Friday, 30 August 2013

Pen Pal

Today I received my first letter from my pen pal. She is called Laura and we met on Tumblr where we were both looking for a pen pal. After a few weeks of emailing one another we decided to start writing to one another, and she sent the first letter. As she lives in Austria it took a little over a week to arrive in England but I am really pleased to finally read it and it was definitely worth the wait :)

I was so pleased and surprised that Laura had gone to the effort to put a few things inside of the envelope as well as a letter. The purple glittery envelope also contained a postcard, showing where she lives, a photograph of herself (which I haven't included on the pictures) and this really pretty bracelet decorated with tiny bells. Apparently the majority of people in the city where she lives wear these and they are supposed to protect you from things. She also said that you get used to the sound of the bells. A tiny book comes along with the bracelet but it is in German and so I don't know what it says but am gradually translating it via the wonders of Google. I will definitely send her a letter back in the next few days. This is also categorized as haul because... just because it is.

Holly x
PS: Check out the giveaway on Charli from To Another World's blog - WIN A BOOK!
PPS: Please can someone tell me how you alter the time on blogger to BST because all of my posts are on an american time zone. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Finishing Deathly Hallows

I began reading the Harry Potter books in October 2011 after being obsessed with the series for around three months. I bought the first two because although I'd been told my Mum would get me them for Christmas I couldn't wait that long. I guess because it has taken me nearly two years to read these books I have got perhaps too used to the idea of reading a Harry Potter. After finally completing Deathly Hallows I can say that it definitely did live up to the hype and I loved every moment of it. Normally I book this big wouldn't have taken me so long, Order of the Phoenix only took me three months and that was even longer but as a few of you know when I started reading this I was going through a rough time and was just trying to fit in at my new school whilst severing ties with people from my old school. I have said this before about another book - The Fault in Our Stars but I seriously don't have enough praise for the final installment in this phenomenal series. 

What I am trying to say, and back onto the main point is that for me and for other Potterheads, even when all the books have been published and the films have been released  it will never truly be over, because we love it and we always will. Harry Potter has opened up my world so much more and made me aware of so many things that I didn't know about before and perhaps one day, I'll read these books to my children. But right now as much as I know why I feel rather alone and quite frankly empty without Harry Potter, I can't understand why I have loads of books that I haven't read but every time I pick one up and start to read it, it doesn't feel right and I put it back down. Tonight when I get into bed and begin to read before I go to sleep, I have chosen to start Paper Towns by John Green, and I have wanted to read this for ages but it won't feel right, because it is not Harry Potter. What I am trying to say is, I think I will always be obsessed with Harry Potter and nothing will ever change that.

I have two updates as well: Firstly, in the next few weeks I am going to do another review of this book now that I have finished it. Secondly, I mentioned that I would be uploading my first video blog in the next few days, that will only be the case though if my new blackberry (which I am still trying to work out how to use) will let me upload the video and so far it hasn't. Also it was filmed a week ago, and some things have changed since then but. Yep. Expect that soon. Oh and also check out Charli from To Another World's blog - there is a giveaway going on!

Holly x

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Love Aubrey - Suzanne La Fleur

Love, AubreyA tragic accident has turned eleven-year-old Aubrey’s world upside down. Starting a new life all alone, Aubrey has everything she thinks she needs: Spaghetti O's and Sammy, her new pet fish. She cannot talk about what happened to her. Writing letters is the only thing that feels right to Aubrey, even if no one ever reads them.
With the aid of her loving grandmother and new friends, Aubrey learns that she is not alone, and gradually, she finds the words to express feelings that once seemed impossible to describe. The healing powers of friendship, love, and memory help Aubrey take her first steps toward the future.

I was not that impressed with this book given the hype that there had been about it a couple of years ago. I got this book three years ago when in my first term at High School they gave every first year a free book out of a selection of twelve. None of them were really that appealing and so I chose this one, as it stood out from the rest. I began reading it and at the time I really liked it, but then placed it on my bookshelf after three chapters and forgot about it. So I re-read those chapters and the rest of the book and here is what I think.

Although it is not immediately apparent what has happened before the book has begun, you instantly feel sorry for Aubrey and cannot help but like her. She is extremely innocent, rather naive and is clearly having trouble getting her head around the grief surrounding her past and what has happened to her parents and her little sister Savannah. At the beginning I really liked the character of Aubrey but as the book got further and further along Aubrey became less of Aubrey and became more of somebody else. 

As for the plot. I found that it dragged quite a bit at times and I just wanted things to speed up. Although Aubrey is only really alone in Virginia for two chapters, both of these segments were ridiculously slow and at times I really wanted to put the book down.  I was rather satisfied with the ending and it only made sense that the book ended in the way that it did but I felt that with every chapter I disliked the book a little less. Maybe it was because I loved what I read of it when I was eleven, but now I am fourteen, nearly fifteen and it just did not appeal as much to me as it did back then. Perhaps it is aimed at people who are aged at the age I got the book but I just could not really sink into a book like you do with a really good one and I don't think I would attempt to read it again.

Holly x
PS: This is the last of my reviews in the Summer Reading Smackdown. As you may realise it is for the book that I have been meaning to read for quite a while. There is still one more SRS post to go though, where I write a passage as my favourite character. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)Winning will make you famous.Losing means certain death.In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
May the odds be ever in your favour.

I liked and disliked this book at the same time, and I'm not quite sure how that works. Collins' writing style is certainly unique and I loved how the book was entirely from Katniss' point of view as you learn how tough, strong and brave she is although the reality is that she really does fear for her own and others lives. The characters were incredibly vivid and seemed almost real, especially people like Cinna and Prim (Primrose) who Katniss describes as having a face "as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named." The way Collins shapes the characters personality means that you like the characters you're supposed to like, and you dislike the ones you're supposed to dislike. 

This is a relatively short review as I don't really know how to explain both my love and hate for this book. This is the first dystopian novel I have ever read and it was great to be introduced to a new genre of fiction. I love the concept of dystopian novels being very different to anything else and being set perhaps in the future or another dimension or something like that. Suzanne Collins' writing was perfect for this type of book because it was a gripping tale and you were instantly sucked in and I didn't want to put it down. But amongst all of the good things, I just found it too gory and violent for my liking and in comparison to what I've read before, in particular things like the Cornucopia Bloodbath and Rue's death. So although I did enjoy the majority of the book and I liked how different it is from any other book, I don't think I will read the next to books in the trilogy - Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Holly x
PS: This is my dystopian review for the Summer Reading Smackdown.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Hush Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

Last October, when I was still at my old school, I met Becca Fitzpatrick. The school had brought her into give us a talk on books, her works and to sign copies. I bought a copy had it signed (there would be a picture of that but sadly I've misplaced the book). And I guess that the way she talked about her book with so much passion made me believe that it would be a really good read when actually, I thought the opposite.

One of the main things that I disliked from the start was the Prologue. This has absolutely no connection with the majority of the book and was dull, dreary and depressing. The first few sentences of a book are supposed to engage the reader and make them want to continue, but I felt anything but that. I continued anyway, because I wanted to find out what happened. The characters were also really not what I expected. When you look on the blurb of Hush Hush, one of the first sentences is "A forbidden love". Usually, when you think of a forbidden love you'd associate the theme with a very dark and mysterious character that conceals the majority of their emotions from the person they fall in love with. Patch was nothing like that, although you don't actually find out that he is a fallen angel until quite late on into the book he is very upfront with Nora from the start, clearly displaying the fact that he loves her and wants her to love him back. I also saw him as rather dangerous, not the dark, loveable kind of dangerous, but the creepy kind where strange things happen when he is around and Patch at times just seems to appear from nowhere. 

I also believe that Nora is incredibly naive in most of the book, especially because all these strange things are happening around just after her father has been murdered and then she befriends this secretive boy who happens to be an angel. She puts far to much trust in Patch considering that she has only just met him in the first few chapters, for example getting into his car, and sharing a Motel room, you just don't do that. And although I was incredibly disappointed with this book the only bit I did enjoy was scenes with Vee in. I found her witty, amusing and entertaining and really wish she had appeared more often.
Holly x
PS: This is my romance review for the SRS Challenge.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet, as with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate—and lose a few eyebrows in the process. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

The Half Blood Prince was quite different to the rest of the Harry Potter books and like the Prisoner of Azkaban, Lord Voldemort doesn't actually appear in the present. So there was a lot less action and danger in some senses (apart from that minor little bit at the end where Dumbledore is killed by Snape) but I am really pleased that it focused a great deal more on the developing romances and friendships between the characters. It becomes apparent for the first time in the series that although Ginny has always liked Harry despite seeing other people that he also likes her back. Although I knew of this already due to having seen the films perhaps one too many times I was really pleased by this turn of events and think that although they are not as well suited to one another as other couples in the books I like the idea of them being together. J.K Rowling described moments between them perfectly and I am glad she gave Ginny a bigger role in this book. 

Then there is Ron and Hermione. In my opinion Ron and Hermione are the best couple in literature as they are meant to be together. Throughout this book you feel really sorry for Hermione as you can see how much she loves Ron even if he doesn't know it. Rowling also puts Lavender into the mix which is my least favourite part of the book but there are so many moments between Ron and Hermione that are beautifully written and I think this is why I love this book so much. Moving away from the romantic side of things though, I thought it was great that Rowling provided us with a past for Lord Voldemort and although he is pure evil there are a few moments when you do feel slightly sorry for him. One of my favourite things about JK Rowling's characters is that she gives them all such a detailed background and this becomes particularly apparent in this book.

Holly x
PS: This is my fantasy review for the Summer Reading Smackdown.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Book Haul

I have never actually done a haul post before and the first time I saw it mentioned on someone elses blog I did have to google the definition. But I don't see a more appropriate time than now, when for the people who have signed up to Cat and Charli's Summer Reading Smackdown, we are now almost a week into the challenge and I have realised that my addiction to buying books has gotten rather out of hand. So I thought I'd show you the books I have bought in the past week.

It isn't actually this dark in my bedroom, it is just that I am still working out how to turn the flash off on my new Blackberry. Tuesday: The first book I bought was Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike. I have never actually read any of Pike's books and didn't ever really want to read the Wings series but this is different and so far gripping. This is also going to be part of a series but it I am rather disappointed by the fact that the next book doesn't come out until August 2014 - another year!
Friday: Then there are the two relatively smaller books that you'll see in the photographs. Sherlock: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. After my friend lent me her DVD of the series I really started getting into Sherlock Holmes and this was only £1.00 in The Works. This is where I also bought Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I really loved the film of this and have been looking for quite a while for a copy of this book and so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was only £2.00. I haven't actually ever read a Neil Gaiman book before and so am curious to see what his writing style is like.
Saturday: Following on from that, a few days later I purchased Undone by Cat Clarke. In the past week I have done reviews on Clarke's two other books Torn and Entangled and I have desperately wanted to buy this for sometime after awkwardly standing in the corner of WhSmith's reading it for weeks on end and I am really looking forward to properly getting into this book.
Holly x

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Entangled by Cat Clarke

Entangled17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got there. As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see? Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

This book really was something different and I am very surprised that I liked it as much as I did. Cat Clarke's writing style is perfect for this type of book and she makes it seem so true and real. The plot in particular was incredible and stood out quite a lot from any other book I've read before as it is constantly going between snippets of Grace's life before she tried to kill herself and after the event happened when she met "Ethan". 

Grace was a character that will probably stick with me for a long time, she was bold - she drank a lot and had slept with quite a few people but she was also incredibly innocent. It was tragic that she felt that life got so tough that she had to cut her wrists and it was also rather unfortunate that her innocence led to missing some crucial points in her relationships. There is a quote on the back of this book from an author saying that they didn't know whether at times to scream at Grace or hug her and I know exactly what she meant because although she did stupid things at times but you can't help but feel sorry for her as her life slowly unravels and she reveals the shocking truth as to why she attempted suicide.

I was incredibly impressed with this book and although it ends on a cliffhanger I was quite satisfied with the ending and you are left wanting to read more. I would give so much just for even one more chapter summing up what happened next. My opinion wasn't so positive throughout the entire book though. I loved the beginning and the end but a few times in the middle I found myself putting the book down and thinking "Why am I reading this?" as at times it did drag a little but I am very pleased that I completed the book. 

This review is part of the Summer Reading Smackdown for the book that was recommended by another blogger in this case - Jean

Holly x

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

What it means to be a Geek

As it is officially YouTube Geek Week, I thought I would write about what being a Geek means to me. Being a Geek can be defined in different ways, for example, I have a passion for knowledge and love learning, I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and am curious about the world. And although some people dislike the concept of Geeks, I am very proud. One of the main reasons for this is because I was bullied quite a lot in my first two years of high school for being someone who actually wanted to get their head down and get one with their work, their is nothing wrong with being studious, but others may think there is. I honestly think times like that have made me learn who I really am - a nerd, a geek, a dork, and I like being that way.
Here is the schedule for what remains of YouTube's Geek Week:

  • Super Wednesday - Today!
  • Gaming Thursday
  • Fans Friday
  • Best of Saturday

If you are a Geek, be proud, because it is good to be different. DFTBA.
Holly x

Monday, 5 August 2013

Summer Reading Smackdown

Summer Reading SmackdownI have only just discovered this challenge and immediately found it intriguing. Cat from Through A Cats Eyes and Charli from To Another World have just launched the Summer Reading Smackdown. For those of you who are interested, here is what you have to do..
  • Read one recommendation from a friend or blogger and review it on your blog.
  • Write a paragraph in the POV of your favourite character and share on your blog.
  • Read a book from each of these genres: Dystopian, fantasy, contemporary and romance.
  • Read one book you've been meaning to read for a while and write a review of it on your blog.
I have decided that I am definitely going to take part in this and have just signed up to do so. In addition the the bullet points stated above, if you want to complete the challenge then you are required to but the SRS button onto your blog until the challenge is over. As you can see mine is underneath The Archive and additionally you will need to write a post just like this one in order to promote it. Any time you complete a challenge either send a link Cat or Charlie via email, their blog or twitter. The Summer Reading Smackdown takes place between Wednesday 7th August - Wednesday 21st August 2013 and you will need to sign up on either one of Cat or Charli's blogs. 
Cat - @CatHannahXD  Charli - @RoseSunGlasses  #SRSChallenge

Holly x

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Torn by Cat Clarke

Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt.Alice King isn't expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares… 
Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down. 
Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she'll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever...

I don't think I can actually give enough praise for this book and how powerful and yet moving it really was. The characters all seemed to have something about their personality that really defined them and separated them as an individual from everyone else. Alice - whose eyes the book is told through - is instantly likeable and you do feel sorry for her: her Mum died of cancer and so her Dad brings her up on his own, and she isn't the most popular of people. Although it isn't her idea to do what happens, which results in killing Tara, and she stands on the sidelines without taking part in the event she is a bystander and feels incredibly guilty throughout the book for not doing anything to prevent what happened. As time goes on she pleads for the three other girls who took part to have a little remorse, and even though this is unsuccessful it brings up old and surprising memories of the past. 

Then there is Tara herself. Normally you know a book is good when the author has got the antagonist perfectly right, and that is what Cat Clarke did. Tara is pure evil and that is reflected from the moment you meet her. However there is this innocent sheen on some parts of her personality e.g. how scared she is before her death takes place, and in Alice's flashbacks you learn how someone can so twistedly climb the popularity hierarchy and how time changes everyone so much in different ways.

When I picked up this book, I didn't believe it would actually be that great. I am one of those people who will start reading a book and if I don't find myself engaged within the first few sentences, I am certain that the book probably isn't for me, but I was gripped by this. So much that I completed it within three days - which at the time I was quite proud of. But that is what a good book does. As for regarding the ending, I was a bit 50/50 on my opinion of it as personally what Alice did was the right thing to do, but it just left me thinking what next? I felt that although I really anticipated the ending, it didn't really give closure on anything, but nevertheless, I was incredibly impressed and it is easily one of the best books I have ever read.

Holly x

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

So this post is basically covering day 2 of my holiday to London. I am now on my... sixth day here but I have decided that I will only write about day 1 & 2 as they were by far the best days. I didn't really sleep much on Saturday night knowing that on Sunday I would be going to Warner Bros. Studio Tour, excitement kind of took over. We actually arrived an hour and a half earlier than our time slot was and so I spent the majority of that time in the shop which, for any Harry Potter fan who hasn't been yet will blow your mind. The first thing that you see on the tour is the Great Hall, containing most of the costumes of the professors and some school uniforms from all three houses. Following on from this the tour really began and you were allowed to just wander freely. As I had already visited in August of last year I decided to focus on the bits that I hadn't really looked at e.g. the Ministry of Magic, Malfoy Manor and the costumes. 
This is the entrance to the Great Hall and the guy that you can see was a tour guide who looked EXACTLY like Daniel Radcliffe. The studio is split into two stages - J and K as well as there being a garden area at the back where things like 4, Privet Drive, the Giant Chess pieces and vehicles like the Knight Bus are you can also try Butterbeer which actually has a very strong taste of vanilla but sadly costs £3.00 per cup. After that we went on through to K stage which is filled with art work, masks and the creatures from the films as well as Diagon Alley (which is incredible) and a large model of Hogwarts which was used in all but the first two films. Overall it was a brilliant day and I will definitely be going back next summer if possible.

Happy August!
Holly x