A few days ago I read a quote from an author somewhere that there’s nothing wrong with writing to a formula, that it’s what you bring to the formula that makes a great story. I’m annoyed that I didn’t pay more attention to the source, the university student in me is appalled at my lack of referencing but what they said struck me as interesting. There’s often a sense that formulaic writing is somehow lazy or unimaginative, but all stories have a formula. Each has a beginning, a middle and an end. There is a point of conflict, sometimes a resolution. Some of my favourite novels have followed formulas. Life often follows the same pattern, so why shouldn’t novels? When a story surprises us it’s because it goes against the conventions of the genre and the novel. A writer can follow a formula and bring something new to it at the same time.
That’s not to say it always works out, and while I was reading Red Queen there were elements of the story that felt fresh and interesting, but I felt as if it was something I’d read before. Continue reading “REVIEW: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard”
My relationship with J D Salinger hasn’t necessarily been an easy one. I tried to read The Catcher in the Rye when I was fourteen years old, after seeing it on a blog I was following and decided to buy it along with some other books that were in the same post. I fell in love with Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and was fascinated by the dark world of Chuck Palanuik’s Invisible Monsters, but The Catcher in the Rye for me fell short. Holden wasn’t a character I wanted to spend more than a few pages with and I couldn’t understand why it was a classic. I tried to read the book twice and stumble around the forty page mark. Eventually I donated my copy to a charity shop and decided J D Salinger wasn’t for me. Continue reading “REVIEWS: For Esme with Love and Squalor by J D Salinger”
Before Cartes Postales from Greece I had only read one Victoria Hislop novel. Crete has always been a special place for me. As someone who has always felt out of place easily, it’s one of the few places I have felt at home. Reading The Island brought to life a part of it’s history, something more recent than the Minoan temple of Knossos or the Venetian fortifications still evident at Spinalonga. It was vivid, immersive and I hoped Cartes Postales from Greece would hold me in the same way that The Island had, and was disappointed when it didn’t.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop”
This isn’t a book about the heroes who save the world. Mike, his sister Mel and their friends Henna and Jared aren’t trying to save the universe, they just want to graduate before the next supernatural apocalypse destroys their school. They’re on the periphery of the action, and yet their lives are far from normal; Jared is a quarter-god, Henna’s missionary parent’s are taking her away straight after graduation and Mike and Mel’s mother is running in an election race. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness”
In Holding, the quiet village of Duneen in Ireland is disturbed by the discovery of human remains on a development site. The residents are convinced it’s all that’s left of Tommy Burke, a young man who disappeared years before, but at the time he went missing witnesses had seen him getting on a bus to London. What made him come back and who killed him? For Sergeant PJ Collins, it’s his first real case and his first opportunity to prove his worth, but he seems ill-equipped to deal with a serious crime and the arrival of a city detective means he might not get the chance. Continue reading “REVIEW: Holding by Graham Norton”
Reviewing classics can be a little daunting. They’re classics for a reason. You know the titles long before you read them, and often you know the story, or think you do, before you’ve even started. Sometimes you already feel a connection with the characters or sometimes an element of the story makes you reluctant to read it. Continue reading “REVIEW: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte”
It’s been four months since Lila Bard left Red London, four months since Athos and Astrid Dane’s fall, four months since a terrible dark magic threatened to consume a city, but life hasn’t reverted to normal for Kell. If anything it’s like the calm before the storm. He is restless but the walls are closing in around him. Now more than ever he feels like the property of the Arnesian crown and the awe of the citizens has been replaced by fear and distrust.
He’s always felt the responsibility of protecting his brother, Rhy, but now that their lives are inextricably linked the weight of it threatens to crush him. He needs some way to channel his emotions and the growing force of magic, and Rhy has orchestrated the perfect scenario to do just that. Continue reading “REVIEW: A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab”