Mockingjay

Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us! 

After being rescued from her second turn in The Hunger Games, Katniss soon realises that the games are not only held in the arena but all around her

As I’ve said before the one thing that drives me mad, in any series, is when the character gives an overview of what’s already happened and in Catching Fire this was done in the same way that other authors had done before. For some brilliant reason Mockingjay doesn’t just repeat what has already happened but does in a far more intelligent way, showing Collins’ development as an author throughout the series. Although The Hunger Games will always be my favourite, Mockingjay also has strong parts although not necessarily the action of Catching Fire.

After the destruction of district 12 Katniss feels somewhat in debt and without knowing has become a symbol of the rebellion across the country. Although she has been saved it has come at a cost, that cost being Peeta. After time Katniss agrees to become the face of the rebellion, the Mockingjay to match the pin she has been worn through the games that nearly destroyed her. It feels like the whole series was supposed to build up to this incredible moment but as with the other novels it felt slightly rushed, I wanted to know more about what Katniss was thinking, her feelings. We know she’s damaged by the games but maybe more heart?

I found that there were some points in the novel where I lost interest. It wasn’t the same as the first two in the series, where I couldn’t walk away even if I tried. This novel seemed to focus too much on the Katniss- Peeta – Gale part of the story and it irritated me in the middle of what was supposed to be a war. That said, I found the war and ideas surrounding it to be incredibly realistic and well thought out, especially the effect that the games and the war have on Katniss and her fellow tributes before, during and after.

I’m going to give this 3 stars ***. I did enjoy the novel and it was well written, but as with the other novels I felt like I was rushing through. There was just this sense that things went from moving too quickly to slowing straight down and then back again. Also without spoilers I would say that the ending is quite controversial and I’m not sure how I feel about it again maybe more detail? All in all I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole and would read it again but the later books very much rely on each other instead of standing as single novels.

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So many books!

Hello all, 

 

I hope you’ve all been enjoying just how many books I’ve been reading lately. I’m pleased to announce that regular reviews every Sunday will be back from now on! You might have noticed I’ve been trying to get these back for a while and I’m really pleased with the ones I have coming up for you all! 

The site will have some mind improvements made, getting things all up to date and hopefully I’ll post some short stories and things over the summer. If you’re ever wondering what I’m up to while I’m not writing reviews for you all remember I also have my other blog http://www.chloemetzger.wordpress.com pop over and let me know what you think! 

 

Thanks for all your support and enjoy the new reviews! 

 

Chloe 

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green Book review *****

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‘Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book’- Hazel

As my regular readers know I posted this originally last year but having seen the film I can say both film and book go hand in hand perfectly. I’m so pleased that one of my favourite novels ever has been made into a cinematic masterpiece. Although this review is for the novel I urge people who loved the book to see the film, you wont regret it! 

This novel shattered my heart into a million pieces and made me laugh more than I have in a long time.   From the first pages The Fault in Our Stars I was laughing and I fell in love with the character of Hazel.  I loved her brutal honesty, her train of thought and just how normal she tries to be. It wasn’t until I finished the novel that I realised just how much of a good job Green had done at getting into the head of a sixteen year old girl with terminal illness. There were no flaws in her monologue, decisions or actions. I felt that Hazel was real, at first I was a little taken aback with how mature she was about dying but this is not uncommon in novels of this kind. These types of novels have been dubbed ‘sick lit’ by the press which I think is just pathetic and immature. The novel isn’t out to ‘glamourize’ death or terminal illness and I think it is an insult to the tireless research authors. In a nutshell this novel is about falling in love, having hope, excruciating loss and life after death.

 

I’ll admit that at first I was incredibly sceptical of the love life between Hazel and Augustus. I rolled my eyes a little when the beautiful boy turned up to take her troubles away. Usually I would have been able to put the novel down at this point but Green’s charm made it so that I could not walk away ( I seriously mean that, I took my Kindle EVERYWHERE until I had finished). There is something unique in the relationship between Hazel and Augustus. Some may be sceptical but how do we know how we would act if we were in love and time was running out?

The one way I can tell if a novel is worth reading and passing on is if the characters are still walking around my head a week after. You wonder endlessly about them, as Hazel does herself in regards to her own favourite novel, An Imperial Affliction, with that ending (see now you have to read it to understand what I’m on about).  I still think about the characters and have endless questions for Mr Green if I ever had the pleasure of meeting him. The characters really do come off the page, I feel like they were my friends and at certain points I had to stop and fight off tears by the pool side (especially as I had an outburst of ‘No!’ with absolute agony in my voice making my family look at me very strangely the day before). It felt like just as you were getting to know the characters and thought you knew how they were going to act and what they were going to do you were thrown off balance and had to revaluate what you previously thought. I feel that the relationship between Hazel and Augustus has been portrayed in a very interesting light. Green has not set out to prove that a teenage love lasts forever, nor does it make everything better which I believe adds to the magic and reality of the novel. It is not only the relationship between Hazel and Augustus that is explored within The Fault in Our Stars there is the relationship between Hazel and her parents. It is rather incredible that Green has not stuck to the stereotypical parents in many aspects. I cannot spoil the plot for you but Hazel’s mum is not as clingy as she seems.  Green has instead portrayed an emotional father and a mother who is not pressuring her to pursue endless treatment; she wants her to have a life. It is because of her parents that she finds herself in the support group for cancer and although she hates it by the end you can see their logic and the effect of Cancer on the family unit, they deal with it the best they can. The reader also experiences the world through the eyes of a cancer patient and Green goes as far as to make a point out of the Cancer Perks which the characters themselves do at times find amusing, for example Augusts’ driving skills.

I was surprised to find that the novel did not depress me, yes it made me sad and I felt heartbroken but it also made me appreciate the struggles of people with Cancer as well as inspiring me.  As a writer who is researching terminal illness I found Green’s ability incredible as well as his empathy with his characters.  There is a point in the novel which I found to be both beautiful and brutally honest in regards to the previously mentioned ‘Cancer Perks’. I will not spoil the plot for you but I will say that Green makes it clear that even when you have Cancer the world can still screw you over, making the characters more normal. I will give this novel five stars ***** it really is a unique novel and I urge everyone to read it or at least try it.

The Second Life of Amy Archer – R.S Pateman *****

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Your daughter has been missing for 10 years, she’s standing at your door and hasn’t aged a day.

For the past 10 years Beth Archer has been struggling to cope with the disappearance of her daughter, Amy. Although slowly rebuilding her life Beth is reluctant to let go and makes annual visits to psychics, one of which tells her ‘the little girl…she’s coming soon’, although not as she expects. As a young woman, Jenny, stands at her door claiming that she knows Amy is alive and introduces her daughter Esme, who has a chilling resemblance to Amy and memories that no one else can understand, they claim she is Amy reincarnated.

The novel really is full of twists and turns, although the concept of reincarnation is not one that I had come across in a novel before I absolutely loved it and it was a daring move to place the use of psychics within a crime novel.  It’s hard to believe that this is Pateman’s debut novel. This novel is more than just a thriller it’s engaging, stimulating. As a reader I didn’t just get to know the characters I considered theories of reincarnation, afterlife as well as getting stuck into Beth’s mind as she confronts something that none of us could even imagine.

The character of Beth has received some criticism but I personally thought she was a great character. She reminds me of real life mothers who I have seen portrayed in the media, blames for their children’s deaths or not being careful enough. She is distraught and desperate for some or any connection with her daughter, as I believe any mother would. The pain radiates through the pages as she struggles to deal with the ten year anniversary of Amy’s death as well as Esme’s claims and intimate knowledge of their family life prior to the kidnapping.

Your thoughts mirror Beth’s, is any of this real? How could this ever work or is this all just a clever and devastating ruse to ruin her life. I have to admit that at times I found Beth’s character to be selfish and incredibly fragile but then I considered how anyone would react when faced with this situation. Even if you have to put the book down (which I wouldn’t recommend) it’s simple to fall seamlessly back into and read continuously for hours.

I want to give this book 5 stars *****! I can’t even begin to describe how much this novel excited me, it’s so refreshing to find a novel that is not only full of original ideas but also taps into a complex set of characters. The only other thing is that I would have liked to have known a bit more about Libby, but this may have hindered the plot, so I think it’s for the best. I was also fortunate to talk to the author (who is also lovely!) and discuss the ending, which has received mixed opinions but in my opinion you’ll absolutely love it!

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

Lovey – Mary MacCracken

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‘Me lovey’  – A remarkable story of a girl and a woman who refused to give up on her.

Working in a school for children with severe emotional problems and learning difficulties, Mary is often faced with challenging students but often puts a positive spin on things. On the first day of term, however, her well organised plans are thrown out of the window with the news she will be taking on a new student this year in her small class of four, a student no other teacher has been able to control. Before even setting foot in her classroom Hannah begins to resist, the child can only be likened to a ‘wild animal’ but despite all odds Mary manages to calm her down enough to get her into the classroom.

Although it sound cheesy, this book is a journey. I loved following the story and it felt like I was right beside Mary, Hannah and the rest of the boys in the class. The boys are also loveable and sweet, each with their own challenges and despite initial resistance to Hannah the boys become a key part in her recovery and the steps she takes.  As you’d expect though this is not a smooth transition of recovery, as well as being a teacher Mary needs to be extremely caring and attuned to each child’s individual needs. It takes someone very patient and very special to work with children with learning and emotional difficulties and Mary’s strength is an inspiration to us all.

Now I’m not saying the book is light, fluffy and an easy read because it’s not. Your heart aches for both Mary and the children. These children are so young but have been labelled and have been through traumatic experiences for their age but little by little Mary begins to build their confidence and deal with any set backs they have. Her use of calming techniques and focused attention mean these children get what they need and for Hannah being called ‘lovey’ by anyone makes her explode with joy.

As we move through the year with the children I doubt anyone could not marvel at the children’s response to Mary and the environment of the small school. It made me think about the facilities that are needed to help students like this get better and back into mainstream education, more as a transition stage rather than a permanent fixture.

I want to give this book 4 stars ****, I absolutely loved it! I initially expected a novel full of sadness and misery but was greeted with something very different. This is a story of hope, hard work and determination, although I warn you the ending is definitely bitter-sweet. It also spreads a wider message, even children with difficulties are so worth it and we should never give up on them. Mary is an extraordinary woman and the children had a place in my heart from the start. You’ll be pleased to know we do get to hear what they get up to later in life but you’ll have to wait and read to find out!