Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To me, this was a book that I will forever remember, and most likely read again soon, for I loved it beyond any book I have read in the last few weeks. It took me longer to read than most other books, because despite being not a long book, the plot and words were confusing- mainly a consequence of it being set in the 1930’s and written in the 1960’s. I never thought I would end up liking this, as it was a book my English Teacher persuaded me to give a try, rather than me choosing it on someone else recommendation. I always knew that it would be difficult for me to read, or just more so than other, more modern books I seem to be reading most of the time, but surprisingly, I got to understand and get the hang of Harper Lee’s writing style and sentences. I will hopefully soon be enjoying the next book, “Go Set a Watchman”, which was published last year just before Harper Lee’s death. I hope you enjoy the rest of my review, starting with a short explanation of what happens during the start of the plot. 

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The story follows Scout and her older brother Jem, living with their lawyer father, Atticus in their home town of Alabama, 1932. The first part of the the novel shares the story of one summer. Jem and Scout play, and discover new mysteries and friends. They come to know the shadowy character of Boo Radley, who lives in a neighboring house and yet is never seen. There are a number of strange rumours surrounding this man, but their fair-minded father warns them that they should try to see the world from the other people’s perspectives.

The story is a one for both adults and younger people alike because as it is a childhood tale, it has many adult points of views and topics contained inside. It shows readers how the world could be like if we wanted to change it, and helps us realise what is wrong with the world and society we live in. It gives views from different people, from different races and culture to bring together to humorous and passionate book it is. The only thing that I would change, if I had written this book myself is that it is quite racist, and uses topics that I wouldn’t use, (I won’t say: Spoiler!) 

Overall I would give it 4.5 out of 5, and I think it has deserved it. It is a sort of coming of age novel, with a sense of childish and grown-up writing. 

SparrowHorse x

 

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Oaty peanut butter and raisin cookies.

This morning was a free time for me, and I had to figure out what to do with my time…I was relieved when I found this recipe, as one of many I will enjoy again. I wasn’t sure about it at first, as it is peanut buttery, which is not my favourite flavour at the best of times, but with some improvements on the recipe it should be a great snack. The recipe for us wasn’t quite right, we found it too peanuty, and not sweet enough, and with a little too few oats. I have adjusted this recipe so it is just the way I like it, and I hope you do too. The original recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book “Light & Easy”, and although this recipe wasn’t the best working thing for me, I can highly recommend this book for others. This recipe should make about ten cookies. Enjoy the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 150g peanut butter
  • 75g runny honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 quarter of a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g raisins
  • 75g porridge oats
  • 20g brown sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees or gas mark 3
  2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment/greaseproof paper
  3. Put the peanut butter into a mixing bowl, then add the honey and beat it in
  4. Afterwards, add in the egg and stir/beat that in thoroughly 
  5. Sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda over the surface and beat it in, then stir in the raisins and oats
  6. You will then end up with a stiff, chunky dough
  7. Put heaped dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray

 

  1. If you want to, you can shape them into rough rounds with slightly oiled fingers
  2. Leave some space between them on the tray as they will expand in the oven
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  4. Have fun eating, they are best within 2-3 days of baking.IMG_1399

I hope the recipe works out for you as it did me, and have fun! 

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Annie

Hi, throughout the past few months, children in a few surrounding villages, aged 7-14 put together a production of the play/film Annie. We followed the rough script and songs to the old film, and together all enjoyed the outcome as we performed it twice last weekend. It was a great experience, and a second for most of us as last year we put on a production of Oliver! For Annie, I was the Dog Catcher, and Drake: The Butler. We spent most Saturdays and Wednesdays for about 7 weeks rehearsing for the big days which was not long, considering we all had to learn lines, get props, prepare costumes, rehearse scenes over and over again until it was all perfect. 

I don’t really have much else to say, except for the fact that me and my friends enjoyed it thoroughly and would do it again if we had another opportunity. For a lot of people, it was their first time on the stage, but if you are considering doing anything to do with acting, singing or even behind the scenes prop making or designing when you are older, a small play or pantomime near you could be the perfect place to start, and even if it isn’t that serious or great quality it should be fun. We were lucky to have had an amazing director, that put a great deal of work into the play helping us both on stage and off, and it was made even better by the fact that she does acting and a singer. We also had people helping to get the level standard higher, people doing jobs like: The lighting, sets, sounds, music (Piano and Harmonica covered most songs) and prompter. This made the play so great and i wish I could thank everyone more. 

Hoped you liked this and that it will inspire you to do something creative like this, i’ll be posting again soon, a recipe I think as I haven’t done any cooking posts in a while, Bye,

SparrowHorse x

 

Revision Ideas…

Usually I don’t worry or do nearly as much revision as I should but for my end of year exams this year I though I would make a little more effort than I usually do. Some of these ideas can be creative, fun, or just down-right boring but they all help me and I hope they help you too. Here are some of my favourite and most effective ideas and instructions:

  1. Flash Cards: I usually make these as I find they improve my memory and also doing things in different orders. You just need some A4 card, which I usually cut into 16 small rectangles, and colourful pens to make them stand out and not be as boring…Write a question on one side, then the answer on the other being as detailed or vague as you think necessary. I get my friends and family to test me on these facts until I know most of them off by heart ready for the exam. The subjects I have made them for already I have gone a bit overboard with, for my geography i’ve done 76 and my history 64…!
  2. Mind Maps: I find these most effective stuck on my door or wall or in a place that I go past and look at every day. This means that facts usually stick in my head as I go past, and I can think, e.g. “okay, what are the 5 air masses that effect the uk?” You can make them by finding an A4 or A3 piece of paper and writing a subject in the middle. You can then go on to drawing lines of it for different topics, facts, or info that you want to revise and know. You can make it as colourful as you want and include diagrams, pictures, or highlights for extra.
  3. Folder: I sometimes go through each of the books I want to revise for and photocopy all of the pages that include the info I need to revise for different topics. I find it helps if you keep all this in a folder in separate plastic files for each topic inside a subject. This is neat and organised, and is helpful if you need to carry it round on trains or uses, or if you want to pack revision for holidays…

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Those are some of my instructions, but I also have some tips to make it easier and healthier:

  1. Take breaks from revision: It won’t be as good for you if you spend 5 hours of straight revising, as it will be if you do 2 hours with a few 10 minute breaks. This can help your brain have time to recharge and also relax
  2. Don’t spend loads of time revising the night before: If you start revising earlier, and you do small periods of revising every day or every few days your results will be much better

I hope you take my advice, and I will post soon!

SparrowHorse x

 

The Lion King at the Theatre

Yesterday I went to London to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. I don’t generally like London, so I don’t think I was looking forward to it as much as the rest of my family were…but in the end I enjoyed it as much as everyone else. It took an hour and a half to reach the stop we wanted on two trains, and after, we had to walk to a restaurant to stop for lunch. We ended up eating at Côte, a french restaurant which we had never eaten at before. It turned out really nice, and we all enjoyed it- even though I didn’t eat particularly french food!- I ate chips and salad, with a massive praline crêpe for dessert, shown below.

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After lunch we made our way to the Lyceum theatre where the Lion King was being held. It wasn’t as big as I had expected which calmed me a little as I don’t really like crowded places, and we managed to get fairly good seats which meant we could see the stage clearly enough. After the play started, I grew fairly optimistic of the whole thing, the amazing costumes just one factor. The animal costumes weren’t made to look like real animals, they were cleverly designed to move with sticks or wires, but it was clear to see the actor inside or on the produced animal. But when the stage turned dark and you could only see their silhouettes, the costumes and masks made it hard to tell whether it was a real animal or costume…!

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The sets were brilliant too, at least fifteen different scenes that slid down into place at the right moments. They were very cleverly designed and were used at their full potential. I don’t think there was a thing about it I didn’t like, the songs were the best i’ve heard in a musical, and the actors skilled and talented, just right for their parts. I would thoroughly recommend going to see int if you have the chance, as it is one of the best experiences in London i’ve ever had. The link to The Lion King website is down below if you want to find out any info.

http://www.thelionking.co.uk

SparrowHorse x

Film Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

Hi again, I watched this film at the Cinema and loved to yesterday. It was a plan for when my brother and dad were away, and us three would go to the cinema then pizza express. I was a little unsure on how it would be, and how well they would adapt it from Rudyard Kipling’s version. I got there and as the film went on, I was shocked as to how good it was, here is my review.

Wikipedia’s description: Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther and a free-spirited bear  the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.

This film really stunned me because of the animals, they all looked mainly real, capturing the description and exact ways they look and walk. Much of the film captured fright in me, as the whole film looked completely real-life, as if it was really going on in front of me. They did add some changes and new features from the book, but I think the difference was for the better, giving some surprises to people that have watched the old disney film recently, expecting it to be all the same. 

I do think that they could have done some things better, for instance added in a few more of the songs, and music, as they only included about 2 of them, leaving out many from the original. Without the singing and dancing, the new jungle book, I would say, is a lot more frightening for people below about 8. They also didn’t include some of the characters from the original and the book, for instance the vultures, who did the talking bit at the end in the first film. 

Other than my spoken weaknesses, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, ad if I had chance, would watch again soon. It is a PG, and I would recommend it for people 7 or 8+, depending on how scared they will get. I love this film and everyone should watch it!

SparrowHorse x

Book Review: Fangirl

I LOVED this book! My parents gave me some money to buy a few books wth, and this was one that I chose. I wasn’t familiar with the author, but I had seen another of her (Rainbow Rowell) books at a book fair this year, that friends had read and liked and decided to give this author a go…It turns out that I love her style of writing, and will definitely try to find others from her. Here is my review, starting with the blurb, I hope you enjoy it and are willed to read the book:

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Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be half of a pair anymore- she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there’s romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether sh’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realising that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible…

First of all, I loved the style and creativity of the plot line, it really struck me as an inspirational piece of writing. The characters I could totally relate too, each in their own way, and the story was beautiful. This wouldn’t have been the first book I would have picked out if you put me in a bookshop, as fan fiction isn’t generally my style- I never seem to find it that interesting or as good as the real book- but this is a different matter altogether and definitely the first book i’ve read about writing fanfiction…

I did have a few minor problems with the book, the first is silly, really, but I didn’t look inside the front cover until the end, and if haven’t read the book, on there are drawings of all the characters with names underneath. I had separate imaginary characters in my head as to what they would look like, and to be fair none looked quite as how I had imagined them…yes, a pretty stupid fault but annoying for me. The last weakness was that (I know that most people who have read this will be annoyed and will totally disagree with me) I honestly found Wren much too annoying for her own good; she really brought the book down for me…

 I would say that it is a YA/Romance/Coming Of Age book, and suitable for people aged 13+. I would rate it 4/5, and happily eat it again in the future. 

SparrowHorse x

Another mix

This is another Mix-up post full of random updates I wanted to share and post. Firstly I want to recommend another blog that is a follower of mine and also writes blogs on some of the same subjects- Book reviews, cooking etc. Her name is beluwasstories.wordpress.com

I think that I might take a break from writing blogs for a while, as my exam week is coming up, and I have lots of revision to work on as well as my normal homework. I will still write them when I have the time, and schedule them for times after the 1st of June, when I will continue to write. Please don’t expect any until then, when the usual blogs will appear.

This may sound a little too boring to add to a blog post to you, but for me its a memory that I want to remember. Last week I was on holiday with some friends and family, in Exmoor where, some of our friends live. On the second day we went to a beach, where we all had the best time we’ve had there. Here are some of the photos that me and friends took while on the beach that day.

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Bye for now,

SparrowHorse x

Film Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Hi! Today i’m going to review My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which I watched on Thursday with a few friends. We started at Pizza Express, then after our meal walked over to the cinema in time for the start. I loved this film, and i’m not even sure which film I liked the best, the 1st or the the 2nd. Here is my review and I hope you like it…

Parenting and marriage is becoming a problem for Toula and Ian. Their relationship is becoming hard to cope with as their daughter Paris is choosing colleges to apply to and struggling with their Greek traditions. On top of that, Toula must contend with aging parents and the endless needs of cousins and friends. When the family discover a secret that could lead to disruption between Toula’s parents, the whole family has to work together to create an even bigger wedding than before.

I love this film despite it’s weaknesses and it is something that i’ll never grow bored of. One problem I think was it’s lack of imagination. Yes, it has different problems with different people, but the whole marriage idea is the same, which I find a little off-putting. It was also a rather short film than I would have liked, only about 1 hour 30 mins; I would have preferred something longer with more info and plot line. 

Now, putting it’s weaknesses out the way, i’ll say why I liked it… I loved the characters enthusiasm and humour throughout the film. Whether things have gone wrong or right, the family is always laughing with their greek humour that the first film had. Some parts make you laugh out loud which I am glad of- otherwise it would have been nothing like so good a film. I think the actor for Paris was just right for the part, and I was also glad that the entire cast from the first film was back and willing to make an amazing 2nd entry.

I would recommend it 4/5 and recommend it for people 10+, as it is a 12A and would say some things are inappropriate for people under the age given. I would push anyone to go and see it, although if it isn’t your thing, it might get a bit boring. It is a comedy/romance, and a great example for that genre.

SparrowHorse x

Making fresh pasta

Today my brother and sister went to a holiday club for easter, and so I was at home with my mum for the day. I thought about cooking something, and so we looked in a few books to decide. We found a recipe for making fresh pasta and thought we’d make and cook that rather than just using dry. It makes tagliatelle, and makes enough for 4 people, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 200g strong bread flour
  • 2 large free range eggs

Method:

  1. Sift the flour into a big bowl. Scoop out the middle of the flour to create a small well- you should be able to see the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Crack the eggs into another bowl, then pour into the well. Now use the fingertips of one hand as a spoon to mix the yolks and whites together.
  3. Keep slowly stirring- as you stir, the flour will gradually fall into the egg until its all mixed in. You can now use both hands to bring all the flour and egg together to form a ball of dough.
  4. Once you have a big ball of dough, you’re ready to start kneading. Put the dough on a clean surface, push it down with the bottom of your hand, then fold the dough over and push again.
  5. Keep turning the dough and pushing and stretching and you will end up with a smooth ball of dough. It will take about 10-15 minutes before the dough is smooth and elastic, if you stop too soon the dough may tear when you roll it out.  
  6. Wrap the dough in a damp tea towel and leave it for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the kitchen. After it’s break, cut the dough in half-its easier to roll in 2 pieces- and wrap one half back in the tea towel to keep it moist.
  7. Sprinkle some flour over your rolling pin and a clean surface, then start to roll one piece of dough. Keep rolling, turning the dough so that it doesn’t stick to the table, you may want to put more flour underneath.
  8. You want to roll the dough until it’s really thin, and about as big as an A4 piece of paper and as think as possible. If you have a pasta machine, you can use this to roll out the pasta for you. 
  9. Use a small sharp knife to cut the fresh pasta. To make tagliatelle, which look like ribbons, cut the dough into strips about 5mm wide. Don’t worry if it’s not exact.
  10. 3 quarters fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the fresh pasta and cook for 3-4 minutes until its just done. The pasta should be soft, and not taste raw. Finally, drain the pasta in a colander.

This recipe teaches you how to make fresh pasta, and not any sauce, so try to learn how to make cheese or tomato sauce, or simply add a bit of pesto. I personally much prefer fresh pasta to dry, so please try to make it! Here is mine when I added tomato sauce and some grated parmesan: 

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SparrowHorse x