read curled up in bed with a warm, fluffy blanket because that is where I feel most relaxed and it is usually fairly quiet in my room.

I hope that you enjoy taking a look round my blog and. I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to drop me a comment.

Don't forget to leave a link to your blog in a comment so I can check it out, I will try my best to reply :D

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a review copy of Revolution

Summary (from Goodreads)

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

My thoughts and review

When I first heard about this book I was very interested in the fact that it was combining the lives of two girls from different time periods. Before Revolution I had never read a book mixing historical and contemporary combination before but now I know that the two together works fantastically well. I hope that it will get more teenagers and people who usually stay away from historical fiction to get a taster of it.

Revolution is the kind of  book that grabs you right from the start and has you racing through the pages unable to stop. Donelly managed to combine contemporary Brooklyn and the depression of Andi with the brutality, fear and pain that Alex witnessed and felt two centuries back during the French Revolution  with perfect skill and sensitivity that made the stories so powerful and real.

To start off with, I wasn't sure how I felt about the book, it wasn't as I had expected and was quite slow for a while. I felt that the place where the book really got going was when Andi arrived in Paris on a trip with her Dad and the historical part of the novel appears. However, maybe that's because it was the historical part I was most looking forward too and reflecting now, I can see why a lot of background was needed about Andi for me to understand more and care about her.

Andi is not a character that I warmed to but I couldn't help wanting her to hang onto life and to find out what really happened the day her brother Truman died. She is the opening narrative of the book and at first I was swamped in the sadness and bitterness that she felt because I wasn't expecting it.
However as I read on, I was absorbed in the tragic tale of how she came to be in her depressed state.
She is an intelligent private school girl with promising opportunities and future career but since the death of her brother Truman she doesn't care about anything apart from her beloved music because of the overwhelming grief and guilt she bears. meanwhile her mother is going through a mental breakdown and Nobel-prize winning scientist father has created a whole new life with his girlfriend.
She is the kind of character that feels so much and her emotions are poured into the narrative and I think that one of the reasons why she struggles so much with depression is that she is a person who has extreme emotions. Her passion for music demonstrates this and I loved how music was woven through the story and I found out more about her character through it.

The historical part of the book is told through the diary entries of Alex (Alexandrine), a young girl living during the Revolution who dreams of acting on the stage but finds herself serving young Louis Charles, the son of the King and Queen. Alex is a character that quickly found a place in my heart and I was just as engrossed in her diary and anxious to find out her fate as Andi. Everything about her and what she wrote was very realistic and it shows that people in the past were essentially the same as us, particularly in the way they felt.

Combining the historical diary in with Andi's narrative worked really well and fitted in naturally with the story as both the girl's stories ran parallel to each other with distinct similarities. The Revolution really came alive in the pages of the book with Alex's descriptions and emotions right in the centre of what was happening to the King and his family. felt the hunger of the starving citizens, Alex's worry for her small charge the Prince, smelt the rotting flesh of the fallen heard the thundering footsteps and uproar of the angry mobs and the fear laden silence deep in the catacombs.
I also loved the fact that I could go into it without knowing much about the French Revolution and feel completely comfortable with what was happening as it was all explained so cleverly without it reading like a textbook.

I can't even begin to describe how this book makes you feel, it is so complicated, brutal and heartbreaking but at the same time filled with hope and strength. Every kind of emotion is woven together beautifully: love, tragedy, hope, fear, pain, joy, hate, sorrow and passion. It is incredible how these simple emotions of life can bind two characters who have never met together and be relevant to us today too. Thinking about it, the title of 'Revolution' refers not only to the time when Alex lived but the inner struggle of two girls going through a journey and discovering themselves.

This is the first Donelly book that I have read and I love her writing because it has so much depth and richness. The character development in 500 pages was amazing, I felt like I knew Andi and Alex inside out by the time I had finished the book and wanted to read more about them. Everything was researched impeccably well to create a realistic historical detail and authenticity to the characters and plot.

Summary of thoughts/ Verdict: Revolution weaves together the emotional struggles of two young girls in remarkably different time periods effortlessly to create an breathtaking and captivating novel that kept me firm in its spell. There is something to appeal to everyone here- a must read!

My favourite quotes from the book

Andi- "I don’t like hope very much. In fact, I hate it. Its’ the crystal meth of emotions. It hooks you fast and kills you hard. It’s bad news. The worst. It’s sharp sticks and cherry bombs. When hope shows up, it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.”

Alex-  "I am not afraid of beatings or blood anymore. I’m not afraid of guards of guillotines. There is only one thing I fear now: love. For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us.”

Andi- "You can’t change history. You can’t change the world. All you can ever change is yourself.”

Alex - "I had sliced my hands to ribbons and felt nothing. No pain, only fear – for him. I think it was then that the revolution began. Not for Paris or for the French. But for me.”

Video with Jennifer Donelly

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along and have fun! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
Share (preferably 2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

This week's teaser (paragraph!) comes from page 183. of Revolution by Jennifer Donelly, which I am about three quarters of the way through now.

'My heart's pounding as I finish the entry. I was so afraid for them. So afraid they wouldn't make it. I felt Alex' fear. For a moment I was there. I was there with her, running up the steps to the Hall of Mirrors. I felt her heart pounding. I heard the shouts of the mob as they came closer.'

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Book Review: Drawing With Light by Julia Green

This cover is one of my favourites
out of the books that I have read this
year. Not only is it vibrant and pretty
but it looks just like I imagine
a photo that Emily would take (you will see
why if you read the book)
I don't think that I would ever have found this book to read if I hadn't been sent it by Bloomsbury so a big thankyou to them!


'I'm on the edge of something and I can hardly wait for it to unfold.'

Kat and Emily have grown up without their mother for almost as long as they can remember. And now Dad is with Cassy and they all muddle along together well enough - even though they are living in a cramped caravan while their new house is being renovated. Then Cassy and Dad tell them that Cassy is pregnant, and everything seems to shift. Emily feels a new urge to find her own mother. How could she have left them the way she did? Never writing to them? Not communicating with them? And as Emily begins her search, not knowing what she will find, she is at the same time embarking on a new relationship of her own, that of her romance with Seb. This is an evocative and finely drawn novel about family relationships, in particular that of mother and daughter, and the shifting emotions of a teenager trying to make sense of her family and her world.

My review and thoughts

The way that this book has been written is just so beautiful and truly convincing. After a few chapters I fell in love with the main character Emily, the narrator of the book. With all her struggles, Julia Green captured the voice of a teenage girl perfectly and made it one that is very easy to relate to. Emily could be quiet and a little awkward but at other times with her friends and family she is very loud, much like many other girls her age. Her feelings are very real and in depth, the way she bottles up her curiosity and pain about the mother she has never met, has to cope with living in a small vintage caravan with her Dad and step mum Cassy and her experience of first love is something that every teen girl can understand.

I loved her relationship with Seb, the handsome son of the builder of her Dad's dream house, it was wonderfully and sensitively written because it showed the anxieties as well as the magic of first love. The chemistry between the two of them jumped of the page and made my heart beat fast. You could tell that they really cared about each other and it was so touching and adorable. Seb was also the person who helped Emily with coming to terms with what has happened in her life and to do something about it and both of them helped each other develop in different ways.

Another aspect that I love about Emily is that she is a photographer, which gave the book its title as Emily says that taking the best photos is like 'drawing with light.' I imagine that the image on the cover us like one that she would take because of the careful set up of light, colour and angles that makes it so pretty.
 It is also a remark by her photography teacher at school that sparks a fresh curiosity and longing to fill the void in her heart of her mother so it is very important in the story. Photography becomes a way of capturing emotion for Emily and the description of the light and angles in the scenery in the photos is lovely, It made me realise that contemporaries can have just as much intricate description at appropriate places as in historical fiction, which has made me want to read more of its genre.

The plot of this book is one that has been used many times before but what makes this story different is the characters, who are just normal people who are made believable because of their flaws. It is not a pacy action book that gets the pages turning but I couldn't stop reading because I was attached to the characters and wanted to find out what would happen to them. It is really a coming of age story that deals with raw human emotions and growing up to find out who you are.

The only weak part of the book was the ending, which I felt was slightly rushed because the whole book is leading up to it and it is quite short. I liked the way it was resolved and was left satisfied but it could have been developed more.

Verdict: Drawing With Light is a beautifully written and poignant coming of age story with believable characters and vibrant and colourful descriptions. It is a light read but deals with heavy subjects, perfect for curling up with in the Autumn and Winter months when the story is set!

Friday, 15 October 2010

And the winner of my 150 Follower Giveaway is.............

The winner of my 150 Follower+ giveaway is......

Cate from Sparrow Review- Congratulations Cate!
She chose The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson

A brilliant choice- I love this book and it's cover too! <3
Winner was chosen using
Cate has 2 weeks to respond before I choose another winner

Thank you so much to everyone who entered, I wish I could give a prize to all of you!

Here are a few of my favourite comments on what reading means to some of the entrants (I have kept them anonymous):

'Reading is sanctuary from the sometimes awful world; in reading I know everything will work out and there will be an end.  Sometimes I prefer predictable books for that very reason.'

'No matter how I feel -except when I lost my mood to read books- I always read. Though it sounds cheesy, but without books, my life would be tasteless.'

'I've loved reading from a very early age and thoroughly enjoy being able to slip into another world for a while. I find that books are a bit like a safe haven to me, able to pick me up when I'm feeling down or relax me when I'm stressed about something. '

'Plenty! It means realizing that you are not alone, that others have the same problems and there are plenty of different ways to deal with them. Also, it can be like taking a short trip into a different time period and a different time era. '

'It was hard for me to learn to read as a child.  I had dyslexia.  Once I finally started though, I couldn't stop!  I use to stay up way past my bed time with a book and flashlight under the covers.  After my mom caught me at it a few times she finally gave up and told me to, "at least keep the light on so you don't ruin your eyes."  LOL!    I can't imagine a life without books! '

'For me, reading is an escape. I can be working all day and be stressed out but the moment I read books, it makes me relaxed. Books transport me to a whole new world created by these awesome authors filled with interesting people. Reading has been a very big part of my life, growing up until now. I can't imagine how my life is if I hadn't started reading.'

'To me, reading is about many things. It means getting to experience things I normally never would or just haven't yet. It means experiencing things I've already experienced but from another perspective through a character. It means broadening my imagination and reasoning, teaching me that things aren't always black and white or what they seem. It also means crossing boundaries that never should have been built, learning about things people like to keep quiet and don't think should be in books. It means discovering and understanding the world of our past so we don't repeat past mistakes in the future. It means that when things in life get tough, there is always a story out there that I can find comfort and escape in, living in someone else's shoes for a time. I might can even find a way of dealing with whatever I'm going through in that book. Reading means that if your family or friends have their nose stuck in a book, they aren't out doing things they shouldn't be. Those who read tend to be more informed of the consequences of things like drugs, alcohol, abuse, and teen pregnancy and are therefor less likely to put themselves in those situations. I could go on forever but to sum it all up, reading means everything.'

'Reading means passion, love, home, loneliness to me. I can escape from my own life, or I can find a place which is more home than my real one. Find true friends or enemies, and just falling in love with great people or wonderful places. It means breathing, sometimes even living. '

Hopping Away and Follow Friday!

A Very Big Welcome

Welcome to any visitors who got here through the weekly Book Hop (a Book Party) organised by Jennifer @ Crazy for Books or Follow A Book Blog Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View so that book bloggers can share their blog with other book lovers and also find new blogs to 'follow.' To get involved all you have to do is post your blog link at the bottom of the 'linky list' on Crazy For Books and/or Parajunkee's View, answer the weekly question (for the hop) on your blog and get hopping around!

This weeks Book Hop question/topic is: "When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

I try to give the book a really good go, probably about a quarter of the way through but if I really haven't got into it or just don't like it then I'll stop reading it. However I think this has only happened to me about twice because generally I enjoy any historical fiction book and contemporaries too. Of course books have their flaws, sometimes major ones but this is natural and I usually finish all my books. Although if I received a book for review and I really didn't connect with/ like it having read half way through then I might stop reading it but try and feature it some other way on this blog so it is fair.

I hope that you enjoy taking a look round my blog and. I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to drop me a comment.

Don't forget to leave a link to your blog in a comment so I can check it out, I will try my best to reply :D

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Coverlicious: Revolution by Jeniffer Donnelly US v UK

US                                                                         UK                              

US cover

I like the way that the cover is divided and there is a clear distinction between the 2 girls and of historical and contemporary but I think that the title doesn't stand out enough and the straight line down the middle doesn't make it look very professional. However, the photo of the girl on the left might make this book appeal more to contemporary fans.

UK cover

This is the cover that I have and it's definitely my favourite. They key features prominently in the story and I love the font of the title and the red. I think it would stand out to people a lot more because of its bold simplicity however the only down side is that it doesn't give much away about the story apart from the title and yo u can't really tell that there is contemporary too. On the hardback version that I have, I also like the texture of the jacket which has a kind of 'scroll' feel that matches the background.

The UK cover wins for me although both do have their qualities- which is your favourite and why?

I have only just started reading Revolution so I am a few chapters in and although I found the start a little confusing and hard going, I am enjoying it now and am assured that the further on in the book, the better it gets. I can't wait to read the rest!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Book Review: The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

I LOVE this cover, it is so striking and
beautiful, the colours are amazing! One of my favourites
this year!

Thank you very much to the author, Susan Coventry for kindly sending me a copy for review

Synopsis (from inside cover)

When I saw this synopsis I knew instantly that it was definitely the kind of book that I would love, especially as it is YA historical fiction!

Joan’s mother is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England. She loves them both—so what can she do when she’s forced to choose between them? As her parents’ arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.

When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself with a man ten years her senior. She doesn’t love him, and she can’t quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond.

As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents’ worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more important, whom to love

My review and thoughts
I was very interested by the fact that the book is told from the point of view of Jone, who is a historical figure that I had never heard of before and not much information is know about her. When we first meet Jone she is a six year old child who is very naive but still knowledgeable for her years and is often neglected by her parents King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine who are feuding. Whilst her brothers are fighting for the attention of her father, her mother teaches her about the politics of the country and court and how a good Queen should act. I was captured by the confusion that young Jone felt by loving two parents who hated each other and wanted to find out what her fate would be as she grew up as a political pawn for her torn family. Coventry’s phenomenally descriptive writing really drew me into the story and Jone’s world- I felt her pain and shared her heartbreak as she was married off to King William of Sicily-who is ten hears older than her and has no time or patience for a child bride except to one day produce an heir- and her joy in her later marriage to Raymond of Tolouse. Kept as a virtual prisoner in her apartments in Sicily, Jone proves herself to be a strong and determined young woman trying to make the best out of her situation even though she is homesick and lonely.

Susan Coventry did a wonderful job of padding out the character of Jone around the few basic facts about her life that we know about and I loved following her story from young Princess to a thirty year old strong and passionate woman through the many ups and downs that she experienced. I also liked the way that her 'voice' in the narration matured (even though it wasn't written in the first person), it was especially fascinating at the beginning to view the turmoil and undercurrents at court between her parents and her brothers the young King Henry, Richard Duke of Aquitaine, Geoffrey Duke of Brittany and John through the eyes of six year old Jone. By the end of the book I felt like I knew Jone inside out as I had ‘seen’ her grow up and go through a journey and I wanted a happy ending and a marriage based on love for her.

Jone’s story was rich in historical detail that was clearly well researched and I really enjoyed finding out about the 12th century in different countries, as this is something I have never read about before. I was particularly interested in the inclusion of the Crusades in the story and would like to read more about it. However, I sometimes felt that there were a few too many facts, which overpowered the story in places. This was partly why I found the beginning of the story slow paced and a bit hard to get into but it also meant that I was able to follow the story better and know the large cast of characters.

Verdict: The Queen’s Daughter is a book that really brings the life and character of Jone to life, when she is so often overlooked in history through heart wrenching emotions and in depth and captivating setting as well as detail. I would highly recommend this book to historical fiction fans young or old, it makes a brilliant introduction to a famous historical family. The Queen’s Daughter is an amazing and creative debut- I can’t wait to read what Susan Coventry writes next!

Note: Whilst this is a young adult novel I would like to point out that there are a few sexual references although nothing is explicit at all otherwise I would not have read it

Extract from The Queen's Daughter (taken from the back of the book's jacket)

'Joan swallowed and held out her tongue. Of course. A Queen had to be aware of all the undercurrents at court. A Queen has to know everything about the realm's enemies. A Queen must be familiar with the resources and workings of her domain. A queen must make her husband welcome in her bed, give him heirs, but not be fool enough to love him. The only thing Mama had failed to explain is why anyone would want to be queen.'

To read a longer extract, please visit this link to a page on Susan Coventry's website which also tells you more about herself and the inspiration for her book.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Drawing With Light by Julia Green

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along and have fun! Just do the following:
This is such a beautiful cover!
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
Share (preferably 2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

My teaser this week is from Drawing With Light by Julia Green (thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me this book for review) which I have been reading at and on the way to school:

'Whizzing down the lane under the trees  with their autumn leave all orange and red is amazing, like travelling through a tunnel of golden light. I stop at the beach tree near the gate to take some photos; the trunk and the branches are black silhouettes against a blaze of coppery leaves, the whole thing lit from behind by the sun, low in the sky.'

Look our for my review of Drawing With Light-coming soon!