Five things we’ve learnt from Mockingjay Part Two

Copyright Lionsgate

OK, things we’ve learnt is pushing it. More of a ‘five things that I noticed that were interesting from Mockingjay Part 2’-but I can’t really use that as a title now, can I? I was a fan of the book, not so much Part 1 (also reviewed at that link). The compilation of thoughts varies from some interesting interpretations to general points, but does contain spoilers (sorry about that), so if you haven’t read the books or seen the film, be warned…

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Review of Mockingjay (Susanne Collins)-book and film review

Mockingjay
Image from Goodreads

I think everyone has heard of The Hunger Games. The sales figures for the books are said to number 50 million, but the films grossed $1,169,814,624. That’s over one billion dollars, add on another few hundred million for the books, and you’re looking at a book that everyone’s heard of. It sparked off a craze for dystopian books, particularly amongst the young adult genre as it seemed that us teens enjoyed thinking about how bad the future could be. I have previously read all three of the trilogy, I decided to re-read the third, Mockingjay. Susanne Collins has done a fantastic job with the writing, though it is slightly odd in several ways.

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Review of ‘Baby Boomer Reflections’ (Fred Arnow)

Image from Amazon
Image from Amazon

After World War II ended, there was jubilation amongst the general population, a feeling that this time, everything would get better. Indeed, the jubilation sparked a huge increase in the number of children, a generation subsequently known as the ‘baby boomer’ generation. The world was a different place then, different brands, different values, and different expectations. But above all, the people were different. It is said that childhood shapes a person’s adulthood, and so it is only natural that someone who had a childhood so far removed from today’s experiences should write about the experience.

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Review of ‘Of Mice and Men’ (John Steinbeck)

The cover of 'Of Mice and Men'
Image from Goodreads

Intriguing insight into life and discrimination after ‘The Great Depression’.

There aren’t many books named after poems. Personally I can only think of two, one by Christie, and one by John Steinbeck, whose work Of Mice and Men is so called after a poem by Robert Burns. Amongst the lines in said poem is “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley”-basically even the most carefully thought out schemes will always go wrong, following Murphy’s Law (‘what can go wrong will go wrong’). And in Of Mice and Men, there is a lot that can go wrong.

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Review of ‘Paper Towns’ (John Green)

The cover of 'Paper Towns'
Image from Goodreads

Philosophical and meaningful, one of John Green’s best.

There’s a quote I heard recently: “It’s a paper town. Paper houses and paper people”. It’s intriguing how many philosophical questions and arguments can be found in the pages of a young adult novel, though you may be a little less surprised if I told you that the author of this novel, Paper Towns, is none other than John Green of The Fault in Our Stars fame. Paper Towns is the first book by Green that I have read, but from my experience with this one it will not be the last. It was witty, charming, and interesting, and one which I would definitely recommend reading (and/or watching the film which comes out today).

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Review of ‘A Kill in the Morning’ (Graeme Shimmin)

'A Kill in the Morning' cover
On top of writing a great book, Graeme is a really nice bloke who runs his own blog at http://graemeshimmin.com/ Image from Goodreads

Could be and should be the next big thing.

I have just finished Graeme Shimmin’s A Kill in the Morning, and I loved it. It beautifully blends several genres with astonishing ease, notably the alternative history as that exemplified in Fatherland (that where an alternative history leads to the story, rather than the alternative history being the story), and the gripping thriller/action plot as in James Bond films. This blending makes for a fantastic read, even though personally I may disagree with the comparisons with the other media above (more on that later). The story twisted and turned, yet maintained a strong pace throughout and was a real page turner.

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A New Fatherland?

From Goodreads
From Goodreads

Child 44there’s something fishy afoot

When reading Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44, I was reminded of something. I couldn’t think what it was when I was reading it, but later I realised: I was reminded of Robert Harris’ Fatherland. Granted, one was in Germany and one in Soviet Russia in the Cold War, but there were striking similarities. The main characters are good guys in a bad world, they live in authoritarian dictatorial nations, but don’t worry, they’re both good guys (that was sarcastic if it didn’t carry). Smith’s first novel reads exactly like Harris, and I’m not convinced if that’s a good thing.

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Children of upstairs, friends of downstairs

From Goodreads
From Goodreads

The Children of Charlecotethey don’t stay young forever…

The Children of Charlecote, written by Brian Fairfax-Lucy (on whose childhood it was based) and Philippa Pearce (of Tom’s Midnight Garden fame), had promising authors. It had a promising plot-a glimpse into how the upper classes lived in the early 20th Century. And the vast majority of it was a very good read, enthralling in its descriptions of how the other half lived, and how their lives evolved with the huge changes in world politics.  

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A brilliant yet underrated book

From Robert Westall's website
From Robert Westall’s website

The Machine-Gunnersboys will be boys.

When we think of World War II, we think of soldiers in the trenches, the aerial dogfights, the huge naval battles. What doesn’t spring to mind quite so regularly is life at home, and when it does, it is a Dad’s Army life, a life of soldiers out of the war. What most people don’t think of is regular, day to day life. Everyone’s heard of the bombing, and the rationing-but what happened apart from that, what happened in their 9-5 day? More pressingly, what did the children do? Many had no school, due to bombing or lack of staff, so what did they do with their days? It’s most children’s dream to not have school, and to have free reign over their daily activities. So a book which focusses on the lesser known, less glamorous side of war, on the life of the children is welcome. Such a book exists, and that is the basis of today’s review-it is called The Machine-Gunners, and was written by Robert Westall.

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A beautifully sculpted commentary on free will

From Goodreads
From Goodreads

A Clockwork Orangea very naughty boy gets sent to the naughty step.

In my first return to The List for two months is Anthony Burgess’ infamous classic, complete with notorious nadsat. A Clockwork Orange is in many ways an odd book, and one which took some time to get into the swing of. However, when I did I found a story with a cracking plot, killer cast, and bemusing language-not unlike The Lord of the Rings! All of these make it a first class novel, and a deserving classic.

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