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