The Art of Being Normal – Mini Review

A Mini Review on where I am currently up to in The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. According to my Good Reads app I am 73% through the book. I would therefore like to reflect on what I have read so far.

I knew that this was going to be quite different to my usual read, but hey what are challenges for. I may drop spoilers in here so please tread carefully. The book comprises of 2 boys in High School. The first chapter is David Piper, it is only one page, well actually half of a page and it basically states that David is not quite happy with himself, in fact he states that he would like to be a girl as he believes that he was born the wrong gender. It then becomes about how now named and seen as David is coping with this and what society thinks of her and why she can only tell her 2 really close friends the full truth.

This is definitely an insight in to how, I can only imagine, a lot of people feel and is not recognised by society as acceptable and as a result ridicule and bullying ensues. The other character in the novel is Leo Denton who shares the limelight of the novel; he comes from the wrong side of the tracks and is expected to be a bit of a psycho as he came from a bad school into David’s nice (posh) school. His transfer is one that is on the lips of many students, how can anyone get expelled from that school and he must have been really bad etc.

Leo and David become friends after an incident in which Leo sticks up for David when her bully is abusing her. This lumps them both in detention and as a result they become friends. Leo is a lot more against the relationship than David is, keeping up his reclusive hard-man routine.

So far I am enjoying the book, I don’t think I am enjoying it as much as Sophie and Amy did however I feel like this is simply because it is just so different and isn’t something I would normally pick up.

I did however enjoy the twist and look forward to completing the book. I hope it continues down the same road and there are more twists to come. I also hope that everything works out for the characters as I have become quite invested in their wellbeing.

That’s it for today. I’ll let you know what I thought of it further when I’ve finished.

Danny

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On the Road – Review

Prior to reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac I was really optimistic, I had heard lots of good reviews and lots of people were talking about it. Not to mention it has appears on so many ‘100 books to read before you die’ lists. Already it sound like I hate it but that is not the case. It’s not that it’s a bad book; it is just a very difficult book to read when you have a busy lifestyle.

I am going to discuss the plot a little and try not to spoil anything for our readers. The Story is about Sal Paradise who is the narrator and his travels across America. There are five parts of the novel that are five different stints of being On the Road. Sal’s friend Dean Moriarty is a prominent story line in the novel. The novel is set in 1947-1950 in America in the post-war beat culture. Its all about the Jazz scene in America at that time.

The first stint On the Road was my favourite by far the endless ‘newness’ that Sal discovered and the fact he was constantly just scrapping by, getting a job here and there when required. At this point in the novel I was really enjoying the novel. Dean’s character, in other words he is a bit of a character, shines through. At some points you feel as though Sal would like to be like Dean and not have a care in the world and some times you get the impression that he feels sorry and even wants to avoid him at times. The first stint ended due to the inevitable lack of money and Sal needing to go back home to New York to his Aunts house to recoup both energy and money.

The novel continues in the same vain with slightly different experiences along the way. This is the main issue I have with the novel. I feel like every chapter is almost identical to the one before and it just feels like you are constantly reading the same thing in a different location. The fact that it feels like a chore to continue at times puts me off massively.

Dean Moriarty first of all comes across as a bit crazy and insightful turns out to be a complete nutcase who is actually a bit of an arsehole. I would not look up to him in the way Sal does and if anything I would try to avoid him like most of the other characters strive to do.

The fact that nothing really life changing occurs and the fact that Kerouac didn’t actually live these moments makes the novel a bit of a flop. I enjoyed it however I do not think I will be picking it up again anytime soon. I do however have it on good authority that Kerouac’s Big Sur is a much better novel and actually truthful. I therefore look forward to reading that in the future. I am however going to check out the 2012 film adaptation by Francis Ford Capolla of One the Road as I feel the story lends itself quite well to a movie.

To conclude, if you haven’t read it you have to according to all of the lists but its really not that great. Its not terrible but its not great. I am sorry if you read this and feel like I am talking a load of rubbish and you really loved it but lets face it that is the beauty of free speech. I hope you enjoyed this kind of moany review and stay tuned for further content coming up.

Harry Potter: Years 1-4

Harry Potter. It is difficult to truly explain how these books make me feel. I read them as they were coming out and went to the cinema to watch the latest films when released. I would like to thank J.K. Rowling for everything; her words have been brought to light by Warner Brothers, which have boosted the books popularity more than ever imaginable. Of course being a bibliophile I think that the book is superior to the film in all circumstances except maybe the Philosopher’s Stone. I realise that maybe this is my death sentence. However after re-reading the first 4 books and watching the first 4 films I have come to this conclusion. I love Harry Potter.

I will start with the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone) the book that started it all with the boy who lived. The mystery and magical atmosphere that Rowling creates in this novel is sublime. She wants to introduce people to the world she has foreseen however she doesn’t want it to be overwhelming and as a result it is perfect. It took me a matter of 3 days (nights) after work to re-read and it was very enjoyable. I felt a strong urge to then watch the film. Something Sophie had to put up with. We decided to wait until our new tradition of Movie Adaptation Monday and watch them all as I was re-reading them. Our aim being that we would end on watching the final part of The Deathly Hallows on Harry Potter book night (4th February). The film in my opinion is marginally better than the book. Of course the production value for the first film was very low and the effects were not brilliant, but that is part of its charm. The first film is the only one that tries to keep as much content from the book as possible, partly because it is the smallest book.  Regardless of that it is the film that started the worlds obsession with this franchise, which in turn boosted J.K. Rowling and encouraged her to keep writing and gave Warner Brothers a bigger budget for the following films. This is the main reason as to why I think the film is better, however it is only marginally and that is only because of my love for the franchise as a whole.

The Chamber of Secrets is my least favourite of the series, partly because I feel that Rowling was a bit over the top with the creatures she used as if to try and scare more and more. The story idea however is brilliant and the book is much better than the film, but for me there was something that would always put me off this book/film. I am not afraid of spiders or snakes but as J.K Rowling knows many people are, it is evident that she tries a little too hard to scare everybody and tries to use the reader/viewers fear to demonstrate how the character’s feel. I am not a fan of this but I still like watching the film and reading the book, primarily for the story/plot which is the best part of The Chamber of Secrets. I was however more than happy to move onto the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I have not yet gathered enough information (re-read all of the books and re-watched all of the film) to be able to say conclusively which is my favourite book and my favourite film but I definitely enjoyed this. I don’t know whether it is that I am just a bit of a sucker for time travelling stories and the Sci-Fi element or whether it is the fact that I love how Rowling hides so well the true identity of Sirius Black. Sirius Black is one of my favourite characters, he has had a very rough time and it is understandable that he wishes he was back at Hogwarts with James and Remus where he wasn’t in such a state and that is partly why I think he is a bit nasty to Harry (in that he wishes he was James) as he misses his best friend. Of course he has, back at Hogwarts, been very horrible, especially to Severus, which is NOT COOL. I feel that Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the character is perfect (and probably why I like Sirius’ character so much) and the partnership with Remus is exactly how it should be though Remus is the nicer of the two. Sirius did have to spend 12 years of his life in Azkaban with the dementors and in the knowledge that his so called friend was the real culprit who was still running free; anybody would be a bit crazy, wouldn’t they?

Finally onto the Goblet of Fire, the tasks, the Quidditch world cup, the competing schools. This book took the wizarding world to the next level, like Harry I never even thought about how the wizarding world would translate across the seas and Rowling has made it seem so obvious that even I feel a bit stupid for not reading more. Being a bibliophile I wish that we were able to read the massive amounts of books that Hermione goes through and I plead JK Rowling to write Hogwarts – A History. Me and Sophie would also like there to be a spinoff for Mad-Eye Moody, as we feel the exploits of his younger days would be a very interesting read. However back to the actual book that is written, the first task is just truly brilliant. I love the way in which Harry uses the Firebolt to escape the dragon’s clutches and to proceed to the next level. (A broomstick being the most sought after magical item I would wish to possess) . The names of the breeds of dragons and how the characters are interlinked (Charlie the dragon keeper being Ron’s brother) is also a very nice touch. The ending has to be the best of those I have re-read thus far and was definitely portrayed well by Ralph Fiennes, one of the best Actors in the whole Harry Potter series. The suspense that gradually builds in the book/film and sets it up for this huge climactic ending which is far from happy. Granted Harry escapes unharmed but Cedric dies and the return of the Dark Lord is confirmed. This is the perfect ending to set up the next 3 books of which get gradually darker until the end; I cannot wait to continue re-reading.

To all you fellow wizards, I hope you enjoyed reading my musings on how much I love these books/films, and for all those who feel negative toward the series or me for that matter then I hope you enjoy your family reunion with the Dursleys, be careful you don’t get blown up you muggle.

Danny

Sophie’s January Wrap Up!

To mark the first day of February we are back with our first readathon results and our January wrap-ups!

Our January readathon was a challenge to see who could read the most pages in a fortnight. This challenge was done between ourselves and Danny’s sister Sam

And the results are as follows……

In 1st Place with a total of 3,996 pages….ME!

In 2nd Place with a total of 1,567 pages….Danny

In 3rd Place with a total of 1,551 pages….Sam

Now would be a good time to explain that out of the three of us I had the most free time. Although I also believe Danny will never let Sam live her defeat down.

Now to begin the Wrap Ups  

In January I read a total of 15 books including a YA series, a Fantasy series, the first book of a Children’s series (re-read) and a Classic novel I began in December. Overall it proved a very successful and diverse reading month. Here’s hoping I accomplish as much in February. My reads and ratings are below.

City of Bones:  3/5

It’s always harder to enjoy a novel if you have already seen a screen adaptation­. This was the case with City of Bones. I am aware of the controversy over the series and the author but am holding judgement on that as I do not know the facts. I love the shadow hunter world and I believe it to be original.

City of Ashes: 3/5

The second instalment was enjoyable although I believe it was mainly world building and showing character development. This plot was romance-focused with the plot and character development centred around a love triangle which may be why it is probably my least favourite of the series.

City of Glass:  5/5

The third book in the series finished as it started, with a bombshell. This book was probably my favourite of The Mortal Instruments as it proved to be a turning point for the whole novel.

City of Fallen Angels: 4/5

This novel did not match up to the previous though the tension building was good and I liked the ending.

City of Lost Souls: 5/5

This one matched City of Glass in terms of quality and was fast paced & jam-packed from beginning to end.

City of Heavenly Fire: 4/5

I was disappointed with the ending of the series! It was an enjoyable read but the ending was not all I was hoping it would be.

The Magician’s Nephew:  5/5

This was a re-read and though I remember it being my favourite of the series I forgot how funny it was. I co-read this with Danny and we both laughed a lot. It was sweet and magical and witty. I loved it and can’t wait to finish reading the rest of the series.

A Game of Thrones: 4/5

Here I had the same problem that I had with City of Bones. Being a huge fan of the show I found the book to be an exact match of the first season. Nevertheless this was obviously no fault of George R R Martin and as I love the story/stories I felt it necessary to give this four out of five stars.

A Clash of Kings: 5/5

In A Game of Thrones’ sequel we get to know of a few added extras that are not shown in HBO’s series. This book is a lot bigger than the previous and is crammed with excitement.

A Storm of Swords:  3/5

Every time I rate a book five stars it’s hard for the next book to match my expectations. I was also wary that this was part one of two for the first time, all the excitement must have been left for the second instalment of A Storm Of Swords.

A Storm of Swords:Blood&Gold: 5/5

I will forever refer to this book as ‘the one where everyone dies’ and though it is heart-wrenchingly tragic it is also so so good. This instalment was fast-paced and may have given me heart palpitations. I recommend having a medically trained professional close by at all times when reading this book. Blood&Gold makes the whole series worth reading.

A Feast for Crows: 4/5

Again, the last book was hard to out-do. This book seemed slower paced than the last. Although it too was captivating, its very easy to get lost in Martin’s world.

A Dance with Dragons:Dreams&Dust: 4/5

I loved the storylines of characters who are not in the show! This made the series so much more exciting for me and left me eager for the seventh book.

A Dance with Dragons:After the Feast:  5/5

This ending was so good! Now I join Martin’s league of fans in wait for the next instalment!

My Antonia: 3/5

I enjoyed this book though it took me a long time to finish reading. Both the beginning and the ending will stay with me for a long time, which is impressive in itself. I love Cather’s main characters Antonia&Jim. It lost stars purely because in my opinion it was not gripping, it’s definitely a slow-burner.

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