Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hi from Hiroko, Saori and Mikio

Three ex-students who were at HELC last summer, 2013 say hello from Japan. Mikio, Hiroko and Saori.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Goodbye Friday

From left to right: Setsuko from Japan - Maria from Spain - Patricia from Spain -  Aneta from the Czech Republic - Vladimir from the Czech Republic - Eva from Spain - Aneta from the Czech Republic - Setsuko from Japan - Natalie from Switzerland. Setsuko, Maria, Aneta, Vladimir, Aneta and Natalie all leave today. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Best 'Learn English' Websites

Katie's morning class did some online research into the most useful websites to help students to improve their English. Below are the results of their investigations which we hope you find useful.

From left to right: Klara - Zuzanna - teacher Katie - Valeria - Marta - Ludvik - Shoko - Veronika - Katsuya - Veronika


On this website you can find five sections – video interviews, typical mistakes, writing, Teachers' Page and Office English. Each section includes three subsections for three different levels of English. Unfortunately, if you are a beginner, you cannot find anything there. From our point of (view), these websites are well-arranged, so it is no problem to find (finding) what you want. (It is) very pleasant is that there are no ads. If you need to be professional in the language of business, we suggest you visit this website.
The video section helps you if you want to apply for a job in abroad. There are a lot of examples where you can listen and see how you should behave during job interviews. They give you good examples of what to say and how to react to the interviewer’s questions. 
There is another section called typical mistakes, where everybody can find what not to do. The site helps you to correct your common mistakes that you are unaware of.
In the writing section you can find guidelines and sample sentences and solutions that help you prepare for the writing paper of the different levels of the most popular Business English exams, as well as for real life.
If you need English at your workplace it is a good idea to visit the section which is called Office English. This section introduces you to common business English.
This website is very suitable for you if you need to practise your English. You can find a lot of exercises here, which help you to recognize how your English is doing. 
Ludvik - Katsu - Veronika

Spotify
We would like to introduce a free internet website “Spotify” on which you can find your taste in music. If you log in, you can search for them. You can listen to whatever you like.
If you choose your favourite kind of music, the site suggests your taste in music weekly. You can find new music automatically in your in-box.
However, there are some disadvantages. When you listen to music, some advertisments can suddenly jump out when you are listening to songs. It is quite loud and annoying. On the other hand, if you pay, you can listen to music without interruption.
Moreover, there is only a small possibility of finding non-English musicians. If they release an English album, you will find them without any problems.
You could always find out what is new or what is a hit for each week. It does not take long to discover your favourite music.  You also could improve your English listening skills.

We would highly recommend Spotify because it is the website of many possibilities and it helps you to be open-minded efficient to new types of music. 
Free internet website for music with log in 
Researching your favourite musicians or songs
Finding similar kind of music of your taste
Listening to music whichever musicians you like
Suggests several new musicians you may like every week 
Impossible to avoid listening to advertisements.
If you pay, you can listen to only music without disruption.
Limited possibility to find non-English musicians.
Shoko - Veronika


Lyrics Training.com
In order to talk about how learning languages using websites, we can find some pages on the Net. One of them is LyricsTraining.com which is the website about (which) we are going to speak. But, how to do it? Nowadays, with the technological advances, we are surrounded by a large amount of information.  That’s why we have to discern which is the best website that we can use. For this reason,  we are going to make a comparision between the above website and EsolCourses.com 


First of all, talking about the advantages of Lyrics Training we can find that:
  • You can choose the song that you want to listen to and also the student level. I mean, you can choose between beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert level depending on your own (level). For example, in the beginner level your only task is to complete the gaps of the lyrics while the singer is singing instead of the expert level, where you have to complete all the lyrics. However, you can also use “help” when you don’t know the correct word and it can make the task easier. 
  • You can choose the singer that you really want to listen to and also the song. 
  • This website not only permits you to learn English because there is a big variety of languages between which you can choose, there are Spanish and Italian songs too. 
  • Another important advantage is that you can distinguish the difference between English and American. So you can see if the singer is from the UK or America.
  • It is easy to use. 
Comparison of the two sites:
  • Lyrics Training only offers you the opportunity of improving your listening, but you can’t practise your grammar or maybe your comprhension, because you can write the words correctly but you can not understand the meaning of them. 
  • Instead, http://www.esolcourses.com/content/topics/songs/britpop/waterloo-sunset.html gives you the opportunity of making quizzes about the meaning of the song. It is so because in it there is a space called “Quiz Question” where there are some questions referring to the song that you have chosen. Using this page, you can improve other aspects of the language that you want to learn and make you feel that you have the control of learning the language. 
  • With www.esolcourses.com you can only practise English and you can’t search for the songs that you really want to listen to. The side gives you a list of songs and you have to choose between them. 
Conclusion:
  • To improve your listening, Lyrics Training is a good website but if you are interested in learning other aspects like comprehension or grammar, you have to go to another site. 
Marta and Valeria

PHRASAL VERBS
The internet these days is the biggest source of information for students. We can find many websites about sports, news, music and others. But the question is  “Are these websites good enough, clear, better than books?”  Today we want to pay attention to phrasal verbs (PV) which are a particular part of English. We found many websites about PV but these aren’t similar. Some of them are for advanced students and some of them are only for beginners.

FIRST
This is the first page which we have found. It has a lot of advantages. The site is very clear. The alphabetic order is very useful. There are definitions and examples of PV use. If you are an upper intermediate or advanced student and want only to remind yourself or find some more PV it’s the website for you.
SECOND
This web is for beginner students because there are many explanations of how to use it. There is also an alphabetical list of PV with meanings and examples. The best advantage is you can do a lot of interactive excercises to check your knowledge.
THIRD
Well-known Wikipedia: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrasal-verb In our opinion it isn’t a good website because it’s too long, with too much useless information. We can’t find the meaning of PV. The site isn’t clear.

We want to say that everyone can find something for yourself. But we would recommend www.learn-english-today.com. It’s useful for the independent learner. All these websites are free so it’s the main advantage in our opinion. It’s the fastest way to find what you looking for.
Zuzanna and Klára

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Film/TV Series Reviews

Film Review - Life is Beautiful
Life is beautiful is a moving and wonderful film which shows how, even in the worst moments, you can change tragedy into happiness. When Roberto Benigni (Guido Orefice) and all his family are confined to a Nazi death camp,  this young and optimistic man finds the courage to hide the truth from his little son,  Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini), making him believe that everything is just a game. Passing through different awful situations gives (each of) them points, and there is no chance to cry or to be sad if they want to get the first prize, an awesome tank. Death, hopelessness and human cruelty are some of the main features of this Italian comedy-drama film, but also love, hope and, even though it can seem strange, lots of humour.  The acting is unbeatable; it is impossible not to feel sympathy and affection for the main characters. Giorgio Cantarini does a great job and he seems so innocent and naive that you will feel the need to protect him from anything wrong. The plot is accompanied by a beautiful  soundtrack, which has won countless awards, and has been able to represent all the mixed-feelings that define this film. 
So, if you want to realise how beautiful life is, just play this film, but, before anything else, make sure you have enough tissues at home, because will definitely need them. 
Mar Part Lopez - Spain

TV Drama: Sons of Anarchy
Sons of Anarchy (SoA) started in 2008 as a television drama series. You are introduced to an outlaw motorcycle club operating in a fictional town called Charming, California. The main protagonists are the club’s vice-president Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and his family. Jax is questioning himself about the future directions of the club and about his life. While watching SoA you are introduced to various places and various types of people. Most of them you would rather not visit, nor meet. Members of SoA make their livelihood by smuggling and selling arms, so it’s common for them to shoot and kill. The club’s president, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlmann, better known as Hellboy) is forcing the club to take a part in a drug deal. 
By the way, Clay on his way thru the series turns into the main antagonist but it’s not obvious at the beginning and some people could be disappointed by this. Anyway, Perlman’s performance as Clay is excellent and you can feel how it is to change your mind from love to hate. Notable also is the performance of Katey Sagal as Clay’s wife Gemma. It’s almost unbelievable that Peggy from (the programme) ‘Married with Children’ and Gemma Morrow are the same person.
Other story lines are SoA’s members’ family affairs which are affecting the club. All people, even outlaw bikers have parents, children, wives etc. , but in this case, the club must be in first position. 
When I started to watch this series, I was kinda sceptical. I’m not a TV addict and series aren’t my hobby at all, but after watching a couple of episodes I found myself fingers crossed to a group of weirdly dressed morons. Maybe, someday in the future, I’ll buy a leather jacket and a Harley Davidson. No, maybe not.
Jan - Czech Republic


Movie Review – Transcendence (2014)
Transcendence is a thrilling science fiction movie starring Johnny Depp as the curious scientist Dr. Will Caster. He predicts that computers will create a technological singularity, which he calls “Transcendence”.  After a dramatic incident his life depends on medical equipment so his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) promises to do everything she is able to do to save him and decides to continue his research and experiments, unaware that she would soon create a technological monster no one could stop.
This futuristic movie makes you forget what is possible and what is not, including 119 minutes of haunting and exciting scenes. 
However, the film received mainly negative reviews and was criticized for its plot structure and for the film’s poor logic but Transcendence deals with large, troublesome ideas about right now and what’s ahead and that makes this movie timeless. A few reviews described it as “a bold, beautiful flight of futuristic speculation” and “a stunning piece of work”, which was also my opinion. 
The special effects were amazingly detailed and stunning which makes it difficult for you as the viewer of the film to decide what you should focus on. Transcendence is definitely not a movie for kids but I would recommend it to every adult who is interested in futuristic science.
Morgana Dias - Switzerland

Film review: Pride & Prejudice
Pride & Prejudice is a romantic film based on Jane Austen’s novel and directed by Joe Wright. The whole story takes place in the British countryside during the late 18th century and it describes five sisters from an English family dealing with issues such as marriage, morality, prejudice and its consequences. The lead actress gives a fantastic performance in the role of Elizabeth Bennet [Keira Knightley], who is one of the five sisters and wants to find a true love. As it is a popular romantic novel, there must be the right one for Elizabeth and that is the moment, when Mr. Darcy [Matthew Macfadyen] appears on the screen. The plot is really predictable, but I think it doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. The music, which flows through the entire film, was written by Italian composer Dario Marianelli.
This film is for everyone, who likes romance, classical music, beautiful countryside and loves happyendings. The film would make a great afternoon or evening’s entertaiment especially for a woman audience, but don’t expect any action or surprises.
Katerina - Czech Republic

Series review: Game of Thrones
These days TV serials are becoming more and more popular and according to the research the obvious winner is Game of Thrones, which is filmed according to the books written by George R. R. Martin.
I’d like to tell you about the first season, which is more gripping than the others. In the first season we are introduced to the world of the Seven Kingdoms where there are a lot of main characters and many more secondary characters. I will tell you only about the most important characters which are the Starks: a famouse and very old clan which is very honorable and predictable, they are also called the Rullers of the North and in their crest is a mysterious wolf. The Lannisters: an old clan which is known for an incredible amount of money and their cunning behaviour, in their crest is a golden lion. The Barratheons: a clan which rules to the Seven Kingdoms. Their crest is green with a deers head.
And what is it actually about? It becomes interesting in the first episode when Cersei and Jaime Lanister were caught comitting incest by young Stark and they throw him out of a window. Here must no-one knows what it is about. The story fall out is quite fast and the whole season is full of bloody scenes and magnificent celebrations and what is most important is a lot of intrigues which are unexpectable. To not spoil your entertainment I can only tell you, that after a king’s death all the clans declare war on each other.
I personally would recommend it to everybody, but the rule that the book is always better still applies!
Vaclav - Czech Republic

Movie Review - Amelie
The film I would like to present to you is called “Amelie”. The film is about a very sensitive girl, named Amelie, who can sense things around her before they happen. The film is centred on the figure of this woman, (who) is (an) exceptional person and very particular.                                                                                                                                                     She meets a boy and she falls in love with him and after that she finds out that the boy has lost his book, an album with thousands of photos that he has been collecting. She adopts a particular way of acting: to return his book, instead of simply giving it back to him by appointment or by calling him, like every person would do, Amelie makes him find the book by using arrows, that she would draw on the ground, or throw other unpredictable signs that would eventually lead him to the right location of where his book is. In the meanwhile, Amelie also tries to discover who is the mysterious man that appears continuously in the album.
With overwhelming imagination and infinite sensivity, Amelie guides us in her world which is fantastic and incredible, and which reflects a very singular way of seeing life, besides her being an exquisite character.
I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not because it can be enjoyed but it can also be horrible for some people.                                                                                                                                           Personally speaking, I can say that I liked this movie and I even watched it more than one time.
Eleonora - Italy

Sitcom review: The Big Bang Theory
The American sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” is an extremely witty series which is recommended especially for younger people – but not only for them. 
Chuck Lorre’s and Bill Prady’s sitcom is set in Pasadena, California and is primarily focused on the four physicists Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Dr. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Dr. Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) who are all employed at the University of Pasadena and (are) addicted to fantasy and comics. The four physicists behave in an absolutely funny way different from average human beings and Sheldon especially is a really queer bird, who becomes during the development of the plot more and more aware of human behaviour, phrases and irony. The complete contrast to the four guys is epitomised by their neighbour and friend Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who works at the cheesecake factory and (is trying) to establish herself as an actress in California. However, her plans don’t seem to be successful. She supports the four guys during their daily life by giving them advice (on) how to behave in particular situations. However, she is often annoyed (by) them, as well.
The main question beyond the whole series is from my point of view: Can physics be funny? And Sheldon and his friends show that of course, they can be! This is achieved through the entertaining behaviour of the four guys which is, for instance, indicated by (the) problems (they have) with talking to women, understanding irony or behaving socially. All these problems are part of Sheldon’s, Leonard’s, Raj’s and Howard’s daily life and make it so funny to watch the sitcom. The actually untypical and fairly unnatural behaviour is put into the foreground of the content and is exaggerated in a way that is superb. Sheldon’s problems in his daily life especially are acted totally fantastically by Jim Parsons, who manages to depict the character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper perfectly. Moreover, this success comes, nevertheless, (because of) the slightly infantile (clothing) chosen for each character.
As a closing remark, I can recommend watching (this) sitcom at least once (but) I’m sure that the risk of becoming addicted to it is very high!
Chris - Germany

Film Review - Bridget Jones’ Diary
Bridget Jones’ Diary is a true love story, totally inspired by the fairy tales with a happy ending. 
Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellwegger) is a single woman in her early thirties, with some bad habits –smoking and drinking - that she tries each year to stop, but obviously unsuccessfully. 
Bridget works in a magazine, where she starts flirting with her boss Daniel Cleaver, (Hugh Grant), an attractive barrister, with whom she has found what she has been searching for in all her 32 years of singleness. 
But suddenly, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), a business man and the son of her parents’ friends returns to her life at her mum’s Christmas party in a reindeer jumper.They have known each other from their childhood, when she ran naked into his garden, but now, they can’t stand each other. 
This love triangle that reminds us of Pride and Prejudice, also has an intriguing point, some lies will soon come out, and no one will really be what they pretended to be.
And moving on, the cast is spectacular, especially Zellwegger after we found out what she did for the film, gaining more than 20 pounds (in weight), and it is even more stunning how she played the role of a 32 year old stereotypical single Londoner, that made her win an Oscar. 
Like one of my teachers told me years ago, you should watch this film in your thirties, if you are single and if you are trying to win some self-esteem, obviously then, you will understand the feelings of Bridget Jones.  
Empar Martinez - Spain

Film review – ‘Monster in law’ & ‘Maleficent’
‘Monster in law ‘ is a romantic comedy directed by Robert Luketic. The story is about a young girl, Charlotte (Jennifer Lopez) and her relationship with her fiance’s mother, Viola (Jane Fonda). 
Charlotte met Kevin (Michael Vartan) at a private party, and a few days later, they started their relationship. Things started going wrong when Charlie met Kevin’s mother, Viola, who had lost her job and had spent three months in a psychiatric hospital. When Kevin proposed to Charlie, Viola thought that she would lose her son the way that she had lost her career, so she wanted to destroy their relationship. If you want to know whether their love was strong enough to overcome all the challenges, you must watch this movie!
‘Maleficent’ is a 2014 American fantasy film, based on a story about a good fairy, who lives in a magical forest, near the human kingdom. The main character is, of course, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie).  
Things start to get complicated when she meets Stefan, a guy from the kingdom. She falls in love with him, and as the king wants her dead, Stefan cuts away her wings and, as a reward, he marries the king’s daughter. When Stefan’s daughter, Aurora, is born, Maleficent puts a curse on her, saying that she will fall into an eternal dream on her sixteenth birthday, and that only ‘true love’s kiss’ can wake her up. But does that kiss have to be from a prince or not? If you want to find that out, hurry to the cinema!
To sum up, ‘Monster in law’ is a movie with lots of funny scenes, which will make you laugh.  But if you prefer to see an old story in a new way, ‘Maleficent’ is the best choice.
Katarina - Serbia

Jan - Eleonora - Vaclav - Katerina - Chris - Morgana -Empar - Katarina - Mar

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Eastbourne Pier Burns

Eastbourne is a town across the bay from Hastings and like Hastings it has a pier but today, on a sunny summer's afternoon, a fire started and the pier is burning. In 2010 Hastings pier burned down during the night and this year it is going to be rebuilt and it should be finished by summer 2015 but it will cost about £14m.


 Below is a picture of what Eastbourne pier looked like before today's fire.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Survival in St Helen's Woods

On Friday morning after the coffee break, we took advantage of the fine weather and walked up the hill from the school to St Helen's Woods where we did a reading and discussion activity on survival in the mountains where teams had to come up with suggestions for the best course of action in an emergency. 

Team 1 was Krystof, Jan and Eleanor.

Team 2 was Katarina, Empar, Morgana and Vaclav.

Team 3 was Bego, Karolina and Chris.

Lost in the Woods.

From left to right: Vaclav from the Czech Republic - Katarina from Serbia - Krystof from Czech Republic - Empar from Spain - Begona from Spain - Karolina from Slovakia - Chris from Germany - Morgana from Switzerland - Eleanora from Italy - Jan from the Czech Republic - and their teacher.

Marina's Last Afternoon

Marina flies back to Moscow tonight after having been improving her English here at HELC for a couple of weeks. In her afternoon class we have, from left to right: Petr from the Czech Republic - Patricia from Spain - Marketa from the Czech Republic - Juraj from Slovakia - Marina - Milena from the Czech Republic and Vladimir from China... no, sorry, the Czech Republic.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seven Sisters & Canterbury

Hi Ian!! I'm Bego! I (am) sending you some photos of our trip. The first one is  (the) Seven Sisters, (which are) very close to Eastbourne and the most breathtaking place that I've ever seen! We went last Saturday and we had to catch the train and after (that) the bus because it was quite far. From right to left: Klara from Slovakia, Me from Spain and Karolina from Slovakia. The sun was shining and we had such a good day! It's a very commendable place!
The second one is the amazing cathedral of Canterbury. We went by bus with Discovery Tours last Sunday. Canterbury is a small town (city) well known for its "Tales of Canterbury" (short tales written by the famous Chaucer). We couldn't visit the inside of the cathedral because it was closed due to an important meeting, however we took a lot of photos from the outside and we had a perfect day. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hastings' Pirate Day


The little seaside town of Hastings on the south-east coast of England is an amazing place in many ways but one particular fact might surprise you. Hastings holds the World Record for the largest number of 'pirates' gathered together in one place on one day. That day was yesterday, July 20th 2014.


The pirates gathered on Pelham Beach and their numbers were counted by people from the Guiness Book of Records. This year's official numbers are not available yet but we do hold the World Record of more than 14,000 pirates.

There were old pirates, young pirates, lady pirates, pirate kids and even pirate dogs. There was also a (Johnny Depp) Captain Jack Sparrow lookalike competition. Is this the real Captain Jack or a lookalike? Who can tell!




Friday, 18 July 2014

Yet Another Great Class

Back row, left to right: Myself - Krystof from the Czech Republic - Eva from Switzerland (her last day at HELC today) - Empar from Spain (she had just learned that she had succeeded in getting into the university she wanted) - Bego from Spain - Karolina from Slovakia - Eleonora from Italy (she spends a lot of time living in Egypt too) - Vaclav from the Czech Republic - and in the front row from Serbia Katerin and Ivana (her last day at HELC too). 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Tea in Rye

In the Apothecary Tea Rooms in the historic town of Rye, tea is served.


From left to right: Vitali from Germany - Krystof from the Czech Republic - Dominik and Gabriela from Germany - Agnieszka from Poland - 
Barbora and Alicia from the Czech Republic - Marina from Russia.

Barbora's last day at HELC

Today we had to say goodbye to Barbora from the Czech Republic, so we all got together for a final class photo. 



From left to right: Dominik from Germany - Krystof from Czech Republic - 
Eva from Switzerland - Julio (crouching down) from Spain - Veronika from Czech Republic - Barbora - Shoko from Japan - Klara from Slovakia - Eleonora from Italy - Karolina from Slovakia - Empar from Spain - Ivana from Serbia.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Book Reviews

My morning class read the article below about the new benches in London and I asked them to write a review of a book they have enjoyed reading. Ian


Looking For Alaska by John Green is one of the most moving books I have ever read and also my very first book written in English. I read it about three months ago and I can still remember the feelings I felt during my reading. Now I want to introduce you to the plot of the book and the characters. I also want to mention the fact that this book is very popular among young adult girls but it doesn’t mean that a boy shouldn’t read it. As I (always) say: “A man wrote it, so a man can read it”.
The main character of the book is a teenage boy called Miles Halter. He lives a boring (in his opinion) life in Florida with his parents. He has no friends at school and he wants to find “The Big Perhaps”. So he decided to leave his home in Florida and go to a boarding school in Alabama wchich is called Culver Creek. 
At Culver Creek, he meets new, and also his first real, friends – Alaska (a beautiful and crazy girl), The Colonel (his room-mate) and Takumi. He also experiences lots of new things for him like smoking, kissing, drinking and making pranks. He started to live until everything changed and Looking For Alaska had begun. 
Though Looking For Alaska was my first book in English I was very surprised how easily I could understand it, so I could really enjoy the reading. It’s written in relatively simple language, except the parts where the charcters speak with southern accent, but those parts are also kind of funny at the same time. When you start to read you think that it’s going to be just another story about teenagers and high school life, but after a few pages you realize that you are reading someting more serious and when you finish the first half of the book you will be schocked with the plot seriousness. Now it’s one of my favourite books I have read but I am not sure if I could ever read it again without feeling a little bit depressed. I guess I can say that this book is as bad as good. 
This book is funny, sad and makes you think. So go for it and read it because I am sure that you will not regret a second of reading this masterpiece. 
Martin - Czech Republic


The Boy and the Sea by Tschingis Aitmatow. It was on a really long trip when my mother first told me the story about “The boy and the sea”and back home I immediately wanted to start reading the book. The novel I read when I was 16 was written by the Russian author Tschingis Aitmatow in 1977. The tragic story is about a twelve year old boy called Kirisk who went on his first hunting trip with his grandfather, his father and two of his father`s friends. Kirsik was really proud to travel with the adults in the boat and to be treated like one of them. Everything went right until on the way back, a lot of mist suddenly came up on the sea and they totally lost orientation. There would not have been a problem, if only they had had enough drinking water for all of them.
I can exactly remember the day when I started reading and could`t put down the book until I finished it. I was totally addicted to it because the topic of having no more drinking water was really impressive. One of the strengths of the book is the language which makes the plot very realistic and you feel like being in the little boat too. Through the well organized manner of the story, the tension grew until the end of the book and for me it was absolutely emotional to read it. I was so impressed and fascinated by the story that I can`t think of any weakness of the book.
I would highly recommend this book for people over 15 years. For younger readers maybe the language is too slow and the information between the lines could be difficult to understand. If you are interested in a book which is written in a detailed language with lot of descriptons of characters, feelings and the nature and which makes you think a lot, then it`s obvious to me that you should read this book.
Eva - Switzerland
The Neverending Story is one of the first books I read. I became interested in reading the book because I saw the film before and I really liked it! I read it when I was twelve, which is, I think, the best age to read this book, because the main characters are also boys. The author is Michael Ende and the book is full of fantastic characters, extraordinary events and a lot of dramatic turns of events.                 
 What is interesting about this book is that there are two parallel worlds. The first one is the world of Bastian, a boy who is alway bulled by three older boys and he has became very lonely because of the loss of his mother. Bastian is running away from the three bullies and hides in a library where he finds a mysterious book called “The never ending story” and decides to start reading it. The second world is the one of Atreyu, the boy who lives inside the mysterious book, and who has to save Fantasia from a great menace, the Nothing!           
I would say that the nicest thing of this book is that the two worlds interlace and the negative thing of the book is that sometimes the development of the events is a little bit slow. I would highly recommend this book because it is very intriguing. But the most fascinating thing is the message of the book is the fact that some people live in a world of despair and with no hope because they have forgotten dreaming and hoping.
Eleonora - Italy

Romance for Men was written by Michal Viewegh and I would like to introduce you to this really good book from one of the best selling authors in the Czech republic. I read this book four years ago but the book is still in my memory. 
The plot of this book is mainly about three siblings in their middle age – Cyril who is a corrupted judge, a seriously ill redactor called Bruno and their youngest sister an unsuccesful publicist Aneta. They had lost their parents, when they were children and Cyril had become the head of the family. 
These three siblings were completely different. Cyril lost his moral values, he was corrupted, selfish and superficial. Bruno was completely different, he wasn’t ambitious, he followed every rule, his life was very boring. He didn’t enjoy his life. He had bad relationship with his daughter and wife. One day Bruno found out, that he was seriously ill and he had just a few months of his life left. And about the last sibling Aneta. She was very moral, she wanted the best for everyone and she wanted to find her true love. 
The story started on the day when Bruno found out his diagnosis. Cyril, as the head of the family paid a visit to the Alps – their last holiday together. Cyril also knew, that Bruno loved to watch a stripper on the internet so Cyril found the stripper, who was Bruno’favorite one, in the night club and he paid a large amount of money to her boss and boyfriend in one person, so Talin the stripper accompanied them to the Alps. 
The holiday was a total disaster. Bruno didn’t want to touch Talin, so Cyril took her from him. Talin was controled by her jealous boss/boyfriend. One day Aneta met her boyfriend on the piste with his family. But she didn’t have a clue about the fact, that her “true love” was married. So her fairy tale had ended. Bruno wanted to revenge his sister and started a fight with Aneta’s ex boyfriend. Everything that happened on this trip had gone wrong, so Aneta and Bruno decided to go back home. 
The other storyline showed Talin and her boyfriend who decided to find the place in the Alps where they stayed. He arrived there with his friend and was told, that the relationship between him and Talin was over. He was so angry and he wanted to kill Talin and Cyril. He and his friend tried to make some plans and suddenly they were stopped by the regular police check. They were both not very clever, so they admitted without any reason, that they were planning a murder. They ended up in prison. The whole story ended at the cemetery at Bruno’s funeral. Talin was happy with Cyril and Aneta had a new boyfriend.
The good points of the book are, that reader can find there nice metaphors, idioms and irony. He uses nice expressions and simple language. The author wanted to secretly show typical facts about the Czech society, government and about Czech personalities. I really like this fact about his books, it’s his style of writing. Everyone can find something special for themselves in his books. And that’s one of the strengths of the book. You can find there very believable characters. 
I have also seen the movie inspired by this book, but the movie wasn’t so good because they changed some important facts from the book. I prefer the book, so I would recommend you read the book first and then see the movie. I wouldn’t say any negative points about the book. However maybe I can remark one. The weakness of the book is that the reader can be a little bit lost in the plot sometimes.Despite this I would highly recommend this book to everyone who likes ironical, satirical stories. And to anyone who likes to think about the book in other way. You  will love Viewegh’s style or hate it. So what will you choose love it or hate it? Read his books and make your own opinion. 
Barbora - Czech Republic


Das Gläserne TorThere was a time when I often went to the library and I went into the corner of fantasy and historical novels and choose some books (which) I probably would like. So one of these books was called Das Gläserne Tor, in English something like Glass Gate. I was really curious about it and started to read it. The author is Sabine Wasserman.

It is a book about two different worlds which exist beside each other but nobody knows the other world. The book starts in the 18th century on a little island in Germany. A man and a woman do an archaelogical excavation. Suddenly the woman sees a light in the water, goes to the light-place and disappears. She dives into another world and has a lot of experiences and adventures there.

When I finished that book (I really hesitated to finish it. It was so good) I found out that there is a second book called  Die Eiserne Welt (Heyne 2009), something like the Iron World. So it was the continuation of the first book and my life was saved.

The reason why I wanted to introduce these books to you is because they were fantastic and unpredictable from the beginning till the end. You never expect the things which happen in the book.The author has a nice way to describe and tell things and the story keeps fresh with the author`s different and changeable ideas. Some things are more realistic than others but you can really imagine what is meant and how I could see it. I couldn`t say anything bad about the books. I highly recommend these books because of the excitement and variety. While you are reading you become intensely involved and sometimes you think you are a part of these two worlds. I was lost in it. Try it, it's amazing.
Stephanie - Switzerland 

The Fault In Our Stars. Recently I haven’t had much time to read anything but school books. However now I’m finishing up the book ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green. It’s a novel that’s not inspired by real life events and the author himslef emphasized this at the beginning of the book. The title of the book is inspired by Shakespeare’s play ‘Julius Caesar’ in which Cassius says to Burtus: ‘‘The fault, dear Burtus, is not in our stars,/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’’ 
The story is narrated by a 16 year old girl cancer patient Hazel whose parents forced her to go to the support group because they thought that she was getting depressed. There she meets a 17 year old boy Augustus Waters, who was also a cancer patient and now he is an amputee, with whom she falls in love. The two of them embark on an incerdible journey which leads them all the way to Amsterdam where they will meet the author of her favourite book, which ends in an unusual way.
What I love the most about this novel is that throughout the whole book your emotions are going to be on a roller coaster. One minute you are going to be laughing so hard that you might fall off your chair and the next you will cry like never before in your life. The only negative aspect about the book is that some might find it too depressing when in fact if you take your time and really think about it, you will find out that the book is really about coming to terms with the fact that your life will almost certanly never rise above insignificance and the impact that terminal diseases have on the families of the patients and teenagers coming to terms with who they really are and not with the disease they may have. For me that is increadably inspirational and makes me live my life to the fullest it can be. It’s the melange of comedy, romance, mind twists and inspirations that’s hard to pull off and kudos to John Green for achieving this. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is tired of reading the same old comedy romance books that have similar and predictable endings. Also to all of you who have lost your lust for life and just need a little bit of pushing. Finally to those of you whose mother tongue is not English, the book contains colourful and interesing language and words.   
Ivana - Serbia

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I decided to introduce this book because the story is an autobiography. I read it two years ago when I had to choose a book because of my final exam at secondary school. The novel is set somewhere in the north of England, during the reign of George III – 18th century.
The book is about a poor girl who grew up as an orphan and her life wasn’ t easy. Her parents died of typhus when she was a little child. Anyway, she lived with her uncle, aunt and three cousins. Jane’s uncle loved her, he was the one person who was able to help her but he was very busy during the day because of his job. Jane’s aunt didn’t like her, she always punished her. Every day, Jane had to stay in her bedroom, if she wanted to play some games with other children she couldn’t.  The bedroom was black and dark, it was a very bad surrounding for a little child.  As a student Jane decided to leave this family so she moved to Thornfield Hall where she found a job teaching and caring for a little French girl. During the job she found a nice husband who loved her and she could start to live her life again as a happy woman.
The positive thing which I should say is that the plot made sense and it was easy to understand what happened. It was a  really exciting story. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I would recommend this book. I think that everyone should read it. After reading (it) everybody will be happy and grateful for their family. This story contains a real event and leaves an impression on the readers because they imagine the story on themselves.
Veronika - Czech Republic

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, who is from America. It is based on non-fiction in the present and Mitch’s life. It focused on the main character and how to live our life and society. He was a busy person to work everyday. He didn’t have his own time and he couldn’t even spend time with his girlfriend. One day he saw Morrie Schwartz, who was his university professor, on the TV program. He had become a terminally ill but he tried to cheer up other people there. Mitch and him were really close, like family, in university so he decided to go to Morrie’s house. After meeting him, Morrie wanted to go to the last lecture for him on happiness, death, life etc. They reflected Morrie’s view of life and ethics. 
After finishing my university exam, I had quite a lot of spare time. I thought it was the time to read books. I usually don’t read hurtful book so I was eager to try them. When I found this one, I thought it was an ordinary story. However, it was amazingly the most fantastic book I have ever read. My favourite part of the book is that they discuss love. I like the idea of love for Morrie. Mitch was also moved by Morrie’s idea and he chose to change his life dramatically. I would like to say what Morrie says but I think you should try to find out through the book by yourself. I hope you will like Morrie’s view. The only negative thing I would say about the book is that it is too sorrowful and hurtful. This book is getting closer to the time at the end, I put it down several times. I really didn’t want to know what happened next. This was the first time I had done that in my life. After finishing it, I couldn’t stop crying and I ran out of tissues at the time. I understood a hero’s feeling and completely like Mitch. 

I would super recommend this book for everyone, especially a person who is really tired of life or think that life’s boring. It makes us rethink our life. What is the happiest in our life. What is the most important. You will be moved.
Shoko - Japan

Friday, 4 July 2014

Classic Books Become London Benches

Literary classics ranging from Peter Pan to The Day of the Triffids are being celebrated in a series of colourful illustrated benches.
Designed by artists and writers to look like open books, the 50 seats have been placed around London.
Cartoonist Ralph Steadman and How To Train Your Dragon creator Cressida Cowell are among those taking part.
The idea has been launched by the National Literacy Trust to celebrate reading.
"I am hoping Books about Town will remind Londoners on the streets of the joy of reading books."
Paddington Bear bench

How to Train your Dragon bench

Clarice Bean bench

James Bond 007 bench

The benches will be auctioned at London's Southbank Centre on 7 October to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust to tackle illiteracy in deprived communities across the UK. The trust has also unveiled the findings of a study showing children's enjoyment of reading has increased. © BBC News Online
What was your favourite book as a child?



PS In case you don't know what a 'bench' is, this is an ordinary bench: