Friday, 18 March 2011

Fallen - Lauren Kate

I have just finished reading a book that I have been reading for the past month, Fallen written by Lauren Kate.  I first decided to purchase this book after many readers that had read the twilight series recommended it.  So of course I knew when I bought it that it would be another teenage 'fantasy' story and that is exactly what I got.

The story is about a girl called Lucinda who is cursed, it seems, by these strange shadow like figures that seem to follow her every time something good is going to happen within her life.  For example, when she had her first crush on a guy, they went out on a date to his parents caravan, when they shared their first kiss, the shadows appeared and killed the guy, making it look as if Lucinda has murdered him.

Thus Lucinda was sent to a mental school after the authorities deemed her crazy as she refused to admit that she'd killed the guy and said it was some shadows, obviously this would sound pretty crazy to anyone.  Within this special school were other children who had also murdered other people or committed strange crimes.  The school was based in an old church site.  The actual church was now a swimming pool and the school had been extended from there.  The cemetery still existed and formed part of the vast landscape that the school owned.

After being at the school for a few days, a guy named Daniel caught Lucinda's attention however he kept ignoring her or being really cruel to her.  Another guy however kept making every move on Lucinda trying to be extremely nice and flirting constantly, his name was Cam.  Lucinda also became close friends with two very different girls named Penn and Arriane.  Penn was the only student at the school who wasn't deemed crazy, she was simply there because her father was once the gardener, unfortunately he had died and Penn had no other family members so she just stayed at the school so that she could study.

As you venture a bit more towards the book, both Daniel and Cam seem to fight over Lucinda, even though Daniel seems not the least interested in her, he seems to go a long way to protect her.  Eventually Daniel takes Lucinda to a lake within the school grounds and it is obvious that deep down, he really likes her, Lucinda just has to find a way for him to admit it.

Towards the end of the book, Cam organizes for a car to pick Lucinda up from the school and sneak her off campus, they meet in a cafe a few miles down the road and he seems to be ever so generous until some drunken men rub him up the wrong way and grab Lucinda, he punches them to the floor and shouts things that Lucinda can't believe he would say these type of things.  Suddenly Daniel turns up and whisks Lucinda away from the scene, leaving Cam distraught.  Daniel takes Lucinda to the lake and confesses that he is in love with her, hence they share their first kiss.  However after this kiss Daniel seems to go into shock and keeps saying 'You're still're still alive...'  Lucinda finds this very strange and asks him to explain but he demands he can't for her own sake.

Later in the book Lucinda's friend Penn finds a book within the Library that dates back to the 1500's and is said to be written by a certain Daniel Grigori, of which they assume is just a relative of Daniel's.  However when Lucinda opens the book she finds a picture of an extremely familiar couple, her and Daniel.  The whole book is written about Daniel's love for Lucinda and every adventure they had shared since the whole love began.

Lucinda decides to track down Daniel and tells him she knows what he is, that he is an angel (she has had this feeling for a long while as she has seen this in her dreams and the book just proves what she has expected) and Daniel asks her to repeat this statement over and over and again, can't believe she is still alive.  He then claims that every time this has happened in the past, he has been the one to tell her and consequently she has died, but then reappeared every 17 years, therefore this time he has realized that she must be the one to find out for herself, and not the other way around.

The next part is where everything begins to get interesting, Lucinda decides to speak with the librarian, Miss Sophia, to see if she knows anymore about the book, however Miss Sophia then exclaims 'Oh, so you know...'  Apparently the book had been kept locked away and Miss Sophia knew everything about it and what the love between Daniel and Lucinda entailed.  She then demands that her and Lucinda must find Daniel immediately.  They eventually track him down in the woods where it seems a massive fight is occuring, her friend Penn witnessed the start and is in total shock.  It appears that Cam is some sort of evil angel, a devil of sorts, and is shouting at Daniel, claiming this is not how it is meant to be, Lucinda is meant to be dead by now.  We later find out that Daniel has been cursed to live for eternity and his pain shall be having a love he loses every 17 years.  Cam and the others are there to make sure she dies once again seeing as it hasn't happened naturally this time.

Suddenly Miss Sophia starts shouting in tongue and states that her and Lucinda must run quickly as the fight is about to begin, Daniel nods that Lucinda must do this however she refuses to leave Penn behind. As they are running, Penn is struck by one of these shadows (who we find out are Cam's 'helpers' that have just been stalking Lucinda) there is a big bite in her shoulder and she bleeds heavily, thus Miss Sophia grabs her and runs to a derelict chapel.  Within the chapel Miss Sophia barricades the doors and suddenly her eyes glow red and wrinkles start to appear.  She grabs a knife and slits Penn's throat claiming she was holding them back.  Much to Lucinda's surprise, Miss Sophia isn't who she seems to be.  Lucinda is tied down to the floor and Miss Sophia pricks her with the knife, then threatening to stab her straight in the heart, as she is about to do this, the glass windows shatter and a bright light fills the room.  Miss Sophia crys that it isn't meant to happen this way and runs to find the secret door.  Lucinda is untied and Miss Sophia escapes, thus Daniel, who was creating the bright light due to his wings, sends one of his own 'helpers' after her.

It later appears that Daniel, Gabbe (another girl at the school...supposedly) and Arriane are all angels (the good ones).  Cam and another guy are the bad angels, Miss Sophia however was an elder and has crossed over to the bad side, of which Daniel had not known until now.  He claims that Lucinda must escape for her own good and that he has arranged a flight with their only ally their mortal history teacher who happened to be a pilot in the Vietnam war.

The story ends with Lucinda flying off to an island for seclusion with the history teacher until Daniel reappears from his mission to find Cam to end the fight.  Thus there is a second book...

I personally thought this book was a bit slow to start with however about half way through it starts to become quite interesting.  Yes there are some quite cheesy moments, especially when Lucinda exclaims 'You're my Guardian Angel!'  but of course this is to be expected from a teenage novel.  I am considering whether or not to buy the second book, I am tempted to see how this story continues but I guess I have to be in the right cheesy mood!  I may buy the book over the summer - we shall see!

Overall I give this book 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Something absolutely dreadful has occurred within the last few days.  A major earthquake struck the coast of Japan, causing a huge tsunami to sweep across a huge stretch of Japan.  On Friday 11th March, an earthquake that was said to have a magnitude scale of 9 struck, causing the tsunami to wipe out numerous towns and villages.  Japan is said to be prepared for these type of events seeing as it lies just above a seismic plate, they have measures in place to deal with earthquakes and have special buildings on high ground built to withstand tsunamis, school children are also taught how to deal with these situations in class.  Once an earthquake reaches a certain level of magnitude, all of the bullet trains automatically stop and nuclear power stations go into temporary shutdown.  However, despite all of this, thousands of people are dead or missing.

On Saturday 12th March there was an explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, this caused great panic and worry amongst many people globally, as people fear this may be the start of another Chernobyl.  More than 200,000 people who were at least 20 km from the nuclear power station have been evacuated from the area as the fear of leaked radiation is at it's highest.  Three US warships have anchored off the coast of Japan to help in any way possible.  On Sunday 13th March, there was a second explosion.

Today, a fire broke out at the Nuclear Plant, causing even more worry.  Despite authorities claiming that there won't be a nuclear melt down and that the situation won't reach the same situation of Chernobyl, these unexpected explosions and fires just keep happening, making me wonder, perhaps this could get worse?

So far 4,300 have been killed, this toll is expected to rise to 10,000 as many bodies have not yet been discovered.

Helicopters have been dumping water on the nuclear site to try and cool it down as the earthquake wrecked the diesel generators that were originally keeping the reactors cool, however this has now been stopped due to the amount of radiation that may be escaping.  Workers have also been letting sea water in to try and cool the nuclear reactors.

I personally fear for not just myself and how this may affect my country and the surrounding countries (as Chernobyl did) but I fear for Japan.  I can't even begin to imagine how they will be able to come back from this, it is just such an awful disaster that has landed on such a beautiful, kind and thriving country.  I fear that this may bring Japan down from the height of wealth it has been enjoying these past few years.  You only had to look at Tokyo.

My sympathies are with the Japanese people and I truly hope that it won't get much worse than this.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pancake Day!

Happy Pancake Day (for yesterday...)  One of my favourite days of the years!  Of course it isn't originally called pancake day, originally it is called Shrove Tuesday.  This is the last day before lent so the tradition (dating back to 1000 AD) is to use up all of your luxury food supplies before the day of lent, therefore the tradition was to make pancakes as milk and sugar were considered luxury back in the past.  Also, it is tradition that fat, sugar and eggs are given up during the 40 days of lent.  Shrove Tuesday always happens exactly 7 weeks before Easter.

Personally I love pancake day as it is the only day of the year that I ever make pancakes!  I managed to make 6 this year out of my batter mixture that I had made.  I put sultanas in them to give them an extra bit of flavour.

When I prepared them to eat I covered them in lemon juice and sugar, rolled them up and put more lemon juice and sugar on them, then heated them in the microwave for 10 - 20 seconds, they were absolutely delicious!

You can put whatever you like on your pancakes, some people drizzle syrup over them, whilst others use chocolate sauce, some people even put sliced bananas inside then drizzle chocolate sauce over the top!  I'm tempted!  I like to keep tradition though as this is how my Mum taught me to make them.

Today is the day of lent, otherwise known as Ash Wednesday.  It is called Ash Wednesday because this is the day that christians place a cross of ashes on their forehead.  Lent lasts for 46 days in total, this means that lent always finishes as soon as it is Easter, allowing people to have their luxury food again in time for the Easter celebrations.

As I am not religious I do not celebrate Ash Wednesday however I never miss the chance to thoroughly enjoy Pancake Day!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Hello Spring!

Today has finally brought the arrival of Spring!  In my opinion anyway... with a temperature averaging around 10 degrees and only 4mph wind with the sun shining and not a cloud in the feels glorious!  I even found myself staring at the trees today to try and catch a glimpse of the very first leaves of 2011!  Unfortunately my eyesight is beyond that vision.

The arrival of spring is such a happy moment, you can finally unwrap from all of your winter layers and embrace the lovely spring weather once again, the air actually feels amazingly fresh!  I plan to make the most of it until our April showers arrive.

December 2010 was actually the coldest it's ever been for the last 100 years, I can't believe it!  My boyfriend in Norway would probably just laugh at that though, the temperatures he has to face are absolutely freezing compared to our minimal -9 degrees.  Here's an article explaining why December was the coldest for the last 100 years.

Friday, 4 March 2011

St David's Day

The 1st of March marks St David's Day.  St David was the patron saint of Wales.  This date was chosen to commemorate St David because this was the day that he died.  The Welsh hold a strong favour for this day, maybe not as strong as St Patrick for Ireland but still, big celebrations are held and traditions are carried on through generations.

One of the most popular traditions is to wear a Daffodil.  A Daffodil is Wales' national flower and in Welsh it is known as 'Cenhinen Bedr' which literally translated means Peter's Leek.  This is a coincidence as the Leek is a national emblem for Wales.  It is so important that the Welsh Guards use it as their cap badge.  Some people also wear Leeks on St David's day because of it's importance.


Daffodils are also a sign of spring arriving as they only start to bloom once the weather starts to become warmer at the end of the winter months, mostly around the beginning of March.  Another reason why this is used for St David's Day as this is when they first bloom.

St David was a Welsh Bishop back in the 6th Century who founded a Celtic community in Sir Benfro, which is now coincidentally called St David.  It is here that St David's Cathedral now stands.  This community was constantly under heavy raids, including those from the Vikings.  St David was famous for being a great teacher and a highly regarded monk.  It is because of his work towards the Celtic community that made him a patron saint of Wales.

Throughout Wales parades and banquets are held all to celebrate St David's Day, in modern day many concerts are also held as people like to see this event to celebrate their country and bring their community together.

Why am I talking about St David's Day?  I myself am a quarter Welsh.  My Grandma was born in Wales and her brother still lives there.  After researching my family history I have found that my family goes back 3 generations in Wales which I know isn't much but we still feel like we are all partly Welsh.  My Great Grandma lived until she was 100 and my Grandma is currently 87.  There is a saying in Wales that everybody lives long and healthy lives because of their Welsh blood, I strongly believe this!  It is because of my family's Welsh background that I feel I must commemorate St David's Day in one way or another, even if I don't take part in any actual celebrations.

Yesterday I went out and bought myself a lovely bunch of Daffodils!  They really are brightening up my room!  They smell lovely too.  So here's to my Welsh relatives, Happy St David's Day!  (Even if I am posting this 3 days late!)