BLURB: “At forty-five, Adrienne Willis must rethink her entire life when her husband abandons her for a younger woman. Reeling with heartache and in search of respite, she flees to the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina, to tend to a friend’s inn for the weekend. But when a major storm starts moving in, it appears that Adrienne’s perfect getaway will be ruined – until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives. Paul has just sold his medical practice and comes to Rodanthe to escape his own shattered past. Now, with the storm closing in, two wounded people will turn to each other for comfort – and in one weekend, set in motion feelings that will resonate through the rest of their lives”
REVIEW: I love Nicholas Sparks’ books, and always read them whenever I’m in need of either a cathartic cry; or just to prove to myself that romance still exists! I kind of needed help with both this week, so choosing this book was well-timed. I’d seen the film several years ago with my best friend, but I’d forgotten just how beautiful and emotionally destructive this story is! It’s difficult to review this properly without giving away too many of the plot twists and the ending, but, safe to say, it’s as heartbreaking as many other Sparks novels are! I highly recommend it – it’ll make you believe in happiness all over again.
BLURB: “On the death of Henry V, a nine-month-old baby is made King of England. Ambitious men surround the baby king, including his two uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, who both have plans. In Lancastrian England and war-torn France, there are three women whose lives are to have a marked effect on the future. Katherine de Valois, haunted by an unhappy childhood, finds love in an unexpected quarter and founds the Tudor dynasty; Joan of Arc leaves her village pastures on the command of heavenly voices; and Eleanor of Gloucester is drawn into a murder plot and becomes the centre of a cause celebre. Murder, greed and ambition flourish alongside sacrifice, dedication and courage. These are turbulent times as the defeated become the victorious…”
REVIEW: I chose to read this book firstly because I own many of Jean Plaidy’s books and have, on the whole, found them highly enjoyable – I would particularly recommend ‘Mary, Queen of France’ and ‘Victoria Victorious’ – and also because I freely admit that what little I know about this period in history is taken from Shakespeare (which, as much as I admire him, doesn’t necessarily point to any degree of historical accuracy!). Although I enjoyed some sections of this book with as great an enjoyment as some of her other works, I did not find it as gripping as I had found some of the previous novels. The story of Katherine of Valois was well-told, simple enough for understanding and easy to read for entertainment; however, I felt that her romance with Owen Tudor could have been explored much more deeply. It was difficult to see how their love for each other came about – in this retelling, it seemed as though they had barely even met before Katherine fell pregnant with Owen’s child. This therefore made the romance slightly unbelievable and undermined the risks that the couple took to be together. I preferred the section on Eleanor of Gloucester, whose story I knew a little better, as I enjoyed the way Plaidy wrote her – Eleanor is portrayed as being scheming, ambitious and wanton, but at the same time she never pretends that she is anything other than those things, or denies her flaws – something that, strangely, does make her likeable. My favourite part of the book, however, was that of Joan of Arc. Her story was the most familiar – and, indeed, the most enthralling – to me, and was told with a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of Joan’s problems. Her fate was dealt with somewhat briskly, but not in a way that seemed understated or dismissive. Overall, I found that some parts of the book conveyed more enjoyment than others, but it is still a good creative attempt to demonstrate the period.
Going to start posting some of my old literature essays on here…I actually loved writing them, I miss them, and who knows, they might even be useful to someone or another! :S
BLURB: “Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more fun, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect in Lola’s world, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend. That is, until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt and anguish that Lola thought was long buried. When talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life , she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.”
REVIEW: I feel I should start by saying that I absolutely loved Perkins’ teen fiction debut, ‘Anna and the French Kiss’, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interweaving of the two novels, with Anna and Etienne also becoming part of Lola’s world and her story. I perhaps did not enjoy reading ‘Lola…’ quite as much, purely and simply because I found the character of Lola harder to relate to than Anna, due to the different personas she adopts through costume. Lola is a fun, witty and endearing character with a unique individuality that makes for fascinating reading. The novel also addresses some issues of gay rights with the introduction of Lola’s two fathers, a married couple, and her flaky and irresponsible mother, which added an enjoyable and relevant dimension to the novel. Although it is clear from the start that it is only a matter of time before Lola and Cricket realise their feelings for each other, the added complications of Max, Lola’s boyfriend, and the interference of Cricket’s ice-skating champion sister Calliope make for a gripping and exciting read. The ending left me with a massive smile on my face for some hours to come, and provided some real light relief from all my heavy uni texts! I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to romantics everywhere.
BLURB: (this book, as a collection of poetry, doesn’t really have a blurb, so I’ll choose one of my favourite poems from the collection instead)
“There is a love I reminisce,
like a seed
I’ve never sown.
Of lips that I am yet to kiss,
Not met my own.
Hands that wrap around my wrists,
that feel like home.
I wonder how it is I miss,
I’ve never known” – A Stranger
REVIEW: I cannot say enough wonderful things about this poet. I discovered Lang Leav through Tumblr and bought her book as I gradually discovered that many of her poems beautifully conveyed things I myself have felt or feared. Leav’s poetry is witty, memorable and cuts right to the core of the problems faced by many young women today, allowing the reader to feel an increasing sense that they are not alone. I love Leav’s poetry, and find it really helps on those down days when no words can express what we are feeling.
BLURB: “In 1946, a young couple set off on their honeymoon. Fired by their ideals and passion for one another, they plan an idyllic holiday, only to encounter an experience of darkness so terrifying it alters their lives forever”
REVIEW: I have read a number of McEwan’s books over the past few years after my love affair with his most famous work of fiction, ‘Atonement’ (which, by the way, I would still count as his best work and one of my favourite novels), but none of the previous have been anything like ‘Black Dogs’. As you can see, the blurb gives nothing away, and the title is mysterious, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the setting – the novel takes place in the final years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, with one of the key events being the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. As this is one of my favourite historical periods, I was intrigued to see how McEwan might work with such a deep and complex setting. As usual, his writing has a flow and preciseness that sharpens focus and allows the reader to become fully absorbed in the work. The story itself, however, is relatively simple, if a little unusual. Jeremy, the protagonist, decides to tell the story of his recently deceased mother-in-law, June, whose husband Bernard still has complicated feelings about her and, in particular, an event she claims to have experienced during their honeymoon involving two vicious black dogs. The book tells the story of Jeremy attempting to uncover the truth about the elusive June, with events such as a trip to Berlin to witness the newly reunited Germany forming an interesting and enlightening backdrop to the narrative. The main focus for the reader is to find out what happened with the ‘Black Dogs’; the story is hinted at but not discussed until very near to the close of what is, admittedly, a very short novel. Although shocking and disturbing, and even causing a shiver up the spine, the story could be explored so much further, and I feel that although reserving answers is an oft-used tactic of McEwan’s, in this case it has been taken to extremes and somewhat sours the ending of what is otherwise an excellently constructed, well-written and absorbing book.