[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!

Halfway!

Hello!

We’re now approximately halfway through the bookclub month and I hope everyone’s been enjoying the book so far.

I have officially returned from Korea, and currently struggling with some jetlag. But, we’re powering on through.

What have you guys found interesting about Whistle in the Dark so far? I’m actually kind of dying to know what really happened to the daughter when she was missing. I’m not sure I buy the amnesia trick.

But, we shall see!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Reading Teen Fiction

Over the years, I’ve read quite a lot of teen fiction, or young adult fiction and immensely enjoyed it. There are so many gems in the genre, and some amazing writers.

Whilst studying English literature at undergraduate level, I discovered that there was some dissent to even considering teen fiction as literature.

There seems to be a stigma around reading teen fiction, about perhaps the way it is not considered literary enough for it be anything noteworthy. I have personally never understood this concept.

Literary fiction implies that the novel that is published under this name is somehow superior. The Oxford Dictionary describes literary as “Concerning the writing, study, or content of literature, especially of the kind valued for quality of form.” Quality of form implies that it is a well-written piece, or it is valued for it’s form, and it’s use of language, perhaps over the plot of the writing. This could also be seen as marking ‘literary fiction’ as a superior writing genre, as it is ‘quality of form’. It could could also imply that the person writing in this genre is somehow better than someone working in teen fiction, or even children’s fiction.

I’m curious as to why that is. Is there a certain aspect of teen fiction that doesn’t meet a certain criteria? Is there an element of classism that makes it not literary?

Classism wouldn’t be hard to rule out, if it is viewed as not literary, then that implies a substandard. That only ‘real’ readers will reader literary works, and that the ease of access of teen fiction or the aim at younger reading implies that there can not be a literary concept to teen fiction. The ease of access implies that anyone can read it, whereas if it were considered literary, it could imply that it is inaccessible to ‘normal’ readers.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Your Top 5 Book Recommendations!

We all have our favourite books, but what are your top 5 reading?

What are the top five books you can think of that you always go back to reading?

Mine would be:

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (technically it’s one book!)
  2. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  3. More Than This by Patrick Ness
  4. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

All five of these books have influenced me in quite a large way, either growing up or as a person. I always struggle to think of my top five favourite books as they change quite frequently. For example, if you’d asked me maybe ten years ago, Harry Potter would have been on that list, too. And whilst Harry Potter was still an influence part of my reading, it’s not in my top five anymore. Maybe in ten years, my top 5 will have changed again.

What are your top 5 favourite books? Let me know in the comments!

What Do You Think Makes A Successful Novel?

What do you think makes a successful novel?

What does a successful novel mean to you? Is it how well it does sales wise, or is a successful novel because you enjoy it?

There are two ways to look at success in a novel, and for me they are both just as important as the other.

Sometimes successful novels that sell well are not always successful novels in other ways. For example, there’s sometimes always the negative connotation that successful popular literature is not successful in the writing department. This is not always necessarily true, but for some, it is not a successful novel to them.

In another sense, a successful novel might not be as popular as some, but is successful in drawing in a reader and is written successfully.

Success within writing is always a matter of personal opinion, and how you understand an authors writing. It’s how you relate to the way the author writes. For example, I personally, really enjoy Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, but when I’ve recommended it to people, they have not enjoyed it as much as I have due to the writing style of the book. For me, the novel was a success, for others, they might not agree.

What is your interpretation of success? How do you value a successful novel?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Pride Month!

June is Pride Month, and to celebrate, let’s share our favourite LGBT+ novels!

Is there a character that you feel you can relate to?

Do you have a favourite author from the community?

Patrick Ness is an amazing teen fiction author, and his characters come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sexualities.

As an asexual myself, I have not yet found anyone to relate to myself. This could just be because of my avoidance of typical romance novels, or perhaps I just haven’t looked hard enough.

Share your thoughts on your any good reads from the LGBT+ in the comments below!