From the page to the screen

It’s astonishing just how many films are based on books. When you research it the list never seems to end, with movie after movie takes its story from a novel. I love to find a book that has been projected onto the big screen. One of my favourite series on television, Grimm, is one that bases a lot of its stories on fairy tales. Taking a story from the page to the screen can work wonders for a plotline, helping it go further than it might have if it had just remained within the pages of a book. Look at the success of Game of Thrones. As a book series, it’s incredible – truly astounding. But the sheer magnitude of it is something that would probably put a lot of people off reading it. The fantasy epic can be a bit of a challenge to take on if you’re not into reading, and while the show mightn’t have the same level of intensity and brilliance as the books, it is a brilliant portrayal of them.

Sometimes, the film version works just as well as the book itself, if not better at times. John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was perhaps even more disturbing and tragic on the big screen than it was on the page. I’ll never forget the eerie silence that fell over the theatre as the credits started to roll, the waves of shock rolling over everyone watching.  On paper and on screen it’s one of the most powerful stories you could read, with an important lesson. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is another example of a book that was brilliantly converted into a movie version. I’m always a little bit wary as a reader going to watch the film adaption of books I love, but Baz Luhrmann’s depiction of the classic was brilliant. It was equally as captivating.

I think putting a book on to the screen can really benefit the story at times, and help it reach out to an entirely new audience. Period dramas have always been something that worked well as a television series or film; they’re adaptions that always seem to enjoy success. Stories like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are firm favourites of mine, and I’ve personally never had a problem with a more old-fashioned writing style. But some people don’t enjoy it. Making classic novels into a TV series or film can work wonders for them. It encourages more people to experience the story, and can ensure that the book doesn’t become forgotten over time.

Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. There are books that should have been left alone, as books. Their film adaption is nothing short of embarrassing. I’m thinking in particular of Eragon and the Twilight series. I loved Christopher Paolini’s young adult fantasy series, and I did enjoy Stephanie Meyer’s phenomenon when I read it. But the movie versions of them were awful. They lacked any of the excitement that the books had, and were painful to watch at times. When you watch any of the Twilight films it is easy to understand why so many people ridicule the series. But trust me when I say the books are much better than the films.

Of course, there are times when I am wary about the release of a film based on a book. If it’s a book I really love, then I can get worried that they will ruin it. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is my favourite book, one that I’ve read countless times and recommend over and over again. I was filled with equal feelings of excitement and dread when I found out that it was being made into a movie. I couldn’t wait to watch it, but I will admit that I was anxious to see how loyal they remained to the book. It was a good adaption, but I think because I had loved the book for so long it never would have been good enough.

It was the same for Harry Potter – I’ve always had mixed feelings about the film versions of my favourite series. I’ve watched them time and time again; Harry Potter marathons are one of my favourite ways to spend my weekend. At times they were better in ways than their paper counterpart, and on other occasions I hated watching what they had done to it.  I think it depended on the director for me, how they interpreted the series. I was never a fan of how they portrayed The Goblet of Fire. It was the first Harry Potter book I read, so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for it. The portrayal of it on the big screen disappointed me quite a bit; it felt rushed, and lacked character in a way. On the flipside, I loved the depictions of The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows. They captured the darkness and intensity of the books, and were in my opinion the best films of the series.

Putting a book onto the screen can be a massive gamble. Successful adaptions can work wonders for a story. It widens the audience, and brings more attention to a talented author. But if they’re poorly represented, it can have a detrimental effect on the book. I guess it just depends, and what I thought was a good adaption, others might say it was a disgrace. Netflix marathons are one of the best ways to spend your free time in my opinion. But as a bookworm, I will always prefer to lose myself in a book. Books are just better.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

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The Night Rainbow, by Claire King

They tell you to never judge a book by its cover, but personally I’ve always thought that was ridiculous advice, at least when it literally came to selecting a book. Sometimes it’s the very cover of the book itself that attracts you to it. Walking into the sea of titles and plotlines in a bookstore can be a tad overwhelming, even for a bookworm. There are just so many books to choose from, all battling for your attention. So sometimes, an interesting or nice looking cover is exactly what you need to initially draw you into a story. I was pulled toward Claire King’s debut novel The Night Rainbow because of its cover – with its cool – toned half rainbow and dreamy silhouettes. It was an automatic eye-catcher for me. It was also in a gorgeous hardback edition whenever I first spotted it. It had that solid feel to it that only a hardback book can have. It felt old and lived in, despite having never been read, the sort of book that has that comforting, homely feel to it when you hold it. A glance at the synopsis reassured me that The Night Rainbow was more than just a pretty cover.

It follows the story of Pea and her younger sister Margot as they play their way through a warm, lazy summer in the south of France. After their heavily pregnant mother falls into a deep depression following the death of her husband and another child, they find that they have to fend for themselves. And so with childlike innocence, they meander their way around the darkness that has fallen upon their house, spending the long summer days in the meadow behind it, and try their best to help their mother any way they can. Soon enough, they befriend the elderly and mysterious Claude. He’s kindly, and unlike all of the other adults in the story, takes the time to listen to the adventures of Pea and Margot. But for some reason, despite all his kindness, the people of the village view him with suspicion, and he seems to be hiding a secret in his own home.

The Night Rainbow, despite having a dark and often ominous plotline, is carried along by a wonderfully upbeat narrator. By using a child to narrate her novel as opposed to an adult, Claire King gives the reader a story that is thought-provoking while being light-hearted at the same time. If Pea’s mother or any of the adults in the village had been the protagonist in this story, it would have taken a decidedly different path. Instead, King uses the far more open-minded and imaginative Pea to help lighten the story of her novel, and lift the mood throughout. The author has done a wonderful job of capturing the innocence of a child’s perspective through the character of Pea, and there is something incredibly refreshing about having a child guides you through such a dark story.

In so many ways it is a sugar-coated novel. Pea and Margot are being neglected by their mother, and often it is easy to forget that fact because of how happy and content Pea seems to be at times. She knows something is wrong with their mother, but she is not old enough to discern just how serious the situation really is. She doesn’t realise that their mother isn’t simply sad or angry – she is devastated, and losing herself, and her relationship with her remaining family members, because of the depression that has taken hold of her. The Night Rainbow is a tale of youth and dreamy, hot summers set in a quiet, picturesque little meadow. But it is also a story depicting the devastating effects that grief can have on individuals, and on a family. For all her childlike optimism, it is obvious to tell as you progress through the novel that Pea is desperate for adult attention. She is craving parental love, and it is why Claude quickly becomes such an important figure in both her and Margot’s life.

The Night Rainbow is a lovely read. It’s light and flows well despite a heavy plotline, and has gorgeously descriptive and imaginative language throughout it. The one major plot twist is revealed slowly, falling into place like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and showing you, page by page, just how heart-breaking Pea’s story really is. It’s the perfect lazy day read, but has a story that will hang around in your mind long after you finish it.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

The protective writer

Sometimes I think I prefer the act of creating a world and its characters more than I enjoy the act of actually writing about them. I adore writing, it’s a pastime I’ve always been able to immerse myself in. But often, the act of writing something turns out to be much more difficult than originally anticipated. I wrote last week about the struggles of writing while you’re suffering from a case of writer’s block, and unfortunately, I’m still battling through it. But I’m not going to talk about that again.

Today’s post is instead about the protective nature of writers when it comes to their work. I myself am a very protective writer, especially when it comes to my characters. I mentioned it in my post on the struggles of being a shy writer; how I have always been so reluctant to tell anyone of my ideas or share any of my writing with people. In a lot of ways it was because I am naturally quite a shy and withdrawn person. I’m reluctant to show people the creative side of me in a lot of ways, because often it is the most vulnerable side. But on the flip side, showing that creative side is exactly what I want to do.

But I think the protective nature I have as a writer stems from something more than just being a shy person. I guess a little part of me is reluctant to share with people, both strangers and friends alike, something that I’ve created myself from scratch. Sometimes it’s the selfish person inside me. The quiet little voice at the back of my mind that asks why I should share my work with anyone but myself? Becoming a professional writer would mean deadlines and meetings. It would mean writing would no longer just be a hobby I could lose myself in, it would be my job. And it would mean sharing with people ideas that are uniquely mine, and the selfish, protective writer in me doesn’t like the thought of that.

Creating characters and locations for a novel idea is a wonderful experience. With nothing more than your imagination and some inspiration from outside forces, you can create something or someone that never existed until you imagined them into being. People who don’t write might be led to believe that creating a character is easy enough; just conjure up a physical appearance, a personality and a little bit of history, and you’ve got yourself a character. But in reality, bringing characters out of the depths of your imagination is so much more than that. There is a tremendous amount of planning and work that goes into creating a character or a place when writing. For either one to have real body and relatability, they have to have depths to them that might not even be experienced by the reader. Nevertheless, as a writer, they are crucial little pieces of information that I need to help me write about them. I myself need to feel like I relate to all of my characters before I would even consider giving them a story.

I’m thinking of one character in particular while I write this blog post. I’ll reveal nothing about her, except that she has been the most important character in my resume for many years now. I know her as well as I know myself, and even better than I know any of my friends or family members. She is entirely my own, and I get that warm fuzzy, excited feeling in my chest when I think about how much she’s grown as a character over the years with the help of my imagination. When you’re writing, your characters become part of who you are. My protagonist’s great joys are in a way my great joys, and I feel her pain in times of heartache. I know exactly what she would think about any situation, how her facial expressions will contort when she doesn’t like something. I know what makes her sides sore from laughing, what her deepest dreams are and which fears keep her up at night. I know everything about her.

So you have to understand then, why I may seem so reluctant to share her with anyone. The thought of sending her out into the big bad world where other people could read about her and judge her story is akin to throwing her to the wolves. It’s like stripping her naked and forcing her to walk down a crowded street. She’s had the reign of my imagination for years now – her story has dominated it longer than any other character. But she’s also had the safety of it. While she remains just a figure inside my head, she is protected from criticism and scorn. As a writer, the thought of letting people read her story is both liberating and terrifying. And it’s the same for all of my characters, and even places I’ve created over the years.

I’m not even close to finishing writing my book. And if I ever do finish it, and find myself lucky enough to have it published, I’ll be forced to let my own characters go beyond the realm of my imagination and the laptop screen. As a protective writer, that thought terrifies me, and strange as it may seem – saddens me. But as an aspiring writer, it excites me so much. It’s just a matter of figuring out which side of the writer inside of me will win, and for all my protestations and protective fears, I already know the answer.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

All Quiet on the Western Front – a review

I have always loved studying history. It was one of my favourite subjects growing up, and the path I decided to take in university. When I was in my final year I took a module that looked at the impact war had on society in the twentieth century. I found it to be a really interesting module, and ended up writing my assignment on the psychological impact that war had on the men who fought in it, and how it affected society’s perception of masculinity in the twentieth century. It was an assignment I found fascinating to work on, and it presented me with some tragic statistics. While studying the module, we were required to read Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

It’s a powerful read. Following a group of young Germans, barely out of childhood, it details the physical and psychological effects that the First World War had on the common soldier. The narrator and protagonist, Paul Bäumer, is an eighteen year old who documents his time on the Western front during the ‘war to end all wars’. Like so many young men during this period in time, he and his classmates are inspired to rush to the battlefield after being filled with an idealistic and patriotic view of war. They go forth confident and proud to be fighting for their country. But what follows is an account of how desperate and horrific war really is.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a profound novel, and the stories of its characters are made more realistic when you remember that Remarque himself fought at the front. He knew first-hand the emotions his characters would be feeling. The First World War has often been made synonymous with the idea of patriotism, and it’s a war in which the achievements of the men who fought in it seem to be celebrated more than any other, at least where I am from. In many ways, it has become a glorified war. Yes, we all know that it was a tragic war, and one that had an impact so large that the ripples from it caused another, even more destructive war. We always remember the humanity of World War Two, it’s hard not to. But sometimes people seem to forget the real men and women behind the numbers relating to World War One.

Remarque’s novel takes all the glory and patriotism out of war, and instead gives the reader the gritty, disillusioned, ugly side of it. Through the eyes of Paul and the young men fighting alongside him, you are forced to witness the side of war that no one wants to remember. The dull, monotonous fear and boredom that filled the void between battles. The coldness of long, wet, hungry nights, and the ache of the men wondering whether or not to they would live to see home. The novel strips back the propaganda of war and shows the real men behind it. While I was writing my assignment I came to realise just how big an impact the First World War had had on men. Men had always been expected to be the strong ones. They were supposed to take war in their stride; go to war, defend your country with honour, and then come home and pick up exactly where you left off if you were lucky enough to survive. The art of war changed in 1914, but society’s idea of how men should react to it didn’t.

Throughout the novel Paul constantly reminds you of how he and his friends are no longer boys. But they are not quite men yet, either. Instead, they all balance precariously on the cusp between boyhood and manhood, knowing that many, if not all of them, will perhaps never reach the other side. And if they do survive, they will have the weariness of old men in the bodies of young ones. One by one, the boys lose their youthfulness, and become shells of who they once were, and who they could have become.

The story of Paul and his fellow soldiers at the front is a harrowing tale. Set in a war unlike any that had come before it, the horrors of the western front provide the backdrop for a novel that to this day remains a powerful reminder of what war can do.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

The Scarlet Letter – A Review

I get my list of books I want to read from many different places. Often it was a text that related to my course, or a suggestion I had seen online or heard from a friend. More often than not I find my reading material by walking around bookstores and just looking around in every section. And sometimes I find my next read in a teen comedy film. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlet Letter came to me in the form of the 2010 film Easy A, a film that I really enjoy, and one that is partly inspired by one of the most famous novels in American literature.

The Scarlet Letter, set in 17th century Puritan Boston, follows the struggles of Hester Prynne, a woman shunned from society when it is revealed that she committed adultery after she gives birth to a daughter. Forced into a life of alienation and cruel rejection from society, Hester is sentenced to wear a bright scarlet letter ‘A’ on the breast of her plain coloured Puritan garments to mark her out as one steeped in sin. As time passes, she becomes in a way a symbol of rebirth in the eyes of her Puritan neighbours. She is a woman who goes from being one they scorn, to one they observe with quiet awe.

The novel is heavy with the themes of repentance and guilt. As the years pass, Hester struggles with these feelings in her relationship with her daughter, her own husband, and Pearl’s father. She also develops a fear of Pearl, her own daughter, in some way. It isn’t that she doesn’t love her child. On the contrary, she goes to great lengths to protect her and keep her; but she seems to see in Pearl the wildness that led her herself so deeply into sin, and it unnerves her, and the other townsfolk, to watch how comfortable her daughter is being so impish.

The emotion of forgiveness builds and builds throughout The Scarlet Letter. It’s a crucial theme throughout the novel, more important than the shame of Hester’s guilt, or the desperation of her lover to repent. It outweighs the determination of her husband to exact revenge on the man who wronged him. Forgiveness has to happen on so many different levels in this story, and the act of forgiveness has a profound effect on everyone involved throughout the story.

I love reading classic literature, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is a firm favourite of mine. There’s a great story at the heart of it, and an admirable and intriguing heroine. Hester Prynne is a realistic heroine, a woman who falls low in society and manages to pull herself up out of the darkness year by year. She receives little to no help from those around her, making her journey all the more admirable. She is fiercely protective of her child, and wears her letter ‘A’ with a mix of shame and prideful acceptance. She understands that this is her lot now, but seems to hold no real regret for it. Does she feel guilty for what she did? Yes. Shame is an emotion that is almost palpable at times in The Scarlet Letter, but it is obvious from the beginning of the novel that Hester Prynne does not regret her daughter. And through her strong reluctance to name the man who fathered Pearl, you discover a woman who perhaps really loved him.

I know The Scarlet Letter will not be everyone’s cup of tea; it’s one of the more old-fashioned classics, and has dialogue style that harks back to more Shakespearean times. But if you can get past that, it’s definitely a novel worth trying out some time.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

The art of letting go as a writer

Learning to let go as a writer when I have writer’s block is one of the biggest challenges I face every time I pick up a pen or open up my laptop. It’s something I’m struggling with right now as I sit here trying to write out my Sunday blog post. I should have had this post up on the blog hours ago, and now be well into working on my prologue. But it took me quite some time to even think of what I would write about, and now I’m doing what I do best: procrastinating. I’ve cleaned my room, washed my hair, drank coffee, browsed the internet and now I am staring at the screen wondering how to continue on with the post. I don’t know how to convey what’s on my mind in this post I’m writing, and on another level I’m putting it off to delay working on my prologue, because I’m stuck on how to move forward. Writer’s block is the bane of my life sometimes.

I think a lot of writers struggle with the whole idea of ‘letting go’ when they are writing. Being picky in your writing can be a good thing, but it can also lead to you hitting a creative wall if you focus on getting it right first time around too much. In school and university I was the worst for editing my essays as I went along. I didn’t believe in first and second drafts. The editing had to be done there and then, no excuses. And if I battled with it somewhat while doing schoolwork, the challenge is ten times greater when I work on my own writing, be it a blog post, and especially my novel idea. In many ways, I am a laid back person. But when it comes to working on my writing, I am the most uptight perfectionist imaginable. I go from being the shoulder shrugging, nonchalant girl to the one pulling her hair out in frustration at not being able to find the right words.

To be a writer is to understand that sometimes you won’t get it right the first time around. I have written paragraphs that I am exceedingly proud of on my first attempt, and I have written ones that are in desperate need of redoing. But it is impractical for me to think that I can successfully finish a novel if I continue to constantly question and change everything I write down. I need to learn that it is okay to say my character was ‘very happy’ when the words ‘ecstatic’ or ‘overjoyed’ wouldn’t come to mind, because it’s only a rough draft, not the one I would send away to a publishers. I have to accept that it’s alright to name my character ‘Jane’ until I can figure out what I really want to call her. There’s nothing wrong with getting it wrong, as long as you don’t let the important people see it when it’s wrong.

And I believe that the inability to let go as a writer causes a terrible snowball effect. Just the other day I was inspired to write; a creative moment seized me, and for the next few hours I wrote page after page, losing myself in my plot line. The next day when I woke to pick up where I had finished off, I found that a roadblock was in my mind. I’ve reached a point in my story where I need to tie up some loose ends before I can carry on. The only problem is that that one seemingly small obstacle leads to me feeling unable to write out one sentence. My imagination digs its heels in, and nothing can get past the barrier that it throws up.

The most frustrating thing about it is the backlog of ideas that form in mind. They’ve gone beyond forming an orderly queue in my imagination to being a tumbling mess that I have to sort through. Like so many other writers, I can visualise exactly what it is that I want to say. I can see the characters I want to describe as though they were right here in front of me, and I can imagine scenarios in my head that play out perfectly until I try and write them down.

Writing is one of the simplest joys for me. When it goes well, it has an incredibly calming yet invigorating feeling for me. It makes me feel alive, and happy. I’ve struggled with writer’s block and letting go time and time again. When you’re in the middle of a creative dry spell, it can seem as though you’ll never escape it. You start to think that your ideas will just wither away into nothing. The most important thing to do when this feeling overcomes you is to keep trying. I am being a dreadful hypocrite right now, I am fully aware of that fact. But I’ve found that running away from your writing is honestly the worst thing you can do. The longer you leave it, the bigger the monster grows, and the harder it becomes to let go. The best thing you can do is try your best to write something down, even it’s completely different to what you’re supposed to be focusing on. Write a short story, or let a ‘what if’ scenario play out on the page. Write out something you’ve already written from another character’s perspective. The most important thing to do is to try and write anything.

If all else fails, I try and find inspiration somewhere. I’ll listen to music, talk to people, or just sit and day-dream. Reading other people’s work can help as well, although sometimes it can just lead to various levels of envy that they managed to write a novel before you.

And sometimes, I’ll go back and read my own work, to remind myself that writer’s block is an obstacle I can get around.

Happy reading!

Brianna.

My little reading list

As an avid reader, I’m never in short supply of books I want to read. Listed on my phone, and slotted away in the back of my mind, are pages upon pages of novels I one day want to read when I finally get the time. I am approaching the stage now when I will at last be finished with a fantasy series that has dominated my attention for quite some time, and I can now see, just beyond it, the massive amount of reading material that has built up over time. Books that I received as gifts, or that I bought myself, sit waiting patiently around my room waiting to be opened.

I am a fan of lists, as I’m sure anyone who knows me will tell you. I write lists for almost everything, the most trivial of things warrants a list in my mind, and I enjoy reading lists. But sometimes, they can be too long-winded. I was fully aware that when I set out to write this blog post I would never be able to write down all of the novels I plan to read in the future – even for the rest of the year. There would just be too many, and you would grow bored reading about them a quarter of the way down. So instead I decided I would post a mini reading list of sorts, a taster of what’s to come.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green: The heart-breaking novel about the love story between young cancer sufferer Hazel and Augustus Waters has been pulling at my attention for quite some time now. I have been tempted to watch the film just to find out what makes it appealing to so many people, but like most bookworms, I know deep down that the book will probably be much better. So I’d rather hold out and wait. Not entirely sure that I would make it my holiday read, however; I don’t want to be caught blubbering by the poolside, trying to hide red eyes behind my sunglasses.

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy: Take 3, I believe. Honestly, I don’t know why I have to go at this novel a third time to finally finish it, because I really, really liked what I read the first two times around. I managed to get more than halfway through it on both occasions, and then just gave up for some reason. It might have been school work, or it might have been that I was going through a phase when I preferred watching television to reading for some strange reason. But I am determined to finish it this time around. The tragic and timeless love story of Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky, set against the gorgeous backdrop of Russian high society, has been near the top of my list for quite some time now.

Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien: I am ashamed to admit it, but I have never read perhaps the most famous fantasy series of all time, despite being a huge fan of the fantasy genre. Oh, I’ve seen the films multiple times; I could probably act out every scene for you, word for word. Lord of the Rings marathons are one of the best ways to spend your day off. But the novels are something I will have to read before this year is over.

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell: I absolutely adore the film version of this, and have watched it every Christmas for many years now. The film is a wonderfully layered one; there’s humour, and tragedy, and all sorts of forbidden and unrequited loves. And it’s a great survival story. The story follows the life of the vivacious and spoilt Scarlett O’Hara and self-assured soldier Rhett Butler through the turmoil that the American Civil War caused in the Plantation South. I obviously don’t know what the book is like yet, but if the film is anything to go by then it should be a superb read.

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys: this novel was first brought to my attention when I was studying Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre in school. I loved the story of Jane herself, and am a fan of the Brontë sisters in general. So I was interested to find that someone had written a prequel of sorts to the classic 19th century novel, and in doing so adding another dimension to the story. While reading Jane Eyre it can become easy to be whisked away by the classic love story between plain Miss Eyre and the dark Mr Rochester, and almost forget about the mystery that almost pulls them apart. Wide Sargasso Sea sets out to tell the story behind poor Bertha Mason, and suggests that the story of her insanity may not be as one sided as was believed for so long.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, really.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

Taking Flight – A review

I decided to try out a book written by a local author over the weekend; my mum knows Sheena Wilkinson through work, and she had mentioned to her on occasion that I enjoyed reading and writing. Sheena had been kind enough to give my mum a copy of her novel, Taking Flight, but until now I hadn’t got around to read it.

Taking Flight definitely isn’t my normal read. As a general rule, I tend to stay away from novels set in areas I know, and I almost always choose books set in worlds that are completely fictional. I prefer to use reading as a way of escaping a part of the world I’m familiar with. But reading about places I know, streets I have actually been on myself, and coffee shops I have sat in, did have a certain novelty to it. It’s strange when scenes depict characters walking down certain roads, and I’m able to visualise exactly where they are.

Taking Flight follows the lives of two cousins living very different lives in the city of Belfast. Declan is a rough-mouthed teenager lacking any real drive and possessing a talent for rule-breaking, while his privileged cousin Vicky is a spoilt, dramatic young woman who inwardly threatens to throw a strop anytime she gets even the slightest hint that things won’t be going her way. Reading the story you learn that prior to the events in the novel the two have never really spent much time together, but have already formed a deep dislike for one another that seems to be based heavily on their social standing at times.

Declan and Vicky are forced to spend more time together when the former has to move in with his cousin and aunt after a family tragedy at the beginning of the novel. The two cousins automatically clash. Family loyalties and the automatic support of blood ties are non-existent between these two. After a period of skulking around and giving frustratingly short answers to almost everything asked of him, Declan finds himself being irresistibly drawn to Vicky’s equine lifestyle while visiting the stables she rides at, in particular her beloved show-jumping horse, Flight – something she just can’t seem to abide.  And she appears absolutely hell-bent on ruining the fun for everyone, no matter who gets hurt in the process.

Of the two, I preferred Declan – both his story and him as character. I think it will be a lot easier for the reader to feel sympathy for Declan; his problems extend beyond those of most teenage boys, and so warrant more compassion. He seems to have had a tough life, although it is revealed that some of that is through his own doing. Nevertheless he’s a far more likeable character than his cousin in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, Declan is a frustrating character throughout the novel; at times you’ll want to pull your hair out at his sullen silence. I’m sure you’ve met people like him; bull-headed, with a stopper forced right in so none of his feelings can slip out. But he grows well as a character.

In comparison to Declan, Vicky’s problems just seem trivial. She’s almost insufferable at times; she’s the sort of teenage girl you see hanging round the shopping centre or on the bus ride home from school, the one whining about her ‘first world problems’. In short, she’s a typical, spoilt teenage girl. She has no real problems going on in her life. Her parents’ divorced status doesn’t seem to bother her, and she appears to want for absolutely nothing. So it is hard to feel sorry for her when she frets over the fact that Flight seems to enjoy the attention from Declan, or that her own mother shows her cousin a slice of kindness at any point in the novel. A little ‘sibling’ rivalry and jealousy is normal, but Vicky borders on the scathingly cruel at times in her attitude towards Declan. And the poor guy is going through a bit of a rough time.

Taking Flight is dramatic without being overly heavy, and deals with a range of important issues in a way that won’t drag down the reader. Through the characters Wilkinson reveals the different challenges that people can face so early on in life, some more terrible than others. She tackles the problems realistically and in a relatable way; it isn’t the case that everything just automatically works out. There’s action, humour, a little bit of romance and a whole lot of jealousy; it’s a well-balanced novel. There’s both a strong female and male character in the story, meaning it is a book that both boys and girls could enjoy, something that I didn’t anticipate. Both Declan and Vicky face challenges throughout the course of the novel, and grow with them. It’s a great novel for young adults, and even I found that once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

The Gathering Storm: A review

The brilliance continues with book twelve of The Wheel of Time series, carrying on the excitement from Knife of Dreams. Long gone is the mundaneness of Crossroads of Twilight. I couldn’t put this one down, and the realisation that The Wheel of Time will be over for me soon is dawning. It’s been well over a year, maybe even two, since I began The Eye of the World, and now I’m both excited and sad to see the end of it.

Fans of the series anxious about the fact that this is where Brandon Sanderson took over the writing of the novels needn’t worry. I barely noticed the transition; apparently a lot of the words in the last three books are Jordan’s own, and it is next to impossible to figure out which ones. Brandon Sanderson appears to have been a commendable choice so far. I just couldn’t believe that Robert Jordan thought he could have condensed the story into just one more book. There are many questions that still need answering, and I can definitely see the next two novels being absolutely jam-packed with action.

The Gathering Storm mainly follows Rand and Egwene, two of my favourite characters in the series. Any other points of view are pretty minor, and almost always focus on someone close to the events happening around either Rand or Egwene. I know I complained at one point on how it frustrated me when the author focused on one character for too long, but this time around I didn’t mind quite as much. Yes, I was curious to know what was going on in Caemlyn, and I would have preferred more time from Perrin and Mat. But unlike in previous books in the series, the stories of both Rand and Egwene are fast-paced and exciting enough for readers to not get bored. Add in viewpoints from characters such as Tuon and Nynaeve, and The Gathering Storm makes for an excellent read.

Egwene Al’Vere: the struggles of the rebel Amyrlin as a captive within the White Tower continues. Page by page you can see her unravelling the weakness of the White Tower, determined to pull Elaida down and make the tower whole again. Egwene is most certainly one of the strongest characters in the series. She is becoming an absolute powerhouse of influence in her world. I absolutely loved the chapter in which she finally challenges Elaida directly. It was the culmination of months of tension between Egwene and Elaida, rising to a crescendo and finishing off stunningly. When I was reading the chapter in question, I was on the point of drifting off to sleep. But as soon as the evening meal in Elaida’s quarters got exciting, I was practically jumping up and down on my bed.

The stories surrounding the White Tower are brilliant this time around. Whether it’s happening inside the walls or outside in the rebel camp, it’s fast paced and intriguing; be it the plot twist surrounding Verin, the foretold Seanchan attack, or the drama happening in the rebel camp, it all makes for a great read.

Rand Al’Thor: the coldness continues long into book twelve. Characters worry that the Dragon Reborn will not be stable enough to even reach Tarmon Gaidon. Rand’s role in this particular book in the series shows him to have become a remarkably distant and borderline cruel young man. Whether it is he himself dwelling on his newfound hardness, or other characters balking in fear at the mere sight of him, Rand continues to become a character in the series to be reckoned with. Rand’s story is both brilliant and saddening to read at this point. Like all the characters close to him, I found myself as reader willing him on; to try and become more like the easily awed, innocent farm boy he was when Moiraine first visited the Two Rivers.

There is a darkness upon Rand at this stage in the series, and it just remains to be seen if he will succumb to it. He hasn’t become evil, per se, but a shadow hangs over his character at this point in the series, affecting everything he does. It sabotages his relationships, and ruins plans for political manoeuvring. The battle between Rand and Lews Therin rages on, and we’re all left wondering whose voice will be victorious in the end.

Each book in The Wheel of Time series gets better and better, and now The Towers of Midnight, book thirteen and the penultimate novel in the series, sits beside me as I write this blog post. It’s been pulling at my attention all day, so I guess all that’s left for me to do is read on, and find out what the wheel of time will spin out next.

Happy Reading!

Brianna.

The Liebster Award tag

I feel like tags are almost like a rite of passage on the internet, so thanks to Grateful Geek for tagging me in my first ever one!

The Rules:

  • Mention the person who nominated you on your blog and link them.
  • Answer 11 questions by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 5-11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers and link them below.
  • Create your own 11 questions for them to answer and let the nominees know that they’ve been nominated.

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Grateful Geek’s questions:

Who is your heroine/hero that has made you who you are today that is non-famous?

I know a lot of people would say one of their parents, but I’m going to say my English teacher had a big effect on my life in a lot of ways.

Who is your heroine/hero that has made you who you are today that is famous?

It would have to be J. K. Rowling. Her work has had a profound impact on my life; it was reading the Harry Potter series that really made me want to become a writer. And her rise from a woman barely above homelessness to where she is now would be an inspiration to anyone.

How do you feel about life, love, the universe and everything (crazy long I know)?

I think people obsess over who other people love far too much, and I don’t think love can ever be wrong; it can just come along at the wrong time for it to work out. I don’t think we’re alone in the universe, I just can’t believe that in the vastness of it all we’re the only ones living in it, and I live in hope that one day we’ll find a way to reach out to them. And sometimes I like to try and imagine what was there before it all began, because something can’t come from nothing, can it? But then my head starts to feel fuzzy with all the questions. As far as life is concerned, I guess I’m still figuring that stuff out. But I will say that people need to let others live theirs without being so judgemental.

If you had no obstacles in front of you what would you do and why?

I’d travel, and learn. There are so many things out there I want to see, and experience. And I don’t think anyone should remain stagnant in one place. Travelling and educating yourself is healthy.

What is the #1 thing on your bucket list?

To write at least one book. Nothing would ever come close to it.

If you could go up and do something nice for a random stranger what would it be?

Never under-estimate the power of a simple compliment or smile, that’s what I believe. They can do wonders sometimes.

How do you think people see you?

I think how people see me depends on how they themselves act around me, but I guess on a first impression basis, probably shy or aloof.

What do you think people would say about you if asked?

They’d probably tell you I’m quiet; I’m quite a withdrawn person. Even people who know me well would tell you I’m quiet. They would tell you I’m an observer.

How do you perceive yourself?

I feel like I’m fuelled by a lot of nervous energy. I overthink a lot of the time, and I’m desperately indecisive about almost everything in life. But I also know I have quite a bit of potential, I just sometimes can’t figure out how to reach it.

What are your 3 favorite things about yourself (can be physical or non-physical)?

My imagination, my sense of humour and my eyes.

 Celebrity Crush?

I’m liking Gabriel Macht (the actor who plays Harvey Specter in Suits) at the moment.

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My questions are:

Why did you start a blog?

If there were no obstacles standing in your way, what would be the one career you would love to have?

Where would you most like to visit, and why?

You’re hosting a dinner party, and you can invite any three people, dead or alive. Who would be at your table?

One book you think everyone should read?

If you were asked to be part of a mission to colonise another planet, knowing you could never return home, would you go?

If you could live in any book or film world for a week, which one would you choose?

What historical moment would you love to have been there for?

What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?

Do you believe in ghosts and aliens?

Do you believe in fate?

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I tag:

Kalimn

Megan Bayne

Being Emsy

Inspiredbyabook

Lifeofkristyn

Thehappytypewriter

Lena

Looking forward to reading your responses if you choose to answer!

Happy Reading!

Brianna.