TOP 5 SHAKESPEARIAN PLAYS

1. As You Like It

as you like it.jpgThis play is a Shakespearian comedy which is probably why it appeals to me so much.

Rosalind, daughter of a usurped duke, is banished from her home and winds up trying to find the true love she saw, like, two minutes ago, by trekking around in the whacked out forest of Arden disguised as a dude.  A lot of complicated stuff happens along the way, with tonnes of confusing gender-swapping and split-second sparked romances, but you get the hang of it sooner or later.

It’s funny, romantic and doesn’t end in bloodshed and a thousand dead bodies.  Definitely at the top of the must read/watch list.

2. Macbeth

macbeth.jpg

Probably one of the more gory of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Lord Macbeth is convinced by his downright insane wife, Lady Macbeth, to murder the king because apparently some witches said it was going to happen…so I guess if the creepy witches say it’s happening, it’s happening.  Anyway, let’s just say THAT plan doesn’t go to well, and like all Shakespearian tragedies, pretty much everyone is dead by the end.

Aside from the death, I find it enrapturing, with beautiful motifs of nature and masquerade.

 

3. Romeo and Juliet

romeo and juliet.jpg

Okay, so aside from the fact that NOBODY FALLS IN LOVE THAT FAST, I guess this play is alright.  I mean, once I read it, saw it performed, and watched Leonardo Di’Caprio play Romeo I actually warmed to it.

If you don’t know the storyline already, then you really need to get out more…Basically two crazy kids from opposite sides of a family feud fall in love, secretly get married and the accidentally commit suicide in the name of true love.

It’s a classic and definitely a defining moment for literature.

 

4. Othello

othello.jpg

Othello delves into the issues of class, race and gender with characters that stir up emotions from the darkest parts of our hearts.

Othello, a dark-skinned officer who is leading the battle against the ‘Turks’, marries a younger upper class girl, much to the disdain of the world.  All the while Othello’s servant Iago is plotting to bring the married couple’s world down about their ears.

A tragedy, but an unexpectedly good one.

 

 

5. The Tempest

the tempest

I include this play in the list with slight reservations.  It’s an odd tale…not a tragedy, not a historical play, and not really a comedy.  There’s even some who say Shakespeare didn’t even write The Tempest.

Basically this duke gets usurped (Shakespeare has a thing for usurped dukes) and is exiled to a magical island with his daughter Miranda.  Then the duke conjures a massive storm to shipwreck all of his enemies so that he can torture them as revenge.  But Miranda falls in love with one of the enemies and problems start up because the duke really wants to be evil…but his daughter is in love with the guy he kinda wants to kill.

Anyway, nobody dies, but I really like the romance and magic woven into the play!

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Totally ‘Hot’ Read!

Fire.jpgAfter reading a Kristin Cashore masterpiece like Graceling (Totally ‘Killer’ Read!), you wouldn’t think you’d come across many other showstoppers like that, huh?  And really, how many times can you re-read a book before it becomes sad…even for bookworms like us?  Well, if you’re suffering from Graceling deprivation I am here to offer up a cure.  Fire, also by Kristin Cashore, is just as good and in my opinion even better than the first book.  As I mentioned in my previous post you can read these two books in any order and it will still make sense.

Set in a different world to that of Graceling, the main character, Fire, is what the people of the Dells call a monster.  She is devastatingly beautiful, and has spent her life protecting herself from other monsters…and people…who want to either kiss her or kill her.  Aside from her unearthly beauty, Fire has a talent for reading minds, a power that is intimidating and frightening even to herself.  She can make anyone susceptible to her wishes with looks alone, and crush free will in a single thought.

When she is called upon to help in interrogations by the King of the Dells, Fire battles with the boundaries of her power, fighting against what is right and what lines must never be crossed, all the while trying to find a place where she is safe…which is nowhere.

Much like Graceling, there really aren’t that many cons surrounding this book.  Fire is a wonderfully developed character, and the complexity of the language used throughout the book make it a challenging yet enjoyable read for someone who likes a novel that refuses to be put down.  Oh, and did I mention there’s more than one pretty guy in here?  I mean…LOADS of really pretty guys.  And they all have attractive royal titles.  Cashore has combined aspects of romance with periodic drama and a twisting storyline that will ensnare the reader.

Final verdict: READ.  Graceling is my second favourite book in the world, and this is my first.  I highly recommend it to everyone and anyone.  There’s even sufficient blood and guts to satisfy our desire for gore.  Beautifully written.  Heart-stopping.  Just read it.

NOTE: Let me know if there are any books you’d like to see reviewed on Epilogue and feel free to comment if you have read any of the books I review―I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Totally ‘Killer’ Read!

gracelingIf you are searching for a book that will excite, terrify and possibly stop your heart, then holy crap-on-toast LOOK NO FURTHER than Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  Until recently I never even knew that this book existed, but when a friend recommended it I realised that my all-time favourite book Fire (also by Kristin Cashore) is actually the sequel to this one!  The totally awesome thing is that even though Graceling comes before Fire, you can read them in any order and they will make sense, because both novels are set in different worlds with different plots and not many connections―although I did experience some ooooooh right moments whilst reading.

Quick summary: Graceling is set in a world where some people are born with a special skill, known as a Grace.  These can include being exceptionally good at singing, or hunting, or running really fast or carving or mind-reading, or…you get the picture.  Unfortunately for Katsa, her Grace is a little more intimidating―she has the Grace of killing.  The people of the seven kingdoms already fear the Gracelings, but Katsa’s talent for snapping necks and ending a life with her hands tied behind her back exclude her even more from society.  Her only family is King Randa, her uncle, but he has turned her into his personal weapon, and she kills at his beck and call for fear of him enacting punishment on those that she loves.  She is a monster in the eyes of all.

When a father of another kingdom’s king is kidnapped, Katsa investigates, and on her travels she encounters a remarkable man―the only man she has met whose abilities rival her own.

And…that’s all I’m giving away!

I know I usually start with cons of the book, but really there aren’t any to write about.  Graceling is beautifully written and will keep you up all hours of the night trying to finish it.  The plot will pull you in and not let go until you reach the end, which is exactly the kind of book that we all LOVE!  You really bond with the characters, and the romance is simply incredible, because really, what’s a story without a jaw-dropping male lead and a few shirtless scenes?  I find that the character of Katsa fits in perfectly with the strong female characters that dominate young adult fiction now, and a lot of readers will form a solid connection to all the characters.

Final verdict: READ IT.  Buy it, put it on your shelf, give it to friends, re-read it and then sell it on the black market for a million dollars.  Kristin Cashore has hit the nail on the head with action, romance and drama so…don’t argue with me, just read it.

Feel free to comment or mention any books you’d like me to read and review.  Keep an eye out for my review on Graceling’s sequel, Fire, which will be going up next week!

―Kez xox

Taking the Scenic Route

Amy and RogerYou know how people say that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover?  I hate to admit that that is exactly what I did when it came to Amy and Rodger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.  Oh man, I judged.  I judged until Satan came out of Hell to give me a lecture about morals.  This book was actually recommended by a friend whilst we were huddled in the corner of our school library, successfully procrastinating exam study, and she very specifically told me to ignore the cover.  In the picture, you can see why I was reluctant to give this book a go.  Naturally, I like to keep pink things a reasonable distance away from myself at all times, preferably with a cattle prod.  That combined with the flashy title and MORE PINK, I just wasn’t that keen to read it.  But I trusted my friend’s opinion, so I dutifully scanned the book out and went home to read it.

The story goes roughly like this: Since her father’s death, Amy Curry hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel of a car.  Unfortunately, her mother needs her to transport the family’s car from their home in California, all the way to the East Coast. Yeah, moving house is a bitch.  Not to worry, because the nice, friendly and pleasingly cute family friend Rodger has offered his driving assistance.  But as they set out on their road trip―meticulously mapped out and locked in by Amy’s mother―Rodger reveals that he has a little more…abstract route planned.  As the two grow closer together, they discover that sometimes, you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

Okay, to start off, this book is not for you if your reading material is set on fantasy/romance/seriously heavy plotline mode, because this book provides a light read that isn’t too hard on the brain.  It has witty lines, sprinklings of cute teenage romance, and HELLO, it comes with tonnes of super cool music playlists!  Before this goes back to the library, I’m photographing ever playlist so I can get the music myself, because some of the tunes in the book are really awesome.

And just because I kind of have to throw some cons into this review, I’m going to use the word that I have used many times before.  CLICHE!  Dead parent, check.  Cute guy that protagonist somehow manages to get stuck with, check.  I don’t know, maybe there’s some kind of ‘storyline checklist’ for authors that I don’t know about, but I’m not complaining too much.  As long as I enjoy the story, it’s all good.  My only other con would be that the story does tend to drag a little in the middle, but keep in mind that the characters are on a seriously HUGE road trip, so of course it’s gonna take a while!

Final verdict: Yes, yes, YAAAAS! This book is super cute, funny, and great if you’re looking for a break from all those thick plots that mess with your head.  Amy and Rodger’s Epic Detour is a great weekend read for anyone who is prepared to bypass the cover page and delve into the pages beyond.

If you have read any of the books I’ve reviewed, please let me know what you thought about them, because I would love to hear your opinions!

Did you say ALIENS?

obsidianAliens aren’t the first characters that come to mind when I picture a good read, but I was pleasantly surprised when I encounter Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout.  This book combines humour with sci-fi fantasy themes to create an enjoyable journey.

Without giving too much away, Obsidian tells the story of a teenaged girl named Katy, who moves to a lonely town in West Virginia three years after the death of her father (yes, I know.  Dead parent and isolated town are starting to build a mountain of cliché’s but bear with me please!).  Desperate to find some sort of friend, Katy has an instant bond with her next door neighbor, Dee, who is bubbly and funny and way too beautiful to be human (hint hint!).  Unfortunately, Katy doesn’t take too well to Dee’s brother Daemon, who is rude and sarcastic and incessantly nasty to her.  On top of that, he is just as gorgeous as his sister and has a set of abs that you could break rocks on.  After Dee takes Daemon’s car keys and tells them both to make nice, Katy puts up with her friend’s brother…and that’s when things start to get strange.  Like, weird flashes of light and people in black suits looking like secret agents strange.  Turns out, there’s a bunch of aliens living in Katy’s town, Dee and Daemon included!  Whenever they use their freaky alien powers around humans, a trace rubs off on them, lighting them up like a beacon for all the evil aliens who are hunting the good guys.  Did I mention there are evil aliens too?  Until Katy’s trace fades, she is forced to stick around Daemon, which is both a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, he is extremely easy on the eyes.  On the other, he’s still a huge jerk.

My only cons about this novel would be the use of clichés, but as hard as we try writers will never be able to escape them, and so I’m willing to let the fact that Katy has a dead dad and lives in an isolated town slide.  I was a bit disappointed when I first encountered Daemon, because I could tell right from the beginning that he was going to be the love interest and I think there always needs to be a bit of mystery surrounding characters when it comes to the romantic storyline, but he’s hot and funny, so meh.

Final verdict: Obsidian, even with its relatively simple plotline, is packed full of witty lines and interesting action, so it is a quick read that fantasy lovers will DEFINITELY enjoy.  And did I tell you about Daemon’s abs?  Yeah, his abs.  His abs.  ABS.

Worth the read, and I look forward to delving into the rest of the series.

 

The ‘Fault’ in The Fault in Our Stars

the fault in our stars“Why are you looking at me like that?”

Augustus half smiled. “Because you’re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people…”

Okay, so I understand why there’s so much crazy stuff going on concerning this book, including broken hearts, tears, and long-term trauma, but is The Fault in Our Stars worth all the fuss?

This much-loved novel follows the story of one Hazel Grace, diagnosed with cancer, who has all but given up on ever living a normal life―or living at all for that matter. But then she meets (surprise surprise) Augustus Waters! True to his male protagonist stereotype, Augustus enlightens Hazel to a world where being alive is worth it. He is charming, funny, and of course, HANDSOME. Then comes an epic twist and BANG CRASH SHOCK HORROR, the tables turn and Augustus is the one fighting for his life. Hazel realises how quickly life can be snatched away, and learns to appreciate the small infinities in her world.

So first of all, I would like to point out some obvious flaws. Augustus. Waters. Who the hell names the main character Augustus Waters? It’s just one of those names that are so obviously good, and kind, and nice-guy. Cliché. That’s the word I’m looking for. Cliché. Augustus is so deep, and has a mature view of the world, and is so freaking hot that it’s like John Green plucked him right from the middle of Generic Character town. His character applies nearly every clichéd pick-up line in order to win Hazel’s affection, and what surprises me is that it worked. Personally, if I found a guy staring at me for an extended period of time, it would make me uncomfortable. Granted, Augustus is eye-candy, but there’s a little too much EYE going on here, and not enough candy, so to speak.

And then comes the horrible plot twist. Augustus’ cancer returns and he DIES. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, it’s heartbreaking when a main character dies. The only mistake in this twist is that it is too predictable. This story is obviously not going to have a happy ending merely because the main couple seem to be perfect. Of course something has to happen to tear them apart, or else why are we reading? Although tear-jerking, Augustus’ death was expected, and this greatly influenced how I viewed the rest of the book.

My final verdict: The Fault in Our Stars, although highly commended for creating lovable characters that provide useful insight to readers, is full of clichés and follows a very generic plot line, bringing me to finish the book unsatisfied and slightly disappointed. This book has become something of a classic, but in my eyes has no depth. Very good for a light read, but not enough to compensate for the amount of hype surrounding it.

The Truth Behind Twilight

twilight

I have to say, I don’t know whether I am proud or terrified to admit that I was a pretty serious Twi-Hard back in my twelvie days. There was something about a star-crossed romance between human and vampire that struck a chord and compelled me to devour the entire series like food. Back then I was young and impressionable, set out to prove that I was mature enough to handle the books that were placed strictly in the ‘Senior Fiction’ section of the school library. My teachers knew I was an advanced reader, and with no knowledge of what lay between the pages of that mysterious black book with the apple on the front, they willingly handed it over and let me check it out. I don’t know whose fault it was―the teachers for letting me read it, or mine for finishing it.

For those of you who are yet to enter the blessed Twilight gates, count yourself lucky. Or unlucky―it’s fundamentally a matter of opinion. Twilight explores the relationship between a devastatingly average teenage girl named Bella Swan, and the gorgeous yet strangely isolated Edward Cullen―who happens to be a vampire. And…that’s sort of the entire plot. Sure, there’s plenty of romance, supernatural creatures, evil vampires trying to kill the good vampires, bloodlust, gore and semi-predictable twists, but all in all this series doesn’t live up to the hype that surrounds it now. Bram Stoker would be turning in his grave if he knew that Twilight had transformed vampires from garlic-hating immortals that lurk in the shadows, into extremely attractive teenagers who sparkle in the sunlight. I mean, seriously, who is going to be afraid of someone who glitters? Did Edward think Bella would run away screaming when she saw his diamond-encrusted chest? News flash dude, chicks DIG that stuff! Twilight has forever glamorised the world of the supernatural. Even the werewolves are hot. Not that I was complaining when the movies came out―Taylor Lautner can rip off his shirt any time thank you very much!

On top of that, there is a main character that is everything we have been telling future female generations not to be. Bella Swan feels weakened by her supposed soul mate, who protects her constantly, gets very jealous, and at times physically abuses her. He treats her as an incompetent female, and whenever he gets angry Bella assumes it is her fault, and never believes herself worthy of Edwards love. Next to him, she feels ugly and worthless, even if Edward tells her otherwise. In terms of young adult fiction, the time of defenseless damsels has passed, and readers are turning to the stronger protagonists of Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior to model themselves after. Had Twilight revolved around a character with a little more backbone, I suspect the novels would have maintained their popularity for a longer period of time.

For my final verdict, I can conclude that the Twilight Saga’s time has passed and gone, leaving in its wake a trail of positive and negative comments and impressions. Although some may argue that this series has ruined the supernatural forever, I commend the books for completely transforming a genre and creating something new, which is what we all strive to achieve as authors. It is a series that needs to be put on the Must Read list, as it was an important milestone for young adult fiction, even though you may be blinded by the sparkles erupting from Edward’s chest.