Tag: readingchallenge

Review: Of Mice & Men – John Steinbeck

I last read Of Mice & Men as part of my GCSE English Literature studies, and I actually just gave myself a mini heart attack thinking that it will have been about seven years ago.

It does not feel like it should have been that long ago… but it was. I might just go and cry in corner now.

 

Goodreads – Of Mice & Men

The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

 

My Thoughts…

Thinking about it, it does actually explain a lot to me. I have managed to read this book in its entirety today, in a couple of hours in between doing the housework and laundry. Way back when, I remember really struggling to read this book. I remember that too was a Saturday and I spent all day putting it down and feigning doing something else just to get a break from it. I put it down to a couple of things; firstly, this time I was reading it to enjoy, not to study the crap out of it. I actually wrote a post about my thoughts on this on Monday (link if you’re interested Interim: Book Theme Analysis) I’m also going to say that I think maturity plays a big part in appreciating classics, modern or otherwise. I’m making an effort to read more and I can safely say if I’d set myself the challenge of reading them a couple of years ago, they would never have made it off the TBR pile.

I have no shame in admitting that I wasn’t ready for them. I wouldn’t even commit to saying I was in a position to fully understand and appreciate them now, but I am willing to try. That’s a step forward.

I’m not surprised that now I managed to read this so quickly; having set myself the pace I need to complete my book challenge I do need to read at least 100 pages a day to get through any sizeable books. I had fallen a little behind since reading War & Peace so whilst I knew I wanted to re-read this at some point, I did plan thereafter to read it sooner to help me catch up on my target.

Can I just say that I absolutely love this book! I’m surprised it only has a 3.8 star rating on GoodReads… I thought it would at least just creep over 4. It obviously isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – it wasn’t mine to start with. It’s funny, as much as I struggled to read the book first time around I did actually come to love it by the end and it’s the only book I enjoyed studying at school. I think it also featured in one of my exams if I remember correctly and I might have chosen that question topic to answer.

I like that if you think about it, it brings up a lot of issues relevant to the time. I don’t think it quotes a date but is very reminiscent of the 1930’s and the American Depression. Poverty and the struggle to get work was very real, the attitude towards women and negro’s is also touched upon. You know it’s there, in fact it is so casual that it doesn’t slap you in the face as offensive. I like that about it, as well as how it realistically touches on many social issues of the time and not just any one. And who can’t feel sorry for poor Lennie… he just doesn’t understand his own actions or strengths. I feel sorry for George for having to look after him too, but I think I would have done the same in his shoes. Lennie can’t look after himself and you would never see anyone you know struggle.

Well, I wouldn’t anyway.

This is a book I would implore anybody who hasn’t picked it up to read it at least once. It’s actually a very easy read so please do.

That’s me caught up on reviews for now!! I’m reading Small Gods by Terry Pratchett next and following up with The Gunslinger by Stephen King – for which I am very excited! As I’ve been reading at a good pace I’m also now hoping to sneak another book onto my reading list for June, being To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

 

Review: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – J.R.R Tolkien

Hi!
Anyone who has read my previous post today will know that this week I have been dedicating most of my time to this book.
GoodReads – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
I actually began reading this maybe just over a year ago but I found it hard work and ultimately didn’t finish it. I don’t know about you fellow readers, but I hate abandoning books. I will only do so with very good reason. If I’d rather pluck my eyes out instead of read the book, then I know it’s time to call it a day.
I’m glad I came back to this actually. I recently just watched the film covering the first book and that is what actually made me pick this one up again. I don’t think I’ll be the first to say that his writing isn’t the easiest in the world. Let me know if you disagree however. I find I have to concentrate a lot just so as not to miss anything.
Thankfully, I remembered what had happened for about the first 20 per cent of the book when Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are tracking the Orcs and the hobbits Merry and Pippin across the fields of Rohan. I read up to about 30 per cent (apparently) when the hobbits escaped the Orcs but I truthfully hadn’t remembered that part or anything else thereafter.
A large portion of this book (probably about half) doesn’t even cover Frodo and Sam in their travels to Mordor which surprised me. We meet a variety of other characters and I hope this set up of the movements of the remaining Fellowship members comes to some significance in the Return of the King. A lot happened and not a lot had current relevance from my perspective, if you see what I mean. I can’t decide if Saruman is playing his own games or truly is a servant of the evil one. How will the host gathered together by King Theoden and Gandalf meet the enemy to save Middle Earth?
I feel I have left the book with a lot of questions, but not unhealthy ones. I think this can all be answered in the final installment.
When we finally go back to Frodo and Sam they spend the majority of their time being guided by Gollum (or Smeagol – depending on which side of the good/evil fence he is sitting that day). I found myself spending the entire time praying they would ditch him but alas, if they didn’t follow him willingly he was going to follow them anyway. Why on earth they trusted him I don’t know. Desperate times lead to desperate measures I guess. Credit to him in a way, Frodo and Sam would never have gotten so far without him, but I still don’t like the slimy little creature and never will.
The descriptions as always with Tolkien are fantastic and so detailed – in a way I feel I know more about the landscape of the land than I do about what has happened on it! I love the songs in between too as it almost brings a brief glance of lightheartedness in times of peril. There are small glimmers of joy at least.
I did really enjoy the last chapter and I think it has been written really well. We get to see Sam’s conflict of loyalty and duty, over which loyalty prevails even in the darkest of times yet seen in Middle Earth. I feel things are still going to get darker yet; there is much uncertain about the quest ahead. What will become of the Fellowship, and will their burden be lifted on completion of the task? I will find out in due course.

Review: Lord of the North – Bernard Cornwell

Good afternoon everyone!!

I’ve had a busy week this week and I’m going to be catching up with you all today on the books I have been reading.
I finished Lords of the North last Sunday night and as yet had not made time to post the review – apologies! Goodreads is nagging me because I am behind schedule for my sixty book challenge this year.

I have also been reading Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by none other than J. R. R. Tolkien for the majority of this week – finishing that last night and today I have re-read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, which I initially read at school. I will be posting reviews of all of these books today so please go check them out. I know some people dislike multiple postings in a day, but hopefully now I am back on track and I won’t have to do it again.

So first I am going to be talking to you about Lords of the North – the third installment in which we follow Uhtred and the war between the English and the Danes, following their invasion of England.

 


GoodReads – Lords of the North

Enter a world where bloody battles, and heroic deeds combine in the historic struggle to unite Britain in the face of a common enemy.

The third instalment in Bernard Cornwell’s King Alfred series, follows on from the outstanding previous novels The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman.

The year is 878 and the Vikings have been thrown out of Wessex. Uhtred, fresh from fighting for Alfred in the battle to free Wessex, travels north to seek revenge for his father’s death, killed in a bloody raid by Uhtred’s old enemy, renegade Danish lord, Kjartan.

While Kjartan lurks in his formidable stronghold of Dunholm, the north is overrun by chaos, rebellion and fear. Together with a small band of warriors, Uhtred plans his attack on his enemy, revenge fuelling his anger, resolute on bloody retribution. But, he finds himself betrayed and ends up on a desperate slave voyage to Iceland. Rescued by a remarkable alliance of old friends and enemies, he and his allies, together with Alfred the Great, are free to fight once more in a battle for power, glory and honour.

‘The Lords of the North’ is a tale of England’s making, a powerful story of betrayal, struggle and romance, set in an England torn apart by turmoil and upheaval.

 

My Thoughts…

I made a start on this series this year having discovered that the TV series, which I love, was based on these books! I loved the first series and so when the second series started, I began catching up with the books! This book picks up the beginning of the second series and much to my delight, there aren’t particularly any discrepancies between book and show. The only thing that crossed my mind was that one of the characters on the slave ship in the show (Hallig) was never in the book, but that is literally all. Inevitably comparisons will always be made when shows/films are based on books – some are better than others.

I actually found this book slightly easier to read than the previous two and I think it’s because we could relate to him more. The story flows very well and we get to see a refreshing development of character for Uhtred. As a general rule he is very self-confident, cocky even – he conveys a sense of self-importance and angers at the smallest sleight against him. Admittedly he knows as a Saxon born man who was raised as a Dane; he is in a unique position and knows how to use it.

In this book we see him mature; from the beginning of the book we start with Uhtred as a 21 year old young man, back from war feeling underappreciated by King Alfred… again. Whilst traveling back to Northumbria he encounters Sven and old bitter resentment returns. Throughout the book he endures at least two and a half years in slavery and then returns to England to face the man that put him in chains. Old Uhtred would have gutted that man, regardless of who he was, but I think his time as a slave must have both humbled him and given him time to think because he in fact forgives Guthred and saves him from the clutches of the other lords of the North – including Kjartan, with whom Uhtred and Ragnar have a bloodfeud.

As ever there are epic battles, daring missions and all too human struggles as Uhtred finds himself in the centre of all the conflict. Fate is inexorable, and I cannot wait to see what the three spinners bring Uthred next.

Interim: Book Theme Analysis

Whilst I am working through my reading list for this month I have had something on my mind… And it something I wanted to share my opinion on.
This year I am endeavouring to read a variety of new books as a part of my book challenge, including new authors, different genres and also some classics.
My reading list has a couple of what I would define as classics on my list; namely Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird are coming up shortly. I also have plans in the not too distant future to read Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies. Anyone in my generation (and in the UK particularly) will probably recognise these as the types of books that are currently studied in high school English lessons as part of the literature curriculum.
For the most part I loved school and particularly English. I left with pretty decent grades at both GCSE and A-Level (not top grades of the class – but still to be proud of) but I can safely say that since leaving school probably about 80 per cent of the topics we covered have gone straight out of my head. Never have I had to analyze a poster or piece of writing based on the themes of gender or power and the development of language in children is not something I have ever had to consider since I left that exam someday in June four years ago.

Never, in the four years since leaving school, have I had to tear a book to shreds by over-analyzing it and by God am I thankful for small mercies. 

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that I’m a great book lover. I love to read… Probably more than a large percentage of the general population, but it is the repeated assignments students have to complete discussing and scrutinizing  philosophical themes of books that really gets my goat.

I’m telling you now from first hand experience, the only thing that achieved for me was getting a grade B in English Literature and a loathing of classic books. 

I can hand on heart say that I enjoyed ONE book I studied at school… and that’s a shame.
As it happens I have come to realise the reason I disliked the books so much and I’ve overcome it by revisiting them. The books themselves aren’t at fault; its the way the “messages”, themes and concepts are mercilessly rammed down your throat by the teachers and the curriculum that takes all enjoyment out of reading them. Not only that, you then have to regurgitate all that crap onto paper in horrendous detail.
Yes books have messages, I’m not denying that for a second. To take Of Mice and Men as an example, it is fair to say that the book overall explores theme of the American Dream and how unattainable it is; the Green Mile by Stephen King highlights racial inequality.  On the other hand, arguing the presence of red curtains representing a character’s desire, promiscuity or lust… Now that’s a bit excessive. It is the over-analysis that I loathe and making kids read so in depth into the smallest, pettiest little details is what I think saps all the joy out of a book. To my mind it is a crime to inflict this on the youth of today and the future.
Yes, discuss philosophical themes, but know where to draw the line. I’m sure authors didn’t even intend half of the rubbish that gets analysed today. Please, for the love of all things sacred, for the love of our beautiful language and the joy of literature, make it stop.
I know I am not the only person to think this. As ever, I’d love your thoughts too. Do you think the education system has gone too far?

Review: Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad – GoodReads link
Having completed War & Peace last Saturday (hallelujah) I decided this week I would wind down from such an epic and return to some lighter reading to recover. For this, I returned to one of my now favourite authors to do so.
Anyone who follows my blog will know that I have a slight obsession with Pratchett and can quite easily prattle along quite happily about his books. Apologies in advance guys – I can’t usually help myself, although I will try!
Pratchett is known for using his books as a means of challenging certain ideologies or misconceptions faced in the real world, and this book is no exception. He focuses this book on stories and inevitability, or fate as you may wish to call it. I loved this as it focused on fairy tales, (predominantly Cinderella – with a twist of course) but other fairy tales also featured along the way, including Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood etc.
Whilst traveling to Genua in order for Magrat to become the godmother of Emberella to STOP her marrying the prince (get it… cinders, embers…) they stumble across a multitude of tales and inevitably get themselves caught up in them. Granny Weatherwax is the kind of character that cannot prevent herself interfering… she’s how I’d imagine a mother-in-law from hell to be; always sticking her nose in, telling you what you are doing wrong and being immovably stubborn and adamant that she has never made a mistake. Obviously. Thank the lord I don’t have in-laws – especially ones like that!
Unlike the previous Discworld books featuring the witches, I felt this book enabled the reader to get to know one of the three witches, Gytha Ogg a lot better. In the previous two books Gytha somewhat sits in the background not contributing much but she really comes into her own in this tale – let’s just say the rather “childish” topic is counteracted with a lot of twists and adult humour. Not only is she a witch; she loves and can hold her liquor (particularly rum and banana daiquiri’s) and has a very promiscuous past of which we are regularly reminded. Equally she is only human (as such) because she regularly writes home to her illiterate son, Jason. (Across the whole series the Discworld inhabitants are a little slow on the uptake of general common sense, intelligence, and the ability to spell, which also makes me laugh). Writing to your illiterate son is a perfectly logical thing to do…
During my last years of school I studied Performing Arts and for one assessment we had to create a performance aimed at children; we focused on the topic of fairy tales. In hindsight I really wish I’d read this book sooner as there are some fantastic ideas we could have … *cough cough* borrowed… Not that we ever did such a thing. Ever. Much.
This is the first book of Pratchett’s that had such an adult humour content and I’m glad it did as I think it needed it really to keep the story going for a wider audience. It was a fantastic, laugh-out-loud light read and was just what I needed.
For anyone considering Pratchett’s books, you don’t have to read the whole series. His books do actually stand alone so you would never have to read the entire forty something book long series. I’m just choosing to… because I can.
I have already started “Lords of the North” by Bernard Cornwell as my next read, albeit slowly – I’ve been busy the past couple of evenings doing some proofreading and I spent yesterday in the garden (note: not mine) breaking my back to help tidy it. Now summer is here, what are sunny bank holiday’s for if not that?! Needless to say, today has been a very chilled day in comparison so I’ve gotten loads of work done.
How do you guys spend your bank holidays? What books are on your reading lists? I’d love to hear from you. Until my next review, ciao for now!
 

Current reading List: June 2017

Hi folks!
Further to the review I posted yesterday I have been reading the next book on my list: Witches Abroad by Terry Prachett!
It’s a new month and I am coming to the end of the last reading list I gave you for May, so without further ado, here are my planned reads for this month:
1. Lords of the North – Bernard Cornwell
This is the third installment of the series written by Cornwell, in which we follow the movements of the Danish invasion of Britain after 800 A.D. The narration is told from the perspective of Uthred, who has conflicting ties with both sides and struggles to find his place in the ever changing world.
2. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – J. R. R. Tolkien
This clearly needs no introduction! I’m looking forward to this one having re-invigorated my passion for it watching the first film the other night. I have had the kindle editions of the books for some time but as the narrative can be a little hard to follow, I have to psyche myself up to it. I definitely have now so I’m going for it!
3. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
This should be a quick read for me. I read the book for the first time whilst studying at school as a part of my GCSE’s, and can hand-on-heart say that this is the only book I genuinely enjoyed studying at school. I’m looking forward to re-reading the text again from a slightly more mature perspective.
4. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett
Back to one of my favourite series’ for the next book. These are excellent, light-hearted reads with amazing humour from Pratchett. These books took some getting into (i.e. books 1 & 2) personally, but now that I have, I’ve fallen for them hard.
5. The Gunslinger – Stephen King
I have only just begun to give Stephen King’s works a try and I’m looking forward to trying this one. Those that follow my blog will know that I have not long read “The Green Mile” – shameless link to my review and discussions here The Green Mile – Stephen King
I downloaded a sample of this book some time ago, however after reading The Green Mile I decided I was going to buy the book even without trying it as I’m sure I’ll love it too. Apparently there is an upcoming film of this to be released starring Idris Elba *drools* so I’m going to have to read the book before this hits local screens. I believe it is being released in August in the US, so I’ll have to wait just a LITTLE bit longer. Sad face.
 
Any-who, these are my intended reads for June so I had best get those pages turning! As ever, if you have any comments to the above please drop them below!

Review – War & Peace

Hi guys!!
Firstly I would like to sincerely apologise for not having published in over a week *slaps wrist*
As you know (and as the title suggests…) I have been taking on this epic of a read and admittedly it was a risk. My initial challenge this year to read 20 books has been increased to 60 and as I was already dancing the fine line as to whether I’ll succeed or not, this has probably put me a little behind.
Anyhow, that is a concern for another day.
I have a lot of friends who are avid readers and having checked Goodreads, absolutely none of them have neither touched this book nor seem to even intend to, which frankly shocks me! I imagine that a lot of people are put off by the length of the book and I am not going to lie to you, it is long. I was pleasantly surprised however that the tone of the book and the writing style was very approachable. I didn’t expect this to be honest; bear in mind this novel was first published in Russian in 1869 and the version I was reading was translated and published in the 1920’s. You wouldn’t know – I had to look that up!
I was dubious as to whether I would see this through; I love historical fiction and I loved the TV adaptation the BBC aired last year here in the UK (I subsequently bought the DVD). I actually ended up referring to that in the beginning to to work out which character was who! I definitely couldn’t have gotten through it without that bit of background knowledge. I generally like to read the book first before I watch any TV/film adaptations, but I’m glad I broke the rules on this one.
It is notable that this text isn’t purely a narrative. Particularly towards the end of the book there is a lot of philosophical discussion about the historical recording of the war, how it’s movements were influenced and the impact one general or another had compared to the mass of movement and the will of the troops etc. The narrative is also written in an (almost) historically correct way as well (so we are told by Andrew Kaufmann – I haven’t checked), so if you are interested in learning about the movements of the war, then perhaps this is for you. Needless to say, if you are not interested in the historical element of the text, then I wouldn’t recommend this to you.
I’ll be perfectly honest and say whilst I did for the most part enjoy the book, there is an awful lot of information in there – perhaps too much for my liking. In the end I had to not let myself get bogged down by dates and times (there are references to old and new style dates?!). From about Book 13 I was just willing it to end. There are so many chapters about the French retreat and maneuvers by the Russians to cut off instead of routing the French (there are repeated arguments by Tolstoy that the french were doing this themselves so why waste troops engaging them – but hey, hindsight is a wonderful thing right?!).
Needless to say, I got a little bored by this point, but having come so far, I wasn’t giving up. I finally finished the book at 9:30pm last night, so decided to wind down by spending the next three hours watching the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
… I think that says a lot about me.
Anyhow, back to War & Peace. I think every reader should make their own mind up as to whether this kind of text is for you. I didn’t think it was for me, but I’m glad I took the plunge. I can’t say I enjoyed 100% of it; it was hard work, but knowing I took on the beast and beat it is a reward in itself. It was an experience that has broadened my scope of knowledge and I can happily say that in two weeks I completed this book – that’s pretty good going if you ask me!
I’m going to be spending the next couple of weeks reading some lighter material to recover! My next book is Terry Prachett’s “Witches Abroad”, so hopefully I can start getting the regular reviews back on track.
Has anybody else taken on War & Peace? If so, what are your thoughts?

The Green Mile – Stephen King

I am going to begin this post very simply, and I apologise in advance for my language, but I feel it absolutely necessary.
 
This book is FUCKING FANTASTIC!
 
This is my first read of Stephen King’s work and it has absolutely skyrocketed to the top of my list of all time favourite books . It is rare that a book can truly make you feel the full range of emotions, but by God did this one take me for a ride. I first wanted to read the book as I knew the story and I wanted to see how it covered the topics of the death sentence and racial inequality. I want to come back to this a bit later – what I have to say might be too much heavy reading for only 100 or so words in. I’ll start on a lighter note.
“The Green Mile” explores an incredibly sensitive issue. The punishment of death by electrocution was first used in 1890 and was served only to those deemed as absolute scum-of-the-earth (oh, and black people of course). Does it then sound bizarre that despite knowing their crimes, you invest yourselves into these criminals? All readers have to love John Coffey, I think that goes without saying, but I think Delacroix (and Mr Jingles) are equally powerful characters. I was devastated when he walked the green mile and how it all transpired actually made me feel sick. Criminal or no, nobody deserves to die like that. King is very good at vivid descriptions – I’ll give him that.
So what is it about these murderers that makes you like them?
For me, I think it becomes easy to overlook the crimes committed purely because you can see how human they are. For the most part they are remorseful and perhaps did not intend to commit the crimes they did. This isn’t always the case however (cough cough Wharton – I certainly didn’t invest into him emotionally!) The most human thing about all the inmates, but particularly Delacroix is with the attachment to Mr Jingles the mouse. In the contrast, you then have people like Percy on the outside. That to me seems as much of an injustice as John’s sentence to die. People like Percy thrive on cruelty to others and to me is the absolute embodiment of archaic social attitudes. They say what comes around goes around, and rightly or wrongly, karma gets Percy good.
In case there is anyone out there reading this that has neither had the privilege of reading the book or watching the film, I will explain to you all about what is special about John Coffey – like the drink only spelt differently.
After two girls are kidnapped, a manhunt finds six foot and eight inches tall John cradling to the two dead, naked twin girls. He is crying his eyes out saying “I tried to take it back, but it was too late.” John is convicted of the rape and murder of the twins and is sent to E Block of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary to ultimately walk the green mile. What we later discover is that John has the power to heal and throughout the narrative performs several ‘miracles’.
John is a very interesting character. Whilst being seemingly dimwitted, I would actually disagree with this completely. Yeah, maybe he can’t tie his shoelaces, is afraid of the dark and all in all doesn’t say very much, but the power that John holds makes him far more perceptive than the average person. He can read people’s minds, he can feel people’s suffering and pain as well as heal it. I as the reader had doubts throughout the book about John’s involvement in the crime; eventually so do the prison wardens who have to pull the switch.
The most tear jerking moment in the book for me (remember that emotional roller-coaster) took place two days before John was due to sit the chair. Paul Edgecombe is making final arrangements for John’s last evening and John says the following:-
“You and Mr Howell and the other bosses been good to me,” John Coffey said. “I know you been worryin, but you ought to quit on it now. Because I want to go, boss.”
I tried to speak and couldn’t, He could, though. What he said next was the longest I ever heard him speak.
“I’m rightly tired of the pain I hear and feel, boss. I’m tired of bein on the road, lonely as a robin in the rain. Not ever havin no buddy to go on with or tell me where we’s comin or goin to or why. I’m tired of people bein ugly to each other. It feels like pieces of glass in my head. I’m tired of all the times I’ve wanted to help and couldn’t. I’m tired of bein in the dark. Mostly it’s the pain. There’s too much. If I could end it, I would. But I can’t.”
 
I just want to leave that one with you to mull over – a quote from a six foot and eight inches tall black man, convicted and sentenced to die over the rape and murder of two girls. There were holes in the evidence given in Coffey’s trial, but nobody cared to look at them. He’s only a Negro, after all. It couldn’t possibly have been a white man now, could it? I hope I’ve made my opinion on his sentence to die clear.
Tackling these issues must be difficult for a writer without sparking one form of controversy or another, but I’m glad these issues are raised. I’ve also just found out that the electric chair is still an optional method of execution in some states of America, as an alternative to the lethal injection.
Eww.
They say history repeats itself, but I only hope we can arm ourselves with the knowledge so that we do not go back to these dark ages of discrimination again. I’m just saddened that this particular history isn’t that old.
I know this is quite a long post and I apologise. I feel very strongly about the issues raised I’m keen to hear from you if you do too!

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Book Review: Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith – Shaun Hume

Hi everybody!

Further to Monday’s post, as promised, I have finished reading Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith! I would like to thank Shaun for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book – being an independent/ self-published author, I may not have come across his work (at least for some time) had he not approached me directly.

A lot of reviews I saw initially compare the book to the Harry Potter series. Whilst I suppose it is true there is a similar introduction and is loosely based around the same concept I hope to steer anybody away from the idea that it is any kind of fan fiction. It is not. It is a novel of its own kind and has its very own story to tell.

 

Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith

 

Goodreads – Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith

“Ewan Pendle is a wonderful epic fantasy that’s perfect for Harry Potter withdrawals!” – AUTHOR Kayla Krantz

Ewan Pendle was weird. Really weird. At least, that’s what everyone told him. Then again, being able to see monsters that no one else could wasn’t exactly normal …

Thinking he has been moved off to live with his eleventh foster family, Ewan is instead told he is a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who can alone see the real ‘Creatures’ which inhabit the earth. He is taken in by Enola, the mysterious sword carrying Grand Master of Firedrake Lyceum, a labyrinth of halls and rooms in the middle of London where other children, just like Ewan, go to learn the ways of the Creatures.

 

My Thoughts…

I will be perfectly honest and say it took a few days of picking the book up in stages to get me introduced to the characters and get into the novel. There is quite a bit of set up (as with any fantasy style book which does not follow “normal life” conventions) and I took my time getting my head around/into it. In contrast, I must have read the rest of the book over about 5 hours across two evenings!

The novel focuses on the life of Ewan Pendle, who spends his childhood being passed around from one foster home to another, never settling for more than a year before he is moved on again. It is common for foster children to feel like they do not fit in, but there is something unusual about Ewan that means he really does not fit in. He sees dragons eating out of dustbins. Creatures roam the world and it is the duty of the Lenitnes to both understand and protect various Creatures (and humans) from each other. To do this, the students are inducted to train at Firedrake Lyceum, run by Enola Whitewood.

Ewan enrols at this unique school upon the invitation of Enola, where he finally gets the chance to make friends and begins to learn and acquire some of the power that being Lenitnes demands.

Shaun cleverly lays down the foundations for the plot early, leaving us guessing after each chapter how different characters are all going to come together. The first chapter thrills us with Betony and her secret mission; later we meet the mysterious Jack Mangrove and learn of plots to kill the real Monarch of England. Following all these twists and turns through the perspective of young Ewan kept me as a reader engrossed entirely! Young or old, we are all as green as Ewan to the world of the Lenitnes and Vilhmied and our understanding gradually begins to grow with him.

There are also those characters that you love to hate; the teacher that picks on you and makes you run laps around the “Pain Yard”, the typical “it” club of the school year who bullies everybody not in the clique… the class weirdos and that nerdy girl with braces.

This really is a book for all us misfits and I hope to see more from Ewan and friends in the future as there is a lot of potential for this as a series! I really hope that this author gets more exposure and readers because it truly is deserved.

My next read, which I’m admittedly about a quarter of the way through already is “The Green Mile” by Stephen King. Though I can’t make any promises, I wouldn’t be surprised if I can get the book finished and review published by Monday.

Until next time, peace out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. For a while I was the nerdy librarian girl with braces, greasy hair and usually had my nose buried in a book – surprise surprise.

In the Beginning…

Every good blog has to start somewhere. It sparks as a result of any one person’s passion and is usually a means of driving themselves further towards their own personal goal(s). Lend me your ears (or eyes) and I will tell you a little of me and my passion in the hope that you either share the dream, or can at least appreciate it.

Ultimately, I wish to have some success in terms of publishing a novel.

I have loved writing from a very young age. Even from the age of five and starting school I loved the writing exercises in which you had to write and re-write letters or words to the correct guideline on the special exercise paper they gave you. Realistically learning to write was made more difficult for me given that I am left-handed. I also went through a phase in high school of using a fountain pen to write, because that’s what all the clever kids did. Not particularly the best move on my part as I had a lot of smudged homework for the first few weeks, but I mastered it in the end.

Thankfully due to technology this is no longer a particular issue. Whilst I  am required to do a small amount of hand writing notes and filling in forms as a part of my job, the majority of the work is computer based. I am actually quite thankful for this, as there is some atrocious hand writing exhibited by people on my team and it actually makes me sad that these particular people are not proud enough to have taken the time or effort to learn to write neatly.
It was during a creative writing module in my GCSE English Class that I found I had a flair and enjoyment to write. So did my teacher, who had a 10 page short story first draft to check and she certainly did not look impressed when I handed it to her; however I  never got that short story back to re-draft. It was submitted as part of my coursework and I got an A grade for it, which naturally I was more than pleased with.

From a young age I was also taught and encouraged by my mum to read and it is something I have always enjoyed. I consider it now to be my main hobby – more often than not you’ll find either a book or my kindle in hand in my free time! In prior years I found I would get the reading bug whilst on holiday and this would continue for a while, but fizzle out after a couple of months. Last year, I set myself a challenge via Goodreads to read 20 books which I thought I could easily achieve. Actually, I didn’t even come close. This year I set myself the same target, and to date (24 April 2017) I have read 19 in full and I am currently reading two further books. I anticipate by the end of April I will have met my target and I have decided I am going to double my target to see if I can read 40 books by the end of the year!

I think the reason behind the surge in my reading this year is because I have decided to put the time and effort into my dream of getting published. In order to find inspiration I am trying to read more books from authors I have not read yet, although at present I am staying within the genre region of Fantasy/Science Fiction/Historical Fiction. These are my particular interest, but I am scheduling in some Thriller/Horror/Suspense books later this year to try to broaden my horizons. I am also writing a number of short stories in order to develop ideas for something that I may wish to publish in the future and as a part of this blog I will also be publishing any short stories I write. I will also be reviewing the books I read so I may even be able to help you find your next book to read as well as collect my thoughts!

If you have any recommendations for any books to read and review I would absolutely love to hear from you! Has anyone set themselves a challenge to read a number of books this year? Please let me know how you are getting on or what kind of books you enjoy. What type of short stories you would like to see here in the near future? I look forward to your thoughts.

If you are still reading here, I would like to thank you for the time taken to read the above ramblings – it really does mean a lot to me! If you have any feedback please get in touch. If you wish to get in touch with me please fill in the form below.

Thank you,

Rebecca