Just a quick note to say that I’ll be taking a little break from posting new stuff over the Christmas holidays. I’ll be back in the new year though, continuing to post every Sunday – hope to see you then!
(Click on the festive postcard to enlarge) Merry Christmas!
December 7, 20144 Comments
They say that Christmas is a time for cheer,
For mirth and jest with all those you hold dear,
But who is this they and what do they know?
Do they not sense what comes with the snows?
Because twinkling lights, kind gifts and trees,
Are not the only things the learned will see,
When the nights grow long, and the days turn cold,
Out they come creeping, cruel, cunning and olde.
December 7, 2014Leave a comment
At the end of last year, I posted an article detailing my favourite two books of 2013. Well, this year, I’ve decided to do it again! To reflect the publishing industry at large, I’ve selected my favourite traditionally published book as well as my favourite self-published book released in 2014. Last year’s novels were relatively easy to pick, but this year I had a much harder time of it. I did manage to whittle my list down to two in the end though, below are my choices …
My traditionally published pick is The Silkworm by JK Rowling (using the ‘Galbraith’ pseudonym seems somewhat farcical now). I was so disappointed by The Casual Vacancy that I really wasn’t expecting much from Rowling’s detective series, but I have to admit that The Cuckoo’s Calling restored my faith in the author’s writing and then some.
Beginning eight months after The Cuckoo’s Calling, we find Rowling’s detective Cormoran Strike inundated with rich clients wanting their adulterous spouses tailed. Eventually, however, Strike is relieved to receive a likeable visitor with a quandary actually worth investigating. The wife of not-quite-famous author, Owen Quine, Leonora Quine wants her missing husband found. Cormoran takes on the case and quickly finds himself in and amongst London’s squabbling literary circle, caught up in the mess created by Quine upon circulation of his latest manuscript (a libellous book in which he viciously attacks almost everyone he’s ever worked with).
The novel kept me guessing right until the end and it was ridiculously addictive. There were lots of other traditionally published books I loved this year, but The Silkworm narrowly takes the biscuit!
The Phoenix Project
Protagonist, Raven exists in an over-reactive, terrorised society where the prison system has been transformed into a kind of barbaric death camp via implementation of The Phoenix Project. Through pitting prisoners against each other in a kind of death match style duel, the government hopes to put off potential law breakers and better control the terrorist threat. Thematically, this book could be compared to The Hunger Games. However, the study of the wider society outside of the prison systems (with its interplay of government, religious groups and various other factions) was, in my opinion, far more interesting than that of the districts in Colins’ trilogy.
What really struck me about this novel though, was the quality of the writing. Raven begins the book in the prison and the hopelessness of his environment, as well as the action-packed fights, are transmitted unbelievably well. It was a fantastic read and I was immensely impressed with it from start to finish.
So, those are my picks for 2014. Do let me know what your fave reads of the year were!
November 30, 2014Leave a comment
Simon Mayo, radio presenter of the BBC’s Drivetime and Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, seems to have discovered the perfect formula for injecting excitement into chemistry: (explosions x noxious materials) ÷ sinister global corporations. And, utilising this winning equation, Mayo has penned his debut novel, Itch, the story of fourteen-year-old Itchingham Lofte who, whilst attempting to collect every element in the periodic table, comes into possession of a curious new element with world-changing potential.
At its core, Itch revolves around the relationship of Itch, his younger sister Chloe and his cousin Jacqueline (Jack) as they cope with all the problems associated with possessing a radioactive substance the world and his dog would do anything to obtain. And what a charming and absorbing relationship it is. Despite being the youngest, Chloe is the most sensible of the trio and keeps her likeable brother in check as his escapades teeter on the verge of disaster. Jack brings an abundance of smarts to the dynamic, helping Itch see through his more risky moments with a tomboyish expertise. Mayo has written all three of the central trio brilliantly, and you can’t help but wonder if some traits of his own children have contributed to the mixture.
As for the chemistry included, it’s well measured, clear and undeniably fascinating. From learning how the household objects you own relate to the periodic table, to explanations of explosive reactions, there is enough here to justify Itch as an informative text without ever suffocating the exciting plot.
Being set in modern-day Cornwall, a good proportion of Itch takes place in the central trios’ school. Mayo has always been vocal of his love of the Harry Potter series and some of the disastrous goings on at Cornwall Academy echo some of the more memorable happenings in the classrooms of Hogwarts. However, whilst there was always the healing properties of magic to help smooth things over in Rowling’s universe, the potential consequences of Itch’s exploits are more serious, and this is perhaps the book’s greatest strength: whilst tremendous fun, there is the constant, underlying feeling that the main characters in Itch may well be about to come to serious harm.
November 23, 2014Leave a comment