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Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

With all the hype surrounding this book (and soon-to-be movie!) I half expected this book to not live up to expectations. However, I am very pleased to be wrong! It’s a clever, thrilling sci-fi story, with twists and turns that make it impossible to put down. The story itself is like a cross between Stephen King’s Running Man and Battle Royale, with each of 24 children having to kill their opponents until only one is left, watched on TV by the rest of Panem (a post-apocolyptic USA).

Despite being aimed at the ‘Young Adult’ Genre, the writing is so clever and engaging that it’ll clearly appeal to young and old alike. The chacters are well developed, the plot well-paced and constantly interesting and it’s so well written that you believe you could very well be in the forests of the Hunger Games arena. Although the ‘love triangle’ aspect has been done to death in these teen fiction books, it’s done in a more subtler way and the romantic theme is less of a focus than other books of a similar genre.

Onto ‘Catching Fire now’…

5 Stars *****

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on Amazon

Book Review: Pastworld – Ian Beck

Pastworld by Ian Beck

The concept of this book is rather an original one, being a story based in the future but of a Victorian London restored to it’s authentic past. The idea itself is brilliant – Victorian London is kept as a theme park for visitors to experience what that period of time was really like. Everything is authentic, even down to Victorian London laws which often result in hangings and the arrests of children and visitors who stray from the tour groups. The danger of London is real, with it’s pickpockets, theives and murders. Our heroine, Eve, has no idea that she’s grown up in a theme park and it isn’t really ‘Victorian London’.

I loved the story itself, mixing in the Victorian London atmosphere, the fun characters and the threat of the rogue ‘Jack the Ripper’ type character. As the story unravels, we learn the clever twist surrounding the murders and army of Ragged men who serve their almost supernatural ‘Gentleman’. I won’t reveal too much about the story, but I loved the purpose of the murderer in the city and the destiny he felt he had to fulfil.

While the story was clever and I really enjoyed the atmosphere the writer created, the story felt rushed and all the action was carried out very quickly. It seemed that too much was left unexplained and the characters were developed too quickly. I didn’t realise it was advertised as a young adult novel, so perhaps that’s why I felt it wasn’t long enough.

Overall, I think the concept is genius and I loved the story. The idea of a real Victorian town existing within our own time, the rogue park entertainers, the corrupt ‘fake’ policemen…the idea was wonderful, but I felt it fell short of it’s potential. However, it was a very good read and an afternoon well spent.

4 Stars ****

Pastworld by Ian Beck on Amazon

Day off!

Today was my first real day off in months! Being self-employed means I never really switch off, but after some nagging backache, I decided I really needed a break. I spent the day visiting my Sylvester (grandma!) and tagged along with my family for a shopping trip. Picked up some really beautiful wool and some chunky knitting needles! Gonna makes me a scarf! :)

Today’s outfit included my lovely straw fedora and my Led Zeppelin band tee!

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Beautiful wool!!
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Birthday funsies!

This weekend was my sister’s 21st Birthday! We celebrated with balloons, family and cake! We had a combination of dolly-mixture celebration cake and, in epic geekery, Tardis cake! It was amazing!

Tardis cake:
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My favourite people!
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I’m usually useless at braiding my hair but I love how it looks. I managed to do a completely flukey perfect braid to go out for my sister’s birthday evening!
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Beautiful sunset on our evening walk to the pub = genuine lens flare :)
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First time this summer that I got to wear my gladiator sandals! It’s literally the first time it’s not been raining!
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My love of crochet

I have been dying to wear my new crochet waistcoat for aaages but the weather hasn’t felt summery enough for it. The one I had on order from Topshop was cancelled but I think the replacement I’m wearing today is even nicer.

Tank: Urban Outfitters | Waistcoat: Topshop | Jewellery: Free People, Topshop | Satchel: Accessorize

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Book Review: We All Ran into the Sunlight – Natalie Young

We All Ran into the Sunlight

This book was another of the ‘Spring Sale’ Books I picked up as bargain reading over the Easter Bank Holiday. Having read the reviews, I was looking forward to a mysterious but relaxing ‘holiday read’ – with an average ‘star rating’ on Amazon of almost 5/5 stars at the time of purchase (April2011), I was expecting this to blow me away.

Unfortunately, it didn’t blow me away. It was an enjoyable read and Natalie Young’s writing style has captured beautifully this slow and laid-back village in the South of France, but the story felt like it was lacking something. The novel is based around a chateau in a rural French village. We learn that something terrible happened here on a Summer’s night years ago and as the story unravels we are introduced to the people who used to live in the house. They are all held together in this story by the secrets that they all share about the events up to that night.

Each section of the book is a new point of view, following a different character as they are pulled back towards the chateau. I loved this style of story-telling as the reader is introduced to each character individually and we learn how they were affected by the old chateau. While the novel was beautifully written and pulls the reader into this sleepy village, the story itself was a little flat. We know from the beginning that there are secrets surrounding the family who used to live in the house and I was excited to follow the story to find out what exactly had happened all those years ago. But, as the secrets were revealed to us and we learn more about what still haunts the people of the village, I felt there were still unanswered questions and no real closure for the characters.

I feel I am disatisfied with how the characters seemed to ‘move on’ without really dealing with their past and the hold that the chateau had over them, seemed just to tail off towards the end.  However, It’s a beautiful and haunting novel, jumping from characters and periods of time. Young has created a sinister, eerie house, set in a seemingly perfect part of the world. With gossiping villagers and secrets locked up inside the house, it’s easy to become drawn in and want to learn what really happened on that summer’s night years before.

3 Stars ***

We All Ran into the Sunlight on Amazon

Book Review: Let the Right One – John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One in – John Ajvide Lindqvist

I purchased this book as part of the Kindle Spring Sale for £1.01. Not only was I excited to get a bargain but I was also thrilled with the book. Having not seen the Swedish movie or the American remake, I was introduced to the story for the first time by reading the novel that the movies were based on. From being recommended the movie by family and friends, I had a rough idea what the story was about – A Vampire love story.

I’ve read a lot of Vampire stories recently, and have become a little tired with them to be honest. I do love my True Blood series but everything else seems to feel like it’s jumping on the Vampire bandwagon. As more of a classic horror novel, I decided to give this a go and was very glad I did.

The story follows 12-year-old Oskar, targeted by the class bullies and wishing he could disappear. Near to where he lives, the police find dead bodies, which they believe to be caused by a ‘Ritual Killer’. At the same time, he meets and befriends a neighbourhood girl called Eli and soon realises that maybe his new found friend and the murders are linked.

I really loved the character of Oskar – although only 12 and bullied by his classmates, he is extremely intellegent and has a wonderful imagination. The writer has created scenes where Oskar believes he’s someone else, a hero, slaying bullies and bad guys.  John Ajvide Lindqvist has captured the imagination of this 12 year old outcast perfectly. Oskar, with very few people in his life and only books for company until he meets Eli, creates this heroic alter-ego to get him through his days.

The story itself felt a little long but it was well paced and the way the writer went from character to character really pulled you into this Swedish estate. There are so many characters – from Oskar and Eli, to Eli’s ‘Dad’ Håkan, Oskar’s teenage neighbour Tommy, the bullies, and a group of alcholics who not only bare witness to the murders, but become victims also. The whole group of characters seem seperate and unrelated at the beginning, but soon their paths are brought together, and only the reader will understand their significance from their backstory.

The novel had a very Stephen King-eqsue quality to it. It mixes a ‘coming of age’ story of friendship and love, with the horror of the supernatural. Particularly in the last scene of the novel at the swimming pool, I had flashbacks of Stephen King’s Carrie, along with many other King classics throughout the book. Being a fan of Stephen King, of course this is only a good thing!

Overall, it’s a really enjoyable novel. Although long, it’s packs into the story so many characters who are directly and indirectly affected by Eli and the murders, and they are all brought together very well as the story concludes. Lindqvist has done a marvellous job of creating potentially horrific characters that you feel attached to, and combining a sweet story of friendship with that of a supernatural thriller.

4 Stars ****

Let the Right One in – John Ajvide Lindqvist on Amazon

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