Category Archives: Literature

Review Talon, Julie Kagawa by Bethan Hooton

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“Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing in their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Solider Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Embers bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons” – Talon, Julie Kagawa 

I read the first 75 pages of this book in about 3 weeks, and then the other 370 pages in 3 days. This was purely because of exams, and in a way I wish I had held off reading the book until my exams were over so I could devour the whole book as one. I loved it! The characters, plot and the setting. The story was told amazingly, which I’m not surprised at since it is a Julie Kagawa book! I love dragons, and this book was the best I’ve read yet! Honestly, it was slow-paced during the first half of the book, but in the second half it really picked up especially in the last 100 pages. In this book there was a lot of world building and story setting ready for the sequel. It was a great setup for the coming books. The dragon world ‘Talon’ was explained excellently, even if there are some twists and turns about it later on in the book. Whilst reading I was fully enthralled in the world, I was so intrigued and wanted to find out more and more.

The characters in this book were amazing! There wasn’t a flat character throughout the whole book. Each character was important and helped push the plot along. You could tell that each character had been well thought-out and they were all very complex. There wasn’t a single character that I didn’t like, besides possible one called Colin (no spoilers!) I loved all the different character relationships. I loved the sibling bond between Ember and Dante, and I loved seeing how that progressed and changed during the book. The friendships were really well constructed, and made me want to be a part of the world just to be involved with those friendships. I loved the banter between all the characters too, the way they all bounced off of each other. The jokes they made about and with each other. I also really like seeing the differences between Ember and Dante, and how that difference became increasingly bigger towards the end of the book. The character development in this book has to be my favourite, especially for Ember and Garret! They learnt that not everything was as it seems, and the way Julie Kagawa had their characters progress was just great. I can usually pick out a favourite character, but this time I can’t, I honestly love them all too much.

This is definitely a series that I’m going to keep up with. I’m going to get my hand on a copy of Rogue as soon as possible! I cannot wait to see how Ember and Garrets story progresses. I want to see how Dante is coping with the task his was given in the epilogue. There are just so many characters that I need to know about (Riley and Wes for example) I’ve read 9 Julie Kagawa books, and all novella’s she has written for her Iron Fey series, and this is by far my favourite book. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

I seriously recommend Talon, if you’re into Dragons, and Fantasy. It keeps you wondering, and the characters are remarkable!

Review Trouble, Non Pratt by Amina Elmi

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Trouble was completely different from the books I normally read. I had gotten tired of books about dystopian worlds and dramatic love stories so I decided I needed a change.

Trouble is written with a witty sense of humour that doesn’t fail to entertain. Despite it being about teenage pregnancy which is usually talked about with seriousness, you can’t help but giggle at how certain characters are portrayed.

The characters are in this book are quite something. Tyrone and Fletch are two who are especially vulgar, but they represent what a teenage boy’s hormones are sometimes like. The way they both refer to sex and girls made me question their sanity at times. I couldn’t help laughing at times

The character Aaron was the main reason I chose to read Trouble. After reading the blurb I just wanted to know what on earth would possess you to claim to be the father of someone’s baby you barely know. Aaron was a bit of mystery. He had a shady past that he didn’t talk about, which made me all the more curious. I do have to admit, I did fall in love with this character. I loved how he stood up for Hannah and her unborn child. I loved that he had this bond with an elderly man he visited. I think everyone needs an Aaron in their lives.

Then there was mini mystery. Who is the father? I needed to know. I didn’t dare put the book down. I had an idea of who I thought it was and I felt like Sherlock Holmes when I had it right.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to discover more books by Non Pratt.

Review My Heart and Other Black Holes Jasmine Warga by Sian Thomas

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I recently finished a book called My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. It is the story of a girl and a boy who meet on a website and agree to a ‘Suicide Pact’. They both have reasons as to why they want to die, and both hope the other won’t back out, but eventually, things (aka feelings) get in the way and things start to turn a little upside down.

The storyline is enticing as any other. Two people meet and agree to die, and I just found it fascinating. The plot intertwines smoothly and never misses a beat. The characters are everything you expect them not to be. They are funny and loveable and quirky and have their hobbies and love things, and yet they are sad. They are so very sad. He is sad, and she is sad, and they find happiness in each other.

Your love for the characters grows immaculately as their love for each other grows. And who doesn’t love a book where you see that the characters are running out of time since an important date is looming above them and there are only so many book pages left? Every second you read the novel, every word, phrase, line, sentence, however you may wish to put it, is thrilling and precious and anything but boring. The characters have a way of pulling you in, and making you care for them and their outcome. Everything about the novel is amazing.

Even in the back of the book, hidden just after the author’s notes, there are a list of numbers and websites to visit if you find yourself ever in the need of help. I, personally, absolutely adore books like these. They really help set the world on a kinder path. You are not alone, and there is someone out there who can help you.

This is the kind of book that makes you cry, and also feel warm and see the world in a different way. This is a story that makes you want to go out, and find an old park you used to play in and sit in there and revel in the nostalgia. It is the kind of story that makes you want to love your loved ones more than you already do. It is the kind of book that makes you say “The best one.” when someone asks what book you are reading.

My favourite character in this novel would have to be a tie between a few. Our two main characters, Aysel and Roman, Aysel’s half-sister, Georgia, and Roman’s mother, Mrs. Franklin. Aysel (pronounced Uh-zell, which, I admit, I had some trouble remembering.) is one of my favourites because she is very witty for someone who wants to be gone. Her words are sharp with a favoured sweetness, and she has her very-book-character hobbies. She hums classical music whenever she feels uncomfortable, or, whenever she feels like this.

Roman is another favourite because I am biased. I have a character in my own story (which has a very big “Work in Progress” sign written on it.) called Roman, so I was sure, no matter what this character would be like, that I would enjoy his appearance. He grew on me in a way I didn’t expect him to, though, too. He is nice. Actually nice. Not a lot of people are nice in the same way as he is, so it was lovely to read and experience. He is very focused on his goal, death, in a way that doesn’t allow any nonsense to be in play. He is a lover of basketball and sea life. Aysel’s half-sister, Georgia, is another favourite because she tries. She tries very hard. Aysel is older than her by a few years, and acts terribly guarded and snappy towards Georgia, who just wants to connect with her half-sister. It’s kind of sad to witness, but I see it as something that can many may relate to.
Roman’s mother, Mrs. Franklin is the epitome of a gigantic sweetheart. She’s very loving, thoughtful and caring towards both Roman and Aysel, and is a very supportive mother. She’s almost a predictable mother, who gardens and tries her best to cook certain foods for Aysel, (because Aysel is Turkish, she makes traditional Turkish dishes for her, only a little while after they met.) and does all the everyday things, but she is lovely. She is the definition of lovely.

I really enjoyed the book. I laughed and cried and searched for some new music while I read it. (With Aysel’s classical music love, it was hard to resist searching some of them up.) It was beautifully tragic and achingly bittersweet. I love every word of it.

Review All the Bright Places by Sian Thomas

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I recently read a book called All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It is the story of a girl who learns to live her days instead of counting them down from a boy who wants to die.

The story is nice. The kind of nice you feel when you look around a coffee shop and see the inspiration for why a writer may have chosen to write about that coffee shop looking just like this or sounding just like that. The kind of nice you feel when you see you are working towards something you aspire to be. Especially the kind of nice you feel when you read a book that makes you feel fuzzy and philosophical and generally in love with the scenery and the people and the atmosphere surrounding you – you feel as if this writing has helped you see what the writer may have. The grass looks greener, to put it simply. And you love it. Or, maybe, rather, the wording is nice. But with every book that the wording makes you feel lovely and warm and content, there is a twist, and a sad ending.

The plot sounds relatively simple. “A girl who learns to live from a boy who yearns to die.” Oh, you think, they’ll probably fall in love, too. They do. And it’s very bittersweet. The two of them are assigned a project, it sounds cliché, and it absolutely is, but it becomes a very lovable scenario. Our two main characters, Violet and Finch, are both huge lovers of words, stories, books, writing, brainstorming and general writing and words. The chapter titles are something I penned down as creative. They aren’t called actual chapter names, which is fine, but what I liked about it was it’s simplicity. Each chapter was either labelled “Violet” or “Finch” with a short sentence underneath it, such as: “135 days until graduation.” or “Day 6.” or “How to survive quicksand.”

The book itself is immaculately representative,which is fantastic. We find out Finch could potentially be – watch out, spoilers – bipolar. I’ve yet to read another book where one main character has bipolar disorder. Things like mental illnesses aren’t exactly mentioned in many books, or at least not that I’ve read. And quite frankly, that sucks. I believe representation, of many things, is important. Gay characters, bisexual characters, pansexual, asexual, transgender, transsexual, those with mental illnesses, those with disabilities, genderqueer people, nonbinary people, intersex people, aromantic people, and demisexual people should all be represented in as many ways as they can. Books, movies, TV shows, comics, anything – anything. I like to think that with every book that has representation is a step closer to something bigger, and this being the first book I’ve read with a character with a mental illness, I think that is one huge step.

Even in the back of the book, where the author’s notes sit, there are a list of numbers and helplines for places all over the world so the author really gets the point across. You are not alone. (I have read one other book with something like this similar in the author’s notes. A book called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, where the main character is trans – female to male – and in the author’s notes there is a section on what the author calls the “transgender umbrella”. She talks of all different types of gender identities, and with every book like these I read, I realise we are a little more away from blue and pink, and a little closer to a full colour spectrum.)

The book itself, while yes, it was sad, and yes it was bittersweet and heartbreaking and emotional, it was also light and humourous. Our main character, Finch, is what most people on sight would label a ‘weirdo’, and since this particular novel happens to be set in a high school, well, you can see why it feels a lot harsher. However, Finch is comedic and light hearted and sarcastic. It seems to lift the novel’s atmosphere up as you read. The plot is full of exploration of sites in Violet and Finch’s state. The way the author describes the scenery and the way Violet and Finch interpret them makes you want to slap on your shoes at 3am and go for a walk so you can see the world the way these two might have, even if it’s only a sliver of their world you glimpse. It makes you want to sit up on your windowsill with your feet dangling over the edge so you can see the view from a fresh perspective which is a lot higher up than your usual one.

My favourite character would have to be Finch. He is witty and sarcastic yet sad and questioning and insightful. He is a bundle of adjectives that I took a shine to, and he is a bundle of adjectives that I relate to.

For notes here, I wrote: “Recommend it – why would you?” and honestly, why wouldn’t I? The book is sad and funny, bittersweet and heartwarming, and definitely one to make you cry. The characters are well-rounded and lovable, complicated and realistic, and possibly the best ones I have ever read about. If you, like me, are one for tears and laughter and that comfortable philosophical feeling tingling from your toes all the way up, I absolutely recommend this book to you.

Review Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Sian Thomas

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I have just finished a book called Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. It’s written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It’s just one single book instead of a series, this time.

It’s about two teenagers who live in New York and it’s set during Christmas time. One of them, Lily, usually has a very family filled Christmas, however, this Christmas, her parents left for Fiji for their 25th Anniversary, so her brother suggests a project for Lily. He gets a red moleskin notebook and writes instructions for any passer-by who may want to take on a few dares. Dash picks up this notebook and follows along, eventually creating a back-and-fore conversation between himself and Lily by using the notebook, while he throws in other suggestions, instructions and dares just as Lily does, too.

As this continues, we see them both start to idealise the other in an almost fairytale way. While neither of them knows what the other looks like or acts like or is like, it’s a pretty predictable thing to see. It wasn’t bad, if anything I expected it. Countless reading of clichés get you like that, I have found out. I don’t particularly believe it to be a bad factor, if you enjoy clichés.

The book was written in a funny and sarcastic way, as if the two teenagers, Dash and Lily, were there in front of you, taking turns telling their story. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was definitely mine. The witty way it was written was most likely designed for teenagers and young adults, and definitely works for getting them to have a giggle at the book, story and characters.

One character that stood out to me was Lily’s older brother, Langston. While most of Lily’s immediate family was away, Langston was not, and he invited his boyfriend, Benny, over to stay a few nights before both of them accidentally became ill and stayed at separate houses. The way that Langston talks is very older-brotherly yet sarcastic, which added a few extra laughs into the book – even though the way the book was written was already done hilariously. I personally believe that the factor that Langston is openly gay is a great thing. I do believe we need more representation of gay people ( to go further, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, transgender or transsexual people, also) in, well, anything, really. Novels, tv shows, movies, anything. I feel the creation of Langston was a step closer to something greater writers and readers alike will hope to see more of.

The book was highly enjoyable. Funny, loveable and enticing as any other. If anything, I’d recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour similar to that of a teenager like myself or young adult who can have a laugh, or someone who needed a bit of a giggle as they curled up to read with a cup of tea.

Review The Blood of Eden by Julia Kagawa

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I recently read a trilogy called The Blood of Eden. It’s written by Julia Kagawa, and each of the series of books are equally enticing.

The series is about a girl named Allison Sekemoto and her trials and experiences both before becoming a vampire and then after, with other things weaving their way in and becoming equally important.

While the first book, The Immortals Rules, starts off very slow, you can easily begin to wonder if in fact: Will this book end up like every other vampire story quite possibly ever created? The answer is no, it just takes a while to get there. However following this, you realise that everything you’ve read on the blurb has already happened within the first part of the story, which is only a number of chapters. Your first thought probably races to: There better be something else coming up and fast. And let me tell you, there is!
After my own personal rocky start with the book, once the jagged phase has been passed, the book becomes easily enjoyable and a page-turner that’s so lethal that if anyone tried to grab the book off you, they’d probably get a paper cut. The plot spirals into situations that seem to get even worse as you go, before eventually getting resolved, but usually with another outcome that pushes into the next plot arc, so there’s always something else at the end of one situation.

The second book, The Eternity Cure, starts off neither slow nor fast. The first book leads off with something immediately followed up in the second, however it can be considered slow the way it starts out. Our main character, Allison (Or Allie) is travelling alone in search of someone, with little interactions until the plot finally opens up, and once it does the story immediately starts rolling. One thing I noted about the second book particularly (and later on, the third book) was that at certain times of the story, the next moves of some characters who are meant to be unpredictable, are rather predictable. Maybe I’ve seen too many action/adventure type films or read too many of the books so that I’ve started to notice what the bad guys do and when, but for a character who is our main antagonist, he, on multiple occasions, is described as insane, and often has other tricks up his sleeve, is predictable at a crucial point in the series. (This is towards the very end of the second book and until around a quarter way through the third. I won’t mention what happens in case anyone would want to go into the story without knowing anything to ruin it beforehand.)

The third and last book, The Forever Song, doesn’t actually start off as slow as the others may. It has a clear plot with one main objective, albeit some smaller ones (which gradually grow in importance) fitting their way in. This final book can also become slightly predictable at points, but not at hugely critical times during the plot.

We have a number of consistent characters in the story, starting with our main, Allison Sekemoto, and then we have those immediately close to her. There’s Kanin, the one vampire who made Allison into a vampire herself, he’s the ‘cryptic’ type of character who you suspect to know everything about a situation. There’s Jackal, (Who, albeit, isn’t introduced until the later part of the first book, but is consistent after that.) who was also turned into a vampire by Kanin, making Allison and himself almost “blood relatives”, and runs an army of humans. There’s also Zeke (Or Ezekiel) Crosse, he’s a human who Allison accidentally finds, and inevitably falls for – but it isn’t bland and boring, the whole: “Oh, it was obvious this was going to happen – it happens in EVERY vampire story!” Well. It is at first, but then the ball gets rolling, and you realise you probably didn’t expect to get this far involved.
My own absolute favourite character in this series would have to be Jackal. While at first, he appears to be a huge antagonist, he eventually winds up on the same side as Allison. His speech is full of sarcasm and taunting and his personality is full of: “Act if you belong, and then you will.” Which, I personally took a shine to. Witty comebacks and a confident stride with a mocking smirk thrown in for good measure is the character trope I seem to like best, it seems. Jackal acts to diffuse tension in some situations, can be stubborn and irritating, and can then decide to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and make certain people understand what they need to do to improve their situations – though still with a mocking tone of voice.

The book series as a whole is an enjoyable one. It is neither too short, nor too long. It has amounts of action and adventure to make any fan of that genre happy, and it has comedy and romance to balance out the fighting. Each character is different and leaves a different impression on all, all the while dealing with situations that seem impossible to fix. Vampire stories may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy them – I’d recommend you this series. It’s not “Just the same thing as all vampire stories”, and can easily leave a positive and optimistic impression for further stories of the same genre.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater by Sian Thomas

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The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is a four part series with three current instalments and a plot that makes you keep turning the pages until you realise you’ve read a lot more than you originally planned to. Time seems to scarcely exist in the story, and it also scarcely exists as you read it, forgetting more and more about the real world and getting sucked into this one.
The series is about a girl, Blue Sargent, a non-psychic in her psychic family and a girl who has been told her whole life: “If you kiss your true love, he will die.” She eventually meets four boys who quickly become her closet friends. Gansey, a rich boy searching for the lost king Glendower, and also the boy Blue was fated to fall for. Ronan Lynch, also rich, hard on the outside and a secret keeper; Adam Parrish, a poor but fiercely determined to be rich boy who wants to find Glendower as much as Gansey, and Noah Czerny, a mystery, but not for long.
The first book of four is named The Raven Boys. An alluring cover (a picture of a raven in which you can’t see the eyes and a small, wispy heart) drew me to it one afternoon in a rather warm WHSmith. The book starts out almost tentatively, but quickly pulls you in to a world completely different to  your own. The life of Blue Sargent, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah is a tight knot which slowly frays and unravels before your eyes, each thread tracked carefully just in case.
The Raven Boys alone similar to a starter or appetizer meal in a restaurant. Since it’s the first book, it’s mainly dedicated to exploring the characters personalities and backgrounds, but in between, it becomes mostly about plot, all the while shuffling in facts about our main characters slyly.
The Dream Thieves is the second instalment in the series and is a book you could say is centred around characters who aren’t your usual main character/s, but neither are they background characters. The plot continues as does the unwinding coil of secrets, leaving the reader wanting more and more, and having them realise they’ve read over half the book in one sitting, instead of perhaps one chapter, like they had planned. (I speak from experience.).
Blue, Lily, Lily, Blue is the third book out of four in the series, and is the one where the plot immediately starts rolling from start to finish; from the opening sentence to the very, very last one. Its plot is enticing, but can also leave you suspicious as the character begin to feel things are happening too easily considering what their task is. You’re quickly drawn in, hoping that they can do what they must, but praying you’re not nearing the end of the book, even though you so desperately want to find out what happens at the end.
Maggie Stiefvater is an almost sassy author, seeing as in her books she seems to write as if she is there, talking to you personally through the page, in a way in which she uses speech and text not in a brisk, strict story-telling way, but almost as a friend telling you what happened.
As difficult as it is to choose favourites, I think my favourite character out of the series so far would have to be Gansey. Gansey has a number of different personalities to which he uses at different times for specific events. Seeing as he is from a rich family (and his mother is running for Congress in-plot) he has to go to many gatherings where other rich people clink their champagne glasses and talk about things that they probably aren’t really interested in. Here, he has a very formal and straight-forward but not intimidating attitude, however, around Blue Sargent and the rest of his friends, he swiftly relaxes and becomes more of a teenager that you would expect him to be, rather than a glass-clinking-rich-man. The switch can be so sudden and can immediately bring or dismiss tension from a situation which shows how much power he could have by standing up a little straighter and speaking a little tougher.
While it is hard to choose favourites, each character I have been introduced to in The Raven Cycle holds a special place in my heart. If you like sassy and almost spiritual reading material, I recommend this series to you. Maybe you like plain old romance-with-its-issues type of books, this book would still be a great read.
This is a series I will adore for a very long time, and if you read it, I’m sure you will, too.

REVIEW The Heroes of Olympus, Rick Riordan by Bethan Hooton

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The Heroes of Olympus.

This series by far is one of the best spin off series ever.

Rick Riordan has brought so much more to the Percy Jackson world than I thought possible. He has added more complex story lines and has introduced Monsters and Gods that I didn’t know exist.

The overall plot for all 5 books is amazing. The idea of Mother Earth re-awakening and trying to destroy the Gods is brilliant. I love the way Rick introduced us to the prophecy right at the ending of the Percy Jackson series. It got me thinking about the new series. Would it be as good as this series?

The idea of bringing the Romans into this series was Rick’s best idea. He showed that there was conflict between the Greeks and Romans, and that even after thousands of years, things were not properly sorted. I really enjoy the way Rick presents us with Greek and Roman mythology. It wasn’t in huge blocks of text, but within characters’ thoughts and interactions.

I love how Rick brought in new characters, and switched to writing in 3rd person. It gives us different perspectives of the same world. How different characters reacted to finding out that they were demigods. I also like the way he changed the Point of View every couple of chapters. It gave us a better insight of the new characters and the old ones.

The thing that made this series amazing was the characters. There isn’t a useless character or a flat character (although some would argue Piper and Jason are). Each character is different has their own personality. Throughout each book, each character shows character development. I could read The Lost Hero and the Blood of Olympus and I would instantly be able to see how all the characters have changed and I love that. The characters in these books are just so memorable.

I adored the way Rick Riordan used jokes from the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series (The ‘dam’ joke from The Titans Curse). He mentioned old Monsters and characters that had not made an appearance in the Heroes of Olympus series but were present during the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series.

The way Rick wrote about all the different character relationships was amazing! He made it seem so realistic. He showed us that even in books, not everyone is going to get along. There is going to be conflict and jealousy. Not everyone is going to agree, but that’s life. Rick made the characters interact in such a way that you could relate to them, even if they were talking about how to defeat an ancient Greek Monster with Greek fire. You understood how the characters felt and you could empathise with them.

Rick has not only captured the attention of teens, but kids and adults too.

Even though, to me personally, The Blood of Olympus (the last book) was a bit of a let down, this series is by far one of my favourites. Rick has created a phenomenal world, and it will always have a place in my heart. I would recommend this series to anyone. You don’t even need to read the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series to understand what’s going on in The Heroes of Olympus (although I would recommend reading it first).

This series has made me laugh until my stomach hurts and cry until my throat is dry. It’s incredible. I seriously recommend picking up the first book – you won’t regret it!

 

Review The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak by Sian Thomas

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The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak is a book which at first, I didn’t want to read. Uninterested in war stories and books that get turned into overly popular movies as I may be, reading this has definitely begun to change my mind.
The Book Thief is about a nine year old girl named Liesel Meminger and her foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermann, during the time of the Second World War.  Liesel’s parents are taken away to a concentration camp, so she grows up on Himmel Street stealing books, spending time playing football in the street, and dealing with the war any way she can, but with multiple things often stealing her attention away from it.
My friend bought me this book as a late birthday present, and the only things that really drove me to read it was the fact that another one of my friends really enjoyed it, and that the story was told by Death itself. The fact that the novel was narrated by Death made me both curious and compelled. This, I decided, was what made me read the book, but then other things in the book stepped in and caused me to be attached to the plot and characters.
The plot itself was both heart-wrenching and addictive. Every time something intriguing or heartbreaking would happen, I would always thirst for more. The book was difficult to put down and every page had something worth remembering on it. The things that Liesel Meminger and her foster parents did are the types of things I would have expected to find in almost all war stories. Them not going with the flow. And they didn’t, but I enjoyed it. Often I believe that stories involving the war are about the protagonist/s not doing whatever the higher-ups say, and I often predict that I will not enjoy it. (This fact contributes to me not wanting to read war stories.) However, I was wrong. This book was something I loved every second of, every single word was special.
 Learning of the characters and all of their quirks was another thing that led me to be attached to the story. Every single character was special in their own unique ways which I won’t be forgetting any time soon.  Each character was so different from another, yet all of them were extremely likeable. Some of my absolute favourite characters were Rudy Steiner, Max Vadenburg, and Arthur Berg. All of these characters were extremely loveable, in very different ways.
Rudy Steiner, the best friend of our main character, Liesel, was the kind of character somebody would love to pluck out of a work of fiction and have them in their life. A kind and caring person, fictional or real, is worth treasuring – and this, I realise, is what I have done. With “hair the colour of lemons” and an appetite that wouldn’t quit, Rudy Steiner is that kind of person anyone would enjoy knowing, he’s funny and brave and would do anything for someone he holds close and knowing him in a work of fiction is as good as anything.
Max Vadenburg is a Jewish fist-fighter with “feathery” hair who winds up hiding in our main character and her foster parent’s basement. He is a character with a personality which anyone would vow to protect after learning about it. Captivating and sweet, Max Vandenburg is someone who would do anything he could do for someone he loved, just like Rudy Steiner.
Arthur Berg is in a different place on the spectrum. Preferring to come off as hard, but inside is a big softie, Arthur Berg is a top food thief in this novel, and doesn’t appear for very long, sadly. Arthur Berg, someone who says they would leave you behind if you weren’t fast enough, but would come back for you if you did in fact fall behind, is someone who everyone would enjoy being friends with and would most likely enjoy reading about. Arthur Berg reminds me of one of my own friends, which made him doubly special to me.
The book was fantastic and I’m sure anyone who read it would enjoy it. Those I’m close with recommended it to me, and I do the same to you.

Review Dinefwr Literature Festival by Young Critic Hannah Goslin

 

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21/06/2014 – 22/03/2014

In this glorious sunshine, I went up to Llandeilo to the Dinefwr Literature Festival. Well renowned for this yearly display of culture and my lack of festival experience, I was very eager to attend.

The festival is known for its promotion of literature from novels, to poetry, musical displays, workshops, comedy and much much more.

Food stalls were provided from local vendors that made delicious smells across the area with the use of local produce. Little shops including bookshops, tokens from the weekend and a Dylan Thomas styled book van also was a nice addition and admittedly, much of my money went on these, coming away with much reading to get started on! Between this, it was great to meet the sales persons; at times were writers themselves giving inspiration, for example a lady who felt that a poetry book wasn’t for her so made pockets of her collections and hand made them with a sewing machine and a printing kit. Myself as one who isn’t necessarily conventional, felt that this initiative was very appealing.

The variety of mediums gave a great choice throughout the weekend. The ability to also drop into these and drop out when needed gave great flexibility to the weekend. However, the programme itself didn’t give a great indication at times to how long these sessions would last and with so much going on, there were times when I missed events that I wanted to see as I was so interested in the one before that crossed over.

Workshops were also few and far between. Many seemed to only appeal to the same persons to which I lacked interest in. I didn’t manage to attend any of which I am sure they were interesting none the less, but there seemed a similarity to who they wished to appeal to and that wasn’t enough to evoke my personal interest. If more diversity in these workshops and a great deal more workshops overall were offered then I would have attended these.

Lectures and talks also seemed to follow a similar pattern. While, very interesting none the less, such as a combined talk with two novelists on their new books that looked at characters with mental health issues was very interesting, and gave a great insight to anyone at times of stress of need to talk to someone, showing that writing is an excellent medium to express this, the pattern of talking about the books, and for us the audience to watch and listen, waiting for question and answers which were limited in time, felt very routine and almost like a conference, not a festival.

Interjections of music and comedy, however, did give a little break from this. Hilarious feminist comedian Bridget Christie gave a session of work in progress, giving an insight to how comedians write material, giving a good way of audience interaction and us feeling more a part of the event. Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds ended the Saturday on a high with fantastic covers of well known songs, but with a folksy twist definitely evoking the festival goers inside everyone.

Dylan Thomas’s boat house also made an appearance, with the encouragement for poetry writing from the festival goers. Myself and my friend had a go at this, and my piece on the ‘Voyeuristic Cow’ inspired my younger self inside who used to love and write poetry to now continue this again.

The festival provided a range for all ages, S4C also made appearances for the children and comedians gave risky performances for the adults. As a festival, it was fantastic and completely revitalised my creativity in literature aspects but I wonder, with all the eagerness of participants, more could be gotten out of the weekend if extended so not to go away feeling regret at missing other possible inspiring and interesting activities.