The turn of the screw by Henry James

Hey and happy Saturday!

I usually don’t blog on weekends, but why not try something new! I’ve got nothing better to do on a Saturday night ;)

I read a book today, and in my mind I imagine you would like to know what I thought about it. You see, I rented the movie “The turn of the screw” and thought: “that’ll be great fun – watching a ghost story alone on a Saturday evening”. The movie cover was amazing, and that Downton Abbey girl is playing the main character, so it’s safe to say I was looking forward to watching it.  Of course I’m an over excited reader, so I always read the book before I watch the movie, and so I started reading and finished the book this afternoon.

I was about 20 pages into the story when I realized I had seen the movie before. That kind of killed some of the excitement. As I read on, I noticed I remembered every single thing from the movie. So… I read the book!

FACTS

Title: The turn of the screw
Author: Henry James
First published: 1898
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 121

THE SYNOPSIS

A young governess is sent to a great country house to care for two orphaned children. To begin with Flora and Miles seem to be model pupils but gradually the governess starts to suspect that something is very wrong with them. As she sets out to uncover the corrupt secrets of the house she becomes more and more convinced that something evil is watching her.

THE STORY

I am very into old ghost stories, esp. those located in England/Ireland/Scotland. I have read an amazing amount of collected ghost stories books, and I’m a bit surprised The turn of the screw had been overlooked.

The story is very much like any other ghost story from the late 19-century. An old mansion, a governess, a woman in black and some creepy children. That being said, it’s also a complex story that can be interpreted into a psychological tale (I read somewhere). I decided to just read it as a normal ghost story, but I can see that some people might want to give the story more depth.

THE CHARACTERS

There are some interesting characters in this book (or maybe just one). I was very fond of Miles – one of the scary siblings. He was so sweet, but also so scary at the same time, and he really made the story interesting. He was portrayed so beautifully by Henry James. I noticed Miles always managed to creep me out even though he was just smirking or saying something very ordinary. The scenes with Miles is perhaps what makes this book worth reading (in my opinion).

The governess was a bit dull and perhaps a bit hysterical. She jumped to conclusions as soon as anything happened. I know that this is a short story, but I do like ghost stories to leave out a bit of the mystery for the reader to figure out (even though that means more pages). Other than this she is a main character, and kind of worked as a detective in this story. She’s the one who figures things out so to say.

The other characters were a bit plain, and I didn’t take too much notice of them. There were maids and ghosts (or horrors as they are called in the book), a wealthy uncle and a narrator, but they were kind of over shadowed by Miles and the governess.

TO SUM IT ALL UP

Henry James is known to write beautiful books. His language is spotless and aesthetically beautiful. He is thorough with his characters and story lines, and I guess you read his books because they are classics, not because you want a fast paced, action packed book. This all apply to The turn of the screw as well. It was not very exciting, but it was OK. The story was pretty straight forward, and since it was so short I never really got into it.

If you want a classic ghost story, I guess you could read this book. Just don’t expect to be super-scared by it. Go watch the movie though, because that’s pretty awesome!

Plot:  
Characters: 
Writing: 
Pacing: 
Altogether: 

Love ♥

Paper Towns by John Green

Hi there, and happy monday!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I did exactly what I planned on doing: reading, walking the dachshund and gardening. But do you know what? I read a beautiful book yesterday. It’s one of my new favorite books, and – yeah! – I’m going to tell you all about it!

So, I started reading a book called “The secret lives of dresses”. Oh my, was that book boring! I’m really, really sorry (to the author & fans), but that was a terrible book! Nothing wrong with the writing really, I just thought this book would be a completely different story than what it was (and the story was kind of horrible). Anyways… I put it down halfway, and picked up “Paper Towns” by John Green.

WOW!!!

I have read “Looking for Alaska” and “An abundance of Katherines”. I loved them both. “Looking for Alaska” is an all time favorite, and nothing will ever beat that story. But yesterday I finished “Paper Towns”, and I was blown away. I love that book nearly as much as “Looking for Alaska”. It was basically just as wonderful.

THE SYNOPSIS

Who is the real Margo? Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. She has disappeared. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance …and they are for him. Trailing Margo’s disconnected path across the USA, the closer Q gets, the less sure he is of who he is looking for.

THE STORY 

♥ I love the storyline ♥ More than once in this book, I found myself thinking: how genious is John Green? How does he come up with this? How does he manage to write this? I want to know!!! Is it possible to borrow John Green’s brain for a few months, so that I can write an equally great story? Pretty please?

To me, this book was a complex story with several layers. There’s the typical YA part; friendship, high-school and coming to age. Then there’s the adventure part: roadtrip!!! And then the deeper part: human emotions and human actions. Combine all this with laugh-out-loud humor and geeky, interesting facts, and you’ve got an incredible book. I seriously laughed so hard throughout the book, I had to go inside the house so that my neighbours wouldn’t think I was a complete loony.

What confused me a little about this book was the ending. Suddenly in the very last pages everything went very serious. There sure was a lot of philosophizing going on there. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t mind this, the story just got very deep very fast and I wasn’t quite expecting that. I will reread this book (at least the ending) soon. Maybe then things will clear up.

THE CHARACTERS

I think I fell in love with most of the people in this book. I like John Green’s quirky characters, and this book was filled to the rim with character quirkyness.

The main character, Q, is the sweetest boy imaginable. He truly is the good kid, and I loved that about him. He also gives the story great stability, because the other characters can be somewhat volatile. Q and his friends are graduating from high-school, they are all growing up, and they’re starting to develop their independence and personalities. Q’s friends seem to change throughout the story, while Q stays the same…until the very end.

Margo is a very different story… In fact, Margo IS this story. I don’t think I ever got the hang of Margo, and I definitely didn’t understand who she was/is. Now, after having finished the book, she keeps bugging me, but in a good way! I think about her a lot, and I try to find explanations to why she did what she did, but I’m blank… I have to let Margo marinate in my thoughts for a while. But all this is a good thing! Margo makes this book veeeery interesting!

TO SUM IT ALL UP

If you haven’t read any John Green books – you should! And this would be a great book to start with. It’s funny, emotional and fast paced. This book fits both boys and girls from the age of 15(ish) to…I don’t know…30? Boys will really like this book!!

I don’t know how to sum this all up, other than: I freakin’ love this book!!! Well actually: I love John Green. So there’s that! Just read it, read it, read it.

Plot: 
Characters:
Writing:
Pacing:
Altogether:

Love ♥

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

***

How can I explain the 2/5 stars I gave this book… I really liked the main character Lia and how she developed through the story. At first I thought the writing would annoy me, but I quickly got into the fast pacing, short sentences. It’s kind of hard to explain, because I liked the story, but halfway into this book I was rather annoyed by it. I think maybe Lias whining and her controlling mother got on my nerves.

No doubt – this is an important book. The author shows us what happens to Lias body and mind as her eating disorder escalades after losing her best friend. It felt real, and I think a lot of teen girls will like reading about this subject.

Basically, when it comes down to it, I think I was a bit too old to truly enjoy this book. I will recommend it to teens, and I bet they will love it.

View all my reviews

The Circle by Mats Strandberg

Cirkeln (Engelsfors, #1)Cirkeln by Mats Strandberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A boy at school is found dead in the bathroom. Everybody says he killed himself, but his best friend is not so sure.

One night, under a blood red moon, 6 teenagers meet in the local park. They have been forced to meet here; their bodies waked them and carried them to this place. Turnes out they are all witches and the time has come to meet their “guide”. All, except one of the teenagers, have magic powers. It’s time to form a circle and develop these powers to save the world from….something scary.

***

This is the first book in a new triology about witches. It’s originally a swedish book, but I just noticed that it has been released in english as well.

You meet a lot of characters in this book. This confused me a bit in the beginning, but after 70 pages (or so) I got the hang of it. The first half of the book is basically an introduction to all the characters. The real story comes waaaay later. But that doesn’t really matter, because while reading I always knew this story would be good (just a hunch). The language was amazing, the characters were believable and the whole witch thing was not over done (as many witch books tend to be these days).

The second book will be out (in swedish) sometime this spring, and I am really, really, really looking forward to continue this series.

***

View all my reviews

Book Friday – The Hunger Games

Hi there!

It’s time for the first Book Friday of 2012. I thought I’d start with a BANG! and give you a review on a book that I know a lot of people LOVE. I recently got this book, but then again I read it in only 1 day (yeah – it was kind of amazing).

I thought I would give my reviews a new look on the blog. New structure in the post + actually start rating the books in stars. So…here we go. The first book of 2012!

***

 

INFORMATION

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Pages: 374
Series: Book 1 in The Hunger Games triology
Published: September 14th, 2008
Publisher: Scholastic
Buy it: Amazon

SYNOPSIS

The Hunger Games is placed in future America. America is destroyed, and the new land is called Panem. Panem is devided into the Capitol and 13 other districts, Capitol being the richest, and District 13 being the poorest.

The main character of this book is Katniss Everdeen. She lives with her mom and little sister Primrose in District 12. They are poor, but survive on Katniss’ hunting, her moms apothecary knowledge and Primrose’s goat.

Every year the Capitol holds The Hunger Games. 1 boy and 1 girl between the age of 12 and 18 from each district are sent into an arena to fight each other. The last one alive has won The Hunger Games. The game is broadcasted live on television in all districts, and sponsors watching can send the contestants gifts during the game.

This year, Primrose is selected to join the games by a lottery selection. Katniss can’t stand watching her little sister being sent off to die, so she vaulenteers to go instead of Primrose. Together with a boy from the District, Peeta Mellark, she is shipped to the Capitol to prepare for the games.

In the Capitol Katniss and Peeta train for the big game. They are also given a mentor and stylist to make sure they are as prepared and stylish as they can be (since it’s all being broadcasted). Their mentor is Haymitch Abernathy, a survivor of The Hunger Games from District 12. He’s a drunk and doesn’t seem willing to help. He does come up with a plan, but only seems to tell Peeta in on it. Peeta is supposed to be madly in love with Katniss. This will make their story special and hopefully make the viewers, audiences and sponsor love them more than the other contestants.

 The Hunger Games takes place in a huge arena with lakes, forests and fields. Katniss is a trained hunter and things are starting off pretty good. She manages to hunt her own food, and she knows basic survival skills. As people start dying, the contestants hide in the arena and make allies. Soon Katniss will experience that her best allie will be Peeta, the ordinary boy who has a crush on her (or does he, really?). Together they have to fight other strong, smart contestants. There can only be 1 winner in The Hunger Games…they are told.

MY THOUGHTS

 

I have always heard people on blogs, YouTube etc. saying this book is wonderful. They are all madly in love with it, and I really don’t know why I kept putting it off for so long. Not to spoil any thoughts here, but: this book is AMAZIIIING!!! Yes, that’s true.

Suzanne Collins seems to know exactly who she is writing for. YA’s will adore this book, and I think grown-ups will as well. I have reluctantly been recommending this book to 12-13 year olds, as I though the whole fight-until-death theme was a bit harsh. But after having read it I must say it’s not as violent as it seems.

Katniss is such a strong character, and you realise very early she is bound to become a great heroine. I enjoyed getting to know her, hear her thoughts and read on while she planned her game tactics. Katniss is both vaulnerable and strong at the same time, and I think that’s why we readers love her. When you think she’s making a mistake, she’s really planning out a new move to survive in the arena.

The Hunger Games itself is an already used theme (ever heard about Battle Royale?). Being famililar with that story, I think maybe that’s the reason I kept putting this book on hold. But even though I knew the consept of the story, Suzanne Collins manages to wrap the story together with Katniss’ life, and what you get is a wonderful, heartwarming, suspenseful and action packed story. It somehow feels personal. I felt as if I was spying on Katniss at times when I probably shouldn’t. Katniss gives so much of herself, and I truly felt like I knew her while reading this book.

The language in this book is easy and straight forward. It was an easy, fast read, and since it also was the most exciting book I have read in a very long time, I finished it in just one reading.

One of my favourite parts of this book was its ending. I can’t reveal too much in case any of you haven’t read it yet, but the ending was perfect. Instead of spending many pages on finishing off this story, Suzanne makes it short, but still clear. It wrappes up the story perfectly, but it also makes you wanna run and get book number 2 in the series. Luckily, I got all 3 books for Christmas, and can start reading book 2 Catching Fire right away!

RATING

Plot:    (since it’s not entirely original)
Characters:
Writing:
Pacing:
Altogether:

***

I hope you all run and get this book. Read it this weekend – you’re destined to love it!

Love ♥

Book Friday : Lock and Key

Dears,

Do you agree with me when I say; summer is the time for light reading? I’ve tried bringing big blocks of Russian literature on previous vacations with little success. They are heavy both in weight and content. What I need in the warm summer months are easy-reads, preferably pocketbooks. And so I usually reach for chick-lit, fantasy or young adult novels.

I had heard amazingly good things about the author Sarah Dessen, and especially the book ”Lock and Key”. The book title is flourishing online; loads of girls and women praising Sarah’s work. So I got it from my local library and dived into it one sunny summer afternoon.

What’s the story?

Ruby Cooper finds herself abandoned by her mother. Living in a small yellow house with little money, not being able to take care of herself, Ruby is soon picked up by social services, sending her to live with her wealthy big sister Cora and her husband Jamie.

Trying to escape the huge mansion that same night, Ruby runs into her neighbor Nate. Nate looks like the perfect guy with astonishing good surfer looks and nice, caring attitude. Still Ruby is scared of bonding with him. There’s something off about Nate, isn’t it?

Like things couldn’t get any worse, she has to switch schools. Ruby will now be attending a snobby high school for rich kids. It doesn’t seem like a place Ruby wants to make new friends. Instead she is put to the test: forget all about your shabby past and try to fit in with the successful, rich people.

Through all of this, Ruby is clinging on to what comforts her the most: the key to the little, yellow house she once lived in with her mother…her past.

My thoughts

First of all; this book is excellently written. The language is flowing through the pages and it never for a moment slowed down or became dull. Sarah Dessen clearly knows how to keep a readers patient. I’m amazed of how she manages to write chapters that contain both Ruby’s present time and happenings from her past. She switches through time all throughout the book, and she does it wonderfully without creating any confusion.

I was really excited about reading this book, having heard so many wonderful things about both Sara Dessen’s writing and this particular piece of work. I finished it amazingly fast (considering it is over 400 pages). Although the book doesn’t contain many thrills and jaw dropping moments, I found it to be interesting and addictive. I simply couldn’t put this book down!  I was drawn to Ruby, and it didn’t take long before I truly cared for her. I wanted to help her and make her feel OK through all her difficult and rocky situations, but still she managed so well on her own.

My opinion

This is a book that lingers for days after you’ve read it. I felt so connected to the characters, I actually find myself wondering what have happened to them after the story has ended.  It’s not a 100% happy story with all good endings. It’s emotional, self-reflecting and gets you thinking about certain aspects of life.

Having read this book, and describing it the way I have, I wouldn’t exactly call it your typical easy, summer read, simply because this book has a very meaningful, moving story. But I truly, truly recommend it if you want to read a lovely, good, inspiring book about troubled pasts, decision-making and family situations.

Check out “Lock and Key” at Amazon 

Love ♥