Read and Review: A Clockwork Orange

Read and Review: A Clockwork Orange
  • Title: A Clockwork Orange
  • Author: Anthony Burgess
  • Published: 1962

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel set in a future English society where extreme youth violence is common.

‘He and his gang rampage through a dystopian future, hunting for terrible thrills.’

The book’s protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits of and experiences with authorities who attempt to reform his behaviour.

As I first started reading A Clockwork Orange, I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it! While a short book, is written in unusual futuristic slang that I initially found hard to understand. This is the same barrier that I faced when reading Trainspotting.

However, the brain is a remarkable thing and adjusts to new styles of writing relatively quickly. Once I was accustomed to the language, the narrative was fairly easy to follow.

In another similarity with Trainspotting, Alex is a roguish protagonist who speaks directly to the audience through direct address – using phrases like ‘Your Humble Narrator’ – which creates a jovial tone, even while he describes the horrible things he’s seen, said and done.

The plot is filled with taboo acts and violence, and the attempts to correct Alex’s behaviour seem akin to experimentation on animals.

Alex’s acts of violence upon others are contrasted with the acts of “corrective” violence imposed upon him by the state, suggesting that within certain contexts, inflicting cruelty on others is acceptable or even advocated as the right thing to do.

The book also questions free will: If it were possible to eradicate someone’s free will to prevent them committing a crime, is that acceptable? Yet the removal of free will leaves the individual completely at risk of being controlled by another – another who may utilise this power for ill themselves.

I don’t think A Clockwork Orange answers these questions, and these are only my initial thoughts upon a first reading.

Hopefully, once I’ve explored some further analysis of the book, I’ll be able to look at these questions again.

***

Thanks for reading!

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

– Judith

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Read and Review: Airborn

Read and Review: Airborn
  • Title: Airborn
  • Author: Kenneth Oppel
  • Published: 2004

Airborn is a young adult steampunk* / alternative history / adventure novel. The aeroplane has not yet been invented, and airships are the main form of transportation instead.

*Steampunk: A genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery.

The story follows two teenage characters: Matt Cruse, a cabin boy for the airship Aurora, and Kate de Vries, a wealthy passenger aboard the Aurora. After a rocky introduction and some differing opinions, the two grow closer and attempt to discover a new species of flying creature, following clues to its existence left behind by Kate’s grandfather.

Airborn was an unusual read, and definitely not a book I would normally choose.

The opening of the book was incredibly dramatic – a rare find for novels in the YA spectrum – and this made the story seem immediately engaging. Furthermore, the plot regularly features action-packed scenes with dramatic or unpredictable twists that truly felt as if they could have been in a film; Oppel’s writing in places is vivid and cinematic.

I quite liked the mix of genres; this assisted my enjoyment of the story greatly, because without an explicit genre to conform to, genre conventions (and stereotypes) were fewer and further between, and much more subtle – this is another rare find within the YA spectrum.

Airborn is written in the first-person, which is not my favourite narrative style. Yet I was impressed that expository information about the characters and the world in which Airborn is set was subtly dropped in throughout the book. This characterisation allows you to learn more, the more you read,  which is a lovely alternative to the “information dump” technique** favoured by many other first-person narratives.

**The “information dump” technique provides minor details that have little relation to the plot all in one go – usually at the very start of the book – and looks a little like this:

“I suppose I should tell you about myself. I’m 5’1, I have long brown hair and blue eyes. I like reading and writing. My favourite colour is blue. Anyway, back to the plot….”

Airborn Screenshot 1

However, despite my enjoyment of the story and the characterisation, I had some minor issues with some of Oppel’s writing. The first-person perspective, whilst it isn’t bad, leads to Matt describing his feelings frequently and unnecessarily generally these feelings involve a tingle*** down his spine, a tingle across his back or a tingle in his mind.

***I don’t believe anyone should tingle that much.

Oppel also overly relies on some words I have gradually been growing a dislike of, such as ‘chuckle’ and ‘guffaw’. I will admit though, these issues are nit-picky and didn’t damage my perception of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the majority of Airborn, and if you like alternative history, science fiction, action and adventure, young adult, or any other genre – there’s a strong chance you too will like Airborn!

***

Thanks for reading!

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? (7)

WWW Wednesdays: What Am I Reading? (7)

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?

I have 3 novels on the go currently; Wise Children by Angela Carter, Middlemarch by George Eliot, and Dreamcatcher by Stephen King.

2. What did you recently finish reading?

Last month, I was in a reading slump and hadn’t read much at all. This month has been the exact opposite!

I’ve read:

  • [re-read] Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
  • Painted by Kirsten McKenzie
  • Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
  • Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  • The Teacher by Katerina Diamond
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Thinner by Richard Bachman / Stephen King

When I get going, I think my reading average is roughly 3 books a week!

I’m working on writing and posting book reviews for most of these books; the benefit of reading a lot not only means I can cross more books off my Goodreads list but I can generate more blog content!

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

I have no idea! I’ve been reading quite an eclectic mix of books at the minute, so I could pick up absolutely anything.


– Judith

The Taylor Swift Book Tag

The Taylor Swift Book Tag

Recently, I’ve been listening to a LOT of Taylor Swift, a singer I’ve been an on/off fan of since being a young teen. Yet for some reason, I’ve been listening to lots of her songs, so this Tag Tuesday, the Taylor Swift Book Tag seemed like an obvious choice. Let’s answer some Qs with some As then!

1. We Are Never Ever Getting Backing Together: Pick book you were sure you were in love with, but then wanted to break up with

I really liked the Twilight series as a young teen – I read them all in less than a week. In hindsight, I’m not sure they were the best books ever written. Plus, the franchise on a whole gets a lot of criticism, so it can be a bit embarrassing to admit that I liked them. (So I’m combating this by telling 300+ people that I liked the Twilight books… sure)

2. Red: Pick a book with a red cover

I’d have to choose my beautiful edition of And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie (1939), which features the characters as portrayed in the 2015 BBC adaptation. If you haven’t read the book, you need to! If you haven’t watched the TV series, you need to! They’re both brilliantly made and very enjoyable.

3. The Best Day: Pick a book that makes you feel nostalgic

This question reminds me of my My Life In Books Challenge, where I talked about different books I read and loved as a child. I would probably have to say The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911) because I loved it as a little girl, and I feel like I can connect to the book’s characters and events, given its Yorkshire backdrop.

4. Love Story: Pick a book with forbidden love

I really don’t read many love stories, and none with a sense of “forbidden” love. I’d probably have to choose the classic, Romeo and Juliet (1597) – which is also referenced in Taylor’s song!

5. I Knew You Were Trouble: Pick a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love

There are so many! I love a good villain. I’d definitely say Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights (1847). I’d also say Count Olaf, from the Series of Unfortunate Events books, O’Brien from 1984 (1949) or Camille’s mother from Sharp Objects (2006). Then there’s always Macbeth and Lady Macbeth too…

6. Innocent: Pick a book that someone ruined the ending for

I’m notorious for avoiding spoilers at all costs (unless I accidentally find out something myself). My brother ruined a lot of books and films for me as a child, although no specific memories spring to mind. He probably told me a lot of the Harry Potter storylines before I’d been able to read them for myself…

7. Everything Has Changed: Pick a book character who goes through extensive character development

My knee-jerk reaction is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice (1813). At the start of the book, Elizabeth is headstrong, but shows she can be sassy, judgmental and prejudiced (all three of which towards Darcy). In the same way, Darcy is proud, arrogant and reluctant to show his true feelings. Both characters learn to open up to each other, as well as other people, and they round out as characters towards the end of the book.

8. You Belong With Me: Pick your most anticipated book release

At the minute, I’ve heard Crystin Goodwin is working on a fourth book in her Blessings of Myrillia series. I’ve read all three and reviewed them (UnBlessed, Fire Blessed, Ice Blessed) and I really like the fantasy / young adult path Goodwin has taken the books down, and I can’t wait to read the next one!

9. Forever and Always: Pick your favourite book couple

I would either say Mr and Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice (1813) because they’re such hilarious characters, or Henry and Clare from The Time Traveller’s Wife (2003) because they have such a wonderful, loving relationship.

10. Teardrops On My Guitar: Pick a book that made you cry

I don’t cry at books! I don’t cry at films either. I guess I’m just a cold-hearted, meanie of a blogger…

Those are my answers! Would you have picked different books?

That’s all for now!

– Judith

The Sims Book Tag

The Sims Book Tag

This September, it is officially 2 years since The Sims 4 was released! If you aren’t aware, The Sims games are hugely popular; they are life simulation video games where you can create Sims (people), make them get a job, get married, have children or burn down their house, turn them into a supernatural creature and a whole lot more.

I absolutely love The Sims series (although I was never taken with the look of The Sims 3: I much prefer The Sims, The Sims 2 & more recently of course, The Sims 4).

My Photo [Sims Book Tag 2]
judiththereader, in Sims form!

Therefore, I thought there was no better Tag to do this month than The Sims Book Tag. Enjoy!

1. The Original Sims: The Best Author Debut

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)! This was Hawkin’s first ever novel, after a life of journalism, and it was an absolute thrill to read. It was so well-done, that I wouldn’t have guessed it was her first time writing a novel. I definitely intend to read it again.

*Honourable Mention: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006). Like Hawkins, Sharp Objects is a thriller/murder mystery which kept me completely hooked. It raises issues of mental health and self-harm in particular, which I think was quite a bold thing to do, considering mental health awareness was not as publicised 10 years ago as it is today.

2. The Grim Reaper: The Saddest Character Death

I’m torn in my decision making, and either way it leaves spoilers!

I would have to say either Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (2005) or Bruno from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (2006). I think the thing about both of these characters is that they are portrayed continually to the reader as “morally innocent” (let’s make that a phrase, if it isn’t already) and so their deaths seem so unjustified – not entirely unexpected due to the war-torn German backdrop – but just so… unfair.

*Honourable Mention: Fred Weasley from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2007). To be honest, a lot of the deaths in Harry Potter are quite emotional, but not enough to pip first place!

3.Sims Getting Stuck: A Character That Just Got In The Way

Honestly, I’d have to say Gale from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I know he was “needed” to create a love triangle and cause some tension, but I much preferred Peeta and so I couldn’t help but want Gale out of the frame!

4. Simlish: A Book With Amazing Writing

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975). The descriptions were amazing, and I felt like each character was truly fleshed out without being bogged down in pages of mundane details. Of course, the scary scenes were truly scary (duh, it’s Stephen King!) and I think he is a very talented creative writer.To be honest, any book written by Stephen King would fit this question!

5. Expansion Packs: A Series Where The Books Kept On Getting Better

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – you can tell by the increasing sizes of the books that more action, more character development and more themes are included in every book, truly adding to the Harry Potter world and experience.

*Honourable Mention: The Blessings of Myrillia Series by Crystin Goodwin, for which I was a beta reader. I really enjoyed these fantasy / YA books and I felt that not only was the story more developed in each book, but that the style of writing developed too, and made the reading process very enjoyable and easy for me!

6. Sims Romance: The Worst Case Of Instant Love

Bella and Edward from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005). Bella didn’t seem to have any qualities, nay, a personality that would attract anyone – let alone a vampire. Plus, by the second book, New Moon (2006), it seemed ridiculous that Bella was simultaneously grieving over the loss of Edward, but starting to develop feelings for Jacob (I smell a love triangle approaching). I was then increasingly not keen on the direction Eclipse (2007) and Breaking Dawn (2008) took, in the speedy engagement, marriage, and birth of a child – all by the age of 19. Even without the supernatural creatures, that is just not normal.

7. Cheats: A Contemporary Book That Was Entirely Unrealistic

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (2012). I don’t think I even made it to the end?

8. Needs Fulfilment: A Character Who Made All The Wrong Decisions

All the wrong decisions? Did you say all? (5 points if you saw the Macbeth reference)

Although I wouldn’t say every decision he ever made was wrong, Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series definitely springs to mind, particularly as he gets older. For example,

  1. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry ignored the advice of Dumbledore and others, refusing to learn occlumency, and was subsequently manipulated and tricked into the Department of Mysteries, risking many of his friends’ lives
  2. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry randomly decides to use an unknown, untested spell found in an old textbook and nearly kills his classmate (even if it was Draco Malfoy, his arch nemesis)
  3. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry says the taboo word “Voldemort” (a word he is notorious for casually using throughout the series), leading to his capture, Hermione’s torture and Dobby’s death

9. Error Code 12: A Series That Started Off Great But Went Downhill

Although I like the stories, I’d have to say The Hobbit (1937) & The Lord Of The Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien came up with a unique fantasy world, the narrative and characters are amazing, and this was developed when Peter Jackson launched his film adaptations. However, they are just so difficult to read! I’ve been ploughing through the series for quite a while now, taking lengthy breaks between each book. The Hobbit, the first book Tolkien wrote in the series, was the easiest for me to read but after that, it remains increasingly a struggle.

10. The Sims Vortex: A Book That Completely Engrossed You

As an alternative to The Girl On The Train, I would have to say Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012). I read this first and I read it in just a few days. I’ve mentioned it in a Book Haul and I’ve done a film review of Gone Girl too, so it’s safe to say that I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down because the characters were so intriguing, and you simply had to read more to access more flashbacks and diary entries to learn more about their pasts and mental states.

*Honourable Mention: Mr Mercedes by Stephen King (2014) – I was captivated by this book and hardly put it down!

Those are my responses to The Sims Book Tag: I hope you enjoyed this post. If you love The Sims as much as me, please feel free to do this tag!

That’s all for now!

– Judith

Read and Review: ICE BLESSED by CRYSTIN GOODWIN @CrystinLGoodwin #BookReview #Fantasy

Read and Review: ICE BLESSED by CRYSTIN GOODWIN @CrystinLGoodwin #BookReview #Fantasy
  • Title: Ice Blessed
  • Published: 2016
  • Author: Crystin Goodwin
  • Started: Thursday 28th July 2016
  • Finished: Friday 29th July 2016

My Photo [Ice Blessed]

Ice Blessed is the third instalment of Goodwin’s Blessings of Myrillia series, and I am so excited to be writing a book review about it! I read it in 1-2 days because I HAD to know what happened.

The tensions between the Transeaturs and the Melior, the build-up of which we saw in UnBlessed and Fire Blessed has finally reached a climax. To catch up, you can read my book reviews of UnBlessed and Fire Blessed.

Unlike I originally thought, Ice Blessed doesn’t wholly focus on Lucien, but rather all of the main characters, such as Kisara, Marius, Renelle, Sebastian, Dami and the Elder Priest. We delve into the past of the Elder Priest through flashbacks, to understand why he is the way he is, and watch him attempt to destroy those he sees as enemies.

To keep me from repeating myself, I’ve pulled the plot summary from Goodreads:

‘After being attacked by what he believed to be his own allies, Lucien Glacies is forced into an unfamiliar world where he must learn to discern friend from foe.  Thrust into the midst of a war he never wanted, unable to piece together reality from the remnants of his past, Lucien chooses to follow the one person he trusts with his life: his childhood friend and former sweetheart, Kisara. 

Together, they must face the corrupt power that threatens all of Myrillia. But first, Lucien must conquer the prejudice of his youth … because his new allies are the same savages he once believed were his mortal enemy.’

First things first, this is definitely the best book in the series. From UnBlessed, to Fire Blessed, to Ice Blessed, Goodwin’s writing has improved each time, and this is by far my favourite. The narrative flowed easier, and it was so action-packed and filled with drama that I was glued to my phone screen.

Kisara and Sebastian’s relationship finally seemed official, and Marius and Renelle’s relationship finally became more genuine (on Marius’s side), which was lovely to see. However, Renelle constantly apologising (like she did in Fire Blessed) really started to get on my nerves, and I wish it was a habit she would have cut out by now.

Spoiler Alert: Lucien is still a bit of a jerk, and is justly rewarded with a slap to the face. However, Dami takes

I honestly wish this book was a film or a TV show because I could “see” everything happening so vividly that I just want to be able to properly see it!

However, I found the ending a little anti-climactic – I never tend to enjoy the use of dreams and visions to wrap up a book. I also didn’t like the bunch of new characters towards the very end, who seemed like “paler” copies of the main characters, and didn’t add much. If there is a fourth book (wink, wink), and these characters are developed, then great.

On the whole, I really enjoyed Ice Blessed, and this entire series, and if you like YA fiction / fantasy books, I strongly recommend you read these!

Star Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Ice Blessed is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

***

Thank you for reading!

Crystin Goodwin kindly sent me her Blessings of Myrillia series to read for free on my Amazon Kindle App. You can find Crystin’s website here:  crystinlgoodwin.wordpress.com

If you enjoyed this review, please give it a ‘like’ or leave a lovely comment down below. Happy reading!

– Judith

Read and Review: FIRE BLESSED by CRYSTIN GOODWIN @CrystinLGoodwin #BookReview #Fantasy

Read and Review: FIRE BLESSED by CRYSTIN GOODWIN @CrystinLGoodwin #BookReview #Fantasy
  • Title: Fire Blessed
  • Published: 2015
  • Author: Crystin Goodwin
  • Started: Wednesday 29th June 2016
  • Finished: Monday 11th July 2016

My Photo [Fire Blessed]

Fire Blessed is the sequel to UnBlessed, a fantasy series set in Myrillia, where there is an ongoing rivalry between two different races of magical beings, the Meliors and the Transeaturs. I suggest you read my review of UnBlessed before reading this post, to avoid any confusion!

While UnBlessed was told mainly from the perspective of Kisara, who remained UnBlessed at each ceremony, Fire Blessed continues the narrative through the eyes of Marius, a powerful Melior who has a Fire Blessing, who is friends with both Lucien and Kisara. Using my powers of deduction, I imagine that the third instalment in this series, Ice Blessed, will be told from the perspective of Lucien, another powerful Melior who has the Ice Blessing.

I liked the switch in narration between the two books, and it was interesting to re-read some of the scenes from UnBlessed from another character’s perspective. The ancestries of the Melior and Transeatur races was significantly developed in Fire Blessed, which I think is important in fantasy novels, because a lot of the ideas are new and need explaining to the audience.

I’m also really glad Sebastian and Kisara are still becoming more of a “thing”, although Lucien is as bratty and controlling as ever!

I thought the Elder Priest was significantly creepy and domineering, which was good because it clearly mapped out who the “goodies” were and who there “baddies” were, paving the way for a climactic final battle between these two forces, in Ice Blessed, perhaps.

However, it took a while before I understood why Renelle was needed in the storyline and I think her transition from minor character to major character could have been done quicker. I’m also not a fan of her name because it reminds of Renesmee from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, which I didn’t like. I also thought phrases like ‘Sweet Unda’ or ‘Blessed Elements’, as alternatives to the cry of “OMG” by mere mortals, were used too excessively and it didn’t contribute to the dialogue.

I also though the climax at the end of the book could have been drawn out more – it seemed to start and finish very suddenly, and I wasn’t ready for the excitement to end!

All in all, I very much enjoyed reading Fire Blessed and I can’t wait to start reading Ice Blessed!

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Ice Blessed is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

***

Thank you for reading!

Crystin kindly sent me UnBlessed, Fire Blessed, and recently Ice Blessed too (I’m very excited about this!), to read for free on my Amazon Kindle App. You can find Crystin’s website here:  crystinlgoodwin.wordpress.com

If you enjoyed this review, please give it a ‘like’ or leave a lovely comment down below. Happy reading!

– Judith