Review // Poppy Factory Vs Poppy

First off...apologies for the few weeks hiatus - I have been working at the weekends and at University during the weekdays and just haven't found time to properly blog anything for a while...that being said I have found a lot of time to read lately: mostly on trains, during my lunch breaks and when I am so wide-awake that I can't do anything else at least I have a few blog ideas to come...also: Here comes Christmas! So Christmas-related posts are on the way too. I'm not promising anything too spectacular as my work-load is only increasing but I miss blogging!

So...without further ado:

Poppy Factory Vs Poppy
As I said in my TBR, my last post, when it comes to remembrance day in November I am always compelled to read a World War One or World War Two novel - don't know why but that is the way it is. This month I was so compelled I read two - almost three! But I stopped myself to finally read 'Cinder' which I admit I am a quarter of the way through! Finally! - this month I read:
- Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow
- Poppy by Mary Hooper
The latter book is intended for children to young adult whereas the former is young adult to adult. Neither are particularly graphic in detail, although Poppy focuses on a VAD in Southampton during the war and Poppy Factory deals with a 'shell-shocked' female soldier in the modern day and a 'shell-shocked' soldier just after the Armistice.
These books hold a lot of similarities and a lot of the same faults in my opinion. Not to mention their names!
We'll start with 'Poppy' by Hooper:
- It is a fast-track read, very easy to follow and it speeds along through a lot of difference environments very quickly. Poppy, the namesake character of the story, is a young domestic servant at the beginning of the war but by the pressing of her former teacher she engages in VAD work - training to be a nurse. But as this gentle pressing is occurring she finds herself falling for her previous employers son: Freddie De Vere.
Clearly anyone who has watched Downton Abbey will know that a servant to fall in love with her master or masters son is a very bad thing. It is not only frowned upon but generally considered impossible for the time as it is ruinous for whole families! The book never goes into too much detail regarding this 'love' though and I must admit towards the end of the book it felt a little too brief a romance to even really call it a romance. But as a child I could imagine myself finding it deeply romantic!
The writing is simplistic but detailed, I can picture what the character is doing with ease and some of the characters are very lively: Jameson the toff of a VAD who gets a little too close to a German POW, and William, the brother, are very well-written.
Not my favourite World War One story but definitely a good read for children - also the first book in what seems to be a series as Mary Hooper announces at the end of the book - which is left on a slightly dull cliff-hanger, that a new book will be out soon called: Poppy in the Field. And yes, I shall be buying it.
'Poppy Factory' by Liz Trenow
This was the first of the books that I read but since it is a little more complicated to explain I thought I would write about it last.
The story is set over two times: It opens in modern day, with an English, female, soldier choosing to go to Afghanistan to be a medic (slightly 'Our Girl' storyline) for a very odd reason: Her brother's best mate, her first major crush, went and died over there and now she feels that she has to go over there to. This could have been a much stronger plot twist for me. She's trained to be a paramedic, has met the man of her dreams: Nate, and then opts to go to War and possibly die because of her first crush dying there? Not really 'believable' for me...
The story then revolves around what happens when she gets back. She moves back in with her lovely fella - who I can't clearly picture as he is supposed to be incredibly good-looking, a PE teacher, black and with dreadlocks? I just cannot picture it if I am honest? Maybe it is just my imagination but I am picturing someone like 'Nate Parker' somehow he doesn't fit the description. But moving on...Jess, the main character, has come back with obvious PTSD - she is constantly drinking, making a fool of herself, getting really bad nightmares, unable to work as she can't stand the sight of blood etc. And she knows that she has PTSD but she ignores it and carries on - things get worse. She and Nate break up - what seems about 4 time the book - and she goes back to live with her parents where she is given some diaries that her great-grandmother wrote after World War One. 
The story changes to the Armistice in London with Mary thrilled that her husband is coming home after so long. Only he comes back changed - with only one leg and shell-shock, she has to deal with everything that is thrown at them for the next three years: his drinking, their lack of money, lack of jobs, mourning her deceased brothers, having children, her sister-in-laws fling with a really bad man who causes a load of trouble as well as her husbands deterioration due to lack of job, alcohol issues and stubbornness. This character is perhaps the most relatable to, even though Jess is modern day Mary has the every-day likability factor that makes her easier to feel for.
The story itself winds down well and eventually gets to its namesake: the Poppy Factory, the original British factory where the poppies were made by injured War veterans. It is a moving end and there are some good characters but the modern plot-line really weakens the World War One story as it is just too coincidentally perfect and although I understand this as a plot-driver I find it somewhat patronising.
Overall...who won the battle of the books:
 Poppy by Mary Hooper
Whilst the ending was a little to sudden and the romance was not igniting the characters, the plotline and the general description taught me new things about the War, made for an exciting new twist with white feathers, VAD training and the female side of the War.
Whilst I did enjoy The Poppy Factory, particularly the end with the Poppy Factory I found that the characters were slightly frustrating, the plot-line stagnated a little in the WW1 era and then blustered in the modern-day. The romances were really patronising in places - which annoyed me - and it didn't seem to have a flow. But the characterisation of Mary and the use of the Poppy Factory as a whole was lovely.
All in all two books that I would recommend as WW1 books but to younger readers rather than people of my own age.
Happy Reading!

November // TBR

To-Be-Read in November


We are truly in Autumn and I don’t know about you but here at University the temperature has gone from mild to frikking-freezing! So far I have had two colds and the flu, my nose is running right now as my Student house doesn’t have heating. I am actually feeling rather medieval with my many candles: not only do they smell lovely but they are also fairly warm when bunched around my desk!

It is probable that my idea of a lovely autumn evening would be snuggled by the fire with a hot chocolate, my cat blanket with a book and it would be true!
the books for this month.


1.   The Death Cure by James Dashner

This is my follow-through book from last month and it won’t take me long to finish but since it is the last in the Maze Runner trilogy I am hoping it will finish well. There is nothing worse than a series finishing with a luke-warm book.


2.   Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

I picked this up at the start of University from my local ‘Books for Free’ shop (although I’m not sure if it can be classed as a shop when it doesn’t actually sell anything..?) It is a very small read but I watched the film last night and I started flicking through and could feel myself getting hooked so I’m looking forward to reading this one. Reviews will follow, hopefully.


3.   Cinder by Marrissa Myer

I will read this bookeventually. It has been on my TBR list for ages but every time I think to myself ‘once I’ve finished this book I’ll read Cinder’ I always go and see a movie and find I really want to read that book straight awaya bit like Forrest Gump. But I have decided I will read it. I will read Cinder. I will read Cinder. I’m just going to keep repeating it until I physically read it! 

4.   Remembrance by Theresa Breslin

This month, of course, is the month of remembrance for those that lost their lives in World War One and also any war pre or post. It would seem wrong not to aim to read at least one World War One book in this month.

So that is what I am aiming for in the month of November. Not very long, I never like to set myself too many targets to read as I am not the best at sticking to rulesafter all rules were made to be broken.


Happy Reading!

Top 10 Fantasy Reads

Top Ten Fantasy Reads

In no particular order…
1.      The Song of Fire & Ice Series by George.R.R.Martin

AKA: Game of Thrones! Anyone who is anyone, genuinely human, has heard of the Game of Thrones if not because of the massive books then because of the massive series! The series that has made unknowns household names: Kit Harrington, Richard Madden and Rose Leslie. It is the series that cemented Sean Bean as the unluckiest actor in the world as he gets killed off continuously! I would join the #don’tkillseanbean group but I think it will just lead to disappointment! As a book series it is incredible. The detail into which George R.R.Martin is willing to go, as well as has much he does, is breath-taking and terrifying at its best. A fantastic fantasy series for those over the age of 15.


2.      The Hobbt & The Lord of Rings Trilogy by J.R.R.Tolkien

I know that these are two separate stories in their own right but it seems wrong somehow to split the books up and battle them against each other, although I know that that is precisely what is happening in the world of cinema right now. (It may be sacrilege but I prefer the Hobbt…I can feel people mentally stoning me right now…) But as stories there is almost no beating Tolkien for imagination, Middle-Earth, the Shire, it’s so beautiful to read about and to think about. No wonder Peter Jackson couldn’t let it go.


3.      The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis

I loved this series of books. It is forever clear that ‘The Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe’ is the book to beat, but the concept is beautiful and perfect for children as well as Adults. There are battles, childish mistakes, snowy escapades and Father Christmas! I can’t think of another book that makes me tingle with excitement at the concept like: ‘Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe’ It is my childhood book of choice. And whilst the rest of the series is lovely, they have the curse of sequels…they’re never as good as the one you read first of all…


4.      The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Whislt in the Christmas theme with Narnia lets move onto the Hogfather. For anyone wanting a different tale of Christmas this year, read this book. It has humour, complicated but well-written scenarios and characters and once-again, a wonderful concept. What would happen if Death took over Father Christmas’ job for the day, because he doesn’t want to be seen as evil? It’s a lovely tale, fairly dark in some places but it is meant for adult after all.


5.      Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling

Ok. Do I even need to describe this series and why it is on my Top 10? Of course not. Everyone knows. I am still surprised today when I hear people haven’t seen the movies if not read the books? How could they not have? It seems irresponsible of their parents not to have made them watch/read it, or odd for adults who have not bothered either!

6.       The Wonderful Wizard of OZ by Frank Baum

I read this story at age 12 and I remember racing through it. It is a lovely little book, very easy read, but with bright imaginative colours and places: anyone ever gone to Chinatown? And no I do not mean the one in London or Asia but the ChinaTown of Oz. With people made of china. It may be hard to read without hearing ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ or wondering why the hell the shoes aren’t ruby slippers. But this is an example of a story altered by Hollywood but just as good, if not better, than the film! And there are many more tales in OZ...I just haven't read them yet ;)


7.      Outview (The Inner Movement Trilogy) by Brandt Legg

I am aware that I rarely mention less mainstream books so I thought I would prove that do read things that aren’t necessarily global phenomenon’s. This is a book that should be a global phenomenon. It is a very interesting, slightly twisted, fantasy series by an American Author: Brandt Legg. It focuses on a young boy who is experiencing weird things in his life, seeing things and dreaming things. His brother is separated from him and strange things are happening which means he has to rescue him with the help of his friends. It is a dark tale full of bromance, brotherly and friendship-wise. It is heart-warming as well as saddening and a very gripping bedtime read.

I enclose a British link for those interested in reading this story:


8.      Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie

One of my favourite tales of all time. Originally a play, then a book and now a constant feature on the Pantomime circus and indeed films - a new interpretation of which is coming out in 2015 with Hugh Jackman! – The story is timeless as our character, literally and literally, I think was a stroke of genius by Barrie to realise that every boys dream is to never grow up. It is a very real premise and one that has enchanted boys and girls alike for years. I know that before I wanted to go to Hogwarts I wanted to go to Neverland!


9.      The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini

I really enjoyed the first three books of this series, but detested the last one for it’s ambiguity. So…WARNING: If you do read this book and expect answers you’ll get a few but not the ones you want.  However the fact that the first three books leave you with questions that you want answered is a sign of a good Fantastical read and it certainly is. Dragons, Battles, Magic, Elves…what more could we want in a fantasy series?


10.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust picks up where Eragon left off…what could you want in a Fantasy Book? How about Witches, Falling Stars, Romance, Flying Pirates…the list is endless within Stardust. A truly unique experience and story. So short and easy to read but bursting with information that is gripping and wonderful. I really love this story and it deserves to be on more Top 10 book lists in my opinion!


So that is my Top 10 Fantasy Reads. I know that they are mainly Trilogies or series, but many Fantasy series have too large a scope to be a single story and genuinely Fantasy stories leave us wanting more…it is why they make sure great films and TV series’! I love fantasy reads and wish I could read more, so let me know what are your favourite fantasy books and why!

Happy Reading.