Friday, 27 February 2015

OPEN-By Andre Agassi

This autobiography was written by a ghostwriter on behalf of Andre Agassi. I was drawn to giving this book a read as I play tennis myself and I heard many people going on about how much of a great read it was including my parents and friends.
Andre Agassi played tennis professionally from 1986 to 2006. The book is about Andre's life story and how his father forced him to play tennis as a kid, tennis then became his career, even though he hated it. The book focuses on Andre's ups and downs in his life, the friendships he had and his relationships. The book also describes Andre's battles with his great rivals, his devastating losses, and his career changing matches. He describes the intense psychological aspect of tennis and how it can take you to great highs in your life but also to great lows.

The main characters in this book are Andre Agassi, Brooke shields(his first wife), Brad(his one of few tennis coaches), Gil (his personal trainer and in many ways a great friend), J.P and Perry who were two of his closest friends, and of course Steffi Graf who was the best woman tennis player in the world when she retired and also Agassi's wife.

Another main person to impact Agassi's life was his father and he turns out to probably be the most influential person in Agassi's life, The reason for this is from the day Andre Agassi was born his father was convinced that he would be the world's number one. His father built a tennis court in his garden and a machine that would fire balls across the net for Andre to hit back. Andre thought of this machine as a fire breathing dragon who never grew tired. He hated it. His father worked out that if he hit one thousand balls every day, he would hit 365,000 balls a year and that this must make him the best tennis player in the world some day.

By Adam Rufli

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A Study in Scarlet Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet is a book I have been considering reading for a long time. I worried that it would be overly verbose (being written over a century ago) and somewhat outdated. It was a great relief then to find out that this is a novel that has aged brilliantly, outdated terminology aside. Compared to others of his time, Conan Doyle's narratives tend to speed along at a fast pace which (for me) is essential in this sort of murder story in order to keep the reader interested in the plot as it unfolds. Also, while it is something the author cannot have foreseen, the first person style in which it is written provides a wonderful insight into life in the nineteenth century. The hustle and bustle of the busy London streets during the daytime, and the silence of the night is excellently captured.

 I am confident in saying that Sherlock Holmes in one of the greatest characters in the history of literature. From his quirky mannerisms to his immense intelligence (and occasional comedic lack thereof) he is intensely likeable. It is no exaggeration when I say that he improves very scene he is in. It is here, I think, that Conan Doyle made his greatest mistake.

 The novel is divided into two major sections, the first dealing with the solving of the murder case. Holmes is prevalent in this portion, and it makes for brilliant entertainment. The latter section deals with the back story of the murderer, and it is here that I feel the book loses steam. The pace slows down to a halt as we are introduced to an entirely new cast of characters, most of whom are significantly less interesting than Sherlock and Co. (Holmes is entirely absent for these chapters). A grumpy elderly man and his stereotypically attractive daughter are no substitute for the crime-solving sleuth.

 I feel that the entire second half of the book would have been better off as a single chapter, or spread out throughout the narrative. It is effectively a large exposition dump at the end of the story, and while it does pay of in making the murderer feel more three-dimensional I am left wondering if reading it was worth the effort. It is a Sherlock Holmes novel without Sherlock Holmes, and not in the positive sense (see "The Hound of the Baskervilles"). There is no other way to describe it, in my opinion the second half of "A Study in Scarlet" is boring.

 A Study in Scarlet is a book of two (literal) halves. The murder case is everything a crime novel should be; engaging, surprising and genuinely entertaining- a proper classic. The murderer's back story is anything but, although to be fair I do feel that the good outshines the not-so-good. I would still absolutely recommend this book to anyone even vaguely interested in crime, drama, or good novels in general. Just forget the second half!

Suite français - Irène Némirovsky


     Suite français is a book written during and about the Second World War. For the first half of the book, the storm in June, it gives you the story of the war through rich refugees who have to leave their homes in Paris and encounter lifestyles they haven't been used to. They witness people dying and that have run out of food, in some cases some of the families feel sorry but in others they still view themselves as the ones who have lost the most because they have come from upper class lifestyles. In the second  half of the book, Dolce, it tells the story of a French woman and a German soldier. I prefer this half of the book as I think it had more of a story line, even though  Némirovsky dies before she could finish it I honestly think if she had of finished it the story as a whole would not have been the same.

     There are a few over laps in the book of the first and second half, for example the Michauds had stayed with the Angeillers when they had escaped from Paris, and they're son had had an affair with one of the Women in the village.

        When you think of any war most of the time you think of the soldiers, the only soldiers mentioned in this novel are the ones billeted in the french towns. You understand through these soldiers that the war, although there are different views, is mainly the same for everyone.

        Although to story did get a bit confusing at times you would be able to understand it again after a few lines or paragraphs. All and all this book is written amazingly and it's a shame that some of the stories were not completed, but that is also a good thing as you can make up the endings yourself, use your own imagination to know what became of the characters. Even though the author didn't intend that to happen it worked!. I really enjoyed this book, but as I already mentioned I preferred the second part. I do recommend this book to anyone, I feel like there is at least one character in this book that everyone would enjoy, there are a lot of characters.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Looking for Alaska by John Greene

Looking for Alaska is about a young boy who moves school in search for his great perhaps but ends up stuck in this Labrynth.
His name is Peter but when he moves to boarding school his new friends re-name him Pudge.
While at the boarding school Pudge falls for the unpredictable Alaska. Pudge's life changes completely when he moves here he makes life long friends, the Colonel, Takumi, Lara and Alaska...however Pudge's new friends don't quite stick by the rules,this type of life is new to Pudge but its an adventure he doesn't want to miss.

My favourite part of this story is when Pudge and the rest Colonel Takumi... all plan a revenge prank on a few of the people who weren't quite welcoming to Pudge when he first moved especially due to who he had decided to become friends with.

The Girl on the Cliff - Lucinda Riley

Grania Ryan moved away from Ireland in search of a bigger better life in New York, but after suffering the loss of her unborn child she returns home to her family in Ireland, leaving her partner, Matt, in New York with no explanation to her fleeing. Grania meets a young girl Aurora Lisle on the cliff and is intrigued by her confidence and bubbly personality. It was then a friendship began to grow between the two, and without Grania knowing it, history was beginning to re live itself.
Grania's mother had warned her not to get involved with the Lisle family, she kept telling Grania it would only cause trouble because their family's history went back to 1914. This history included war-time romance and raising and loving a child that was not their own .As the story goes on we begin to untangle the past of the two family's and we also get to see the past repeating itself, we see Grania falling in love once again and we see her treating Aurora as if she were her own child.
What drew me to keep reading this book was the character of Aurora, at such a young age she suffered the loss of her mother which as we see in the book affected her life greatly, it also matured her. She w

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

There are two stories to the life of Pi. One is full of animals and  carnivorous floating islands and is a tale of adventure and triumph, whereas the other is a frightening tale of the darker side of human nature. Both are incredible stories of survival, and loss, and faith. And an ordinary boy named Pi who is forced into extraordinary circumstance.

The premise of the novel is that a young Indian boy and his family sell their zoo and pack up to search for a better life in Canada. On their way through the pacific ocean the ship crashes and sinks leaving Pi in a lifeboat with only a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, an orang-utan and an adult Bengal tiger for company. The story, told through the eyes Pi himself, seems incredibly real and as soon as I opened the first page I was immediately enraptured with Pi Patel's story.

The author's clever use of first person and incredible use of language creates a vivid and mesmerising image in your mind and makes even the mundane moments seem imaginative and special. The landscapes and problems that Pi is faced with along the way are engrained in my mind and will be for quite some time.

At the end of the novel you are told a different story in which the animals that Pi has been trapped on the lifeboat with are replaced with people. The two stories both match up and follow the same story line but when the animals are replaced with people it becomes so much more difficult to comprehend the atrocities that took place. In the second, darker story the ship's cook has devolved to become more animal like, forgetting all the pleasantries and normality that comes with being in a society and has regressed to only thinking in the sense of the Freudian id. Even when Pi is interviewed at the end of the novel and tells his interviewers both stories and let's them choose which of the two to put in their report, they choose the first because they don't want to even consider that any person is capable of such barbaric and vicious behaviour because if they did they would have to admit that then they will be forced to reflect on how they would act if they were put in extreme circumstances.

Everyone would like to think that they would act like Pi, who turns to God and himself instead of violence, but this novel shows that people are capable of terrible things if put under enough pressure. But with extreme self discipline and faith in something someone can survive a terrible ordeal without forgetting what it is to be human.