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regal_eagle
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      25.07.2007 19:06
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      Wonderful!

      I was unfortunate. My local ASDA, who as been selling the book for an amazing £5, had sold out by Saturday afternoon, which is no surprise since someone told me that 500 people had queued at midnight for the book. I had to wait till Sunday before a friend kindly lent me the book…I couldn’t wait till Monday! This review will be based around my thoughts about the book, rather than the story.

      I read the Chamber of Secrets before the release of the third book; therefore, I like to think that I found Harry Potter by myself. I would not call myself fanatically obsessed with Harry, but I still appreciate the raw talent that JK Rowling shows in all her books, be it the snappy wit, the 3D characters, or her intricate plot, which weaves in and out of all seven books, until everything ties up rather neatly.

      Yes, she does like to kill a lot of her characters, perhaps to show a sense of realism and tragedy. Three times the books have ended on a sombre note, with the deaths of Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore. There are many deaths in the Deathly Hallows, and the question on many people’s lips before release was, 'who is going to die?' and 'will Harry survive?'

      Many were of the opinion that Harry may be killed off to prevent anyone carrying from where the Deathly Hallows stops...even though that would be a bitter end to the series. Whether he maintains a pulse throughout the book, I shall not reveal to you, but I will say that several well- loved characters do meet an untimely end.

      Best book?
      It is the opinion of many readers that the Deathly Hallows is the best in the series. Yes, it does answer many questions and skilfully informs the fate of all the little characters. But it does not have the familiar structure of the previous books as the Harry, Ron and Hermione have agreed that they will not return to Hogwarts to complete their education, and pursue their hunt for the horcruxes.

      There's no Quidditch, no lessons, no dinners in the Great Hall. But I'm not complaining! The beginning of the book follows pretty much by what we were told in the Half Blood Prince: Harry leaves Privet Drive and there is the pleasant wedding at the Weasleys. There is also the expected quest for the Horcruxes.

      But the predictable plot stops there, I suppose, unless you count the obvious battle against 'good and evil.' The latter is the climax of the book, and I love the way JK Rowling made it come about...which surprised both Harry and the readers!

      I'm not going to delve into the plot, because everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the book, and relish every word as I did. There were points in the first half of the book, where I thought the situation was being dragged somewhat, and the pace had become sluggish, especially as Harry did not seem to be progressing in his quest. It seemed to be dangerously like the Order of the Phoenix, which is perhaps the least loved of the Potter books. But once the pace picked up, the book was amazing, with surprises at every turn, with different settings, different characters: it was a truly a pleasure to read!
      The book has not lost the Rowling wit, made me laugh more than cry, though it has grown up with its first readers, so that it is more a book for adults than 10 year olds. It was a satisfying end to the series, where every question was answered. I love the final chapter... it is comforting and conclusive...she may insist that she will never write about Harry again...but can she resist writing about the new characters? I'd love to read them because the magic isn't in Harry Potter...it's in JK Rowlings writing. When I finished, I was left in a thoughtful silence; not needing to know more, because the book was so satisfactory.


      No we have not made a mountain out of a molehill, I say to those who think its sad to like Harry Potter: JK Rowling is a truly talented writer, and she does deserve what she has got...though there are other writers who are equally skilled but have not received the same respect that they too deserve.

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        29.06.2007 16:41
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        Lovely read!

        ‘The Professor’ by Charlotte Bronte

        This book was written before ‘Jane Eyre’, the most famous and loved book from all the books written by the Bronte sisters. I had never heard of this book till recently, and I immensely enjoyed reading it; when I finished the book it was four in morning! The reason I was prepared to read ‘The Professor’ is because I count ‘Jane Eyre’ as one of my all- time favourite novel. I have also read ‘Vilette,’ which is not dissimilar to ‘The Professor.’

        The Story:

        William, an orphan and an Eton graduate, decides to leave his aristocratic maternal uncles and seek his own way up in the world. He approaches his estranged brother for employment as a clerk. He receives a nasty shock in discovering that his brother is a tyrant and nothing like a gentleman. With the help of a stranger by the name of Hensden, he is freed from his employment without a dint on his own self- respect.

        He proceeds to try his luck in Brussels as an English teacher in an establishment for boys and later the neighbouring establishment for girls. It is here where he finds more heinous examples of human character, unveiling deceit and treachery. He sees beneath the pretty face and manners of the ‘directress’ of the school to find a calculating and unscrupulous mind.

        But it is here also where he finds a gem, which needs a little polishing to bring out her true colours. He meets a fellow teacher, who is also his pupil learning English. His world is suddenly turned upside down when Mademoiselle Henri suddenly disappears with no trace and under suspicious circumstances.

        Characterisation:

        As ever Bronte has created some highly original characters. My favourite was Hunsden, who was painted extremely vividly. Hunsden is of a respectable family who despises the rich lords and rulers of world, and sees himself as a radical reformer. He has a strange relationship with William, where he helps him when he is most needed but at the same time he throws atrocious taunts and abuses at William, who bears them with aristocratic indifference. I found the character of Hunsden intelligent, original and thoroughly refreshing. In a letter to William he writes:
        "There is a sort of stupid pleasure in giving a child sweets, a fool his bells, a dog a bone. You are repaid by seeing the child besmear his face with sugar; by witnessing how the fool's ecstasy makes a greater fool of him than ever; by watching the dog's nature come out over his bone. In giving William Crimsworth his mother's picture, I give him sweets, bells, and bone all in one; what grieves me is, that I cannot behold the result; I would have added five shillings more to my bid if the, auctioneer could only have promised me that pleasure.
        "H. Y. H.

        Style:

        The language is radically different to modern literature but that is to be expected. It may seem like a lot of hard work to get through the long winded sentence structures, but I found the subtle humour, vivid character analysis and the natural style of Charlotte Bronte really entertaining and it was a pleasure to read the book.
        However, I thought that the ending was rather too long and protracted. There is room for improvement there, as it is not up to the same standard as ‘Jane Eyre,’ but that is justified since we know ‘The Professor’ is one of her early works.

        Conclusion:

        A very pleasurable read for fans of Jane Eyre, though I probably will not read it again. It is not a very long book, and I would recommend it.

        Amazon: £1.99 for the Woodsworth Classic edition, or just read the free eBook on the net!

        Thank you for reading this review!

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          18.02.2007 20:17
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          The work of an artiste

          Well into the Artemis Fowl series, this is the fifth book to be published about the young mastermind and former criminal. For those who have read the earlier books will be familiar with the witty humour, intelligent plot and the jolting twists that feature in all Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books.

          Characters:
          The Lost Colony features all the favourite characters: Foaly, and his inability to keep from boasting about his genius works of technology. Mulch, with his infamous ‘bum flap’ which you would not want in your face for obvious reasons… Butler, and his single- minded protection of Artemis out of both love and duty. Holly, who cannot sit by and let some one else make the world a better place. And of course, Artemis Fowl, the mastermind, the genius, himself, who has recently taken a less selfish route and is actually thinking about the betterment of both men and fairies.
          The book introduces a new character, Minerva, who like Artemis, is also a young genius. Artemis sees in her the same greed and selfishness that he used to have, but he tries to make her see the wider picture.

          The Plot
          Just because Artemis has turned over a new leaf, doesn't mean he’s not fun any more! He is still using his brilliant mind to get them all out of tight fixes- and into guarded fortresses!
          Artemis is trying to save a long lost species of fairies that are close to extinction. However, he is up against several adversaries, from Minerva who only wants a Nobel Prize, her disillusioned bodyguard who is out for revenge, to a third most unlikely one…
          With Artemis is Holly, back in uniform, and Mulch who has left crime in respect of the death of…in the previous book, and is now using his knowledge of the underworld to root out criminals. When they are contacted by an elite force to investigate why Artemis is so interested in the ‘demons,’ they agree to help. But when events spiral out of hand it is not only the existence of the unhelpful demons at stake, but also their own…

          I would give the book a rating of 4 stars. Maybe I’m getting older, but I loved the first Artemis Fowl book more than any of its sequels, but nevertheless, Colfer has a unique style that few authors would be able to match. Colfer is very much like Anthony Horowitz, whom I also admire for his writing. But I think Colfer has more style; instead of moulding his hero into a known one, as Alex Rider has been moulded into James Bond, he has made Artemis Fowl who is totally original. Fowl is not known for his physical prowess, but his mental ability under duress. It is not for him to do the athletic heroics, instead his brains are protected behind the bulk of Butler. Yet, he is still a hero.

          I definitely recommend it. Though it is not necessary to read the other books, I would recommend that the first book should be read before any other. It is rumoured there will be one more book after this. I eagerly look forward to it.

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            10.11.2006 17:04
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            Another great book from the world famous author- Horowitz!

            I am not a fan of Horror stories, and for a long time this kept me away from reading Raven's Gate. But since it was Anthony Horowitz, who used to be a favourite of mine in days gone by, I couldn't resist. I found it to be every bit as horrific and grisly as I was told it would be, but I found that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Evil Star, the sequel to Raven’s Gate.

            The style is typically Horowitz. Though it does not have the humour that characterizes the Diamond Brothers’ series, it does have the action and tense moments found in the Alex Rider books. However, this time he has given it a different dimension, a darker and more evil perspective which is actually found in the Groosham Grange series, and his short horror stories, which do not shirk away from shocking the reader to the very extreme! (Have you read the story where a group of cannibals chop up a boy in a lift? See what I mean?)

            Horowitz’s aim was to write ‘something like Lord of the Rings’ but in a more modern world, without having to create a fantastic world like Narnia, and so make it a more vivid reality for the reader. I must say that this blend of old-fasioned fantasy with a more sci-fi genre has given it a zest and flavour of reality. Matt is a normal boy, easy to identify with but also the powerful hero (albeit a reluctant one) who typically saves the world- like Alex Rider- and Frodo.

            Evil Star finds us with Matt again, but this time he is not alone. He has a trusted friend in Richard Cole, the journalist who find himself embroiled in Matts unbelievable struggle with the ‘Old One’s’ in the last book. The ‘Old One’s’- still not sure what they are. Hmmm, some sort of ancient spirits who want to take over the world again. They are sealed in a spirit world bound by gates around the world, and only five people have the power to keep them there. And Matt is one of them. He needs to find the rest of the Five, and in Evil star fate leads him to another of the Five when he agrees to go to Peru to seek out the second gate which has been foretold to open. Pedro becomes a fast friend and has an unknown power that makes him important. But more importantly…Is there a traitor within their midst?

            I know, I know…typical fantasy, the sort of stuff that would turn anyone away. But I think there is a lot more to it than that. There’s the action for one thing. Those who like Alex Rider and Stephen King will enjoy this even if they don’t like Lord of the Rings.

            I’d say Evil Star isn’t as grisly as Raven’s Gate where Matt was all alone and unaware of his powers or what he was up again. I’d say Evil Star is a lot tamer, and does not leave as eager for the next book as I was after I read Raven’ Gate. But still it was a good read!


            You can borrow it from a library or, if you want to buy it:
            Amazon:

            Evil Star (Power of Five) by Anthony Horowitz (Paperback - 3 April 2006)

            Buy new: rrp £6.99 Amazon price :£3.39
            Used & new from £1.50
            You save: £3.60 (52%)


            Thank you for reading!

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              28.10.2006 15:40
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              Need to think about both sides.

              I find it extremely saddening that our country has come to such a point where a group of law-abiding people are being victimised and the way they CHOOSE to live their lives is questioned and pointed at.

              The amount of viciousness and anger that surfaced was truly shocking as the public responded to the media. It told me alot about the people of Britain. Some responses were heartening when I saw that not all had been blinded by the ridiculous cries of extreme protestors that the veil should be banned.

              Sorry about the rant! But my view is simply that we have always been a tolerant soceity, and we have proudly upheld this example up for the rest of the world no matter what they were doing. Our country is rich with the vibrant and various cultures.

              But the actions of the tiniest proportion of people have coloured of how the entire Muslim community is perceived, until everything they do is scrutinised and questioned, wheras no other religion is hardly ever mentioned daily in the newspapers!

              I have heard some people say that the veil is a political symbol which frankly I find preposterous! Up till now the view was that the veil was enforced and a symbol of oppression. But as it became evident that almost all the Niqabis in Britain did it out of choice, as we saw that even White converts and those of other cultures to Islam, chose to veil themselves, a different reason had to be sought. Political statement.

              There is nothing political about the veil. It is a level of spirituality that some women feel they are ready for, a commitment they want to take. It in no way hinders them to lead a normal life. I have seen leading proffessionals who wera the Niqab: from teachers to doctors of neuroscience, from pharmacists to opticians.

              I see it as no different to other exprssions of faith like the Sikh turban, the nuns uniform, or the orange clothing of Buddhists, or the skullcaps of Jewish people: I have respect for each and everyone of these people and in fact admire the strength of their faith!

              Some have argued that they feel uncomfortable walking down the street and not beeing able to decipher the expression of a Niqabi. Firstly, how many times do we consciously try to seek out the gaze of a stranger on the high street, and communicate with them? In fact, most of us would admit to try to avoid catching anyones gaze, let alone try communicate via expressions.

              Secondly, is that reason enough to ban the Niqab?!

              And thirdly, I can tell you from personal experience that you can have a very productive conversation with a Niqabi. The tone of voice, the eyes easily convey the emotins of the woman.

              I am sorry if i have unintentionally offended anyone, but I just had to join in with the debate!

              Thank you for reading.

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              • Top Five Jokes / Discussion / 57 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                21.09.2006 19:15
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                Hopefully bring a smile to your face!

                I was reading some jokes today, and i just must share them! They're not hilarious or hysterically funny, but, ah, just read 'em!


                *******************************************
                A little boy walked slowly to school.
                'Hurry up! You'll be late!' called a concerned neigbour.
                'Ther's no rush,' he replied. 'They're open until half-past three.'


                *******************************************
                I used to hate going to weddings, because the old ladies would pinch my cheeks and cackle 'You're next, he he!'
                They stopped doing that, when I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.


                *******************************************
                A woman fell down and badly hurt her leg in three places. She was getting on in years , so her doctor strapped up her leg tightly.
                'Now remember,' he warned, 'this leg is going to take quite a long time to mend- you're not to go dashing up and down the stairs.'
                A month later the doctor called to see her and found that her leg had healed perfectly.
                'Thank the Lord for that!' the woman exclaimed. 'I felt such a fool shinning up and down that drainpipe.'


                *******************************************
                'How is Mr. Thompson in Ward H?' enquired a man when he rang his local hospital.
                'His test results were all clear,' replied the nurse. 'Who's speaking?'
                'It's Mr. Thompson on his mobile phone in Ward H,' the man revealed. 'Nobody tells you anything around here.'


                *******************************************
                In prison, a group of cell mates passed the time telling each other the same jokes over and over again. Eventually, to save time, they decided to assign each joke a number.
                'Do you remember number 34?' asked one prisoner. They all smiled.
                'What about number 27!' offered another, and they all chuckled.
                Then a third said, 'Number 63.' The men all grinned, apart from one who fell about in hysterics. When his laughter died down they asked him why he found it so funny.
                'I've never heard that one before,' he explained.


                *******************************************

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                • Euthanasia / Discussion / 43 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                  13.09.2006 20:03
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                  Have you the right to do it?

                  Mercy Killing or Murder?

                  This a raging and popular debate frequently held especially among religious circles. The above is the question that is put to us every so often.

                  The main aim of Euthanasia is to relieve a person from life when that cannot bear to live, and are unable to take their own life.

                  The relatives intend to free their beloved from unbearable pain. But how is it possible for you to ascertain their true intentions? What if the relative is actually a greedy heir? What if he has led the patient into believing that death is the only answer, the only door to freedom from pain? Even if the patient is giving their written agreement to be killed, they could have come under psychological pressure induced by both the pain and the relatives.

                  How can the law decide, in countries where euthanasia is legal, that the death of the patient wasn't a cold blooded murder? So alot depends on the intentions of those who carry out the mercy killing.

                  Another argument against Euthanasia is the rapid progress made in medicine and technology. New ideas are being regularly introduced and new discoveries are made. It is a matter of time before a cure for the disease a patient is suffering from is found. I believe that it is important to keep hoping for such a cure instead of succumbing to despair and death. Life is worth holding on to, until you can. But to let go when there is hope is sheer misuse of the gift of life.

                  Euthanasia. Should people really have the right to play God? Why do we abhor murder? Because no one has the right to end the lifeblood of any living being. God gave life, and it is He who will take it way. Similarly, you cannot be given the right to kill another person even with their permission.

                  Those who think their life is not worth living because of loss of dignity; isn't that just part of the ups and downs of life? If someone is there to look after you, should you not appreciate their help instead of resent it?

                  To those who are sane of mind and wish to die I would say that our independent thoughts are what make us, and the ability to think is reason enough to live. Think of our body as a window for our souls and no matter what else troubles us, a sane mind is a gift that we should always be greatful for.

                  For those of you who believe in God, know this that God will give you no more pain than you can bear. Just be patient and don't lose hope!

                  To sum up, I believe that to kill someone in pity or hate is too fine a line to define, and for me they fall in the same category: Murder.

                  This is my opinion, and of course many of you will disagree with some of the points made. Please leave a comment about how you feel about Eutanasia.

                  Thank you for reading!

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                  • Top 10 "Bushisms" / Discussion / 59 Readings / 51 Ratings
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                    22.08.2006 15:49
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                    Here goes...

                    I couldn't resist it, I love this category and I'm going to have to contribute!

                    I must say it was extremely difficult to pick 10 quotes out of a pool of comical and unintelligent one's. But I hope these make you laugh.

                    **************************************************************
                    Who is he reminding?


                    "That's called, A Charge To Keep, based upon a religious hymn. The hymn talks about serving God. The president's job is never to promote a religion." --George W. Bush, showing German newspaper reporter Kai Diekmann the Oval Office, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2006

                    **************************************************************
                    Freudian slip?

                    "I was not pleased that Hamas has refused to announce its desire to destroy Israel." -- Washington, D.C., May 4, 2006

                    **************************************************************
                    You don't say?!

                    "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." -- Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2005

                    **************************************************************
                    He certainly knows his Oxford Dictionary

                    "It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth." -- on an Amnesty International report on prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Washington, D.C., May 31, 2005

                    **************************************************************
                    Was he nervous, or does he just have limited vocab?


                    "In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard." —repeating the phrases "hard work," "working hard," "hard choices," and other "hard"-based verbiage 22 times in his first debate with Sen. John Kerry

                    **************************************************************
                    Maybe this explains it…

                    "If people want to get to know me better, they've got to know my parents and the values my parents instilled in me, and the fact that I was raised in West Texas, in the middle of the desert, a long way away from anywhere, hardly. There's a certain set of values you learn in that experience."
                    -- Washington, D.C., May 5, 2006

                    **************************************************************
                    Subtle brainwashing...

                    "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." —Washington, D.C. June 18, 2002

                    **************************************************************
                    So what does this make America?

                    "See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." —Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003

                    **************************************************************
                    His deep knowledge of Geography...

                    "Wow! Brazil is big." --George W. Bush, after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005

                    **************************************************************
                    And finally...

                    "I've reminded the prime minister-the American people, Mr. Prime Minister, over the past months that it was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2006

                    **************************************************************

                    I hope this gave you an insight into the President of the United State's deep and intelligent nature.

                    Thankyou for reading!

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                      21.08.2006 02:28
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                      Worth the read!

                      The title 'Amulet of Samarkand' sounded so Oriental and magical that I was forced to start reading the book when I saw it at my cousin's. After that, I ordered it from home in order to continue. I had found a rare branch of fantasy.


                      *****The author*****

                      Jonathan Stroud was born in 1970 and studied English Literature at the University of York. He has been writing stories since the age of seven. The Bartimaeus Trilogy is the most acclaimed of his works, of which ‘The Amulet of Samarkand’ is the first.

                      *****The Plot*****

                      This story has an unusual setting. It reminds me of books set in the 19th Century, but at the same time it seems to be a form of Utopian novel, though not exactly a futuristic novel. This is not your Brave New World or 1984, it does not use technology to show a possible future. In fact, it uses a special form of ‘magic.’ This world runs on the summoning of ‘djinnies’ and other fiery spirited beings, and it is upon them, and not technology, that the civilization of Great Britain and the rest of the world is based.

                      Stroud has given much thought to the social structure. Britain is ruled by Magicians, who dominate the commoners. The more powerful you are the higher your status in Parliament. The commoners are typically poor and deprived and constant surveillance is maintained in the form of spying spirits.

                      Our hero is a young boy named Nathaniel. In early infancy he is assigned to be a Magicians apprentice. He is in absolute awe of his master, who does not think much of Nathaniel and disapproves of his wife’s kindness to him. However, he is very ambitious and competent child, and is quickly disenchanted by his master’s lowly status among the other state officials. Though very young, he teaches himself to master advanced magic- the ability to summon a very powerful djinni.

                      As a person, Nathaniel is what may be generally termed as ‘good’ but when he is humiliated by being beaten in public by a powerful minister, Simon Lovelace, Nat nurtures feelings of hate and revenge. This begins to change him and in order to enact his revenge, he takes a big step by summoning a superior djinni. In this way we are introduced to the books other main character, after whom the trilogy is named, and the only character who narrates in the first person. I give you… Bartimaeus!

                      This is one loveable djinni! Not because he is really nice and cuddly, but because of his fresh, sarcastic humour, his brazen selfishness and his exaggerated arrogance, seen when he recounts past incidences. Stroud has included footnotes, which are additional speeches in the voice of Bartimeaus to clarify or embellish his tall tales.

                      Where Nathaniel is serious and ambition driven, Barty is funny and ready to escape. Forced by Nathaniel to steal an ancient and powerful artifact from Simon Lovelace, Nathaniel and Barty find themselves in a lot of trouble. They stumble over a plot that can threaten the whole country. Nathaniel needs all the help that Barty can give. Can they save the day?

                      *****The Style*****

                      The plot is totally original though it is leaning heavily on existing evidences and beliefs in the existence of Jinns (genies). I love the action, like when Barty is stealing the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace and encounters acquaintances he’d rather forget, combined with a running commentary from him which means fits of laughter. Stroud’s humour is original. Nowhere else will you find a baby faced imp who would sooner tell you to drown yourself in a teacup than plead for some milk. With the action and comic there is the fantasy and fun history lesson from Barty’s perspective who has lived thousands of years. (He has allegedly worked for Suleman and chatted with Ptolemy).

                      Stroud’s character formation is also admirable. I have read the whole trilogy. I can tell you that the development of Nathaniel’s character is beautiful and unhurried. In the first book he is innocent but ambitious. From this, in the second book, he becomes pompous and not a little detestable. Finally, in the last book, he realizes the baseness of his character and takes a turn for nobility and honour…until he gives the ultimate sacrifice.

                      I would recommend this book, and the two that follow it (Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate)- it will be worth your while!

                      *****Amazon*****

                      RRP: £6.99
                      Our Price: £5.59

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                        13.08.2006 00:26
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                        A must Read!

                        Malorie Blackman is a favourite among young teenagers, for her fast paced and imaginative style. Her characters are normal seeming, with typical problems which they solve in an engaging manner. Her most famous book is probably 'Pig-heart Boy.' They are always powerfully written at put across a strong message of friendship, familial love, and trust.

                        Noughts and Crosses is a slightly different book to the others. For one it is aimed at a wider audience and can be read by all age groups. For another it tackles a serious issue in a very thought provoking manner.

                        The issue that is tackled is RACISM. Many authors have approached this issue but none with the originality or creativity that Blackman has shown. Blackman creates a society which is racially divided; one race is the scum of society, the other the elite. This scenario has been seen in the past but Blackman gives it a new angle.

                        In this story, the poor and underprivelaged of society are the White people (who are known as Noughts), as opposed to the Black. The Black people (known as Crosses) themselves enjoy the seats of power and oppress the white people. By flipping the coin, Blackman shows clearly the wrongs of racism, and how it would have been if the situation had been reversed in apartheid South Africa, or in America 100 years ago.

                        The story is centred around a White boy called Callum who cannot come to grips with why he is different from his best friend Sephy, a Black girl, the daughter of a wealthy politician. When he first started in a predominantly Black school, the extremes racism that he faced shocked him. What shocked himi more was the seeming betrayal of Sephy, when she joins with everyone else crying the slogans.

                        As they grow up, they both recognise their different positions in life but continue to try maintaining their relationship despite dissapproval from both the families. Callums brother and father, discontended with the system decide to take radical action. They are naturally branded as terrorists and hell arrives at Callums door.

                        Their two families are the very extremes of one another in every aspect. One very poor, and radical in its aims for equal rights, the other wealthy and commited to keep the seat of power with the Crosses alone. Caught between this are Callum and Sephy, and the inevitable Romeo and Juliet drama occurs. Almost, but not quite.

                        This is a truly powerful read, as those who have read it will agree. It is a book about betrayal, passion and humanity, a very thought provoking book. It makes you think about how people have suffered in the past, and even today racism has not been demolished. It exists subtly, behind the veil of political correctness it is still there. It also questions terrorism, that people resort to such radical tactics because they have been terrorised so much themselves and can take it no more.

                        The style is typical Blackman though this book is characterised by the fact that it is written from the perspective of both Callum and Sephy, alternating between the two, in the first person. It was the first time I'd come across this and I'd quite liked it.

                        The book continues as a trilogy. The second book is about Sephy and how difficult she finds it to be accepted among the Noughts who are prejudiced against her for being among a Cross. The third book is about her child. However, Noughts and Crosses is quite complete on its own.

                        The book can be bought from Amazon:
                        RRP: £6.99
                        Amazon Price: £5.59

                        I would say this is a must read for everyone!

                        Thank you for reading.

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                        • Top Ten Authors / Discussion / 45 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                          11.08.2006 02:10
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                          I love Reading

                          I love reading, have done so since when I was about 8 when I discovered Enid Blyton. One of my friends still remembers how I used to read under the table during lessons in early Junior school, and I still do it during lectures that would otherwise send me to sleep!
                          So over the years I’ve read and loved many books and been through phases where different authors or genres pleased me. At this moment in time, the following are the most memorable authors I can come up with in no particular order.

                          1. David Eddings
                          I only started reading his books about a year ago. He has written the acclaimed Belgariad series which is followed by the Mallorean, among others. But I can speak for the first two series. I like him because his writing is very clever, his characters are life-like and fully formed with their own peculiarities that stick in your mind. The dialogue is fresh and humorous, and very well structured. Like many fantasy writers he knows how to stretch a story, stretch a single journey over five, thick books!
                          I read all of the Belgariad (five books), but for the Mallorean (also five books) I just read the first and last book in the series and it didn’t make too much of a difference! A writer I admire.

                          2. Sherryl Jordan
                          For those of you who read my review on ‘The Raging Quiet’ know I really love and admire the works of this author. I have also read ‘Secret Sacrament’ and experienced a whole new approach and style of writing. Her creative abilities are so amazing; she uses a seemingly chance incident and makes everything that happens in the book be because of that one incident. In both books I have seen her deal with problems in society but in very different worlds. A writer not well known but should be.

                          3. William Nicholson
                          I found this author when I discovered the Wind in Fire Trilogy, and they are quite good books, proving him to be a talented writer. However, I just love his latest book Seeker of the Noble Warriors Trilogy. His intense characterisation is memorable, and you can’t easily forget the Wildman and his cry of ‘Heya Bravo, do you looooooooove me?’ (or something like it). I can hardlt wait for ‘Jango’, the second book following ‘Seeker,’ which is coming out next month.

                          4. Anthony Horowitz
                          When I was really young I discovered ‘Public Enemy Number Two’ by Horowitz, and it made me go into fits of laughter. And now when I’m a little older, Horowitz has created the Alex Rider series, which never fails to bring to the edge of my seat in suspense. Alex is a mini James Bond, carrying out similar stunts and bizarrely saving the world every other week from crazy men who want to rule the world. These books are great for teenagers; Horowitz has brilliant style.

                          5. Charles Higson
                          Did I say mini James bond? Higson really writes about Bond- as a 14 year old. I started the first book ‘Silverfin’ with some apprehension, thinking it would be childish. But the prologue alone totally creeped me out, so powerful was the writing. I preferred it over the Alex Rider books because it was not all action based. Instead Higson explores the characters and the blend of emotional drama, with an intense plot and action really makes the flavour of the book. When I’d finished the book, I felt it was one of the best I’d read for ages. I followed it up with the sequel ‘Bloodfever’ but it was not as intense and creepy as the first. I will still wait for the third book!

                          6. Eoin Colfer
                          The Artemis Fowl books are not as well known as Harry Potter but I think they might even be better! For those of you who haven’t read them yet, Arty is a rich child criminal, bent on cheat world, when he finds a richer target- the fairy world. That sounds silly but Colfer has created a world not only of magic but superiorly advanced technology. I’ve never seen anyone make fairyland look so believable! I can’t wait to get my hands on the latest one!

                          7. Mark Robson
                          I recently read ‘Imperial Spy’ by Robson and really enjoyed it. I understand there is a whole series before this book but it did not diminish my enjowment or make me feel like I was missing something. The twist in the story was pretty artistic, and I’ve never seen an author make another character appear guilty so convincingly, when it was someone else. Blending in a murder mystery with fantasy and a whole lot more, makes this book worth your while. I will be reading more of Robsons books.

                          8. Frank Beddor
                          Beddor has written only one book, to my knowledge: ‘The Looking Glass Wars.’ This book is an absolute treasure! I recently reread it and enjoyed it as much as the first time. Beddor insists it’s a true story but every reader must decide for himself. Apparently, Lewis Carrols Alice in Wonderland is a fabrication of the truth. The truth is that Alice was a Wonderland princess whose parents have been murdered. Beddor shows a world of bloodshed and stark realities, of rebellion and dictatorship. It’s an original book despite the fact that it is obviously related to Carrols book. I love it and wish there was a sequel.

                          9. Brian Jacques
                          How many will admit to have read any of the Redwall books? About vegetarian animals who sometimes find it acceptable to eat fish. About walking, talking animals who live in red brick building. About animals with their own code of honour, of nobility. How many of you will admit it? Well, I do. Because despite the fact that nature of the novels seem unserious, I greatly enjoy Jacques Redwall books, because they are funny and the characters show nobility, love and companionship. The plot is always good, with plenty of interesting characters and types of animals. The dialect of each animal is particular to it. And the food described is yummy!
                          Yes, this is a writer to be admired for communicating issues that human beings face in the guise of animals.

                          10. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
                          I have read all of Sherlock Holmes, and I need not say how good they are. Agatha Christie is also very engaging, but I think I like Holmes more. ‘The Hounds of Baskerville’ is my favourite novel of the four, and the short stories are amazing. I wish I could write like that though it’s probably ‘Elemental, my dear Watson!’

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                          • More +
                            08.08.2006 22:56
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                            What an experience!

                            A week ago, I wouldn't have known what to write under this topic, but now I am fully equipped with my most embarassing moment!

                            Last week I was working at a hospital as part of my placement. The whole week went fine, everyone was great and it was a real eye-opener. I was really enjoying it.

                            It was my last day there and I was scheduled to be present in a theatre. The morning would be spent in a non-sterile theatre and the afternoon in a sterile theatre, which meant I'd have to wear those fancy clothes.

                            I was with a senior orthoptist who was supervising me for the day, and informing me about all the procedures and more about the cancer that was going to be treated. She took me to a smallish room, looking more small because of the furniture, the computer-cam and other instruments. Most of the floor in the middle was taken up by a wheelie hospital bed. On it was the smallest baby I'd ever seen, because she was only 7 days old and was about to be treated for the cancer she was born with.

                            I won't go too much into the case, but seeing a tiny baby, sleeping there after being given anaesthetics, with pipes leaving her body and a huge bag on her chest pumping in time to her breathing...is no little thing. I watched as a nurse inserted an injection into her hand and taped it there. Well, no I couldn't watch all of it.

                            The orthoptist asked me if I were squemish. I didn't think i was, so she positioned me right close to the bed where I would be able to see everything.

                            Just thinking about what happened is making me feel faintly nauseous. There were about 8 people in the room. The doctor who would carry out the examination, a trainee doctor, a couple of technicians or nurses, the orthoptist, myself and of course the baby. There was no airconditioning in the room and heat was building up fast.

                            The examination was about to begin. The surgeon opened the childs eye with a clip...oh, I can't make myself go through it again! The tension was high as the instrument about to be used turned out to be faulty, and we had to wait until another one arrived.

                            I kept watching and watching. The lights were turned off and the doctor did his stuff (trying not to think about it). It just got hotter and hotter and I was finding it hard to breath. I flapped my hand in front of my face and tried to stop the sighs from escaping to loudly. I desperately wanted to leave the room but I didn't want to disturb the doctor from what he was doing...

                            Eventually, i could take it no longer. Though I wanted to see what would happen, I asked the nurse standing next to me if it was okay if I left the room. I thought i just needed some fresh air, but she must have seen that I was feeling alot worse. She quickly led me out asking me if I was okay.

                            'I just need the bathroom,' I told her. She took me there. To my surprise I began to feel really faint and she had to make me sit on something. I put my head down but the nausea wouldn't go. She went and brought another nurse from the room as well as the orthoptist. They gave me a glass of water. And then I threw up! Eeew!

                            I felt so embarassed! Two nurses and an orthoptist had been moved from their posts on my account! And I'd just fallen to bits! They were really nice and started to say how the heat must have got to me. Here I was a mere student feeling faint from my first experience in a real live theatre! They must have been laughing! They took me to the isolation unit, where I realized my face was covered in cold sweat and my body had completely betrayed me! If I had stayed two minutes longer in that room I would have fainted on the floor!

                            One nurse jokingly said, 'You probably don't want to see the surgery this afternoon!' Too right, I didn't!

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                            • Nokia 8310 / Mobile Phone / 36 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                              27.07.2006 13:49
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                              A great phone that cannot be forgotten!

                              This little beauty is my all-time favourite mobile phone. Though many would see it as a model from ancient history, it still has many good points. It was my first phone, partly why I love it so. When I bought it on contract at the time, it still caused a stir among my friends.

                              Why? It was one of the last phones that came out before the advent of camera phones. So it looked really sleek and trendy in its gorgeous case, the latest phone of the time.

                              Though it didn't have a camera (obviously I didn't miss it because they didnt come out till later). It's got a radio, a voice recorder. What I love is the huge inbox, eventough it took ages to open it. Writing text messages is easy, and the screen size is just right to read the joke messages without reading the punchline too early. Such message displays are rare now with bigger screens. It's got a calender and the games are fun, too. I gave up on my usual alarm clock and would tuck this under my pillow at night instead. I know these things are the norm now but I'm sure you appreciate it was of the highest standard at the time.

                              Even after camera phones and colour screens came out, I still didn't want to let go of my Nokia 8310. I had lots of fun buying different coloured fascias. You see, after 8310, phones just got heavier and bigger. Plus I didnt really need a camera.

                              Over a year later, after my first 8310 fell down the drain (oh, the grief!) I sought for another 8310. By that time, they were off the market and you could only buy it off eBay among other antiquities. I got it for about £45 including p+p, which is pretty dear considering its age.

                              But I was happy and thought the money was well spent. Alas, after a few months disaster struck again. I think I'd never allowed my phone to die out ccompletely, always charging the battery as soon as it began to go down (battery life lasts far longer than these modern phones). But one day my phone died- and I couldn't bring it back to life!

                              The on/off switch had become lodged! This switch is the most awkward part of the phone, having to press hard with your nail. Upon taking it to the repair shop, he said it would be £20 to fix it. Accepting defeat, I left as I realised it wouldn't be worth the effort.

                              Only then, I bought another contract and got a Nokia 6230i which has 'as many gadgets as a Swiss Army knife!' This phone though faultless is noticeably heavier and bigger, and I love it, too! (I've already written a review on this phone, do read it).

                              Then my mum bought a 8310 from the market for about £12. It was pretty old, but she knew I was partial to it. It was so old that it needed a little piece of paper to keep the sim card lodged! But I still have it and use it for my second sim though i have a perfectly working, brand new Nokia 6111 for that.

                              They are practical and do their basic job well, but I expect you may find the newer ones more preferable. I still recommend it because though old you can still find some in good condition from eBay for a reasonable price. You could always use it as a cheap second, or even third, phone! Definitely recommended.

                              Let's just hope nothing happens to my latest 8310. Third time lucky!

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                              • Bullying in Schools / Discussion / 42 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                                21.07.2006 13:38
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                                Is bullying only in the playground, or is it for life?

                                Bullying in childhood should never be dismissed and overlooked, not only because of the physical damage that can occur but mainly the psychological damage that is incurred.

                                I know that simply to be rejected as a child from social groups and to be made virtually friendless, is enough to torment and have a lifelong effect on the personality of the child.

                                To be rejected brings about a plummeting fall in the self-esteem of the person. I say person because even as an adult, he/she would still be suffering from lack of self-esteem. Ever heard of the term 'critical period?' I believe that the years at primary school, especially in the Infants is the critical period, the period which has the greates effect in determining your character for the rest of your life. During this time the way the child is treated by his peers, sets his expectations of treatment for the rest of his life.

                                For example, if he is found to be a leader, it will boost is belief in himself, which is the first step to making others believe in you. To be totally rejected as a child means that he cannot even have belief in himself, so that he continually feels the need to look for others approval before trying anything.

                                That brings us to the fact that bullying in the childhood brings down a persons confidence and it takes many years and the right type of peers to bring back this confidence. Bullying affects a person for most of his life unless he has help to bring back his belief in himself.

                                What about the bully? Not many people talk from the point of view of the bully. Do they turn out to be as arrogant and sadistic as they were in the playground? One thing's for sure; thay will never suffer from lack of belief in themselves.

                                Thank you for reading.

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                                  18.07.2006 16:31
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                                  A beautiful fantasy read, deeply moving and with deeper messages.

                                  I read this book a couple of days ago, and believe you me, I have never read a book like it. I picked this book because I had read another book by Sherryl Jordan, called The Secret Sacrament, and I had admired her writing. But after reading The Raging Quiet, it put all other books in the background!

                                  Why do I like it?

                                  When I read this book I understood the true meaning of 'unputdowneable.' Apart from the obvious, it also means that even when you're not reading the book, you can't wait to carry on. That's how I felt. It is so well written that you can't rest until you have finished the book.

                                  the book has won an award and if any book is worthy of an award this it1

                                  The Story

                                  The main character in this story is Marnie, a bold and strong-willed sixteen year old, who has been forced to marry a man twice her age in order to save her family from living on the streets. She moves to the village Torcurra as a bride with her husband a rich lord. The story is set in medieval times, and Jordan has described it in compelling and vivid terms. From the very beginning the reader feelt deep sympathy for Marnie. When her husband is killed in an accident in the village they have moved to, the villagers are quick to point their fingers at her and accuse her of cursing him and so murderiing him. She has only two friends; the priest and the village lunatic.

                                  Marnie makes an astounding discovery when Raver comes to her door after being severely whipped by the villagers. Raver, the mad boy is actually profoundly deaf and not controlled by demons. Despite the priests warnings she takes up the huge challenge of communicating with Raven(/r) via sign language.

                                  Raven is such a deep character, immensely innocent yet so understanding and compassion, that the reader quickly loves him. Jordan has written so emotively that the reader feels for marnie and Raven from their very hearts. You can't bear to see them suffer.

                                  The story is deeply moving as the reader follow Marnie and see her rejected by even her own people until she has no one except the deaf youth who relies on her as his only link to the world of communication.

                                  When Marnie is accused of witchcraft, Jordan writes so powerfully that I found myself shaking with fear and anticipation! And when she is rejected by her family any person would be reduced to tears. I will say no more...

                                  Jordan writing is at times humorous and sometimes deeply sad. The humour would make you laugh out loud as Marnie and the Priest are both quick witted and entertain the reader with their conversation.

                                  This book is unforgettable. I never usually do this but as soon as I finished I started the book again. Jordan became my favourite writer overnight. The Rging Quiet is a model example of literature at its best and should be celebrated.

                                  Theme

                                  The book raises many issues that are thought provoking and relevent even to this day and age.
                                  The greatest issue is tolerating differences. Marnie and Raven were both outcasts because of their differences. The village people intolerent of differences punished them. How tolerent are we? In our own way do we not judge and label people and maybe unknowingly punish them for their being different? How much do we know about other cultures and disabilities?

                                  Another lesson or question the book raises is should we take heed of what other people think of ourselves. Marnie a bold and self-sufficient girl did not care for what others may think and for that she had to suffer alot, shaking her belief in herself. She learnt that to be accepted is necessary not so much for a social life but just so that she can live in peace by herself and to make a living. Should it be this way? Can people not maintain their identity and integrity by being who thay are instead of what others want them to be?

                                  The book is aptly named. You will see why.


                                  Definitely recommended.
                                  Amazon price: £4.79

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