Monday, 5 December 2011

Film review: Breaking Dawn: Part I (The Twilight Saga)

OK, I'm going to admit it now, I am a Twilight fan. Even though I am not a teenage girl anymore, (in fact I am in my mid-late twenties), I can't help but be enthralled by the adventures of Bella, Edward and co. And so it was with great expectations that I went to see Breaking Dawn, twice within the week it came out. And here is my verdict:-

I thought it was pretty good, to be honest. They kept quite close to the book which I think the fans would appreciate, and there was action and romance all the way through. I still think that the best character in the films is Charlie Swan, Bella's dad, played by Billy Burke. He really does bring Charlie to life and some of his one-liners are hilarious. The wedding speech scene in the film is one of my favourites, it is absolutely hilarious.

I don't think I will be spoiling the plot for anyone if I give a basic run-through of what happens. Basically, Bella marries her high-school vampire sweetheart Edward in a lovely ceremony and then jets off to a private island for their honeymoon. She soon finds out that she is pregnant and refuses to give up her baby, even though the birth will almost certainly kill her. Her werewolf friend Jacob has to break from his pack when the other werewolves see the baby as a threat and threaten to kill Bella and her child. The film ends with baby Renesmee being born, Jacob imprinting with her and Bella being changed into a vampire to 'save' her life.

I believe that the film suffered slightly through being split into two parts. The wedding was padded out a bit too much for my liking, and I felt that at certain points of the film they were running through past footage in an attempt to appease the Twi-hard fans. That said though, I can't wait for the next installment, and I think the last scene was a great ending to the film, to whet your appetite for the next one.

Star Rating: **** (4/5 stars)

Book Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu

I was sent this book to review by New Books Magazine and I didn't know anything about it when I received it through the post. The front cover said that it was 'An Immortal Love Story' which I wrongly assumed to mean that there would be vampires or suchlike featuring heavily. However, Alma Katsu's debut novel, The Taker, turns out to be a different beast altogether.

It follows the story of Lanore, a two hundred year old immortal who is helped by Dr Luke Findley when she finds herself on the run from the police. Luke is transfixed by her and finds himself wanting to help her regardless of the consequences. As they make their way to Canada, Lanny tells Luke her shocking story. I wasn't overly convinced by Lanny and Luke's burgeoning relationship as the story was most definitely focussed on Lanny's past and her trying to exorcise her demons.

I found this historical novel to be an enjoyable read and a definite page-turner, although it does feel a bit long and drawn-out in places. I don’t think it would be a book I would revisit. I will probably seek out Katsu’s next novel just out of interest, as I found her writing style easy to get into and very readable. The characters are well drawn and Adair’s story intrigued me, however I wasn’t quite prepared for some of the brutality and violence within the book. It is not for the faint-hearted.

I would recommend it more as a personal than a group read however as I don’t believe there are that many points to bring up in a group discussion as the author doesn’t leave much to question. Overall a different and interesting read by a debut novelist.

Star Rating: *** (3/5 stars)

Slacking off...

Oh dear. I had such good intentions when starting this blog! And yet I find that it has been over a month since my last post... *hangs head in shame*

Well, I have decided to try and catch up a bit today! After all, I have a day off work and daytime TV isn't as good as it used to be when I was a student :)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Just a quick word about NaNoWriMo 2011. For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place from November 1st - 30th every year. The aim is to write 50,000 words towards your work-in-progress, which equates to 1667 words per day.

I took part in NaNo last year, but unfortunately I stalled at about 26,000 words. The first couple of weeks are fine, and then fatigue takes over and you start doubting your writing, and before you know it, you've given up. I am not going to be having a go this year, but I hope to next year, and I have nothing but good things to say about it.

The support that you get from signing up is brilliant. You can choose to be as involved as you like, from receiving pep-talk e-mails at certain points in the month when they know you may be stalling, to regional meet-ups.

The aim of NaNo is to get into the good practice of writing every day, and no matter what you end up with, you have something to work on.

So, to all you WriMo's out there, good luck! I look forward to reading your published work at some point in the near future.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

One of the classic novels of English Literature, Wuthering Heights tells the story of the passionate but doomed love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, taking place on the North Yorkshire moors.

Now, personally, I haven't read as many of the classics as I really should have done, especially seeing as I studied English at university for three years. But I have made it my aim to try and read two or three a year, to add a bit of variety to my to-be-read pile. And also, having recently invested in a Kindle e-reader, they have the added bonus of being free (due to public domain rights).

I decided to start with Wuthering Heights.

And you know what, I'm glad I did.

I must admit, it was a lot easier to read than I was expecting. I did struggle with Joseph's strong Yorkshire dialect, and on a second reading I would probably take a lot more time over it, to try and pick out every word. But as with the other 'olde world' vocabulary and language used throughout the book, the context fills in the gaps.

I think I also benefited from knowing a little about the basics of the story before I set out reading it. I was slightly confused with the structure at first as the story begins at a certain moment in time, and then as you read further on, the narrator fills in the gaps for you, and you start to get a feel for the timeline and characters involved.

I don't really want to give too much away plot-wise, but I think everybody knows that the action centres around the violent and vengeful Heathcliff, who is consumed with love for his foster sister Catherine. After her early death, he sets out to exact his revenge on everybody that in some way kept him and Catherine from being together. He is a selfish, manipulative lead character, but in a way I enjoyed reading about him, because I wanted to find out what was going on in his mind, what made him tick.

I actually enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more than the first. Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship takes a back seat as the story concentrates on the next generation of inhabitants of Wuthering Heights and the Linton's residence, Thrushcross Grange. Catherine's daughter, Cathy, is a spirited young girl who grows up to be a feisty woman, and although she can be quite manipulative and selfish, she is also quite naive with it. I found myself warming to her more than most of the other characters, with the exception of Hareton and Nelly. This may be due to the somewhat biased narration of Nelly, the housekeeper, who looks upon both Cathy and Hareton with a great deal of fondness.

I can understand why some people love this book, and others hate it.

It can be viewed by one reader as a marvellous triumph of a novel, revolving around an all-consuming love between two flawed people. Their love for each other, in a way, goes some way to redeeming their flaws.

On the other hand, another reader could see the book as a story full of self-absorbed, unlikeable characters and have no interest in it whatsoever.

I can see merit in both of those views. However, I enjoyed the story, and will be checking out the latest adaptation which should be hitting the cinema's soon. I will also re-visit the book at some point in the next few years, and give it the second reading which I think it deserves.

Star rating: **** (4/5 stars)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Welcome To My Blog!

Hello everybody, and welcome to my new blog.

In this humble little corner of the interweb, I will be sharing reviews of books that I have been reading, occasional film reviews (if they tie in with a literary theme), and exploring new products on the market that may add to our reading experience.

I like to read a wide range of books, from the classics to chick-lit, YA to social commentary. I really enjoy contemporary fiction and get a lot of great recommendations from Goodreads.

Please feel free to comment on anything, I would love to read your thoughts on any aspect of my blog.