26 Mar 2013

REVIEW: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Title: Doctor Zhivago
Author: Boris Pasternak
Publication Date: March 18th 1997 (first published 1957)
Publisher: Pantheon
Format: Paperback
Pages: 559
Rating: 4/5
Blurb: This epic tale about the effects of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath on a bourgeois family was not published in the Soviet Union until 1987. One of the results of its publication in the West was Pasternak's complete rejection by Soviet authorities; when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 he was compelled to decline it. The book quickly became an international best-seller.

Dr. Yury Zhivago, Pasternak's alter ego, is a poet, philosopher, and physician whose life is disrupted by the war and by his love for Lara, the wife of a revolutionary. His artistic nature makes him vulnerable to the brutality and harshness of the Bolsheviks. The poems he writes constitute some of the most beautiful writing in the novel.
Review: Reading this book was not an easy thing to do, not only is it quite long but it is also translated from Russian- sometimes this is done quite well, but other times it is clear to see that the word subistuted in English does not fit into the sentence the way the original Russian word would, this is probably why it took me one day short of a month to read this book. Despite this, I still managed to enjoy it. I've been told by some friends that the original Russian version of this book is absolutely marvellous, though with my inability to speak or read any Russian at the moment I'm going to have to be happy with this English version for now.

Going into this book I didn't really know what to expect, firstly I was slightly terrified by the fact that this was to be the first translated novel that I'd attempted to read and that the book I had chosen to read had been translated from Russian, which as I said is not a language I even remotely understand (looking back now it probably would have been smarter to attempt a novel translated from French, a language I actually know...) but I do not regret reading this book at all. Secondly, while I knew the book was set in Russia sometime during Bolshevik era, I really knew nothing about it at all.

I was plesantly surprised by the novel, possibly even more than I thought I would be. I think a big part of this was due to the history student side of me who picked up on all the little details that Pasternak through in about the Revolution and life before and after it. This being said, I don't think you have to be a history student or even like history very much to enjoy this book. The majority of this book is not so much focused on the historical side, or plot driven, instead it focuses on the character's lives, especially the romance of Yury (sometimes translated as Yuri) Zhivago and Lara Antipova. I grew to love each of the characters, all for different reasons and despite their flaws- I think this in itself is what makes a good book, a really good book. It's also one of the reasons, I believe, that Doctor Zhivago has stood the test of time.

In addition to my love for the characters, I adored 'Zhivago's' poems were all collected and tacked on to the end of the novel in my version in the order which they appeared. The poems definitely added to my enjoyment of this book and I think I liked them being added at the end more than I would have if they'd been within the novel, in a way they show the development of Zhivago's character throughout the novel that would not have been possible otherwise.

I'm sorry if this review is too focused on the translation side of this novel, but I felt like it was necessary to include it otherwise I felt like there was no point raving about the book without mentioning that it is in fact a translation. However, if you enjoyed this review but have never read a translation before, or maybe just not one from Russian, then I would definitely recommend that you read this. Even though there are a few words here and there that do not fit perfectly, as a whole the book is truly magnificent.

You can buy 'Doctor Zhivago' on the Book Depoistory (with free shipping worldwide), here.

*The copy linked to and the copy reviewed are different versions of the novel, and therefore different translations.

21 Mar 2013

REVIEW: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publication Date: December 28th 2006
Publisher: Speak
Format: Paperback
Pages: 231
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.
Review: This is one of those books that you expect to go one way and end up screwing with your mind and going in a complete other direction, but somehow despite the tears you shed and the amount of times you wanted to angrily tell each of the characters to get their shit together, you still end up loving this book more than you probably should. That was Looking for Alaska in a nutshell for me.

I loved Pudge- I don’t usually enjoy reading from male perspectives but by some absolute miracle (also known as John Green’s writing), I actually really, really enjoyed reading through Pudge’s perspective. I especially liked his little obsession with famous last words and there are some that I learnt through this novel that I may never forget. I loved Alaska as well, though there were times when I wanted to hate her for one thing or another, I just couldn’t.

Plot-wise, I had no idea what to expect going into this. I knew it was a boarding school and that there was romance but that was all. I didn’t except it to have some many hilarious moments tied in with the heartbreak and everything else. I sort of wish that my school was more like Culver Creek, then there are times I’m glad that it really isn’t.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the separation of ‘before’ and ‘after’, I really liked how you could see the changes in all of the characters in the ‘after’ section compared to the ‘before’. I think this added to how I felt for the characters and how I connected to them.

I just wish I could put into words exactly how I felt after finishing this novel, but I don’t there is any way that I could possibly sum it up. Though, I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same after this novel.

You can buy Looking for Alaska on The Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide):  here

18 Mar 2013

REVIEW: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium (Delirium #1)
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: February 1st 2011
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughon
Format: Paperback
Pages: 393
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever.

And I've always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed.

Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love
Review: Going into this book I was a little weary. You can imagine how a book that seems to be pretty much entirely about love could go incredibly wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised by Delirium.

As usual, let’s talk about the characters first. The main character, Lena, was pretty alright. I enjoyed reading about how her views of love changed through the novel and how she as a character developed along with it. I also liked her love-interest, Alex. He was interesting, and I liked how sometimes their ideas and views clashed. I even liked Lena’s aunt and cousins, especially how different they were to Lena. The thing was, I really hated Lena’s best friend-Hana. At the start, I had nothing against her but as the novel progressed she began to annoy me and I felt like she didn’t really deserve Lena as a friend for a while there.

Plot-wise, I went into this novel expecting it to be almost completely about love but I found that it really wasn’t. While there was a big focus on love and romance, it also had aspects of family and those sorts of relationships, lies, death, rebellion and so much more. I think that without all these different parts that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the novel nearly as much as I did.

World-wise, I especially liked the additions of the beaches, fancy houses and nature which isn’t really something we get to see explicitly in dystopia novels like this. So I enjoyed the contrast between that world, which was sort of connected to Alex and love, and the world that still believed love was a disease.

If you’re unsure about Delirium, I suggest you give it a go especially with a TV show possibly in the making.

You can buy Delirium on The Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide):  here

Vampire Academy Cast Said What?!?

 If your not excited for "Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters," the movie, then there must be something extremely wrong with you. Of course it's all about whether the movie will ever live up to the Books (NEVER!), but we have an amazing director, Mark Waters, who directed Mean girls and will surely get the Rose Badness out there as well as Mia's bitchiness. But Director aside, the cast is definitely responding amazingly to their new found roles. Check out these Tweets!

 We've got a poet in Lissa!

17 Mar 2013

REVIEW: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Unravel Me (Shatter Me #1)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: November 15th 2011
Format: Ebook (I only ever read on Ebook if it’s something I really want.)
Rating: 5/5





it's almost

time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.


(No Spoilers)

I’m pretty sure I was born into this world for the soul purpose of reading this series. Now that I think about it, I’m probably Taherah Mafi’s... evil demon conscience plotting to take over the world, but with all that aside, LETTICE talk about this bible.

 I cannot use words to decipher how much I love this series.
 A Lot.
 So Much
As Much as Ely
As Much as Food.
I’ve tried, and I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.

This book does not wait to get into action. Pacing is amazingly brilliant, as always. It completes me. After Ely.

Ely, if you’re reading this, get to this book, ASAP. I knew you would love the first book. You will LOVE EVERY SECOND.

There were parts where I said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if this happened,” and I was so surprised when they did. It was like Taherah was living in my mind.

I am Team Warner, but Adam doesn’t bother me too much. I think I decided I was Team Warner officially straight after I finished the first book. I was afraid he was going to change in a way that made him extremely vulnerable, but Mafi satisfied me with what she did. Everything about Warner I just love. His persistence and the way he manipulates people by the words he says. It’s a gift.

After I read it, “I love every inch of him, his personality is the best, his words, his voice.

If your Team Warner, then this is your book.
Juliette seems to be better and less annoying in this one, even though it does take her ages to agree on some conclusions. She’s not completely good or evil, and I adore how she see’s that there is no fine line between them, even in her. Yes Juliette, the world does have a cruel way of thinking for you.

Kenji; Probably one of my favourite characters in this series. He is so hilarious and he breaks up the tension in scenes. He also sets Juliette straight in a scene I can’t mention but is quite inspirational. You learn a lot more about his back-story too, as well as his relationship with Castle. It’s so hilarious how the found each other. Kenji, What are you doing? Kenji, I love you.

A couple of our favourite characters have powers that are finally revealed, and as this is non spoiler and Ely is reading this, I can’t spoil who and what, but I can tell you it’s the most brilliant and thought out powers that puts the game in my favour ;)

Authors, please learn. This is all I ever wanted in a book.

I know I will never write enough for this review, but I would die for the next book and I can’t contemplate on this much further. I will explode and this book is a necessity to live.

Because Warner is beautiful in ways even Adam isn't,” Unravel Me.

16 Mar 2013

REVIEW: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: September 29th 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Paperback
Pages: 372
Rating: 4/5
Blurb: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humour, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Review: Before I review this book, I should let you know that I’m really not a big fan of scary-horror-thriller type novels though I would consider myself a bit of a Maureen Johnson-novel-worshipper. So it kind of surprised (and excited) me that I ended up enjoying this novel as much as I did.

So let’s start with characters. As usual, Maureen Johnson has created an amazing main character in Rory Deveaux. She’s funny, a little bit awkward, a little odd at times, she’s a bookworm and she’s smart, and I can connect to her as a reader and of course, I wish that she was actually real. I loved Rory’s friends as well, Jazza, Boo, Jerome and the rest of them- even the one’s like Charlotte, who’s a little bit too bossy for anyone’s liking. I liked them all so much because I found them interesting but they were also real- some of them had even a little bit too much likeness to people I know...(Charlotte had a twin, right?). I even liked the Ripper, I know that sounds insane, but I loved how Maureen created the new ‘Ripper’ and the history of it and how it ties in with the actual Ripper (it’s hard to explain without completely spoiling who the Ripper is).

Now on the plot. I really enjoyed how Maureen set everything out, there wasn’t ever really a moment where things didn’t seem to fit right, at least not after everything was revealed in the end. The plot as a whole was amazing- the idea of the new Ripper who is recreating the original Jack the Ripper’s crimes in modern day London is just amazing. Like I mentioned before I’m not really a fan of the scary kind of novel (I consider Jack the Ripper to be scary, personally) but I found that I wasn’t really scared of anything within the novel- there were some parts that sent a few shivers up my spine but nothing I lost any sleep over.

World-time. Technically, Maureen didn’t really create a world as such for the novel but I really wanted to comment on all the local knowledge within the book, I’ve never been to London before (sadly) but I felt like I knew the streets and the places that Rory was going, just because Maureen described them so wonderfully.

The only thing I was slightly disappointed about in this book was the romance. After reading a couple of Maureen’s books, I was expecting that same kind of romance- maybe not as sweet and fluffy as her usual things, but I just wanted a little more romance in this one.

I would definitely recommend reading The Name of the Star, even if you aren’t usually a fan of this sort of thing, I’m sure that you’ll end up liking it! I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book as soon as possible!

You can buy The Name of the Star on The Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide): here