Sunday, 22 January 2012

IBBOTSON, Eva (2001) Journey to the River Sea, Penguin
By Lara Lema, 2º ESO A

This is a story about an orphan girl called Maia. Her parents died, but one day she receives some news. Her uncle and aunt who live in Brazil want her custody. She imagines lots of adventures in the Amazone.
I like the part when she has some news of his uncle and auntie.

I recommend this book to 12-13  year old people.
This Bus Terminates Here
by Eliana Lale Kahn, 3 ESO B
Poem by Amina Ahmed 4° ESO

She swallowed my soul
I was floating on air.
At night she shone like the sun,
And like the moon, she lit the sky.
Her face pale like snow,
And her lips red like a rose.
Her hair had highlights,
Her body perfectly shaped.
Beauty queen face.
Walked like a boss.
If I stood there it would be my loss.
I was dying to talk to her.
I was wondering what she would do.
She opened her lips and said,
"Wah yu on fam"
In the most masculine tone ever.
That was when I realised,
That my beautiful woman,
Was a man.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

CROSS Gillian, (1994), On the edge, Oxford Bookworms Library

José Ángel Rivero, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Tug is caught by some kidnappers, made prisoner and sent far away from his home, close to Jinny´s house. Hug is afraid and wants to escape so he throws a message on a piece of paper, from the window to the field by making a paper airplane. Jinny finds it, and goes with the police officer to check what happens but they don’t find anything strange. Jinny can’t stop thinking about it, so she phones Tug´s mother and they think of a plan to release Tug.

From my point of view, the most interesting part in the book is the denouement, when Jinny realizes that the couple in the cottage are terrorists and have kidnapped Hug. Jinny contacts Hug´s mum and makes the plan to release Tug from the hands of the kidnappers. It becomes a very dangerous situation. This is why I particularly enjoyed the ending because it makes you keep reading, as you don’t know what is going to happen, and you desperately want to know it.

            I would strongly recommend this novel to people who enjoy thrillers and, as it is written in a semi-formal register, I would say that the most suitable people to read this novel are definitely teenagers who like suspense.
John BOYNE, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,
Mauricio García Blanco, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Bruno is a 9 year-old boy who lives in Berlin during the Second World War. His father, a high-ranking Nazi official, is given the order to supervise a concentration camp (outside the city). As Bruno is so adapted to the city life he cannot see any fun on the new house. The days passed and one day Bruno decided to walk across the forest to explore. Running through the vegetation he found a big camp; at first he did not know what it was, but the little boy sitting inside the fence started giving him an idea. The boys become friends in a time that they were not supposed to (in the novel you can see an example of it).

My favourite part is when the boys were playing through the electric fence. I think that image represents the whole idea of the book: two bored lonely boys that just wanted to have a break from the world they were living.

I would recommend this book to a mature person that wants to know more about the World War. The book shows the value of tolerance and if you really want to understand what was happening at the time and see the meaning that the author tries to express, you should be mature.

This book has been recommended before. See previous posts
HIGHSMITH PATRICIA (2008), Ripley's Game, Penguin Readers Level 5, B2 2300 headwords
Pablo Fernández, 2ºBachillerato EFL

Tom Ripley was a healthy and happy man who enjoyed being at parties. But his life turned upside down when he helped Jonathan Trevanny to kill two Italian men. From that moment on, he began to feel nervous, because he couldn’t actually kill both, one of them survived and gave Ripley’s description of him to the Mafia.
The part of the book I liked the best is when Jonathan thinks about whether it is worth killing someone and he finally decides it is. Here we can see human cruelty and what a man can do for money.
I would recommend this book to people of fourteen and over.
H.G Wells, (1897), The Invisible Man, Campfire Graphic Novels
By Ignacio Rivoira González, 2º Bachillerato EFL

A stranger came one morning to an inn. His appearance was curious. No one could see his face, as it was completely covered with a bandage and big sunglasses. He also behaved in an odd way. He never talked and when he did, he was always in a bad mood. When people finally discovered that he was an invisible man, they wanted to arrest him, but the invisible man found it easy to escape.
The invisible man needed help. He was looking for a scientist called Kemp, who could help him because he knew him when he was a normal person. The invisible man explained to Kemp how he became invisible - when he mixed a substance with a special powder, breaking up the light that shines on it, it became invisible.
The invisible man, whose name was Griffin, asked the scientist for help. At first, Kemp agreed, but then he failed Griffin. So, for that reason Griffin became very angry and wanted to kill Kemp. But the ending is surprising.
I am not a big fan of science fiction books, but I find this one interesting as it uses the subject to explore larger themes, such as people´s fear of the unknown and the dangers of experimentation and ´playing God´. H G Wells is very good at holding the reader´s interest, creating tension and often finishing chapters on cliff-hangers.

This book has been recommended before. See October posts.
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca, Penguin Readers, B2, 2300 headwords

Sergio G. Sánchez, 2º Bachillerato EFL

The story is about an 18 year old young woman, who meets a man of 43, Maxim de Winter. He is in love with her and they get married. A marriage which is overshadowed by the memory of Maxim’s first wife. Rebecca was her name, she died in a mysterious accident on a boat. His new wife starts looking for information about Rebecca and becomes intimidated and jealous. Maxim becomes suspicious and reveals his role in the death of his wife. He tries to escape from prison. Then a fight starts in court. The story ending is really surprising, you have to read the novel.

This novel is really good for romantic suspense novel lovers. Really mysterious and with an original ending. You start reading and it is really difficult to stop. I am not really fan of novels, but that one is really good. Some difficult words so I had to reading with the dictionary at hand, but it was worth it. If you want to spend some hours reading without getting bored this is your story.
This book has been recommended before. See April posts
Alex, Mission Complete
by Endika Saavedra 4 ESO B
Jimmy's Mission
by Jon Pol Freixes 4 ESO A
Manolo & Johnny
Ian Rubio 4 ESO A
Poem by Alexandra Korkou
Poem by Ian Rubio
Two Scoops of Heaven
Poem by Enrique Saavedra

Friday, 20 January 2012

Eoin Colfer (2001), ARTEMIS FOWL Penguin Children’s Books 
Guillermo García, 2º Bachillerato EFL

This fantasy novel is about the story of Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old talented criminal mastermind. He finds out about the existence of fairies who live in a land underground and he kidnaps one, but even the brilliant Artemis doesn´t know what he is taking when he kidnaps the fairy. It happens to be Captain Holly Short, captain of the Lower Element Police reconnaissance Unit.  Artemis thinks he has got them where he wants them but then things start to get out of hand and he is in trouble.
This is a good example of a nice fantasy story with tension and a little bit of sense of humour, but it is too fantastic for me. Sometimes it is hard to follow the plot because it changes all the time between the human world and the world of fairies and it has so many fantastic words like trolls, elfs, fairies...

I would recommend the book, although it is not one of my favourites. It is part of a trilogy but I am afraid I didn´t like it that much to read the whole thing.
If you wish to see and hear the author talking about his book, go to:

DAHL Roald, Matilda, Penguin Readers
Carlos Anguera 1ºBach EFL
This is the story of a little girl who is very anxious to go to school and read books, even thought her parents refuse to allow any books in the house. Instead they prefer that she and her older brother watch television. As Matilda is ignored at home she escapes into a world of reading and exercising her mind. That is why she develops “telekinesis”. When her parents let her go to school she finds it even worse than at home because the headmistress is a really bad person and she treats the children very badly. She starts a friendship with her kind teacher who finally adopts her.

I recommend this book to children aged 8 to 12 years. It is worth reading as a family because many families neglect the issue of education, which is very damaging for the future of many children.
This book has been recommended before. See July posts

HADDON, Marc, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Vintage
Cristina Alvarado López-Mora, 2º Bachillerato EFL
Christopher was a fifteen year old boy who had Asperger syndrome. He lived with his father, as his mother died when he was thirteen. One day he found the neighbour's dog murdered with a garden fork. The police started an investigation thinking that the murderer was Christopher. It was he sho solved the mystery. He also found out that his mother wasn't really dead and he went to live with her.
I liked this book because it is interesting to see how a child with Asperger syndrome can carry out his investigation. I would recommend it to teenagers and to people who like murder and mystery stories.
HADDON, Marc, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Vintage
Antonio Munar Frau, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Christopher is really special teenager, he has very good memory, he’s very good and maths and he doesn’t like other people at all. One day, he finds his neighbour’s dog killed, and because he loves animals, he decides to investigate the murder. After lots of investigating, to his surprise, he finds out who the killer is... In the end, Christopher decides to take his A-level in maths, apply to university and go to London with his mother.
BOYNE, John. (2006) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. David Ficklin Books
José Ferrer Laforteza, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Bruno’s family moved house from Berlin to Auschwitz because of his father’s job. Near their new house, Bruno found a fence and he decided to know what it was, so he started walking at its side. On the other side of the fence, there was a boy. They became friends and Bruno went over there every afternoon. One day, Bruno crossed the fence and some soldiers called them and took them to a room with more people and he was never back.
I would recommend that book to people  maybe over 10, because the story is arguably acceptable for all audiences, but the ending is not: it is very tough for young kids.
HORNBY, Nick, (1998) About a boy, B1 1700 Headwords. Penguin Readers,
Juan Diego Ruiz Díaz, 2º Bachillerato EFL

William Freeman is an unfriendly British man who has a very comfortable lifestyle because he survives thanks to the copyright of a successful Christmas song that his father made up ages ago. One day he's asked by some of his friends to take care of their son, as he is the boy’s grandfather. To avoid looking after the child alone, he joins a single-parents’ association called "SPAT" (Single Parents Alone Together) to meet some interesting women. One day, he goes on a picnic where he meets a 12-year-old-boy called Marcus, Fiona’s (one of the members’) son. They get on like a house on fire. William will even use him as his fictitious child to make friends with the women of the association. Marcus is an excluded boy, and he will obtain a lot of help from Will, who will finally fall in love with a single-mother called Rachel. Marcus confesses to Will that he wants to sing in the Christmas school show, so he helps him by playing the guitar, and he wins the competition. That Christmas, Will won’t be is his own, he will be with Marcus, Fiona and, of course, Rachel and her daughter.

About a boy is great book that I would recommend to anyone interested in sweet comedies. It has quite a lot of action, many things are always happening, so, you don't get bored.
ANGELOU, Maya , I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings(2008) Penguin Readers, C1 3000 Headwords
Álvaro Conesa Vidagany, 2º Bachillerato EFL

It’s the autobiography of Maya Angelou, a black woman who was born in Stamps (USA) in the 1930s. Maya explains her childhood, which was really difficult and full of bad experiences because she faced two main problems, family life conflicts and racism. She thought her parents were dead because she had never known them. She lived with her grandparents and worked in the family store in Stamps (Arkansas). This small town had lots of conflicts between Whites and Blacks.

I think Maya’s behaviour is an example for everyone. She had had a bad life but she didn’t give up. She went on along her life path looking optimistically for the new future, which she knew was waiting for her. These days we are always complaining about things but we don’t realize how lucky we are. When something goes wrong we often surrender fast, we aren’t brave, we don’t set ourselves challenges, and we wait until someone helps us to overcome our troubles. We must start thinking about taking our problems seriously and control them; we can’t let them control us.

I would strongly recommend this book to people who are interested in 1940s America and the problems that racism and segregation caused, especially in the Southern States. Moreover, I think it would be a good book for people who think that their lives are full of unluckiness. I’m sure that once they read Maya’s biography they will change their mind and notice how fortunate they are. 

This book has been recommended before. See March posts

GRISHAM, John, (2003) The King of Torts, Penguin Readers Level 6, C1 3000 Headwords
Juan Diego Ruiz Díaz, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Clay Carter is a lawyer who has been working in the Office of the Public Defender for years. One day, he gets the opportunity to fight against a large pharmaceutical company which was illegally using drug addicts for medical trials without their consent.
In my opinion, this is a very strange book due to the fact that the main character knows what's going on but he doesn't confess until the last page. He explains lots of stories and gives many arguments till everything is solved, in a very intelligent way. I would recommend this book to everyone who likes detective stories, although this is not a detective novel at all.
BONINGTON, Chris (1986) Climbing Everest, Nelson English Readers Library

José Ángel. Rivero, 2º Bachillerato EFL
Chris and his team attempt to climb the Everest. He relates their story and analyzes their efforts before getting to the summit of the mountain. When the Italians cancelled the expedition at the last moment, Chris and his teammates have to face numerous problems. They do a great job, in spite of the terrible weather, avalanches and rock falls.
What I liked the best was how well they organised everything and the marvellous relation they had with one another. This is really important it’s the oil that makes the team work, an essential thing in team work. It is really inspiring and that is why I would strongly recommend it to teenagers

Robert Louis STEVENSON (1886), The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde

Guillermo García, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Mr. Utterson is a well known London lawyer who becomes interested after hearing about Dr. Jekyll and his close relationship with a really bizarre man called Mr. Hyde. The lawyer becomes obsessed and carries out an investigation in which he finds out that Dr Jekyll wrote Mr. Hyde's name in his will. That seems very weird to Mr. Utterson and he becomes even more obsessed than he was before. Mr. Hyde brutally murders a member of Parliament and after this, Dr. Jekyll locks himself up in his laboratory. Mr. Utterson goes to the laboratory a few days later and finds that Dr. Jekill had commited suicide, he looks in one of his diarys where it is explained that Mr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde are the same person, Mr hyde suffered split personality due to a potion he had invented.

I really enjoyed reading this piece of classic literature, especially because I loved its mysticism and because I think it is such a unique story. Another reason why I liked it is because all the plot occurs in London, where I live at the moment. The only thing I didn´t quite like about it is that sometimes the plot is a bit slow.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

HIGGINS Jack, (1979), The Eagle has landed, Collins English Library, 2000 headwords.

By José Rivero, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Steiner, a German parachuter, is sent to England to kidnap Winston Churchill. His parachute groups, dressed as Polish soldiers, are waiting in a small village that Churchill will visit. The mission is undertaken by Radl, who thinks it’s a waste of time. Everything goes well, until a German soldier rescues a girl and dies, he is discovered and the mission fails. Finally, Steiner manages to shoot a man, but, is it the real Churchill?...

From my point of view, the most interesting part in the book is when the plan goes slightly wrong because one of Steiner´s men has given his life to save a girl. This shows that not all German soldiers are murderers and beasts, but it will have horrible consequences for them.
I would strongly recommend this novel to people who love history, especially the Second World War. As it is written in a semi-formal register, I would say that the most suitable people are teenagers who love history and war.

Christopher Moore, The Stupidest Angel: a Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror

By Ysaura Rodicio, 2º Bachillerato EFL

At Christmas time a child sees how Santa Claus is going to be murdered. His desire is for Santa to be alive for Christmas Night. An angel hears him and makes revive all that is underground, so apart from Santa -who is just a normal man- there are many zombies leaving their graves looking for some brains. This is why he is called the stupidest angel. At the end, the village mad woman takes her sword and the zombies become just a lot of blood and bowels.

This isn't the first book by Christopher Moore that I have read. I liked it so much because it's awesome how you can laugh while you are reading. It also mixes zombies with Christmas, always from a funny point of view.

William SHAKESPEARE, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Penguin Readers, 1200 Headwords
By Paloma Vela, 1º Bachillerato EFL

Egeus, Hermia’s father, wants his daughter to marry Demetrius, but she only loves Lysander. Both are in love and they escape from Athens to be together.

Oberon is angry with his wife Titania, who doesn’t want to give him an Indian boy she promised her mother she would raise. Oberon decides to put some special flower juice on Titania’s eyelids, so that when she wakes up she’ll fall in love with the first person she sees. This way Oberon will get the Indian boy. He also uses the flower juice to help Helena, who loves Demetrius, who in turn is in love with Hermia. Finally, Lysander marries Hermia and Helena marries Demetrius. The part of the book that I liked the most was when Demetrius wakes up, sees Helena and suddenly he falls in love with her.

I liked the book very much because it is a funny and original story, although it’s a little bit complicated because there are a lot of characters and it’s difficult to know who falls in love with whom.
Edgar Allan POE, The Black Cat and Other Stories, Penguin Readers, 1200 Headwords

By Camilo Cañaveral Alzate, 3ESO A
This book is a collection of four stories: The Black Cat, The Oval Portrait, Berenice and The Mask of the Red Death. The four narrations are by Edgar Allan Poe. I am going to review The Oval Portrait. This fictional horror tale begins with a man and his servant, Pedro, heading to an old abandoned house in the middle of a dark forest. It’s night time and the man is wounded and ill. They both spend the day in this house where they find a room with lots of paintings. On a table, there is a book explaining the story of every single picture. The man is horrified by the history of one beautiful portrait of a woman, who is staring directly at him, as if she was alive…  The painter of the portrait was the young woman’s husband. They were madly in love with each other. Unfortunately, his wife was not the most important thing for him in the world, it was his paintings. He had an incredible passion for his creations and sometimes he loved them more than his wife. (“They were married. But, sadly, he already had a wife: his work. His painting was more important to him than anything in the world”). She began to hate his drawings because they were separating her from him. One day he asked her if he could paint an oval portrait of her smiling with a flower...
This is a great book, I really enjoyed it. It is very catchy, interesting and enigmatic. Although the stories are shorter and less descriptive than the real ones that Poe wrote himself, they are a perfect introduction to his work. They do not have difficult language, they are written in Standard English so they are easy to read and are not very long. You could read this book in two hours or less. It has 39 pages including some questions to better understand the narrations. On a scale from zero to ten I would give this book an eight. I would definitely recommend it to everyone who is interested in scary psychological stories or simply enjoys reading.