Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Anne Boleyn and Me - The Diary of Elinor Valjean, London 1525-1536 by Alison Prince

Anne Boleyn and Me by Alison Prince is part of the My Story series. The story is about eleven year old, Elinor Valjean. Elinor lives as a member of the royal court under the reign of King Henry VIII. Her mother is Queen Catherine's friend and favourite lady in waiting while her father is court jester. The story is set in London through 1525 to 1536 when Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. The story follows the conflicts and the rise and fall of Catherine and Anne Boleyn through the eyes of a young servant girl.
The My Story series is one of my favourite historical fiction series and this book was one of the best of the series. It provided a very insightful look into that time period and I learnt so much. The book even made me empathise with characters that I probably wouldn't have if I was researching about Henry VII and his divorces through the internet or through a history textbook. 
Apart from the story itself there are a few points I would like to make.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Shakespeare's Apprentice by Veronica Bennett

"My love can never marry a player," said Sam. "But she loves me because I am a player."

Shakespeare's Apprentice by Veronica Bennett is about a teenage boy called Sam Gilbourne. He works in Shakespeare's theatre as an actor. One day, he sees Lucie Cheetham and falls in love with her and she loves him back. But he is a player and she is Lord Essex's niece so they can't get married. They secretly meet and send letters to each other. But will they be able to overcome any obstacle to be together?
This book is set in England from the late 1598 to early 1601. It is historical fiction and romance. Although it is set in the past, it does not have Old English, except for the dialogue, so it is easy to understand. It is written in third person. 

I thought that the first 80 pages were boring. The book got a lot better in the middle but also got a bit repetitive. The first few pages were hard for me to understand because there were so many names so it was hard to remember the characters at the beginning. But after I finished the book, I went back to those pages and it was much easier to understand. This story is very similar to Romeo and Juliet except for the ending. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what life was like in the Shakespeare's theatre company or likes reading romance books. 

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" - Romeo and Juliet 2.2
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare is one of the most well known plays (so I'll keep the summary short). Two adolescents from rival families fall in love. Their love is forbidden so they  get married undercover. Romeo, albeit trying to keep the peace, ends up killing Juliet's cousin and gets banished from Verona. The friar helps Juliet to reunite with Romeo. He gives Juliet a potion that will make her seem dead, then  after her funeral she will wake up and they will be able to elope. The plan goes wrong when the messenger is detained in one of the cities because of fear of spreading the plague and Romeo arrives where Juliet lies and kills himself. Juliet wakes up and and seeing Romeo kills herself. 

First of all I apologize at the beginning if I end up just calling Romeo and Juliet a novel instead of a play, it is quite a habit I need to get out of; it is hard since I'm used a play being what I watch and a novel is what I read. This review could easily be one of the longest I write because of the in depth study I did in class on the play. There are so many themes and ideas explored in the play. It isn't just about love but also about hate and how it achieves nothing, it is about people leading lives through emotions instead of reason, adolescent rebellion, the law judging and restoring peace and so much more. Shakespeare's language is also highly regarded, throughout most of his play he uses the iambic pentameter, poetry and uses rhyme to highlight importance of the dialogue. It would be easy to write  pages on the topics I just mentioned however this is what everyone will study in school or read on the internet and I'm taking a different spin on this review

Monday, 10 September 2012

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie is a well known classical book. All children grow up but one, Peter Pan. Peter lives in the Neverland. One day, in one of his trips to hear stories told in the Darling's house he gets caught and loses his shadow. When he returns to get back his shadow, Wendy is awoken by the sounds of Peter crying. Wendy helped Peter sow on his shadow and Peter realising the importance of a mother figure asks her to go with him and be his mother and mother to the lost boys. Wendy and her two brothers were very excited and with a bit of fairy dust they fly their way to the Neverland. 

In the version of the book I read there were two stories; Peter in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy. This book was one of the most confusing books. I had watched the movie and cartoon versions of Peter Pan and so I was expecting something similar. However, when I first start reading the narrators are the Davies brothers and they talk about things like baby castle where the most sought up baby lives by herself and all these baby attractions in the kensington gardens, it felt like I was reading the wrong book. Finally when I read the name Peter Pan I was relieved, but not for long. Peter Pan was completely different to what I was expecting. Firstly he was only a week old, he wore no clothes, he rode a goat, he lived with the birds because everyone was a bird who flew to their parents' home and there turned into humans.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Didn't help to ponder things that were forever gone. It only made a body restless and fill up with bees, all wanting to sting something.”  - Chains

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is a historical fiction novel set in 1776 during the American Revolution. It follows the story of thirteen-year-old girl, Isabel. Her mistress has just died and although this is a mournful period it is also a happy celebration because in her will Isabel and her sister were freed. However, the mistress' relatives do not know this and do not want to know this and sell Isabel and her sister to the highest bidders, who turn out to be a loyalist couple returning back to New York, the Lockton. Mrs Lockton disregards any human emotions of Isabel and uses her cruelly. One day when Mrs Lockton sells Isabel's sister, Isabel turns against her 'owners' and spies on them.