31 Jan 2013

REVIEW: The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Title: The Crucible 
Author: Arthur Miller
Publication Date: February 24th 2000
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Pages: 127
Rating: 4.6/5

"I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history," Arthur Miller wrote of his classic play about the witch hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller's drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town's most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence.

Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror Miller uses to reflect the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch hunts" in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing "Political opposition...is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence."


If I don’t say this, I think it will kill me with all its shiny glory.

I haven’t read many plays, and I have only written one (I had an excellent time writing that one) but I adore how they get straight to the point. It pushes the description out of the way, which I tend to skim read in books if they come in large packages, and lets you focus on the dialogue. It lets you analyse the true and raw character just from the words he/she allows himself to say, but sometimes that is not satisfying enough. Books have a character to them. I want to know the character’s thoughts and what they think of everybody else.

I don’t want to be told that the voice is curious or flabbergasted. I want to hear it through they resonating thoughts, and their expression, not just their oddly placed movements. Plays just seem like the writer has smothered an emotion on to the character, but books seemed like the characters have created it.

So I guess I have a love/hate relationship with them both.

Review *Mild Spoilers*:

The Crucible by Arthur Miller conveys the corruption of society, and the manipulation someone can cause that affects all aspect of the preservation of a fragile society.

Characters: If I had one word to describe the characters of this book, It would be deceiving. I was deceived utterly from start to finish. You would think that an author always conveys his main character first, and therefore, I stupidly stood beside Abigail, Betty and Reverend Parris at the start. I skimmed through the paragraphs that announced the history and the personality of each character, because I wanted to find that out myself. I didn’t want to be told. I came to respect Proctor and his choices, even right to the end when he aimed to confess but didn’t end up doing it. I know we all have our own morals, but the conflicting choices Proctor went through what suited him, and made him. Abigail is so good at being someone you would want to be on the same side with. She is convincing. I just love her. I just hate her. I must be with the devil. SEE! SHE HAS ALREADY CAPTURED ME WITHIN HER TALONS. But really, I hate her morals. Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was John Proctor and Abigail’s relationship. At the start, I hate to say, I was looking forward to their relationship. I know undoubtedly that cheating on your partner is wrong, but it seems to be yearned for in books. We want to see some forbidden love, some slave girl fall for her handsome young master. But not when that girl is a total BITCH. Not even Ely could outrun that whore.

The only person I truly liked for every bone in their body was Elizabeth Proctor. Reverend Hale was interesting but I didn’t understand how he was not influenced by society when he walked out of that court. The court must have been such a great pressure on him.

Plot: I thought the plot was attention grabbing. I didn’t know that the outcome would be the outcome it was, and that made it better. I liked that he was not the hero, but neither was the villain. I liked that none of the characters were heroes and villains, but some just tasting darkness and others being overwhelmed by other. 

What I didn’t understand was why if u confessed that you were with the devil, and they didn’t hang u. Salem was so corrupted. It was slightly more corrupted than now. Some would say otherwise.

REVIEW: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds (The Mockingbirds #1)
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publication Date: January 2nd 2012
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback
Pages: 332
Rating: 5/5

Blurb: Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way-the Themis way. So when Alex Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds-a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

In this account of a teenage girl's search for her voice and the courage to use it, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that standing up for someone, especially yourself, is worth the fight.

Review: When picking up this book I didn’t really know what to expect- the cover keeps you the opinion that it might be a light contemporary but the summary tells you the exact opposite. Neither of these things could have prepared me for what I was about to read.

From the very first moment, everything is put into place and I found myself being dragged into the world of Alex Patrick. Soon enough Alex and her friends realise that she has been date-raped by Carter, a member of the water-polo team. It’s from there, with the help of her friends and older sister, that Alex decides not to give up and let Carter win, but to take it to the Mockingbirds- a student council that punishes students who harm other students at Themis Academy.

For me, the Mockingbirds were an interesting concept. I’ve never read another YA book that has the idea of a student council with the power and resources to bring their fellow students to justice. While I wasn’t entirely sure how this was going to work, I was happy that it wasn’t exaggerated too much or unbelievable in any way. The tactics the Mockingbirds used were believable, usually small things that managed to bring down the wrong-doers. This obviously added to my enjoyment of the novel.

Of course, one of my favourite elements of the book were the characters. I liked each of the Mockingbirds for different reasons and I liked how they all fitted together perfectly to make the group. Alex, her two best friends T.S and Maia and her older sister Casey were awesome and I especially liked how they all stuck together to help Alex through that really difficult time. Of course, I hated Carter and the people who stuck up for him, as you are supposed to.

Another favourite factor of mine was Alex’s love for music. I think Daisy Whitney used it as a really powerful tool especially when Alex felt like she’d been betrayed by Beethoven, but still was able to find comfort in other composer’s works. I think it’s very important that Alex was still able to play piano despite everything that had happened to her- it’s a way of telling girls to push through.

Daisy Whitney’s own experiences of being date-raped when she was at Brown University, definitely made this book a more frightening prospect. A little reminder that this sort of thing actually happens to girls and a pleading message to them to stand up for themselves and for others, which is definitely a very powerful message to be getting out but also an important one.

I don’t think this a book I’ll ever forget, the flashback rape scenes were terrifying and those words and images I think will be forever imprinted inside my head. I think this is why I enjoyed this book so much- it made me think about everything, about whether I could stand up for myself or my friends like Alex did. I’ll admit that after finishing this book I had to sit there and just think for a while- I could hardly move or stopping shaking from what had happened, even now as I write this review I feel exactly like I did the moment I finished the last page.

This book might seem daunting, let’s be honest no one is ever really comfortable reading or hearing about rape, especially of teenage girls and especially if you are of the same age as Alex, but I think it’s a book that teenage girls need to read. We need to understand that yes, sometimes we should keep quiet about things, but other times we really need to speak up and defend ourselves and our friends.

30 Jan 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #1

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Pen to Paper which allows us to share with you a book each that is on our wishlist, whether it's been on there for a while or just been added. If you'd like to learn more about this meme, check it out here.

This week, the book on Ely's wishlist is:

The Gathering Storn (Katerina #1) by Robin Bridges

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
 This book has been on my wishlist for about a year now, but my wanting for it has increased lately. I have an absolutely unhealthy obsession with everything Russia, especially anything to with the Romanov's and that era, at the moment and this book is no exception. Even just typing this makes my heart ache for this book.

The book on Chami's list is:

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Taherah Mafi

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life

I adore this series, ever since i picked up the first book. I've wanted it since i read the first book, and it's the number one on my most wanted list. 

27 Jan 2013

BLOG TOUR: Reaper's Novice by Cecilia Robert

Author Name (Pen Name): Cecilia Robert
Release date: 5th December 2012

Social Media links:
Blog: cecereadandwrite.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CeciliaMRobert?ref=tn_tnmn
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ceciliarobert/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Cece26

Book Description:
17- year- old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents,  good grades, and a future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident on their way to pick Ana up from school.
Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance.  It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice:  save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her

My eyes flutter open. I blink. Why do they feel so heavy? My head hurts worse than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. Ugh, my chest. I glance down to see if someone might have ripped it open while I slept. I look around. What am I doing under this tree? Why are there so many people around? Who the hell is this guy—who’d be attractive if he wasn’t middle aged—staring down at me as if I’m a prize he won in an auction?
I take deep breaths, averting my eyes from the disturbing ones staring at me unblinkingly. I frown as I zoom in on the fire brigade truck, then at the men working diligently on a mess of metal, their expressions solemn, as if on an important mission to save the world. Images flash in my head. I gasp, everything coming into focus.
Mom, Dad, Anton, and Lucy. I spring to my feet, struggling to stay on them as my body sways like sea grass during a storm. My hands shoot out in search of anything that will hold me up. Instead, a hand grips my arm, a firm but gentle hand.
“Ana.” I blink and focus on the dazzling face in front of me.
“Let go of me. I need to get to them. I won’t leave them. I’m going—”
“Ana.” His voice is low and commanding, gentle, calm, and kind. Everything I’m not feeling inside.
I pause, taking deep breaths. “They are not dead! They can’t be dead. Not them.” I jab my finger at his chest.
He doesn’t look fazed. “Who else, if not them? Fate doesn’t care about family. When the time is up, she nicks at the thread,” the man says in the same gentle yet firm voice.
Part of me wants to pound him until he lets go of my arm.I shake my head, my body trembling. “No. It wasn’t. I won’t believe it. We were supposed to travel to Italy. We were supposed to be together. Who are you to tell me what was or wasn’t?” I jerk my arm again, but even holding me loosely, his hand is like a manacle of sorts.
“I’m glad you asked.” He finally drops my arm. For the first time, he beams, his dark eyes lighting up like I just asked one of his favourite questions. “My name is Ernest. Most humans prefer to call me…” he pauses as if weighing what he should say, “Grim or Death. I do not care for either of those names. Why call a spoon a spoon? So mundane. Better upgrade it to a spade. Even the spoon will thank you for it.”

The author is giving away some super awesome stuff for this tour and we have broken it all down into three unique giveaways all of which will be open internationally!

Giveaway #1: 2 eBook copies of Reaper’s Novice:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2: Two $15 Amazon gift cards:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #3: The Swag: Violin magnet, violin pin, and a beaded necklace/bracelet:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Standalones of February 2013

Just like in the series and sequels I posted yesterday, February 2013 has some amazing sounding standalones!

February 1st
Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton

February 5th
The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
Pantomime by Laura Lam
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

February 12th
An Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw
Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Revel by Melissa Guibord
The Gathering Dark by Christine Johnson

February 14th
Frankie’s Monster by Rae Hachton
Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood

February 19th
Shards and Ashes by Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstong + many other YA authors

February 21st
The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist
How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

February 26th
Me, Him, Them and It by Caela Carter