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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Top Three Favourite Books of 2014 | LaraluBooks

 *Just a little small print. This isn't my top three favourite books that have been released in 2014, this is my top five favourite books that I have read in 2014. Enjoy!!

Okay, so it is almost time for a new year but before we get there, I want to share with you the top three books I have had the pleasure of reading this year. So, without further adieu...

 1. Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie
Okay, I know that this is kinda old news now but if you follow me on Goodreads or you have been reading my blog since the beginning of the year, you will know that I completely ADORE this book. Peter Pan has always been one of my favourite stories and so, the many film adaptations I have loved and have stayed with me my whole life. However, I have never read the actual story by J.M. Barrie himself even though I have owned a copy of the book for a good ten years. Well, this year I finally decided to read it and I completely became obsessed with it. I honestly didn't want it to end. If only Barrie had written a sequel!! (I know there is a sequel out there but it's never quite the same when it's written by someone else.)
This is by far my favourite book that I have read in 2014 and if you haven't already, you should definitely check it out.
 
2. The Chronicles of Narnia Series - C.S. Lewis
Okay, so this one is kinda a cheat. If I had to pick just one book as my favourite from the whole series it would be The Last Battle (book seven) but I adore the whole series. This is another classic situation where I watched the film adaptations (even the really bad one where Aslan is a puppet) and the films stayed with me again, my whole life but I had never read the books (which, again, I had owned a good ten years or so). So, this year I decided to read them and see what came of it. I have to admit, I didn't expect much from them but I absolutely loved them. There are only short stories but there are so immersive and written in such a way that you feel as though you're walking through Narnia and battling the Snow Queen and meeting Aslan.
Again, I HIGHLY recommend these so please read them or get them for your children if you have the chance.
 
3. The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani
The first adults book in this list!! I really loved this book. This was just one that was sat on our bookshelf and I just thought I would pick up and read because it had never been read before. The writing in this book is absolutely amazing. I haven't read a book in a long time where I've found the writing to be so impressive and rich. There is just something about this book that I love and that's why it gets the third spot.

***
So, I hope you've had/will have a lovely New Years Eve.
It's been a pleasure writing this blog in 2014 and I look forward to the year ahead.
For the last time in 2014;
Lots of love, Lara xx
 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Five Favourite Festive Films - 2014

1) A Miracle of 34th Street
Okay, this film HAS to be on everybody's list of favourite Christmas films. It is just such a heart-warming story and one that my family and I watch every single year whilst putting up the tree. This film really gets us into the Christmas spirit and it's just such a wonderful, lovely Christmas film. I look forward to watching this film every year. The casting is brilliant and I just love it. Watch this whilst taking part in the festivities leading up to Christmas and it's sure to make you feel 100X more Christmasy!!
 
2) The Muppet Christmas Carol
This one I know isn't everybody's cup of tea. A lot of people prefer a more... serious version of this famous Charles Dickens story but, I have to say I love this version. The Muppets has always be one of those things that has cheered me up and made me laugh and making a Christmasy Muppets film was possibly the best idea anyone has ever had. It is a more light-hearted and fun version of A Christmas Carol and it makes me laugh and sing along every time I watch it. I love this film and watching this on Christmas Eve just makes everything a million times better. It's one of those films that we all sit and watch as a family and we can all enjoy and it makes us laugh!!
 
3) The Holiday
This is just such a great Christmas film. This one is more of an adult Christmas film but it is still suitable to watch with your kids. If you are looking for a romantic comedy - something that'll make you swoon and make your heart just melt, this is a great film to pick. Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Jack Black are brilliant in this film and it just makes me feel Christmasy every year. There is not a chance in England that you could not have seen this film as it is always shown on TV on the run up to Christmas day. This is a must-have Christmas film.
 
4) Love Actually
Love Actually is on the same level as The Holiday. It has a star-studded cast and follows several different stories all set during the lead up to Christmas. It is just another film that makes you feel all warm inside and makes you smile the whole time you're watching. Bill Nighy is also absolutely at his best in this film and is the source of many amusing moments throughout this film. I love British films and this is just one that highlights just how fantastic British comedy and writing is. Another must-have Christmas/Romantic Comedy.
 
5) Father Christmas
Now this is more to do with my childhood. I do really watch this one anymore but it really does make me smile every single time I watch it. If you have kids, this is such an amazing Christmas film. I think this is a little less well known than it's predecessor, The Snowman but it is just as good, if not better. I know that there are a lot of Christmas films and especially more Christmas films for kids coming out now but you can't beat the classics and in our house, these are the top five classic Christmas films and we enjoy watching them every year.
***
I know that a lot of people are going to be wondering why films like The Grinch and It's a Wonderful Life aren't on here but they have never really been a big part of our Christmases.
Please let me know what films you love to watch at Christmas time and tell me what you think of my choices!!
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas.
Lots of love, Lara xx

 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Book Review: Death Comes to Pemberley | P.D James


First published in 2011 by Faber and Faber
Bloomsbury House
© P.D. James 2011

**** - 4 Stars
'In a pitch-perfect recreation of the world of Pride and Prejudice, P.D. James elegantly fuses her life long passion for the work of Jane Austen with her talent for writing detective fiction.'
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James is an excellent book. It is well written and pays well deserved respect and acknowledgement to the novel it is based on.
I really did enjoy this book and as a detective fiction, it was marvellous and it wasn't spoiled by any obvious plot twists. I loved this novel even better for it being based on and paying tribute to my personal favourite book; Pride and Prejudice.
However, Death Comes to Pemberley only gets four out of five stars as it just wasn't quite good enough - and paying homage to one of the most beloved novels in English Literature, it just didn't quite come up to scratch for me. There were too many blatantly obvious references to its predecessor (e.g., 'fluttering spasms', 'shades of Pemberley, less polluted') which just made it feel like she was trying too hard to remind us of the original story and ruined it as a separate piece of work. The characters feel too different from the original story and the storyline itself doesn't blend as seamlessly as I would've liked it to - considering the predecessor and the characters are so well known. Although, I do need to acknowledge it is almost impossible to be able to make the writing style and the characters perfect and this was in no way a bad effort. So, four stars P.D. James. Well done!!
***
Tell me what you thought of the book!!
Love, Lara xx
P.S. Where you can buy this book:

Monday, 15 December 2014

YouTube and the Internet shaping our society...

Hi everyone. I know that this isn't a book/film review (there will be one going up tomorrow at 5:20 Pacific Standard Time) but I just wanted to talk about something that has really being bothering me recently.
Now, I know this is going to be a really controversial subject and there are going to be a lot of people that disagree with me and that's fine. I just feel like I need to voice my opinion as a blogger because it's something that is both annoying and concerning me. You are totally right to disagree with me if you don't feel the same way and I'm not saying that my views are right or anything. It's just how I've started to feel over the past 12-16 months.
Okay, so I should start at the beginning. I moved over to New Zealand from Sheffield, England on the 24th September 2012 and I found the move very difficult for various reasons. It was when I got my first laptop a month later that I discovered Zoella on YouTube from watching a colab she did with Joey Graceffa. I liked her immediately - as many people do - and her videos cheered me up when I felt down and she just has a lovely personality that makes her a really accessible person. It was because of her videos that I found out what anxiety was and that I suffer with anxiety. I'd always thought it was normal to be absolutely petrified and be hyperaware that if you fall over in front of all these people, you'll embarrass yourself, it was normal to not want to go to the shops or get the bus or anything and so I can safely say that her videos really helped me.
Obviously, once I'd found Zoe, I found everyone else; Tanya, Jim, Alfie, Marcus, Niomi, Louise, Dan, Phil, Jack, Dean, etc., and I found that I enjoyed watching YouTubers more than I enjoyed watching TV.
However, as these YouTubers audiences have grown, I've become increasingly annoyed with the YouTube community (and the internet in general). It seems now like 50% of YouTubers have/are soon to release a book. That was a little annoying in itself but I didn't think too much of it because I don't personally know these people and they might have a real talent and love of writing etc., which is fair enough. However, I found out recently that Zoella's debut novel, 'Girl Online' wasn't written  by Zoe. She contributed some ideas to the book but it was written by a ghost writer.
That confirmed it for me. Although I do love Zoe as a YouTuber and all these other YouTubers releasing books, I feel like the YouTuber community has just become a way of getting undeserved recognition for things that they haven't done.
Where is the line with this? There are plenty of writers out there with real talent and degrees, etc., that can't get published because they don't have the money to pay for a literary agent (which is needed to submit a manuscript to almost every publishing company out there now) and other various reasons. Why is it that you don't have to be educated anymore or have any skills to be able to publish a book or become a film maker or an actor, etc.? It seems unfair that now the only qualifications you need to be able to get what was once highly regarded job, are a camera and a few people to watch your videos.
The internet, I feel is shaping our society and not for the better. In three, five, ten years time, will there be any need to go to University anymore? Will we all be living our lives on the internet?
It is scary how dependant we are on the internet and our phones, iPads, laptops, etc. How many of you honestly go out of the house without carrying an electric device around?
Even in schools now, it is encouraged to bring in your laptop or your phone to do work and research but why? There are generations of people who managed to live without the internet perfectly well. There was a time when you had to write a letter if you wanted to contact someone. Now that is almost impossible because of the amount it costs to buy stamps to send a letter. It is just more convenient to send an email now.
I don't think we should be encouraging internet use. We should be tying to dissuade people from using the internet.
And now you are going to be thinking, 'Yeah, it's all well and good saying this stuff but you're using the internet to get your message out there and you have a blog'. This is true but think about this. How else am I supposed to get the message out there now? Everyone lives their lives of the internet so how am I suppose to reach people otherwise? Also, I have a blog because I like to talk about things I love. I don't actually get paid for my blog. AT ALL. I'm a 17 year old who is just about to go into her final year of schooling. I don't have a job at the moment and blogging isn't my job and never will be I don't think. I upload one post a week. I spend the rest of my time reading, playing instruments, drawing, being around my family and friends. I can honestly say I spend 5/6 hours on the internet a week at the most and most of that time is actually spent on school work.
I completely understand you may find this ironic or patronizing or you might really hate me for saying this. You might think everything I've just said is a complete and utter load of rubbish and that's fine. I completely understand. I just needed to get my opinion out there.
Let me know what you think.
Obviously, I mean no harm to anyone who makes their living on the internet, or the people who support it.
Have a lovely day. See you tomorrow for a book review!!
***
Lots of love, Lara xx

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Book Review: Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

 
**** - 4 Stars
Wuthering Heights follows the story of Heathcliff. Mr. Earnshaw adopted a young gypsy boy and brought him into his family to be raised with his two children, Catherine and Hindley. As the years go by, Heathcliff and Catherine form a deep relationship with each other, but when Heathcliff disappears for three years, Catherine marries Edgar Linton.
Wuthering Heights is a story who's main theme is the destructive effect of both jealousy and vengefulness.
What to say about Wuthering Heights? I have to say, when I found that this was next on my TBR, I was a little wary and exasperated.
As much as I love classics, Wuthering Heights has never really appealed to me before. Each time I have tried to read it before now, I found it confusing and too hard to follow so, I simply gave up.
However while, yes, this is a difficult book to follow for the first chapter or so; once you get used to it, Wuthering Heights makes for a supremely thrilling read. I honestly think it is a shame how classics novels such as this one are disregarded now for second rate, recycled stories.
I hear all the time that the reason people don't read classics anymore is because they are old, out-dated and have been read so many times before. What we all seem to be forgetting is that we wouldn't have the books we have today, if books like this hadn't been written.
I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I did not expect to. I highly recommend reading this if you want to try your hand at reading a classic novel. The story is fantastically intriguing, the characters are well rounded and fleshed out and the plot is stunning, as is the writing itself.
4/5 stars. Please read and let me know your thoughts.

***
Love, Lara xxx

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Film Review: Summer in February - Christopher Menaul

14th June, 2013 (USA)
Director: Christopher Menaul
Screenplay: Jonathan Smith 

 **** - 4 stars
Summer in February is a stunning film. I absolutely adore it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew nothing of the people this film is based on but I enjoyed it tremendously. It seems that the one thing the English can do better than anything else is making a beautiful film.
As a girl, I do confess that I love a good love story but this one was different to everything else I've seen or read. There is something about this story that had me hooked straight away. The casting choices were brilliant. I could not think of more perfect people to play the roles.
This film is a must see. I love it. It was beautifully written, directed and portrayed.
I thoroughly recommend this film.
Tell me what you think.
***
Love, Lara xxx

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Book Review: On The Edge - Gillian Cross

PUFFIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
First published by Oxford University Press 1984
Copyright © Gillian Cross, 1984
**** - 4 Stars
'"Tug pushed the door as far open as he could. Squatting  down, he peered though the narrow crack and saw what was hanging outside, across the opening. A heavy padlock, snapped shut."
That was when he realised it wasn't all a mistake. He must have been kidnapped by the strange man and woman who'd brought him to this remote Derbyshire cottage. But he couldn't remember how it had happened, and the things the couple were saying just didn't make sense. If only they'd stop playing that endless, deafening brass-band music...'

On The Edge, by Gillian Cross is a brilliant book. I was actually really pleasantly surprised when reading this book at how much I liked the writing and the story. After reading New World, I was sceptical of reading more of Cross' work, despite the fantastic reviews on the back. New World was a real disappointment for me and I was dreading having to read this book next, in all honesty because I was so afraid I wasn't going to like it and I would have wasted my time again. However, this is definitely worth the read!! This book is filled with suspense and had me confused and intrigued right until the very end.
Although this book is classed as a thriller, filled with suspense, you do have to remember that this is a PUFFIN book and so, it is for children. On The Edge is a story about finding yourself, who you are as a person. That is the message you take away and that is hidden cleverly in a brilliantly written story. I usually would not have picked up a book like this to read, I happened to get it along with 20 or so others that I got for $1 a few months back. I also did not think I'd actually end up reading it. However, I'm glad I did.
I definitely recommend this book!! Its brilliantly written and I feel like Gillian Cross needs to be a more well known and celebrated writer.

Thanks again and I'll see you same time next week for a film review!!
Love, Lara xxx
 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Film Review: About Time - Richard Curtis

 
8th August, 2013 (United Kingdom)
Director: Richard Curtis
Screenplay: Richard Curtis
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Tom Hollander, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Richard Cordery and Will Merrick.
**** - 4 Stars
 
About Time directed by Richard Curtis is one of the best 'feel good' films I've seen in a long time. It is up there on my list with films such as Love Actually and The Holiday. I have to admit, when I decided to watch this, I wasn't too sure what to expect. I had seen the trailers for it and it looked intriguing but also a little absurd. I did get the impression from the trailers that it was just another 'American Rom-Com' and I always get a little disappointed by things like that now as it seems they are the only films that are churned out of the film industry as its such a popular genre.
However, I could not be more glad to admit that I was wrong. About Time is just the most wonderful, heart-warming British comedy and I completely loved it. Right from the off, I knew this was going to be something different and something that we hadn't seen before. It was refreshing and just a true pleasure to watch.
I completely recommend that if you haven't watched this yet, you really should. If traditional British comedy is your thing, you will love this film.
*DISCLAIMER* This film DOES have sad moments in it!!
There is not much I can find to complain about with this film; casting was great, directing was fantastic, cinematography was beautiful. I think the only reason this is a four star review and not a five star review is simply down to the fact that, as a prolific reader and writer, I felt the story and the writing could have been improved upon a bit but that is a minor detail and is a personal opinion.
I loved this film. You should all go and watch it right now!! Tell me what you think down in the comments.
***
Goodbye for now,
Lara xx


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Book Review: New World - Gillian Cross


 
PUFFIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
First published by Oxford University Press 1994
Copyright © Gillian Cross, 1994
*** - 3 Stars
'I'm helping to test a game - and it's brilliant. I'm even getting paid for doing it.'
When Miriam and Stuart are chosen to test a new virtual reality game, every move they make is monitored. But as the game takes hold of them they start to feel that something - or someone - is there with them, playing on their deepest secret fears. Is this part of the tests?
Or has someone broken into the game?

I do have to say, this book did not live up to my expectations. It has certainly taken me a long time to read this book. The beginning is very slow and tiresome and something you just don't want to read. It did, however get better and I did begin to enjoy it a little more as time went on. It is safe to say that the ending completely saved this book. The ending changed this from a 2 star review to a 3 star review. very disappointed with how this book turned out.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Film Review: Never Let Me Go - Mark Romanek

September 15, 2010 (USA)
Director: Mark Romanek
Screenplay: Alex Garland
**** - 4 Stars
Never Let Me Go directed by Mark Romanek and starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield is the film adaptation of the book of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro.
This film follows the story of Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield); children who are created to be organ donors their whole lives until they eventually die (usually after their fourth donation).
I have to say, after watching this film, I cried for a good 20 minutes. It is heart-wrenchingly moving and I loved it. It was different to see Keira Knightley play a supporting role and a character you don't really like but I didn't enjoy it any less because of that.
This film is supremely well made, well acted and tugs on the heart-strings. Giving us hope and facing us with impossible situations throughout the story. I loved this film tremendously and give it 4/5 stars.
I recommend that everyone watch this. It will truly help you appreciate how lucky you are to have people in your life that you love and care for and that love and care for you. It also helps us appreciate our lives and how lucky we are to have a life and to be living. This film is truly beautiful and heart-wrenching all at once.
Please watch this film if you haven't already and tell me what you think down below.
Lots of love for now.
See you all soon.
xxx

 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Film Review: Begin Again - John Carney

**** - 4 Stars
Begin Again... What can I say about this film? Begin Again, written and directed by John Carney is just the most perfect film you could ever watch when its the end of the world. This film, starring great actors and actresses such as Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Adam Levine and Hailee Steinfeld is just brilliant.
It has the perfect mix of movie and music. As movie/musicals go, this is by far the best one I have ever seen. Don't get me wrong, I love all the classics such as The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc., in fact - the more cheesy, the better but in terms of modern movie/musicals, we've not had such good luck. We've been left with things like Disney's High School Musical trilogy and contemporary musical versions of things like Cinderella.
This, for me, however, is just so perfect. It highlights music that no one appreciates anymore because we are living in an industrialized music industry full of teen singers with no talent and nothing to say. The music industry has become so much about the fame and fortune that people are forgetting why we have music. This is a perfect reminder for us all and is so uplifting, you can't help but love it. If there was any musical I'd say you have to see before you die, its this one.
I love cinematography and visual arts and I also love music and how Carney combined these two things to make you see the world in a different way is just perfect. It makes you see the world the way it ought to be seen.
I invite you all now to grab your phone or your iPod or whatever else you use to listen to music and go outside for a walk. Just listen to the music and take the time to look around you at all the beautiful things going on. There is always something. But, there is one rule!! DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE TO TEXT, TAKE A CALL, TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH TO POST ON INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, SNAPCHAT OR EVEN MYSPACE!!! We rely too much on technology and we forget to appreciate that the world around us is absolutely beautiful and wonderful and amazing. So, take some time to just appreciate the little things in life. Also, I invite to watch this film because there is no way you cannot love it once you've watched it.
I love the cast, the music, just EVERYTHING about this film. 4/5 stars.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Read On. Get On. Sharing the power of books...

Save the Children works in 120 different countries.
They help save children's lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential.
Help them, help children by donating and spreading the word!
As all of you know, I'm a huge book lover and have been from a very young age and was lucky enough when I was growing up, to have been taught how to read and had books accessible for me to read.
However, there are some children in the UK who do not have the same privileges. In 2014, 1 in 4 children are leaving Primary Education, without the ability to read, or read well. That is 40% of UK children leaving Primary Education with very limited reading skills!! What makes the problem worse is the lack of people that know that the problem even exists, let alone that it is this serious.
However, you can help!! Save the Children have launched a campaign to help fund schools with books for children to read and help make sure that children are leaving Primary Education with a basic skill that seems to be becoming neglected. This campaign is called Read On. Get On. Save the Children want to ensure that by 2025, every child in the UK is reading well and this basic skill which they are going to need throughout their life.
But they need your help.
The first thing you can do, like I'm doing now, is spread the word. Tell people about it and let them know what's going on. It doesn't have to be on a blog or on Youtube, etc., just by word of mouth or by posting about it on your Facebook or twitter account, spreading the word in your local community.
This leads me onto the second thing you can do. Donate. Hold a fundraiser in your local community to raise money for save the children or you can donate through the links I have below. I hope that even if you can't donate, you will spread the word about this campaign as it's more important than ever that we don't loose these basic skills that seem to be getting lost the more modern technology becomes a part of our lives. Thank you for reading!!!
Spread the word!!

To donate £5 text BORROWERS to 70008 (UK ONLY)
A report on the current situation and how you can help
Terms and conditions of donating from your mobile
 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Book Review: Fifteen and Screaming - Fleur Beale

First published 1995
Harper Collins Publishers (New Zealand) Limited
Copyright © Fleur Beale 1995
**** - 4 Stars
I have to admit, I got this book among 23 others that I picked up for a dollar from my library at school and didn't have high hopes for it. It's almost 20 years old and didn't look to be much.
I was - however - pleasantly surprised by this book. It has a lot more to offer than you would think and it just goes to show that the phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' is always a good thing to keep in mind when reading books.
Fifteen and Screaming by Fleur Beale is a New Zealand based book by a New Zealand author and tells the story of 14 year old Elizabeth Marianne Pratt (or 'Lily') who has responsibility thrust suddenly upon her when her mother becomes seriously ill.
Living on benefits, Lily has to learn to take care of her 7 year old sister, learn to cook, clean, manage money problems and care for her mother - all the while dealing with normal teen problems such as having freedom, going to party's, sex, friend problems and keeping up with her school work, making life very difficult and stressful for such a young girl.
When I was reading this, I couldn't help thinking that I am almost to the stage of my life where I will be moving out of my family home and living by myself, paying bills, going to University, etc., and I don't think I would be able to cope with and face the struggles that a 14 year old does in this book. It also reminded me that this is not at all unrealistic. There are many young adults and children all over the world that have to take on these responsibilities because they have parents who can't.
Not only is this book well written, but it also highlights some very good points and was a really enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book!!
4/5 stars for Fleur Beale.

Where you can buy this book...

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling

Bloomsbury Publishing
Copyright © Text J.K. Rowling 1998
Copyright © Cover illustration Cliff Wright 1997
First published in Great Britain 1998
**** - 4 stars. It's been a few months since I posted my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I finally got around to reading the second installment of the Harry Potter series. As you know when reading Harry Potter books, I base it on J.K Rowling's work alone - not compared to other writers. After reading this book, I realise just how good it was and and just had to give it 4 stars.
It is a brilliant, witty book that I laughed aloud to many times. Although many people I have met are not a huge fan of the Chamber of Secrets - namely a certain character by the name of Gilderoy Lockhart - I have to confess, this is one of my personal favourites in the series.
If you have never read the Harry Potter series, I would highly recommend it. Although a children's series, it is the most magical a well written set of books I have ever read and I am glad to have been a child who grew up with Harry Potter. Anticipating the next book and seeing the posters for the next film every few years. Crying at the deaths and feeling the loss of a certain part of my life finally ended after all those years. I still completely adore these stories and can't wait to share the magic with my own children. 4 stars out of 5 for J.K. Rowling. Thank you for making my childhood!!!
' It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.' -- Albus Dumbledore: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling.
Buy Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Book Review: Laura's Star - Klaus Baumgart

LITTLE TIGER PRESS
An imprint of Magi Publications
This paperback edition published 2000
First publicated in Great Britain 1998
***** - 5 Stars
I recently acquired more bookcases for my room as my supply of books is ever-growing. While I was sorting through and organizing books, I found one that was given to me as a christmas present about fourteen years ago. Laura's Star.
Laura's Star by Klaus Baumgart is the perfect book for a little girl. A story of 'a lonely girl' who
finds a star that fell to earth, hurt. The star becomes the girl's friend and she no longer felt sad as she knew that whenever   she needed a friend or she felt sad, that little star would always be there in the sky.
If you have kids, they will honestly love this book! It was publish by Little Tiger Press in 2000. If I can find links to this book anywhere, I will put them down below.
5/5 stars for Klaus Baumgart! This book made my childhood all the more magical.


'Laura didn't feel sad any more, for her star was back where it belonged. Each night when she went to bed, she could whisper her secrets into the darkness, knowing that the little star was somewhere out there, listening.' -- Klaus Baumgart. Laura's Star.

Laura's Star - Amazon

Friday, 5 September 2014

Oooops...

Hi everyone!! Today isn't a book review, I'm just writing this to say how sorry I am that I've been M.I.A for the past month or so. As a lot of you will know if you watch my Youtube videos or possibly from this blog, I am currently in Y12 at school and over the past month or so, school has been getting really busy in preparation for exams (that start next week - ahhh!!) and so, I've not been able to upload videos or blog posts in a while. The other issue is that my computer has well and truly died on me and so, I can't upload any videos at the moment because I have no way of editing and uploading them. I promise that as it nears the end of my Finals and my computer gets fixed, my posts will become a lot more regular but for now, I am just managing with whatever time - and resources - I have at my disposal.
I really love blogging, its a lot of fun and I miss being able to do it. Plus the feedback I get back from blogging and making Youtube is always really nice and supportive so I don't want to stop. Its just a case of time at the moment because - obviously - my schooling comes first. No matter how much I love blogging, reading, make up, music, etc., I need to get school done for personal reasons. Although I'm not planning on going to University in the near future, I'd really love to finish school because I would feel like I've achieved something personally.
I hope I will be able to post some more reviews on random things I've been loving in the foreseeable future but until then, I love you all and I'll see you soon! ;)

P.S. If you wanna see what I'm up to, all my links to social media and Goodreads and in the side bar!! 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Book Review: The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome - Maxine C. Aston | Lara Pass

The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome
- Maxine C. Aston
The National Autistic Society
First Published 2001
Maxine Aston has explored the relationships of adults with Asperger Syndrome as part of her academic research, as a qualified couples councellor specializing in this area, and from her own personal relationship experience. She knows what she is writing about. She uses quotations and real life examples to illustrate her points and  has a compassionate understanding of both perspectives. Her insight is extraodinary and her positive attitude and strategies for successful relationships make this an essential guide for couples and counsellors. - Dr. Tony Attwood. 
**** - 4 Stars
This book is brilliant. Although the content of the book is, admittedly, a little grim, it is extremely informative and touches on each aspect of Aspergeres Syndrome just enough.
The delicate way in which this was written is perfect and it is plain to see that Maxine Aston is sympathetic to this particular subject which makes it easier to read, I suppose.
The only reason I gave this four stars and not five is because the language is a little hard to wrap your head around if you are not an 'academic'. I am aware that this is primarily an academic book but it is also an information book for people that are in a relationship with/have relationships with people with Asperger Syndrome and I think in that respect, this book is lacking in identifiable language but otherwise, an amazing read and very informative. If you know someone with Asperges, this will really help you out! 4/5 Stars.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Book Review: The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown | Lara Pass

**** - 4 Stars

This book is just ridiculous and I loved it. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. I loved the writing style, I loved the story, and I just loved the whole thing… Dan Brown is a very clever writer and – I presume – a very clever person full stop. I enjoyed this book so much. The references to Ancient Greek Mythology and different religions really made it interesting for me and I enjoyed trying to work out all the different clues etc., on the Masonic Pyramid. It was a very fun read.

As a classics student, reading a book like this makes classics all the more fun and enjoyable. It's nice to read a book that is so heavily influenced by Ancient Greece and their myths and beliefs and be able to enjoy it. (i.e. be analysing The Odyssey/The Iliad – Homer) The references to Masonic heritage etc., was really interesting to read too. I loved this book very much. My only problem is that it was a bit too long for me. Probably because I am always busy at the moment and couldn't find the time to read it properly.

The twist at the end was something I really didn't see coming and I thought of a hundred different possibilities. It was very simple and obvious but very effective as it was so simple and obvious, no-one would have guessed it. I look forward to reading more of Dan Brown's work in the future as I find his work very entertaining and enjoyable to read. Thank you Dan Brown for giving us such thought provoking, history filled books! I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Book Review: The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins | Lara Pass

*** - 3 Stars

This week, I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Although I was fairly late on the bandwagon with this one, I wasn't this late. I have read this book series more than once and I thought now would be a good time to review it. I always feel sceptical of reviewing books the first time you've read them. I think the books are sort of glorified in a way. Especially when there is so much hype around a particular book or series and I realised that I feel exactly the same about this book. I feel like the first time I read it, it was very glorified and it takes a few times reading it though to actually be able to review it properly. Instead of looking at it as an exciting new book that I get to read, I get to read this again taking the time to actually think about whether I like the writing style, what I think doesn't work in it etc., etc.

I do like this book. I'm not going to say it's a bad book because it's not. In actual fact I think it is a very good book and is well written. However, I gave this three stars because the story just doesn't appeal to me all that much. I think dystopias are never going to be my cup of tea. They're always going to be a bit to samey for me. I am a girl that loves classical literature and that time period and dystopias are the complete opposite but I do try and view a book objectively and I won't completely rule a book our just because it's not something I would usually read. I just feel that some points of this book were poorly executed. The other thing that really annoyed me is – as with every YA book now – it has a love triangle. Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) was the first big YA series that had a love triangle and that now seems to be the formulae for every book series now. Love triangles, defying the odds, a pretty heroine that doesn't know how beautiful she is and it is starting to drive me around the bend because I feel like I'm never reading anything new. Obviously, first impressions, I'll love the book if I read it all the way through. But then I'll read it again in a few months' time more objectively and realize that it's just like every other book that's been published. Nothing new and interesting is coming by anymore. People keep writing more of the same and it's tiring.

I do like your books and your writing style Suzanne Collins but originality is key and although the story itself is original, the love triangle, the girl who doesn't know how beautiful she is etc., just don't work. I gave this book 3 stars.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling | Lara Pass

*** - 3 Stars

Well, I'm sorry but I had to do it. Every year or so, I reread the Harry Potter Series and this is the first year I have read it being a member of the 'BookTuber' community so I thought I would review it for you since I spend so much time raving about the books!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's [Sorcerer's] Stone. This is the first book in – arguably – the best book series ever written and remains to be my favourite. The first book in itself is only average but I enjoyed reading it all the same. I love the characters, I love the humour, I love the whole world that Rowling created and put into this first book. While it is true that the books later on in the series are my favourites and are probably better written, I do love this book. When I say the writing in this is average, I mean for Rowling's standards. This is by far a better book than most writers could ever hope to write no matter how hard they tried but I have to look at it objectively in terms of Rowling's writing skills and this is some of her weaker pieces. If I was rating this as a stand-alone book, I wouldn't hesitate to give it 4/5 stars. It is a brilliant book that is easy to get through, has some depth and makes you feel something but also makes you laugh. I can't tell you how many times I laughed aloud reading this book. Rowling's wit is incredible and I love reading her work.

I will – obviously – be reading and reviewing the rest of this brilliant series over the coming months but as I am sure you will grow tired of me reviewing the whole Harry Potter series and nothing else, I have decided to read one of the books every month and keep trying to read new things which can be just as exciting so please don't be alarmed if you don't receive my review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for another few weeks. I promise you I have not neglected finishing off the series, I am just trying to keep a bit of diversity in my reading and reviews for you all should you not be a fan of Harry Potter or be tired of heard about it after 20+ years. My next review is coming soon. Keep on reading! And I will leave you with a funny quote from this first book, just to tide you over until my next review. I gave this book 3/5 stars! Thank you J.K. Rowling!

Before he could say or think anything else, the dormitory door was flung open and Fred and George Weasley bounded in. Harry stuffed the cloak quickly out of sight. He didn't feel like sharing it with anyone else yet. 'Merry Christmas!' 'Hey, look – Harry's got a Weasley jumper, too!' Fred and George were wearing blue jumpers, one with a large yellow F on it, the other with a large yellow G. 'Harry's is better than ours, though,' said Fred, holding up Harry's jumper. 'She obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family.' 'Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?' George demanded. 'Come on, get it on, they're lovely and warm.' 'I hate maroon,' Ron moaned half-heartedly as he pulled it over his head. 'You haven't got a letter on yours,' George observed. 'I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid – we know we're called Gred and Forge.' 'What's all this noise?' Percy Weasley stuck his head through the door, looking disap- proving. He had clearly come half-way through unwrapping his presents, as he, too, carried a lumpy jumper over his arm, which Fred seized. 'P is for prefect! Get it on Percy, come on, we're all wearing ours, even Harry got one.' 'I – don't – want – ' said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the jumper over his head, knocking his glasses askew. 'And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either,' said George. 'Christmas is a time for family.' They frog-marched Percy out of the room, his arms pinned to his sides by his jumper. – J.K. Rowling

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling | Lara Pass

*** - 3 Stars

Well, I'm sorry but I had to do it. Every year or so, I reread the Harry Potter Series and this is the first year I have read it being a member of the 'BookTuber' community so I thought I would review it for you since I spend so much time raving about the books!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's [Sorcerer's] Stone. This is the first book in – arguably – the best book series ever written and remains to be my favourite. The first book in itself is only average but I enjoyed reading it all the same. I love the characters, I love the humour, I love the whole world that Rowling created and put into this first book. While it is true that the books later on in the series are my favourites and are probably better written, I do love this book. When I say the writing in this is average, I mean for Rowling's standards. This is by far a better book than most writers could ever hope to write no matter how hard they tried but I have to look at it objectively in terms of Rowling's writing skills and this is some of her weaker pieces. If I was rating this as a stand-alone book, I wouldn't hesitate to give it 4/5 stars. It is a brilliant book that is easy to get through, has some depth and makes you feel something but also makes you laugh. I can't tell you how many times I laughed aloud reading this book. Rowling's wit is incredible and I love reading her work.

I will – obviously – be reading and reviewing the rest of this brilliant series over the coming months but as I am sure you will grow tired of me reviewing the whole Harry Potter series and nothing else, I have decided to read one of the books every month and keep trying to read new things which can be just as exciting so please don't be alarmed if you don't receive my review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for another few weeks. I promise you I have not neglected finishing off the series, I am just trying to keep a bit of diversity in my reading and reviews for you all should you not be a fan of Harry Potter or be tired of heard about it after 20+ years. My next review is coming soon. Keep on reading! And I will leave you with a funny quote from this first book, just to tide you over until my next review. I gave this book 3/5 stars! Thank you J.K. Rowling!

Before he could say or think anything else, the dormitory door was flung open and Fred and George Weasley bounded in. Harry stuffed the cloak quickly out of sight. He didn't feel like sharing it with anyone else yet. 'Merry Christmas!' 'Hey, look – Harry's got a Weasley jumper, too!' Fred and George were wearing blue jumpers, one with a large yellow F on it, the other with a large yellow G. 'Harry's is better than ours, though,' said Fred, holding up Harry's jumper. 'She obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family.' 'Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?' George demanded. 'Come on, get it on, they're lovely and warm.' 'I hate maroon,' Ron moaned half-heartedly as he pulled it over his head. 'You haven't got a letter on yours,' George observed. 'I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid – we know we're called Gred and Forge.' 'What's all this noise?' Percy Weasley stuck his head through the door, looking disap- proving. He had clearly come half-way through unwrapping his presents, as he, too, carried a lumpy jumper over his arm, which Fred seized. 'P is for prefect! Get it on Percy, come on, we're all wearing ours, even Harry got one.' 'I – don't – want – ' said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the jumper over his head, knocking his glasses askew. 'And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either,' said George. 'Christmas is a time for family.' They frog-marched Percy out of the room, his arms pinned to his sides by his jumper. – J.K. Rowling

Book Review: The Mortal Instruments City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare | Lara Pass

**** - 4 Stars
The Mortal Instruments City of Ashes is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Usually I get disappointed by book sequels because they're never as good as the first. However, this book did not let me down. I was anxious to know how the story of Jace and Clary was going to progress and it has been really interesting. I feel like I Clare had more confidence when writing this book and was more comfortable with the characters now. The relationships between both Jace and Clary and Clary and Simon, become a bit more complex. The brother-sister relationship between Alec and Isabelle also becomes more prominent in this book which I enjoyed.
Obviously, we get to meet new characters in this book. The rest of the Lightwood family come back from Alicante after the Accords and you get to see Jace's relationship with his adoptive family. What I loved about this book is, unlike the last book, this was not set from just Clary's point of view. You get to see how other characters view the situations and what their feelings are as well as Clary's and I enjoyed that aspect of the book. I constantly read books and get to a part thinking 'it would be great to know what this character is thinking right now, see their point of view' but I have never read a book like it until now. I love the idea and it makes for a more interesting read. Of course, a lot of books work better where it's just from one character's point of view, but this particular series works better when you get to know what multiple characters are feeling. I makes the story more complex and interesting and just makes it more enjoyable to read than the last book.
I gave this 4/5 stars for its originality but it is not quite good enough to get 5/5. Thank you again, Cassandra Clare, for writing a truly brilliant book.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Book Review: The Mortal Instruments City of Bones – Cassandra Clare | Lara Pass


**** - 4 Stars
The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones
Cassandra Clare
Publishers - Walker Books 
The City of Bones is the first book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I'll be honest, I'm a late bloomer when it comes to this series. I didn't actually find out about it until the film came out last year and when it did, I knew I had to read the book first. It was only when I joined the 'BookTuber' community that I realised the hype around these books. I tend to stay away from YA series that get a lot of hype as they all seem to be knock off versions of Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) which – while successful – was not the best book series I have ever read either. As always, because this is a book series, I'm going to relate it to Harry Potter. (Sorry…) The reason I tend to stay away from big book series is because they all seem to be more of the same and it gets tiresome reading and reviewing books that are so much like everything else that is 'big' at the time. Twilight, The Hunger Games… they all just tend to bore me a little. The reason series have become such a big thing is
because of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling wrote the most successful books in history and is one of the richest women in the world and because of the success of the book series, that's what all writers are doing now. Well, I say 'all writers', I mean writers of YA books specifically. I'm not saying that people can't write successful series anymore because of Harry Potter. What I am saying is, there is no point writing a book series if it is like so many other things that are being written and turned into films. I just don't see the point in it if I'm being honest.

This – while being another YA book series – is a little different. Since the release of Twilight all those many moons ago, everything that has followed after has come from Twilight. The next 'big thing' after Twilight was, of course, The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins). Both these book series were original at the time but now everything seems to be a knock off version of it. Teen romance novels became a massive craze after Twilight (Which is when I became uninterested), and dystopian novels became a massive craze after The Hunger Games (which – again – is when I became uninterested). The City of Bones is something I can't make my mind up about yet. I don't see it becoming as big of a deal as is predecessors but that's what I kind of like about it. Of course, it is kind of another 'teen romance' but the characters seem to have a bit of complexity and depth to them – which I have yet to see in other teen series.
There are reasons why I love Harry Potter and why it is my favourite book series ever. It's not because of the film series (that I found pretty average). There is something in Rowling's writing which makes you feel something. You can envision every nook and cranny of Hogwarts because her writing is so rich. There is a depth to her characters which makes you not only sympathise, but empathise with them. These are all the qualities I look for in a book. These are the things which – in my opinion – make a book good. There is something in Clare's writing which reminds me of Rowling a little. I can envision where Clary and Jace are standing quite clearly. Their relationship isn't simple and black and white but there are so many complexities to it which makes for an interesting read. Although I can never truly compare any writer to Rowling, Clare's writing skills are something to be admired and I can't wait to read the rest of the series and find out all the twists and turns. Well done Cassandra Clare on a smashing book. I give you 4/5 stars for your hard work.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen | Lara Pass

***** - 5 stars 
Jane Austen - Author
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourne house and her four sisters. When Mr. Bingley comes to Netherfield with his two sisters and his friend of many years, Mr. Darcy, prospects of an advantageous marriage are welcomed to the five Bennet women in the hope that Mr. Bingley will choose one of them. This beautiful story by Austen – and arguably her best work – tells the story of a woman far ahead of her time and shows perfectly how both pride and prejudice can be the cause of clouded judgement etc. As the Author of this book is no longer alive, I can have no idea what her views were on the subject matter of this book and her thoughts on the issues of both pride and prejudice and whether she regarded them as faults or not. However, the way Austen has portrayed the characters in the book, I can imagine she thought of both these matters as faults in the human character. I personally loved this book. Austen's writing is superb and I loved every moment of reading this book. I was an absolute pleasure to read and I honestly can't believe I have never read this book before. I have always been a huge fan of the 2005 film version as it is filmed where I grew up and I even remember it being filmed but until recently, I've never been old enough to understand and appreciate the book. I also believe in 10 years' time when I go back and read it again, I will understand it better and appreciate it more than I do now.
Pride and Prejudice…

Pride and Prejudice Cover
Publishers - Penguin Classics
Throughout this book, the main themes are Elizabeth's pride and Mr. Darcy's prejudice which is referred to in the title of the novel. The title prepares us for the flaws in character of both Elizabeth and Darcy. The flaws of these two characters prevent them from realising their love for each other. These flaws were reasonably controlled throughout the story to allow the characters to change, overcome their flaws and recognise their love for one another. These flaws in their characters were also common characteristic flaws during the 18th Century and considering the social class of both Elizabeth and Darcy, their pride and prejudice are to be expected in the characters. Elizabeth's pride results from being poor compared to people like Bingley and Darcy. Her pride is the only thing she feels gives her any credibility and respect from people of a higher rank. Darcy's prejudice comes from the fact that he is of a higher rank and although he was taught good morals, with being an only child for many years and being extremely wealthy, he thought people of lower rank, less important and respectable. Social statuses effected the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth as it was expected that a man of wealth and fortune, would marry a woman of wealth and fortune to unite two noble families. However, for women of Elizabeth's social standing, it was hoped they would marry a man of wealth, but more likely they would not. "[Mrs. Bennet] was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news." (226)

 

Pride and Prejudice is the story of two headstrong people of different social standing who fall in love. However, Miss Elizabeth Bennet's pride and Mr. Darcy's prejudice prevents them from recognising their love for each other for a long time. This book shows beautifully all the flaws of human character and how our flaws can hinder us "I have faults enough but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for….I cannot forget the follies and vices of others as soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is lost for ever."
Although Pride and Prejudice is an epic love story that makes you swoon, it is also so much more than that. It is such a beautifully told story that everyone can enjoy and is perfect for observing the character of a person and picking apart the personality. Austen's writing is so rich and the characters become so real and relatable. Observing the defects in the two main characters is such an enjoyable part of reading this book. "And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody…. And yours,…is willfully to misunderstand them."
There is nothing about this book that I don't love. It's beautifully written, the characters are complex and interesting and in comparison to more modern books, have more than one layer to them. They are more than just one thing. They think and feel more than one thing and they become deep and complex people. So much so, they feel real. The only "weakness" I can observe reading this book is that the language can be a little hard to understand but I can hardly acknowledge this as a weakness when it adds so much more to the book. I highly recommend this book. It is one of the best and most beautiful books I have ever read and I will treasure it forever.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Book Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle - C.S Lewis | Lara Pass


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle
- C.S Lewis
Published by -  Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. 1953
 ***** - 5 Stars
This book... oh my goodness me. I have read a lot of book series in my time and have always found myself disappointed with how it ends. There just always seems to be something missing. Something not right. Something unsatisfactory or unfulfilling about the last book in a series. This book however... is something else entirely.
As you can probably imagine, with my past experience with book series, I was really apprehensive about this book. I was so worried it just wouldn't work but it seems my worries were for nothing.

Clive Staples Lewis - Author
Never in my life have I read a book series and been totally happy with the ending. I've always found it too hard to accept that that is how it was going to end so I would just read the series again and again because I refused to accept that that's how a story that I had invested so much time in, was going to end. However, The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia series lived up to all my expectations and in my eyes, it couldn't have been a better ending.
Of course, I found it sad - just like I do with many book series but I was so delighted with how it ended that I didn't feel I needed to go back and read the whole series again to make up for a shoddy ending. There was nothing over the top about it. Lewis wasn't trying too hard to make it a good ending, he just wrote how he thought it should end and I admire him tremendously for that. It ends the way it should have done. It all made perfect sense and it was beautifully done.
It made me cry (as only a good book can) and I applaud Lewis for just finishing the story off in a perfect way.
I really didn't want the series to end as Narnia is a land I should very much like to live in constantly. The beauty and timelessness of this series will never again be repeated but I am glad in a way. It is what makes this such a special book series. Its what makes a good writer.
I'm thrilled I own these books and I will treasure them forever. So now, I will leave you with the last sentence from this book and say thank you for reading.
'All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which ever chapter is better than the one before.'