RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2014

Renée Knight’s ‘Disclaimer’

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you?

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew…

I chose this book because I found the premise very intriguing and mysterious which is not what I normally go for. I’m more often found reading something comedic or romantic fiction so this was a step outside of my comfort zone for me and at first I was a little disappointed. When I was younger I would also delve into the worlds of science fiction so I was expecting something more along those lines, assuming that the reason that the novel was telling her life was supernatural especially as according to the description the novel just ‘appears’ but that was not the case. So yes, I was a little bit disappointed when I first started reading. But that expectation and disappointment unfortunately lead to some confusion. Because I was looking for the usual themes and tropes that one would find in a Sci-Fi novel and not finding them I couldn’t get a grasp on how the novel worked. Different voices are portrayed from different times and slowly they converge towards the middle of the book. But each chapter doesn’t tell you who’s voice you are hearing, just the rough date from which it comes. Once I cast off my preconceptions it was much easier to get along with. Once I stopped thinking about what the novel could have been or the way I wanted it to be it was much easier to enjoy the story it actually was.

The story is, as the description says, it is about a woman who finds a book on her bedside cabinet but she has no idea who put it there and as she begins to read it she realises that someone has written a book about a dark period in her life, a period that she has never spoken to anyone about and, as far as she knew. she was the only person alive who knew about it. The book follows both her struggle with finding the author and controlling the fallout from the implications of the novel as well as the following the writer and their motivations and fight to ruin Catherine’s life. What I liked in particular about this novel was that facts and connections are introduced slowly, just dropped into the narrative as if they are unimportant but then are repeated, making it a little more obvious each time. At first I found this annoying as we knew very little so it was just the same hints over and over but nothing to give you any clarification of the thoughts running through our protagonists’ heads. But as the story develops and more connections are made it becomes clearer but not clear. It’s a typical ‘answers leaving you with more questions’ scenario.

But what I found interesting is that as the reader you get sucked into the lives of the characters, it is easy to see how the novel encourages you to take sides which can change at any moment depending on the developments that arise because there are effectively three stories here. Catherine’s, The author’s and the story itself ‘The Perfect Stranger’ that winds up on her bedside cabinet. So as their narratives develop, excerpts from the novel are given to us and the voices of people long since dead are revealed the perspective shifts, our understanding of events shifts. And I’m ashamed to admit it is far too easy to get swept along by ‘The Perfect Stranger’ without considering how much of it is fiction. I can honestly say that the twists and turns taken by the novel took me by surprise more often than not and I am one of those annoying people who prides myself on always knowing what’s going to happen next. But for me this novel was a bit like The Sixth Sense, you don’t see it coming but when you look back, when the characters look back, you realise the clues were all there.

Considering that I started out quite coldly towards this novel, struggling to pick it back up (That’s why it’s been so long since I’ve posted and for that I apologise) by the end I was quite invested and ended up staying up half of the night to see how it concludes. Mystery novel are not normally something I’d go for but based on this novel I might try another should one come up. I would recommend you try this one even if like me it is not what you’re used to, but if you do, prepare to commit yourself to it and stick it out to see where it goes. I guarantee it’s not where you’d expect it to. If you liked the sound of it and think it’s right up your alley then keep an eye out for it in April 2015!

Then you can let me know what you think!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Literature Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark Monday

Hi Guys. This week I’m going to have a go at the Bookmark Monday meme hosted by Guiltless Reading.

20141208_133110

I apologise for the poor photography but I wanted to share this sweet little bookark with you made by my mama 🙂 She’s been making trinkets for years but she’s just started thinking about marketing them. I have been the recipient of all her trinkets but this is my favourite bookmark so far. And I thought it was particularly apt to choose the angel since IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Brooke Davis’ ‘Lost and Found’

Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl who always wears red wellington boots to match her red, curly hair. But one day, Millie’s mum leaves her alone beneath the Ginormous Women’s underwear rack in a department store, and doesn’t come back. Agatha Pantha is an eighty-two-year-old woman who hasn’t left her home since her husband died. Instead, she fills the silence by yelling at passers-by, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Until the day Agatha spies a little girl across the street.Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven years old and once typed love letters with his fingers on to his wife’s skin. He sits in a nursing home, knowing that somehow he must find a way for life to begin again. In a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. 

Together, Millie, Agatha and Karl set out to find Millie’s mum. Along the way, they will discover that the young can be wise, that old age is not the same as death, and that breaking the rules once in a while might just be the key to a happy life. 

What first drew me to this novel was that it had been likened to The Hundred Year Old Man which I bought many years ago but have never gotten around to reading. But reading the blurb of both novels I could already see the similarities even down to the fact that once I’d read them I thought ‘this is going to be hilarious, I must have them’. And I wasn’t disappointed, I found this novel to be laugh out loud in places, uncomfortable in others and even heart-wrenching in places. But what impressed me the most about this story is its ability to deal with very difficult issues like that of loss and death and abandonment in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily expect as well as bringing genuine life to the characters and their perspectives.

Each character reacts to and deals with their lose in different ways, the most amusing being Agatha who chooses to become a nightmare neighbour, never leaving her wilderness of a home and yelling at passers-by . The most interesting being Millie, Davis seems to get right into the psyche of a child and perfectly displays what you’d imagine the inside of a child’s head to be. But at the same time capturing the simplicity with which children can see the world and cut to the heart of an issue without worrying about propriety, applying unique forms of logic leading to moments of complete and profound clarity like the passage below:

‘The start date and the end date are always the important bits on the gravestones, written in big letters. The dash in between is so always so small you can barely see it. Surely the dash should be big and bright and amazing, or not, depending on how you had lived. Surely the dash should show how this Dead Thing had lived. Did Errol ever know that his life would be just a dash on a gravestone? That everything he did and all the food he ate and the car trips he took and the kisses he gave would all end up as a line on a rock? In a park with a whole lot of strangers?’

What really strikes you throughout this novel however is the sense that neither generation seem to be able to get a handle on the world, to make sense of the people around them. We are never given the perspective of anyone who is not a child or an octogenarian but we are shown their interactions with the average citizen but only as far as to show how our protagonists consider the world. The phrase ‘Once an adult, twice a child’ has never been more apparent than while I was reading this book. Those at the beginning of life are still learning how to navigate the world and society and those at the end of their lives come to realise that it doesn’t matter what you do because ‘you’re going to die’ as Millie would tell you… repeatedly so do what you like.

Considering that, by and large, this novel comes across as a comedy or at the very least highly amusing, it deals with very complex and very dark issues. The comedy makes it more palatable but I found a deep sadness at the heart of this story that when I let my mind linger on it made my eyes well up and my heart sad. But I also found an admiration for Davis because it is she that has achieve all this, taken the time to consider these topics and put them across to the reader that makes it enjoyable to read but does not compromise the tragedy of it whilst acknowledging that it’s never too early to consider the world and it’s never too late to reclaim it.

I know, I know, I’ve loved every novel I’ve reviewed so far but what can I say? I know what I’m going to like and I very much liked this one. I whole heartedly recommend this book to any and everyone. I might even go so far as to say this is my favourite book for review to date (out of all three of them, yes). Worry not, I will be reading Disclaimer by Renee Knight next and I have no idea how I will feel about it, it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse but I will keep you posted. But yes to sign off, I challenge you to read the blurb and not think that Lost and Found is a must read…

 Don’t you think?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 7, 2014 in Literature Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Staking the Shelves Saturday

STSmall

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Hi Guys, this is my first ever participation in a meme so wish me luck and bare with, I’m still trying to work out the dos and don’ts. The reason why I chose this one as my first is because it seems to make the most sense, up until now I’ve just been posting the reviews for the things that I’ve read recently but had no idea how to warn you about what was coming up. I toyed with the idea of having a virtual bookshelf widget or plug in but alas it was not to be (far too complicated to achieve for me!). So when I found this meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews I thought it was the next best thing! But as I said, I’m new to this world so if I do go slightly awry or forget to do something etc do let me know, it’s the only way I’ll learn after all. So yes… to my shelves!

To kick off I’m going to with the story I’m currently reading which is Lost and Found by Brooke Davis. It’s a lovely little story that takes very dark topics from unique perspectives and makes them fun! I’m a fair way through it now so I should (fingers crossed) have a review up in a few days, university permitting.

The rest of these are in no particular order but I do think I might read Disclaimer by Renee Knight next as the storyline is really intriguing. Imagine that you find a book one day and it happens to be the story of your life. I can imagine any of us would freak if we happened upon that book on one of our literary sprees!

The Orphan of Torundi had me at ‘Blending espionage elements akin to The Bourne Identity with those high-school-awkward-moments’ I just had to find out how they’ve done it! Who could resist?

The Beauty was recommended to be by a friend so I thought I’d give it a go. I have my reservations but the whole reason I joined NetGalley was to introduce me to new things so… why not.

This is another book that is slightly out of my comfort zone in that its full of mystery and intrigue. It seems to be a very complex and reflective novel that I am very much looking forward to.

The Day We Disappear was an impulse request for me, it’s right up my street. A little romantic fiction featuring young women trying to make their way in the world. Just the thing to get me through the Christmas season me thinks. But this novel will always have a place in my heart as it was the first book to earn me an auto-approval on NetGalley. Made my day.

So there it is, my virtual bookshelf as it appears now. If you would like to know more about any of these books just click on the images and it should (in theory) take you to its page on Goodreads. Realistically, there is no way that I’m going to get through all of these books in a week or even a month. So I might pick a day, perhaps the first Saturday of each month, to tell you what I’ve got sitting on my shelves waiting for us. I dare say there may be some that are on the list from one month to the next but I shall do my best.

But enough from me now, what’s on your shelves? Would any of these make it on? Let me know 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

The Old Vic’s Screening of ‘The Crucible’

Richard Armitage stars in Arthur Miller’s classic American drama brought vividly to life in this visceral new production by internationally acclaimed director Yaël Farber.In a small tight-knit community, personal grievances collide with lust and superstition, fuelling widespread hysteria. Miller’s timeless parable attacks the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.

Before watching this production of The Crucible I knew very little about the play and even less about the Salem Witch trials so I went with a completely open mind. When my friend first asked me if I wanted to go with her I agreed purely for the opportunity to go to the Old Vic and see the wonderful and dashing Mr Armitage live. It was later, and much to her mirth, that she informed me that I wouldn’t have to figure a way to get down to London on a Thursday after classes and be back in Nottingham for classes Friday morning.But my little anecdote illustrates the beauty of theatre screenings in local cinemas, making powerful, moving and renowned plays more accessible those who show an interest but are not fortunately situated and for that I am supremely grateful. The Crucible is not one to miss, it was crafted so simply but left the audience feeling raw and some (myself included) moved to tears. Visceral is absolutely right, feelings of fear and dread for characters but also a feeling of futility as you know there’s nothing that as the audience you can do to stop it.

The fact that you are watching on a screen rather than in the theatre does dramatically alter the way you watch it but with this production there was the impression that the directors were aware of this and used it to their advantage, to support the production as a whole. One example of this is during the set changes. At the theatre you would normally just sit and ignore the fact that various people walk on and off the stage with the set because you know it’s not a part of the play but it is a necessity. But because the camera mediates what we see in the cinema, the production team is a liberty to play with what we see. In the case of this screening slow motion and layering of frames were used to distort the stage so that yes we could still see that the props were being changed but the actors were also kept in view at all times but moving unnaturally slowly and somewhat transparent. This added to the eerie supernatural feeling that underpins the play itself. There was also excellent use of non-diagetic music to once again leave the audience feeling on edge and uncomfortable. I cannot say whether the music was used in the theatre production or purely for the screening but the use of music vs silence was expertly balanced. There were times when I hadn’t even noticed that the dark poignant had started up again until they stopped, leaving an eerie silence and a creepy stillness.

The play itself is testament to the actors and their talent as there is actually very little action to speak of throughout, barring the viciousness movements of the girls being possessed. There was mostly dialogue, conversation between characters but at no point did the story feel like it was dragging because of it. I never found myself asking when something was actually going to happen. In fact, when the intermission commenced, one of my friends turned and said ‘has it been two hours already?’ the drama was so gripping. If anything, because there is such a stillness about the play, it makes it all the more startling when there is suddenly an outburst of movement. I especially liked that the production was performed in the round which gave the camera the liberty of capturing any angle, nothing was hidden from us. The audience was all around and so the actors were more authentic as they didn’t have to cater to the fourth wall.

Arhur Miller’s play by nature makes you question ideals such as truth, honour, theology and loyalty to name a few. As I have never seen another production of The Crucible I cannot vouch for how successful it ordinarily is to convey those complexities but I will say that in this production I would defy anyone to come out the same person that they went in. I defy anyone not to leave heart sore or at the very least reflective. If this production is being shown at a cinema near you I implore you, take the time to go and see it. It is truly worth three and a half hours of your time more than any evening tv you could surely catch up on another time.

Don’t you think?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Cinema Review, Theatre Review

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Charlie N Holmberg’s ‘The Paper Magician’

Paper-Magician-RD-3-fullsize

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg,The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.

As I have been mostly reading my course texts in recent years it has been a while since I’ve been able to sink my teeth into a good Sci-Fi and Holmberg’s The Paper Magician has made for a wonderful reintroduction. The world she creates is not all that much different from our own, located in London with recognisable sights.

The magic she uses is very subtle, the paper magic is explained in a way that is so simple that it seems almost plausible, almost as though all we’ve been missing is the magic bond to bring our origami works of art to life. It is detailed enough that you can tell her explanations are well thought out but not so much so that it is almost painful to follow. Also, for me it was almost like a mystery novel as although the story is linear in its plot there are hints continuously through out to events that happened before the story began, references that mean nothing to us because we don’t know what’s gone on previously. But Holmberg doesn’t tell all up front, she leaves bread crumbs to leave you intrigued as to what the characters are referring to and makes you wait to make sense of them, as the other characters find out, so do we. Holmberg shows a creativity and an imagination that is highly refreshing because its not outlandish, you get the impression that she looked at the world around her and thought about what could be rather than making up a world of her own in which you have complete control and can make it exactly how you want it.

The narrative itself takes place over a surprisingly short amount of time, mere weeks in the world of the story but that does not seem to effect the pace of the story, at no point did it feel like the story was being padded or drawn out as can often be the case when an entire novel tells only a short amount of time. The middle/main portion of the story is repetitive, in the sense that there was a quest like formula that the protagonist had to get through, but that didn’t make it boring. In fact I found myself at the end of the story in no time wondering how it could possibly end there, I wanted to know what happened! I was bitterly disappointed when I went to get the next story, having already read the first teaser chapter from the sequel at the end, only to find that NetGalley had archived it the day I finished the first novel!

My favourite aspect of Holmberg’s writing was her descriptions and great imagery, okay it helped that I’m fairly familiar with London anyway, but I really enjoyed the descriptions.It was almost as if I were the paper magician reading the words to life around me, which is something coming from a girl who just likes to cut to the good stuff and ordinarily ignores the scenery. As a bookseller, I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to customers who are thinking about trying out Sci-Fi but don’t want to be thrown into the deep-end. It is not the best novel you will have read but who needs that from every novel. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I would be eager to get my hands on the sequel of just to see where its going! And that’s all one can ask when they pick up a book and are whisked off into another world.

Don’t you think?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2014 in Literature Review

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

Books, Movies, Art, Writing, and Cats

mommablogsalot.com

I'm kind of a big deal.

Romance Novels for the Beach

Find out which sexy books to bring with you, or leave behind, on your next beach vacation.

Q's Book Blog

Book Reviews. Discover Good Books to Read.

The Literary Sofa

with Isabel Costello

A Daily Rhythm

Dream Big, Live Free

Perception

Photography. Life.

the literate lens

photography, writing and the spaces between

Arthouse Photography

A curiously refreshing WordPress.com site