#RBRT Read and Review: THE OLD MAN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by AK SILVERSMITH @AkSilversmith #BookReview #Zombie

#RBRT Read and Review: THE OLD MAN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by AK SILVERSMITH @AkSilversmith #BookReview #Zombie
  • Title: The Old Man at the End of the World: Bite No. 1
  • Author: AK Silversmith
  • Published: 2017
  • Started: Wednesday 22nd February 2017
  • Finished: Friday 24th February 2017

The Old Man At The End Of The World is a short story, and the first instalment of a zombie comedy series by AK Silversmith. The plot is simple: 87-year-old Gerald Stockwell-Poulter was simply tending to his allotment when his neighbours, who have been turned into zombies, attack. The ‘zompocalypse’ – that’s zombie + apocalypse – has begun.

I thought this little story was brilliant – there wasn’t too much description to weigh down the plot and the dialogue exchanges between the characters was fast-paced. This allowed for quirky comments and sarcastic quips, which added to the humour of the overall novella.

Comedy was conveyed well, and the mix of jokes, zombies, and a stereotypical British setting reminded me very much of Edgar Wright’s ‘zom-com’ film, Shaun of the Dead, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The Old Man At The End Of The World even has jokes about a Bentley too!

This is a considerably shorter book review, for a considerably shorter book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short read, and it had me chuckling and smiling throughout.  If you liked Shaun of the Dead, I think you’ll really enjoy this!

I look forward to reading Bite No. 2, the second instalment of this series.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Old Man At The End Of The World is available to buy as an e-book from Amazon UK or Amazon.com.

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Thank you for reading my review!

Thanks for reading! This is another #RBRT review.

Thanks to AK Silversmith for sending me a free e-book copy to read. You can find her website here: aksilversmith.wordpress.com

If you enjoyed this review, please click ‘Like’ and don’t forget to ‘Follow’ for more book reviews.

– Judith

From One Blogger To Another: An Interview With Christina Philippou

From One Blogger To Another: An Interview With Christina Philippou

This week, I interviewed Christina Philippou, a writer and university lecturer from the UK. She enjoys playing and coaching sport, spending time with her family, and reading.

Chris used to be a fussy reader, and read only contemporary or crime novels. She has since learned to develop her appreciation for a wider range of genres. “Now that I’m less picky, I’ve discovered books that I love, in genres I never would have considered in the past.” she explained, “I will read pretty much anything, except pure horror or incredibly upsetting stories. I’m quite new to the romance genre, although I think erotica novels are still a step too far for me!”

Chris began her own blog about a year and a half ago, although it feels like much longer. “Blogging is ingrained in my routine now; I have been doing it all my life!” she said.

 “I realised that I was reading and reviewing so many books that it would nice to be able to share my reviews on my own platform. I also like to document thoughts on my own writing journey.”

Chris is also a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Although RBRT’s policy is to only publish book reviews with 3* or more, Chris believes negative reviews have their place.

“This may sound controversial, but I think negative, constructive reviews are useful to both writers and readers. As a reader, I always look out for negative reviews, as I feel they tell me far more than the positive ones.” Chris said.

Yet despite her stance on negative reviews, Chris has had bad experiences in the past with authors who demanded she removed 3* reviews from her blog which were deemed ‘unfavourable’.

 “Nowadays, there are so many books available in the marketplace, that you simply can’t rely on the number of reviews to judge a book by.” she said, “I find looking at 1* and 2* reviews enlightening, and I can take away important lessons about how it was written, how well the plot developed, and so on.”

“Providing they are non-malicious, negative reviews are important, and that is why I give them.”

Chris is also the second writer I’ve spoken to who has a love of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. “The BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is my favourite book-to-film adaptation, but there’s also a brilliant adaptation of Persuasion too!”

However, not only is Chris a blogger and book reviewer, she is a debut author. Her first novel, Lost in Static, was published in September last year. “I’ve always enjoyed writing; my book began as a simple creative writing project whilst I was on maternity leave, but now it’s developed into a novel!”

Lost in Static is the same story, told from four different perspectives. “I would describe the writing style as short and sharp, which is most likely a by-product of my previous job as a forensic accountant, where succinctness is key.” Chris revealed. “I’m a ‘no-frills’ kind of person, and I think my writing definitely reflects that aspect of my personality.”

Chris uses her blog to promote her book, as well as posting book reviews, interviews and suggestions for other writers. I asked her for her most important piece of advice for any aspiring writer reading this interview. She told me, “Write for yourself. It’s the best and most enjoyable way.”

You can find Christina Philippou on Twitter at @CPhilippou123 and her website is cphilippou123.com.

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Thanks for reading!

Please click ‘Like’ if you enjoyed, and  don’t forget to ‘Follow’ for more blog posts.

– Judith

Themes in: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Themes in: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

‘Reader, I married him.’

Jane Eyre is a Victorian Gothic novel, telling the story, from a first-person perspective, of the protagonist Jane Eyre. She is left in the “care” of her aunt and cousins after the death of her parents, but is treated horribly and is eventually sent away to boarding school. She grows up to train and work as a governess for the aloof and proud Mr Rochester. Jane begins to develop romantic feelings for Rochester, but she doesn’t know he is hiding a terrible secret.

To me, the most noticeable theme in Jane Eyre is Bronte’s use of the Gothic. I studied Gothic literature at A Level – not Jane Eyre sadly – but that made it easy for me to spot Gothic conventions whilst reading it.

Jane is described metaphorically as an ‘elf’, ‘changeling’ and ‘fairy’, supernatural creatures which could have either good or bad connotations, depending on which myths or fairy-tales you read. Thornfield Hall, Rochester’s home, is an isolated mansion with many abandoned rooms and secret passages, the perfect place for scary and supernatural occurrences. There is also lots of powerful colour symbolism, using key Gothic colours: black, white and red. Most notably, the Red Room, in which Jane is imprisoned as a girl, has ‘crimson’ bedcovers, ‘red’ carpets and dark, mahogany furniture to haunt and remind Jane of her uncle, whose dead body was laid out in the Red Room. The room is symbolic of Jane’s suffering, entrapment and a strong reminder of the ever-presence of death.

Another theme in Jane Eyre is love. I’ve heard many refer to Jane Eyre as one of the greatest love stories of all time. Whilst I disagree with this – I see Jane Eyre as primarily Gothic, not romantic – the theme of love is prevalent nonetheless. Jane desires to be genuinely loved and valued. This is perfectly justifiable, after being denied a true family, and the abuse she endured from her aunt and cousins. These desires are why she rejects St. John’s marriage proposal, because a marriage built around purpose or function would lack the love and value she longs for. Furthermore, this is why she rejects Rochester’s proposal to be his mistress: Jane is an independent and strong woman who will not let herself be devalued by being subject to a man’s whims and losing her integrity.

The final theme I want to talk about in Jane Eyre, which I hadn’t considered before until a lecture, is slavery, in relation to the character of Bertha. Bertha is taken by Rochester from the Caribbean and kept physically imprisoned at Thornfield Hall, out of sight. This reflects how, slaves were presented during the time of the slave trade, in paintings, for example, “lurking” behind the aristocracy, ready to obey. In addition, Bertha is always described in supernatural and animalistic ways, such as ‘clothed hyena’, ‘maniac’, and ‘shaggy locks’. These descriptions are significant because she is a white creole, and so has mixed racial heritage. This imagery suggests Bertha is “other” and exotic – like a creature – simply because of her race. This parallels the racist approach white Britons had towards non-white individuals at the time.

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Thank you for reading this blog post!

I find Jane Eyre such an enjoyable book – even if I don’t see it as a romance – and it was written by a Yorkshire woman, and it’s my Mum’s favourite book, so it has a special place in my heart, and it was a pleasure to be able to explore some of the significant aspects of the novel.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please click ‘Like’ and leave any responses you have in the comments below!

– Judith

[BONUS] Read and Review: CHILD TAKEN by DARREN YOUNG @darrenyoungbook #BookReview #CrimeThriller

[BONUS] Read and Review: CHILD TAKEN by DARREN YOUNG @darrenyoungbook #BookReview #CrimeThriller
  • Title: Child Taken
  • Author: Darren Young
  • Published: 2017
  • Date Started: Monday 13th February 2017
  • Date Finished: Sunday 26th February 2017

Child Taken is the brand new, debut thriller from Darren Young.

One summer’s day, a young Jessica Preston disappears from the beach where she was playing with her family. The police say she drowned, but her mother thinks otherwise. She thinks she was taken. 20 years later, another child goes missing, prompting a young journalist to uncover the mystery behind what really happened to Jessica. She finds someone with an explosive secret, which not only threatens to reveal the truth, but puts lives in danger.

After reading Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train last year, I’ve really grown to enjoy mystery and crime thrillers, and so it was a pleasure to read Child Taken, which follows a similar narrative style.

The chapters were a short length, which kept the pace moving, and helped easily switch between the two narrative perspectives of our female protagonists: Danni and Laura. This style heavily reminded me of The Girl On The Train, which tells the narrative through the eyes of Rachel, Anna, and Megan, and I liked this.

I particularly liked Laura, particularly because she works as a journalist, which is a position I’d like to be in myself one day, and the fact she uses her journalism to uncover a horrible secret reminds me of another Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects, which is another favourite thriller of mine.

At various points in the book, there was definite, and well-crafted suspense – one Goodreads user said Child Taken ‘sucked me in and … spat me out’ – and I can definitely see its potential to become a book that people struggle to put down.

However, the quality of writing in Child Taken wasn’t consistent; although some parts were genuinely thrilling, I felt other parts were not as good as they could have been. The reader is presented with lots of background information every time a new character is introduced which, for me, was an unnecessary information overload.

I worked out the major plot “secrets” quite a way off their “big reveal” in the climax, and I think this was because key information and key clues, in a similar way to character exposition, came all at once, rather than being subtly drip-fed into the narrative.

However, I really enjoyed Child Taken – by halfway through I was certainly “hooked” – and it’s an impressive debut novel. In places, it could do with a polish, but I think it has brilliant potential.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Child Taken will be available to buy as a paperback on Amazon UK from May 2017.

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Thank you for reading my review!

Thanks to Darren Young and Red Door Publishing for sending me a proof copy to read and review for free! I’ll leave their links below:

If you enjoyed this review, please click ‘Like’ and don’t forget to ‘Follow’ for more book reviews.

– Judith

 

WWW Wednesdays: What Am I Reading? (2)

WWW Wednesdays: What Am I Reading? (2)

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme that is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. The “rules” are simple – answer the 3 questions below:


1. What are you currently reading?

My current fiction reads are: 11.22.63 by Stephen King – this is carried over from last month’s WWW post, because it’s a huge read – as well as The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence and To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

2. What did you recently finish reading?

Since my last WWW post, I feel like I’ve finished a lot of books. I’ve finished The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, and The Man In The High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, both of which I’ve now written blog posts about. I finished Child Taken and The Old Man At The End Of The World, two brand new works sent to me to read and review by two new authors making their debuts. I’ve also been reading various short stories and poems by D.H. Lawrence*, and I’m really enjoying his style of writing.

*Hence my starting Lady Chatterley’s Lover – I already have opinions of this book forming, and a book review will almost certainly follow once I’ve finished reading it.

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve bought some more Stephen King books (I honestly don’t know why, I’ve got plenty that I haven’t read already, and I haven’t even finished 11.22.63 yet), so I’d like to get round to reading them. I’d still like to read some more Thomas Hardy too, but it’s incredibly difficult fitting everything in, with what I need to read for university as well.


Thanks for reading!

Have you read any of my choices? What are you currently reading?

– Judith


Read and Review: The Eyre Affair

Read and Review: The Eyre Affair
  • Title: The Eyre Affair
  • Author: Jasper Fforde
  • Published: 2001

The Eyre Affair draws on a mix of genres, such as humour thriller, sci-fi, detective and fantasy. It tells the story of Thursday Next, a literary detective in an alternative 1985, where everyone is obsessed with literature. The real world and the “book world” overlap, quite literally bringing citizens’ favourite book characters to life, which is all fun and games… until Jane Eyre is kidnapped.

My favourite aspect of The Eyre Affair was its witty references to “pop” literature, such as the Dickens’ books – this reminded me of Dickensian, the BBC drama set within the fictional world of Dickens – or the Shakespeare/Marlowe conspiracy theory. At times, these references seemed a little heavy-handed, but I think this excess paid off, adding to the charm of the alternative reality.

I also appreciated how Thursday’s own narrative, in some ways, mirrored the narrative of Jane Eyre. This was a clever and well-executed idea, and I enjoyed the allusion to how Thursday’s intervention and “reconstruction” of Jane Eyre resulted in the Bronte story we know and love today.

Yet despite its title, The Eyre Affair took longer than expected to focus on its main plot, the Jane Eyre kidnapping.

A lot of time was spent building the world with at times clunky or (dare I say it) cheesy sci-fi abstract descriptions, and introducing characters who, to me, held no significant role in the narrative. Although world-building is a significant part of any series, I prefer books where this description and scene-setting is done more subtly, rather than a heavy exposition.

However, the time spent in The Eyre Affair background and character descriptions may reduce the level of exposition needed further down the line, and these characters may well be more significant in future books in the Thursday Next series, so I can’t complain too much.

Overall, despite my criticisms, I really enjoyed The Eyre Affair. Although he “relies” on existing texts and authors (to an extent) to construct his own story, he blends his own ideas and style with existing characters and texts well, and it was a fun, light-hearted read.

I’d love to read the rest of the Thursday Next series, as well as more books by Jasper Fforde, an author previously unknown to me.

– Judith

Read and Review: The Man In The High Castle

Read and Review: The Man In The High Castle
  • Title: The Man In The High Castle
  • Author: Philip K. Dick
  • Published: 1962

The Man In The High Castle is an alternative history novel, presenting a future where Japan and Nazi Germany won World War II, and now rule over the USA. This book stood out to me for two reasons: I love reading Dystopias and I am also interested in the Amazon Prime series (I’m a stickler for reading the book before adaptations).

I’ll admit, it was harder than I expected to follow the plot because the book regularly switched between various characters, to allow exploration of Dystopian America through different sets of eyes. However, I just wasn’t able to engage with some of these characters – like Tagomi, Childan and Baynes.

The plotlines I enjoyed the most were the stories of Frank and Juliana, an estrange married couple, who have different lives and face different struggles. This reminded me very much of Winston Smith and his estranged wife Katharine in Orwell’s masterful Dystopia, 1984.

I also noticed other similarities to 1984, such as a subversive writer (Hawthorne Abendsen / Emmanuel Goldstein) who pens a book that challenges the totalitarian state and seeks to reveal the truth (The Grasshopper Lies Heavy / The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism).

Dystopian fiction such as The Man In The High Castle seems all the more important, given the current political climate in America. It demonstrates how extreme certain individual’s views on race can become, and the dangers of redefining what “truths” and “facts” are – I’m sure plenty of people have already drawn parallels between Nazi Germany and Trump’s America.

What I found most enjoyable about The Man In The High Castle is its blend of fact and fiction – sometimes it is so seamless, I’m incredibly thankful that I studied Hitler and the Third Reich for my History A Level to be able to pick apart what is genuine historical evidence, and what is a distorted version of events. This is exacerbated when some of the characters begin to see through the façade of totalitarian America. The glass shatters, the curtain is pulled back, and they see the “facts” for what they are: lies.

The ending of the book is very open-ended, and I’m left with lots of questions. Normally, I prefer neat endings, because most open-endings I read are more like weak cliff-hangers. However, I don’t dislike the ending to The Man In The High Castle – it’s given me lots to think about – I want to go away and read more about the book, its plot, its world and its themes.

I found 1984 entertaining, The Man In The High Castle fascinating, and you should read both.

– Judith