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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‘Spectre’ review-does the high budget pay off?

Still owned by MGM
Still owned by MGM

The opening scene of Spectre was overflowing with irony. An assassin killing someone at the Mexican Day of the Dead? It doesn’t get much more sardonic than that. And it was onwards and upwards from there, with a flowing and masterful production; complete with a star cast, a stunning score, and an astonishing number of beautiful locations around the globe. All aspects combined, the latest Bond has all the makings of a classic.

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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 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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A moving and emotionally charged masterpiece

From Amazon
From Amazon

A novel narrated by death. I was more than a little cynical before reading, for it sounded more than a little like a gimmick to me. How wrong I was. From the first-especially the “small fact” that “you are going to die”, to the last, I was hooked. Captivated. Drawn in by Markus Zusak’s intriguing tale The Book Thief. This is not a normal book. This is something special, something magical, something to be treasured. An instant classic, the wartime drama stars Liesel, a small girl growing up in wartime Germany. Her brother died in front of her, and her parents are gone. All she has is a foster home near Munich.

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A guided tour of the English language

From Amazon
From Amazon

Did you know that a primary contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary cut off his own penis, before throwing it into a fire? As Mark Forsyth tells us, this is termed autopeotomy (ignoramus that I was before reading the book I didn’t know what this was). Before Forsyth’s The Etymologicon, I didn’t know that the Oxford English Dictionary, that pillar of English society (mostly used for the game of Scrabble, another pillar) was written by a Scotsman and an American. The Scotsman left school at 14, the American was, at the time of helping write the most influential dictionary ever, was in Broadmoor. Yes, it is that Broadmoor, the high-security hospital of psychiatry. This is only one of the strange quirks that defy belief in the anecdotes of English, and Forsyth is the perfect person to give us a guided tour of English.

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Incredible true tale of World War II double agent

From 'The Times'
From ‘The Times’

It was Mark Twain who said that “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t”. Never has this held true more than in the case of Eddie Chapman, a figure whose story is so impossible, that MI5 stated that his tale was “different. In fiction it would be rejected as improbable”. In Agent Zigzag, Ben Macintyre has woven together the threads of a story which brings an entirely new level to the word ‘unbelievable’. It could be a blockbuster Hollywood spy film, complete with near constant explosions. But it’s not-because it’s all true, Chapman was probably the most successful British double agent in the war, and one of the best in history.

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A curious bear with a hard stare

From Wikimedia Commons
From Wikimedia Commons

Michael Bond’s immortal classic character Paddington has brightened the childhoods of thousands of children. I’m not sure how well known he is abroad from the UK, but if he isn’t that well known elsewhere, he should be. This lovable character was introduced to us in A Bear Called Paddington in 1958. I hadn’t read the books in years, but I recently saw the film (an excellent supplement to his legacy), and was spurred to pick up the first book. If someone who has not heard of Paddington wants to know who he is, let me say this: he was the subject of twenty-four books. Three television shows. A music album (?). And now an excellent film. He has entertained generations of school children, and is as iconic a figure as Harry Potter. There are few books that can raise a chuckle in me, but Paddington is one. If you’ve never read it, it doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s a quirky piece that everyone will love. 

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Review of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ (Arthur Conan Doyle)

From CommonsSometimes there’s a novel that you just know is a classic, regardless of reviews or era, the quality of the text, the story, and the development of the plot makes a book an instant hit, either with an individual or a group. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is such a story. One of Doyle’s best, with vivid imagery, tense drama, and lively action, The Hound of the Baskervilles has something for everyone, and as such, is one of the most recognised book titles ever-behind perhaps The Bible in scale. 

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