Saturday, 24 January 2015

Rock Stars Don't Like Big Knickers - Nikki Ashton

The main reason I downloaded this book was because the title really made me laugh. I’m really disappointed to say that the title was the best part of the book in my opinion. I’ve read another book by Nikki Ashton before and it wasn’t really my thing either but I had high hopes from this one due to the title.
Rock Stars Don’t Like Big Knickers tells the story of Martha and Luke. Martha is just a normal woman who takes a housekeeping job in the mansion her tiny cottage lays in the grounds of. Little does she know that this particular mansion has just been purchased by lead singer of Dirty Riches, Luke. Martha had a huge crush on Luke at school so naturally she is thrilled when Luke starts to flirt with her.
The story is one that I would’ve loved usually but I just hated the characters and the relationships between them. Luke’s actions at certain points in the book were just unforgivable to me and I can’t believe how easily Martha kept on taking him back despite her being introduced as a strong character. I just feel as they Luke was intentionally wrote as a stereotypical rock star and even if he redeems himself somewhat at the end I really hope that no one can be that much of an idiot. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m younger than them but I couldn’t really warm to either Luke or Martha, I just didn’t enjoy reading about them. Perhaps if a book was wrote about Martha’s daughter Betty and her relationship with Luke’s nephew Noah I would’ve enjoyed it more even if I found it completely weird how they were all dating each other.  
What I like the most about reading about relationships in the public eye is that element of realness which makes it more relatable for me. The realness that came with this story just didn’t make it believable enough for me. I just found all the things that happened so farfetched making it difficult for me to read. 
I think this book is a lot like marmite, you’re either going to love it or hate it. I think the story plot was great so if you can warm but the characters I think this book is going to be a winner for you, just unfortunately it wasn’t for me.

Cinder & Ella - Kelly Oram

You know those books that you just can't put down so then before you know it you look at the clock at its 2am but you don’t care that you have to be up in a few hours you just desperately need to get to the end of it to see what happens? That's exactly what happened to me whilst reading this book.

I feel awful for admitting this but I completely judged this book by its cover. I love the story of Cinderella but I thought the cover was awful so I was just expecting a really bad modern day rewrite of Cinderella. How surprised was I that this wasn't the case when I read the book and even more surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. Despite expecting a Cinderella remake from the start when reading the book I didn't make the connections at all which is definitely a good thing as I'm sure all I would’ve spent the time I spent reading it comparing the book to the fairy tale. However, now I'm writing this blog I can see the connections more and more, Ella's mum died, her dad doesn't love her, she has two wicked stepsisters and of course her very own Prince Charming. Now, it seems that obvious that the story was in fact Cinderella that I feel silly for missing it when reading.

Ella had a great life living with her mother in Boston but then thanks to a car accident her life changes. The car accident kills her mother and leaves Ella with horrific injuries. Her mother’s death leads onto her having to move in with her father, his new wife and their two children in LA. As with the Cinderella tale we know so well, Ella doesn’t fit in so well with her new family and is even made an outcast at school. The only thing that is keeping Ella sane during all this is her best friend Cinder, who she has never met but had the best online relationship with before and after her accident. Fittingly with the Cinderella story, Cinder is Hollywood's bad boy Brian Oliver. Ella doesn't want to ruin their friendship by meeting in real life but as expected they end up meeting after Ella's new step family get her tickets to meet him at a fan convention.

I really did enjoy the story and the romance between Ella and Brian but what I didn't like was how horrible some of the characters were particular Ella's sister. However, on reflection this is obviously to fit in with the Cinderella story. I think perhaps if I'd let myself be more aware of the fact it was based on Cinderella I would've found the bad guy characters easier to read. Interestingly what I liked about this book is that I could imagine it easily being turned into a film, I already know exactly who I want to play Brian. Cinder & Ella reminded me a lot of books I used to read when I was younger which I think it part of the reason I ended up reading it in one night. Yes, it's not the best book I've read and the story isn’t anything new but I loved it. If you want a book with a familiar story but with a unique take I would highly recommend Cinder & Ella.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

I am that really annoying person who goes to see the film version of books at the cinema and walks out moaning about how it just isn’t as good as the book. Stardust was a film that I’ve always loved and up until a short while ago, I was blissfully unaware that the film is actually based on a novel by Neil Gaiman. I don’t know if it is because I have watched the film version that many times or because I saw the film first but in this case (and the only case that I can think of) I actually preferred the movie.
If you have yet to see the 2007 film or haven't read the novel, Stardust is based on Tristan Thorn and his adventure to find a star. Tristan wants to marry his love Victoria Forrester and the only way that she’ll agree to give him her hand in marriage is if he brings her back the star they watch fall from the sky when the conversation is taking place. Tristan lives in a place called Wall which is on the boundaries to the mythical world of Faerie which unsurprisingly can only be accessed through a gap in the wall that is always guarded by the residents of Wall. The star falls at the mythical side of the wall meaning that Tristan somewhat fearlessly is required to cross the boundary. It is quickly discovered that not only is the star a woman but that many other people are desperately hunting her down for darker reasons than Tristan’s. I love the idea that this mythical world is just beyond a gap in the wall. Beyond the gap in the wall couldn’t be any different, it’s a world where stars land as humans, unicorns roam the lands and witches are common to name a few differences.
Some of the parts that I absolutely adored in the film, it turned out were never actually in the book to begin with. Ironically it’s usually these bits that if I had read the book first I would’ve disliked. I know for a fact I would’ve loved this book a lot more if I had read it before I had watched the film, part of me wishes I had the opportunity to forget ever seeing the film so I could’ve properly enjoyed the book. My major flaw about the book, without revealing any spoilers, is that in the film a confrontation happens at the end whereas in the book it never happens. It just ends. The whole book revolves really around which person chasing the star ultimately gets her but none of the other parties particularly fight for her in the book, it just sort of happens and for some reason everyone is ok with that. I also particularly disliked the sky pirate’s scene in the book and if you’ve seen the film you’ll know why. Despite all this, I really loved the way that Neil Gaiman writes and the worlds that he created Stardust so I will be definitely reading more of his books in the future.  

Stardust - Neil Gaiman. Click here to buy from Waterstones

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

I’ve been writing this blog and then rewriting it for a few hours now and I’m still struggling to find the right words to find to write about The Night Circus. Not because I don’t have an opinion on the book or because I didn’t enjoy it but because it’s so complicated and confusing it’s very difficult to write about it without revealing spoilers.
The Night Circus is full of mysteries, which I loved reading. I’ve read so many books that are so predictable and you can guess the ending a few pages in, you certainly aren’t doing this with The Night Circus. In short, the story is about a magic challenge that characters Celia and Marco have been bound together to undertake. The challenge is something that is set by Celia’s father and his magician nemesis that both have different ideas about how magic should be learnt and performed. Neither Celia or Marco are sure of the rules of the game or how they go about winning, so naturally you as a reader are kept in the dark too and don’t actually discover more until the final section of the book.
I found myself so absorbed in finding out Marco and Celia’s challenge and wanting to discover which one of them would win the contest that perhaps I read through other sections a little quicker. The book doesn’t just tell one story; it tells multiple tales that take place in different time periods in different chapters and just flits between them. The more you read, the more confused you get and you start to wonder what on earth the relevance to the book the chapters that aren’t about Marco and Celia have to the story. Then suddenly in the last few chapters before you realise it, everything comes together and every one of the other chapters seem to weave effortlessly into Celia and Marco’s story.   
Although I did enjoy this book on first read, at some point in the future I certainly would like to read through the book again. I think that now I know the ending of the story I would enjoy reading it much more than I did the first time round. I also think the wonderful descriptions of the circus would be more appreciated on a second read as I’d be able to fully absorb them and its fairy tale like magical world rather than focussing my attention elsewhere.  
The Night Circus is confusing, makes no sense and has somewhat of a slow story build up. But really, all of those points are exactly why this book is so brilliant. I can now see exactly why people have recommended me this book to read on multiple occasions. It truly is difficult to write about the book and I can see some people really despising this book. It has some lovely descriptions of the circus but the slow, confusing narrative could really put some people off. Personally, I enjoyed reading The Night Circus and I think if you enjoy the fantasy genre you should give the book a read and decide for yourself if it lives up to the hype.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Girl Online - Zoe Sugg

Before I start this review I have to mention that I have no interest in Zoe Sugg aka youtube phenomenon Zoella. I can honestly say that prior to writing this blog I had never watched one of her videos before which is probably a sign that I’m getting older. I don’t really understand the YouTube craze that is putting youtubers as a famous face right now and making any product they put their names to sell an insane amount. Lots of people who make videos are having the opportunity to release books recently including Sugg’s boyfriend, Alfie Deyes, Carrie Hope Fletcher and of course author of the hugely successful The Fault In Our Stars, John Green. Zoe Sugg’s book, Girl Online, has been mentioned everywhere recently due to its record breaking first week sales for a debut novel and the fact that it turns out it has been written by a ghost writer. I have to admit I was curious so decided to give the book a read.
Girl Online is about a fifteen year girl called Penny who suffers from panic attacks. I do like the fact that panic attacks are included in the book as I feel it’s something that should be discussed more openly with the younger generation. Despite this, it’s something that just seems to happen every so often to Penny with little focus drawn to it, when they happen I feel that the event is somewhat glossed over. Gay best friend and neighbour, Elliot, tries to help her get through her life the best way he can but for some reason I just can’t warm to him as a character. Penny shares her experiences on her online blog, Girl Online which draws parallels to Sugg’s own life. Penny’s blog grows more and more popular as the book progresses.
Penny’s mother owns a wedding shop and one day an American couple wonder into the shop asking if it would be possible to plan a wedding in New York at very short notice. The couple pay for Penny’s family and Elliot to fly to America and stay in the very upmarket Wardolf Astoria hotel. It is here she meets the chef’s grandson Noah where they embark on a whirlwind holiday romance which the rest of the book revolves around. 
Noah seems a nice enough character, despite him hiding the huge secret that he’s a famous musician, which I’m sure everyone reading the book figures out pretty early on. However, what I really dislike about Noah and Penny’s relationship is that her parents happily let her go off on her own with an 18 year old boy they barely even know in a foreign country. Even if her parents are busy arranging a wedding they shouldn’t have allowed this. I also find his actions to be a little ridiculous at times for an 18 year old. The way he builds a tent for Penny and puts a keep out sign on it for example was especially hard to read when he is left in the house alone with her, no 18 year old would do this. I think it’s a terribly childish relationship and I find it hard to believe that an 18 year old wants to have a relationship with a 15 year old. I know it’s not such a big age gap but I know myself at that age wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with a fifteen year old. Despite this Noah seems to be the nicest person in Penny’s life other than her family so he makes the story a much more enjoyable read. 
Towards the end of the book, Penny’s new found online popularity turns on her. I don’t want to reveal what happens (though when you read the book it isn’t too hard to figure it out early on) but I think that it was good idea to write in that the internet is not always a nice place and the people behind their computer screens aren’t always going to be on your side. An incident at the beginning where Penny falling over is broadcast on the internet is also an example of this.  
I am in no way in the target audience for this book anymore but I didn’t find any of the characters relatable at all. Despite all this, its huge sales obviously are suggesting that many younger people are reading it which can only be a good thing and touches upon panic attacks which I feel is important. I believe if you know someone who is a young teenage girl they will appreciate reading this book. I’m sure they’ll find the embarrassing moments Penny goes through more relatable than I did and will certainly love the idea of a holiday romance with a rock star. I don’t agree that this book wasn’t up front about being ghost written from the beginning but for fans of Zoella I’m sure they’ll enjoy this book regardless, I just know that I won’t be the front of the queue when her next book is released.