Blurb: The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can't wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are are spells to be learnt, potions to be brewed and Divination lessons (sigh) to be attended. Harry is expecting these: however, other quite unexpected vents are already on the march...
Thoughts: I thought this really took a while to get going and did feel in places like it dragged a bit, which is a surprise for such an action-packed book. It cleared up a few questions I had about characters in the series but I wouldn't be in a rush to re-read it.
13. The Origins of the First World War (Second Edition) - James Joll
Blurb: James Joll's study is not simply another narrative, retracing the powder trail that was finally ignited at Sarajevo. It is an ambitious and wide-ranging analysis of the historical forces at work in the Europe of 1914, and the very different ways in which historians have subsequently attempted to understand them. The importance of the theme, the breadth and sympathy of James Joll's scholarship, and the clarity of his exposition, have all contributed to the spectacular success of the book since its first appearance in 1984. (I took this off of amazon as my edition is three paragraphs long!)
Thoughts: Firstly, I am horrified that upon looking on amazon the third edition of this book is £26.99 - lord knows how much my edition would now be worth! I had to buy this for a second year university course called 'Modern History 1900-1945' and did the student classic of pretending to read it (I found my original uni bookmark on page 10. For shame). I had been in the mood for some, intellectual reading, shall we say and this book seemed to call me. It was a bit heavy going in places, but a thoroughly interesting read. I was concerned at whole chapters devoted to economics, but Joll made it highly accessible and didn't go at all into statistics and economic theory. I liked how each chapter was divided into each nation (UK, Germany, France, Russia, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Italy) and the connections between them melded nicely into the next section. Joll did reference a bit too much to other sections for my liking but this didn't happen often. I feel like I should have made the effort to read this sooner as it was really interesting and taught me a lot about the mixture of possibilities of why war began in 1914.
14. Paper Towns - John Green
Blurb: Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo from afar. So when she climbs through his window to summon him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow. But the next morning, Q turns up to school and Margo doesn't. She's left clues to her disappearance, like a trail of breadcrumbs for Q to follow. And everything leads to one unavoidable question: Who is the real Margo?
Thoughts: I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. My friend and I like to buy each other books which now have films and she decided to buy me this one (I guess she saw it being described as a mystery and thought I'd like it). I have to admit, I really enjoyed. The story was fun, if a little far-fetched. I really like the characterisation of almost every character and found it interesting that you could relate each to someone you went to school/uni with. This edition came with a set of 'Discussion Questions' at the back which were really good at getting you to think about what happens in the book. The ending, while slightly unexpected, wasn't much of a surprise but it was great to read a teen fiction book which didn't have your standard ending.
15. The Big 4 - Agatha Christie
Pages: 182 (4566)
Blurb: Number One was a Chinaman - the greatest criminal brain of all time; Number Two was a multi-millionaire; Number Three was a beautiful Frenchwoman; and Number Four was "the destroyer," the ruthless murderer, with a genius for disguise, whose business it was to remove those who interfered with his masters' plans. These Four, working together, aimed at establishing a world dominion, and against them were ranged Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian detective with the egg-shaped head, the green eyes and "the little grey cells," and his friend, Hastings. It was Hercule Poirot's brain, the "little grey cells," which brought about the downfall of the Big Four, and led to their destruction in a cave in the Dolomites.
Thoughts: God I hated this book. I know it sounds strong to say that, but it was so far-fetched it was ridiculous. It was like a daft comic book-superhero story with no explanation as to why these villains got together. I had to constantly remind myself not to be annoyed with some of the blatant racism and old-fashionedness of the phrases used but my dislike of the book did not help. It's not often I say I don't enjoy Christie's Poirot books, but this is one why I totally get why the television adaptation was completely different to the book (but equally as daft and far-fetched!)