Monday, 4 November 2013

The City of Bones - by Cassandra Clare

A book that I love is 'The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones written by Cassandra Clare this book is the first book in a very popular series and has always stood out to me for many reasons. One the amazing characters, two the story and three the stormy night when I first came across it. I was at my sister's friend's house for a sort of family friends get together thing, I was thoroughly bored and had being my very sociable self had no interest in speaking to anyone. I picked up the book sitting on her bedside table, the cover intriguing me; an image of a young male with 'markings' covering his body and beams of light coming from his body. The book also had a review from Stephanie Meyer on the inside which interested me.

I began to read it and I had read about four chapters of the book and was really enjoying learning about the supernatural world, Clary Fray had stumbled upon. All of a sudden the lights flashed really bright and the power cut, no electricity, no light, no reading. But I struggled on, reading using the light of my phone but in the end I reluctantly put the book down to gave my straining eyes a break and joined in with everyone else.

After all that happened that night the book was far from my mind until two or three weeks later when my sister's friend had finished with the book and was getting rid of it. She had read the book and didn't enjoy it but when I remembered it I gleefully took it from her and began to read. I finished the book within the day. I discovered there was a second and third book written and there was rumours of there being a fourth book nothing had been confirmed at that point. I squealed with delight, thrilled I did not have to say goodbye to the characters already. Immediately went and bought them. The anticipation too much to bear.

Three years later, another four books written on the world of shadowhunters and demons (totalling 7!!), a movie coming out later this year, another book out later this month (!!), I have lent and recommended this book countless times and it is without a doubt my favourite book. I have returned numerous times to this book only to be enthralled each and every time by the shadowhunters in their constant quest to defeat evil and protect the mundanes but each time I do return, I remember that very eventful stormy night when I first came across it.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

I was given this book by an old  friend who liked it and thought I would enjoy it too. I really liked it and have read it at least four times. It is about UnLondon, an alternate realm where all the discarded items of London go. Two girls from London, Zanna and Deeba  stumble upon this world and find out Zanna is part of a prophecy to save Unlondon from the Smog `, a cloud of chemical gases trying to burn Unlondon to feed himself . Zanna gets injured and has to be brought back to London and has her memory wiped but Deeba remembers and goes back to try help her new friends save Unlondon from the Smog.This book has really interesting characters. The author makes  characters out of inanimate objects like Curdle the milk carton and gives them a real personality that makes you think they are human. This book made me want to become a costume designer because of the description of one of the characters, Obaday Fing, a tailor who makes clothes out of book pages and has a pin cushion for a head.The book is black and cream and has very lovely illustrations by the author on the cover and in the book.

Succumbing to Keats

Any time I’m asked a question involving one book, I instantly feel that cloying indecisiveness that is my love for a seemingly endless list of books. So being asked to write a blog post about the one book I would bring to a desert island is torment! After much deliberation between The Golden Treasury left to me recently by my grandmother, and a tatty volume of Keats, I’ve decided to go with Keats, as I’ve fallen totally in love with its decrepit charm.
The book came to me last year. Imagine the bustling streets of the town of Gorey, in Wexford, where I sometimes go to shop with my family. There’s a small café there, called “The Book Café”, if  I’m remembering that right, with the kind of atmosphere that makes me want to play chess (though I’m awful) and drink hot chocolate. Go through to the back of the café and you’ll find shelves and shelves of second hand books. In short, a reader’s heaven! It was here that I found a bookcase devoted to poetry, and hiding unassumingly between some larger, sterner looking volumes was my Keats volume, and I say ‘my’ with great pride and satisfaction.
By then, the book had seen its fair share of wear and tear, the pages are browned and the denim-y cover is a little stringy along the spine, but, to me, that’s all part of the charm. It cost five euro, which I’m mentioning because it adds to my happiness around having snatched it up. I must now have read “Ode To A Nightingale” a thousand times, so I’ll close by quoting my favourite lines:
“O, for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth.
That I might drink and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim.”
ull of the *true, the blushful Hippocrene

Friday, 10 May 2013

My Love Affair with Pride and Prejudice

If I were to have one book in the whole world to read, it would be the battered old copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This worn out book lives forever on my bedside locker, as it did my mother’s before she gave it to me. This novel never fails to excite me. Although the tale is well known to me now, each time I read this book I get engrossed in the characters so effortlessly portrayed by Austen. However, these are but part of the appeal to this book. To me nothing can beat her use of irony and wit providing an endless stream of humour that can never fail to bring a smile to your face. To be without this book would be like being without a closest friend. With the opening of this novel, a day can turn from lousy to exciting.
The other thing that is truly remarkable about this novel is its characters, as mentioned above. I can never fail to fall in love with Austen’s use of dialogue to give amazing depth to her characters. This allows us to feel for her characters and creates the perfect atmosphere with which to tell her tale. As highlighted above I am thoroughly in love with this book. I would give it a rating of10/10, which might seem fanciful but I truly hard set to find any faults with it. I would highly recommend giving it a read!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

Before I read it, the title of this book had always loomed imposingly in the distance. It was one of the greats, one of those intimidating books whose name is permanently etched into your brain, it was Pride and Prejudice, it was Great Expectations, it was War and Peace - it was 'classic fiction' in the most terrifying sense of the word. I expected it to be dense, and wordy; I expected it to be a book that meant something and knew it. This couldn't have been further from the truth.

In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger takes the reader on a journey through New York through the eyes of the teenage protagonist, Holden Caulfield. And through this somewhat eventful city jaunt, we catch a glimpse into the mind of one of the most angst-ridden, self-destructive protagonists known to literature. Obsessed and terrified by the thought of change, when confronted with adulthood, he declares it phony, unimportant, distancing himself from the changing sands of time and wishing he could simply stop the clock, and stand still. Ultimately, it's the novel's central theme of craving inertia which drives it, and gives it meaning.
But what draws you in, what forces you to continue, is Salinger’s excellent narration. He commands Caulfield’s voice masterfully, and wholly inhabits his mind, effortlessly conjuring the character, making it seem as if he is speaking directly to you, his words echoing endlessly in your mind. Salinger and Caulfield are both storytellers at their heart; their burning passion to make you empathise with them is what motivates them, and what makes their stories so engaging. He lightly sprinkles the text with colloquialisms and slang - Catcher isn't a book which views highly of itself. For much of it, it's as if Salinger has simply made a carbon copy of his mind onto the page. Caulfield isn't afraid to aggrandise himself, he doesn't shy away from making himself seem faultless. And this lets us understand his character that much better - he isn't an all-knowing, all-encompassing narrator. We're not meant to believe his every word and look up to him as a role model. We're supposed to dislike Holden, we're supposed to view his actions critically and judge him for them.

The Catcher in the Rye is a story that doesn't place itself above the reader. It's a story that doesn't try to teach you a moral, it's a story which doesn't take itself as anything more. In writing it, J.D. Salinger wrote a masterpiece which, while amongst the classics in its quality, surpasses them in its relatability.
By Mike Dolan

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss: A nostalgic response by Daniel M.B

It was a bleak winters evening back in 1998, I had recently discovered Pokemon so my eyes were
glued to the television enthralled by Ash Ketchums ambition and determination to “catch them all”.
I even enjoyed the card game although I had no idea how to play and was completely illiterate. They
were aesthetically pleasing and that was enough to keep my interest. There was a sudden clinging of
keys at the door and in walked my Dad holding eight bags of groceries, his face was going red from
the weight and a vein popped in his temple. He dropped the bags with a huge sigh of relief, knelt
beside me and simultaneously patted my head. “Now my bonny lad, will you be a good boy and
bring in the last little bag in the boot” he said. I willingly obeyed and toddled out to the car, picked
up the plastic bag. Under the plastic bag was a multi-coloured book cover entitled “Green Eggs and
Ham”, my eyes gleamed in awe of the colours, you could say I was somewhat of a child-magpie
when it came to objects that shone. I brought the book in, delighted with my recent discovery and
gave it to my mam asking her to read it to me. My mam read me the book several times, over and
over, night after night until I started finishing her sentences when it came to my favourite parts. I will
never forget reading all 70 pages by myself in my living room (granted some of it was memorised not
read...) feeling as accomplished as ever. It was the first book that I had ever read and for that reason
holds huge sentimental value for me. I do like “Green Eggs and Ham” Dan I am.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is, as Terry Pratchett might put it, 'a mystery inside a riddle, wrapped in an enigma'. In fact, the author's name is not John le Carré, as the cover may have you believe, but is in fact David John Moore Cornwell. He took the name 'John le Carré' when he was working with the British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (lack of punctuation intentional) is a story about a man, George Smiley, who has retired from the British secret service, so we can see the experience le Carré brings to the table.

It is this authenticity that makes the novel for me. Everything in the novel feels real, from the rather grey London atmosphere the author conjures, to nail-biting tension that so electrifies the book's plot. The book is not filled with action, this story is not akin to the action-packed world of espionage that Ian Fleming wove so famously for James Bond to rampage across. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is a sombre and nervy affair.

The reader is thrust into a world where nobody is to be fully trusted, given that most of the characters spy on others for money, armed with nothing but an insight into the truly brilliant mind of the protagonist, George Smiley, as he pieces together a mystery and tries to uncover a mole in the secret service even after he's been cut off from it. Though it doesn't involve a detective, aside from a few bit characters, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy boasts as good a 'whodunnit' as any book out there.

The great thing about the book is the sense that the reader gets of the planning that le Carré put into the book. Everything is thought out and everything the characters do is rational and fitting with their personalities, and this only contributes to paranoia imbued within the book. In short, Tinker Tailor Soldier is a compelling and tense thriller that had me at the edge of my seat throughout.
by Luke B.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

First inspiration from the Last Ship Home

 In a time when I could count the years of my life on my hands my brother and I received a book called The Last Ship Home by Rodney Matthews. It was a fantasy art book containing paintings that he had done from literature and from his own imagination. It was a simple book; square in shape and significantly larger than an A4 page. It had a most spectacular cover of a ship floating through the sky towards a cliff-side village and then a corresponding one on the back cover of the same ship drifting away from the village resulting in the decay of the landscape.

My brother and I spent many hours as children exploring each of the pictures, inspecting every detail with curiosity by tracing outlines with small fingers. I recall at one stage we would take it out every night to look at the pictures, flicking through each page and excitedly pointing to a character exclaiming “He’s my favourite!”  (But of course he would always get the best guy)

I remember my brother reading me the titles of each of the works before I even knew how to read, titles such as “An Unlikely Hero”, “Rivendell – The Last Homely House”, “The Martians” and “Alice and the Caterpillar” – depictions of scenes from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The War of the Worlds and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – all books that I would then read in the years to come.

For me Last Ship Home planted the seed of curiosity that would germinate and flourish into a part-time hobby and full-time interest in books and art. Even now, a decade later, do I open the book to look at a specific picture and find myself once again pouring over each page with new found wonder and inspiration.

By J. Deering 2013

Monday, 29 April 2013

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

'Jane Eyre'- Charlotte Bronte

I first came across the story of 'Jane Eyre' when my teacher in fourth class played us an abridged version of the audio book. The characters and the story stuck in the mind, and when I was in first year I finally read the book. 

It tells the story of its title character's life. This begins with her bleak childhood, spent unwanted in the house of her cruel aunt and cousins, and then mistreated in the grim Lowood school. It's only when Jane moves onto her life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, working for the handsome, mysterious Mr Rochester, that she begins to live a happy life. The book continues to reveal the ups and downs of Jane's turbulent life,  and looking back, it's no wonder it  became my favourite book.

It was the first classic novel I'd ever read. In primary school, I read  a lot of fantasy books; any books set in the 'real world' that I read were probably by Jacqueline Wilson or Cathy Cassidy. This was different. The characters were real, flawed people. The plot was intricate, dark and intriguing, and contained pretty complex themes of morality, feminism, religion, and love. These being subjects that hadn't really come up in the books I was used to at that point.
Jane changes and develops so much throughout the book, and even though I wouldn't say that I necessarily related to her as a character, she always felt real.

When I told my mum I was reading 'Jane Eyre', she went through her bookshelf until she found a small brown hardback book, with golden gilt borders around the cover, and extremely thin, translucent pages.
Her dad (who, although I unfortunately never met, I know was never seen without a book in his hand) had owned this book, and when my mum moved from Limerick up to Dublin at the age of 17, she asked if she could take it with her, and she's had it since then. Or at least up until it was passed onto me a few years ago.
This copy is now almost always found on my bedside table, and if I ever can't find anything to read, it's always 'Jane Eyre' I turn to.

by L. H. 5th Yr