Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review of Princess Grace – Don’t judge a book by its cover

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Princess Grace Front CoverMy daughter is now five and three quarters (those three quarters count a lot for her!) and, as I mentioned in the last post, we visit the library regularly to feed her (thankfully) insatiable appetite for new reading material.

My background in sociology and my move into feminism means that I’m more aware than ever of the cultural brainwashing that goes on through books, especially when it comes to gender and especially in those aimed at children.

So, you can imagine my reaction when my daughter presented me with Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman (2007).

All that pink!

That dress!

That pose!

That jewellery! Read the rest of this entry

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The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl – Audio book Review

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I’ve blogged a few times about my love/hate and yes, ambivalent attitude towards Twitter, but this is a story that begins with an example of why I love it.

Barry Lyga, author of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, tweeted asking if anyone would review his audio book. Feeling more than a little cheeky, I replied that I’d love a copy and to my surprise he asked for my address.

So, onto the review.

First impressions count and I really like the packaging design (see picture). It has all the feel of a graphic novel without being garish and the cover says far more than you might realise at first. Best of all it will look pretty cool on my shelf too.

The trouble with audio books is that someone else is reading it to you. Consequently the characters speak and think in tones chosen by someone else which, of course, colours the story, unfortunately that’s not always in a shade that suits me.

Scott Brick narrates this book. An extremely well-respected and ‘in demand’ narrator of audio books, Scott was named Narrator of the Year by Publishers Weekly in 2007 and has many awards under his belt. I’m not surprised, he was extremely easy to listen to.  Scott’s voice is reminiscent of Christian Slater bringing back memories of Heathers and Pump up the Volume (favourite old-school movies of mine!), lending this story just the right edge of ‘teenage angst’ without melodrama. He also successfully and believably brings a different feel to each of the characters without missing a beat or breaking the story’s flow. Read the rest of this entry

Review – The Female Man

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Take a moment and ask yourself would you hide a secret army of women to fight in the battle against men in a distant alternative future?

The Female Man by Joanna Russ asks just that question. I picked up the book after seeing an article following her death in April this year.  I feel ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Ms Russ prior to that, especially given that she is hailed as the forerunner of feminist science fiction writing and cited as a significant influence on modern authors such as William Gibson. The Female Man was written in 1969/70 and published five years later in a literary genre dominated by men. It received a mixed response, but has since become an extremely well respected novel, nominated for the 1975 Nebula Award for Best Novel and then winning one of the three Retrospective Tiptree Awards in 1996.

I understand why it elicited strong responses, released as it was at the height of the second-wave feminist movement. In many ways it is more a study in feminism than a science fiction story, yet I’m not sure where else it might be fit if not as Sci-Fi.

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Room – Review

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I didn’t expect this to be a cheery read and it wasn’t. But it wasn’t bleak either. The story is told through the eyes of Jack, beginning on his fifth birthday. Jack’s mother was abducted by ‘Old Nick’ and held captive in ‘Room’. Jack sleeps in ‘Wardrobe’, plays on ‘Rug’, eats at ‘Table’ and his mother tells him that there is nothing outside of Room, only ‘Outer Space’, everything he sees on the small amount of television she lets him watch is fictional. Jack is safe, Jack is happy, Jack is a prisoner.

Telling such a heart wrenching tale through the eyes and in the words of a child, is inspired. Simply inspired. It allowed Emma Donoghue to explore a very uncomfortable and horrifying scenario without having to go into the gory details. We, as the adult viewer of Jack’s words and experiences, can read between the lines, fill in the gaps, understand the truth behind the creative explanations given to him by a mother doing her best to raise her child despite such awful circumstances.  I think it’s rare for the reader in a first person story to know more than the main character, but that is exactly what goes on here. We never hear or see anyone else’s perspectives on the situation (other than through Jack’s eyes of course), but we can see the reality that Jack is unable to grasp.

As a character, Jack is entirely believable, Ms Donoghue does a fantastic job of staying true to the language and thought processes of a five-year old child, never once did it waver, not once did I feel I was reading the words of a woman.  Read the rest of this entry

Apartment 16 – Review

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I finished Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill a few days ago, so thought I’d do a quick review.

The story follows two key characters, Seth a struggling artist who is working nights as a porter in the upmarket apartments, Barrington House in London while trying to find his muse and the young American, Apryl, visiting to dispose of the belongings of her recently deceased great Aunt Lillian.

As Apryl sifts through her estranged aunt’s belongings she becomes increasingly consumed by a need to learn about Lillian’s life, especially when she discovers the strange circumstances of her death and her almost illegible diaries. It appears that something has been keeping the inhabitants of Barrington House from leaving, despite their fear and unhappiness at being there, the question is what and why?

Seth has been receiving complaints about a burning smell and his investigations take him to the door of the permanently empty apartment 16.  It’s not long before, first in his dreams, then his waking life he is dominated by the presence of a mysterious child who leads him through the next few terrifying weeks.

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