Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Get your toes wet dipping into this series ★★★★

Another teen series for you this week, but this time one which is traditionally aimed at the boys. 

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of books by Rick Riordan is a set of five books (with a spin off set of books having just recently been published) featuring the main character Percy Jackson and his group of friends going on adventures. 

As the title suggests the series is based around the mythical Olympus, the adventurers in the stories are children of the Greek Gods, half bloods, who are brought to Camp Half-Blood in order to train to undertake quests just like Hercules and the other heroes of myth and legend. Percy, the hero of the stories is the son of Poseidon, one of the Big Three Gods (along with Zeus and Hades) who were forbidden from having any more children, and so is in somewhat of a lonely position at the beginning of the series. The quests he undertakes with his friends vary in nature but they all relate in some way to the prevention of the rise of the Titans, who in the old myths were the race who came before the Gods and Demigods and Heroes. Is this sounding like a history lesson?

Although the whole idea of Greek mythology can be crazily complicated, the series manages to make it interesting and simple enough for kids (the books are technically placed in the 9-13 age bracket) while getting enough of the mythology in there for it to be educational. A full range of characters from the myths make regular appearances as both friend and foe, and the challenges are exciting enough to keep the reader entertained and thrilled. 

While they are obviously written to entertain, these books also manage to provide a role model for kids, especially kids who might traditionally shy away from reading. The main characters, the teenage Heroes, all have a range of learning difficulties such as dyslexia and have ADHD due to their God genes, and they use these features, which traditionally would be classed as a weakness, to help overcome battles, for the right child this sense of purpose could really provide inspiration.

For anyone interested there is also a film which is fun, though not as good as the books, and I know several adults who have read these as well as a fair few teens as well, they managed to keep them all happy, so good all round!


Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Book of Yesterday ★★

I will start this review by saying that I had never read any Cecelia Ahern before reading this book, so I am not used to her writing style and I cannot compare to her other bestsellers. She is a very successful author, she of P.S. I Love You (made into an adorable film featuring the wonderfully rugged Gerard Butler) and Thanks For The Memories, but personally this book has put me off reading any more of her work. I have several of her books sat on my shelf (all purchased for about ten pence each from the library book sale) and I really am not inspired to read them, I shall explain why.

The Book of Tomorrow follows a teenage girl, Tamara, as her and her mother are forced to abandon their high flying lives in Dublin following the death of her father and the subsequent reveal of a huge mass of debt. Tamara and her mother, who it appears has fallen into depression,  move in with family who live in the gatehouse of an old country estate. Tamara being a typical teenager hates the situation and her new surroundings and finds it difficult to adjust. While out attempting to entertain herself Tamara then finds a book which reveals the next day's diary entry to her (written by herself) and of course in typical fashion, she tries to change events. 

My main problem with this book was initially a general confusion about the target audience, in the UK this book is marketed generally as adult fiction, however the book follows a teenager and her experiences. I believe in the US this book is also categorised as teen fiction. This is hugely confusing because an adult may find it very difficult to identify with Tamara without finding her annoying, and it distracts somewhat from the story Ahern is trying to tell.

That story is my other issue with the book, primarily in that it takes so long to get anywhere and then when the real plot does suddenly appear it becomes really quite predictable. The story itself is a generally a good idea, but it shouldn't have taken a third of the book for me to really get into it. I understand Ahern is trying to create this desolate boring image of life in the country for Tamara, but instead I simply found my mind wandering and longing for other works of fiction to read. 

I wont give it away but the story concludes with what is supposed to be a shock reveal of a deep dark family secret, but I found myself guessing what it was about half way through (and getting most of it right) and so the writing which was supposed to be gripping, instead just dragged on for a couple of hundred pages more then I felt it should have.
I will give Ahern something though, I loved her characterisation of the Nuns, it really did make them sound oh so fun to be around :)

All in all, this is only getting two stars, and really it should get one. The story itself was a great idea but I feel it was weakly executed which is a shame because I had been looking forward to this book. Let's hope some of her other work is more impressive!

Rating: ★★

Thursday, 8 December 2011

NOTD: Festive French

Barry M Gold topped with Barry M Gold glitter.
Tips are Barry M Bright Red topped with Barry M Red Glitter

I have been wanting to paint my nails all Christmassy for days and finally got around to it last night!

These were really simple, just 2 coats of a gold polish followed by a gold glitter topcoat and then freehand painted 1 layer of red on the tip and added a layer of glitter.

A simple way to get sparkly Christmas nails without getting too messy playing around with nail art brushes and actual glitter.

:) xo

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I want candy! ★★★

Now, don't go running away thinking "Oh I thought she had more class then to read Lauren Conrad! What twaddle!" Hear me out for a second because you might be a little bit surprised.
For people who know me in 'real life', i.e. not the internet, this might be a little bit of a shock, but I rather enjoy one reality television series of shows. It is the only, I repeat the ONLY, reality television that I really enjoy, and it is Laguna Beach/The Hills/The City. 
My mother is to blame, like, totally.

You see they started repeating these shows in the afternoons, when my mum would get home from work and put the kettle on and sit and chill before she had to make dinner or anything, and on days when I wasn't trekking back and forth to Sheffield or at work I would join her in watching, and I came to love them. 
They have the drama, which you know isn't real, but they make it just real enough that it is interesting. Plus there are all the parties and pretty clothes and makeup and things. We know (or at least if you follow my beauty blog you know) that i love pretty clothes and makeup.
Specifically my love for Lauren Conrad (or LC) came from watching these shows and seeing how she dealt with it all, I love her humour, and I hate Heidi so it was a given I would be team Lauren.

When I was bookselling I looked down my nose at her books, but having watched the show I decided I really wanted to read them as they are basically a behind the scenes look and Lauren's side of the story for the making of the Hills and Laguna Beach. I could definitely justify this with bookseller speak too, after all these books were New York Times best sellers!

The three books, L.A. Candy, Sweet Little Lies and Sugar and Spice, tell the story of two girls, best friends Jane and Scarlet, who move to the city and are approached by television producers to star in a new show 'L.A. Candy'. The girls share the stage with two other girls, both not nearly as down to earth as the two heroines and the four girls are then manipulated and their lives made a mess of through the producers need to create good television and the stars themselves being desperate for a cut of the limelight.

They were never going to be amazing literature, but they were some of those I-can't-put-this-down-dammit-where's-the-next-one-I-need-it-now books which I admit to loving. They give you an insight into the land of Hollyweird, which if you find the fake surface horribly cheesy and it grates on your senses you might find interesting for its seediness, and it allows you to look past the polished exterior of a show like The Hills and see how it can be truly damaging. The crazy events which occur help to illustrate the trappings of the high life and show readers that life in L.A. isn't just as sunny as its weather. The heroines themselves also help to highlight the importance of education and hard work as they continue to hold down steady jobs and go to university during all the happenings.

It also might help (to some extent, obviously she isn't a saint herself) to put the author, Lauren Conrad in a better position in your mind as it becomes clear she isnt as superficial as portrayed on the show. She really is a half decent role model for young women as her business sense is clearly strong. She has become very successful in turning the manipulation of the showbiz world she was thrust into on its head and taken control, something which we see the beginning of in the books.

Much like I expected, these books are great quick reads, a series that a teenager would love for the drama and their parents might actually like to consider for the message the series provides, that money and possessions really aren't worth the sacrifice. Anyone else might also find these interesting for the inner workings of reality television, but more then that they are inspirational. The books take a superficial character in a superficial world and add in the technical knowledge, the grit, and the determination to succeed which turns the heroine in these books into a well rounded character, and one to look up to.

Well done Miss Conrad  ★★★

Roaccutane VLOG 14: The final vlog!

So this was my final final roaccutane VLOG, which I uploaded the other day, 
it's short and sweet, with a happy ending. 
I hope all who are considering and/or going through treatment are doing well and I wish you all the best of luck!!