Sunday, 16 February 2014

My top 5 books and/or book series of 2013

Okay so, as it says in the tiny synopsis of me over to the right there, I'm most definitely an avid reader. Being an English student, reading is like a part time job, but I like to read for pleasure too. I decided to compile a list of the best 5 books/series of books I read over the course of last year, so as to recommend them to anyone looking for a good read.

1, The Fault in our Stars, by John Green.

This book is just incredible. Before I read this book I had recently found reading a little less exciting than I used to. I'd gotten myself in to a bit of a rut, and found myself lacking the enthusiasm to sit down and just read. But one day I was trawling the internet, as I spend so much of my time doing, and I came across a review of this book. Already aware as I was to the vlogbrothers YouTube channel I found myself intrigued even more, so I went to my local Waterstones and picked up a copy. As soon as I began to read it I was transfixed. I could feel myself wanting more, yearning for these characters whenever I put the book down. In 3 days I had it read, and even though I didn't want it to be over, I gained so much from the experience. Hazel Grace Lancaster is beautifully eloquent and intelligent, yet holds on to a blunt way of speaking and at times I laughed aloud at her witty remarks. And Augustus Waters, the tall, smart, good looking amputee is the epitome of both charisma, and innocence. The way their story unfolds in this teenage masterpiece had me reeling for days afterwards. Their experiences became my experiences, and I loved every minute of it. All in all I would give this book 9.5/10. I laughed, I cried, and I wish I could live the story all over again.

2, Divergent, by Veronica Roth.

Admittedly I have only read the first two books of this trilogy, however the third is on it's way to me as I type. This story takes place in a dystopia, which is actually our world, but more than 100 years in the future. There is a complicated system of factions and way of life, but once you figure it out a couple of chapters in, it opens the book up to be enjoyed immensely. Beatrice 'Tris' Prior is the protagonist of the story, she is a character struggling to find where she fits in and who she is. The development of her character is fast, but not too fast, and the changes in her are quite large, but it is extremely well executed and she grows with the story and becomes strong, and brave. The love interest, 'Four' is not your usual book hottie. He's moody, temperamental, and sometimes can come across as nasty and mean but as the story goes on it becomes clear why he is the way he is, and some of it is for Tris' own good. The book deals with many themes, familial love, respect, loyalty, fear, danger, strength, bravery, attraction, love, and trust. Trust is quite a strong theme throughout. There are many instances where trust is something that is not easy to find, even among friends. I would give these books a 9.5/10, and would recommend to anyone.

3, The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Claire.

While I am aware that not everyone has the time or inclination to commit to a series, if you're going to read any series, this has to be it. It combines fantasy, action, suspense, peril, romance, friendship, loyalty and the (not-so) occasional demon. Recently adapted in to a movie, the first book offers a strong storyline and provides characters one can really invest in. However it also contains quite a sizeable twist towards the end. Having seen the movie, I would recommend the book before it as I feel there is more offered in the way of character and story development on paper. The story follows Clary Fray, a seemly average teen who's world unravels in a heartbeat, and we go with her in her struggles to piece it all together. Stand alone, the first book is brilliant, but followed by the rest? Magnificent. I would rate this series 9/10. Everything a reader needs, including a gorgeous, angelic guy to round things off.

4, Shadow Falls, by C.C. Hunter.

Another series, these books I actually began reading when only the first was out, much longer than a year ago. However I kept reading until this last year when the final instalment was released. I found these books engaging and exciting. I fell in love with all of the characters, and became so invested in the story that by the last book, it was like their world was a part of my world. The protagonist Kylie Galen finds herself leaving a world where she never really fit in, and entering in to a new world, a world of people like her, and still she doesn't fit in. The story follows her struggles to find out secrets about herself and her father to understand what she is. With two sidekick best friends Miranda and Della, and the affections of not one, but two deliciously attractive guys, Kylie becomes the centre of something much bigger than anyone could have anticipated. I give this series also a 9/10, and recommend to anyone willing to take on a five-book-series.

5, The Hollow, The Haunted and The Hidden, by Jessica Verday.

Abbey Browning is a young girl living in Sleepy Hollow NY, who's best friend is missing, and in her plight to find out what happened, she falls in love with a mysterious boy who turns out to be a part of a world that is more than she bargained for. These books were written beautifully, the stories each more intriguing than the next. The story stayed with me for a long time after reading, and gave me a 'book hangover' like never before. I was conflicted about the ending, both good and bad, but in hindsight, I loved it, and would have changed nothing. Of all the books on my top 5 list, it is this series which I have re-read and re-loved and still do love. With elements of 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' by Washington Irving, shaped to fit with the new world Abbey is discovering, these books have more than one level and are so wonderful I would always always always recommend. I give these books also a 9/10. For me, they're perfect.

I realise that I rated all the books at a 9-9.5/10 but they're all incredible, otherwise they wouldn't be on my top 5 list :) I hope I encourage at least one person to pick up a copy of any of these, they might just change your life.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Bling Ring- Film Review

The Bling Ring Poster
(No real spoilers, but don't read if you're overly cautious)

Rating /10? 7.5
Recommend? Yes

I recently purchased and watched the bling ring on DVD. I thought I'd post a review so others can view my opinion before purchasing themselves.

I gave the film a 7.5 out of 10 because although I found it an enjoyable watch, I was in no way transfixed. However a lower score would have been unfair, as the story is based on true events, restricting the artistic license.

Okay so who doesn't want to watch Emma Watson on their screen all day every day? Her performance was believable and different to what many have seen previously of her. Her character Nicki has many levels and is sometimes difficult to read, but I think that is the way she was written, and Watson did a terrific job. Katie Chang, who was playing the part of Rebecca gave a great performance, and seeing as it was her first time acting in anything like this, and was given the part purely on the merit of a self filmed audition tape, I think the girl has loads of potential for the future. Watch out for that name. As for the rest of the cast, the acting was pretty even and well executed.

I must say the one thing that did disappoint me was the message portrayed by the entire film as a whole. When the real story was in the news, it was, rogue kids who had no respect for the law, committing crimes and acting foolishly etc. however, in the film, the story is told from the point of view of the criminals, rather than the victims, and I think in some ways it glorifies the lifestyle they were living. It becomes a film about kids who are having fun and enjoying life and getting away with what they can, and it makes the viewer forget the events truly happened. It loses seriousness and I felt that as a viewer I needed reminding that there were victims of these crimes, including Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, and Orlando Bloom.

I'd recommend a watch as I think that the story is interesting, more so due to the fact that it is based on true events. Well worth the £5 from amazon.

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

New Blog!

So this isn't my first blog, I've been blogging since 2009, but it became time for a change and a new path. Just to introduce myself first and foremost, to the very few people who will read this, the name's Alex. I'm 20, I'm currently studying for a degree in English, I love makeup, I love reading, watching tv shows, playing video games, etc. I'm an aspiring author, and hope one day that I'll be at least slightly successful. My blog will consist mostly of makeup reviews, book reviews, and my general thoughts and feelings about current events and what is happening in my life. Maybe people will have their day brightened from reading, or find what I have to say useful in some way at all. I'll end this post here, and will be back soon with content.