Monday, 21 January 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Plot (taken from

She turns to face the future in a world that's falling apart. For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs. Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead...A debut novel that will leave you breathless.

Rating 5*- I do not think I will be able to express the amount of enjoyment and entertainment I had when I read this novel. I truly was breathless after finishing the first in the series. It has to be the best novel I have read (maybe excluding Harry Potter- but maybe that is overrated now). If you’re not one to read, the rights have been bought by Summit entertainment and will be released in 2014.

I cannot recommend this novel enough. The use of the different factions (Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, Candor and Erudite) shows the way in which the society is split. “Faction before blood”, that is the motto and without your complete loyalty you will end factionless.

Tris is a fantastic character, written in the 1st person you see events from her point of view and her strength and willingness to fight is truly inspirational, in a society that may become reality.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Beebo Brinker by Ann Bannon

Plot (taken from

Jack Mann finds Beebo Brinker (real name Betty Jean — she was unable to pronounce it as a child) wandering the streets of Greenwich Village. Beebo is 18 years old, tall and handsome, vacillating between overconfidence and vulnerability after leaving her family's farm in Wisconsin for New York City. Beebo is clearly welling up with a terrible secret that forced her to move east, and guilt that comes with leaving her father alone.

Jack helps Beebo get a job delivering pizzas (one of the advantages is that she can wear pants) for Pete, who is a little creepy, and his wife who cooks. Jack also allows Beebo to live with him until she gets on her feet, and allows her the time and space to ask the questions he knows she needs to ask. When she admits her frank admiration for a woman she sees, Jack tells her about lesbians, and she reacts with obvious fascination. He escorts her to several gay bars in the Village where she is astonished and touched by what she recognizes in herself.

After being treated cruelly by a vindictive woman playing a game with Pete, Beebo happens upon Paula one evening at her apartment, and it is Paula who verifies the suspicion of Beebo's sexuality. She is roused a couple days later to make a delivery to the apartment of a rather outrageous movie star, Venus Bogardus, who lives with her lonely teenaged son whom Beebo befriends. Beebo is infatuated and unnerved by Venus, who proposes that Beebo join them to return to California as company for her son — and to bridge the gap between them. Venus, in turn, divulges her past loves with men and women and seduces Beebo.

As Venus rehearses for a television show, Beebo learns her new precarious place at Venus' ranch in California negotiating around Venus' business-minded husband, her public persona, and her vulnerable son. She is essentially, kept in secret. It dissatisfies her and she begins to miss Paula. She is seen briefly with Venus in public and it causes gossip columnists to start asking questions, and Venus' husband warns her to stay away from Venus in public. But on the night of the show, Venus' son has an epileptic seizure and cuts his head open. Beebo must find Venus at a party celebrating the show's end, but is intercepted by her husband, who beats her in a rage before she can tell Venus what has happened.

The morning papers unleashed rumors of Venus being a lesbian. Unwilling to live in secret with Venus, Beebo returns to New York to recover while Venus and her husband appear happily in public. After a while, Beebo goes to find Paula again, who is thrilled to see her once more. Paula assures her that love can be better and they decide to see for themselves how.

Rating 4*- After reading ‘I Am a Woman’ I decided to have a look at some of the other novels in the series. This novel is very different to the first, and although it includes some of the same characters it is somewhat more mysterious. The characters reveal themselves in a more subtle way and live their lives, as homosexuals, very differently in the way Laura does in ‘I Am a Woman’.

I love the pull of New York City in these novels, and more importantly the importance of Greenwich Village. The characters living in the city are described with fantastic detail and the insight in the 1960’s allows for a very different perception of the people in the novel.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Plot (taken from

Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Rating 5*- I was given this book as an early Christmas present from my flatmate. We originally went to the cinema to see the film, which I loved. Emma Watson made a break out away from Harry Potter and the whole cast really were suitable for the characters introduced in the book.
I was expecting this novel to be very different to the film, as books usually are. However, what I did not know is the novel was written by a screenwriter and film director.
Being an English student I was surprised to pick out a minor typo of one of the characters names. Although I have not given this novel justice yet, this truly is worth a read. The coming of age story is unique in its plot and heartfelt, after finishing the novel I really do have a different outlook on life and the way in which people actually think and perceive things around them. I guess you become involved in the way you perceive your surroundings but seeing Charlie’s deep thoughts is something you don’t get a feel of with the film. If you loved the film, you really will love the book. But definitely be prepared for some very similar scenes, the film very much sticks to the book.


Monday, 31 December 2012

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Plot (taken from

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. She longs for the freedom to make her own choices, but when she breaks the 'no flying' rule, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons whose greatest defence is her secret ability to shift into human form. And her rare ability to breathe fire makes her desirable, and important, to the survival of the draki. Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. There she meets gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: he and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slipping away, and if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Rating 5*- I treated myself to this novel when in London, Christmas shopping. This is one of the best novels I have read this year. The unique dragon mythical creatures are so different to every other supernatural story, which seems to mix between vampires and angels. I was totally gripped from the beginning and I have ordered the second instalment in the trilogy.

The main protagonist, Jacinda, is a fantastic and likeable character. Alongside Will, the two gel well together and creates a romantic side to what is perhaps quite a dark plot. Jacinda is being hunted for her special talent and being the only drake left in her family (her mother and sister cannot turn) it enables a very unique twist to what usually comes to mind when thinking of dragons.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Plot (taken from

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud - and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection - and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city - including herself.

Rating 3*- This novel is a very different and original take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The main protagonist, Aria is a really likable character and as you see the story in the 1st person you only know as much as Aria. The suspense created by this is fantastic and gripping, however not very much seems to happen! The slow plot reveal was backed-up by the futuristic Manhattan is half submerged under water and the novel surrounds the fear of global warming.

The dark secret that her family keeps from her is constantly surrounding Aria; however I did not feel that I was totally submerged in the novel. It was a great story and plot but the characters, especially the Fosters’ and Roses’ did not entice me into the story. I am looking forward to the next instalment, but I am not sure I will run out and buy it straight away!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

New Layout

Hi again!It's been a while since I have posted, apologies!
I've been attempting a rather large pile of university work accompanied by starting my Christmas shopping. It's been a hectic month.

Don't worry though, I have not forgotten about my blog!
This post is just to tell you about my new layout. I will no longer be posting three times a week but just the once. This is due to my last year at university being demanding and getting on into the year I cannot keep up with the sheer amount of reading I need to do in order to have so many posts a week.

I will also be changing the way I review novels. I will be using a synopsis from another source, which will pretty much tell you all you need to know about the book! But this allows me more time to tell you about my actual thoughts on the novel!
Let me know what you think about the improvements and Merry Christmas!
Kate :)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
Of course I have always been aware of Edgar Allan Poe, but I was never really interested in reading any of his works. That was until last year- when the film 'The Raven' hit cinema screens. Recently released on DVD, the Raven provoked me to read some of Poe's short stories.

The Pit and Pendulum (1843)

The pit and pendulum is one of Poe’s short stories.

An unnamed narrator opens the story by revealing that he has been sentenced to death during the time of the Inquisition (an institution of the Catholic government in the 15th/16th century Spain that persecuted all Protestants and heretical Catholics).

When the narrator reveals he has been sentenced to death he faints. When he wakes he faces complete darkness. The narrator is confused as the usual fate of the Inquisition normally takes the form of hanging.

Walking around the walls leads the narrator to think he has been captured and is being prisoned in Toledo, an Inquisition prison. When attempting to explore the tomb and see how wide it is the narrator stumbles and collapses to the ground.

Waking to water and bread the narrator continues his exploration of the tomb in complete darkness. He trips and falls again finding he is on the edge of, what he assumes, is a pit in the centre of the tomb. He finds a stone and throws it into the abyss, believing it to be quite deep- the narrator explains the pit is a function of surprise. After finding more water the narrator passes out again.

He wakes up to find the prison dimly lit, and remarks that he overestimated its size. The narrator finds he is now bound to a wooden board by a long strap wrapped around his body. Looking up the narrator sees the figure of time painted on the ceiling. Time has been made into a machine, a pendulum- which swings from the ceiling- however it is not like any ordinary pendulum. The pendulum is constructed with a razor-sharp crescent and is its descent towards him.

Rats begin to swarm up out of the pit and surround him and the food which was left out for the captive. The narrator remains hopeful as the pendulum is swinging and descending very slowly. The rats climb on top of the narrator and chew through the strap keeping him on the table. As the pendulum nears his heart and tears some of his clothing- the rats break through the strap. When he gets up the pendulum retracts the narrator is positive he is being watched…

…and that’s when the walls of the prison begin to move inwards. The narrator realises it will move him towards the pit in the centre. However, the walls stop moving inwards just as the narrator begins to fall- to his great surprise someone latches onto him and prevents him falling any further.

The French general Lasalle and his army have successfully taken over the prison in their effort to terminate the Inquisition.

The Masque of Red Death (1845)

A disease known as the Red Death plagues the fictional country where this story takes place. The Prince, Prospero, instead of mourning the plague – like many others, he instead feels hopeful. He decides to lock the gates of his palace in order to fend off the plague, ignoring the disease ravaging the land.

After several months he decides to throw a masquerade ball. For the celebration, he decorates seven rooms in his house, each having a different theme- Blue, purple, green, orange, white and violet with the final room being black. This room also contains an ebony clock, when is chimes each hour the sound is so loud that everyone stops talking and the orchestra stops playing. When the clock is not sounding the rooms are filled with people enjoying the masquerade, the black room is the only place not filled with people.

At midnight a new guest appears, dressed in a mask that looks like the face of a corpse and his garments covered in blood suggesting that he is a victim of the Red Death. The prince is angry at the guest and finally catches up to the guest in the black room. As soon as he confronts the figure the prince dies. As soon as rest of the party guests enter the room they find there is nobody underneath the costume. The entire party soon dies, for the Red Death has infiltrated the castle.

‘Darkness and decay and the Red Death’ have at last triumphed.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

This is one of Poe’s detective fictions- the story centring on who killed Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter Mademoiselle Camille.

An unnamed narrator begins this tale of murder and criminal detection with discussion of the analytic mind. He describes the analyst as driven paradoxically by both intuition and the moral inclination to disentangle what confuses his peers. He adds that the analyst takes delight in mathematical study and in the game of checkers, which allows the calculating individual to practice the art of detection—not only of the moves integral to the game, but also the demeanor of his opponent. The narrator argues, however, that analysis is not merely ingenuity. He states that while the ingenious man may, at times, be analytic, the calculating man is, without fail, always imaginative.

The narrator describes how he met C. Auguste Dupin- both men were searching for the same book at an obscure library, in Paris. We soon see Dupin’s great understanding of the mind- as he describes what the narrator is pondering over in his mind.

Soon, thereafter the narrator and Dupin read the newspaper headlines about a horrible murder at the Rue Morgue. One night at three a.m the neighbours hear L’Espanaye and her daughter screaming from their apartment. The neighbours hear the voices of two people and then silence.

The story moves on from here, showing the newspapers witnesses and how they remember the scene of the crime. The narrator and Dupin then begin to take a look around the L’Espanaye’s apartment for clues as the police are at a loss. The two men that the witnesses heard were unable to hide the body of the daughter up the chimney as it impossible for only two men to perform such a physical task.

Dupin summarizes that no human could have performed these acts and upon summoning a sailor to the scene he learns he is right…

Learning that a sailor has lost an ape- it soon becomes clear who is responsible for the murders in the Rue Morgue.

The Oval Portrait

‘The Oval Portrait’ is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe involving the disturbing circumstances surrounding a portrait in a chateau. It is one of his shortest stories only filling two pages in its initial publication in 1842.

The tale begins with an injured narrator seeking refuge in an abandoned mansion in the Apennines- we have no explanation of his wounds. He spends his time admiring the works of art decorating the strangely- shaped room. He eventually discovers a painting which shocks him which he refers to as ‘absolute life-likeliness of expression’. He spends a moment in silent awe until he cannot bear to look at it anymore- then he consults a book which describes the paintings found in the house.

The reminder of the story is a selection from the book which discusses when it was created etc. The painting was by an eccentric artist depicting his young wife, but he grew more and more obsessed with the painting to the point he forgot about his wife’s personal needs. When he finishes the painting and looks up at his wife he discovers that she is dead and her spirit was transferred into the lifelike painting.