Sunday, 8 May 2016

World War Z


It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality.

Based on the extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredibly story in the history of civilisation.

My Review:

This book completely took me by surprise.
As any of my regular readers or anyone that knows me will know, this is definitely not my regular genre of book. It's like nothing I have ever read before, not only in the incredibly creative and irregular way that it is written, but also in the way that it completely mesmerised me, in a way that no book in this genre or this style ever has.

So basically, for anyone whom hasn't heard about this book or seen the movie starring Brad Pitt, and seriously if you haven't - get on it. If you like zombie movies, action movies, a bit of medical backstory and of course, looking at Brad Pitt for 2 hours (I mean, who wouldn't love that), then it's totally a movie you need to get onto. After you've read the book of course.
But as I was saying, for anyone that knows nothing about the storyline, basically this zombie infection arises in the world which in turn creates an apocalyptic environment with the world's militaries trying to fight off this zombie invasion and take back the world that is theirs.

I know it sounds cliche and just like every other zombie book/movie that you've ever seen or read. Which is exactly what I thought too. I mean, I'd seen the movie and I loved it, but I never really had any interest in reading the book.
That is, until I found it at my boyfriends house and he started ranting about how great it was.
So I decided to check it out, and completely fell in love with it.

Now, it is written in first person (which is my usual preference) but not in the way that you might think. The book, whilst following the storyline of the war in relative chronology, doesn't actually have any sort of protagonist.
Not only that, it doesn't have any main or central characters at all.
It's written in the form of a report, of many interviews all compiled together of different survivors of World War Z as they all tell their story to our, I guess you could call him a narrator. The interviewer.

Whilst this was really intriguing to me and I honestly respect the author Max Brooks so much for being able to pull this off in the way that he does, while still creating perfectly easy to follow prose and a definitive timeline. It did draw out my reading of the book quite substantially, as I felt the need after every small interview section, to sit and digest what I had just read before moving on to the next, a different story, in a different location with a different character.

It did take a lot out of me reading the book because of this, it was quite exhausting to concentrate on at times, almost like an information overload. But, saying this, each story and interview was so thrilling and so suspenseful, that as soon as I did start reading a section, it was near impossible to put the book down.

Overall, I give this book 8.5/10 stars.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell. SPOILERS


Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black t-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

My Review:

Okay so I will start by saying that I didn't really like this book. I mean, I definitely enjoyed bits of it, parts of it I absolutely loved, but overall, it left me really unsatisfied.

So as some of you may have noticed, this is the first review that I've ever done that's included spoilers. This is because I absolutely hated the ending of this book and I really wanted to talk about it in this post, to explain why my perception of this book isn't great.

Okay, so as I said, there are a few things that I really enjoyed in this book and so I want to talk about them first.

So, as the blurb kind of gives away, this is a love story.
One thing I truly loved about it is that the love aspect is quite realistic when compared to other teen love stories. Eleanor and Park aren't really the typical people in a love story, Eleanor is described to be quite overweight, her entire wardrobe consisting of hand-me-down clothes and ratty, old secondhand clothes.
Park on the other hand is described many times as a non-attractive, in his eyes anyway, thin, Asian boy.
Their first meeting was also not the usual, cute, 'eyes meet across a crowded room' cliche and neither of them are particularly drawn to each other when they first meet on the bus.

This for me was a real breeze of fresh air from other romance books that I've read in the past, it's real, it's raw and I absolutely loved it.

Something else that I really loved within this book is how intelligent parts of it were.
There was so much subtlety throughout the entire story, things such as the irony of Eleanor's bus being number 666, and Eleanor's interpretation of Romeo and Juliet towards the middle of the book in English class, as well as the part at the beginning where her English teacher is talking about poetry. It was really beautiful to me to put this literary intelligence through the love story to focus on something else for a little bit.
This was good with all of the issues within the book, whilst as much as Eleanor and Park's romance was a large part of the book, as with real life, it wasn't the only issue explored. There are things that love is not enough to concur and I love that this is seen throughout.

Going back to what I was saying about intelligence, speaking of Eleanor and Park's relationship, I love the conversations that they have. Most of them being intelligent conversations, analysing music and comics and just talking about life in general.
It shows just how strong a connection the two of them did have and I loved that Rowell highlighted this throughout the book, it made their love story just that much better and again, more realistic.

Okay, as much as I loved all of that stuff within this novel, the ending ruined the entire book for me.

So for those of you who haven't read it, basically Eleanor's family problems become quite massive and she decides to leave town and go and stay with her uncle. Park drives her there to help her and then he comes back.

The thing that annoys me, is that there is all of this talk about how they will write to each other and call on the phone and stuff and Eleanor just sort of blows it all off. And the book ends with Park coming home and not hearing anything from Eleanor for a year, and in the very last paragraph he gets a postcard from her with three words. Three words which are never revealed...

I mean, okay I understand what the author was trying to do here, explain how easily things just end and sometimes you have to let someone go and all of that.
But, their relationship was emphasised so much throughout the book and the reader got to a point as they overcame all of their problems and Eleanor finally opened up to Park and told him about her family problems that the reader was really rooting for them.
How Park was the only person that really understood Eleanor and loved her.
To have it all end just because they lived in different states, personally, really annoyed me.

I'm not going to rant about it too much but I just think that not only was distance one of the least intense things that they had to deal with together, and the fact that it was just all over with no explanation, the two of them didn't even have a conversation about it was just a huge anticlimax.

Overall I give Eleanor and Park 1.5 stars out of 5. 

Favourite Quotes: 

"They agreed about everything important and argued about everything else"
- Narrator. Page 64.

"Park had the sort of face you painted because you didn't want history to forget it"
- Eleanor. Page 135

"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something"
- Park. Page 169

"I just can't believe that life would give us to each other and then take it back."
"Life's a bastard"
- Park and Eleanor. Page 306

"I'm not ready for you to stop being my problem"
- Park. Page 309

Thanks for reading guys - let me know what you thought of the ending if you've read it or what you thought of my interpretation.
Read fast, die young!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Humans of New York - Review

Hey everyone

Okay so I haven't posted a review in a while because I've been overseas.
I'm not going to talk about that because this is not what this blog is for - for anyone that is interested in knowing about my trip, I will put a link at the bottom of this to my personal blog post about my top 4 Europe experiences so you guys can check it out.

Anyway, review time.
This book is not really my normal style of book to review, but I read it and I just fell in love with it and couldn't bear not to share it with you.
So basically it's a book of photos by a photographer named Brandon Stanton, who started a blog called Humans of New York (link is below).


Since 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton has been capturing New Yorkers and their remarkable stories. The blog he created has touched millions of lives around the world.
Humans of New York is a surprising and moving collection of four hundred of his most beautiful photos, featuring exclusive new portraits and stories.

My Review:

Okay so this is a new one for me, so it's been a bit hard putting my thoughts into words as I'm not used to reviewing and analysing stuff like this.

I will say that I have followed a little bit of the Humans of New York blog before so before picking up this book I was used to Stanton's photography style and I loved it.
But this book was just something else.

It's amazing to me how much emotion and strength can be shown and evoked by just a simple photograph.
And that is how I would describe this book, emotion, strength, love, pain. Just life.

Looking through this collection of photos just inspired me and really made me realise just how strong and incredible the human race truly is.
It's strange, these photos really emphasise the diversity of the human race, but it's one of the few things that I've seen in the last few years that just shows the beauty in this. There is no judgement, no negativity, just beauty. The beauty of the world and of our differences.
It's truly inspiring.

Something else that I really love about this book as well is the captions for the photos, the majority of them have captions and they vary from quotes from the people in the photos, Brandon's story of what happened or how he managed to get the photos, or even just where they were taken.
It's through these that stories are told that otherwise never would be, amazing and incredible stories that, in my opinion, the entire world needs to hear. That's the beauty of this book, to explore and learn about life, about people's lives and the beauty that is hiding in them.

I could not recommend checking this book, or Brandon's blog out enough.
It's just breathtaking and it really will change your perspective on the world!

So usually as my readers will know, I do a favourite quotes section.
Obviously that's kinda hard with this, so I'm just going to share my favourite photo.
This one I did see on Brandon's blog quite a few months ago and have been in love with for a while now, I was so happy to see that it got included in here!

Caption: Seen in Times Square

Thanks for reading guys, I know this is a bit of a change from my normal stuff, and I am currently reading Eleanor and Park, so my next review of that will be back to my normal style, but I'd love to hear what you guys thought of this post and also, if any of you do go and check out Brandon's blog, what your perspective on it all is.

Read fast, die young


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Friday, 1 January 2016

The Last Time We Say Goodbye - Cynthia Hand


The last time Lex was happy was before.
When she had a family that was whole.
A boyfriend she loved.
Friends who didn't look at her like she break down at any moment.

Now she's the girl whose brother killed himself.
And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.
As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret he hasn't told anyone - a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that the past doesn't have to define the present.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a story of love, loss and learning how to let go.

My Review:

I have honestly been quite nervous about writing this review.
I finished the book last night quite late and it made me sob and cry probably more than any other book or movie ever has in my life.
I just walked around my house for like a half hour trying to come to terms with it, it was so emotional and beautiful and just incredible. For words on a page to make me feel like that, I will never be able to handle how amazing that is.

Okay, so I guess I'll start at the beginning.

I absolutely fell in love with the main character, Lexie, from the first few pages.
Mainly because she was talking about how much she loved an idol of mine, John Nash. For anyone that doesn't know, John Nash was an incredible mathematician who also lived his life with paranoid schizophrenia.
Anyway, this started an incredible mathematical and scientific theme that ran pretty strongly all throughout the book, which I loved.

This book, was quite intelligent, but not in a pompous or arrogant way. It was quite subtly intelligent, for example they have a conversation in the middle of the book about etymology (which is the study of the origin of words) that has quite a strong correlation with what Lexie is experiencing through her choice of words to study.
This is also shown through the choice of words that her best friends also choose.

Another example of this is the sciencey love stuff in the flashbacks to Lex and Stevens' (her ex-boyfriend) relationship.
I don't want to give too much away so I won't say exactly what this entails, but to any science nerd like me, it'll melt your heart.
I'll just put this one quote in here so you guys can see:
"'You look like Euler's equation,' he murmured as he looked me up and down. Nerd translation: Eurler's equation is said to be the most perfect formula ever written. Simple but elegant. Beautiful."

One thing I did love so much was how Lexie grew throughout the book.
Not only how she learnt a bit more to come to terms with the bad things that she couldn't control in her life, but also just learning to accept the way she feels.
I found this really refreshing and I'm so happy that the book ended in such a way that you could really be proud of her, like I almost feel motherly pride when I think about all of the things she had to dealt with and how she did. With her Dad, and Ty (her brother) and Steven. It was inspirational.
That's how connected to the main character the author made me feel, which I thought was just incredible.

Also, I want to emphasise how much I loved, from a psychological point of view, that whilst Lex definitely accepted and let go of the things in her life that hurt her, she didn't forgive everyone.
She just had the power to be able to let that hurt out of her life.
As her psychologist says on page 319:
"Forgiveness is tricky, Alexis, because in the end it's more about you than it is about the person who's being forgiven".

I give The Last Time We Say Goodbye 5/5 stars.

Favourite Quotes:

"It smelled like books, a heady mix of paper and ink and glue, a sweet knowledge"
- Narrator, page 57

"I like that it's derived from a verb. Brave isn't something you are. It's something you do. It comes from action. I appreciate that"
- El, page 70

"The numbers make sense of things. They make order of a disordered world"
- Narrator, page 182

"How can there be such a thing as insanity in a world that's already gone insane?"
- Damian, page 281

"holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die."
- Alexis, page 319

Thanks so much for reading guys!
I just wanted to say that I'm not exactly sure when my next book review will be up as on Wednesday I am going to Europe for 3 weeks.
But I will do my best to have it up for you guys as soon as I can, but it probably won't be until after I get back.

Read fast, die young


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