[Book Review] That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger follows Lee Bauer, a school shooting survivor as she embarks on telling the truth of what happened that day, and how one story overtook the others, but it’s not true.

The story follows Lee as she gathers letters from the other five survivors so that they can share their experiences of the day, and discusses the aftermath of the shooting for the victims three years on.

Initially, I read this book as kind of a challenge to myself. It’s not typically a book I would pick up and read, despite it’s interesting premise. So, I challenged myself to read it, and to see if I would enjoy it.

The book won. It was actually very interesting and raised so many interesting points in how one narrative can be spread, and trying to raise awareness of the truth. It also deals a lot with the idea of perception, and how the image we see of one person is not the actual representation of the person at all.

Despite my initial hesitance, Lee was probably the character I could relate to the most of all of them, as she was Asexual, like myself. It was actually really nice to see asexuality represented in a book, as I don’t come across it very often in my own reading. So, I was surprised and happy that this was included.

The writing style is neat and simple, which at first was a bit of a setback for me, as I found the writing was a little bit ‘I got up and got dressed. I wore skinny jeans.’ But once you really got into the story, the author really grips you and you find it hard to put the novel down.

All in all, this was a winner for me. A pleasant surprise, and handled a really dark subject well. It hid nothing, and really put forward that what these characters, is not just something they get over. It’s something they deal with three years on, and will carry on to deal with the rest of their lives.

I would definitely recommend this novel, even with my hesitance, I ended up really enjoying the read, and learning a lot!

[Book Review] 1984 by George Orwell

1984 is thought provoking. A book that gets under your skin and truly makes you think.

What would you do in a time where the past is flexible, your thoughts altered, and no freedom?

Winston works for the Party, he rewrites facts as he is instructed, but he is curious. He remembers things from the past, and he knows that history is not true. He meets a young lady called Julia, and together they embark on a relationship that defies the Party. Perhaps one of the more interesting parts is where they know of the consequences they face, but they are willing to face them. They will take responsibility for their actions, despite knowing what the punishment will be.

Writing a review of this book is hard, as it is such a mammoth book of things to unpack. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but it was also terrifying. Orwell’s writing was ahead of his time, but the future he envisioned was terrifying. It poses the question of how much do we know is true, how much is the information we are being given only what we are told to hear. Is there ever truly any truth in what we are told.

In the current climate, his writing resonates, and this is what makes this novel so successful. Orwell’s writing is crisp, clear and insightful.

It is definitely a book I would recommend. It is a must read in the world we currently live in.

[Book Review] The Shining by Stephen King

the shining

Stephen King is a novelist known worldwide, but The Shining was my first real introduction to his writing.

Following the story of Jack, Wendy and Danny, The Shining takes place at the Overlook hotel, where Jack finds a job as the winter caretaker.

Following their arrival at the Overlook, strange events begin to take place, there’s a lady in the bathtub, a mysterious ballroom party taking place at night, the elevator operates by itself.

The novel certainly promises anticipation in all the right places.

What was most surprising for me, as someone who had previously seen the film but not read the book was the more psychological element of the novel. The novel deals heavily with alcoholism, going in depth with Jack’s struggle, his guilt over hitting Danny fighting against his desire to just drink one more time. I found this perhaps one of the best parts of the novel, watching Jack sink into madness as the ghosts of the Overlook finally took over and he caved into drinking.

Overall, I thought the novel was good, it built anticipation in all the right places and dealt with a lot of issues throughout the course of the novel. Stephen King left no stone untouched, and I did not leave the novel thinking that I’d wished something had been tied up.

Initially, I had expected to be terrified out of my mind, but that did not happen. There were a few moment where I got anxious, particularly the scene with Danny and the fire extinguisher at the beginning. But, it was not the terrified I had been expecting. I find that I did not mind that so much, as I had a lot of enjoyment out of other sections of the novel.

[Book Review] The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis

the meat tree

The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis is part of Seren Books’ New Stories of the Mabinogion, which is a series of adaptations of the Mabinogi, a Welsh myth.

Following the Fourth Branch of the myth, Gwyneth Lewis places her novel in the future, as an Inspector and an Apprentice search a seemingly abandoned earth ship in outer space. On this ship, they discover a VR headset and they discover the tale of the Fourth Branch.

This novel is interesting in the way it’s written and the handling of the myth. Written almost like a stage play, the characters of the novel describe what they see and the conversations around them as they log their adventure onboard the space ship.

Lewis uses the myth to her advantage, and as the characters go further into the VR game, they make discoveries about themselves, and the people who were once aboard the ship.

Gwyneth Lewis really drags in the reader, and makes for excellent reading. It’s exciting, and keeps you going as you try to discover who the mastermind of the VR game is. The novel also tackles themes of feminism, the roles of man and woman, and social hierarchy.

I would definitely recommend this novel, it’s a brilliant introduction to the Mabinogi and a lovely novel in it’s own right.

[Book Review] The Owl Service by Alan Garner

the owl service

The Owl Service by Alan Garner is an modern day ghost story. The novel follows three children as they discover a dinner service found in an attic and unravels a story as ancient as the mountains about revenge.

Taking elements from the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, Alan Garner weaves a tale of these children as they learn more about their place in the Welsh country side, where they belong and the history of the Valleys.

The novel is interesting in its uses of the Fourth Branch. Garner takes the Fourth Branch, and uses it’s to its own advantage. I wrote ghost story earlier, and that remains to be true, but it is not a ghost story in the typical fashion, it’s a ghost story in the way that the past comes back to haunt you. Starting from the dinner service, to the murals, to the owls, Garner weaves a tale that not only captures the myth, but also reinvents the myth.

The novels light writing style allows for a quick read, but delivers in Garners vast knowledge of the myth and the Welsh countryside. It is an exciting story from beginning to end, and despite having read the Mabinogi since childhood, I was still left guessing as to what the conclusion to the novel was going to be.

I enjoyed reading this book, it’s an exciting take on an old story.

Have you read The Owl Service? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

 

[Book Review] The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

The Hobbit is a pinnacle in the fantasy genre, the eponymous book that came before.

I read this book many years ago. It was actually one of my first books when I was first becoming the reading person I am today.

The Hobbit is a fun book, detailing the adventure of Bilbo Baggins as he treks across Middle Earth to burgle for Thorin and his companions. On this journey, Bilbo learns to overcome adversity and makes friends. He makes new discoveries and learns that sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to new adventures.

J.R.R. Tolkien has a way with words and creating worlds, and it shines through in this instalment. The characters are diverse, and despite this novel not being as heavy as it’s successor The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit has a more fun approach to story telling, woven together by Tolkien’s words and songs throughout.

Overall, I enjoyed rereading The Hobbit. It’s immersive and wonder building leads through many alleys of Middle Earth, and is a great read for all readers.

What do you think of The Hobbit? Let me know in the comments!

[Book Discussion] Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey

Emma Healey’s Whistle in the Dark is a thriller about a young girl called Lana who goes missing for four days but claims she doesn’t remember what happened to her. Her mother is convinced something happened during her time away and will stop at nothing to find out what that was.

At the heart of it, Whistle in the Dark is a tale of a mother in search for answers. It deals with frustration, grief, loss, happiness. As the story unfolds we learn more and more about the family, we learn more about Lana and her struggles, we learn about Jen’s struggles and the way the family is coping.

The thing I liked the most about this book was the characterisation. The characters were relatable, and I could understand the story from both points. Jen’s struggles were especially poignant, her feelings of self-worth, her loss and her struggle to understand were all feelings I feel like we’ve experienced in our lifetime. It was hard to read how much she cared, but was afraid of showing it. It was hard to read how much she was trying, but then Lana was struggling, too. It is a story about learning to communicate at its heart.

The plot of the story moved really well, and the writing really gripped me. I was hooked from start to finish and constantly curious as to what had happened. The way the novel ended was both harrowing and not what I had expected.

In short, I enjoyed the novel. I thought it was exciting and gripping!

What did you think? Let me know in the comments!