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Reviews Written by
Hannah Lewis

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Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best book I've read this year, 20 July 2014
June’s favourite person is her Uncle Finn. When her uncle dies of AIDS, she has the chance to find out more about him from the mysterious man who she has been told killed him, his boyfriend Toby.

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything as good as this! It’s a very powerful and moving story with so many important themes: feeling connected to someone, sisterly rivalry and sisterly love, selfishness, redemption, and above all, dealing with grief. June learns to love for the first time and learns that it’s not as we want it to be: there are disappointments and things that are just unbelievably unfair, but that’s what makes it perfect.

The characters were all very strong in this book, and my favourite character was Greta. Greta is June’s sister who at first seemed so spiteful through June’s eyes. You could feel that June was almost afraid to be around Greta, never sure what she would do next. Greta’s behaviour turns self-destructive and we start to realise that she’s all alone; her uncle has died, her sister is out having a secret friendship, and her parents are always out. We start to identify with her just as strongly as we do for June.

If there is one thing that this book does well, its complex relationships! It’s about all the different ways we can connect with one another and what is right and acceptable for two people to be to each other. June and Toby’s relationship isn’t acceptable but they both need it and they both work hard at it. Through grief they connect and build such a beautiful relationship.

This book reminds us how important it is to cherish the ones we love. It’s a beautiful, touching and unique read.

Letters from Father Christmas
Letters from Father Christmas
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Such a lovely idea, 15 July 2014
A book filled with letters and drawings sent by Tolkien to his children under the guise of Father Christmas.

This is a charming book filled with wonderful letters that show how much time Tolkien spent on his children. The story was very original - a clumsy polar bear, problems with goblins etc. that give you a hint of Tolkien’s Middle Earth world.

It’s made extra special by the tinge of sadness in it. Whether it be his children growing up or the problems caused by the Second World War, Tolkien brings a touch of hope to his children’s lives.

I think all the letter and drawings are such a lovely idea. If I ever have children, I intend to do something just like it!

Who Framed Klaris Cliff?
Who Framed Klaris Cliff?
by Nikki Sheehan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique book for younger readers, 14 July 2014
Klaris Cliff is Flea’s imaginary friend but recently she has been talking to Joseph. Is this evidence she is becoming a dangerous “rogue” imaginary friend? Are rogues really dangerous, or are they being used as scapegoats?

The concept of this book is really original and I like that she added her own aspects such as the “cosh” which is the process of how dangerous imaginary friends are removed. It shows how the author has clearly made the concept her own.

The writing style, short chapters and character ages make it very much for younger readers. The short chapters make it a very quick read but also mean there is less room for development (perhaps the book should have been a bit longer). I loved the chapter titles which were often bizarre and humorous. The book has a great sense of humour and I really loved how Joseph and his dad joked around.

As a book for younger readers, it deals with serious topics such as grief well and about how we would often prefer to blame someone else than deal with our own problems. As an older reader, I found it a bit too straightforward and predictable, but the twist at the end made it really worth the read. As such, I recommend to everyone.

Nokia Lumia 720 Sim Free Windows Smartphone - Black
Nokia Lumia 720 Sim Free Windows Smartphone - Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, 10 July 2014
This is my first Windows phone; I used to be an Android fan. I like that it “matches” my operating system, in that it’s nice and familiar to me. Word, Excel, OneNote etc. documents are supported which makes life a lot easier when downloading and opening files - no downloading a file and finding out you can’t open it! I love the different apps that you can get: it seems a bigger and better quality range than Android. I also use it to listen to music for long periods of time and the battery life is pretty good even when doing this.

I did have a slight problem that for a while I wasn’t able to receive texts. This resolved itself with a few battery resets. Additionally, I don’t think the camera is that great; my pictures often come out quite pixelated.

Overall I would say this phone is good value for money. I think there are higher end phones out there but it suits my needs well. I don’t really use social media that often but it seems especially designed for this - so I recommend if you use facebook, twitter, and linkedin.

Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, 8 July 2014
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
An unusual boarding school brings up children with a future that has been set: they are to be donors, donating their organs one-by-one until they die. This story follows three students and how the donor system goes on to affect their lives.

I watched the film before the book. Everyone I’ve spoken to didn’t really like the film. And everyone I’ve spoken to didn’t really like the book. For the life of me, I can’t really figure out why. When I first picked up the book I nearly put it down again. The informal chatty style of writing just wasn’t for me. After I got over that I started to appreciate it a lot more.

First of all, the premise I found pretty interesting. In our current system there is forever a shortage of organs. What if we had an endless supply? This book provides some serious food for thought. I also found it interesting as it was through Kathy’s eyes: the fact that this was “normal” to her but also that she should still struggle to understand it and accept it felt very genuine to me.

I enjoyed this book. It made me thing about things in an original light. It’s not a fast-paced thriller, instead it’s slow and it built up a sense of growing emotional unease in me. I think this is the sort of emotion that Kathy and the other students would have felt, the result of a quiet, hopeless railing against fate.

The Shining
The Shining
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a fan of the genre but this book has changed my mind!, 8 July 2014
This review is from: The Shining (Paperback)
A bad temper puts Jack Torrence out of his teaching job. Lucky enough to secure the position of caretaker at the Overlook Hotel the family move there for the winter. As the snow isolates them from the rest of the world strange forces take hold.

As always, the book is better than the film. I watched the film first and whilst it was good, the book was hundreds of times better. Though not for everyone, I found the bad language in the book refreshing. It’s rare that you find something raw and visceral, since books so often dress up things in floral language.

One of the things I found most interesting was the portrayal of alcoholism. Jack thinks about alcohol all the time and it really shows how strong you have to be to resist it. The hotel preys on weakness and perhaps if it were not for this weakness the violence would not have happened. I don’t feel this important factor is shown clearly enough in the film.

I am not at all a fan of the supernatural genre. I like my realism and in terms of horror I’m not scared at all by ghost stories or things that go bump in the night. Stephen King does something remarkable, not only did I not completely hate it but it’s taught to me to be a little more open to other genres. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Would like a bit more excitement, 6 July 2014
This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Paperback)
Barry Fairbrother’s death leaves an empty seat on the Parish council, a fact that may well change many lives in Pagford.

I’m gonna say I’m with the majority of other readers in that I picked this book up primarily because of who the author is. That’s not a crime; I had no illusions - it was going to be nothing like HP.

My absolute favourite thing about this book is the characters. Each person is very distinctive, with their own wishes, flaws, and motivations. Their backstories are highly developed and they feel incredibly authentic. Krystal who dealt with the rough cards she had been given with defiance and anger, and “Fats” whose drive against superficiality makes him honest but cruel, are my favourites. This book is a fantastic character study.

With realism comes reality. Not that life is oh-so-bad but it’s not so strange to read to get away from it all. I found this slice-of-life book a little… mundane. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to impossible plotlines but if it weren’t for the interesting ending I would have found this a little too every day.

All-in-all, whilst small town politics may not be my cup-of-tea JK does a great job of it.

by Emma Donoghue
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting perspective, 6 July 2014
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
Five year old Jack has lived inside the same room with his mother his whole life. Narrated by Jack himself, we get a glimpse of what a life of imprisoned might be like.

Let’s face it, not only is a five-year-old narrator unusual, it’s also highly ambitious. I feel Donoghue pulled it off reasonable well. It is a little strange that whilst Jack understands words well above his age-range norm but not some of the more basic ones. But perceptive-wise his lack of comprehension is well achieved.

Both the problem and the strength is Jack’s emotional detachment. What could be a heart wrenching book is not because to Jack his life is perfectly normal. Jack makes up his own explanations to understand his unusual world. This coolly detached boy shows us a great deal through his eyes but without his emotional reactions we are unable to experience our own.

Room offers us an interesting perspective into the lives of two captive individuals, but I’m just not sure it’s the right individual.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Read the entire series!, 6 July 2014
Harry Potter has spent most of his life living in a cupboard under the stairs. He has no idea that at age eleven he will discover that he is not ‘just Harry’ but a living symbol of Voldemort’s downfall. In Philosopher’s Stone we are introduced the wonders of JK’s wizarding world and we begin the series that defines a generation of young readers.

There is an infinitely long list of things I love about this book and series. JK realises that to each child it is the little things that determine how happy they are every day. It’s making friends, surviving classes with teachers you hate, dealing with bullies, etc. that define their lives. JK does something amazing: she takes all these little things that are so relatable and then she adds the concept of magic to it.

We are dragged in to her truly amazing imagination where Quidditch, Remembralls and a mirror that shows you your deepest desires are just some of the marvels she invents. Coupled with strong themes such as self-sacrifice and the importance of the truth - we connect with her characters on so many levels.

Although I absolutely adore this book, it does pale in comparison to her later more developed novels in the series. Read the entire series to truly see what she is capable of.

The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A startling insight into attitudes towards depression, 6 July 2014
This review is from: The Bell Jar (Paperback)
Esther Greenwood heads to NYC for a summer internship at a magazine. She finds that she is not excited by the city but rather finds herself increasingly unable to identify with the expectations for young women of her age. Esther illustrates just how important social identity can be.

I was drawn into the story by Plath’s talented writing style and a fascination with the dark current underlying the so-called glamorous lifestyle. The story becomes darker still as Esther becomes depressed and attempts suicide. The serious topic of depression is portrayed well and likely paralleling Plath’s own experiences.

I think because of the serious nature it becomes an altogether less enjoyable read in the second half of the book. Whilst producing less “entertainment value" it does become more interesting subject matter for me. It was enlightening to see evidence of the attitudes towards mental health people had not all that long ago. Her mother, for example, believes that Esther is choosing to be ill and that she can by choice to ball right again. Additionally, her experiences of shock therapy explains the basis for the fear that many people still have today.

Although I knew little about Plath before reading this book, I appreciated the new insight into her life and look forward to reading some of her poetry in the near future.

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