Book Reviewer

Reviewing Books - Old and New

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Before I Die - Jenny Downham

Rating – 2

Published: October 2008 – Black Swan

Similar in some ways to ‘If I Stay’, ‘Before I Die’ follows the story of Tessa as she sets out to fulfil her own bucket list after being told she has terminal cancer. A deeply moving novel, but reduced slightly by an inability to truly connect with Tessa, despite the first person narrative. The items on her list are quite stereotypical, with sex, drugs and law breaking, which although are reasonable when taking into account her age and what she may miss out on, yet it takes away from the originality that would have made this book so much better.

Having said this, Downham finds a way to highlight the true nature of a disease that has taken over Tessa, in such a way that it approaches a horribly realistic subject to teenagers, enabling them to understand what it must be like.

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The Anatomy of Ghosts - Andrew Taylor

Rating: 3

Published: September 2010 – Michael Joseph Ltd.

Set in 18th century Cambridge, specifically Jerusalem College, a place haunted by ghosts – it is up to John Holdsworth to set it right, or risk the continuation of the ghostly haunts. Whilst the novel flows well and allows the reader to experience the true realms of a society that has long past, yet is brought back to reality within this novel, it lacks a certain quality –due to the fact that the characters are unlikeable, all set upon personal gain.

Having said that, Taylor manages to bring out every element of the era and society, thus making it a well-written piece that I recommend to everyone who is interested in history, but also for first-time readers of Andrew Taylor.

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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres

Rating – 5

Published: June 1995 – Vintage

Set in Cephalonia during World War Two, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin follows the story of a doctor’s daughter, Pelagia, and her relationships with a certain musician, Corelli, the Italian captain. It is a story full of pure emotion, pain, humour and entrancing words – it threatens to take away your time, as I found it impossible to put down – the characters and setting are so well-developed and explored that it seems as if you are really there, and able to follow the story from within the pages. The varying narrative perspective can be confusing, with some chapters being narrated by ‘Mussolini’ himself, it only adds to the development of a time that was considerably testing for all involved, yet one that becomes realistic throughout the novel.

De Berniere’s eclectic mix of characters and events magnify the emotions that fill the pages, so by the end you truly empathise with Pelagia’s plight.

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Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse - Kaleb Nation

Rating: 4

Published: September 2009 - Sourcebooks Inc.

Published in 2009, Bran Hambric is the debut novel of author Kaleb Nation, creator of and – the first in the series, it follows the story of a young boy of six arriving in a bank vault with no memory of how he got there, or in fact any of his past. Living in a city where the art of magic is illegal, he discovers that his mother (whom he cannot remember) created a deadly curse and a curse that revolves around him.

Bran Hambric has a well-crafted plot, with excitement and action present throughout, giving a positive vibe to a novel with its basis grounded within fantasy – Nation writes with a talent that is hard to find, bringing together humour and creativity at just the right degree, creating a novel that is truly a pleasure to read.

I think the series can only get better with the characters being continuously developed and enhanced in meaningful and interesting way – a novel that leaves you wanting more and eagerly awaiting the next edition – ‘The Specter Key’.

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First Post

Looking around the internet, I discovered the lack of teenagers who are posting reviews on books - so my question - how are we meant to know what books to read, what books suit us rather than for people who are older - so I decided to begin this blog to write my reviews, of books that are old and books that are new. From all-time classics, to modern reinventions, to the new classics being published today. I am looking to experience a wider range of genres to be normally reviewed for teenagers and young adults, so whilst it may begin narrowly, I am hoping it will extend to incorporate a wide range of tales and novels.

I will post a review for every book, whether I like it or not. Whilst I don’t expect to have many followers, this is basically a means of posting reviews for something I am passionate about, and to relay that passion onto other people.

I will try and post once a week, but I do still go to school so at times (i.e. around exams), they may be scarce, so I apologise in advance.