27 March 2011

José María reviews 'The children of the New Forest'


Author: Captain Frederick Marryat

Simplified ... by Michael West

Edited: London : Longman, 1976

Genre: Adventure

Level: Pre-intermediate

The Setting:

The CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST is a historical novel originally written for young people, by Captain Frederick Marryat and published for the first time in 1847. This book is a brief and simplified version of the original work.

The story takes place during the English Civil War (1642–1651) when the disputes between the Parliament and King Charles II ended with the rise of the puritans that were led by Cronwel. The Puritans were known as Round Heads due to the form of their hats.

King Charles was defeated and then executed by the rebels. Cronwel was made Lord Protector and Englan turned into a republican Commonwealth. Under his dictatorship, from then on, he initiated an implacable and cruel persecution of all his enemies: the suspects of loyalty to the King, the Catholics, the Scottish and the Irish people.

The New Forest, situated in the south of England, was and still remains , a Royal Forest, it has been used by the kings to go hunting. Nowadays it is a National Park.

The Plot:

Colonel Beverley, who died in the battle of Naseby, was loyal to the King. When the Rounds Heads burned their mansion in the New Forest, his orphaned children escaped a certain death, thanks to a loyal servant, an elderly forest guard. Pretending they were his own grandsons, the forest guard was able to protect the children's lives. In addition, the children, two boys and two girls, discover a new life in the forest and how to do things by themselves

The story continues with diverse vicissitudes and adventures throughout the history of England in those days, until the moment the Restoration by King Charkes III takes place 9 years later. The children, already adults, will recover then their family estate.


In my opinion the novel is quite easy to read. I think the reading is pleasant and interesting since it hooks the reader until the end, at least to anyone who likes the historical novel. Although it is a brief version, the author's message remains clear enough He tries to instill the children in the Victorian era, values such as honor, loyalty and the spirit of self-sacrifice.

In short, it is an enjoyable novel, I recommend it.

Review by José María Yáñez

(2nd year basic level)

24 March 2011

Patricia reviews 'David Copperfield'

Title: David Copperfield

Author: Charles Dickens

Genre: Novel

Publisher: Macmillan

Level: Intermediate

Brief summary of the plot:

David Coperfield was born in 1820 in England. His father died before he was born, so he lives only with his mother, Mrs. Coperfield. Later, his mother marries Mr. Murdstone, who David thought that was a merciless man.

David began do worse in his studies, and Mr. Murdstone argued with him all the time. One day, David bit him, and Mr. Murdstone decided to send David to Salem-house.

When David’s mother died, he had to return to his house, and Mr. Murdstone sent him to a factory, in London. David managed to escape and go to Dover and look for his only known relative, his aunt: Besty Trotwood.

Personal opinion:

People who like novels like “Oliver Twist”will like this book. It is a highly entertaining read: the prominent figures appear and disappear constantly, this way you will not get bored while reading it. It is a great and heart warming book. I definitely recommend that you add this to your collection!

23 March 2011

Arancha reviews 'My cousin Rachel'

Review by Arancha Rodriguez Bernardo

Author : Daphne du Maurier

This story was written by Daphne du Maurier and first published in 1951.
This edition was published in 1992 by Heineman elt publishing house at Intermediate level.
It is a thriller where feelings like love and economical interests are dangerously related.

Philip Ashley was only a child when his parents died. His cousin Ambrose, a rich and unmarried man twenty years older than him becomes his guardian and Philip his only heir.

When Philip is twenty two, Ambrose leaves to Italy and meets Rachel, a charming woman. He falls in love with her and they marry.
Everything is perfect until one day when Philip receives a letter from his cousin where he says he is very ill. When Philip arrives in Ambrose's house he has already died.
Signor Rainaldi, the man who arranges things for Ambrose and his wife (money, business…) explains to him that the reason of his death was a tumour he had in his brain.
But Philiph doesn’t believe it, he thinks there is something else, so he decides to meet Rachel and find out the truth.

What happened to Ambrose?
Have Rachel and Sr.Rainaldi something to do with it?

It is an entertaining story whose end is really unpredictable and surprising.
I definitely recommend it

Anai reviews 'The Call of the Wild'


Jack London was an American writer born in San Francisco in 1876. Towards 1897 he traveled to Alaska driven by the gold rush, this trip inspired many of his works, such as “White Fang”, which became a movie , and “The call of the wild” whose plot is about the return of a civilized being to their original state and fighting for survival.

“The Call of the Wild” is a story of a dog called Buck, who´s kidnapped and sold as a sled dog in Alaska. Buck has to learn to survive in the lands of Alaska, which are new and unknown lands to him. During his trip Buck has several masters, but of them all, the one who wins Buck´s love and loyalty is John Thornton. Another character in the book is about a wolf that represents the call of the wild. Buck has to decide whether to continue with Thornton or answer the call of the wild.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it´s a really entertaining read. I really liked the story, although it has scenes of violence and cruel struggle but I think this makes it more realistic, since it´s set in a harsh environment for both dog and man.

21 March 2011

Olaya reviews The Sugar Glider'

Book review by Olaya Cachero Villaverde

1º D Intermediate Level

'The Sugar Glider' (by Rod Nielsen) is an exciting adventure book set in Australia.

In this story, a pilot called Don comes back to that country in order to spend more time with his daughter and see his ex-wife.

However, when he arrives, Paul, a friend, offers him a suspicious job: to fly a mysterious cargo from Brisbane to Melbourne. But the plane has a defect and crashes, killing Paul. After that, they will have to fight to survive in the hottest part of Australia. Don discovers that it wasn’t an accident and what they really were carrying was Uranium. So he starts to think that this was not a job for the Government and tries to return to Brisbane, where he finally meets his ex-wife and her new lover, who is a selfish and wealthy businessman.

The main characters are:

  • Don Radcliffe: a pilot who returns to Brisbane hoping to rescue a failed marriage and to spend more time with his daughter Sylvia.
  • Don’s ex-wife, now in love with P. Forsha. She still seems to feel something for Don.
  • Judy Radcliffe is don’s daughter, aged 14. She is very intelligent and brave, always willing to take risks.
  • Paul Copeman is one of Don’s oldest mates. He needs to fly “The Sugar Glider”to the Melbourne air museum.
  • Patrick Forsha is a rich and selfish businessman. He started a relationship with Sylvia 6 months ago. Don hates him.

This book develops themes like: greed, environmental awareness, the Murri people (native Australians that traditionally occupied most of modern-day Queensland) and family values.

I believe that this book is worth reading because it is impossible to put it down. I enjoyed it very much, although it is sometimes a bit predictable.

My favorite chapter in this book is Accident because it describes in a very moving way Paul‘s tragic death. It is curious the way the writer expresses the character’s feelings and makes his readers get so involved with their situations.

This story reminds me of a civil war (due to all those problems related to the Murri people who demonstrated against the government ), family love (because ,despite the disadvantages, Don and his daughter keep together loving each other) and the power of truth (when Forsha’s partner realizes he’s not the honest man he pretends to be in front of her).

Sandra reviews 'Emergency Murder'

Sandra Álvarez Artime 1º E

(1st year intermediate level)

  • Title: Emergency Murder
  • Autor: Janet McGiffin
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Publisher: Cambrigde University Press
  • Level: Upper- intermediate

  • Summary of the plot:

The story happened at midnight at Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Room. A sick woman arrived; she was called Nanette Myer and died few minutes later because of a heart attack. Her doctor, Maxine Cassidy couldn’t do anything for her.

Nanette was Dr. Hank’s wife and he couldn’t believe the death of his wife because she was healthy. Maxine ordered an autopsy of the body and a blood test, where a poison called tetrodotoxin, which comes from puffer fishes, was found.

Maxine was the main suspect because she had used this poison for her research six months before at Marquette University where she shared her lab with other collages called Virginia and Aaron.

Virginia was a famous researcher who was trying to find out the cure for leprosy.

The detective who run the the case was called Grabowsky and with the help of Maxine they found a lot of interesting clues together. Because of this reason Maxine was attacked three times. Her life was in danger.

Nanette was wearing strange clothes and she had been seen talking with some people in a rough neighbourhood the day she died. The reason of her behaviour was that she was getting information for her university degree watching “street life”.

Finally, Maxine discovered that Nanette was killed by Virginia because she found out that Virginia was doing illegal experiments with homeless people.

  • Personal opinion

In my opinion, it is an entertaining book because it starts with a death and you don’t know who the murderer is until the end. This made me want to read more and more until I finished it.

I read it quickly because ,apart of being unpredictable, it had few pages and the vocabulary wasn’t very difficult. Moreover, between Maxine and Grabowsky there is an affectionate romance that I liked.

In conclusion I like it so much and my mark is a four. I recommend it to all the people who like thrillers with a little bit of love.

20 March 2011

Yolanda reviews 'Two Lives'


“Two lives” is a romantic story written by Helen Naylor and was first published in 2001 by Cambridge.

Set in a little coal miner village called Tredonald in Wales in 1946, the novel tells the story of two sixteen year old lovers, Megan and Huw, from different social backgrounds.

Megan Jenkins is a good girl who lives with her parents. She studies and works in the family´s shop in the town.

Huw Thomas lives with his father, David, and his brother, Gareth. He studies and works in the mine too, which is the principal source of jobs to people of the town. Their life is hard because they have to survive with little money.

This book shows how love and time can overcome the difficulties of life. The story is really wonderful, romantic and realistic. The reader should think that the story maybe a pain but nothing about this because he´ll find a fresh, sweet, interesting romance.

I think this book could be read by all kind of readers that want to keep a good story in their hearts.

Ángela reviews “The Thirty-Nine Steps”

Review by Ángela Fernández Fernández-Avello

“The Thirty-Nine Steps”

By John Buchan. 1875-1940

Oxford Bookworms Library

Stage 4.

The author was a Scottish writer and politician who served as General Governor of Canada, and also worked as a correspondent in France for “The Times” when World War I began.

The main character of the book, Richard Hannay, is inspired by his close friend Edmund Ironside, an adventurer he had met in South Africa.

This is a thriller and adventure book, it tells the story of an adventurer and traveler who has just arrived in London from Africa and discovers an enormous secret about events that will lead to the First World War, having to escape from his enemies as they want to kill him.

He goes all over Great Britain trying to hide from them, he stays for a while on the Scottish moors as the police is chasing him too (for a murder he did not commit).

The book is very entertaining; it describes very well the main features of the characters and the place where the story is developed. The story has lots of action and is very surprising.

I recommend it because reading it is very enjoyable. It is so exciting that you will not want to stop reading until you get to the end.

Elena reviews 'In the Shadow of the Mountain'

Elena Álvarez Martínez

Group: L (1st year intermediate level)



“In the Shadow of the Mountain”, written by Helen Naylor is mainly an adventure novel, although it contains features of romance and drama genre with intrigue and mystery.

The story is set in United Kingdom and Switzerland. Clare Newton is a British journalist who one day gets a call notifying her that her grandfather´s body had appeared in a glacier in Zermatt, Switzerland. After this, she discovers that there was a big mystery around her grandfather`s death and she decides to travel to Zermatt to bring home the body of her grandfather and to investigate his death.

During her stay in Zermatt, while she tries to collect some information, she meets Bruno and Ulrich Grunwalder, who will help her to know more of her grandfather’s life and death in Zermatt.

The story of mystery, love and adventure that Clare lives in Switzerland, changes her way of seeing life and her linkage with her grandfather.

In my opinion, “In the Shadow of the Mountain” is well worth reading because, in general, it´s an interesting an unpredictable novel. The personalities of the characters change with the plot and you discover the mystery and get to know the characters bit by bit. The plot keeps your attention just to the end.

I think that the best part of this book is the mysterious atmosphere and the way that the book grips you, but, I especially like Clare´s personality and the love story she lives.

From my point of view, the worst part of the novel is the end. I was expecting an overwhelming and breathtaking story at the end, something more surprising than the real end of the book.

In conclusion, it is a highly entertaining book for fans of intrigue and love stories and I definitely recommend that they add this book to their collection.

19 March 2011

Studying in the US or in Britain?

Listen to the speaker talking about the differences between the U.S. and British systems of education and do the following listening activities:

18 March 2011

A Quick Biography of Barak Obama

New York City comic book artist and songwriter/performer Jeffrey Lewis performs his "low budget video" about Barak Obama:

With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas,
Barack was born in the storms of our Honolulu Island/
From Jakarta to Hawaii to Columbia U. in New York,
where he studied International Relations and Political Science/
In the '80s, in his 20s, in Chicago, he did plenty,
working as director of Developing Communities/
He started job training programs and tenants' rights organizations,
where folks needed hope he helped at all opportunities/
After doing so much good for Chicago's poor neighborhoods,
Barack saw Europe and Kenya and learned the world is one home/
At Harvard Law School he was elected head of the Law Review,
and as its first black president he first became nationally known/
He kept fightin' for ya as a civil rights lawyer,
and at Chicago U. he taught Constitutional Law/
In the state legislature he worked on welfare and healthcare,
and he was elected to the US Senate in 2004/
As Senator, Barack opposed the wasteful war in Iraq,
he knows people need help more than big corporations/
What happens next is a guess, but I'm hoping that yes,
Barack Obama will become a great president of our nation.

Now you can do the following activity based on Obama's brief biography. You have to write questions about the US president. Click on the cartoon below.

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