Let's Discuss! Little Women Adaptation

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I wasn’t going to write a review or any kind of post for this movie, due to the pure fact I have never read the book. But after my third viewing of it in cinema, I knew I couldn’t resist any longer. I have to talk about my admiration for this cinematic masterpiece.

This film is just absolutely beautiful in every way. The scenery is superb. The lighting is lovely. The girls have my heart. I saw some of myself in each one of them, and I think that’s what makes this story so special. Jo’s spark, soul and courageous wit is who I think we all aspire to be. Beth’s caring nature is who I hope I am every day. Meg’s love for her family and John shines through, and I know in my heart I am and will be like her in many ways. Amy’s lust for life and raucous, somewhat unsettled character touched my heart. And although I could go on, I will finish on marmee, who I relate to on so many levels, but especially the ‘I bake scones at midnight and don’t mind the mess, we don’t’.

The energy in this film is electric, and I fell in love with the chaotic scenes between the girls. I often felt like Laurie, looking in on the family with adoration and wonder. He seemed to be almost yearning to be part of it all, to have the unrequited love that only occurs between family.

Everything seemed to fit seamlessly together – the costumes, sets and score are just a few aspects that come to mind that offer layer upon layer. The acting is superb, and specific scenes (Jo’s powerful and emotional speech in the attic to her mother comes to mind immediately (below)), I know will stay with me. Some of the beautifully poetic lines brought tears to my eyes even on the third watch.

“I just feel like women….they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that, that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. But I’m – I’m so lonely.”

Jo March, Little Women

I can only describe Little Women as an absolute delight and achingly beautiful. Coming out of the first screening with my boyfriend on New Year’s Day, I immediately knew I wanted to see it again and again. I already am endlessly glad that I began the year on such a lovely note. I have since seen it with my mum and my best friend, and both the second and third screening were just as enjoyable as the first. I just know that this film will be a comfort for years to come, and the level of warmth it brought to me will not leave in a hurry.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

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Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.
Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

This book is a reminder of how powerful words can be. A reminder of how they can make you cry, make you smile, and make you feel so much less alone. I’m lucky enough that I have never been through what Amelie went through in this book, but I have been in many similar places to her. I have cried in public. And I know how it feels when love doesn’t make you happy anymore.

Amelie’s story is such a powerful one and is unfortunately true of many women (and men) all over the world. Her relationship with Reese includes the most basic forms of manipulation and emotional abuse, which gradually strip her from her confidence and happiness.

‘It’s such a simple torture – the silent treatment. As basic as tripping someone over or pulling their chair out before they sit down. And yet it’s so very effective.’

Amelie can be a frustrating narrator at times as she is constantly making decisions that make you want to scream at her…but that’s kind of the point. She’s young, and manipulated against her better judgement. I know what it’s like to be young and in love, and I couldn’t be angry at Amelie for the choices she made. Talking of, I need to write a small warning into this post. It hit me hard, even though I haven’t experienced the vast majority of what Amelie did. It was still an incredibly painful and hard hitting read, which will stay with me forever.

Both Amelie, Reese and the other characters in this story are incredibly well written and developed. I feel like Bourne knew her characters inside out and this came across at all times. The only part I’m regretful about is feeling like I could have known Alfie (Amelie’s ex) better going into this story. Just a few more scenes with him may have helped me fully sympathise with what Amelie was leaving behind when she moved at the beginning of the book. Reese is especially well developed, and Bourne did an excellent job of writing his character so we felt exactly how Amelie did about him, through all of the love, charisma, hurt and anger.

The plot meant this book flew past. I love the switches between past and present, as it was a constant reminder of how all of these past events had made Amelie feel in the present day. It allowed the book to be just that little more hard hitting and effective.

‘When someone has the willpower to pretend you’re not there, it nullifies you. How do you fight against that humiliation?’

This was definitely my favourite of Bourne’s books so far, and I can really see how she’s developed as a writer. Amelie is now a young narrator to me, but I still felt all of the hurt and emotion that she did.

Above all, this book feels important. It’s one of those I can’t help but want to push into the hands of other young women out there, to understand that it’s normal to feel unhappy, it’s good to trust your gut and it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. It’s okay to cry in public.

CW: sexual and emotional abuse, PTSD.

★★★★★  
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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It’s 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.
At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it’s too late to introduce himself.
After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart… and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.

This was my first read for my N.E.W.T.s TBR and I’m so glad it was because it was such a quick and enjoyable read. I’ve now read everything major Rainbow Rowell has written, and I don’t have a bad word to say about any of them. They all have soft spots in my heart for very different reasons, but Landline and Attachments do for their quirkiness.

Attachments follows Lincoln, who takes a job where he reads people’s work emails and feels creepy about it. Especially when he starts reading the exchanges of best friends Jennifer and Beth, he feels even more uncomfortable when he starts to fall for one of them.

I mean, evidently this book was made for me. Not only am I called Beth, but I was born in 1999! It was weird reading about the year of my birth, but also kind of nostalgic and super interesting. Having the book set in ’99 gave it so many quirks you wouldn’t see today, let alone the whole email concept and Y2K thing itself.

‘“I’d know you in the dark,” he said. “From a thousand miles away.”‘ 

Jennifer and Beth were immediately likeable and funny characters. The chapters are pretty much alternate between Lincoln’s prose and Jennifer and Beth’s emails. All of the chapters are short, but the fact Jennifer and Beth’s parts were shown in email form made it such a quick read for me and didn’t take anything away from the story. I still sympathised with them and found them both very relatable.

In fact, the entire cast of characters were just brilliant. Lincoln is so charming and lovable, and we can’t possibly feel weird about him reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails because we’re reading them too. It’s all very cleverly executed.

The larger cast was so heartwarming, too. I loved Jennifer’s subplot and really grew to like and sympathise with her. Lincoln’s weird but likeable friends were so great and different in their own ways. His mum, sister and Doris made me laugh and warmed my soul.

‘”There’s nothing you could become that I haven’t already fallen in love with.”’

Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Rainbow Rowell has a habit of writing somewhat cheesy romances that have just been….elevated. It was awesome, and made me nostalgic for Landline!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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ARC Review: Arctic Zoo by Robert Muchamore

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From London . . .
Georgia gets straight As at school, writes essays for fun, has been placed first in twenty-six drone races and has a serious addiction to buying Japanese stationery. She plans to follow her older sister Sophie and become a doctor, but her worldview is shattered when Sophie commits suicide.
To Lagos . . .
Julius lives in Ondo, a Nigerian state where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. But he isn’t one of them. His uncle has been governor of Ondo for more than a decade and his mother is the power behind that throne. He finds refuge in a derelict zoo with best friend Duke, but as the two of them grow close, the world outside becomes more and more hostile.

Disclaimer: Thank you so much to Hot Key Books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected or changed my opinions in any way.

I really didn’t know what to expect with this book, and I was surprised in a big way. From the synopsis, I expected most of the book to be set in a mental institution, but instead I found a journey to both characters ending up there. I love how Arctic Zoo book flickered backwards and forwards between different times in the characters lives, often enough to feel fast paced but not often enough to make the reader confused.

In fact, let’s talk about these delightful characters. I honestly loved them both for different reasons, and I was shocked by how well the alternate PsOV from both characters worked so well. They lead very different lives, with Georgia being in the UK, a girl with straight As, who has been brought up on drone racing and has a difficult home life, especially when her sister commits suicide. Georgia, who has always looked up to her sisters achievements and followed in her footsteps, realises there might be more to life than studying.

Julius is a very different story. A young gay man in Nigeria, coming to terms with his sexuality and struggling with his family’s political status. His coming out changes his life in many ways, and the book explores his relationships, family/home life, school and friendships, all in a politically turbulent time and place.

Both of the characters, however different, lead very unique yet equally compelling and intriguing lives. Before long, I felt sucked in to both of their stories and I was struggling to put the book down, finishing it’s 400+ pages in just a few days. Sometimes, with books of different PsOV, I find myself favouring one character over the other and I struggle to give completely equal attention to both. This wasn’t the case with Arctic Zoo, and I think that’s because their stories are so different and not often intertwined. Some readers might find it disappointing that they actually don’t spend much time together, but I found it refreshing and well-paced, as the alternate view points would be a break from the one before. I never felt stuck in one persons reality, and knew something fresh was just a few pages away.

I even enjoyed how the characters ended up in different countries for the majority of the book. It still amazes me how Muchamore wrote Julius’ chapters in Nigeria having never visited the country himself. I can be no judge for accuracy, but I felt fully immersed in the story and it felt real. It shows that he had people who had experienced life in Nigeria check his work.

The only downside for me was actually Georgia’s story, towards the end. It just felt a little…rushed? I left feeling as though everything had happened too smoothly, and too quickly, and without much room for full explanation. I won’t go into it too deeply in fear of spoiling the ending, but I just wanted a little more in way of description of how everything slotted into place at the end. Unfortunately for me it left me feeling disjointed about her story as a whole, which I had otherwise really enjoyed.

However, this was a very small disappointment in the grand scheme of what turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable, heartbreaking but hopeful read. If you want something a little different in YA but still relatable and easy to read, this one is perfect!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

I have a confession to make…I tried with this book before and stopped reading after the first chapter. And I’m not going to ignore this because I loved the book so much the second time round, I think it’s important you guys know. I’m going to be completely and utterly honest about this, and just say I struggled with reading someone from such a different background. I struggled with the language, and that’s why I couldn’t get into this book the first time.

But I knew I had to carry on again at some point, and now I’m meeting Angie Thomas in a couple of weeks time, I couldn’t put it off any longer. Luckily, I can’t even describe how happy and glad I am that I finally continued with this book. My second experience was so different, and made me realise that this book is just incredible.

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong.” 

This book just screams at you about how important it is. I cannot even describe the weight this book carries, the way it makes you sit back and realise that holy crap, this stuff still happens. And I know this, I’ve seen the horrific stories in the news etc etc, but experiencing it first-hard from Starr’s perspective brings everything to the forefront of your mind.

And not only is this book important, relevant and honestly refreshing, it’s also enjoyable in many aspects. We have a relatable teen, fighting for what she believes in with her strongest weapon – her voice. It’s also a great coming of age novel, in which Starr is struggling with relationships and friendships, all normal teenage girl things. The focus on family is so strong and beautiful. I valued the love between the family so much, and seeing them work so fiercely together meant the world.

“The key is to never stop doing right.”

I wish I could explain how important this book is, and how glad I am to have come across it and finally read it. I understand I’m not the only person who struggled with getting into this book, and if I have any advice to new readers it would be to push past the initial 100 pages, because it gets so much better.

★★★★★ 
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Lady Midnight (#1) by Cassandra Clare

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It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.
Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…
Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Clare never fails to astound me, and I honestly think she may have nabbed my top spot on my favourite authors list! To prove a point, I started this book on Friday and finished it on Tuesday. And I know there are many fans who would have been able to read much quicker than I did, but for me, 5 days is pretty damn quick.

There’s something so special about The Dark Artifices, and it makes me constantly realise how incredible Clare is to write numerous Shadowhunter series with different characters and yet have them stand so far apart from one another. The Infernal Devices, The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices all have very special places in my heart, and for different reasons.

“These pictures are my heart.”

I loved The Mortal Instruments so much, but I could very clearly see that Clare was developing her writing. Now on the third series, her writing is better than ever and it made Lady Midnight amazing for me. I could love no one as much as Tessa, Will and Jem, but I became so attached to Emma, Julian and his family throughout this book. The children are so diverse and vibrant and I love them all for it.

This book was full of twists and turns, especially after the initial couple hundred pages. I do think this book took a while to adjust to because it’s quite far removed from the other series, but as soon as it got going, I loved the differences. I literally couldn’t put this book down!

Also I would definitely like to point out that you really need to read Clare’s other books before this series! Not only would this spoil a lot for you, the cameos of other characters mean everything to me. I loved them.

“And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

I cannot even explain how much I adore the cast of this series. Each character was so great in there own ways and I admire Clare endlessly for creating such a vast range of characters. I can’t finish this review without a quick mention of the diversity in this book. Not only do we have gay faeries (and my favourite warlock you know who I mean), and a new Latinx Mexican friend who I adored, but also A CHILD WITH AUTISM. Ahh I could scream with how much I just appreciate this? Ty is so well represented, so well described and I’m so overly happy he is part of this world.

And I didn’t mean to descend into full on fangirling, but I think I managed to explain how much I love this book.

★★★★★ 
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

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Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it. So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be. But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

This was one of those books I didn’t know I needed. I loved it, and I can’t imagine the Shadowhunter world without it now. First of all, I love that this was based on Simon, but included a wide arc of characters. I actually liked Simon throughout The Mortal Instruments, but actually being with him through a book really helped me relate to him.

The set of the Shadowhunter Academy was awesome to! It gave a link to each of these stories, and offered up something new to the Shadowhunter world.

“I think sometimes it’s too hard to believe in yourself. You just do the things you’re not sure you can do.”

I also have to tell you guys that it only took me like four days to read this 650 page book?! I think this is due to the clever layout of the book, being cut into short stories of 50-100 pages each. Every day I would aim to read at least 2 stories, and it just flew by. Honestly, the short story concept was so well done in every way. Interlinking the characters by having them come into the Academy was such a clever way to read about side characters, and not stray too far from Simon’s story!

“You just act, in spite of not being certain. I don’t believe I can change the world–it sounds stupid to even talk about it–but I’m going to try.”

Overall, this book is a must for Shadowhunter fans! It’s such a great bridge between The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices, and I feel ready to continue with the next daunting series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽


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