Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Eccentric Trilogy's Favourite Books of 2016!

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! 

It's been a long year for us, we've all read so much during 2016, and for our last post of the year we decided to create a list of all our top five favourite books that we've read during the year! 

We started this blog during the year and it's safe to say that we have enjoyed every single moment since we created Eccentric Trilogy. So, a major thank you to everyone who is reading our reviews and getting in contact with us as well! 

Heather's Top Five Favourite Books of 2016

1.) To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf. 
(Heather is absolutely obsessed with this book, especially the light symbolism that Woolf uses.)

2.) The Accidental - Ali Smith

3.) The Shock of The Fall - Nathan Filer

4.) The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

5.) Regeneration - Pat Barker

Lydia's Top Five Favourite Books of 2016

1.) A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J Maas

2.) The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

3.) To Kill A Mocking Bird - Harper Lee

4.) Queen of Shadows - Sarah J Maas

5.) A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

Shani's Top Five Favourite Books of 2016

1.) A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J Maas

2.) The Illuminae Files 01 - Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3.) A Study in Charlotte - Brittany Cavallaro

4.) Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

5.) Crooked Kingdom - Leigh Bardugo

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: 5/5
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: 20th October, 2015
Publisher: Oneworld Publications/Rock The Boat

Hello everyone, it's Shani here, and today I wanted to express my opinions on the book Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Illuminae is the first novel in the Illuminae Files trilogy. When I bought this book, I had already heard some amazing things about it - the novel has been praised for its style and narration by numerous other book reviewers, and let you tell me this. This book met every single one of my reading standards, and somehow managed to raise them as well.

Illuminae was my second favourite book that I've read this year. It has one of the most gripping story lines I've ever encountered, hooking you from the very first page, and keeping you on the edge of your seat through out the entire book. Kaufman and Kristoff have presented a YA, sci-fi novel in the least cliche manor possible, and I loved it.
I'm not much of sci-fi reader. I've tried in the past to read many sci-fi books, but I've often found that the plot is too predictable, or that the story is reaccuring. That's not to say that Illuminae's plot is miles different from other sci-fi novels. In fact it isn't. It has all the cliche settings: It's in space, there's fighting, there's an uncontrollable virus that is turning people crazy and reducing them to killing one and other. It's your typical sci-fi novel. What was different was the way it was presented. The book is presented entirely through files, legal documents, chat messages, emails, and security camera footage. I have never found a single author that has formatted their novel this way, and I absolutely applaud Kaufman and Kristoff for experimenting with this style, because it works so well!

The plot, though it involved some typical sci-fi tropes, was fairly original in certain areas. The novel centres around seventeen year old Kady Grant and Ezra Mason who have just escaped from their planet being destroyed by an evil corporation named BioTech. The novel takes place in 2575, yet the authors still manage to keep the novel relevant to their audience, the language they use and the appropriate pop culture references really made me able to relate to the characters in the novel, despite them being thousands of years in the future.

This doesn't start of slowly at all, it throws you straight into action - which was one of the main reasons I adored it so much. I tend to get bored very quickly when reading unless the story really grips me, I tend to find classics hard to get into for example, because the first few pages are normally quite slow, thus I tend to have to force myself to read them just to be able to pursue the rest of it. Illuminae is one of the very few books where I didn't have to do this. I was interested and invested from the very first page, and it was very refreshing!

Another excellent point about Illuminae is the character development. Oh, golly. The character development in this book is incredible. Not only does this book have an incredibly strong, intelligent, and snarky female protagonist, but Kady's character development is wonderful. She endures loss, she makes mistakes, she is presented to the reader as a real person with flaws and I loved this about her.

Illuminae is now in my top ten favourite books that I've ever read, and I'm so excited to read the sequel Gemina, which came out a few months ago!

Friday, 30 December 2016

The Go-Between

Hello, it’s Heather here, hope you all are looking forward to a great new year! The girls and I have all studied this book in our A-Level English Literature class, so I thought I’d write a short review on the prologue – partially for close analysis revision purposes and so they can also review it if they wish to do so without repeating similar things.

Author: L.P. Hartley
Published: 1953
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

This book is in a framed narrative; thus, the prologue and epilogue is narrated by older Leo (technically his name is Lionel but he thought that sounded fancy so calls himself Leo after the zodiac symbol). In the prologue, Leo finds a box of his older possessions and, after rummaging through it and listing some very symbolic items, he finds his diary. When composed, he decides to read a little bit of it. This is never a good idea, I read my diary a few years ago, and still feel scarred at how whiny eight-year-old me was. Anyway, I could sympathise with Leo when he read about how he was traumatised at having used the word ‘vanquished’, earning himself a bad reputation for having used such a peculiar bit of language. Young Leo is very amusing, he has this odd infatuation with the Zodiac, particularly the Virgin; this belief in fate and his dallying with magic makes the prologue engaging – who doesn’t like a good bit of magic?
His reactions are a bit immature, he spends little time engrossing in self-remorse: for instance, when two boys are hurt and Leo claims it was his spell that caused their accident, he labels himself as a hero and has very little pity for them. I reckon most children would at least feel a tad dejected at someone else being hurt – but it’s vital to grasp that Leo is not what most children are like. In many ways, he’s stereotypical, having just reached that age where he starts to ponder about girls (especially in the main narrative) and being cautious about fitting in at his school. But he’s also completely oblivious to sex at the same time, though given the time era, they were a bit more prude about these matters, yet in a boarding school you’d have thought he’d know the basics. He also seems to read very deeply into things, again this is seen more later in the book, like when he is disgusted at being given something green (because it must be symbolic, right?). I quite liked this, it gives away that vulnerable, self-conscious side, those natural feelings that most children display through not wanting to do certain things anymore, but Leo showed through his analytical mind.
The first line is pretty spectacular; “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” It’s amazingly tempting to use this line after confessing scandalous deviances (for instance, “HEATHER, DID YOU STEAL MY CHOCOLATE ORANGE” … well, you see dear brother… the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.) The meaning is also quite interesting to consider; look at how much we change as we grow, when you were younger you’d be deemed normal to go to a ball pit and hang out in the park and read picture books but the older you get, the stranger these little things become, imagine a forty-year-old in a ball pit. These changes aren’t the only ones that occur though, most people change their moral coding as they mature, so their customs and norms are like different countries. I could write an entire essay on whether or not Leo has actually changed though, because to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if he ever did. It’s obvious that his loneliness and craving to fit in is something constant. He queries where the Virgin, his representation of a female companion, is. And on the first page, there is so much symbolism from various items in the box to imply isolation and a loss of meaning: magnets that have lost their magnetism, a couple of empty sea urchins. It’s perfect for the exam, if ever you have a block in ideas, you can simply turn to the prologue and pull some metaphorical meaning out of something.
I remember doing our first essay in English Literature on how Hartley had presented the narrator in this book and being very excited to write it because there’s so much to say! I found the prologue the best part of the novel; literally every other line can be closely analysed, and the charm of older Leo reminiscing about how younger Leo was intrigued with magic and destiny made it a great start to the story. Apparently, this is now a musical, my friends and I were rather befuddled as to how they’ve added musical numbers to this book, but if anyone has had the chance to see it or has read the book then let us know what you thought.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Once Upon A Winter

Hello, it’s Heather here! I hope all those celebrating Christmas are having a wonderful time, I was in the midst of panicking over last minute Christmas presents when our book blog received an email granting us access to read this enchanting novel! Initially, I danced in joy with the thought that if the book was good, it would make a charming present, but now I see that the book would look at home in my own bookcase (and only the best books are allowed on there). I think the other two will also be reviewing this one shortly too.

Author: Melyssa Williams
Published: November 2016
Publisher: Red Team Ink

This book is so heart-warming, I struggled to tear myself away from reading it. For this time of year, it is absolutely ideal. I found myself immediately relating to the protagonist, Ree, who dreaded her family’s Christmas party for the many awkward encounters the night would probably entail (let’s face it, sometimes we’d much rather be curled up reading a book), but also looked forward to her godfather’s inventions with mounting anticipation. And wow, they were certainly impressive gifts. Being a keen mechanic herself, Ree helped to create the first one, but the next two were shocking even for her. The plot took a swift turn as he presented the guests with two clockwork figures, both of which enthralled Ree with their realistic quality – this section has some really brilliant imagery, so you feel the same excitement as Ree does. Her fascination with the dolls leads her to a thrilling adventure out of the comfortable world she had become somewhat bored with.  
The style of the book reminded me of Phillip Pullman, which I was delighted with, being an avid fan of this type of book. The world it’s set in is similar enough to ours to make it easy to visualise, yet refreshingly magical with some nice fantasy features, most of which I haven’t seen before, like the reindeer children. I was talking with a friend the other day about how fantasy is a genre that has so much potential – limitless possibilities – and can be stunning when the author puts in the effort to communicate the little details, this book certainly falls under this category. Many masterpieces are from this area, think of Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings trilogy – these are all such successful and cherished stories because the author successfully whisked us away to somewhere new, where we could follow captivating adventures. The usage of clockwork was very different and well executed.
Ree is such a great character to lead the story, firstly because she’s a girl that spends little time waffling and is blunt about what she thinks without appearing rude or conceited, also as her sarcasm and sass is faultless and to top this, she admits any mistakes she makes. She goes stubbornly against what her sister claims is proper; yearning for adventure, passionately delving into mechanics even before the novel is set and actually fighting when necessary. Every ounce of fear and happiness that she feels is radiated through the language: she is not fearless, labels herself as claustrophobic at one point and screams a fair amount later on in the book. I think it’s important for authors to address that being scared is not weak, at no point does Ree stand up and say “Okay guys, this was fun but now I want to go home,” and walk away, that’s what really matters. Another plus point to her character was that though she often admired the boys, the story does not end with a cliché and emotional kiss, nor does she spend a long time pondering dates. I look forward to when the author writes a sequel (please write one) so these kinds of relationships can form, but the chemistry between Ree and Nikolai was perfect.
If you want a nice book to keep you company on these long and cold winter days, I would highly suggest this one. I’ve included some links below to help you all find it and hope that you do so. This author has so much potential, I cannot wait to read her next book and feel she will definitely grow in popularity soon!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Christmas Tale

Hey guys! I literally got back from Amsterdam three hours ago, I had the most amazing time. This piece is one I wrote last week, I'm really sorry but it's kinda sad. But I thought that I'd try to express that not everybody has a family to got to at Christmas, or at all.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

The white cotton wind bites at my exposed skin, as I walk through the empty street in the cold night, on Christmas Eve. Great colossal, detached houses stand stagnate as I pass. I'm not sure why I came down this road, or why I even left the orphanage in the first place. The bright flashing green and silver are draped around and among windows and bushes, each one belonging to a household, perhaps even a family.

I stopped suddenly in the thoughts of how futile this walk became, when actually I was supposed to be buying eggs, at least that's what I've told Mrs Bourne. But as I start to turn around, a certain window catches my vision. On the other side of the glass is a large brown sofa, sitting on top is a man, woman and two little girls. They're facing a fire, and I can almost imagine how warm it is when I stretch out my hand towards the crackling dancing orange. From what I can see I think they're watching The Grinch. In their peacefulness they are connected, the to adults arms are linked and wrapped around each other, and the girls cheeks are resting on their parents laps.

Well, who wants that. Who needs a family? Then a voice speaks in my mind, "you do".

I imagine that having a family looks a bit like that. A group of people who will always be there, who constantly radiate comfort and warmth. Of course, I would never truly know. I've never had one.

However I see myself with in that wholesome living room, joining them on the sofa. My mother squeezing my hand, and my father patting me on the shoulder as we watch the film. But while I am within, I am also without, in the cold, because nobody wants me.

I know what I want for Christmas, and I'm guessing since you're this far, you know too. It's what I wish for every year, I wish for a family, I wish to feel connected.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Ophelia - Written by Shani

Hello everyone! For my English coursework this year, I decided to study Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Hamlet is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, it has been from the moment I watched it in my year ten GCSE English class. What really captivated me about the play was the mistreatment of one particular character, Ophelia. She is one of my favourite Shakespearean characters for several different reasons, and to express how much I love her I have written a piece around her.


She’s standing on the river bank. A willow tree blows gently, gently, behind her, it’s tendrils wrapping around her like silk. Delicate daisies, pretty pansies, beautiful bluebells, and lovely little lilacs are clenched in her tiny fist – her fingers shaking, and a dribble of maroon is slithering down her wrist. Knees knocking together, trembling, shivering, dancing on the adrenaline. Sweet, lonely child.

Ophelia. Her name is – was, Ophelia. Beloved sweetheart of Denmark, daughter to Polonius, bride to be of Prince Hamlet. Ophelia. A long dress of silver silk, bunched at her thin ankles, her dainty little feet caked with mud. Her body is convulsing. Hiccups breaking free from her pale pink lips, her limbs jolting with electricity at the smallest sound. Fragile little bird.

Get her a to nunnery. Lover’s hatred has damned her purity, innocence and fragility, thy name is woman! She is but the sun. A flower blossoming in the glorious spring, threatened by a selfish tyrant: He’s sucked her adolescence away and left a spinster as a replacement. She stares down into the river, the rushing currents an invitation, a welcoming of a cleaner world. One which is not stained of blood. One where her lover is a saint, not a sinner.

She sits by the riverside, weaving life and love – red and white roses into her long, willowy hair. She is Persephone, and Hades has blackened her soul. Poured honey into her ear. Now, a caged animal lingers in her skin, clawing at her flesh. She sits by her freedom, staring longingly into her reflection, a skewered image of the girl she used to be. Ophelia. She dips her toes into the water.

Bloodlust. Death incarnate. The water beckons to her, and she does not hesitate, when she flings her little body under the surface. Ice slashes at her, tearing her very bearing apart – Who is she? She cannot remember her name. She’s swallowing water, heaving and choking. Dying. What is her name? Her tawny eyes begin to blur, and she’s fading away. Drifting like smoke. Her fists unclench. Flowers scatter around her, bluebells, daisies, pansies, working together in harmony, singing a song for Denmark to hear. A halo of flowers, of happiness, and jubilance curling around her head. She is an angel. A goddess who accidently slipped through the cracks of heaven.

She is dead and gone, lady. She is dead and gone. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Mrs Dalloway

It's Heather here :)
Here’s my review for Mrs Dalloway! I don’t want to spoil the plot since I’m in the process of begging most of my friends to pick up a Woolf book so I can venerate her books with other people so apologies if it is a little vague (and please leave me a comment if you’ve read, or are intending on reading, any of her literature). As I write this, I am listening to a voice clip of Woolf’s on Wikipedia – am I the only one that’s been oblivious to Wikipedia’s mystical powers of putting voice clips in their articles?

Author: Virginia Woolf
Published: May 1925
Publisher: Hogarth Press

This book pans through a day in the Post First World War society and is set around some characters, most of which attend Clarissa Dalloway’s party; including Septimus, a veteran suffering from severe shell-shock causing hallucinations, his wife Lucrezia, Richard Dalloway, Elizabeth Dalloway, the wistful Peter Walsh, Sally and, of course, the hostess herself - Clarissa. That (very brief) summary really does the book no justice, like most of Woolf’s works, the ponderings that most authors dismiss in their writing are her main focus as she utilises the stream of consciousness method. I found reading this book effortless, like chatting to an endearing and close friend or even peering into one’s own head (hopefully not literally), yet the narrative is still eloquent and thoughtful; a perceptive style indeed.
Due to the title, I feel inclined to talk about Clarrisa and the conundrum she is in about love. Clarissa is the typical human; she regrets, she judges others a little (or a lot in the case of poor Mrs Kilman!) and whilst appearing ebullient, she is deeply self-conscious and is consistently picking at ways to improve herself. She is startled by the reappearance of Peter, the man she rejected for her husband, and takes a while to decipher whether she was feeling a pang of relief or remorse at her past refusal for him. Though flawed with moments of critical thoughts, Clarissa is generally a rather nice person who spends more time admiring others. When we enter Peter’s world, we learn that he is consumed with spiteful criticisms of nearly everybody he interacts with; as the reader, we have to decide whether he’s always been so vindicated or if this attitude is a defence mechanism that has sprung to life from the rejection of his true love and if this is forgivable.
Being familiarised with Woolf’s life certainly makes this a fascinating read. The shell-shock that Septimus experiences was unbelievably intriguing to read; especially since our class at school have been studying Regeneration (another excellent book), so to get in the head of someone with shell-shock was remarkable. Woolf herself had suffered from mental illnesses that have been speculated on considerably in many of her biographies, which I would highly recommend reading, this state of extreme depression did sadly lead to her suicide. Her own familiarity with depression and hallucinations make her descriptions from Septimus vivid and chilling.
I flicked to a random page and selected this extract just or reiterate how beautifully she writes (Shani called me a book snob today, which is probably true… but this type of literature is so underrated):
“There was nobody. Her words faded. So a rocket fades. Its sparks, having grazed their way into the night, surrender to it, dark descends, pours over the outlines of houses and towers; bleak-hill-sides soften and fall in.” – extract from Page 27
There is no particular moment which is outstanding because the entire book is a masterpiece, the language seems to flow from her pen in a way I think we all yearn was as effortless for ourselves. Just look at the word ‘grazed’, I’m probably rambling too much here but that is such a lovely choice of word. She could have just said that ‘they felt isolated’ or something simple like that but instead she added that stunning comparison as words fade – not in a PowerPoint effects style, but the way a rocket would scrape the sky to surrender and then fade out in that subtly powerful manner. This kind of imagery is smothered throughout the narratives, making it equally effortless for the reader to comprehend exactly what she wants them to visualise. It’s like reading a picture book but with thoughts and doodles and every little detail one could possibly hold an inkling of inquisitively to see.
Personally, I preferred To The Lighthouse to Mrs Dalloway, but my judgement is probably tainted by the fact To The Lighthouse was both my chosen coursework novel and first encounter with Woolf. This book is considerably darker, the deaths are not modestly placed between polite brackets, but discussed through the mouths and minds of others. If you have not read Woolf before then read both! I cannot guarantee that her style will be as enchanting for everybody, but I think it’s probably a love it or hate it type of thing. Anyway, that's it for this review, please do leave a comment if you would like to, and I'll be back soon with a review for Birdsong.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Ashes and Embers

Hey guys! Its Lydia here! I'm sorry we've been so busy lately, somehow thats all we seem to say. But generally we are so tied up with school work and revision right now. This is a below that I wrote back in September for my Creative Writing Alevel. Hope you like it and leave me a comment. 
I promise to post again soon. 

I was made up the wind,
Where I grew in a lover’s garden,
Surrounded by brothers and sisters.
Blessed by the sun, I formed my body,
A top a head of soft white skin.
As the breeze blew I was chosen
By a man to give to a lady,
Where she delighted in the sight of me,
Her fingers touched me softly and cradled me to her breast.
I watched their long loves days, as tender as the kisses,
But as they raptured, my organs sickened and yellowed
For my eternity drew short.
As they danced in the garden, I shriveled into ash and ember

For I was the music to their passion.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Mental Trauma piece

Hey again guys!
It's Lydia here, yeah I know twice in one day. This piece is also a creative writing homework task, I wrote it about a week ago. But if you could leave me a comment on how it could become better and be improved, that would be great.

“Now Bill, you must speak to me. I am purely here to help you, it is my job,” he said carefully, “It may burst the magnitude of mental tension that has grown inside you.”

I can’t talk about that.  I cower from the pain of these relentless thoughts and can say nothing. I want so badly to speak, to form the words, to feel my tongue glide over teeth in the formation. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. Speaking of the horror was reliving the experience all over again. The nature as humans is to stay in the comfort and ease of our warm beds, to feel the purple adrenaline lash through the blood pushing our legs to run away from danger. As soldiers we were forced to fight this chemical, to scream no when our minds said go home. It was what the army indoctrinated into every young man who stood ready in khaki green.
 As a boy who had newly turned eighteen when war was declared, I obeyed and was left chained up in my mind as a result.
I watched many people die. But one in particular haunted my thoughts. One afternoon, the Germans were continually pelting shell after shell at us. Each one getting nearer to my battalion, they seemed to scream, “I’m coming for you” then crash and explode as they hit the mud, each one was a growing parasite on my brain. One shell bounced off the cliff of the trench and fell with a clunk. We all waited for the quick death, but none came. It clicked in recognition, that we all wouldn’t join our deceased brothers, but what poured out of the grey can was just as damaging, it flowed like a mustard river, bubbling and teeming in all directions.
“Gas! Gas! Quick boys! Masks on!”
All but one found their mask. We all stood like evacuees waiting and watching. There was nothing we could do. The fog embraced him, crushing his life with invisible force. He fell choking, gargling blood and writhing like a waterless fish. It would be over any second now I thought. He took ten minutes to die. This painful end replayed in the back of my eyes every night, I couldn’t stop my mind from seeing the red foamed lips and yellow stained body. He was the last face I saw until my inner workings were infiltrated by buzzing insects that ate away at my rigid structure, causing the hold on myself to flop and go limp, and my form hit the earth in guilt filled exhaustion.
He and so many more ghosts swarm around inside me asking why I’m alive and they aren’t, and why am I so special that I was granted to live. I simply answer I don’t know. I keep telling them that I don’t want to be here, that I want to die, hitting and slamming my hands against my head to stop the voices.
A conscious keeps reassuring me, but I can’t seem to hear the nurturing voice over the pounding in my brain. In each beat their names are said, Jack, Michael, Jacob, Oliver, William, Robert.
The inner workings of me seemed to twitch, seize and snatch as I recoiled in the memory of each of their deaths.

“Open your mouth Bill. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the sake of your wife and children.” He said more agitatedly

“I have nothing to say.”

Imagery to present a character

Hey guys, long time no see! 
It's Lydia here!
Let me know what you think of this piece I wrote on Friday, it was homework from my creative writing class. 
Leave me a comment if you have any opinions to voice.

Can someone clarify the definition of beauty?
 I am not beautiful, my nose is wonky as a bent wire, and one eye is emerald green while the other is pastel blue. I do not have an crystal hour glass figure, its dumpy on top and balanced on thin legs like that of a child’s crayon drawing or a famous Picasso piece. My arms are hard and thick like leather and my hair is not long and luscious, but stubbornly rigid and straw-like.
I am not beautiful.
Yet the girl who sits across from me, Nancy, yes I think her name is, has white moon skin that shines like a light bulb in the mirror, while pinpricks of red blemishes are dotted about her cheeks as though droplets of blood on marble. Her features are structured and cohesive as if God made her with a protractor and ruler, the nose is high with balanced bones, and it curves like a silver spoon to meet a small pink sphere, and each eye is equally blue. Her face is shaped like a cut out heart, sweetly round and sinuous, that meets to join the hairline, the colour of coffee, with faint lines of fire orange that continue to the ends.
 Is this what perfection is?
How can this be while her insides bubble and boil, like an old hag stirring a caldron. With thin snake like wrinkles, that etches out like fork marks that reach her dying, dull and moldy eyes. Her skin isn’t a firm jewel, but limp and loose like a living corpse, with the colours of decease, a yellowing gray form with ageing purple bruises. Her body is bumpy but solid, as her skeletal form peaks beneath dusty skin. It seems that vanity has eaten her decayed soul, as the beast eats the innocent.

Inner beauty is something more I wish to harvest; the beating gold heart is of more worth than a full face.