[Book Club] October Suggestions!

What would you like to read this October?

As October is the month of Halloween, I thought maybe we could pick some horror fiction for this month!

Is there that one scary story you’ve been dying to read? That one non-fiction novel you really want to give a go?

Suggest it here, and we’ll read it together!

[Notice]

Hello,

So, yesterday, I handed in my dissertation! I’m officially back in action.

Thank you for everyone who has been patient with me. I hope to become more active over the next few weeks.

The book club will come back live shortly, and I’ll be taking suggestions for our October reading!

I have a few things I’d like to try out on this blog over the next few weeks, so please bear with me as I figure them out. I’m trying my best!

I look forward to reading with all of you!

[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!