Thursday, 12 April 2018

November Reviews

We are slowly getting there with the reviews. Luckily it was just a one book month for November 2017. Still a long way to go until I am caught up again!

New Boy
Tracy Chevalier
Hogarth Press May 2007 hardback

As I mentioned in my review for Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood, New Boy is the second book I've read in the Hogarth Shakespere project. New Boy is the retelling of Othello, which I read in January 2017. It was definitely useful having read the original before hand, which I had not done for the Tempest and I must admit at times, Hag-seed lost me on the allegory.
The story of the outsider is a familiar one and the petty playing out of rivalries and bullying tendencies work perfectly in a school setting for Tracy Chevalier. I loved each character and how despite their age they were easily able to take on the original characters. It just goes to show how early we all become who we are.
Chevalier is a fabulous writer and very easy to read, which makes her a great choice to re-write Shakespere, which some find difficult to follow. I look forward to reading a few more in the series, but will take pains to read the original first!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

October Reviews

It's been a tricky time for me settling into a routine where I can and want to write. I am slowly plodding through books and I am slowly plodding through reviews. 

I used to love that I reviewed everything I read, and I might be wrong here, but occasionally I think people read what I write. But something has shifted. I am less driven to write the review and I feel I just want to read for me. 

Any tips for getting your blogging mojo back? While I figure that out, here are October 2017s reads 

Margaret Atwood
Hogarth Press Oct 2016 paperback
Work Leaving Gift

Appropriately in a week where I've admitted that my new job hasn't afforded me much time to write or read, here is a book which was given to me as a leaving gift.
Part of the Hogarth Shakespere project, where 8 novelists rewrite some of the great works, Atwood does a fantastic job. Without spoiling my review of New Boy, Tracy Chevalier's retelling of Othello, Atwood does something a little different. Taking the play with in a play into a spiral of theatres. Putting another cast performing The Tempest, plus the characters are themselves the characters of the Tempest, plus a running analysis from the characters themselves about the characters they are unwittingly playing, there is no doubt Atwood has done something clever here.
However, where it fell down for me is that The Tempest has a layer of the mystical and I think that by setting it in a modern/realistic setting meant that it felt slightly discordant, which perhaps was the point.

The Woman in Black and other Ghost Stories
Susan Hill
Profile Books Sept 2015 hardback
Christmas Haul

Definitely one to read in October in time for Halloween and all things terrifying. Susan Hill is one of the go to writers of ghost stories and is always on blog posts for spooky reads.
The title story The Woman in Black is obviously one of her most well known stories and has been adapted for stage and screen. I was surprised how much further the film version took the story as the original seems to be the first act of the film, building general dred but little action. Not the spine chilling tale I had been led to expect. It seemed unfinished but maybe that's because of having seen the film.
The other stories were also hit and miss. The Printers Devil's Court and the Small Hand, were similarly quiet in terms of action. The man in the picture was creepy and more interesting to me personally as an idea and seemed to capture my imagination better than the rest. On the other hand, Dolly, still stays with me and ticks all the boxes for: making me gasp on the tube, needing to have a little break to remember to breathe, turning around stuffed toys to face the wall for a bit, feeling bad about mistreating them and turning them back. Yup, that one got to me.
Overall, not the most frightening of my Halloween reads and only 1/5 actually frightening.