26 January 2016

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Title: Between the Lines
Author: Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Pages: 353
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Book Description:
Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.
And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.
A romantic and charming story, this companion novel to Off the Page will make every reader believe in the fantastical power of fairy tales.





My Opinion:
Jodi Picoult has always been one of my favourite authors; her books always have so intriguing plot lines and fantastic twists, especially near the end, so when I found out she was writing a novel with her daughter, I was very excited to read it. This is a young adult novel in which a fairy tale character comes to life, taking Delilah on imaginative adventures!

The characters in this book were really well created. Delilah is a very relatable teenager and, if I had read this when I was younger, I would have found a lot in common with her (especially her love for books!) Similarly, Oliver was a fantastic character who clearly represented the thought process of teenage boys! I don't want to give any spoilers however there is another character we meet towards the end who I found to be rather humorous. Although they're all fantastic individually, when you put them together in a narrative, their actions can be foreseen easily, which is a shame.

Because I've read many of Picoult's books before, I had very high hopes for this one. In spite of this, I found the story line to be quite predictable since it followed the plot of a classic fairy tale at times. There was an inevitable romance and journey of self discovery which seemed too common, in my opinion.
As always, there is that unexpected twist at the end of her books, which (to my surprise from the previous reading) did surprise me. It wasn't predictable like the rest of the story had been and, for me, it was the best part of the plot line.

Overall I didn't find this to be as good as some of her other novels. Despite the great ending, it did involve predictable romances and flawed characters. This isn't something I would read again however, if you enjoy romance and young adult fiction, this does cover those bases well.


Favourite Quotes:


I’d much rather pretend I’m somewhere else, and any time I open the pages of a book, that happens

~~~~

The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds a house, but the reader makes it a home

~~~~

Sometimes the key to happiness is just expecting a little bit less

~~~~

Here's what no one ever tells you about love: it hurts, having your heart broken



Rating ★
3 out of 5 stars 

 Next book I'm going to review:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

19 January 2016

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Title: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Pages: 288
Genre: Classic, Feminism, Mental Health
Book Description:
Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. 

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.





My Opinion:
If you ever ask anyone about Sylvia Plath they'll probably tell you 'she was a poet' and 'she killed herself.' Probably in that order too!
I have read almost all of Plath's poems and they are phenomenal (to say the least!) There's the full range: happiness, anger, sadness. And they all feel real! Now if you're receiving that from her well-known poems, you'd expect that from a novel written under a pseudonym... And that's what you get!

This novel was fantastic. It was quite an emotional read but I felt a connection between myself and the protagonist. To be honest, I think anyone would feel it. She's goes through feelings we all go through; happiness, rebellion and really deep states of depression. Esther is the kind of person I want as a friend!

Along with this character, the plot was fascinating. As we know, there are parts that are actually autobiographical! This was interesting because as I was reading it, I kept trying to think about which of these scenes might have been fictional and which may have been real. The intrigue encouraged me to research her background a little bit and I now know which parts actually happened. Knowing this made me want to read it all over again!

Despite the emotional plot line and outstanding narrative, this was quite a short read. Although I did like this, I wish it had been longer because I feel like there was so much more I wanted to know about her life! I intend to look into some of Ted Hughes' work, since he was married to her.

I would recommend this classic novel to everyone, it must be read by all book lovers at least once. It's absolutely sensational, full of happiness and laughter, heartache and sadness. I can not encourage you to read it any more than that. Just do it.


Favourite Quotes:


If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.

~~~~

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy

~~~~

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; 
I lift my eyes and all is born again

~~~~

There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends

~~~~

The silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence.

~~~~

I thought how strange it had never occurred to me before that I was only purely happy until I was nine years old

~~~~

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am



Rating ★
5 out of 5 stars 


Relatively recently, a film staring Daniel Craig and Gwyneth Paltrow was produced all about Plath's life. It's a really good film and I think it accurately represents the marriage between herself and Hughes. Definitely worth a watch, so here's the trailer:



Next book I'm going to review:
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

12 January 2016

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Title: Dear Thing
Author: Julie Cohen
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Relationships
Book Description:
Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy fa├žade, they’ve been desperately trying – and failing – to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire’s ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben’s best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben’s child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she’s kept hidden for a very long time: Ben’s the only man she’s ever loved.

Two mothers—and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep.



My Opinion:
I don't usually read books of this genre but this one intrigued me a lot just from the blurb. This is about a mother who no longer wants to be a mother and one who is desperately trying to be a 'mother' for the first time. This topic was of interest because I wanted to see what it was like from different points of views of the characters, especially how someone could be a surrogate! I had a lot of hope for this however I didn't find that it met all of my expectations.

Lets start off with the good things! The writing was lovely, full of naturalistic and innocent imagery, it was easy to enjoy. Similarly, the characters were really well thought of and created. I especially liked how they all linked together and the plot came round into a full circle; it started at the end!

Despite this, I found that the plot was very predictable. I found myself easily guessing what was going to happen and this isn't something I enjoy when I'm reading a book since I want unexpected twists! Although there were some scenes that weren't as predictable, there were very few.
Having read so many novels by Jodi Picoult, I found that this followed a similar style, which I enjoyed, however Picoult's novels do have more twists and are something I prefer.

Overall this was a pleasant read that didn't take me long to finish. Despite this, I wouldn't re-read it due to its predictability. I would recommend to those who are looking for a quick and easy read with an interesting topic but if you're looking for a plot full of captivating twists, this isn't it.



Rating 
3 out of 5 stars 

 Next book I'm going to review:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

5 January 2016

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Title: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Author: Ken Kesey
Pages: 325
Genre: Classic, Psychology, Mental Health, Contemporary
Book Description:
In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey's hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, back by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story's shocking climax.





My Opinion: 
Narrated by an Indian everyone believes to be deaf and stupid, we follow the acts of rebellion caused by the newcomer, McMurphy. Thanks to his charismatic nature, he introduces the patients to things they never thought possible.

As you know, I’m a huge fan of psychology based novels and this is, by far, one of the greatest I’ve read! When Kesey was younger, he worked as a janitor in a mental hospital, which adds to the story line in making everything much more realistic. The plot is fantastic and incredibly well written. There are scenes of humorous rebellion and saddening consequences which provide an all rounded effect to the novel. The ending really surprised me however it was my favourite part, full of joy and sorrow.

My favourite character had to be Bromden. He was adorable and brave and despite everyone’s view of him, he still managed to succeed. I also found McMurphy to be captivating, hilarious and full of spirit. As I was reading this, I really felt that he came alive in my imagination. Even Nurse Ratched was portrayed fantastically, with her controlling attitudes and strict hospital rules.

Overall this is a really good read for anyone interested in mental health. The themes of differing status in gender running through were interesting and I found myself doing more research into it afterward. To be able to understand the real messages, you have to be committed in reading, however I would definitely recommend this as a must read novel!

Favourite Quotes: 

All I know is this: nobody's very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down

~~~~

Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example

~~~~

The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon

~~~~

They can't tell so much about you if you got your eyes closed

~~~~

Good writin' ain't necessarily good readin'


Rating  
5 out of 5 stars 

Based on this novel, a film was released starring the charming and young Jack Nicholson. This is a fantastic portrayal of the novel, following closely to the plot line and getting the characters spot on (really good casting)! Since it's quite an old film, it's short so I would really advise you to watch it, even if you don't read the book! Here's the trailer if you're interested:



Next book I'm going to review:
Dear Thing by Julie Cohen