book review · books · fiction · literature · religion · review · war

In A Land Of Paper Gods

In a land of paper godsStuck between two worlds, Ming-Mei arrives at Lushan, a boarding school for missionary children in the mountain tops of China’s Jiangxi Province. Ming-Mei lies forgotten, as does her forbidden Chinese tongue; she is Henrietta Robertson a girl of British missionary parents teaching the gospel to the people of China.

Yet something mysterious occurs to Dormitory A, the girls soon find themselves in the Prophetess club, searching out prophecies in the out-of-bounds section of the school. From the hidden lake and caves to behind the washroom, these secret areas bond the girls together and show the innocence and difficulties of their childhood.

Told from Etta’s point of view, the tale is a coming-of-age story in which Etta must find not her only her place in the world, but also her calling. Full of adventure, prophesies and war this is a novel that will keep you enhanced by Etta’s world. Through Etta, we explore not just her religion and culture but her sense of duty that showcases the power a girl can have, in an unrecognizable world.

In A Land Of Paper Gods is published by Tinder Press and currently available in hardback, it’s certainly worth a read.

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book review · books · fantasy · literature · review · Shakespeare · young adult

Station Eleven

I may have picked up Station Eleven without a clue of what I was about to read, yet it held a twisted tale and collision of events that had me gripped throughout.

Station 11Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the tale follows the survivors of the Georgia flu virus from their first encounter at a King Lear production to year twenty of the new world. Whether it be the Travelling Sympathy, who spread music and Shakespeare to the lost civilisaion, or the community stuck at the Severn City Airport; small communities continue to exist in an empty world.

It’s a clever collection of the stories of survival, it shows how we prioritise what is left from a community to allow a new civilisaton to grow. I enjoyed seeing how these tales were woven toegther, the switch between the present and the days leading up to the epidemic to show how life was lost while hope remained.

Once started its a book you’ll struggle to put down, and you’ll begin to question what matters most to you in life.

book haul · book review · books · classics · literature

Thoughts on African American Literature

I’m currently in middle of a module on 20th Century African American Literature, and it’s got me thinking of the way we categorise literature, place labels upon it, in a way to control it further.

IMG_6219Early 20th Century African American Literature is often placed as political work. That an African American who is able to express himself for the first time since slavery, must, and often this is the case, want to write about the world he has discovered himself in. A world of racism, prejudice and violence. His work is used to express this rejection, this removal from society; somewhere across this line literature and politics collide.

Literature becomes a place to express ideas, experiment with an ideology and look towards a new world. It’s a place of freedom we sometimes take for granted, yet it can also act as propaganda, have high influences upon our current lives. It makes you think of the importance literature can play, and its impact, on politics, on history and everything in-between.

It’s made me appreciate how much literature has and continues to play a part in our lives. Whether this be freedom of expression, of tackling innovation or it’s ability to somehow go against the status quo. Literature is incredible, and holds a large proportion of our lives in its hand.

Hopefully this wasn’t too deep a topic for a Sunday morning, if you’re interested in these topics I certainly would recommend a few titles:

  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man – James Johnson
  • The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
  • Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
books · fiction · literature · manchester · Waterstones

Buying a blind book

IMG_6100Occasionally bookshops can become a little overwhelming, some have far too much choice, rooms full of shelves requiring your attention. It’s hard to know where to begin. So as I headed into town with the small mission of wanting (another) new book to read, I came across a slightly different presentations of fiction.

Waterstones held a shelf in the corner of their fiction room at their Deansgate store, containing books hidden slightly from view. Instead of their covers sitting proudly on the shelves to tempt you in, they were wrapped simply in brown paper. Instead of the title and blurb you had a label with a small description upon it, these differed in detail; some gave a list of themes, others a quote and one simply said ‘If you don’t read this book, you and I could never be friends’. I was, of course, intrigued.

IMG_6103I believe it’s set around valentines, a blind book date for anyone, and everyone with a small or large book obsession. I spent a long time pondering the many choices in front of me, eager to pick something slightly out of my comfort zone, while trying to work out if it was a title I’d already read.

After making my selection, taking it to the till and the bookseller kindly ensuring I saw not a glimpse of the title as he put the transaction through, I felt as though I’d come out with a present. A gift to myself, something secret yet I was sure I would enjoy it.

Once back home, I raced to open my purchase, to see what it was I had chosen for myself. Now I just have to start reading…

Thank you Waterstones for a new and unique book buying experience, I only wish it could be all year round.

*edit: you can read my review of Station Eleven here.

book review · books · fiction · literature · review

The Versions of Us

The title alone intrigued me into reading this book, the thought of the possible paths of your life changed and altered dependent on the smallest of decisions.

The versions of usWe follow Eve from her days at Cambridge University and the possible outcomes of a bike, a missed tutorial and a stranger. Three options come through this point, two men are presented in the moment, who and what will Eve choose?

The tale dips into Eve’s life at various points of importance, as we see her marry, have children, a career in a number of orders and with a variety of outcomes. The three versions are all different, yet weaved together, separate, however fate still seems to play a role.

I love how this book ends without a definite version of Eve’s life, there is no right or wrong way for life to play out; you just need to see which way fate will take you. An intriguing and thoughtful read, making you question not just the choices and versions of Eve’s life, but also the possibilities of your own.

Laura Bernett’s The Version of Us is out in paperback and soon to be released in the US and other countries.

autobiography · book haul · books · fiction · literature · Shakespeare

February Book Haul

IMG_6087It may have become apparent from this blog that I like books, I love reading them, discussing them and also buying them. So, with the start of a new semester and two literature modules to buy for, I had a most pleasant book buying trip.

As I already held the excuse of needing books specifically for my course, I felt no guilt walking to my nearest bookshop and picking up books by the handful. It also meant a few books not at all required by my course snuck into my arms, but with a collection already mounting they can’t do much harm.

I’m therefore having a little bit of a February book haul, so you get a sneak preview of what I’ll be reading for the next few months.

IMG_6089The Norton Shakespeare– By far one of the biggest (and most expensive) books I’ve had the privilege of buying, this collection of shakespeare appears to have it all. I’m already a confessed fan of the bard so was eager to own his detailed words. Full of textual notes, specific play introductions and a range of critical analysis it seems the perfect student guide to that main man of literature. It also comes with a full digital ebook to be downloaded, so you can have shakespeare on the go.

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison; Situated in 1950s America, there’s the man who never quite seems to appear, on the surface at least he’s invisible to his country, deemed unworthy and unimportant to his homeland. Covering the hardship of a still segregated and discriminative America, it looks like an interesting if long read.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston; Beginning with romance that is disapproved of, sixteen year old Janie is married off to an older man. The novel twists and turns as Janie searches for the love she lost at sixteen, and struggles in a world not truly her own.

IMG_6088Beloved – Toni Morrison; Moving back to the mid 1800s as slavery become abolished, worlds come crashing to an end as love turns to violence and loss. This family will fight against all that life throws at them, but at what cost? Beloved appears to be an intriguing read and view of post slavery America.

A range of essays and autobiographies from: W.E.B Du Bois, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Weldon Johnson: covering various aspects of life as an African American and the struggles faced by us all.

The Versions of Us– Laura Barnet: This tale intrigued me from its title alone, the possibilities of our life can hang from such tiny decisions and circumstances. We follow Eva, from her days at Cambridge University to three possible outcomes of her life based on one moment, one meeting with a stranger and one bicycle. It fascinates me the parallels and possibilities our lives hold, so this book was a certain read for me.

Quite a collection of books to get through, let me know what you’ll be reading this month.

 

book review · books · crime · fiction · film · literature · review · Room

Room

Room_coverGoing against my better judgement and expectations, I saw the film of Room before even owning let alone reading the book. Beautifully and truthfully told, the film allowed me to see a world much quicker then if I’d wandered around many bookshelves trying to find such a capsulating story. It introduced me to the story I wanted to explore, a book I wanted to read, and a tale that needed to be told.

The film brought me directly into Jack and Ma’s isolated world, physically restraining the life that can be lead in such an imprisonment. Yet, being told through the film, made the situation of their circumstances much easier to navigate through then the book alone can portray; visualising their world and the constraints within it.

Room filmWritten from the point of view of five-year-old Jack, the book only allows you to understand Room from his eyes; a home not a prison. Likewise the confusion of the life around him is so narrowed by his current experiences it takes a while to understand the tale of Ma’s imprisonment and the world Jack was born into.

It’s a tale of bravery and strength, of a living a life of your own under any and all circumstances. It proves that even in the most unimaginable world, hope can still be found and life lead to the full.

Emma Donoghue captures the confusion this world holds over Jack, and his many new discoveries outside of Room. It certainly made me reevaluate aspects we take for granted, experiences we all share and expectations of a common world.

This is a book to read and a film to view; although one where the story stretches past the last page and into your own life.