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Alana The Geek :) (England)

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Ugly Betty - Season 1:  The Bettified Edition [DVD]
Ugly Betty - Season 1: The Bettified Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ America Ferrera
Price: 9.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Five years on and still great!, 13 Jun 2012
I'm currently having a gap year (due to a chronic illness) and have been re-visiting lots of TV programmes I used to love- Ugly Betty being one. The first season was released in 2007, and is still great now. When I decided to re-watch it I was dubious; thought it would be very outdated by now, however, I still thought it was extremely funny. Fashion may move on, the the industry doesn't, as new girl at Mode, Betty soon finds out.

Betty is an innocent lamb to the slaughter at Mode, where she is overweight, geeky and unfashionable. The reality is she is just a normal girl at a hypersensitive fashion magazine. Therefore Betty breathes a breath of fresh air into the world of Mode.

I love how Betty becomes somewhat of a babysitter, rather than assistant to Daniel, and the close relationship of her family. Soon the people at Mode are all encroaching on Betty's personal life, much to our amusement.

There is never a dull moment at Mode- scheming, sex changes, romance, murder, and then there is the drama of Betty's life...

With characters' like Mark, Amanda and Justin (Just to name a few) there is always over dramatic scenarios, laughs, jibes and witty comments, mainly at Betty's expense. However, there are tender moments too, which reminds us that the fashion world is not all superficial, there are beating hearts beneath the flesh.

As the first season comes to a climax there are decisions to be made, revenge to be taken and of course double dealing and back stabbing. I couldn't wait to re-watch the rest of the seasons!

*Just an idea* Ugly Betty is great for lazy days and Sundays, me and my younger sister watch a disk every Sunday with a tube of Ben and Jerry's :)

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey
by E L James
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.50

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, disturbing but delicious, 10 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (Paperback)
Going on reviews I think that 'Fifty Shades' is a love it or hate it trilogy. For me, it's a love! Although I have only just finished the first novel, I am eager to read the next two, even forsaking reading anything else until they arrive.

The novel doesn't give much away going on the synopsis, and I only found out the novel was an erotic romance from other reviews, which made me dubious about reading it, as from past experience some erotica I've read has been too strange for my taste. However, sex scenes within the novel were sexy and seductive, and as the reader I was hoping for more and more! Although I did feel that I was doing something naughty in reading this delicious novel, but I just couldn't stop... However, the novel isn't all sex, there is a clear storyline, Ana wanting a more lasting relationship with Christian, with witty e-mailing between the two when they're not together ;)

Christian, the main male character of the novel is a dark, brooding soul, who it seems at the start asks too much of Ana, the innocent female, but as the novel progresses it doesn't seem as unacceptable as first thought. This aspect disturbed me, as the novelist persuaded me that a previously horrible scenario was something that then later didn't seem so bad; could even be described as desirable. This is what happens with Ana, as she falls deeper and deeper in love with Christian, and his acquired tastes, until the novel come to a climax (no pun intended).

I think that E L James has approached a formally taboo subject, that would not normally have become mainstream fiction, which is a huge achievement, and one I'm glad of, as never before has a novel with so much sexual revelation been a international phenomenon (with exception of for example- Lady Chatterly's Lover by D H Lawrence). Therefore the novel can open the minds of people, who like me, formally had a very rigid view of this topic and idea, whilst also bringing wit, humour and seduction to the novel.

Time's Legacy
Time's Legacy
by Barbara Erskine
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 29 Mar 2012
This review is from: Time's Legacy (Paperback)
I love Barbara Erskine's books! I've read a few so far and love getting lost in the mix of history and mystery. It's so atmospheric, the blend between present and past and the uncovering of the truth.
Sadly (or maybe it's a good thing!) I don't find Erskine's books scary anymore, but nonetheless they are still thrilling.

'Times Legacy' is set in the beautiful and mysterious Glastonbury, where Abi, a newly appointed vicar is grieving for her mother, while trying to escape a very strange stalker! She has been left a mystical stone that seems to induce in Abi a psychic ability...

On the very land that Abi is living on in the present day, a story is unfolding in 25AD...Soon the stone is consuming Abi as flashbacks about a Druid community, a Roman family and a mysterious visitor enfolds into a story involving passion and revenge. The ghosts of the past are restless, their souls will not rest until the truth is uncovered, but Abi has her own ghosts to fight as her stalker constantly rears his head, causing no end of havoc!

All the way through the book I was willing Abi to have more and more flashbacks, I was so desperate to know what was going to happen to the mysterious stranger (the twist of who he is is rather clever too).

I love that Erskine explores a time further back in history than most authors go- Roman England and the Druids, and although the two time periods are very diverse they come together effortlessly.

311 Pelican Court (MIRA)
311 Pelican Court (MIRA)
by Debbie Macomber
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Cedar Cove- Pt 3, 8 Jan 2012
Welcome back to Cedar Cove- Once again the story is lovely.

Judge Olivia Lockhart rules that newly divorced Zach and Rosie Cox will both have custody of their two children, however the children will not move from house to house- the parents will do that!
& So the parents and children begin to learn some lessons in life...Allison makes a new friend to help her through the time and Rosie and Zach find out what it's really like to be divorced and separated.

Elsewhere at the Thyme and Tide B&B a mysterious man has died, but the question is who is he? How did he die? The investigation begins.

Another great story, easy to read and heart-warming :)

The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother
The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother
by Philippa Gregory
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.91

20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive, bias, poorly written...., 6 Jan 2012
I had long awaited this book, due to my fascination with the Wars of the Roses and being a fan of Philippa Gregory...However this book (which I refuse to call a historical essay, or such title) was a let down from start to finish.

The introduction treats the reader as if they are a child (telling us what fiction is! I think we know already), and drags on for 33 pages. The introduction could have been shortened to simply introducing the subject matter and highlighting what was to be explained in the rest of the book.

Firstly, Philippa Gregory writing about Jacquetta of Luxembourg, which was fine, but Gregory by that point had pretty much covered the period in which all three women appear, and so by the time I'd finished reading about Elizabeth Woodville I was sick of reading the same thing. Therefore I struggled though Margaret Beaufort, having already read the same story twice already (except for obviously Jacquetta's early life and what happened after her death).
Surely a better option would have been to shorten the book- maybe of had a paragraph on each battle and who was connected to who (to therefore take out the repetition of the battles), which could be referenced when appropriate. Then the writers could have focused on the characters of the women (their aim), and not bogged the book down with information repeated 3 times. I also think that all sources used should have been referenced at the bottom of the page, which is more sophisticated and useful than at the back.

Secondly, all three writers were bias about their subject, at times indicating that the women were perfect (which they deny in the book), and although it is common for historians to be bias, I felt that a first time reader of something alleged to be an historical essay could easily be mislead.

Thirdly, none of the writers wrote in an academic way (this was no academic essay!), which was a disappointment, as all three have been academically educated and Gregory has a doctorate. Therefore we'd expect that outside of fiction she would revert to writing how she was taught to. However it felt like none of the writers took the non-fiction very seriously, and Gregory goes off on a tangent at one point about the the weather in May! She therefore assumes and supposes and tries to make the biography a romance (maybe she forgot what she was writing, which shows she has been writing fiction for too long!).

Although my review seems harsh I am writing from a historians point of view ( I am currently taking my degree to become a historian). I can't deny Gregory's or the other writers qualifications, but it seems they either grossly underestimate their readers, or else have forgotten how to write a piece of historical non-fiction.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2012 10:51 AM BST

Animal Farm
Animal Farm
by George Orwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books, 30 Nov 2011
This review is from: Animal Farm (Paperback)
After reading 'Animal Farm' I can't look at farm animals without remembering this unforgettable story- never again will they ever be the same.

So what is it that makes this novel one of my all time favourites and a classic?
Well- it has humour, as the novel is a satirical on look at the world in 1916. What Orwell is saying indirectly is that the Bolsheviks are pigs, no better than the people they over threw, in this case the farmer, in the real world, the Tsar. (The ending sentence is wonderful- the pigs look just like the farmer, enjoying the warmth, food, booze and cigars!).
Alongside this George Orwell is a master of dystopia- he creates a world that is so vivid, I could imagine the farm, the animals and all the action, in a way he makes it believable (although we know it's not).

Overall the novel is funny (beyond belief), beautifully written, doesn't drag along and has a great moral point.

by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, 30 Nov 2011
This review is from: Amsterdam (Paperback)
I'm a huge fan of Ian McEwan, starting with when I read 'Atonement' years back, and following that I've read almost every one of his other books. I loved them all, for the plot and style of writing, which is educated, sophisticated and interesting.

But what went wrong with 'Amsterdam'? The plot was pointless, and very weak, none of the characters were likeable and nothing happened to keep me entertained.

When I started this I thought I'd picked up the wrong book, and then thought that it must just be me, but thankfully other reviewers agree that this shouldn't have won an award.

The Help
The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought, 22 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Help (Paperback)
Not since 'Memoirs of a Geisha' have a found a book as compelling and breathtaking as 'The Help'. (And yes, the books are very different).

I brought the novel based on reviews and raced through it; I didn't want it to end!

What separates this novel from all the rest released this year (or even this decade) is that there is actually a point to it- how was life for African American maids in southern America during segregation in the 1960s. Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, and a changing era (from Mary Whitehouse types to a more promiscuous society), the novel is humorous, but also brings tears to your eyes at the end, overall it gives you something to really think about- a divided society, and just what it takes to step over the lines: by the end of the novel you feel that the barriers have been broken forever, for some people at least.

The plot? Well, a young aspiring journalist Miss Skeeter is annoyed with society, the bounds of women and the 'coloured' population of Jackson, Mississippi. Her prim and proper friends believe that segregation is the only way, and openly express racist views, even in front of their maids.

Meanwhile the maids bring up the children of the women who condemn them to a life of boundaries; women such as Aibileen, who loves the children in her care, and tries to instil in them that people are all the same, and no one person is worth more than another. But there is trouble brewing, ironically, the maids are trusted with children, but not silver cutlery- what is worth more?

Minny, however, is a women not to be messed with, after being accused of stealing she does an 'Awful Terrible Thing, is dismissed and takes a position as a maid for Celia, another women shunned from society. Celia, is described as 'tacky' and 'trashy', but is one of the sweetest characters in the novel. What Celia portrays is 'is ignorance bliss?' In this case, yes. She seems oblivious of boundaries, such as class and colour, as she tries to befriend 'society ladies' and treats Minny like more of a friend than a maid.
The pair are quite comical, Minny getting annoyed with the 'crazy lady' and Celia is so pitiful, you feel sorry for her, and love her as well.

Therefore Miss Skeeter sees and seizes an opportunity that can either soar of fall- writing a collection of memoirs from the maids of Jackson. Although reluctant, eventually they agree, and so the story forms. So although the novel doesn't include all the maids' stories (it offers snippets, both funny, sad and touching), it tells the story of three women, who make unlikely friends, as they go about their everyday life,(which is also funny, sad and touching).

Overall, this is a novel that will stay with you long after you've finished it, it's incredibly well written and has a moral point. I was sad to finish it; the novel was a delight from start to finish- I found empathy, anger and humour within the 450 pages. I laughed and cried, so it is defiantly a novel that touches the reader deeply.

His Last Duchess
His Last Duchess
by Gabrielle Kimm
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical!, 15 Nov 2011
This review is from: His Last Duchess (Paperback)
It's very rare that an author can take something as amazing and timeless as a poem such as Browning's and turn it into a successful novel.

Browning's poem, on which the story is based, is one of my favourite poems, so when I first saw this title I knew instantly it just had to be based on the poem.

Gabrielle Kimm tells the intimate story of the Duke of Ferrara's Duchess, a 16 year old Lucrezia de' Medici. Throughout the story we see the marriage struggle as no heir is conceived and Lucrezia discovers that love (outside of the marriage) is a dangerous game to play when your the duchess of a man in violent torment.

The writer successfully weaves a story around the poem, dropping in hints, such as Fra Pandolf's painting, and the Duchess not respecting his ancient family name, as she loves all the people around her, and refuses to be rude to her servants.

The feelings and emotions of the character's are so well described, the reader can empathise and understand; even at the end I felt a little sorry for the Duke, which shows the writer can bring feeling to even the most disagreeable character.
Kimm also gives us depth and passion to each of her characters and we can see the psychological torment the Duke experiences.

In the poem the Duke 'gave commands', but what Kimm does is give the reader a twist to the story and some mystery that satisfies the audience.

For a first novel it doesn't get much better than this; the novel has love, trauma, twists, mystery, empathy and brings the reader into sixteenth century life for a Duchess. Undoubtedly it establishes Gabrielle Kimm as an upcoming novelist that I'm sure will write many more great novels.

by Jilly Cooper OBE
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She does it again!, 11 Nov 2011
This review is from: Emily (Paperback)
I've read all of Jilly Cooper's 'Rutshire Chronicles', and 9/10 times she's not disappointed.

Therefore I decided to read her other novels- Emily being the fist, was better than I expected...Emily is both a lovable character and an annoying one (she's a little silly).
I felt sorry for her when her marriage to Rory starts to go wrong, and shocked at several revelations throughout the book. Overall I was happy with the outcome at the end :)

I finished it in a few hours, it's very brief, but not fleeting- You get to know Emily, Rory, Coco, Finn and all the other characters exceptionally well, which shows that Cooper is good at character building. Also she never fails to set the scene and the description of the Highlands is wonderful. Jilly also proves she can write a great novel without include heap fulls of sex (something some people criticize her for).

This is just the book to curl up with on the sofa on a rainy day- Pure escapism in a small dose.

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