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Laura Hartley (London)
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Losing It
Losing It
by Helen Lederer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light entertainment, 24 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Losing It (Paperback)
Losing It by Helen Lederer is the comic tale of a middle-aged Z lister, Millie. She was once a celebrity of sorts but those days are gone and she is now in debt, divorced and desperate. Just as things are starting to look really bleak for Millie, a fantastic opportunity comes her way, giving her that chance to finally sort her life out. She is offered £20,000 to lose weight. Seems like a pretty good deal right? The problem is, Millie has absolutely no willpower and cutting down on the amount she eats proves to be pretty difficult for her. But no weight loss, no money. After an eye opening trip to Papua New Guinea to visit her daughter, Millie truly begins her weight loss journey. It's full of ups and downs (mostly downs), but will she pull it together and meet her weight loss target and get the money she so desperately needs?

Losing It reminds me a lot of Bridget Jones. She's just a little bit (*very) tragic and I think every woman will be able to see a bit of themselves in Millie. She's desperate, single, and she can't keep her hands out of the fridge. We relate to her because she's human. Maintaining a household, keeping a steady relationship, having a successful career and staying fit and healthy are all difficult things to do individually, let alone all at once, which is what a lot of women are expected to do these days. Millie fails and fails again, but she doesn't stop trying so you find yourself rooting for Millie, willing her to succeed as if her success will guarantee yours too. If Millie can do it, there's hope for us all.

Although the novel focuses on Millie's life, the host of supporting characters are all incredibly entertaining in their own ways as well, which makes the story far more interesting. There are numerous sub-plots including one about Millie's daughter and one about her best friend. Her daughter's boyfriend, a Papua New Guinean, Eugene, is just very strange and doesn't speak particularly good English and you can imagine being thoroughly weirded out by him if you were to meet him in real life. There's also Millie's boss, Esther, who is stern and unforgiving, but you (unexpectedly) grow to love her by the end of the novel.

The plot doesn't have all that much to it really as it's Millie as a character that is the main focus of the novel. Sure, lots of funny things happen, but they're all pretty mundane things that would happen in day-to-day life that are only made funny by the fact that they all happen to Millie. There are some laugh out loud moments, however, and you can't get through a single page without Millie blundering something or other. Lederer's sense of humour is great and it really shines through in this story. Whilst some moments are laugh-out-loud hilarious, readers will go through the majority of this story silently mocking Millie and scoffing at how pathetic she is at times. That said, it will no doubt be in the back of every woman's mind that she could very well be in the same position as Millie one day.

In conclusion, Helen Lederer's Losing It is a great read for those looking for some light entertainment. The story is an easy read that you'll easily get through in just one short afternoon. This will probably appeal most to middle aged women, especially those going through a bit of a crisis, as Millie embodies the everyday woman. Perfect for fans of Dawn French and Sue Townsend, this is a great piece of women's fiction that you will no doubt enjoy.

Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles)
Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles)
by Jeffrey Archer
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get going, but when it does, it's really thrilling, 14 Jan. 2015
Be Careful What You Wish For is the fourth book in The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer (something that I didn't realise until I'd finished reading the book so silly me). It begins with a car crash involving two young men, but we are uncertain as to which one was killed in the crash. It turns out there is a feud between the families of the two boys and Don Pedro Martinez is trying to bring down the esteemed Barrington family. Throughout the book we see various different plots to destroy the Barrington's family shipping business but whether Don Pedro Martinez is successful in his plans will remain a mystery...

I have to be honest, I didn't think that I was going to like this book before I started reading it, nor when I had read 150 pages of it. It was not until after I'd read about a third of the book did it really begin to pique my interest. This book contains several passages which have either strong political or financial themes and I found these parts of the books much less accessible as a reader. That said, I haven't read many political novels or anything of the sort so this was very much a new reading experience for me and I imagine existing Archer fans would've greatly enjoyed these details passages.

The plot gets more and more complicated as time goes on and you begin to see how all the different characters fit into the action but Archer keeps the motives and relations between characters under wraps for the most part of the book. Archer is incredibly good at keeping the reader in suspense and weaving a tale so thick that it's impossible to predict what's coming next. There's a lot of two-ing and fro-ing in this novel as you see the Barrington's and the Martinez's fight to destroy the reputation of the other and there's absolutely no way of predicting the results of each party's ploys. This story gets more and more exciting as it goes on, constantly surprising the reader with new and game-changing information that throws what you thought you knew about the story out the window. If you like to be kept on your toes, then this is the series for you.

Perhaps this was because I haven't read the previous books in the series, but I didn't really feel like I connected with any of the characters. This is not the story of one person, but the intersecting and overlapping stories of many, many characters. As a result, it is not only hard to to wrap your head around who's who, but also to form any sort of emotional attachment to any character. This was a disappointment, but did not necessarily let the book down. The complex nature of the plot means that this book is very much about what is happening, rather than what each character feels about what is happening. Another factor is that the character's don't have very strong relationships between each other so there isn't anything for the reader to connect with. Instead, you remain removed from the busy plot but your interest is still maintained because you want to find out which character's plans will ultimately succeed. The characters have a business-like relationship with each other and thus I felt like I had a business-like relationship with the book. This story was created to entertain me and entertain me it did.

All in all, Be Careful What You Wish For was a highly entertaining novel (once it got going) and I would highly recommend it to existing Archer fans and to those that have never read his books I suggest you pick one up. This book ends on one hell of a cliffhanger so I am eager to get my hands on the next instalment of The Clifton Chronicles (released in February this year). This book takes quite a bit of time to get your head around but if you're a fan of political or business-related drama, entwined with family drama, then this is the series for you.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2015 12:29 PM GMT

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series)
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series)
by James Dashner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique and terrifying world, 26 Sept. 2014
The Maze Runner is a young adult dystopian story and it's not hard to see why this story was snapped up by 20th Century Fox as it's a gripping story full of twists and turns set in a world that will no doubt make an impression on the big screen. This story starts when Thomas arrives at the Glade in the box. Thomas has absolutely no memories about his past or who he is and is very confused by his surroundings, which is to be expected given that the Glade is occupied up of a small group of teenage boys (no adults and no girls) and is enclosed within the confines of massive stone walls. Thomas soon discovers that these boys are trapped in the Glade, which is surrounded by a huge maze, full of dangerous creatures called Grievers. Everyday, the walls open, revealing the Maze and the Gladers send out 'runners' to try and figure out a way out of the Maze. The Gladers have already been trapped for two years but they still haven't found a way out. Why? Because every night, once the stone walls close, the walls of the maze change. Escape seems futile. Everyday is the same in the Glade, that is, until Thomas shows up, when everything starts to change. Ordinarily, only one new person arrives at the Glade a month, but the day after Thomas arrives, another person is delivered via the box. A girl. A girl that recognises Thomas, no less. Things are changing in the Glade and it seems like the time to finally escape has come - but only if they can figure out the code - and their escape mission will not be easy.

Although the story is written in the third person, it follows Thomas as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on - what happened to him (and the other boys), where they are and what their purpose is. I didn't connect as much with Thomas as I expected to but he is definitely a strong male lead and a great character to read about. Not all of the characters in the story like Thomas and I think that that feeling rubbed off slightly on me as there were times when I questioned whether I really trusted him. With so many character with little to no memory of who they are and where they've come from, it can be a little difficult figuring out which characters to trust and the success of this story is probably down the huge amount of suspense that the reader feels. It is not until the very end of the story that anything really becomes clear and when it does, you kinda wish you hadn't found out what's really going on.

Dashner has created a unique and terrifying world which will probably haunt me in my dreams tonight. It's very Hunger Games-esque as you've got a group of young kids fighting for survival against what they assume is a system adults created to test them. (Why they are being tested, they have no idea). The difference is however, these kids are working as a group to try to survive so themes of friendship and how a society should function are important. Although all the main characters are children, if their age was never mentioned, I could very well believe that this was a tale for adults. This is classified as a YA novel, however, there is nothing remotely 'childish' about this book. This is a serious tale of survival and I have to be honest, Dashner's imagination frightens me.

There isn't much romance in this story but you can see that there is something developing between Thomas and Teresa, the only girl in the camp. There are some nice moments between these two but this definitely isn't one of the main plot points though I look forward to this blossoming in the future books. I am a big fan of romance in YA books, but in this case, I didn't really care that there wasn't all that much of it because there was so much going on in terms of friendships and the developing ties between different characters.

All in all, The Maze Runner is definitely up there with top YA titles such as The Hunger Games and The 5th Wave and if you haven't read it yet, then you absolutely must pick up a copy before the film comes out next month. The cliffhanger at the end of The Maze Runner makes sure that readers will want to pick up the next book and I cannot wait to see how the plot develops from here. I absolutely tore through this book and finished it in no time, desperate to find out what was going on. Dashner has now been added to my list of favourite authors and I would give this story 5 stars simply for the terrifying world that Dashner has created.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2014 12:51 PM GMT

The Importance of being earnest
The Importance of being earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece - laugh out loud funny, 13 Sept. 2014
I was under the impression that The Importance of Being Earnest was a serious piece of work for some reason but I couldn't have been more wrong. This play, written by Oscar Wilde, is incredibly funny farcical comedy that was written in the late 19th century. It follows the story of two men, John and Algernon who both have separate identities for when they are in town and when they are in the country. When John is in town, he goes by the name Ernest and claims to be in love with a young lady named Gwendolen, whom he wishes to marry. The problem is that the name Ernest is of great importance to Gwendolen, but of course, it isn't his real name. Algernon usually resides in town but upon hearing that his friend John has a young ward by the name of Cecily in the country, he takes on the persona of John's fake brother 'Ernest', and goes to visit John's house in the country. As you can imagine, numerous funny incidences occur as there is more than one man named 'Ernest' and people are not who they say they are.

This play is rather short and I managed to read the entire play in about an hour. There are very few stage directions in The Importance of Being Earnest, but this play is all about what people are saying, rather than what they are doing. Everything the characters say is either nonsense or completely backwards which is very funny for the reader. I must admit that even I got a little confused with all the identity switches but this short and sharp play keeps you entertained the entire way through and laugh-out-loud funny. Reading this play was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I would imagine that seeing this played out on stage would be even better. I haven't read any of Wilde's other plays but I can't imagine them getting much better, or funnier, than this.

Of course, whilst it is incredibly funny, if you read between the lines this is a satire of society and social commentary with Wilde making remarks on love affairs and marriage in the 19th century as well as the vanity of the upper classes. Of course everything the characters say is quite ridiculous and you absolutely cannot take them seriously and yet I suppose the idea of these characters being real people is not funny at all.

All in all, Wilde is a master and The Importance of Being Earnest is a must read/watch for all. Having read the play, I am now desperate to see it performed on stage which will no doubt be down right hilarious. This play is very short and easy to read so there are absolutely no excuses. Although written over a century ago, this witty play is a timeless classic that even modern readers will appreciate.

Half Bad
Half Bad
by Sally Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wasn't completely taken with this book; however, there is potential for the sequels, 11 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Half Bad (Paperback)
Half Bad follows the story of Nathan Byrn, a half White, half Black witch. White witches are good. Black witches are bad. That's what he's been told anyways. He's always been discriminated against for his entire life, by his classmates and even his half-sister, Jessica. Nathan is the son of the most powerful and most feared Black witch of all time - Marcus - and because of this, the Council, made up of White Witches, have been keeping a very close eye on him for his entire life. As time goes on, people become more and more suspicious of Black witches and Nathan knows that before long he'll have to leave home and find his father. There are so many things that Nathan is kept in the dark about and he's desperate to find out about his past and his family before he turns 17 - when the Giving ceremony is performed (by a family member) and he officially becomes a witch. Nobody will give him the answers he is looking for so only one solution remains - find his father. The most powerful and dangerous Black witch of all time.

I must admit that Half Bad was nowhere near as good as I was expecting it to be. Although I found it to be an interesting read, I wouldn't describe it as particularly exciting. The plot isn't chronological and the book begins in the middle of the story. The first 50 pages are very exciting and are full of suspense so at the beginning stages, this book was un-put-down-able; however, after this point, the plot moved back to the present and slowed down considerably. A lot of the middle section describes Nathan's home life and how he grew up which is great for setting the scene and you get a really good sense of what it's like to be someone like Nathan in the world that Sally Green has created, however, I wouldn't say that all that much happens in these parts. The last fifty pages are also really exciting as things really start moving for Nathan so the book ends with enough of a cliffhanger that leaves you want to read more. It's a shame that the middle passage is so slow as the beginning and the ending are really superb.

I think one of the main reasons that I didn't enjoy this book all that much is because although you emphathise with the protagonist, Nathan is not a particularly likable character. You certainly feel sorry for him as he is treated incredibly badly and you're willing him on because you want him to find out more about himself, mostly so you can understand what's going on, but you don't really end up 'liking' him. He is not a happy character, understandably given his circumstances, however, this makes for a rather somber read. I suppose it was refreshing to read a young adult novel, featuring a male protagonist who wasn't a vampire, or incredibly hot, that the reader doesn't end up falling head over heels for so I'll give the novel brownie points for being different and refreshing.

I'd say that one of the best aspects of this book is the character development, both that of Nathan, and all the other characters. We see Nathan as he ages through his teenage years which are the most interesting years and the discrimination he faces as a half-black, half-white witch is comparable to modern day racism which is fascinating. Nathan is the only sibling in the family who is the son of Marcus so his relationship with his siblings is really interesting to read about. Whilst he gets along really well with Arran, his half brother, his half sister Jessica despises him, despite their blood ties. You're never really sure which characters Nathan can trust and which witches are working for the Council which means that the reader is kept in suspense for a large part of the novel. Even when you think you can finally trust someone, don't, because something will happen soon after to make you doubt everything you know.

There is a slight romance aspect to this novel but it very much takes a backseat compared to the theme of discrimination. This is not your typical young adult novel in the slightest, it is a lot darker and some quite deep themes are discussed. There are some unpleasant scenes in which Nathan is treated very badly and basically tortured, so this is definitely an upper young adult novel and I'm sure adults will be able to enjoy this story too. There seems to be a dark cloud covering this entire novel and there aren't really any happy moments. You will definitely find your mood subdued when reading this, so I would recommend reading this on a rainy day.

All in all, I think Half Bad did a really good job of introducing the protagonist of the Half Life trilogy, Nathan, and setting the scene for the rest of the books. Although I wasn't completely taken with Half Bad, I think that there is the potential for the next two books to be really great so I'm still really looking forward to reading Half Wild.

Keeper of the Realms: Crow's Revenge (Book 1)
Keeper of the Realms: Crow's Revenge (Book 1)
by Marcus Alexander
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic imagery and attention to detail, 8 Sept. 2014
I recently became aware of this series when I won a copy of The Dark Army (Keeper of the Realms #2) from Goodreads and whilst I wasn't too keen to get started on Crow's Revenge, I was surprised to find that I was actually quite drawn into it from the opening pages.

In Crow's Revenge, we meet Charlie Keeper, a young teenage girl who has lost her parents and lives with her grandma in a big shabby house. Her lawyer Mr Crow is a selfish man who constantly makes her sign forms without telling her what she is signing and she is convinced that he is stealing her family fortune. One day, Charlie finds a strange creature in her home, Jensen the treman. Of course, Charlie has no idea what a treman is but after going through several doors and corridors she has never explored before in her house, she discovers herself in Bellania, a whole new world, that she has entered via a portal in her house. She learns that she is a Keeper of the Realms which means that it is her duty to guard the portal between the human world and Bellania where magic exists. Trouble is brewing in Bellania though as Bane, an evil spirit, tries to capture Charlie and the pendant which is so precious to her. Just as Charlie was starting to think her life in London was really dull, she is thrust into a whole new world with new responsibilities.

The plot is really well thought out and there are several major twists along the way. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next and begging for someone to explain how things worked in Bellania, a new world. It is impossible to know which characters are the good guys and which are the bad guys which keeps your attention focussed on looking out for the smallest clue that might help you figure it out. There are several plot strands working throughout this story, all involving Charlie Keeper but also many other characters as well so there's always a lot going on. My only complaint would be that I think the plot could've been condensed and the end of the book could have been reached a lot sooner. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the plot line and some parts seemed a little repetitive to me, despite the fantastic amounts of detail. There were a few parts that I thought were unnecessary that didn't progress the plot in any way and I think I would've enjoyed the book a bit more had these extra parts been removed.

The characters were all really likeable, those you were supposed to like anyhow, which made me really root for these characters and their cause. The main character, Charlie, is an admirable character who has such spunk for someone so young. I felt like I'd gotten to know her character really well quite early on in the novel which made me feel closer to her as a character. She's not a perfect character as she has her strops and can be a little selfish at times but she's a young teenage girl so it seems justified. The fact that she's not a perfect princess makes her all the more likeable and young girls reading this story will no doubt want Charlie Keeper to be their new best friend.

The description of the bad guys is really quite creepy and scary and the pictures to go alongside them don't make me feel any less uneasy about them! There is such a great atmosphere in this book and I was spooked out by several of the creepier passages in this story. The characters of Mr Crow and Bane, two of the most evil characters in the story, are also really fascinating and although you can't like them as characters, I greatly enjoyed reading about them.

Marcus Alexander really does need to be commended for his excellent use of description. The world of Bellania, or even the ordinary London, is so vividly described that you can visualise every last detail of this new setting. There are also a few pictures along the way in this book which gives you even greater clarity as to what the different beasts and species are supposed to look like (rather helpful in some cases where the description was so in depth that my mind couldn't keep up!). He has created so many different creatures, places, and ways of life that all need to be explained and he manages to do this without overloading the reader with new information.

What I would say, however, is that this book is aimed at the lower end of 'young adult' readers I would not recommend this book for children over the age of around 17. Although I could still appreciate the detailed descriptions and the intricate world that Marcus Alexander has built up, I did find the whole book rather childish at times and this made me feel a bit bored, but I think this was down to my age rather than the content itself. I imagine that a 14 year old would find this to be an incredibly interesting and stimulating read, however, in my opinion, this book is largely inaccessible to those that have progressed beyond their teen years.

All in all, Crow's Revenge is a great read that has perhaps passed a little under the radar and should definitely be picked up by those interesting in fantasy in their teen years. Crow's Revenge ends on a cliffhanger and there is clearly much more to come which I am rather excited for. I can't wait to get started on the second book to see what new adventures lay in store for Charlie!

What If [DVD] [2014]
What If [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Daniel Radcliffe
Price: £7.00

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't fall into step with all the other rom-coms out there - very refreshing!, 8 Sept. 2014
This review is from: What If [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, is without a doubt one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen. Dubbed as the best rom-com since 500 Days of Summer, I would take this one step further and say that it is not only the best film of its genre since, but that it is even better than 500 Days of Summer.

What If tells the story of two friends Wallace and Chantry who meet through Chantry's cousin and Wallace's best friend, Allan (Adam Driver). The two get on from the beginning but Wallace is shocked when the night ends and Chantry asks for his number whilst also mentioning that her boyfriend of five years is waiting for her at home. Undeterred by this, Wallace still wants to be friends and the two become the best of friends. Chantry and Wallace are basically inseparable and their best friends Allan and Nicole are convinced that the pair are in love but both Chantry and Wallace continue to deny this and Chantry is still with her boyfriend, Ben. As work and life begin to get in the way, Chantry and Wallace remain friends but things become more complicated...

Whilst What If sounds like your typical rom-com and to be fair, it does have the same framework as most other romantic comedies, there's something very different about this film. It is both incredibly moving and funny at the same time. Although there were lots of clichéd moments within the film, the plot doesn't fall into step with all the other rom-coms and there are lots of twists and turns to accompany every cliché making this a really refreshing rom-com. Towards the end of this film I found myself with tears streaming silently down my cheeks as I felt like I was feeling the characters' pain with them and what I was watching was so beautifully sad I just couldn't help myself.

There is an amazing chemistry between the characters Chantry and Wallace to which the film probably owes its success. Radcliffe and Kazan get their characters absolutely on point which, I must admit, surprised me immensely. Obviously Radcliffe has been trying to drop the notion that he is Harry Potter and nothing else for years now but I don't think that he has entirely succeeded. However, after watching What If, I am convinced that Radcliffe has well and truly left the boy wizard behind and is really making something of himself in the world of acting. Both Chantry and Wallace are very quirky characters and it takes a lot to portray these sorts of characters well, without making them look either too weird or too clichéd. Alongside Radcliffe and Kazan were Megan Park, Allan Driver, Mackenzie Davis and Rafe Spall who are a great supporting cast and they all bring something different to the table which when put together makes this film a brilliant watch.

The soundtrack captures the essence of this film perfectly. It's the sort of music that makes your heart warm up slowly from the inside out and puts you in a good mood and fills you with a sense of hope. There are a lot of acoustic guitars and it's all rather slow and mellow - all perfectly in tune with what's going on on screen. The majority of the soundtrack is instrumental and yet I could discern exactly what kind of message was being brought across by it.

This is quite a long film, lasting around two hours, which for most films of this kind is far too long, but I found myself wanting more even as the credits began to roll. This film is cheesy in the slightest, it is very raw and real and if someone told me this story was about two ordinary people that they knew, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. This film is definitely more mellow and poignant than your average romantic comedy and a lot of the humour is typically British awkward humour which I loved. In addition, this film is set in Canada so it was nice to see a film set outside of either the UK or the States which just gives this film even more brownie points. All in all, this is an absolutely amazing film that breaks the mould in its genre of romantic-comedy. It is a must-see for all those with a heart, particularly if you're fans of 500 Days of Summer. This film is beautiful and will both break and mend your heart whilst watching it and I cannot recommend it enough.

"Good friends, bad idea?"
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2014 2:03 PM BST

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [DVD] [2013]
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Lawrence
Price: £5.30

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first film!!, 7 Sept. 2014
Some time has passed after the end of The Hunger Games and Katniss and Peeta have not spoken to each other at all since returning to District 12. Catching Fire opens on the day of the 'Victory Tour' around the country and President Snow unexpectedly arrives to tell Katniss that he is angry with her for sparking what could be a rebellion in all the districts. He wishes her to convince the public that the threat to eat the poisonous berries in the arena was an act of love and not one of rebellion or else he'll hurt her loved ones. Katniss reluctantly agrees but as the tour gets started and they move through each district, they see more and more acts of rebellion in the crowds and become more and more horrified by the Capitol's brutal treatment of these rebels. Later, it is announced that for the 75th Hunger Games, the third Quarter Quell, there will be a twist and the volunteers will be picked from the pool of previous victors. Katniss and Peetasoon find themselves back in the arena, this time with allies Finnick and Mags from District 4, and things are even more brutal before.
Catching Fire has you gripping the edge of your seat from the very beginning. Now I know that sounds like a massive cliché, but it is actually true! There is such a tense atmosphere in this film as rebellion seems to be brewing and no one knows who to trust. This film is highly exciting and much flashier than The Hunger Games but this is definitely a good thing. The special effects are much better and highly impressive, as is the setting and the costumes.

Although this is quite an action packed film, there were also many very emotional scenes in which I was on the point of tears in. This plot is actually quite moving as a lot of people are wronged and killed unjustly throughout the series and I'm glad that this more melancholic tone was able to shine through as well. That said, there are also several funny parts so it's not too depressing.
I really liked the way that Katniss' character has developed since The Hunger Games. She was always a strong and brave character, but she's put up even more walls between herself and everyone else and seems to have age several years since she went into the arena. Although she is admirable, she is not always the most likeable of characters as she comes across as a little cold. In Catching Fire we see the relationship between Katniss and Peeta develop some more and we see more of Katniss' sensitive side which is interesting. Jennifer Lawrence continues to portray Katniss as a very real and raw character and seems to get it just right.

I was a little disappointed by Peeta's part in this film as I felt that he didn't have a substantial role. Although he was often being talked about or seen on screen, he doesn't do a great deal of talking and his presence wasn't felt very strongly in my opinion. There were lots of sweet moments from Peeta but apart from these Peeta/Katniss moments, I don't think he was given much attention. I got the impression that Peeta doesn't really exist without Katniss which I did not get from the books. Although I expect Katniss to have a more dominant role, not least because she is the more dominant character, I still thought that there would be lots of emphasis on Peeta's character.
This film is much more exciting than the first film as there are lots of new characters who all bring new plot developments with them. Finnick Odair, played by Sam Claflin, is a really great addition to the cast as he is both funny and serious, not to mention extremely hot! His other films coming out this year include Love, Rosie and The Riot Club, the two films I am most eagerly anticipating this year so I think Sam Claflin will be one to watch!

Catching Fire is a really great film that's actually even better than the first film in this trilogy. It was my favourite book in The Hunger Games book series and it will probably be my favourite in the film adaption too. The plot is a lot more intricate in this instalment with many twists and turns that keep you on your toes. Whether or not you've read the books, this is a must see film, though I would highly recommend watching the first film first so that you truly understand what they are fighting for in part two. This film is very long, lasting almost two and a half hours, but at no point during that time did I feel bored in the slightest. Time passed very quickly and before long the credits were rolling and I still wanted more! Speaking of the ending, Catching Fire ends on a massive cliffhanger so you absolutely must see it before watching the next instalment Mockingjay which comes out in November 2014.

Yousave Accessories Genuine Leather Wallet Cover Case for iPhone 5S - Black
Yousave Accessories Genuine Leather Wallet Cover Case for iPhone 5S - Black
Offered by Yousave Accessories
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes my life so much easier!, 19 Aug. 2014
About the case:
This iPhone 5/5S case is made from real leather in the colour black. It is a 'wallet' style case, meaning that there is a sort of 'flap' that wraps around the phone screen as seen in pictures. The case shuts with a magnetic clasp that is easy to open and close. Inside, the material is a soft, brown leather material and there are two card slots and one bigger one along the side for cash. On the right hand side is a hard phone case into which you slot your iPhone. There is a hole on the back of the case for your camera lens.

What's good about it:
Being made of real leather, this is definitely a high quality case. I feel confident that this case isn't going to disintegrate after a week's use and that the leather will remain undamaged (subject to good use). In terms of protecting the phone, I'd say that this case has got it covered. As the wallet wraps around the entire phone, except for a thin strip top and the bottom of the phone, it would be pretty damn difficult for you to damage your phone in any way. The screen will almost certainly not crack within this case and the leather is both a shield and padding against this. The fact that there's a hole on the back cover of the case means that you can take photographs without having to remove your phone from the case which is excellent as a lot of wallet-style phone cases don't accommodate this.

It's easy to insert and remove your phone from this case so if you ever need to remove it for, perhaps, easier use, then you can do this within a few seconds and there's no fiddly business. The inside case fits snugly around your phone so there's no risk of your phone falling out either. The magnetic clasp is extremely easy to undo and redo so even though the screen of your phone is covered, it's very easy to check your messages quickly. I thought that having to clasp and unclasp the wallet to access my phone would be extremely bothering, but the truth is, the additional effort is minimal in comparison to the benefits. The option to carry some cards and cash around with your phone is undoubtedly an asset. For example, if you are young, a frequent clubber and tired of carrying a bag around, just bring this with you. Your phone, your cards and your cash are all safely stored in this tiny little case and there's no risk of anything falling out of the case.

What's not so good about it:
This case does look a 'little' mature and given that I'm a teenage girl it's not exactly the snazziest thing to have wrapped around my phone. That said, all the benefits mentioned above make this point redundant in my opinion. When you have to pay £119 to get your screen fixed at the Apple store, it's definitely better to be safe than sorry! It takes a bit of getting used to as typing is a little bit restricted what with the flap being attached to the left hand side of your phone; however, you quickly get used to this. The only real problem I have with this case is that there are only two card holder slots inside when there is definitely room for three. Again, this isn't a deal breaker or anything, I just feel like the case would be slightly more useful with the addition of another card hole. It could possibly be slightly dangerous to carry around all your valuables in one case but I guess if you're careful there's no risk of you losing your things.

Final thoughts...
All in all, this is a nifty little case that will make your life so much easier. Being able to carry around a few essentials, e.g. credit cards and cash, along with your phone means that you know where everything is and you can quickly grab your phone as you leave the house. This case is very secure so you don't have to worry about any of those things accidentally falling out and it's a massive bonus that it's practically impossible to damage your phone whilst it's inside the case. I would highly recommend this case to everyone, no matter what your age or what you use your iPhone for.

Of Love and Other Wars
Of Love and Other Wars
by Sophie Hardach
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hardach mixes a gripping plot with beautiful writing to create a real modern masterpiece, 18 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Of Love and Other Wars (Paperback)
Of Love and Other Wars attracted me because of its vibrant cover and the high praise from critics plastered all over the book jacket. I have to admit that it wasn't what I was expecting really as the quoted passage on the back of the book cover does not wholly reflect what this book is all about, despite being one of the most poignant passages from within so in this case, I really wouldn't judge this book solely by its cover. Of Love and Other Wars is made up of three parts, spanning between 1937 and 1945, the time of the Second World War. Whilst the main characters are said to be Paul and Charlie Lamb, I'd say that this book actually has at least six main characters, Paul, Charlie, Miriam, Esther, Max, Grace. The story is written in the third person, however, it alternates between three plot lines, that of Paul, Charlie and Miriam; Esther and Max; and Esther. All of these story lines overlap but at it's most basic level you could split it into three parts in this way. The main theme of Of Love and Other Wars is conscientious objection during World War II which is the refusal to bear arms or to serve in the armed forces during a period of military conflict on moral or religious grounds.

I absolutely flew through Of Love and Other Wars, and not just because it's a great read, there's something about it that makes it very 'readable', which is curious because the language is not simplistic, nor is the plot or the themes discussed. Throughout the first few passages of this book, I actually found myself looking up several words in the dictionary as they were related to either Quakers or diamond cutting, neither of which are topics that I'm particularly familiar with, so this book really is a learning experience right from the beginning to the end. The majority of the book seems more about exploring ideas rather than an unfolding plot, however, everything starts to come together at the end with lots of twists and turns that had me tearing through to the finale. This book isn't what I would call 'exciting', however, it is most certainly gripping and I found myself really connecting with the characters.

What's great about this book is that so many different view points are discussed. Sophie Hardach doesn't impose her own views upon the reader, she merely presents the views of her characters and allows the reader to decide for his or herself at the end of the novel. This book really makes you think about the issues concerning war, but from an angle that not many have explored before. I didn't particularly like all of the characters but seeing their ways of thinking develop throughout the novel as they experience various different things related to growing up and the war around them was still truly fascinating. Were these characters real, I'm not altogether sure that I would friends with many of them, however, I mostly certainly would respect them and their viewpoints a great deal.

It does take some time to wrap your head around all the different characters, plot lines, viewpoints etc but by about a third of the way through, you find yourself settled into the world that the author has created and it's only upwards from there. I did struggle a fair bit in the first few chapters and I couldn't place certain characters as some of them seem to be set in different cities or time periods but as I said, it just takes some getting used to. As the events in this novel almost span over a decade, there are some time jumps in this novel, but miraculously, these are barely noticeable. The author goes into immense amount of detail over seemingly small events that, upon greater reflection, turn out to be rather large events and thus time is not linear, and does not need to be, in this story.

If I could think of one word to describe this novel, difficult though that may be, I'd probably choose the word 'poignant'. Not all passages of this book were that impressive in terms of writing style and prose but every so often, I'd come across some of the most beautiful passages I have ever read. I wouldn't necessarily call this a romance novel despite the fact that a lot of the relationships between characters are of a romantic nature as Hardach manages to talk about love in way that isn't soppy in the slightest, but rather the sort of love that creeps up on, so as a reader you're not even really conscious of it until you're right in the middle of it.

I have to admit that I didn't know that conscientious objection was even a thing before I read this novel. In the back of my edition of this book there was a short interview with the author who stated that one of the reasons that she wrote this novel is because she was fascinated by this idea, one that does not exist in Germany, where she comes from and I think that in itself proves that this is something that *everyone* should read. Although many serious and thought-provoking issues are discussed, this book isn't too heavy so don't shy away from it.

All in all, I'd highly recommend Of Love and Other Wars to everyone. I firmly believe that this is a must-read as it is thought-provoking and moving novel that makes the reader really consider and explore his or her own ideas about war, an important issue at any time, in every country. You don't really feel the full impact of this novel until you've read the very last sentence and you take a second to reflect upon what the author has written. If you'd asked me what I thought of this novel as I was reading, I would've probably given it an average review but upon finishing it, I realised just how special this story is. Hardach mixes a gripping plot with beautiful writing to create a real modern masterpiece and if you haven't already read this book then I would urge you to as soon as possible!

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